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Archive for the category “Jesus-Our Friend”

The Bridge

They were the most beautiful lyrics from a secular song I have heard!

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

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It’s the beautiful lyrics from the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel.  I think what makes the words so rich is the fact that we can all picture bridges.  We can picture the troubled water they sometimes hover over.  If we close our eyes we can even hear the sounds of the turbulent water and see the view looking down from the bridge.  Though the water is raging the bridge puts us over it and out of danger.  The parallel described in the song is harder to see but the correlation is there.  The person is willing to lay their self down like that bridge to literally put the other person over harms way.

Recently I wondered where these beautiful lyrics came from?  We know that Paul Simon wrote them but what gave him the idea?  Was it an event in his life or did someone say something that triggered such a beautiful picture?  I found that it was the latter.  Many years ago before the civil war in fact a Negro spiritual was sang called “Mary Don’t You Weep” or “O Mary Don’t You Weep”.  It is now termed a “slave song” and gave hope and inspiration for a better future.  The lyrics went like this:

If I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood
Pharoah’s army got drownded
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep

(Chorus:)
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn
Pharoah’s army got drownded
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smotin’ the water with a two by four
Pharoah’s army…

The Lord told Moses what to do
To lead those Hebrew children through…

The bridge over troubled water part was inspired by Claude Jeter the lead singer of The Swan Silvertones interpolation when they recorded the same song (Mary Don’t You Weep) which became their greatest hit.  He added the line “I’ll be a bridge over deep water if you trust in my name”.  According to Anthony Heilbut, a gospel producer and historian,  Simon acknowledged Jeter’s contribution in person and also handed him a check as compensation.

It’s strange that from one line of the lyrics Simon picked out such a vivid description.  The song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” became the #1 song of the year in 1970!  It was a feel good song as people identified the deep sacrifice the song implies.  Helping someone in such a way as to be willing to do whatever it took to bring them out of a depressed state and into sunshine.  It is a selfless song and made people feel good because being selfless does that.  It is like giving to someone something that is truly needed.  It makes the giver happy and gives them joy.  Although the receiver of the gift gets the material reward it is the giver that gets the peaceful feeling that they did the right thing.

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One of the wonders of the world is the Golden Gate Bridge.  Construction started in 1933 and the project was completed in 1937.  In the old days the only way to get across water was to have a boat.  I’m reminded of the Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn stories along the Mississippi River.  With the advent of the automobile there was a desire to make bridges that would allow us to drive over the water.  Depending on the layout different bridges were built to accomplish the feat.  Where possible a cement bridge might be built if the distance wasn’t far.  However for greater distances such as the Golden Gate Bridge special engineering designs had to be used.  They called bridges such as the Golden Gate Bride suspension bridges.  The key to building a bridge like that is the strength of the solid bases that hold the suspended cables which in turn supports the weight of the suspended bridge from one base to the other!  It took 70,000 tons of steel to accomplish such a mission.  In the end the bridge had these amazing statistics!

Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment is 1.7 miles (8,981 ft or 2,737 m).

Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment, plus the distance to the Toll Plaza, is 9,150 ft (2,788 m).

Length of suspension span including main span and side spans is 1.2 miles (6,450 ft or 1,966 m).

Length of main span portion of suspended structure (distance between towers) is 4,200 ft (1,280 m).

Length of one side span is 1,125 ft (343 m).

Width of Bridge is 90 ft (27 m).

Width of roadway between curbs is 62 ft (19 m).

Width of sidewalk is 10 ft (3 m).

Clearance above mean higher high water is 220 ft (67 m).

Total weight of each anchorage is 60,000 tons (54,400,000 kg).

Original combined weight of Bridge, anchorages, and approaches is 894,500 tons (811,500,000 kg).

Total weight of Bridge, anchorages, and approaches (1937) is 894,500 tons (811,500,000 kg).

Total weight of Bridge, anchorages, and approaches (1986)* is 887,000 tons (804,700,00 kg*).

Weight of Bridge, excluding anchorages and approaches, and including the suspended structure, main towers, piers and fenders, bottom lateral system and orthotropic redecking (1986) is 419,800 tons (380,800,000 kg*).

In 1989 a massive earthquake hit the San Francisco area.  Although several buildings and roadways were damaged including severe damages to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge was not fractured.  When events like that happen however it is a reminder of how fragile we are and our man made projects are.  Man has accomplished much but only God can build the ultimate bridge.  That is the bridge that leads from death to life.

When man first sinned there was a wide canyon that separated man from God.  God decided to build a bridge so that man could cross over it to where God was.  Unlike any bridge that man could make God’s bridge will never break down.  You see God sent his only son in the form of a man to live and to die for the sins of all men.  With that supreme sacrifice the bridge was formed.  Like the Bridge Over Troubled Water song we take that bridge over the troubled water.  That is not to say that there will not be storms.  We may be knocked down on our journey, yet we know that the destination the bridge takes us leads to our victory.  You see the song by Simon & Garfunkel describes someone laying down like a bridge for the other person to cross over their troubled time.  In reality it is impossible for humans to accomplish such a mission.  Yet that is the actual mission that Christ took when he died for our sins.  He became the bridge not built with human hands but with God’s own hands.  Let the bridges that we see in our daily lives remind us of the ultimate bridge that God created for everyone.  May we always walk on the safety God’s bridge and the destination it takes!

