How not to become bitter in your old age

old man

I waited in the morning rush hour line at the local coffee shop.  My laptop was in one hand and my work bag in the other, while I searched around for my debit card.  An older gentleman stood beside me.

“You can go ahead of me”, he said with a smile.  “You look like you have something important to do.  I’ve done my time already, and besides, you’re probably paying for my social security too”, he said with a grin and a chuckle.

I laughed at the thought.  “Yes, I guess I am.”

“I’m so old…”, he continued, “I remember when the Dead Sea was only sick.”

I let out a big laugh.  He seemed pleased at my response, as if he had done his job for the day.

Throughout the day, I retold that joke to several more people, and they each had a good laugh too.  This one old man had spread a lot of joy that morning.

I want to be like that when I get old, and I began to wonder what was his secret.  I’ve observed that people usually take one of two paths when they get older: either they become bitter and depressed and generally unhappy about most things, or they live their life with a happy-go-lucky, not a care in the world attitude.  I want to be the latter.

So how do we make sure we do not become bitter?  It starts with how we live our lives today.  What are our priorities?  Do we put our families first, or do we emphasize work too much?  Have we learned to forgive?  Can we let go of things at the appropriate time and trust God for the rest?

I try to practice all these things but I still wanted some solid advice, some kind of script that I could follow to be sure.  I know money isn’t the answer; I see lots of unhappy rich folks.  Good health is not guaranteed for any of us and much of it is out of our control in our later days, so there must be something else.  Then I ran across this passage while reading one day:

“How do we ensure that life gets better and not bitter as our days advance?  Our treasure must be above. When our treasure is laid up in heaven, we go to our reward. We are not leaving it.  Keep life and its treasure in perspective.  It will make a difference now and forever.” – Randy Ray

That was the answer I was looking for.  We are going to something.  And it is never too late to start on the right path.  There is always more we can do on this earth.  Sometimes it’s as easy as brightening someone’s day in the coffee shop line, and making them stop and think.

The one who does God’s will remains forever.  I John 2:16

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To know God

morning devotion

Muslims say you cannot know God.  He is unknowable and unreachable.  Unlike the Christian God, Allah is a distant supreme being that cannot be known.  At best, all one can do is hope to gain Allah’s mercy when they die.  But it is not a guarantee.  Even then, their paradise is not considered to be a fellowship with God.

But as I was reading in the book of Psalms today, I came across this beautiful poetry from Psalm 139 that describes a very different God.  We can know Him!  Listen to these words…

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.

You have hedged me behind and before.
And laid Your hand upon me.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;

Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalm 139:1-12

There is so much reassurance in these verses.  God knows the light and the dark.  There are no secrets, nowhere we can go without God, and never out of His sight or thoughts.  And yet, God loves us even more.  I like that.

Today, let’s focus on this one wonderful thing that sets God apart from all other religions.  Christianity is the only way of life that speaks of Grace, Forgiveness, and Love, and of a Savior willing to die for our sins.  My prayer as always, is that you will get to know this God.

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The answer is…

It’s frightening sometimes, definitely sad, and it can leave you feeling down or hopeless. The events of just the last few months are enough to keep us at nights wondering. A missing Malaysian plane with 239 souls on board, a sinking South Korean ferry carrying an entire high school of students on a field trip, the search and rescue efforts for the sudden mudslides in California, earthquakes all over the world, ravaging tornadoes that leave many people dead within seconds, and that does not include the countless shooting scenes in malls and schools that seem to take place almost daily.

Phew…, that’s not a fun, feel-good, positive topic to write about, but I just could not ignore it this time.  It shouldn’t be ignored.  It is important to people’s lives.  But it can shake you. Even the most fearless will stop and ask why.  Why the suffering, why the bad, why the innocent?

First, don’t blame God.  Blame evil.  Give credit where it’s due.  Get mad at evil, so mad that you want to counteract it with good.  Only good things (God) can take away evil and win.  Everything else is only temporary.

There is only one answer that can satisfy all that is wrong in the world and make it right. Only one word is more powerful than anything else – Jesus.  Not Allah, not Buddha, not yourself, not your money or where you live, not your work, not your spouse, not even where you go to church or who you vote for.  All of those things are temporary and will fail you at some point.  When facing death, money won’t save you.  Even our best accomplishments only take us so far in this world.  It only takes one costly mistake to bring someone down in this high-tech 24-7 world.

No one else offers complete grace, forgiveness, and eternal assurance than Jesus.  It is what He stands for, and that’s why it makes others mad.  Jesus does not play favorites.  It does not matter what country you are from, your background, your race, your education, what you’ve done or not done, Jesus is the answer for all.  He is not exclusive, but inclusive. There is not one question you can ask where Jesus is not the answer…

Sick?Jesus will help you through it
Depressed?Jesus will be a true friend
Dying?Jesus will be there to welcome you home if you put your trust in Him.
There is a reason Jesus says in the Bible that He is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life”.  It is so we can be sure.  No guessing required.
Injustice?Jesus will judge the wrong
Suffering?Jesus can give you a peace unlike anything else.  Jesus said “Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, and the meek, for they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven”.  He said that for a reason.
Messed up life?Jesus cares.  There is nothing so bad that you cannot go to Jesus.
Worried about tomorrow?Jesus knows the future. He is our intercessor, praying   for us.  You will never go wrong by following Jesus.
Lonely? –  Jesus will be by your side. There is no better person to have with you.

