Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dawn of Reasoning

Dawn of the new year moves slowing around the globe. Strange, if I’m speaking on the phone to someone on the other side of the date line, we could be in different years. There is no single time of demarcation where the old is tossed and the new is in, it is a gradual dawning where small Pacific Islands awaken before the rest of the world.

What do we expect from this change of dates? The first thing I expect is that I shall forget to change the year on documents for at least a couple of weeks.

I shall wonder what happened to all of 2009, looking back at calendars and photographs to be certain I didn’t sleep the year away. This one time even the teenagers see that time moves quickly away, though the future seems endless.

I shall not miss the passage of time in heaven. No rising of the sun to mark the beginning of day, nor waxing and waning of the moon to mark the seasons.

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23 KJV)

Only the cleansed shall inhabit.

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:27 KJV)

Baptism is a physical display of what we expect – a resurrection from the old to the new.

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 KJV)

Just as the resolutions so many make for the coming year, we fail to accomplish in this imperfect world the totality of our promise. Christ knew this.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41 KJV)

As Isaiah wrote to Israel, so God speaks to us:

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:16-18 KJV)

Can you imagine reasoning with God? It requires speaking to Him, and expecting an answer. He has laid His side out in the Bible, what say you in return?

Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? (Isaiah 29:16 KJV)

If you do not now do so, begin this new year reasoning with the Lord.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The thieves (see Theft) are in jail. The latest update was in our weekly newspaper (updated very quickly online): “Since Dec. 13, nine churches in Wise County and three more in Parker County have been burglarized.” Four men, named but ages not given, were apprehended at a church burglary in progress and arrested. One locally, the three others from Fort Worth, are facing charges that – as I said before – will change their lives forever.

We’ve heard that the suspects confessed and named the pawnshops that received their stolen good. There is a chance that the church will regain the sound system laptop, and get back the empty lock box. We could then rejoice as did the woman with silver:

And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. (Luke 15:9 KJV)

Of greater concern are the four men who sit in a county jail. We prayed that they would be caught, but we also prayed that they would be found, and would find the savior they need. We want them to come to know:

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

We want them to realize that all men have sinned and come short, they are not alone. They are to the Lord as the prodigal whose father rejoiced at his return:

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:24 KJV)

When these men do come to understand that Christ died for them, too, and they have faith to accept the grace of God in His gift of salvation, angels will rejoice:

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)

Will we? Or will we be as the older brother – the son who stayed home, followed instructions, lived within his father’s plans – who was not forgiving.

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. (Luke 15:28 KJV)

Moreover, will we go to these men and witness to them? That doesn’t mean we should set aside society’s requirement for legal retribution, but it does mean that we should forgive and aid in their understanding of God’s plan.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)

So, we pray that these four men should come to repentance so they might not perish. Please join us in this prayer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Barren Woman

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalms 113:9 KJV)

Mrs. Patty played the piano in our church for many years, before we were members and not nearly long enough. Shortly after our arrival she was diagnosed with cancer. She fought long. In spite of prayers and fasting that she might be healed and continue being an inspiration to us, the Lord took her home.

Having given birth to no child, nor adopting any, Mrs. Patty could be considered a barren woman.

How wrong that would be!!

She taught a children’s Sunday School class and was able to bring many of her students to the understanding that they needed God in their lives. She was an element of the being born again part of the gospel.

Jesus shocked Nicodemus with this information.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 KJV)

An outright statement that on the surface just doesn’t make sense. Nicodemus called Jesus on this impossibility.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:4 KJV)

Evangelicals use the phrase more than other denominations, yet to ignore it also ignores the very center of the gospel. Christ’s discourse with Nicodemus explains the center of our faith. The first verse taught to most children by their faithful Sunday School teachers is:

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)

A century after Islam was formed, a caliphate minted the silver dirham, with a complete rejection of this verse on one side of these coins: "Allah is One, Allah is the Eternal. He begets not neither is He begotten." Which tells me how important this verse is in conveying God’s love and Christ’s divinity.

Accepting this verse, believing its truth, means a person acknowledges God as the creator, accepts that He loves enough to give of Himself and understands everlasting life is theirs. That’s the first part of His commandment.

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 22:37-38 KJV)

How could any woman who taught this and participated in the eternal birth of children ever be considered barren?

Why, then, do many churches experience difficulties in filling their classrooms with loving teachers? Have you discovered your ministry yet? Might it be showing God’s only begotten Son to those who need Him?

(drawing by unknown artist- arrived anonymously in an e-mail)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Your Epistle

As you’ll see, we were studying in II Corinthians last week. Sunday our Pastor spoke on our ministry. Every Christian has one. I like the way Paul said it:

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; (2 Corinthians 4:1 KJV)

Even if we ignore working within the church, simply stating that one is a Christian raises expectations in other people. Fellow Christians expect certain activities to be displayed. James addresses this subject very well:

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18 KJV)

The unsaved look upon those who call themselves Christian and makes comparisons, finding in some instances that their lives, their works, are better. There are so many ways Christians are the Bible people read, as God’s written word is ignored. Paul tells the Corinthians:

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: (2 Corinthians 3:2 KJV)

I doubt that Paul knew that his letter would be read millennia later. Yet it is true today -- our hearts' story is open to those around us.

