Category Archives: Random Musings

Some Shade of Brown

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)

Recently, a deacon brother and I were discussing the Hispanic ministry of our church. He mentioned that there were several married couples from different South American countries. For example, the wife might be from Venezuela and the husband from Peru. I asked if there were any in the country illegally, and he said that most members of our Hispanic mission were here legally, but some were not. I commented on how sad it would be if married couples from different South American countries were here illegally and got deported, each to their country of origin. Worse yet, what if they had children born here in the United States? How tragic that would be! Talk about breaking up of families!

Our hearts ache for those caught in that situation. We sympathize as we think about our own families and consider how we would feel if we were torn away from our loved ones. However, that happens thousands of times a day. Families are torn apart daily through imprisonments, divorce, death, and deportation. Yet deportation of illegal aliens, a.k.a., “undocumented immigrants,” seems to garner all the headlines.

The Demoncrat (misspelled on purpose) Party labels President Trump as a racist for wanting to build a barrier to abate the influx of illegal entries through our southern border. In doing so, they hope to incite the American Hispanic population to action against the President. The ultimate goal of their nefarious scheme is to “import” a throng of needy people, provide them with housing, healthcare, education (i.e., indoctrination), and basic income in order to raise a generation of loyal voters for the Demoncrat Party. Using a certain class of people for one’s own gain seems more racist than Donald J. Trump wanting to build a border wall for the purpose of national security. Of the top ten countries of origin for illegal aliens, Mexico provides over 50% of the invaders.[1] However, Mexico is not a “race;” it is a nation, and, like the United States, its population is composed of people from all over the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, and “Native Americans.” All Mexicans, like Americans, are some shade of brown.

The claim that securing our southern border is racist is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is not only Mexicans that violate our sovereign border. Many come from nations hostile to the United States, and it just so happens that the porous border between the United States and Mexico provides the path of least resistance.

The Demoncrat may consider that point and suggest that a border wall is racist because it presents an attempt to prevent “people of color” from entering the United States. I get so sick of anyone using the “race card” to bludgeon any opponent for any perceived offense. It does not matter what the conflict, when reason and logic fail, play the race card.

I was mildly amused earlier this week when Speaker Pelosi attempted to reign in her maverick freshmen congressmen (women) for making controversial “tweets.”[2] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) immediately accused the Speaker of racism for picking on the four young women “of color.” What I find amusing is that the race card is the Demoncrats’ favorite weapon to wield against their opponents and here AOC employs it against her boss! It’s funny!

Alright! Let’s stop all of this right now! All God’s chil’en are “of color.” First of all, white is the reflection of all colors of the light spectrum. Black is the absorption of all colors and the reflection of none. In other words, black is no color at all. Secondly, no human, not even an albino, is perfectly white; neither does the human exist that is perfectly black. All humans bear the color of the dust from which we were formed.[3]

All humans are some shade of brown. There exists only one race – the human race. The Bible recognizes nations, people, and tongues from the time God scattered the people throughout the earth from the Tower of Babel,[4] He set the boundaries of their habitation. Borders are God’s idea, and God is not racist.

Any time man goes against God’s design, tragedy follows. People within their borders develop their own cultures, their own way of looking at the world, and their own physical features. However, when they breach their borders and encroach upon foreign lands, they will experience conflict with the culture of the land which they invaded. To flourish in the new land, they must assimilate with the new culture or isolate themselves and remain in conflict. The latter benefits neither the immigrant nor the land to which they immigrate.

Historically, the United States has welcomed immigrants from other lands. Every American’s roots extend to other lands. Even “Native Americans” (I hate that term) migrated to this land from elsewhere, so, really, they have no special claim. What makes Americans American is the common culture that we share. Every immigrant from the past carried the desire with them to become American. If they wanted to remain British, Irish, French, Italian, Japanese, or what-have-you, they would have remained in their country of origin. But they came to America, learned American English, adopted the American way of dress, and accepted American music. They blended into the American culture and the United States became the “melting pot” of the world.

No more! People come here from all over the world seeking “asylum” yet refusing to give up their ties to the “old world.” They isolate themselves in communities of like culture. They continue to dress like they did in the countries from which they came. Many reject the American way of life and American law and insist that their law, regardless of how oppressive, be respected and followed even insisting that the American culture conform to accommodate theirs. These do not want to be American, they only want to live in America and reap the benefits.

