Concerning Meekness and Humility

Here’s an often misunderstood passage in the Scriptures. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5 KJV).” We often get the wrong impression. Meekness and humility certainly don’t imply low self-esteem. We surely cannot interpret those verses as God saying He is going to turn the keys to the earth over to a bunch of ‘Caspar Milquetoasts’ or poor souls with low self-esteem. No Way! As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. Meekness simply means submitting to a higher authority; humility means giving credit to that higher authority. Whereas low self-esteem becomes a noose around various people’s necks, prohibiting them from being the best they can be; meekness means ‘coachable’—capable of being easily taught and trained to do bigger and better things. Meekness in no way diminishes our strength or abilities, but serves to harness our energies, leading us to accomplish greater goals. It should be noted here that in the KJV, the word “meek” occurs 17 times in 16 verses, and in each case it is shown to be a valuable and rewarding attribute. When we are told In both Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 that “the meek shall inherit the earth” He is saying that He is reserving that special privilege for souls, large and small who have submitted all their gifts and talents to the authority of Almighty God.
Let me tell you a couple of interesting stories illustrating meekness and humility Consider the wild stallion. He is such a potentially magnificent animal. He is big and strong, fast and beautiful. He has near unbelievable ability and stamina. But he is wild and untamed, serving no profitable purpose. If and when he is brought into subjection under a talented master, he is in no way less powerful. He has lost none of his strength and beauty. If we abide by the adage, ‘beauty is as beauty does’, he is actually becoming even more valuable and beautiful as his vast energies are harnessed to the greater good. He is being transformed from a wild, useless beast of the open range into a superb object of pride and great value to his master, capable of performing a number of strenuous, profitable tasks. Because of his ‘coachable’ attributes, his harnessed strength has become so legendary that we even rate engines by their ‘horsepower’.
And in the second illustration of meekness and humility, consider Gale Sayers. I would suppose that any sports fan who is familiar with great football running backs of the past would include Gale Sayers as one of the greats. He is considered by many to have been the greatest open field runner in college football history. While playing college football for the University of Kansas, he was twice recognized as an All American. He was then Chicago’s first-round pick in the 1965 NFL draft and was able to translate his remarkable college football prowess into the NFL. In his first season he established all sorts of rookie records including most touchdowns (22), tied for most touchdowns in a game (6), highest career kickoff return average (30.56 yards), and tied for most return touchdowns in a game (2). Sayers played all seven years of his illustrious pro career for ‘Da Bears’ and was an NFL 4-time Pro Bowler & 5-time First-Team All-Pro. He was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One would readily conclude that if anyone could deserve to have a highly inflated ego, Gale Sayers would have fallen into that category.

But he didn’t. As he wrote in his autobiography, “In college my track coach was Bill Easton, who had compiled an outstanding record at Kansas . . . And it was Bill Easton who taught me about work . . . The first time I went into Coach Easton’s office, when I was a sophomore, I saw the sign, like a placard, on his desk: I AM THIRD. I wondered what it meant. So finally I asked him. He said, `The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.’ I don’t live by it all the time, I know, but keeping the saying close to me helps bring me back, keeps me from straying too far from that philosophy.” That little placard evidently struck a nerve in the budding star and became the motto of his life. He was obviously ‘coachable’. His humility became one of his main virtues. Even the title of his autobiography is ‘I Am Third’ and became the basis for the 1971 movie Brian’s Song, a true story about his friendship with fellow Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo who died of cancer. As great as Gale was, I think the majority of us would probably respect him as much, or more, for his meekness and humility as for his prodigious ability as a running back. In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

As strange and improbable as it may seem, the same can be said of us. When we become meek (coachable)—when we submit ourselves to Almighty God—when we make Him the Lord of our all our spiritual gifts and talents and energies, we too can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).” Then when we have accomplished great things through to strength of our all-powerful God, humility should automatically follow. Humility doesn’t mean hiding our pride behind an ‘Aw Shucks’ attitude. But, true humility in our lives means giving God all the credit for any and all accomplishments we have achieved. We should readily acknowledge the source of our strength. I would also call our attention to a couple of interesting Scripture verses regarding humility. In James 4:10 we read, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (KJV)”. And again, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6 KJV).” And as the previous verses and illustrations indicate, true meekness and humility have excellent pay days. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).”

