Thursday, April 2, 2020

Look For The Silver Lining!

 Have you ever noticed how negative you are?  Have you ever noticed how negative most people are?  Just like Chicken Little, people are prone the to be negative, to gripe and complain, to think the worst.  They take up a cause and say "the sky is falling...".  I didn't realize how negative I was until I started analyzing my own comments and reactions and how people in general think and speak each day.  If it is summer and the temperature is hot, most are complaining it's too hot.  If it's  winter and cold, the majority  wish it was summer and hot.  The truth is we're never satisfied with the way it is and fuss, fume, and frown. 

Misery loves company and we get in our little huddles and complain together!  It doesn't matter what the subject is, we want to share our negative thoughts with others and enjoy ourselves complaining and criticizing.  It could be pandemics, politics, the weather, employers, the spouse, whatever.  Try listening to yourself and others and see how quickly the negative stuff pops up.  Remember, when you point the finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you. 

The political scene is always a good target for negative comments and criticism.  From local to federal levels there are things to find fault with.  How about starting a campaign to find something good to say about the things we are so often negative about. Politics for example.  You might disagree with certain things about our leaders, but find something to praise them about.  It's a thankless job to be in government, but they put in long hours trying to make right decisions. Most are sincerely trying to do the jobs they are elected to do.  The federal government has some real challenges.  We can be thankful we live in a country where there is the freedom to vote, debate, and enjoy enormous opportunity to be whatever you want to be-or just complain. 

God is often the target of negative thinking.  Anything bad that happens, God gets the blame.  How about instead of blaming, we thank Him?  Thank Him for what?  Thank  Him you're still alive.  Thank Him for loving you - He does!  Thank Him for the good things in your life. (1Thess. 5:18 "In all things give thanks...").  Surely there must be some.  When difficult times come, think what you can be thankful for and count your blessings.  Usually, if you take a piece of paper and make two columns and write down the things you're thankful for and not thankful for (the positives and negatives), the positive one will be much longer than the negative one.  

When I lived on the coast in the Vancouver area, I purposed to notice how many days went by without sunshine.  There were not many days where the sun didn't shine sometime during the day.  That changed my outlook and attitude.  What about life?  Where is God in the things that happen every day, or in the pandemics of the day.  He is there if you look for Him.  "We know that all things work together for the good to those who love God:.." (Rom. 8:28).   That's what God says.  Look for the silver lining.  Look for the good that will come out of something.  There are a lot of good things happening now in the midst of crisis. Opportunities for greater love, caring, family time, refocusing our priorities, etc.

You might think the 10 commandments are negative.  But, they were given that we might understand how to live life.  They speak of love, loyalty, fidelity, honesty to God and man.  Christ's death on the cross might seem pretty negative until you look with faith to Him who loved you enough to die for you, that you might trust Him, be forgiven,  and live eternally. 

As to everyday living, the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me".  Three words there can change your life.  I can do.  Personal - "I", positive - "can do",  all inclusive "all things"  through Jesus Christ.  Pretty positive message!

Think about it.  The next time someone makes a negative comment, try turning it around and mentioning the positive side.  It might change their outlook and attitude - and yours too!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Our Crazy World! Some cello music at bottom to soothe your soul!

We live in a crazy mixed up world these days.  It says in the Bible that in this period of history, good would be called evil and evil called good.  We are constantly bombarded with immorality that is somehow justified or "whitewashed" as socially acceptable in this "anything goes" world.  People that believe the Bible are labeled as bigots or ignorant, or old fashioned.  Who decides what is right or wrong?  Who has the right to judge another person's actions or lifestyle as good or bad, moral or immoral?  I certainly don't and neither do you.  One thing is for sure.  God, the creator of the heavens and earth and all creatures, does! 

God has given us a manual for life.  In it, we find the purpose of life and how to live that life.  In it, we find the basis of our common law and moral code.  God tells us what is right and wrong.  Many people don't want to hear what God says in His Word.  Many don't want to be restrained from whatever comes into their mind to do.  "If it feels good, do it!"  It is amazing that so many young people turn out ok when you look at the pressures they struggle with and the mixed signals that they get from people that supposedly do believe God's Word-the Bible. 

For example, what about marriage?  Why is it that changing the definition of marriage is this big thing?  Where did marriage and its rules come from anyway?  Hasn't marriage been an established sacred institution since anyone can remember?  It's no wonder the people of other cultures look at western nations, who are supposedly "Christian", and notice the videos, TV, movies, adultery, and perversions of our culture and call us the "Great Satan"!  It is such a confusing time when the moral fiber of our culture is being ripped apart by drugs, alcohol, assaults, murders, broken homes, sexual exploitation, pornography, corruption, and immorality of all sorts.  It all sounds pretty negative doesn't it?  It is!  

