Monday, August 31, 2009


Earlier this year our Senior Saints visited a museum with early Christian artifacts. Among the many pieces of funerary items, several depicted Jonah as well as Christ. On one side would be Jonah and the great fish – the other would show Christ and the cross.

I think we’ve lost the significance over the centuries, but the story continues to fascinate. It’s one of the stories that catch children’s imaginations. Even the youngest Sunday School attendees can tell you about Jonah and the whale.

Adults should focus more on two other aspects: Jonah’s disobedience and his anger.

Jonah doesn’t tell us at first why he went to Joppa to sail to Tarshish, just that he was fleeing. Did he think God would not be there? That God was confined to Israel? If that sounds funny to you, think for a moment where you believe God to be.

Jonah’s actions affected other people. But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. (Jonah 1:4 KJV)

As a valid prophet, Jonah knew the why as well as the what to do: And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. (Jonah 1:12 KJV)

Not until God spares Nineveh do we get to Jonah’s anger and he tell us why he fled: But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:1-2 KJV)

“I knew it would turn out like this – why did You make me go through it?”

Maybe for one line in one chapter of the New Testament: The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41 KJV)

Friday, August 28, 2009


I truly enjoy traveling. I’ve been blessed to be able to do that in the past, and I am so grateful for the opportunities. A great deal has been done in our own country, and quite a bit in others.

Within the US, Yosemite is among my top favorites. Unfortunately, Yellowstone is way up there, too. As is the Grand Canyon with its sunny openness, but so is Carlsbad Caverns, with its dark closeness. The Great Lakes are awesome, but their waves don’t match those on Hawaii’s North Shore.

Our Rockies, as beautiful as they are from the Sangre de Cristo north, aren’t as rocky as those in Canada. Their “newness” reach for the heavens, where the Smoky Mountains are more smoothly worn. The Wichitas, across Oklahoma and Arkansas, appear even older and softer.

Sailing from Miami into the incomparable blueness of the Caribbean is matched by the icy greenness of Glacier Bay’s melts headed for the Pacific. Islands from Taiwan to Cyprus were awesome. Each one has a uniqueness that elicits memories, and I continue to enjoy them.

There were many more places on my list of places I wanted to go. I missed a trip to Kuwait and one to San Salvador. I didn’t make it to Ivanovskya Square, Kremlin and the river for which Moscow was named. Ayers Rock, the Great Wall of China, Fujiyama, Speyer, Hoorn, Big Ben, Kilimanjaro – none of those marked off my list.

The most awesome sight I shall someday see is the city that is built four square:

And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. (Revelation 21:16 KJV)

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2 KJV)

I believe these words, as did John imprisoned on Patmos:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Revelation 1:1-2 KJV)

Some would say that since this has not yet happened, the writings are false and will not occur in the future. Would that “shortly” meant the same thing to God and mankind, but knowing His timetable does not, still looking forward to that day and knowing:

… These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (Revelation 22:6 KJV)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Joshua 24:15

Promise!! I do not search these out – the articles are available to everyone. I was reading a current story about Christians praying for Muslims during Ramadan. Amid that story was a link:

“A Seattle priest has become a Muslim while also retaining her clergy status …” The story continued, stating that the Lutheran priest would be teaching graduate courses in theology at Seattle University. She was quoted as wanting to concentrate on the "Abrahamic faiths" since dysfunction led to intolerance and war. In a
Christian Post article June 30, 2007, the local bishop “… told the Seattle Times that [her] embrace of Islam has not been controversial in his diocese.”

Apparently that changed as soon as the word got out. A week later,
another Christian Post article tells of reactions. “As a number of highly-respected theologians have pointed out following last month’s coverage …, the Christian belief in the divine being and savior Jesus Christ is incompatible with Islamic teaching of Jesus as a prophet.”

Not until
this year was the person in question told she could no longer be a Lutheran priest.

As many others have expressed, she just wanted all of us to get along. She would like for the world to get past differences. Unfortunately, she does not believe the Bible she reads.

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matthew 10:33-35 KJV)

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:51-53 KJV)

Doesn’t matter where we look for peace, communion, fellowship or the ability to get along with our fellow man, the true question is eternity -- and there is one answer:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:39-40 KJV)

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b KJV)

Included in the Bible, not to be tossed aside for convenience sake, are Christ’s words: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

Peter knew this, and this is what he preached: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 KJV)

John knew it, too: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31 KJV)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seen Jesus?

