Monthly Archives: February 2016

Destiny – obedience to God the difference in, Part I

This blog excerpts the second message from I Samuel 16 preached 2/28/16.

I Samuel 16:13-14 records the fall and rise of two men in Israel:  Saul’s fall and David’s rise.  David’s anointing by Samuel had as positive an impact on him as a negative impact on Saul.

Further, the Spirit’s bestowal on David and withdrawal from Saul resulted from each man’s lifestyle.  Not merely because David represented the rising and Saul the setting sun in Israel.  Not merely because a generational change occurred from the older king to the youthful shepherd.

It meant that Saul’s spiritual alienation from God had reached its climax while David’s spiritual maturity had only begun to deepen.  Remember that Saul represented the king Israel wanted—a king like the nations.  David represented the king God desired—a man after his own heart.  God let them have their way, knowing Saul would fail.  God chose David to found a kingdom that exists to this very day as the Church and shall forever as the Kingdom of Heaven ruled by God and his Christ.

The Holy Spirit couldn’t be ON both men at the same time, as he would be equally on the Twelve apostles on Pentecost.  They were all the same kind of men:  committed to Jesus, believing his word and obeying his will.  Saul and David were poles-apart opposites.

– End Part I –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

Team – church a working

In the Twenty-Century Fox film The Longest Day, Jeffrey Hunter played a Sergeant elevated to Lieutenant on Omaha Beach by General Cota. Ordered to place a Bangalore torpedo under a concrete retaining wall, his team succeeded.  In placing explosives in the hole beneath it, the Lieutenant was killed.  Immediately one of his men edged forward and finished the job.  TCM, 2/25/16.  A picture of teamwork in the group.  That should describe the work of Christians in the church.  We’re all individuals but part of the group.  As individuals we labor for the benefit of the team.  Churches need to think of an army when considering church life.  Every army expects casualties and trains its soldiers to fill in when wounding or death eliminates one.  Churches also have casualties, through transfers of members and loss by death or dissatisfaction.

When it happens, another team member needs to volunteer.  When one member won’t, someone else must.  It’s the nature of a team to compensate for failure in any member.  It’s also an encouragement to other team members to know if we fall, someone will pick us up.  If we’re wounded, someone will tend to the hurt to healing.  If we get lost through sin or despair, someone will search for us till found.

Such team work doesn’t always characterize the church.  Indeed, when one fails to perform his work, usually no one steps forward to succeed.  Then every member looks to his own interests, whatever happens to the body.  That’s why many churches are like the ship I’ve seen on a postcard.  I don’t know what happened to the Tanker at Pt. Pinos in Monterey Bay.  It’s obvious something tragic did because it’s beached on the rocks.  That’s what happens to the body of Christ when individual parts think more of themselves than of the whole.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

Christ – faith in too precious…

Jerry Kramer, offensive lineman of the feared and hated Green Bay Packers under Vince Lombardi, just sold his super Bowl I ring.  He received $125,000 for it.  The sale also included 50+ items.  His jersey from Super Bowl I went for $45,000.  Kramer is 80 and wants to downsize his possessions as he builds cash savings to help his grandchildren.  He must have had kids late.  Our grandchildren—Judy and I are 77 and 79—are well along in or finished with college.

Anyway, Kramer, for reasons he didn’t disclose, wouldn’t sell his Super Bowl II ring.  It meant “too much to him.”  San Diego U-T, 2/22/16.  For whatever reason, the inaugural Super Bowl didn’t have the emotional and personal value Super Bowl II had.  We can all appreciate his distinction, whatever his reasons.  We have such attractions, whatever ours.

The story does have a spiritual point.  We’re in a society where Christians have consciously or unconsciously surrendered or compromised convictions they should hold everlastingly.  At what point will we STOP?  Will we treasure faith in Christ as a possession too precious to surrender?  Will we accept his word on any subject as our final stance, whoever opposes us, however costly to friendships and relationships?  Only if Jesus means enough to us, as in MORE than anyone or anything, will we hang on to him, even when it’s easier to let go.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

 

Treasure – Christ the only lasting

In 2010, a 1794 silver dollar, perhaps America’s oldest, sold for $7.85 million. That’s inflation.  North County Times, 5/21/10

