Category Archives: Devotionals

Preparing the Body for Burial as a Memorial

It was a beautiful fall day in 1970 when we learned that Little Tate was coming to dinner.  He could hardly be called little anymore.  He was the son of Tate and Brown, our aunt and uncle, a freshman at East Carolina University, full of himself, full of life and promise.  His parents had waited to marry until after WW 2 so he was the prized child of old age, a success in high school, untouched by the drug culture, HIV, constant sex-immersion – all the ills of  decades to come.

He was coming to dinner!  I marshaled my younger kids – get out the long table, the white tablecloth with the lace covering, the $125 water goblets from my grandmother, the best china and all the best serving dishes.  Being from small families my husband and I had few relatives for meals.  This was a treat.

It was truly a day when nothing went wrong.  Little Tate was full of the hope only an 18 year old could have as he prepared for a radio and TV career, personable, friendly, easy to like.  My children enjoyed him as though he were an older brother. When the sun started to set he headed back to school.

We had no reason to believe this would be the last time we saw him alive, but he got on the back of a motorcycle without a helmet (it was not against the law then) and before October was finished he was dead.  It was a terrible blow.  Our aunt and uncle never really got over it but we had something – we had the celebration of preparing for his burial.

The story of the woman wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair with a costly perfume which represented about one year’s wages is something Jesus said “would be remembered forever.”  Isn’t it interesting that we speak of this without really knowing what it means?  It is a memorial of a special life prior to death, not a morbid sad time filled with the regrets of loss and hopes dashed.  It was the costly elaborate celebration of a life well lived.

Jesus, like Little Tate, died before his expected time, a child of promise, loved and loving, a special person with a future.  It was our unique privilege and blessing that we could say goodbye in this spectacular way.  And like the woman at Jesus’ feet, completely unaware of what we were doing or how soon his death would occur.

When I told of this blessing to my friend from Grandfather Mountain she said, “Oh, I had a day like that with an old woman.  We spent an afternoon looking for one button to replace on her winter coat.”  And then the woman died rather unexpectedly.

How many of us have rued the day we neglected to call someone or write, or send a note – thinking of you – only to learn later they had gone without our hearing a single word.  One Christian artist sings, “No Regrets” – If we celebrate another’s life before they go, we should have no regrets.

Mark 14:7-9 New King James Version (NKJV)7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

One Deed can Change Your Life Forever

A pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze.

He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision.
“My God, this is a nightmare,” the co-pilot said.
“He’s going to destroy us,” the pilot agreed.
The men were looking at a grey German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip.
It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.
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BROWN’s Crippled B-17 Stalked by STIGLER’s ME-109
  
The B-17 Pilot, Charles BROWN, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission.
His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when BROWN and his co-pilot, Spencer “Pinky” LUKE, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened.
The German fighter pilot didn’t pull the trigger.
He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect.
Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at BROWN and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War Il.
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Luftwaffe Major Franz STIGLER
  
FRANZ STIGLER pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in
his flight jacket.  He eased his index finger off the trigger.
He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder. STIGLER wasn’t just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code.
He could trace his family’s ancestry to Knights in 16th Century Europe. He had once studied to be a priest.
A German pilot who spared the enemy, though,
risked death in Nazi Germany.
If someone reported him, he would be executed.
Yet, STIGLER could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: “You follow the rules of war for you… not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity.”
  
Alone with the crippled bomber, STIGLER changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn’t shoot down the slow-moving bomber.
(The Luftwaffe had B-17’s of its own, shot down and
rebuilt for secret missions and training.)
STIGLER escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American Pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away, and returned to Germany.
  
“Good luck,” STIGLER said to himself. “You’re in God’s hands now.”
Franz STIGLER didn’t think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American pilot and crew he encountered in combat.
image 
Charles BROWN, with his wife, Jackie (left),
with Franz STIGLER, with his wife, Hiya.
 
As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles BROWN wasn’t thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival.
He flew his crippled plane, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing, and barely any fuel left.
After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.
  