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:21 KJV)

Did you see Jesus last week? I know He was up at the church working hard putting together the coming conference, working for a revival within the congregation.

Did you see Jesus last week? I know He was in Sunday School, helping teachers bring the Bible to us. You could tell He believed what was said -- most of the words were quotes direct from Him!

Did you see Jesus last week? He was in the pulpit, you know, speaking His words to us, admonishing us to accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Promising that He loves us eternally, telling us of the heavenly home awaiting those who follow Him. Warning us of the eternal loss should He be denied.

Did you see Jesus last week? He was at the hospital visiting the sick. He prayed with them, and the church members visiting with them. He comforted them and told them He was with them, always. Some will come home to us and praise Him, while others will go home with Him to celebrating angels.

Did you see Jesus last week? He was in a Christian home, in fellowship with the family that loves and serves Him, sharing with them their time with each other.

Did you see Jesus last week? Was He the one you saw kneeling in prayer for the lost? Was He the one you saw comforting, giving a hug to one in need? Was He the one you saw delivering Meals on Wheels to the shut in? Was He the one you saw visiting the new neighbor, welcoming and inviting them to church? Was He the one...

Perhaps it was actually you!

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

How wonderful that He sends us, even as He was sent. And, as a mirror, we reflect Him in His glory!! Where will you see/be Jesus this week?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Faith of the Gospel

How sad is it that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ECLA) has voted to accept clergy living in a same-sex relationship?

Oh, wait a minute – just as the American Episcopalians, their vote limited that to those “committed relationships.” Except, of course, when they want to leave those committed relationships, as did Episcopal bishop V. Gene Robinson. Then they get voted to a higher office after changing committed partners.

Define, redefine. Take a look around the current culture and accept the current wave of thinking. Toss out, or reinterpret, what the Bible states – or simply rewrite the church, as the United Church of Canada has done. Gretta Vosper is, as one blogger put it, “She's a fantastic speaker (like, nice to listen to) and a really nice person.” “With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe,” according to Vosper.

None of the above refers to a relationship with God. All of the above define responses to secular, humanistic relationships, not spiritual. None of the above relate to the two commands defined as the greatest by Jesus Christ, Son of God, who is (or at least should be) the center of Christianity.

Paul taught this: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 KJV)

He continued:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. (Philippians 1:27-28 KJV)

Stand fast in one spirit. One mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Why then is the Anglican Communion divided? Why then are those calling themselves Christians leaving congregations where people are not of a like mind? Can this truly be the time written of:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV)

Have we not learned the biblical lessons to achieve peace?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 KJV)

Where does this gospel begin? Christ gave us the answer: 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)

We must answer, confirm or deny: And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. (John 1:34 KJV)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

God's Timetable

If you want to know a bit about God’s timetable, schedule a talk with Adam or Eve. They had been told not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or they would die.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:17)

Guess for a while after Eve took that first bite she could have been a bit concerned. But that would have gone away when she realized she was still standing there, not dead. Perhaps, as we are today, expectations of instant response were her guidelines. The serpent had told her:

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (Genesis 3:4)

Then added a greater enticement:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5)

Hey, if God was wrong on that first part, maybe there’s more to be discovered! So she happily flits off to bring Adam up to date on this whole new world. And, he falls for it, too. Heaven only knows how the rest of the afternoon went, until God came visiting.

Shame. It’s not felt any longer, is it? They hid, but it didn’t work. They blamed, but it didn’t work. Then they were introduced to God’s timetable, and understood that they would, truly, die.

They obviously did know good and evil, but the knowing doesn’t help. It’s the doing of one or the other that sets the pattern for the rest of our lives.

Ask any convict about how they ended up in prison. Once past the "It wasn’t my fault," response you’ll find it was not an act of good that brought them to his place.

Unfortunately, we all have some acts that are not good that put us on paths that reach where we are today. Very fortunately, through the grace of God, we’ve also walked along paths He laid out for us. There are gardens along the paths of our lives, too, and people can tell who and what we are from the fruit we’ve spread along our paths.