In 2006 the British Museum paid $630,000 for a 1200 year old coin.  It dated from Anglo-Saxon times, and was found by a treasure hunter trolling his metal detector by a river.  San Diego U-T, 2/9/06

In 2012, a penny copper coin, minted in 1793—the first year our infant nation minted our currency—brought $1 million at auction.  In addition to its rarity, its inscriptions had no wear.  North County Times, 1/9/12

Jesus compared his Gospel with treasure, using that found in a field serendipitously or sought as one’s life ambition by a merchant.  The parables, Matthew 13:44-46, stressed the value of God’s Kingdom as the goal of life.  It’s worth whatever price we pay to possess it.  It always holds and increases in value as we order our lives by God’s will.  Its value begins when we’re baptized into Christ and increasingly develops value throughout life AND infinitely beyond to eternity where God continues revealing its secrets Ephesians 2:6-7.

What, after all, is a rare coin but a possession or investment we store in safety, so no one breaking in can steal it?  How can that compare with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  We take him with us, in us, wherever we go.  We live to honor him, to attract people to him, to share with them spiritual insights and joys that make daily life lighter, joyful, meaningful.

We search for treasure, since it’s human nature to seek something as our life-goal.  Is it worth it if we reach a goal that enriches us financially, socially or politically, but leaves us short of God’s will for us?  When we can reach towards a goal that gives a living while doing it and brings us ever closer to the goal God sets for us—eternal life in his Son.

Are we going to consider our life’s treasure/goal/purpose worth it because of its value or worth it, whatever it costs?  Jesus said being a Christian is worth whatever it costs us.  He also said anything less leaves us possessing the world but losing our soul Matthew 16:24-26.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

Aging – help for in short supply

While the number of Americans over 75 years increases rapidly, the number of geriatricians lags.  As the writer noted, geriatricians are like the African okapi—a “revered, rare and endangered” species.  Geriatrics is a specialty so unpopular few in medicine choose it.  While medicine greatly increased life expectancy, it hasn’t recruited the medical specialists to support the lifestyle of the aging.  Approximately 7,000 practice in the U.S. in 2016.  Another 6,200 are needed in 14 years to keep pace with the aging population.

The reasons are varied.  One, since the purpose of medicine is to restore health, and the medical problems of advanced seniors are often terminal, curative, not palliative, care is preferred.  Two, salaries are significant at a median of $220,000, but half that of a cardiologist—despite demanding 1-2 years of training beyond.  Three, the time each geriatric needs is increased by their body’s inability to respond to treatment and their oftentimes inconsistency in following doctor’s directions.  San Diego U-T, 2/10/16

Obviously the church isn’t the only organization not interested in caring for ailing advanced seniors.  From this minister’s experience working with seniors, I understand the problem, particularly trying to surface their need of God.

We rent a room in a Senior Center for morning worship.  I have seen Seniors barely able to shuffle toddling their way to Bingo on Sunday mornings.  I’ve intentionally made myself available to the Seniors gathering at 9 AM  to await Bingo at noon.  Their need to get a chosen seat is second only to their need of fellowship.  They reserve the same table, then meet with their group to kibitz.

I’m convinced they aren’t thinking of death, dying and judgment.  Not one of the many I’ve talked to have ever hinted they had a spiritual need.  They have lived so long without God they consider him irrelevant.  It’s more of the old Satanic lie:  you live, you die, you go to Heaven—whether God likes it or not; whether he’d ready for you or not.

Does a ministry among Seniors have hope for success?  Yes, but only if personal relationships with unsaved seniors are established and maintained.  A “ministry of presence” among them is needed before a “ministry of penetration” into their rigid spiritual concepts can occur.  It’s likely that most any other ministry would be more productive, though none is more necessary.  No one, not even seniors who fought for their country in WWII, Korea or Viet Nam, can enter Heaven except by Jesus Christ’s permission.  Since so many Seniors have no personal relationship with him, he won’t recognize them.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

Gospel – don’t tinker with the

This is from Reminisce Magazine, February/March 2016, p. 29.  A lady bought a small, strange-looking curved knife.  She interpreted it for her daughter as a grapefruit knife—now a common possession in kitchens.

Once home she put it on the counter to be washed.  Her husband, fresh off a fishing trip, saw the bent blade.  He took it to the garage, took the curve from it and tried to eliminate the teeth.  Only then did he ask his wife why she bought such a knife.