BROWN flew more missions before the war ended.
Life moved on.
He was married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the US State Department during the Vietnam War, and eventually retired to Florida. Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him.
He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.
  
BROWN took on a new mission. He had to find that German Pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life? He scoured military archives in the US and England. He attended a pilots’ reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an advertisement in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.
  
On 18th January 1990, BROWN received a letter. He opened it and read:  
“Dear Charles,
All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home?  Did her crew survive their wounds?
To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy.” It was STIGLER.
  
He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1953. He became a prosperous  businessman.
Now retired, STIGLER told BROWN that he would be in Florida come summer, and “it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter.” BROWN was so excited, that he couldn’t wait to see STIGLER.
He called Directory Assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz STIGLER. He dialed the number, and STIGLER picked up.
“My God, it’s you!” BROWN shouted as tears ran down his cheeks. BROWN had to do more.
He wrote a letter to STIGLER in which he said:
“To say thank you, thank you, thank you on behalf of my surviving crew members and their families appears totally inadequate.”
The two pilots would meet again, but this time in person, in the lobby of a Florida hotel. One of BROWN’s friends was there to record the summer reunion.  Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts.
They fell into each other’s arms and wept and laughed.
They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.
The mood then changed. Someone asked STIGLER what he thought about BROWN. STIGLER sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English, “I love you, Charlie.”
 
STIGLER had lost his brother, his friends, and his country in WW11.  He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German Air Force. Only 1,200 survived.  The war cost him everything.
Charlie BROWN was the only good thing that came out of the War for Franz Stigler. It was the one thing he could be proud of. The meeting helped BROWN as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn WARNER.   
image 
They met as enemies but Franz STIGLER, on
left, and Charles BROWN, ended up as fishing
buddies.
  
BROWN and STIGLER became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans’ reunions. Their wives, Jackie BROWN and Hiya STIGLER, became friends.
  
BROWN’s daughter says her father would worry about  STIGLER’s health and constantly checked on him.
“It wasn’t just for show,” she says. “They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week.” 
As his friendship with STIGLER deepened, something else happened to her father, DAWN WARNER says “The nightmares went away.”
BROWN had written a letter of thanks to STIGLER, but one day he showed the extent of his gratitude.
He organised a reunion of his surviving crew members along with their extended families. He invited STIGLER as a guest of honour. During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived…
children, grandchildren, relativesbecause of STIGLER’s act of chivalry.
STIGLER watched the film from his seat of honour.
“Everybody was crying, not just him,” DAWN WARNER says.
STIGLER and BROWN died within months of each other
in 2008. STIGLER was 92, and BROWN was 87.
They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.   
After he died, DAWN WARNER was searching through BROWN’s library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. STIGLER had given the book to BROWN. 
Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.
DAWN WARNER opened the book and saw an inscription STIGLER had written to BROWN:
 
“In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter.
On the 20th of December, four days before Christmas,
I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction,
a plane so badly damaged, it was a wonder that she
was still flying. The pilot, Charlie BROWN, is for me as precious as
my brother was. Thanks Charlie.
Your brother,
Franz

Death and the End of Free Will.

You have friends – I have friends who honestly believe that because they are of the  generation of flower children and embrace love, joy and peace that they are headed off to heaven when they die.  I puzzled about this because I noticed that no matter how cogent my arguments, how based in solid Biblical theology and the experience of the ages, they didn’t budge an inch.

I agonized about how to approach one such psychology graduate of Berkeley in the 60s, and then it hit me.  This man believes, he really believes that after dies he will have free choice.gate-of-hell  He can choose his own heaven, he can choose to play rock music with his buddies in a comfy place surrounded by always blooming hydrangeas,  rose bushes without thorns and cooling streams – a dream straight out of the Sierra Club brochure.

But – there’s always a but.  The whole purpose of free will in this life is to prepare for the next.  Free will is not needed in heaven because the essential decision was previously made.  Of course we expect God will allow us to choose what to enjoy in heaven.  I want to hit the books and talk to the authors from the ante-Nicene era.  Hey – to each his own.  You may want to talk to your ancestors from Europe, or Peru.  You may choose to spend time with the animals or learn what happened to the lost colony at Jamestown.

