Category Archives: Life

Life – is a steeplechase

Not many think life is a sprint.  Long ago, and far away, when parents had multiple children because so many died early, they may have believed that.  Not today when age 80 IS NOT the time to pull up one’s legs on the bed preparing for death.

But neither is life a long distance-run, demanding strong-winded perseverance until we reach our end.  Life IS NOT uninterrupted.  Life is never accommodating that way, offering a long, perhaps painful journey from beginning to end.

Everyday life is a confounded steeplechase.  Just when you get up a head of steam, forging ahead, an obstacle looms.  It’s not going anywhere.  In a steeplechase, runners must GET OVER it, not AROUND it.  We have an advantage in life.  We can determine the best, most cost-free way to find ways around the obstacle.  But around is longer, more time-consuming and sometimes presents other problems.

Following the example of actual steeplechasers, let’s find the best way over the obstacle/problem/crisis.  One, we can leap across it, regain our balance and propel ourselves onward.  Two, we can leap on the top of the problem and, using it as a support, hurl ourselves over and across it.  Either decision often lands us in water, which is as often a breaking point of the runner’s stride.

Either decision demands an alteration of our steps, pace and speed as we approach the obstacle.  We slow, alter the length of our stride just to PREPARE for leaping upon or over the obstacle.  In addition we find that the obstacles aren’t all set the same distance apart so we can pace ourselves, as in the hurdles.  No; just when we have our distance pace set, a shorter- or longer-separated obstacle demands alterations.  So life is never evenly-paced, predictable and under our control.  Like steeplechasing, life isn’t for the faint-hearted.  And the older we get, the more demanding it is.  Until we claim, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.”

Nevertheless, growing older in faith empowers us.  The Lord who died at 33, and never knew the weaknesses attendant on increasing years, always accompanies us, never leaves us alone on the journey and, at its end, guarantees in the world to come a body that shall never age or weaken.

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Life – what constitutes a worthwhile

Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s mother, once said that a worthy life consisted of a task to perform, a person to love and a hope to possess.  Jennie II, 60.  Taking that perspective as a human normal, we understand that it isn’t hard for people to get all they want from life.  The question is, once they have it, is it enough?  Will what they gain make death equal to life, even preferable to it?  If not, why would anyone claim that what they call life is all they NEED?

In Philippians 1:20-23 the apostle Paul considered life useful since he would live Jesus.  And his death preferable since he would be with Jesus.  How many people, including Christians, hold that view?  How many instead have goals that death destroys, not fulfills?  And relationships that death separates, not unites?

God has never insisted that we seek him for all that life really IS.  He has warned us that only in Christ will we now have what God calls a fullness of life that death only expands to infinite dimensions.

God mercifully gives us the choice:  be satisfied with what we consider meaningful life; or seek in his Living and Written Word what he says makes life meaningful.  Since we have the choice, we can’t blame God if we choose wrongly.  But, mark this:  we’ll blame him anyway.  We can’t tolerate being wrong and God being right.

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Life – what is our life’s purpose

When asked how he wanted to be remembered, famed race-car owner Roger Penske answered:  as a “racer and fair competitor.”  AAA Magazine, 5/16.

When Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams was asked, he wanted to be remembered as “the greatest hitter that ever lived.”  San Diego U-T, 4/25/16.

Walter Kohn, saved from Nazi death camps by being sent to England in the Kindertransport rescue, became a world-renowned chemist and physicist, an expert in mathematical physics.

Harry Wu endured 19 years as a labor camp inmate in China.  Eighty pounds in weight when leaving the camp, he had been worked nearly to death to satisfy the rage of offended Communist officials.  He became a civil rights activist who repeatedly returned secretly to China to gather additional footage of the criminality of communism.

Arthur Anderson joined Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater as a teenager.  He found fame and an enduring role as spokesman for Lucky Charms cereal.  He never received free cereal for his commercials, but they did pay him “lots of green money.”  All three men died in April, 2016.  San Diego U-T, 4/26/16, 5/3/16.