David realized that God was all knowing, that our secrets were open to him, that our lives were an open book:

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. (Psalms 90:8-9 KJV)

What is our epistle showing – to the unsaved? To God?

Does it reflect God’s word? Or is the writing tainted by what we want? Do we follow Paul’s exhortation to faint not:

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2 KJV)

Do we really refrain from handling the word of God deceitfully?

Take this verse as an example:

And we know 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)

Do we really believe that all things work together for good? Do we lop off the remainder of the phrase, forgetting the promise is for them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose?

To what purpose are you called? What has been the response? What comes from the heart?

Sunday, December 27, 2009


God let us know that rest was good:

Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. (Exodus 23:12 KJV)

This respite between Christmas and New Year is a good time to rest. Doing so allows our minds to return memories to us. When you sing them often, hymns are among those memories. This morning, one returned to mine:

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

This first verse holds most of the Bible. Follow this one verse, and you’ll find yourself reading God’s word, hearing of God’s Word, spending time in prayer and fellowshipping with like minded believers. Is this not the requirements in His word?

Verses continue, though, telling us more of how to seek Him:

Take time to be holy, The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

Yet they cannot best the very first line – Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;

Does God require more?

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV)

The result offers more than we can understand:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)

Look for it in His word.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Christmas Eve, our church was robbed. A multitude of emotions ran through me when I read about it on a posting. Shock, fear, anger – then sadness. The thieves have stolen from God.

Have they not read:

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 5:1-2 KJV)

They only kept a part. Just as the thieves only took a part of our church.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. (Acts 5:3-4 KJV)

Lied to God, stole from God. Which would you rather do? Especially when we’ve been told:

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31 KJV)

We know that, and know what happened to Ananias for his lies:

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (Acts 5:5 KJV)

I do not believe the thieves today will fall down dead when confronted with their crime. I do fear that they will end their lives on earth without God and enter an eternal death – unless they change. They’ve left the narrow path:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)

The thieves have chosen destruction. They have committed a crime against the community that can land them in jail. Many have done so and missed out on opportunities of growth and love. They’ve traded a portion of their life for material things that are valueless. They have earned the distrust of a congregation, but earned nothing worthwhile.

I would not protect them, but I do pray for them. I pray that God will soften their hearts and they will understand how they’ve erred in disrespecting His house. I pray they will return to the church, attend a service, hear the message God has for them and come to know His love for them.

I have Him in my heart, my mind and I love Him. They need Him so very much. Please, pray for them.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Christmas!!! Today is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Son of God, the promised Messiah.

As an adult He said:

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

His mother learned of Him from an angel, but she was troubled:

To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. (Luke 1:27-29 KJV)

She came to understand and glorified His name to Elizabeth:

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. (Luke 1:46-50 KJV)

The announcement, His birth, His youth, His adulthood – culminating in His death, His purpose. We cannot celebrate one without anticipating the other.

Still, His story incomplete if we stop here. There is another event we look forward to celebrating.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3 KJV)

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11 KJV)

His return, and our judgment. That’s truly to be celebrated!!

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31 KJV)

Peter tells us who will be expecting this:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34-35 KJV)

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20 KJV)

The photo is one we took on a trip to Colorado.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. In preparation, there are nativity scenes in place. Several people I know would enjoy the one above – no wise men, no camels. I’ve heard people say they place the magi and their camels across the room to replicate their travel when the child was born. Matthew’s the only gospel mentioning them:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:1-2 KJV)

So many of us are as they were – we’ve heard, we’ve become inquisitive, and we’ve looked in the wrong places. Some of us have found our own Herod and allowed him to misdirect our search for the King, although their Herod sent them on the right path for all the wrong reasons.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. (Matthew 2:7-8 KJV)

Liar, liar!! We know what he had in mind. The wise men returned to their original guide:

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11 KJV)

Perhaps the gifts are symbolic, but they were also practical, as the family had to flee and all three gifts were valuable.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. (Matthew 2:12-13 KJV)

Herod did try to destroy him.

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. (Matthew 2:16 KJV)

The Bible does not tell us the date of Christ's birth, nor even the season. We know there were shepherds in the fields with their flocks, but nothing more. Over centuries, December 25 has represented that time, and I don't have a problem with that choice. I still enjoy the incorrect nativity scenes that show a manger, shepherds, wise men, sheep, camels and a mother with her child, surrounded by men who fell down, and worshipped Him.

I just want Christmas to be memorable due to the birth of Christ. I want the presents remembered as gold, frankincense and myrrh. I want the family gathered to understand why men fall down, still, and worship Him, as we do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How, When, What, Who - Why?

