Taking a Knife to the Sword

Would you ever tear out a page of the Bible? And if you would, why would you?

Thomas Jefferson didn’t actually tear out pages of the Bible, but he did use a knife to cut out passages he didn’t think should be in it. Others may not cut them out, or tear them out, but simply choose to ignore passages they don’t like. But is there ever a good reason to literally tear out some pages? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

I recently read an amazing account of an attempted crossing of Antarctica by Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty- seven that took place over a hundred years ago. They began their journey on the Endurance, a ship that didn’t endure. When it became trapped in the frozen sea it was crushed like an egg, leaving them marooned on an ice flow. When they abandoned ship they took the supplies needed for survival, drug two lifeboats onto the ice, and the men were allowed to each take two pounds of personal possessions with them.

By way of example, before the assembled men, Shackleton discarded a handful of gold sovereigns and his gold watch on the ice, followed by his silver brushes and dressing cases. He then took the Bible that had been presented to the ship before departure by Queen Alexandra. Ripping out the flyleaf and a few other pages, he lay the Bible on the ice. The pages he retained were those of the Twenty-third Psalm and these verses from Job:
Out of the womb came the ice?
And the hoary frost of Heaven, who hath gendered it?
The waters are hid as with a stone
And the face of the deep is frozen.

He may have read those verses while preparing to sail into the frozen deep, and they apparently spoke to him. And, unlike the author of Hebrews who prefaced a quote with, “One has testified somewhere, saying…”, he knew where to find it.

I’m not suggesting that we unnecessarily tear out pages of the Bible to keep with us, but if our memory doesn’t allow us to hide the word in our heart very well, we should at least mark the passages that really speak to us so we can find them in a time of need.

God Bless, Rick

Snappy Sportsmanship

It’s no secret that I’m not much of a sports fan, and that’s an understatement. I do, however, go to a lot of sporting events. In fact, there have been weeks when I have witnessed, and even cheered, at more games than I have fingers.

Why would someone who never played sports, and doesn’t really like sports, go to so many sporting events? The answer, of course, is that I have four grandchildren in the area who play basketball, baseball, volleyball, football, soccer, and golf. And we have two in Tennessee who are also into sports.

Having not grown up in a sports oriented family, it’s hard for me to understand the importance placed on sports by so many. I’m not blind to the benefits of working together and striving to win, or the personal discipline needed to excel, but my lack of love for sports probably causes me to overreact when I see poor sportsmanship on the field, and parents who forget it’s just a game.

While sitting in the bleachers at a football game on a recent Friday night I was appalled that a group of fathers were not only cheering on their boys, but yelling for them to hurt players on the other team. I know football is supposed to be rough, but I’m pretty sure there would have been some really angry men if their sons had been intentionally injured.

And then there was the time Carter’s soccer team was playing a team that is known for it’s “aggressive” style of playing. Why they play the way they play was made obvious when the coach was ordered off the field by the referee.

The boy who was to keep Carter from scoring not only played “aggressively”, but constantly attacked him verbally. After the game Carter told us of an interesting exchange that took place on the field.

After telling Carter that he sucked at soccer, but Jesus still loved him, Carter responded, “And you may be a bully, but Jesus still loves you.”

I do enjoy watching the grandkids play sporting events, and I’m proud when they do well. But Carter did especially well that afternoon.

God Bless, Rick

Thinking About the Box

Boxes serve a good purpose, and are used for good reasons. They contain, and they protect. We can even think of the boundaries God has set for us, and that we need to set for our children, as boxes. They are intended to keep us from harming ourselves, or others.

On the other hand, boxes can restrain and hold us back. Thus we are often told to think outside the box.

Sometimes, however, we just need to think about the box. Something I failed to do last Thursday.

On Thursday evenings I go to the gun range, and shoot competitively. Chuck, Jamie, my brother-in-law Frank, and I usually shoot together, and then head to the café for some food, guy time, and gun talk. Last week I really gave them something to talk about. In fact, even before I got there, they told the waitress to ask me about the box.

