What He Could Have Been Is Far From What He Is!

He was born toward the end of the Great Depression and just before the beginning of World War II.  It was a time when “no one worried about money because there was no money.” His dad and mom were poor tenant farmers in rural Kentucky.  With the help of a neighboring farmer, his parents purchased some acreage and began building their lives on it.

However, alcohol abuse led the boy’s father away from home for days at a time, and it played a major role in his father’s life ending way to soon; the boy was only 8 years old at the time. His mother worked hard to hold on to the farm and keep the family together.  The boy, who was unusually tall and strong for his age, quit school following his 6th grade year to help his mom tend the farm.  Neighboring landowners employed his size and strength for their most labor-intensive jobs. Most paid him a man’s wage, but some just used his services without pay due to his age and family status.

At age 18, he married a 16-year-old girl.  Four children were born to that union within 5 years and a month; another daughter was born 10 years later.  As if bearing the load of providing for 4 small children wasn’t enough, the boy, now a man, bought both his wife’s and his own families’ farms.

He dreamed of success and worked hard at that dream.  But throughout those years, he never lost sight of the important things in life.  He never let what he could have been become what he was.

He could have been a follower rather than a leader. He could have accepted the role of a poor downtrodden victim. He had plenty of reasons to do so. A rough start in life, the loss of his father at a young age, and a lack of education would all have been reason enough.  But he educated himself about agriculture through reading anything he could get his hands on and by attending any classes offered by the UK agricultural extension office.  He worked long hours.  He learned the many skills necessary for operating a successful farm; mechanical repair and engineering, construction, agronomy, livestock feeding and health care, veterinary science, large equipment operation, etc.

He could have simply been a figurehead for his family.  He could have allowed alcohol or some other addiction to have taken him away from his family for long periods at a time.  The example had been set.  But he chose to be a loving husband and a caring father for his household.  His children never had to wonder if their daddy would be home at night, for each evening he was there to lock the door, and to bid them “Good night.”  He never once raised a bottle, nor took money away from his family to feed his own lusts. As a result, he has become the beloved and respected patriarch of a large, close-knit family; a family who tries to live up to the example which he has set; a family who finds satisfaction in presenting each new addition to him for his blessed “approval”.

He could have been a slave to anger and bitterness. He could have become angry at society and bitter at those who misused his services from time to time.  But he chose not to.  Instead, he chose to focus on all the generous neighbors and friends who stepped up in the time of his family’s greatest need.  He chose to appreciate the love which the community demonstrated.  He chose to spend his life trying to give back to the families of those who helped when he needed it most. He chose to happily share the good rather than angrily reflect the bad. As a result, he is known and loved throughout his community.

He could have been a bitter disbeliever. He could have become angry at God for allowing so much pain and anguish to fall upon him at such a tender age.  But instead, he chose to grow closer to his Maker, to submit to His will, and to serve Him all his days.  Rarely a worship service or organized Bible study has been conducted at the local congregation of the Lord’s people without the man’s presence.  He has served that congregation as an elder for over 40 years.

We all have “reasons” for becoming the worst possible version of ourselves.  It’s easy sometimes to list those reasons in blame and defense of our failures. But what we could become does not have to be what we are.  J. C. (Bub) Waddell is living proof of that.

What he could have been is far from what he is!

“1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7) ESV

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Can a 100% Cotton Cloth Go Bad After a Certain Date? Apparently So!

Today, I traveled with a group from church to Nashville to volunteer at an organization which sends aide to third world countries through donated supplies.  A part of the work which we performed involved opening and emptying packages which contained multiple counts of certain supplies so that other volunteers could easily place one or two of the items in an aid package.

One of the supplies which we unpacked today was sanitized, 100% cotton surgical clothes.  These wash cloth type rags were loosely wrapped in plastic, then shrink sealed in a plastic package, and stored in a plastic lined cardboard container. The entire pallet of cardboard boxes was in A-1 shape; the boxes showed no damage at all.

