Monday, May 31, 2010
I learned it years ago. So well that I can quote most of it still today. It was part of a program our church offered that encouraged verse memorization. To memorize it, we had to say it over and over and over again until it was a part of our thought pattern. I believe we do too little of that today.
Beginning with the tenth verse, "Who can find a virtuous woman?" Followed by not only her description, but by her family’s description – husband, children, servants. We move through her daily life of picking and choosing what needs to be done, and following through to provide for her household. There's no indication that she is a stay-at-home-mom, but there's also no mistaking how she looks after homemaking.
As women, we need to be certain how her qualities are displayed in our own lives.
Does the heart of our husbands safely trust us? We hold his heart in our hands to lift in celebration or squeeze down into a painful lump. We are to be of help to him, that remains a part of God's plan. We promise before God and an assembly of friends that we will do him good all the days we have together, till death parts us. That, too, is part of God's plan.
This is followed by her daily chores. Let me tell you, this lady is NOT lazy. Read through the list of work she accomplished. Verse 25, however, gives us pause -- she may not have recognition for this work, for "she shall rejoice in time to come." We could use some of that patience, couldn't we?
Don't think you get enough appreciation from your children? She does. "Her children arise up and call her blessed." Then, we are back to that husband, who does only called her blessed but praises her. Those are awesome rewards, aren't they? Honestly, don't we get some of that? Our children do appreciate our work, and so does that wonderful man God provided to look after our family. At times we may think they don’t, but look back just a bit and recall their gratitude.
By the way, did any of her attributes include physical beauty? Is there a verse that tells how her looks stop a man in his tracks? Do any of her activities attract the attention of others?
Now, some would say there is not a witnessing message in this chapter, just examples for a woman to set as goals laid out in the Bible. Look again. Verse 30 gives us the true reason for her virtue, for the blessing from her children, from her husband – her focus is on her Lord:
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. [Proverbs 31:30 KJV]
Without the Lord, it is all in vain. Without the Lord our future ends with death.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The graciousness of southern ladies has been noted for generations. Northern ladies have shown centuries of hospitality. And in 1866 they combined their attributes to honor fallen heroes.
Petersburg, Virginia, is recognized as the place where a schoolteacher and her students placed flags upon the graves of Confederate soldiers. Mrs. Jonathan Logan (wife of the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic Association after the war) noted this honor and encouraged participation. General Logan officially proclaimed the first Memorial Day, May 30, 1868. Although recognized throughout America during the next century, it was 1971 before our federal government set it as a national holiday to honor our soldiers who gave their lives.
Again, in that tradition, I repeat the story of Army Air Corps Captain John Clarence Blickensderfer. At 20 Jack co-piloted of one of the planes that collided in flack over Hoorn, Holland, 7 July, 1944. Monday, Jack is honored, as are all of those who died defending our nation.
Family members grow older and grayer, but those who stood in for us do not. The photos wrinkle, but the smiles never change. The uniforms appear outdated, but the chins never sag. They remain as last photographed, but life goes on without them, changing daily.
The loss of a single soldier costs families their future. In recreating that future, Jack’s parents adopted two boys, changing their lives forever, and mine, too. Together we remember each Memorial Day those who have given their all in the line of duty, for their country, with honor.
General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell speech was given to cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point May 12, 1962.
He spoke to duty, honor and country. According to him, “…unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.” And, they have, continuing to do so.
MacArthur continued: “The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training - sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him. However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country, is the noblest development of mankind.”
Christ’s words confirmed this: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 KJV)
MacArthur’s words are as valid today as in 1962: “Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government. Whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as firm and complete as they should be.
“These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a tenfold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.”
We offer our soldiers medals for their valor, honor for their courage. Let us always offer them our respect, our thanks and our love, for their sacrifice. This year, as decades past, we will specifically remember the sacrifice given by Captain John Clarence Blickensderfer, a brother and son who did not return from a bombing run.
Please pray for the families who continue to live with loss. And for the men and women who continue to stand in harm’s way.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
“Since our daughter’s ungodly choices, we have grieved for the loss of our close family relationships, for our witness in our community and family, over the eventual consequences of her decisions, and even grieved that God would allow this to happen”
On the other hand, a non-believing mother followed up on a note expressing our gratitude that her Christian daughter was only bruised in an accident and wrote:
“If there were a God, why would He allow such a thing to happen to someone who loves Him?”