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (Matthew 7:17)

What fruit have you planted along the pathways of your life? Take a good look at it, for our Lord also says:

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:20)

God promised Abraham a son. God promised David a kingdom. God promised Jezebel retribution. God promised Israel a Messiah. None of these happened within expected timetables. Oh, the words that could be written of each of them!!

God also promised He would return. He gave Daniel a measurable timetable. Yet, it cannot be measured.

Some, as Abraham did, give up and set out to create their own. Some, as Jezebel did, refuse to believe and continue to ignore God’s timetable. Do so at your own risk. Eve did, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


“Did you ever see anything like that?”

That usually comes from people my age – not from youngsters. We’ve seen, experienced or read of multiple 100-year floods, death-dealing tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and devastating hurricanes within our lifetime. We think we’ve seen – or heard – all the worst. We’re even faced with global warming, destroying the earth as we know it.

The Preacher tells us: The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV)

Yet we say “Did you ever see anything like that?” and we mean it. We think it’s new or vastly different, from anything before.

So did Joel.

Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? (Joel 1:2 KJV)

So, even our question isn’t new, is it? Over twenty-five hundred years of saying “This is the worst ever,” to the extent that we must tell future generations:

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:3 KJV)

As we work our way through the Bible, Joel brings some differences from previous prophecies – we don’t read of who or when. We do read that he’s the son of Pethuel, but the Bible does not mention that name anywhere else. There is no king mentioned, nor is there an invading army. Egypt is mentioned but once, not as a conqueror. Same with Edom.

Minor or not, there are prophecies here. Isaiah was the first book where we read of the Day of the Lord. Jeremiah, Lamentation, Ezekiel – and now Joel. But, he’s not the last. References will continue into the New Testament, ending with:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10 KJV)

How about this verse:

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. (Joel 3:10 KJV)

No, that’s not the one you are thinking of – take a look at Isaiah 2:4 or Micah 4:3, then think of the United Nations. Joel tells us the opposite, while telling us of the time unlike any other.

Go ahead, Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:3 KJV)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Good Old Glory Way

There is a song written decades ago that I enjoy hearing and singing. I used a music notation program called Finale Notepad to enter the song into my pc. They offer free software to get acquainted. I took advantage of that offer, then entered the hymn appropriately named "In The Good Old Way." Now I can play it anytime and rejoice in the words:

"We are going home to heaven in the good old glory way"

This is a gospel song. The words speak of the lyricist’s faith. He knows he’s going to heaven, and he knows he is not going alone. The journey is lit by God’s glory, and it is that glory in which he is rejoicing.

"We can sing the wond’rous story in the good old glory way"

Even those of us who do not carry a tune well can make a joyful noise unto the Lord just by singing along with these words of the wondrous gospel story.

"Now the savior walks beside us, underneath His wings He hides us"

What a sweet repetition of Christ’s offer to Jerusalem:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! (Luke 13:34)

"We are bound for worlds supernal there to dwell thro’ years eternal"

Again, the gospel message so similar to that from John:

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)

"When we reach our home in heaven, crowns of gold will there be given"

Not the crown of thorns our Lord wore on the day of His crucifixion, but incorruptible, rejoicing, righteousness and life. The lyricist knew this and wished to share his faith with his own words.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 9:25)

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sugar or Salt?

We’ve baked sugar cookies for our Wednesday night children’s group. Some time back, Beloved Husband cleaned a salt shaker and put sugar in it to sprinkle the tops of the cookies.

Our program ends by June and doesn’t start up until school does. We tend to forget (but that’s a whole ‘nother subject!) so that salt shaker ended up beside BH’s chair, since I tend to lighten up on salt when cooking.

It’s been there for most of the summer, almost empty now, so he’s used it some. Not until today, when I boiled a bunch of eggs, did he discover the reverse cleaning was never done – it still contains sugar.

There’s a parable in there somewhere, as well as a good laugh. We don’t always get what we expect, especially when we don’t complete our due diligence. We still need to be Bereans, even as older, established Christians.

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 KJV)

Many times we have received the word with all readiness of mind, but we’ve failed to search the scriptures to see whether these things were so. Too often we’ve accepted another’s spoken word over the written scriptures without searching.