If I am offended by them, it is not because their skin is browner than mine. I am offended because they reject my country, and they find my God offensive. That is not racism. If anything, it is nationalism. President Trump is a nationalist, not a racist.

The Demoncrats favor open borders. Their interest is not for the nation. They favor the fragmentation of our culture and society. They pit one ethnic group against another. They strive for division – black against white, poor against rich, law against the lawless. Their goal is to make the United States of America the Divided States of America, and when they achieve that goal, they will be positioned to rule. It is the Socialist/Communist strategy to gain totalitarian control.

Circling back to the issue of illegal aliens and the breakup of families due to deportation, there was a news story this week about an illegal alien pleading her case before Congress. This woman, who testified in Spanish before Congress, was being deported due to her illegal status. She resided in this country illegally for several years. She married an American man and had several children by him born here in the United States. Now she was caught and pleaded for mercy. I apologize for my lack of sympathy, but she broke our law by entering illegally. I do not know if she crossed our southern border illegally or overstayed her visa, either way, she broke the law. She attempted to circumvent the law by marrying an American man and giving birth to his children in the United States. In all that time, she did not attempt to gain legal status (options do exist for such cases), nor did she bother to learn the language. Now she is being deported and expects special pleading. She broke the law!

Demoncrats take advantage of cases like this to play on our emotions. However, emotions should not play a part in situations such as this. At one extreme, our country would be overrun with “asylum seekers” because we pity their desperate state. At the other extreme, violence could erupt from vigilante groups taking the law into their own hands to defend our borders.

Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason. The law must be upheld without prejudice and without emotion. If the law is flawed then the law should be changed, but in the meantime, it must be upheld. The Demoncrats that advocate for open borders, rather than wasting time litigating against the President, should spend their time rectifying the immigration issue in a way that suits them. But they are hypocrites. They do not want to change the law; they just want to prevent the President from enforcing it.

My father came into this country illegally from Mexico under an assumed name at the age of 18. He met and married my mother and became a Christian. About the time I came along his conscience started to bother him knowing that as a Christian he was responsible to obey the laws of man as well as the laws of God.[5] He returned to Mexico and served two years in the Mexican army to fulfill his obligation to that country. In the meantime, he worked on gaining legal entry into the United States. For years he carried a “green card” and diligently kept his status current. He finally became a citizen late in life. On return from one of our trips to Mexico, I can still recall the smile on my father’s face and the pride in his voice when he answered, “American citizen” to the Border Patrol officer at the crossing. He was not Mexican anymore. He was, “American citizen!” Even before that, my father stood with pride at the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of our National Anthem, and he would slap us on the back of the head if we forgot to remove our cap when the American flag passed by during a parade.

So, I find it very difficult to sympathize with illegal invaders who suffer the consequences of their lawbreaking. There is a thing called responsibility, and all rational adults should understand what that word entails. I also find it very difficult to sympathize with illegal invaders who protest our immigration laws while trampling the American flag and waving the flag of their country of origin. It has nothing to do with race. It IS all about nationalism, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no black or white. We are all some shade of brown and we are all created in God’s image.[6] But if you hate America and everything for which America stands, please do us all a favor and go back to the homeland you love so much. If you want to stay in America, then get to know and love America. Learn her real history, her form of government, her language, and her culture. Be an American.

Notes:


[1]  “Demographics of Immigrants in the United States Illegally” – https://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000845

[2]  “Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez clash drags on, threatening Democratic unity” – https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/11/nancy-pelosi-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-feud-1407292

[3]  Genesis 2:7

[4]  Genesis 11:1-9

[5]  Romans 13:1-7

[6]  Genesis 1:26-27

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Politics, Random Musings, Theology

Squirrel

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

Oh! He is so smart! And persistent. And the girth of his plump furry body testifies to the success of his thieving ways!

He showed up at my bird feeder early this spring. I sicced Chico, our “chug,” on him a couple of times, but that only deterred him as long as Chico patrolled the back yard. Once Chico returned inside, he was at it again.

I shooed him off a couple of times, but he never went far. As soon as I went into the house, he was at the bird feeder again. So I thought maybe I should go have a talk with him to see if we could come to an agreement. The next time he showed up I walked up to him slowly in a non-threatening way. When I got within four feet of him, he hopped off the feeder and perched on the fence to see what I would do.

