Friday, July 13, 2018

RESCUED!

Didn't it feel good this week to celebrate the cave rescue in Thailand?

Just look at these scared young kids trapped far into the bowels of the earth.  Every mother in the world was affected by their faces.

And goodness, wasn't the story chocked full of spiritual parallels?

OUT OF DARKNESS INTO LIGHT.  This is Spiritual Picture 101.  Imagine if YOU sat trapped in that dark labyrinth, cold and hungry and with no idea of how to get out or whether you would ever be found. What would you do?

The boys were helpless and dependent on the WAY that was chosen for their rescue...just as mankind sits in the darkness of their own making, needing a way to be saved.

God made a way in Jesus.  "Salvation is in no other; there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

COOPERATION.  What abilities could the boys contribute?  They had no diving experience and they couldn't even swim!  None of them had this super-sized water pump to  suction out the water.

The team and their coach were just perched on a muddy ledge 2.5 miles into an obscure cave, surrounded by floodwaters that were rising and oxygen that was dwindling.  What could they do to help themselves?

The cave rescue was accomplished without help from the boys, just as salvation comes by grace and not works.  We love because God loved us first.

HELPERS.  You probably read that each of the "Wild Boars" (their team name) was accompanied by two divers who pushed the oxygen tanks before them and pulled the boys through tight spaces. Some were on stretchers and sedated.

What a blessing when these first three Seals and the medic (above) arrived with supplies and medicine!  The Seals stayed with the kids until the last one was out of the cave.

Doesn't that remind us of the three Persons of the Trinity who come alongside believers, promising to never leave or forsake us...and who also get us out of tight places?

SPEAK ENGLISH.  From the "just so happened" file...the Thai Navy Seals took the boys out, but it was English divers who first discovered them.  Only one boy on the soccer team spoke English.  The bright young man is an orphan and yet knows five languages.  Doesn't he seem like Esther...made for such a time?

And aren't we grateful God speaks our language?  Our Creator knows what communicates to each heart as God the Holy Spirit speaks life into our soul.

LIFE AND DEATH.  One Seal diver emerged from the cave to find out that his father had died during the rescue.  That Seal was part of saving lives, but he himself lost someone he loved.

Life can be unexpected and bittersweet; no one is promised tomorrow.  Don't you know these boys will remember this rescue of their lives forever?  May they live lives of gratitude to God!

PUTTING OTHERS FIRST.  The coach was weak when he was rescued because he had refused food in order to give it instead to his players.  They said he also taught them to drink water from the sides of the cave.  Philippians 2:3 calls us to consider others as more important than ourselves.

Outside the mouth of the cave, sticky rice and pork was prepared and sent in waterproof bags...along with this souped up gel.  The boys were only able to nibble on the rice at first because they were so weak.  Christians grow stronger as they feed on God's Word.

CREDIT.  It was sad to hear the Thailand Navy Seals post this on their Facebook page:  "We're not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what.  All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave and everyone is safe."

People who believe that God is active in the affairs of men would have a different take on the situation. We see the rescue as bringing much glory to God.

ONE FOR ALL.  Perhaps the most striking spiritual parallel in this rescue story was the Thai Navy Seal who gave his life that the boys might be saved.

Saman Gunan, 38, is shown on left with his wife.  He was returning from delivering oxygen tanks to the boys when he lost consciousness and could not be revived.

Now Saman Gunan's life is a shiny picture of sacrifice and his name is being praised in Thailand.  Mr. Gunan volunteered for his mission, but he did not know that day would be his last.

But the ONE WHO OPENED HEAVEN'S GATES knew from the foundation of the world that He would die.  Jesus volunteered for the ULTIMATE RESCUE, giving up divinity in order to come to Earth to pay sin's debt.

People who call on the name of Jesus make it safely out of this world.





Friday, June 22, 2018

KRAUTHAMMER

This morning I woke thinking about Dr. Charles Krauthammer.  Mike and I miss that dear man; we've already had a year of missing him on the FOX NEWS nightly panel.

The Cruses were two of Charles' conservative bobbleheads.  We loved hearing him reason.

