A House Divided

When we hear the phrase, “A House Divided,” most people think of Abraham Lincoln and the speech he gave in 1858 at the Illinois Republican Convention where he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” But did you know that the phrase was not original to Abraham Lincoln? Jesus is the one that actually coined it first when He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Matthew 12:25

That phrase has been going through my mind this week as I listen to the news. The media loves to bring division to our society. In 2019, the drumbeat was black vs. white. In 2020, it was Democrat vs. Republican. In 2021, it was vaxed vs. unvaxed. So far in 2022, it is government vs. truckers. Listen carefully when you are hearing the news or other media outlets, you’ll notice that many of the speakers are pitting one group of people against another.

Does it really have to be that way? Can we not shake ourselves awake and recognize the programming that is being disseminated on the airwaves? If we don’t we will succumb to the division that is deliberately being sown in society around us.

Think about your own prejudices and those of your peers around you. Don’t they mimic the programming that is on the news channels? We must recognize that we are being conditioned to look at others with suspicion if they do not think or act the way that we do. This is happening on both sides of the political divide. Surely we don’t have to fall for this, do we?

Abe Lincoln was right to quote Jesus when he was talking about slavery in our nation. He recognized the division that would break our union apart. Now there is a more insidious division taking place; it is family member against family member, neighbor against neighbor, city against city and state against state.

We may not be able to stop the vitriol that is spewing forth from the media but we can quit listening to it and stop being conditioned to hate those who do not agree with us on a political or social level. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to hate my brother or my neighbor because of the color of his skin, his political affiliation, his vaccination status or his choice to protest.

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Smoking

Smoking has been off my radar for a long time. Over the past several years in the US, there has been quite a social stigma associated with smoking. No smoking in restaurants, bars, public places, etc., that’s the usual sign up. At this point in time, I don’t know one person who smokes. I know that in other countries that is not necessarily true.

About a month ago, Omicron blew through our city like a wind on a hot summer day. Thousands were infected including myself and my husband. Actually, six members of my family got it. It wasn’t too severe for our family but hospitalizations are up and lots of people are having a difficult time with it.

I got to thinking, who is being affected the most by it? And of course, it is people with a diminished lung capacity. Smokers are part of this category. I read a study that said that smokers are 80 percent more likely to end up in the hospital with Covid and 60 percent more likely to have negative outcomes. Not good, for sure.

For those of you who read my blog, I would encourage you to quit smoking. Covid is not going away anytime soon, and I don’t want you to end up being a statistic. We all have a tendency to think that negative things won’t happen to us but I guarantee that it is certainly possible with Covid.

Will it really make any difference if you quit smoking, especially for those who have smoked for years? Orlando Health says that if you quit smoking, your lungs begin to heal immediately. Carbon Monoxide begins to leave your bloodstream gradually. Within the first month of quitting smoking, your lung function will improve and you will have increased circulation. Within a decade of being smoke-free, your risk of bladder, lung, mouth and throat cancer significantly decreases. All this indicates that the longer you go without a cigarette, the better it is for your long term health.

When both my husband and I went to the doctor to get tested, we were asked, “Do you smoke?” When we said, “No,” the doctor didn’t seem too concerned about us. That really alerted me that smoking has a big impact in your outcome should you get Covid. I appreciate every one of you that reads this blog and I want the very best for you. So please, quit smoking! I want to see you around the blogosphere for a long time!

Image by Ray Kunze. Courtesy of PIxabay

Comprehend

There are so many things as humans that we do not or cannot comprehend. But just because we cannot comprehend them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Take the universe for instance. Can any human with his finite mind comprehend the length and breadth of the universe? Can we, as humans, even see into the furthest reaches of the universe? But does our lack of comprehension mean this vast fabulous space does not exist?

What about the subatomic world? Even with all of our strong electron microscopes and our particle accelerators, we still haven’t discovered all there is to know about the quantum world. Does that mean that just because we cannot see or know everything about it, we invalidate its existence? Of course not.

It is the same with God. Just because we cannot see Him or comprehend Him, doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. As finite beings with finite minds, we were never supposed to be able to comprehend the vastness of the universe or the quantum world. They are examples of the infinite complexities of creation. Yes, creation spoken into existence by a loving Creator.

The very attributes of God are difficult to comprehend but that doesn’t mean they are any less true:

Omniscient – All knowing

Omnipresent – Present everywhere at the same time

Eternal – Without beginning or end of days

All Powerful – Having the power to do anything

As we enter a New Year, let us humble ourselves and acknowledge the existence of a Being greater and more powerful than we are. Let us seek to find out about Him and be willing to ask Him to make Himself known to us.

Surely, He can and will do it if we ask Him to.