 

Someone’s Knocking At The Door

Very rarely does someone knock on our door anymore.  Back in the day especially growing up when someone knocked on the door it was with excitement that we answered it.  Who could it be?  Opening the door we were surprised to see my Aunt Ethel, Aunt Lucy, or our old friend Margaret (who was in her 80’s but got around like a 20 year old.)  Their visits were always fun and made our day a little better!  Of course it was like the old TV show “Let’s Make A Deal” too.  The person behind the door wasn’t always a loved one.  Sometimes the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Fuller Brush Man would be there.  In other words sometimes we got zonked when we opened the door.  A zonk on Let’s Make a Deal was when the curtain or door was opened and behind it was something nobody could want.  Still we took our chances with the door in hopes that behind it was a nice surprising visitor!

These days when someone is knocking at the door it is almost always a zonk.  If they suspect that someone is home they start pounding louder if there is no reaction to their initial knock.  When I do answer the door I find myself barely having my head sticking through the opened door as the rest of me hides behind it.  I use the door as kind of a shield.  It protects me from the person trying to sell me something I don’t want.  The person tries to get me more comfortable with them but that door block is hard to negotiate around.  I try to be polite as they make their sales pitch.  The knocking is an interruption to my life.  I don’t think I have ever made a major purchase from someone going door to door.  Occasionally I will take their card as they tell me to call them if I am interested.  It is a polite way to end the visit without seeming rude.  Finally I close the door on the product that I can’t live without.

I guess that is the problem with door to door sales in my view.  Before opening the door I have already made up my mind that I’m not interested.  Having to overcome that is almost always too heavy of a burden for them.  Getting past that trust factor and into my pocketbook is a monumental task.  If they really have a product that I just can’t live without, how have I been able to live without it all of these years?  If I truly wanted to fix a problem I’m more apt to buy a product from a local store where I could always take it back.

I have a very basic cell phone where I can make and receive calls and text messages.  Lately I have been seeing an ad on TV about buying an application for a smart phone.  If I had a smart phone I don’t think I’d be interested in this app.  It is a doorbell app that lets you answer your front door wherever you are.  You could be on vacation in Hawaii and answer your front door. You actually see the person at the door from your phone and you can talk and listen to them. Of course in the commercial it is guys up to no good thinking that you are not home.  The commercial ends with the two would be burglars running from the front door after the brief conversation.  This product is trying to take advantage of the defensive attitude we have today when someone knocks at our door.  I have never had someone try to get into my house while I was pretending nobody was home.  If this product is so necessary, why hasn’t that happened before?  I guess it is  like an extra insurance policy that makes us less fearful and more at ease.

We don’t get surprises from our telephone these days either.  They used to have a radio station back in the day that would make phone calls for prizes.  You had to answer the phone saying “I listen to WYYY”, to win.  It was a genius way to advertise!  I used to laugh when I called my best friend only to have his mom answer the phone with that statement instead of the traditional hello.  I’m sure she never won any prizes but she should have been paid for all of the advertising she did for the station! Now days that marketing scheme would never work as we pick and choose who we want to talk to by using Caller ID.  Come to think about it we used to receive more calls from friends back in the day.  With the advent of Facebook and the use of email friends don’t call much anymore.  It is almost a dreaded sound when the phone rings these days  It seems to ring a lot but very rarely is it anyone that knows us.  These calls go to the answering machine and it is very likely that no message will be left.

The point I’m making is that we are not easily surprised anymore.  There is not a feeling of excitement like there used to be.  We are not willing to take the chance of going to the door or answering the phone because we already know who it is.  Instead of quickly opening the door we tend to peek unsuspectingly out another window of the house to see who it is.  Usually by the time we find out that the person at the door is a loved one we have to race to the door and catch them before they have driven off.  If Jesus is knocking on your heart’s door don’t be defensive.  He is like a surprising visit from a long lost friend.  Run and catch him before he leaves.  Invite him in and fellowship with him.  His offer is eternal life and you don’t want to shut the door on that!

Sweet Surrender For 2016!

This is the time of year when many will set goals.  The list might include losing weight, making investments, getting promoted, eating better and the list goes on.  A close friend asked me about my goals for this year the other day.  “I just want to be closer to God”, I told him.  I want to only write what the Holy Spirit puts on my heart.  I want him to be the motor behind the writing and me just the vessel he works through.  The only way that this can happen is a complete surrender.  I want God to have say in every part of my life.

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If you are like me it’s far easier to sputter the words than to actually put it into practice.  If we are honest with ourselves there are things that we may not have given to God.  We might think that God wouldn’t be interested in this little detail in our lives.  Sometimes we think that God is only interested in the big problems that we have.  That is the big lie the devil uses to keep us from total fellowship with God.  He is interested in every detail of your and my life!