God the Judge vs. God the Caregiver

Oddly enough, God is both Judge and Caregiver. But not both at the same time! It’s an either/or situation. Depending on us, He is either our Judge or our Caregiver. It is our choice. We can either choose make Him be our Judge, or we can allow Him to be our Caregiver. Let me make it simple; To those of us who are depending on our own good works to earn our salvation, He will be the Judge. On the other hand, for those of us who have turned our fate over to Him, depending totally on His grace for our salvation, He is our Caregiver.

Let’s first look at the scenario where we make make Him our Judge. It’s absolutely amazing to me at how prone we are to legalism. I would hazard a guess that the great majority of us would like to consider ourselves as law abiding citizens; i.e., if it is not in violation of the law, then all is well. Or (wink, wink) if we don’t get caught, then also, all is well. Whatever the case, our lives are routinely governed by the law! As it is in all our lives, we probably do many questionable things that fall into that gray area since there is no specific ‘law’ against it. It is also true that we omit some good deeds since they lack a governing law. (It should be noted here that there is no gray area with God). As a general rule however, most of us would like to think that we live between the lines of God’s law. I would love to be able to consider myself a a fine, upright, law abiding citizen.

But, that scenario also has its downside. That scenario proves to be a story with an extremely unhappy ending. When we are depending solely on our good works, we must realize that we will be judged based on all our acts—both the good and the bad. If we expect to receive credit for our good deeds, we will also have to pay the penalty for all our missteps. No excuses! No ‘do-overs!’ Can you imagine standing before Almighty God and proudly presenting the book containing all the good works of our lives. But then we realize that God is taking all our deeds into account—including the times when we stumbled and fell. We must understand that according to Matthew 5:21-28, we will not only be judged by our outward deeds, but also (here’s the real kicker) our innermost thoughts. And, in every case, the records will show that according to God’s laws, not a single mortal soul has lived an absolutely perfect life. No one! Can you imagine standing before Almighty God, the Righteous Judge, as He looks us straight in the eye, pounds His gavel down and renders this verdict, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM (Galatians 3:10 NASB).” And then decrees His sentence, “‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS (Matthew 7:23 NASB).”

WHEW! I shudder at the thought! I’ll guarantee you that I certainly don’t want my life to be judged by His holy standards. There was only one Man on earth who was able to live a perfect life—only one man who lived totally up to God’s standards. And I must admit that my life is rotten to the core when compared to the life of Jesus. I have failed miserably. Just suffice it to say that I have too many smudges and cuts and bruises, caused by the times when I have stumbled and fallen, to stand before the Ultimate Judge on my own recognizance. NO SIR-EE! Not a chance in the world! I have no intent of hanging out all my dirty laundry for all to see, let alone for God to Judge.

But here is the good news—really good news!, There is a way out. We can totally avoid the dreaded judgment of God. HALLELUJAH! Let’s consider this scenario—the scenario where we have turned our fate over to Him, depending totally on His grace for our salvation. We have thrown all our so-called good deeds into the dumpster realizing they were no more than filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). If we choose this scenario, when we perchance stumble and fall (and we surely will) He is always there to pick us up, dust us off, forgive our sins and send us on our way, hopefully with lesson learned. Jesus then becomes our Caregiver; He takes the blame and pays the price for any and all our missteps. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NASB).”

A beautiful picture of Jesus, the Caregiver is found in the tenth chapter of Luke, beginning at the 25th verse. Practically any student of the Scriptures is familiar with this story, but for the sake of this illustration, let me paraphrase it again for you. A lawyer (a legalist) thought he could trick Jesus by asking Him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” To which Jesus turned the tables on him by asking, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” So the lawyer answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Then Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But the lawyer, obviously wishing to justify himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” To which Jesus answered by telling this parable, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.” Isn’t that just like our lives? We are going merrily along our way, staying within the lines and, suddenly Satan attacks us, strips us, beats us to the ground, robs us of our joy, and then walks away leaving us half dead. Seems like that happens quite often in my case. Anyway, Jesus then continued by telling the lawyer that both a priest and a Levite (legalist) saw him and passed by on the other side. As far as they were concerned, the poor guy was on his own. They wanted nothing to do with him. But then, a meek and lowly Samaritan came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion on him—he became the fallen guy’s Caregiver. He bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and then he put him back on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

