Don’t Worry!

Spring Tulips, P. Lockridge

Spring Tulips, P. Lockridge

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Tulips are gone. P. Lockridge

Don’t worry about the wicked

Or envy those who do wrong.

For like grass, they soon fade away.

Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the LORD and do good.

Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the LORD,

and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 37:1-4, NLB

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Worries!–A Haiku Poem

Worries will wither.

But time in the Lord’s presence

Brings enduring peace!

P. Lockridge

Calamity Comes! Part III Judgment Completed!

Paricutin Volcano, Mexico 1943, Photo credit: K. Segerstrom, U.S. Geological Survey – http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/ seg/hazard/slideset, Public Domain

The Destruction Begins*
They had just entered the village of Zoar when the earth began to shake causing the car to rock. They heart a roar, and the shaking intensified.  Behind them in the valley a crack had opened in the earth, and steam was escaping from the vent.  As they continued to watch in the rear-view mirror, molten lava fountained into the air from the breech.  The wind carried the ash to the area where Lot and his family continued to flee, and it fell around them.  The stench of burning sulfur was everywhere.

Lot’s Wife Looks Back
Sofia could not help remembering her beautiful home with its gorgeous tapestries, priceless paintings, and the statuary and fountains in the courtyard.  It was on the edge of town.  Was it going to incur damage?  She had to know. “Please, stop the car!  I think I just dropped something out the window.”

Sofia got out of the car, and turned toward the city. What she saw stunned and silenced her.  Sodom was gone, and in its place a lava fountain erupted from a crack in the earth.  As she watched, a volcanic bomb (a chunk of molten lava thrown out of the vent by a Strombolian volcanic eruption) fell on her head.  The heat incinerated her, and the molten lava flowed down over her corpse and hardened into a stone pillar. Her act of disobedience had cost her life.

Lot’s Protection

Lot, seeing that he could not help Sofia, directed his daughters to cover their heads inside the car, and floor-boarded the throttle as they headed toward the mountains.  The thick cloud of ash required that they turn on the car headlights. Dropping volcanic bombs ignited the brush and trees along the road causing wildfires.  Though it seemed like they were driving through Hell, they sensed a wall of protection around them that gave them hope that they would  reach Uncle Abe’s house before nightfall.

Abe’s Answer
Meanwhile up on the mountainside, Abe had hurried to his valley overlook just as the sun peaked over the horizon.  What he saw astonished him.  A huge column of ash ascended from the valley.  A small volcanic cone was building up in what had formerly been the center of town.  Molten lava shot skyward and flowed down the sides of the cone causing it to expand and increase in height.  The entire valley was covered by gray volcanic ash destroying the crops and herds. The stench of sulfur penetrated his nostrils.  The towns had been destroyed by lava flows.  Rather than let the evil grow further and bring judgment on more of his creation, God had destroyed the evil place.

Abe’s immediate concern was for Lot and his family.  Had they been spared?  Throughout the day he maintained his vigil for his family.  The ash cloud continued to grow, as did the cinder cone beneath it, but there was no sign of Lot or his family.  As the sun began to set, Abe turned to go, but movement on the slope below him caught his eye.

Three ash-blackened figures emerged from the cloud that now filled the valley.  The three figures were winding their way up the slope toward his cabin.  Unable to travel by car after a volcanic bomb had flattened it, they had continued on foot.  Lot and his two daughters had been spared thanks to God’s mercy and Abe’s intercession.

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*This fictionalized account of  Genesis 19:15-29  is based on the volcanic eruption of  Paricutin in 1943.  Within hours of the appearance of a crack in a Mexican cornfield, lava fountains spewed forth, and a volcanic cone was quickly built.  Volcanic bombs, ash, and lapilli erupted from the event and fell from the sky.  Eventually two towns, Paricutin, and San Juan Parangaricutiro, were covered by ash and lava flows and were destroyed.  Reference:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ParIcutin

San Juan Parangaricutiro Church “Paricutin2” by User:Sparksmex – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paricutin2.jpg#/media/File:Paricutin2.jpg

Calamity Comes! Part II The Dawn of the Last Day!*

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Wyoming Sunrise, P. Lockridge

As Abe prayed, the two guests who had just finished their visit with Abe and Sara on the mountain, now made their way to Sodom to warn Lot.  They entered the city in the evening just as Lot was locking up his business.  Always known for his hospitality, he invited the two to spend the night.  They were just sitting down to a delicious evening meal directed by Lot’s wife, Sofia, and prepared by their household servants when they were interrupted by a loud knocking on the door.  Lot opened it to find the drunken street revilers had made their way through his courtyard to his front door and now were demanding that his two house guests join them in their loud partying and sinful activities.