So why were these OR surgical cloths donated to this organization?

They had not been used by the expiration date printed on the package.  Yes, that is right. Per someone’s regulations, these triple sealed, 100% cotton wash cloths had gone bad. They could not be used for their intended purpose.

This is one of those hard to believe, regulations which leaves one scratching his head and muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

The bad part is that someone had to lose money on that pallet of perfectly good surgical cloths; and someone had to pay for it. Guess who does the latter.

Thankfully, this pallet will find its way into hands which will joyfully upcycle the material.  But it makes one wonder how many pallets have been trashed and wasted.

Products evist that need to be stamped with an expiration date.  These items will ruin if not used within a certain length of time.  The consumer needs to be notified of the window of time in which the product may be safely used.

However, there are some products that will never ruin on their own.  They will not begin posing a threat to one’s health just because they have not been used by a certain date.

Those cloths are one such product.

The Bible is another.

Many, through a desire to say that everything has an expiration date, want to say that the Bible has become outdated. They want to proclaim that the Bible may have had a meaningful and useful purpose during the age in which it was written. They may even concede that the Bible well served many generations following that first generation.  “But”, they proclaim, “mankind has outgrown the need for the Bible.”  In their philosophy, our intelligence has risen to such a level that the Bible can only negatively affect our society.  It needs to be trashed.

Yet the author of the book proclaimed, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) And again, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like the grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)

Many people may want to trash the Bible because mankind has stamped it with an expiration date, but its author proclaimed it to be useful for eternity.

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When Only Tears Can Pull A Man Through

The proverb of old
Is what we were told;
We heard, “Real men don’t cry tears.”
We tried to be bold,
When the world was so cold
With all its tauntings and jeers.

But one day it came,
The inescapable shame,
Our eyes overflowing with fears.
They burned like a flame,
No one was to blame
Still we dreaded the ragging of peers.

We misunderstood
We thought the tears would
Show us to be weak and frail.
But off came the hood
Which had hidden the good,
The strength of a genuine male.

True strength won’t deny
The emotions that tie
And which show it loyal and true.
Strength shamelessly cries
With its loyalty tried
For there are times when only tears can pull it through.

Stoic bravado has its place
In the running of this race,
But I’m thankful that I outgrew,
“When men cry they lose face”
The false notion of disgrace,
For there are times when only tears can pull a man through.

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

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The Day the Bull Reminded Me to Pray

Almost every one of us has inexplicably narrowly avoided at least one catastrophic incident in our lifetime; an episode that would have severely injured us at best, but easily could have killed us. We can offer no other explanation than the providence and protection of God in keeping us from harm.

One such incident in my life occurred early one morning in some dark woods on my dairy farm.

A young heifer was very near to giving birth to her first calf. She was mixed in with my milk herd.  First-calf Holstein heifers are notorious for having difficulty delivering their babies, especially when they are mated with Holstein bulls.

This particular morning, I arose a couple of hours before daylight to check on the heifer.  I found her lying in the wooded area of the farm. She was laboring to deliver her calf. I decided not to intervene, but to give her another hour, hoping she would deliver on her own.

One of the main reasons for this decision was because the bull stood near her, seemingly keeping guard over her.  I hoped that he would go to the barn with the rest of the herd and that I could lock him in the holding pen so that he would not present a danger to me if I needed to assist the heifer.  The bull joined the group of milk cows as I herded them toward the barn.  Although I did not actually see him enter the holding pen, I was confident that he did.

I milked a few of the cows. During this time, I prayed that God would help me to have the wisdom to know if I needed to assist the heifer so that the calf would survive and the mother would not suffer injury. I prayed that if I needed to assist her, she would allow me to do so. The heifer and I weren’t the best of friends.