I looked him in the eye and spoke softly. “Hey, Squirrel. I put this seed out for birds, not for squirrels. If I wanted to feed you and your buddies, I would have made it more convenient for you. As it is, you have managed to outwit all the obstacles I’ve employed to keep you off of this feeder. I appreciate your cunning, but I would appreciate it more if you stopped getting fat on the seed I put out for the birds.”

He just stared me, as if to say, “What do you plan to do about it?” I could see that reasoning would get me nowhere with this critter. So, I waved my arms and ordered, “Get out of here, Squirrel!” He left but came back about ten minutes later. That’s it! I dug up my old pellet pistol, loaded it with a fresh CO2 cartridge, and filled the magazine with lead pellets. I went to the back door and slowly walked to a place where I could get a clear shot. Squirrel acknowledged me but kept on eating. I took careful aim and slowly squeezed the trigger. Poof! Nothing happened. Squirrel kept eating. I squeezed the trigger again. Poof! Again, nothing happened. I opened the firing chamber and found that my rounds were jamming in the magazine. This was not the first time this pistol failed me. Now I was more determined to get that pesky squirrel.

Online, I found a nice Glock ™ CO2 pistol. It looks exactly like a regular Glock 40 caliber semi-auto, but it fires pellets rather than bullets. So I ordered the Glock and within a couple of days, I was ready to face Squirrel again. When my package arrived, I went straight to the garage where I keep my “ammo” and picked up the container of pellets to load the magazine. This pistol holds 16 rounds! Eagerly, I pulled out the magazine on the Glock and went to load it. ARG! My pellets did not fit the fill hole in the magazine. This pistol required .177 caliber steel BBs! I placed another online order for BBs and waited another two days. In the meantime, I kept Chico busy chasing away Mr. Squirrel.

When the BBs arrived, I loaded up my Glock and waited. Sure enough, thieving Mr. Squirrel showed up at my bird feeder again. This time I was ready. I stepped outside. Squirrel just looked at me. I took careful aim, squeezed the trigger, and NOTHING! What? The pistol was on safety. Squirrel kept eating. Okay. Safety off, aim, fire! POW! The discharge sounded almost like a .22. The BB found its target and Squirrel didn’t know what hit him. He shot up the feeder, onto the fence and over. When he got to the backside of the fence, I knew I hit him because, as he hung there by his back legs, all I could see was his tail flicking as if to say, “Ouch! That hurt!”

I didn’t see Squirrel again for about a week. However, he must have gotten over the sting of being shot with a BB from a powerful CO2 pistol, because he was soon back to his thieving ways. I suspected that might happen, so I started keeping my Glock on the fireplace mantle by the door. There he was again with his back to me and his face firmly planted in my bird feeder. I opened the sliding glass door and slowly stepped outside. This time Squirrel took off before I could take aim. Oh well! At least I got him off my bird feeder.

About 30 minutes later, I looked out my back door, and there he was again. Fat, fluffy, fur-ball stuffing his face with my expensive bird seed! This time, I slowly opened the door. He was so busy stuffing his face that he took no notice of the door opening. Without stepping outside, I took aim through the open door. I had him square in my sights. I slowly squeezed the trigger. NOTHING!  Dang safety! Squirrel kept gorging. I took the pistol off of safety and this time the BB spat through the muzzle with a resounding POW! Right on target! Squirrel was so shocked by the sting that, instead of running away, he started running toward me aiming for our live oak. I aimed, shot again and missed. He ran straight up the live oak and hid within the thick branches. It took some effort, but I found him and shot him again. This time, he ran down the tree, across the yard, up the fence, and into the alley. That will show him!

It wasn’t long before Squirrel forgot again. Within three days he was back. I watched as he feasted on stolen booty. As I watched, I sensed he knew the cost of his sin. He munched a little and cast an eye toward the back door. Coast clear. Another nibble or two. I knew he was on the alert because he kept looking back toward the door, so I very slowly slid open the door. As soon as the air seal broke on the door Squirrel was gone. But he came back. Now I knew that he could hear the seal break on the door, so I started leaving the door cracked open just a bit. That worked … ONCE. I shot Squirrel again, but in a day or two, he was back again. This time, he mounted the bird feeder from the back side where he could keep an eye on the door while hiding behind the bird feeder. As soon as I open the door, he vanishes. I need to rethink my strategy.