But if you are in hell, choice is gone.  On the contrary, God has many versions of hell from fiery flames to total isolation and blackness, without sound, without access to a single human voice.  Your choice?  No more.

No I’ve not spent any time on the other side but there are dozens of people who have gone and come back both to heaven and hell.  Their stories are in books and online.

Make your choices here and live.  God says always. “I put before you life and death. Choose life.”

Isn’t that neat.  He gives you the question and then the right answer.

The Danger of Deductive Reasoning in Spiritual Matters – A Devotional

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Is there anything inside?

For the past 7 or so years she firmly believes that Jesus would return in 2016.  He might anyway, but her reasoning is only based on her needs which are financial as they face even greater business loss, the failure of family, friends and business associates to pull their weight, her several physical disabilities and surgeries. unwelcome attacks from people who think they should determine what she is to say, and the failure of her family to make the necessary changes in their lives to guarantee a peaceful future, and finally old sins not yet straightened out.

Jesus is not going to return just because we are not happy.  If there is any reason at all to believe the 2nd Coming is this year it would be the immense cruelty and persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the  ongoing violence against Israel especially in never ending raids and military incursions, and the deterioration of the American Church which is historically been a bulwark against error and demonic attack, now clearly AWOL on all fronts, compromising itself out of business by sleeping with the enemy.  ALL churches have bowed an unwilling knee to political correctness, which we now pray is no more.

If God would not intervene on account of this kind of attack against His People, why would He interfere just now with someone who has personal miseries?

Maybe He will return in Israel’s year 5777 which just started  Maybe not  But no theology of God is to be based on our own unhappiness and loss.  Unhappiness and loss is the human condition, not the barometer by which God does or does not act.

he acts on the basis of our prayers regarding His promises, not just for individuals but for whole nations and societies.  As the Middle East and Europe explode in rape and murder, across the world Asians and Muslims everywhere are finding Jesus as Savior.  The numbers are so astounding no one will ever again think that Jesus is white and speaks English.  These kinds of statistics are a shock even to people like myself who have faith for the strangers among us.

The 2nd Coming is called the Blessed Hope, and indeed  life would be hopeless without believing in His return.  God’s predictions about the EndTimes is of increasing trouble for the world and blessing for believers in the midst of them.  Climate Change Panic is because people have not read what God said – that He and He alone would destroy the world by fire.

Yes, we can plan on a hotter and hotter environment.  And our political environment will get hotter and hotter too yet He gave us everything we need for life and godliness.  He has not given us a calendar of events; in fact, we have the opposite – a guarantee that even Jesus does not know the final date and time.

Our job is faith in His promises and obedience to His word, not letting the fallen World dictate our deeds and expectations.

Prayer: Dear Lord, give us your peace, not the world’s peace, and keep out of my brain anything that speaks against you or your plans, In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

The Question We Should Ask Ourselves – Devotional

Years ago when I was working at a juvenile prison for boys I learned the practical value of asking the right questions. A child psychologist had said that if you want to teach boys you walk with them and ask them questions. The quality of the questions will influence the quality and quantity of the answers.  Clearly Socrates knew this secret. So I started walking with the inmates as often as possible and I saw results.

The question we must ask ourselves when we have not moved forward with God as well as in life.

The question we must ask ourselves when we have not moved forward with God as well as in life.

(Girls apparently work better with information but I haven’t tested that out.)

So let’s take a walk. Your life as a believer is in the mud, or a state of boredom.  You’ve been doing the same thing for years. And you are not closer to God – maybe farther away. Years ago there was a question going around, “If God seems far away ask yourself who moved?”

Perhaps a better question would be, why have you not changed? The Christian religion is about change.  (If we presented Jesus as a change agent maybe we’d have fewer interested people.)

God said, “I am the Lord. I change not.” Malachi 3:6. What this means is, if you want to come into the presence of the Lord, you must change.  That process is given in the Bible.

2 Peter chapter 1 presents a game plan for change.  And Peter, who lived through humiliating change, is the right person to encourage us, and give us a series of goals.

