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Posts Tagged ‘Richard’s Two Shekels’

‘Trust me,’ God told Job

March 22, 2017 Leave a comment

An acquaintance recently asked me, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Others will ask, “If God does exist, why is there so much suffering?”

If you’d asked me 20 years ago, my response would’ve been a series of “Uhs” and “Ums.” Thinking quickly on the spot was never my strong suit. Come to think of it now, it’s still not.

Ok, let’s try:

“Richard, why is there so much suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people?”

The collective questions won’t have a definitive answer in this lifetime. Finite minds can never understand an infinite mind.

But there is a definitive answer that should last us until we are cap.able to understanding God better in eternity.

Job 38-42.

Reading these five chapters, you’ll find God’s response to Job, who suffered financial loss and personal illness. This happened when God pointed Job out to Satan and explained he was a righteous guy, and that his loyalty to God had nothing to do with personal prosperity.

Satan gave Job everything he had, and Job spent much time in misery wondering “Why?” while his friends gave him mostly-bad advice.

And in those chapters, God speaks to Job and says, “You’re not God. I am. You can’t do any of the things I can do, and you can’t handle any of it. I can because I’m God. And because I am God, I know exactly what I’m doing. I have this. Trust me now, and later, when the time is right, you’ll understand.”

Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

Death, Be Not Proud…

March 15, 2017 Leave a comment

I took a recent vacation home to spend time with my elderly parents and my sisters. On personal time, I visited a few cemeteries where friends and high school classmates are buried. Most of these friends died far too soon. One didn’t expect to live a long life. Another friend, a girl I had a high school crush on, was murdered at work. She was a victim of circumstance.

For privacy concerns, I won’t post pictures I took. I will say that when I visit the grave of someone I knew for the first time, I like to leave a memento as a sign of respect. For one former bus driver, a toy bus. For a classmate who loved baseball, a baseball. For my freshman year crush, since she was born in Georgia, a plastic white flower in close resemblance to Georgia’s state flower, the Cherokee Rose.

As I stared in sad silence, I was reminded of John Donne’s sonnet, Death, Be Not Proud.

As I think of the poem, it’s hard to read it without getting emotional. It’s a reminder that for us Christians, death is but temporary. Its power is borrowed and will soon have to be given back. Some day, the bodies of believers will be resurrected eternally.

At Pensacola Christian College, I had a speech class. My first-semester teacher was Heidi Nadolny, and one of the female students recited the poem. The young lady chose a terse, almost condescending tone, which I think works. As we remember deceased loved ones, particularly those who died too soon, we are to remind death that its advantage is temporary and that the respect we have for it should be limited. We should also remind it that God alone is omnipotent.

Yes, death, someday you will indeed die. Even worse, you will be forgotten.

Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

 

Christians and taxes

December 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Today, I had a phone conversation with one of my favorite people in the world. I won’t publicly identify him, but I will say this: Christianity needs far more believers like this man. I also won’t go into details about our chat, but I will say this: one of the topics of discussion was Christians and taxes. It brought to mind people I’ve heard of who’ve gone to prison because they’ve conscientiously decided not to give Uncle Sam his due.

As always, we’re left to wonder: WWJD?

As far as I can tell, Jesus mentioned taxes twice. In Matthew 17, the Jewish authorities asked if Jesus and His followers paid the “temple tax.” Jesus seemed to think this was actually unnecessary. However, to avoid offense, he had Peter pay it anyway using money from the mouth of a freshly-caught fish.

Then in Matthew 22, the Jewish authorities (who hated paying taxes to Rome), hoped to catch Jesus in a contradiction by asking him if tribute should be paid to Rome. The idea was if Jesus said not to pay taxes, word would get out and the Romans would possibly arrest him for advocating anarchy or not paying one’s fair shekel.* If Jesus said taxes should be paid, it would undoubtedly anger many of the Jews and possibly even those who liked Jesus.

Jesus, knowing that, asked to be shown a coin. After being told it was Caesar’s image on the coin, He said: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

I take these examples to mean simply this: while there might be some exceptions, pay your taxes. Unless you want the IRS to be able to travel to your house of place of business from memory, don’t protest by not paying.

* Yes, pun intended.

Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Remembering saints we knew

November 24, 2016 Leave a comment

In October, a famous, controversial Christian died. Anybody who’s familiar with Baptists and soulwinning and cartoons undoubtedly knows whom I’m talking about. My personal view: much of his theology was misguided, but God still used him to preach salvation and lead many to Christ. Others haven’t been very kind. It brings to mind what actress Bette Davis once said when her hated rival, Joan Crawford, died: “You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good . . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

When this famous Christian died, I asked a dear friend, Howard, if he’d heard the news.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. Did you hear about Anna M. passed? A lady in my church. Much more interested in home team where I know the players personally.”