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1 KJV)

There is so much information here in this one verse. all the world. Of course it was not all of the earth that was to be taxed, just every family that was ruled by Rome. The world as it was known to Roman subjects. Detractors point to this verse and snicker at inspiration. Surely the inspired word would know better.

Luke takes time to tell us when this was done, and who was involved.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (Luke 2:2-3 KJV)

Christians look at this verse and see the hand of God at work in a secular world that ignored Him. The result of this decree moved a small family from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. (Luke 2:4-5 KJV)

A distance of over seventy miles, it could have been traveled in four days. We would expect that the family joined up with a caravan, the usual mode of travel for safety’s sake, and may have moved a bit more slowly, taking up to a week. However it was, I cannot imagine it a comfortable trip for a woman about to give birth.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7 KJV)

Thus far Luke has painted a picture that has an emperor moving people about for his own purposes. Yet centuries before a prophet foretold a Bethlehem birth. Now we come to the Who, given to shepherds.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11 KJV)

The Why is the most important of all -- more important than the birth of a savior for all of mankind. All ask the question “Why?”, some without ever accepting the answer though it is laid out before us.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14 KJV)

All of this, for the glory of God.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 KJV)

("Joseph and Mary Travel to the Census" by William Hole,
from “The Life of Jesus of Nazareth Portrayed in Colours.’
London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Step Three

Sunday night our current Bible College senior, home from Heartland, spoke using the following as his scripture reference:

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (Ecclesiastes 9:10 KJV)

While his sermon was absolutely applicable to our daily lives, and he gave examples along with other scriptures to exhort us to do our best, another facet caught my attention. He mentioned that he’s learned three things about work:

1 – Communicated expectations
2 – Boundaries and limitations
3 – Assessments

That is so similar to what our Software Quality Management testing used. The three things that made up our structure were:

1 – Defined Requirements
2 – Maximums and minimums of the system
3 – Results

It stands to reason that the first two items are extremely important. We need to know what we are supposed to do. Without that, there is chaos. God provided across millennia what we are to do, and boiled it down to an essence in His word:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV)

Through His Son, He confirmed this again, then explained what the remainder constitutes:

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 22:37-40 KJV)

In the preacher’s example, we assess what worked, what didn’t and plan accordingly for the next time. Testing comes down to a simple pass/fail result, as do our lives. There is season and time appointed for us:

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

The Bible doesn’t speak of second chances. The rich man and Lazarus brought about no change for either of them, and a conclusion from Abraham:

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:31 KJV)

Ezekiel knew of such people:

Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 12:2 KJV)

What do we see? What do we hear during this assessment? What will be the result?

Monday, December 21, 2009


"Believing is a matter of the will. A man does not believe without being willing to believe."

“If thou believest, thy belief will kill thy sinning, or else thy sinning will kill thy believing. The greatest argument against the Bible is an unholy life; and when a man will give that up, he will convince himself.”
C. H. Spurgeon 1834-1892

Charles Spurgeon is credited with inventing the Wordless Book, “a Christian evangelistic device,” used in a “message given on January 11, 1866 to several hundred orphans regarding Psalm 51:7”

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7b KJV)

Spurgeon used three colors, completing one message:

Black: representing the “sinful state” of humanity “by nature”.
Red: representing the blood of Jesus.
White: representing the “perfect righteousness which God has given to believers through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ his Son”.

Over the years, others added additional colors:

Blue: representing baptism
Green: representing growth in Christ
Gold: representing heaven

I like the simplicity of his sermons and love the simplicity of his Wordless Book. As soon as we complete our “Books of the Bible” study, I’m going to present this to our Sunday School class.

For the past couple of years, we’ve made stretch bracelets for our girls. Each time there has been specific meanings. For this Spurgeon’s Wordless Book lesson, we’ll make them with the above colors so that when they are worn, they’ll be a reminder of how simple it is to witness.

I also intend to make some fabric banner/wall hanging items with the colors. Again, to be a witness reminder. Perhaps a Bible cover? What would be a good item for the car? Definitely one for our Sunday School class. Enough to have people ask, “What is that for?”

I’ll continue to think about that – perhaps even putting the applicable Roman Road scripture references on the banners? Suggestions are welcome!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Religion of Popular Cultlure

Remove the first word of the following title, references in the article to President Obama, and it remains one of the most thought-provoking articles about today’s worship of celebrity-hood around the world: “Obama and the Religion of Popular Culture

When the author states: “With the decline of institutionalized religion, popular culture has taken its place as a bearer of human mythologies and values that explains the meaning of life and the nature of proper behavior to the masses. Most traditional forms of religion understand this and view themselves as openly or covertly at war for the hearts and minds of their followers with popular culture.”

I tend to agree. I believe it is open warfare.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12 KJV)

"The nature of fame is not truly rooted in any value other than charisma and photogenics. ... The subtext of fame is that it is all an illusion. The actors are reading lines from cue cards. The singers are lip syncing. The politician is reading from a teleprompter. ... People with real accomplishments are less likely to be as enduringly famous, because there is less illusion and artifice to the entire process. … The key to understanding the theology of the Religion of Popular Culture is that it offers ‘ordinary people’ a chance to become extraordinary by becoming famous, not through real accomplishment, but through fame itself."