However, there is a positive side to all of this.  God has given us the most wonderful manual for life there is.  The Bible!  You say, "I don't believe in the Bible!"  Question.  Have you read it?  How much of it?  Even if you don't want to accept the truths concerning salvation and eternity, it has the greatest laws and principles to live by of any book in the world.  God has given us the absolutes of what is right and wrong.  How to get along with one another, even our enemies; how to work and raise our families;  which ethics and moral values to have.  If people lived by just the "great commandment", it would be a better world.  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself". 

Jesus is considered to be the greatest man that ever lived, if not in fact, the Son of God.  His Word teaches us chastity until marriage - that being one man and one woman - honesty, to treat each other with love and without prejudice, respect for the roles of men and women, parents and children, respect and prayer for leaders of government, honesty and integrity of leaders, among many other wonderful teachings.  The greatest is that even though we are all guilty of sin, to one degree or another, we can be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord.  The blessings of a good life are ours when we live by God's standards and trust Him for our eternal life.  Boundaries are a good thing for our safety and well - being and our creator has given us that which is needed.  Let's not ignore our maker and the standards he's given us for living.  We will be the better for it.  Our world will be just that much better because we do. Here's some of my cello music-Music For The Heart. Click on the link.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Bumbleberry Pie!

 Bumbleberry pie is made of a variety of fruit.  Today's blog is made up various “thoughts”!

What has captured your mind today?  Worry about the current crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic?  Getting sick or not. Is it the dog's breakfast of politics?  Natural disasters, health issues, wars, loss of a loved-one, job loss?  There are so many things taking place all around us daily, we get on overload in trying to figure it all out.  As for politics, we surely need wise people in office to represent us in the affairs of community and nation.  Don’t complain if you don’t vote!  Better still, get involved in your community.  We are creatures of habit and prone to complain about whoever is in a place of position.  Just remember, you can’t please all the people all of the time.  Not even some people some of the time!  Whoever sits on the hot-seat, faces great challenges and responsibilities.  They will be pulled in opposite directions by  well meaning people.  Our leaders need to be respected, prayed for, and communicated with in straight forward – kind ways.

The matters of  mega weather and pestilence and natural disasters are another story.  We live in a time of instant news and have so much information about what’s going on in the world that it is scary and worrisome.  On the one hand, you can be thankful you live where you do, but what about these people in crisis in South and Central America, Africa and Asia?  The refugee crisis in the Middle-East and Europe? Fortunately there many organizations helping in these situations that you can help support and make a difference.  Many NGO organizations are on the scene before government authorities.  Many times it is Christian agencies that are there helping in these places, but are not mentioned much.  But, thankfully, people are being helped.  It seems so slow at times.  Should we be burdened in our thoughts about such things?  Of course we should…to a point.  We are still looked to as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, so why not?  It is very encouraging to think how people in this country respond to crisis anywhere.  Thankfully, Canadians are among the most generous people with their money and time.  However, when you look at what we spend a lot of our money and time on, it makes you wonder if our priorities are a little misplaced in the regular routine of day to day living!

As to the overwhelming deluge on every hand of problems weighing us down, it is natural to worry and fret and want to “fix” the problems.  However, we can’t “fix” a lot of the problems facing the world around us.  There is a power higher than ourselves we can turn to for wisdom and security thru thick and thin.  God is concerned about all things and wants to be invited into your life to share your burdens.  “If he is so concerned, then why doesn’t he do something about them?”  Actually, He has done something about them.  He’s given us instructions for daily living.  The Bible says, “Pray for those in authority…”;  “Come to me and I will give you rest…”;   “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name, If you know?”;   "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”.  Rather than be burdened down, God wants you to be strengthened, encouraged, and lifted  up.  Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls….For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The encouraging part is that He is as close as a thought or a whisper. "Fear not, for I am with you..." (Isa 41:10)!! :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How Much Does He Love You?

 Disclaimer: this was written years ago but sounds like today.

