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IMG_2567Have you seen the Pacific?  Pictures do not really count.  They are so limiting.  To experience the mighty Ocean there is a require to let your body be minimized by the sheer magnitude of the Left Coast.

A visit to this part of the USA easily begins from high above the shoreline.  Our eyes behold the expanse, marvelling at the comparison between the sky and the sea.  In our mind we know that the heavens win yet the ocean is competing for our souls to come to a different conclusion.   There is very little that is scientific about this objective.  That is the Ocean, though, far more soulish than scientific.

IMG_2570When we pulled over to a viewpoint, we join many other coastal travellers.  They were not in a hurry or least had enough time to take in the vistas.  It was breathtaking.

I stepped up closely to the stone wall.  On the other side of this barricade was a steep precipice that lead all the way to the sea. It was hundreds of feet down.  We were safe since the man-made divider was anchored into the rocky cliff.

The sandy shores beautifully stretched out in a gentle curve to the  South.  Foamy salty surf kept up its incessant pounding on the beaches.  Frigid temperatures keep most people on the shore.  A few wetsuit clad surfers were grabbing waves for a swift ride toward the shore.

From a totally imaginative mind we could toy with the idea that when created the heavens and the earth, He took a lot of IMG_2571extra time here on the shores of the Oregon coast.  It certainly shows.  His signature is all over that place.

We drove down the mountain.  Then, we elected to turn it at Rockaway State Park.  Fond memories of fishing adventures, sand sitting moments and rock jetty hopping flooded my spirit.  Our family had many moments of hunting for clams, roasting marshmallows over a fire, setting up our tents in the sandy camping sites and filling the picnic tables with our food for the journey could be recalled from my memory banks.

A seagull landed on a large rock.  He was a familiar face.  Years ago he looked for food that we would have left unguarded and absconded with his morning meal.  We had nothing for him but a smile recalling his clever techniques in the past.  This coast is a beautiful place for bountiful memories.

photo credit: brucefong photography

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IMG_2558The sand expanse seemed endless.  For miles the sparkling sand flow up to the horizon but promise to continue on beyond that and follow the curvature of the earth.  My mind has  to accept a change  of focus or my comprehension of what is nearly limitless will rattle my serenity.

It was low tide.  It is early and most people are still in bed.  The sunrays have lit up the beach.  We are some of the first to venture on the landscape and see what the pulsating sea has left over a night-time of saturating the land.

Scattered about are light-colored circles.  They show up clearly against the light brown sea-soaked sand.  Our steps divert themselves from one disk to the next.

Most are broken sand dollars.  Their center is crushed and so we let those lie to become part of the massive mounds of sand.  Weather, sea, gulls break these empty shells and pulverize them to join the myriad of specks of stone and other geological and biological leftovers.

IMG_2560We collected a handful of complete sand dollars.  It was so gratifying to find them intact.  Discovering them after hunting them based on our planned early morning walk was satisfying.

Our venture was to experience an added treat.  A pair of locals were dressed for a special hunt.  Shorts, jackets, hats and knee-high rubber boots were the uniform of the day.  Dangling from their belts was a collecting net.  In their hands was a clam gun.  No, there is no gunpowder, trigger or muzzle brake.

Their primary piece of equipment was a metal tube perhaps six inches in diameter.  They were about three feet in length with a bar for a handle welding to one end.  That end with the handle is caped with a small hole for controlling suction.

They were out for Razor clams, a delicacy among those who savor shellfish.  One of the pair and I struck up a conversation.  I asked him how he knew where to insert the clam gun.  He pointed out the telltale sign of a Razor clam hiding two feet under the surface of the sand.  This clammer went into action.

After two insertions he dumped the sand from the tube and picked up a delectable Razor clam.  It was a treat to watch someone in action who knew what they wanted and how they would get it done.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Copy of IMG_2552Our journey from Texas to the Oregon coast was full of expectation.  Business by way of  ministry was my first duty.  But, there would be chances to take in the thrill of all that the Pacific Ocean does to lick the land of the Northwest.

The drive out to the Coast was long.  After 90 plus minutes, the smells announced our proximity to the ocean.  Temperatures dropped; it was cooler than the valley.

We settled into our room, went through orientation, taught my first two of seven presentations and met all of the key contacts for the week.  It was now Sunday afternoon.  We could take a break so we headed for the beach.