Lot did his best to encourage his sinning neighbors to leave his house guests alone, but when that failed, one of the guests who just happened to be six feet ten inches tall and weighed 250 pounds grabbed Lot and pulled him inside, locking and baring the door behind him.   A strange mist fell over the eyes of the crowd outside, and they began to stumble over one another until all of them gave up trying to get at Lot’s guests, and rejoined the party in the street.

The guests now turned to Lot, his wife and daughters, “You must get out of the city immediately.  God is going to destroy this sinful place in the morning. ”

While Lot’s wife and daughters put together essentials for their trip, Lot went to talk to his future sons-in-law, “You must be ready to travel in the morning.  God is going to destroy this place.”

Bob laughed, “You’ve been watching too many movies, Chill out, Old Man!”

Bret continued, ” Yeah, man.  What cities have you seen that were actually destroyed?  Who is going to destroy them?  You?  You got to be kidding!”  He laughed loudly.

Lot returned and reported the comments of the young men to his daughters, who were, of course, distraught.  “If I am wrong, and our guests have not correctly prophesied calamity, we will come back and everything will be as it was before.  But if I am right, then…”  He didn’t finish.  The prospect was too horrible.

The house guests had been busy helping the servants lay out a breakfast for the family.  Now they encouraged the family to be seated and eat quickly.

“Hurry, hurry, the sun is coming up.  It is time to be on your way.”  They joined the family in the mini van as they drove through the now-silent side streets and out to the open highway where they pulled over.

The mysterious visitors got out.  “Here is where we leave you. Head for the mountains.  Go quickly, and whatever you do, do not look back!”

(more to come)

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*This fictionalized account is based on the true story found in Genesis 19:1-14.

Calamity Comes! Part I*

Hands: P. Lockridge

Hands: P. Lockridge

A Warning!

“Destroyed?!”  Abe could not believe what his ears had just heard.  The two cities in the valley below his mountain retreat were going to be destroyed–wiped off the map.  Abe slumped into his rocking chair on the porch of his beautiful split-log cabin.  He thought again about the startling message that he had just heard.  Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed!  Just before they left, the two mysterious visitors had said that God was very much aware of the sin that was going on in the cities, and, in his mercy and righteousness, He was going to destroy the cities to prevent further judgment from coming upon their people.

Abe knew about the sinful things that were going on in Sodom and Gomorrah, but, up to now, he had turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to all such “goings on!”

About ten years ago, he and his nephew, Lot, had decided to part ways so that each of them would have more room for his herds.  Lot had chosen the fertile plains surrounding the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for his pasture lands. That had left the hills and mountain slopes for Abe’s herds.  In spite of the more difficult terrain, Abe had honored God, and God had blessed Abe and multiplied his herds of cattle.

Lot had built a lovely home on the outskirts of Sodom where his two beautiful daughters had grown up.  The girls were engaged to young unbelievers from the city.  The young men’s families participated in the prostitution trade, and in sex trafficking that was the major source of income for the cities.

Abraham had rescued Lot and his family in the past, but would he be able to do it this time, or would Lot and his family perish in the coming calamity?  Abe looked out over the valley.  He relished this view, always breathtaking and especially now as the sun was setting.  All seemed peaceful from this vantage point, but as he watched, the red lights marking the houses of prostitution came on.  Topless bars flourished and soon their loud music reached Abe’s ears on the mountainside.

The streets were beginning to fill with revilers.  Some in the cities thought that their wickedness had escaped God’s attention.  Others thought that God didn’t really care about such things, or that God had ceased to exist.  Still others had convinced themselves that the things that they were doing were good–to be encouraged and approved.  Those who did not agree with them were the one’s who were sinning.

