If I Only Knew

If I Only Knew

How many times have we heard, “If I only knew.”  I’m sure you have used the partial phrase a time or four… maybe even a few times more.  I know I’ve used the phrase at least a dozen times- before I reached adulthood.  I’ve used it a few times more since then.

To be sure we all would benefit from being able to see into the future.  I guess the one thing that would have affected me the most was the knowledge of my allergies.  Had I known that my allergies were as bad as they are, I could have avoided going into the military.  More than that, had they known, they would not have accepted me.

So, if my draft status was something less than 1-A, I likely would have gotten a job in an electronics company as an electronic technician and maybe finished college.  That might seem like a small thing, but there were so many things that it would have changed in my life.

I just might still be living in southern California and going to the beach on weekends.  I would have made far more money and I likely would not have traveled so much.  I would have never learned how to shoot an M-14 and I would have never learned what it was like to have mortar rounds come in on us at Da Nang nightly.

I would have never walked one day of guard duty and I would have never met many fine men.  The list of things it would have altered even boggles my mind.

I knew it seemed I had many colds compared to others, but I never figured it was allergies.  Then a few years after I left the Corps, I went to see an allergist.  He said he never saw anyone who as allergic as me.  And here I sit in one of the worst places in this country for folks with allergies.

Oh well.  It only bothers me during spring and fall.  The rest of the time I’m fine.  I would really be better off if I worked at sea, no pollen.  The problem with that is that I don’t like the idea of being away from land for weeks at a time.  Worse, I am a poor swimmer.

At any rate, I got to thinking what it would be like if our officials knew things in advance.  If President Trump knew that that virus was going to come out of China, he could have sealed the borders far sooner and we would not have lost as many people to the pandemic.  By the way, there would have still been a pandemic but the US would not have participated.  And, by the way, the democrats would have still called him xenophobic.

Every day, the news would be full of accusations of the horrid things that President Trump had done.  Instead of holding him up as a hero, the media would be full of remarks of how horrible a monster he is.

Maybe the first President Bush would have benefited from foresight too.  He could have had a few dozen B-52s lined up and ready to drop bombs on the Iraqi army the instant they stepped foot into Kuwait, the bombs would have rained down on them so hard they would turn tail and head north again.

We likely would not have lost one American life.  None of our soldiers would have won any medals.  It would have cost far fewer dollars.  And, by the way, the Iraqis losses would have been fewer too.  It all would have been over in hours, no more than a day.  There would not have been a need to send in troops and there would have been no need to set up the no-fly zones.

It is true that a horrible man would still rule Iraq, but that could be managed without destroying the country.  Let’s face it, in a way; Iraq is worse off today than when we arrived.  That should not do things that way.

I like to think most of those abusing drugs would benefit from seeing into the future.  If they were to see the damage that the drugs would do to their lives and the lives of their loved ones, just maybe they would not take that first drink.  Maybe they wouldn’t smoke that first marijuana joint.  Maybe they would take that first dose of cocaine or heroin.

I like to think that but I might be wrong.  Some people don’t care about the damage.  They are simply drawn to the poison without regard for themselves or others.  After all, they are forewarned and still travel that path to destruction.  All the while, they say they can stop any time they want.  The problem is that after a while, they never want to give it up.  Their whole outlook on life changes.  Nothing but nothing is more important than that drug, regardless of which one it is.

By the way, of all the drugs, I’m told the worst is alcohol.  Yet it is the one poison encouraged at office parties.  Then when a person becomes dependant on it, they are fired and classified as useless to society.

The military is the worst.  I really respect Chester Puller, Marine hero, but he honestly suggested beer machines in every barracks.  Maybe that is a good idea, but if he could see the future, I suspect he would have never made the suggestion.

Every year, alcoholism costs the military more than all the drugs combined.  It ends the career of many men who would otherwise be good marines.  Instead, they are discharged with other than honorable conditions.  Then, the rest of their lives are ruined.

I suspect people wonder why I am so dead set against drugs.  After all, it is a decision that we all make for ourselves.  It is a decision that we live with one way or the other.

The problem is that drugs take the decision away from us.  It is one of Satan’s primary weapons.  People who are under the control of drugs can’t make important decisions.  The one most important decision, to accept Jesus as Savior, is never made.  And so, because of the drug, people spend eternity in hell.  Actually, it is not because of the drug but because of the decision to reject Jesus.

