Saturday, October 26, 2013
A week ago on Thursday we got up and started our day as we normally do. Went
about our business, I working in my office and my wife going with another
church member to visit one of our widowed members. Then I received a call
from Ohio that my wife's twin sister had died in Troy and everything
changed. The next morning we were up at 3 a.m. And heading for the airport
for that long flight home. I made the comment that the morning before I
could never have imagined that we be on a plane the next morning. What a
difference a day makes!
I know that many of you have experienced the same thing, a loved one dies,
an accident changes life dramatically for you, you loose a job, a sudden
illness, your house burns down or any number of things can happen. From that
point on your life is changed. You wish you could go back and do things
differently, say things differently, change relationships, but you can't.
Here is a story from God's word that makes that point. "There was this rich
man that lived in a huge mansion. He loved to party, loved his fancy cars
and loved to be seen with his super model girlfriends.
There was also a homeless man named Lazarus that hung out, outside of the
rich mans gate. When he could he would sneak around to the kitchen door and
beg for scraps or hunt though the trash cans for food.
Lazrus was filthy and dirty and covered with sores. He often would wake up
with stray dogs licking the blood that was dripping from the oozing sores.
After awhile Lazrus died and God took pity on him and had his soul brought
to a place called, "Paradise," where he was comforted and cared for.
Not long after that the rich man died and his soul went to Hell and he was
in constant torment.
As he looked off in the distance he saw the prophet Abraham with Lazrus
laying in his lap being cared for.
The Rich man cried out, "I'm being torchured here and burning up in this
fire, please let Lazrus bring me just a few drops of water.
Abraham said, "Sorry, but that can't happen. Do you see that huge canyon
between us, it ws put ther just so you would have to stay where you are and
live with the choices you made in life... and we can't cross over either.
The Rich man thought about his life and remembered his family still in the
world. He cried out, "Well, what about my father and brothers, can you send
Lazrus back to warn them about this place and what's happened to me?"
Abraham said, "No, that can't happen either and it wouldn't do any good
anyway.They have preachers and the bible, they need to listen to them,
because even if someone came back from the dead they would just think it was
special effects or a trick of some kind. They wouldn't listen then any more
than they do now." (Luke 16:19-31 Paraphrase by R. Lawson)
Now here is the point: Get your life right with man and God while you still
have time. There is no going back, there are no 'do overs,' there is no
"restore function" like you have on your computer. You make your choices and
then live eternally with the consequences. The question for each of us is,
if there is no tomorrow for you are you ready for 'forever'?
By Russ Lawson
Sunday, October 6, 2013
A few years back someone coined the phrase "beautiful people." The way it was used then, and still today, applied to those people being either wealthy or practiced in the ways of temporal/worldly pleasure. Or both. This got me to thinking about what really constitutes a "beautiful person" so I thunk on it for awhile and I'm going to share my thoughts with you here.
My first thought is that the world is hung up on this idea of physical beauty, isn't it? And, being the astute and observant people that we are, we know that not everyone is not beautiful in the way that the world looks at beauty. Oh, the TV wants us to believe that everyone looks like the beautiful and handsome actors seen in the commercials, but we know that isn't true, don't we? But, they want you to believe that if you drink (X-brand) beer, you'll be a "beautiful person" too, just like the ones seen in the ad.
But, there's another category of products that really whet my editorial juices, plus make me laugh when you really stop and think about it, and that is the cosmetics offered for sale. Think about this - only "beautiful people" are seen in their commercials, yet they're selling a product to make people look better. That must mean that they recognize that there must be people who are not beautiful, but by using their product, they can be. Like the models seen in the ad. Why don't they use plain, unattractive people in their ads and then show how the product improved them to the beautiful stage? You know the answer to that.
How this thought fits with our coming study of Ecclesiastes is simply this: the cosmetic products are advertised in the manner that they are so that they appeal to our "vanity." Because most everyone wants to be beautiful too. And if they use the same cosmetics that the beautiful people use, they too will be one of the "beautiful people."
Some years ago I read that the cosmetics industry was an 18 billion dollar a year business and I'm pretty sure that figure has been surpassed by today's market. And, from what little research that I've done (noticing prices in stores and ads), they don't make becoming beautiful cheap, do they. And furthermore, this "vanity" and these products are not relegated to just women's "vanity," a lot of men are just as "vain." Don't believe me, just check out the ads for all the men's products available in the cosmetic marketplace.