Wow! Isn’t that a beautiful picture of Jesus, our Savior, our Lord, our Caregiver. But even that is not the end of the story. On the next day the Samaritan (the Caregiver) took out two denarii (equal to about two days wages) and gave them to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.” Thinking of Jesus, our ‘meek and lowly’ (Matthew 11:39) Caregiver, I am reminded of the beautiful hymn, ‘Jesus paid it all’

As strange as it may seem, both of these diametrically opposed virtues, Judge or Caregiver, were authored by our Almighty God. He wrote the law to outline the standards required in order to live a perfect, unblemished life. Then knowing our frailties, knowing that we could not possibly keep all the law for a whole day—or even an hour—let alone for the entire duration of our lives, provided His amazing grace to cover any and all our sins, no matter how small or egregious. He has already paid the price. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (John 5:24 NASB)”.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Dear Lord!

Someday When Things are Good

A country classic of yesteryear begins with the somewhat startling lines,“Someday when things are good, I’m gonna leave you. I can’t seem to leave when things are bad.” Whew! What a haunting admission that is! But those particular lines are the recurring theme in Merle Haggard’s thirty-first number one hit. And I suppose if I had to make a choice, I would have to say Merle Haggard is my favorite Country and Western singer; but only because of his music—certainly not because of his personal life,. A closer look would reveal that those lines are also apparently the recurring theme of his real life. As with many people living under the bright lights of the entertainment world, Haggard’s love life can only be described as wishy-washy. He has been married five times. Whew!

Ironically, “Someday…” wasn’t the first ballad related to his love life. Several of his other songs would seem to indicate that his up and down love life has been nothing short of a train wreck. For instance, another such song, “Today I Started Loving You Again” was co-written with his second wife, Bonnie Owens, who was the former wife of Buck Owens. Haggard readily acknowledges that song was inspired by a sudden burst of special feelings he had for Bonnie while they were touring together. During their marriage she also helped care for Haggard’s children from his first wife, and was then Leona Williams’ maid of honor in Haggard’s third marriage. Really! Leona had also joined Haggard’s road band in the mid-1970s, and soon became his love du jour, supplanting Bonnie. Oddly enough, Leona wrote two of Merle’s No.1 hits, “Someday when things are good”, and “You Take Me For Granted”, and charted yet another duet with Haggard titled “We’re Strangers Again”, Evidently, things became good enough for him to leave her, so he and Leona became ‘strangers again’ after a seemingly (up and down) five year marriage.

Sadly, such ‘on again–off again’ love affairs as those are not limited to couples spot-lighted in various pop culture media. They are not even limited to the populace in general. The lyrics of ‘Some day…’, seem to strike a nerve with a number of different people in a number of different ways.. Would you believe that affairs such as those actually exist between Christ and His bride. Seriously, they do! But, rest assured, ‘up and down’ feelings between Christ and His bride never originate with Him—NO SIR EE! Never ever! “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NASB).”

So, if those wishy-washy feelings never, ever originate with Him, then the onus is obviously on us. We’re the culprits. We’re the ‘wishy-washy’ ones in our relationships with Jesus. Perhaps, unwittingly, we too could sing, “I can’t seem to leave when things are bad.” Maybe it’s just human nature, but that’s the sad truth. Many, many of us tend to really draw close to God only when ‘things are bad’. We can’t seem to leave Him when life is dealing us some knock out punches. When things are bad, we tend to follow Him around like little puppy dogs, never letting Him get out of our sight. Our prayer life becomes much more urgent, we become more dependent on Him; we become much more faithful and dedicated Him. He becomes our ‘BFF’. He is our only refuge during the storms of life. On any given Sunday, our churches are filled with people who are hurting. As we look up and down along our rows of pews, we can be reasonably sure that at least some on nearly every row are there because they are enduring stresses in their lives. They’re searching for answers and/or some degree of solace. They are crying out for help. A common phrase we hear during such times is, “I can’t imagine how people go through times like these without God!” I know; I have uttered those very words on numerous occasions.

