The Love of Many

In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus talks to his disciples about the end times. He gives them many examples of what will happen and what signs to watch out for as the end draws near.

One statement He made during His dissertation has always intrigued me and left me a bit uneasy. It’s verse 12.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”

If you are like me, you tend to spend a bit of time staying abreast of what is going on in our society. It’s not looking good out there. In many of our great American cities, Chicago, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, lawlessness is now in fashion.

In the streets there is open and public murder, looting, masturbation, defecation, prostitution, drug use, assault, robbery… you get the idea.

Elected leaders openly promote these behaviors by releasing dangerous convicted criminals from jail, reducing their due sentences, restraining and preventing police men and women from doing their jobs, and failing to prosecute or bring the perpetrators to justice. The net result is that lawlessness has indeed increased. Life is very dangerous for many innocent people.

Many law enforcement personnel have become disheartened; many have retired or otherwise given up. I sometimes feel my own soul leaning toward hopelessness. Will my lifestyle eventually consist of being afraid to go out to shop, or play, or vacation? Is this what the Lord means when He said the love of many shall grow cold? Possibly, but I recently became aware of another possibility.

A few nights ago I was watching a documentary about Los Angeles and its district attorney, I became very agitated. The actions and lack of action of that office has directly contributed to the horrible plight under which many Angelenos now find themselves living. I have loved ones living down there!

Suddenly I was filled with great anger, near rage and said something out loud that should never have left my mouth as a disciple of Jesus. Fortunately, only my wife was in the room to hear it. I later repented, and asked the Lord for forgiveness. 

Then it hit me, maybe that’s what He meant when He said the love of many shall grow cold. It’s not that people will become depressed and listless, uncaring and unmotivated. That certainly could happen in some cases; but on the other hand maybe people will become enraged. What would be the net difference? Nothing at all!

As a matter of fact, the latter would actually be a greater demonstration that one has let the current lawlessness cause his or her love of Christ to become cold. 

James 1:20 says 

for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Indeed! There is only one Lawgiver and Judge.

Matthew 7:1-3 says:

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Yikes! 

The message is clear to me, as we watch and see what is going on around us, we must not let our love grow cold, neither through abject despair and sorrow, nor through outright rage and anger as I was doing. In either case the love of God is not put first. Anger may actually be fear in disguise.

In the 21st chapter of Revelations is says

But for the cowardly (fearful) and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Strange how the Word lumps of fearful right in there with the rest of the evil-doers. However, when you think about it fear is not faith, and we know that only faith can save us, not fear.

1 John4:18 says

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not been made perfect in love.

So I must remember the One who is in control. To escape judgement, I must not judge, but commit myself to a faithful God, whose will and desire will be done on earth as they are in heaven.

Let’s reassure our hearts. In Psalms 37:1-5

Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Which in my case is just peace on earth and good will toward men. 

Therefore, here is a message to myself, and maybe to you: pray for EVERYONE, don’t fret, don’t be angry, but be peaceful, trust in the Father in Heaven and His son, the Lord Jesus. All things will be made right eventually! Amen!

Now that is Good News Only.

The Consequence of Choice

“Elections have consequences!” 

I remember hearing someone say that on some television channel. It was an admonition directed at would-be voters, warning them to consider carefully who they should vote for.

When one considers the place to where our nation has fallen since the last election, it’s impossible to argue the point. Elections do have consequences. Some elected officials have a broken or non-existent moral compass, thus America is paying the price.

A better way to consider the situation is to replace the words “elections” or “elect” with “choice” or “chosen”. Basically, we are dealing with the phenomenon of choice. An election is an event where voters “choose” who will lead them. An “elect” person is chosen. 

This is a basic tenant outlined in many places in the Bible. In the scripture God’s election leads to salvation and blessing. On earth, when man chooses it often does not.

This is painfully evident in the leaders we are choosing to subject ourselves. Do we want leaders who openly celebrate the killing of tens of thousands of babies every year? Do we want crime and murder rates reaching all-time highs in our major cities? Run-away inflation: is that a choice? What about taking away the protection of police and other first-responders who serve God and man? Do you like having your family in danger when going out to shop or eat? Is that a good thing? Doesn’t seem so to me. Who would choose that quality of life? Evidently, some voters do.

We’d better wake up as a nation. We have chosen not to hold God in high esteem as is His due. Moses warned Isreal about making proper choices. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, verses 11 through 18 it says:

For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it? Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 

Psalms 33:12 says:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.

Let’s consider our own lives first. Are we choosing God? Some will argue that the election of God precludes any responsibility on our part. Who can withstand His will? If we are fore-known and fore-ordained, why bother? These are good and fair questions, that deserve answers. I’ll let the Bible scholars debate over those.