We don’t know if Kohn, Wu and Anderson felt they achieved their life-purpose in their successful careers.  We know the surviving Penske and late Williams thought they had.

Maybe from a secular, humanistic perspective.  But not from God’s.  II Corinthians 5:1-5 explains the purpose of human life from God’s perspective.  Humans were originally created to find, and each one presently conceived and born continually to seek but one purpose in life—eternal life in Jesus Christ.  Should we have no success but that, we have fulfilled our Purpose on earth.  Should we succeed in every way but that, we have failed to achieve God’s purpose for us.  Jesus stated the same truth in Matthew 16:24-26.  If we gain here what we can’t keep forever, we fail God’s purpose for us.  If we gain here what we can’t lose in eternity, we succeed.

What will we decide:  to succeed as mortals define the term, or as God defines it?

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Life – miserably inadequate view of

The National Geographic Channel (NGC) premiered the series The Story of God April 3, 2016.  We don’t have NGC, so I rely on the short account in Parade, April 3, 2016, for this blog.

Morgan Freeman serves as front man of the series.  He thinks people believed in a higher power when, at “the beginning of human curiosity….”  Note:  not when we seek the beginning of humanity.  Organic evolution being endemic to the National Geographic, Freeman likely qualifies humanity by those beliefs.

Anyway, when “curiosity” awakened in people, they wanted to KNOW WHY:  mountains exploded; rain fell; earthquakes quivered through the soil.

Freeman suggested that “…the answer for what you don’t know is God, the great unknown.”  Regarding miracles, they interviewed a window washer who fell 47 stories to ground.  His brother, on the same scaffolding when it broke, died.  The survivor had nearly every bone in his body broken—but survived.

By the very definition of a miracle—what cannot be explained or achieved by any human act or power, the fact that the one guy lived means it wasn’t a miracle.  Others have fallen to the ground in unopened parachutes and lived.  The miracle would be the resurrection of his brother from the grave.  Only Jesus Christ can accomplish that.

In addition, Morgan’s personally believes “in life” and in “life everlasting”, but only because life is self-sustaining.  We die; others live.  Death comes; but that doesn’t make us useless.  We die but our body is used by others.  “Everything that feeds, feeds on something that’s dead.”  That’s a silly Hollywood thought.  The seed, which dies, feeds on living, not dead soil.

You can’t expect to get anything Biblical from the NGC.  It’s pure entertainment.  But it isn’t Biblical.  It’s not even close to true.  Truth means you begin with the Creator.  You continue with his prophets.  You conclude with his eternal Son who came as LIFE that couldn’t decay.  Who submitted to death to prove it had no power over him.  Truth always originates in the person of God in Christ. Without that emphasis no truth exists.  It’s all liberal, humanistic, atheistic propaganda.

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Life – meanwhile…goes on

Remorseful Judas—remorseful, not repentant—slammed his ill-gotten silver coins to the temple floor and stomped away…to hang himself.  Meanwhile…”Jesus stood before the governor” Matthew 27:11.

Life went on though Judas died.  His betrayal served to fulfill, not abrogate God’s word.  John 18:19 noted that Simon Peter cravenly denied knowing Jesus while associating with unworthies in Caiaphas’ courtyard.  Meanwhile…“The high priest questioned Jesus….”  Simon’s denial served only to expose his cowardice.  It didn’t delay the Master’s destiny.

After attending John Nicolay’s wedding in Pittsfield, Illinois, John Hay returned to Washington to remove his belongings from the Executive Mansion.  Meanwhile…he saw new faces everywhere…new orderlies and clerks responding to the ever-present crowds.  Lincoln’s Boys, 170.

Hays’ return only proved the transience of earthy endeavors.  Yes, the government survived and continued.  Even with Abraham Lincoln dead.  Yes, both Hay and Nicolay would continue careers in politics, journalism and diplomacy, but no longer in the cockpit of national authority as Lincoln’s private secretaries.

