Sunday, October 12, 2014


This will be the last entry in my devotional blog.  I believe that, with my last article, I have exhausted the ideas that my unique experiences have caused me to contemplate -- my own spin on religious issues.

I've pointed out such ideas as "taking the Lord's name in vain" as meaning pretending to believe in God, rather than true belief.  Most Christians think it means saying things like Oh, my God, instead.  My take on it shows it as a much greater offence, I think.  You've been reminded of a Christian's required behaviors should the second coming of Christ occur during our lifetimes.  You've been asked if there is a real issue in whether God picked up dust and a rib to create Adam and Eve or whether God let us evolve from the sea and/or animal-kind, instead.  The creator of the universe was in charge either way.  And is it our arrogance that makes us believe we are "better" than creation's other animals or plant, insect, fish and fowl species?

How anybody could look at this planet and not believe that it was created by a being far greater, more brilliant and creative than man, I cannot fathom.  But there are those who don't believe and I pity them their lack.

So, goodbye, until we meet again -- in cyberspace or heaven.  May God be with you. 

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Monday, October 6, 2014

What Does It Matter?

Like most college students, my friends and I joined the great debate about evolution.  Coming from a Southern Baptist background, I was imbued with the creation story.  You know, the one where God decided man needed a mate to keep him from being lonely and man responded, oh, wow, here's someone I can dominate!  Bring her on, God. 

Then there was the great Scope's trial that pitted the Bible against science, the scientific version being that we have evolved from creatures of the past.  Well, even if God did create first man, first woman, we did, are and forever will be evolving.  But, I get ahead of myself.

Kansas City, Missouri, used to have a big gorilla named Big Man.  I once saw a huge, black, black African American male stand for forever staring down that gorilla.  The primate was somewhat larger and a whole lot hairier, but otherwise they could have been twins -- something the man did not miss, himself.

When I look at a certain country musician under his huge cowboy hat, I see a turtle backing under it's shell.  A man I once knew looked like a monkey.

Some dog show people we used to hang around with looked at a picture of me sitting next to our two show afghan hounds and said "there are Ron's three dogs."  I guess I could have gotten insulted, but they didn't say I looked like a pug.  Besides, better friends than they came to my immediate defense.
Truth be told, we've known for years that a lot of people look so much like the pets they choose that it is almost comical.

The problem with accepting evolution is that the human race has set themselves on a pedestal.  We think we are superior to the others of the animal species.  We believe we are the only ones who can think and speak and create . . .

But perhaps we hold ourselves in too high esteem.  You see, we have colonies of ants and hives of bees, the latter having a queen or leader bee.  We have schools of fish and flocks of geese.  We can even see some intelligence in plant as well as animal and insect life.  Have you ever noticed how many weeds somehow settle themselves next to flowers of similar appearance?

During those college days of flexing my brain and learning new ideas, I asked my boss his opinion.  He was the President of the Southern Illinois College of the Bible, a Baptist school housed at Southern Illinois University.  His answer has stuck with me always -- and kept me humble.

"What does it matter if God chose evolution as the way to create us?"

Really, what does it?  God is in control either way.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are You The Pearl Or The Irritant?

"Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear and that they may learn . . ."  Deuteronomy 31:12

We are surrounded on all sides these days with ministers and lay people reminding us that we are where we are right now because God wants us here to learn something.  Sometimes  --  but not always  --  this is true.

I once asked God what my role on this earth actually was.  Clearly and distinctly I got the response.  "You are a catalyst."  Lo and behold when I look back on my life, I have found situation after situation where I have been used to effect change.  So, you see, I believe that not all lessons are meant for us.  Sometimes we are placed in difficult situations because our boss, our neighbor, a casual acquaintance needs to grow stronger.

Now that I know my role, I can take a little more relaxed view of my world.  I probably need to quit bellyaching so much about some situations, and when I find myself doing so, I'm reminded that sometimes the lessons are meant for me.

The time I was told my role, I reminded God that sometimes I can be vulnerable to pain also.  I don't mind being used to bring change where it is needed.  But is there any way it could hurt a little less?

I'm reminded now of the "birthing" of a pearl.  We know that a pearl's very existence requires a grain of sand or other irritant to cause an oyster to secrete the substance that surrounds the grain and turns it into a pearl.  Sometimes the pearl turns out to be a perfect size and shape.  Sometimes it turns into a baroque.