When I went back to her, the lights of my vehicle revealed that she definitely needed help, so I eased up behind the heifer, carrying the metal calf extractors with me. The clank of metal against metal normally made laboring mothers nervous, but she never moved. Kneeling behind her, I secured an obstetric rope around the calf’s feet, and began to extract him.

About that time, I looked up from my work to see the bull standing 10 feet from me, watching my every move. This bull was the best natured bull that I ever owned. He had never shown any sign of aggression. But strange, and unusual happenings can change a bull’s temperament in a moment, especially when they occur in the dark. An adrenalin rush coursed through my body as fear for my safety set in.

I began praying that God would keep me safe under these unplanned and unmanageable circumstances. As the stress of the extraction became more painful, the heifer loudly vented her suffering with several moans. Distress cries from one of their own normally send a whole herd into panic mode. During all of this, the bull never moved.

I successfully delivered the calf. However, just as I began to remove the rope from the calf’s feet, I heard the bull snort and bellow, and saw him begin to bow up his neck. The cows that I had milked came running up to investigate the situation and a small amount of chaos ensued. I quickly backed away and reentered my vehicle. I went back to the barn to finish milking while the volatile situation deescalated. When I returned, I found that both mother and son were doing well.

Some do not believe that God exists.  In their minds, all that day’s events, including the heifer’s and bull’s behaviors, were nothing more than accidental happenstance. Others believe that God exists and is active in the events of this world, but that events like the ones described above are too trivial for His attention and intervention. Still other people believe God micromanages everything to the point that He placed me, the heifer, and the bull at that exact location, at that exact time, so that He could work some wonderful plan for my life.

I personally don’t subscribe to any of these. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I know that God exists and that the described events, especially the behavior of the animals, were not an accident. They were answers to my prayers. There was a time when I would have thought all these things too trivial or too materialistic to warrant prayer. But singlehandedly dealing with semi-dangerous situations on the farm convinced me that we can confidently ask for God’s help in even the smallest aspects of our lives.

On the other hand, I do not believe that the events that occurred that morning were a fulfillment of a micromanaged plan which God had for my life. In other words, I believe the decisions which I freely made of my own accord on that morning, as well as the ones I made many days before, played a major a role in the development of the circumstances which I experienced. I could easily have mated the heifer to a bull which was known for calving ease. I could have penned her up in a shed the day before. I could have made sure that the bull went into the holding pen. These were all decisions which I autonomously made of my own free will.

I suppose what I am saying is that life is not an accident, nor is it a well scripted play which is being directed by a task master who does not allow adlibbing. Instead, it is a flexible tour. Sometimes we decide our own itinerary, and sometimes we are expected to stay with the group and follow the tour guide’s planned itinerary. When we independently and freely make decisions concerning our future, we often find ourselves lost, having made a wrong turn and not knowing how to correct or deal with our situation. It’s then that we can call our tour guide and He will help us deal with those unmanageable circumstances.

The morning I delivered the calf was one of those times – a time when I was called upon to deal with the consequences of my own decisions, but also a time when I confidently called my tour guide to help me get things back on the right track.

Thankfully, He answered my call.

“7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

“31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)

“21 My son, do not lose sight of these– keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. 23 Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. 24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, 26 for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:21-26)

 

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There’s No Place Like Home to Rebuild Trust.

Over the course of his career, a dairyman trains hundreds of calves to nurse from a bottle.  He won’t specifically remember the actions of very many, but there are a few that come to mind every once in a while.

I had one calf that had difficulty trusting me.  Most newborns will accept the dairyman as their trusted source of nutrition after only a couple of feedings. But even after a week of twice-a-day feedings, this calf went into full alert mode each time I entered the gate to her pen.

When I entered the shed in which she was housed, the calf would run to the far end.  She then would turn and run past me to the gate through which I entered. She acted confused and scared until she reached the corner in which I was able to catch her the first couple of times. At that point, she would begin licking her lips and walking directly to me, searching for the bottle I was offering.