To be fair, Howard isn’t the type who’s easily star struck. He’s probably the last person in the world I’d expect to run up to a famous Christian and ask them to sign his Bible.

When I read his comments, I thought, instead of focusing on people we know of, it’s better to focus on people we know personally.

Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Ever have ‘Coffee with Jesus’?

October 21, 2016 Leave a comment

One of my favorite cartoons comes from Radio Free Babylon. It’s called “Coffee with Jesus.” Dressed in a modern-day suit and sipping a coffee while sporting shoulder-length hair and a beard, Jesus talks to various individuals–believers, ministers and even Satan himself.

I’ve seen many cartoon versions of Jesus, some of them not bad and some of them far too inaccurate in comparison to what the Bible says. CWJ stands out. Sure, I occasionally disagree with something, but for the most part I can imagine Jesus responding exactly as they have Him do in the comic.

They usually show the same two pictures of Jesus, calm and expressionless. It carries the message that Jesus always knows what’s going on, never panics and always knows what to do. He effortlessly parries even Satan’s most brutal accusations.

CWF can be found online here. Below is one of my favorite cartoons, regarding angst many have about the upcoming presidential election. (Some worry about a Trump presidency, others worry about a Clinton presidency).

coffee-with-jesus-presidential-elections

Jesus Christ, savior, practical joker

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

I am very convinced that, on a few occasions, the disciples yelled, “Jesus!”

No, not to take His name in vain, and not to call out to him when in a storm, in quicksand or because they were trying to get his attention. Instead, here are two examples:

Peter, at a wedding, takes a drink of wine–only to discover that it’s turned back into water.

Matthew, when looking for a lamb to slaughter for a meal for Jesus and the 12, stares in shock as the lamb says in perfect Aramaic: “PLEASE don’t eat me. I taste BAAAAAAAD!”

In both cases, the reaction was likely: “Jesus! Would you PLEASE stop doing that?!”

In both cases, I imagine our Lord doubled over, laughing.

Jesus probably also told His fair share of jokes. (“So the Rabbi tells the rest of the Sanhedrin, ‘That was no Samaritan woman! That was my WIFE!'”)

I see it this way: Jesus had a very busy schedule. There were no planes or cars, so He walked most places–save for riding on donkeys or other animals. He probably got very little sleep and had days where he had to: teach, teach and re-teach the disciples; deal with the Pharisees and other religious leaders who refused to see the obvious about Him; heal the sick, provide food for those needed; screen potential disciples; comfort the heartbroken, and on, and on, and on.

What better way to boost morale among His disciples and relieve stress by having a sense of humor?

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Rebuilding as a Christian

January 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Years ago, a car show host told somebody they would need to have their engine rebuilt.

I never inherited my father’s mechanical skills, but I suspect that means this: take apart the engine, throw out the bad parts and replace them. Keep the good parts. Put the new parts and good parts all back together. Engine should work better.

Such is the case with my Christian walk.

I became a Christian in October 1981, when I prayed the sinner’s prayer with Pastor Jimmy Lilley of Kings Row Baptist Church in Alvin, Texas. I sincerely meant the prayer and wanted to do so, so I consider eight to be the age when I became a Christian.

Over the years, I attended very strict churches. No alcohol, no tobacco, no movies. Women, no wearing dresses. Don’t wear “fake-up” or “mas-scary” (I kid you not, those terms were REALLY used). Men, look like men. No long hair, no earrings, no flashy costumes, no necklaces. Wedding rings and class or college rings are OK, but, for heaven’s sake, don’t wear so many rings that you look like Liberace.

And speaking of the late Liberace (1919-1987), it was also taught that homosexuals will burn in hell.

While there are other believers in other denominations, we are the only ones who are really following Jesus’ teachings.

Some took things a step further and prohibited tea and other caffeinated products and no TV. One famous Baptist minister (you’d know his name if I said it) refused to carry life insurance, believing it showed a lack of faith in God. And across the board, the only acceptable Bible is the King James Bible.

Over the years I slowly began to wonder: why?

Which “rules” were truly Biblical and which ones were just the personal preferences of the leaders?

One person, who is no longer in my life, used to ask me where in the Bible it says you are to not do these things. More often than not, I had no answer for her, and that gave me a lot to ponder. I’ve also seen many such Christians have unsatisfactory responses when explaining why the same set of Mosaic Laws that prohibit homosexuality also a) Provide laws that governed slavery, b) Require some rapists to marry their victims, c) Prohibit the mixing of meat and dairy aren’t also applied today.

For me, my approach is take all the things I’ve learned, all the things I thought I knew, compare them with what the Bible truly says and then do two things: keep that which is true, discard which is not not God really wants for my life.

Our walk with God should be focused on a relationship, not simply following rules.

Richard Zowie lives in the Texas Hill Country and is a reporter for the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. The views expressed in this blog posting do not necessarily reflect those of the Standard newspaper staff, editor or publisher. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.