I think of these this morning as I wait for it to be late enough to call my sister-in-law. She and her husband have served the Lord faithfully for many years. They were instrumental in starting a church in their previous hometown and have just returned to the town of their birth. They have experienced more serious medical problems than all of the other family members combined, surviving diseases and surgeries none of us have had to face.
Yesterday, [correction made] while driving his son and daughter to school, their son blacked out and hit a telephone pole. There were no serious injuries, but why would God allow such things to happen?
Faith is not an all-protective shield given by God that wraps His people in a bubble of safety. Everyone on this planet moves through their day subject to certain laws of gravity, entropy and other aspects of our physical world. While we all move through these laws of physics, there are some who appear to do so unscathed while others appear picked on by a fickle finger of fate.
It is my belief that all of this unfolds within God’s plan. No one is immune from trials any more than one is immune from God’s undeserved gift of grace. I believe that even those who live within his guidance will experience difficulties that cannot be explained here and now.
I also believe that God knows all about it.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. [Matthew 10:30 KJV]
As Isaiah wrote regarding the Day of the Lord, all things happen that He might be glorified:
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. [Isaiah 61:3 KJV]
Does that make it any less painful? Not in the least. Does that make any easier to overcome sorrow? In some ways, it does. Think about what faith is.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1 KJV]
With that hope, those unseen things, we are able to approach our Lord in prayer (again, an insubstantial action) and receive what He has for us.
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]
That peace is a comfort.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Back in the 26th chapter Solomon looked at a contentious man as one that stoked an existing fire. Undoubtedly mankind has a tendency to do that, and it is damaging to relationships. Most people strive to stay away from controversy.
Here in the 28th, though, he suggests an ongoing contention:
They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. [Proverbs 28:4 KJV]
Not for any desire to be so, but it is a natural result of diametrically opposed positions. There are times Christians are to be contentious:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. [Jude 1:3 KJV]
This is not to be undertaken lightly, and not without the full armor of God.
We hear first of the helmet of salvation from Isaiah:
For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. [Isaiah 59:17 KJV]
Paul expands on the armor:
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: [Ephesians 6:13-17 KJV]
Why? Because we are not righteous within ourselves, God had to make provision. Back to Isaiah to find the Righteous One:
Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. [Isaiah 59:15-16 KJV]
And that intercessor is Jesus Christ.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. [Romans 8:34 KJV]
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Some forgot it.
Unlike the generals, we don’t need to hear those words when dealing with God, for He has changed that for us:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:52-55 KJV)
There is another side to this immortality, as shown in Daniel:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2 KJV)
Somehow the concept of shame and contempt is not apparent in our society. Today, whether it is in entertainment, politics or our own communities, a public apology appears to return things to normal – and often apologies appear more as a regret for being caught rather than shameful remorse.
John the Baptist’s message was repentance: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1-2 KJV)
And the One who came after him did not change the message after His time in the wilderness: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17 KJV)
The theme continues through the gospels:
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5 KJV)
Remember, you really are mortal – but not forever.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Joel's Jewish grandparents escaped from Russia in the early part of the twentieth century due to religious persecution and raised his father in an Orthodox Jewish household. By the time Joel was born, his parents practiced no faith. They both eventually became born again Christians and Joel, too, at age 17. He says he considers himself a Messianic Jew, believing Jesus is the promised Messiah.
His career as a political advisor and consultant changed after client Benjamin Netanyahu lost an election in 1999 and Joel wrote his first book, The Last Jihad, sent to the publisher before 9/11, but not published until early 2002.
I didn't notice his work until The Ezekiel Option came out. By then I was busy and wanted to read the first two before this new one, and simply did not have the time to do so. Last summer our church bought the series for the library and I was able to read them in order.
I was struck by a number of things besides his view of biblical prophecy. In each of the books at least one individual went through the process of coming to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and their personal savior.
Not everyone who hears the gospel does. And, some who do change their beliefs later. It is a very personal decision and often impacts entire families. In some countries changing religious beliefs can become a death sentence. In others, it causes family rifts that cannot be healed. I remember meeting a gentleman whose family held a full funeral service, complete with casket, grave and headstone, in response to his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
Many look upon one’s faith as an accident of birth. What would one expect of a child born in Tel Aviv as opposed to Medina? Mumbai or Narita? Tenochtitlan or Salt Lake City? Yet, a child raised in any of these cities would have opportunity to hear of religions other than their own.
