Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Or this one, closer to our home, from CBS 11. Apparently non-Christians are much more easily offended, since there are not headlines about Christians filing such suits.
The atheist stated, "[It] made me feel like a second class citizen, ostracized, not part of the community." So? Obviously, the community must change to his projected image.
Is this man’s ego such that others determine how he feels? Has he no control over his emotions that he cannot allow others to express different beliefs? Why does he require being part of a community?
Why must the city change to make one person feel powerful? Why must years of comfortable tradition bow to the personal whim of a single individual? Why should this person find offense in another’s beliefs? What is so wrong with Christianity?
Why should one set of beliefs be hidden simply because they are different? Are we not allowed to show diversity? Must our lives be blank?
The same questions apply to the Telegraph article. Freedom of speech is not allowed in Islamic law. Christians cannot speak to others of Christ in Muslim states. It would appear that Muslims expect that in all countries where they reside.
What will happen when atheists and Muslims interact? How would the Texas atheist be treated in an Islamic country when he decried their prayers? How would a mullah react when told he could not pray to Allah?
I have discussed religion with Muslim, Christian, atheist and Wicca believers. In each instance there was not conversion experiences, no change of beliefs – and no insults to religion or to intelligence on the part of participants. We remained a community of workers, respecting each other as always.
We conversed, shared, learned and continued forward without insulting each other. Should such conversations result in changed lives, fine. If not, that’s just as fine. None of us were afraid of hearing differing views or learning of differing experiences. None of us expressed any feelings of being left out.
Doesn’t mean we agreed. Doesn’t mean we’ll change. Doesn’t show a lack of respect, which both of the above instances show to both Christianity and Christians.
Tolerance should never require a lack of respect for belief nor of sharing that belief.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
How long does it take for us to stop hearing what is said to us? Preachers use different words, but the messages come down to commandments from God:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 KJV)
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, (Deuteronomy 10:12 KJV)
But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Joshua 22:5 KJV)
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. (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV)
How can anyone obey without learning more? How can anyone obey without studying God’s word?
When the word was being written, prophets carried it across the land. After such prophet taught him, David prayed:
For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (2 Samuel 7:21-22 KJV)
As Elijah, let our actions be a response to His word:
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. (1 Kings 18:36-37 KJV)
Are we able to affirm with those in Jerusalem, so long ago, as they could not but speak the things which they had seen and heard:
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: (Acts 4:24 KJV)
Monday, September 28, 2009
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. (Isaiah 43:18 KJV)
Another example of the Bible giving conflicting verses? The Bible contradicting itself?
Nope – when you look at the context. When studied, these are different situations, different reasons for the statements. Just as a parent may tell a child “Yes, you may go” when the request is during daylight hours with known friends, and “No, you may not go” when it’s after midnight with people the parent has not met. Consider the situation.
There are many things we are asked to consider throughout the Bible.
Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. (Job 37:14 KJV)
Any hydrologist would testify to the validity of this one, after working to divert a river:
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:13 KJV)
Consider seriously He who calls us:
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; (Hebrews 3:1 KJV)
But, Haggai has one of the best messages. This tiny little book toward the end of the Old Testament, two short chapters. Two verses require the same thing of us today as then did more than two and a half centuries ago:
Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:5 KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:7 KJV)
For just a few moments, please do so. Consider for what purpose we were formed.
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. (Isaiah 43:21 KJV)
Do we shew forth His praise? He says we are His witnesses:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10 KJV)
Consider what witness we give. He says He is our salvation:
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:11 KJV)
Consider His ways, and our own.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Tell me, then, what is to be gleaned from Luke 19:11-27?
No, I will not copy/paste it all here. There are multiple lessons, though, when reading this passage, this one parable.
[H]is citizens hated him. Still true today. It would appear that a majority of our King’s subjects despise Him and continue to say We will not have this man to reign over us!
He gives His servants, His devoted followers, opportunities of spiritual gifts. Some followers supply a return on this investment. Others hide them, afraid of His wrath, openly saying to Him I feared thee.
Those who used the King’s gifts and returned to Him bountifully were given even more. The unused gift was taken away, but the servant survived.
