Thursday, December 20, 2018

More Than The Bucket Dog

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I watched on old Bonanza rerun about a female Irish Setter the breeder had determined at birth was to be drowned in a bucket because she did not fit his purpose. The episode, Season 14, Episode 11, is titled “The Bucket Dog.” The synopsis on IMDB says:

Jamie forms a bond with an Irish setter he names April. However, April was a runt and - according to her rightful owner - should be put to sleep because she was a disgrace to the breed.

“Put to sleep” is an euphemism. Drowning in a bucket or shooting, as the breeder tried, certainly is not “putting to sleep”, is it?

I couldn’t stop thinking of what is done to a fetus during abortion and what happens to the body of the tiny human who was determined an inconvenience. I’ve only known only two women who considered abortion. One declined to tell her husband, then discovered she was not pregnant. The other went through with her abortion because she didn’t want another child. Both stated openly the pregnancy was inconvenient.

An inconvenient truth remains in both cases. Pregnancy in humans is the joining of an egg and a sperm that creates unique human DNA. The fact that the cells divide and grow does not change the human DNA. Allowed to continue in a mother’s environment, these cells remain human. Removed from that environment because they are simply inconvenient, the cells remain human.

Human rights is a question that has global implications. There have been times in human history when societal segments were deemed inhuman, with powerful people taking them to be enslaved, discriminately taxed, or killed. At times, the killing was done for entertainment, crowds watching to see who survived. Once it was done with organized precision, in masses, out of simple hate.

Now it is done for convenience and for money. Body parts being sold in addition to charging the mother for the procedure. And, it is not called an execution nor surgery, just a “procedure”.  The human being killed is not deemed human, just a cellular mass – but all the cells are unique human DNA.

Scientists, ethicists, politicians, judges, citizens, mothers, fathers, and some clergy, all followed the convenience trend and found killing these humans is allowed. A few, a vocal few, state openly it is killing.

I’m one of those who agrees we are allowing the killing of humans by allowing abortion on demand. That concerns me as a human because when one segment of humanity can be dehumanized by another, it can happen again, and again. Human rights exist, or they don’t.

I also am concerned as a Christian. It would take a book to list all the verses that convinced me that God opposes killing humans – beginning with:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

How about Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:1-24, Psalm 139:16, Galatians 1:15, Psalm 139:13-16, Isaiah 49:5, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:29 – and I could continue for dozens more.

God knows us. He knows the ones who sought Him and chose to be of service to Him here. He knows just as well those who opted not to love God and his fellow man. He knows which sins we have committed, and the good works we have omitted. He knows which ones we have confessed to Him – and the ones we have never mentioned, nor regretted.

To God, there are no “bucket dogs.” He has an open invitation to “whosoever” believeth, according to John 3:16. Oh, He knows who will and who will not accept His gift of saving grace. He is not limited by the time and space that we are. He is not limited by a lack of knowledge, either. He has set His own boundaries on making us do as He pleases – He gives us the choice to believe or not. That’s an offer to all humans, a human right denied by abortion for convenience.

I’ve seen results from following His precepts, and following those who have rejected His gift. I prefer God’s methodology, though I understand little of it. I have faith in God.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Humbleness

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When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 KJV)

No one wants to be humiliated. Too many people equate “humility” with being humiliated. There is a difference:
Humble - adjective
1.  having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance.
2. of low social, administrative, or political rank

Humble - verb
lower (someone) in dignity or importance
Humility - noun
a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness
It’s a very big difference when considering what God requires of mankind:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV)

Matthew Henry’s Commentary states:
It is God himself that has shown us what we must do. We need not trouble ourselves to make proposals, the terms are already settled and laid down. He whom we have offended, and to whom we are accountable, has told us upon what conditions he will be reconciled to us.
It really doesn’t matter when another person attempts to humiliate us – it simply shows what type of person they are, not us. What does matter is our being humble while walking with our Lord.

God created man to walk with Him, and He did so in the Garden. That’s not what our adversary has in mind. He desires enmity – the same enmity he has with God. His desire is to make mankind into his image, whereas God created mankind in His own:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: (Genesis 1:26a KJV)

Do we think we can purchase God’s attention? Does He tell us anywhere that we are to give Him riches? Micah was inspired to write what is basically that same question before answering in verse 8:

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:6-7 KJV)

Read Psalm 50 and learn that all there is belongs to God, therefore what can we offer that is not His?

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (Psalms 50:10 KJV)

John wrote it more clearly:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 KJV)

Is it easy to walk humbly? Many find it very difficult, but Jesus didn’t:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 KJV)

The majority of us are not asked to face the death of the cross, but we will die. History has proven to us what the Bible states openly:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

Every religion also had a type of judgment. Most have some commandments, rules, regulations – whatever called – that must be achieved prior to death. How many of them simply require mankind to learn of their deity? How else may we walk with our Lord? How do we seek Him?

