Why, I ask, after listening to the press briefing with Sean Spicer today, why does the press act as if Otto Warmbier has been treated as if murdered? No one, but several reporters, tried to get Spicer to say something that he was not about to say.
So, I’ll say my opinion. I did some research. Otto Warmbier was no dummy. He graduated second highest in his high school class. He was a junior at the University of Virginia. But, alas, book learning and common sense do not walk hand in hand. Where he received his money for foreign travels is unknown to me, but I presuppose that he may have been using college money for adventure.
He fell for an advertisement in China for ten-day trips to North Korea. The line in the brochure said, “Take the trip your parents don’t want you to take.” So, he took the ten-day trip to the forbidden land of North Korea anyhow. He launched the trip from China.
Whether he took the poster he was accused of taking and then misusing it is not certain. Do Communist countries tell the truth? They have no conscience that is guided by any moral principles. The country has a reputation for disregarding human rights. Warmbier put himself in danger. He suffered the consequences.
In America, he would have been deported with a slap on the wrist. Maybe. He would not have been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. That is one thing I know for sure. Americans burn our flag and get away with it, after all. We hold dear freedom of speech. Communists do not care about such things. Surly Warmbier knew he was taking a serious risk to even visit North Korea. He was not only American, he was a Jewish American. Communists hate both.
As we sow, we shall reap. The Bible teachers that principle. Even if it were not in the Bible, where I plant sunflower seeds, I do expect sunflowers to grow. It is common sense. I do not expect orchids. The fact that the Apostle Paul taught about sowing and reaping makes it even more powerful. Taken in context with verse7 (Galatians 6) it teaches us that God is not mocked. Verse 8 drives the truth home: “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
While I do not intend to speak evil of the dead, I must say, I think some sowing and reaping has taken place. Let’s all learn from it.
Further, let’s be careful to teach our children and grandchildren to use common sense. Not in the Bible, but there is the adage, “Some men go where angels fear to tread.” Not me. My daddy has been in Heaven since 1987 but so often I hear his words of admonition and if Daddy said, “Don’t go there. . .” I’d still obey! Daddy didn’t rear a fool.
Last was a week of interest. As a result of meanderings last week, I present a few scattered thoughts.
The week started Sunday after church when a charming, good looking grandson picked me up along with his girlfriend and took me to lunch at an oriental food place. Good food and good company. His work scholarship job could begin this summer and that is exactly what he is doing so he left for Pensacola Christian College on Friday. Christmas seems as if it is a long way off, and it is his first college experience. You would do him and me a favor if you stopped right now and whispered a prayer for him.
The landscaping project that started last summer continues into this summer and I am making slow but steady progress. I am thankful for patient neighbors who don’t seem to care about the barren spots. I promise them it will look much fuller and prettier next summer. To make something better, sometimes we must tear it apart. God does that with our lives from time to time too.
My long-time friend came an hour trip to see me and take me to lunch this week. We enjoy a close friendship. It is the kind that when we get together, sometimes months apart, we resume our conversation as if there had been no interval of space. She graciously took me some places that the bus does not go, and one of them was a new store with a wonderful garden section. Yes, I brought home a plant. We both agreed that a weed is just a plant that is out of place.
Psalm 46 would not leave me, but I wanted to start a three-week series of devotionals on Moses at my local Active Adult Center. So, I finally decided that the word refuge and refugee describes the Hebrews in Egypt. It worked together beautifully. Thinking on it, we are all just refugees in this world. It is not my home. I’m just passing through.
On Friday Kamryn and I spent the entire day and night together. There is nothing quite like spending an extended period with a seven-year old. We rode the bus to find shopping, played word games while we waited places, found bubbles for outside play, and had 24 hours of no electronics or movies. We did attempt to watch a television show in bed, but we both fell asleep. Yes, it was tiring for this old body of mine, but how I want to savor her company and not just simply set her aside to entertain herself with some gadget or gizmo. I enjoy every arrow in my grandmother quiver.