Now, backing up to the beginning phrase in that poignant equation, “Some day when things are good, I’m gonna leave you”. Sadly that phrase is also just as true regarding our relationship with Jesus as is the second phrase just discussed. It’s in the good times that we tend to stray away. In the good times it’s easy to loose sight of Him. When all is well—when we have our health, and happy, stable relationships; when we have steady jobs with enough discretionary income left over to travel and enjoy our toys, we tend to wander away. When ‘Life is good!’, we seem to have no need for Him. If we are not careful, our careers and steady paychecks unwittingly become our ‘gods’. It’s easy to forget that He is still the One who is putting the roof over our heads and food on our tables. we tend to forget that it is still God who is supplying all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). We tend to forget that He is the God of our mountains just as surely as He is the God of our valleys.

It should also be noted here that God is certainly not oblivious of our ‘up and down’ nature. He has emotions too. In Exodus 20:5 we read, “for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God (KJV).” That emotional declaration is repeated 5 times in ensuing chapters. He obviously wanted to make sure that got the point! We get an up close and personal picture of God’s hurt feelings when things are going so good in our lives that we loose sight of Him—when our attention turns to other ‘gods’ in our lives. In the 2nd chapter of Revelation we read, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: …I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first (verses1,4 ESV).” Not good!

I am reminded of a somewhat humorous little story that illustrates our relationship with God. A young lad was climbing up on the tin roof of a barn in direct disobedience to to his parents. Sure enough he began sliding off, facing serious injury plus the wrath of his dad. Obviously, in situations such as that, God became his very best friend. It was prayer time—serious prayer time. “Please God, please help me! Don’t let me fall!” And, God miraculously answered his prayers by catching his pants on a perfectly positioned nail. With that, the little boy ended his prayer, “Never mind, Lord, I hung on a nail…” thus, like many of us, giving all the credit to the nail rather than to God.

And once again, I must remind us that if we are not careful, we too might start thinking we are self made made successes, not giving the credit to our loving Lord. That’s easy to do! I can attest to that truth from my own personal experiences.

The Bitterest Feud in the History of the World

At the mere mention of feuds, the legendary feud between the Hatfields and McCoys comes to mind. It was indeed a feud of epic proportions. If you watched the movie on the History channel you were shown that it lasted off and on for nearly 30 years. And, by the time it finally came to its bloody end, three Hatfields and seven McCoys were killed or executed.

But that feud would be considered child’s play in comparison with the family feud that’s been going on between two half brothers in the Middle East for centuries. There has never been a day of real peace between those two families since the days that Abraham fathered those two half brothers: Isaac by Sarah, his wife; and Ishmael by Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar (an Egyptian). Surely you can already see the makings of a serious family feud brewing—sibling rivalry to the max! Moreover God caused the rivalry to intensify by promising to make both of them into great nations—one good and one bad. Of Sarah’s son God said, “ I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants (Genesis 17:16 NLT).” And of Hagar’s son God said, “This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives (Genesis 16:12 NLT).” Wow! How would you like to hear that prophesy from God?

Sure enough, as always, it happened precisely as God had promised. Isaac fathered what is now known as the nation of Israel, and Ishmael fathered what is now the nations of Muslims. The bitterness between those two families first began to take root when Hagar became pregnant (Genesis 16:4), then really began coming to a head when Sarah banished Hagar and her son to the desert (Genesis 21:10), and then surfaced among the descendents when the sons of Jacob (Israel) sold their younger brother, Joseph, to a group of Ishmael’s vagabond sons. (Genesis 37:27). And as we all know, that bitterness has has continued to fester from that day until the present with no sign of resolution. As we now look toward the Middle East, we can easily see that was only the beginning of their family feud—a feud that is still spreading and intensifying exponentially to the extent that the whole earth is threatened. Countless millions have been brutally murdered. Nations outside those two families are even taking sides and becoming part of that bitter fray (including our own good ole U.S. of A). Remember Hitler and the holocaust? Remember 9/11?

When President Truman recognized the new state of Israel in 1948, it only served to add fuel to the fire. Peace in the Middle East has become an inevitable part of any U.S. president’s agenda. Every president since then wants to be the hero that brokers lasting peace between those two feuding families. It would truly be a feather in their cap. But all to no avail. The USA Today issue of 11/22/2012 featured the headline, “Middle East peace continues to elude U.S. Presidents.” Perhaps they should familiarize themselves with Bible prophecy on the subject. Genesis 16:12 still stands.

