History . . .

There is a great push to remove 100-year-old statues, and rewrite our history as a nation. Frankly, some of our history is embarrassing, but it is our history and sanitizing it won’t change it . . . it will only serve to blind future generations. It seems to me that looking back on embarrassing history helps prevent the same errors in the future.

The truth is that in writing the Holy Bible, God did not sanitize human history . . . He just recorded it as it was. Think about that . . . God called David ‘a man after my own heart,’ yet He included David’s adultery and murder in his story. Moses was called ‘the Man of God,’ yet God told his full story . . . warts and all. Abraham was called the ‘Friend of God,’ yet God told his story to include his cowardly behavior in identifying his wife as his sister and his adultery with an Egyptian handmaiden and the bastard son that produced. God did not sanitize Noah’s drunkenness or Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughter. God did not sanitize Peter’s weakness and denial of Jesus!

Why did God tell those folk’s full story? How about because it was all true and it reveals that God is able to forgive transgressions and restore a confessing sinner? How about because those folk’s stories and their transgressions serve as a warning for us today of the chains, pains, stains, and consequences that sin can have in our lives?

It seems to me . . . that God knows all things and He determined it was profitable for mankind to know the truth about those who have gone before us. Therefore, we as a people ought to follow suit and let our story be told for those who will follow.  I agree that part of our story is certainly ugly, but it is what it is. As we survey the landscape of our history, it causes some pain, anguish, and regret, but we can’t change it . . . it is what it is! I fear we err to a few shallow people to permit it . . . that does not change it . . . it simply confuses our descendants!

I say, “Let it be . . . we are who we are, we have made many errors, and created tragedy . . . but it is all part of our story!”

The Golden Calf . . .

When I was a 14-year-old kid, a duo known as Simon & Garfunkel released a song entitled ‘The Sounds of Silence.’  It was a catchy tune and the lyrics reflected the confused thinking of a culture that would result in God being expelled from the school house.

The lyrics are:

And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices would never share

And no one dared

To disturb the sound of silence

Fools, said I, you do not know

Silence like a cancer grows

Hear my words that I might teach you

Take my arms that I might reach you

But my words, like silent raindrops fell

And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made,

And the sign flashed out its warning

In the words that it was forming

And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written

On the subway walls

And in the tenement halls

And whispered in the sound of silence.

It seems to me the song speaks to a spiritual condition much like that of the Israelites who had been delivered from hundreds of years of Egyptian bondage. After having seen the hand of God time and time again . . . making provision for them and protecting them during a vicious attack by an evil army . . . delivering them safely to the foot of the mountain. Led by the cloud by day, and the fire by night . . . at the foot of the mountain they could observe and sense what was obviously God’s presence on the mountain top.

Yet, they became weary in waiting on their leader Moses to return, so they ordered a golden calf made. Why the golden calf? I suppose they had been so accustomed to seeing the various Egyptian gods displayed, they felt the need for a god they could look upon . . . and perhaps wanted a god that required nothing of them . . . a god they could move around at their pleasure . . . as opposed to a god who moved them about.

Amazingly, they traded the one true God for “a god” of their own creation, and they knelt and prayed. One would think that was surely a shallow experience.

As I study the Bible book of Exodus, I am continually reminded how very ignorant the mob can behave and how little is needed to spur that ignorant behavior into action.

 

Harvey Aftermath . . .

Sandy and I returned to the Coast for the weekend of October 15th. We went for several reasons. Chris was going to be in Fort Worth with Ali and Abi and we could stay in his condo . . . our Church was going to begin having Sunday school for the first time since Harvey . . . and we had serious decisions to make and material to order for the house repairs. 

We drove from Burnet on Thursday and arrived at the house late afternoon. After our walk through and discussion with the workers, we invited Billy and Tammy to dinner. They really like the Fisherman’s Daughter (formerly the Big Fisherman), which has opened just outside of Ingleside. Sandy and Tammy went in the Audi and Billy and I went in my car (my back seats were full so no room for the girls). It was just getting dusk. 