Re-Gifting

Re-Gifting…no matter how you feel about it, most of us have done it. I know I certainly have. I am a minimalist and have received many gifts over the years that I wouldn’t use. Most were really nice and I knew people who would love to have them. Passing them on seemed like the perfect opportunity to put those presents to good use. Several years ago, I began a little “store” in one of my closets. I would put those gifts and other great buys I found during the year there. When I needed a gift, I would go into my store and find the perfect gift to give.

During this Christmas Season, it seems like another opportunity to re-gift some of those nice things that I have been given during the year. When I look in my “store” I am only finding intangibles to give this year. Hm-m-m, what should I do?

The first gift I see when I look into my store is “Forgiveness.” I have received Forgiveness from others during the year and it seems only right to give that to those needing it. The second gift I see is “Acceptance.” So many people have Accepted me the way I am and surely I can be gracious enough to pass that along can’t I? As I look deeper into my “store,” I find gifts that the Lord has given me that I know He would like me to give to others. He would like me to share His kindness with others, and for sure, His compassion. He would also like me to share His Story. The Story about how He sent His Son to this earth to die for our sins and give those who believe in Him eternal life.

Re-Gifting….how do you feel about it? Does it have a place in your gift giving this season? Perhaps you are not into re-gifting tangible items but what about the intangibles? Some of them can be absolutely priceless!

The Gift of Respect

Almost immediately after Thanksgiving, I began to think about the gifts I wanted to give this year. After mulling around what to give my family, I thought about what to give to others for Christmas this year. I want to give gifts that will last longer than a few weeks. The first gift I thought of was Respect.

Respect is a gift I can give others that will build them up and encourage them each time I see them. But I just don’t want to give it to those I know, I want to give it to those I meet on the street. What kind of people you ask?

People that have a different skin color.

People that have a different economic status.

People that have a different religion or no religion at all.

People that don’t agree with my political views.

People that come from different countries and live in different cultures.

People that are living different lifestyles.

People that look like they are living on the edge of society.

Will it make a difference to them if someone treats them with Respect? I hope so. But even if it doesn’t, I will feel better that I have treated my fellow man with the Respect he or she deserves.

What about you? What’s on your Christmas gift list? Would you like to add Respect to your gift giving list. It won’t cost you a thing and it will come back to you in spades. How about it?

Image by Cristian Ferronato, Courtesty of Pixabay.

Actions Without Consequences

In Math, one plus one equals two. You can count on it. But in life, it is not always that simple. When I watch what passes for entertainment, I am surprised that people’s actions rarely have real life consequences.

In the entire time I have been watching TV and movies, I believe that less than five times I have seen women get pregnant who are sleeping with other guys. It is a real rarity. We are supposed to believe that a woman can sleep with whoever she wants whenever she wants and there will not be any repercussions. Certainly in these situations one plus one can equal three, four or more.

When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, real life statistics can go through the roof depending on where you live. I believe that possibly, and I mean possibly, I may have seen one show on TV where someone who had been sleeping around got an STD. Is is really true that a person can sleep around and not have to deal with an STD ever? In these cases one plus one can equal three, four or five also.

Those of us living in reality know that actions do have consequences. How many of us have had to face one or more of these situations? What about our friends? How many times do we know very young teenagers who have gotten pregnant or had to deal with an STD? These situations are heartbreaking because the consequences from some of this behavior can last a lifetime.

As parents, let’s teach our children well. Let’s not leave it up to the school or other kids to educate our children on the dangers of casual sex. There is nothing casual about sex, or at least there shouldn’t be, and these actions can scar our children for many years to come. When watching television or movies with our kids, let’s be quick to point out the absurdity portrayed that actions don’t have real life consequences.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Further Out

My husband and I were watching a movie the other night. A man had taken a woman on a date and asked her if she wanted to go for a ride in his boat. He then picked up his cell and tried to make a call. No coverage. He then told her they needed to go “further out” to get more cell coverage. She had no problem with that. What she didn’t know was that the man was trying to get her away from shore so that he could kill her. The audience knew it but she did not. We all wanted to say, “Don’t go further out. Stay near shore where there are other people and it is safe!”

The audience knew the man did not mean “further out,” he meant “further away.” Further away from safety. People that don’t have our best interest at heart want to do that. They try to isolate us from the people that love us, i.e. our friends and family, so that we have no one to turn to if we need help.

In life though, it is just not people that want to do that. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have an enemy that wants to isolate us from other believers. For a Christian, it is a dangerous place because we need other believers to pray for us and support us. During the pandemic, there was a time when everyone stayed home from church because the churches were closed. However, when they opened back up, everyone did not return.

