See No Shadow, Fear No Evil

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, NIV 1984).

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.   Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 15:51–57, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Groundhog Day is a popular tradition celebrated in Canada and the United States on February 2nd. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. While the tradition remains popular in modern times, studies have found no consistent correlation [you think?] between a groundhog seeing its shadow or not and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather. (Wikipedia).  This year, March 20th is the Spring (Northern Hemisphere) equinox.  Shadow or no, that’s seven weeks (and I apologize for dragging our Northern neighbors into this).

Shadow or no, uncertain days lay ahead.  In the U.S., it’s a looming contentious election in the wake of an impeachment and acquittal (presumably).  In the U.K., good or bad, Brexit has arrived at long last.  In China (and now other countries), fears about the coronavirus continue to increase.  Global warming is a leading concern of most nations (except maybe the U.S., at least officially?).  And how long before a rogue nation or group unleashes a dirty bomb or something even worse?  All combined, merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. No matter how you spin it, the shadows are lengthening.  Perhaps, like the groundhog, we’d all like to crawl back into some burrow and forget about it until “spring” arrives.

We need not fear these uncertainties or evils.  If we are in Christ, one of these days (seems like its getting sooner and sooner), we’re “outa here.” Either by walking “through the valley of the shadow of death,” or “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet!”  If we are in Christ, we have more to look forward to than we have to dread.

My Advice – Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1–4, NIV 1984).  Have you trusted in Him?  There is no fearing the shadows when you do.  Do you want to know the way?

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Want to know the way? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.

Train For War No More

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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.”  (Micah 4:3, NIV 1984).

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.  (Dwight D. Eisenhower, President, Commander-in-Chief, and Supreme Allied Commander (Western Europe) in WWII).

My Musings – Unfortunately, even nations that have no design on empire building continue to train for war, because there are other nations that train for war.  Nations are unable to beat swords into plowshares, because there are other nations that continue to forge swords.  Guns continue to be made, warships launched and rockets fired, consuming the sweat of laborers, the genius of scientists and the hopes of children.  Many that are hungry go unfed and the many that are cold are not clothed.

Left to our own devices, this will continue and get worse with “wars and rumors or war,” until the true war to end all wars is upon us.  Then Christ will return and there will be “peace on earth goodwill to man.

My Advice – Until that time, until Armageddon, one person at a time, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18, NIV 1984).

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

As Long As The Earth Endures

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As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  (Genesis 8:22, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “As long as the earth endures.”  If the threat of global warming is as precarious as many claim, then this can only mean that “the end is near.”  Until that time, the general pattern of  “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” That is the promise of God Almighty.  There are some tribulation judgments recorded in Revelation that very well could accompany global warming.  But the signs we should really be looking for are not how many average degrees the earth’s temperature has increased over how short a period of time.  The signs to pay attention to were given by Jesus in His Olivet Discourse.  And like “birth pains,” many of these signs are increasing in frequency and intensity.

My Advice – Make sure you are ready for a “change in the seasons.”  For “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came.”  (Matthew 24:37–39, NIV 1984).

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

In My Time

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My Musings – Coming soon, to a location near you.  We’ve been blessed in the United States.  Up until a generation or so ago, the rule of law and Judeo-Christian values were rarely in conflict, with the glaring and shameful exception of slavery.  The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  A veritable two-way street; no imposition of a state religion and no impediment to the free exercise of a citizen’s religion of choice.

That may soon be coming to an end.  The cracks have been visible for quite some time now, and they are rapidly growing deeper and wider.  And if permitted to mix my metaphors, the handwriting is on the wall and our days may be numbered. On that day, and it may be soon, we may be joining our Christian brothers and sisters in certain third-world, communist and Muslim countries where the free exercise of our faith, or at least certain aspects of it, become illegal.  Even to the point of confiscation of property, imprisonment, or even death.  This should not surprise us. Jesus said we would be hated because of Him (Matthew 10:22).  But, “we must obey God rather than men!

My Advice – “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”   (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring).  All we have to decide is,  do we “obey God rather than men?” “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV 1984).  Who’s with me?

 

It’s Getting Late Early

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My Musings – “It gets late early out there” – Yogi Berra.  Another profound quote from that baseball sage.  It’s getting late, indeed.  It may seem early, but in the fullness of time, Christ will return. How do we want Him to find us?  Living Godly lives or living ungodly lives?  Sometimes it seems like we are living like its getting late later. Kind of like the Hebrews acted when Moses delayed coming back down from the mountain. How we live shouldn’t matter whether it’s sooner or later.

My Advice – Let’s live like we should whether its earlier or later.

Breaking The Bonds Of Fellowship

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My Musings – Let there be no mistake about this.  The Day is rapidly approaching.  “When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:33-34, NIV 1984).  Read Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, and pay attention to current events.  Are we not at least beginning to see “all these things” happen?

And yet, are we not also seeing an increase in forsaking the meeting together?  The habit of some is becoming the habit of more and more?  It has always been important that we not give up meeting together, but the urgency today is more so, because the day is approaching.   And yet the congregations in many places are dwindling.  Maybe their “itching ears” are not hearing what they want to hear?  Perhaps they are following another gospel that  “is no gospel at all?”  It could be that other priorities have displaced their “first love?”  How many have simply decided to “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons?

God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5, NIV 1984).  So why are so many forsaking Him?  Because Jesus said they would (Matthew 24:10).

My Advice – “A day may come when we forsake our [Lord] and break all bonds of fellowship! [Let it] not [be] this day!  By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand!”  My paraphrase of Aragorn’s speech before the black gate in “The Return of the King.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Life, I Loved Him So

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My Musings – The above picture was taken three years ago today.  We had gotten dad into DeKalb County rehab for what we thought would be a short stint to get his strength back.  His heart condition had been worsening, but we had no idea how near the end was.  He looked pretty good that day, but my dad died from heart failure on September 15th, less than three weeks later.  The man who used to carry me on his shoulders, was carried away by the Angels to his reward.

In My Life
The Beatles

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed.
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain.

All these places had their moments
With [family] and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all.

But of all these friends and [family]
There [are few who] compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before.
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you [still].

Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
For non-commercial use only.

One of my favorite Beatles’ songs.  The lyrics move me.  “In my life” I can recall many male roles models that have helped shape my life.  But Dad, there is no male role model that “compares with you.”  We often “stop and think about” you.  The void left by your passing can never be filled. Gone, but never forgotten, and we’ll “never lose affection.”

Time has allowed the grief to dull a bit, but not completely.  But we do not “grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.”  For “according to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–18, NIV 1984).

My Advice – We are encouraged by these words. My wish for you is that you share the same hope.  If so, be encouraged.  If not, you can share in this blessed hope by believing and receiving Jesus Christ as you personal Savior.  My series of musings on “The Born Again Experience” (see archives) can show you how.

For an inspiring version of the above song, google  “In My Life” by Selah.  It will give you chills.