Category Archives: Life

Life – never before, not again

Two very sad stories have lately been told of oriental couples crashing on a mountain road in California.  At the time of writing, 8/18/17, no added news had been reported of the accidents.

In July a red car broke through a guard rail into the Kings River.  The two Thai exchange students died.  When a deputy saw the footage of the crash site, his practiced eye spotted a license plate of another car.  He reported the find to the CHP—who didn’t know of any other crash at the time.

A few days later the discovery of car parts led deputies to a crash site 500 feet below and off a curve of Highway 180.  It seems the car broke apart on its plunge into the white-water rapids that partially covered the vehicle.

The fact that both vehicles left the road only 50 feet apart caused consternation at Cal Trans.  Always aware of mountain-road conditions, and of dangerous curves, they hadn’t sensed danger in that particular area.  They did note that strong winds regularly blow along that highway.  San Diego U-T, 8/15/17

Have authorities given consideration to the lack of familiarity in the four people driving the road?  Maybe Cal Trans should have posted windy-conditions-signs along the highway.  Maybe they had.  Perhaps both cars entered the curve when a blast of wind hit them.  Perhaps going too fast, their cars fishtailed and the drivers over-corrected, flipping them.  No one knows.

It does surface a spiritual point learned from the Ark of God across the Jordan from Jericho.  Joshua ordered Israel to remain a thousand yards—10 football fields—behind the Ark as they prepared to cross the River.  He also ordered them to follow it.  “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” Joshua 3:4.  That’s the same charge God issues us.  Since we’re all going through this life once; since we’ve never been here before and we’ll never come again, be sure to follow Jesus Christ while we’re here.  He knows the way we need to go because he went through life himself as one of us.  Through death as we all must.  From the dead as only he has.  And from earth ascended into Heaven where he now waits at God’s Right Hand until he returns.

However much more we’d like to know about life, death, resurrection or the after-life, we have all we need to know in what Jesus reveals.  How ridiculous if we follow anyone but Jesus.  For every other leader leaves us wanting somewhere….

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Life – we can ruin our life for God’s work

Samuel Chamberlain photographed many images for his book The New England Image.  He found many willing to have themselves or their property memoralized.  He also had some who objected.  While he obliged their wishes not to photograph from their property, he protected his right to do so from public highways.  The result from the unwilling ran from a photo of a man shaking a fist to lady who flapped her arms at the camera.  That lady ruined his picture. pp. 11-12

She offers a spiritual lesson.  God wants to love us, to correct us, to criticize us, to warn us—all in an effort to save us from our sins and make us worthy of him and eternal life.  Then, in grace we can never understand, but appreciate, he gives us the right to ruin his every desire FOR US.  We can’t alter his predictive will, or torpedo his sovereignty over history.  We CAN, and often DO, spoil his purpose for us.  And in so doing ruin our chance to be servants, not obstacles, to others.

The lady proved only that the photographer didn’t get the picture he wanted.  It didn’t prevent his success in shooting many others.  When Jesus judges the world, and each person stands before him, and many are found guilty, not saved; lost, not found; cast out, not gathered in, they will have only themselves to blame.  For every person who doesn’t want God in their lives now, many yield themselves to him, his will, his perspectives.  They know his expertise fills them with spiritual grace for living while preparing them for the ecstasy of eternal life in his Son.

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 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

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 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at










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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Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

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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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