No matter how much we try to control our lives, we cannot.  Yet, I cannot imagine trying to go through this life without Jesus by my side.  It truly would be scary.  Knowing Jesus is the only real assurance in this life and for eternity.  Nothing else compares.  Nothing else matters as much.

If you read Jesus’ words from the New Testament, you will be amazed at what He says.
Here are a few:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

I will never turn away anyone who comes to me.  John 6:37

Peace I leave with you, not as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

There remains a rest for the people of God.  Hebrews 4:9 (Paul)

And from the last verse of the Bible…
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.”
Revelation 22:21

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My Response to the Debate (and the great printer mystery)

Did you watch or hear about yesterday’s Evolution vs. Creationism Debate between Bill Nye (Science Guy) and Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis CEO)?  I’m glad we’re having this open debate, but there is nothing that “ruffles my feathers” more for me than walking into a museum somewhere and seeing a definitive statement of how the earth is billions of years old.  When this happens, my family will look cautiously over at me, shaking their head and thinking, “uh oh, here she goes again”.  By my nature, I am a very factual and logical person, which serves me well in my computer career.  Computers always have a reason for every action.  Nothing can happen in a computer unless it has been instructed to do so by its programmer or designer.  Whenever I encounter a computer error at work, it will easily drive me crazy until I figure out the cause of the problem.  Most of the time, errors are caused by missing logic rather than from the logic already given.  Yet, with all of the lines of code and instructions contained in a computer, nothing can happen until someone turns it on.

So what about debate from last night?  Last year I wrote an article called “Music and Science” that explains many of the facts and details about the subject, but my logical conclusion after watching last night’s debate can be summarized by the following:

Neither belief system can be completely proven or disproven (evolutionism/atheism is also a “belief”), so it gets down to only one thing  – whether you believe in God or not. The rest is just back-and-forth debate. It’s that simple.

The one question I would like to ask Bill Nye and other evolutionists is this:

How do you explain miracles and other mysteries?  People have encountered angels, spirits, and other miracles that cannot be explained by science.  If you believe evolution’s version of the facts, then these things cannot possibly happen.  I think most people would tend to disagree with that.

And this brings me to my printer… believe it or not, it holds the answer. One morning my son and I were rushing off to school as usual, and he had forgotten to print his report from the night before. He tried to print it quickly before leaving, but the printer would not work and he asked me to look at it. I checked it out and everything was turned on and the wireless was working. I punched all the buttons on the printer but nothing would come out. The error said the router settings needed to be entered, and that there was no connection set up for the printer.  This can’t be, I thought, and I frantically prayed to God to get the printer working for us. We were running late and my son had worked so hard on his paper, and I knew a late grade might mean failing the class. Right after I had whispered my prayer, the printer spewed out the report.  I didn’t understand how that could happen, but I just grabbed the paper and ran out the door.  All day at work I wondered about that printer and how it could have suddenly worked.  As soon as I returned home, I went straight to the printer to try it out.  It still said the same thing, that you must enter the router information and passcode.  I went to each computer in the house but was unsuccessful in getting any of them to print again.  For two days, every time I walked by that printer sitting on the floor, I would obsessively try to get it to print again without changing anything.  There had to be some logical explanation, but nothing came.  Finally, I surrendered to re-entering the router information and the printer started up immediately.  There was no explanation or theory that could explain why it worked just that one time on that morning, other than God in His caring way had intervened.  So whenever someone challenges my science and logic, I just smile and think of that printer!little feet

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  Hebrews 11:1-3

What happens when we pray?

Among the chaos in the news headlines this last week, there was a small news clip of significant impact.  A church bus crashed returning home to North Carolina after a three-day Jubilee celebration in Gatlinburg, TN.  The bus blew a tire and hit an SUV and a tractor-trailer.  Eight people lost their lives.

News like this makes me stop in my tracks.  Sometimes it makes me question, just for a moment, the essence of my prayers.  Surely those people were praying for safe travels. What happened to their prayers?  Why such a senseless accident?

I am reminded back to a story I wrote a few months earlier called The Finish Line, after a co-worker had suddenly died in a tragedy.  The fact is, tragedies happen every day to good people who do not deserve it.  And another fact is, we will all face death in our lifetime.  For some of us, we may get to run a marathon in life, others run a 5K or 10K race, and others only a short sprint.  But we will all cross that finish line, so the question really becomes:  Will we finish well?

If we think for just a moment about where we will be when we eventually face death and what will be our situation, I would like to think that being on a church bus, surrounded by Christian friends, coming back from a Christian Jubilee concert would be one of the top ways I would want to meet God.

So what becomes of all our prayers?  Sometimes daily prayers seem more like requests or wishful thinking, but they are actually much larger than that.  Here is the best explaination I have found on prayer:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer is literally being in the presence of God.  When we pray, we are talking directly to Him.  Prayer is the mechanism which allows God to give us a Peace beyond our understanding, beyond anything else we have on this earth.

We will never have all the answers this side of Heaven, but I know that I want to be at my best when I do meet my Creator for the first time.  Ultimately, it is my prayer that I finish well.  And I think the people on that church bus were greeted by the most glorious of angels on their day.
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