Monday, June 29, 2009

Madoff And Remorse

I'm never happy when someone falls. However, all must give an account of their actions. Here's a comment from today's news on Bernard Madoff's statement:

Scattered applause and whoops broke out in the crowded Manhattan courtroom after U.S. District Judge Denny Chin issued the maximum sentence to the 71-year-old defendant, who said he lives "in a tormented state now, knowing all the pain and suffering I've created." (From the AP.)

Now, no one should ever gloat over someones failures. I should hasten to add that those who do terrible things must be punished. That goes with reason. But, this is what I hear from so many that get "caught." Madoff says, "I'm in a tormented state now, knowing the pain and suffering I've created." Obviously I don't know the man's heart. Only God does. Let me add a comment though. Would Madoff say this "if" he hadn't been caught? Again, only God knows. It seems so convenient to say "I'm sorry" once you've been caught. "If" the person while committing atrocities knows it's wrong and they feel bad about it, stop! goes the show.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson

There's obviously enough press over Michael Jackson. There's not much anyone can really add to what is being written. I can only make the following observations. Sure, he was eccentric and accused of many things. He also was very gifted as well. My take is this: Regardless of what someone thinks of Michael, he was still a human being in need of a savior! Do we ever really stop to think about actors, singers, entertainers as being "real" people aside from their stage performances? we think to pray for these people?

All the money in the world cannot save a soul. I've often commented to others that those in Hollywood, Nashville or anywhere else for that matter need a savior. Even Shia LaBeouf said there was something missing in his life. Elvis obviously dabbled in mysticism, drugs, and other vices looking for the answer. Sure, we all must answer for our lives before God someday. I just think if some would show compassion to a lost and dying world maybe more would be going to the altar. Just my humble take. Remember, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

It's sad that so many who do have the money and fame use it to destroy themselves faster than others. I can't help but think of the old song I love so much, "Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul" written by Lanny Wolfe. Of course scripture too says, "What shall a man profit if he gains the world and loses his soul?" I think the question is obviously answered. It's really sad that a man comes down to the end of his life at fifty with just a chimp named Bubbles as a friend.

END NOTE: Of the subject, but I know my blogging has been sparse. I really write for my own enjoyment. It's like an online journal. However, I can actually just journal offline using Word. If there are a few of you that read my blog or just "lurk" could I ask you to leave a comment if you still enjoy the blog? I would appreciate it. I know my friend Roger has felt that way too. Thanks so much.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Art Of Understanding

There I was sitting with my legs crossed on the floor with the other students. I was wearing my traditional white "gi." The name given to the martial arts outfit I was wearing. I had just attained my blue belt after completing the first of four phases on becoming a black belt. Every night after entering the "dojo" or the training place, our instructor would have an object lesson for us. So, as we would begin our stretching for the night's grueling action he would teach us. This night he taught us the art of understanding others.

I don't remember verbatim what he said but the idea of it did stick with me. His basic premise is that we too often have our own ideas and thoughts in mind that we don't really stop to listen to what the other person has to say. He said we should be quiet long enough, open our mind to the other person, let them speak and really try to understand where that person is coming from. He likened it to a tug of war. Too many times, we are tugging at a rope trying to get that other person to come over the "line" to our way of thinking. Instead, it's easier to at times, to drop the rope, cross the line to their side, and listen to them! Now, he wasn't saying we would always agree one-hundred percent, but we'd be far better off if we tried that approach.

I'd like to say that I've always followed that premise all the time. Unfortunately, because I'm so very human and flawed, I have failed to do that at times. There have been times in my life when I've accomplished that very well. I always wondered though: Why did it work so well sometimes and not well at other times? I think I know my answer. The times when it worked the best was when I was truly listening to God's voice and walking his way. When I stray from that, then is when I find understanding a bit harder to grasp.

As human beings we all want our way! Really, don't we? It's about us! I have one friend who jokes with me and says, "It's all about me, Randy, it's all about me!" and just laughs. He's toying with me. But, without the Holy Spirit guiding our lives we can become one-sided, tunnel vision sets in and we can't see past the hallway. When the Holy Spirit truly takes control, we can clearly let him lead the way and look out for others in our lives! I'm reminded of a sermon my friend Bob had spoken on many years ago. It came out of my favorite inspirational book of the New Testament, Philippians. (My favorite doctrinal book of the NT is Romans. Yes, they both contain doctrine, but Philippians is my emotional favorite.) The verses were: "Don't just look out after your own things, but look out after the things of others!" (Paraphrase.) Philippians 2:4. Now, that doesn't mean being a busy body, but truly looking out for the interests of others as we look out for ourselves.

Just today I received two emails. One from a friend in Illinois that I care deeply for but I needed to understand him more. The second from a friend here at home where she was asking for understanding of something that is going on in her life. I spoke to my brother about both of these communiques. I mentioned to him that I had drifted to some degree and I needed to really "understand" more than what I had been doing the past week. So, I endeavored today to do just that! Plus, in addition, there are times when I have to ask friends and family to bear with me or to try to "understand" what I'm going through. See, in understanding, we don't always have to know exactly what the person is going through, but we can "seek" to comfort, care and show concern during that process.

