Archive for November, 2011

Romans Road to Redemption

November 30, 2011

The first thing I can remember, when someone asks me if they might be “saved” or not, is Romans 10.

It’s so plain and simple and smooth as fresh asphalt.

It’s also the first reading today in our Church’s Liturgy.

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

 16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

  “Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.”

The greatest promise God ever made to us is embodied in the above text.

So, the next time you, or someone you care about, doubts their chance at salvation take them for a ride on Romans Road.

I know every time I take the trip, it’s like driving my car on a freshly laid road.

Everything looks so beautiful.

Norway Killer Almost as Insane as His Doctors

November 29, 2011

It must be incredibly difficult for parents of the dozens of teenagers killed by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, to deal with their losses each day.

From BBC World News:

On 22 July, Breivik disguised himself as a police officer to plant a car bomb that exploded close to government offices in the capital Oslo, killing eight people.

Still in uniform, he then drove to the island of Utoeya, where a summer youth camp of Norway’s governing Labour Party was being held.

In a shooting spree that lasted more than an hour, he killed 69 people – mostly teenagers.

In a manifesto he published online, Breivik said he was fighting to defend Europe from a Muslim invasion, which was being enabled by what he called “cultural Marxists” in Norway’s Labour Party, and the European Union.

Now psychiatrists in Norway have declared him to be “insane.”

To me, insanity cannot include plotting and planning to a degree that includes the fabrication of bombs and the disguising of oneself as a Police Officer.

It appears to me the game has not yet ended for this killer and his psychiatrists are his latest victims.

Dear people of Norway, frustrated by your country’s politically correct approach to this crime…especially you parents grieving so deeply with hearts broken, please know there is one more justice system through which this man must pass.

Isaiah 11 is a prophecy of the future.

Be consoled by this…it may be all you have.

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
   from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
   the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
   the Spirit of counsel and of might,
   the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

   He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
   or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
   with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
   with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
   and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Isaiah’s Vision of Peace

November 28, 2011

It’s one of the most quoted Old Testament passages.

Isaiah 2 is about as plain as it gets.

 1This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

 2In the last days

   the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
   as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
   and all nations will stream to it.

 3Many peoples will come and say,

   “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
   to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
   so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
   the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations
   and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
   and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
   nor will they train for war anymore.

What’s most bothersome with modern-day commentary about this Scripture is the “politically correct” way in which Liberals try to humiliate those serving our country for “training for war.”

Their simplistic approach to world problems makes about as much sense as using reason with a two-year old and a hot stove.

Barriers must be set up or the battle will be lost.

It’s equally insulting when they presume that those who do train for war don’t have this same vision.

Here’s the bottom line.

That’s exactly what they’re fighting for–Peace.

Here’s another conundrum.

Isaiah’s vision only comes to pass by the hand of the Almighty…with more than just one or two miracles I might add.

Question:

How then can Liberals, with a humanistic viewpoint of our Creator have any credibility when they tout pacifism?

Answer:

They don’t.

Just ask Senator John Kerry to explain why he threw away his metals in protest of the Viet Nam War…his answer is a giant circle of blame, never once pointing at his strange motives.

A yacht moored in Rhode Island and not his home State of Massachusetts where he needed to pay a tax revealed a bit.

One more thing.

It’s not enough just to train for war against our enemies abroad.

We must study the opposition within.

When we turn a blind eye to corruption, we’re condoning it.

God help us always beat lies into truth.

Our plans for peace depend on it.

Suspicious Reminds–Elvis Live–Almost

November 27, 2011

Every now and again I watch public television on Saturday evenings.

Last night was a tribute to the 25 years since Elvis passed.

The Pyramid Theater in Memphis was where, through the magic of technology, a big screen backdrop of the King was melded together with most of the still living artists who sang and played with him so long ago and are now on stage again with his image in a live performance.

Though silver-haired, chubby, or bald, the men who backed him up are touchingly performing again–crisp as ever.

The women singers look the same and sound even better.

Why is that?

I have no idea what God has planned for those who get to heaven.

But, wouldn’t it be cool if we were given the chance to redo our greatest performances in front of an audience of Saints, lead by the Spirit of The King?

The good we do is never forgotten by The Omniscient One.

As humans, we’re likely to forget it all.

That may explain why we see in the Gospel story, “the sheep” say to the Lord, “When did we see you naked and clothe you?”

Just like the producers of this program were needed to re-create these classy moments, we’ll need God Almighty to help us see whatever good we’ve done.

I hope I have a few things to do again.

Wise men say…or something like that.

Obama’s View of Thanksgiving

November 26, 2011

The blogs are abuzz today with criticism of the President for leaving “God” out of his Thanksgiving speech.

He said we Americans are “lucky.”

As tough as I am on him at times, at least his comments are consistent with his view on “bounty.”

Most believers I know see God’s gifts, like family, friends, a job etc..not as something “lucky” that happens, but as part of His Grace and Mercy toward us.

That’s why we’re thankful.

Remember the old saying…

Grace is something we get (a blessing) that we don’t deserve…Mercy is something we didn’t get (punishment) that we do deserve.

The President believes America has been evil in her past and therefore should make amends to any and all with their hands raised seeking compensation.

He also believes our wealth and success is random…so random that it should be redistributed–logically.

Sadly, his utopian ideas are failing.

Why?

