Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Snowbound - 3/22/2017

My An Arkie's Faith column from the March 22, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.



A year ago my oldest granddaughter was diagnosed with scoliosis. My son-in-law did extensive research on scoliosis treatments and braces. He was impressed with the success of Dr. Marc Moramarco in Boston. He made the decision for the family to travel to Boston last summer so that my granddaughter could see Dr. Moramarco, and be fitted with a Gensingen Brace®

In his research, my son-in-law found that the Gensingen Brace® is unique in that, for adolescents it offers potential improvement of the Cobb angle, a measure of the curvature of the spine, rather than just halting the progression. According to Dr. Moramarco, the brace’s asymmetric design focuses on overcorrection. It is the highest standard in scoliosis bracing and successfully addresses most curve magnitudes.

After she returned home from Boston and began wearing the new brace, my granddaughter showed improvement in the curvature of her spine. This winter she has been growing rapidly. She is three inches taller than when she was fitted for the brace last summer. Curves progress rapidly during growth spurts, so she needed to return to Boston to be fitted with a new brace.

Her paternal grandparents took her to Boston to see Dr. Moramarco. After she had been measured, photographed and x-rayed, the technicians built her custom brace. The night before she was to fly home from Boston, winter storm Stella moved into the northeast. The storm grounded over 6,000 flights including the one that was to fly my granddaughter home.

According to the Weather Channel, winter storm Stella dumped from three to four feet of snow in some areas, paralyzed several major cities including Boston, and knocked out power out to over half a million people. Several places in Massachusetts reported winds of 70 to 80 miles per hour. The Bolton Valley Ski Area in the Green Mountains of northern Vermont reported a storm total of 58 inches of snow.

Because of the storm, it was several days before my granddaughter was able to fly home. She was snowbound in Boston. I don’t know what her grandparents thought about being stranded, but my granddaughter was ecstatic. Being from Louisiana, she has only seen small amounts of snow. When I talked to her, she excitedly told me, “Papa, the snow was up to my knees!” As I talked with her, I was thankful that it wasn’t me stranded in a snowstorm in Boston.

I have never liked the cold. The last few days have been unseasonably cold for March, and I have been miserable and just a bit whiney. But as I talked with a bubbly, vivacious, excited girl who was experiencing a real winter snowstorm for the first time in her life, something else crossed my mind. There isn't anything quite like a big snowfall that leaves the ground a fluffy pure white, without any dirt or debris.

A fresh snowfall makes any landscape beautiful. What lies underneath the snow might be ugly, but the snow hides any blemishes and makes everything pure and white. God does the same thing with each of us. We may have a sordid past. We may not be currently living as we should. But God longs for us to ask for forgiveness so that he can cover our sins. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised when you woke up and looked out your window to see snow covering the landscape? A dull and dreary day unexpectedly transformed into a beautiful day blanketed with snow. Bare and seemingly lifeless trees turned into marvelous works of art. In the same way, God is pleased when we allow him to cover our sins.

Because of His great love for us, God doesn’t abandon us in our sins. Instead, by His grace, He wants to change and transform us. “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:13,14 (NRSV)

Have you ever noticed how quiet it seems after a heavy snowfall? As snowflakes pile up, there is space left between them. With all that space, sound is unable to bounce off snow as easily as it would off water, dirt, or grass. As a result, the sound gets absorbed.

When God takes our sins and makes them white as snow, it cuts down on the noise of the world around us. The world becomes just a bit quieter and more peaceful. We can more easily hear God as he communicates with us.

Gentle Reader, we all have sin in our life that makes us dirty and separates us from God. But God has provided a way for us to be clean again. Through Jesus, we can all be as white as snow. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (KJV)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Scavenger Hunt - 3/15/2017

An Arkie's Faith column from the March 15, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.


Last week my wife and I along with my cousins and their grandson, visited Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Gardens were the dream of Verna Cook Garvan. In 1956 Mrs. Garvan began to develop it as a garden. When she died in 1993, Mrs. Garvan gave the property to the University of Arkansas Foundation.