It seems I'm on my knees a lot in prayer asking that I understand better the needs of those around me. I also have to get "myself" out of the way at times so I can better hear what God "is" trying to tell me. I have to drop the rope, quit playing "tug-of-war" and step over the line and really listen. That even goes with the Lord himself too! Didn't he say, "Come let us reason together?" He did. I'm loosely using that line for God was talking about man's sin and God's forgiveness. So, if anything today, I'm asking God to help me to understand more. There are times when I don't understand him either. Go figure. But, when my struggle is finally over, I finally come to the Lord's side of thinking and say, "God you know best!" And he does.

So, today, a memory from 1993 of a martial arts instructor came back to me and did me a lot of good. I refer to this novel a lot but it's an oldie but a goodie. Axel Jordache in the novel "Rich Man Poor Man" said, "no one really understands anybody in this world." In essence he's right. But, if we truly make it a cognitive thought and act upon it, we can all do a bit better. Well boys and girls that's it for today. May the love or our Lord be with us all!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hughes' H1 Racer

For the longest time I've had an interest in the life of Howard Hughes. Actually, on two fronts. One, his love of aviation and also what caused this man of incredible talent to self-destruct the way he did. In the picture above is the H1 racer. Some called it "an engine with a saddle strapped on it!" Hughes even had the rivets flush with the body to avoid drag and increase speed. At the time he set a new world's record with a speed of 352 miles an hour. He however, stayed up in the plane too long, ran out of fuel, but was able to land his craft, landing gear up, and raised the pitch of the plane to land in a beet field! He survived. Upon arriving to help him, his workers came up to him and all he said was, "She'll go faster!"

I've been to D.C. three times. For some reason I never got to the Air and Space Museum. That's where the original H1 racer is located. Well, maybe I'll take my fourth trip to D.C. to see this bullet of an aircraft. Of course Hughes went on to set a world record, at the time, of traveling around the world in a record time even beating out some older records. He bought TWA and made commercial aviation easier on passengers as they traveled above the weather where the air is thinner and the ride smoother. Plus, he created the "Hercules." A flying boat if you will. It was to be used to fly troops, tanks and more across the ocean during the second world war. The reason is that the German U-boats were destroying ships that were sea-bound carrying troops across the Atlantic.

It's sad too, that a man who was so intelligent descended into a life of madness. There's an old saying that goes something like this: "there's a small gap between genius and madness" or something to that degree. Off the subject, one CCM artist once quipped, "It goes something like this. However, why do people say that? The song goes 'exactly' like this." I always found that funny.

Well, that's it for today. I used to fly more than I do now. However, with all the security now it's kind of taken the fun out of it. Oh, I still love it when I get to do it. I went to Portland Oregon sometime back. It was really great to see Mount Hood and Mount Rainier from the sky! Also, I was able to see the Rockies too. I remember a few years back flying to Raleigh North Carolina that we crossed over the Appalacians. From the air, it seemed I was seeing ripples in the ground! Upon looking again, I realized I was seeing the mountains. What a great sight. Have a great day everyone.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Tribute

Today I wanted to say a special "Thank you" to all who have served our country!! In particular I wanted to say a special thanks to a friend from California. His name is Kevin Rodgers. He serves in the Navy as a religion program specialist. Kevin and I became acquainted through Michael English's website. I told Kevin today how grateful I am to his love for our Lord and his service to our country! Semper Fi Kev! He's one of the "real deals" in life!

My heartfelt thanks to all who have served and are currently serving our country. May God protect you and bless you all of your days. May the peace of Christ be with you all!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bright Days Dark Nights

Recently I mentioned a friend who was facing a severe depression. She's not a believer. But it even goes on in the church. I find in today's church world no one wants to talk about depression. Even though many Christians too, deal with this insidious torture of the mind. Elizabeth Ruth Skoglund has written a fantastic book on Charles Spurgeon's life called, "Bright Days, Dark Nights." Did you know there were times that Spurgeon's life was so bad that men had to carry him to the pulpit so he could even preach a sermon?

It seems many believers want only fun and frivolity. And they turn aside from those who are depressed. Well, to be fair, maybe they just don't know what to say. They could at least tell that person they will pray for them. There are so many ill-informed believers that think only prayer will take it all away. Did they ever think for a moment that God does use doctors and meds to help those who go through the ordeal? I'm sure Spurgeon could have used the help if it was available then.

It's so easy to pass judgment when a person hasn't been there. However, I don't need to go through some horrible ordeal to show compassion for others that go through something I have no idea about. Isn't it about time the body of Christ starts showing some real compassion instead of wagging tongues? Where were many believers before they came to Christ? Drug addicts, drunks, gamblers, you name it. I hope we all show more humility and grace in the days to come. There is a world dying for the need of Christ. But, sometimes the church is too busy attacking their own wounded they have no time to see the harvest in front of them. To be fair, I've been guilty of this and I've had to repent many times. May the peace of Christ be with you all.