It should be with fear and trembling we learn the fate of those who spoke against Him.
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. (Luke 19:27 KJV)
Why is it difficult to accept that God will rid Himself of those who reject Him?
Why do we ignore that verse, and many others:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 KJV)
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3 and 5 KJV)
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)
Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. (Acts 13:41 KJV) Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. (Habakkuk 1:5 KJV)
Instead, let us believe, as Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. (Mark 9:23 KJV)
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The brothers no longer match this 1944 photo. There's a big difference in hairlines, height, weight -- both in body and years. From 1945 to 1982, they were separated, living with different families. The memory of the youngest brother dimmed to vagueness associated with a time before the two older ones were taken, then adopted by another family.
Yet, were you to sit with these three today, you would recognize them as being the boys in the photo by several tiny things that have not changed.
I would love to make a biblical connection here -- the main thing that applies is that there are consistencies over time. The greatest of these is God's love and His will in our lives. But -- you know that.
So, I'll remain focused on these brothers and the families they have built and raised. For all the reasons they could give -- broken homes, abandonment, hardships, separation -- that others have given for personal failures, these have not failed.
They love their Lord, serving Him in a variety of ways at three different churches, differing denominations, yet all acknowledging their salvation is through God's grace.
They love their wives. They have each been married once, building on the life-long commitment they made in front of God and their witnesses.
They love their children. Each had three children, though one child died at age five -- tearing at the very soul of his parents. The remaining eight have married and presented grandchildren, even great-grandchildren for these brothers to love.
How do I know all of this? That middle brother is my Beloved Husband. I have witnessed this family both apart and together. I am grateful for their presence, and I request your prayers for this extended family as physical problems are being faced. Thank you for your prayer support.
Friday, September 25, 2009
It didn’t come when I expected it. Wasn’t there when anticipated. It went to the back of my mind and became less important.
It arrived when I was busy packing for a trip, so I didn’t have time to open it, much less figure out what needed to be done. We returned from our trip yesterday and there it sits.
Still in the box, unopened, unassembled, unused, I was still the owner of a new end table.
How many of us treat God’s word the same way?
One Bible verse, one sermon, one comment, one witness – whatever it is that piques our curiosity about God, and we ask Him for more. We become impatient and ignore our initial curiosity, leaving His answer unopened, unviewed.
God’s will should be what directs our lives.
Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. (Psalms 25:4 KJV)
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. (Psalms 119:5-6 KJV)
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:11 KJV)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)
We expect the last part of the following verse without working for the first:
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4 KJV)
Is it a delight to have the Lord in your life?
Isaiah wrote of such a time in Chapter 58:
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth (Isaiah 58:14a KJV)
We have but to see Him, for He seeks us:
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. (Psalms 119:176 KJV)
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
"Saved to the uttermost and I know that I am!
Washed in the blood of the precious Lamb.
Through the Father, through the Son, through the Holy Ghost,
I'm saved to the uttermost!"
"Now I grow and breathe in freedom,
with each breath of life I take.
I'm loved and forgiven,
back with the living,
I'm just a sinner,
saved by grace."
Both are powerful messages reflecting what the Bible has told us the how, why and who of salvation (p.s. – don’t neglect surrounding verses!):
And brought them out, and said, 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 16:30-31 KJV)
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 KJV)
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)
The Bible tells me so. It also tells me we neglect:
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:1-3 KJV)
Why do we neglect so great salvation? It is given freely from God, without effort:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)
Yes, the Bible tells me so. There is more, much more. But this is the beginning.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)
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)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Were we here only for that, our lives would be glorious, too, for we are but a dim reflection of His. Yet men have wished to glorify His name, and have done so beautifully:
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. (Psalms 86:12-13 KJV)
Christ set the example, as He has done in all things and even His death brought glory to God:
Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. (John 13:31 KJV)
This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:19 KJV)
Why not accomplish His Follow me request? Is it fear that keeps us from following Christ? Fear not is found in 63 Bible verses, be not afraid in another 26.
