You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2013.

IMG_2813Since we have moved to Texas we have chosen to embrace it with all of its culture and splendor.  So much of what is Texan is the blend of a way of life that is richly influenced by Mexico.  Any where you turn, you can hear the language of Spanish.

Families move as one group through a grocery store.  They confer and discuss with a rapid vocabulary that remains disguised from my ears.  Laughter breaks out and hugs, back slaps and friendly shoves reveal a family that is cheerfully bonding and making memories.

Eateries in our great city reflect a cuisine marked by tacos, tortillas and chilis.  Everyone knows of their favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.  They give me driving directions and always recommend a signature dish to try.

Before our main dishes make their appearance, fresh tortilla chips are set out on the table.  Along with toasty chips are two dipping bowls.  One is filled with a bean dip.  It is wonderful.  The other is a salsa dip.  It had a stimulating and wonderful flavor.  Frankly, we enjoyed our conversation so much while we munched on chips that we were quickly filling up before our meals arrived.

Then dinner was served.  Pepper steak is one of the signature dishes of our local Mexican eatery.  They marinate the steak overnight in lime juice.  That process breaks down the fibers and guarantees tender beef slices for the tortilla.

When the waiter brings out the sizzling dish, the fragrance is amazing.  That is my bride’s menu selection.  I just smile and look very sad until I am offered a few slices.  She is so generous!  The streak strips melted in our mouths.

IMG_2812Then, my dish appears.  It is another signature dish that has come highly recommended.  This dish is called Chicken Poblano.

In a green pepper that has been hollowed out is a fragrant mixture of sauce and chicken chunks.  Cheese is a main ingredient to this recipe of course.  Cutting out a piece of the pepper with a bite of the chicken filling was sumptuous.

Our waiter came out to check on us several times.  When we had stopped eating and were continuing our conversation, he asked we would like to order dessert.  We laughed and instead asked for a to-go bag.

Culture was a big part of our meal.  The cuisine was enhanced by the Spanish greeting and salutations.  God made all men and enriched our life on this planet with our distinctive flare for the way we live our lives with amazing variety.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

2 Thessalonians 2.5-12

In 1997 the world watched the predictions of astronomers as the Halle-Bopp Comet was approaching the earth.  It was a beautiful and fascinating natural phenomenon.  Two American scientists discovered this traveling space body in 1995.

It would become the comet of the 20th century.  For over a year this comet was visible to the naked eye.  History records it as the Great Comet by many.

Unfortunately, a photograph, later found to be doctored, showed a dot following the comet.  Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult, told his followers that this was the alien space craft that was preparing to whisk them away from the earth and escape the soon coming demise of this planet.  They believed him.

False teaching led 39 people to commit suicide believing that they were about to be beamed up into an alien space craft for a journey that would be their salvation.  It was the worst mass suicide ever committed on US soil. Humans are vulnerable to believing the wrong teaching.

When bad things happen, it is not infrequent that the blame goes to God.  Why does God let suffering happen?  If He is really God, then why does He not stop the tragedies?

The Bible teaches us that another player is involved.  He is Satan, the Devil.  This Adversary is working his evil in the lives of people.

He is powerful and exercises a stunning influence over the lives of people.  His plan is to unleash one selected man of lawlessness to wreak havoc on the earth.  The timing of his appearance is told in prophetic Scripture.  Christians must be aware so that they will know the truth.

These wicked plans of the Evil One will began to transpire in the prophetic calendar.  Before the villain is revealed the lawlessness will have been setting up his grand entrance.  Nothing but God alone will be able to stop him.

The build-up for this world hero will capture global attention.  His entrance on to the world stage will be well orchestrated and spectacular.  No one will doubt his authority and position.

Nevertheless, the best that Satan and man can do will simply be overthrown by the breath of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This contrast will be catastrophic.  Just the presence, the splendor of the real King of Kings will nullify the stunning display of evil.