I would venture that as we see all the turmoil and destruction in the entire Middle East, we all long for that seemingly endless fighting to cease. So, the big question is, “Will there ever be peace in the Middle East?” The short answer is a superficial “Yes”, but it will be no more than window dressing; it will only give a false sense of security for the moment. The bitterness will remain. As usual, the Scripture gives us a ‘heads up’ concerning that pending disaster. In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 we read, “When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape (NLT).”
Whew! So, what on earth will it take to finally bring that terrible, bloody feud to an end? If we follow this line of thought to its conclusion, it will apparently be that final great and terrible battle fought in the valley of Megiddo. Continuing with that scenario, it will be a war between the descendents of those two half brothers: the peace loving children of Israel whose traditional greeting is Shalom (Peace), against the children of Ishmael who are totally bent on terrorism; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), versus the Allah of Ishmael (Islam); the Christ of Isaac versus the Anti-Christ of Ishmael; the true prophet of the Bible versus the false prophet of the Qur’an! Nothing short of that—the final battle of this age will ultimately end that feud once and for all.
As a matter of fact, according to the 2nd chapter of 1 Thessalonians, the only thing keeping Allah and the sons of Ishmael at bay during this present age is God’s Holy Spirit. He is the only one restraining the lawless one and all his minions. He is the only one with the power to protect us from the evils of that lawless one. If the Holy Spirit didn’t have the nation of Muslim’s hands tied, we would already be living in great tribulation. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7 NKJV).” In other words, when the Holy Spirit is ‘taken away’, all hell will break loose on planet earth. Without the Holy Spirit of God dwelling among us, Allah and the sons of Ishmael will be free to release all their pent up vengeance on little Israel.
Now follow me, these are comforting words! We (Christians) won’t be here! We’ll be gone during that final devastating carnage! “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1Thessalonians 5:9 ESV)”, Thank Goodness, all of us who have put our trust in Jesus, the Christ will be caught up (raptured) safely into His arms. “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV)”.
So, since the Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of God’s true believers, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV)”, and He will be with us as long as we are here on earth. Thus, it also stands to reason that when we are taken away (raptured), the Holy Spirit will go with us leaving Israel with no earthly ally. But, not to fear, little Israel will not be left alone to fend for themselves. God will come to their rescue, and I don’t have to tell you, our awesome GOD WINS!
Then, and only then, will there finally be lasting peace. The ending of that bitter family feud will usher in the long awaited millennium of peace on earth spoken of in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. “Therefore comfort one another with these words (1Thessalonians 4:18).”

The Climate is Changing! The Climate is Changing!

The Climate is Changing! The Climate is Changing!

Horror of Horrors! Crisis of Crises! Surely this must be a crisis unmatched in the history of the world! The whole earth is warming. The glaciers are all melting!The polar ice caps are melting! The sea levels are going to rise so much that our beautiful coastal cities, such as Miami and Tampa Bay and New Orleans (not to mention all the other coastal cities around the world) will soon be under water! Horrors!! Following that tragic line of thought, if we perchance allow all the ice in our water glass to melt, it will surely run over and flood the whole table. Good Heavens!

That whole presumption seems ridiculous to me. Nevertheless, the perceived ‘Global Warming’ crisis gained near unprecedented traction. I think it was Winston Churchill who coined the phrase, “Never let a good crises go to waste.” And many of our vaunted leaders are certainly following that advise to the max. Rahm Emanuel, then President-Elect Obama’s appointed Chief of Staff, declared their plans for the Obama Presidency by stating, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” In a speech during a town hall meeting with people at the EU Parliament in Brussels March 6, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that same philosophy to the audience in attendance. In a graduation address at West Point, President Obama described ‘Global Warming’ as the menace that threatens to destroy the world’s great cities, uproot millions, and turn crop fields to dust. In a recent speech made in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that Global Warming is as big a threat as terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. Really??

But it was evidently Al Gore who had originally stumbled onto the theory of global warming during a course at the revered Harvard (Hah’-vud) University under Professor Roger Revelle, one of the first scientists to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Revelle is now widely regarded as firing the opening shot in the global warming debates. But it was the opportunistic Al Gore who saw a ready made crisis; and he was certainly not going to let that ‘Global Warming’ crisis go to waste. It was Al Gore who seized the opportunity to become rich and famous by perpetuating that ‘crisis’ to heights unmatched since the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Hmm, let’s see if we are getting all this straight. According to Revelle, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the great perpetrator of global warming. And now we are told by Al Gore (and all his faithful followers) that the human race is the great perpetrator of carbon dioxide. Thus, the onus is on us. We are the main culprits causing global warming crisis. With that perceived crisis in hand, Al Gore and other liberal politicians have duped much of the civilized world into believing that global warming is public enemy number one, threatening life as we know it here on planet earth. In the 2014 commencement address at University of California at Irvine, President Obama stated, “Levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years.” Whew!