I guess that's why it's strange that within his conservative "flock", there is wide divergence of thought.  Guess we're not total bobbleheads.  Why?

The doctor's personal beliefs belie huge chunks of my worldview...BIG THINGS... such as who he worships.

On Dr. Krauthammer's Wiki page, it speaks of him having Orthodox Jewish parents, but choosing to be "non-religious".  He practiced "ancestor worship" (a fusion of Shinto and Jewish thought).


 He also fully supported scientific evolution and abortion legislation, while opposing capital punishment and intelligent design.

Those philosophical beliefs are polar opposites to mine.  Guess conservatives aren't all sheep, cloned to group-think.

So why did we love Charles Krauthammer?  Well, if you like videos, you can see for yourself at this LINK.  And what else?
I loved:

*HIS INTELLIGENCE.
Dr. K's gifting led him to literary accomplishments such as books, a Presidential candidate's speeches, columns, and a Pulitzer (plus other awards).

In medicine, his psychiatric research discovered a new kind of bipolar mania.  And of course, there was his wonderfully witty repartee on television.

Of course, SMART doesn't get anyone to God...

*HIS MORALITY. Charles Krauthammer was the husband of one wife and a family lover (see son Daniel at left).  He and Robyn were generous charity-givers and Charles was a decent man whose life story preached the value of life.

But of course, LIVING A GOOD LIFE doesn't get you to God...


*HIS PERSEVERANCE AND COURAGE.  These character traits pushed Dr. Krauthammer to complete medical school after his devastating spinal cord injury in 1972...and also to live a full life, marrying Robyn in 1974.  One way he made the most of his paralysis was to develop the skill of composing his medical school papers in his head so that he could then dictate them.  Later that skill helped him put cohesive thoughts together as he made political analysis.

Still, neither PERSEVERANCE NOR COURAGE buy a ticket to God...

We all come to the Lord as God says to come.  There's no going off in the Shinto/Ancestor weeds.  The quote on the right seems to suggest that Dr. Krauthammer's life was his own.

Does holding tight to your lifeplan get you to God?

God says we are sinful and the way to be with Him is to come humbly through the Sacrifice He provided for our sin.  We are to bow, confess, and ask that the blood of the Messiah's sacrifice be applied to our life.  Then (and only then) is our debt to God paid.

I'm not so self-aggrandizing as to suggest that I knew Charles Krauthammer's heart.  But IT IS POSSIBLE to see the paths he employed toward God...and it is possible to examine the words his mouth professed.  I can remember years ago praying that the Lord would send someone to Charles Krauthammer.  Maybe you prayed that, too.  We have no idea what Dr. K's final decisions might have been.  I sincerely hope there was an unknown "update" to his Wiki page, known only to God.

Yesterday and today we have seen people put "REST IN PEACE" on Dr. Krauthammer's picture.  What exactly does that mean?  How does someone rest in peace?

Most know that "shalom" is the Hebrew word for peace.  Shalom suggests more than just the absence of struggle; shalom is a return to wholeness as God remakes you into the person He intended from the beginning before sin took its toll.

OUR REST IS COMMUNION WITH GOD.

Rest begins at salvation and continues into eternity. And what about when you go to be with the Lord?  Then you experience shalom because you are continually refreshed in His presence FOREVER.

But the other option?  Separation from God is a place devoid of any rest.  There is no option to choose to "rest in peace" after death.  THAT'S why there is sadness today for Charles Krauthammer as he met his Maker.

God is faithful to set life choice before each person.  He entreats us in Deuteronomy 30:19 to "choose LIFE!" because He would have us join Him.  After all, He is the God of all PEACE, offering the ultimate Peace Sacrifice, His Son Jesus.  As the Jewish prophet Isaiah said 700 years before the Messiah came..."For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and PRINCE OF PEACE."



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

OASIS GOES TO HARRISON

Someone asked me who my Oasis group was.  It's just some women who love Jesus and each other.

When Oasis gets together, each meeting becomes something different.  Last time we met, there was porch-sitting on a sunny, 75 degree morning.  This time five piled into the van to go to Harrison because Jan and Bobbie are our June girls in need of a birthday party.

