Enjoy all the Days of Your Life

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

But the godly will flourish like palm trees…..Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Psalm 92:12-14 NLT

When I was young I was inspired by John Kennedy, because he was the most youthful U.S. president, and he showed what younger people can do. Now that I am older, I am inspired by Ronald Reagan, because he showed us what older people can do.

When I was 19 I was invited to join a home Bible study group. Everyone else was in their mid twenties to early forties. As well as studying the Bible together we did a lot of social activities, and as a 19 year old I thought it was cool that people in their twenties and even forties would hang out with me. Over thirty years later, I found myself at a restaurant, eating nachos with one of my college age Bible study groups, and I thought it was cool that people in their early twenties will hang out with someone in his fifties!

Its funny how our perspective changes as life changes. Many people fear getting older. I don’t. Long before I turned 50 a few years ago, a few people in their 70’s and 80’s told me the 50’s were the best years of their life. There are three reasons to love being in your 50’s. 1. People take you seriously. 2. Usually you are financially solid by 50. 3. Most people in their 50’s are still in reasonably good health. Some joke that while 50 is the new 30, 9 pm is the new midnight. It is true that in my early twenties whenever I would have a Bible study finish early in the evening, I would run over to the baseball stadium to catch the rest of the game. Today whenever a Bible study finishes early in the evening, I think, “Great! I can get to bed early tonight!” Sometimes I will force myself to do things I used to do, just to prove to myself that I am still young.

There are other advantages to growing older. Having worked with so many different churches and conferences over the years I know a lot of people. My friends list keeps growing. A couple of years ago when I had to evacuate Florida for a hurricane, there were several families between Texas and Tennessee that let me know their homes were open for me. As you get older you get wiser in choosing your friends, and over the years you have more friends to choose from. Also as more young faces appear in my life, I have more people to share my old stories with, who have not already heard them a hundred times. By the way, when an older person tells you the same story a hundred times, it is not because he forgot he already told you. It is because he gets to relive it every time he tells the story.

Speaking of younger faces, I have found working in the education field that everyone likes working with young people whether it is coaching and teaching, or just coming to school one day on career day to talk to kids about their career. I believe we all find hope for ourselves by believing we are making a positive difference in a young person’s life. Also kids keep us full of life. I remember a few months after my mother died, I was visiting family, which of course made me think of my mother. I left the visit to go join the 5th and 6th grade class from the school I worked with at an outdoor ed camp. While driving I became very sad thinking about my mother. I told myself once I got to the camp and was surrounded by youthful 5th and 6th-graders their presence would cheer me up and I would be happy again. Sure enough that is what happened. Those kids had no clue how they helped me overcome my grief!

Two thousand years ago, Mary, a young girl, probably around 14, was told by an angel she was having a baby. She went to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who was on the other side of the child-bearing age margin, but was also with child. Their visit must have been very meaningful as Mary’s youth must have inspired aging Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s experience must have inspired a very young Mary. They both needed each other. Today we all need each other. We should not be afraid of growing old. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Psalm 23 tells us God’s goodness and mercy follows us all the days of our life. As a youthful Kennedy and an aging Reagan have both inspired my life, we all need both young and old people in our lives. What is more, whether we are old or young, people need us in their lives. Enjoy your youth. Enjoy your old age. Enjoy all the days of your life!

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Truth Versus Theories, Fables and Conspiracies

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“…the truth will set you free.” –Jesus Christ, John 8:32

Last week a high school friend of mine, attending a Christian non-denominational school, gave a speech on her belief of the Bible teaching of the state of the dead. She texted me for verses and ideas and used my lessons on Death in Light of the Cross. Instead of endorsing her stand, or refuting it, her teacher simply responded, “I guess we will never really know.” Seriously? For the sake of being diplomatic to other beliefs and to be politically correct, you make God look like He is not smart enough to provide us with a Bible that can be properly understood?

A while back I was watching a family sitcom, where the youth pastor came for dinner, because the family had some theological questions. The youth pastor on the show ends up explaining that the Bible can be interpreted a lot of different ways. While I know this was just an actor and not a real youth pastor, I know too that it is a popular belief. However I do not believe that is true.

