Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Also Grieve

There are few who can fully share the sorrow that has fallen upon the parents of small children murdered in cold blood in the small hamlet of Newtown, CT.  These children were young Americans, their parents are fellow citizens, and we grieve with them.  There is little we can say to comfort these folk.  Only time will ease the grief and then there will always be the emotional scars.  My prayer is that God in His mercy and grace will give comfort to those affected by the death of their loved ones.  The senseless killing is horrific, which can only be explained as the actions of a very evil man.  How do people arrive at this stage?  How can we say that God is loving and just when He allows these things to occur?

We live in a sin-cursed world, but God is aware of everything that happens.  In our finite minds, although we  cannot fathom God's purposes, we need to trust in God.  He knows best, and nothing happens without His knowledge, and yes, nothing happens without His permission.

These senseless shootings are occurring more often than in the past.  There was a time when God was invited in the schoolhouse and in the government buildings all across this once great nation.  Five decades ago we decided to kick the Almighty out and replace a belief in God with a belief in evolution and in government.  We are now reaping what we have sown.  A Godless society cannot expect His protection.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus have a high calling, a purpose for living, and the prospect of eternal life.  Those who accept this life as a senseless evolutionary brief time on earth and then oblivion do not have any hope of a future after this life.  With no sense of eternal judgment, evil people become even more evil.  Their lives are filled with emptiness and despair.  We as a nation must repent and turn back to God.  Sadly too many are now turning to their government and asking them to stop the senseless killings.

Our government cannot help.  It is filled with wicked men and women too.  Many think that gun control measures will stem the tide of violence.  My wife read a news item recently about a deranged Chinese man who used a knife to kill and wound 22 kids.  Guns are not the only means of killing.  Actually if some of the teachers, and perhaps the principal had a gun and were trained to use it, we may have averted this tragedy. 

As darkness descends on our land, may we as Christians stand up for righteousness.  May we be salt and light.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Next?

Some of us were surprised that Obama was re-elected to a second term.  With the crowds that came out to hear Romney, and the almost lackadaisical attitude Obama exhibited toward the debates, I was sure Conservatives would flood the voting booths and vote Obama out of office.  Well, as we now know, it did not happen.  And now some are depressed, thinking it is the end of America as we once knew it to be.  They may be right.  We have weak-kneed Republican leadership in the House and Senate.  They are more interested in getting along and getting re-elected than in principle.

 So what do we do now?  There are some who have the means and the will, and they are leaving.  That may not be a bad idea, my forefathers did the same thing when they left the British Isles and Sweden in search of liberty.  But now there is no place to go.  As Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it, 'America is the last best hope for mankind.'  If the United States falls to tyranny, and she is surely heading in that direction, we have no place to flee to.  Others will go underground, perhaps taking a cue from Ayn Rand's popular novel, Atlas Shrugged.  Again, not a bad idea, but with technology the way it is today, it is very difficult to hide from the government if they want to find you.

So what do we do?  It may seem pat, but now more than ever, we need to trust in God.  There are brothers and sisters of ours who presently live in very oppressive countries.  They have families who have turned against them, have lost jobs, have been turned out of their homes, sometimes out of their villages, have been mocked, beaten, jailed, and some have died a martyr's death.  We have no promise that we will be spared. 

Now for the most part, we have much.  Perhaps it is harder to completely trust in God when you have money, job, family, and security that you can trust in.  I know in my case it is a struggle.  I want to trust God completely.  I know He will take care of me as surely as He took care of the Israelites for 40 years in the Arabian desert.  I have experienced time and again answered prayer - God cares for me.  But often I find that I have slipped from complete reliance upon the God of grace to reliance on myself, or money, or others.  It is not a good place to be; there is more stress, unhappiness, depression, and fear.  Remember 'God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.' II Tim. 1:7.

Let me urge you to strengthen yourselves in the Lord. Study and hold to the promises of God, seek His presence, cling to Him, love and trust Him.  Do you want to please Him?  Heb. 11:6, 'without faith it is impossible to please Him.'  The days may seem dark, but Jesus is still the Light of the world.  Let's go and proclaim the good news!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Graveside Service - Miriam Johnson, Oct. 20, 2012

Dust to dust.  When God created the first man, Adam, He created him from dust.  When Adam died, his body was reduced to dust.  So it is with all of us.  And as Eve was created to be a help meet for her husband, so Mom was a true helpmate for her husband.  God blessed the couple with six children, of whom I was number two.  Middle child syndrome runs strong in my veins.  Although I didn't appreciate it at the time, I now know what a task it was to raise six ornery kids, home schooling for many years, and giving each of us a lot of individual attention.

