Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teens and Christianity

I believe there is validity in this recent CNN article, “More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians.” Also the more so since it includes “many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.”

The good news (besides the gospel of Christ) is “Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

"’There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior,’ she says. ‘They do a lot of things that parents pray for.’"

So, where do the teens you know fit into such a study? Where do you?

If a Christian, are you a church member?

What is the basis of your beliefs?

Are you able to discuss them with others without rancor? (Look it up – it’s an excellent word!)

What is the purpose of life?

What is the hope for the future?

Let me assure you, I have a personal history with God that I share with people. Every. Single. Day. I have a wonderful, deep connection to a “faith community” through a church whose members I count as extended, supportive family. My life has had, does have and will have purpose simply because it belongs to God. My future is defined by God’s gift of grace and mercy.

I believe there has been an unending relationship between God and man since He breathed into Adam. I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God that aids in continuing that relationship. I believe that:

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

I believe the Messiah was promised, and that promise was fulfilled.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:25-26 KJV)

I’ve read the end of the story, too.

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:3 KJV)

Truly, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4 KJV)

Children do learn what they are taught when it is truthful, interesting, and those teaching them live the words they give out. Garbage in/garbage out applies not only to the field of computer science.

The teens we teach are instructed to let me know when they see my actions not matching my words. What are the teens around you receiving?

Monday, August 30, 2010


Quench not the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19 KJV)

Does that sound simple? Doesn’t to me at all. I’ve read – and I’ve seen – example of where the Spirit was not only quenched, but drenched to the bone. Our sermon Sunday night, given by a lay minister, laid the subject directly at our feet.

He started with Elijah, in 1 Kings 18 and 19. Elijah had brought years of drought and evoked the anger of the king, who knew the reason for the request to God. Elijah had just completed besting 450 priests of Baal in front of children of Israel, full witnesses of Baal’s failure. The rains had come and Elijah’s strength was that of horses, able to run along side Ahab’s chariot. Then Jezebel threatened him, and he ran.

Excuse me? God had just proven, in front of witnesses, His ability as well as His support for Elijah. And the words of one woman were enough for him to run to the wilderness and pray for death?

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. (1 Kings 19:4 KJV)

Elijah quenched the spirit. What can be the cost of quenching the Spirit?

The nation of Israel did that same thing, with the result that an entire generation died in the wilderness. The generation that should have cross the Jordan, at God’s command. Instead, the heeded the ten spies who saw a land of milk and honey, but armies guarding it – and lacked faith that God could take care of those armies.

Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. (Psalms 78:56-57 KJV)

Do we not do the same? We set limits on what God is able to do. Do we think He is insignificant, or do we think we are?

He is the creator.

For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. (1 Corinthians 10:26 KJV)

He is able.

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)

Christ testified to His ability.

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26 KJV)

He loves us.

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)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Excess Baggage

Although my children (especially Second Daughter) might tell you differently, I have not reached the point a sad Las Vegas woman did. Her home was so filled with floor-to-ceiling hoarded items that her body was not found, even by cadaver dogs, for months.

However, I must admit a need to toss excess baggage. Even excess luggage, complete with stories that are meaningless to anyone but me, are being tossed.

I promise, I did start this project long before reading the article. But the article did give me a push to complete the project quickly. So, this afternoon I tossed – some items went in the trash, some into a box for Nell’s Nook, a re-sale shop supporting our hospital’s hospice. Someone will have an opportunity to own a Coach bag that will clean up nicely with saddle soap, but I could no longer carry due to its weight.

Slacks? Good ones, two sizes too small. Yes, I hope to get there, but … someone else is already there and can use these. Blouses? Same thing. It’s been several years since I’ve done as thorough a clearing out. I recommend it much sooner.

Of course, it brought to mind several scriptures that I had to look up. I knew the gist, but I could not recall chapters and verses. Once again, I give thanks for e-Sword and the marvelous search capabilities Rick Meyers wrote into his program.

I didn’t want to use the ones about “stuff,” as I wrote about those verses not long ago, though they are applicable. Baggage and luggage aren’t found in the Bible. I think burdens apply more in this case any way. What I had been setting back, what I had been storing, had become burdensome. Before Moses, the Children of Israel learned about burdens.

Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. (Exodus 1:11 KJV)

Burdens are an affliction. Why then does Christ tell us to take up His burden?

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30 KJV)

His burden has purpose. I thought my holding and saving would have purpose (eventually), but it became burdensome hanging on to it. Sort of like my sins. Oh, I’ve got them, and use them every once in a while. When I hang on to them, they become a serious burden.

Unlike my closet items, I don’t keep these sinful burdens to use later, but I neglect to clear them as often as I should. Surely mine aren’t as bad as some others. God already knows what they are and that I love Him. Aren’t those reasons (and a few more good excuses we have) good enough?

No. Every single day I should apologize to my God for my sins of commission and omission. I need to give my burdens to Him and carry the much lighter ones He has for His children. In fact, we’re told to help with burdens others carry – and are held responsible for. We’re not to take on their burdens, never adding them to our own.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Galatians 6:2-5 KJV)

Pick your burden. The heavy ones we create or the light ones of our Lord.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Six Wings

Okay, you are before the throne of God. You are among the sheep, having come to Him as He required. You have eternity stretched out before you. What do you want to do? Have you thought about it? If not, why not? As a Christian, this is your hope, you have had faith that you would be here, and here you are. Did you think you might be doing what others have done before?

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:2-3 KJV)

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 4:8 KJV)

They have not experienced what you have. They did not have faith in God’s mercy, His justice, His grace. They had the knowledge of His very being. They do not call Him father. Yet they bow before Him, resting not, telling all that hear that He is holy, that He is God, that He is almighty.

They remind all that He was, is and is to come, no beginning, no end, eternal.

Do we think of Him this way? Do we see ourselves as David did, just a little lower than the angels?

