Thus Far


It has been seven years since I moved to Arizona—seven difficult and challenging years. Please don’t misunderstand me, there have been many good things and blessings. But overall, very trying. But this year as it turns out has been the worst. With that in mind I’ll spare you the details of the many challenges that have come my way.

But thank God tomorrow is the new year. So, it is a time to both look back and look ahead. Let me share with you how I did that today.

I read this earlier today: Thus far the Lord has helped us. (1 Samuel 7:12)

The words “thus far” help me look back to the past. On my journey “thus far,” the Lord has brought me through so many things, I’m grateful to be alive another day. I thought back about twenty years in the Army, my tours in Vietnam and Thailand, getting robbed when I lived in NYC, to name a few.

And, that in His mercy and grace, He gave me the strength to do a last-minute plumbing repair job and a few other critical chores this afternoon. I don’t know about you, but plumbing wears me out—praise be to God that he didn’t make me a plumber (although I definitely thank God for them.)

So, the Lord has been the faithful “rear guard” of my past as He promised to Israel and to me: “For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 52:12) The past is covered! (Dear Reader, if you are reading this, the Lord has been your rear guard whether you know it or not. I believe that is true!)

Now, my hope is that if the Lord God gives me (and you) life tomorrow, then we can continue to look forward. No matter what trials and tribulation come our way, we have this to look forward to as promised in our future (in Revelation 3:5):

He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God] will accordingly be dressed in white clothing; and I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess and openly acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels [saying that he is one of Mine].

So, I can’t help but be grateful for what has past and excited about what is to come. I hope you share that excitement with me and with what the Apostle John heard and saw as he wrote in the book of Revelation. I leave this with you as we end this year and begin the next. Happy New Year to all and to all God’s Grace and Peace.

And I heard every created thing that is in heaven or on earth or under the earth [in Hades, the realm of the dead] or on the sea, and everything that is in them, saying [together],

“To Him who sits on the throne and
to the Lamb (Christ), be blessing
and honor and glory and dominion
forever and ever.”

(Revelation 5:13)

The Plight of the North Korean People, the US, and the Rest of the World


You need to look at this young girl’s story about how life and death in North Korea are “indescribable.”

 

My Commentary: After seeing the video it saddened me to think about the 70-year plight of the North Korean people. But I’m equally saddened at the state of America and the World.

In my view, Americans (and most of the nations of the world) have forgotten what “freedom” and “one nation under God” really mean. Instead, we abuse that freedom for personal or political gain, self-interest above the common good. A North Korean citizen doesn’t have the luxury of being free; but the benefits of freedom (or rather, freedom abused or forgotten) allow the selfish, self-centered, Entitled, Elite, and Politically Correct to flourish, to hate, and to live to be self-serving and politically motivated for another day—all in the name of freedom and “my rights.”

Not so in North Korea. The question there (and in many other countries that are not truly free) is will I or those I love live to see another day.

Freedom in this country (or any other) is a privilege, not a right, that comes at a great price. The abuse of freedom and lack of leadership (e.g., the Congress, the Senate, and all levels of representative government, the Press, the United Nations, Corporate, etc.) and the lack of courage and resolve to act on behalf of the welfare of all citizens allows self-serving people to jeopardize what little freedom we have left.

Freedom without “one nation under God” (in any country) is not real freedom at all—merely an early or lesser form of North Korea to come.

To close, I offer you some thoughts from “How Should We Then Live?” (1976, 1983, 1993) by Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984):

“Gradually, that which had become the basic thought form of modern people became the almost totally accepted viewpoint, an almost monolithic consensus. And as it came to the majority of people through art, music, drama, theology, and the mass media, values died. As the more Christian-dominated consensus weakened, the majority of people adopted two impoverished values: personal peace and affluence.”

“Personal peace means just to be left alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, whether across the world or across the city—to live one’s life with minimal possibilities of being personally disturbed. Personal peace means wanting to have my personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what the result will be in the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren.” (How Should We Then Live, p. 205)

“Here is a simple but profound rule: If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute. Society is left with one man or an elite filling the vacuum left by the loss of the Christian consensus which originally gave us form and freedom in Northern Europe and in the West.” (How Should We Then Live, p. 224)

“If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritarian governments grow from within or come from outside, eventually we or our children will be the enemy of society and the state. No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have a real absolute by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes and who speak out and act upon that absolute…To make no decision in regard to the growth of authoritarian government is already a decision for it.” (How Should We Then Live, p. 256-57)

And this final thought: If I tell you—I am a Jew who believes that Jesus is the Messiah and that God is absolute, that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17)—and if what I have declared bothers you, then does that make me an enemy of society and the state? You see, the issue at hand is greater than North Korea. God help us.

Pray and speak, absolutely.

Odds and Ends No. 41


I don’t like writing about what I plan to do in this space
and not do it. That is why most of my “rapid logging”
is in the past tense. That is why I’m going to change

to walk Thunderbird and tell you about it later. My
feet hurt. It is 105 degrees. There are a number of other
excuses I could jot down for not walking. I’ve been sick

for weeks; so it is time to you-know-what or get off the
pot! (It is 14:39. I better get moving if I’m going to do
this.)