We’ve seen so much of this in the last few years in what is laughingly referred to as Reality TV. Instead of being confined to a TV show where we control the switch, we’re confronted with these wannabes on magazine covers, in newspapers and radio/tv news reports. Balloons and party crashers, each has an angle.

Years ago it was considered ‘fame’ if one was in the news for fifteen minutes. Today’s ‘fame’ can be drawn out for months or years before someone new and different takes their place.

Yet, this is not new: And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) (Deuteronomy 29:17 KJV)

There have always been idols in an attempt to replace God in our lives. We are told it will remain thus: And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: (Revelation 9:20 KJV)

We’ve also been told of other events as the day of Christ is at hand:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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 2:1-3 KJV)

Be concerned for the souls of those you love and those you meet, work toward their understanding of His salvation. All the while fully understanding that God’s plan is unfolding as promised. And, for this we pray:

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5 KJV)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stem Cells - Four

I found this on CNN’s mobile, and a search showed it on their regular Internet site.

The article begins: “If you've just had your first heart attack, doctors may one day be able to reverse the damage done with stem cell therapy.”

It’s called “a step forward”, “results are a milestone in stem cell research.”

"The particular kind of cells used in this research are called mesenchymal stem cells, and come from adults, not embryos."

"Jeffrey Karp, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, who runs a stem cell biology lab at Harvard University. He was not involved in the study." Karp is quoted: "More broadly, besides bone marrow transplantations, there have not been any major successes in the stem cell field in terms of helping large numbers of patients"

May I take a moment to state openly, “I told you so!” In
June, 2008, and again in March, 2009. Then there were the fat cells in September, 2009.

How ironic after years of conflict over the ethics of embryonic stem cell research – and it’s proponents disregard for adult or umbilical cord stem cell research – that no embryos were created/killed for these results.

The article states: “There are several advantages to using mesenchymal stem cells for heart therapy. First, they are adult stem cells, so there are no ethical issues that surround research on embryonic stem cells. Secondly, at least from a safety perspective, mesenchymal stem cells do not require matching -- any donor can give cells to any other donor, and no immunosuppresant drugs are necessary, he [Karp] said… “

There is no scientific evidence, no proof as to when life begins. Arbitrary legal decisions indicate at birth – yet live birth abortions are allowed and an unborn who dies because of a mother’s death can be considered murder. With these inconsistencies, why not error on the side of caution? Why not protect human rights at the beginning of humanity?

All of the above does not consider the one aspect important to me personally. Based on my Bible, human life begins at conception.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:16 KJV)

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30 KJV)

Human embryos should do nothing more than grow and continue as human beings.

(Cornell University’s
Vivian Chang has an interesting article on this subject and the NIH’s limits on embryonic research.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Man's Name

I can remember the first time I heard his name. It was a commercial for sporting goods showing several different people (from children to adults) playing a sport then saying, “I am Tiger Woods.”

At the time, I didn’t have a clue what they meant. A type of driver for a set of golf clubs? Only the sport was correct. After I found out about this young man, I followed his career with interest. He was non-racial. Multi-cultural, he embodied a future many dreamed of. The open father-son relationship was one to be envied. His achievements became legendary.

Years later his name evokes jokes.

How much better would it have been to have followed:

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2 KJV)

Every idle word is reported. Every deed scrutinized. It is easily said:

Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: (Psalms 69:19a KJV)

Family and corporations are moving away from him. His life is forever changed.

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. (Ecclesiastes 10:1 KJV)

The Bible has a lot to say about foolishness, but this pretty well sums it up:

My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. (Psalms 38:5 KJV)

How wonderful that God sees past the sin and the jokes, offering forgiveness:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalms 103:2-3 KJV)

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:12 KJV)

He sent His son to take care of all:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)

Cleansed? Yes. For with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37 KJV)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Christmas can be a time of great depression. Expectations are set by those around us, by commercials that tell us of luxury we cannot afford. There is one commercial where a small girl is sitting on the stairs with her mother, reciting a litany of items she wants under their tree. Scenes of homes with stacks of presents spreading many feet away from under the tree.

The majority of us cannot afford to provide such scenes for our family, unable to meet the expectations set by those around us. Attempts to do so drive us into debt, and into depression.

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. (Acts 3:5 KJV)

People looking to us do expect things. This man, as Peter and John were about to enter the temple, asked alms. Peter specifically called for his attention:

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. (Acts 3:4 KJV)

In spite of expectations, Peter changed the rules, the man’s life and perhaps our perspective:

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (Acts 3:6 KJV)

We often stop there when telling this story, and miss the marvelous gospel sermon Peter delivers.

