Friday, July 21, 2017

The Right Time to Sow Wild Oats

The Right Time to Sow Wild Oats
Poetic Reasoning 

Someone once told me “Sow your wild oats while your young.”

But for me this did not seem sound, though fun it may be.

Because what ever you sow, you will one day reap,

And what you have planted will definitely grow.

So if I planted these weeds while yet I was young 

Then when I was grown, oh the work to be done.

Not only would I have to struggle and fight to do what is right

I would have to struggle with all the weeds in my life.

So sowing these foolish and childish acts would catch me at last.

In the prime of my life when I need it last.

So I considered Sowing those oats while in my life’s prime.

This I saw was even worse yet, 

what would my friends think of me then.

I would spend my strength in the prime of my time

spreading out something with no lasting gain

With its great harvest coming out when I’m weak 

Oh what a fool I would be to plant those weeds then.

So I considered at the end of my life sowing these weeds

Perhaps I would die, before the harvest was in?

But how would I do that after a life full of striving 

To throw it away for a little free running. 

At the end of my life what most would remain,

is what I had done at the end of my game.

I would lose then I know because the Maker would see 

these oats in my hands, my life all unclean. 

So what does it mean I think it is clear.

Sowing those oats is never a gain

The Price is too great whatever the year. 

So I gave back the oats to the fool who had said,

Spread them out now, think of now not then.

He was not happy I could see that for sure,

But I will be happy for one thing is sure

 this bad harvest will never be mine and that is for sure. 

Think about it....

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ask, Seek, and Knock (what does it mean?)

Matthew 7:7
Luke 11:9

After years of Bible Study and reading, there are few things, I haven’t heard before. There may be new ways of saying things and some renegade crazy thoughts; like the writer who suggested that the temple of Solomon was designed to keep the common people in their place and away from God (i.e., the design of the holy place and the holy of holies as "priest only" places). I digress, but I there isn’t much that grabs me and causes me to say, “Oh.”

I have always heard the scripture referring to “Ask, Seek and Knock” as a progression in pray. Martin Luther interpreted it this way as well as a number of other scholars. However, I was reading John Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament and though I have read through it before I missed this commentary on Matthew 7:7, “But ask—Pray for them, as well as for yourselves, in this, there can be no such danger. Seek—Add your own diligent endeavors to your asking; and knock—persevere importunately in that diligence.”

According to Wesley, the progression to getting what you want (if what you want is God’s will) is to:

1.   Ask God in prayer.

2.   Work toward it.

3.   Be persistent in your work.

I will admit that this is usually the way I work anyway. I pray and if I think it is of God I work toward it. However, I never saw it laid out that way specifically and it caused me to say, “Oh! I like that.”
I wasn’t going to accept it as Gospel just because I liked it and it agreed with my philosophy, which is always a bad idea. I went over and looked at other commentaries and at the ones listed in (a good resource). What I found were the two views laid out above, the desperation in pray progression and what I will call Wesley’s idea.

So, which is correct?

You will have to make that call for yourself, but both ideas can be seen in scripture. Personally, I lean toward Wesley’s interpretation to pray, then do what you know to do, and finally having done all I can to stand firm in God (Ephesians 6:13-14).

Whatever you decide it is God we have to rely upon for everything.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The TRUE danger in Dihydrogen Monoxide

The TRUE danger in Dihydrogen Monoxide

I saw these a while back and could not resist posting about it. I am sure someone has claimed either Obama or Trump is behind this. 

We have to be informed about the truth and not moved by emotional propaganda. If you look at these (and not know what Dihydrogen Monoxide is) you might wonder what is wrong in our world. The truth is Dihydrogen Monoxide is H2O or otherwise known as WATER. Yet people post these and repost these things. 

Know the truth about anything do not just be moved by what appears to be bad. The scary thing is people in power know people are moved by these types of appeals, emotion over truth, fiction over fact and they will try and use it against you. 

The true danger in Dihydrogen Monoxide is it shows how easily people can be fooled.

