There will be regular rains, the land will give you bumper crops, trees will be loaded with fruit long after the normal time and you will have as much to eat as you want and live out your days in peace.
Wow! Regular rain, year after year of success in gardens and farms, plenty to eat and a peaceful world without fear. Who doesn’t want that? Who among us would say he or she wouldn’t want that? Is it too boring to have peace and safety? Is it too mundane to have bumper crops year in and year out? So, what’s the catch? Isn’t there always a catch?
Yes, there is a catch, but it’s not expensive, nor is it egregious. All you have to do is to love God your Father who provides these things freely to his obedient children. You have to obey his commandments. You have to love your fellow man who is your brother and your sister, who also a child of God.
The first paragraph above comes from the book of Leviticus, chapter 26. The Old Testament is filled with rules and regulations. Jesus boiled all of them down to two. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” “Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” If you obey these laws, all those other ones fall into place. You won’t steal from someone that you love as much as yourself because you don’t like to have things stolen from you. You won’t punch him, kill him, hate him, lie to him, lie about him, take his wife or do other mean things to him because you don’t like those things either.
Our world is falling apart fast. The daily headlines are enough to fill our hearts with terror. We need to take hope and make that hope the anchor of our lives. There are solutions but the ultimate solution always comes back to those two commandments spoken by Jesus.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” Jesus said it best. You can’t improve on that.
The little airplanes of the heart
with their brave little propellers
What can they do
against the winds of darkness
even as butterflies are beaten back
yet do not die
They lie in wait wherever
they can hide and hang
their fine wings folded
and when the killer-wind dies
they flutter forth again
into the new-blown light
live as leaves
These are difficult days that we are experiencing. Sometimes, it feels as if we are buffeted by the winds of the hurricanes that have recently traversed our world or by the flames that scorch our west coast. We need to take heart in the Scriptures that uphold the righteousness that God has planted in us. We need to surely know that righteous lives soften the paths that others must follow in the future.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
** Although this title seems negative to me because of the reference to Sandinistas, I have chosen to leave it in so that the poem can be properly identified. The poem itself is very sweet.
There is something fundamentally wrong with us. In what country does someone just nonchalantly walk into a church and shoot up men, women and children? We don’t need terrorists. We have our own nutcases and they are armed with assault rifles.
There is only one way out of this plague of shooters and victims. Scripture tells us that if the country which is called by God’s name will repent and turn from its wicked ways, He will repent Himself of the evil and stop it and heal that nation. We need repentance now. We have become a violent society. Why does our country continue churning out violent movie after violent movie and violent computer game after violent computer game? Many of our young people are addicted to violence and others among us are becoming desensitized to it.
Years ago, if someone wanted to see violence or pornography, they had to get up and go somewhere to see it. Nowadays, they just turn on their computers and it’s all available right in their living rooms. Violence and lust will not beget anything but violence and lust. We allow our children to fill up their brains on a continuous stream of this junk without making a peep. Do we then expect them to turn out to be kind and caring individuals?
I am heartbroken. Why does another mother have to bury her young daughter? A newlywed bury her husband? Or a baby lose its mother? How can one family lose eight of its members in one instant? How many more will we tolerate being slaughtered in their pews? Or in their restaurants? Or on their bus? Simply living a quiet life. One minute they’re here and the next they are taken out of this life by some angry or demented soul. Why do we continue to allow it?
We need to turn this around. We can do it as a society if we forego focusing on our differences and instead unify in our repentance. We can change. We can stop future mass shootings. They are not inevitable. However, there is only one way out. We have to find the violence, the anger, the hate inside of ourselves and eliminate it. Cast it out. Refuse to give in to it even when people make it so enticing for us to hate. Do the opposite in our daily lives. Live with conviction in love with God and with our fellow man.
Jesus said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37 – 40
I have a relative that lives on an island in the Caribbean. He has often said that he lives in paradise. During the night on Tuesday, his paradise was demolished. He lost everything but his dog and his life. We are extremely grateful that his life was spared.