Mankind has feared God since Adam's sin in the Garden:
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Genesis 3:10 KJV)
We know we've done wrong. We know we've failed in the first and most simple commandment:
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. (Matthew 22:36-38 KJV)
We have failed even more miserably to accomplish the second:
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39 KJV)
Work on accomplishing one and the other will come much more easily. Which will you choose this week?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We returned today from a mini-reunion, that turned out to be not-so-mini. My Beloved Husband and his next younger brother were adopted and raised together after being separated from their mother when they were four and five. Their next younger brother remained with their mother in her new marriage and was raised with another brother and two sisters.
The six were reunited in 1987 and have seldom had more than any four together, except for a couple of funerals.
Five were together in Las Vegas on Saturday. Just for a few hours, but with a few more members -- the third brother's son and family, and a step-father's granddaughter and husband. A melded American family, consisting of multiple generations, from a variety of marriages. And, it works.
For more than twenty years we've built shared memories that do not leave out the old, but bring them forward into new relationships. We have fun doing so!!
We arrived from various places -- Texas, Oklahoma, California -- converging on Las Vegas. Their airport is vast and modern, filled with conveniences, except for the convenience of getting from the arrival gate to the front door -- or vice versa as we learned today. I earned a rather large, raw blister. The check-in agent suggested a wheelchair. Slap my face if I ever turn down such a suggestion again!! The wheelchair ladies breezed down corridors and through security.
Our flights were as designed. Next younger brother's didn't turn out so well. Outgoing was good -- returning was impacted by storms over Oklahoma, shutting down Tulsa's airport for hours. Instead of arriving home around noon, they arrived about 3:00 the next morning, after circling most of Oklahoma and returning to DFW. Ours was much, much better. First Class with an awesome breakfast, good movie and arrival a bit earlier than scheduled.
I'll have some photos up -- probably on Facebook where all of the relatives visit. They are all people shots, only a couple of my odd shots. That's just from Saturday -- the Sunday and Monday shots are even better -- our youngest great-granddaughter.
Her dad is the Youth Minister in Pahrump. That means water from rock -- we'll visit that subject in a later blog. We and next younger brother reached Pahrump in time to hear him preach Sunday morning. Sunday night their minister returned from Israel and we go to hear of his trip and a sermon on Acts 26, Paul before Agrippa. How sad is it to hear someone you love be only almost persuaded?
A family week. An awesome family filled with generations of history, and future generations of hope. We ranged from 68 to six months. A family of fun and pleasures, of people who love and support each other through many, many illnesses. We request prayer for a couple facing heart problems -- a valve not working here, a pacemaker being replaced there; failing bone structures -- backs, knees, ankles, oh my!!
Thus life moves forward and we look forward to the portion we shall continue to share. We praise God for allowing us to be part of it while we're here and pray we shall all meet again with our Lord. We pray especially for those who do not yet accept God's gift of grace and mercy. May they do so, and join us in a greater reunion later. Amen.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Yet, the words echo and remain the same.
Though billions of people today deny Christ's words claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah promised to Abraham and his descendants over and over again, none deny that He lived and that other of His words are given as examples.
I do not understand how one can accept what is written of Him in later centuries yet deny the words written by His disciples. What vast conspiracy could exist that would send people to their deaths simply by telling His story -- without violence, without rancor, without sword nor shield?
To stand, as Paul did before Agrippa and say in Acts 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
Paul had said earlier that Agrippa was an expert in the cultural, he continued in Acts 26:26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
Nope -- many years had passed since Jesus was baptized by John and began His earthly ministry. Many since Paul had met Him on the road to Damascus, which Paul described to Agrippa and Festus in preceeding verses.
Agrippa understood all of it. He was the expert, as Paul said. Yet he broke off the interview following this one confession in Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
That's not enough. We are told in Ephesians 2:8 what is necessary: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Where's your faith?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8 KJV)
And that gospel, that good news, is what caused them to be called Christians:
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. 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 11:25-26 KJV)
Assembling together and teaching what had happened over the last few years. They began to write down what had happened to them. Paul began to write letters to the people responding to the gospel.