As we arrived at the HEB food store in Ingleside I realized that I had driven past the restaurant, so I made a U-turn and drove back as I wondered what was the matter with me. After a nice dinner with our friends, I dropped Billy off at the house and drove to Rockport . . . via the by-pass, headed to the condo in the Country Club area. As I drove along in the dark, it occurred to me that I had missed the exit for Pearl Street. I drove on into the night and looped back around to 35 Business and entered from the front. As I drove along, I soon realized that I simply didn’t remember the route . . . everything looked so different. I have driven this area for over 30 years and knew it well . . . I actually drive the route seven days a week during the Winter months as I go to the Community pool to work out.  Yet, I was completely lost . . . and unable to locate the condo. I pushed the OnStar button and when the nice lady came on I explained my dilemma. I gave her the address and she downloaded direction to my navigation system. As we talked, she asked about the extent of the damage. I told her that the entire area looks totally different. As we talked, it occurred to me that while I had lost my way . . . many others have lost everything: home . . . car . . . personal belongings . . . jobs . . . so very much!  I told the OnStar lady that she could help with my problem . . . but for many only the Lord could help with their problems . . . I told her that I really wanted to help Him in all of that. 

My SS lesson this first Sunday back comes from Exodus . . . and focuses on the recently freed slave’s inclination to lose their way (spiritually) and to wander away from God. In my lesson, I had to try and catch the class up with the rest of the Baptists. I chuckled and told my folks that Baptist churches across America started the study of Exodus on September 1, just after we had made an exodus of our own (mandatory evacuation as Harvey approached). 

I brought the lesson up to Moses’ announcement that God had determined that because of their inclination to stay away and sin, He would not accompany them any further on their journey. Instead God would send an angel in His place. I reminded the class that that could not ever be our predicament . . . Angels are terrific and all, but certainly not a good replacement for the Lord on our journey. I reminded the group that we are indwelled by the very Spirit of God . . . and we simply cannot go anywhere without Him! 

We talked about Romans 8:28 wherein Paul assures us that ALL things work together for good . . . while things seem a bit confusing at the moment, we can be sure there will be plenty of good to come out of this situation. Human history recalls that humans tend to rise up and be their best in the worst of times. 

 

Cowboy Woes . . .

For several seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have had losing seasons. Some folks blamed the owner Jerry Jones . . . others blamed head-coach Jason Garrett, and others blamed Quarterback Tony Romo. I blamed both Coach Garrett and Quarterback Romo. My opinion of Garrett has long been that he has never accomplished anything in the game of football other than being a fair-to-poor back-up for Troy Aikman. I argued that Jerry Jones had run thru a handful of qualified coaches . . . men who had standards and told him the truth about his role and their role as head-coach. My impression is that Jones wants a coach who he can instruct about team matters and maintain veto/approval power over.

I also faulted Romo, who I viewed as pretty much a loser. Make no mistake, the dude was a heck of a QB and posted monster personal numbers, but he simply could not win games. In fact, all thru his football life, he competed in a system greatly studied by a group of bright, well-paid fellows known as Scouts. Those men had bypassed him at the Division 1 collegiate level, and he was left to play ball at a small Division 2 college, Eastern Illinois. He was also bypassed during the NFL draft. He was signed by the Cowboy organization as an undrafted rookie . .. and his job was as a holder for the kicker.

Then in 2015, the Cowboys drafted one Dakota Prescott (QB) and Ezekiel Elliott (running back).  Romo was injured early in the 2016 season and lost his starting role to Prescott. The two young guys led the Cowboys to a 13 and 3 season and they made the playoffs; the best season the Cowboys had in several years (in fact it tied their best record in franchise history).

As this season started, I had high hopes for this young team, but my hopes have not been fulfilled and the Cowboys go into their Bye Week at 2 & 4, in 3rd place behind the Redskins (2 & 2) and the Eagles (4 & 1).  Romo has moved to CBS’s broadcast booth (I wish him well). So, now I blame Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones . . . the team has a very poor defense. I am sick of hearing about rookies . . . they spend millions of bucks . . . get some seasoned guys to go with the rookies.

The defense . . . or lack thereof . . . has caused the loss of two games—back-to-back. Sunday’s loss was pitiful.

I have been reading the post-game reports about the loss to Green Bay. Both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett speculated about whether Dak should have slid to the one yard line . . . to use up more time on the clock. Garrett said, “Well, the problem is that it is really hard to score in this league, so there is a risk in stopping at the one yard line.”

Are you kidding me? GB received the kickoff in the end-zone and took possession on their 25, with just a minute and a few seconds on the game clock. They marched 75 yards down to the Cowboy’s end-zone to score . . .and left 11 seconds on the clock.

Perhaps Garrett ought to tell Arron Rodgers “how really hard it is to score in this league.”

Dak Prescott did what a winner does . . . he put the points on the board. The defense failed to defend their goal and the lead. It is all on the defense.

Succinctly Stated . . . I Believe . . .

