If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Eight things

There are six things the Lord hates, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies and one who sows discord among the brethren. Maybe there are eight things; looking for a new barber.

What is it with barber shops? Why is going to get my hair cut such a traumatic event in my life that I postpone it until the last possible moment? It’s not until I wake up in the morning and discover that my hair has miraculously turned into a shark’s dorsal fin that I begrudgingly head out in search of a barber shop.

I’d prefer to attend formal confession then make my quarterly trips to the barber shop. I’d rather visit my dentist, who by the way I actually  like, and have a root canal that lasted for three weeks then walk a green mile to the doors of a barber shop. 

So why are most barber shops built with a 1920’s brick facade that make me think of the story about the three little pigs being eaten by a ravenous wolf? Why upon entrance, into a small seven by nine foot room, are there always two televisions running totally different programming? If there is a heaven, and I believe there is, then there won’t be long hair, barbers or quaint little brick barber shops to visit. 

It never fails that every time I enter a barber shop every single person, from the six month old baby in a car carrier to the fifteen men waiting patiently for their turn, always turn to look at me. And they gaze at me with the inquiring eyes giving me a very thorough examination. If I think hard enough I can almost read their minds “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t wait as long as that guy to get my hair cut!” or “Gees just look at that doo, he’s probably homeless and just wants to use the bathroom.”

Once inside with my blood stream full of adrenalin I’m forced to decide which barber to pick. Six months earlier I had the pasty white looking fellow with the shaky hands who did a decent job of cutting my hair. Now, he’s busy and I’m forced to choose the new guy, whose chair is empty and resembles someone just released from prison and is out on parole.

“Sit down, what can I do for you today?” the man inquires “Ah…, I want my haircut?” I reply questionably, not sure if this is why I had come in. After a short time of surveying the price board I brilliantly reply “Regular hair cut, please”. The barber then places a white apron tightly around my neck which pinches me and feels more like a hemp noose as it is being cinched up around the neck of a convicted cattle rustler.

“How do you want me to cut it?”  the barber’s boisterous voice echoes off the full length mirror “carefully”  I think to myself would be a good start .  I begin to scrutinize his credentials as his hand reaches into what looks like an old pickle jar for a pair of 1920’s scissors. I gulp and ponder “Did I remember to tip this guy the last time I was here?”

Now comes the part of the entire experience I despise the most, “small talk”. “It’s been awhile since you’ve been here? Are you new around here?” exhales the barber as if the question is part of a reusable sound track loop embedded in his brain. The barber operates his prehistoric scissors as they make a kind of metallic crunching sound and tear a clump of hair from my scalp. “Oh, I hate this pair” exclaims the barber and puts the broken scissors right back into the glass jar that I’m hopeful is filled with formaldehyde. 

Meanwhile the entire shop has managed to clear out completely and I find that I have been left alone with the barber from Seville. Looking down for a moment, as the barber forcefully twists and contorts my chin back into a face the front orientation, I notice a long abrasive strap hanging from the chair I’m fastened to and several straight blade razors lazily lying in a Pyrex laboratory dish on the counter.

Out of the corner of my eye I see the barber grab one of the razors and sport a familiar smirk in the mirror “Sha..ve?”  says the barber. That’s my cue as I jump out of the chair, tear off my smock and ask “How much do I owe you?  As I contemplate the eight things the Lord hates.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sky car

Its Sunday evening late in the fall of 1963 and the newest episode of the Jetsons is about to premiere. For you younger space travelers the Jetsons were a space age cartoon family who lived in a floating city where robotic maids cleaned and cooked for them making their lives incredibly more endurable. The citizens of earth also navigated the heavens by flying in space age sky cars which defied gravity. Life was incredibly trouble free in this modern utopia.

I want to take a closer look at these sky cars. Yes, believe it or not they are going to be an everyday sight that will eventually fill the skies in which are now crowed with large air busses. These space age cars, operated by globally positioned satellites, will give humans the freedom to get anywhere without the hands of a human driver and without the possibility of accident or loss of human life.

