Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

There, But For the Grace of God…

How many times has the phrase, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I?” been uttered by us all. It certainly is a true statement that many of us are blessed with so many things of which we may feel that without them, our lives might very well be miserable. And….I have been in that boat as well.

Coincidentally, our Bible class on Sunday mornings has been discussing Grace for several weeks, and our minister also preached on it today. So, naturally, my mind has been on that as well. I have certainly felt blessed for many years, but as much as I felt that I had received the Grace of God, I had no idea of the depth of that Grace.

Grace is not just a chance thing that happens at the time that we “convert” our lives from that as sinners and become Christians. For as much as we may be Christians, we are STILL sinners. There is no way that mankind, for all its attempts to do good instead of evil, can ever be anything other than a cluster of sinners.

For as much as we may do for others, donating time and money, not doing ill to others, most everything we do ends up being looked upon , by ourselves, as a situation of “Hey, look what I’ve done for these poor people.” Thus, a good deed, or at least a failure to do evil, has now become an ego trip where we tend to feel great about ourselves.

Grace is an everyday thing that is a direct action from God to our lives. It is not just a situation of God saying, “So-and-so has done well today and I think I’ll bestow a blessing upon him or her.”  Grace is more than that because it is really a second by second bestowing of blessings upon millions and billions of people. After all, can any of us say that we consciously drew that breath that was 4 breaths back? Can any of us say that without our involvement that heartbeat 25 minutes ago would never have happened?

Each and every second of each and every human, plus all the other creatures of the Earth, is an event where all owe their very survival to God. Even if one is not a follower of God and Christ, He is still directing his Grace towards them, perhaps with the hope that the unbeliever will become a believer. It is not without rewards for Him, for the Bible speaks that God would “will that no one be lost, even though he has always given mankind the “option” of believing and following.

We as sinners can never do enough to make ourselves REALLY worthy of the Grace that He has given us. How could any of us even think that we could achieve salvation without God sending his Son, a part of Himself, to this earth to live, teach and then die for us? Throughout the Old Testament, the children of Israel offered prescribed sacrifices for atonement. But, their sacrifices were not enough to allow them to receive salvation. It took the blood of Christ, not an animal or bird, to accomplish that work of Grace.

Is it possible that we as sinners (STILL) can lose salvation? Most assuredly it is so. The Bible cautions us to “remain faithful” as a part of salvation. Throughout the history of mankind, from the Old Testament and through the New Testament, there are examples of men who turned from God and suffered mightily because they did not follow the teachings of God. There is the example of men that died when they touched the Ark of the Covenant to steady it in an area of uneven terrain. Regardless of the “intention” of mankind, failure to obey leads to an outcome they would have preferred never happened.

The history provided by the Old and New testaments also indicates that God is very willing to again bestow blessings upon those who are really wanting to return to His favor. Even such as Manasseh, a king who has been credited as the reason for the exiling of the Jews, was able to regain the favor of God.

How fortunate we are that unless we commit the one “unforgivable” sin, we still have hope for his Grace and salvation. For anyone not familiar with the one “unforgivable” sin, I present two scriptures for your edification.

From Mark 3:28-30:

28 Verily I say unto you, All their sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and their blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29 but whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin:

30 because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

And from Luke 12: 9-11:

9 but he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God.

10 And every one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven.

11 And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:

How wonderful it is that we have such a gift from God that comes to us throughout our entire lives. May it be that we can all appreciate what He does for us, second by second.

God’s creations even seem to defy the “law of gravity.”  How else could the root system of this tree not also keep it off the ground?


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