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So what does it mean to surrender to God?  Well the number one thing we have to do is confess any sins that are in our lives and turn away from them.  God cannot have fellowship with you or I if there is sin in the way.  It cuts off the connection to his power.  It’s like cutting the connecting cord of the light from the power switch.  The other thing we need to do is spend quality time in praying and reading the word.  It is something we need to make a part of our lives more than anything.  There is power in the verse “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added onto you” Matthew 6:33.

When we get into that mode of taking quality time to pray God will honor that.  He has sent his Holy Spirit to comfort us and give us wisdom.  Most of all the Holy Spirit wants to fellowship with us and live through us!  Benny Hinn made a parallel in his book “Good Morning Holy Spirit.”  Now I’ve never been on a sailboat but I can still relate to this.  In order for the sails to work to full force there can’t be any holes or tears.  Before sailing those need to be mended.  Now the Holy Spirit is like the wind.  Those mended sails will catch that wind and the boat will move forward!  That is how it is with us and God!  God will move in our lives when we surrender, use quality time to talk to him daily , read his word and think about what he is saying to us in it.

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So what does it mean to surrender?  If someone has a gun on us the common thing to do is to lift our hands.  We are saying that we surrender to the power that they have.  We are also saying that we are not going to fight against that power.  This is a forced surrender.  We really don’t want to surrender but for our own good we do.  This is not how God wants us to surrender.  He wants us to surrender like those sails that are waiting for the wind to direct them and move the boat. For our own good we need to surrender to his power even though God will never force us.  It needs to be a volunteer effort as we see how insignificant we are without him.  When we surrender to him with a clean heart and spend quality time in fellowship great things start happening in our lives!

A former pastor of mine used to conclude his sermons many times with this phrase “Go with God and he will go with you!”  It’s a simple phrase but so true.  I suppose the opposite is true also.  Don’t go with God and he won’t go with you.  Now that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love us.  The Holy Spirit works both as a comforter to the saved and to convict the lost of their sins.  So when we get into that fellowship he literally goes with us instead of chasing us.

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Now what am I talking about by the phrase “quality time?”  I’m reminded of something from another story where David Wilkerson felt in his spirit to sell his TV and use that time to pray.  He would usually spend a couple of hours a day watching and justified it by staying up on current interests.  Giving the Lord a fleece of having to sell the TV within a half an hour or it wasn’t God’s will the TV sold in 29 minutes!  It was in one of those prayer sessions that he was in instead of watching his TV that Wilkerson saw a picture in Life Magazine.  Now he was praying but every time he opened his eyes that magazine was in view.  Finally he asked the Lord if he was supposed to look at it?  When he opened it he saw 8 desperate Gang led kids who had murdered a crippled boy just for kicks.  Wilkerson’s heart broke and through a series of unusual events he was used by God to start a very successful ministry for the lost teenagers in New York City!  It all started when he surrendered his TV time to God!

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I realize that this is not the usual entertaining story that you usually read on here, but it might be the most important message I have written.  I say that because if you read this or any of the stories and tell me it was good and that is the end of it, the message would have failed.  We see so many things in this world that entertains us.  After awhile we look for everything to have entertainment value.  It’s like a fireworks display.  After the fireworks which were gorgeous we are left with a bunch of ugly smoke.  It won’t be easy (at least at first) but if we will make a commitment to God this year to put him first in everything and spend quality time with him we will not lack anything that we need!  We will feel victory in our lives no matter the circumstances!

The song we sometimes sing “More of you” is technically wrong.  God cannot give us more of him unless we have less of us in there.  The goal is all of him and none of me.  I don’t know what will be created on this website in the year ahead.  Whatever is written I pray that it will stir your heart and life and penetrate deep into your soul.  I pray that you will not be the same because of the messages you read.  I know that I won’t be.  As the Spirit helps me write a story I invariably re-read it and it speaks to me!  I’m the one who gets the most out of the messages and stories that God gives me to share!  I urge you to put God first this new year.  Don’t only say it but spend the time doing it.  Remember that how we spend our precious time that we are given is how we prioritize things.  Remember the verse in Galatians 2:20 that says “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me.”

You have now read what is on my heart going forward this year.  The choice is now up to you.  Did the message penetrate your heart?  Dear God, I pray that all who read this will take a new look at their lives and surrender all to you!  I thank you for this message and as I sit here with tears in my eyes I realize that you are speaking to me through this!  I pray that my readers will surrender all of their lives to you so that you can use them for your glory throughout the year!

In Jesus’ lovely name

Amen

Surrender

By Lewis Hamilton from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

It’s not just a one-time thing
or even by the week
It’s more than a daily time
his Spirit I must seek

There’s a battle against the flesh,
no time to drop my guard
Instead of going easier
my battle’s getting hard

A weekly or a daily time
is not enough to win it
I must surrender all the time,
sometimes minute by minute

When decision time is on me
I need an open mind
The Spirit will tell me what to do,
and I’ll do it in God’s time

It’s a choice I have to make,
my spirit I must render,
every minute of every day
to him I must surrender.

 

 

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God, may
your good Spirit lead me
on level ground.

Psalm 143:10

 

Fallen Man Saved Again!