All along the way, one member we call "Junior" was in the third seat, calling out cow/red barn alerts. The hooting and laughing was deafening at times, but don't we profit from women of differing ages?  The one with the most life experience in our group was born in 1929 and the chickiebaby was born in 1952.

At first we had Oasis rules that we were only to serve coffee.  You can imagine how fast that rule evaporated as legitimate intentions to shower one another with good things swerved into more.  Isn't this the loveliest tablescape?

We all were full of anticipation because our "long-distance" member always has a treat for us.  We are like little kids when we go to Jan's house.  This time we got to take home the vases on the table.  Jan would say they were nothing, but just some things she cut out of her yard.  But there's something about when someone makes a fuss over you...

When we pray at Oasis, we ask that our conversation honor the Lord because we all are aware of our capacity to stray into the weeds with our mouths.  I wish "catty" didn't come so easily for women!  This time our conversations were as serious as the abuse of women...to a lighter fare, the newest decorating trends.

There is a storm going on now in a denominational convention because of their leader's remarks about women.  Our Oasis "reading file" assignment was an article from a pastor in the same denomination who took a different stand.  I found his comments to be refreshing.  LINK

And one more thing.  All these women are involved in ministry, so there's always much to catch up on.  One is in prison ministry, two are in "one-to-one" ministries, two are leading Bible studies, and Bobbie is the quintessential lady with noble character who opens her mouth in wisdom.  There is much to learn at Oasis.

My favorite Friday thing?  My best favorite was just the shiny time together which refreshed my soul.  But an also favorite was the fun talking about decorating as we saw Jan's upgrades...and then she took us to go through another house she is working on that was almost complete. And third favorite?

Jan's husband.  We arrived Friday at 10:00 and were still gabbing at 3:00 when Ron walked in.  It was the end of his work week and Oasis came to attention, knowing it was time to exit stage left.  But instead of smiling, waving, and going off to the garage...Jan's husband plopped down in our circle and fearlessly joined in.  What a great guy!

We were made to live in community.  We just follow God's example because He lives in the community of the Trinity.

Women need other women.  We need to release some words so our husbands won't have to hear everything that is on our minds.  And we desperately need the prayers that shore one another up.  Galatians says "carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ".

So what's so good about Oasis?  We smile at the future together!
BIRTHDAY BABES
LOVE THE GRANDS ON THE WALL
BRING ON THE CHICKEN POT PIE
LITTLE HIDEYHOLE FOR GRANDS
(behind the curtain it says "enter His courts with praise")



Saturday, May 5, 2018

EVANGELICAL HYPOCRITES?

Many voices are calling "HYPOCRITE!" on evangelicals for their presidential vote.  Are evangelicals two-faced?

How could they preach about moral character and vote for Trump?

Let's put our minds in reverse and return to 2016.  What were our three choices?

#give up your vote by spending it on someone with no chance to win



#vote for a candidate whose history showed manifold moral issues of her own

#vote for someone who probably had marital unfaithfulness in his past

That wasn't much morality from which to pick.  The R's had run sixteen men (some of good moral character)...but we didn't want any of those.  The D's had only two choices, one of whom completely failed to read the mood of the country.

Americans saw their country on a dangerous precipice.  We have do-nothing politicians who promise but don't deliver...while making a personal fortune in office.  We have  staggering debt, corruption, and a loss of freedoms (in particular,  freedom of speech and religion).

Which candidate was likely to drain the swamp?  Perhaps change would come with someone rich (so they wouldn't be swayed by dollars) and perhaps a maverick outside the establishment (so they wouldn't be swayed by the good-old-boys).

The pick was a brash New Yorker with sharp elbows who was challenged by a management job larger than he had ever attempted.  His orange hair and rough mouth ran neck-and-neck to be uppermost in his persona.

We didn't hire Trump to be a pastor; we hired him because he was a hail Mary pass for saving the country.  The R's offered a man who cheated on his wife...while the D's offered a woman whose career was characterized by immorality.  THERE WAS NO MORAL CHOICE in 2016.