Suppose a pastor takes Genesis 12:10-14 to indicate that Abraham’s foresight was correct, that the Egyptians did think his wife was fair and only his lie saved them. Why not, it’s in the Bible, isn’t? Shouldn’t we be able to take a verse or two and create a lesson from it? Not without searching the scriptures – the next few verses give much needed information, including:

And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. (Genesis 12:17 KJV)

Incomplete verses taken out of context can cause a great deal of personal harm. Who would want great plagues?

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

We study that which we enjoy. How well do you enjoy the Bible? It shows it how much time spent with it.

What we do with – or without – the Bible depends on how much time we spend with it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Question of Conviction

If you saw me in the back of a police car, for what crime would you think I was arrested? In some countries, it could be for just what I’m doing now – sharing the Bible with others.

I met a man who was convicted of such, and sentenced to death. Fortunately it was in absentia and he lives to carry on Christ’s command:

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)

Could you be convicted in such a country? Are you recognized anywhere as a follower of Christ? What does it take to gain that reputation?

Good deeds? Lots of people do really good deeds.

Lack of bad deeds? Again, many people can make it through the day without a single bad deed..

Saying you believe in Jesus? People say that but don’t display that.

The word Christian occurs only twice in the Bible, and Christians only once:

And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:26b KJV)

They were called Christian because someone recognized their time and effort was spent in His work. Assembling together and teaching.

Where would you mostly likely be recognized as a Christian? And, where least likely?

If Christianity was against the law, as it is in many countries, could you be convicted? Who would testify truthfully that you knew Christ? Who would testify truthfully that you had assembled together with Christians and were involved in teaching?

Would you want them to?

As Paul before Agrippa, I pray you consider all of these question quite seriously:

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (Acts 26:28-29 KJV)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Do Likewise

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)

How many of us do? James tells us that this is pure religion – yet how many of us even read James, much less pay attention to what he said to do?

Are we too busy with other commandments? Forget them. Christ brought them into perspective with two:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Asked as though "If we can’t keep them all, on which one should we focus?" Christ puts our foolishness to shame and tells us how we should be in all that we do.

There are ministries for each and every one of us. The one for you is the one God tells you to go and do. When you have a relationship with God, you will know what He has for you to do. All you need to do is ask and it will be shown to you.

Doesn’t have to be the same ministry all of our life, either. It can change as we grow in fellowship with God. It can change when we complete a task set before us. Take time to consider what task that might be.

There is no end to the need, but there is great fulfillment in providing what is needed. Our world will continue, as it has for millennia, without our doing anything at all. My preference is to make ripples, not knowing where they will go, but knowing full well that someday I will learn their impact.

And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. (Luke 3:10-11)

Are you ready to do likewise?

Friday, August 7, 2009


I need to take a short hiatus from the internet. I have some projects that will take up quite a bit of time, and I need to put full focus there. Shouldn’t last more than a week, then I promise to catch up with my contacts and restart my posting.

Thanks for your time.


Positive or negative. Are you discouraged, or looking for encouragement?

Are you falling behind, or reaching for your goal?

Do you make time, or do you have time?

Do you have to go, or do you get to go?

It’s a matter of perspective, with one view sounding negative and one positive.

The Bible tells of people with both viewpoints, but the one thing the Bible is consistently telling us is that the outcome can be positive. The deciding factor is ourselves.

Luke 15:11-32 tells of three men, each with a different perspective, and each deciding what to do about being positive or negative.

The youngest son was very positive that a lifestyle change was just what he needed. He soon found out how true the proverb really was:

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)

We’re not told the father’s perspective when his youngest left home, but we read of his compassion and joy at his son’s return.

It’s the older son I wonder about. I’ve seen the likes of him in church. A person with a sullied reputation comes forward to accept Christ as their savior, and the older brother looks askance. A long-time member, perhaps from childhood, always faithful to church, family, righteously living in the community, who with the older brother wonders:

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: (Luke 15:29 KJV)

Still positive, the father does not berate his son, but confirms:

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:31-32 KJV)

This parable was given with two others, and Christ twice stated the theme:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 KJV)

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10 KJV)

Have you provided joy for the angels in heaven? Tell about it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I spoke earlier of the best and brightest young men Judah had to offer: Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: (Daniel 1:6)

At first capture, they were living together. It was through their diet that we read first of their commitment to God. But later on they must have been separated, for Daniel is not found in the story of the fiery furnace, and those three are not found in the story of the lion’s den.