Garvan Woodland Gardens is the largest undeveloped tract of land on Lake Hamilton. There are over three miles of recreational trails. This time of year over 150,000 tulips line the walkways.  Every year that we can we visit the gardens during the tulip extravaganza. The peak tulip viewing times at the gardens are in March. The gardens are beautiful any time of the year, but I think that the tulip season is the best.

We had a very enjoyable afternoon. The temperatures were warm, and the flowers were beautiful. My cousin’s grandson had a great time. He especially enjoyed nature bingo. Each young visitor to the gardens is given a bingo card with each square listing an item to find as they walk the trails. Items on the card included such things as a cave, a fish, a pine cone, a butterfly or moth, a waterfall, a crawling bug, and a rock bigger than you. If they made a bingo, they received a gift as they left the gardens.

My cousin’s grandson wasn’t satisfied when he made his first bingo. He wanted to fill every square on his card. Instead of bingo, he treated his card as a scavenger hunt. By the time we left the gardens, he had completed the entire card.

As I watched him scamper from place to place looking for each item on the bingo card, I thought about the treasures found in the Bible. It seems that few Christians are excited about searching the Bible. King David loved to search the Bible. He said, “How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:103-105 (NLT)

King David searched God’s Word for wisdom and found it sweeter than honey! He depended on God’s promises and was personally guided by God’s words. Even though David was one of the earth’s richest men, God’s Word was his greatest treasure.

I want to have the passion David describes in Psalms 119. I am convinced that if I make plans and set aside time to read God’s Word, I will find promises and insights that are trustworthy. Instead of reading my Bible because I feel that I must, I want to search through it each day like someone on a scavenger hunt.

One of the ways that I have found to get excited about the Bible is to study by topic. When I study the Bible by chapter, I sometimes get stuck and spend too long in one place. That isn’t a bad thing, but topical studies can leave you wanting more, hungry to know about the topic and what the Bible says about it.

Talking about those who follow God, Psalms 1:2 (NLT) says, “they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” Meditating on God’s Word requires study, not just skimming over a few verses.

The prophet Jeremiah said, "when I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight.” Jeremiah 15:16 (NLT) Don't let anyone devour your spiritual food for you. Insist on doing it for yourself. Anyone can be a student if he makes up his mind. Study the various topics in the Bible, one by one, going through the Bible and finding what it has to say on these subjects. It is alright to study what the great theologians have to say on important subjects, but it is far more important to know what God has to say.

Many people know a part of what God has to say. Usually, it is the part that someone has taught them, so their ideas are imperfect and one-sided. If they knew all God had to say on the subject, it would be much better. The only way to know all God has to say on any subject is to go through the entire Bible.

My favorite way to study a topic is to use a concordance to focus on keywords. Strong’s concordance is an excellent resource, but I usually use one of the many excellent Bible programs on the internet. Bible Gateway is my favorite.

Using your favorite method of searching the Bible, compile a list of words related to the topic you want to study. Collect all references relating to each word, then consider each reference individually. Only after studying each verse with an open mind should you come to a conclusion.

In Acts 17:11 (NOG) the Bible shows us how we should study; “The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true.” Gentle Reader, will you resolve with me to carefully examine the Bible to see if what you have been taught is true? “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (NKJV)


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Free Gift - 3/08/2017

An Arkie's Faith column from the March 8, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.


Recently my wife and I traveled to Louisiana to see my granddaughter compete in the Pathfinder Bible Bowl. Pathfinders are a worldwide organization of young people sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, though young people of any religion, or none at all, are welcome and encouraged to join the organization. Pathfinders offer a wide range of activities including camping, community service projects, and training in a variety of recreational, artistic, nature, conservation, and vocational areas. In the Bible Bowl, Pathfinder teams made up of kids from Arkansas and Louisiana aged 10 – 16 competed by answering one hundred questions on a predetermined Bible topic. My granddaughter's team was pleased with their second place finish.

The day after the Bible Bowl, we attended the Krewe of Highland parade in Shreveport. A co-worker of my daughter’s had invited our family to watch the parade from her house. The co-worker’s house is on the parade route where the parade starts and ends. It was a fantastic location to see the family-friendly parade.