Fallen Man Saved!
December 25, 2012

Good Samaritan

It is officially Christmas day 2014! I’d like to take a break from the countdown today and re-visit the 2012 and 2013 Christmas day story! Unlike the stories I have been mentioning for 2014 in the countdown this story was one of the least read stories of 2012. However, it’s message is just as powerful if not more so than any of my stories! On this Christmas day we will be exchanging gifts with our loved ones! It is a time for showing love, much like God did with his “Greatest Gift of All!” In this story I tried to answer the question of…Why? Why would God give us a gift so great?

https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/fallen-man-saved/

Is It Time To Retire?

Every time I drive east and get close to Detroit I look for it!  It has been there every time I have went that way and got that far!  In 1964 it was part of the World’s Fair in New York!  It was a giant Ferris Wheel that was ridden by two million people at the fair including Jacqueline Kennedy and her two children!  After the World’s Fair it was decided to put the monument right off of the highway so passing cars could behold it!  Have you ever talked to someone numerous times but never met them?  Finally when you do get introduced to them in person they almost always look totally different than what you had pictured them! This former Ferris Wheel that you had in your mind is like that too.  Instead of the traditional Ferris Wheel we picture, this one is a giant Uniroyal Tire!  The seats and motor of the Ferris Wheel are gone, but the monument you can see from the I-94 Highway is a sight to behold!  It is the largest tire model ever built as it measures eighty feet tall!

What a sight!

What a sight!

Yesterday on our way back from Battle Creek (about 25 miles) for some reason I focused on the other cars.  I was sitting in the passenger seat and instead of the body of the cars my attention was drawn to their wheels.  I was thinking to myself what an amazing invention the wheel has been for man!   We tend to take a lot of things for granted in this world and the wheel is one of them.  Consider the 1800’s when people had to get around on horseback and wagons.  The automobile offers us so much freedom in life!  We can get in the car and travel for miles and come back home fast enough to enjoy the rest of the day!  I was also amazed by the number of Semi-Trucks on the road and how their wheels were big and turning smoothly!  It is something that is totally taken for granted, but think of life without those trucks delivering goods to make our life better!

I think it was in the late 1990’s and my wife and son and I were driving from the Detroit area across the state heading for home on a rainy day.  As we got about halfway home the weather got really bad as the rain started coming down in buckets.  As I was driving on the interstate the car hydroplaned and I lost control.  We were hit and our car ended up spinning into the middle grassy medium.  Luckily nobody was hurt but the accident and the ensuing ticket made me realize how important the wheels were on the car.  The police officer noticed that one of the tires was not in top condition and mentioned that the accident might have been avoided if it were.  I was thankful that the person I bought my car from last year was very thorough in maintaining it!  She told us before we made the purchase that she always had good tires on the car because they are the only thing between you and the road.

puniroyal giant tire

The giant tire off of the highway has gone through some changes through the years.  One of the latest was when they incorporated a giant nail puncturing it.  Although the tire had contacted that giant nail it was still sound because of the new high tech design they were using!  It was a good campaign and the giant tire was worth more than a thousand words in picturing how safe they portrayed it to be!  When you ride on the Uniroyal tire the message is that no matter what comes your way on the road, the tire is able to get through it and keep on going!

It seems to happen every summer.  There is road construction going on everywhere.  Many times the road is blocked off and a detour route is provided.  Other times the cement is ground down to a rough finish.  Those roads you just drive over and hope that your tires don’t get damaged.  Other times in these zones you can run over nails or other sharp objects.  I was driving down I-94 a couple of years ago when my front tire blew out.  Luckily I was able to steer the car safely to the side of the road.  The car was towed to a tire store and sure enough a nail was found to be the culprit.

When the road is nice and clean with minimal pot holes and construction zones I suppose most tires will get you through.  The mark of a good tire is one that can go through the rough roads and like the Uniroyal tire portrays run over things and keep on going!  For that reason it is very important to keep good tires on your car at all times.  If the weather was good I probably would not have had that accident on I-94.  The problem with having a tire not up to speed (pardon the pun) is that you never know what lies ahead in the road.  You also never know when the rains may come and your tire is challenged to perform.

Sometimes the easiest thing that people can do is give advice to others.  Maybe a friend comes to us and shares a situation in their life.  Isn’t it easy to give the “if I were you” advice?  The fact of the matter is that we are not them.  We are not walking in their shoes or going over the same road that they are.  There are times when we reach our limit on how we can help.  There are times when the road needs to be traveled head on.  It is in those times that we need to re-tire.  In other words we need a change of our spiritual tires.   When we get a fresh relationship with God it is like putting on new tires as he helps us go over the bumpy roads.  We always want to avoid the bad roads in front of us, but sometimes to get to our destination we need to go straight over them.  We’ve all heard the saying “That is when the rubber hits the road.”  When the rubber does hit the road doesn’t it make sense to have the best tires on the car for whatever lies ahead?

Heading straight to our destination on good wheels!

Heading straight to our destination on good wheels!