KNOW THE FACTS, before you respond to anything.  

Think about it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fear leads to laziness OR laziness leads to fear?

The sluggard says, "There's a lion outside! I'll be killed in the public square!" Proverbs 22:13

This fear here could be real. If you lived in a village on the edge of the Judean countryside in Solomon's time a lion could be a real concern. However, what I noticed in this scripture is not that fear is making this person lazy but a lazy person is using fear to justify their lack of activity. 

I realized that people probably still do that today. I don't want to belittle real fear. Real fear is hard to deal with. I am not trying to point a finger but placing up a mirror. You might look in and say, "No, that's not me." or you might look in the mirror and see something you may need to change. 

The person in this scripture is saying things like, "I'm going to get fired anyway, why try?"  "They hate people like me, why apply for the job?" or "My work will never be good enough so why waste my time?" and the like. 

I will admit at times I fight the idea my work isn't good enough, and who knows maybe when you read this you will say, you're right it isn't that good. If you're a writer (and you write) then I can accept your criticism.

However, at least I am not using fear as an excuse not to try. 

Here is my thought, the more we give into the fear of "what may happen" the stronger that fear becomes. 

Yes, there may be a monster blocking your way but then again the monster might be a big as you think. The only way to know is to go out and find out. One thing is certain if you don't go out "into the square" you will never succeed and you will become lazy (or lazier).

Don't use fear as an excuse or allow fear to hold you back. 

Just a thought. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

What does Jesus (and the Bible) say about..SEX (or at least 2 things)

These are the notes from last Sunday's message. They are not perfect but I felt like some may want to read them. (yes this is a long post)

Sex is and has been a hot button issue for years. People have all kinds of opinions about it, even contradictory opinions. I have always been amazed at some of the physiological studies of sex which say that the people who are most satisfied sexually are those involved in a monogamous heterosexual relation inside of marriage, and yet turn around and say everything else is okay too. 

For many people, they don’t think the church should talk about sex at all, but let me point out that God created sex, it was his idea and he thought it was good. We have created an idea, in the church that if we don’t talk about it then it will not be a problem, but it is. 

We will have our children sit down and listen to TV commercials talking about condoms, Erectile dysfunction, medicines to control herpes, not to mention what is seen and heard in the shows themselves. I am not saying that we need to sit down before our 3-4-year old’s and try to explain the bird and the bees. However, Christians should be talking about this subject.

 I bet you didn’t know that the puritans who came over on the Mayflower “Puritan attitudes towards sexuality were more tolerant than this, indeed celibacy wasn't viewed as a superior spiritual state and sex was approved of within certain contexts.

Within the bounds of marriage, sexuality was encouraged, in fact, the Puritans saw it as a man’s duty to provide pleasure for his wife. So seriously was this duty taken in New England that, by law, impotence provided a woman with legitimate grounds for divorce. Sex within marriage was a gift from God and as much a rightful expression of love as it was a means to reproduction. The Puritans approved of the stabilizing influence of married life and believed it established conditions conducive to the worship of God.” (

Volumes have been written on the subject of sex. Did you know there is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to love and sex in the Bible? The Song of Solomon

And today I took on the idea of discussing what Jesus and the Bible about sex in 20 to 30 minutes. I am going to tell you upfront, I am not going to cover everything. If you have more questions I suggest coming to Bible Study and we will look at them. However, if you just want to argue, talk to God because I am going to give you what the Bible says. If you don’t like it, talk to the author. 

Last week I pulled out a vial of liquid and said, “Holding on to anger and bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Trying to make it clear that Jesus telling us to let go of anger and vengeance is the best thing we can do to help ourselves. 

I wanted to come up with a visual this week that might stick in your mind but wouldn’t have negative connections. I thought about using chocolate because it is something that you don’t have to have to live a good life and yet some people are obsessed by it. 
Chocolate can also be addictive and though it can be good for you in proper amounts most people don’t eat chocolate that way. However, some people don’t like chocolate at all and the idea of keeping chocolate for maybe years isn’t good (moldy chocolate, yuck!). 