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. (Psalms 8:4-5 KJV)

The writer of Hebrews introduces a repetition of these verses with:

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. (Hebrews 2:5 KJV)

Paul has a bit different perspective:

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3 KJV)

Jesus agreed with the angels about putting holiness at the top. After we acknowledge our relationship and His position, we call Him holy. Hallowed be thy name.

Do we follow this example in our every day prayers? Or do we lean heavily on the Our Father and neglect to acknowledge His holiness?

We do/did that to our own parents. We expect them to love us just because we are their child. We ignored their authority in so many instances as toddlers, even more often as we grew older, then carried that ignorance into adulthood, and applied it to God. Yes, ignorance. Our ignorance is showing when we expect God to hear us, respond to our requests and ignore His authority, His unlimited ability.

Often we ignore approaching Him for things we think we can handle, holding Him back for the really big events where we realize things are beyond our control. Well, Duh! If He can handle the big problems we’ve created, why do we ignore Him when they are smaller?

Esther could not approach her husband’s throne unless summoned. Our Father is waiting for us at His, surrounded by angels who call Him holy every moment. Why do we not acknowledge that?


Now that I can read better, I wanted more than a few verses this morning. It’s not the shortest book, but does have only five chapters. He tells us at the beginning who he is – James, a servant. Do any of us use that term? Applied to ourselves, as servants of Jesus Christ?

Paul mentions James, apostle and leader of the church in Jerusalem:

But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:19 KJV)

That this epistle was written by a Jewish author appears evident in that it opens mentioning the twelve tribes and doesn’t mention gentiles. Yet the message is designed for all mankind. The words require that we turn our love of Christ into action.

Actions that come at different speeds.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 KJV)

The theme continues.

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (James 1:26 KJV)

James then defines pure religion.

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

Of course there is much more to be done by Christians, but this should never be forgotten, should never be ignored. James continues with familiar laws, adding a bit to them, as Christ did.

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. (James 2:8-9 KJV)

James pays close attention to our words. Do we pay as close attention?

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:9-10 KJV)

These works that should accompany our faith have goals. James ends with one that has us reaching out to all.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 KJV)

If we do follow James’ exhortations, we too will be able to write to others, defining ourselves as servants of God and our Lord, Jesus Christ. The men we know were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write to us thought this a most appropriate title.

May we pray to attain it for ourselves.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Very Personal Blog

There are times when we meet and love someone so much that their lives intertwine with ours. Their joy is our joy. Their pain ours, too.

Such a one is my sister-in-law.

I have written of her before, so I won't go into the background. I simply ask that my readers join with me in prayer that the CAT scan has been misinterpreted. That God holds her body in healing as He holds her soul in salvation.

My internet is fluctuating, not dependable these days. As I will be going in for my second cataract surgery tomorrow, it may be several days before I am back on as my regular schedule.

In the mean time, please, please join me in prayer for healing for this precious lady.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
[James 5:16 KJV]

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Hypocrite is defined as someone whose actions are not consistent with their self-defined beliefs – not living the words they speak, or the standards they require of others. Often people see hypocrites in churches and use that as a reason for not going to church. I find that a very poor excuse.

Hypocrites are everywhere outside the church, too. We see them on television, we elect them to office, we meet them in stores, we have them in our families, and we see them in the mirror, too.

The Bible speaks of hypocrites..

An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. (Proverbs 11:9 KJV)

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:4-5 KJV)

The problem for those who use the excuse is they are thinking, “They are supposed to be Christians. Christians are not supposed to sin. Since that person is sinning, they are worse than I am, so they are a hypocrite.” That sort of thinking forgets that for a person to say they are a Christian, they must first have admitted to be a sinner. One cannot come to Christ without acknowledging their own sinfulness.

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

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:9-10 KJV)

There are some in the church who are not being genuine in their attempt to repent, to allow change in their life. However, to say that all are not genuine is not an accurate statement. In Matthew 13:24-30, Christ gives the parable of the tares and the wheat. There people in the church who are not believers. Some are not clear on what repentance and profession of faith truly are – they simply have not understood the gospel clearly. Others may be struggling with their own sins, seeing their own shortcomings and needing to point out others simply to feel comfortable.

Some may have joined a church because it was the “right” thing to do. Or because they have been told they must in order to get to heaven. Some join for social reasons, or family members strongly encouraged them to do so.

The majority of members are like me – sinners who have accepted Christ as their Lord and savior. We are learning to live more closely to what Christ taught. We are totally dependent on God’s grace for salvation, not our word or deeds. We read His word, talk with His people and pray fervently for His direction. We know He is capable of keeping us, we cannot.

Those in the church have examples around them to help see the error of their ways. The church is made up of imperfect people with a goal to become more like Christ. Those outside the church do not spend time with such examples, even if they have a similar goal.

To leave a church because of hypocrites – or not to come to one at all because of that excuse – does not keep hypocrites out of our lives. And, if we keep looking for the perfect church, that will not be found on this earth. If it were, we are too imperfect to be members.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Early this morning I experienced a dream that was very clear when I woke. I was walking with someone to the back of a house, beside a wooden, gray-aged deck.

As we walked up the steps to the deck we could hear the plaintive wail, "Mama!!" followed by "Not fair, not fair." Then repeated with added intensity, a slightly higher wail. as we worked our way up, we could see her, standing with hands at her eyes, shoulders hunched.

"Honey, it may not be fair, but it's part of discipline," we heard her mother explain, acknowledging her feelings but not giving in to the strong urge to wrap her in forgiveness.

"She's right, honey. Your mama loves you and is a very fair woman. Can you tell me why she's not fair?"

Down to whimpers now, she turned to us and said, "I didn't mean to."

Mankind’s oldest excuse. Usually it doesn’t matter what was done, we really didn’t mean to. Then, what was the purpose – what did we mean to do?