Over one hundred floats passed by with participants throwing free gifts out into the crowd. Over 11,000 people lined the streets waving their hands in the air and yelling, “throw me something.” Participants on the floats threw the traditional Mardi Gras throws such as beads, doubloons and plastic cups. The Krewe of Highland is famous for unusual throws. This year there were lots of ramen noodles, moon pies, and hot dogs among the throws. Because it is a family-friendly parade throws also included candy, frisbees, mini-footballs, super balls, and a wide assortment of stuffed animals.

Since the first Highland parade over twenty years ago, the parade has continued to be a family parade sticking to its original mission, a family-friendly Mardi Gras parade in the Highland Historical District of Shreveport. This year’s event was witnessed by the largest crowd ever to see a daytime parade in Northern Louisiana.

It is amazing to see how excited people get about the possibility of catching some plastic beads or other trinkets. Everyone is swept up in the idea of being the one to get that special item. Everywhere you look there are kids on their parent's shoulders, giving them a chance to catch some of the free items. Participants on the floats often single out kids in the crowd to give them a special gift.

As I put a large bag of “treasures” in the car when the parade was over, I thought about how everyone at the parade clamored for these plastic items that had no actual value. I thought about how I wished people were that excited about the free gift of God’s grace. Romans 3:24 (NIRV) tells us, “the free gift of God’s grace makes us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free.”

The Bible is clear that God’s grace is a free gift. Why don’t more people accept the free gift? If you were to ask one hundred random people, “how do you get to heaven?” you would hear a lot of different answers. You would hear things like, “try to be good and do your best” or “work hard at being a good moral person” or “do more good things in life than you do bad things.” All of these ideas are based on our abilities and actions. They are not based on the idea of a free gift. People that don’t feel the need of the gift see no need to accept the free gift of God’s grace. Many religious people fall into this way of thinking. They feel that they can do it themselves and that they don’t need some free gift.

The Bible is very plain in Romans 5:16 (NLT) “And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.” Our efforts lead only to condemnation. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) tells us that,  “all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” It is important for us to understand that we don’t have the ability to be righteous apart from the free gift of God.

Not only do we not have the ability to be righteous, but we are also under a heavy penalty. Romans 3:23 (KJV) says, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 (KJV) adds, “for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Every person on the earth is under the penalty of death. But thankfully there is hope, because of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts tells the story of the Philippian jailer. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Acts 16:30,31 (NKJV)

Gentle Reader, we all need the gift of grace. We all need to have the penalty paid for our sins. We need the gift of God, eternal life. Don’t be too proud to accept the gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8 (NRSV)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sick and Tired - 3/01/2017

An Arkie's Faith column from the March 1, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.

Recently a customer of mine remarked, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I know how he feels. I have been feeling poorly for almost three weeks, and I am tired of it. Many of my friends, customers, and acquaintances are fighting colds, the flu, and other illnesses this time of the year.

When I first started feeling bad, I just thought I was coming down with a cold. I started taking over the counter cold medication. After a week, I thought that I was getting over the cold, but a couple of days later I was much worse. After listening to my wife for several days telling me that I needed to see the doctor, I finally called and made an appointment.

Why was I so reluctant to see my doctor? I can give you a list of excuses for not wanting to make the appointment. I didn’t want to take the time or spend the money. I was sure it was a virus, and I would eventually wear it out. The reason that I finally went to the doctor was that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The doctor told me that I had a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics. I also had raspy lungs and a bad cough. The doctor told me that if my cough wasn’t better in four days to come back in for a visit.

Four days later, my cough was still bad. I returned to the doctor and was given a steroid shot. Within a few hours, I was covered in a rash that was very uncomfortable. Once again I just wanted to deal with the rash and not go back to the doctor, but my wife made me an appointment.

In Matthew 9:12 (NCV) Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Christian music artist, Michael Card wrote a song titled, “Gentle Healer.” It is a favorite of mine. I love the way that it refers to Jesus as the Gentle Healer. “The Gentle Healer came into our town today. He touched blind eyes and the darkness left to stay. But more than the blindness, He took their sins away. The Gentle Healer came into our town today.”