Sex though is supposed to be held back until the proper time. (By the way, you will find in 1 Corinthians that if you are having trouble waiting to go ahead and get married rather than burn with passion. Isn’t that counter to what we normally tell people? But we’ll talk about that another day.)

I thought about using a gun or knife, which when used properly are wonderful tools but used improperly cause destruction. This is very true about sex. In its proper context sex is a beautiful thing, but abused or when it’s used to abuse others is destructive. (and Scripture is full of examples where sex lead to destruction) 

The problem, of course, is that sex can bring healing, wholeness, and life and a knife or gun can’t do that. Not to mention leaving a weapon at the front of the church sounded like a bad idea. 

I thought about using a tool of some sort, but then I ran across the problem of items that carried a vulgar overtone. 
Finally, I decided to go with a truck. It isn’t perfect and for part of today’s discussion it doesn’t fit perfectly but it will be close enough. 

I am going to claim that Sex is like at truck. Frist, you should understand that when a lot of people think of trucks they may think it’s a guy’s vehicle. 

But let’s be honest women use trucks too and in fact, some of them prefer trucks. It’s true with sex, sex culturally has looked at sex as a guy’s thing. Therefore, women have been warned not to give themselves to men, like there isn’t anything in it for them. 

There should be this is illustrated in Song of Solomon which I mentioned before but it is also found in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 where Paul speaks about not withholding sex from one another unless by mutual consent (by the way, it can be assumed that besides not withholding it can also mean not having sex without mutual consent). 

Also, sex like a truck should not be used or driven until you are mature enough to handle it. Are you going to give the keys to your truck to your 10-year-old son/daughter or grandson/daughter to drive down the driveway? Of Course not!

We know that a person needs to have a certain level of physical and mental maturity before they drive and it is the same with sex. 

We also realize that there are certain rules of the road that keep people safe. Back before these laws people drove, however, they wanted to and the result was accidents. I heard about Dr. June McCarroll in 1917, who suggested that California roads have lines down the middle of them. At first, everyone thought it was a waste of money. They didn’t believe it could save many lives. 
Finally, she went out and bought the paint herself and painted a 4” line down a 1 mile length of highway. To everyone else’s amazement something happened, people stayed on their side of the road (even without laws penalizing someone) and thus accidents on that section of road decreased. She knew it that having reference point about what was the right side of the road would keep people safe. 

God gave us a point of reference too. Not to keep us from having fun but to keep us from having an accident and as I believe all of you know the deepest accidents happen in the area of love and sex. Can it be fun to drive any way you want? 

Sure, and if you own the road, then go for it. (by the way, have you ever noticed in the car commercials the fine print at the bottom, “professional driver on a closed course”) Oh, by the way, your closed course is marriage. 

Outside of that, there is always danger. 

Paul warns us in 1 Cor. 6:18
 New International Version
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

New Living Translation
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

God understood when he created sex that abuse of it had consequences. Just like he knew abusing gravity would have consequences. Yet most people don’t pay any attention to people complain about the effect of gravity, but our culture does complain and gives a lot of attention to the complaint that God’s rules on sex are not right. 

Today I want to look at two things Jesus specifically taught about sex.

The first is found in the sermon on the mount. Jesus said in Matt 5: 27-30
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30“If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

When we image or watch porn (soft or hard core) we rehearse that activity in our mind. We engage in it maybe not with our body but our spirit who we are is engaged with it. It changes who we are and what we accept. 

Did you know that one of the ways, doctors try to help patients get over fears is to rehearse how they face them in their minds…You I would bet do the same thing, you rehearse what you will tell your spouse when you come home late or forget an important date? You rehearse in your mind what you will say in a job interview. Why do you do this? So that what you do or say will come out as you want them to. You may not realize it but watching porn or suggestive TV programs do the same thing to you. 

Even your language changes based on who you are hanging out with. I remember very clearly a time when I sat down by someone in Terre Haute who got a call from the head office in Arkansas. I sat there and the longer they talked the more this northerner voice changed from a typical northerner to a that of a southern bell. Even after they hung up it was still there. 