I have good memories of time spent with Mom.  She loved to read to us when we were small.  We would crowd around her on the couch at night and she would read Bible stories.  She was an accomplished pianist and tried unsuccessfully to teach most of us to play the piano.  She loved crossword and jigsaw puzzles.  I am not sure, but she may have even enjoyed home schooling us.  She was a good teacher, but I am sure I tried her patience.  Most of all, Mom prayed and worked tirelessly to see her children come to salvation in Jesus.  When I said goodbye to her last Sunday, although unable to talk, she was lucid, and smiled when I told her we would meet again.  Yes, the circle will be unbroken.  Gathered here are not only her children, but we have grandchildren and great-grandchildren here as well.  My challenge to each of you: don't break the chain.  Pray your children into the Kingdom.  Nothing would please Mom more.

Although we are sad, we do not mourn as others, who have no hope, because Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.'

The last year and a half of her life, Mom suffered from mind-debilitating dementia.  Last week she couldn't speak or move her arms or legs.  Now she can dance and sing the praises of her Savior with a mind that is clear and sharp.  She is reunited with her parents, her husband, a baby she miscarried, and best of all she is with the King Who she served during her sojourn on earth.

My parents, like Abraham of old, went out, not knowing where they were going.  They waited for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  Now Mom has seen the city, she has seen God.  Now Mom is home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


After living 88 years and 9 months, my Mom finally passed from this life to a new one this past Tuesday.  Although death of loved ones make us sad, as Christ-followers we have a hope which others cannot have.  When God creates a soul, it will never die.  When Jesus walked this earth three days after He had been crucified, He proved that He had the power over death.  Those who trust Him will live forever after leaving this earthly body.

Mom was ready to go.  Her mind was ravaged with Alzheimer's disease, and in her last days was in hospice, since her body would no longer process food and her immune system was gone.  This past Sunday I said goodbye to her.  She was unusually lucid as Paul read from the Psalms.  Although she could not speak, her eyes were open and when I told her we would follow her one day and meet together in Heaven, she was actually able to smile.  I was told that for the rest of her life, she was mostly unconscious until she finally shed her body at 9:30 Tuesday morning.  We can only imagine the glorious reunion in Heaven.

My memories of my mother are good ones.  As the apostle Paul speaks approvingly of Timothy's mother, Eunice's teaching him the Scriptures from an early age, so Mom taught her six children.  It had to be very difficult, the first 5 of us were born less than 18 months apart.  But her patience and loving, careful discipline was exemplary.  Much of our schooling was at her feet, since we were home schooled before it became popular.  More than academics, Mom taught us character.  And yes, we were characters!  Most important to her, Mom wanted us to not only learn about her Savior, but to know Him.  The prayers of both my mother and father have been answered.  I am sure I speak for each of my brothers and sisters when I say, 'Mom, we will meet again.'  The chain will not be broken.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You didn't build that

In an unfortunate moment for Barack Obama this past month, he made a statement which was part of his basic world view, but is not part of the American political philosophy. Although there are those who deny it, everything he does  and says reflects his socialist roots.  America from its earliest days has been built on capitalism.  Take the first summer after the Pilgrims survived the terrible previous winter.  They tried having a communal farm which failed miserably (socialism).  William Bradford, fearing another winter of starvation, gave each family their own plot to grow their own crops (capitalism).  Well the Pilgrims realized they could now grow their own food, and each family showed up daily, working hard to provide for themselves.  It is a basic human instinct - the opportunity to work hard, and smart, to take risks to improve your lot.  It is not an opportunity afforded everyone, and sad to say, if Obama has his way, Americans will not have the opportunity for long.  But capitalism, to a large degree, is what built this nation.   And we are a generous people, those who have been blessed materially willingly share with the less fortunate.  But we do not want to be forced to do so, or to give to those who do not deserve it.  When Obama wants to redistribute the wealth, his socialistic views come out.  And when Obama said 'you didn't build that' referring to small businesses, the American businessmen and entrepreneurs took offense. 

Now this may surprise you, but in a sense, I agree with Obama.  Not with what he meant, but in a very real way, I received a lot of help in building my business.  I couldn't have done it  by myself.  I disagree heartily with what our president meant, because he was referring to governmental assistance, of which I received very little.  Actually I have been hindered by the government much more than helped.  I am sure most people who have started a successful business will attest to that.