Christ explained it thus:
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [Matthew 13:18-23 KJV]
Whether any religion is shown through a book considered holy or a recent best-seller, we come to it with certain pre-conceived notions. In each instance, we would do well to:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15 KJV]
Emulating some of my favorite people:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. [Acts 17:11 KJV]
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
“… challenge made before the Texas State Board of Education in November 1969. This was in the form of a $1,000 (more than $10,000 in today’s value) offer by a Mr. John Grebe to anyone (board member, scientist, college professor, or other) able to provide any first example of physically verifiable evidence (or even a basic mathematical model) sufficient to elevate the then hypothesis of macroevolution up to the status of scientific theory as then being proposed for inclusion in new textbooks under consideration.”
Looking for a quick return on time invested, Bradbury continued, “…I expected to quickly select from any number of verifiable confirmations that the progressive steps involved in macroevolution had indeed been checked and double-checked by responsible scientific experiments. However, to my disappointment and near disbelief, I could find no such objective confirming evidence anywhere then–nor after following years of continuing search is there any to be found, even today.”
Bradbury re-issued the challenge in January, 2008, which has not yet been taken. “This $1,000 challenge remains open (and uncollected). Until someone (teacher, board member or professor) can cite even a single example of empirically confirmable evidence that random shifts in gene frequency acted upon by natural selection can (or does) cumulatively collect to produce macro-evolutionary change, it would appear only reasonable to responsibly refrain from introducing such conjecture as proper scientific theory to students and to the public”
He was also a commenter in 2002 on Ohio’s Tenth Grade Life Sciences Section.
Another person who spoke out was Dr. Moorad Alexanian, Ph.D., Physics, Professor of physics, who wrote: "If notions of how things came into being comes into science classes, then it is incumbent on the teacher to discuss the philosophical issues that are brought out by the students and give them equal and serious treatment. In physics, the notion of a Big Bang plays hardly any role in 99.99% of the achievements of physics that have given rise to all the technological advances we now enjoy. I believe the same is true in the biological sciences and its technological applications in medicine, genetics, etc. with regard to evolution. Evolutionary theory ought to be treated as a working assumption and not a philosophical position that goes beyond science. Of course, whenever philosophical views are discusses then it ought to be an open question and all ought to contribute equally."
Why pay attention? Consider Texas’ recent Board of Education decisions, as reported on MSNBC and below, in the New York Times.
“In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.”
We are not alone in our desire to see that our beliefs regarding creation are not buried.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Genesis 1:1 KJV]
Monday, May 24, 2010
Many today look at mankind’s progress and have determined that myths are no longer necessary. Everything is relative, changeable with the passage of time, adjustable to the moment. Belief that mankind is constantly evolving upward into something better is sufficient.
Dependence on a higher power has been relegated to archaic anomalies, unnecessary for daily living. If necessary for peace in the family, attendance at some religious-based holiday may be tolerated. Then again, it may be the impetus for general disagreement. That seems to happen often when confronting those who hang on to myths.
As I wrote last August many today look at religion and: “[d]efine, redefine. Take a look around the current culture and accept the current wave of thinking. Toss out, or reinterpret, what the Bible states – or simply rewrite the church, as the United Church of Canada has done. ‘With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe,’ according to Gretta Vosper.” A review of her book states she “believes that what will save the church is an emphasis on just and compassionate living—a new and wholly humanistic approach to religion. Without this reform, the church as we know it faces extinction.”
I would venture to say that Ms. Vosper would include herself in the 33 per cent Christian, were she to be polled.
Was this “dropping” in Christianity unexpected? Or, the changes in teaching?
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [2 Timothy 4:3-4 KJV]
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]
These teachers, this falling away, removes the focus of the Bible from God to man. They are asking that we trade something – our faith as Paul stated it: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. [Acts 24:15 KJV] – for nothing.
The Bible teaches us to do good for mankind.
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. [Romans 15:1-2 KJV]
But we are also required to acknowledge the source.
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. [Matthew 22:37 KJV]
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Well, we certainly know who will be trying.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: [Revelation 12:9a KJV]
We also know how he works.
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]
We know this because of God’s mercy and His never failing grace. We have received His spirit.