Wrap: as the title states, this is just a little of this and a dab of that but put together made a wonderful week. My week also included favorable results from bloodwork. The coming week includes a visit to the retinaologist. Miracles abound all around me and I bet, they are around your life too. You may think it is ordinary, but really, it is full of extraordinary happenings when viewed from God’s prospective.
With test results in hand, the doctor solemnly looks at his patient and says, “It is acute leukemia. You have approximately two weeks to live.”
This is not a hypothetical question. Those words were spoken to an acquaintance of mine over the weekend. Loreen has about two weeks left of her life. Pastor announced it in church last night, and again this morning I heard the words again from a leader at the Senior Center. Jan, a friend of mine said this: “I would gather every child, grandchild, and great-grandchild around me and tell them not to feel sorry for me. I am packed for Heaven. Jesus paid my way and has a place waiting for me. I want you all to know that you can know that you have a place in Heaven.”
Knowing myself as I do, whenever I get ready for a trip even if it for only a few days, I clean the refrigerator, change the bed, get the laundry all done, and make sure details are in order. I want someone to check the mail for me, and feed the hamster. If I were leaving permanently, as Loreen will, I’d give as much away as I could and leave things uncluttered. The only time I’ll leave things in disarray is if Jesus should suddenly appear in that rapturous, glorious appearing to carry His own people away before the earth’s final destruction. Spiritually, I’ll be ready, but the kitchen floor may need to be swept, and the bed made!
When it comes to the end, it is then we realize that this world holds nothing of lasting value. Nothing. Everything of value has gone on before and even then, it may not be much.
The words of I John 5:12-13 are more precious than ever: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” My days are numbered, and reader, so are yours.
The reality for Believers is that we should always be ready to “pray, preach or die at a moment’s notice.” I wish I could give credit to the person who coined that phrase.
If you received the same news as Loreen, what would you do?
For the past two days I have been observing the construction of a new concrete driveway across the street. On Saturday I saw a tree come down to make room for a wider driveway and that is a skill all its own too. Then yesterday the bed was laid by taking out the old driveway.
Those men know how to drive those machines, how to dig the bed, how deep to dig the bed, how to measure it with exactness, and just how much gravel to lay. Today the final forms were set and filled. The cement truck knows how to unload the wet concrete and the men know how to smooth it all out. Tonight, they are putting the finishing touches on the drive and as I type this they are loading up the Bobcat and other tools and heading out, probably to do it all over tomorrow somewhere else.
I have absolutely no spiritual application for this post. Only utmost respect for skilled men who do these unappreciated jobs day and day out. They provided for their families through labor that few people really know how to do.
Hats off to our construction workers whether they are framing a house or pouring a foundation, or laying miles of electrical wires, or fitting pipes for plumbing. They are smart, hard-working guys.
And I salute Mike Rowe for knowing the value of American labor regardless of what the job is at hand. He understands the nobleness of simple dedication to doing a job correctly and passes his inspiration along on his own blog site.
Maybe I’ll think of these guys on Labor Day this year. In case I don’t think of them then, let’s all remember to appreciate those who work for us. I walked across the street tonight and thanked them for their diligent work. They don’t get enough compliments, of that I am sure.
A verse does come to mind: Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
Easter and jellybeans seem to go hand in hand. While I no longer have baskets to fill, still, I buy jellybeans. Why? I like them. Most jellybeans are a mere ten calories each and eaten in moderation give just that little sweetness for which I yearn. This year I bought two bags of the fascinating treats and since they were a brand I usually like, I did not notice one thing: the bags included black jellybeans. I don’t care for the licorice taste. The red ones are my favorite flavor. Just pop in a red jelly bean and let the coating slowly melt on the tongue, then lastly, devour the jelly part last.
I eat my jellybeans one color at a time. Never do I reach into the candy dish and just grab whatever comes into my hand. You guessed it, usually the last ones in the dish are the licorice flavored beans. This year, however, I left myself four red jellybeans for the last morsels to consume. That was yesterday.