When our feet touched the sand, we were engulfed.  The wind caught our hair and mussed our combed do.  Air on the coast is stunning.

Sounds on the beach filled our hearing.  The surf was pulsating with its roaring routine.  For ears that have missed this special landscape, I was mesmerized.

IMG_2554Then, there were the birds.  Seagulls were a part of the scene.  They were all over.  Cawing announced their presence.  Shadows sailed around our feet, soon followed by great birds soaring overhead.

Ahead, a flock of gulls was taking an afternoon bath.   The river was meandering its way through the beach.  A steady but small ribbon of fresh water was heading headlong toward the sea.  It was an inevitable clash that would result in the same end.  Saltwater wins.  Gravity is the only saving feature of fresh water.

Seagulls were splashing around in the shallow water.  They spread their feathers to get total coverage.  Heads went underwater and thrust upwards to create a personal shower.

There was always a bird or two that were on guard.  They were watching for danger.  If something threatened the birds, they would sound the alarm.

In the meantime, the bulk of the flock was getting cleaned.  It was comical to watch.  Birds gyrating in the water seemingly was effective, but still entertaining to watch.

I got too close.  Two birds cawed at me.  Every bird stiffened, stopped splashing and stared at me.  It was only a momentary stare.

Quickly, the birds started walking away.  At the same time they looked over  their shoulder at the human who was getting too close.  Then, they did what seagulls were created to do.  They flew away.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2368Our friends Brent and Fran welcomed us to their country ranch in the Hills of Central Texas.  With the help of our GPS navigation we were routed directly to their red gates that led us down the gravel road to their beautiful historic stone home.  Together we carried on a non-stop conversation until it was time for dinner.

We drove into town and enjoyed a sumptuous meal as a local eatery.  Again our conversation was delightful, informative and brought to the brink of our next transition, our ride back to their home.  That’s when the real fun began.

During our conversation we discovered that they were the proud owners of French Bulldogs.  Not only were they delighted with their family pets, they also had puppies to boot!  We were eager to meet these special members of the family.

Back at the ranch we waited in the living room.  Brent kept us company.  Fran was out retrieving the pride and joy of the ranch.

IMG_2392The door opened and the entertainment began.  A French bulldog is comical just in its appearance.  They make you smile and laugh just at first glimpse.

Introductions are just the beginning.  Antics follow and personalities exploit those activities.  The way these fantastic animals walk, stand like a comma, tilt their faces and cock their ears is hilarious.  These are lovable animals and they do not even realize how much they can capture the affection of humans so quickly just by being themselves.

I reached down and found the favorite spot on one of the Bulldogs back.  He paused and his hind leg was dancing in the air.  In the meantime he had the greatest look of satisfaction on his face, nearly sighing with delight milking the entire scratching experience to total and complete satisfaction.

IMG_2348Soon, they were up on the sofa.  Formalities were completed.  There was no need for pretentious manners with the strangers any longer.  These two lovable animals were in our laps.  We welcomed them!

I do not remember how long I smile but found my face aching from smiling so long.  Now, I could settle down and enjoy the cuddling while our conversation with our friends picked up where we had left off a few moments ago.  We had added company and more conversation topics to cover with the added lives mingling among us.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Roberts’s ears were not happy with what his eyes were also seeing.  There were a half of a dozen young men, college students.  Five were laughing together by the steps of one of the entrances to the library.  A friend, at least it looked like they knew each other came walking up with a cheerful disposition.  Obviously he, like Robert, was heading into the library.

The group of guys had a louder-than-the-others boisterous type.  You have heard them before you have seen them in your lifetime.  He was calling the strolling student by name and gesturing for him to come over.  Almost anticipating some friendly interchange, Robert’s mind sneered as the five berated the supposed friend, mocking him because of his appearance, size and pedigree.  It was not funny no matter how much they laughed.

Robert called his name only because he had heard the bullies use it.  “It is great to connect with you.  We are chemistry lab partners.  Are you ready to get started on the assignment?”  Without even slowing down, Robert snatched this total stranger’s arm and led him into the library.

“Thanks,” whoever you are, “I did not know how to get out that mess.  Are we really chemistry lab partners?”

“Nope,” Robert chuckled, “you would not want me for a Chem part.  I don’t know one end of a test tube from the other.”