The power of influence changes us. Jesus knew this and he said don’t let it influence you don’t entertain it because though you may not have performed the act in your heart you have. I might say it this way, by doing imagining sex you say to yourself and to God, if I could do this, I would. The problem is that someday you may. 
The other bad thing about it is that pornography is addictive. No not everyone is affected the same but like alcohol and drugs, it can enslave you. 

Side note: for men pornography has a newly discovered side effect, E. D. This does happen naturally and it occurs more as men get older but today more and more men in their 20’s and 30’s are having this issue and some even younger. By the way, God knew this and it may have been a problem in the past but with the easy access of Porn today it is growing. 

Are there issues for women? Yes, I am sure there are physical side effects but if nothing else pornography lowers women to nothing more than sex objects. It causes you to lower not raise your view of women. 

The Puritans had it right sex is good, God gave it to us. But God knew that some activities would steal the blessing from us.  

Jesus doesn’t want us to lose that blessing or our soul. That is why he gives the hyperbole about cutting off your eye or your hand.

 No, he wasn’t saying you should disfigure yourself or castrate yourself. He was saying to do what is needed to take care of the problem. Set up protections on your computer, if you have a smartphone with video and you can’t seem to control it turn off the video or go to a flip phone. Is the TV the problem? Unplug the cable, do what is needed because sex as good as it can be in this world doesn’t last not in this world and definitely not in the world to come.

And that leads me to the second thing Jesus said about sex though you may not realize it if you read the passage. 

Jesus was being asked about who a certain woman who was widowed 7 might be married to in heaven. The story was designed by the Sadducees in to confound those who believed in the resurrection. 

Jesus shows them that their own scriptures (they only believed in the first five book of the bible) that people did not just end when they died. But right before he does that he says something that has confused and disheartened some people. 

Matthew 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

For someone who is in a really good marriage the thought of going to heaven and not being married sounds horrible. We, I am one of these people, cannot imagine not being married. It seems like we are giving up something good. What Jesus is saying is that in heaven there will be no sex. 

The thing about it is we aren’t giving up something we are moving on to a deeper relationship. Something more. Jesus isn’t saying that sex is an undesirable thing something we need to give up, but that we will move beyond it. Our relationships will be built on something more, it won’t be needed. 

Imagine again you are given an island in the pacific. It is about the size of this property, has beautiful beaches, nice house, palm trees and of course a perfect climate. Behind the house is a small pad for a helicopter and on the beach, is a dock with a boat. 

Are you going to tear down the palm trees and part of the house to put in a very, very small road and then deliver a full-size truck to the island? No. you don’t need it. 

In fact, it would spoil the whole place. A truck isn’t needed or wanted on the island, here on the continent it is useful but there it actually diminishes everything. 

Sex in heaven is that it lowers the beauty of hea because it doesn’t belong. 

If that illustration doesn’t help think of this one.

Imagine going out to your favorite restaurant. You have a full meal and a great dessert. You’re not sick but you and content. Imagine the waiter coming by and now saying “We found this old piece of stale bread with a small bit of mold on the back floor of the pantry, would you like to eat it?” 

If we had gone a week without eating and nothing else to eat was coming our way we might take that bread and we would probably enjoy it, but that is not where we are. 
We are not starving we instead turn the waiter away and have him throw it out to the birds. 

We live in a world that needs love, needs connection, sex in the right context is like that piece of stale bread to the hungry. In our present state sex in its proper context is a gift from heaven. Something to satisfy our desire. But in heaven, it won’t be because life there will be so much more. 

There is much more the Bible says about sex but we won’t go into that today. But I will remind you that inside God’s plan it is a good thing, outside of it. Like driving a truck improperly, it will eventually get you hurt and it could get you killed. And it will eventually separate you from God.

My sister in Law use to make a desert called better than Burt Reynolds, I found out later it has also been called better than sex. 
I won’t comment on that but I will say this heaven is better than any pleasure we can have, and that is why Jesus says it is more important to get there than anything you can have here on earth. 