Ah, but now the global warming debates have cooled somewhat; the populous is turning. But we can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal; so the new crisis is ‘Climate Change’. Of course climate change is indeed a fact—always has been and probably always will be. It’s the nature of God’s complex ecosystem. Climate change was even prophesied in the Scriptures. In Genesis 41:29-30 we read, “The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land (NLT.)” And it happened exactly as prophesied. I submit that it was not carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but rather it was God dealing with the Children of Israel—no more, no less.

And as to the actual source of carbon dioxide, scientists disagree on what percentage of atmospheric CO2 is actually produced by humans rather than by volcanic activity. Others have even theorized that cattle flatulence is another major source of CO2 in the atmosphere. On March 28, 2014, the Daily Caller reported that the White House wants to cut methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by the year 2020. That story was repeated by the Washington Times on March 31, 2014. Hmm, I am curious as to how they can accomplish that and then measure it. (That gives new meaning to the phrase, ‘passing the smell test’.) And I am also curious as to how our esteemed president knew how much CO2 was in the atmosphere 800,000 years ago. I guess he thought he could throw that out there and no one could disprove it.

Let’s look a few other facts. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes were once huge glaciers. They melted! Imagine that! I wonder if the politicians were wringing their hands over that ‘global warming’ crisis? Apparently not. Borderline Nordic landmasses such as coastal plains of Southwest Greenland have been alternately covered and clear of ice. But did those climate changes create a crisis? Also, apparently not. And, another interesting little fact conveniently omitted: according to published scientific charts and graphs, the average global temperature has risen by a “whopping’ 0.89° C since the year 1880 A.D. (In case you missed it, that’s less than 1º—in the last 134 years) As a matter of fact, the average global temperature has remained basically flat for the last 17 years. How is that for creating a crisis? It should also be noted that during all their hand wringing, no mention is ever made of those phenomenal weather makers referred to as El Niño and La Niña. I suppose they are also ignoring reports that polar ice in Antarctica is currently at record highs according to the Washington Times and Forbes. According to AccuWeather, the 2013-14 winter season is one of the coldest winters in 20 years. And, the Huffington Post recently featured this headline, “Chicago Just Had Its Coldest Winter In History.”

So, what is the underlying impetus for all this hysteria over alleged Global Warming and/or Climate Change? Could it be money? Could this fabricated crisis possibly be money driven? According to numerous reports, Al Gore has amassed a fortune of over $300 million since his Vice Presidency days. Big chunks of that wealth were obtained through a succession of very profitable shady deals with Occidental Petroleum Company. All the while he was also earning huge honorariums by giving numerous speeches out of the other side of his mouth decrying the evils of petroleum based fuels. For example, the Student Union Treasury of Washington University in St. Louis voted to allocate $92,350 for the College Democrats to bring him to campus for a speech September 15, 2011. By all indications, this was a typical honorarium. It doesn’t take long for paychecks such as that to run into serious money… the opportunistic Al Gore had obviously happened upon an honest-to-gosh, bona fide ‘money tree’.

And, as with all ‘money trees’, as soon as one is discovered, the feeding frenzy begins. Wow! Does it ever! Hoards of politicians, and nearly all media types jumped on board to cash in on the action. Climate Change is now the cash cow of the day. Millions upon millions of $$ have been earned personally and/or funneled through to various pet alternative energy projects. It is so obvious that since the Iowa caucuses are so important in presidential elections, all presidential ‘wannabees’ promise to produce massive amounts of fuel derived from Iowan corn. “Vote for me and I will make you rich and famous!” Yeehaa! I can only surmise that if the early caucuses were held in Idaho rather than Iowa, we would all be burning fuel derived from potatoes. And the beat goes on.

In thinking of this phenomenon, I feel that nearly all of us are familiar with the Scripture, “For the love of money is the root of all evil:…(! Timothy 6:10 KJV).) That remarkable display of greed is certainly on display here—from the president and his minions on down.

Rejoicing Always

Rejoicing Always!