As it is today, many of these people felt Christ’s message would interfere with their lives unless it was adjusted a bit. We all have to learn as a child learns, growing along the way. Some do not. Some decide the change offered is neither worth the time nor effort
Some decide to change the message. Perhaps they did see an angel, for not all of them chose to remain in heaven.
Christ was very explicit about this situation:
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matthew 18:1-7 KJV)
Woe to those who teach a child that God is not love. 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)
Woe to those who teach a child that Christ did not die for us. Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. (Luke 18:31-33 KJV)
Woe to those who teach a child salvation by another. 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)
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:11 KJV)
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
There’s always a catch. A recent In Touch devotional reminded me of this verse. It sounds so easy to achieve everything you would ever want. The desires of thine heart would be yours, promised to you by God.
Wow!! Wealth beyond imagining. You could be right up there with Bill Gates and a couple of oil sheiks. You could have the very best of medical care. Forget that, with the desires of thine heart, you would be healthy forever, no need for physicians.
So, we look at the desires of thine heart without seeing the first part of that verse: Delight thyself also in the LORD
We need to consider what delighting ourselves in the Lord really means.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2)
Perhaps being a mirror of what delights God would help:
They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight. (Proverbs 11:20)
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24)
What are the desires of our heart?
What do we really want out of life?
What are we being offered?
Where do we find our delight?
Where does God fit?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Some have set standards that are high, perhaps good to live by, but are personal, not biblical. Rather than list any examples, think of standards within your church and match them to applicable Bible verses.
A man described as one after God’s own heart gives an example: While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. (Psalms 146:2 KJV)
We hold meetings, following another example: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)
We pray, following Christ’s example: And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2 KJV)
We love, as God loves us: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35 KJV)
There are others, the Bible is full of them. However, some standards within churches, congregations and people are personal, not biblical and it has been this way since the first couple:
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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 2:15-17 KJV)
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Genesis 3:1-3 KJV)
God did not tell Adam neither shall ye touch it. Whether or not Adam told Eve is not recorded. The point was clear. If you don’t touch it, you won’t eat it, so not touching is good. But adding that admonition did not help temptations therefore had no value.
We may add standards that should help us in temptations, but may also help us ignore the original command.
As Christians we have an obligation to speak of God’s commands as given in His word. We have no obligation – nor right – to impose personal standards upon those who accept His commands.
How do our Christian standards measure up biblically?
Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (Acts 15:10 KJV)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Oh my soul, praise Him for He is thy help and salvation.
Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our Blessed Redeemer
Hail, all earth, His wonderful love proclaim.
Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore Him
Sing praises, sing praises, sing praises to our King.
What a way to start the day!! Beautiful hymns running through my mind, echoing the words from 132 verses of Psalms:
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high. (Psalms 7:17 KJV)
Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. (Psalms 146:1-2 KJV)
Again and again we are given reason to praise Him, ending with one of my favorites:
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 KJV)
I am now heading for our church to do so. May you have done so, also.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Does it bother you that God knows what we’re thinking? Or do you believe this verse only applies to one given situation, that God wouldn’t have time for our unimportant thoughts?
Think again. What we think is important to Him – which means it should be important to us.
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. (Philippians 4:8)
True. Do we search out truth? Or, accept it from others?
Honest. Doesn’t this come back to truth? Are we honest with ourselves?
Just. Is justice supposed to come down on "our side", or is it blind?
Pure. Can we accept those who lift this virtue? Or, do we laugh and deny?
Lovely. The Greek here is prosphiles, or friendly toward, not physically attractive. Which do we choose?
Good report. Do we always give good reports? Do we look for the good in people, and speak it?
Virtue. An old-fashioned word, an excellent word for excellence. Who can find a virtuous woman – or man for that matter?
Praise. I think of this one as being praise to God – if there is anything that can bring praise to God, to His work, to His word, to His plan in our lives – think on these things.
Please, make a conscious effort to follow Philippians 4:8 for one day. When you are successful for one, compare that day to others. Choose which way you’d rather live.
Friday, September 11, 2009
As we sat on the patio, another sound became evident – bees. Swarming. Could only see a few, but the sound was consistently loud.
