Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Aurora massacre

Another horrible headline.  Other nations can't understand this, and frankly we don't get much of a handle on it either.  We're not supposed to understand the powers of darkness, but what's frightening is that so many are drawn to it nevertheless.  In an attempt to be positive, some people are spiritually naive.  But one thing proven every time we have a publicized random killing is this: there is an evil that lurks in the hearts of men.  You may not like to recognize this fact, and you may not want to call it "sin" but come on, get real, there is a dark side to human existence.

The depravity of human nature is a basic bible truth.  There are bad people.  In fact we all are bad, only some are more bad than others.  Polite company coaches us to cover this unpleasant fact with pretentiousness.  Those who deny this are always nonplussed to explain these all-too-frequent events like Columbine, Duke, Denver, and now Aurora.  The news media is stretched until it uncovers something like crisis events in the life of the perpetrator to make some semblance of rationality of these awful killings.

The gun control debate flares up again.  But we are way too far down the road for this kind of solution even if we wanted to go there.  Do we want neighborhood disputes to be settled with gunfights like the wild west?  Would James Holmes have been deterred by a citizen with a revolver?  The scenario I can well imagine sees the perp with his body armor and assault rifle with multiple rounds of high velocity ammo hardly more than aggravated by a few deflected shots from the good guy.  But then he concentrates his barrage on the good guy, who surely dies in this scenario.  He is hopelessly overwhelmed by the imbalance of fire power.  It is possible that fewer people would have lost life, but that is not even a necessary conclusion of this scenario.

I want to suggest that assault rifles ought not to be in possession of any citizen.  I see the importance of hunting rifles, target guns, and licensed revolvers for personal protection.  But assault rifles were made for the very purpose of killing many people quickly.  Then I think of the founding fathers who left us the heritage of the right to bear arms, and they wanted that right just for this very purpose to oppose an oppressive government.   I think they would have approved of the citizenry bearing assault rifles.  The only advantage of banning guns that I can imagine is that police could arrest gang members for the mere possession of a gun.

Even other nations that are classified as a "free" country, do not know the degree of freedom we have in America.  We like to go wherever we want and do whatever we want.  This is a dangerous thing when we are talking about depraved human beings.  Sinful people want to do sinful things, and what makes our country work is not the freedom we allow, but the checks and balances that are in place.  We are a nation of law, and, no matter how you may curse it, the system of law makes us work better than others.  When authority is corrupt, we have the free press to expose the power brokers and bring them down.  Madoff made a billion with a long lived poncy scheme, but he was eventually discovered, and he is in prison.

No, the real solution for the ugliness of murder we see in our frequent headlines is still found in curing the human heart.  Though there is iniquity at the root of every human heart, there is a cure for those who turn to Jesus Christ for help.  The good news may be old, but it is still fresh in it's ability to save.  Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we might be changed and helped to live for Him.  There will still be dangerous killers among us, but there is another world to anticipate in which there is no iniquity, and consequently no more tears, pain or sorrow.  How can you not love Jesus for that?

Monday, July 16, 2012

When I first went to prison

Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, DE, tried a reach out to the community by placing clever little brief gospel presentations in the local newspaper.  At the conclusion of each article we offered a simple Bible Correspondence Course.  Although we never developed a plethora of contacts by this method, we did manage to get the name of the church out there.

There were some who took the course, and one of them came from a box number in a nearby town.  I had no idea he was an inmate in the Delaware State Prison system.  As I read over one of the little tests that were at the end of each section of the correspondence course, it was my judgment that Lewis did not really understand the concept of "repentance".  I wrote back to him, as diplomatically as I could, that perhaps I could meet him in person some time, and explain what biblical repentance actually was.

The next week I received a phone call from the chaplain of the Delaware prison, seeking to arrange for me to visit the inmate.  It was a new experience for me, and I acceded to the request.  So here I was scheduled to visit a prisoner to explain that he did not understand what it was to repent.

I wore a suit and sported my most professional deportment as I parked in front of the brick and steel bars of this formidable structure.  I presented my identification clearance which had been engineered by the chaplain.  The huge iron gate was opened and I stepped into the vestibule, and the heavy door clanged behind me.  An ominous mood overcame me at that moment.  The clang of that door was like the rap of a gavel for a guilty sentence.  I knew better, but the feeling was there anyway.  I could hear a devious voice down inside, saying, "You'll never get out of here."  Something much worse that this must come over those who know they have lost their freedom.