According to George P. Wood in his article, “Six Reasons People Aren’t Coming Back to Church,” there are several reasons people are not returning. Top of the list is Covid Hesitancy. Many are afraid to return and be exposed to large groups of people. That is understandable. Others though are not returning because of Inertia. They have gotten used to staying home and it is hard to get them moving again to get up and attend church. The third reason is Weak Attachment. The people did not have a strong attachment to Christ or their church and the cares of the last year have strangled the little faith they had.

Anyone looking at those that are getting “further away” from their church know they are in a dangerous place. The seas of life are rough and we need other believers to help us through the difficult times. We need good solid teaching from the Bible to ground us during the uncertain times we live in. The Scripture speaks to us in Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as in the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.”

Are you in the boat? Is someone taking you further out, further away from other believers? Turn back while you still can! Better yet, get out of the boat and stay close to shore, close to others where there is safety in numbers. We don’t want to end up being a statistic. A statistic such as Lifeway Research found: After the Pandemic, 6 percent of churchgoers said they would attend less often, 2 percent said they would now attend rarely and 1 percent said they would never go back to church.

Further out? Further Away? Not on your life!

Six Reasons People Aren’t Coming Back to Church. George P. Wood. July 23, 2021. Influencemagazine.com

Image by jplenio. Courtesy of Pixabay.

The Hellevator

Marco looked across the bay. He loved watching the ocean from his office window. Today, there was no fog and he felt like he could see forever. The blue of the Pacific Ocean was stunning as it glistened in the full sun. It was late Friday afternoon and he was calling it quits for the week. He turned around and looked at his office. He smiled as he saw all of the awards he had received throughout his career as a real estate broker. It had been quite a ride and he was still enjoying the thrill as each sale closed and his company received its commission.

Tomorrow was his 50th birthday and he and his family were going to spend the weekend at his parent’s winery in Napa. He loved his parents but had chosen not to stay in Napa and work with his dad and brothers. Growing grapes and making wine did not compare to the thrill of making thousands of dollars from just one real estate transaction.

Marco walked out the door of his office and headed for the elevator. As he started to reach for the button, everything went black and he collapsed on the floor. He woke up as his spirit left his body and traveled upwards. In a few moments, he was in a room filled with light and millions of books. He looked around and saw what he believed were two angels. They looked at him and then turned and opened a gigantic door. A being filled with light entered and when his eyes adjusted to the light, he could see the most beautiful being he had ever seen. Not only was this person filled with light, he could feel love emanating from his every pore. He could see the scars on his hands and feet and he knew instantly who he was. This was Jesus, the Son of God that his parents had taught him about when he was little.

Marco could do nothing else but fall on his face and worship Him. Jesus came forward and lifted him up. As He touched Marco, love filled Marco’s being. He knew he was loved completely at that moment. A flash of fear coursed through Marco’s mind. What was he doing here? Had he died? What about his life? As those thoughts went through his mind, Marco began to see his life pass before him.

He saw the things he had done as a child and as a teenager. He saw his rejection of God in his college years and his obsession with money and his career in his twenties, thirties and forties. His life looked oh so shallow and self-centered. Had he done any good? He saw how he loved his wife and kids and how his company contributed every year to the homeless shelter near his office. He wondered, was that enough to get him into heaven?

No words were spoken as Jesus looked into the Book of Life that one of the angels held in his hand. He searched for Marco’s name but could not find it. “I’m sorry Marco. I created you to spend eternity with me, but you rejected every advance I made to offer you my love.” Marco then saw the hundreds of times that Jesus had protected him and spoken to him in a still small voice. He watched himself ignore those moments as he hurried on about his life, anxious to cut another deal and make another great commission.

Jesus turned and left the room. One of the angels pointed to the Hellevator and Marco knew that he was going to have to take it and live in a Christless eternity. He began weeping as he was escorted to the Hellevator. The door opened and he saw a demon waiting to take him to Hell. He tried to back up but a force just kept drawing him forward into the Hellevator. He started screaming, “No, No, I am so sorry.” He heard his voice echo off the walls in the Hellevator and the demon smile a wicked smile. Just as the door began to close, everything went dark again.

“One, Two, Clear.” A bolt of electricity shocked his heart. His heart began to beat and he heard, “He’s back. Let’s get him down the elevator and to SF General.” He could feel them lift him onto the gurney and he heard the elevator door open as they rushed him inside. In just a few moments, he was on the street and they were loading him into the ambulance. Someone was talking to him, “We’ve got ya buddy, just hang on. You’re going to be okay.”

Marco felt the weight of his body and knew he was back in it. His chest hurt and he felt weak, so weak he could hardly talk. He looked up at the paramedic and whispered, “Thank you.” He then looked up through the roof of the ambulance into heaven, “Thank you Jesus, for a second chance. I won’t let you down.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17.

Image by Gerd Altman. Courtesy of Pixabay