. . . Believe what, you ask? Well, actually, I believe:

. . . that life is a mixed bag . . . it can be wonderful . . . but it can also be quite confusing and painful;

. . . the world is a pretty big mess . . . and I believe that humans are totally responsible for said mess;

. . . in God . . . I mean that I have a deep and abiding belief that He is the Creator . . and as such is the very author and giver of life;

. . . that the Holy Bible is God’s word to us . . . and for us. I believe it is true and it says what it means and means what it says. Moreover, I believe God inspired the writing of it and that He was most certainly capable of ensuring that it was His message . . . exactly the way He wanted us to have it;

. . . what it says about God . . . and what it says about man . . . and what it says about The Lord Jesus Christ;

. . . that Jesus came to save us;

. . . that the Bible tells us how God wants us to live . . . Jesus enables and empowers His followers to live accordingly; and

. . . and above all, I believe that Jesus is coming back to get us . . . and He will take us to live . . . forever . . . in that place He has prepared for us!

What do you believe? It is actually a very important matter . . . and impacts both your life and your future.

 

 

When the Government Report Events Defy Logic!

Just a few days back there was a terrible mass murder in Las Vegas . . . reports are that 58 were killed and over 500 were injured (many by the stampeding crowd).  Here is what we are being told:

. . . that a lone gunman . . . one Stephen Paddock, age 64 years, was the killer;

. . . that Paddock was a multi-millionaire;

. . . that he was a retired bookkeeper;

. . . that he had never served in the military, and it was believed he had never received any combat training; and

. . . that he had no criminal history.

Here is the simple truth . . . that report simply makes no sense. My own experience defies the reports. When I was a young guy (a strong bull . . . 37 years of age) I fired an AR 15 automatic weapon and it beat me up pretty good. My friend had just bought the weapon and wanted me to shoot it . . . I fired off a bust of about 20 rounds and was dumbfounded at the power of the recoil of the weapon.  It just wore me out (for the rest of the day).  I never wanted to fire that weapon again . . . and have not. My personal experience screams that an old man simply did not do this evil deed all by himself.  I have seen the photos of Paddock . . . the photos do not show a man who was in good shape physically . . . a guy who spent time in the gym pumping iron and pounding it out on the treadmill or stair-climber.  On the contrary, the photos reflect an older guy who spent years as a bookkeeper sitting at a desk . . . pretty soft and flabby.

I say there is no way that he lugged all of that military equipment up 32 floors, skillfully removed two large windows estimated to weigh something like 80-lbs each, and stand-firing a brutal AR-15 rapid fire for 10 to 12 minutes . . . with precision accuracy at 1,100 feet . . . down-hill (which is considerably more difficult than firing on a level plane) . . . and rigged up surveillance cameras so the hallway and door could be monitored.

I just watched a video of a guy claiming that a hacker had tapped into FBI files and claimed that Paddock was a covert arms merchant for the FBI . . . selling arms to the radical group ISIS . . . and that ISIS murdered Paddock and used the weapons to do the evil deed.  That the FBI has to cover its involvement.

Sound far-fetched? It surely does . . . but not any more far-fetched than the official report claiming that soft old man carried out single-handedly a feat that likely only two-out-or-ten Navy Seals could have done . . . acting alone.

If you think that is impossible, I would seek to remind you:

. . . of the government’s recent history of covert deals to provide arms to radical groups around the world . . . to the Contras in the 80’s and the Fast-and-Furious scandal under Obama . . . automatic military weapons sold into Mexico . .. and ending up in the hands of the drug cartels.

Another report by the government that defied logic was the Waco massacre of a bunch of folks in a religious cult. The government stormed the group’s compound in full combat gear . . . armed for war. The nuts inside simply responded to the aggression of ATF agents storming their private property. The government claimed the group had violated federal firearm laws, but it was later proved the ATF had issued the group federal firearms licenses for the arms they possessed. The government then claimed that the cult leader was guilty of sexually assaulting minor girls inside the compound . . . which might have been true . . . but even if it were true, it was not a matter of federal law. Later investigation revealed that the State Agency Child Protective Services had just a few months prior investigated those allegations and was unable to substantiate the claims.

The sad truth is . . . our government has a long history of dishonesty. An example is the black cloud hanging over the FBI at this moment in time . . . resulting from the behavior of one James Comey . . . the former director of the Agency.

 

 

 

King Kong . . .

The YMCA in Burnet has two indoor pools. I learned yesterday that the pool I use is the “open pool” with a depth of 4.5-foot, but the other pool is the “restricted pool.” That pool has several diving boards and much deeper water. The reason that pool is restricted is that kids must pass a swim test and earn a bracelet to be eligible to swim there. Of course, that bracelet is something of a status symbol.