All of us get confused and scared out in this big old world. But when we go back to the place where we were loved, fed, and nurtured, we remember and recognize that these are the folks who really care about us; and we regain that trust that so many have stolen from us.

“11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants,’Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:11-24) ESV

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Believe It or Not, I will Be Playing Professional Basketball Within 5 Years!

WARNING! The following blog is satirical in nature.  Please be advised.

I will be playing professional basketball within 5 years. I know this sounds crazy, but it has been a lifelong dream and I believe it is about time that I realize my dreams.

I played all types of sports during my youth and teen years. I grew up with two older brothers and there were at least 10 more boys living within a mile of us, so there was always some kind of backyard ballgame being played. I did not excel at anything, even in these games. I was one of the last individuals chosen to be on a team.  I was short, slow, uncoordinated, and could not jump.  I could not shoot, pass, or throw with accuracy. But like all boys, I dreamed of playing at least one sport on the collegiate and professional levels.

During my maturing years, we were taught to face the realities of life.  We were taught to identify our strengths and recognize our limitations. We were taught to choose a career based upon our abilities to excel in that area. We were taught to work on and improve our weaknesses through hobbies, but not to build our hopes and dreams around those weaknesses.

So, I accepted the reality that a short, slow, uncoordinated male stood no chance of making the practice squad of a collegiate team, let alone a professional one.  Yeah, “Rudy” kind of rekindled the dream, but it soon went into remission.

But that was then and this is now.

Today, the philosophy is that no one should allow their shortcomings to smother their dreams; that society as a whole should gather around and lift upon its shoulders anyone who dares to chase after his/her dreams.  Today’s philosophy dictates that society take responsibility to voluntarily remove any limitations it places in front of those who are daring to pursue the unimaginable. Society must level the playing floor so that anyone who has a desire to play may be able to fulfill that desire.

And if any part of society is not willing to remove those limitations, that segment should be considered prejudiced and discriminatory. The rest of society owes a debt to the individual or group against which discrimination is being shown.  It must punish, pressure or ostracize the offending culprit into removing those barriers which disallows the dreamer to live out his aspiration.

My plan to realize my dream begins with a class action lawsuit filed against all collegiate and professional basketball organizations.  The suit will allege that said organizations have for years knowingly discriminated against all peoples who fall into my category by placing the rims too high for us to dunk on, and by requiring all the athletes who make the teams to excel in speed, jumping ability, and coordination.  It’s end goal will be to mandate that every collegiate or professional team have at least 5 individuals on its game day squad which fit into our category.  There will also be a required number of minutes which we will be allowed to play. Coaches and organizations will face stiff penalties if they do not allow us into each game for those allotted minutes.

Now, I know that once on the floor, the excellent players who made the team under the current discriminatory standards will make us look like fools.  That’s where phase two of my plan will need to be enacted.

I will start a social media campaign designed to pressure and embarrass both the organizations and the professionally talented players.  The campaign will decry the audacity of the organizations for allowing the better players to belittle us mediocre players in such fashion.  The viral outcry will shame the better players into playing down to our level. And with a little luck, we can get the mass media to take up our cause for phase three.

This phase will persuade the leaders of our federal government to take up the banner for the betterment of their short, slow, uncoordinated constituency. Ideally, they will pressure both collegiate and professional organizations to change their rule books to state that the better players cannot embarrass us by stealing the ball from us, blocking one of our shots, or intercepting one of our passes.  The defensive man can come no closer to us than 6 feet when we have the ball, but he must not be more than 8 feet from us, because that would make it seem as if our presence didn’t matter; and that would definitely be humiliating.  On offense, the better players would not be allowed to drive around us, juke us out of our socks, or posterize us with a dunk.  Any such actions would be considered a technical foul for humiliation.