It's been opined that if a woman went through one of the current glamour/fashion magazines and used all of the products in it and they worked as advertised, she'd have "silky-smooth, blemish-free, firm, perfectly textured, youthful skin, devoid of lines and wrinkles." She'd have a "natural-looking glow" along with a "natural glowing blush, huge expressive eyes with long, dark, thick yet soft eyelashes."
She would also have "soft, smooth, kissable lips" covered with a "frankly fabulous color." Her hair would be one of the following descriptors: "Full-bodied that glows with health, shiny, shimmery, soft and sexy." And the hands, can't forget the hands, can we? She'd have "moisturized fingernails covered with a shimmery sheen" or more likely today, be beautiful fake nails applied by a specialist in such products. As to her complexion, we could go on for several paragraphs about that but, suffice it to say, it would be "beautifully tanned, rich deep and long-lasting."
This industry and it's product sales in the billions is built upon the "vanity" of human beings. I'm reminded of another word that sounds a lot like "vanity" that is applicable to the real result of aforementioned commercials and that word is - fantasy.
Of course, there's the old saying "Beauty is only skin-deep" and that old wheeze fits perfectly with our thoughts here. You see, that's as far as the cosmetics can go. They cannot have any effect on the inner person. They may be able to "cleanse the skin" but they can't "cleanse the soul."
An interesting thing I found about the cosmetics industry is that there is really no control over it by the government other than if a product makes mis-leading claims or is known to be harmful if used. Plus, the industry is very careful to NOT promise that their product will chemically alter the body in any way because it is regulated by the "Food And Drug Administration." If they did that, they would then come under the regulations of the "drug" category and not the "food" regulations. So, they walk a very tight line in advertising their products.
Oh, they can make their product sound good by the terms they use in their ads, but don't really say anything that gets its category changed. A good example of this is seen by the use of the term "hypoallergenic." Know what that means? If not, join a large club of people who don't know either. But, you got to admit that it sure sounds scientific, doesn't it?
Actually, there is no standard definition of that word. Basically it means that their product contains no known allergens. And, since there isn't a large amount of allergens available, the company would be stupid to include one in their product, wouldn't they? The use of that word is only designed to sound like it really means something which then allows them to charge more money for the "hypoallergenic" product.
Solomon talks a lot in Ecclesiastes about putting one's trust and faith in things of this world and how worthless that is as far as what's really important to mankind. Remember, everything of this world is "vanity." So, instead of spending a lot of time, effort and money on things that cannot affect the most important part of us, our "soul," that is where we should concentrate our "cleansing" efforts. Because, no matter how beautiful or ugly our human forms are, they have no bearing on where our soul resides eternally.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us what does have a bearing on where our soul rests forever. It tells us what part of us needs to be "cleansed," or allegorically in keeping with our editorial today, where we need to apply our beautification efforts. It says there that upon the occasion of our death "the spirit returns to God who gave it." And, it's the condition of that "spirit," that "soul" when it "returns" that determines how beautiful we are to God.
It should have no "wrinkles or blemishes." It didn't have them when God issued it to you and, in order to arrive back to Him in an acceptable condition, all the stains of the world must be removed. Not just covered over, but "washed" clean. And there is only one product available that has any cleansing effect on the soul - the "blood of Jesus Christ." "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood." (Rev. 1:5)
Acts 22:16 tells us how this product is applied: "baptism" into Christ's blood will "wash away your sins." The attempt to use any other product, or to use it in a manner different from the "label's" directions, won't work. Should that be tried, either case, we can only apply Solomon's words here: "All is vanity."
Friday, October 4, 2013
Robert Pattinson is a name many people are familiar with, especially teenagers. Others might better know him as Edward, one of the main characters of the popular movie series, Twilight. While he has wooed many on and off the screen, a recent interview with Australia's Sunday Style tells a lot about his character. Pattinson said, "I don't ever feel the need to forgive or expect people to be. I judge people on their actions. I don't really care if it's wrong or right, I give them the benefit of the doubt. If they do something I can't be bothered to deal with, I just cut them out" (Yahoo).
No matter the situation or the circumstance, this should never be the attitude of a Christian. Scripture makes it very clear that we are to be people of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32). Peter and Christ once had a conversation on this very topic: "Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'" (Matthew 18:21-22).
The message is obvious; we are to forgive others as many times as necessary. When we forgive we are letting go of our anger, resentment, and ill feelings towards someone. This doesn't mean there won't be consequences for actions, but it means we will let it go. We won't continue to bring the past back up or use it as a leveraging stab during an argument.
So, we know we should forgive, but why? Jesus gives a very clear answer, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 5:14-15). Since we want our sins to be forgiven by God, we must also forgive others.
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