So when I think back to the spring of 1994 before the company was formed, I promised that if God would allow me to start a plastics distributorship, I would give it to God, and would try to operate the company as He would want me to and give Him the glory for what He would do through me.  I can't say I always kept that promise, but despite my failures, God has blessed Grace Plastics.  It is not only a plastics distributorship, but God has blessed us with two plants, where we sort and grind plastic scrap.  It is not always smooth sailing.  Running a company is a daily challenge and can be daunting.  I try to keep the Almighty at the helm.  He is the Chairman of the Board of Grace Plastics.  He and I have a board meeting every morning and every important decision is not made without seeking His approval.

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and defeated the inhabitants of Canaan, God constantly reminded them Who it was that brought them out of Egypt, led and fed them for forty years, defeated the giants, Sihon and Og, and brought about the conquest of the Land which God had promised many years ago to the patriarch Abraham.  We would do well to remember that it is still God who allows us to build our businesses.  I share the disgust my fellow entrepreneurs have toward Obama's insinuation that they couldn't have built their businesses without the help of the government, but instead of swelling up with pride and saying, 'I built this company with my own strength, brains, and ability,' we should humbly realize that it is God Who has blessed us, and it is He who can take it all away in the blink of an eye.  If you doubt me, read the first chapter of Job.

We are approaching a very important presidential election this fall, and although neither candidate is a Christian and there are political short-comings on both sides, we have to change the resident in the White House.  There is nothing racist in my feelings toward him, but Obama's politics are leading this country to financial ruin, and he seems to relish in what is happening.  I know God is in control and I can rest in Him, but I also would encourage everyone to vote for Romney/Ryan this November.  If Obama is given another term, I don't think Americans would survive as free people.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Death and Life

My mother-in-law Jean Snook passed from this life to Heaven this past June 18.  The funeral was two days later. My son Joe was to be one of the pall bearers.  His wife Danielle was expecting and due in a week.  Knowing that babies don't keep to rigid schedules, contingency plans were made and sure enough, Joe called as we were getting ready to leave for the funeral.  Danielle was 'having cramps and leaking.'  Kathy knew what that meant.  She is a veteran of four pregnancies and told Joe to get Danielle to the hospital, especially since Danielle's mom was famous for having quick deliveries.  They went to the doctor who surprisingly told Danielle to go home and take a bath!  Although she followed this piece of advice, soon after they on their way to the hospital.  A couple hours later, as we were leaving the gravesite, Nicole Johnson came into this world, changing their lives forever. 

She is a small, but beautiful and innocent soul, created by God.  He has placed her in the trust of Joe and Danielle.  It is their responsibility to not only care for her physically, but to care for and nurture her spiritually.  She will live forever and I, as her grandfather, have a tremendous desire that she is saved at an early age and lives for Jesus the Messiah.  I have been and will continue to pray for her salvation. 

The timing was perfect.  A bright ray of sunshine on an otherwise dark day.

Jean Lawrence Snook: 3/25/1931 - 6/18/2012

And now to Jean's last days - this is good:
A month before her death, Jean was in the hospital, the doctors were fighting to save her.  Kathy was there, but kept out the ICU.  It was a very close call, but she pulled through.  The next day she told us that Jesus had come to her the night before, had taken her hand and told her that He would never leave her.  He came the next night also.  She was seriously disappointed when He did not show up the third night. 

Three days before she passed we had her put in hospice.  She couldn't swallow, not even water.  Death was a foregone conclusion.  Sunday evening we were all sitting around her bed, not knowing if she could hear or understand us.  About 9:00 I left, leaving Kathy, her brother and sister.  An hour later Jean's eyes opened wide, after not having taken a breath for over three minutes.  She wasn't looking at anyone in particular, so Kathy's brother asked her if she could see her husband, Morrie.  With a big smile, she was able to say, 'Un huh.'  Then Kathy's sister asked if she could see Jesus.  Again, a big smile and another, 'Un huh.'  Kathy was dialing her remaining sister, who lives in town, and brother who was driving from South Carolina and was still four hours away.  Jean seemed to understand them and her son's plea that she hold out until he got there.  Craig came rushing in at 2:00 and although she didn't regain consciousness and departed this life at 7:00 that morning as Jean slipped her hand into the nail-scarred hand of her Savior, Who led her through the Pearly Gates into the splendor of Heaven.

