Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hello, my name is......(part 2)


God granted me a great privilege this morning.  I got a chance to sit with the gentlemen from McDonalds and talk for a few minutes.  Let me introduce you to Joe, Smitty, Andy, Marty, John and Richie.  

As I was saying, these get togethers are rare in today's world.  As much as I know.  These men have known each other since there formative years, led diverse lives, went thie separate ways for a time and came back to the area of Pennsylvania they grew up in and have been together since.  Whew!!! 
I had the chance to talk to Smitty and John this morning and we talked about religion and the world in general.  

In hushed tones but strong words they talk of how fallen we are as a nation and how God is trying to get our attention. WE ARE NOT LISTENING.
Remember when......?  They speak of the change that has been going on in our country and how far away we are from traditional values.  


                             

                                L to R -- Joe (black shirt), Marty, Richie (hat) and Smitty




                                  
                                                                        John


                             

                               There are more but they were not present when i took the picture.  












Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's Here


You may be wondering what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the "13th Annual Huge Used Book Sale" at a local mall in my area.  Now you may be thinking "why all the excitement?"  As you may know bookstores have become sort of a dying breed these past few years with the explosion of mobile technology that allows people to have an electronic book on their devices.  Now, more and more people are downloading books and magazines and the print form is almost near extinction.
My area of NE Pennsylvania has been without a book store for several years now ( we do have a Barnes & Noble 20 minutes away in the next town over, but that is a conversation I will not have right now.)  

This annual event is really nice to have and a great comfort for all who miss having a place to just buy books. Also on the tables were dvd's, VHS tapes and many items for children.  It was a madhouse to say the least. 

                                  




As you can see many are waiting for the doors to open to get in and find that hidden jewel or simply browse.   I got there about 10 minutes to opening and I was AMAZED by the sheer number of people ahead of me.  Next year I sleep over in the mall.  Lol.  This is the line in front of me.

                                   


                                       And they are off.....

                                   

                                       I was caught off-guard by all off this.  It was actually my 
                                       first time there for an opening.  I usually find my way over
                                       on the second or third day because of my work schedule.

                                   
                  
                                       Very little elbow room.  

                                   

                                       This character here is Mark.  Mark and I work together
                                       he actually found several interesting books on 
                                       "history and war."  
                                        
               
                                   

                                       I went into this not looking to get a lot of books 
                                       and hoping I can find that one special piece of 
                                       literature that would complete my collection, or 
                                       replace a book I either loaned out or lost.


All in all I had a great time.  However, time did not allow me peruse as much a I would have liked to.  Tomorrow is another day and who knows?  What did I buy you ask?  I only purchased three things.  
The Diary of Ann Franke, a Gammerra dvd (old school Japanese production), a pocket bible, and Three Weeks with my Brother by Nicholas Sparks. 

Have a good day and happy hunting.

The Other Side of Life

Another early start to my day, 0330 or 3:30 am.  I listen to the wind as it beats against my home.  The windows rattle, the building groans and trash cans are strewn about.  
On the background of my iPad I am listening to Trek Cast:the Star Trek Podcast.  This is one of the many Star Trek podcasts I follow.  But enough about me.

My mind is racing and I cannot run away from what is going on.  

This blog post was born out of, forgive me, death.  So much of the world around me seems to be dying.  I listen to the news and there is death.  The missing Malaysian airplane, the ferry overturning near Korea, the spate of tornadoes in Oklahoma and other goings on around the globe.  As tragic as these incidents are they have no direct impact on me.  Yet, when death is closer to home, i.e., friends, family, a coworker or neighbor then the impact is direct.  

Recently a friend of mine from high school passed away and I was shocked and hurt to hear this.  SS (his initials) and I were in the same home room in high school although he and his brother were two years behind my brother and I.  The Simpsons were always outgoing brothers.  They are kind, friendly and a great joy to be around.  Never once did I ever see them not smiling or scurrying about from one person to another being an encouragement to all who are near them.  That is the point of living life, to be an encouragement to others and have an impact on the lives around you.  

After high school I joined the Marines and eventually settled in Pennsylvania.  Snirly and Sheridan and I lost touch and only recently found each other again via Facebook.  I heard that they are born again believers in Jesus Christ and active in their homechurch ministries.  No doubt touching lives and sharing the gospel of salvation.

As I recently shared with my brother, this subject of death has been on my mind a lot lately.  Naturally when so much loss is at the forefront of the news one begins to think about their own mortality and the what if's associated.  I was no different.  I began to look at my life and take stock of it.  
As I took in the news of Snirly's passing a scripture was in the back of my mind and it took some time for me to recall it.  Psalm 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints."  
When I first read this I was offended.  No lie. Instead of seeking clarification into the meaning, I put it on the back burner and turned the page.  Now, a couple of years later and sprinkle in some spiritual maturity, the meaning is clear.  The greatest expectation for the believer (after salvation) is to be in the presence of the LORD.  We all want that.  Yet, how much more does God want it?  A great deal more.  
The verse tells me so.  Precious--something valuable or very important to a person.  Looking at death from the point of view of our Creator, made me realize that God values us and desires to be with us also.  That is why fellowship here now in our 'humanity' is soooooooo important.  It helps to bring the gap between us and Jehovah.  Once we pass on into glory there is no separation.  Hallejulah!!!
The other side of life brings a completion to our being.  For the believer it gives INSTANT understanding of God and His love for us.  For the non-believer they are INSTANTLY aware of their foolishness in rejecting salvation and see their eternal destiny apart from God.  