A quick e-mail to our ag extension office, hoping for just as quick a response! Until then, we won’t be under the oak tree very much!
Of course, this brought to mind the milk and honey phrase.
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8 KJV)
Until we get to the word honey, things look good. However, bees come with the honey, and the other tribes would be just as stinging.
God brought the children of Israel to the land and promised to support them in taking it. The first generation failed. The second was only partially successful.
How does this apply to our achieving God’s plans in our own lives? Do we expect to be handed the answers to our prayers, without effort on our part?
Are we more like the man caught in a flood? Instead of heeding warnings and evacuating, he climbed to the roof of his house saying “God says He’ll save me.” A boat came by, but he declined the help, saying “God says He’ll save me.” He even waved off a helicopter who offered to lift him out of harm’s way, saying “God says He’ll save me.” The waters swept him away. When he stood before God, he asked “Why was I not saved?”
The reply? “I sent you a warning, a boat and a helicopter. You ignored them.”
We will not ignore the warnings of these bees and hopefully will not be stung. We’ll turn to people who have had experience dealing with them. Should we do less with God’s word?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
'Yep', he replied. 'That's why I dumping it here, cause it says 'Fine For Dumping Garbage'.
Do we read our Bibles with the same attitude? Looking for what we want instead of what we are being told?
Are we more like Ahaziah than we want to admit? The first two verses of II Kings fascinate me:
Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. (2 Kings 1:1-2 KJV)
They don’t appear to be related. I wonder why Ahaziah fell.
The picture of a king of a country whose priests speak aloud Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV) Instead of sending for Elijah, he sends emissaries to Baalzebub, seeking the answer he wants instead of the answer of truth, the answer he needs.
Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? (2 Kings 1:3b KJV)
Without faith that God is, men still seek answers without asking Him.
Of course, we might not like the answer, any more than Ahaziah did:
Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed. (2 Kings 1:4 KJV)
There were no additional words, no “or else”. Just as Jonah spoke to Nineveh:
Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. (Jonah 3:4b KJV)
There were no additional words, no “or else”, but their response was different:
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (Jonah 3:5 KJV)
Had Ahaziah believed in God, would his life have changed? Does ours?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
“A basket of purple stones has been filled for Kinley. Please take one home with you and place it somewhere to be seen each day as a reminder of Kinley's strength. Let it be a reminder that you may never know what burden is carried by others around you. On days you are feeling frustrated, have more patience.”At mine, I would wish my family to use a basket of white stones with a reference to:
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17 KJV)
And a note that "I’ve gone to pick up my stone with my new name on it – keep this one as a reminder that there is one for you, too."
You see, I believe that life is eternal. I believe the Bible where it is written:
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2 KJV)
The Kingdom of Heaven is described in so many different places in the Bible that these pages cannot hold the verses. Matthew gives the greatest number of examples, in Christ’s parables and as John the Baptist spoke:
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2 KJV)
Many have become impatient, thinking that a couple of thousand years disproves the at hand, and therefore the remainder of the message. We were told not to be concerned:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8 KJV)
So, whether it be one day, two or three, my faith remains as to my eternal home. It was promised to me in the first verse taught to me as a child:
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)
As Christ said, so I would have you know that I believe, when I go to Him, If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:28b KJV)
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
There have been strong strides in using skin cells, and even greater strides in using umbilical cord stem cells.
Monday’s CNN article regarding fat cells! Hey, now that’s huge news – fat is good!! OK, so it’s not so much that fat is good, but the news regarding this research is good:
"… millions of fat cells removed during liposuction can be easily and quickly turned into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, more easily than the skin cells that researchers used when the first iPS cells were created in 2007.There was a rush to judgment that embryonic stem cells were the only way to go, and that those of us whose religious principles opposed the use of embryos were uneducated fanatics. Would it not have been less divisive to have listened to our concerns, supported thinking outside the box and worked together to find these alternatives?
"These iPS cells, like stem cells derived from embryos, can be turned into many different kinds of cells, and researchers believe they eventually could be used to regenerate tissue for organs and repair damage."