Manufacturers know what they have in mind when they design their products.  They have tested and refined them until they perfectly fit the purpose of their design.  The wise customer accepts the manufacturer’s use for the product.  Which usually works well with human inventions.

But when mortals read God’s word, they instinctively feel the need to tinker until they have made from it something more to their liking.  They can’t believe the Gospel works as God revealed it.  They have to change it, reshape it, bend it if straight, straighten it if bent.  Brush off the hard edges to make it palatable to people who don’t want to deny themselves.  Pare down tithing to whatever they feel comfortable giving.   Reduce the number of vices to be eliminated so people won’t feel so frustrated when retaining bad habits and attitudes.  Keep needed spiritual virtues to a minimum so people won’t get frustrated at having so few.

The state of Texas has a warning for litterbugs:  Don’t Mess With Texas.  God long ago warned us not to mess with his word.  Any change we make to it invariably reduces or perverts its meaning.  For the simple reason that God’s word is complete, final and Perfect.  Nothing we sinful mortals add to or subtract from it will ever improve it.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

Suicide – the final negative

The suicides of 27 former military members from a young 20 to a mature 44, both male and female, were detailed in the San Diego U-T, 2/7/16.  Reading all 27 accounts surfaced several key facts, not necessarily in order of importance.

One, the lack of ongoing, hope-giving support groups from outside the family.  The efforts made lacked the personal, “I care for you” quality needed for those in great distress.

Two, the existence of personal depression over shorter or longer time periods.  That condition was sometimes aggravated by marital problems, battle experiences and memories, unresolved work issues, untimely and inefficient medical and psychiatric veterans administration oversight.

Three, in many of the 27, either persistent drug or alcohol use, sometimes in tandem, sometimes prior to or often up to the suicide.

Four, a wide choice of suicides.  One man lay down on a freeway.  When cars stopped and people wanted to help, he waved them off.  A truck couldn’t stop.

Five, a refusal to admit one had a problem with depression, though war experiences left a large number with PTSD.

Six, marital or boy-friend, girl-friend fights occurred prior to the suicide.  Were these cause and effect reasons why the deaths occurred or merely coincidental?

Seven, and glaringly obvious, no mention of God, Christ or the church was considered helpful or needed.  One person refused to consider any “religion-based” rehabilitation program.  U-T, 2/15/16

Evaluations:  One, it’s hard to understand why so many mortals reject help from God and seek it instead from drink, drugs, sexual liaisons and, even, secular self-help programs.  At our extremity God has his opportunity.  While the human reaction to misery is instinctively anti-God—why did he let this happen—sober reflection suggests his ability and desire to help.  Every circumstance in life may shout that God doesn’t care.  But every scriptural teachings says that God DOES.  We must trust God’s word, not our experience or feeling.  Our emotions will fail us a thousand times.  Trust what will never fail, hard as it may be.

Two, to seek and find help in God when crises arise, we need at least a marginal knowledge of God’s word.  Any of us, facing any circumstances without a knowledge of the Bible, is an infant in an adult world; naked in Antarctic winter cold or Sahara desert heat; illiterate before Einstein-equations.  We can never cause ourselves more harm than to be knowledgeable of the arts and sciences and ignorant of God’s word.  We always increase our fortitude and expertise against life’s tantrums by a knowledge of the Bible that educates us in his reality and love, not in our disability and incompetence.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328

Discipleship – generational needed – Part II

In Part I we considered three spiritual principles gleaned from the Circus Vargas enterprise.  One, spiritual maturity begins where most performers with the Circus must retire.  Two, the church needs the generations-long loyalty people of the Circus have for their family.  Three, churches need to develop members who never stop serving Jesus, even when they retire from active leadership roles.

In Part II, and Point Four, since the Circus tours the same cities each year, it must have new material, new shows, new acts.  In 2016, 90% of the performances are new, featuring dancers, acrobats, tumblers, daredevils, etc.

Spiritual point.  The church is the one organization that never has to seek a new message, however many times people hear the old one.  No Christian preacher or group of churches together ever have or will ever exhaust the word of God, however many texts we faithfully preach.  That does challenge preachers, however.  Their preaching should be fresh, innovative and constantly deeper.  That will be proof of their skill in surfacing always finer specimen of Gospel jewels.