As I did my workout routine this afternoon, a cute chubby kid dog-paddled over to me and asked if I knew how to swim, and if I might watch him swim and offer him advice. He was going to meet one of the guards in 30 minutes to take his swimming test . . . which he had already flunked a couple of times. I agreed and asked him to swim a little and let me watch. He swam a few feet. Like most kids who have not had lessons but are pretty much self-taught, he tried to keep his head completely out of the water. I explained the difference in how a turtle plows thru the water as opposed to the sleek glide of a fish. I showed him how to roll his head from side to side and breathe as he took a stroke (the American Crawl). I also had him work on using his legs as he swam. In a few minutes his performance was much improved and his confidence level increased. After our swimming class, he grinned real big and thanked me for the advice. As we chatted I learned that his name is Dylan and he is in the 6th grade . . . he is a nice, well-mannered kid.

When he saw the young female guard enter the pool room, he thanked me again and said he had to go take his test. I paused my march thru the water and worked in place to observe my new pal take his test. In a few minutes he and the guard got out of the pool and went to the guard station. In a few minutes he hurried back to where I was and with a big grin held his arm up and showed off his new wrist-band.

I congratulated him and said, “Good job, Dude!” He excused himself and turned to the restricted pool and jumped in. He swam over to the WeBit (the blow-up aquatic obstacle course) that is stretched the length of the pool and covers a couple of swim lanes. I watched as he climbed up onto the thing. I chuckled as I watched him fall into the water several times . . . then he finally made it to the end. As he stepped off of the thing onto the deck, he looked like Rocky doing his shuffle as he prepared for his battle with Apollo Creed!

As my new pal, Dylan, left the pool he had a new bounce in his step. Dylan is now King Kong! I am betting his week at school will be better that last week. I hope so . . .

 

 

Where is God . . .

My Church was seriously damaged by Hurricane Harvey . . . my town was seriously damaged by Hurricane Harvey . . . my beautiful home was seriously damaged by Hurricane Harvey . . . my senior citizen apartments were seriously damaged by Hurricane Harvey . . . the landscaped yard I have labored on and spent much money on over the past 30 years was ripped to shreds . . . and is now bare!

We obeyed a mandatory evacuation order and left until the storm passed and we were told it was okay to return. The destruction was so wide-spread and the damage so great that I actually wept as we arrived in town on our re-entry. Everywhere I looked, I saw people’s dreams and possessions trashed out and laying about.

As we pulled up to our home and looked at the damage, Sandy patted me on the arm and lovingly reminded me, “Honey, it is just stuff.”  I smiled and replied, “I know . . . but it is our stuff . . . stuff we worked for . . . stuff we wanted.”

People’s lives have been seriously impacted by Hurricane Harvey . . . in so many ways . . . on so many levels . . . in so many places along the upper coast.

Then, there is a major hurricane bearing down on Florida and perhaps the East Coast . . . her name is Irma . . . and she was being billed as the “most powerful storm ever on the planet. The even sadder news is that there was still another hurricane, Jose, some distance behind Irma.

When a natural disaster like this occurs, there are some who scoff and openly challenge and taunt . . . asking, “Where is God?”  My answer is a polite yet strong, “God is right where He has always been . . . doing what He has always done at this time of the year. Here are a few truths to help you understand the cycle:

  1. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th . . . and it tends to peak about the first part of September, but still there have been a few storms of note even in October.
  2. Planet Earth is a big ball and there are people living on both sides of this big ball with alternating seasons of the year. As summer fades into fall in the USA, spring fades into summer elsewhere.
  3. God uses hurricanes to gather and move the heat from the Deep South and transfer it to the North in order to melt the snow and ice . . . and break the winter for other regions. If God didn’t do this, then the other folks would live in brutal conditions endlessly. Can you even imagine temperatures of 100 degrees below zero all year long in places like Fairbanks, Alaska?
  4. There is nothing wrong with God or His method of global climate control . . . the problem rests with me and others like me. The simple truth is that we came to the Coast for a visit and took a serious liking to it, and throwing caution to the wind (literally), we moved here and built or purchased a home and raised our families . . . smack dab in the middle of hurricane alley.

So in conclusion,   God is simply doing what He has always done . . . managing the ebb and flow . . . the very rhythm of His beautiful creation.  Meanwhile, mankind is pretty much doing what he has always done . . . making poor decisions . . . getting himself into hot water . . . and crying out to God for rescue and deliverance.

There is a rhythm in man’s staying, stumbling, failing, suffering consequences . . . and crying out to God for protection, provision, deliverance, forgiveness, peace, rest, and restoration. Of course, God is faithful in all things, and He is certainly faithful in responding to a confessing sinner.