Friday, April 21, 2017

The Pane (pain?)

For those who follow this blog, There may be some delays or even a long pause between post. My wife was diagnosed with lymphoma this week and everything has turned sideways in our lives. I wrote what happen today, it seems to say a lot. 

The Pane

Smiles were everywhere, laughter filled the grounds. The sun peaked in and out of wispy clouds. All the traditional picnic foods filled peoples’ plates and set on tables waiting to be served for those who wanted more. Everyone is having a good time. I thought “everyone but me.”

A smile was plastered on my face, but I couldn’t help but remember the function I just left. The church was asked to be there but no one else showed up. I left as things were winding down, knowing that it would be proper to help clean up. I had justified my leaving and not cleaning up on the fact my people weren’t there and that I didn’t feel like it. I showed up and that was going to have to be good enough.

As I turned my head to look around at all of my friends. I saw the storm cloud roll in. How can someone look so self-righteous dressed like that,” I asked myself as I saw Brother Smith?

My heart started pounding as he I saw his face. The corners of his mouth were down turned and his nose and eyes seemed drawn inward. His hands were clasped across his chest. He's the perfect image of a dower nun preparing to lecture a naughty student. A moment before he stood in front of me, the corners of his mouth turned up into a very small smile, though he managed to keep the rest of his face untouched by this small bit of warmth.  

There is no good answer I can give him, I thought to myself but I keep a smile and said, “Brother Smith, can I help you?” 

I began to put my hand out for him to shake but quickly pulled them back as I saw he wasn’t moving his hands.

“Brother, I am so disappointed in you.” The small upturn in his mouth turned down as he paused.

My smile vanished and a small determined puff of wind passed from my lips. I lost sight of everyone around me as my eyes narrowed. My hands closed.
Brother Smith turned his head, one eye looking down the side of his nose and said slowly as if I were a small child. "It is customary to have your church help clean up, you know.”     

I just looked back but said nothing. My vision opened up enough to see my wife coming in from the side with a concerned look on her face.

 “If you could have just gone around and made sure the light bulbs were screwed in.” Brother Smith mimed screwing in a light bulb.

My mouth dropped opened for a moment and then it shut. You idiot, I thought but I may have said it. My heart beat like a Thoroughbred in a race and I spun way from him sending a table of food soaring. A chair sitting in my path went also. I made straight for the door of the house. I was a tornado anything in my path flew out from the center.

You’re not angry with him, I told myself. There seemed to be two of me. The tornado heading toward the house and my rational mind detecting and analyzing. Well, yes you are, but that isn’t the whole reason and you know that. I told myself as I watched ketchup and hotdogs fly. The eyes of my congregation were wide and mouths were open as they watched me even as children stopped playing so they could see what was happening.

“I’m not angry with him” I yelled back, “Explain it to him, dear.”

That’s mature. I told myself. She is the one who got the cancer diagnosis and you’re leaving the explaining to her.

I don’t care, I argued silently with myself.

You’re angry at God. The analytical side thought.

Of course, I am. I thought as I slammed the porch door. A moment later I slammed open the door to the house. The top of the door had three vertical panes of glass and all three broke loose from the frame. I leaned against the door and slide to the ground. One of the panes followed me and broke into four unequal pieces. I stared at the jagged shards as the tears began to flow. It’s not fair, and don’t tell me life isn’t fair, I already know that. I, I…

You’re hurting and this is normal.

I know, but this hurts. I paused, I love God but this isn’t right.

 The analytical side became quite as I heard someone entering the porch. The light changed and I assumed it was the shadow of my wife.

I looked at the glass laying in front of me and said, “Be careful, it’s dangerous here.”

(then everything changed, as I opened my eyes and discovered I had been sleeping)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Holy Week Missing post

This being Holy Week in the church calendar I will not be posting. Even as I prepare this note the week before my schedule is filled, but the Study will begin again the day after Easter.  

Have a blessed week.