Sometimes, we are a lot like Squirrel. We know certain acts – maybe even sinful acts – result in painful consequences. However, because we enjoy doing whatever it is that causes us pain, we continue the pursuit of “sin” hoping that perhaps this time we can get away with it. When we learn that the consequences persist, we pursue our desires by different means hoping that the next time there won’t be any consequences or that they will not be as bad. Kind of like our proverb says, “like a dog returning to his vomit.” We should learn from Squirrel and not be the “fool [that] returneth to his folly.”

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Building Up the Temple

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (Matthew 21:12)

Last week I wrote about a special assignment[1] I was given for the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. An ICR benefactor donated a Life of Christ diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company, and it often hints of Catholic influence.

One of the scenes will be of Jesus cleansing the Temple before His crucifixion. The “temple” that came with the set is patterned after Greco-Roman architecture. It in no way represents the Temple that Jesus would have known. Perhaps visitors to the Discovery Center will not notice the discrepancy, but others, like me, will see the flaw. That bothers me. We cannot allow anything to distract from the Gospel message.

Determined to correct the error, I took the dimensions of the Temple given in the Bible[2] and converted the cubits to feet and the feet to inches.  Then I measured the width of the set “temple” to get the scale the footprint for the model I would build of the Temple. As it turned out, a scale model would be 58 inches tall and would probably cause a greater distraction than the building that came with the diorama. So, I scrapped my idea and resolved to use the incorrect building that came with the set.

When I told Henry, (the MIC) of my decision, he encouraged me to follow through with my idea. He reminded me that the Temple model did not need to be an exact scale; it just needs to “look” like the Temple of Jesus’ day. Pictured above is the beginning of what will be the Temple model. To see the completed model, you will need to visit the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History when it opens this September (2019).

Jewish religious life revolved around the Temple and Jesus, being an observant Jew, followed all the laws regarding it. When He was just eight days old, His earthly parents presented Him along with the required sacrifice to the priests at the Temple.[3] He had His bar mitzvah in the Temple at the age of 12,[4] and as Scripture points out, He went to the Temple each year for the Passover.

In His final week of life, He exercised the practice of ridding His house of “leaven” in preparation for the Passover by cleansing the Temple of the illegal trade that took place there. “And [He] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). The Temple was His house.

The Temple bears the shape of a cross. At the foot of the cross is the altar where the sacrifices are burned. Jesus gave His life as our eternal sacrifice. Beyond the altar resides the laver or mikvah where the priests would wash before entering the Temple. Jesus is the “living water” that cleanses us from all sin.[5] The Temple has only one door through which the priests can enter. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, emphasis mine). Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). As one enters through the door of the Temple, on the left stands a seven-branch menorah. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). On the right is the table of the “showbread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” (John 6:13, emphasis mine). Directly ahead stands the altar of incense which represents the prayers of the people going up to God. Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Beyond the altar of incense rises a heavy curtain from floor to ceiling that separates this holy place from the Holy of Holies where the very presence of God resides. Inside that sanctum resided the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the Mercy Seat upon which the sacrificial blood was spilled on behalf of all the people. This place was so holy that only the high priest could enter and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement,[6] Yom Kippur.  When Jesus died on the cross, He carried His own blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies spilling it on God’s mercy seat. “And, behold, the veil [the curtain] of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51, emphasis mine), and the way into the presence of God was opened for us.

Today every true believer is the Temple of God[7] because we have His presence within us.[8] The model temple I am building is a simple replica of the one that used to be. But the real Temple is me and anyone else who has invited the Lord to save them and take up residence within. I want to build an excellent model for visitors to the Discovery Center to enjoy, but even more important is the maintenance of the Temple in which God now resides.

If what I am saying sounds strange, visit my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  “On a Hill Far Away” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/05/12/on-a-hill-far-away/

[2]  1 Kings 6:2

[3]  Luke 2:22-24

[4]  Luke 2:41-52

[5]  1 John 1:7

[6]  “Rosh HaShanah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[7]  Living Temples – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/18/living-temples/

[8]  1 Corinthians 3:16

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Making Time Count

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

On Tuesday of this last week, I completed my 69th lap around the sun. The Sunday before, June and I led the last lesson in the Crown ™ Do Well: The Crown Biblical Financial Study.[1] The lesson was on “Eternity,” and one of the questions we were asked to ponder was this: “Estimate the number of days you have left on earth. How does this impact your thinking?” Wow! That is a sobering thought! Psalm 90:10 brings this thought into sharp focus. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80], yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” For me, age 70 looms a mere 366 days (2020 is a leap year). And “if by reason of strength” I reach 80 years, that is only 4020 days away (there are three leap years between 2020-2030). For me, at least, that is not a lot of time. However, no one is guaranteed tomorrow; we are all living on borrowed time.

