Extra! Extra! What We All Knew…

Extra ExtraPure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27

Someone told me about how he and his wife have an application on their IPhones that allow them to track their teenager at all times. That includes when he is driving and how fast he is are going! The dad and his wife had tried to contact him recently, but calls and texts went unanswered. They called a neighbor to check the house to see if he was OK.

He had left his phone at home when he went down the street to see a friend. The dad chuckled at having “busted” his son without his phone. He complained that the kid should know better than to go anywhere without his phone.

I understand that this comes from a place of concern, but I think that there are, as always, unintended consequences. My first question is how much anyone enjoys being tracked, a belled cat, as it were. There’s a certain amount of pressure that goes with that.

iPhone EvilMy suspicious side can’t help wondering how much society in general is being trained in to a 1984-type environment: everything is monitored, everything is controlled. How malicious and deliberate an attempt that may or may not be I certainly can’t say. Once again, however, we’re faced with unintended – or at least unrecognized – consequences, and I’m not comfortable with the possibility. Even the author describes this generation as “compliant.”

Then I see an article on London Daily Mail about The Dawn of the Snowflake IGeneration.

Here’s the lead in to the article:

People born in 1995 or later are unhappy, mentally fragile and leading more sheltered lives than previous generations, according to a leading psychologist.

This generation has been sucked into a virtual world. It is not one God meant us for. Even though those virtual worlds include real people, they aren’t interacting directly with those people! Those interpersonal skills are lost, or, even worse, never developed!

Can one visit and comfort widows and orphans electronically? Absolutely not! Can one love through a digital screen? Never!

Corporations like mine spending millions on travelling salesmen, cars, hotels, and restaurants, because they know that nothing can replace a real person.

When people feel loved and fulfilled, they thrive. According to the article:

…the lack of fulfilment felt by young people as a result of their screen-time has led to a spike in depression, self-harm and suicide among young people, she claims.

The good news is that “More than a third of all young people have already shut the door on some form of social media.”

They suspected and finally concluded that social media is their problem, that it’s all about unhealthy competition and isolation. Hopefully, they will soon discover that real happiness starts with letting God love them and sharing His love.

They’ll find out if we tell them!!

I hope you’ll click on the link above and read the article for yourself.

Dale “Santa” Sheply

I realized that this weekend marks three years since my dear friend, Dale Sheply, was called him to His reward with Jesus.  Below is what I wrote at his passing.  I hope you will enjoy reading about a truly great man as much as I enjoyed knowing him.

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“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”   Psalm 73:25-26

Dale Sheply died Saturday morning just after midnight. My nephew called me shortly after Dale passed to give me the sad news. He called as soon as he could, because Dale and I were more than friends. We treated each other as family.

Dale was what we would today call an “operator” in Viet Nam. He saw and did things that would scare the hell out of our nightmares. His medals – which he only showed me once when he was a bit tipsy – included a Bronze Star, topping an impressive salad bar. He never did tell any of us exactly what was behind it. He wasn’t quite that tipsy.

He refused to let any of that color his post-war life. Not only did he successfully leave those times behind, he literally became a personification of peace.

Dale Sheply was a natural Santa Claus. He grew his hair and beard long and bleached them a perfect Santa white. No padding. Dale lived life, and that included enjoying his food a bit overmuch. He had a custom Santa suit made. In full regalia, he was Santa Claus. He wasn’t some guy in costume. He was the absolute real deal.

He loved kids. Adored them in all shapes and sizes. His biggest thrills were thrilling kids as Santa.

He raised my three nephews from grade school up, since my sister and her husband were too self-absorbed to do it properly themselves. The boys needed parents and saw what real parents looked like when Dale and his wife came into their lives. They gravitated to his home and spent as much time with him as possible. To this day, they all him and Sandy “Dad” and “Mom.”

Dale is a Christian. I have no doubt he’s in glory with the angels in the presence of God. He lived the way life he did, because he believed in Jesus. He did good, because God showed him how and why.

Dale and I talked often. That’s how I know the man and love him as well as I do. When you’re half way across the country, it’s hard to visit in person as often as you’d like. So we burned up the phone lines often. We talked life, God, dealing with problems, and celebrating joys. He always had good advice when I found myself lost. I think I helped him too. He called me as much as I called him.