When a person dies without Jesus, it is not just the rest of their life.  We are talking about eternity.  Many make light of it by saying such things as, “See you in hell.” but it is the most important decision a person can make.

So please, think it over a little before you encourage others to partake in your habit.  You aren’t just ruining the other person’s life but his eternity as well.  (And you will pay for misleading others.)

If you could see the future, you would know.  God knows the future and he has told you.  If you ignore him and chose hell, you have no one else to blame.  Then, you will spend eternity thinking, “If I only knew.”

The Tenth Commandment

Thou Shalt Not Covet

Most of us have heard of The Ten Commandments, even though nowadays, we are no longer permitted to place them in the public square.  It would seem they cause great harm to certain people of a certain persuasion.  Maybe they don’t like the idea that they make them feel guilty.  I don’t know.  I can only guess.

However, for the sake of argument, even for those who refuse to believe in God, there is great wisdom in the ancient laws that is indisputable.  Take for instance, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  I know.  It is one that is particularly difficult to follow.  Yet, if we all did, every venereal disease would fade away in fifty or sixty years.  AIDS would be gone in thirty.

Maybe God had a reason for the commandment.  Just maybe he had our good in mind.

Certainly, even the staunchest atheist would have to admit the good of two of the commandments, “Though shalt not steal,” “Though shalt not murder.”  Would it really hurt if we posted these two commandments everywhere?  Don’t you think we could all tolerate at least these two?

I am sure most atheist parents taught their children not to lie.  I would hope so anyway.  Maybe it was a good idea that our Lord decided to include it in his law.

The first four commandments have to do with our relationship with God.  The first two have to do with idols.  If there is no God or god, why should we worship any god?  Many horrible things happened to people chasing after false gods.  How many died with that stupid Jones character down in South America.  Maybe it would have been a good thing to tell them that following a false god is a bad thing.  Frequently, as in this case, it ended in death.

I would like us to consider especially the tenth commandment.  Not too many do.  I rather call it the forgotten commandment.  I mean everyone knows most of the others, even the most defiant atheist.  However, I would suspect many people don’t know the tenth commandment.  Even if they do, they likely have discussed it very little.

First, it is different than all the others in that it is completely within the mind.  “Thou shalt not covet.”  Okay.  Let’s say you covet your neighbor’s ox.  Is anyone going to know it unless you admit to it?  If someone covets your wife, there is no way of really knowing it, though you just might have a good guess.

Speaking of coveting, I would love to be able to sing like Bing Crosby did.  Now he had a very nice voice.  When I try to sing, it encourages others to leave.  I would like to be able to play a musical instrument.  Leroy Anderson could play half a dozen, very well.  I can’t even play anything on those organs that have those cheat markings on them.  Well, I can play a player piano, as long as I have a few of those neat scrolls.

The one thing I can do with music is enjoy it and do, very much.  I enjoy a wide variety of it from the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan to Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel and a lot in between.

The real problem with coveting is that it is generally the seed of many other sins.  Before a person steals or murders, it usually starts with coveting.  I’m sure I don’t need to explain it all.  All of us have coveted that which another has.  It rarely ends well.  Many times, it ends with hard feelings.  Sometimes, far worse.

Now.  Let us take a quick look at President Trump.  Many have accused him of wanting to make a fortune from his office.  Ironically, he of all people had no reason to lust after the money and power.  He had far more money and power before becoming president.  On the contrary, he sought the job for the good of America and Americans.

On the other hand, the democrats wanted to destroy him because of jealousy.  They coveted the power he had so that they could tell others what to do, so that they could tap into the wealth.  In the end, in this case, the disobedience of the tenth commandment might end in this nation, as we know it.

Ironically, it won’t be the sin of theft or murder that will bring us down, but coveting.

By the way.  I would suggest you all read The Ten Commandments, even those who hate them.  In them is great wisdom.  Why should anyone fear wisdom?

The Difference Between Pride and Pride

During my preteen years, my oldest brother retired from the Army. He lived out near March AFB so he went out there about every other week for groceries. One time, I went with him. I noticed a few places where they had painted large, and I mean large signs, “PRIDE.”

I was a little confused. I had always been taught that pride was a bad thing. Certainly, the Bible has many passages on the subject, none of them depicted it as being good.

To be sure, if pride is not the worst sin, it is close to it. God hates it because it frequently stands between God and men. Invariably, before man will accept Jesus as his savior, God must first deal with his pride.