The stage that we were shooting required that we shoot from three areas marked on the floor called boxes. Two of them were small, and the long one in the middle had a couple of barrels in it we had to shoot around. After I shot the first time, the range officer pointed to my feet. I had failed to step into the middle box.

The stage called for 22 shots, and if all hits were in the A zone, you could earn 110 points. I had shot 12 times outside the box, and therefore received 12 ten point procedural penalties. 120 points were deducted from my score. You can do the math.

The second time I shot, I remembered the box. I would have done okay, if my pistol hadn’t jammed.

When I later shot my carbine, I did great. I only missed one A, and it was on the swinging target. Then I heard the groaning and laughter. I had once again failed to step into the box.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, I guess it’s that it’s easy to forget to think about the box. And not only do we need to remember it, we need to remember why it’s there. So next time someone tells you to think outside the box, or you are considering stepping outside the box, just make sure you think first.

God Bless, Rick

Face Time

I’ve been humming it since it came up last Wednesday. I sure hope someone asks to sing it this Sunday.

In our study of Hebrews we were trying to determine if the author was actually saying that the Law was spoken through angels. None of us could remember that taking place, and Exodus does picture God speaking directly to Moses. A quick Bible search did, however, reveal that Deuteronomy says the Law was given from the midst of ten thousand holy ones, and a couple of New Testament passages mention the Law as being ordained by angels. So angels were apparently involved in the giving of the Law.

Then the question came up about Moses talking with God face to face. Exodus 33:11 says, “Thus the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” But then in verse 20 God says to Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

We resolved that apparent contradiction by concluding the expression “face to face” was merely a way of saying that Moses and God had personal conversations. When God said no man could see Him and live, he was responding to Moses’ request to see His glory. Apparently no human can handle seeing the full glory of God.

When someone then mentioned that Moses had only seen the back of God when He passed by, I said no, that that was Elijah. Once again the class proved the preacher wrong. Elijah was in a cave when the Lord passed by and spoke to him, not from the wind, earthquake and fire, but from a gentle blowing. Moses was in the cleft of a rock when God’s glory passed by and he was only allowed to see His back.

In spite of all the confusion, one thing was made clear. God did speak to Moses face to face, as He also did with the people gathered at the foot of Sinai. I just pray that we respond better to personal conversations with our Lord than they did. And until we actually see the Lord face to face, I do hope someone asks for hymn number 781.

God Bless, Rick

And I want to thank…

A couple of weeks ago Anna asked for Grandpa’s help with her leaf collection. Of course I was delighted that she asked. The assignment designated the leaves she was to find, and if she could find more than the required 20 she would get extra credit.

We took off after church, and I quickly spotted some trees on the list. Instead of examining the leaves, bark, and tree to determine what it was, all we had to do was take a picture of the leaf, and an app told us what we had found. When I’d spot a tree we would stop along the road, run up to the tree to confirm its identity, and then take a picture of her by the tree to prove she was there. My years in the woods, and helping a previous generation as well as another granddaughter find leaves for their collections, really paid off. In short order we had 31 pictures.

I told her that when she gives her valedictorian speech in a few years she’d have to say, “And I want to thank Grandpa. I wouldn’t be here today if he hadn’t helped with my leaf collection.” After she got 109% A+, she sent me a picture of her grade sheet and the words, “And I want to thank…”

I thought of my adventure with Anna when I spotted an article in the quarterly Does God Exist? publication while on the elliptical at FitClub last week. The article was entitled, “Leaf Design to Preserve Trees.” In it the author noted how heavy winds seldom blow down healthy trees, and the reason is not only strong trunks and branches, and good root anchorage, but also the design of the leaves.

He then explained how to minimize the effects of wind blowing on the tree, leaves themselves are designed to reduce drag during high winds by changing their shape. For example, holly leaves flatten themselves against each other, and tulip tree leaves curl up and form a cone to lessen wind resistance.

It would appear that looking for leaves not only afforded a memorable outing for a grandpa and granddaughter, but also the motivation to learn even more about our amazing Creator and the detail of His design.

God Bless, Rick