To anyone who Googled the right time to retire and were expecting retirement advice, and my  article appeared, I can only say this to you.  I know it is important to know when to retire.  Most people retire without enough money which is a major problem.  However,  the most important thing in life is our relationship with God.  Even the most prepared people can find themselves feeling empty as their road after retirement becomes bumpy.  If your relationship with God never started or if you used to be so much closer to God than you are now take comfort.  God still desires to have you close to him!  He desires to change your proverbial tires so that you can go through the hard road that you are on!

As I think about that giant Uniroyal tire just off of the highway I see in my mind the big nail protruding from it’s tread.  The nail is more than just a slight bump in the road.  It represents something that could destroy both the tire and the vehicle depending on it.  The nail is sticking out as a testimony from the tire.  It is almost like it is saying “even though I have obstacles in my way I am rolling forward!”  A beat up worn out tire wouldn’t have that testimony.  It would blow out possibly causing a dangerous crash, or at best a major inconvenience.    The brand new tire ignores the obstacles and keeps going, much like you and I can when we let God re-tire us for his glory!

Don’t Burn The House Down!

Years ago an interesting experience happened to my friend Steve. He was in Meijer (a one stop grocery and everything else mega store) when he heard people that were coming into the store saying “There is a car on fire out there!” In his curiosity Steve made his way out of the store to see the spectacle. He noticed the smoke was coming from close to where he parked. Sure enough, it was his car on fire! Steve was very glad that he had taken out full insurance coverage on his car!

There is a car on fire out there!

There is a car on fire out there!

My wife has an uncle who was in the insurance business. We decided to do our house and car insurance through him. We have faithfully paid our premiums through the years like almost everyone else. Very rarely have we had any kind of claim. Personally, I don’t like insurance companies. In almost any city you go to the insurance companies and the banks have the largest buildings. Yet when you think about it, what do they actually do to make revenue? The answer is they take money from you and I and do their advertising and build their buildings with it! They make enormous profits from the gamble that they will take in much more money than they have to dish out. Obviously it is a business and they don’t have to take us on as clients. They are experts on the percentages of risk involved with each of us. When they write up a policy it has to go to the home office for approval. If you and I are good risks (not likely to make a claim) then we are approved! Otherwise they have an option not to take us on as a clients. Obviously my family has proven to be good risks through the years. We are paying out hundreds of times more money than what we have ever claimed.

No instant satisfaction in filling this out

When I’m buying something I like to get instant satisfaction from the purchase. Insurance doesn’t do that for me. Insurance companies take advantage of the fear factor. I have paid for house insurance for almost thirty years now and I may have had one very small claim. Yet each year I get the annual bill. The bill doesn’t stay the same amount either. You would think it would go down as we have such a good record of not claiming. As my house gets older apparently there are more risks. At least that is how the insurance company sees it as they add more premium to my bill. We do get a very small discount because we have a smoke alarm. We know that it works too as a couple of times through the years something got burned in the oven triggering it.

Of all of the insurances you can buy life insurance is the most misunderstood. The first problem is that it really should be called death insurance. Of course nobody really wants to think about it in that way and the insurance companies try to put more of a positive spin on it for marketing. Instead of just selling us straight insurance they also include a “savings program” to add some life to their policies! If you just bought insurance without the “savings program” that is called term insurance. Usually you have to almost hold a gun to the insurance persons head to sell you the term. They are all pushing for the savings program insurance such as whole life, universal life and the like. They will argue that term is not “permanent insurance” and should be avoided. Why do they want to sell the policies with the “savings program” in them? The answer is that the premiums are double and triple the amount of straight term policies. The more the premium the more commission for the salesperson!

The insurance person will argue that at least with the savings program you are getting more than insurance. They will argue the “what if you don’t die?” argument. Of course we all would like to live a long long time and buying just insurance for an early death isn’t real appealing. So we listen to all of the benefits repeated about this wonderful “savings program” within our insurance policy. We are intrigued when they tell us how much the “cash values” will be worth in a certain amount of time.

What the big print and agent says can be taken away with the small print in the policy!

The truth about the “savings program” is that if you die your beneficiary does not get it! Let me say that again they will not get the savings program! The insurance company will argue that the savings program is included because as we get older the actual insurance costs more and needs to be supplemented by the “cash values”. Let me give you an example of how it really works. Let’s say that you buy a whole life policy with a face value of $50,000. Let’s say that the premium you pay is $600.00 a year. Let’s say that you could get a term policy for $200.00. Paying the extra amount is sold to you by the fact that a “savings program” is included in the policy. The person pays on this policy for years and accumulates $10,000 in “cash values” and then they die. You would think the beneficiary would get the $50,000 plus the $10,000 right? Not so, the payment would only be the face amount of the policy $50,000. So what happened to all of the extra money in premiums paid throughout the years? It was quietly swept under the rug. OK lets say the person lives and now wants to take their “savings program” to retire on. Well they can take the savings but that means they are cancelling the policy. Another option that the insurance company will generously point out is that we can borrow the money. After all we can keep the insurance in this fashion. Let me get this straight, I have been overpaying my premiums all of these years and now that I want some of my “cash values” I have to borrow my own money? Remember that $50,000 policy we talked about. Let’s say that the person “borrowed” $10,000 of their cash values and died. The amount of the check to their beneficiary would now be $40,000 ($50,000 – $10,000). In this case it probably would be less than $40,000 as interest is also charged on “the loan”. In conclusion you pay for both but you cannot have both. Either you get the insurance or you get the savings program. If you want your insurance and you would like to get some cash values too you would have to borrow your own money and pay interest on it! If you have to borrow the money is it really your money? What did the insurance company do to get the money for you to borrow? They charged you more for the benefit. It was originally your money but they sneakily put it in their account!

