A Great Explanation . . .

 It Seems to me . . . that a few questions we ought to consider about historical figures just might be:

 

  • Who were they?
  • Why did they step forward into history?
  • What did they do?
  • Why did it need to be done?
  • Why did they do it?

     

Has it ever occurred to you that we have a limited understanding and restricted comprehension of the people in history without also having some knowledge of the historical context in which they lived, and how what they did impacted the world at the time.  A few illustrations: (1) to be properly understood, the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt needs to be looked at against the background of the Great Depression and World War II; (2) Winston Churchill figures largely in England’s history, but would most likely not have gained such prominence without the rise of Nazism in Germany; (3) Abraham Lincoln entered American history at a troubled time, and proved that he was the man for the job, but to understand that, you must understand the time, culture, and events during his life and to be able to truly understand and appreciate his choices and actions.

I have recently gained a new insight of the importance of understanding that sort of information. My dear friend and former Pastor, Charles Fake, has been writing a most thought-provoking series in his blog regarding the folks God used to write the Bible. This is the format of his presenting the series: he uses the name of a Bible book, then hyphenates it and adds “Devotional thoughts” to it.  The thoughts he adds are amazing and are literally eye-opening; all of which simply helps one . . . especially this one . . . to more deeply understand the book, what was going on in the culture at that time, and why the person was called into service (example: Jonah – Devotional thoughts).

I am amazed how much he can say in so few words.  It actually embarrasses me as it seems to take me twice as much space to say a simple fraction of what he says.  He is truly a gifted communicator . . . in every medium: speaking, writing, and even in singing!  The Lord certainly equipped and blessed Bro. Fake.  He has also blessed me in allowing me to know him, to hear him preach and teach, and to be able to read the material he writes, and to just learn from him. He has likely taught me more than any other human I have ever known, and when I am around him, I immediately go into deep-cycle mode and put on my thinking cap.  I always want to hear what he has to say!

His blog can be located at: charlesfake.com; it is entitled, “Howdy Y’all.”  I love his by-line, which reads, “Essays of importance, triviality, and in-between.”  I always find his blog to be very interesting and I appreciate him taking the time to do it.  I recommend it without reservation!

 

If you take the time to check it out you will come face-to-face with a very rare thing in this day and age . . . brilliance!

Enjoy!

 

The Twins

Every day a group of us are drawn to the community pool to do our daily work out.  It is not unusual to see new faces there . . . some of them are smiling faces . . . but some of the others reflect the strain that oftentimes come in the life process.  Most in the group I work out with tend to be polite and friendly, but also maintain enough reserve to allow new folks to determine the extent of conversations and interaction. If the newcomer wants to visit, there is always someone willing; however, if the newcomer sends vibes that he or she wants to remain off to the side, unconnected, that is ok too and folks just get on with their routine.

As we moved closer to Spring I noticed a significant increase in the number of kids in and around the giant pool, especially on the weekends . . . which I love!  I enjoy the laughter of children and there are very few places where kids laugh like they do in a pool.  Then, I quickly began to notice a number of pre-school aged kids in the early afternoon on week days . . . accompanied by young moms. DUH . . . Springtime on the Coast . . . time for swimming lessons! It has been a long time since I had a preschooler.

On that particular afternoon, I saw them seated on the steps as I entered the pool, and I had to step around them.  I recall that as they looked up at me, I saw their little brown eyes twinkle . . . and filled with the wonder and mystery of life. I thought how stinking cute they were. I doubt that I need to pause here to remind anyone that I am a fairly new granddad (Ali and Abi) . . . but just to be on the safe side I will! In fact, I believe that I have adapted quite well to the new role . . . and also believe that I am getting pretty good at it . . . in spite of needing much more practice than I am getting.

I extended a pleasant greeting to the cute kids as I entered the pool, and without hesitation the little boy said in a very excited voice, “Hi . . . I’m Jett!” . . . and the little girl immediately chimed in (said in a sweet, excited voice that was almost like a giggle) . . . “Hi, I am Katy!” I chuckled at their excitement and friendliness. I went back to working-out and on each loop I noticed they were straying further and further away from the steps. Then, a really cute 30’s something, modern day mom hurried up to the side of the pool, shook her right index finger at the little rascals and declared, “Ok, you two . . . you are getting just a little too brave over here and I want you to knock it off!”  Just as Mom finished with her speech, the boy who had identified himself as “Jett” . . . revealed the accuracy of his name, if not the cause of his name as he leaped off of the top step into the water and made a heroic effort to grab ahold of my dumbbell.  I got so tickled at him that I stopped and let him grab ahold, and instantly he was on . . . and his sister was ahold of the other dumbbell.  I had suddenly picked up a couple of hitchhikers.  I looked down at them as asked, “Do you want to go for a walk?” and they both squealed “Yessssss . . .”  I looked inquiringly up at Mom, and she shrugged her shoulders . . . so, off we went. A great new friendship was instantly forged, and they were always anxious to go for “a walk,” as I passed by.  Suddenly, two of my best new friends were a set of 5-year-old twins!