In this last phase, the government would also pass laws that all arenas and coliseums which host collegiate or professional basketball games must spend millions of dollars to install special goals.  These goals will be able to sense when a player from my category is driving to the hoop.  The mechanism will automatically lower itself to 8 feet so that we can jam like all the big guys.  It will also sense when one of us has put up a jump shot.  The computer driven mechanism will make allowances for our inabilities and it will adjust itself either vertically or horizontally so that we will make a certain percentage of our shots. The percentage of shots which we will make will be equivalent or better than the average percentage of shots made by our whole team.

That’s my plan to level the playing floor so that even us short, slow, uncoordinated middle aged males can live out our lifelong dreams.  I don’t think it will have a negative impact on collegiate and professional basketball.  I believe the fans will still pay big money as they flock to the coliseums and arenas. And I believe that today’s star players will readily embrace the concept.  If they don’t, shame on them.

Y’all come watch me play professional basketball in 5 years.

The Satire Explained

“The playing floor must be leveled so that all may have an equal opportunity to play should they so choose”

People call for the playing floor to be leveled when they believe some stringent criteria are being used to give unfair advantage to certain groups of people; the criteria allows the members of the privileged groups to succeed at a much higher rate than the members of the underprivileged groups.  These criteria may be written or unwritten, purposely implemented or unknowingly followed. Leveling the playing floor refers to the need of identifying, revaluating, and changing these unfair standards so that both the disadvantaged and advantaged stand an equal chance in entering and succeeding within the fields of their choice.

Used properly, the popular phrase excellently describes some much needed changes in our society. When two persons of equal intelligence, abilities, and motivations aspire to succeed in a specific field, the individuals should be given equal opportunities.  If an established criterion affords an unfair advantage to one applicant over the other, then the playing floor must be leveled.  If an established standard discriminatingly prevents a qualified, aspiring individual from entering the field of her choice, then the standard must be changed.

However, it seems that many today cry “Foul!” or “Unfair!” when the playing floor could not be any more level.  Many times, today, the situation is not one of discrimination, but one of unrealistic expectations. An individual aspires to live out his dreams, but he does not possess the motivation or the necessary qualifications to even enter the field of his choice, let alone succeed in it.  He is told, “No.”  He cries “Foul!” And the world proclaims, “We must level the playing floor. This person must be afforded the opportunity to realize his dreams.”

But there is no realistic way of leveling the playing floor so that the unqualified can live out his dream.  To even attempt to do so discriminates against those who have worked so hard to excel in a field for which they possess undeniable talents.  To attempt to lower the standards so that the unqualified can succeed will only lead to embarrassment and humiliation on the part of all involved.

Sometimes I must face reality and admit, “The floor is not unlevel. It’s just that some people are not qualified to play on the floor, and I am one of them. Let those who are qualified play their hearts out to the joy of all who delight in them. But may I never be guilty of bringing someone else down just so I can be raised up.”

 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

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Each One of Us Has At Least One Bull In His Life!

I always wanted to trust my bulls the way I trusted my cows.

I continuously kept at least one adult bull with my milking herd throughout the years that I operated our dairy.  Everyday, I openly walked unprotected in the midst of the herd.  Every day, I made myself venerable to 30 or 40 fifteen-hundred pound animals who were much stronger and faster than I was. Everyday I felt safe around every animal except one.  That was the bull.

Why?

Due to all the horror stories I had heard about farmers being unexpectedly attacked, maimed , and killed by these powerful creatures.  In many cases, no provocation or unusual circumstances were involved; the dairyman was simply going through the normal everyday routines, and out of the blue, the bull viciously attacked. Some of the attackers had been treated like pets. The owners bottle fed them as calves, then daily hand fed and petted them when they matured into adults. But in spite of the mutual friendship and respect the owner and the bull shared, one fateful day, for no reason, the pet maimed or killed the hand that fed it.

Dairy cows  (females) on the other hand are different. They are more submissive. True, a dairyman always needs to respect a cows speed and strength, and there may be stressful times when a farmer needs to keep a closer eye on them, but for the most part, dairy cows can be trusted to remain docile.