As he pondered the question of why God had chosen to reveal this approaching calamity to him, a word came up in his spirit:  “PRAY!”  Abe had just been reminded of an all important weapon in his arsenal for the protection of his family living in Sodom.  He could pray.

Abe’s Intercession
A burden from the Lord descended on Abe.  He began to weep and audibly groan for those living in the valley.  As he entered into intercession, the burden for the lost men and women who lived there increased.  He cried out to the Lord to save the city.  Would the Lord destroy the city if there were fifty righteous people to be found there?  What if only forty-five righteous people could be found?  Surely, a merciful God would not destroy the city if thirty righteous people could be found.  God, who is always loving and merciful, agreed.  He would not destroy the towns for the sake of thirty righteous.

Abe continued his intercession.  He knew that no person on the face of the Earth has godly righteousness in and of himself.  However, anyone can become righteous when he/she accepts Christ’s righteousness.  Abe hope that at least twenty people could be found In the towns that had made a decision to accept Christ’s righteousness.  Just to be certain, though, Abe got God’s promise that the towns in the valley would not be destroyed if ten people could be found who had accepted the righteousness of Christ.  Would that promise be enough to avoid the coming calamity?

*This fictionalized story is based on the true Biblical account found in Genesis 18:20-33.

Wild, Wacky Weather

IMG_0571We have all heard that California is in the fifth year of the driest and hottest period in its history.   GPS-monitored ground movements suggest a water deficit of some 62 trillion gallons–the worst conditions in 1,200 years according to a study accepted for publication by the American Geophysical Union.  Five hundred wells have dried up in Tulare County alone.  About 12 million trees have died in California forest lands in the past year because of the extreme drought.  The dead trees add to the risk of  large, intense wildfires.  U.S. Taxpayers are paying about $3 billion a year (triple what it cost in the 90’s) to fight the wildfires.
  • Meanwhile, many other areas in the world are experiencing too much water on an unprecedented scale.  For example in 2014 alone:
  • Britain experienced devastating flooding caused by the worst spell of winter rainfall in at least 248 years.
  • The heaviest rainfall in almost 120 years caused severe flooding in Serbia and Bosnia.
  • Monsoon floods swept across India and Pakistan killing more than 440 people and causing thousands to flee their homes.
  • The Rio Madeira, the largest tributary of the Amazon, caused the worst flooding in 100 years.
  • Tokyo, Japan,was pummeled by the worst snow storm in 45 years.
  • Severe flooding hit Jakarta, Indonesia, and caused more than 30,000 to flee their homes.

Whether your world view includes Mother Nature on a rampage, global climate change out of control, a flawed water distribution system, or the judgment of Almighty God, I think that you will agree, when it comes to all this wild, wacky, weather, “We’ve had enough!”

References:   widgets.weforum.org/outlook15/07.html,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wili/List_of_California-wildfires,