Every child that has set foot in a Sunday School class has an inkling of the lion’s den story. It catches their imagination so very quickly. It is easily illustrated. For the newcomer it has an air of mystery – will Daniel be eaten by the lion? And, the triumphant ending where Daniel is saved.

That’s such a small part of the story. Let’s revisit for a moment.

By this time in his life, Daniel was one of three presidents of his conqueror’s country. Quite an achievement, but it had been done before in Egypt by Joseph. And, as in Egypt, envy and deceit were part of the political scene:

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. (Daniel 6:3-4)

See, we aren’t the only ones to be bedeviled by those seeking to find occasion against us! Oh, you haven’t felt that way? I’ll admit there was no concept of setting me over the whole realm, but there were times my job appeared to be in jeopardy from other’s actions. Or inaction, in a couple of instances.

Faithful, no error, no fault. How seldom is that found! Yet, Darius fell into that trap that caught Esther and her people – creating a law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be changed. For Daniel, there was no alternative, no court of appeal. Darius looked for it:

Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. (Daniel 6:14)

And, Darius knew Daniel well enough that he could state firmly:

Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. (Daniel 6:16)

Are we as certain as the king of the Medes and Persians?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Would It Take

A foot is just a small step for a man. When measured against 1,400 miles, it’s nothing. But, when it is the South Island of New Zealand moving a full foot toward Australia, it’s news. You can find the full article here.

Another way to view it is that New Zealand got a bit larger – the southwest portion moved 30 centimeters, the east coast moved only one, so there’s a stretching of 29 centimeters between the coasts.

It took an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 to make that move.

What would it take to make a man move a step closer to Christ?

For Nathanael it was a simple phrase:

Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (John 1:48-49 KJV)

For Paul it was a blinding event:

And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:4-6 KJV)

Paul spends three days in blindness before Ananias comes to him at God’s command. I wonder if he were even more shocked by what he was shown:

For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:16 KJV)

Will it take a massive movement of our lives, in similarity to an earthquake, or will it take the word of God telling us what we already know about ourselves? The Bible shows the road to Christ:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

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

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 KJV)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13 KJV)

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14 KJV)

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Put On

People see what you put on. And we usually put on what we want people to see. Decisions are made daily about what we put on our hair. Decisions about what we put on to cover our body (or not so much, in many cases, if you’ll notice.) We make decisions about the color, the texture, the number of layers.

People see these things we put on. Most of the time we want to them to. A peeking slip would not fall into that category, but from barrettes in the hair for ladies or ties for guys down to the selection of shoes, we expect people to see, if not notice, what we have put on.

That’s what makes the following verse stand out to me:

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 13:14a KJV)

Consider for a moment that we would be putting on in order that everyone sees Christ when they look at us. How well do we wear Christ? Do we display Him as a complete package, or are there gaps? Do we allow portions of ourselves show through that clash with Him?

We are told what to put on in another reference, and we are told why:

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11 KJV)

There are two completely separate reasons for these two verses.

The first is for us to put on Christ in order that we may show Him to others through our own lives. The second is to put on God’s armor to protect us. These are not incompatible verses – we need to do both.

How in the world can we witness to others about Christ’s work in our lives if we are incapable of showing Him in our lives? It is hypocritical to tell someone they need Christ when they cannot see Him in us. When we love Him, we want to introduce others to Him. We understand that without Christ, their eternal souls are in jeopardy.

It becomes very personal when it is someone we love, a family member who knows our foibles, our failures and yet we need to show them Christ. We are so imperfect that we cannot do this without His help. We have His words:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

But – what if we’re wrong? Well, Paul said it best two thousand years ago: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14 KJV)

He repeats that – for it bears repeating: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17 KJV)

He goes a step further a verse down: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV)

Paul found the answer, and shared it, as we do today: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 KJV)

Come, join in the victory celebration in your life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Brightest and Best

Reginald Heber, a hymn writing Church of England bishop, used a phrase in a hymn in 1811:

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn now our darkness, and lend us thine aid.

David Halberstam used a similar phrase for the title of his book on the origins of the war the United States fought in Vietnam: The Best and The Brightest.