The warm weather is here and many have forgotten how hard the flu can hit.  What if there was a pandemic bug hit that there was no cure for?  What if the following scenario happened soon?...
    The day is over.  You are driving home.  You tune in your radio.  You hear a little blurb about a little village in Asia where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before.  It's not influenza, but three or four people are dead, and it's kind of interesting, and they're sending some doctors over there to investigate it.  You don't think much about it, but later, you hear another radio spot.  Only they say it's not three villagers, it's 30,000 villagers. CNN runs a little blurb; people are heading there from the disease control center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.
     Panic strikes. Once you get it, you have unbelievable symptoms.  And then you die.  It's spreading fast!  People are dying all over Europe.   The President of the United States makes the following announcement:  "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled."
You are at a meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says, "Turn on a radio". You hear... "two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu."  Within hours it seems, this thing just sweeps across North America.  People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote.  Nothing is working.   It's as though it's just sweeping in from all across the globe.
     And then, all of a sudden the news comes out.  The code has been broken.  A cure can be found.  A vaccine can be made.  It's going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected, and so, everyone is asked to do one simple thing:  "Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood type taken.  That's all we ask of you." 
    You and your family get to the hospital and they take your blood type and they say,  "Wait in the parking lot and if we call your name, you can be dismissed and go home."  Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming.  He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard.  What?  He yells it again!  And your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me."  Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy.  "Wait a minute, hold it!"  And they say, "It's okay, his blood is clean.  His blood is pure.  We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease.  We think he has got the right type."  Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one another, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you, sir.  Your son's blood type is perfect.  It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine."  As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying.  But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, "May we see you for a moment?  We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need ...we need you to sign a consent form." 
    You begin to sign and then you realize that the number pints of blood to be taken is empty.   "H-h-h-how many pints?"  And that is when the old doctor's smile fades and he says, "We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared.  We need it all."  But - but..." "You don't understand.  We are talking about the world here.  Please sign.  We - we need it all - we need it all!"  Can you sign?  Would you sign?"  In numb silence you do. 
    And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some people sleep through it, and some don't even come because they go to the lake, and some people come with a pretentious smile and must pretend to care,   you want to jump up and say, "MY SON DIED!  DON'T YOU CARE?"  Is this what God wants to say?  "MY SON DIED.  DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?"  How much do you care?
    There is a pandemic that has plagued us since we were born.  It's called sin.  People have been searching for a cure for its effects through various means.  Religion, good works, or good intentions won't bring the cure.  Only the love of God through Jesus Christ brings the everlasting cure of forgiveness of sin and eternal life through faith in Him..."Father, seeing it from your eyes breaks our hearts.  
Maybe now we can  begin to comprehend the great love you have for us. " (...the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1Jn 1:7;  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Jn. 14:27)"

Friday, March 20, 2020

Can you find peace?

How can we find peace in this world of turmoil? In the present times of COVID19 and all of the other challenges of life. I’m talking about real personal peace that brings contentment and satisfaction that lasts forever. Many are seeking to find it in things that, instead, bring heartache and disappointment. We tend to think people with money and fame have found peace and happiness. But, behind many a prosperous door, one finds desperate people suffering from brokenness because of drugs, alcohol, divorce, loneliness, etc. Many would give all they have to have real peace of mind about themselves, life in general, and eternity.

Fear is a great factor in disturbing our peace of mind. All the “what ifs” and “whys” of everyday life can be very disturbing. Sickness and death are two of the “biggies” that cause great stress in our daily thoughts. Losing our job can be devastating. What will I do now? What about our kid's future? What about retirement and end of life? The questions and churning contribute to discouragement and depression. World events are thrust in our face. The violence and suffering that goes on all over are constantly before us in the media. What’s going to happen next. What can I do? The tide keeps rising and we find ourselves not knowing which way to turn. Where can we find peace in all of this?

Well, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ-the Prince of Peace. I’m a retired Pastor. How would you expect me to answer that question?

Money is not the answer-even though it is very useful. The “high life” or “life in the fast lane” are not the answer. Work, play, travel, or careers are not sufficient. So what is? There is only one thing in this world that can give you lasting peace, satisfaction, and security. That is Jesus! You say, “I knew it!” Religion! No, religion can cause as much problem as the other things I mentioned and still not bring peace. So what am I talking about? I’m talking about finding the one person in this world you can come to know who has the power to fill the void in your life and give you real, lasting peace. The One who knows you better than you know yourself and still loves you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you that can never be destroyed! He is the only one who can help you know your true worth. He gave himself for you that you may have forgiveness, satisfaction, and security in this world and the next. Jesus said, “come to me all of you that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” He also said, "you believe in God, believe also in me"...“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

So, what is the point? The point is this. People are looking in all the wrong places for peace. God has made known how to find peace in this world. The peace that “passes all understanding”. How do I find that peace? I could say read the Bible. Rather, I would say read the Gospel of John to start with. Read it, re-read it and read it again. I challenge you, dare you, to read it asking God to help you understand what you read. Ask God to show you how you can have real peace. If you are seeking with a true heart, you will find out that you can know real peace through knowing Jesus personally. I do, and so can you. I dare you to try it!