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19 KJV)

What greater gift can we receive? The gift God has promised, and freely given. Is it not explained? Is it not expected?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:4-5 KJV)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

Open to all, freely given of God, salvation so full and free. What a wonderful gift to share with friends and family.

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:20-21 KJV)

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:11-12 KJV)

When I hear the word commitment, I think of marriage. Commitment goes both ways. One makes a commitment, which binds them to another, putting trust in them. Without commitment, marriages fail.

Our trust in worldly things fails, even in new things. Clothes unravel or tear at the seams; cars off the lots are determined to be ‘lemons’; jobs we depend on for sustenance cease to exist; our very homes show cracks as they settle. We were told long ago not to depend on them, and why:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 KJV)

God has made a commitment to us about that heavenly treasure:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9 KJV)

He made the commitment Himself, coming to us in person:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)

Through men called to His purpose, He has laid out what we need to know to reach Him: The books teaching us of Him stretch from:

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


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21 KJV)

Some are short, some are long. All provide a light along our way and direct us to His promises:

Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5 KJV)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


“Tell me how to do it, don’t tell me what it means.” I heard that one morning on a DIY show and the waterfall of thoughts began as to how it applies in our religious lives.

“Tell me how to become a Christian,” so many people begin. A high percentage of Christians are at least paused by the question. Where to begin? Many opt for the Roman Road. Verses which tell us that all have sinned and come short; that sin is to be not only acknowledged but repented; that God provided salvation through His son; accepting God’s gift of love and forgiveness results in eternal life with Him.

Others look upon that as a simplistic view and Christianity can be hard and painful labor. Many speak of trials and tribulations, testing and thorns. As many speak of burdens lifted and blessings received, beauty and benevolence.

Both viewpoints are correct, most likely occurring within the same life, often concurrent.

Telling how to do it doesn’t come close to telling what it means. Paul told a jailer how to do it:

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31 KJV)

That is true. God has promised salvation. But there is so much more. The new Christian may not realize he must:

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11-12 KJV)

We will face setbacks:

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: (2 Thessalonians 1:4 KJV)

When wondering about what it means, spend some time with Titus 2 – where young and old, men and woman, are taught how, and told why:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Titus 2:11-15 KJV)

So, that’s “how to do it,” but the important thing is “what it means” to you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Far Above Rubies

Today each is given
a bracelet of symbols,
To be worn as a reminder
of several truths:

You are a child of the King,
You may reflect His glory,
as the crystals of His throne,
You may be pure and white,
a pearl of great price
Your price may be far above rubies,
You may be refined as silver.
The choices are yours.

Sunday we did give a card with “Far Above Rubies”, Proverbs 31:10 on the front; a photo of the bracelet on the left inside; the above poem on the right inside and the bracelet we made for each one of our girls.

Some of our girls attended a conference this year entitled “Far Above Rubies.” It’s a phrase that is attention catching, and we’ve reminded them twice since then that they have the opportunity to be that virtuous woman.

We had a visitor in our class. She said she would have been in the seventh grade this year but the social worker assigned to her hadn’t provided lessons lately. She also said that her baby was due in January. I was at a loss, also very grateful that there were two teachers in the class and the other one asked positive questions that elicited information that helped witness to her.

Our visitor said she became pregnant because of a dare. She’s keeping her baby boy, but is not going to marry the father. She believes that marriages don’t last. In every marriage she’s seen, a woman is beaten by a man. She has seen examples in her short life.

We were able to tell her of the God who loves her and who instituted marriage. The example given illustrated how a woman who places God at the center of her life will be drawn to a man who is also centered on God. How, as they grow closer to Him, they grow closer to each other. Doesn’t mean perfection, but does provide strength and purpose within God’s plan.

This child knows that her life has changed, just has her body has changed. She has little clue how it will change again when her son is born.

This is our society today. The world accepts that fourteen-year-old girls will have pre-marital sex and out-of-wedlock babies. There is no shame. Instead, they are assigned social workers that are expected to succeed where family, community and school have failed.

Please pray for this child and for her child. Pray for the others who will face similar choices. Give thanks for the youth who choose God’s love and purity for their lives, and pray for their strength.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I had a dread last night. Yep that was a typo, but it fit. There was a large building, filled with working people. As in all dreams, there are odd occurrences.

I was with people I knew. In some dreams there are people you recognize, even if you don’t know them in reality. In this dream, none of those around me were familiar. We were waiting. Invaders were coming and we would be required to make a choice. Yet we all knew there were no choices, we were expected to submit to their demands, or else.

I picked up a bright yellow pen and tried to convince people around me that we should not submit; that we needed to retain our freedom. The pen was a symbol that our thoughts, our ideals, were mightier than perceived violence. Without the ability to express ourselves, we were truly slaves.

No one around me was moved by my words. I continued, saying how we could no longer worship God. There was but a small reaction, mostly defeatism. I started down a long corridor, passing closed and open doors, not speaking but singing.

“Count Your Blessings,” it seemed somehow appropriate, people began responding, following, and we moved through the corridors. Some did not follow, but most did, as the refrain was picked up and chorused again and again.