People sometimes wonder what happens to the church if they quit attending and supporting.  Learn from the Bible stories and human life…Meanwhile…life goes on.  Others attend services and support the church.  God always has others if we choose to absent ourselves.

One day Judgment comes.  All gather before the Great White Throne of Jesus Christ.  Those who refused to love and serve God here and now will be sent to Hell.  Meanwhile…those who now love and serve God will enter New Jerusalem to begin eternal Joy.  And not a one of them will fail to delight in their eternal experience because others didn’t qualify.  Meanwhile…ecstasy in God’s new world continues.

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Life – lessons from God’s ancient primer – Part IV

I Samuel 12 teaches our age.  First, a nation so graced by God in Christ should extol them, but we don’t.  Second, our national rejection of God comes from our spiritual blindness, not his incompetence.  Third, repentance of sin must be permanent to achieve God’s purpose in our lives.  Fourth, and finishing this series, Samuel’s leadership challenges all who hold leadership roles, particularly church leadership:  be people of integrity, faithful to the Christ who called you to shepherd his flock.

As Samuel refused to aggrandize himself in any way, leaders must sacrifice personal goals for the good of the group.  We remember the Savings and Loan disaster in the 1990’s.  Legislators passed laws that benefitted the very people who defrauded depositors of millions.  They seemed to repeat Captain Henry Halleck’s procedure in early California.  As a lawyer specializing in land law he made a fortune defending land claims in which he had personal interest.

None of that, or any behavior that enriched himself, for Samuel.  He came into ministry as a youth, depending on God; he died an old man, with the same benefactor.  He came as a servant; he died having faithfully served.  He came to his position humbly; he died without arrogance.  He came as savior of his people; he died praying for the success of the very man who replaced him.

In short, whatever sins Samuel committed, not a single one minimized the impact of his leadership.  To every Christian, or church leader or teacher reading this, pray for the kind of life that will give others reasons to come to Jesus; pray never to have the kind of life that gives them excuses to turn from him.  – Finis –

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Life – lessons from God’s ancient primer – Part III

I Samuel 12 teaches that God alone rules, protects and judges all humans.  Consider that any nation favored by God should feel indebted to him.  Ancient Israel wasn’t; neither is America.  Consider that our rejection of God originates in our spiritual dysfunction, not in God’s incompetence, though we want him to assume the blame.

Consider today that disturbances in life or creation can create immediate but seldom long-lasting repentance.  When Samuel warned of thunder and rain on that mid-May to mid-June day, few thought it possible:  it wasn’t that time of year.  Then thunder rolled, lightning struck, rain fell and Israel collapsed in terror before their prophet.  Repentance of sin occurred THEN…but how long did it last?

In 1811-1812 a series of powerful earthquakes rumbled through the lower Mississippi Valley, reshaping the land, creating lakes, terrorizing thousands and creating repentance.  Churches overflowed with people.  Yet, a few months later, church attendance returned to pre-quake levels.  Preachers fulminated against “earthquake Christians.”

Repentance must be more permanent than temporary to be worthwhile.  As the city of Nineveh proved, even preaching can turn people from sin to God—to say nothing of natural or terrorist-produced circumstances.  But where is the glory of Nineveh now?  Short-term repentance also condemns us, because it merely delays, not removes, God’s wrath.

Americans feel no need to repent before God in Christ.  Therefore we lack the first requirement for God’s Grace to replace his Wrath.  To be so blessed by God, yet be so unaware of it that we blaspheme him brings God’s unappeased wrath.  Let repentance begin with Christians, for we have become so much like the people we should be reaching that little difference exists between our lifestyle and theirs.  If we draw near God, we will be changed.  That change, in turn, will give our witness a clout it now lacks.    – End Part III –

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Life – lessons from God’s ancient primer – Part II

I Samuel 12 teaches:  those specifically benefiting from God’s word should appreciate God more.