The same psalm, quoted above, offers a prayer to help us think soberly about the time we are given. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Time is a precious asset and to squander it on frivolity[2] is poor stewardship. Frivolity opposes “wisdom.” God gives us all the freedom to “apply our hearts unto wisdom” or to apply our hearts to frivolity. That was heavy food for thought.

Then on Friday, our devotional in Days of Praise: “Redeeming the Time,”[3] by ICR’s founder, Dr. Henry M. Morris brought this thought back to mind. In the devotional, Dr. Morris points out that “time is a very valuable asset, in danger of being lost forever unless it is rescued or redeemed.” It occurs to me that we experience the “present” in nanoseconds.[4] We constantly move from the past into the future, so when we misuse time, that is lost forever. Therefore, the only way to “redeem” time is to redeem it in the “future” toward which we are moving. That requires thought and planning – always.

Dr. Morris further asserts, “If we squander our money or lose our health, there is always the possibility of earning more money or being restored to health, but wasted time is gone forever.”

As I begin my 70th trip around the sun, I want to remember what a precious commodity time is. I what to remember that the time I am given is not mine and it can be taken away from me at any time. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal … But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:19-20, 33). My time belongs to God; therefore I want to invest it wisely in His kingdom. “So teach [me] to number [my] days, that [I] may apply [my] heart unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Notes:


[1]  Crown Financial Ministries website: https://www.crown.org/

[2]  Dictionary.Com definition of : frivolous: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/frivolous

[3]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., “Redeeming the Time”: https://www.icr.org/article/11211/

[4]  “No Time Like the Present”: https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/01/18/no-time-like-the-present/

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Weeds

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30)

Many, many years ago, when I was between the ages of 10 and 16, my family used to “chop cotton”[1] in the Texas Panhandle. At that time, herbicides were unheard of, and the only way for farmers to rid their fields of invading weeds was to employ temporary workers to walk the long rows of cotton (or sorghum) with hoes to chop the weeds. Several farmers hired “bazeros” that came from Mexico on temporary work visas. A Quonset hut barracks next to our home in Cotton Center, Texas housed around 200 bazeros from planting season to harvest. Some of the farmers could afford to hire large crews of brazeros that could clean their fields in a day or two. Others had to rely on smaller crews, like us, to walk the fields. It took us a little longer, and by the time we had cleaned out a large field, it was time to start all over.

Weed control is important to the health of the cotton plant, especially in its younger stages. Weeds grow rapidly and they rob the young cotton plants of needed nutrition. Additionally, weeds can overshadow the young plants and block the sunlight that they need for photosynthesis. As the cotton plant matures, they are better able to hold their own against the weeds, and in fact, beat the weeds at their own game.

Chopping cotton was not fun work! We started at sunrise in the cool of the morning when the temperature was only 95° or so, and we worked a good 12-hour day. At $1.25 an hour, we were making a killing! By noon, the temperature approached 100°, and by midafternoon, it was well beyond that. I remember trudging through the long cotton rows – some of them a mile long – and the hot soil would fill our shoes. We stopped often to dump a load of dirt back onto the field where it belonged. Plenty of water and Mom’s refried bean tacos kept us going all day! Perhaps today, such work for a 10-year old boy might be considered a form of child abuse, but back then, we worked together as a family for a common goal. We were united. Yes, it was miserable work, but the family bonds drew us closer together. At the end of the season, the money we earned on the last job went to buy school clothes for the next year. I remember rolling up the cuffs of my jeans at the beginning of the school year, and by the start of the spring semester, they were an inch above my ankles.

One cotton field I will never forget brought dread to our souls as we drove up on it. As we stared at the sight, we urged Dad to take us back home. By the looks of it, it appeared that the farmer had planted weeds rather cotton. At the time, I was a little above five-foot tall, and the rows of weeds towered at least a foot above me. The trunks of the “quelite”[2] (“keli weeds”) were two to three inches in diameter at the base requiring four or five good chops with a sharp hoe to take them down. The rows on this field were one mile long with a solid wall of quelite from one end to the other. The cotton sprouts struggled to survive in this forest of weeds, and we had to be careful not to damage the cotton seedlings while felling the giant quelite.