This is a question of human rights – a secular question that should impact everyone. A society that easily discards human fetus is only a step away from discarding any non-productive member of their society. Monetary costs overwhelm caring for human life.
Whether the term is zygote, embryo, fetus, pre-born or unborn, when discussing humans, it is a life. The DNA is not the same as the woman carrying it in her womb. Its existence must begin with cells from a human woman and a human male. How they combine varies and the interest on the part of the host body varies, enough that some would discard this union of human cells with its unique DNA.
For Jews and Christians this union is the natural progression of God’s creation: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 KJV)
The combination of cells, the resulting flesh, is human. This human is at one of its most vulnerable stages of life. There may come a time when age has created a similar frailty, and that is a natural progression. Human rights should be afforded to all humans during such vulnerabilities.
Many laws around the world are designed to protect human life, elevating that to a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We should be seriously concerned when humans are denied that right to life at their beginning.
Monday, September 7, 2009
God knows the answer to the question He asked. However, He calls upon them – and us – to give witness to what He has done, or is about to do. Judgment is the theme. And, a future.
How do we answer this question? What has God done unto us? Why have we become weary of Him?
My own answer is that God has blessed me greatly. Undeservedly, I know, for I come up short in so many ways. I am not weary of Him, though I do not understand all I hear and read of Him I never tire of hearing and learning more. He has never failed me, though I have failed Him and have received His forgiveness.
The six short chapters written about 700 bce have been quoted for centuries. Herod heard them from the priests and scribes (Matthew 2:5-6). Jesus spoke them to His disciples (Matthew 10:35-36). Long before that, Micah was quoted in Jeremiah 26:18.
Compare a few verses – the first from Solomon:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)
The second from Micah:
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)
The third from Christ, quoting Moses:
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 KJV)
Do we heed these words, or do we listen to the voice that Eve heard, twisting the commandments with subtle questions that lead astray and separate from the love of God?
There is hope:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)
Saturday, September 5, 2009
This should hold true if a Muslim cleric opens the meeting and uses Allah in his prayer instead of the non-specific word ‘god.’ A Native American is also precluded from using the term Great Spirit. And think of how many gods’ names would be denied for a multitude of other religions.
According to the Court, they determined that "the practice of members of Town Council invoking name(s) specifically associated with the Christian faith violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."
Unfortunately, their very words are close to violating the First Amendment, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” However, the Admendment refers only to Congress – not to the Judicial system, which should not (but has been known to) usurp Congress’ responsibility to pass laws.
The court names the Christian faith in its determination. Could their response have been better stated as "the practice of members of Town Council invoking name(s) associated with any specific faith violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."
Without that distinction, isn’t their decision discriminatory against Christians?
What is the difference between the City Council meeting prayers and those in congress?
Why is the “name of Jesus” important to Christians?
Acts 5:40 (yep – things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years!)
1 Corinthians 1:2
And that’s just the phrase, doesn’t include additional reasons for calling upon His name. Which I shall continue to do. The current prevalence of interpreting our constitution as a freedom from religion may change in coming years. For which I shall continue to pray.
Friday, September 4, 2009
"It's pretty surreal, pretty humbling, how your life is represented in these objects that you collect and then you have to whittle them down," he said, describing the difficulty of choosing what to bring with them.
We’ve seen such smoke, a half a mile from our home. Fortunately the wind was not in our direction, and a great many awesome firefighters ended its fury. We had to consider how to move our cattle, gather dogs, wonder about chickens – and that’s just living things, not the objects we had collected over the years, the ‘stuff’ that makes up our lives.
Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both. (Genesis 31:37 KJV)
Rachel took some stuff from her father when Jacob fled with his family. She must have felt it was worth it to take them, then sit upon them to hide her theft.
Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours. (Genesis 45:20 KJV)
Joseph told his brothers not to be concerned about their own stuff – he had enough in Egypt to take care of all of them.
For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much. (Exodus 36:7 KJV)
Moses found out it was possible to have too much stuff!
Look around – what stuff do we need? What stuff do we want – and why? Is the stuff important to us, or to our children? Why have we accumulated this stuff? Where will it eventually go? Why do we need it now?
