Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Let me catch up a bit . . .

Henry

“Henry” – my personal meningioma

No, that’s not a Rorschach graphic, nor a weird science fiction drawing. That’s a printout from my latest MRI and the white mass below my right eye is “Henry.” I chose the name because I don’t like spelling out or explaining “meningioma”, a most-often-benign tumor on the covering of the brain, but as it grows, it presses into the brain.

Henry’s unapproved residency was discovered after some minor symptoms. Due to his location, my age, and the minor symptoms, both my neurologist and neurosurgeon suggested watch/wait. Unless Henry grew, there was no need to be concerned.  Yes, I believed them, and we were able to live together for several years. Now, however, Henry is sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.

Thinking about getting rid of Henry made me think of scripture:

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45 KJV)

Sometimes that happens to meningiomas, too. If not all of the tumor is removed, regrowth can occur. Just as the sin we’ve put out of our lives can return if we allow emptiness to remain.

Jesus’ parable doesn’t mention filling that empty place. However, I believe if were filled with scripture, prayer, Christian fellowship, there would be no empty placed “garnished” for unclean spirits (sinfulness) to move in.

I have it on good authority that when Henry is evicted, my neurosurgeon intends to leave no scraps behind. My brain will eventually fill the empty space, with some (hopefully) pressure released. What is required now is time for a few more tests – giving me time to request specific prayers for successful treatment.

I appreciate your prayers.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

“Normally do not share . . .”

temp
Pictures of food.  They are too tempting for one of my quick and easy downfalls. 
Yet – this was so good to pass along.
Baked – and written about – by a pastor’s wife,  who you can meet at
Zion Baptist Church in Coushatta, Louisiana.
Feel free to drop by there and worship with them. In the mean time, take a look not only at pans of tasty baked goods, but a daily application. My title came from the beginning of her post:

I normally do not share pics of food ... but these turned out pretty.

I was given a sourdough starter back in November, by my dear friend's Mom, who happens to be an excellent baker.

She gave me instructions how to feed the starter. I have been making breads for years, but quickly discovered that keeping this starter "alive" might be a full-time job.

I had forgotten to feed the starter the first 10 days (you're supposed to every 3 to 5).

When I took it out to feed it for the first time, it didn't look bubbly like she said it would. It looked flat. My friends assured me it was fine. After feeding it about the third time, I decided to try my hand at a loaf. My loaf looked awful. It did not look like any sourdough bread I had seen at Whole Foods.
I messaged this dear lady and told her I "killed" the starter. I explained how I fed it, how it turned out, and I had managed to kill it.

She messaged me back, and said not to worry. She gave me specific instructions how I could bring it back to "life". She said it may take a few days.

I continued to feed it. A couple days went by ... nothing. I kept doing as instructed. (At this point it was a battle of will, and I was determined to see this thing through. LOL)

On the 4th day, I woke up, and I was so excited. The dough on my counter look like a bubbly science experiment. I then started the process of making the bread loaf. (It IS a process.) By Sunday morning I had finally managed to make a beautiful sourdough bread loaf. We have continued to enjoy this a few times since.

I read a blog last week, and it reminded me of this whole process of me trying to figure out the sourdough starter.

It reminded me if my relationship with Christ. There have been many seasons in my life where I was not where I should be as a Christian. I wasn't useless ... but I wasn't doing exactly as I should, or walking with my Savior like I should. 

Much like this sourdough starter, when I focused on "feeding" my spirit like I should I noticed a difference. The first few times may have been "flat", but then when I least expected it, things would begin to come alive again.
 
I just thought I would encourage someone this evening. When we work on our spirit, and follow God's Word .... things begin to come "alive" again.

Side note: I am thankful I did not give up on my starter. My family is especially glad, and looking forward to the fruits of my labor.

My regular readers will notice there are no scriptures in this blog - 
and my blog is to encourage you to read your Bible. 
So, I'd suggest you search for scriptures that will remind you of your relationship to Christ. 
Another good subject to research is leaven in the Bible. 
Maybe tomorrow we'll have a short discussion on that! Please come back and join in.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wicked and Redemption

temp
That could be (but isn’t) a photo of my daughter during her gymnastic studies. She was very good on a balance beam as well as the other competitive areas. She has a large number of ribbons, medals, and trophies as a result. She was never Olympic material.  Today I am very grateful for that.

Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and the mother of three, was also an Olympic gymnast in 2000. It has taken seventeen years for her to complete her battle to be heard and stop the decades long abuse she and others received from adults who were tasked with their protection.