Less than three hours into our day we stopped to sharpen our hoes. Experience taught us to carry a file in our back pocket for these occasions. As we had walked our rows, our focus remained on the ground taking careful aim at the weeds while avoiding the tender cotton plants. Now as we took a strategic respite and looked behind us, we could see that our advance was minimal. The end of the row ahead still stretched a mile away. By lunchtime, we were almost halfway down our rows. We ate our warm bean tacos on the ground in the shade of the tall keli weeds. By the end of the day, we finished one row. The farmer came and paid us our wages and told us not to bother coming back. The field was too far-gone to save and he decided it would be better to plow it under and start over.

As I reminisce about that weed-infested cotton field, I recall Jesus’ Parable of the Tares.[3] In the parable, Jesus tells of a farmer who planted good (wheat) seed in his field and an enemy came in by night and planted tares, i.e. weeds that resemble wheat. The point of Jesus’ parable explains an aspect of “the Kingdom” often applied to the Church. God seeds the church with “good seed,” i.e. genuine, born-again Christians, and later Satan infiltrates and introduces bad seed into the field, i.e. the Church. Both good and bad seed look pretty much alike, so the owner of the field (the Church), allows both to grow together to be separated at the end of time.

My recollection of the quelite field reminds me of the state of our nation. The weeds are gaining strength. They are spreading out and overshadowing the light to the point that many churches are losing any influence they once had. Worse, many churches are being influenced by the weeds and are beginning to look and sound much like the weeds.

Christians that are paying attention and see the decline of our nation (and the world) encourage other Christians to be bolder in their witness and work harder to turn our nation back to its Christian roots and to do whatever we can to get rid of the weeds. However, that is not happening, much to the chagrin of many well-intentioned Christians. Like that farmer with the weed-infested field, it may be time to plow everything under and start all over. Farmer Jesus may be getting ready to do just that! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The misnomer, “chop cotton,” referred to ridding the cotton fields of undesirable weeds by chopping them out with a hoe. The intent was to chop the weeds and leave the cotton standing.

[2]  “Quelite” [keh-lee-teh] is the Spanish name of the plant. Locals “Englishized” the word and called them “keli weeds.” The leaves of the plant are edible and cooked up like turnip greens. As boys, we loved eating them as much as spinach!

[3]  Matthew 13:24-43

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Filed under Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Random Musings, Second Coming of Christ

Cause For Tears

As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us. They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. (Lamentations 4:17-18)

I have tried to maintain a habit of reading the Bible through every year. I like getting a different translation of The One Year Bible because it presents a systematic method of reading a portion from the Old Testament, portion from the New Testament, and a reading out of the “Wisdom Books”[1] every day. The year before last, I tried reading through the Chronological Study Bible (NKJV), because I thought it would be interesting to read Scripture in the sequence of the historical events.

The trouble, for me, in following a prescribed reading plan of any kind is the pressure that comes from knowing you have so much reading to get done today because if you don’t, you will get behind. And if you fall more than one day behind in your reading, it easy to become discouraged and stop. I got behind on my reading several times, but I never became discouraged enough to quit. I am not bragging; I am confessing. When I felt pressure like that, I felt I had to get my reading done, so in my rush to get through it, I missed a lot.

I do not like to read the Bible like that. I like to take my time and really soak it in. I read slowly anyway, but I like to read for detail, and I enjoy “interacting” with what I read. I have developed a system of color coding[2] passages of Scripture with color pencils so that when I leaf through my Bible, I can tell about what the passage refers by the color that highlights it.

Last year I started reading my new King James Bible without the words of Jesus in red. (Red interferes with color coding.) I have not made it all the way through yet, but I am enjoying the “study” much better. I started with the New Testament, then the Minor Prophets, then the books of Wisdom, and now I am in the Major Prophets. I finished Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations, and I just started on Ezekiel.

That brings me to the subject of my title. The study of Scripture is not a “cause for tears.” Quite the contrary, it brings me a lot of joy. However, as I mentioned, I just finished my study of Jeremiah and Lamentations. The Prophet Jeremiah authored both books. Jeremiah is known as the “Weeping Prophet,” and he had great cause for tears.