More than 2,500 years ago, Nebuchadnezzar described the children he was looking for in quite similar terms:

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. (Daniel 1:3-4 KJV)

Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: (Daniel 1:6 KJV)

Never heard of Hananiah? Mishael? Azariah? How about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? If you enjoy jazz, check out
Louis Armstrong’s rendition of the story.

We know of them, too, through Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, Chapter 10, Section 1:

Now among these there were four of the family of Zedekiah, of most excellent dispositions, one of whom was called Daniel, another was called Ananias, another Misael, and the fourth Azarias; and the king of Babylon changed their names, and commanded that they should make use of other names. Daniel he called Baltasar; Ananias, Shadrach; Misael, Meshach; and Azarias, Abednego. These the king had in esteem, and continued to love, because of the very excellent temper they were of, and because of their application to learning, and the profess they had made in wisdom.

No blemish, skillful in wisdom, cunning in knowledge, understanding science – or as Josephus puts it, excellent temper, application to learning and professing wisdom. Laying aside the royalty bit, how many of us would have been considered worthy for the king’s court?

Right now all of us are considered worthy to live forever in the King of Kings’ court. We will not be carried away as captives, though, for we can refuse to participate. God has fewer requirements in coming to serve Him, and He offers greater rewards.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 KJV)

Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30b-31 KJV)

Not only do we have God’s word as a written invitation, He sends ministers to tell us Christ’s words:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

Sunday, August 2, 2009


This week in our yearlong journey through the Bible we’re studying Ezekiel. A lot of people get side tracked in the first chapter. How would you describe your vision of God?

And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. (Ezekiel 1:6 KJV)

as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:16b KJV)

Authors have described this event as everything from an interstellar spaceship to analogies of the coming messiah. I doubt either extreme holds the whole truth.

As Ezekiel describes it, he used what words he knew to describe the awesome glory of God. Our own limitations keep us from describing what God means to us.

Some find it easy to describe their relationship to God simply by saying He does not exist. Therefore they need not concern themselves with describing His interaction in their lives.

For those of us who do believe, we’re limited to words and small deeds to acknowledge the result of God’s work in our lives. Some make tremendous changes when they come to know the Lord as their savior. They change where they spend their time. They spend their time and their money differently, much of it going to support their local church. Others don’t change much at all. They continue assisting people around them, speaking more of Christ in their lives than before, but they’ve always done good deeds.

Our words are somewhat limited, too. We say we ‘love’ the Lord, and we don’t mean the same thing as when we say we ‘love’ ice cream. Our words are over used, and there are not the nuances found in other languages.

In the New Testament there were three Greek words for love. Brotherly love (phileos), physical love (eros) and the spiritual love between man and god (agape.) An example of the difference in nuance is in the 21st chapter of John where Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. (John 21:12 KJV)

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (John 21:15 KJV)

The same question is asked again, with the same answer in verse 16. In verse 17, Christ changes the question a bit:

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 KJV)

Just as today, God reaches us though our vocabulary is limited and our abilities to receive His messages are just as limited. He continues to reach us, not allowing His glory to keep us away from Him.

How would you describe your vision of God?

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Friday night we had all three of our children, their spouses, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren celebrating our grandson’s 18th birthday. He’s an exceptional young man. He loves cars and mechanical devices. He’s taking shop his senior year and intends to rebuild a car just for himself. He enjoys time with his uncle, Second Daughter’s husband, who builds race cars.

He’s exceptional in another way – he owns his own business. Years ago young men earned ‘spending money’ by mowing lawns in the neighborhood. Not so much any more. Not only does Grandson earn money by mowing, he owns the company. He has several zero-turn lawn mowers and has employees. He’ll graduate from high school next spring.

He is an ‘acquired’ grandson, the result of a ‘blended’ family, and we are so proud of his accomplishments. It is grand having him in our family.

We have many others, too, who have become part of a ‘blended’ family through Christ. He said: For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (Mark 3:35 KJV)

All of this is given to us through the mercy of a loving God who has offered us the opportunity to be joint heirs with Christ.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; (Romans 8:15-17a KJV)

There is more to the verse and we should be aware of it going into this family of God:

if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17b KJV)

We are promised His support, but we are not promised total comfort. We are to be a people set apart, but we are not removed from this world and the natural consequences of living here.

The Bible provides tools for our work within this glorious family just as it provides glimpses of the promises of heaven. We want to share this with those we love. Come, please, enjoy God's family.