“Well, then,” smiled the victim of the bullies, “get ready to get your first A in the class because this is one my specialties.”

Do you remember being surprised by very bad circumstances that did not seem to have a way out?  Have you experienced a surprise solution that was a total relief?  Prophecy for Christians will be like that.

Not all people on the earth are the same.  Some are of the darkness while others are of the light.  Those who are in darkness are lost in sin.  They have no knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior or they may have even rejected the news of Jesus’ death and Resurrection as personal gifts to them.  Without a redeemed soul they live in sin, hurt other people, take advantage of others for their own gain or in this story their own sport.  They are dastardly types.  These are people of darkness.

Paul distinguishes the Thessalonian believers as in total contrast to them.  They will not be shocked or surprised when the Day of Lord comes.  Instead, as sons of light, we who belong to the Lord will be alert not asleep.

Linked closely with those who are of the light and those who are in contrast with those who are in the darkness is the characteristic of self-control.  Selfish people, like bullies and those who insult others are not of God.  Those who are of the light control the self-absorbed.

Unbelievers are in trouble when it comes to the Day of the Lord.  Like those who are asleep and not sensing any personal dangers that are about to consume them, they are in a pitiful situation.  It is not a set of circumstances which they are just innocent victims.  Rather, their spiritual choices, personal pride and unbelief are the reasons that they cannot see any spiritual truth.

Getting drunk is a metaphor that describes their lives.  Something external pushes closer to spiritual disaster.  Yet, they chose that life just as those who get drunk choose to imbibe in excess.  They do this habitually.  The solution is spiritual but they do not move in that direction but chose to dull their senses temporarily rather than consider eternal options and solutions through Jesus Christ.

People do not have to wonder if they are in the light if they so desire to be prepared for the Day of the Lord.  Lives in Christ are in the light.  Their lives validate truth by the faith, hope and love that they live

The solution for being prepared for the inevitable Day of the Lord is to enter into a permanent and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  When a person does that by faith God appoints him to enjoy the benefits of salvation forever.  That appointment includes a bypass of the suffering to come.

The suffering does not seem to be general difficulties that all humans experience.  Instead, the context suggests that this is Tribulation that is introduced by the Day of the Lord.  Those who are believers are not appointed to experience this horror on earth.

Salvation has one objective.  It is about life.  Life is gained by Jesus giving Himself as our substitute.  He died for us so that we could live.  That new life will be forever with Him.

Christians who know this truth about prophecy should live their lives encouraging each other.  Tearing each other down is not an option for those who are Sons of the Day.  Building each other up is the way that true believers live.

What would happen if everyone who wrote books in the Christian community only encouraged others?  What if there were no print wars on controversial issues within the church?  This exploration is not to be at all Pollyannaish but to wonder realistically about this amazing passage of Scripture.

Have you heard enough gossip, slander and sanctified bullying in the church?  We all have, right?  Let’s live like the Bible says.  Let us be all about encouraging one another and building each other up.  The Thessalonians were doing it.  They are a great example to all of us.

LAPP (Life Application): We cannot change the bullies or stop those who use words or circumstances to demean others.  However, we can take the initiative to step into the lives of others and press courage into their souls.  Find someone every week to build up with genuine and sincere encouragement.

Thanks for joining me on this journey of living the Scriptures.

IMG_2501From Oscar’s point of view, life was getting weird.  For years he had the undivided attention of his master and madam.  He ruled the roost for attention, affection and routine intrusions.

The ooh’s, coo’s and cute comments were exclusively directed toward him.  After all, he was a handsome Lhasa Apso, with a winning personality to boot.  He is my daughter and son-in-laws family pet.  For years he was the focal point of family affection.  Now, however, that was going to change forever.

My daughter and son-in-law brought home their first child.  He is a baby, cute, cuddly and adorable.  It was an instant change in the spreading around of the love.

Lhasas have stubborn diva-like disposition.  If they sense an advantage they will ignore humans just to ratchet up the efforts for attracting more attention.  They are experts at milking the stroke and coaxing opportunities.  This was new territory, however.

A human baby requires the time and attention of both new parents.  They prepare to feed, cleanse and love on the new human addition.  Oscar feels the change.  It is a radical cataclysmic restructuring of time allocation.  None of it feels very good.

There is a lot of pouting that goes on.  The old tricks to vie for attention fall flat.  His attempts to be subtle in his urgency for needed attention are ignored.