Usually, we did what we were thinking. Maybe without planning, but the act was in our mind, in our thoughts. It came from things we think about, which is why God emphasis that in Philippians 4:8. It does make a difference – what is in our minds comes out in our actions. Solomon knew about it.

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Proverbs 23:6-7 KJV)

My dream wasn’t long enough to find out what the child’s infraction was, but her response was so applicable. The feeling that discipline is not fair far out weighs our acceptance of deserved punishment.

“Infinite punishment for a finite sin,” I’ve heard that phrase so often by those who count the concept of hell “not fair.” That the single decision to reject God is limited by boundaries of time and impermanent life should not result in eternal punishment. I disagree. Hell results from that single decision, and is fair, because we’ve been told the separation is eternal.

In my view, simply being separated from God, without hope of any change, for all of eternity, would describe hell, but greater details have been given in God’s word. To ignore those descriptions, to deny their reality also denies the remainder of the Bible. If God’s word cannot be trusted, we Christians are most miserable. Paul recognized this.

And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19 KJV)

Paul refutes this position in detail, having seen the risen Christ himself. It changed his life – taking from him all that he had trained for, lived for, persecuted for, and he counted it for gain.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:7-8 KJV)

Dare we?

Friday, August 20, 2010


I don’t remember much about my first brother-in-law. He and my sister were married a very short time. After their divorce, they both went on to separate lives that did not intersect.

But, knowing him taught me several life lessons:

1 – Mothers really don’t care about clean underwear when they come to the emergency room to see their child. They care about their child, period.

2 – Loosing a portion of one’s body does not mean life is over. Adjustments are made, and life goes on.

3 – 2 Corinthians 6:14 applies to marriage, period.

Late in his teens, a careless moment while hunting cost him his leg. His mother displayed what every mother does - love and concern for her child’s life, not the bloody rags that were cut off of him. He made the adjustment to wearing his prosthesis. He enjoyed sports – particularly motorcycles and sailboats. The prosthesis became such a part of his life that once he forgot about it when he went over the side of a sailboat to check a line. Yep, they fill up with water and are very heavy.

Since both he and my sister were members of Christian churches, they thought II Corinthians 6:14 did not apply to them, but it was evident it did when they selected a neutral college campus chapel for their wedding and neither one had their family pastor officiate.

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)

From the very beginning of their marriage, differences mattered. It became an even larger drag on their lives. While they both believed in Christ, they came to Him for different reasons. The doctrines of their congregations were vastly different.

On the one hand, her church doctrine taught that For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10)

Her church also believed that Paul’s answer to the jailer’s question holds true today: 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)

His church did not. They were not equally yoked, for both were unbelievers in the other’s doctrine. To solve the differences, they dropped out of church. Before long there were other activities where one or the other found it easier not to attend. Quickly, they drew apart and found no common ground to stand on.

I do pray that our Junior High Girls will heed lessons on being equally yoked. I pray that they understand that decisions made as young people determine paths for the remainder of their lives. Differences are not solved by dropping out.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Whose Word?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote of using e-Sword. I should have mentioned that not all versions of the Bible in e-Sword come without cost. Of course, the King James Version does, and many others. But not the newest.

That’s due to copyright and the fact that the authors of those versions require payment for the use of their work. Key words: their work.

I can see that situation in commentaries and study Bibles. I use a Ryrie, where the notes and comments are not part of the word of God. My Beloved Husband has a Scofield, with the same type of comments and notes. Some paper-published Bibles contain reference material, maps, etc., that are not part of the Bible but are their work.

This is not true of digital Bibles. Charge for the reader, that I understand. Programming costs. Yet on e-Sword, Olive Tree and other digital providers of Bible versions, there are charges for: Amplified, Holman Christian Standard, New American Standard, New King James, New Living Translation, New Revised Standard, Revised Standard and many others. Authors consider them their work.

Which brings me to a recent post on IFBKJV Blog Directory regarding versions that is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but has some real truth.

The creator of e-Sword has strong feelings about it being made available, without cost, to everyone. Don’t you think our Lord feels the same way about His word?

Yet, these versions of His word are copyrighted. The penalties for infringement are very harsh. Each willful infringement can cost as much as $150,000. The law is designed to be punitive, to protect each person’s creative efforts. Comments, notes, references, maps – all added to published copies of God’s word are the creative efforts of individuals, their work.

How does one copyright the inspired word of God? Why would someone copyright the inspired word of God? Or, are they applying that copyright to their own efforts? Copyrighting their work.

Something such as "The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels," would be a good example. What he extracted and compiled no longer consists the whole word of God. It is a limited version of what God intended for mankind and was clearly Jefferson’s work, as in ‘their work.’

Perhaps many of these translations fall into that same category? Do they include:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2 KJV)

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV)

The verses that really catch our attention should be:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19 KJV)

I’ll stick to reading as I have in the past, freely – unless I buy a paper-printed Bible with extras.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Slices of Milk

I read the Bible. Often. When I read about the Bible, or authors who refer to the Bible, they often pique my curiosity. Right now I’m re-reading Ben-Hur. I read it in High School, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie with Charlton Heston. It was a freebie, downloadable on the iPhone, and I could read it on a “pick up” basis any time, and lay it down without losing pace.

Until I came to the reference regarding David’s slices of milk, which I could not find. I looked and searched. I gave thanks for e-Sword, though it returned 48 milk possibilities, none of those verses referred to David or slices. So, I tried other versions – remembering when the book was written. Finally, found it!!

Again, I was grateful for e-Sword and it’s Strong’s!! Strong’s H2461 found in 1 Samuel 17:18 where the ten slices of cheese come from the Hebrew chalab, “milk (as the richness of kine) - + cheese” and I can see the ten slices of cheese made from the richness of milk, remembering the smoothness of the best I’ve tasted.

This is part of the joy of reading the Bible – the depth and richness of the words used. A surface reading gives history. Looking more deeply and we get the personalities, the characters, the richness of the stories told for generations. But there is a greater depth – reading with prayer and preparation, reading to receive – where the spiritual message becomes evident.