However, the Good News Only is that we have a chance to change the course our nation is on. We don’t have to subject ourselves to leaders who open lie to us, and care nothing for the people, but only exist to serve and enrich themselves. Who true desire is the destruction of our nation.

Indeed, as stated in Proverbs 29:2

When the righteous flourish, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

When it’s time again to make our voices heard at the voting booth, let’s remember, choices have consequences. America as a concept, an idea, an experiment cannot exist outside of godliness. Our founding documents were written for a moral people, a people trying to overcome their short comings by reaching for “higher-ground”. 

Let’s not let our nation perish. America is the greatest nation on earth and still the place where many people want to be. We can do it!

The Big Date

Once upon a time, in my younger days, I was on my way to work. I was taking the bus, because my car was in the shop for repairs. After taking my seat I casually looked around to see who I was riding with. I noticed a young Hispanic girl, sitting to my right across the isle. We made eye contact; I smiled at her and politely moved on. She was a bit heavy I noticed, but definitely very cute.

The next day I took the same seat, port side bench facing the door and the isle. As I glanced around I saw the same girl from the day before. We locked eyes again, but this time I did not look away. I felt my eyes widen in surprise. She noticed too, because she gave me a coy smile, squirmed teasingly in her seat, and looked down to her lap before looking back at me. I was staring in amazement. I almost did not recognized her as the same person.

She was absolutely gorgeous. Make-up had been applied. She sported red lips, eye shadow, a nice blouse, hair styled, big beautiful smile. I could not take my eyes off of her. What really cratered me was the sudden realization that she had done it for me. She wanted me to notice her, and indeed I had!

As I exited the bus at my stop, we looked and smiled at each other again. I never saw her again after, as my car returned from the shop and I did not need the bus any more. However, even today some 60+ years later I remember her. She had made preparations especially in the hope of seeing me again. Amazing!

Recently I was reading the scriptures, I John specifically. Chapter 3, verses 3-5 say:

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Just as that young lady had made preparations to see me, I should be making preparations to meet Jesus. I should be spiritually showering and spiritually dressing up in anticipation of being with Him. I should not be “practicing sin”, that is, making bad decisions on purpose, doing what I know is wrong. With a mixture of horror and sadness, I realized I have been doing just that.

I have been practicing sin, taking a break, dabbling where I should not be dabbling. Not reading, not praying. What kind of thinking is that?

Imagine me going to meet my sweet wife, my significant other, the love of my life for a date. Would I appear on the date with muddy shoes, clothing inundated with sour perspiration and wrinkles, teeth unbrushed, no deodorant, no mouth wash, un-showered? Hell no! 

Then what am I doing when it comes to my relationship with Jesus? We all have a big date upcoming with Him. Like it or not, we all have an appointed time. It’s on the divine calendar. What the hell am I doing?

I John, Chapter 1, verses 6 and 7 say:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Further more in Chapter 2, verses 4-6 say:

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Good grief! I need to repent and fast. In the 24th chapter of Matthew, verses 42-46 it says:

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you must be ready as well; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household slaves, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 

I do not want to shrink away from Him when He comes, caught with my spiritual pants down, unable to look Him in the eye for embarrassment. Yes, we will see Him, “even as He is”. 

Come on soul of mine; get it together! Love of the world is enmity toward God (James 4:4). I’m making some changes. No more dabbling in the things of the enemy. All in for God! If you’ve read down to this point, then please pray for me, for strength of faith and endurance. The one who perseveres to the end is the one who will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

I am taking these days of mine to get ready for my date with the Lord Jesus. His blood has already cleansed me, so I need to do my part to be ready. 

The times, as you know, are already getting really strange. Lawlessness has increased, and because it has, the scriptures say “the love of many will grow cold.”

No more time doing what I know is not pleasing to Him. No, I am not out murdering and pilfering, but on the other hand I do not want to hear the Lord say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”

Man, that would be a very bad day.

I don’t want to be the guy at the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14), who after having been invited, and actually gets through the door and is seated at the table, then is summarily cast into darkness for being totally unprepared.

Brothers and Sisters. Let’s take a pledge together to step it up for Jesus. No more time outs; no more respites. No more taking the blood of the Lord for granted. It will be a glorious day at the wedding feast, the big date with our Lord and Savior. Believe me, that will be Good News Only.

Thoughts for the New Year

It has been truly bewildering trying to make sense of the crazy times we have lived through this past year. Our country is in turmoil from within, tearing itself apart. One of my dilemmas is trying to ascertain where I fit in as a Christian. Specifically, do I speak up for rationality and clear thought? Do I say something when I hear hateful speech and lies? How much should I argue with anyone about anything? Will it matter? Good questions all. Ultimately God will have His way here on earth, just as it is in heaven. It’s determined! So how much should I engage? Is it worth the risk?