Jesus would come into a town and heal those who were sick. He also forgave their sins. There was something else that Jesus did before he left town. Luke 24:45 (NIV) tells us that Jesus, “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

Just like a doctor gives us a prescription to help us get well, Jesus has given us a prescription to help heal us spiritually. We need to take our spiritual prescription so that we can get and stay healthy. The prescription is "The Holy Bible."  We need to take it every day. It is safe and effective.

I have never seen anyone whose spiritual growth has been hindered by reading the Bible. It improves us and makes us healthy in the Lord. Everything in the Bible is there for us to study and learn about God. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NCV) Religious books, commentaries, and devotionals are helpful, but if you just read them and not the Bible, you'll miss the active ingredient in the prescription. We need to read and study the Bible on our own.

When I read in the Bible of the healing that Jesus did, I notice the compassion that Jesus had as He interacted with the people. He cared for their needs. Matthew 14:14 (NKJV) tells us that, “when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.”

I'm so glad I have that same Gentle Healer as my doctor. Whenever Jesus sees that I am sick and in pain; He has compassion on me. I can speak to Him anytime about how I'm feeling and what's going on in my life. I don’t have to make an appointment. He even makes house calls.

Not only does Jesus want to heal you and forgive you, but he also wants to give you rest. He knows that you are tired, sick and tired. In Matthew 11:28,29 (NCV) Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.”

Gentle Reader, are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Come to Jesus, and He will give you rest. Don’t put off going to the doctor. You can’t get well on your own. No matter what it is that you are facing right now in your life, Jesus understands. Jesus knows what you are going through. He says, “come to me.” We don’t need to come to Jesus timidly or in fear. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Barn Find - 2/22/2017

An Arkie's Faith column from the February 22, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.



My Daddy is a long-time collector and seller of classic and collector cars. In the business of classic cars, barn finds are the holy grail. Anyone with a healthy bank account and a computer can find the car of their dreams, but barn finds are a special kind of magic. Barn finds are cars that are intact and have been untouched and out of sight for years. Finding a special car, left untouched for years or even decades is a rare thing. In the collector car world, barn finds come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing remains constant; a great barn finds make all the effort worthwhile.

In 2014 a remarkable barn find of rare automobiles was made on a farm in the West of France. After the owner had died, the children inherited the estate, which included a collection of old cars that had been untouched for many years. Wanting to determine the value of the cars, they called France's leading antiques auctioneer.

When the appraisers entered the property, they could see many makeshift shelters covered with tin. As they walked around the farm, they found more and more cars under the makeshift structures, and almost all of them were extremely rare. They found significant models from many of the legendary brands in European automotive history: Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Maserati, Ferrari, Delahaye, Delage. The cars had been untouched for at least 50 years. The appraisers valued the cars at between 18 and 20 million dollars. The find was so significant that it was even reported in the U.S. press.

My Daddy recently sold his MG replica. Someone will be able to tell a “barn find” story about the car. In the late 70’s and early 80’s building kit cars on a VW chassis was very popular. In 1981 Daddy purchased a complete MG replica kit from MIGI. He spent many hours building the car. At about the same time he was building the MG, he built an addition to the side of his shop. When he completed the addition, the first thing that he stored in the new building was the recently completed MG replica. The little MG has never moved from that spot until just a couple of weeks ago.

Daddy has never owned a car that wasn’t for sale. He has had many people interested in the little MG kit car over the years. But the value of kit cars dropped dramatically after he finished the MG. They fell out of favor, and the market was flooded with them. He had paid a lot of money for the full kit that included the gel-coat fiberglass body, complete interior, convertible top, and all new chrome bumpers and grill. No one was willing to pay the price he was asking for the beautiful little MG, and it just sat in the corner of the new addition.

After a few years, the little car was covered in plastic sheeting to keep the dust and dirt from damaging the finish. As the years went by, more and more parts were stored around the little MG until it was barely visible. When a deal was made for the MG a few weeks ago, it took several days to uncover the little car and get it out of the building. When we moved it outside, it saw the light of day for the first time in almost 35 years.