No, there is no secret message for me in David’s slices of cheese other than the understanding that God’s word holds more than surface reading. There are applications for daily life in every scripture I’ve ever read. I have found some, as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:16, hard to be understood, and not just in Paul’s writing.
I have not found why Isaiah wrote of a bed too short in 28:20. Perhaps someday I will know, but the verse does create a word picture that brings a smile. Was the bed long enough for a young, or short person, but the grown man could find neither comfort nor cover? There are times we long for that comfortable bed, sufficient cover and enough sleep to wake with vim, vigor and vitality. Is that the verse’s message for me? Perhaps, yet to be confirmed.

There are many such verses that pique our interest, raise our curiosity, leave us seeking more and more of what God’s word has to offer. I have never tired of reading. Never tired of hearing a minister share what God’s word means to him, what He has in store for us.

I pray that I’m tossing out seeds of curiosity – perhaps someone will disbelieve what I say and search the scripture to see if it is true. God’s word does not return void. He said so.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 KJV)

Scriptures are God breathed. He said so.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)

That “inspiration” word? Again, Strong’s for the Greek root: theopneustos, divinely breathed in.

Come, jump on in. Look deeply into God’s word and see what it holds for you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Burdened With Prayer

When you have a specific prayer on your heart for someone who is hurting, it is a burden. But, it is so very much worth carrying. Jesus asked that we carry it.

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

This is one of those paradox things that those who do not know Him find difficult to understand. I’ve read them saying, “What?! This guy promises rest, then tells you to act like a beast of burden and carry His load? You Christians sure are strange.”

OK, so they wouldn’t capitalize the pronoun, but I do. And I know from my own experience that the burden is light – for many reasons.

Let’s take this particular burden. There is a girl who grew out of my Sunday School class. A couple of years before she arrived there, she came on Wednesdays through our bus program, then rode the bus on Sundays. I won’t go into her family situation, party because it would be too identifying, and partly because it is the same as so many others in one way – broken family, uninterested in church.

I saw the change in her attitude, her dress, her interest in reading the Bible. I saw her go forward, giving her heart to Christ, then returning to kneel at the altar in prayer, time after time. I also saw that for those few, short hours each week, she was getting answers to questions she had, digging deeper into God’s word. She was one of our best students. Only two of our class took the time and effort for extra credit and we took them out to lunch. A special trip to a restaurant they got to choose.

It was our last time together. She ceased coming to church. Not rude to visitors, but not responsive to their visits, either. Just as her earlier commitment to Christ brought changes, so did this tossing away. Changes in dress to emphasis physical attributes; change in attitude to uncaring, neglectful and thoughtless.

Christ’s parable of the sower comes to mind. Beginning in Mark 4:3, Christ tells that parable. I’m not certain if this situation is stony ground, or thorns. Both could apply.

And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. (Mark 4:16-17 KJV)

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19 KJV)

What does all of this have to do with the burden? Well, I feel as strongly for her soul as Paul did for the Colossians.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,


and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:9-10 KJV)

Monday, August 16, 2010

What was that again?

Have you noticed that Jesus’ responses are often off subject? Sunday morning Pastor’s sermon was in John 4:13-23. You know, one of my favorite passages – the Samaritan woman at the well. There are so many lessons from this brief encounter! There are stand-alone applications to our lives today, but there is a broader theme that came to me.

Someone asks Jesus a question or makes a request. Jesus responds with appears to be a complete subject changing response – yet it is right on target.

Take this one for starters. Jesus has asked water of her. Big surprises right there, a Jew speaking to a Samaritan, a man speaking to a lone woman, not your average situation. A bit of conversation, then He describes a well spring of living water where we will no longer thirst.

She makes her request in response to His message.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not,

And then blows the whole understanding bit.

neither come hither to draw. (John 4:15 KJV)

Isn’t that just like us? We’re offered spiritual things and we want our way of life changed to make it easier for us. She wanted never to thirst, in order that she wouldn’t have to traipse down to the well for water. OK. So, Jesus has her request ringing in his ears and He comes back with:

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. (John 4:16 KJV)

Completely off topic, right?

Sort of like the [insert title: pastor, Sunday school teacher; youth minister; choir director; Christian friend] you went to when you were having a really bad day and you told them how you felt. Instead of simple sympathy, they said, “Have you been reading your Bible?” or, “Have you prayed about this?” or, even worse, “Come, let’s pray together about it.”

Hey, what was wanted was sympathy and/or our own way! We really didn’t want to find out that that burden could be lifted simply by giving it to God instead of carrying all alone, on and on. Worse, we didn’t want to find out that part of the burden was an attitude that opposed what God had planned for the best things in life.

Christ’s response went to the very center of her problems. You see, Jesus knew that the burden in the Samaritan woman’s life was the sinfulness of her relationships. That was keeping her from Him and from answers that would provide life-changing fulfillment.

Let me assure you – and reassure me – God knows. He knows what is keeping us from Him and He knows all it takes is repenting. Turning around. Turning to Him instead of what we think has greater opportunity to give us pleasure than being with God.

We have to have faith in God.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

He provides the means for that faith and its growth. Get out your Bible. Read it. Pray with it. Come hear a man of God speak of it.

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Praise Ye The Lord

I didn’t notice one when we turned off the Farm Road, but then we knew where to turn. At the next County Road intersection, the sign pointed the way to the Praise Party. The one at the gate had fallen over, but there was a young man fixing it so it stood up straight and readable. Several people would need it to know where to turn in.

Our thermometer read 102, and a few fluffy clouds indicated the moisture content would provide a slightly higher “feels like” heat index, but there were plenty of trees providing shade over the drive where tables were set out. Let the fellowship begin, and it did.