We try to be diplomatic and peace keeping by saying there are many different denominations, because the Bible can be understood many different ways. While this may be partially true, we must open our eyes and realize the reason why there are so many different denominations and even religions is not because the Bible is confusing. It isn’t’. The problem is not that the Bible is hard to understand. The problem is that people lie! I hate to call people liars but I would rather call someone a liar instead of making my God out to be too stupid to provide a book that can be properly understood. Revelation 21:8 says all liars will be thrown in the lake of fire. No one will go to hell because they are confused. Those who are lost are lost because they lived on lies.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe God has His people in all different churches and denominations. There are godly people from all walks of faith who will be in heaven. My point is simply that instead of being so diplomatic and politically correct that we start accepting every wind of doctrine, we need to stand up and face the fact that someone is out-right lying!

When we don’t want to face the facts we try to confuse ourselves. The confusion does not come from the Bible. The confusion comes from mixing our own opinions and emotions with Bible truth. For example, people are quite certain that Good Friday was on the 6th day of the week Friday. They are quite sure Jesus rose on the first day of the week Sunday. Yet when you mention the Seventh-day Sabbath right smack dab in the middle, they suddenly become “confused” claiming there is no way to know for sure which day is the 7th.

What baffles me is how people will come up with lies in search of the truth! This is how conspiracy theories abound. Now no doubt there are conspiracies, but some conspiracy theorists like to turn everything into a conspiracy.

Some conspiracy theorists like to accept the darkest explanations. For example, after Kennedy’s death, Johnson wanted to be sworn in as president before leaving Dallas. As soon as the swearing in took place he told reporters to share the pictures with the world as soon as possible. Conspiracy theorists say Johnson had a big ego and wanted the whole world to know he was in charge. How about looking at it another way? Johnson wanted the whole world to know that the United States Government had a leader and was not vulnerable to attack? Now you can’t prove either theory. But you can follow Bible principle and try to see the best in people instead of the worst. We destroy a lot of reputations and relationships by looking for the worst possible motives and scenarios.

Conspiracy theorists also rest their cases on the most ambiguous facts. By proving that two people knew each other, they have a hypothesis that they both were involved in a conspiracy, just because they knew each other. Guilt by association they say. This again is a dishonest way to ruin people’s reputations and relationships. So even the truth that some conspiracy theorists have, does not have much weight, and lead to assumptions that may or may not be true.

And when holes get shot in their theories they turn to facts that simply are not true. Oswald was a poor marksman is one accusation. No way could he have made those shots. Fact is Oswald was a great marksman well above average. Some say Oswald could not have made it to the 2nd floor from the 6th floor in time to be caught by the police in the time frame in which he was. Re-enactments have proved that he could. Still, 50 years later, people cling to their fables and call our leaders liars, thinking the worst of everyone in leadership from Lyndon Johnson to Gerald Ford and George Bush.

It simply is not healthy to be thinking of all the bad motives people could have had, especially when all you have are theories. Nothing good comes from looking for the worst possible motives in people.

Fact is, if we belong to God we don’t have to worry about conspiracies. Joseph was a victim of a conspiracy. His brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt and then covered it up by dipping his coat in blood and telling his father he had been eaten by some wild beast. There you have it! A true conspiracy and cover up! No harm done though. While the conspiracy was designed to destroy Joseph, it actually got Joseph to exactly where he wanted to be! Later when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers after becoming the ruler of Egypt, he shrugs it all off and tells them there are no grudges, everything worked out fine. Joseph did not need to see the worst in his brothers. He did not need to expose their evil motives and egos. Instead he proved them to be good decent men in the end. By the way, for those who think the Kennedy assassination was an inside job, Joseph’s attack really was an inside job-done by his own brothers! Still, God used it to get Joseph where he needed to be.

So when it comes to Bible truth or conspiracy theories let’s not confuse the plain facts with our own feelings and emotions. Let’s not look for the worst in others. And last but not least, let’s not worry about lies, conspiracies and hidden agendas when we know that our God is greater than any lie, conspiracy or hidden agenda, and He will take care of us just as well as He took care of Joseph.

So, a high school Bible teacher says we will never know the truth about death, even with all of the Bible evidence right in front of him. Conspiracy theorists say we will never know the truth about the Kennedy assassination while they dream up all kinds of hypothetical scenarios based on their own imaginations, emotions and opinions instead of hard facts. The truth is there. The question is will you accept the truth even though it doesn’t fit with your theories?