Awakened, the refrain continued. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one … Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.”

Unlike Joseph or Daniel, I do not expect to find meaningful messages within dreams. This one, though, brings out something I should do more often, for I have been blessed abundantly.

First, I serve the God that 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)

Second, I am part of a family that does heed His word. Generations, back and forward, served the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. (Psalms 100:2 KJV)

Third, I am part of a congregation 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)

The blessings continue and I could count for a very long time. Among them is the freedom to read God’s word openly in the company of others and discuss the doctrines it holds. That freedom is lacking in many countries.

There are woes, as well as blessings. The Bible tells us: For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Hebrews 10:30 KJV)

That confirmation of earlier scripture comes after a verse that speaks of punishment, defining the transgression:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29 KJV)

Unlike dreams, we are given answers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Freely Given

We had a party. Our Junior and Senior High School Sunday School classes combined for an evening of food, fellowship and focus.

The girls were to bring their own potluck, and they did an excellent job. Spaghetti with garlic bread, chicken casserole and a mouth-watering meatloaf (I really need that recipe!) One senior had committed to bringing potato soup, but didn’t get it done. She called her dad and asked him to bring potatoes, onion, butter, milk, seasoning and within fifteen minutes she had the creamiest potato soup one could imagine. We did take notes. Maybe we can do that one!

So we had a good time with the food. And even more fellowship fun at the end of the program when two teams competed in building a gingerbread house. They started out evenly with a boxed set of building materials and a time limit. I didn’t get pictures on my camera, so today’s shot is just a photo of the purple cupcakes we had. Some of those cupcake tops went on the roof of the houses – first time I’ve seen purple snow!

The focus was the true highlight of the evening. Given by our Senior teacher, wife of our Youth Pastor, she brought us a timely yet timeless message. Our girls do not have much in the way of discretionary funds of their own. When they purchase Christmas gifts, funding comes out of the family budget.

Her lesson taught them there are gifts they could each give freely that had no cost, but returned them priceless gratitude.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (Ephesians 6:1-2 KJV)

This is a most excellent gift that parents will cherish. Parents understand what children are:

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: (Psalms 127:3a KJV)

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. (Proverbs 17:6 KJV)

Another is a gift they hold for their future husband. They all know girls who squandered the gift, throwing it away while changing their lives forever. The gift of purity for their husband is theirs to give. It is within them to have their husband say:

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. (Song of Solomon 4:7 KJV)

It is within them to accomplish, and they know the difference between right and wrong:

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. (Proverbs 20:11 KJV)

There will be strong temptations, but they have been given means to overcome them:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)

Still another gift is living their lives that others might see God in them:

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12 KJV)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Outer Limit

In northern states, snowplow operators, as those in Otter Tail County, Minnesota’s rodeo, “…drive forward through and around a set of barrels, then back up through the same set of barrels; with the side wing plow down, drive closely around a curve without hitting posts; drive past a series of mailboxes with the wing plow down, without hitting the mailboxes; driving a marked straight line; with the truck box up, drive beneath a bridge (bridge is made of metal poles); back up to a loading dock; drive down a narrow path without hitting the side markers; and stopping within a few inches of a line.”

Heavy highway equipment operators in Texas Department of Transportation compete in rodeos, too. Unlike the usual rodeos, these rodeos use equipment instead of animals. In one event, they must center their vehicle in a designated area. To do so, the operator must be so familiar with his equipment that he knows its outer limits, just as in Minnesota.

These drivers must accomplish precision placement of the equipment, requiring knowledge of the space the equipment occupies. They know their boundaries.

How much more so should we be aware of the space our lives occupy?

How do we fill our space? Is our life filled with the light of God's love? Do we think of how it spills over into other lives?

Ye are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14a KJV)

That was spoken to Christ’s disciples, not to the crowds. (And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: Matthew 5:1 KJV) The entire Sermon on the Mount was given to His followers, preparation for their ministry. Do we know how close we are to Him? Are we prepared for His ministry?

Do we trust Him to keep His promises? Have we placed our future in His hands?

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

Are we willing to follow His instructions? Do we look to them as help in our daily lives.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:20-21 KJV)

What are our outer limits? Are our lives centered?

(Photo from Otter Tail County 2007 Truck Rodeo)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Through Our Eyes

Andy Griffith is quoted as saying about acting, “If you think and feel what you're supposed to think and feel, hard enough, it'll come out through your eyes - and the camera will see it.”

His application was to his chosen profession, but it is true in our daily life. If we think and feel what we are supposed to, it will show in our eyes as our truth.

Paul knew this when he wrote:

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 KJV)

If we think on these things, they will come through our eyes and will be reflected by those who see us. The same thing happens when we allow the impure, the unlovely, of bad report, things without virtue and the unpraiseworthy. They, too, come out of our eyes.

Which do you see in the mirror? Which do you wish to display to those you love; to those you do not yet know?

Which displays God’s place in your life?