Under the dust and dirt that had accumulated in those 35 years, was essentially a brand new car. When the new owner of the little MG properly cleans and details it, the car will be beautiful once again. It will once again be a treasure.

In the Bible, there is a “barn find” story; well not exactly a barn find, more of a field find. We read about it in Matthew 13:44 (NIV). “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Jesus was telling a story about the value of kingdom of heaven. A man found a treasure in a field. He stumbled across a “barn find.” He puts together a plan. He is so excited about his find that he sold everything he had and scraped all of his money together to buy the piece of land with the treasure on it. He knew that the treasure was very valuable and there was no question that he had to buy the field.

Can you imagine what his friends and family thought? I bet they thought he was crazy. Why would he sell everything to buy that piece of land? The didn’t know that by selling everything he owned, he was gaining a priceless treasure, worth far more. What is this treasure that is so important? Colossians 2:3 (GW) tells us that, “God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.”

Gentle Reader, are you willing to sacrifice everything you own to gain the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ? When Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37,38 (NKJV) This is what it takes to gain the treasure. It is the ultimate “barn find.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

First Love - 2/15/2017

An Arkie's Faith column from the February 15, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.

A Senior in High School

When I was in high school, I was too shy to talk to girls. I was almost too shy to talk to boys. When I first went to high school, it was at a private school that only went to the tenth grade. When I transferred to another school at the beginning of my junior year, the only people that I would talk to were those whom I knew from my previous school.

Although I was too shy to talk to girls, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested. At the beginning of my senior year, there was a girl who stole my heart the first time she walked into Mr. Brost's history class. Because I was so shy, it was almost a year before she had any idea that I was interested. I think that God knew that I needed all of the help I could get, so he made it so that our paths crossed in several ways that year. Mr. Brost selected five students to work together each week producing learning packets for history class. The special girl and I were both in the group. We both worked at the local furniture factory.  I worked on the dresser jig, and she made drawers. I would spend my breaks back with the drawer makers, but she still didn't catch on.

Just before graduation, I lost my job at the furniture factory. I was accused of doing something that I hadn’t done, and the punishment was a two-week suspension. I told management that I was innocent, and if they persisted with the suspension, I would never be back. My sense of justice caused me to lose a good paying summer job. News of my trouble with management quickly made its way around the factory. When I picked up my personal items from the jig that I worked at, there was a soda can with a flower in it. It was from that girl back in the drawer making section. As angry as I was with the situation, I felt warm and tingly inside because it became obvious to me that the girl who had stolen my heart at the beginning of the year cared about me.

When it came time for our high school graduation, I still had never gotten up the nerve to ask her out. Finally, I mustered up every ounce of courage I could find and asked her if she would march with me when we graduated. She told me that she would like to, but she had already told another boy that she would march with him. She said that if I talked to the other boy, she would march with me. Once again summoning up every bit of courage I had I talked to him. He was very gracious and bowed out. I was on cloud nine.

On our very first date away from school, we went to an amusement park. I don’t handle motion well, and easily get carsick and seasick. As we were riding one of the rides, I kept feeling sicker and sicker. This was our first real date, and I felt terrible. I didn’t want her to know that I was too wimpy to ride amusement park rides. I said nothing and hoped that my nausea would pass. It didn’t. I threw up on the ride, all over both of us. She took me to her house and got some of her Dad’s clothes for me to change into while she washed mine. After my clothes had been washed and dried, we went back to the amusement park but didn’t ride anything but the train.

The rest is history. I knew that if our horrific first date didn’t end our relationship; she was as awesome as I had always thought. After a year-long relationship, with five hundred miles separating us, we were finally in the same place at the same time. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this girl. On June 15, 1975, we married.

I know that usually high school romances do not last forever and that when kids get married in their teens, the marriages aren't supposed to last, but we have proven those things wrong. It is still awesome to go through each day with my first love! I can't wait to see where this journey leads.

Many relationships don’t last. According to the National Vital Statistics System, In the United States, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds. For many people, it seems that it isn’t possible to maintain that first love. Many Christians also seem to have a problem maintaining their relationship with God.