Because only God the Father has the ability to create Utopia, as He alone has the wealth needed to make it happen.

Never does He tell His disciples to create a society of equals.

In fact, He teaches them to preach to all the “Good News” so that His Angels can more easily separate the sheep from the goats.

Liberals–many who claim to be humanists, are more likely to pursue ideals with “religious”  fervor than most Conservatives.

Global warming, animal rights, abortion on demand, are just a few examples of “doctrine” they want to force down the throats of the entire world.

What side of the fence are you on?

My father used to say, there are two driving forces in the world…Love and Hate.

One acknowledges God and His blessings.

The other is trying to drag men away from Him.

In my view, “hate” is playing Golf when it should be at Church.

Give thanks to God for we are lucky?

Sounds like something you’d hear in Vegas.

Didn’t someone say we shouldn’t go there?

Holiday Perks

November 25, 2011

For the past few years, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving at the home of my wife’s niece.

Toward the end of the day, at each of these celebrations, another family has “popped-in” for dessert.

I don’t remember their names, until I see them again and they tell me, but, that hardly matters, because they’re three attractive ladies and I’m always eager to give them hugs.

Not because they’re cute of course…

The Bible teaches us to celebrate with those who celebrate and cry with those who cry.

There’s never a good reason, especially at the holidays, to cower on the couch saying to oneself, “I don’t know these people, so I’ll just ignore them and stare at the football game.”

God’s family is so incredibly large that when heaven is spoken about, like it was today in the Old Testament reading from Daniel, those ministering at the Throne of God are too great to count.

As I looked,thrones were set in place, 
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow; 
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire, 
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing, 
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him; 
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated, 
and the books were opened.

The Gospel is preached not just by Words.

The Books that are prophesied to be opened, just might have our names inscribed in them because of a little thing we did for a stranger.

God does not mind that we get a perk out of it here on earth.

The Lord grants us moments, each day, to make His highlight reel…be aware…you’re being watched.

What I’m Thankful For

November 24, 2011

Each year, when my wife’s sister hosts a turkey dinner at her home she asks everyone to say one thing they’re thankful for during the family prayer before the meal.

It’s usually split right down the middle, between those who roll their eyes and those eager to give God the glory.

Since I’m a somewhat of a cynical wise guy, I do both.

I’d like to wish all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.

I’m especially thankful for the times you read my blog and give me encouragement.

There’s just one thing.

I have a special new “app” on my laptop.

It allows me to look at your face as you’re reading my post.

Yep…

I’ve seen you rolling your eyes more than once.

I really can’t blame you.

Most of what I say is…

Nevermind.

I still love you.

Have a great day.

The Oldest Cliché in the Book

November 23, 2011

There are so many clichés that come from the Bible.

The one that just might be the most used of all time comes from today’s Old Testament reading in Daniel 5.

 1 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his fatherhad taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

 5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.

13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom.

6 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

 17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

 25“This is the inscription that was written:

   MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

 26“Here is what these words mean:

   Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

 27Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

 28Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

A dear friend of mine wrote a beautiful posting on her FB page about how Thanksgiving Day is now completely overshadowed by Black Friday–a day of want.

She is so correct.

The hand writing is on the wall, with regard to God’s bounty being less important than our pending booty.

In so many ways, we as a society are mocking God just as King Belshazzar did.

Help us Lord to slow down and absorb Your grace and mercy in our lives.

It is never “cliché” to pray and say we’re grateful.

Finishing A Race

November 22, 2011

Yesterday we learned that one of my all time favorite baseball players on the Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, did not win the American League Baseball MVP.

Going into the final month of the season, September, it was pretty clear that he would take home that hardware and that the Red Sox, his team, would make the playoffs.

No one really knows why the latter didn’t occur, outside of losing nearly every game they played that month.

I’m not saying Jacoby is to blame for Justin Verlander, a pitcher, winning the MVP award.

What I am saying is that there’s a tough lesson in this story for us all.

Often times we do good for others.

We may even find favor with God because of sacrifices we make, that no one else knows of.

Yet, since we stop using the same discipline that got us there, the reward is lost when we try to glorify ourselves for the deed.

How many times have I done something kind for my wife and then minutes later made a dumb remark that made her feel bad?

Good thing you don’t know the answer to that.

Who in this audience has not shared a blessing with a poor neighbor and then bragged about it later, only to wipe clean the virtue that inspired it?

Help us Lord to start with humility and finish with a double portion of the same.

The finish line sometimes has a way of filling our heads with pride.

That’s our fault, not Yours.

Avoiding Political Correctness Takes Preparation

November 21, 2011

Today’s Old Testament reading allows us to see the effects of political correctness and how to avoid it in the days of Daniel the prophet.

Check out this oppression from King Nebuchadnezzar and the slick way in which Daniel avoids giving into it in Dn Chapter 1.

 1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babyloniaand put in the treasure house of his god.

 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

 6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

 8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

 11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

 17To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

 18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

The similarities in this story to our world are subtle but real.

Society has been besieged by PC thought.

Satan has disguised much of it with clever words, like being “pro-choice”, or “celebrating alternative life styles.”

When it rears its ugly head, like Daniel, who found other ways to sustain himself, we must be ready with the right answers that protect us from corruption and condoning sin.

We alone are responsible for keeping ourselves unstained and those around us enlightened, through times such as these.