For the last year of her life she was bedridden.  Don't you think she was ready to dance and sing for the King?  She was in a church choir here on earth.  Now she has joined a heavenly one that is so much better - the One they are praising is right there.  Death is unnatural because God didn't plan for it - it was caused by sin and rebellion against God's rule.  However the child of God has nothing to fear in death.  Jesus conquered death when He rose from the grave that glorious Sunday morning almost 2,000 years ago. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012


It's official.  On May 19, I turned 60.  For those have not yet had the pleasure, it's not that bad.  I'm a believer in the 'you are as young as you feel' philosophy, and am still a kid at heart.  Actually God has blessed me with a healthy body and mind, although the mind is deteriorating, and some would say it is already gone.  I have nothing to complain of.  With King David I can say, 'The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;' Ps. 16:6.
The last two posts of this blog have dealt with those who question God's goodness and why He allows so much grief and suffering.  There was a time when I thought God had abandoned me.  It was a tough period of life when I had gone for over a year trying desperately to get a decent job, one that would provide for my family.  Although I never accepted government handouts, we were grateful for family and friends who cared and provided groceries.  During the month of August, 1985 I was selling life insurance and was not doing well at it.  I remember going to the office late one night where I spent an hour on the floor pleading with God to help me make enough sales to pay the bills.  I don't remember how the bills were paid, but I didn't make many sales.  I was devastated.  I believed God had turned His back and no longer cared for me.  I got a job at McDonald's, flipping burgers - minimum wage. 

Although God has not revealed to me why He allowed me to go through those dark days, I know that I would not be where I am today if God had not put me through His mill.  I only wish I had more faith then, but in His goodness, God wrapped His loving arms around me and carried me forward.

For those who are in similar circumstances, I can truly say, I know what you are going through, for I have been there.  Please allow God to be God.  Don't doubt Him like I did.  There is light at the other end of the tunnel.  God has not abandoned you.  Keep trusting Him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why Does God Allow...

A month ago tornadoes tore through the Ohio Valley from western Indiana into west-central Ohio. It demolished a hamlet, Moscow, OH which is on the Ohio River, 20 miles south of our home. My nephew, who is six, asked this question: 'Couldn't God have stopped it?'

It is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Do we simply say, "We are not to question God. He will do as He pleases and that is that"? To make such an arbitrary answer may turn some people away from God.

First we must understand that our God is a God of love. Above all, He loves His creation, so much so that He gave his life for mankind. We must also acknowledge that He is holy and just. As such, He is obligated to punish those who rebel against His kingdom and law. That would include everyone of us. We have all sinned against God, and therefore have fallen short of His glory. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God punished them with a cursed earth. Man was never created to live in the conditions he often places himself in. We were created to glorify God and enjoy His fellowship. Many of the bad things that happen to us are caused by people doing bad things to others or to themselves. And often people blame God. But is God responsible for disease, famine, pestilence, or other horrific acts of nature (sometimes referred to as acts of God)?

Let's look at Job who suffered incredible losses, all in one day, and then suffered excruciating pain. His three friends accused Job of doing something which must have made God angry with him. They said if he would repent, God would restore him to health and prosperity. But we are given a glimpse of what actually was happening behind the scenes. God and Satan were having a contest and Job was the subject. God never caused any of the suffering inflicted upon Job; Satan caused the loss and pain. He hates and despises all of God's creation, especially Christ- followers. Job stood firm in his faith in God, although he did not know the cause of his affliction. God won the contest and as a result was glorified.

I believe that often when the righteous are faced with pain and loss, it is often caused by the most wicked and hate-filled creature that has ever existed. Yes, God allows it but He is not the author of it. Although we may not understand why, we should trust that God knows best. He's never vindictive, and never allows us to bear a burden too heavy or a temptation too great. He always has a greater reason for what He allows, often to make us able to shoulder increased responsibilities as was the case with Joseph. After being sold into slavery by wicked and extremely jealous brothers (possibly incited by Satan), and then thrown into jail though he was innocent, he kept his faith in God and at just the right time God brought him out of jail and he was instantly installed as the prime minister of Egypt, and several years later prevented the starvation of thousands of people, including his own brothers.

Well, what about natural disasters, couldn't God prevent them? The answer is yes, He could. Then why doesn't He? The answer is not easy. We, like Job, cannot see behind the scenes. We also live in a sin-cursed world. When Adam and Eve sinned, God placed a curse upon the earth. One day it will all be changed. Rom. 8:21 states 'that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.' Read Revelation 21 for a more in-depth description of the new earth which God will create after Satan's final defeat and after judgment has been passed upon the unsaved. But in the meantime we are living in a mean time. And it is not God's fault. The punishment for sin does not only happen after death. So much of the results of sin are experienced in this life, and tragically often innocent ones also suffer because of the sins of others. The greatest example of this is when the perfect Lamb of God was put to death at the hands of wicked men. Even in this, although the disciples thought surely God has made some terrible mistake, we know God's perfect will was accomplished in bringing the plan of salvation to the world.

We should also remember that it isn't all about us or our needs and desires. Ultimately God is in control and will do the right thing. Trust Him, because He loves you more than anyone does.