However, there is another kind of pride. From the time I joined the Marines, it was drummed into my head continuously. This kind of pride drives us to do our best, even without anyone watching over our shoulder.

Yet, as good as this form of pride is, it can be bad too. Any time we think more of ourselves than we ought to, it is wrong and it can stand in the way, even in the military.

Many times, we should use the term, thankful instead of proud. To say that we are thankful for something is to admit that we didn’t earn it. It was something that we received. It is a form of humility.

For sure there are many things in my life that I am thankful for, including my country. Because I am thankful, I do what I can to remain a good citizen.

Pride, however, can lead us astray, and can make us hard to live with. Let’s take the story my father told me:

A man walked into a blacksmith’s shop as he was pounding on a piece of steel. On the floor, the visitor noticed a horseshoe and picked it up. Quickly, he dropped it.

The blacksmith glanced over his shoulder and said, “Kind of hot wasn’t it?”

The man folded his hands behind him and said, “Oh, no. I was just looking at it.

Laughing the blacksmith remarked, “Well, you sure let go of it in a hurry.”

This visitor thought for a second then replied, “Yeah. It doesn’t take me long to look at a horseshoe.”

Now what about the story makes it funny. We can all identify with it. While we might not have ever touched a hot horseshoe, there are things that we did. Then of course, when we suffered for it, we tried to pretend it was no big deal.

In the case of the visitor in the blacksmith shop, he might have blisters on his fingers. He might be in excruciating pain. However, he’ll never admit it. He will hide his pain even to the point of keeping the expression of pain off his face. It would cause too much damage to his pride, or maybe, in the modern vernacular, ego.

Pride is a monster that can hang around our necks and keep us from being what we could be. When it controls us, it stands in the way of admitting what we are, sinners, totally dependent on the mercy of God. It goes against our grain to admit it, but admitting it is one of the first steps to salvation.

And that is the reason God hates pride.

The Hard Part

Often I hear things and I wish I had written it down, as well as who said it. First, I would like to get the quote right and also it is only proper to attribute the quote to the proper person.

This quote, I am sure I will mangle. The preacher said it so elegantly, and I can only hope to get close to it.

At any rate, it goes something like this:

When coming to a difficult decision, the easy part is knowing what is right. The hard part is doing it.

I think back over my life of 72 years and the saying echos repeatedly. How many times, I chose the easy way because it was the easy way. This is especially true being as I am a habitual procrastinator. I always put off till tomorrow what I don’t have to do today. Also, if I put things off long enough, I just might not have to do it.

That doesn’t work for mowing grass. It only gets taller and more difficult. Nonetheless, I do hope for rain so I have an excuse to put off.

Excuses are the friend of a procrastinator. We can always find reasons, excuses for procrastinaing. Frequently, it isn’t that big of a problem. Sometimes, however, putting things off can have lifelong results. I know. I’ve seen many of them.

Getting back to the idea of making decisions. The other day, I missed an off ramp. I had to go seven miles before I could turn around. It was an inconvenience. I burnt some extra gas and it cost me a little time. On the positive side, I saw some nice scenery.

On the other hand, I have said things I cannot unsay. I have done things I cannot undo. They are things I need to live with the rest of my life. Oddly, I seem to remember them more than any good I did.

Moreover, there are decisions I have made because they were the easy thing. Perhaps, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give a person is to do that which is right, even if it is the harder thing.

…and, as the man said, knowing the right thing is the easy part.

One more thing… Liberals like to talk you into the easy solution, not the right one, which is a little harder. They want you to take the easy way, the one you will regret. The country you leave your children will be no where near as good as the one you inherited.

A Simple Complement

A simple complement costs nothing but it can accomplish so much. This evening, my wife and I went to a Waffle House and ate. I took a second to complement the cook. His face lit up as if I gave him a dollar or two.

I know I did not add a nickle to his wealth, yet I could tell he still felt much better because of it.

Those working in restaurants work hard to provide food for us. I know because I worked in a restaurant for two years. Mostly, it is thankless work. A waiter hands someone a meal and the person receiving it will likely just take it for granted. I make it a point to thank every server and I make it a point to be sincere. It is a small thing that costs me nothing but it can help the server bear his workload just a little.

In general we humans are born thankless. We have to be taught to say thank you, even when we don’t mean it. Maybe it would even be better to thank people and actually mean it. Would it be so horrid to actually appreciate that which is done for us?

Let me go one step farther. In light of all that God has done for us, shouldn’t we thank Him from time to time and mean it?