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29 KJV)

There is a time limit:

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6 KJV)

What has been your experience in seeking Him?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

It’s Your Choice, and Your Consequences

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It’s the consequences that go unconsidered. As a result of one inattentive left hand turn, my son-in-law died, and a woman is charged with that death. Although there was opportunity for them to meet where she worked selling BBQ, and he frequently bought his lunch at the same place, we do not know if they met. Right now, there’s no one we can ask, either. However, there is no doubt that she did not choose him to die, though that was the consequence of her choice to turn left in front of him.

How deadly are the consequences we face? Most are not that deadly, but most choices are made without considering the worst possible consequence. A man under the influence hits wife, one more time. The consequence is that she no longer trusts him – in many ways. The consequence is the death of the family unit.

For the wages of sin is death;

Paul is explicit. The consequence of sin is death. There’s no doubt about it. It isn’t immediate, as Adam and Eve discovered, but it is explicit. Additional information in the Bible indicates it is also eternally irreversible – with one exception:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

That’s the choice faced every time someone asks timeless evangelical question, “Do you know where you are going when you die?” This is ignorable, and most people shrug and answer, “I’ve lived a good life, I think God will understand.”

That answer bothers me because I’ve heard too many people tell me I have my God, and they have theirs. Only one of them offered to tell me about their God – claimed it was the same as mine – and told me about his holy book, the Quran. Unfortunately, we don’t worship the same God, because mine inspired:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

His “begets not, neither is he begotten.” The difference between the two attitudes causes confusion, and I’ve been taught:

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV)

Before we discuss consequences, let’s revisit how to get rid of our sins:

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:8-9 KJV)

Saved from what? Death. But not from the consequences of our sin. The thief that confessed he believed Jesus, and Jesus told him he would be in Paradise with Him, was not delivered from the consequences of his thievery. Also, as much as He prayed for the cup to pass, Jesus was not delivered from the consequences of our sins.

What can happen, however, is there are no more consequences to be faced. Lives can be changed by the person living them. The inattentive driver can become a carefully aware driver for the rest of her life. The drunken abuser can refuse to use addictive substances and treat women with respect. No one else can do it for them – it truly is their choice, and we may never face those decisions ourselves.

Everyone makes the choice about what their God is. What did you decide? I confess, I chose years ago to study the Bible and accept God as described in Genesis 1:1 and following verses, questioning verses along the way, trusting answers will be provided, and I accepted His gift of salvation.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 KJV)

Any failings are mine – not His – and I’ll live with the consequences.

Monday, December 10, 2018

End of the Road

End of the road


One website I visit different times through the years is Journeys With The Messiah.

I received an e-mail from them that showed a number of new pictures of the Master - one is “End of the Road” and (as usual) it spoke to me.

Here’s a man – our Messiah - standing at a blocked road, beside a cross. I can almost hear unbelievers’ comments about how He is always blocking our means of achieving happiness with His Commandments and rules those Christians have to obey.

I do wish they could see Him as I do. An omnipotent, omniscient entity beyond our comprehension who not only created (Genesis 1:1) but inhabited a human body to do what we could not (John 1; 3-16).

As for His Commandments, there are only two that are the base of all the remainder, according to His response to a trick question. (Matthew 22:36-40).  Compare any law with these two and you will see that His laws are very basic and do not need thousands of pages telling people what to do.  Read the book He inspired and you’ll find more examples of people who did not follow those two rules – and the consequences of their actions.

So, why is this photo showing a blocked road? I can think of a couple of reasons:
1) it’s the wrong road;
2) the traveler is not qualified.
There are two destinations defined in the Bible for us after our life on earth is complete. One leads to an eternity with the Creator of Genesis and we’ve been given glimpses of that destination throughout the Bible – our main piece of information is that God is there. The other destination lacks God, and lacks hope of ever hearing of or from God again. I prefer the first destination, and I believe God provides that for those who believe.

In this photo, the man representing Jesus could be stopping our journey down the wrong path - or He could be offering to accompany us along the right path. We simply have to decide whether We believe He is able to provide our needs - or not.

God put that decision totally in our hands. I read of two men who literally made their decision in the last moments of their lives - one on Jesus’ left, the other on the right. One of them simply asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom. There are verses that cover this in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19. Mark tells us it fulfills prophecy in Isaiah 53:12, but Luke is the only one that tell us of the thief’s request to be remembered. Perhaps Mary was close enough to hear those words.

I’ve heard people say that the salvation offered us is not that simple, but God inspired verses that says it is – Luke’s thief on the cross, Luke 23:39-43 and Paul’s jailer in Acts 16:30-31.
Living those two commandments is not as easy as salvation, though. We are better equipped to sin through self protection and our desires. That’s why I’m a believer that Jesus is our help along the way, as he helped disciples - only losing one to his own desires.

What if I’m wrong? What have I lost? If I’m right, what have I gained? Does using “you” instead of “I” change the equation? Or does changing the person asking?

I just pray that readers will ask themselves - who is Jesus? Why should I care? Then search for why so many do care, and how lives are changed.

Do stop by and visit the photographs taken for Journeys With The Messiah. How do they strike you?