He knows our hearts:

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 KJV)

What is in our hearts? What do we think and feel about our Lord? He has told what we should be feeling:

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. (Matthew 22:36-39 KJV)

If we do love the Lord our God will all our heart and with all our mind, He is on our mind at all times. Every thought is open to Him. Every desire has His attention.

Most important, our immortal soul is in His care. We can then be certain that we agree with Paul’s conclusion:

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV)

That day will come. What will show through our eyes when standing before Him?

(Photo from personal collection)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Easily Understood

I read a lot. I’ve acquired a wide vocabulary. In everyday speech, I’ve been found using three and four syllable words where three or four words would do. This past week I was talking with a couple of people and used a three syllable word that meant exactly what I wanted to express. It stopped the conversation.

Both stood there for a few seconds, then one agreed, “That’s right, whatever she said.”

The other responded, “You don't know what that means either?”

“Nope, but it sounded good.”

It reminded me of a time when a preacher told us we must be more eleemosynous in our giving. Took me a very long time to find the correct spelling of that word and it’s meaning. It would have been much more effective for his audience to have heard, “We must have a more loving, a more giving charity toward our fellow man.”

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians included verses regarding speaking in tongues, but there’s a lesson to all of us to speak plainly:

So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. (1 Corinthians 14:9 KJV)

For all the theological terminology, all the exegetical sentences when we teach, if the audience does not receive the God focused explanation of the lesson, we still speak into the air.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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 10:13-14 KJV)

The Bible speaks for itself. Most of teachers I have heard allow it to do so, reading from God’s word then giving examples of how this applies to our daily lives. The best teachers I have heard include the good news that God loved His creation so much that He offered Himself as the means by which we can reach Him.

I can see this application early in the Bible as Abraham answered Isaac.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:7-8 KJV)

Through God’s love for us, the Lamb of God was provided as our offering. The Bible speaks plainly of how we are to return that love:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3 KJV)

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)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jury Duty

I was Juror #4. I had received the summons weeks ago, had called as requested to see if there would be a trial, for most of the charges are adjudicated before the trial date. There was a delay while negotiations continued. There was only one case on the docket. Seeing a jury pool often changes the outcome.

This time it didn’t. We were given written information on being a juror, exemptions verified, given a number and we swore to serve. Then comes voir dire, a second process to eliminate jurors. The questions are designed to note preconceptions of guilt or innocence.

The defendant had no attorney. When testimony was complete, it was obvious there was no defense.

The indictments laid out the specifics of the law, the details of non-compliance and the penalties. We jurors found there was no reasonable doubt that the testimony was factual, the law had been broken. The judge was legally required to follow the penalty assigned.

The Bible speaks of judgment, and most people ignore it. Many do not believe in God nor the Bible, so therefore the judgment will not apply. As our example defendant, they believe there are no consequences to their action. It doesn’t apply to them.

I disagree. I believe God’s word when we are told there will be a day of judgment, and it will be factual and complete, to the point that:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

It is described:

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:5-6 KJV)

Some will pick out a verse and say “Christ said he came not to judge!”:

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. (John 12:47 KJV)

While true, it is incomplete. Read further:

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48 KJV)

Paul writes:

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12 KJV)

I shall do so, I think with trembling, but with the one difference that I share with so many others who will stand before Him, worshiping uncondemned:

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)

Monday, December 7, 2009


From an In Touch devotional: “For many years I had the idea that, though my salvation was by faith, God’s approval had to be earned. So I did my best but never felt it was good enough. I struggled, failed, tried again, and failed once more. I am grateful the Lord directed me to His better way.”

That sentence touched me, for it could mirror my attempts. I do not need to earn God’s approval, for I have His love.

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)

This verse comes much later in John’s writing. It’s truth is given much earlier, with greater emphasis:

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)

There are consequences, though, if we do not believe His love.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 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 3:17-18 KJV)

The writer of that first paragraph, and I myself, missed a point early in our Christian walk:

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40 KJV)

We want to please God. Because we are so aware of our sins (both before and after salvation), we think we must make up for them. We neglected the old verses:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)

God has told us of His free gifts:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12 KJV)

Our service to Him is not an obligation whereby we achieve approval, it is the desire of our hearts to seek and serve within His will. This is our reasonable service.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Hebrews 6:10 KJV)

It is our love for God that instills the desire to serve Him, not fear of disapproval

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18 KJV)

Sunday, December 6, 2009


He was a new Christian, in his mid-30’s. Becoming a Christian had turned his life upside down, in a wonderful way. For the first time in his life, he took a needy child Christmas shopping as part of the church Bus Ministry.

Some of the children would not have Christmas presents if it were not for the donations from the congregation. This year, as most of those before, people gave and children benefited.

A specific evening is set up, the children (and parents if they wish) are taken to the local Wal-Mart, given a specific amount to spend, then allowed to shop. Most go for warm clothes, a necessity in cold winters.