But today my friend is gone from this earth. It stings, even though I know he’s in eternal peace, where God Himself will wipe every tear from Dale’s eye. Dale suffered more than one bout with cancer as well as many other ailments in addition to his wounds from Viet Nam. His flesh finally failed him, though God is his portion forever.

I spoke with Dale just a few days before his death. He called just to chat, but he’d been having coughing spells, originally diagnosed as pneumonia. The docs soon realized it must be something else and helped him make an appointment with a lung specialist. The last time we spoke he sounded great, and I told him so. But he said when the coughing starts, it just wipes him out. I feared something bad was in the offing. I just didn’t really know how badly or how soon it would hurt him.

What have I been thinking about since 12:20 Saturday morning? His visit here last summer with one of my nephews. We took him to the best BBQ and Blues restaurant I know of. Between the food and the acoustic blues, he would just sit in his chair, eyes closed, swaying to the beat, and the biggest smile on his face. I enjoyed watching him more than the food or the music, which were both stellar.

That’s how I’m sure I’ll remember him for the rest of my life; Dale in ecstasy with his favorite music and food. I’m sure he looks something like and yet well beyond that right now. I’m hoping that smile will be one of those greeting me when my time comes.

 

Quote for 1/5/2018

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.    Isaiah 1:16-17 NKJV

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I recently related an experience many years ago at a Panera where a man was mercilessly berating his young son, saying that he was embarrassing them in front of everyone.  The young lad’s fault?  He couldn’t think of anything he wanted to eat that morning.  That’s it.

I quietly told him he was embarrassing himself.  The boy had nothing to do with his display.  He put his nose on mine and screamed at me point blank for the better part of a minute, which seemed much longer.  I just stared him down, never blinking.  He left with his tail between his legs, a beaten man.

A grade school teacher there praised me, saying the boy needed to have someone stand up for him, to hear someone say he was OK.  I also got a lot of stink eyes and side comments I was meant to hear about sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.

I still think I did the right thing, although a smaller voice sometimes raises doubts.

Then I read today’s verse, and I feel washed clean from that doubt.  I Rebuked the oppressor; Defended the fatherless.  Maybe that’s not what the world wants to see, but it IS what God wants to see.

I encourage you to do what’s right in the eyes of God, not man.  Even if it means disapproval on earth.  Fight the fights that need fighting!  For your reward will be great in heaven!

Who’s Talking?

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.    Matthew 10:33

Grant_crop_of_Cold_Harbor_photoI’m reading the memoirs and letters of General U.S. Grant, something I’ve meant to do for a long time.  I am struck how things are now as they ever were. The issues have changed, but the behavior of people is much the same.

There was a force at Camp Jackson just outside St. Louis whose command, at least, was sympathetic to the Southern States.  They were well-positioned to capture the United States Arsenal there, gaining much materiel for the Southern cause.  For reasons Grant himself couldn’t fathom, they never moved on that objective and were eventually captured and imprisoned.

What I found fascinating in all of this and more is how vocal those of the rebellion were against the silent voices of Unionists.  Following is a very short excerpt from the St. Louis affair.

Up to this time (their capture) the enemies of the government in St. Louis had been bold and defiant, while Union men were quiet and determined.  The enemies had their headquarters in a central and public position…from which the rebel flag was flaunted boldly.  The Union men had a place of meeting somewhere in the city, I do not know where, and I doubt whether they dared to enrage the enemies of the government by raising the national flag outside their headquarters.  As soon as the news of the capture of Camp Jackson reached the city the condition of affairs was changed.  Union men became rampant, aggressive, and, if you will, intolerant.  (emphasis added)

Civil War Georgia

How many lives lost because too many Unionists didn’t fight with words before bullets?

Elsewhere Grant relates how Missouri, for example, was a slave state, but failed to vote in favor of secession.  Still, they were represented in the South’s congress.  With the intent of the few thwarted, when the pro-south governor died, his lieutenant rightly assumed the governorship, but then simply issued executive orders declaring them part of the Southern secession, despite the will of the people by vote!