I always wanted to trust my bulls the way I trusted my cows, but I just couldn’t. I fed each bull daily and cared for his health to the degree that he would allow me to.  I tried to be his friend.  But almost every bull would eventually reach a stage in his life when each time I walked in the midst of the herd, he would stand away from it, head lowered, bellowing, and pawing the ground.  It’s hard to trust something like that.

I believe all of us have bulls in our lives; people that we just cannot convince ourselves to trust.

We  want to call these people our friends. We honestly care for them, trying our best to love them and care for them as Jesus cares for us.  We truly respect them as our fellow man.  But try as we might, we can never overcome that distrusting, leery feeling that spreads through our being each time we encounter them.

These feelings may be the result of things we were taught as children.  Horror stories, both true and fictional, may be the source of our distrust. These feelings may have infiltrated our psyche through reading social media posts, shared “news” stories, and viciously opinionated emotional blogs.  Highly prejudiced speakers and educators may have served as one source of our fear and distrust. Sometimes these feelings are the result of personal experiences and encounters.

The criteria for feeling distrustful and afraid of a group of people may range from race, nationality, religion, family name, sexual practices, their peers, appearances, addictions, or prison records.

We feel shame for our distrust.  We truly want to overcome it. But each time we personally encounter someone from our “selected” group, we find ourselves keeping a proper distance between us and them, always keeping a watchful eye on our back, and never walking in their midst.

I believe all of us have at least one bull in our lives; a group of people whom we intuitively fear and distrust. Even the most open-minded and most tolerant protester has at least one bull in his life; his bull is usually the group against which he is protesting. We may not admit it.  Probably most of us won’t. But the quicker we are willing to pull away our blindfolds, the sooner we can confront the problem, and the sooner we can truly become more like our Savior.

“14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:14-21) ESV

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The Day Only The Dark Side Of The Moon Will Be Visible

The Sun.

Billions of people love the sun.

The sun promotes health and life.  It contributes to emotional and mental wellbeing.  It’s rising and setting mark the length of our days.  The sun determines the earth’s seasons.  It provides power for those seeking a renewable energy source. It gives light to those who are tired of the darkness, hope to those who have endured a storm, and warmth to those who shiver from the coldness of the world.

Is it no wonder that billions of people love the sun?

The moon.

Billions of people passionately marvel at the glory of the moon.

The moon’s gravitational pull creates the rising and falling of the oceans’ tides.  It eerily affects the behavior of mankind; sometimes bringing out the warmest expressions of love, sometimes bringing out horrific displays of terror.  At its brightest, the moon can chase away the dark of night almost to the point that one wonders about the necessity of the light of the sun.  At its darkest, the moon creates a soulful longing within mankind for the rising sun so that he woefully counts away each passing minute until the sun creeps into view.

The moon has no light in itself, but totally depends upon the sun for its illumination.  Even at its brightest, the moon always has a dark side. Although a full moon causes one to forget that the dark side exists, it is always there.

On August 21, 2017, many people in the United States will witness a natural phenomenon. On that date, in certain parts of our country, the moon will totally cover the disc of the sun. The portion of the day which normally is the brightest will momentarily become almost as dark as night.  On that day, people who look to the sky will see the dark side of the moon instead of the sun.  The brightness of the sun will be totally eclipsed by the darkness of the moon.

Few people fear this phenomenon because it occurs quite frequently at various points on the earth. It’s a natural part of the orbits of the earth and moon. Many people have organized travel plans around the predicted date and path.  The idea of momentarily living in darkness when light should prevail is exhilarating to them.  For some, the exhilaration comes due to curiosity. For some, it’s a matter of experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event.  For some, the eclipse will provide a scientific window into better understanding the world. For others, experiencing this unique pattern of darkness has become a passion or obsession.