On a recent visit with my Occupational Therapist a small round object popped off her wrist watch, falling to the floor.. As she was picking it up and replacing it on her watch, curiosity got the best of me. As if it was any of my business, I had to ask, “What was that?” She readily responded that it was was inscribed with 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always”. She continued by telling me that every time she looks at her watch she is reminded to “Rejoice always”. Wow! What a neat reminder! I cannot help but believe that the Lord popped that simple little reminder off her watch, at that precise moment in time, to also serve as a reminder to me. “Rejoice always!”

Rejoicing! What a wonderful emotion that is! But, how often do we actually rejoice over something? What does it take to cause us to jump up up and down with joy? As I was pondering instances that cause great rejoicing, I began visualizing scenes at various sports venues filled with rabid fans, all erupting with unbelievable joy when the home team scores. Team mascots race around the arena waving banners in victorious jubilation. Whole crowds are standing, flailing their arms wildly in the air and cheering with all their might! The noise is wonderfully deafening. I must admit, it’s really exciting when I am privileged to be in attendance at such events and experiencing such exuberant feelings with them.

On a more personal note, I will never forget the joyous scene at our house many, many years ago when the news of Hitler’s suicide reached us. I can still see my dad racing home from his Naval Base, nearly blowing the door off the hinges as he entered and jumping headlong into the bed laughing with joy. Of course Mom and I jumped in with him; all three of us laughing and crying and hugging—sharing that joyous moment with him. It was, and always will be, a highlight of my life.

As I was reliving that joyous day in our lives, I was suddenly compelled to wonder, “Where was the joy on the day before we received that wonderful news?” ”Where was the joy when my dad received that dreaded letter that began with, ““Greeting… you are ordered to report for induction….”? “Where was the joy as my mom and I tearfully waved goodbye to him as his bus rolled out of sight?” I must admit, the thought of those sad and lonely days brought no joy into our lives. There was nothing about that series of events that that would cause us to rejoice. We could only pray that that terrible war would soon end and he could return safely back home to us.

As I assess my life through the last 50 years hereto, I have been joyfully blessed. God gave me a beautiful wife and daughter with whom to share my life and it’s been a wonderful life. She was a widowed mother when we began our courtship, and as a result, many of our dates were threesomes. I remember the joy I experienced at our first kiss. I remember an even greater joy when we shared our ‘I do’s’. We’ve been a close knit family from day one. However, during these last few years my joy has suffered a serious blow insofar as my dear wife, my soul mate, has been stricken with incurable dementia. I can only weep as I helplessly watch that ruthless thief slowly stealing her brain cells one by one, leaving her mind and body wasting away into oblivion. Although she still lives with me in our home, I feel I am living virtually alone. I find it near impossible to view her current plight with joy.

And yet, through all our trials, the Scriptures exhort us to. “Rejoice always”! Wow! How is that possible? Rejoicing during all our trials? Rejoicing during our sufferings? Rejoicing during the sufferings of our loved ones? Rejoicing when we lose a parent—or sibling—or child? How can we find joy in any and all situations, no matter how stressing they may be? That seems impossible! Nevertheless, that’s what He asks of us.

To answer such daunting questions we must also realize those trials are not the only things going on in our lives during those stressful days. We are not necessarily required to rejoice over our trials; but If we pay attention, there is nearly always something else for which we can rejoice during our trials. We are never left to suffer alone. We have a constant companion who promised to never leave us nor forsake us (1 Kings 8:57, Psalm 27:9, Hebrews 13:5). In my case He is continually reminding me of His presence by doing little favors to bring joy into my life. These seemingly insignificant little favors serve to take my mind off the trials and give me reason to rejoice. Our loving God certainly knows how to lift my spirits.

I am strangely reminded of His ever presence in my life by our little pet poodle. She never lets me out of her sight. When I take a seat in my recliner, she is right there to share it with me; when we sit down for a meal, she curls up between my feet; she even curls up between my feet when I am sitting on the potty. During extended hours when I am working at the computer, she drags her bed into the office and curls up on it right beside me for the duration. She rarely, if ever, has a bad day. She even shows me how to rejoice each time our daughter visits us. All I have to say is, “There’s Darlene!” and she starts running and jumping toward the door, squealing with joy all the way. She gets so excited I sometimes fear she’s gonna have a heart attack.