Predictably, the consumption of my seasonal candy is much like my Bible reading. I choose and plan how to read my Bible through every few months. Never have I read it Genesis to Revelation straight through. On the other hand, neither do I read it randomly a little here and a little there.
The tried and true motto is “Plan your work; work your plan.” That goes for just about everything. If I did not ride my bike in a planned way, it would gather dust. If I did not plan to make my bed, I would be sleeping in a tangled mess of sheets and blankets and wonder why I am restless. So, I eat my jellybeans according to a plan leaving the choicest morsels until the last. Eat a few of the licorice beans now and then to get them out of the way. Read Numbers, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon sandwiched between the delectable readings of Psalms, John, and I Samuel.
As you might guess, I also have a handy chart on which to put a slash mark through each chapter read so I can see my progress, and at the same time, not leave something out unintentionally.
Do you have a favorite flavor of jellybean? Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Talk to me.
“To trust God in the light is nothing.
To trust God in the dark, that is faith.”
C. H. Spurgeon
Please pray for a little girl, 10 years old, who was diagnosed with lung cancer this week. Her name is Elana.
The Negro Spiritual song, “Were you There” evokes our senses to the death, burial, and rising again of Jesus, our Lord. The tune is a mournful sound and the meter is slow moving. The stirring words: sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble almost causes one to want to shun the whole experience as just too depressing. Ah, but without the remembrance we tend to skip through life as if Calvary cost Jesus little. If only at the Easter season we deliberately return to Golgotha, the Garden tomb, and the mount of Ascension it should stir the heart of Believers. It should cause the unbeliever’s heart to tremble in repentance. It should cause the believing heart to tremble with responsibility.
If you journal, use all of your senses as you witness the scene on Golgotha. Matthew 27:27-50
What do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell? Do you taste anything? Is touch affected?
The Garden Tomb Matthew 28:1-6. John 20:1-18
What do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell? Do you taste anything? Is touch affected?
Then move to the place where the disciples met the same evening of the Resurrection. John 20:19-28
Search the face of those in the room, think of how they feel emotionally and spiritually. What decisions are being made in that room?
With all those senses you have just used, now relate to Galatians 2:20
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who love d me and gave Himself for me.”
Yes, it will take time to complete this exercise. Time well worth the spending. Spending time in the presence of the Good Shepherd is always tme well spent.
Take a stroll with me. We will meander on a street called Memory Lane.
That first car of mine, a 1951 Studebaker, was not a beauty by any stretch of the imagination. It cost me ninety dollars back in 1961 when I was working at the local A & W root beer stand as a car hop. My dad took care of the oil changes and tires and I simply put gas in the tank and drove it back and forth to work and church. Other assorted vehicles have transported me places through the 56 years of car ownership. None of them has been so dear to me as the car I said good bye to today. I signed the title over to someone who will probably drive it another 40.000 miles or so before investing in a sporty thing he will be exceptionally proud of just as I was proud of the little Volkswagen bug I once owned. Although my husband hated the little thing, he married me. It was marry me, marry my car!
Today as I saw my once nearly new Mercury Mystique pull away, it all tumbled down in my mind that with each car, and each mile I’ve driven in these past 56 years has been a journey that attests to the song, “Jesus Led Me All the Way.” I’ll end this piece with the words to that song or give you the place to hear it.
In my many years of driving, I had three accidents. One was my fault on ice covered roads and did not involve another car, fortunately. No injuries occurred in any of the accidents. I did accumulate two traffic tickets for which I paid a fine. One for going through a newly erected stop sign and the other a seat belt violation. In all those years, I experienced only two flat tires! One was on the road, and the other in the church parking lot. I had the bad habit of thinking I could go just a little farther before getting gas and ran out of gas innumerable times.