False Implications

A false implication is another way to say lie or falsehood. It is when a person uses an implication to say that which they know is not exactly true. The democrats have turned it into an art form.

One implication was that they would have never have blocked a vote by a republican president in his last year of office. I’m not gullible enough to swallow that one. Are you? The truth is that, if the situation were reversed they would have done exactly the same thing.

The other implication is that “We the democrats would never appoint and confirm a justice this close to an election.” You believe that one and I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. They believe in doing or saying anything to protect there right to “Choice.”

The truth is that the democrats would have done the same in both situations. There would be one difference. The media would be right there cheering them on. Instead, the media cry out,”Unfair! Unfair!”

I’ll tell you what is unfair, making my wife and me pay those ridiculous insurance prices that Obama Care forced on us. I’ll tell you what unfair is, recalling all our troupes from Iraq exposing over a million people to slaughter.

And by the way, it is also unfair to spy on an incoming president without cause. Truth about that, that’s not just unfair, that is illegal. Whole bunch of democrats ought to go to jail over that, but they never will. You see some people are above the law. All they need is the news media, a bunch of money and a whole lot of conspirators.

Abortion on Demand

Boy, have I gotten an education. I used to think that elections are about this. I used to think elections are about that. Now I know better. You listen to those dummycrats and they will school you too.

It is all about abortion. Not only that, they want abortion all the way up to the point of delivery and a tad beyond. And, oh, yes. They want you and I to pay for it, no matter how detestable we find it. In fact, they especially like to have Christians pay for it.

Sorry. I don’t understand it. No matter how you coat it, it’s wrong. It is murder. The fact that they are taking an innocent life is just an inconvenient fact that they don’t want to face. It is the number one consideration for them, even for some people who call themselves Christian.

If I try to speak to someone on the subject they either yell or put their fingers in their ears. They don’t want to hear about it. As it says in the first chapter of John, when they see the Light they prefer the dark. When they hear the truth, they prefer the lie. It is more convenient.

The Dark

One day, I was walking through our offices at work and someone turned the lights out. A woman, joking, said, “Don’t do that. I’m afraid of the dark.”

I quipped back, “No need to fear the dark. It won’t hurt you. It’s all those terrible monsters that lurk in the dark that should concern you.”

Indignantly, she called back, “Same thing.”

Maybe she had a point. Nonetheless, in the days before electricity man had to spend a lot of time in the dark. Before fire, of course, it was even worse. Can you imagine spending roughly half of each day in the dark? It sort of makes a person appreciate a full moon.

It is no wonder that the Bible uses the dark many times in metaphors. In Psalms 119:105, it says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” KJV The psalmist is saying that God’s Word allows us to see things that the dark hides from us.

The world would like to keep us in the dark. God would like to bring light to us, which allows us to make our decisions in, so to speak, a better light. God wants us to be aware of the monsters that lurk in the dark. Moreover, he wants to guide our footsteps so that we don’t stumble. Then, of course, when we do stumble, he picks us up and puts us back on our feet.

Whenever I read the verse, I wonder just why a person would reject the light of the living God and prefer to stumble through the darkness. It boggles my mind. Yet, guess what, I do it daily. Every time I sin it is because I ignore the light and prefer the darkness. I don’t understand that.

However, the scriptures speak of another Light. In the first chapter of John, the Bible calls the Light the “Word.” If you take the time to read the fist two chapters of John, you will see that he is speaking of Jesus, both as the Word and as the Light. To be sure, He is both. He allows us to see things that the dark (Satan, the evil one) would like to hide from us.

Since my early 20’s, I have learned to totally enjoy the first three chapters of John. First, I learned to like the first chapter. Later, I learned that all three of the first chapters are very important to know Jesus, Who He is, and what He did for us. I have read the whole Bible at least 8 times but I have read these chapters more times than I can count. Yet, it seems that each time I learn a little more.

You see, one of the really important things the Bible does for us is to give us light. Without it, we would all be in the dark. We all know what that means, but not nearly as well as those who had to rely on fire for their light. Next time you want to understand dark, go in a room and pull all the curtains. Then, turn out the lights. You see, dark is what happens when there is no light. Evil is what happens without the Word of God.

In the past 5 or 6 decades, people have been trying to remove God from our society. So. It is basic logic. Remove the Light and only the dark remains. And, one thing I have learned over the years from experience, evil loves the dark.

Communism hates the light. Communists hate Jesus… and the Bible.

