No Atheists in Foxholes

We’ve all heard the phrase “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I’ve observed over the years that I tend to think I know everything when things are going well in my life. It’s only when times get tough that I realize I didn’t know so much after all. I have a lot fewer answers for things when life is beating me over the head. People naturally seek out God during times of trouble, and they tend to forget Him when things are good.

Something else that happens when we’re on top of the world: we have lots of friends. If you have a lot of money, power, notoriety, whatever — there’s no shortage of friends around. When the bottom falls out and you’re living in your car, a friend is hard to find.

I want to keep perspective on these truths in my life, and:

  • Stay close to God always, regardless of whether or not I need something from Him
  • Be a friend to those around me regardless of their status in life
  • Remember who my real friends are: those who stuck with me through good times and bad.

Ezekiel 38 & 39: Wooden weapons? Armageddon?

If the prophecy given in Ezekiel 38 & 39 hasn’t yet been fulfilled, what’s the deal with wooden weapons being burned for seven years?  Will primitive weapons be used during the battle of Armageddon?  Does this passage refer to Armageddon at all?

I believe the correct answer is: “I don’t know.” There are truths in scripture that God wants to be very clear, and which a child can comprehend. There are also many passages which are unclear. This prophecy is an enigma, and any conjecture on the details of its fulfillment is just that.

One thing I’ve noticed about prophecy in scripture is that it often has multiple applications. A prophecy can be fulfilled more than once, in different historical settings. I think both scriptural and secular history would have certainly recorded the fulfillment of an event so cataclysmic as the one prophesied in this particular passage. Still, I can’t visualize spears and bucklers being used in a large scale post-nuclear-era war.

I also can’t visualize the fulfillment of another prophecy from Revelation 14:20, which describes blood as high as a horse’s bridle, flowing a distance which is said to be roughly the full length of Palestine.

However, whether or not our feeble minds can comprehend these things has zero bearing on their fulfillment. It would be nice to know the answers, but I think we’re not intended to know the answers for now. If these prophecies were crucial to our salvation, or our ability to follow God’s commands, they would be abundantly clear. 

I think God uses these images in prophecy to describe the extent of His judgment and hatred of sin, not to give us reason to bicker with our brothers and sisters in Christ over their exact interpretations.  

My goal is this: to be careful to apply the clear commands of scripture to my own life, and accept the fact that some content in scripture is not for us to understand for now.

Flowers on my grave

Do you want someone putting flowers on your grave after you die?  When I think about what I’d want, I honestly don’t place a lot of importance on whether or not anyone puts flowers on my grave. I’d rather be in their hearts and minds, and that their memories find me in the vibrancy and happiness of life. If someone sings a song of mine, or thinks about something I said in life and is encouraged by it, or if my children apply to a decision some wisdom I was able to impart, I’d be much happier than I would knowing they had visited my headstone. This is remembrance to me.

As a believer in Christ, I share communion at His command. He tells His followers to remember His body, broken for us; and his blood, shed in payment for the sins of the world. He also instructs us to hear His words, and to follow them. We’re never directed to visit a physical representation of His life though, such as his tomb, or the site of His death. I think He wants most for us to remember the greatest love ever displayed in His sacrifice; and His words, which along with those of the Father, are the greatest ever spoken.

Does God Love Us?

An acquaintance relayed to me that he had been in the hospital for 10 hours due to an infection.  He said that, during his stay, several religious people had told him that he was going to hell.  He laughed, saying “Their god must only love some people if he’s sending others to hell.”

I urged him, and urge you now, to consider this: If man has by his own actions condemned himself, and God provides a way for man to be redeemed, which man then rejects, how can it be reasoned that God has not demonstrated love?

What is your relationship to God?  Are you certain that you are in good stead with Him?  If not, what could be more important than searching for the answer to that question?  If you believe God is real, all-powerful and all-knowing, pray with a pure heart, asking Him to show you the truth.  If He truly loves you, He will show you the way.

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Our Modern Lives

I watched a heart-wrenching National Geographic program on TV the other day.  It was mostly about how we are abusing our planet, sometimes not even realizing it.  One segment of the program documented the plight of a certain type of albatross, whose young are dying of starvation because their stomachs are full of plastic items.  Albatross birds can live for eighty years, but many are dying before they can reach adulthood because their parents are feeding them plastic items that they mistake for food.