The first time I experienced death was when an uncle (my mothers brother) passed away.  I was about 5 or 6 years old.  It was very unsettling to me because I had never seen this kind of anguish from people.  Let alone my mother.  I was unnerved for some time afterwards.  But looking back death is a part of life.  It is part of the cycle of life we have to endure.  For some this joy and peace and others pain and despair.  Without Jesus Christ I would only know the pain and despair because not knowing what happens after we die would scare me.  Have I lived my life in vain or recklessly only to find out it could have been so much more?  
We all have regrets about our past and going forward from there we make or at least try to make better decisions and change along life's path. 
However, eternity offers NO such chances.  Our life decisions now determines our eternal resting place.  The other side of life can be peaceful and joyful because we are in the presence of the One who  created us and gave us the chance to find redemption and salvation through the cross of Christ. 

Pain and despair is found in the one who realizes they missed the opportunity at so great a salvation.  Death is only the end for our earthly bodies.  The mind, soul and spirit moves on.
I'm saying death does not scare me.  But i know what happens after.  That is the comfort I find when a loved ones or someone who is a believer in Jesus Christ dies.  

GOD IS WAITING FOR THEM!!! 

Much like the prodigal son when he returned home, his father was waiting for him.  We all know the father ran to the son and embraced him showering him with kisses and tears.  "My child has come home."
As born again believers we get a double portion of said greetings.  
When someone comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there is rejoicing in heaven.  
When we get to heaven, again there is rejoicing.  

Death is not the end as many have come to believe.  I also thought along those lines.  We are only transitioning to our eternal reward.  



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Get Smart

I close my eyes to block out the world of noise around me.  The young woman and boy behind me are arguing about his behavior.  Two older lads across the way are talking about 'cups'!!  Go figure.
Directly in front of me are two girls trying to decide when to pull the 'stop signal' for the bus driver.  Over to their right three ladies are talking quite loudly and the bus driver and a friend are discussing music.

Me?  I just want to get home. Home, a twenty minute ride away.  

I titled this one Get Smart because of something that came to mind on my bus ride home.  If you are as old as I am then you remember the show.  It starred Don Adams, Barbara Feldman and Ed Platt.  Great stuff that tv show.

What I recall most and best about the show was its gadgets.  I don't remember them all, there was the shoe phone, the camera inside the bowl of soup and the laser from his sports coat.  But I loved the "Cone of Silence".  This was brought about every time Max wanted to talk to the Chief and felt the utmost security precautions needed to be taken.  Hence, the cone of silence.  
The Chief always protested and tried to get Max to be reasonable, but as you may know, it did not work.  Neither trying to get through to Max or the cone of silence.  Many times it would get stuck and not come down all the way or it would go so low that they would be on their knees trying to talk.  However, the greatest bit of laughter came from Max and the Chief not being able to hear each other while using the cone of silence.  
That is what I needed today on the ride home from work---silence.   My mind and heart were reeling from some news I had received just a couple of minutes prior from my brother.  I needed to process what he told me.  I wanted to cry.  Some things I cannot get a grasp on and I'm troubled by it all.  But comfort comes from the Holy Spirit.
Oddly enough, this subject has been on my mind a lot lately and the frailty of humanity.  
Look for a follow up post titled " The Other Side of Life" by the end of the week.
God bless and good night or morning.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen

Happy Resurrection Sunday to All. 
Jesus is Alive.  Amen

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hello, my name is......

I had an interesting conversation a few minutes ago with an older gentleman I met at McDonalds this morning.  

While catching up on the scores from last nights NBA schedule this gentleman comes to my table and asks me a question.  ( His words will be bold italics, mine will be plain font.)
"Are you a student of the bible?"
"Yes." Was my reply
"Can I ask you another question?"
"Sure."
At this moment he took the seat across from me and I prepared myself for.. I don't know what.
"Is the Christian God, the same god for everyone?"
"Yes. He is the same God for all, in terms of us being created by Him."
"My friends and I have this discussion every morning when we get together."

(To clarify a little, these are the older guys who get together almost every morning at McDonalds for coffee and socializing.  I actually did a post about them.)

He told me he grew up Lutheran and is still a Lutheran.  His reaction to how I answered his next question threw me for a second.  
"Does the Christian God only care about Christians?"
"No!"  
The look on his face belays uncertainty.  I open the scriptures to John 3:16.  
While still looking at me he grabs the bible and reads it.  (For all of 3 seconds.  More so from memory than looking at the words on the page.)
I ask him to Read the verse.  He does.

