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By chapter nine, the last chapter of Amos, God is through delivering His promises of judgment and punishment to His chosen people. The window of opportunity for repentance and restoration has closed. There is a lesson there for us. Do not presume upon the goodness, mercy, and grace of God Almighty. He is not obligated to withhold judgment for any length of time. Your opportunity to repent and call upon His Name could end at any second. That opportunity exists only by His good pleasure.

With love being a popular subject this month, my boyfriend suggested I write about an actor he knows I love (not as much as him, of course): My all-time favorite actor is Humphrey Bogart, and if anybody is worthy of a column about them … it's him.

Hollywood’s biggest night is back this coming Sunday, and the race is on to take home the most important statue in the movie making business.

The Christian life is first and foremost about having a relationship with your Creator. Without that relationship, nothing else matters. One cannot be a Christian unless he/she has entered into a relationship with Christ. One cannot live in an acceptable fashion before God, unless he/she treats other people in a Christ-like manner. The “social gospel” does not save anyone. Only entering into a personal relationship with Christ through His shed blood can bring about salvation. However, we must not ignore the heavy and recurring emphasis throughout the Bible on justice, mercy, and grace. Without justice, mercy, and grace from God, you and I would be doomed. We love to hear about God’s mercy and grace toward us, but I am not so sure about the requirement on us. God has called us to be like Him. We must do what He does. Freely we have received; freely we must give. There is nothing in the Bible taught any more clearly. Our treatment of the weak is a great indicator of the strength of our faith. God will hold us accountable. We will be judged for how we treat those who are weaker or disadvantaged. As a side note, let me be clear, I am not speaking of governmental policy; I am speaking of individual behavior. Most of what 21st century government does in an attempt to help the weak really hurts those it purports to help, but that is a discussion for another time.

My wife Kathy relates a recurring scenario of coming home after a stressful day and craving macaroni and cheese. Psychologists tell us that when under stress, adults often choose comfort foods to “feel better.” Consuming high calorie, high fat, salty or sugary foods triggers chemicals in the brain’s pleasure center which provide a temporary sense of mood elevation. Comfort foods are foods that bring back feelings of home and security. We ate these foods as children when life was simpler. Some common comfort foods in the U.S. are macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.

Seventeen years ago today (Feb. 1), the skies over East Texas exploded and rained down onto the ground.

Amos is an unrelenting attack on the all-pervading unrighteousness of God’s people. No one was exempt, not the general population, not the political leaders, and certainly not the religious leaders. By the end of chapter five, God had rejected Israel’s feasts, their solemn assemblies, their celebrations, their sacrifices, their singing, their worship, etc. In short, God was sick of His people. Amos chapter six begins with a proclamation of woe to the leaders in the southern kingdom of Judah and to the leaders in the northern kingdom of Israel. God uses sarcasm to emphasize the attitude of their heart. They evidently believed, seemed to refer to themselves, as the most important people in the most important of all nations. There is some truth in that claim, but they have forgotten two deeply significant points. They failed to acknowledge where their blessing came from. They also failed to realize that to whom much is given, much is required. They not only did not carry out their responsibilities, they took advantage of the general population, so that they, themselves, could live in luxury.

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