Closing thoughts.  There may be fewer generational Christians because:  a.  Any humanistic lifestyle is more appealing, since Jesus continues to demand self-denial as the basis of discipleship.  That irreducible condition of faith collides with our sybaritic age.  b.  Becoming accustomed to the Christian life through enough repetitions can create resistance against it as worldliness creates rejection of it.  That challenge confronts any believer to continually personalize and deepen his experience with Christ.  Only individual effort prevents belief from stagnating and reversing into infertility.

A question worth pondering:  for all the adequate and correct instruction from the Bible that Christian schools provide, do they stimulate the personal relationship demands of Christianity?  How many attending Christian schools in their earlier years remain strong disciples of Jesus Christ in adulthood? – End Part II –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

Discipleship – generational needed, Part I

Circus Vargas, a family-owned circus, began it 2016 tour of America in Del Mar, California, Thursday, February 11.  In its 10-month tour, the troupe will perform 400 shows in 35 cities.  A hundred people compose the entourage.  (Ernie and Dixie Dyer took our boys to a performance in Las Vegas, Nevada.)

Several factors of the Circus Vargas story have spiritual applications.  One, the performers usually begin serious training in their late teens.  They usually finish performing by age 40.  The stress imposed on their bodies by performing prevents them from continuing.

Spiritual point.  At age 40 maturity in the Christian life only begins one’s preparation to serve.  And at no age, however advanced, does one lose the ability to serve God.  Health problems and disease, mental or physical loss may hinder one’s service, but biological age rewards, not punishes the value of Christian discipleship.

Two, the woman co-owner of the Circus has a circus tradition extending back seven generations.  Her husband co-owner has a tradition of five generations.

Spiritual point.  How many Christian families can trace their spiritual genealogy that far?  Especially to have as deep, or deeper, a commitment and zeal in Christ’s work as the founding couple?  In truth, we usually see a significant diminution in devotion to Christ by the third generation in Christian families.

Three, once performers retire, many continue with the Circus in supporting roles.  Those “managers, designers, tent-raisers, concessionaires and staff” constitute the larger portion of the 100 personnel.

Spiritual point.  We need church leaders to stir such loyalty in its members.  To remind people who have served in leading roles to continue faithfully in lesser roles.  How could the Circus stars—the public face of the organization—function without the larger supporting infrastructure?

How much more effectively could the church function if those once ministers, elders and deacons continued to serve in other capacities?  In truth, many would be willing to continue if the extant leadership challenged them to serve.  Christians can never claim retirement from service for or commitment to Jesus because they’ve been active in previous service and commitment.

Indeed, many are “used-to-be” Christians are there?  They “used-to-be” active in their church.  They “used to call” on people.  They “used to tithe.”  They “used to read their Bibles.”  They “used to pray.”  Etc., etc.

 

Used-to-be Christians are no more like persevering Christians than dwarfs are like giants. – End Part I –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

Appearances – deceive

Blake Griffin plays basketball for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team.  That’s his career.  He seems to want a second career as a pugilist.  This past Tuesday he was suspended four games for punching a “team staff member”!!  Aren’t his battles between opposing players between the stripes on a basketball court?

Since he’s presently on the disabled list, the suspension begins once he returns to play.  By the way, the injury he received the last of January—resulting in a 4-6 week recovery—came from an altercation in Toronto.

Here’s the kicker:  the team fined him $859,442, which it will donate to charities in L.A.  But not to worry.  He won’t have to take a loan to buy groceries or keep his plush digs.  His 2016 salary comes to $18,907,725.  If Judy’s calculations are right, the fine is a mere 4 ½% of his gold mine.  San Diego U-T, 2/10/16

The outrageous salaries paid to pro athletes leaves them free to indulge their violence and any other anti-social act, including punching girl friends in the face or dragging them to their cars, or driving inebriated.  Since all they pay is a fine—which doesn’t weigh an ounce compared to the tons of dollars owned—they’re not compelled to practice self-control, let alone self-denial.

If they should instead be suspended for WEEKS, not GAMES; MONTHS, not WEEKS; or a SEASON, not MONTHS, that would get their attention.  It would also seriously puncture their bloated salary.  Of course, don’t count on that.  More W’s and few L’s constitute the bottom line of all pro sports.  Even human decency and responsibility aren’t as important as the Corporation’s bottom line.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.