Now I want you to consider something. Let’s look at how wonderfully vast our universe is and one illuminating component we call light. If light travels at 186,000 miles at second then it will take light particles leaving the surface of the sun about 8.4 minutes to reach earth. To give you a perspective that is closer to earth think about this; in the time it takes you to flip on a light switch, light would have already traveled 7.4 times around the circumference of the earth at the equator. Now, it took me 2 days in the air just to fly just halfway around the world to Kathmandu in a jumbo jet flying at 450 miles an hour.

Let me develop this idea a little further to illustrate a future point. Our solar system is located in one of several spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy. The closest star to us is Proxima Centauri at 4.2 light years from earth. That is the distance that light travels in 4.2 years at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. To put this in laymen’s terms, that’s a long way. If we launched a probe it would take 20,000 years to reach it. 

Let’s take one additional cosmic step before settling back down to terra firma. It’s roughly estimated that our galaxy contains 300 billion stars. Its diameter is 100,000 light years across, remember that light can circle our globe 7.4 times in a second and light would have to travel for 100,000 years to travel the diameter of our own galaxy. Yikes!

Now let’s look at psalm 19. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.  Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;  The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.  Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.  Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Is it really that hard to believe in God? The obvious precision in which the heavenly bodies operate shows that there is design to the overall operation of the universe in which we live. If there is design then there is a designer and suddenly all of our problems that look like mountains here on earth begin to shrink into the microscopic world as we jump into our sky cars and head out into the heavens!
The heavens certainly do declare the glory of God.

This article was condensed from a sermon Dean gave at Sonrise Church in El Cajon, California on June 6th, 2012. You can watch the entire sermon at https://www.youtube.com/sermonsfromthecave

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Promises, promises

Have you ever promised something and then realized that you were not going to be able to keep your promise? Newly married men and women promise to love, honor and cherish one another until death finally separates them. Unfortunately, many of those promises are broken within the first year of marriage ending in annulment or divorce. 

Maybe at some point you have promised your kids that you would take them bike riding, to a baseball game or on a trip to Disneyland only to have an urgent issue comes up at work and there goes your promise. New Years Day is a special time to make and break promises. Many sign up for annual gym memberships on January 2nd only to have them canceled and prorated February 3rd. Many people often promise to quit smoking but we all know how that one goes.

From the beginning of time humans have been making promises only to eventually forget about them completely. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I was a member of a Christian organization whose name boosted that they  intended to be keepers of their word; which on most days made me feel like a complete hypocrite. The organization is now out of business and no longer making that promise. Yes, human beings are “Promise Breakers” and I have often thought of starting an organization with that brand but you can use it if you so desire because the shoe probably fits you too.

The good news is that God can’t break a promise. God is not surprised by anything and He can’t learn anything new. When he writes something it usually is in stone. He cautions us not to be too hasty to make a vow with Him because He will hold us to that vow. He means what He says and says what He means. That is very comforting to me in these last days.

If we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory is there any way to be saved? “The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” 1 John 1:7.  So what shall we do if our lives are totally screwed up? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. 

Is this life we live here on earth all there is? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. In the words of Jesus Himself “I say emphatically that anyone who listens to my message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life, and will never be dammed for his sins, but has already passed out of death into life.” John 5:24.

But my life is so hard? Being a Christian isn’t easy and bad things still happen to me? “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Can I lose the gift of salvation? “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:29. “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39.

But my life is draining all my strength out of me? “Trust in the Lord God always, for in the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:4. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary: and shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

The bible is so hard to read and I don’t understand it? “He reveals profound mysteries beyond man’s understanding. He knows all hidden things, for He is light, and darkness is no obstacle to Him.” Daniel 2:22. “No mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord. But we know about these things because God has sent His Spirit to tell us, and His Spirit searches out and shows us all of God’s deepest secrets.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.