Maybe your relationship with God isn’t what it once was. Do you remember when you first gave your life to Jesus? It was exciting to know that your sins had been forgiven. But have things changed? You still pray, sometimes. You still read the Bible, occasionally. You are willing to talk about Jesus, but only if someone asks about your beliefs.

What has happened? Probably the same thing that happened to the church of Ephesus. In Revelation 2:4 (NASB) Jesus told the church at Ephesus, “but I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

Gentle Reader, are you are beginning to leave your first love? Was there a time when you were closer to God than you are today? God is calling you back to your first love. He wants you to find your happiness in Him. He wants you to experience that first love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Saving Moses - 2/08/2017

An Arkie's Faith column from the February 8, 2017, issue of The Mena Star.


Some years ago I came home from work one day and my wife met me at the door. "Do you hear that," my wife asked. “Yes,” I answered, “it sounds like a kitten.” Meow, Meooooow, Meooooooooow. “You better go check it out,” my wife said, “it sounds like a kitten is in trouble.”

We walked down the hill to the creek behind our house. The pitiful cries grew louder and louder. They were coming from a small gray kitten. He was caught in a tangle of roots on the creek bank. The kitten was on the far side of the creek. This meant that I had to walk down the creek to a place narrow enough to cross. I found a place where I could wade across the creek; then I fought my way through a mass of bushes and briars. When I finally reached the drenched kitten, he frantically held on to the roots. I had to pull with all my strength to get him out.

I was afraid that the kitten would fight like a little tiger because of how fiercely he had struggled; however, when I held him close, he melted into my chest. Almost immediately I heard a soft, gentle purring. “Hello, Moses,” I said, “your name will have to be Moses because I drew you out of the water.”

What were we going to do with a kitten? Our family had never owned a cat. We had always been dog people. Our dogs have always been pampered pets. Some people have even said that our dogs were the masters of the house. Now we had a tiny helpless kitten. What should we do with it? I guess it was ours.

We carried Moses to our back porch. My wife brought towels and an old pet taxi. We dried him off and made him a soft bed in the pet taxi. I put Moses down, and he immediately climbed my leg, perched on my shoulder, and purred in my ear.

Our back porch became the kitten’s home. He was firmly attached to it. The world beyond the back porch was a strange and scary place and he would not venture into that world. He refused to leave the back porch. If I carried him into the front yard, he would begin desperately clawing, fighting, and freaking out. He wanted down so that he could run back to the safety of the back porch.

When I remember how Moses came into our lives, it reminds me of how my relationship with God developed. I remember being in the creek. In Psalms 69:1-3 (NLT) David wrote about his experience in the creek. " Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.”

When Moses the kitten cried out someone came to rescue him. God has made a promise to us. "Call to Me, and I will answer you." Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)  When God answers our call, he will bring us to a place of safety.

Moses found a place of peace and safety on the back porch. He knew that as long as he was on the back porch, nothing bad was going to happen to him. God has provided a place of peace and safety for us. "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble." Psalms 119:165 (NKJV) We need to look at God's law the way that Moses looked at the back porch. He realized that the back porch was his place of peace and safety and he wanted to be there. When he was anyplace else, it made him very uncomfortable.

Many times we look at God's law as a jail. We feel that it creates uncomfortable restrictions. We need to ask God to give us a love for his commandments, to instill in us a desire for the peace and safety of His law. No one forced Moses to stay on our back porch; he stayed because he loved the feeling of security. That is how we should view God's law. "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3 (NLT)

Just like Moses the kitty found that the front yard was a scary place, many people find the world frightening. It seems like the foundations of our society are crumbling beneath our feet because we are no longer a society that distinguishes right from wrong. God’s commandments are no longer the determination of what is right and wrong. “Christian morality is being ushered out of American social structures and off the cultural main stage, leaving a vacuum in its place — and the broader culture is attempting to fill the void,” reads a recent report by the Barna Group.

Gentle Reader, God’s commandments are like an umbrella. When you stay under the umbrella of God’s commandments, it protects you from many consequences. If you step out from under its protective cover, you suffer the consequences. Be like Moses the kitty and stay in the safety of God’s law. If you do, God promises in Leviticus 25:18 (NIV), “follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.”