Oddly enough, we are rarely like that; we seem to reserve our overflowing emotions of joy such as that for special days and special events. But, in order to live abundant lives, we should strive to make all our days special days. And we can accomplish that l if we will always simply remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (NASB).” According to that, no matter how dire—how hopeless our situations may seem at the time, our awesome God will cause them to work together for good. Thus it is our privilege to claim that promise—hold on to it with both hands, and rejoice in the fact that all our stories will eventually have a fairy tale ending. That should give us cause to ‘Rejoice always!” Heaven awaits!

All Men Created Equal?

All Men Are Created Equal?

I am blessed to have a special needs cousin—not just any special needs cousin, but this extraordinary special needs person. I first met him when he was a new born baby. His dad, a minister, had accepted the call to our church in Corpus Christi, TX, and their family (all 4 of them) moved in with us until they were able to relocate. That would be no big deal in our present quite roomy home. But, at that time my dad was a lowly Seaman First Class in the Navy; and due to his meager military income, we lived in a tiny 4 room unit of government housing. Looking back, I have no earthly idea how the 7 of us managed to live comfortably within such close quarters. But we did. I do remember our the parents improvising a bassinet for our new little buddy by lining our lone bathtub with quilts.

Through the years I have been reasonably close to him, watching him deal with his handicap as he has gracefully reached his (so called) golden years.. Like all of us, he has had his ups and downs; but for the most part, I feel that he has accepted his station in life far better than I could have under similar circumstances. Observing him in his prohibitive condition, I can only acknowledge that God obviously extends his amazing grace to us according to our needs. God is good!

It was during my high school years that his condition brought about questions in my mind with which I continue to struggle. My history teacher had required us to commit to memory all or parts of several famous speeches—not the least of which was Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address. I suppose it will be forever etched in my mind. I still remember standing before our class, reciting, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”

WHOA! All men are created equal? How could that be? Abraham Lincoln must have never known the likes of my dear cousin. How could his life be considered equal to those of us with whole bodies? He was never able to tie his own shoes; never able to ride a bike (not even with training wheels); he could never go outside and play with the other kids, never able to attend summer camp, never able to earn his own spending money—no part-time after school jobs, no temporary summer jobs. He was never able to casually go to the kitchen and make a snack of peanut butter and crackers to munch on while watching TV.

Obviously, he never experienced ‘coming of age’ indicators such as learning to drive nor going on that first date. He couldn’t experience the thrills of the Senior Prom, moving out on his own, nor voting.. Even now, he has spent the last several years confined to a wheel chair and could never be left unattended. Thus, my natural thoughts concerning “All men are created equal…” Hogwash!

But then I turned the page and saw a new and different mental paragraph—a paragraph that is 180° removed from my negative thoughts. What if that renowned speech had been delivered by Almighty God? What if God had said that He (our Father) had brought forth on the earth a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Hmm, that would shed a wonderfully positive light on that seemingly hopeless matter. And that is exactly what happened. The Scriptures plainly state that God doesn’t look at my little cousin through my eyes. We read in I Samuel 16:7 that when the nation of Israel was looking for a new king, God told Samuel, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (NLT).”

With that in mind, we must realize that God wasn’t having a bad day when He created my (so called) special needs cousin. In a somewhat similar situation Jesus and His disciples encountered another special needs person—a blind man. Just as in my case, that incident also brought up questions in their minds. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him (John 9:2-3 NIV).”

In one of the beautiful Psalms of King David, he was musing, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:12-16 NLT).”

There you have it. It was our awesome God that wove my dear cousin together in his mother’s womb. God had a purpose. He created a person with an unusual body that would become one of His most zealous witnesses. And I would venture that no creature alive loves our God more than my little buddy. Everyone that comes in contact with him will soon know that he is a devoted Christian—a proud child of the King. He is quick to sing His praises.

But that’s not the end of the story. He will not always be saddled with that temporary set of unseemly circumstances. His life here on earth will soon end and his deformed body will be placed in a grave. But he won’t be there! He will have moved out of that imperfect body. “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6 NLT).” God will place him a new and perfect body—a body that will never, ever suffer or die—a body just like that of Jesus! “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is (1John 3:2 NLT).” And then, our little buddy will live for all eternity, in his new and perfect body, in a new and perfect kingdom where all of God’s children will truly be created equal.

Oh Lord my God, how great Thou art!