Happy New Year

According to this common greeting, happy new year, a lot of people are wishing that others will experience some happiness this year, and they are probably also wishing it for themselves as well. But with their greeting they may not understand that happiness will not be experienced or received unless it comes from the right source. Jesus had some very specific things to say about being “blessed” with happiness to a crowd of people who were following him. He said that those who “are the poor in spirit”, “mourn”, “are meek”, “hunger and thirst for righteousness”, “are merciful”, “are pure in heart”, “are peacemakers”, and who are “persecuted because of righteousness” are the individuals who will be “blessed” or made happy by God. This teaching is found in chapter 5 verses 3-11 of the book of Matthew in the New Testament.

Happy New Year – what will it take?

No one should expect to be happy if he or she is planting and cultivating the wrong “seed”, living in the pursuit of things that are really not good. What is it that will make you “happy” this year? What makes for a Happy New Year? Let’s talk about this.

Going home

Many people will be going home for Christmas to celebrate the holiday with their parents and grandparents and other relatives. The necessary trips are part of the experience, but they can be filled with problems if there is bad weather on the way. Nevertheless “home” offers everyone a lot of special memories and joys as the family gathers for the celebration, and these memories and joys can be good. But what good experience can parents and their children have when even their home has been foreclosed and they are forced to seek shelter away from home or they can’t go home?

Several years ago my father was in a nursing home where he was being cared for as he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. One day he told his wife, during her regular visit, that he was going home

She tried to correct him by indicating that he could not return to their home because of his condition, but he insisted that he was going home, and then he corrected her by pointed up above, indicating the location of the “home” in the heavens to which he was going. Two weeks later he died and took the trip to his new “home”.

What does going home mean to you?

What good memories do you have of Christmas celebrations at home? What about the trips, were they also good? What makes going home a good experience? Where is your “home” really, and are you ready for the trip? Let’s talk about this.

Peace?

One night long ago an “angel” and a “great company of the heavenly host” praised God “in the highest” with an declaration of “Glory” to him and an announcement to some shepherds “on earth” of “peace to men on whom his favor rests”. These shepherds were “keeping watch” over their flocks in a field outside of the town of Bethlehem where Jesus had just been born and was “lying in a manger”. The report of this announcement and event is contained in the second chapter of the book of Luke verses 4-14 in the New Testament (NIV). It has been over 2000 years since this announcement was made, and for centuries these words and the story of this event and the accounts of Jesus’ life have been declared throughout the world, but there is little evidence of peace “on earth”. It would be good to experience some peace, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. What do you think makes for peace among men on earth? Let’s talk about this.

Filters

Filters provide a very good service in our lives. They can remove some impurities or “dirt” from the water that we drink and the air that we breath. They can protect our computers from viruses and the nuisance of “spam”. But it is also good to have filters to protect us from the “dirt” that can pollute what we see. Such filters do not just remove the “dirt” from the field of view; they block out the entire field. That is good. It is not possible to create a filter that can make pornography “pure” or to make it look “good”.

No filter can put clothes on a naked woman or man that is present in one’s field of view

Yet TV producers try to attract viewers with sexual themes and “soft porn” or slightly immodest female wardrobes, and the Internet is a field that is open to pornography unless some filters against it are put into place by its viewers and distributors.

Not only do children and youth need to be protected from “dirty” fields of view by laws and filters against pornography, but adults as well need to have filters in place to protect them from polluted fields of view. There is much beauty to see in our world, including the beauty of children, young men and women, and adults, but much of this beauty has been polluted by pornography.

What filters for your field of view would be good in your life?

Let us talk about this.

My Friend Died

My friend died today. In fact, a great friend of mine died today. I’m sad to realize that we won’t be having any more conversations on the phone or sharing email messages about our computers. But I’m relieved to know that he will no longer be lying totally helpless in a bed in a rehabilitation center where he was placed after a massive stroke several months ago. There isn’t much that is good about the death of a friend, but I can have some good feelings about this death because I know that my friend is now with his Lord and Savior Jesus. His life of work for his Lord and his family is over, and he is now ready to receive God’s eternal blessings for his faith. What do you feel when a friend dies? In the midst of your sadness and grief, what gives you a good feeling? When your friends die, what lessons or insights come to your mind? When my friend died I learned some more. Let’s talk about this.

Lost and found

Lost and found. The other night at our dinner table I noticed that my wedding ring was missing. I don’t take it off, so it wasn’t just misplaced. The next morning I had an idea that it might have gotten jerked off when I was looking for something in our shed. I got a big spot light to see if I might find it. It had a dim light, but I looked as best as I could in a dark corner of the shed, but I didn’t see it. The next day I got a new 6v battery for my spot light, and took it into the shed. Within a few minutes, I spotted the lost ring right where I thought that it might be, and I recovered it. What had been lost was now found.

This incident was a personal illustration of the good feeling that Jesus experienced when a “lost” sinner repented and was “found”. This feeling was the point of three parables that he shared with a group of tax collectors and “sinners” who were critical of his fellowship with “sinners”. In the first one he described how any one of them would feel when he or she finds one lost “sheep” even though he or she had ninety-nine others at home. In the second one he describes how a “woman would feel when she found a “silver coin” that she had lost, and in the third one he describes how a “father” felt when the young “son” who had left home with his inheritance and had gone to live in a “distant country” had returned home as the “son” who “was lost and is found”. These parables are in chapter 15 verses 1-32 of the book of Luke in the New Testament. It is really good to find something that is personally important and valuable after it has been lost, and sometimes it takes a real bright light to find it! Tell me about your personal anecdotes of lost and found objects, or even memories. Let’s talk about this.

Nervous dog

What can we do to get our dog to relax during a storm? Our nervous dog is a Shih Tzu that is ten years old. We have had him for over two years now. He just goes crazy during the slightest rain storm. He runs throughout the house. He pees and sometimes poops when he really doesn’t know what to do. He often begs to be left outside, even though it is raining; but, when he is taken out, he will often try to run away down the street. One night he got away from my wife, and ran across a four-lane highway and headed down another highway. A friendly driver picked him up and brought him back to us at a near-by gas station.

Normally he is not a lap dog, but he relaxes in front of the TV, or on “his” chair, or on my wife’s upholstered footstool. We have tried to give him some medicine to calm his anxiety, but it doesn’t seem to work. In order to keep him from jumping up and down from our bed, we often have to put him in a wire pen. That keeps him in one spot, but he still doesn’t often relax there, and the next morning I sometimes have to clean out his pen.

Our friend, the nervous dog

He is a smart dog. He is a good companion and a special “friend” for my wife. He is teaching us a lot about devotion. He understands a lot of what we say, but we can’t get him to relax in a storm.

Can you help us with our nervous dog’s problem?

Any suggestions that anyone has that might enable us to turn a nervous pet into a good calm companion during a storm will be appreciated.