 

I introduced them to my buds, Charlie and Jerry, and more new friendships were forged.

Everyone at the pool loves Jett and Katy. They are just full of life, joy, and excitement and it is contagious! It simply makes one feel good to just be around them and listen to their delight about anything . . . and every reason.

. . . They are as mischievous as Dennis the Menace

. . . They have the giggles of a leprechaun . . . the wit of a child actor . . . the sweetness of the morning . . . the smiles of a cherubim . . . and

. . . They are as comical and entertaining as were “The Little Rascals”

I love these two little rascals . . . and know they have captured a part of my heart.  I get excited everyday as I load up to head to the pool, just anticipating getting to hang out with them!  I am really looking forward to getting to introduce Ali and Abi  to Jett and Katy, quite likely the four sweetest kid on the whole planet!

I am reminded of a line of Tom T. Hall’s classic old country song, “Old Dogs, Little Children, and Watermelon Wine” that said, “God bless little children while they are still too young to hate . . . ”

It Seems to me . . . that these are a few of the great truths of life:

It is amazing what God is able to do to us . . . in us . . . and for us . . . through little children;

 

  1. “Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as is vitamins” . . .

Joyce Allison;

  1. Jesus loves the little children of the world . . . and it is pretty easy to discover why He does!

     

  2. We would all be better off . . . and the world would certainly be a better place . . . if only we had been able to hang on to some of those delightful qualities that define small children!

 

Shifts in Power

I have always found the study of the nation Israel to be an interesting study.  As one works through the Old Testament, it quickly becomes evident that there were continual shifts of power amongst nations as time marched ahead.  Israel would prosper and rise in stature as she submitted to God, followed God’s direction, and lived in his favor – just as He had assured her she would . . . and could. Yet, she would stray away and God would allow (and on occasion even send) a neighboring nation in to serve his judgment upon the nation.  At the time Jesus walked in the Nation Israel, she was physically occupied by and under the political control of the Roman Empire.  Much had changed over her history from the time the people had crossed over the river and entered into the Promised Land.  Today, Israel is once again recognized as a sovereign nation, but is surrounded by wealthy, evil, angry, and bitter nations who regularly announce that their greatest desire is the total annihilation of Israel and her people.  The Bible makes it clear that Israel suffered upsets, hardships and defeat simply because she failed to serve God and play the role in history that he had assigned her to play.

So, the question begs to be asked and answered: “Was God’s interest limited only to Israel as a nation?” or perhaps a more modern issue might be:  “Is God concerned with other nations in this era of history . . . and has He, possibly, raised them up for specific purposes?”

I would also ask the question: “What about the good old US of A? Does she have a place in God’s plan? Is she . . . or has she been . . . in His favor?  Will that favor continue . . . or is it, perhaps, coming to an end?”

I honestly don’t know the answer(s) to these questions, but as a proud American, I have always been certain that God loved America . . . and I suppose foolishly, but I believed that God loved America and Americans above all the nations and people of the world.  I am sure that I believed that because I love America and the American people above all people . . . and regardless if people are willing to admit it or not, we all are strongly inclined to believe that God sees things and people like we see things and people.

Here is what got me thinking about all of this this morning: I read a BBC article that announced China and India are becoming the world’s leading  economic powers . . . rapidly displacing the USA and Western Europe. I can’t put into words how crazy I find that prediction!!

I grew up in a world where China was a critically poor nation and everything made there was viewed as trinkets and junk. As a kid, my family was like some of the poorest people in town, and yet my mom told me to clean my plate and to “think about the poor little kids in China who didn’t have enough to eat.”

Good Grief . . . has that radically reversed itself or what?  Today, the great majority of Americans struggle with obesity, and as a nation we are beyond broke.  Yet, the Chinese have no struggles with being overweight, and they appear to being doing very well financially! In fact, the USA owes the Chinese $11 Trillion and we are borrowing and spending something like $300 every couple of months . . . money we simply do not have . . . and the best predictions say that by the time Obama leaves office, we will owe a Quadrillion dollars to China!

China . . . a formerly very poor nation is today quickly headed toward a super power slot . . . what is that about?  How is that even possible?  That situation defies every sane economic philosophy known to mankind.  History has already proven that communism simply does not work . . . yet, here we are!

It Seems to me . . . that perhaps the great unanswered question in all of this just might be, “How did the richest, most powerful nation in the history of the human race  . . . while using a free market, capitalistic economic model . . . manage to become so deeply in debt to the largest communist nation in the history of the human race?”

Personally,  I can’t understand or make much sense of such shifts of and transfers in power across the world stage without factoring in the obvious truth that God is at work in it all . . . and remember that, “His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.”