Now before everyone runs out and cashes in their old “cash value” policies for term make sure that you are insurable. As bad as these “cash value” policies are at least they are insurance. Insurance companies deal in risk and they may not want to insure you anymore. However if you are younger and insurable consider cashing in your old cash values policies and buying term insurance. Take that difference and invest it in something that will grow and is outside of your insurance policy. That way it is your money and if you need it you won’t have to borrow it or cancel your insurance.

Don’t burn the house down!

Having said all of that let me say that insurance is necessary. Having some kind of catastrophe happen could be devastating to a family financially. When someones house burns down the first thing observers are likely to say is “I hope they had insurance”. We buy the “peace of mind” that comes when we figure that if anything did happen we would be protected. That peace of mind is very important and it is what keeps the insurance companies in business.

Since the uncle of my wife has retired we were referred to his replacement. We have been paying our premiums and now she is the beneficiary. Every now and then we talk to her if something comes up, but for the most part our dealings with insurance is the yearly and semi annual payments through the mail. I used to tell my son if we were leaving him alone for awhile “don’t burn the house down”. Of course, if that happened his safety would be the only thing that mattered.  The house could be replaced because we continue to pay for our “peace of mind”.

So many of us in our christian walk treat God like our insurance person. With him it is fire insurance he provides that  gives us peace of mind. If we need him he is there. If we don’t need him we just continue paying the premiums and hope that if we have to make a claim he’ll be around. God wants to be so much more of a part of our lives than our fire insurance agent! He wants to walk with us every step of the way as we walk with him! He wants to be our best friend and guide us into all righteousness in our daily lives! What the insurance company can’t and won’t give us God gives us in abundance! For giving our life to him we get so many benefits! We get peace of mind, we get eternal life, we get a heavenly home prepared by our savior, we get a counselor and a friend! Lastly we get fire insurance from the one who loved us so much that he died for us!  There are no fine print items that takes away what the larger print gives in this policy!   It is backed up by the word of God that always speaks the truth!  It is a policy of love from Jesus and it is written and signed with his blood!

The Election For Your Soul

Have you ever considered how many choices we make in a day?  Just the fact that you are reading this was a choice.  Just off of the top of my head we may make choices as to what time to get up, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast?  If you think deeper almost everything we do is a choice.  If I’m driving it could be how fast will I drive?  Should I pass this person?  Should I turn the radio on?  If I’m walking it is how fast and far do I walk?  Do I look around as I walk?  If I see something interesting do I take time to stop?  This is such an endless list because when we think about it our whole life is based on choices.  Each choice that we make has some kind of consequence, some more than others.  If I don’t eat breakfast I may not feel good later on.  If  I choose to not get eight hours of sleep I could get very tired later in the day.  It is true that we make thousands of choices every single day.  Some of the choices may not have lasting consequences like others.  If I choose to look out the window it won’t have the same consequences as if I choose to have a meeting with my boss.  Then there are choices within the choice.  Suppose I was upset with someone.  Do I talk to them about it?  If so when would be the best time?  What do I say to them?  What will they probably say back?  What is my goal in this situation?  Should I talk to them in person or on the phone?  Each little decision that I make will have some kind of consequence either good or bad that I will now have to live with.  If the decision takes some thought we ask ourselves What will happen if I do this?  Will I be happier or will it matter?

Of course there are daily decisions that we make and then there are decisions that are more long term.  These decisions are not limited to this list but might include What will I do for a profession? Who will I marry or will I get married?  Would I like to have kids?  Should I buy a house or rent?  Should I buy a used car or a new one?  Each decision in life starts to define us as people.  Other people look at us from a point of view of decisions that we made.  They define us based on those decisions because that is how people are.  Many times they may make a decision to become friends with us, or they may not like the decisions we made and stay aloof.

Election time is upon us again.  As I drive home I see all of the signs for this or that candidate.  If the phone is ringing there is a good chance it is about the election.  The commercials are constantly playing for one candidate or the other.  They are both out to get my vote and yours whether it is through the debates or creative ads.  Sometimes I think my vote isn’t really very important.  After all I only have one vote and there are millions of votes cast each election.  There are also millions of eligible voters who do not vote.  I guess they figure that their vote really doesn’t mean anything.  Though your vote and mine will not decide who wins this election there is an election that your vote and mine are always the deciding vote!

peoplevoting

You might ask “What election could I possibly be the deciding vote?”  It is the election of who you will worship?  You see we are all meant to worship something or someone.  It is the very essence of our existence.  You might make the argument that you don’t worship anyone or anything.  I have to strongly disagree with anyone with this view.  Ask yourself this question “What is the most important thing in my life?”  The answer to that question is the answer to who or what you worship.  Oh you say “I don’t worship this thing!”  The fact that it is number one on your list tells me that it takes up precious time in your heart and mind as well.  You may argue that your kids or your spouse are the most important.  These are good things and are blessings from God, but even good things can be in their wrong place.  If I put anything before God in my life I am in essence worshiping that instead of him.  All things are temporary in this life while he is eternal!  Whatever is the most important thing in your life and mine is what we worship.  We don’t need some kind of idol that we bow down to.  The little idols in our life could be anything that takes the place of God as number one.