In the late 20th Century and on through the present day, the United States has been in the process of secession from God.  This is a movement that has been led by a vocal minority while Christians, afraid of a confrontation, have remained silent.  We find ourselves now at a point where homosexuality is not regarded as a sin, that evolution is accepted fact despite scientific proofs to the contrary, and so many minds have been swayed by the one-sided discussion that Christians find themselves on the outside looking in.

Scientist

How many souls lost because too many Christians didn’t fight back in Word & Deed?

Who’s doing all of the talking?  The atheists, who, by the way, believe in God and are simply angry at Him for some reason.  If there is no God, if what anyone believes makes no difference when we die, what in the world are they so up in arms about?  People with that much fervor have a lot of belief!

Meanwhile, we’ve sat in our pews all comfy with our hymns and orders of service and tried to just hope and pray this will all pass by.  Our opposition has more faith and commitment than we do!  Despite our familiarity with at least a few favorite Bible passages, we don’t ACT on them!  We all know is that we are to put on the armor and weapons of God’s Word, but only in an intellectual, ethereal way.  How many of us are willing to actually swing that sword and take a shot on the armor in real life?

We’ve been quiet and let the minority sway the minds of our friends and our children!  OUR CHILDREN!!

Bull Halsey

General “Bull” Halsey, WWII hero and recipient of some dumb luck!

It seem good always gives evil a head start by standing by as if it’ll all be OK in time.  Always.  Every time evil gets a bigger head start before good finally decides it’s a real fight after all.  World War II was a lot closer than you might think, especially in the Pacific.  Our navy was saved from its own errors, even stupidity, but for dumb luck.  Providence, actually.  With a capital, “P.”

Lest I sound too preachy, I have to say I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone.  When, for example, was the last time I asked someone not to use Jesus’ name in vain while talking with me?  Memory fails.  And I’m ashamed that it does.  I’m resolving to change that on any number of issues.  When I hear something that isn’t right, I need to find a way to speak up and speak out in a loving, Christian way, but speak up all the same.

I invite you to pick an issue.  Just one.  Decide what you’re going to do or say about it.  Get armored up in advance and then do something about it the next time that issue comes up.  If you don’t, well…

…who’s doing the talking then?

Jesus Sad

What to Think

It seems we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves. We obsess over latest crazes.  We worry over insecurities we never knew we had until told we have them.  Here are some Labor Day headlines that do nothing but feed fear and irresponsibility:

  • Kate suffers from extreme morning sickness that strikes just 1% of pregnant women and can be DEADLY
    • According to Americanpregnancy.org “Morning sickness is not harmful to you or your baby…”
    • If severe, it can cause problems due to “possible lack of nutrients and electrolyte imbalances.”
    • Nothing about death
  • Friends, the ‘office feeders’ and your children: Expert reveals the people in your life making you fat – and how to stop them from increasing your weight
    • Temptations abound, of course. But they aren’t responsible for you behavior. YOU are.
  • How Amal’s make-up artist made her a walking advert: She reveals every lotion and potion used to preen Mrs. Clooney
    • A.k.a. – spend money here to be (like) someone else who is better than you
  • Instagram health warning: Why just half an hour browsing ‘fitspiration’ images on the photo-sharing platform will make you hate your body
    • A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.   Proverbs 14:30

 Listening NOTThey run the gamut from lies to feeding insecurities to subtly placing blame on others for our own attitudes and behaviors. The last headline, for example, is essentially good advice; comparing yourself to others can warp your attitude toward yourself and the life God gave you.  But THEY won’t make you do anything!

EXAMPLE: You’re expecting a phone call from someone you really don’t want to deal with but must. The phone rings and you get all tied up inside; this is it!  You answer, but it’s your best friend.  Ever.

Phone EvilSo who put your guts in a tizzy, you or the phone?

I don’t read news. I scan headlines and maybe read articles, if I want to know more.  I usually don’t.  I have a dear friend who lives just outside of Los Angeles in Tujunga.   I read up on the fires when I saw that headline, because he’s two time zones behind me.  He works very late, and I didn’t want to wake him if all is well.