Do not underestimate Satan’s effort.  It will be spectacular.  Miracles, signs and wonders will be on massive display.  Unbelieving people have clamored to have as an alternative to one and true God.  Satan will give it all to them in quantity.

Nevertheless, it will be as if it were a feeble side show when Jesus Christ nullifies it all simply with His breath.  The contrast will be awesome.  Nothing in human history will compare to the defeat of the Evil One.

This prophetic event, the revealing of the Lawless One, will seal the choices that people have made.  Those who have chosen not to believe in God will have what they select, the object of their disbelief.  It will be a commitment that each individual will have clearly made.  That choice will be wrong but it will have been made.

Sadly, they had the opportunity to believe in the one true God and His Son, but they will have rejected Him.  Their salvation was close but they made the wrong choice.  Unfortunately, once their decision is made, it is sealed for eternity.  They will continue to believe the delusion and the lie.

No one will be able to cry “foul”.  God gave them ample opportunity to believe in Christ, but they deliberately chose to cast their faith in Satan.  With great sorrow, the Scriptures make it clear that it was their decision.  The verdict is irrevocable.  Since in their unbelief these people delighted in the wickedness that was their choice.  Anyone who chooses to embrace Satan and his man of lawlessness instead of Jesus Christ will face eternal consequences.

Are you undecided about the invitation given to all in the world by Jesus Christ?  He died on the cross for the whole world.  That was an expression of love.

He knew that we were in trouble with our sin.  Instead of letting us pay our own penalty of death for sin, He stepped in as our substitute.  He applied His death as a payment for our sins.  Then the Father raised Him from the dead with the Resurrected life that will be given to us if we put our faith in Jesus as our Savior.  Will you do that?

Choose the way of the Savior.  Reject the option of the Devil.  Satan’s way may appear impressive, but it does not even hold candle in comparison to Jesus Christ’s love and power.

LAPP (Life Application): The choice is yours.  Make the choice to believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection for you.  Repent of your sins and put your faith in the Lord.  When you do, tell Him “Thank you!” for saving you.  It is your decision.  Make it before your get fooled into believing something that is eternally wrong.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through Scripture.

 

IMG_2808We have been living in Texas now for over a year.  Before we moved to our newly adopted state we divested ourselves of as much stuff as possible.  So many of those items were a part of our lives and we miss them.

One item that we gave away was our BBQ grill.  Sigh.  Cooking over a grill is a thrilling part of a daily chore that puts a lot of fun into one of life’s inevitable chores.  Cooking is a necessity so we might as well do it over an outside grill.

When we grill up a stack of burgers for our guests, the football game is better.  Franks or sausages on the grill make church gatherings in the home especially fun.  A quiet meal for the family with thick steaks sizzling on the barbecue will put a photo in the album.

It was time for us to pick out our next grill.  To make it the best choice possible, I read, shopped and asked a lot of questions.

One of the features that I was hoping to find was a way to do some smoking.  Smoked meats have been given to me by great BBQ chefs and I was hooked.  Whether it was ribs, brisket, sausage or chicken I loved the taste.

When the entrees are served with mouth-watering aromas and the juices are seeping out of whatever you are served, who could not be moved to want to put that kind of culinary skill into a loving meal?  Good smokers with insulated walls are not secured with pocket change.  My budget did not give me that freedom.

There were a few other important ideas floating around in my decision-making tree as well.  I toyed with a return to the briquets in a spherical grill.  Yet, the health benefits of avoiding fuels that send not-so-tasty particles into the food made me hesitate.

Gas grills are common, inexpensive and filled with every imaginable option that you could want. Nevertheless, propane gas fires do not add much to the flavor of the food.  I was looking for an alternative.

I was introduced to wood pellet grills.  Simple, fast, flavorful and smoking meats was a huge option.  Clean burning hardwood pellets left clean up a breeze and the healthy option a reality.