What is exquisitely ironic about all  this?  D's have raised up on their moral hackles.  The same ones who told us Clinton's love life was his own business...now charge President Trump lacks morality.

TO THIS DAY that same party adores their world-class philanderers such as JFK/RFK/Teddy Kennedy/John Edwards/Bill Clinton. Remember the roar at the last Democratic National Convention when Clinton took the podium?  WJC was even known as "Slick Willy" because people marveled at how good he was at getting away with lying.

And what about the others?  Teddy and Chappaquiddick?  Or you could ask Mimi Beardsley.  She was a 19-year-old intern who came to JFK's White House and lost her virginity on her fourth day at work. LINK or LINK

And that's not all...

What does this party of Woodrow Wilson, Robert Byrd, George Wallace, and Bull Connor say?  They say TRUMP is a white supremacist.  What does the party who promised Russia a "reset" button, sold Russia our uranium, and promised Russia more "flexibility" about nukes (while patting Medvedev on the leg) say? That same party says TRUMP colluded with the Russians.  Pretty rich, eh?  Smile, Mitt.  You were right about Russia.

Our country has POLITICAL POSERS stuck in our collective craw.  In 2016, we said it was time to give an outsider a swing at bat.  When the outsider won, what was the losing cry?  "We got more votes!"  Yes, you did...but that's never been the way we decide elections.  The electoral college is a brilliant and fair way to protect the individual vote.  If the same most populous states always carried the majority vote, the votes of the people in the middle of the country would not count.


Now sixteen months since his inauguration, Donald Trump has withstood the most venemous hailstorm of loathing.  Still, his base holds firm, and even expanded last month by a point.  The other side is bumfuzzled and cannot understand why their flaming arrows keep missing the mark.

Americans don't trust the media OR attacks on Trump.  We are weary of being led by societal experimentation that tells common sense to take a hike.  We know which bathroom to use, the difference between a man and woman, when life begins, and how important family is for the next generation.

And what are two final things that Christians know?

*We know ALL men are morally flawed and hypocritical.  Morality begins with conformity to God's law, which calls us to love one another.  Mankind views murder as an act ending in death...but God has a different view.  He says hatred in our hearts is murder.  So be careful, friends, when even the mention of Trump's name draws a hateful response.

*We know that throughout world history, God has chosen to use some heads-of-state who were particularly unsavory (think Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, and even Herod).  God may use  them one of two ways:  sometimes He changes their heart to love Him, while other times He uses them to illustrate His righteous wrath.

Let's pray He will use Donald Trump for the former.




WHO HAS THE "SAY"

I'm in that green crowd that was excited about the royal birth. William and Kate look to be great parents...and that Kate is a birthing champ. But what about the other baby?
Both babies have inherent worth because each bears the mark of God's image. Both are born with specific purposes known only to God. Why is one more special than the other? Louie might grow up to be the King of England one day, but Alfie is just as precious to God.
Who gets to "say" whether a baby lives or dies? Are the parents or the state in charge of a baby's life? 
The state can only come to a decision based on formulaic budgetary numbers. Knowing they cannot pay out the wazoo for an unlimited period of time, the state sets an arbitrary number. Isn't that what Sarah Palin said? In cases like Alfie's, socialized medicine IS a death panel.
If the parents are in charge and can come up with funds, shouldn't the child be free to live until natural death? Why should that be any skin off Britain's nose? Why wouldn't their system release the baby to Italy (who offered medical care and a plane to come get him). Soon we saw that Alfie was not getting out of Britain alive.
Sometimes God uses contrasting circumstances to allow us to see truth clearly. The truth is that we are not God and we dare not usurp His position. We give the state authorization to make death decisions in capital punishment cases, but socialized medicine ended Alfie's life based on dollars.
That is why the "say" does not belong to the state. That is why something intended for good can go very wrong. That is why in the land of the free, we cannot give over individual liberties.

Friday, March 9, 2018

PIPELINE TO ASSAULT

The Florida school shooting was a conundrum to me.

When the sheriff blamed his men...publicly shaming them as "cowards"...that seemed very off-putting.  Yet if the officers weren't the problem, what WAS the problem?