If he is honest, he is included in everything.  Now, however, he is part of something rather than the center of something.  Will he embrace this and learn to give to the new star of the show?  Can he share what he has received for so many years?  Can his exclusive status now be broadened to include the notion of an expanding family?

Being just as important but now a player in a larger production is the reality of the day.  His great good looks are still there.  His charming personality still brings scratches, tickles and treats.

Hey wait a minute.  Here comes Pau Pau (Grandmother) and Goong Goong (Grandfather).  They rush in greet everyone, scratch Oscar but swoon over the baby.

It is one arm at a time though.  They cannot fight over the baby.  So, while Pau Pau is cuddling her first grandchild, Goong Goong holds Oscar.  Both are enjoying sharing the attention, while the new star is being showered with special attention.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Dallas 2013 197I have been fascinated with visits to Presidential Libraries.  The history and the pride for our nation are found in these special archives.  They are tributes to the many lives that stood with a single man in order to give him the strength, encouragement and support to be the primary decision-maker for the greatest nation on earth.

Dallas 2013 170While the name of one man is engraved on the stonework at the entrance to these magnificent facilities, the faces of many family, friends and supporters are evident throughout the displays.  Special moments in history are captured in the memorabilia.  Modern film, computer graphics and audio clips help us relive those critical times.

Ever since President George W. Bush wrote a personal letter back to me, I have been eager to know more about him.  I watched him through two terms of leadership and how he weathered the onslaught of political criticism with grace.  His faith championed his spirit as a gentleman.Dallas 2013 176

No one who serves in that highest office of the land wants to be a wartime president.  Yet, history rarely gives that man the choice but instead imposes the circumstances of a hostile world on him.  9-11 was one of those horrible events for Dubya.

In his Library and Museum, there is a display of the twisted I-beams from the World Trade Center early on in the tour.  It is a sacred moment for visitors.  This location in the building gathers somber souls who relive that tragic day.  Videos are on a loop for people to capture the timeline of those days.

Dallas 2013 178Testimonies from people who were there are stirring to the listeners.  Stories of President Bush’s encouragement, leadership and direction for the nation gave us all hope, fortitude and national resolve.  I was glad that he was the one that God chose to lead us through those ugly times.

Openly and certainly, President Bush credits his faith in God for his greatest help as he led the nation.  This was not a courtesy that he spoke of to engender favor among Americans but a real faith that gave direction to his own soul.  Some aspects of Americana are deeply appreciated by the citizens of this great land, one being true faith in the One and Only True God.

Compassion and definitive actions marked this man’s presidency.  History tells the story accurately.  Real facts, real faith and real heart will forever be the commentary on the lives of George and Laura Bush.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Dallas 2013 137Words make all the difference in our world.  It reflects life, it changes lives and it gives meaning and purpose to life.  Those moments when words are so influential come with perfect timing for the situation.

Circumstances call for someone to craft the combination of words that speaks at the moment.  It describes what everyone is thinking but they crystallize those thoughts into words on a page.  Suddenly, words show us that someone else knows everything about us at that moment.

When we try to express our feelings it is a struggle to find the right words.  Yet, others among have that gift.  They put into words exactly what we are thinking, observing or just “noodling” over in our minds.

Of course that kind of skill has to have some fun some time.  The talent with words is the same but the opportunity to bring laughter or draw out a smile on some faces or stimulate a chuckle has to be taken.  Who would not hit the ball out of the park if someone lobs a softball to them?

Dallas 2013 138I was with my bride while we wandered through various shops on a row of quaint stores and unusual businesses.  She did the shopping while I did my best to entertain myself some way somehow.   Then, a sign captured my attention.

There were no pictures on the sign.  Only words adorned this placard.  So, I read the words.  They made me laugh.  I smiled.  I chuckled.  Some did a good job of taking common words, a common life experience and put it to words.

No doubt the author had a good time with expressing himself or herself with this composition.  It was worth it to memorialize it on a permanent sign.  Someone would buy it and display it for others to enjoy.

Then, another sign made me pause.  It too had words only.  There were no pictures.  This one, however, had a lot more words.

These words were meaningful.  They spoke volumes about life, hurt and hope.  I could relate to every snippet in life that it was capturing.  It did so with selective effort, but wise editing.