For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love. For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the one who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (MEV)

God is not expecting us to do everything at once.  You start with faith, in the case of Christians, faith in the written word of God, which describes virtue, then knowledge then self-control.  How many if us start at self-control or knowledge but then we are ahead of the list. So many believers will ask a counselor or their pastor, or even themselves, “What does God want me to do?

Here is a chance to pull out Peter’s list and apply the list to the problem. Is this an issue where you apply discipline or patience, are you being tested in your character or your concern for others, are you to step back and watch God do it, or enter into the situation? The question as you walk with God is always, not what would Jesus do, but what would Jesus have me do?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus guide us all in your plan for our life. We have so many tasks, so busy lives, so much to burden us we forget what we are all about. Gently remind us each day that we have God’s Holy Do List to guide us as we raise children and answer to our leaders and family. Help us also not to be hyper over the results.  We thank you for giving us a lifetime to prepare for the rest of our eternal journey, In Jesus Name. Amen.

 

 

The Doctor who Forbid me to Pray for His Patient – A Devotional

The year was 2010 and  through social media I found out that an old college friend mentioned me.  I’d had no contact with her since the mid-50s! What could she possibly want?

I learned she was in the final stages of cancer and wanted me to call.  Her daughter answered the phone and I said I’d like to pray for her.  She said she would call me back after she talked to the doctor.  A few days went by and not hearing anything, I called again.ribbon-1101997_640

This time her doctor made it clear under NO circumstances would he let me speak to her.  What did he expect?   I would snatch this poor woman from the jaws of death?  Give her false hope? Who knows.

I was disheartened. At no time in my life has anyone called me a healer, but prayer I know something about.  I was simply going to pray a blessing.  In fact, I doubt she expected me to raise her up off her sick bed and walk out of hospice on her own.  I had no idea what she expected, but her being so ill, prayer seemed the only response.

No one likes to be misjudged, rejected, or refused without at least a small explanation.  So I prayed for her; I asked God to bless her with whatever she needed at that point in her life.  I did not expect God to speak to me – how often does He do that?  Not that much, but He did.

“Don’t worry,” He said.  “I’ll visit her Myself.”

I was elated.  Little Miss NoBody in Texas couldn’t get through but the Big Boss did!

What did He say to her when He showed up.  Would He say, “Your college friend could not come, Lucia, but I came.”

Up until that time I always knew that there were no restraints on the power of God.  But here I saw it in full force.  No determination of men or angels can keep the Great God of the Universe away from His people or their needs. We need, I need to remember that when I pray.  No matter where you are, your prayers get through.

Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, 39 neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Judgment Delayed – A Devotional

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DNA

The local news reported that a man who had committed several rapes 30 years ago was discovered as a result of DNA tests.  His sentence – 240 years behind bars.  I’ll bet he was surprised.

Numbers 32:23 says “Be sure your sins will find you out.”  Our national forefathers called this “natural law” a term we don’t hear much today in a society bent on ignoring every form  of the law. They meant in that term that no matter what man did, either as individuals or as a group, certain behaviors and events would generate forgone conclusions,  that the murderer would suffer for his crime either at the hands of man, or nature or an angry God. Even the heathen understood this to be true although they were more likely to give spirits and demons in trees the authority to carry out justice.

These days the general public does not recognize consequences.  Life is supposed to be utopia, and they become enraged when they have even the slightest inconvenience.  For those of us who lived through wars and want it seems a rather Pollyanna-ish view of the world.  And we wonder when they’ll catch wise.

If the Millennials were in church they’d have a better chance of learning how there is a payday, and not just a negative one.  People who play by the rules anywhere on this planet will enjoy the fruit of their wise decisions, no matter their cultures.  Yes, it is hard to live under socialism/communism or oligarchies and dictators.  But confined moral and focused living always pays off in individual peace and personal joy. Some of the best movies recently have demonstrated this.  I think of The Book Thief and Life is Beautiful, both stories from World War II, terror and want and death.