I’m not a good crowd estimator, but there were about ten people who pulled up chairs around our table, there were four or five such tables, groups of chairs through out the lawn, a dozen or more children playing on the inflatable slip and slide (I really thought about joining them!) and at least a dozen food preparation assistants. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, tea, sweet tea, lemonade and trays of dessert, watermelon, cookies, brownies – we were to be filled.

Why? Our host and hostess wished to praise God for answered prayer.

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. (1 Chronicles 16:8 KJV)

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalms 30:4 KJV)

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV)

There are regular church functions, and private moments, where we do give thanks for every thing – but last night was special. Everyone there had prayed a specific prayer request, healing for the host’s son while he fought leukemia. There were ups and downs. There were complications and unexpected virus attacks. Through it all we lifted him in prayer that God would provide strength for him and his family.

Only God knows why these fervent prayers were effective. Only God knows what glory He will receive besides a group who love Him met to praise Him.

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13 KJV)

Let us never forget He is the reason for it all.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13b KJV)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

He Is Able

There are many scientific tests to determine the intelligence of animals. Quite a few respond to training as an enjoyable challenge. Cats are not among those. Just thought I’d get that in first, as one is sitting on my legs ignoring my attempts to entice her.

Dogs, horses, porpoises – all enjoy human interaction. Some are more dangerous than others, perhaps simply because of their size and habits. Training incidents with orcas come to mind. Beautiful creatures, but great care must be taken when working with them. It is necessary to understand their instincts, their expectations and their desires.

What makes us different? Interacting with other people requires much the same – understanding their background, their expectations, their desires, their plans. Are these not similar in working with trainable animals?

For the majority of the world’s population, a deity is responsible for the differences between animals and mankind. It’s not only the physical attributes that apply, such as walking upright, opposable thumb or brain function. Deities provided a connection between them and their creations.

For Christians there is a huge difference. God created man in His image.

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

Thinking, reasoning, willful, able to relate to their creator. And, with the ability to tell Him, “No.”

That very ability is where we lose some people. They cannot understand that God allows people to make mistakes, to exercise their own will, though we have examples from the very first of creation. Eve’s disobedience is repeated throughout history. Every succeeding child since then has disobeyed. The miracle is that God continues to look upon us as being acceptable of redemption. That He not only gave us the opportunity to live, but to live with Him eternally.

Some look upon this gift with disdain. They look upon this life without value, therefore the eternal one must be useless, too. Some look upon this life as filled only with pain, not believing there is also purpose. Others cannot grasp the possibility that life exists beyond the physical. The reasoning behind rejecting God is myriad. The reasoning for accepting Him is spiritual.

God created us in His image. God is spiritual.

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)

God has given us so very much, but to me the greatest gift was Himself, that we might be reconciled, and the ability to recognize this truth. Recognizing that God is able, and has exercised His ability.

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20 KJV)

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

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Thinking Outloud

A form of the word “hate” (hate, hateth, hated, hatred) appears in 183 verses in the King James version. It usually refers to a feeling one person has for another. The first one to mention the Lord hating is:

And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. (Deuteronomy 1:27 KJV)

But that was a misconception on the part of the people. It was not the Lord’s hatred, but His selection of Israel as a chosen people, a part of His planning, that brought them out of Egypt to their promised land.

On the other hand, a form of the word “love” (loves, loveth, loved) is found in 405 verses. Again, most of them refer to interaction between people. The ones that are closest to my heart are those that speak of God’s love, and I quote them often.

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

They are the simple verses, easily memorized, easily understood. They make stand alone statements that provide foundations.

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)

The depth of God’s love is just as open.

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)

We are told that the Lord hates some things.

Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:31 KJV)

Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth. (Deuteronomy 16:22 KJV)

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (Psalms 11:5 KJV)

The Bible does tell those who love God to hate evil.

Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalms 97:10 KJV)

Yet His commandments, the greatest by His own words, are filled with love.

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)

As always, His word is my final authority, my final thought.

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)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy kingdom come. (Matthew 6:10a KJV)


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


Or do we pray, “Wait a little longer, please Jesus. There are so many still wandering out in sin. Just a few more days to get our loved ones in.”

We all have them. Loved ones who have put off the decision, or ones who have openly rejected God’s gift. We keep hoping, we continue to pray that God will send just the right witness. That He will soften their hearts – but softly, please.

More than twenty years went into prayers for my son. I, too, was saying, “A little longer, please.” Now I pray it for grandchildren. Then there are my great-grands. “Just a little longer.

Friends, too. Some of my readers. There are regular readers who remain in my prayers. Yes, I pray for God to speak to you. I pray that you will find the time, too, to speak to Him.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. (Proverbs 8:15-17 KJV)

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

Both of those verses indicate there is a limit on time available. There will come a time when there will be no time. The first one we face is our own mortality. That we will die is a fact we must face daily. Only a small few left this earth without doing so. The second possibility is that our Lord will return. That His promise will be kept. We just don’t know when.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36 KJV)

I cannot wait for that day, for that hour. Based solely on actuarial tables, my time will come before He returns, so I must speak now for those still waiting. Unless He answers our prayers as we truthfully pray, “Thy kingdom come.” We are so very ready for His return!!

Then we lift our voices as we sing, and mean both, with all of our hearts:

First we cry oh Lord please come. Come and take your children home
Then we look around and suddenly we say
But wait a little longer please Jesus...

(Carl Smith)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Real Dad

I had to wait a day or so to write of our Father-Daughter Banquet. It was regal. Decorated by three awesome ladies – Shirley, Janet and Irene – the tables truly were fit for princesses. They had been taken to the beauty shop, so their Daddies didn’t see them until they walked in, hair upswept with tiaras, daughters of the king.

They sang for their fathers -- a rendition of Steve and Annie Chapman’s Goodnight Kiss, substituting Daddy for child/children. Way before the end, we were crying. Some for recognizing how quickly children grow up. For others -- many of us are far beyond the time we can give our Daddies a good night kiss, and we miss them.