Many stories emerged this week that make it abundantly clear that the earthly places that we equate with paradise can be destroyed. However, the true paradise, the Kingdom of Heaven, will never be destroyed. If it dwells within you, it is your life and can never be taken from you no matter the circumstances.
It will be like the house built upon the rock. When wind and storm and rain beat against it, nothing, no storm and no attack from hell, can tear it down.
My garden is my place of quiet and peacefulness. Yesterday I brought in the top of a lettuce plant that had gone to seed and this morning I was taking off the tiny flowers and opening them up. The tiny seeds inside fell into the paper bag. Soon there were enough seeds in the little bag to plant plenty of lettuce in next summer’s garden.
One lettuce plant produces enough seeds to create ten future gardens. Imagine how many gardens could be created with all of the seeds from all of the plants in the garden! God is amazing. He put enough seeds in one plant to create an abundance of new plants. It’s a miracle.
Think of a maple tree. Each maple has thousands of tiny helicopters on it that will float down to earth and potentially become more maple trees. He gave us enough seed to make up for all the possibilities. Seeds falling on rocks. Seeds being eaten by squirrels. Seeds being washed away by rain. Even with all of the destruction that can happen to each maple seed, in the spring we find our yard filled with tiny maple seedlings after a few spring rains. And no matter how I clean up my garden, in the spring I find random lettuce plants growing here or there, tiny tomato seedlings sprouting where I don’t want them any more. About fifteen years ago, I planted some mustard green seeds. Every year those mustard greens still show up. They never sprout in exactly the same place, but they faithfully make an appearance wherever the wind has blown them.
As I open each miniature seed pod and scrape out the seeds, it is impossible not to realize that these seeds represent hope. They are the hope of a successful garden, not this year, but next. They are the hope of the return of spring even before winter has arrived. They are the hope of new life, of all things good, of things even bigger and better than this year. Thank God for hope. Thank God for the tiny seeds that anchor us in the faith and knowledge that life will go on. Winter does not last forever. Hardships will cease. Spring will come.
Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature – his eternal power and divine character – have been clearly perceptible through what he has made. (Romans 1:19)
On September 9, 1776, the congress representing the group of colonies that made up this country at that time decided to call it the United States. However, ever since its inception, this country has been tested as to the meaning of its name. Although the founders held deep convictions and high ideals for this country, there were already deep divisions in our unity, specifically over what to do about slavery. That crack widened until we fought a bitter civil war over the issue. Even since the end of that war, the divisions have persisted.
Over time, those divisions have branched out from the issue of slavery and new divisions have been created. Nowadays, our congress cannot even agree on the simplest of issues. I read in this morning’s paper a comment by a young man of 27. He said, “My generation can’t talk to each other. They don’t want to hear another perspective. If you label yourself a conservative or a libertarian, they don’t want to talk to you.” (“What of Civil War Re-Enactments,?” Hartford Courant, 9-5-2-17) What is wrong with us and why can’t we even have a civil conversation to discuss the issues?! The crack is widening and there seems to be no way to bridge the gap.
However, God is giving us a chance. Unfortunately, the times that we come together end up being the worst of times and yet the best of times. Disasters somehow make us forget politics and opposing opinions and bring us together in a common goal of survival. The experience of Houston, Rockport, Wharton and Port Arthur has both horrified and softened the hearts of Americans across the nation.
I believe that everyday Americans would welcome a change from the divisive rhetoric streaming off the airwaves. Another huge storm is heading our way. Hurricane Irma. Hopefully, we will rise to the occasion once again and pitch in to pick up the pieces that are left in its wake if indeed it ends up taking direct aim at us, but why do we need a monster storm to force us to do that?
A house divided against itself cannot stand. We know this to be a truth. We have to come together. We have to be willing to listen to one another. We have to work together if we want to ensure the survival of our country for the future. We can do it without another storm. Teach young people to discuss. Be an example of civil discussion. Listen first. Listening doesn’t cost a thing.