You would expect me, a teacher to say this.  But to me the chief sin is unteachableness.  The Bible, Real Life, and the witness of people we know should be teaching us the message – that we should deal with sin in all its forms ASAP.

That man thought after 30 years he’d had completely escaped the consequences of his crime, his sin.  Not so. Be sure your sins will find you out.

 

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Jesus’ Death for Everyman is a Technicality

cross-106416__180The scripture is clear.  Jesus paid the price for every man’s sin by the blood shed at his death.   But because of the limitations of life, He could not actually give his life literally for every person.  If that were so He would need to be born, mature and then die for billions upon billions of people, the exact number we do not know.  We do know that the number of souls God created in heaven prior to our birth is huge.  So literal birth-death is physically impossible.

How then could Jesus die for each Man and still die for mankind as a whole?

It was done by negotiation.  Consider that you have a large piece of acreage for sale.  No one else is bidding on it.  Satan already has his claws into the property and will not give it up; in fact he has sole custody thanks to egregious mistakes by Adam.  (And lest we congratulate ourselves remember that we would have been just as rebellious as the First Pair.) The human race is both physically and spiritually doomed.

Since Jesus could not be born billions of times, He would have to negotiate the price.  From the foundation of the world Elohim (God in Hebrew) counseled together to select “the agreed upon price.”  The price was high.  The sacrifice would need to be absolutely sinless, the very opposite of the condition of Man, and he would need to be born just as anyone else and go through life reacting to evil in perfect, sinless obedience.  The Old Testament law regarding sacrifices is not a bore if you notice how the priests followed the very process by which a sacrifice was selected.  Jesus fit perfectly.

Can you image what a hard test this is? Look at your tot in a high chair, crying “MINE!” at the top of his lungs.  Rebellion is deep in the heart of man, no matter the size.  He is not a bad child; he is merely human.  (Proverbs 22:15) It comes with the territory.

The perfect plan required that the savior be born sinless without the taint of human error.  Mary, Jesus’ mother, did not have to be sinless because the  Sin is transferred through the father’s line….. You know, like father, like son. (Genesis 3:17)

The only way a sinless child can be brought forth is if the Father is God Himself, guaranteeing that the DNA of this child is unique in all the universe.  Then the blood also would be sinless.  Satan can’t fake that – ever, which is why the Kingdom of Evil fell apart in despair after realizing it had engineered the salvation of man and its own demise as well. (1 Cor 2:8)

So that is why Jesus can say at the very end, “It is finished.”  The word in Greek is tetelestai, meaning Paid in Full. You too were included in this number.

Are you automatically saved? No.  Not until you have a heart change and accept His free gift of eternal life. Today is the day of salvation.

 

 

Confusing Reality with Symbols

In a wonderfully sarcastic piece from Facebook, black politician and military veteran Allen West writes of how foolish the celebration over the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina, confederateflagas though it had the least ability to effect the massive changes American needs in race relations and the ills of the minority communities, so I copy it here.

“Yippee, the Confederate battle flag has now been removed from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol. And, just like that, it solves the problem of black-on-black crime and killings. Now we’ll see the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the black community drop from 75%. There will be better educational opportunities and schools in South Carolina’s black communities and all across America. The black unemployment rate will drop —especially the almost 40% black teenage unemployment rate. We’ll now see an economic entrepreneurial boon in the inner cities because the Confederate battle flag’s been lowered. And there’ll be no more gangs of blacks beating on whites — as we saw in Ohio recently. Yep, the liberal progressive media shouted “squirrel” and an entire nation went a running. All the yelling and shouting by the crowds was evidence of those who lack grace, respect and dignity. Former South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Lou Holtz remarked that when you get to the end zone, you should act like you’ve been there before. So what does the lowering of the Confederate battle flag have to do with the killing of little seven-year-old Amari Brown in Chicago — anyone know when his funeral is?”

Of course we don’t because we have enjoyed a life of substitutions.  The Church, that great community change agent, allows Bible study to substitute for personal holiness, attendance at services to substitute for obeying God’s personal commands to us, and fellowship with believers as a substitute for fellowship with the Lord himself.