What would we take in case of fire? Why would we choose that? Because it would be expensive to replace? Because of the memories it invokes?
Christ speaks of a day when we need to abandon our stuff:
In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. (Luke 17:31 KJV)
Do we have the wrong stuff?
Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. (Joshua 7:11 KJV)
Let’s take inventory of our stuff. Appreciate that which we’ve accumulated, but determine if we’ve taken of the accursed thing and put them among our own stuff. Let’s clear them out and determine what stuff is worth rescuing.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Almost unbelievably, and I know you’ll doubt this, I’ve seen teenagers that may express dislike for the rules and regulations still embrace them and continue comfortably within the congregation. Just these last few years we’ve had a large percentage of our young people not only go off to college, the majority of them headed for Bible college or seminary. It is a blessing to see them at work in their Father’s business.
Jesus not only said: And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:13-14)
He continued: Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:15)
Matthew tells a bit more about this encounter: But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)
That one should be of concern to us all as we answer a child’s questions about God. If drowning with a millstone about one’s neck is better, I do not wish to discover the worst!
Thus I will speak of God to a child. Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:3)
I will tell children of the greatest commandments: 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)
Get these two right, the rest will come. The Bible tells me so.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
In this Fox News article we find the court documents quoted:
"[E]ducation is by its nature an exploration and examination of new things," the court order read. "[A] child requires academic, social, cultural, and physical interaction with a variety of experiences, people, concepts, and surroundings in order to grow to an adult who can make intelligent decisions about how to achieve a productive and satisfying life."
Our Amanda was certainly exposed to a variety of experiences at public school – including but not limited to overcrowded classrooms, immodest clothing, drug use and teenage pregnancy. Her parents’ answer to high school problems was a nearby Christian school. Which, according to the above court quotes, would not have provided a productive and satisfying life any more than home schooling.
Our Amanda’s graduating class consisted of one Christian girl. Not too different from any home schooled student. Perhaps she would have been different had she remained in public schools. However, now being the wife of a church Youth Minister and the mother of another beautiful girl would appear to be quite productive and satisfying. It certainly is for parents, grandparents and great-grandparents!
The initial error in the court case would appear that two people could not agree. I would remind young people that marriage is a life-long decision. Marriage is designed to last. When it doesn’t, there are consequences. It is best, then, to seriously consider a couple of verses:
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3 KJV)
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV)
Had the other Amanda’s parents adhered to these two verses, there would be no court case.
This is what -- and why -- we teach:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 KJV)
As this was confirmed much later, so do we teach it today:
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: … These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Titus 2:1,15 KJV)
In many countries, that cannot be done. In America, should we not have the freedom to do so?
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Showed him mercy? If I were Joseph, I would have wondered aloud about this particular verse: First of all, my father would have loved me best, showing his favor with a most beautiful coat of many colors. I would have been given dreams from God that promised me honor among my brothers. Sure, I would have been a bit arrogant about it – who wouldn’t. I was chosen for great things.
Look where that got him. A pit in Dothan and a prison in Egypt. Joseph’s abilities couldn’t be hidden, though. Sold to Potiphar, he quickly organized the household, gained great favor and garnered the attention of a scheming woman.
Prison would have been just as bad as the pit his brothers used. No rich coats, no honor just the interpretation of dreams from his previous life. Through it all Joseph still had the Lord with him.
If we lost our family, would we keep the Lord with us? If our family turned against us, would we keep the Lord with us? If we were wrongly convicted? If there were injustice, guilt, fear, would we keep the Lord with us.
Were the truth to be told, most of us would not.
Instead, we rail against God and become angry. We compare our loss to Christ and cry out My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46b KJV)
In some cases, to achieve our own desires, we declare God non-existent and leave his mercies behind. In others, to ease our own pain, we declare Him uncaring and reject Him.
In still other cases, we still love and serve Him knowing full well … that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)
Without that belief, we might be Paul’s example of those who turn their backs on God’s mercy:
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (Romans 9:20 KJV)
We would do much better to follow Joseph’s example of excelling where he found himself. Where do we get the faith to do this?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)