Thursday, October 18, 2018

Burdened?

Papouasie Baliem Valley By Lasthib - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

More thoughts brought on by yesterday’s post. I wrote of burdens, beliefs and buying into obedience

I’m thinking now of missionaries in Papua New Guinea. To see their photos and read their Facebook posts (what a blessing to be able to use these!), it would seem they picked up heavy burdens, not lightening their load. Unsubstantial housing, limited access to medical supplies, multiple flights and long hikes to reach a city and return to their clinic. A community lacking clean water, sustaining food supplies, restful shelter, and government capable of infrastructure.

You cannot match them for smiles, love, and prayers. They exchanged the burdens of modern life for God’s lighter burden of love. The labor they do is described by Jesus as so much better than Micah 6:7, with wonderful results:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40 KJV)

Please read the entire parable – Matthew 25:31-46 – because there are divisions that will be made:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:32-34 KJV)

But, those words will not be for all the gathered nations. Some will hear:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
(Matthew 25:41 KJV)

The choice belongs to every man. It is the same choice given to the people of Israel millennia ago:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

The photo above from Wikimedia Commons only represents the area where our missionaries serve our Lord in a medical clinic. They treat every community member the same, whether a minor scrape or a serious injury. That’s their obedience to our Lord’s calling. They live their choice to follow God every single day in their service to the people around them.

It’s not necessary to go far away from our own culture. Jesus gave His Great Commission:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)

And a departing instruction:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8 KJV)

Seek His will in your own life for the place God will use you best. Be the witness locally, where people know you or they don’t, as far as His word will take you. God will bless your service in His name.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

If You Believe . . .

Genesis1-1Mike

Yes, Mike Wheeler is on my mind. His witness continues to be spoken among extended family and friends. His testimony was recorded some time ago, played during his funeral, and will be shared as we receive requests. How many Christians can say that people are being centered on God after a funeral?

Mike did make these two statements, and believed. Genesis 1:1 introduces us to our Creator, and John 1:1 adds a description:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 KJV)

I like what the Pulpit Commentary had to say about this first verse as John began his writing of God’s good news:

At length the moment arrived when the "Son of Thunder," who saw all the glory of the risen Lord, all the majesty of his triumphant reign, uttered these opening words . . .

If believing Genesis 1:1 introduces us to God, John 1:1 introduces us to His plan of salvation, and the following verses continue in that vein:

The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:2-4 KJV)

Though human, Jesus was not new. His message was not new, either. Mankind was made for fellowship with God. Even though man broke that fellowship, God plan include a path back to that fellowship, and that path is obedience.

Not a blind obedience, but a companionship obedience. Jesus explained that it was an exchange of burdens, not additional ones:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)

Charles P. Jones paraphrased this, publishing one of my favorite hymns in 1908, Come Unto Me:

Hear the blessed Savior calling the oppressed,
“Oh, ye heavy-laden, come to Me and rest;
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,
Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”

Refrain:
Come unto Me, I will give you rest;
Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blest;
I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might;
Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.

God’s intentions came much earlier than Matthew’s words. Here’s what Micah wrote:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:7-8 KJV)

Believe. Such a simple word, but some will not even discuss, much less believe. If you cannot believe, please be able to explain to yourself why you do not, and what can happen if you are wrong.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What Do You Give Away?

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By Chief Petty Officer Christopher Evanson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Most of us have given something away. Birthdays, weddings, showers, retirements, multiple events during a person’s life are gift-giving opportunities. There are organizations to which we give – religious support, community organizations, children’s activities. We’ve ample opportunity to give something of value away to be of value to someone else.

Usually, there is a monetary value, but often there is sentimental value. A woman passing down a ring to her daughter, a favorite tool goes from father to son, handmade trinkets from child to parents.

We often give of ourselves, time donated for good causes, even our blood to save lives, as in CPO Evanson’s photo. A few, very few, offer their lives. Jesus says they are special people – we had one who spent his last months flying B-17s out of England toward Germany. He died 7 July 1944.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Are your friends close enough, loved enough, that you would die for them? How about for people that dislike you, speak against you, or even deny you exist? The verse we’ve all heard:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Do you read that and think “So what? God sent a man to his death. Why is that different?”

Two verses – and a few more – tell me that God gave Himself:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

And, I like one that gives Abraham’s prophetic words:

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8)

God will provide himself. And, He did. Not a lamb, but a full-grown ram in the thicket. Just as He provided a baby in Bethlehem who grew to spread God’s salvation, and understood fully what was being done. The four gospels tell how He lived His life, and the remaining New Testament tell how His life changes others.

Believing a creator exists is a lot easier than believing that Creator loves enough to feel what we feel, live by the limits we live by, and fight the physical temptations we fight, too.

Why?

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

How?

That returns us to Genesis 1:1, John 1:1, and John 3:16. Please take time to read surrounding verses.  In fact, read all of John, and continue through the Bible. Be like the Bereans when you read, with readiness of mind and searching to see if these things are so:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)