He lived at the time of Judah’s demise. He ministered during the time of Judah’s last three kings: Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.[3] He witnessed the first invasion by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar that took the first round of captives to Babylon. The Prophet Daniel was in this first group. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim captive and replaced him with his brother, Zedekiah. After nine years, Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to pay tribute, so Nebuchadnezzar mounted a second invasion of Jerusalem. This time he razed Jerusalem to the ground. Nebuchadnezzar took Zedekiah captive, but not before making him watch the slaughter of his sons before having his eyes gouged out.[4] Jeremiah witnessed all of this.

Jeremiah had cause for tears. For 40 years he pleaded with Judah to repent of her idolatries. He warned of impending doom for their obstinance and refusal to abandon their pagan gods and return to “the God of Israel.” For this, he was persecuted, mistreated and imprisoned, yet he refused to stop proclaiming, “Thus saith the LORD.” To the first round of captives taken, he wrote letters encouraging them to build houses, plant gardens, take wives and raise families, seek the welfare of the city in which they lived, and not to listen to the false prophets that said the captivity would not be for long.[5] This oft-quoted out-of-context passage followed God’s admonition. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). Although we can take comfort knowing that God only desires the best for His people, we must also keep in mind to whom this was addressed and the circumstances that precipitated it.

What follows clearly shows that this message was for them, not necessarily for us. “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 29:12-14). They treated Jeremiah as a traitor for this message of hope.

God gave many promises to Jeremiah concerning Israel’s bright future. “And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:3-4). “Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished” (Jeremiah 30:10-11). “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jeremiah 32:37-40).

We see these promises being fulfilled before our eyes. Israel has returned to her land. From all over the world, Jews are returning to their Promised Land, and the desert is blooming.[6] Yet, in spite of the promise of a bright future, Jeremiah watched his beloved Jerusalem crumble to dust and all her people either killed by the sword or taken away captive. It was cause for tears.

As I read Jeremiah’s record, it is a cause for tears because I see what Jeremiah saw but in my beloved nation. Our nation is steeped in idolatry. It is not so much in the form of pagan deities, although there is some of that in the growing number of occult practices – Wicca, witchcraft, satanism, etc. – but mostly in the worship of all forms of entertainment and materialism. Anything that takes a higher priority than God is idolatry.

Our country has fallen prey to the practice of infanticide in the form of abortion even up to the time of birth. There may not be a blazing bronze statue of Baal on which to burn the babies, but abortion is an offering to Baal nonetheless.

Pornography is often a secret sin harbored by many Christians, even Christian leaders. Prostitution has become passé so much that even President Trump’s indiscretion with a porn star is only a slight embarrassment because of its exposure.

The “gay” agenda continues to force its presence into the mainstream so that public schools are indoctrinating children as young as kindergarten into the “normalcy” of this perverse behavior. Children are being taught that they can reject the biological sex with which they were born and be whatever sex they choose to be. Recently, the media celebrated an eleven-year-old “drag princess” for his “talent” in dancing for dollars at a gay bar.[7] Another ten-year-old “drag princess” was photographed posing with a naked adult drag queen,[8] and our society seems to think nothing of it. How is this not considered a form of child abuse?

Then there are child prostitution rings where grown men go to engage in sexual intercourse with little girls and boys. There is an island in the Caribbean where many of our politicians go to engage in sex with children.[9] Imagine the power the ring operators hold over politicians for keeping their secrets.

All of this and more is cause for tears. It took Israel less than 1000 years to arrive at such a depraved condition where God had to banish them from the land. Our nation, from the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620, is only 399 years old, and look at how far we have fallen! Arguably, this moral decline has taken place within the last generation – 70 years – and has rapidly accelerated within the last 20 years.

Another popular verse of Scripture quoted out of context is 2 Chronicles 7:14. God made this promise to Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. He said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” His people did not humble themselves, pray, seek His face, nor turn from their wickedness, and the Temple to which they were to turn was completely destroyed. Surely there was a remanent of faithful ones among the wicked. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among those,[10] but that did not stop God from punishing the nation.