Consider also:  any rejection of God’s word comes from our spiritual dysfunction, not from God’s failures or inadequacies.  For example, Israel didn’t demand a king because Samuel had been corrupt or God incompetent.

The settled dissatisfaction of perverse humanity with God is the monotonous litany of every age.  We don’t need him to carry our light burdens but demand he remove the heavy ones.  We criticize him when he seems far away but seldom recognize when he’s near.  We blame him for earthquakes, hurricanes and floods but seldom thank him for sunrises and harvests.  We curse him when crises interrupt daily life yet hardly ever praise him for a continuity in the universe that makes life possible.

Above all, we claim self-sufficiency in life, but despise his refusal to let us live victoriously in our own will.  Which is the basic problem between humanity and God. We want all of God’s benefits on our terms.

When do we think THAT will ever happen?  – End Part II –

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Life – lessons from God’s ancient primer – Part I

The word of God must first be studied in its historical context, then applied to every age.  With remarkable precision, God’s ancient wisdom invariably teaches life-lessons to our 21st century.  The blogs this week, based on the 3,000 year old teachings of I Samuel 12, prove how practical God’s word remains.

I Samuel 12 teaches the single truth that, whatever form of government exists, God alone rules, protects and judges.  That most ancient of all spiritual truth challenges us today.

Consider:  a nation’s heritage as God’s favored people should stimulate their dependence on God.  It should have Israel, but it didn’t.  It should have Germany, France, Britain and America—the beneficiaries of God’s grace through centuries of Christianity—but it hasn’t.

So here it is, December, 2015, maybe the happiest month of the year.  A different spirit pervades the season.  Everyone of any religious tradition benefits; and all of no religion.  Yet, the reason for the difference isn’t recognized.  And, in America, any mention of the One responsible isn’t allowed.

Here is a common sense approach to the problem.  Since we ARE a multi-cultural and religious society; and since freedom of religion exists, publicly welcome the celebration of each religious faith or festival.  Everyone not of that persuasion recognizes their right to publicly enjoy their rites.

Which, by the way, is what we presently have…EXCEPT…for Christianity…the ONE Faith responsible for all the season’s gaiety and good-will.  No one tells Jews they can’t celebrate Hanukkah, or Blacks Kwanza or the Chinese their New year or Moslems Ramadan, etc.  But Christians aren’t to be allowed to publicly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!

Christians can take courage from the very hostility society expresses for Christ and Christianity.  It’s definitive evidence that Satan hates and fears Jesus and his Faith!  He doesn’t hate and fear any other, except Judaism, but Christianity viscerally and Judaism more incidentally—though most Jews would question the word incidentally or peripherally, with so many, even of European nations, considering Israel the enemy of peace.  However, a great divide exists in Satan’s hatred and fear of Christianity’s parent and Judaism’s child.  While both came from God—and only they have, only Christ forgave all sins and Rose Bodily from the grave.  And only Christians have the commission to preach him universally.  – End Part I –

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Life – what permanence is there?

Consider the following statements.  “I have a good education; that can’t be taken from me.”  “I have good health; my most important possession.”  “I have a promising career; my financial future is fixed.”  “I have a great marriage and kids; nothing is more important than that.”

Then consider Jeremiah 9:23-24  “This is what the Lord says:  ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:  that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.’”

In what statement is there permanence?  Which one has no variation, isn’t subject to changes in health, economics or societal evaluations?  Which has continuity based on eternal perspectives?

God knows how foolish we are; what small goals we set for ourselves; the petty successes with which we content ourselves; the slight comforts with which we clothe ourselves.

He never stops warning us to seek him and live by his word, but we decide whether to obey.  Every sentence we begin with I think can change, and likely will.  Any sentence we begin with God says is permanent.  Then why don’t we begin life with GOD SAYS?