She was on television Wednesday morning – poised and professional, but not as a gymnast. She was an innocent and a protector. I thought of those who accused Job, and this girl who accused one man and those who protected him. Job was proven innocent (read the book for specifics). This young lawyer helped prove a man guilty. In his guilt, he wrote the judge and described what he was going through:
'I was a good doctor, because my treatments worked and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over,' wrote Nassar.
'The media convinced them that it was wrong and bad. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.'
'Now [the victims] are seeking the media attention and financial reward.'
How Rachael responded to her abuser, we can read her description of redemption:
In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.
You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.  …
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well

And, we find an explanation how to determine when we’ve gone astray:
Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.
When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love.
Job knew the straight line – that strait way and narrow gate – between him and God. Rachael Denhollander knows it, too. She quoted C. S. Lewis:
My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?
So – to close the discussion from yesterday (Job, thousands of years ago) and the courtroom drama of today, I want to confirm that I believe wicked are punished – in God’s timing, not ours. Confirm that we speak out against cruelty and injustice – with definitions that have withstood the tests of time and are not of our own feelings of what could be. How is our straight line defined? Against what do we compare? What Christians use does tell us that eventually - in God's time - the wicked are punished.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Do You Believe Wicked Are Punished

temp
If you are a Christian, you know the Bible tells you that the wicked are punished. And that:

A it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10 KJV)

Or, as David sang:

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:2-3 KJV)

There is redemption, though, and there are men who are righteous in God’s eyes. Job was one:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (Job 1:1 KJV)

Job was perfect and upright because he believed God and deliberately refrained from evil. Others in the Bible serve as similar examples – but today, as I’m in the middle of reading Job, I’m thinking of his “friends.” The ones who told him:

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. (Job 4:7-9 KJV)

Eliphaz the Temanite believed Job to be guilty because it appeared he was being punished.

Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; (Job 8:3-4 KJV)

Bildad the Shuhite felt the same way – that sin causes God to cast sinners away. Job answers them, speaking of his innocence and God’s power. Still:

Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; (Job 11:3-5 KJV)

Zophar the Naamathite joins in the accusations. Job must be guilty – of what they can only wait for his confession, for no guilt is obvious. Still, Job denies going against God.

Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee. (Job 15:6 KJV)

Then rounds begin again. By saying God allowed what happened to Job, to continue pleading his innocence, Eliphaz states that Job must be testifying to his guilt.

Back and forth, the friends speak against Job and he defends his innocence, steadfast in his position with God:

God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. (Job 27:5-6 KJV)

Then a young man, Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, decides his elders just aren’t up to the work at hand and he can do better. In verse 33:33, he is determined to teach Job wisdom.

Mostly, over my lifetime, I’ve been taught the patience of Job – but I don’t see a quiet patience. I see Job seeking to learn from God why this is happening. When his friends assure him God takes care of the righteous and only punishes the guilty, Job describes evil acts men do and there is no punishment.

Thus my questions – do you believe wicked are punished and righteous rewarded, here on earth? Really? Can you share your reason for thinking the punishment is connected to the crime by a short length of time? Trust me, a lifetime really is a short period of time.

Come back to read me tomorrow and we’ll discuss a bit more about time, punishment, and redemption.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Husband, Love Your Wife

temp

This is one of my favorite chapters because it generates so much discussion – and division - over what is meant by:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22 KJV)

I promise that if you have questions about that verse, I will address in the future, just leave a comment – but during a discussion last night about stewardship and budgeting, Ephesians 5:25 was deemed applicable as the discussion applied to families.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25 KJV)

It is good to research what Christ gives His church (what it needs), as this verse requests husband’s to emulate Christ in loving the church – that’s how a husband should love the wife he chooses for a lifetime.

The “church” is often applied to the physical plant that is used as a place for gathering to worship. It also applies to the people – those who love Jesus as savior, serve in His ministries, and follow His doctrine. That includes stewardship.

Biblical stewardship is often conceived as meaning organized church finances. Since an internet definition says:
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources.
… it has become to include an environmental definition to responsibly manage our world, as it was created by and belongs to God.

But I want to bring this to a family scene – family budgets and spending habits. We are to be responsible in the planning and management of our family’s resources. As a unit, husband and wife are responsible as financial stewards for their family unit and their children.

I know my Beloved Husband’s tendencies to love me dearly and respond positively to my requests for funding my hobbies and home. I know he would literally give his life to save mine, thus a few pieces of paper money are small in comparison. It becomes my responsibility – as a helpmeet, and loving him in the same way – not to make requests that impact our financial stewardship.

I have done so in the past and learned about consequences. I counted luxuries as necessities, which impacted our budget. I needed to be a good steward to help my husband be a good steward of our resources. That prepares us for times when our resources are limited – and I assure you, there is no promise that resources will always be available.

Strong’s G3623 –οἰκονόμος - is translated in the KJV as both governor and steward. G2012 –ἐπίτροπος is also translated as steward. Becoming a good manager/steward requires planning and acting. For families, budget planning looks ahead and budget managing puts those plans into action – both part of being a good steward of what God has given us.

As a wife, it is important to me to be a helper, not to be an impediment, to his planning and budgeting. Not following the budget means I’m not following his leadership. Let’s go back a couple of verses:

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:23-24 KJV)

Our husband’s have tremendous responsibilities as the head of our families. Why would a loving wife want to make his fulfilling those responsibilities harder by breaking their budget? Financial difficulties in a family damage everyone.