When I was very young, I saw a movie about discovery of a pearl that showed great promise.  In order to be sure, a pearl specialist had to polish and rub it down to find it's worth.  There was a big to do about it.  The specialist sat at a wooden table out of doors with a breathless audience watching.  In the end, the specialist dropped the irritant, not a beautiful pearl, into the pile of unusable nacre.  I suspect it was an honor that nature had chosen that oyster to attempt to make a pearl from an irritant, whatever the final outcome.

Perhaps we should feel honored when we find ourselves in situations where we are being used for others to learn and grow.  In the end, it is for God, our specialist, to determine the value of the pearl, just as it was His judgment as to whether our life experiences were meant for us to learn or teach or both.  We can accept our roles or fight them.  I suspect either way, student or teacher, we will have learned from each other.  Is there any other way?  And, by the way, God, I am honored to serve, even if it hurts.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Am With You

". . . and lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world."  Matthew 28:20

How many times as a child did the words "I'm here", from your parents, give you comfort?  Think how much more of a comfort it was when Jesus said it to his disciples.  I am with you alway  . . .  I will be with you until the end of the world . . . You will have my help and support through thick and thin . . . until I return at the end.

Do we call on him for solace when we need help?  Do we thank him when it's done? To God, the Father, God, the son, and God the holy spirit do we give our thanks?  I am lonely, I am scared, I need your healing touch.

To God, the son, the holy spirit . . . thank you so much for your help.  I feel my anxiety lessened.  My fear is subdued.  My pain has numbed.

I praise your name for your help.  Amen

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How It Will Be

". . . That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left . . ."  Matthew 24:39-41

My sense some weeks back was that I should read about prophesy right now, and that I should begin with Matthew, not the Old Testament.  My NIV Rainbow Study Bible makes this easy, as the passages are color coded.  Coincidentally -- or not --  I've reached prophesy about the end days just as our world seems to be experiencing some of the signs of them.  Part of me hopes not, because I think I still have a lot left to do here.  But, of course, I also look forward to being in the presence of our maker and his son.

The passage today says people working side by side could see different fates at the end.  One could be taken and the other left -- men and women alike.  Imagine that.  People could disappear before our very eyes, or we could disappear before theirs.  Of course we expect to join our family and friends as they collect around God's throne.

I'm reminded of the joke about the individual who arrives in heaven only to be shocked to see others he had expected would be sent to the hot place.  He inquired why everybody was so quiet.  God said not to mind them.  They were just surprised to see him there.

Good reason to get ourselves straight with the Lord before the real end is nigh, don't you think?

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Word To The Wise And Myself

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."  Proverbs 16:32

If you read my Issues blog today, you will know that I let myself get riled this weekend.  I wish I had prepared this devotional before, rather than after, the experience.  But I don't know that it would have prepared me for the evil onslaught of the strangers with which I was dealing.

Circumstances can surely blindside you sometimes and if you don't wander around with your shields up, you sometimes take one in the gut.  And you also sometimes deliver one to someone else's as well.

I guess it's not possible to be on guard at all times, but it would probably help if we at least try to hit our center before we start our days.  We might be better armed if we would do that.

Now, I'm not concerned about the friends of my friend.  They didn't behave any better than I did.  In fact, they probably behaved worse considering they knew nothing about what was going on and acted like they did.  But if I lost that long-time friend it would be sad.

I guess when we are dealing with a load of junk ourselves, it would probably be advisable if we remembered others are probably dealing with a load of junk, too.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Job In The End

"Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house."  Matthew 24:17

As Jesus left the temple, after announcing to the teachers there all the woes that would come upon them, he told the disciples to look at the buildings.  He said all the stones would be torn down.

The disciples wanted to know when it would all happen.  They wanted a sign of his coming.

He told them to beware of the fake Messiahs.  He says the signs will be wars and rumors of wars.  He speaks of famines and earthquakes.  He who stands firm will be saved in the end.

Jesus wants everyone to understand that Christians in Judea are to flee to the mountains.  We are to leave the roof and the field without taking anything with us.

Over and over we see signs of the end.  Quakes like the one this morning in California.  Quakes here and there.  Wars everywhere like in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Ukraine.  We hear now of Iraqi Christians seeking shelter in the mountains.  But is this the end time?  That's just it.  The Bible tells us that nobody knows or will know.

It will not be announced that morning that this is the day.  It will just happen.  And our job is to walk away from everything and to be faithful to Jesus until the end.