Things like that.

We read the news. We watch the news.  We gobble up social media.  We spin spinners (what the heck is with that, anyway?!?)  We text.  We email.  We spell badly.  A lot.  Even “professional” writers for online news sites.

What are we doing? What are we thinking?  What SHOULD we be doing and thinking?

How about Bible reading, for starters?

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.    Philippians 4:8

Isn’t that a nice message? Isn’t that good advice?  Doesn’t it give you a breath of calm instead of a jolt of worry?

Meditate on these things.

Lasting Memories

The sword shall destroy outside; There shall be terror within For the young man and virgin, The nursing child with the man of gray hairs. 26 I would have said, “I will dash them in pieces, I will make the memory of them to cease from among men,”   Deuteronomy 32:25-27

That’s God taking about His retribution to Israel for forsaking Him. What is the climax of His curse?  Erasing their memory from the world!

Dale Boeru - Roadside MemorialWe all want to be remembered. Why is that?  Do we think that we remain alive as long as our memory lives?  I think that is too often the case.  People setup up roadside memorials to remember those who died there.  I’ve driven through cemeteries where many graves are decorated for holidays and birthdays as if the deceased can participate.

I want to be remembered after I die, but not because I think the memory will preserve me or even some small part of me. I consider it a litmus test as to how well I lived my life for others, how much of an impact I had on the world around me.  The idea of being remembered after my death gives me some sort of hope that I lived a good, God-pleasing life.

How well did I treat my family, my work mates, friends, and acquaintances? How well did I share God’s Word, whether teaching classes on Sunday mornings or talking with a seat mate on a flight?

I pray that God uses me well on this earth for His purposes. I pray that I will meet Him face to face in heaven because of the faith and salvation He graciously has given me.  I pray that when I’m to give an accounting of my life on judgement day my ledger shows at least some sort of appropriate loving response to His love.  I won’t appear among the likes of the apostles, but I hope to have some passing resemblance to them!

I submit to you that we do our best to live every day so that our loved ones, while mourning our absence from them, can rejoice that we are with our Saviour in Heaven. Build me no roadside memorial or decorate my grave.

Faith That Pleases GodDon’t live a life that leaves your loved ones wondering if you really are in heaven. Don’t leave them without hope.  Leave them with a memory that says you definitely had faith in your salvation, that the gift of that faith landed you in Heaven with Jesus.  Give them that comfort that Jesus’ sacrifice was not in vain for you!

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.    Psalm 25:6-7

Today’s Eclipse

And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.    Deuteronomy 4:19

If you’re one of those, like me, who will try to view the eclipse, what will your reaction will be?

Will you feel closer to all mankind and all warm inside?

Or will you be awed at what an incredible Creation God had given us to live in?

Oh, and say ‘Thank you”?

Luke 14:7-11

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.      Philippians 4:8 [Full Chapter]

Book StoreI was browsing around the bookstore this evening and saw some new titles. One title was “You are a Badass; How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.”

First, language people! This was on the New Arrivals shelf maybe 20 feet inside the door.  Kids see this stuff!  Is this how we want them…EVERYONE talking all of the time?

Second, it’s a lousy message. We have no inherent greatness.  That’s the road that leads to self-worship and narcissism.  How about focusing on others and community, building the team?  If everyone starts talking themselves into how great they are, who’s going to be listening?  Who is going to care?

Rather, give up to God and your neighbor in humility. Tooting your own horn won’t get you nearly as far as someone else caring enough to toot it for you!

33 Then He (Jesus) came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”    Mark 9:33-35

Or one of Jesus’ parables:

humilitySo He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”    Luke 14:7-11

The other book I saw was even worse: “The Subtle Art of not giving a F****.” Except it was spelled out with a dirty ink splotch instead of the vowel.  Once more; language, people!

If that’s the best this clown can do with a title, what would make me trust there’s anything subtle anywhere in this book?

The basic premise is a good one. See the Bible passage at the top.  But this profane person wants you to buy his book for $20 or more.

Let me save you some time and money. Read my article Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys from 02/02/2016.

Here endeth the lesson.