Pause.  Pause.  Pause

Holy Ghost Revelation

"God is a god for all."
"Yes he is.  Christ came to save all who are lost.  Since we are all sinners in need of salvation, Jesus came for e v e r y b o d y."
I waited a few seconds as he seemed to take all of this in.
"What about Hindu's who have never heard of God?"
"He can be there God also."
"Buddhist's?"
"Yep."
"What about the Japanese person living in a hut far away from civilization?  Or the person in a jungle who does not know this?  How about the Muslim who kills in the name of their god?"
"Yes, yes and yes."
"I don't know about this!"
"You just read in the bible, "for God so loved the world  that He gave His one and only Son, in that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
"Whosoever is an all-inclusive word.  God does not exclude anyone from the free gift of salvation."
Man and its many forms of religion preach works.  But God simply says "believe".
"What about....?"
"Still works."
"What about....?"
"Rejected."
"What about....?"
"Only by way of the Cross and the shed blood of Jesus."
"What about....?
"Useless."

Scepticism covered his face.  But as he slowly stood, I could see the fog begin to lift.  
What was he thinking?  I silently asked. 
"Stay" I wanted to say.  "Let us talk some more", danced across the theater of my mind.
But, I let him go knowing he was in better hands now.  The Holy Spirit was at work and I needed to get out of the way.
He thanked me for my time and rejoined his friends for a few more words and they departed.

My only regret is not asking him his name, but I'll se him tomorrow and I will pray for him continually until that day....

Monday, April 14, 2014

And His Greatness

The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

The Lord

And I said, "This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the works of The Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
Your way O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples,
You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph.
Selah

Then Consider

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart, 
And my spirit makes diligent search,

Will The Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in His anger shut up His tender mercies?  
Selah

Overwhelmed?

I cried out to God with my voice--
To God with my voice;
And He heard me.
In the day of my trouble I sought The Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.
Selah

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Come Boldly

"Space: the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.  Its five year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before." (TOS)

These words have been a big part of my life for the past 36, 37 years now.  I started with TOS, the original series. Then I went on to the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and then Enterprise.  Only now am I realizing that I have followed the Trek Universe straight through from the beginning of the series to the end of Enterprise.  Not many can say that.  WOW!!!

Star Trek has always fascinated me.  It spoke of a 'hope' for the future of mankind that few, if any other shows ever talked about.  Plus it was sci-fi.  Not exactly the norm back in the day. 
As I read the opening monologue of the series I am struck by mankind's desire to venture out into the heavens and explore the unknown galaxies around them.  They trained and prepared themselves for years on end to go boldly into the great unknown, for years on end.  One of the great characteristics I have seen in regards to the Trek world is the willingness to carry on with their overall mission, despite great losses and sacrifices to themselves and others around them. 
If I may boldly say myself, star trek follows one of the creeds of our Christian walk.  That is despite the trials and tribulations we experience in our walk with the Lord, we are to carry on.
Whenever the Enterprise found itself in an unenviable position and all hope appears lost, the crew looked to the captain of the ship for hope.  More times than not, Captain's Kirk, Picard, Cisco, Janeway and Archer had one more trick in their bag and came through.  However, at times, someone lost their life during the crisis that caused the others to rally around the lost shipmate..  Having an able and willing captain in the big chair who has experienced some of things they have not gives those who serve with him/her a good deal of confidence. 
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have at times and I am sure you too, experienced things that I did not know how to handle or see a way of escape.  But as the scriptures say in Hebrews 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need."  If we do not look to Jesus then we literally have no hope.
I do not live on a starship, someways off into the distant future I suppose, yet I do have a captain (Hebrews 2:10) who has experienced a great deal more than all the starship captains in the trek world and I have confidence in Him and His ability to get me through anything.  

Star Trek for me, growing up, was an escape from the world I was growing up in.  My life was not horrible by any means, but the sinful nature of mankind and its eventual path to judgment was not appealing to me.  Star Trek gave me a 'unrealistic' hope for humanity.  Jesus is the 'realistic' hope for humanity.  His death on the Cross at Calvary was the means of turning my thinking from the unknown to the known.  (Add paragraph)
I had not planned on doing this but it seemed appropriate.
Hebrews 2:10, "For it was fitting for Him (Jesus), for whom are all things and by whom are all things (you, me and everything around us), in bringing many sons to glory(redemption and salvation), to make the captain of their salvation perfect though suffering."
The suffering in the world around me drove me to the Cross.  The sufferings in the world of Star Trek caused mankind to eradicate many things that plague our world today and pushed them to greater heights.  The pettiness that defined many areas of their flesh no longer feeds the desires of those in the Star Trek lore.  We however, cannot reach such heights of human achievement without Jesus.  (Read Genesis 11
Our own human nature will not allow us.  
Mankind seeks its own will but I will seek the will of the One who created me and come boldly into His presence and rely on Him to guide me through the stars not anything manmade.  If God is guiding me then I am on my way to glory via the rapture or death.