At early Beautiful Princess Program meetings, there were as many as a couple dozen attendees. Each of the girls earned their way to the banquet through consistent interest and participation over the summer months. At the end, there were seven girls who worked through the whole program. It was interesting to note that those who reached the banquet came from unbroken homes whose parents supported their summer activities.

Thanks to those of you who joined us in prayer for these girls. Now, please join in prayer for others.

We have an information sheet we ask new girls to fill out for our Sunday School class. It asks for their name, address, contact information, parents’ names in case of emergency. Sunday morning one of the girls asked, “Do you want my real dad or my current dad?”

Do you realize how much is revealed in that one sentence? Can you think of the next questions to ask to learn more about this child?

Our answer was, “The dad who lives with you.”

How can we teach of a Father, unchanging, who loves his children to the point that He gave himself for them, when their dads change. No question mark – it’s rhetorical. A few years ago, one girl in the class had several siblings. Same mother, each sibling had a different father. Her favorite was not her biological father, nor the current live-in situation.

Nothing for these girls can be changed back. As much as a child wants their parents, as sad as we may feel, the original unit no longer exists. It cannot be “fixed”, cannot return to the parents they knew at birth. What we work toward, what we pray will occur is that our girls will learn about love that does not leave. About why we love God.

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

Christ confirmed this often, from gospels to John’s revelation.

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)

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5 KJV)

If we can teach these girls to follow God’s loving plan for their life, they will carefully select the husband God has planned for them. Their children will thrive in a family unit designed to nourish. Their children may grow up with their real Dad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jargondatabase.com defines a “Come To Jesus Meeting” as a time when a person is called in for a polite ultimatum to be given, generally followed by a less polite ultimatum, then a threat. Drug and alcohol "interventions" are often referred to as "Come to Jesus Meetings".

I could not find an origin, though the meaning appears without debate. It’s that moment when an individual is compelled by the weight of evidence and looming penalty to admit wrong doing, seek forgiveness and agree to avoid wrong doing again. The basis of Christian salvation is when we are convicted of our sins, understand the looming penalty of eternal damnation, separation from God, and the offer of eternal life through His son, Jesus Christ. All we need is faith that God is able to do so.

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

God provided witnesses to this fact.

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)

That’s the true ‘Come to Jesus Meeting,’ and it’s held no less than three times a week at our church. Actually, I think it is offered every time the church doors are opened, even by staff for daily administrative activities. When I volunteered, it was a comfort to spend a moment in prayer of thankfulness for the church and for God’s will to be done during our day’s activities.

It is in Sunday School, too, for every Bible study we do relates to God’s word. God’s word defines our doctrine. Doctrine is very important in understand what – and why – we believe as we do.

Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. (Proverbs 4:1-2 KJV)

A man once told me, with great pride, that he had no doctrine. His church was non-denominational, not requiring doctrine. Unfortunately, that is in error.

They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. (Isaiah 29:24 KJV)

The Bible teaches doctrine. Christ’s is openly available in His words, though it often amazing to people when they listen closely.

And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:21-22 KJV)

I cannot imagine what it was like to be in the crowd around Him as He spoke as one with authority. And, why not? He is spoken of in Genesis, promised in Isaiah (61:1-2). He stood in the synagogue and said:

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:20-21 KJV)

Through the prophets, God laid out the requirements for the Messiah. Through His own words, Jesus claimed that title and the right to have people come to Him.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Obeyed Their Voice

Saul was not looking for a job when we met Samuel. He was looking for his father’s livestock and needed some advice. The Lord had a different plan, as He explained to Samuel:

To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. (1 Samuel 9:16 KJV)

As with so many people God called, Saul was humble and sought to decline the honor.

And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me? (1 Samuel 9:21 KJV)

All that in spite of a previous description:

And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:2 KJV)

He messed up, though. Finally, there was a situation that had a cost he could not pay. His sin was laid out before him as Samuel explained.

But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:21-23 KJV)

Saul recognized his sin and explained why he had acted thus.

And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. (1 Samuel 15:24 KJV)

Obeying the people around him, Saul gave in to peer pressure. The cost was his kingdom and his life.

Oh, not at that very moment. As with Eve, some time passed after the sin when the sinner thought “Wow, I got by on that one! God must not have meant what He said.”

Wrong. Eve surely died. Saul lost his kingdom. The wages of sin remain death, as always. There are consequences that cannot be avoided, even though we stand before God and say “I have sinned. I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord.”

Do not give in to peer pressure. ‘Tis much easier to seek His will and follow Him, not fearing nor obeying those other voices.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

No Respect

There are times when I do wish the Bible contained much longer explanations. Reading in Genesis 4, I find God laid out no requirements for offerings to Him. The first mention is Cain’s bringing of the fruit of the ground as an offering to God, and Abel brought firstlings of his flock.

Not until Hebrews are we given clues as to why God had respect for Abel, but not for Cain.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (Hebrews 11:4 KJV)

By faith Abel proved he was righteous. That was the conclusion given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Cain lacked the faith of his brother, and became so angered that he rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

So, the first murder had its in religious intolerance. That same reasoning continues today.

Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to the MSNBC article telling of the Taliban slaughtering ten on a medical mission in Afghanistan. There is greater detail in an AP report of these men and women who sought to serve. Their crime according to the Taliban, besides “spying for the Americans”, was ‘preaching Christianity.”

That last accusation is not allowed in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the list goes on. Yet mosques were built in America as early as 1915. One will soon be built in the non-existent shadow of the missing World Trade Center buildings. As religious tolerance is offered, it is expected in return.

Religious animosity is not confined to the continually squabbling children of Abraham. Those who call themselves sons of God through the blood of Jesus Christ have slaughtered each other for centuries. Though often not with religious calls to arms, there remain pockets such as Ireland where brotherhood in Christ ends as the story of Cain and Abel.