When a husband gives in to the wife’s over-budget purchases, there is a hole in their budget and something goes unpaid or there’s a dip in the savings. There is also a hit to a father’s leadership position. When a wife requires more material purchases than their income allows, she is denying him his leadership role. That also impacts children.

Thus far I’ve assumed the family has a budget under the husband’s leadership, and the husband is working to keep it within their income level. If that is not the case, he has ignored the opportunity to provide direction for his family. His leadership - and their respect for it - is lessened. How will his children learn stewardship?

Assuming also this is a Christian family, it also impacts their witness by lessening the leadership role the Bible provides for the family.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why 501(c)(3) of Title 26?

temp

Two career changes ago I got to give money away through a 501( c )3 foundation – and there were multiple rules for how that should be done. Our particular foundation had to be doubly careful where the contributions went – or they could lose their own IRS ruling that allowed people/corporation’s donations to them not to be tax-deductible.

That has absolutely nothing to do with reading your Bible – except as an example as to why it is essential to have chapters and verses in Bible study.

Suppose I said to you that I’d like for you to read the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus in the book of John? I know (as most Christians know) that you could turn directly to chapter 3, and those sample people could tell you from their memory verse 16.

While speaking with someone wanting a donation from the foundation, I would explain they needed to comply with 501(c)(3). Rather than read the entire IRS code, or even Title 26, and figure out what was required, they could go directly to the section/paragraph/sub-paragraph of Title 26.

That’s why chapter and verse numbers are convenient – even though they are not included in the original documents. It is interesting to read the Bible without the inserted verse numbers – or arbitrary paragraphs. Yes, even paragraphs were not part of the original documents. Nor commas, semi-colons or periods. Today’s rules of grammar did not apply.

However, don’t you find them easier to keep track? At least of where you are? Even those pesky page numbers that are not original.

My thoughts on this were generated by someone who expressed a concern that doctrine is based on single verses. And I looked at that concept in a number of blogs. My favorite also mentions John’s third chapter, and this paragraph:

Read the chapter – not just that one awesome and beloved verse. Find out to whom Jesus was speaking, why the man came to see Him, the answers Jesus gave. Put the verse in context. It increases our knowledge when we do, but it doesn't change the message of the verse as it stands alone. As someone mentioned in another thought today, “It is what it is.”

No matter what verse(s) are posted in any blog or article, read them in context. In the above blog, I mentioned verses in Genesis, John and Revelation. To understand them, you need to read them in context. My personal preference is to read the Bible through at least once a year, which puts it all in context, even all the lists of names and genealogy in the Old Testament!

Since I won’t blog without scripture, here are two important ones – from that third chapter, and another about what to do with it:

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)

Then do as well as the Bereans:

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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 17:10-11)

Do not remove the verses from their context. Who is God? What is the world? How do we not perish? What is everlasting life? Go ahead – see if these things are so.

Friday, January 12, 2018

It’s Not My Job

temp
That’s a book my vice-president bought for his staff – years ago. But I applied it’s principles in a blog – also years ago.

The book was to help people understand software Process Maturity Levels:
    • Initial
    • Repeatable
    • Defined
    • Managed
    • Optimized
A recent discussion with Contrarian (his appellation, not mine) confirmed that maturity levels are constant processing. And, that we are all on different steps in our lives.

In my Christian life, I’ve moved through Initial – making my personal decision whether or not I can accept Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 as valid. I did, though others have their questions – I’m very firm that those verses are based on another’s experience with a Creator capable of being in contact with His creation. After that, other verses were more easily understood.

Too often I’ve found myself defending my beliefs – and that’s not my job. I should be able to explain why I have faith:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

But it is not my job to do more than share that. God has a job for me, but it is not to do more than answer what people ask.

Do be careful about asking, though, I have a tendency to over answer. And, when over-answering, it’s hard to remember what I said above: “… we are all on different steps”. Most people like where they are. It is not my job to be concerned about that – until they ask.

That does not change the basics of this blog, though – encouraging people to read God’s word, to get to know God’s Word. And I never lack an interest in reading His word.

It’s not my job to change anyone. It’s not my job to “educate” them. It’s definitely not my job to proselytize them.

Even though you haven’t asked (yet), here’s the top level of my job description:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJV)

If I can’t do that, I must return to the first, initial, step and validate my association with the commandment. If I can’t do that, I must change myself – or not be called one of His disciples. Please note that no where in that verse – or any other – am I entitled to tell another person they need to love one another. It’s not my job.

I’m still in the Defined level when it comes to biblical discussions. Researching to a core source seems to be a talent. That has served me well in two employment positions, but there are times to step away and allow learning to come from other sources – for good reason:

Remind the people of these facts, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God to avoid petty controversy over words, which does no good, and [upsets and undermines and] ruins [the faith of] those who listen. (2 Timothy 2:14 Amplified Bible (AMP])

If you must check to see that it means the same in KJV, be my guest:

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (2 Timothy 2:14 KJV)

There should be profit in words. I can pray it’s the same profit Paul mentioned in another context:

. . . not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33 KJV)

Yes – that’s an awesome profit, an excellent goal – but not my job. God will take care of it as His word is shared. I believe that.