The car I just sold has been my favorite and there was no mistake that God led me to this car. I drove it for 16 years! I would have repaired this last failure on its part, but the eye doctor really wanted me to stop driving altogether. Now, those words to the song:
*Verse 1: Someday life’s journey will be o’er, and I will reach that distant shore, I’ll sing while entering Heaven’s door: Jesus led me all the way.
Refrain: Jesus led me all the way, led me step by step each day, I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burden down, Jesus led me all the way.
Verse 2: If God should let me there review, the winding paths of life I knew, it would be proven clear and true, Jesus led me all the way.
Verse 3: And hitherto my Lord has led, Today He guides each step I tread, and soon in Heaven it will be said that Jesus led me all the way.
Repeat refrain. Here’s the link to You Tube song by the 1960’s group, the Sixteen Singing Men, recorded on vinyl!
I am walking (and riding transportation public and private) in the Shepherd’s Presence. Where He leads, I will follow. Jesus will provide a way.
Thank you, reader, for joining me on this trip down Memory Lane.
*Words to the song from Singspiration Music, Favorites 4, Copyright 1954 Words and melody by John W. Peterson.
A fine gentleman in my church is a piano tuner. I am not exactly sure how piano tuning works although I do play the piano for my own amazement. If the piano were only dreadfully out of tune would I know it. Chris also plays the piano and on occasion blesses us with music during the offering time.
About two weeks ago now I heard an odd sound between services and thought perhaps a child had stopped by the piano unnoticed until he plunked out a few notes one at a time. When I glanced over to the piano to see whose child had strayed, to my surprise, it was the piano tuner. He was doing a little adjusting to put the piano in perfect tune. Most people did not even notice him.
Later, to my amusement, he also was the one playing during the offering. He was doing the church a favor as well as making the piano sound the best it could. It reminded me of the verse in Colossians 3 that tells us to do everything we do with the goal of honoring the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 3:17)
I was blessed even between services that Sunday. The fact is, I could not tell you what the Sunday School lesson was about but I sure do remember that small interval of time when Chis stepped forward nearly unnoticed to fine tune our musical instrument for the next service. Can we do that? Unobtrusively encourage people to be better? It is a skill few people possess. Just the same as a piano tuner possesses a skill few people have. Do it. Look for the little places to fine tune. You will find them. Then sweetly go about your job of making things better.
Almost everything I know about document processing has been learned by trial and error. Back in 1997, my son-in-law introduced me to my first computer. He built it out of odds and ends of computers that had been dumped on his dad, and gave me a starter kit, so to speak. It was Windows 3.1 when the icons were actually on little window panes on the monitor. I paid a whole $150 for the starter and I do think I bought a new printer for my “new” operation. All I had to learn on was what Gary taught me verbally and a big yellow book called, Windows 3.1 for Dummies. I studied that book during my lunch breaks and carried it with me to read whenever I could slip in a few minutes. It was my computer knowledge lifeline.
My main goal was to learn document processing and the big yellow book was my guide. Now, twenty years later I am operating via Window 10 and there is a self-built guide on our operating system. I still rely heavily on Gary when something goes whacky though. This morning, I was merrily writing a letter to one of my grandchildren who lives far away and a flash and a clap of thunder swallowed my document. The house went dark momentarily. When I rebooted the system in a few minutes and opened my document file, there it was, asking if I wanted to recover. Ah, yes. It was nice to not have to do it all over.
The Windows 3.1 for Dummies is a simile for the first little Bible we give our children. Then as we mature in our Christian walk, we move up to a Bible with notes and a nice big concordance. Along the way, I added some Greek study to my repertoire and my computer has a version of e-sword. If you are a Bible scholar, consider loading e-sword onto your system. I find it very valuable.
The main thing is that when a bolt of lightning from the world, flesh, or devil strikes, we can recover. We do not need to remain in darkness and despair. We are temporarily stopped, but able to reboot. My good Shepherd will never leave me lying lifeless in the grass. Darkness need not cover me for my good Shepherd is also the Light of the world.