You are the only voter in the election for your soul.  Like the presidential election millions of people vote, but each person in this election decides in their own personal election.  It is an election that determines which power will rule your life and mine.  Satan on one hand is the candidate that stresses living for today.  His platform is about the now.  His slogan is  live it up for today for tomorrow you may die.  He shows us nice things that we can have now.  He paints the picture that material things can buy us happiness for the future.  He is the candidate of promises that he can’t or has no intention of keeping.  He uses temptation like he did with Jesus on the mountain.  In that encounter Jesus had fasted for forty days and was extremely weak.  Satan tried to tempt him at his weakest point by showing him all of the kingdoms of his world.  “You can have it all if you bow and worship me!”  Unlike Jesus, many of us fall for his promises and deceit.  Many take him up on his offer and sell their souls for wealth and fame.  Many buy into his theory that life is for living now.  They buy into the get it while you can and if it feels good do it attitude he promotes.  The problem with Satan’s candidacy is that it has no substance.  In his live for today framework we have to sell our souls to him.  He is in a battle for souls and he wants your vote and mine.  He will do anything and everything in his power to get our vote.

Jesus Vs Satan Arm Wrestling wallpaper

Now let’s look at the other candidate Jesus.  Jesus is the solid rock as the song goes!  All other ground is sinking sand.  That song was about a parable Jesus used describing the wise builder as opposed to the one who built on sand.  The sand would be like Satan’s plan that is quickly blown away and destroyed.  Unlike Satan who makes promises he can’t keep and requires your soul, Jesus promises us eternal life if we come to him.  He offers a peace that is beyond understanding and a purpose that takes away the emptiness in our heart.  He is not out there in your face like Satan.   He lets his followers tell his story of how he has changed their lives  and how now they have hope for the future!

I’ve read so many times of people killing themselves when it appeared they had it all (fame and fortune) and everything to live for.   That is Satan’s ultimate victory as he takes one more soul with him.  They bought into his lie and when they found out the truth they felt it was too late.  It is never too late for Jesus.  He will take your empty life and change it no matter how much you bought into Satan’s lies in the past.  The best or worst thing that can happen to someone is when they reach their goals and dreams Satan has promised them.  Now they discover how empty his promises are.  Sometimes they turn to God as they realize they had everything this world has to offer and still were so empty.  Other times Satan has their soul and they see no way out.  There are consequences in the decisions that we make.

So election day is upon us.  Election day is every day.  Like in politics there may be a debate going on.  It is a debate within you as to who you should choose?  Satan will no doubt make the case that Christians are fools for not idolizing the things of the world.  He will forever make promises that he can’t keep just to claim your soul in his trophy room.   He never quits either and will tempt the believers who made the right choice in the past also.  He is relentless and never gives up.  Yet, he cannot send us to hell unless we choose to go.  Just remember his past record as Jesus stated, “He is a liar and the father of lies.”  Like the Bible says “choose this day who you will serve.”  Just remember though that your decision has a monumental effect on your future.  It’s a decision that will either send you to heaven or hell.   The wonderful thing is that we have a choice.  It doesn’t matter how anyone else chooses.  In politics many times the person we vote for loses because we are only one vote.  In this election our vote determines everything within our heart.  Choose this day who you will serve.  As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!  Election day is here, vote wisely!

Peace Through All The Pain

One of the subjects in the last article Derek Redmond has a website http://www.derekredmond.com.  He is now a very in demand motivational speaker and has a motivational newsletter.  He turned his Olympic tragedy into a success!  Many times in life you and I find ourselves in similar circumstances.  Just as Derek leaned on his father for support when he was down we can lean on our heavenly father!  Though we are hurting he gives a peace beyond understanding.

Peace Through All The Pain

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Sometimes on life’s road my Lord
the sun is shining bright
The road is smooth and all downhill
without a bump in sight

Then there are times the road’s torn up
and the sky is pouring rain
It’s then I cry out Lord to you
Give me peace through all the pain

There’s no one else I can see
who will give me peace of mind
No other place that gives to me
the comfort I do find

For on that bumpy, torn up road
there’s someone who will care
You pick me up when I fall down
and all my burdens bear

So now my road is bumpy
and my sky is pouring rain
but I have found the secret
of peace through all the pain.