There are several passages in the Bible that indicate that God both forgives and forgets our sin.  Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Hebrews 10:14-18 explains how Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for sin was a once-and-for-all sacrifice. Unlike the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, in which sacrifices were continually made for sin, Jesus paid for sin once. His payment was complete. That passage says, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says, “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”

Psalms 103:1-12 describes this ebb and flow with man and his Creator.

 

 

What Happens When We Die?

Sandy was informed that her uncle (Dad’s oldest brother) was being put on hospice earlier this week, and being moved to a hospital in Fort Worth. We drove up to say our goodbyes to him and to stand by her two aunts at this difficult time. The word was that he had both congestive heart failure and kidneys had shut down . . . and he refused any treatment.

I was a bit surprised when we entered his room . . . he was alert, smiling, chuckling, and talking. As we entered and greeted everyone, he asked me if I recalled the afternoon I had taken him fishing and had found the large school of redfish. He said, “I could not believe that you motioned those guys in the other boat to come along side of us so they could catch fish, too.” I chuckled and said, “We had limited out.” The amazing thing was that he is 91 years old and in the last phase of life and recalled the precise details of a fishing trip 25 years ago. He also reminded me of a few hunting trips when I had taken him along.

In a few minutes he turned to his sisters and said that he ought to be on his golf cart checking on the RV-park he has looked after for the past dozen years. I chuckled and told him that one of the things I had always appreciated about him was that he was a man who always did his job.  He liked that and spoke of the importance of folks being responsible and doing their job. I smiled and asked him if he was going to let me do my job . . . and he inquired what my job was. I told him that I had driven to Fort Worth to tell him that I love him, to say my farewell . . . and most importantly to see if he was ready to go out into eternity. He was a bit taken back and asked what I meant. I said, “Uncle Cale, each one of us has a set appointment to meet Jesus and it will be so much better if we know Him before that face-to-face meeting occurs.” He smiled and said, “The way I see it is that we die . . . and instantly we are gone . . . and that is all there is . . . then we are nothing ever again.” His words hit me like someone had punched me in the gut.  I was sitting by the waste basket and reached over and picked up a piece of paper. I asked him what it was now and what it had been before.  He didn’t get my question, so I explained that the paper had been made from wood . . . and retraced the stages from seed to tree . . . from lumber to paper . . . then I asked him what would happen if I touched a flame to the paper. He said, “It would burn.” I asked, “What would be left?” He said ashes . . . I told him that actually both ashes and gas would be left. I explained that the point was that at every stage from seed, tree, wood, paper to ashes and gas that there was never “just nothing” . . . but the truth of it was that it had merely changed form . . . but there was always something that remained. I tried to get him to see that his logic was faulty . . . and that he would do well to change his mind and prepare spiritually to go out into eternity.  Sadly, I realized that what I was trying to get him to see something that was equal to trying to get a goose to see the mechanics of calculus.

I am fully convinced that one day I will die . . . and will pass into the next life. I am certain that before they can deliver my lifeless body to the local funeral home, I will be in the presence of my Creator and that which remains of me (I believe my soul) will ever be present with the Lord! That whatever of me remains after physical death will be in the presence of my Creator. I believe that I have a predestined appointment with Him. I believe the setting of that meeting will be similar to a courtroom on earth . . . God will set on His brilliant throne in all of His glory, surrounded by His Heavenly hosts . . . I will be seated on the witness bench . . . and the enemy of my soul will be there as the accuser . . . in that capacity, He will remind God of every sin I ever committed . . . I will sit there guilty-as-charged; but then Jesus, The risen Savior, will stand up and come alongside me . . . at which time, the enemy will move as far away as possible . . . and Jesus will say, “Excuse me, but . . . every one of those things identified have been paid for! I took all of those things and nailed them to a cross on a remote hill . . . I took what he deserved back then . . . so that today I can now share with him what I deserve!” The great Judge will declare me forgive, bought, and paid for, and will proclaim those blessed words, “Well done . . . enter into my rest!” I believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will forever be present with the Lord and I will be there only because of what the Lord Jesus Christ did for me on the Cross . . . and my faith in Him!

I also believe the same scene will play out for Uncle Cale . . . but the difference is that Jesus will sadly remain seated, silenced by Cale’s unbelief . . . and will quietly say, “Cale, I would have . . . but you would not!”

I would argue that your life/future involves both a pre-destined appointment . . . and a decision that must be made prior to that appointment time!

Be wise . . . my friend.  Your eternity hangs in the balance between decision and indecision . . . between belief and doubt.