I was shocked that an albatross would think plastic items were food, and wondered how so much plastic could end up around the remote location where these birds live.  Plastics pretty much never degrade, so any plastic items that make it to the ocean stay there forever, or until some animal eats them.

One of the scientists on the show was talking about how we’re misusing plastic.  He pointed out that we’re using a material with super longevity as packaging for items that are consumed in moments.  He said we should instead be using plastics for things that need to have very long lifespans, and find other materials to package consumables.  I think he’s right.

All of this made me think some more about the general concept, a philosophy really, of temporal versus lasting things.  Like the life of a soft drink or a bag of chips, our own lives are brief; yet we neglect eternal concerns, spending all our energies on vanities.  Certainly we have to work to provide for our families and properly manage the lives we’ve been given; but most of us spend all of our time building things that will soon pass away.

I want to spend as much of my time as I can planning for eternity, forwarding the kingdom of God, lest I end this life carrying meaningless works in the packaging of my eternal soul.

How to Spend Your Time

A friend of mine recently became passionate about art.  Before this time, he was spending most of his days online, essentially meandering around, wasting time.  Over the last month or two though, he’s redirected his energy and has created dozens of paintings, things of beauty that can bring joy to other people.

What are you and I doing with our time?  Are we wasting it, or using it to be productive and add value to the lives of others?  I know I need to improve in this area.  I want my time to be spent less frivolously, more wisely.

Best Pie Ever

I’m originally from Georgia. My brother had a girlfriend in high school whose family really knew how to cook.  A lot of Southerners do, which I’ve since learned is not the case everywhere. She made the most incredible pie, called “Buttermilk Pie”. My mom asked her mom for the recipe, and got the old “It’s a family recipe” reply. That’s another common thing in the South — families often aren’t willing to part with their secret recipes.

I’ve never discovered their exact recipe for Buttermilk Pie, but I’ve found one that’s close enough for me. On top of that, I’m not hoarding it. Here it is:

Buttermilk Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 ounces butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions:  

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and butter. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla and flour. Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Don’t let its simplicity fool you.  I make two pies in shallow pans out of this recipe, and I could easily eat them both myself. It’s that good 🙂

Mac Today

My non-tech friends who use Microsoft (insert OS here) are always asking me for help with their computer problems, which usually turn out to be serious virus infestations or problematic hardware/driver installs. My non-tech Mac friends generally only ask for help when they can’t figure out how to use third-party software.

I hear Mac users all the time say “I love my Mac!”. I’ve never once heard a Windows user say anything of the kind. There’s a reason for this, and the reason is that Apple’s OS, hardware and integrated software are exceptionally well engineered.

Misinformation is bad. Computer stability and greater productivity are good. Don’t blindly follow the herd. Instead of assuming that the majority is right, find out for yourself. Do your homework, and make an educated choice based on what you discover.

Your Playground Ad Here

My wife and I took our kids to a new playground today. It had a colossal jungle gym, all made of wood. I’d say it covered half an acre. I remembered seeing a similar one being built on a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood episode. The whole community got together and everyone pitched in to build it. Pretty cool idea really.

The odd thing about this jungle gym: it’s covered with advertising. There are little metal plates nailed all over it, each engraved with the name of a business which had funded a portion of the structure. “This slide paid for by ABC Hardware.” “Entryway courtesy of J. Banks Investment Group”. There’s a prominently placed billboard with at least a hundred names on it, listing who gave what amount of money, and who was on the committee responsible for building the thing. It’s like one of those signs you see at a national landmark, or in a college auditorium.

Who does this? Who builds a playground in a public park and slaps advertising all over it, then creates a big billboard listing every person who paid for it? Must we now promise notoriety and/or profit to entice people to beautify their communities, or do things for children?

The homeless shelter downtown is having financial problems. Maybe they should print t-shirts that say “This person slept in a bed last night courtesy of ABC Hardware.” Perhaps larger investments might mandate something more nearly permanent, like a tattoo on the person’s arm: “Eat at Joe’s”.

Old Fogeys

Who invented computers? What about the internet? Cars? Planes? Refrigerators? Air conditioning?

Old people. Yeah, the old fogeys we laugh at because they aren’t hip to our music and lingo are the same ones who made the way for all the technology we see around us. They provided the foundation for every accomplishment your generation will realize.

Show them some respect, and get to know them. You and I could learn an awful lot from them.