We do not have a Temple toward which to pray except for the one “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Still, God throughout the ages instructed us to pray for our nation and our leaders;[11] but that offers little security if God deems the nation unredeemable. Perhaps part of God’s punishment will include taking out the faithful before the final destruction. However, like Jeremiah knowing the future promise of restoration yet living in the midst of national decline, we have cause for tears. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The “books of Wisdom” or the “Wisdom Books” include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

[2]  My system of color coding: Yellow = Noteworthy; Orange = Attributes of God; Green = Attributes of Jesus; Light Blue = Attributes of Holy Spirit; Purple = Word of God; Red = Blood/Salvation; and Brown = End-Times Prophecy

[3]  Jeremiah 1:2-3

[4]  Jeremiah 39:6-7

[5]  Jeremiah 29:4-9

[6]  Isaiah 35:1

[7]  “Nolte: 11-Year-Old ‘Drag Queen’ Dances for Dollar Bills in Gay Bar

[8]  “10yo Drag Queen Posing with Naked Adult Man is “Beautiful” and “Not Sexualized

[9]  “Sex Tourism And Trafficking In The Dutch Caribbean

[10]  Daniel 1:6

[11]  1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 2:13-15,17

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Faith, Hope, & Love

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Since my car accident at the end of November, I have been faithfully attending therapy sessions to realign my neck and spine. If you have to go, it is a blessing to have friendly people to work with you. Where I go, the therapist’s ages are all about mid-thirties and younger, and they are all very friendly and caring.

Last week a new one showed up at the clinic, and she fit in perfectly with the rest of the crew. One day as I picked up my chart to check out, I noticed an interesting tattoo on the posterior side of her left wrist. Personally, I dislike tattoos, but this one caught my attention. It was an anchor with an unfinished heart above the stock of the anchor. I asked her what it signified, and she said it stood for faith (the anchor), hope (the cross), and love (the heart). I picked up my chart, smiled, and said, “Nice,” and left to start the rest of my day.

At my next appointment, I saw her again, pointed to her tattoo and asked, “And the greatest of these is ______?” She looked at me as if I had two heads, so I clarified. “Your tattoo stands for faith, hope, and love. Of the three, which is the greatest?” She looked at me and then looked at her tattoo and then answered with a question in her voice, “Love?” I asked why, and she said, “because it’s bigger?” I told her that it was from a passage in the Bible, and I quoted, “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). She smiled, took out a pen and scribbled “1 Cor 13 13” inside the heart, and said, “I’ll have to look that up.”

At my next session, I asked her if she had looked up the verse. She confessed that she had been too busy. I pulled out my cell phone that has my favorite Bible app on it. I looked up 1 Corinthians 13:13 for her and let her read it for herself. She was a little confused when she read “charity” instead of “love.” I explained that the Greek word translated “charity” is agapē which is translated as “love” in other parts of the New Testament. The reason the KJV translators used “charity” here is that “charity” explains the nature of agapē more clearly. Charity is a kind of giving or expressing of love that is offered freely without expectation of receiving anything in return. She seemed to appreciate the brief lesson, and I think she gained a better appreciation for her tattoo. (I still dislike tattoos.)

As I left the clinic, I thought about that verse. Why is love the greatest of these three? The verse begins, “And now abideth…” Currently, right now, exist faith, hope, and charity. We need “faith” because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine). John’s Gospel records, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The word translated “believeth” is the Greek word, pisteuō, and it means “to have faith in.” We must have “faith” in Jesus in order to be saved.

Once we have trusted in Jesus for our eternal salvation, then we have “hope” that one day He will return to take us to be with Him as He promised. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, emphasis mine). All of this is future, and we have no “hard” evidence that it will come true, but in Hebrews, we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Our “faith” is “substantive,” and we have the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us to confirm the truth of those “things not seen.” That same Spirit assures us that our hope is real.

Then there is “charity” (love). The pages of the Bible are replete with demonstrations of God’s love. John reminds us, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16, emphasis mine). Paul tells us that “charity” (love) never fails. It stands to reason that if “God is love,” then love will never fail. Paul makes it clear that all things will fail, but love will never fail (1 Corinthians 13:8).

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). On the day we enter into our Lord’s presence, there will be no need for faith because our faith will be transformed into reality. There will be no need for hope, for our hope will be realized. However, love will remain as eternal as God Himself. Now remain faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest, because it will outlast the other two, is love.

P.S.

I searched the internet for a picture of a tattoo like the one this young lady had and could not find an exact match. The one I selected for this post was a close match, but I had to do a little “photoshopping” to get it to look right. Notice the unfinished heart. That made me think that the love – even God’s love – that we experience in this life is incomplete. Not until we are in His presence will we experience the completeness of His love. That is something for which to look forward!

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