It was Labor Day.  Grilling is a featured part of this holiday.  Sales were all over the internet.  We made our choice.  Our first BBQ meal as Texans was a resounding success! Yum!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2785After one of my swimming workouts I was packed up and leaving through the exit gate.  I paused and contemplated the bold sign that everyone can see when they enter the pool area.  Simply, it says, “Lifeguards have ultimate authority.”

In a public pool this declaration makes perfect sense.  These well-trained and capable officials of the pool are present to protect everyone.  Their job is to insure a safe environment and make it possible for everyone to have a fun time in and around the pool.

Since many types of people from many different backgrounds will use the pool, someone has to be designated as the guardian of the rules.  Policies and procedures protect the most varied of crowds who want to enjoy the water.  The LIfeguards are to be respected and obeyed.

This is the same in life.  Someone is assigned the role to protect the safety and well-being of all people, the widest range of people.  No doubt some would suggest that the police, the firefighters, the military or even the government is there to protect us.

However, life is more than temporary security.  Who will protect us from eternity when our lives enter into that realm?  Who has the ability that reaches into the spiritual realm?

There is only one Eternal Lifeguard that will protect us.  He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He alone is able to protect us and has ultimate authority.

IMG_2806In our community pool I not only pondered the deeper meaning of who has ultimate authority, I also laughed at the sign around the corner.  It was a duplicate sign hung at several prominent locations around the deck area.  It said, “WARNING! No Lifeguard on duty.”

I suppose that the ultimately authority is in the hands of the Lifeguard if they are present.  However, since the vast majority of times, there is no Lifeguard at that pool, then, we are on own.  We swim at our own risk.

Admittedly, the pool, which is only 5.5 feet at its deepest point, allows most adults to simply stand up in the shallow if they are in trouble.  Nevertheless, in real life our Ultimate Authority is Jesus Christ as our eternal life Lifeguard, He will always be present.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  As our Savior is our Ultimate Authority and He has the power and presence to make us safe.

Have you already trusted Him as your Savior?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

 

July 13.2012 005Moving is an adventure.  There are few words that describe this transition in life better than this one term.  In three syllables it encompasses joy, newness, glitches, concerns, shock and awe.

Timing is everything.  Trying to plan a home purchase, utilities sign-up, insurance costs, bank accounts, automobile registration, licensing and smog inspection along with church shopping, store shopping and post office shopping, the list is long for setting up our home in a different state, culture and neighborhood.

Yet, it is invigorating to start-up a new life.  New friends abound, new sights fill up our eyes, new road trips lead us in all directions of the compass.  Of course our palate is looking for different ways to cook beef, chicken, pork and fish.  Here in Texas there are distinct flavors of food that make the locals very proud.

The Texas heat made us get creative quickly.  We found places to go where the inside A/C was so refreshing.  Sometimes it was a shopping mall, other times it was a movie theater.  Still at other times we let the air conditioning of a friend’s home welcome us inside from the heat.

High on our memories of our move to Texas one year ago was juggling the timing of purchasing a home and moving our “priceless stuff” from the West Coast.  Our home in Texas had not yet closed.  The moving company was ready to pick up our possessions in California.

Movers charge according the time that personal goods are in their possession.  Keeping that time to a minimum was important.  Stewardship means a lot to us.

Juggling our California departure, my Texas work start date and the closing of the house all had to be coordinated.  If you take it too seriously, you could lose your mind.  We were determined to roll with the punches, adjust and flex.

To do so meant that we ended up being in our new home before our furniture arrived.  Trying to be prepared, we threw a folding table into the back of my pickup truck along with two folding chairs.  Then, we added a box of pots, pans, dishes and flatware.

Once the real estate agents handed us the house keys, we ceremoniously walked into our new home.  It was very spartan, almost “collegesque”.  To us it was part of the adventure.  It was like a picnic in our newly adopted state.  God gives us blessings no matter how odd they may seem.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Categories