It’s a balancing act for those of us who are trying to love God. I’ve heard some say that to raise our voices at all is tantamount to having no faith. They say, “we must follow Christ’s example.” Indeed, faith is required – it’s what protects us, but I believe faith does not require that we be absolutely silent in the face of lying and false accusations or evil. We are called upon to defend the poor, widows, and less fortunate. In order to fulfill His mission Christ did just that.

On the other hand, Christ’s anger did rise up a bit sometimes. In Luke 12:50 His words were,

“I have come to cast fire on the earth; and how I wish it was already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished.”

Jesus held Himself in check because He knew why he had come and what he had to do. Otherwise, His holy boot-heels would already be planted in the appropriate places on His enemies. Thank God they will be soon. So what does that mean for me as Christian?

Well, I already know the anger of man does not accomplish the will of God. Experience as taught me that in my case, that is especially true. I am in no position to judge anyone at all. Humility must comes first and foremost. God abases the proud, but lifts up the humble. He hates a haughty look and an arrogant heart. It’s all over scripture. I’m working those things out in my spirit. However, do I speak or not speak?

Proverbs 9:7-8 says:

“He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you. Reprove a wise man and he will love you.”

Proverbs 23:9 says:

“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”

I know I am in no position to judge people to determine who is foolish or not. We know from scripture there is only one Lawgiver and Judge. My job is to be slow to speak, and slow to anger. If we listen, we can hear.

However, faith does not require that we cower in fear and let evil run rough-shod over us. Faith might mean having the courage to speak truth when the time comes. When someone says something so against God’s Word and laws, it might be time to speak up for the Word, to protest for love. There is plenty of encouragement within the scriptures for defending our faith.

In 1 Peter 3:15 it says,

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

For me, that last part is difficult.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says,

“for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Notice that it says, “our warfare are not of the flesh” – to me that means street confrontations are not required. The fortresses we are destroying are spiritual ones, invisible ones, those of the mind.

So for me the best strategy is putting on the complete armor of God: Faith, Love, Peace. Pray constantly, be kind when you can, look out for your neighbor, be on guard against evil, and as much as I can be, “be wise as fox and gentle as dove.”

Anyway, enough said. Happy New Year to your and yours if you happen to be reading this post. May God bless you and yours this coming new year, keep you safe and sound and under the protection of His care. I pray you find peace and love. Take care.Sign up for notifications of new posts if you like.

Don’t Do Crime

Here’s a message to all who truly believe the police of our nation are evil and out to kill and wound as many black American citizens as they can: stop doing crime! Do good; the police may not even notice that you exist. That’s how I survived for 70+ years in a country that is “systemically racist”. Yes, my tongue is in my cheek.

Let’s get real. The Word of God says:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority: Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

Romans13:1-4

Now we all know that God uses nations and leaders of nations for his own purposes. He told the Egyptians that they were raised up for the very purpose of demonstrating who He was. Thus, He hardened the heart of Pharaoh to the point where he just would not listen to Moses, then did what He had to do to free His people. You all know the story. In a like manner I truly believe that the police are God’s servants, used for the purpose mentioned in the scriptures above. However, we all honestly know there are some truly bad policeman. I have personally met a few myself. Check this out.

Once, shortly after our family had moved to Covina, CA, a policeman pulled up to the curb in front of a park at Barranca and Roland Aves. next to the McDonald’s. He got out of his cruiser, walked into the park and up to a young black boy (yours truly) who was relishing his 18 cent cheese burgers, took his name with pen and paper, and told him that all drugs dealers would be rooted from the city. What?!

I have been stopped several times for “driving while black”. The officer (also from the Covina department) chased me and my wife onto a freeway on-ramp. He pulled us over and demanded license and registration. Once produced, he demanded to know whose car we were driving. I told him it was mine. He wanted to know why my wife’s name was on the registration. I told him because the car was registered in her name also. Frustrated and angry, having no actual reason for stopping us, he tossed our papers back into the car and with tires screaming drove up the on-ramp.

You’ll love this one. I had a friend, Donald, who needed help balancing his checkbook. We went to the local Bank of America on Citrus Ave in Covina (again), where we both had active checking accounts in good standing. We went up to the teller to get a register sheet (or something) then took a seat in the middle of the bank where benches were set up for the customers. Evidently it was too much for the tellers to take. Two black guys sitting in the bank looking over paper work just did not feel right.