Lewis turned out to be a pleasant black man who was very glad to meet me.  I was more at ease with him than I thought I would be.  In time I learned that he had murdered his girl friend in an unspeakably vicious manner.  He would rather speak of the event in generalities and in the passive voice, rather than in the first person.  To hear him tell it, he just happened to be in the room when it happened.  It was his lawyer who later explained the gruesome details of this killing.  Now it became a matter of focal point that this contact was created because I had discerned a lack of understanding of the biblical doctrine of repentance.

I visited Lewis several times, but to no fruitful conversion that I could see.  Instead I learned that he was using me, because he wanted me to testify at his immanent parole hearing.  Moreover I learned that he was practicing "jailhouse religion" for the purpose of getting out of prison.  I also learned that he had purchased the title "Rev" by mail order (from another source, of course).

His lawyer arranged for me to testify, which I did reluctantly.  I warned him that I would tell the truth.  I had to tell the parole board that as a Christian minister it was my opinion that Lewis was a man who was sorry for doing something to put him in prison.  I thought he even wanted to be an influence for good among at-risk boys.  But it was my considered opinion that Lewis was not born again.  I don't know if any members of the parole board believed in being born again, but supposed they were probably acquainted with the term nevertheless.  Lewis was denied his parole.

Months later I read an article in the local paper, telling that a volunteer prison worker had been stabbed by an inmate, one Lewis Tucker by name.  I did not feel good about the vindication of my opinion, but I didn't lose any sleep over the fact that he was still incarcerated.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

About being the old guy

Getting old is no job for cowards.

Every day I take 12 pills for various conditions.  Presumably I need to take them to keep me alive, and if that is the case, I guess they are working.  Sometimes, half in jest, I am heard to say, "I'm sure if I stop taking them I would feel better.  But I would probably die."  Of course, when Jesus has reserved a place for me in glory, I can safely joke about this.  But somehow God has built into us a sense of self preservation that keeps us from stepping in front of the bus, even if we are certain of heaven.

When I am working in the kitchen, I say to myself, "don't drop any of those zucchini slices on the floor.  They are so much trouble to bend over and retrieve."  Often that thought is quickly followed by the dreaded event itself.  This creates a strong temptation for profanity, and then a minor depression sets in because I have just displayed my retarded sanctification.

And, speaking of those pills, it is an increasing aggravation to open "child proof" medicine bottles.  Some of them defy a breach of their security.  At least my nitroglycerin pills don't come in that kind of bottle.  I think my great grandchildren could open my medicine bottles, if it comes to the need of outside help.  When you get old, you need to learn how to gulp down a handful of pills with a little water.  If you add vitamins to that number, then we are talking about 20 or more pills, and some of them are giant footballs.  Younger folks have been known to stare in wide-eyed wonder as I gulp down this plethora of capsules.

Now and again there are perks for being an old duck.  Great grandchildren are those kind of perks.  Even though I can't handle the three-year-olds for more than a couple of hours, they are so fun that it is worth the collapse that puts me in my chair for the remainder of the day.

We like to watch old episodes of Matlock or Murder She Wrote, and even though we remember enough to know that we have seen it before, we get the pleasure of watching them again because we don't remember who done it.

We seem to be very busy, but never accomplish much in the same amount of time.  It is a major effort to plant a dozen marigolds.  I have begun to sandpaper the gate, and even though I have an electric sander, it will be a long project.  Just a few boards each day.  Well, something like that.

I find myself sleeping for 8 hours at night.  I never got that much in my younger days (and didn't need it).  Though I can remember as a small boy, fighting with my mother or my auntie when they tried to coax me to take a nap.  I was constantly bouncing around on the bed.  I was bored, but not sleepy.  Now a nap is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon hour.

We're wearing out.  In point of fact we are condemned to die.  God told Adam that the day he ate the forbidden fruit he would die.  And so he did.  And so did I.  We are like cut flowers.  They look beautiful in the bucket of water at the florist's.  They make a sweet bouquet to present to someone we love, but that biological fact is: they are dead.  They are cut off from the source of life, and it is only a matter of time before we see them fade, turn color and shrivel.

That is also the case with us.  The difference is simply that the flower's span of beautiful display is much briefer than is ours.  But just as certainly as cut flowers, we too will fade, turn color and shrivel.  It is only those who know they have a faithful Savior who can see humor in these things, because they are only temporary problems.  Jesus said, "Because I live, you shall live also."

Photos and chapels

Here are some photos from the petrified forest and the painted desert.  We may have a new chapel join us that is located just a little south of these points of interest.