This time, however, the new Christian was with a third-grader who had never owned a bike, and his eyes were shining as they caught sight of the display of dozens of brightly colored ones, two rows high. The joy faded as the boy relived the many times he had been told by the grandmother raising him that money was limited and had to be stretched.

Keeping his hand in that of the man with him, he started to move away. But his companion was more adapt at math, and the price on a particular model was well within budget. Even left a bit over for a coat or heavy sweater.

The two of them shopped, figured and bought the bicycle. The man still remarks about the look on the child’s face.

Yesterday our church and another combined to present an auction to the community. Our goal to fund Christmas presents for two church bus ministries was met and the cup overflowed!

There was an immense range of items auctioned: baked goods, blankets, tools, farm implements, decorations and more. Items purchased and items handcrafted. One I wish I had was a spaghetti dinner donated by a church member. He would go to their home, prepare and serve the dinner to the winner’s family. Would you believe that went for over $100?

Why? Because the people at the auction last night believe the Bible when it says:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV)

Participants were looking for some bargains, but they were also looking for some blessings. Both were available in the same room.

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11 KJV)

May God bless you in such a way that you may see through a child’s eyes the wonder of an unachievable gift, and through an adult’s the immeasurable love of God.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The World

As a child in elementary school, I was taught to “duck and cover.” Get under our desks and cover our necks, or get in the hallway, away from windows.

Why? Because of the threat of atomic bombs. Back then we did not know of nuclear weapons – “atomic bombs” was the phrase used by newspapers, radio and the new kid on the block, television, to instill fear. One untrustworthy finger on the button and the world we knew would become a vast wasteland of radioactivity.

There were detractors. There were many people who thought mankind could work through this and not destroy the world. Obviously, they’ve been right for the last sixty-plus years.

Between then and now, there were fears of nuclear winter. Newspapers, radio and television told how even a limited nuclear war could induce an ice age that change the world we knew into an ice age mankind might not survive.

Should we continue to fear any of the above? Or should we fear “global warming”?

Again the media, with another new kid on the block, Internet, instill fear of what will happen if humans continue living in the world as we know it. Rather than radioactivity or ice, we’ll live on less land that has to become a vast over-crowded desert.

Why, then, am I not trembling in fear of what lies in our future?

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1 KJV)

As Christians, we are assured that God is in control.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1 KJV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; (Psalms 46:1-2 KJV)

Twila Paris sings of this:

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the

Culture can make its plans
Oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been

It will be true forever

That one truth is, has been, and always will be God is in control, doing the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11 KJV)

What will our answer be when we hear the question?

Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:40 KJV)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Decisions, Decisions!

We are constantly faced with decisions. Most of ours do not impact our community, our city, our state and very few of any one’s impact the entire world. One of ours will impact eternity.

Each of us must make the decision whether or not to accept God in our lives. Some will deny His existence. Others deny His interest in mankind. Still others will deny either His mercy, or His judgment. God’s people were given a choice that is available today:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV)

Joshua made his decision clear, and challenged the others:

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

Not deciding does not solve the issue, but may remove it from consideration. Years ago I knew a woman who moved out of her home, away from her husband and sons, to decide what she wanted to do about her marriage. She did not consider that her husband would make decisions of his own. Once his decision was made, her ability to choose was removed. She lived with his decision.

There are those today who are not ready to make a decision about God. Yet we know we have only now. The only day we can live in is today. We can plan for tomorrow and more tomorrows to come, but they may not.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (Luke 12:19-20 KJV)

God’s revealed plan includes a time of judgment for our actions, for our decisions.

Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. (1 Timothy 5:24 KJV)

But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:2-3 KJV)

When I stand before God’s throne, He will judge me:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

At that point, I will have an advocate:

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: (Luke 12:8 KJV)

For that, I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

At A Loss

I don’t feel alone. I believe, at times, others find themselves at a loss for words when bowing for prayer. Or when seeking to know God’s will. Or recognizing His purpose, though we know we are in His will. Perhaps while we know we are in His will, we wonder about those walking with us.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:24-27 KJV)

That’s longer than most of the verses I post, but it’s a lesson for me right now. I have faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, my Lord and my savior. I understand the meaning of faith:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Back to Romans, where we’re told first that we cannot see what we hope for – therefore, how can we pray for it? God provides for that, too. The promised Comforter. The Holy Spirit God introduced through Christ:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26 KJV)

Our Comforter is the One who intercedes for us where we cannot imagine what we need. Or, where our imagination takes us far from what He has for us.

He is the One who searches our hearts, as David described:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24 KJV)

Solomon knew this was path God set out:

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 must trust that even when we know life will bring pain and sorrow that God’s plan leads to perfection. We must trust, as Mary trusted when told of Jesus’ birth:

For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. (Luke 1:37-38a KJV)

We must trust that even when faced with death, our own or a loved one’s, that God’s plan provides salvation:

He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. (Matthew 26:42 KJV)

God has provided for us when we know not what we should pray for as we ought. We simply come to Him in faith, and in prayer.