But have you ever thought about what would happen if the eclipse does not occur?  Have you ever stopped to think about the reactions of millions of people around the globe, especially the reactions of those who live for these moments, if these events do not occur as predicted?  The precise timing and predictable orbits of our wondrous solar system are a couple of the great wonders of this place we call home.  If the precision and constancy of the orbits of the earth, or moon, or any of the other planets was interrupted, inevitable chaos and destruction would ensue. If we look at our existence as strictly a physical existence, then our very lives depend upon the precision and constancy of these orbits. Imagine if the calculations and predictions of mankind’s best astronomers proved inaccurate.  Can you feel the fear that would ensue?

Have you ever imagined the fear that would envelope the earth if the eclipse lasts longer than predicted?  What if the world, even a small section of it, experiences near total darkness for two, three, or even 10 hours. What kind of panic would ensue?

We, as human beings, sometimes like the thrill of experiencing the eeriness of darkness.  We often marvel at the illuminated sphere we call the moon.  But our appreciation and need for the sun is greater than any momentary thrill or feeling of awe. We treasure the brightness of the sun because in it we find light, life, power, health, strength, and hope.

We absolutely shrink in terror at the thought of living in darkness forever.

Spiritually, our sun is the Son.  Even at its best mankind has a dark side.  Sometimes, it appears as if all we can see is the dark side of mankind; that he has totally eclipsed the Son, and that he has extinguished the light of the Son.  Let us be thankful that the spiritual total eclipses which we experience upon this earth are just as momentary as the physical ones which occur.  Although the Son’s brightness may appear to be hidden for a while by man’s dark side, it can never be extinguished, and it will always reappear.

“ 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5) ESV

“9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:9-14) ESV

“12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) ESV

 

 

 

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A Penny For My Thoughts? I Could Use the Money!

It’s difficult not to be jealous of people who have more money than you do. I know of several people who can impulsively buy a tractor or piece of farming equipment at an auction and not even worry about making  a trip to the bank to take out a loan to cover the check.

One day, I hope to be able to impulsively buy what I want at a yard sale or flea market and not have to worry about receiving an overdraft in the mail.

“6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good.” (1 Timothy 6:6-12) ESV
“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.  Better is a dinner with herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” (Proverbs 15:16-17) ESV
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Mama Changed the World Without Leaving Home

Except for the first 4 years after she and Daddy married, Mama, Ruth Waddell, has lived her entire life on the same farm in a dot-on-a-road-map rural community in southcentral Kentucky. She’s never been employed off the farm, but as worked as many long, hard hours as any man on that farm; milking, tending tobacco, gardening, cleaning house, and providing for her family.

Mama and Daddy were married at age 16 and 18 respectively. Five children were born to the union. Mama gave birth to four of us within 5 years and 1 month, before she turned 24 years old, and a fifth sibling was born 10 years later.

Mama has traveled very little throughout her life, rarely going beyond a 70-mile radius of her small farming community.

Considering all these factors, one might think Mama’s circle of christian influence would be small; seen and felt mostly around Three Springs, Kentucky.

But one would be wrong.

To date, her direct influence through her family’s travels and evangelistic efforts stretches throughout Kentucky into Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. It has been experienced in Scotland, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, the Bahamas, the former USSR, Germany, and more.

Scores of kids have spent the night in her home, played volleyball or basketball in her backyard, “swam” in her cow tank pool, and worked on 4-H projects in her driveway. Through these kids, now adults, a part of her has traveled throughout the world.

For over 50 years, an untold number of children walked through the Old and New Testaments in her Bible classes. Missionaries and visiting preachers have been nourished by delicious down home cooking and have told of their travels to wide-eyed kids around her table.

Do you have to be a world traveler to make a difference all over the globe?

Naw.

Just ask someone who slept last night in the same room she was born in 77 years ago. She’s done it without much more than leaving home.

“The sayings of King Lemuel – An oracle that his mother taught him . . .An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels . . .She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong . . .She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy . . .Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her . . .Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:1-31) ESV

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