We barely pay attention anymore to the masses of lawbreakers released early from prison to commit fresh crimes.  79,000 illegal felons have been re-released into the population instead of being deported.  We have voted and instructed the Congress to act in one way and it looks the other way. Our President seems barely to notice the country or its wishes; he’s as determined to get a deal with Iran as Iran is determined to wipe America, The Great Satan, off the face of the earth.

And what has to be supreme nonsense, after 67% of the voters in over 30 states added to their Constitutions the verification that marriage was only between one man and one woman,(see Amendments by states ) the Supreme Court decides though lacking judicial authority to do so, because it did not originate marriage, that a union between two persons of the same sex is marriage in spite of the clear fact that they have no ability to procreate or continue the human race.

Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire[a]
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.

We can join God in His humor but we should be joining Him in changing a culture that thinks because someone said something, that makes it true.  Or that taking down a flag has any effect on the major issues of our time.  The Supremes changed marriage not one whit; they have only brought themselves into condemnation.  What they did can be undone by the Church ready to leave the womb of mother-church and join the fight for the sanity of our nation and its people.  Every time the Church has done this, she has won. It is long overdue.

Is Spirituality a Substitute for Reality

I would not have titled this as such if I did not believe it is so.  For several years now I’ve spent my time with people of relatively similar backgrounds and interests, except for the Koreans, and I find they seem to have little or no connection with real life.  They quote statistics that I know are false, they repeat the ex cathedra utterances of Hollywood stars as though they were gospel, and brush off any suggestion that life might be more than Hand and Foot games.   What is more arrogant than ignorance!vangoghschurch

My acquaintances seem to have a warm fuzzy feeling about life.  I wonder where they get this.  After spending a lifetime looking at the human race on several continents I find very little either warm or fuzzy.  I’m an optimist only because I have read the end of the book (the Bible) and we win!

“My religion just suits me fine.”  or “There are many roads to God.”   or “I don’t know what the future will bring but I am sure it will be heaven.”  Really?  Don’t you think something as crucial as life after death deserve more than a wink and a nod?

First, religion saves no one.  Religion is a vehicle to bring information and revelation to the world.  But religion is not necessarily truth because not all revelation and information is true.    We could not have learned any truth without groups such as churches or missionaries to preserve those words for us.

The deception of religion is that it masquerades as an end in itself, and we become stupefied, like half asleep people looking at a blank TV screen.  As one woman said, “I went to church to get my ticket punched.”  God does not have tickets and you don’t need them punched.

Second, if there are many roads to God He would have told us so.  There are many roads people travel before they get to God, and He is there along the way ready to step in when you are. All human beings are God’s creation, individual and sent with a specific plan for their lives.  Surely the most important task you have is finding that plan.

Some people are reared in Christian homes, others in depravity.  Some have means, others are in poverty.  Environments  create personalities, but they do not define God.  God prefers to define Himself.   He created a Bible, watched over it for centuries, and allows us to look for Him in it, most often through great loss or need.  I wonder if my present friends who seem satisfied with card games have ever been in want, or had a need which drove them to their knees long enough to look beyond religion for the one True God.  Has the American free enterprise system robbed them of the pain and suffering to produce in them the desire for unqualified change?

Today the world is in turmoil everywhere you go.  Surely this is a time for each of us to “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.”  During Jesus’ worst time in His life, the hours prior to the crucifixion, His disciples slept.

He spoke to Peter, “Couldn’t you three keep awake with me for a single hour? Watch and pray, all of you, that you may not have to face temptation. Your spirit is willing, but human nature is weak.” Then he went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to pass from me without my drinking it, then your will must be done.” And he came and found them asleep again, for they could not keep their eyes open. So he left them and went away again and prayed for the third time using the same words as before. Then he came back to his disciples and spoke to them, “Are you still going to sleep and take your ease? In a moment you will see the Son of Man betrayed into the hands of evil men. Wake up, let us be going! Look, here comes my betrayer!”

Thursday, today, is the National Day of Prayer.  Let’s wake up. America has been asleep too long.