Peace I leave with you, my
peace I give you. I do not give
to you as the world gives. Do
not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Listen To Your Special Friend

We all have had a special friend that calls quite often.  If they don’t call we think something is wrong so we call them.  When we first met this person and they called they probably identified who they were.  After awhile it wasn’t necessary as we  immediately recognized their voice.  As time went on and we found out more and more about this special friend it became easier to talk to them.  We recognized when they were troubled or happy just by their voice tone.  We started feeling that this special friend has so much in common with us.  The conversations were fun as we started sharing our interests with each other.  We laughed at things we both understood and got to the point where we shared in each others sorrows too.

How would we feel if this special friend called us with the same words and the same dry tone?  How would we feel if this special friend told us everything they wanted us to do and then hung up on us before we could even talk?  We would wonder what has happened to our special friend?  We might think they are sick or something is very wrong.  We would wonder why our special friend is calling us  out of ritual and obligation instead of enjoyment?

So what if you are this special friend to God?  Has your conversation hit dry spots where it has become ritualistic.  Is your conversation with God a one way street?  Do you take the time to listen for his voice?  You may ask “How can I know when he is talking to me?”  Well just as you know that  special friends voice who calls you on the phone you can learn Gods voice too!  You may not hear it audibly but you will hear it within your spirit.  You will know it is his voice because it will always lead you to righteousness.  Become a listener in your prayers.  Instead of coming to God with all of these requests and all of the one way conversation that is traditional, take the time to be quiet before the Lord.  Let him speak to you and listen to his voice.  When you hear his voice act upon what he is telling you.  You may wonder if it is just you or God?  Ask yourself, is the idea helping to promote the spread of the Gospel in some way?  If so it must be from God!  It certainly isn’t from the devil.

Many of the poems that you have read happened in just such a way!  God gave me an idea and I wrote it down.  The words came because I was in tune with the spirit and I was willing to write down what he was telling me!  So many times I cried after the poem was written.  I cried because I knew that it was far better than I could ever write.

You may not realize this but there were 40 individuals who authored the Bible.  As we all know it is very hard to get 3 or 4 people to agree on anything.  How then can 40 people be in complete unity?  Well there may have been 40 authors, but there was only one spirit that was leading them.  The spirit led each one in a special way to write what would supplement and not contradict all of the other writers!  When you put it in that light it is truly a miraculous feat!  If we have been born again that same spirit lives in us!  It is the spirit of unity within Christianity!  You and I have a special part within the whole!  There is something God wants us to do to promote the Gospel while we are here!  Develop that friendship with your God and step out in faith as the spirit leads you! Take the time to listen to his voice.  It may seem odd at first because you may not have been trained in that way.  Someone once said we were given two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.  We usually laugh at that notion but in our conversation with God I think the statement is true!

A True Friend

I’ve heard that when you are rich and famous you don’t know how many true friends you have and how many people are your friends because of what you have.  I’ve also heard that if a person has 2 true friends in their lifetime they should consider themselves lucky.  Of course we all have so many more friends right?  Yet, it isn’t the quantity that counts in this case, it is the quality.  Most of us use the term “friends” loosely.  Most of the “friends” we have are merely acquaintances.  It is perfectly normal to have different levels of friendship in our lives.

A dog is considered mans best friend and for good reason.  A dogs love is unconditional.  They accept you as you are.  There is no backbiting in a dogs love (both figuratively and literally).  A dog is loyal, available, and loving no matter if you are the president or are unemployed.  I think that a dogs qualities characterizes a true friend.  It symbolizes characteristics of Gods love for us!   Maybe that is why it’s name is God backwards!

Aristotle said “a friend is a single soul in 2 bodies”.  Oscar Wilde said  “a true friend stabs you in the front”.  I’m sure there are truths to both of those statements.  A true friend is so close that they hurt when you hurt and they delight in your joy!  They stab you in the front with honesty, but it is words and advice with the intent of making you better!

Statistics show that 25% of Americans have no close friends and the average has only 2.  Consider this in deciding if you want to be a true friend.  Do you have the time?  A true friend doesn’t make excuses such as work or appointments.  When you are a true friend there is no time restraints.  If that person needs you, even if it is 3 in the morning you are willing to help!  A true friend is honest, trustworthy,  and a good listener.  A true friend is loyal.  When the whole world walks out a true friend walks in.  A true friend does not gossip about their friend and if they hear someone else doing it they quickly put a stop to it!  To be a true friend you need to be encouraging, forgiving, and loving for loves sake.  There should never be the thought of whats in it for you.  As a true friend you will support your friend even if it means hurting your own interests.  As a true friend you will be asked to stay even when the whole world turns on your friend.  You will listen sometimes without saying a word.  You will not be judgmental but will give advice from your heart.  You will allow your friend to make decisions and will support them as a friend even if you don’t completely agree.  You will laugh and cry with your friend through good times and bad.

How Did Jesus Treat Others True Friend - Quote of the Day

Someone said “I would rather have one close friend I can rely on than 100 that I can’t.”  Jesus symbolizes a true friend in that he gave up his life for his friends.  If you are one of the 25% of Americans who have no true friends you can have one in Jesus.  If you are fortunate enough to have a true friend or two add the most important one!  He accepts you as you are and helps you become the person you were meant to be!

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