Sunday, February 28, 2016

Freedom From Death

"O death, where is thy sting?"

   There are many freedoms to learn about, but ranking near the top must be the freedom from death.  Death is the common denominator for man.  The good, bad, rich, poor, big and small must face death.  Many of us have been shielded from it by our culture as it is not pleasant to think about.  From the Bible we see it as an enemy and intruder, but not the victor.  "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

     Something that comes to my attention again and again lately is the thought of the need to evaluate my life in the light of eternity.  Scripture says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).  These thoughts change how we act in everyday decisions and change our values from the earthy to the heavenly.  It makes the saying, "The best things in life aren't things," have a richer meaning. 

     "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Sometimes not much. For some it may be little more than a passing pleasure or a bowl of pottage. Yet an inward knowledge lets us know that there are things worth giving all we have and even dying for.  Jesus Christ gave an illustration of that when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  Then he did it.  He gave his life for His own, and then showed His victory over the grave.

  Isaac Watts, a master hymn writer, shared how the more educated and less educated people have the same promises when facing death.  He shared these words with a friend just before he died:

  "I remember an aged minister used to observe, that 'the most knowing and learned Christians, when they come to die, have only the same plain promises of the gospel for their support as the common unlearned;' and so I find it.  It is the plain promises of the gospel that are my support; and I bless God, they are plain promises, that do not require much labor and pains to understand them."

   One plain promise from Christ to believers is His words "because I live, ye shall live also."  He is the first fruits of this promise.  The last enemy will be death and the following promise will be fulfilled:
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction..." Hosea 13:14.

 The following is a video that gives some of the last words of a large number of people.  The emptiness of those that scorned Christ is seen.  You can also hear the messages of hope from those that took Christ at His word. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Shemita Pototoes!

These are just a few of the potatoes that came up voluntarily.
     Last year was a great year weather-wise in our area.  The garden did quite well even without the attention it needed.  Our family had lots of red potatoes that came up voluntary from the year before.  They produced bushels of potatoes.  Dad called them Shemita Potatoes.  The name does not completely fit because the ground was plowed, but was a fun reminder of a Jewish practice that was popularized last year.  The Shemita is an agricultural practice to let the land rest for a year in a cycle of seven years. The Shemita would be the seventh of the seven years.  By letting the land go fallow for a year it was a reminder of needed rest, and it benefited the land.  It is the opposite concept of a lot of modern farming where there seems to be little rest for the land.  Minerals are taken out of the soil and not returned.  What is added back is often just three necessary nutrients, but trace minerals are left out.  The plants we eat can only provide the nutrition that they find, and if it is not available, people suffer a deficiency of important nutrients.

A number of these pole beans came up from last year.
      Potatoes were not the only things our family was able to enjoy that came up voluntarily last year.  I had some pole beans that planted themselves and came up in the spring.  This is the first time that this happened for me.  I sheltered them from frost and they did very well.  Not much more was done with them as I found myself busy with farmers markets and other work throughout the growing season.  For weeks on end, despite much neglect, I was able to eat these beans.  Often, after coming back home from farmers markets, I would take a walk up to the fence and just snack on the voluntary beans.

This wild apple tree was so full of apples that it pruned itself.
     Another free food for us was some wild apple trees on our property.  We have a number of cultivated apple trees that did not do much of anything last year, but the wild trees did great with little pest trouble.  We made lots of cider with the wild apples.  My sisters made apple sauce and dried apples for snacking.  One wild tree was so full of apples that it had a large branch break off causing the tree to essentially prune itself.

     These free foods are a small reminder to me of God's grace that comes without merit.  There are so many object lessons found in nature if we take the time to look.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Planned Parenthood's Bullying Tactics

      For a number of weeks last year (2015), there were a number of undercover videos that were released that exposed Planned Parenthood.  It was evident from the videos that a number of Planned Parenthood's top employees would be willing to sell unborn baby body parts which remains illegal in the United States. The Center for Medical Progress released the unedited versions of their videos around the same time as the edited.  They have been falsely charged of heavily editing the videos to distort the meaning of the Planned Parenthood employees.  The full videos are available to anyone to see on You Tube.  Editing is necessary for any videos like this to see the important segments.  They were not edited to take people out of context.    Planned Parenthood would not let its reputation be damaged without a fight, and they announced that they would file a lawsuit.  When I learned this, I sent the following letter to our local newspaper:

     In an effort to squelch public outcry to its barbaric acts and stop future disclosure, Planned Parenthood just announced that it will sue the group that released videos that indicated that Planned Parenthood sold baby parts illegally.  A couple of young men decided to reveal the true nature of Planned Parenthood.  They formed a group called the Center for Medical Progress.  The Center for Medical Progress released a number of videos where they did undercover interviews with some of Planned Parenthood's top employees that expressed a willingness to sell human body parts.  The videos became very popular on You Tube.   Many people became aware that their tax money goes to this national abortion provider and have asked that this end immediately. 
     The real tragedy is not that unborn baby parts are sold illegally, but that unborn babies are being killed legally.  The young men that exposed Planned Parenthood had the purpose of sharing truth, and their voices should not be stifled. These men do not have much money, but they have a heart for the unborn and those that don't have an ability to speak for themselves.  Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars in taxpayer money every year.  Planned Parenthood, which is suppose to be a non-profit organization, has a CEO that has a salary of over $400 thousand.  Planned Parenthood does not need millions of dollars of our tax money to promote their ideal of death on demand.  Let's give the money back to the taxpayers, or at least give it to those that would receive unwanted children into their homes.

     I knew when I wrote this letter that some have claimed that taxpayer money that goes to Planned Parenthood does not go toward abortion, but other expenses of Planned Parenthood.  This is smoke and mirrors.  If money goes toward paying Planned Parenthood's light bills they have more money to apply towards abortion.  If someone sent money to support a terrorist group, but specified that the money was not to go toward the direct killing of civilians, the benefactor would still be supporting the killing of civilians.

      Shortly after I wrote this letter, the Center for Medical Progress and Planned Parenthood were in the news again.  I was listening to the news on a local Christian radio station when I heard that Planned Parenthood was found innocent of selling fetal tissue by a grand jury in Texas, but two people from the Center for Medical Progress were found guilty for wrongdoing.  I questioned what I heard, and wondered if they had really done something wrong, but that sense of disbelief of what I heard remained with me.  When I was able to dig deeper into the issue it was obvious that they were falsely charged.  One thing that shows the complete incongruity of these charges is that they were charged with buying and selling fetal tissue which is the very thing they were trying to expose!  They were also charged with producing artificial driver's licenses, or false IDs.  This would be necessary to produce the undercover videos as Planned Parenthood would not freely give this information to them.  While some may find fault with their method, it is obvious that their intention was to save unborn babies from wholesale slaughter.  Those that indicted these young people follow the same mindset as those that sent the people who saved the Jews in World War II to prison and death camps.  Killing people and harvesting their property was legal, but those that produced false IDs to save a few innocent people were considered lawbreakers to be punished.

     A couple of Cornell law professors, Sherry F. Colb and Michael Dorf wrote an editorial for CNN and expressed that even though they support the work of Planned Parenthood that they found "the prosecution of these citizen journalists, however self-styled, deeply disturbing."  They recognized that the prosecution of these young journalist could chill undercover journalists everywhere.

    Why do I write this?  It was a concern that others will unjustly question the integrity of the journalists from the Center of Medical Progress and discount the value of their hard work.  Their work is not in vain, and neither is the work of anyone who makes their voices heard. We will not be silent till we see the unborn granted the right to life.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Plans for this Blog

  Wow.  I was hoping to write more this winter as the winter is quieter for me than other times of year because of my vocation.  The days have turned into weeks and the weeks into months and no posts have been made.  Starting this week, I hope to put a break to the break and start posting at least once a week. Any more than once a week will be a bonus from my standpoint.  This is just a goal, but it helps to make goals, or things might not happen at all.  It also helps to let others know what you are planning as it leaves you with some accountability and sometimes encouragement or counsel in fulfilling your goals. This is the time of year when writing is more possible, and I plan to make it happen.  If there is a take away from this short post, it would be the value of setting goals.  It has been said, "If you don't know where you are going, any train will get you there."  I'm starting to see the value of a calendar.  At the same time I don't want to get so goal oriented that I'm not available for those that need help. 

      Some of you have been long-time subscribers to this blog, and I want to thank you for reading my thoughts, and finding these posts to be of value.  I want you know that your readership is appreciated. Keep me in your prayers.  The issues covered here are sometimes heavy, but I believe they are necessary for understanding the times we live in.  The purpose of this blog is to promote freedom that is not to be repented of, but leads to real joy here and in the life to come.