Another thought that comes to mind is that of a friend who recently decried the use of military responses, requesting the acknowledgement of civilian loss in every war. Under discussion was World War II, ostensibly fought by the United States to defend itself from being overrun, as were European and Asian countries. My friend says I was wrong to think so, and so were/are our servicemen who signed up to defend. He stated strongly that the US should have then, and now, relied on passivity, as Christ taught.

Christ mentioned wars but once. Written of in three of the gospels, relating:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6 KJV)

James taught of the source of war.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:1-2 KJV)

There are battles to come. John’s Revelation tells of the last one. Until that time, nation will continue to rise up against nation, brother against brother. Until all can truly follow that second and great commandment:

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39 KJV)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Let's Go See

(Image from NASA. From left: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon)

And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. [Acts 15:36 KJV]

Don’t you wish you could have made both those trips? The one where they first preached the word, and the return to check on them?

We know problems ensued in many of those cities, attested to by Paul’s letters to the churches. We know John wrote of some of the situations in Revelation. Not all the churches were doing well. My, my – how things are unchanged after two thousand years!!

The message remains the same. Jesus, God’s Messiah, came through the love of God to seek and save, died to provide salvation, rose again in fulfillment of God’s promise and extends an invitation to join Him in eternity. The responses remain pretty much the same, too, requiring pastors to be available 24/7 to respond to crises within their congregation.

Stop thinking about the churches in those cities for a moment, don’t even think of the brethren. Let’s dwell on seeing how WE do.

For those of us who are Christians, we’ve made a commitment to follow Him (2 Corinthians 3:3). If we are members of a church, we’ve walked down an aisle at some time or another and publicly confessed (Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:10) before a congregation that we have recognized our sinfulness (Romans 3:23) and have come to God through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), His son, repenting of our sins and promising to live as He laid out in His word (1 John 4:17). That is simplified, to be sure, but it is factual and truthful.

In most congregations, we have followed His example in Baptism, signifying the death, burial and resurrection. Without His resurrection, our faith is in vain, according to His word (1 Corinthians 14:14). We partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:25).

Except for that first walk down the aisle, those are the easy ones. Let’s go see how we are doing elsewhere. How about that first commandment (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37)? How are we doing there? Heart? Mind? Soul? Do we even recognize we have all three and utilize them as designed? Do we follow the next two verses in Deuteronomy?

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 6:6-7 KJV]

How about the second segment (Exodus 20:12-17, Matthew 22:39)? Do we know our neighbors, much less love them? Which of the following statements applies to us?

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

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. [Matthew 25:45 KJV] (emphasis mine)

What letter would Paul write back to us, should he come and see?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Prayer Requests

I often receive prayer requests – from family, friends and mere acquaintances. They come to me because the requester knows that prayer is important in my life, that I believe God answers prayer and that I will approach His throne with love for Him and for them.

Through out the Old Testament, we are told of the children of Israel’s supplications to our God, and His responses. In The New Testament His Son gave a verbal example, but gave greater examples as disciples recorded prayers to His Father. Whether we speak to Him solely in praise or if we come before Him with requests, He has told us he hears our prayers.

Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:2-3 KJV)

There are many times we do not know what we should be requesting. God provided for that, too.

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. (Romans 8:26 KJV)

Other times He is specific as to how we should pray.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

Often prayers are with generalities in mind, allowing God to provide the specifics. Paul’s prayer here was designed to glorify God, the means were His.

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: (2 Thessalonians 3:1 KJV)

We must trust that God’s response will be even better than what we request.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13 KJV)

A huge hindrance in prayer is our inability to work within God’s will. Remember, we don’t know what to request, He promises great and mighty things and He is known for His good gifts. Always seek His will be one, as Jesus prayed.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14 KJV)

The obverse would be that He does not heed us when we make requests outside His will. Until we ask, acknowledging His will, we cannot know – as Hezekiah when told he would die, yet requested more time and received fifteen years.

Christians need to take care when praying in Christ’s name. It is not a simple formulaic that gets the job done. There is a pre-requisite. The results must glorify God.

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13 KJV)

Please take a Bible and read the verses surrounding what I've chosen, simply to be certain nothing is taken out of context. Finally, read Mark 11:22-26 for prayer instructions – and results to expect. May God bless you in the reading of His word.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Strait Gate and Narrow Way

Two girls who were in my Sunday School class a few years ago have chosen to follow the world. Another appears to be headed that way, giving as her reason for doing something only “I really want to.”

It is heart breaking, even though others are walking the narrow way with Christ to that strait gate. Just as the shepherd left ninety and nine to go look for the one sheep, we pray for these we love so much. We pray they will continue in the way, the truth and the life. We’ve taught them, from His word.

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)

Most who say “… straight and narrow …” are thinking of this verse, and thinking that of a straight path. It isn’t. The narrow way winds through life and comes upon many junctions. Each of those junctions requires a decision. These girls have made one upon their path and have taken a broad way. Fortunately, there will be other junctions in their lives that could lead them back to that narrow way. At that next junction, the choice will be theirs, again, to enter the strait gate.

Strait is not straight. The first is restrictive, confining, and as a plural, to be in a difficult position. Such is the way of the Lord. There are reasons to follow the narrow way to the strait gate – none of them track back to “I really want to.” The will of the Lord comes first, and that will is discussed over centuries in His word, as well as studied, argued, ignored, rejected and all sort of things mankind can come up with to do to it in centuries subsequent to its writing.

The narrow way and strait gate require commitment. It is not easy and at times it feels very confining when God’s will does not match what we want to do. Every one has been there. Although it sounds a bit as a tongue twister, I love the way Paul put it:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (Romans 7:15 KJV)

Even for those who have Christ in their hearts and minds, we don’t always do what we should, and end up doing what we know we shouldn’t. We were never promised it would be easy, we were just promised that Christ would never leave us. In fact, we were told to take on new burdens:

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

I will not cease praying for these daughters of the king who have laid down their crowns. They will not find comfort (we know that) until they recall their commitment as a child of God. I do fear for the consequences of their lifestyles. Some of their decisions have lifetime repercussions they cannot see while they look solely for the now and the strongly felt “I really want to.”