Was it the gun and police had not been issued a jacket that would withstand AR15 fire?  Was it their procedure which called for them to set the perimeter and wait for the SWAT Team?  Surely the gunfire called for a response.  It bothered me that things didn't add up.

Now some things have come to light.  Have you ever heard of the "School to Prison Pipeline"?

In 2013, a program was established in Florida to alter the percentages of young brown/black inmates and to also make college and a brighter future possible for troubled kids.  So far, so good.

Federal money for the program and political sway complicated things.  The theory was that kids were "over-policed and under-educated" and to combat that, they would NOT CALL INTO ACCOUNT minor infractions.  In plain English, criminal behavior slid by.

Just as kids know how to act when they have a substitute ("cra-cra"), these kids quickly figured out how to work the system.  Besides them, who else would benefit from such a convoluted system?  Robert W. Runcie was the Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools.  He bragged how student arrests had plummeted under his bold leadership.

Federal money came to the school systems and continuance was insured by a downturn in criminal referral numbers.  They agreed not to report, arrest, or prosecute students like Nikolas Cruz.

And there was another problem.  It would seem that Cruz as a "student of color" suffered as a victim of racist policies.  So the school district didn't do anything about his behavior while Cruz's behavior SCREAMED for intervention.

Who did speak up?  The "School Security Specialist", Kelvin Greenleaf, and the head of JROTC, Peter Mamoud spoke up.  Who else?  Kids showed the school staff Cruz's repeated messages threatening to kill them.  They filed written reports that he brought weapons to school.  Threatening to kill someone is a felony.  A felony would have kept Cruz from buying a gun.  Protection was in place but went unused.

Somehow in the death of common sense, it escaped notice that bad behavior only encourages more bad behavior.  The new policy seemed to say to the kids that they didn't need to behave in high school; they just needed to leave high school with no criminal record.

The system seemed to think arrests and referrals to the criminal justice system were the problem.  So SNAP!  Problem eliminated.  What began as an attempt to help troubled kids have a brighter future...came with unintended consequences.

Here are the officials who signed onto the agreement on November 5, 2013:

Robert W. Runcie, Superintendent of Schools
Peter M. Weinstein, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit
Michael J. Satz, State Attorney
Howard Finkelstein, Public Defender
Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff
Franklin Adderley, Chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department
Wanly Walters, Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Marsha Ellison, President of the Fort Lauderdale Branch of the NAACP 
         and Chair of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board



(taken from an article entitled "The School-to-Mass-Murder-Pipeline")  

Monday, February 5, 2018

CHEETAHS AND BEREANS

One of the nice things about living at Butterfield Trail Village is that you can just spontaneously meet another couple and eat together.  It's hospitality-lite.

Sunday we did that with two couples and took a table for six.  Sunday is always a good day at the HOME because they fluff the menu up on the Lord's day.

During table talk, I think someone asked for a Will story.  Or, it COULD be that I volunteered one.  But here's the story:

Our favorite Kindergartener came for an overnighter last week.  I was getting my love tank filled while he and I were piled up in the recliner watching a Nature show about the great cats.

Will's particular favorite now is watching "Wild Kratts" on PBS and he can tell you about every animal...how fast they run, what they eat, how it compares to other animals in that species, etc.  Will especially likes cheetahs and leopards.

Here's a random thought alert.  I'm smiling now because I'm thinking of a friend's saying about how "all old crows think their babies are the blackest".  But really.  This grandboy is bright and does have a killer vocab.

Now back to the recliner.  All at once the narrator stated a fact and that little head popped up as if an alarm had gone off.  "Well, THAT'S awkward that they would say that because cheetahs don't go ___ miles per hour, they go ___ miles per hour."  (Of course Mimi can't even remember the facts, but I'm sure Will was right because doesn't he look like a scientist with those big glasses?)

So as I'm telling this story around the Sunday lunch table, our friend Karen said "Oh, Will must be a Berean".  We all said "WHUT?"

Karen told us when the apostle Paul went to Berea, the people there received his message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  Those Bereans were thinkers and so is our Will.

MAY WE ALL BE SEARCHERS OF TRUTH.