www.cbsnews.com/pictures/californias-drought/4/

Grandpa Listens

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     “He squinted his eyes and shook his head as if to loosen a memory, “Yes, now I remember.” admitted Carl slowly.  Carl, his wife, Beth, their children, spouses, and grandchildren were enjoying a camping family reunion to celebrate Carl and Beth’s fiftieth anniversary.  Ten members of the group had decided to take a short afternoon hike.  They had only gone about half a mile when they had stumbled off the main trail and onto a secondary trail.  They had followed this trail for about a mile when they had come to a sign that indicated that Longview Lake was to the right, and Glacier Meadow was to the left.  Most members of the group were from out-of-state and had no idea which direction they should go.  Grandpa Carl had been on this trail several times but that had been almost thirty years ago.  Now he was trying to remember which way would ultimately allow them to rejoin their party.  It was already about four pm so they needed to get back soon.  All of them had assigned chores for dinner.
     “It’s this way,” Carl said with some assurance, “toward Longview Lake.”
     “Are you certain, Dad?” asked Gil, his oldest son.
     “Yeah, old man,” chimed in Pete, his son-in-law, “How long ago did you say you were on this trail?”
     “About 30 years ago, but I’m certain now that this is the right direction.  The other trail leads up over the divide.”
     They started off in the direction of Longview Lake.  They had only gone a few hundred yards when Candy, his youngest daughter noted, “Wow, this trail isn’t maintained very well.”  I wonder if anyone uses it any more.  It is overgrown with bushes and washed out in places.  How far did you say we had to go to reach the campground?”
     “About two miles, I believe.  We should be able to see the campground from this ridge.”
     They reached the ridge but the only view was of a valley filled with trees.  There was no sign of civilization anywhere.
     “That does it,” said Pete.  You guys can continue to wander around in the trees down there if you want, but I’m going back the other way.  Who’s with me?’
     Candy, his wife, their three children and one of the cousins started back down the trail after Peter.
     The others continued to slog along after Grandpa Carl for another half an hour.  Then Gil spoke up again, “Look, Dad, you said it would be about two miles.  Surely we have gone twice that distance.  The longer we go in this direction, the farther we are getting from our group and our dinner.  I am going after Gil.”  The rest of the group joined him.  That left only sixteen-year-old Elizabeth with Grandpa Carl.
     “Come on, Elizabeth,” ordered her father.
     “No,” stated Elizabeth stubbornly.  “You go on.  I am staying with Grandpa.  He needs to have someone look after him.”
     “Look, Dad,” said Gil.  Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?
     “Nope, I am almost certain that our campground is only a short distance in this direction.”
     “Well, you can call us if you get in any trouble.”
     When Gil was out of earshot, Carl spoke softly to Elizabeth.  “Don’t you want to go with your Dad?”
     “Well, yes, but no one should leave you out here in the woods alone even if you did spend years of your life here.”
     “I don’t know, Elizabeth. I was certain that I choose the right direction, but then, well, I was beginning to wonder.  A lot can change in thirty years including my memory.  I have been asking God to guide us.  That’s is a lot surer in my opinion than the memory of an old man.”
     “Grandpa, that’s why I’m sticking with you.  Won’t the others be embarrassed when they find out they’re wrong!”
     “Actually, Elizabeth, I am worried about all of us.  It will be totally dark in a few minutes.  It gets dark much faster in these deep woods.  Our whole family could be stranded out here without food, water, or protection from wild life and the cold night air.  (It will get really cold tonight.)  We can use our phones to call for help, but it may take a while for them to find us, and they may not be able to start the search until morning.”  As if to emphasize his point, he zipped up his jacket.
     The two hiked on in silence for a few minutes, then Elizabeth noticed a little rise in the trail up ahead.  She ran to where she could over-look the valley ahead.  In the fast-growing darkness she saw lights–the lights of the campground!!  She bolted back down the trail where she found Grandpa resting on a log.
     “Grandpa, I saw lights.  We are almost there.  You did hear from God!”
     “If only the others had listened.”
     “What!  Aren’t you glad that we are almost back to the camp?”
     “Yes, of course, but this also means that all the rest of my family may have to spend the night out-of-doors and at what cost?  Let’s call the authorities to assemble a search team right now.”
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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a
Voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21 NIV

It’s Pretty! But is it Pretty Enough?

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“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. ” Mark 13:26 NIV

When my children were small, we used to play a little game.  Whenever we saw a pretty cloud, an unusual cloud formation, or a beautiful sunset, one of us would say to the others, “Now there’s a pretty cloud.  But is it pretty enough for Jesus to use when He comes back to Earth.”  What followed would be an evaluation discussing the various merits of the cloud in question.

(My favorite clouds are those with a shaft of sunlight descending from them.  I can just imagine Jesus sliding from the Heavens right down to Earth on that beam of light.)

The conclusion of our cloud discussion would be that either the cloud was pretty but it was not pretty enough for Jesus, or that the cloud was indeed pretty enough–maybe it was just right for Jesus–but since we didn’t see Him, He must be coming on another day.

The benefit of this game was that it made the soon return of Jesus not only possible but plausible.  Our expectations were raised.  So I challenge you:  The next time you see a pretty cloud, ask yourself, “Is it pretty enough for Jesus?”

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