It was about living.  Yet, people hurt us.  Nevertheless, we keep on living.  Ultimately, if we chose to keep it positive ourselves, we could do something that made life worth living.  We could help someone else live a life worth living too.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Dallas 2013 124

So many lives lost…no good reason.

Dallas 2013 126

So many more lives lost…still no good reason.

photo credit: brucefong photography

My deep slumber was abruptly ended with the sound of breaking glass. Our alarm system sounded.  It was nerve-wracking to be startled from my sleep by horrific sounds and all the evidence that we were experiencing an intruder alert.

No doubt our security company would be acting immediately.  They are a top notch firm with an impressive track record. It would only be a matter of a six digit time span before authorities would be at our home.  That was an assurance for us but it would be only in time to mop up.  Whatever was about to happen would be finished by the time they arrived.

The intruder was trying to quietly make his way through the broken glass on the floor. Every step crunched the shards strewn over the tile. It announced his progress and gave me a precise location of their proximity in my home.  I was ready for him.

It did not matter.  I woke up from my dream.  The adrenalin rush was still coursing through my veins.  While I was ready and calm in my REM state, would I have been ready in real life?

Jesus Christ is coming again.  Some may feel that they can believe or not believe that this event is a future fact but it is an event that is far bigger than human opinion.  When God makes a promise, He keeps it.  His historical track record is 100% accurate on prophecy and promise.  We have every reason objectively to anticipate this coming reality.

Paul has already spoken about the return of Christ as it relates to Christians.  Theologians call this the Rapture of the Church.  It will be miraculous.  There is no doubt about that spectacular nature of this event.  However, there is more to it than blessing.  Judgment is also a picture of prophecy.

The “day of the Lord” describes a period of time after the Rapture. On the earth God will finally after much patience punish those who have acted in disbelief, lived selfishly, rejected God and hurt God’s servants.

While this time of terrible events is coming, the mystery of when it will in fact occur is uncertain.  That uncertainty is part of the prophetic purpose of these writings.  It serves both as a warning and a direction for correction that people would be well-advised to heed.

The apostle will not repeat what he has already made clear.  Christians know about hope.  It is a key point of their faith.  They are looking forward to a promise that the Lord has made to them.  This is a reunion between the Savior and those that belong to Him because they have been saved and placed into His family.

There is a very tender tone in the apostles writing.  He refers to the Thessalonian believers as “brothers”.  This family reference is real to him.  It is a deep connection that he senses with these Christians.  Together they have an eternal connection with their Savior.  All are looking forward to a reunion with Jesus.  However, this also means something horrific for non-Christians who will remain on the earth after the Church is raptured.

Paul had taught previously on the Day of the Lord.  Lessons from the Lord Himself and from other apostles may in fact be a part of their validated hope.  Since that has been done he did not need to expound on this prophetic material again.  The phrase “times and dates” points to the events that come before the Day of the Lord is initiated.  Christians are already locked into looking forward to this hope.

This dramatic time on the earth is future.  At no other time in modern human history will God be as overtly active as He will during this episode.  Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Joel and Zephaniah have concentrated on describing this coming cataclysm.

The Day of the Lord begins immediately after the Rapture of the Church.  It continues through the beginning of the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth and until that thousand year period concludes.  The Apostle John describes these days in detail in the heart of his inspired writing of the Revelation.

When this event occurs, it will be a surprise to the people of the earth.  It will be unexpected.  Even with all of the warnings in the Scripture, people will be unprepared.  The image of a sleeping homeowner surprised by a thief in the night will be the comparable event.  This does not mean that Jesus will return at night.  Rather, it means that people will be preoccupied with other matters.  Their unbelief in God distracts them from looking forward to His coming.

Matters in the world lull the citizens of the world to assume that international government will give them world peace.  With peace they put their faith in themselves to assume that they are now safe.  However, the opposite will occur.  Destruction will be their future days.  What they had hoped for in human strength will decay immediately into domination by a world leader.  No one will escape the endless hunger for power and control.  This horrible day is coming. Are you ready?

LAPP: When God speaks, what He says is true.  This applies to prophecy as well.  If He says that something is going to happen, then it will happen.  He has a 100% perfect track record.  Justice of a divine nature will be poured out on the earth.  Those who love Him will heed His warning and live with prepared lives.  Are you right with God?

 

 

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