New day. Wispy clouds. New heat. Her car in the shop.
She is out and about in mine. And, yes, I did walk
yesterday. Slowly, very slowly and a lot of water. When

I got back I checked my calendar. I hadn’t walked since
the end of March. A lot of sick time in between. I am
thankful for healing and hope for complete restoration

as I go forward. I thought about what I might cook for
dinner as I walked. In my mind, I opened the fridge.
I cooked a pound of Mostaccioli last Friday and still had

one serving left. The six chicken breasts I cut up and
cooked were gone. How can I be walking in 105 degree
heat thinking about dinner? I know what I’ll do. When

I got home, I changed out of my hiking stuff and put on
my uniform of the day—T-shirt and warm-up pants. In
the kitchen, I preheated a small frying pan (to keep my

portion size down). One short spray of canola. I put a
frozen burger in the pan. Meanwhile, I put a serving of
frozen veggies on a paper plate. Broccoli and peas. And

I grabbed the rest of the precooked pasta, a larger smooth
penne, you might say. Since I was throwing all the other
stuff in with the burger, I under-cooked the burger a little.

I cut up the burger in the pan. Added some butter, olive
oil, and garlic. Then the veggies. After a few minutes, I
added the cold pasta. A few stirs and flips later, it was

heated through. A pinch of salt and pepper. Mix. Done.
Added Parmesan. A quick yummy hamburger pasta with
veggies. That was dinner. She ate dinner while I was

walking. We watched Episode 7 of “Hinterland” together,
then called it a night. What on earth did I do before
there was Netflix? For me it was no flicks. Get this. Again,

what was true yesterday in my electronic world is not
true today. I’m back in Windows for now (Don’t ask!) I
have to convert her forms into Word docs. If I was

thinking, I would have done that work on her PC and
stayed in Linux. Maybe it isn’t too late. Certainly not
important as I’m thinking of an old friend who died

yesterday at the age of 92. My youngest called to tell
me last night. When we die, the battle for truth ends
and is revealed in the fullness of the power of the

resurrection in Christ. God’s grace is always greater
than we understand; especially in the face of the
senseless barbaric slaughter of the innocent young

lives in Manchester. When evil works evil, God doesn’t
stop working good. I believe that every child who died
as a result of evil in Manchester has been granted the

full measure of God’s limitless grace and given the
gift of eternal life by God’s love and resurrection
power. Their killers await judgment and eternal

separation from God. To the parents and friends who
have suffered horrific loss, by God’s grace, your
children live life eternal with Christ. And my friend

who died, he lives on with Christ. He also believed
the Truth and in the God who is Spirit and Truth,
and never ever changes. When I die, I will see

you again. And, I will see the young people who died
in Manchester, too. Absolute truth is forever true.
God is loving and faithful even though there is evil

in the world. The power with which He raised Christ
from the dead, so has He done by His grace for the
innocent children of Manchester. (This does not

negate the pain of your loss; so sorry for the loss of
your loved ones.) Only God can get us through these
difficult times and sustain us when things happen

that we do not understand. Truth in the absence of
God isn’t true.

Odds and End No. 33


I had half-written a few haiku
but it wasn’t enough. The issue
was bigger than that.

The electronic and analog parts
of me were on a collision course
for a few days. Maybe weeks.

Frustration over my bullet
journal clouded my mind and
hindered my task progress. Yes,

another war with myself. No ink
or blood spilled. I’ve managed
about thirty or so repeating

tasks electronically for ages.
But translating them into analog
has been a nightmare for me.

That issue cast a shadow on my
lunch. I continued to read my
Michener book. Got to page 526.

Another two inches to read; I
guess I’m about half way. Today
is one of those days when I feel

like I’m “half-way” with most
everything in my life; no forward
movement detected. Michener

didn’t help. This part of his book
was reflecting on rabbinical law
as it took shape in the early part

of the 4th Century. The endless
discussions about dos and don’ts
of the Mishnah and the Gemara

that formed the Talmud. (When
left to our own devices, why do we
choose law over grace? Simple

answer: For the same reasons we
choose death over life.) For over
a week, I’ve been content to eat

about the same thing for lunch
everyday. But today I was rattled.
Letting this small issue of my life

get to me. So, my lunch was
equally unsettled. I made a third
of a pot of strong coffee instead of

mild tea. I had two sandwiches
instead of one. One slice of bologna
each. Yellow mustard instead of

Dijon. No cheese. I was hungry and
wanted an uncomplicated lunch.
Nothing in the way. I grabbed the

last four green olives as well. I
didn’t want to fight with radishes
today. Two olives per sandwich was

fine. Coffee with a little less sugar
and cream than normal. No cookies
today. “God’s grace is sufficient,”

came to mind. So it is. I brought my
journal in but read through my lunch
instead. Why didn’t I think of God’s

grace while I’ve been fighting with
myself about how to better control
a small fragment of my life? Why?

Because I’m flesh and blood. Because
there is a natural attraction that we
all have that desires the law (which

ends in death). Grace is God’s
unmerited favor that ends in life.
Well, “ends” isn’t the right word here

because the gift of God’s grace doesn’t
end. Christ’s death ends in life eternal.
(How did I get here today? How do I

get back?) Bullet journal, electronic,
or both? We are constantly faced with
choices. Even when we think we have

no choices left, we still have choices.
There are always choices. No one can
choose for us even if we think that is

not so. Looks like I won’t solve my
bullet journal dilemma today. More
importantly, one more time I get to

choose—choose to reject the
philosophy of humankind, choose God’s
grace over law, and choose eternal

life over death. Your turn. She just got
home. Some choices are easier than
others. Like our choice for Taco Tuesday.