No matter how strongly any of us feel about these straying sheep, we cannot carry them home. Nor can we walk very far with them without leaving that narrow path ourselves. We can send our prayers, and meet them at the next junction with love, asking them to join us again.

The choice is theirs. May they make it while it while they are able.

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24 KJV)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


There are many careers mentioned in the Bible. A keeper of sheep and a tiller of the ground are among the first, describing Abel and Cain. Shepherd, farmer, carpenter, king, silversmith, potter, tentmaker and physician. We find these, and more, respected fields of endeavor.

Luke, the beloved physician, (Colossians 4:14 KJV)

Physicians then were much more limited in their abilities, but their job was to heal, just as it is today. Jesus was very aware of a physician’s calling.

But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. (Matthew 9:12 KJV)

The Bible contains no admonition to ignore the advice of a physician. The Bible does, however, encourage us to pray for those who are sick.

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:14-16 KJV)

Careful there – I see you reading into this that sins cause sickness. While it is true that some activities considered sinful have physical consequences, it is just as true that physical ailments occur for other reasons. We are creatures of sin. It can be found in the lives of every person taking a breath on this planet, but there are other reasons for things that happen to us.

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:2-3 KJV)

The root Hebrew word (Strong’s H7495) translated as physician means to mend properly, to cure, heal, repair thoroughly, to make whole, as the Greek (Strong’s G2390).

We know that the greatest healer is God, able to take the sinful soul and create purity. Nothing else in the vastness of the universe matches the healing power required to move us into eternal life with Him. Yet, we are grateful for the small scale healing that allows us to spend more time here with those we love and we will use the knowledge of our physicians along with prayers looking for that same extension of time granted Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:6), if not a bit more.

Our family is praying for another such extension for a member who loves the Lord, serving Him daily while here and living with the promise of His home. Our church family is praying for another such child of God. I’m praying with other families, too, in similar situations – from children to adults. We pray for their physicians, too, that they will be guided by God’s will. In some instances, I know the doctors are Christian who spend time praying with their patients.

May God bless them and grant their prayers for His guidance. May God bless you as you join with us in praying for their health.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Word Stuff

The Bible was removed from classrooms years ago. Besides being an action illegal by the First Amendment to our Constitution, it deprives students of a tool to explain where their language originated.

Barbara wrote sometime ago of these and I’ve thought for some time about several of them. Today, I have stuff on my mind.

Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours. (Genesis 45:20 KJV)

So, stuff has been around for some time. The Hebrew word in Strong’s means “something prepared, that is, any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon): …” and goes on to mention a lot of other stuff, ending with “… whatsoever.” Which covers a ton of stuff.

There are a dozen verses in the Old Testament regarding stuff, only one in the New Testament.

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)

Different root word, since the New is Greek and the Old is Hebrew, but the meaning is the same – an apparatus, implement, vessel, a variety of the same. Just as the English “stuff.”

Thus by not using the Bible as a language study aid, schools are loosing out on an excellent educational opportunity

These two verses teach us that our stuff is temporary at most. Both of these indicate that the stuff we have is not important in considering our future. According to Genesis, there is more in God’s future plans than in the past, and according to Luke, we leave all our stuff behind when God calls us.

Most assuredly, I will prefer His stuff to mine!! His gift giving is known to be much better than ours.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11 KJV)

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

Reading the Bible takes a bit more work than reading the newspaper or a novel. The meaning behind each of the words is important. For me it is necessary to look at the root of the words, to know the meaning was brought forward decade after decade, century after century, for millennia – and for those to come. To know that His word changes no more than He does.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17 KJV)

Take a good look at your stuff. Is there an opportunity to share it with others before leaving it behind?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Going Far Above Rubies

Sunday morning I had the privilege of sitting with our girls aged 10-18 while Tammy Fieseler provided a short seminar of her Far Above Rubies program. I’ve made copious notes, so you’ll be reading thoughts from the program for some time to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed her description of God’s call. The opposite of one of Moses’ excuses:

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. (Exodus 4:10 KJV)

When God called her, Tammy’s response was that the only thing she could do was talk, incessantly. His answered that was what He was calling her to do, and He would supply the words. He has done so, from His word.

I believe she could talk all day, and I could listen. Though our girls might not. So she breaks the sitting sessions with story time and games that are perfect in appropriateness. Each their own teaching lessons. Appropriate is a key word – what is appropriate for the daughter of the King? His book is both specific and leaves us choices. We choose to follow God, or follow Satan.

Whether in sitting or activity, Tammy retains the girls’ attention, keeping it focused on our Lord and His work in their lives. Part of Tammy’s focus is modesty. Christian women are told to dress modestly. How those definitions are applied fluctuate with societies and interpretation. Afghans require their women to be covered from head to toe whenever in public. Americans allow a tremendous amount of skin to be uncovered in public. Teaching our girls why neither is appropriate, and discerning what constitutes modesty is part of the lesson. (As an aside, the example is mine, not Tammy's.)

Oh, her visuals!! Not just the actual visible objects used in her presentations, but the visuals her words conjure remain as examples, too. One not only stuck with me, but I’m determined to remember it and eventually memorize verses to accompany the witness. It’s a hand full, a hand full of fingers.

The thumb tells us that God loves us.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)

The index finger tells us that all men have sinned.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

The middle finger tells us that the sin has a price.
For the wages of sin is death; (Romans 6:23a KJV)

The ring finger tells us that Jesus died for our sins
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)

The little finger tells us to accept His salvation.
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)

There you are – the gospel story literally in the palm of your hand. Memorize applicable verses (there are more than one for each item) and your witness will always be at hand.

Please pray with me that God will continue to bless Tammy’s ministry.