The Three C’s

Just Heard about Gov. Huckabee’s new book: “The Three C’s That Made America Great: Christianity, Capitalism, and The Constitution.”

Love the name. The only thing that angers me is that I didn’t think of it first. I have not yet read the book. It is not yet in my budget. However, the truth of the matter is… the title speaks volumes.

Way to go Mr. Huckabee. I hope it is a big success. I hope it really makes the liberals angry. Well, it would be nice if it converts a few too.

Blind, Sort of

My wife and I went to dinner with my son and his wife.  I took out my glasses, which were the expensive type.  The lenses were progressive.  The more I tilted my head back, the greater was the magnification.  Today, I’ve given up on them.  My eyes have degraded to the point they don’t help much.

At any rate, I took one look at the menu and got quite a fright.  I said aloud that there must be something wrong with my eyes.  I couldn’t read the menu.

My son laughed and said, “You’re missing one of your lenses.”

Okay.  That was a relief.  Sure enough, when I removed my glasses and inspected them, it was easy to see that one of the lenses was missing.  Fortunately, it had fallen out while the glasses were in my glasses case.  When I shook it a few times, the lens fell out.  With a little effort, I persuaded the lens to take its place and I was able to easily read the menu.

In the third chapter of John, Jesus said, “Unless a man be born again, he shall not see the Kingdom of God.”

Today, we don’t give the statement its proper respect.  We hear a person is a born again Christian and we pay it little attention.  However, we should realize the situation for Nicodemus, the man to whom Jesus was talking.  He had never heard the expression before and he was genuinely confused.

With the one statement, Jesus had managed to accomplish three things, that is besides the confusion.  First, he stated a fact, one that is just as true today as it was then.  It is just as true for us as it was for Nicodemus.  Unless a man is born of the Holy Spirit, he will not see the Kingdom of God.

Second, he got Nicodemus’s attention.  Sometimes, a little confusion is good.  It piques the curiosity and causes us to pay attention.  To be sure; Jesus had Nicodemus’s undivided attention.

Third, it challenged Nicodemus’s pride.  Pride is a bad thing.  God hates it especially because it can and frequently does get in the way of our salvation.  Because of pride, we don’t believe we need salvation.  Because of pride we think we can provide for our own salvation.  Because of pride, some people believe they have no need of God.  Jesus was dealing with the pride that separated Nicodemus from salvation, both here and in the following verses.

If I may, I would like to return to Jesus’s first accomplishment, the statement of fact.  With the one statement, Jesus excluded many from The Kingdom of God.  To be sure, most are far too proud to be born again.  Many don’t believe it is needed.  Far too many think of it as optional.  Some even think it is dumb.

Jesus said it is mandatory.  Like it or not, that is the way it is.  God makes the rules.  Jesus, the Son of God made it clear for one and all.  You have choice.  Accept his word and be born of the Spirit or don’t believe, which will result in an eternity Hell.  If you let your pride get in the way, it is not of God’s doings.  It is your own choice.

Finally, as a side note, I would like to relate one more observation.  I have had arguments with people who were not born again, that is people who did not accept Jesus as their Savior.  I could never understand why they could not understand something I could see so clearly.

…and then it hit me.  People who are not born again cannot see anything wrong with abortion because they cannot see the Kingdom of God.  They do not see the unborn child as a life.  As with my loss of a lens, they cannot see God’s Kingdom because God had not given them spiritual vision.  All they see is the worldly view.

Now, you ask, do I see the Kingdom of God?  Well, yes.  However, my spiritual vision is far from 20/20.  To me it is still blurry.  There are still many things in this world I don’t understand.  I can actually make you a list of them.  However, one day I will see them all clearly.  God will give me perfect spiritual vision and I will understand it all.

As for those who aren’t born again, they will understand it all too, but from a different perspective.  At that point, they will have a different attitude of pride.  Unfortunately, it will be too late.  If you have heard this all before, then you are already getting a second chance, or maybe a third.  You haven’t a reason to ask for another chance.  You’ve already had a dozen or so.

One more thing.  Unfortunately, we who are born again must live under laws that are made by people lacking spiritual vision.  It is, of course why millions of children have been slaughtered in the womb.  It is, of course, why none of us is able to get through to those making the laws.  To this, there are two solutions.  Vote Christians into office.  Bring others to Jesus.  Help them see the importance of being born again.  It is not just for them, but for all of us.  It is especially good for those who cannot speak for themselves.