I happened to look up and noticed the abject fear in everyone’s eyes. I told Donald something was going on and we had better leave. Once in our car, the terrified bank personnel had their faces pressed against the glass of the now locked bank door. Soon enough, we were pulled over and surrounded by a S.W.A.T. team, complete with a barking German Shepard dog, snarling 15” from our faces. Donald started mouthing off, threatening to kill the dog. I told him to remain calm and to realize the officers already knew they had screwed up. The cop with the dog did not like my commentary and ordered me to shut up. I did. We spent hours in jail until late evening when we were finally released on our OR. Later, after multiple court appearances the charges (if there ever were any) were dropped.

What’s my point? It’s this: yes there are bad cops. The good cops know who they are. I was a great teacher (now retired) and I certainly knew who the bad teachers were. Some people are just racist. Shortly after starting my job at Glendora High School, one of my colleagues (who will remain nameless) brought her class into the computer lab and said, “Boy, help my students.” I had to straighten her our front of her class. I particularly remember one Hispanic student who eyes got big as saucers when he heard his teacher’s comment. He probably thought he was about to witness a fight. Later that month, some other old fart came up to me and said, “This would not have happened in the old days.” meaning a black man would not have been hired by the district. I told him it’s a good thing the old days just eventually fade away.

So, yes I understand the genuine anger of some black people. I get it. However, for all my 70 years, I generally have not lived in fear of the police. I respect them, but live my life in such a way as to minimize contact with them. I don’t do crime. I would not want their job, because I already know I would not have the patience to deal with the people they have to deal with daily on the job. Right now we live next door to a policeman, with his wife and children. They are wonderful people. The son of one my dearest colleagues is a policeman. Again – awesome people.

However, which one of you would go out onto your front lawn with a T-bone steak around your neck if you knew where was starving man-eating tiger outside? If I honestly thought every cop was out to kill me, I would not go around doing anything that would attract their attention. I certainly would not dive into their patrol car and try to wrestle their firearm from them. I would not fight with them during an arrest and try to take their weapons from them. I would not shoot down my brothers in the street. I would not steal, or assault my fellow citizens. If a policeman said, “Sit on the curb”, that’s what I would do until I was told to do otherwise. God willing, at least I would be alive and not in jail. How about using some common sense?

I am not making any excuses whatsoever for ANY police misconduct. Evil is evil, especially when you are a police officer who has sworn to uphold the law, then gone back on your promise. You will answer to the Father in heaven. But to all the good cops out there, you know who you are; don’t loose heart. Whether you realize it or not, you are a minister of the Father for good, and to render punishment for those who break the law. We need you. Don’t give up. Don’t let this current foolishness crush your spirit. All will be made right.

To my brothers, please, stop doing crime. Do good. Further in the same chapter of Romans it says:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. for this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8-10

That’s how this old black man has survived. Avoid evil when you can, do good, don’t do crime. It’s a good formula for living in this less-than-perfect world, while waiting for the King to return and administer true and righteous justice. Amen!

The Foolishness of the Gospel

Psalm 53

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice;
There is no one who does good.
God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men,
To see if there is anyone who understands,
Who seeks after God.
Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.

I’ve been watching the news lately, as I’m sure you have been also. The above scripture sums up what I’ve seen on my television screen; from the police officer that murdered a man under the color of authority to the rioters who pretend they are outraged over the deed.

I hear people has say, “We must come together; we must do better.” It’s a platitude, heartfelt in its utterance, true even, but completely void of meaning and power. Tragically, no one wants to hear the SIMPLE truth. We are sick and corrupt in heart, and too many of us refuse to turn to God to heal our souls. Instead we more rightly fit the description of Psalm 52:

Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The lovingkindness of God endures all day long.
Your tongue devises destruction, like sharp razor,
O worker of deceit.
You love evil more than good,
Falsehood more than speaking what is right.
You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

How sadly true, from our elected leaders right down the least of us who follow them. When will we realize there will be no peace on earth until we recognize the corruption and hatred in our own hearts, then repent, ask God for forgiveness, and then begin to strive after righteousness? A rhetorical question indeed, but you know the answer. However, for some the answer is just too simple, too easy. It’s mocked and derided.

However, remember what is scripture says in 1 Corinthians:

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not come know God, God was well-please through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
For indeed, Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews and stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.
But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Here is my point. After the smoke, fire, and broken glass has been cleared, and all the wise men start blabbing about what needs to happen, be wiser than they. Don’t let anyone deprive you of the only true and effective and answer to the evil done in the world. His name is Jesus, the Son of the Most High God. His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good, and when He returns as King, He will render unto each person according to his or her works.

It all starts with the man in the mirror. Too simple for some, but 100% effective for fixing what’s broken in our nation. Amen!

That’s the Good News Only.