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]
It is a good thing they are free, for there is not enough time or energy for any of us to earn them. We cannot be good enough, we cannot come to God through our works. He has given us His all, Himself, and He asks the same from us.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV]
Before that, we were failures.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. [Ephesians 2:2-3 KJV]
I cannot tell you how important this is to me. I needed Him. I sought Him. He revealed to me the hope He holds out to all, and I accepted His offer – my life for His.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. [John 10:9-11 KJV]
Life with Christ is abundant. If that’s not your feeling, ask Him about it.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
We think of the New Testament when we teach, but that was in the process of being written - example is this very letter. 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul's praise for Timothy's knowing scripture, for having them taught to him from childhood, had to do with what we think of as the Old Testament.
Yet, from these he was able "to be wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ."
Could we witness using such scripture? Could we take the Holy Scriptures Timothy knew and offer salvation through faith in Jesus? Try working up an outline showing how you would witness using only scriptures before the birth of Christ. Where would you begin?
I would appreciate your comments, please. May God bless your reading of His word!
Friday, May 21, 2010
I'm blogging from my phone, having left the pc at home. That's supposed to cover any typos - small keyboard plus bad eyesight!
I cannot "comment" on blogspot from the phone. So, my notes this morning would have been comments on Bro. Brad's Blog (it's listed on the side bar.) He's been covering a chapter of Proverbs each day in May.
Today I was first struck by the second verse and its similarity to 14:12 and 16:25. Seems to me that when the Lord repeats Himself, we should pay close attention.
Verse 23 is hard to achieve!
Verse 31 is a reminder to depend on God. No amount of preparation is better than his plan. He will always keep us safe.
May the reading of His word bring a blessing for you.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
It was a government commodity program for the elderly. Back in the 1950’s my grandparents qualified for such assistance. I don’t know anything about the program other than it provided a wonderful memory for me.
In those packages, Gramma received dried apricots. Obviously they didn’t come from southwest Oklahoma farms. Cotton and wheat were the nearby crops. Wherever they originated, they had to be in abundance. My assumption was that our government bought them to keep farmers in business. Perhaps a carry over from the Depression? My curiosity never was strong enough to research.
What is strong is the memory of the apricot friend pies she made for us when we were packing to return to California.
I was reminded of those again today when we stopped at a fairly new shop at the county seat that sells only friend pies and drinks. But what a collection – theirs include meat and vegetable as well as the delicious fruit and cream pies. They did not, however, match my memories.
Gramma would cook the day before we were to leave, frying chicken (her own home grown) and those fragrant fried pies. They were carefully wrapped in waxed paper (no aluminum foil for the home at that point) and we wanted so to open them as soon as we got out to the highway.
Many things don’t match our memories.
Sometimes the memory of our childhood church is unmatched by our current one. My parents were unchurched while in California. When they returned to Oklahoma, it was to the second largest city, near that city’s second largest Baptist church. The sanctuary had been built decades earlier, massive stone steps and dark wood interior, with a U-shaped balcony. Beautiful and impressive. As was the organ. Mrs. Matthews was our organist. Her first name was Imagray. Unusual. Not until I was an adult did I learn her maiden name was Wolfe.
She was good. Not just as a Christian example, but as our organist. Her playing set the standard for my expectations in church music.
My current church has no organist. We did when we first joined, but she felt called to play for another congregation and eventually our organ was stored to make room for more choir chairs. This is an accomplishment, for when we joined, the church had no choir. Now there is an adult choir that sings for morning service and a youth choir in the evening. But, no organ.
Guitar. That’s the big adjustment. In addition to our beautiful piano, a guitar adds to our music. And, a bass violin. Within the last two years a violin joined in. Stringed instruments.
The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD. [Isaiah 38:20 KJV]
The instruments don’t match my childhood memories, but the Lord being ready to save, the singing and most importantly, all the days of our lives in the house of the Lord are the same. It is the same God worshipped before Abraham, by Abraham, David, Isaiah, Daniel. The same Lord served by Zacharias and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Peter and the apostles and we, today.
Nothing can match the physical church of our childhood, but our Lord remains unchanged.
By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. [Hebrews 7:22-25 KJV]
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A double blessing, for Dr. A. V. Henderson spoke at the commencement. If you have not heard him, may the Lord have blessed you in other ways. Past ninety, this man of God can hold an audience through every word. I have heard others state that he expects preachers to be able to get their message across in twenty minutes. He does, and leaves us wanting to hear more.
His message last night was from the first chapter in Daniel. Read the passage, I won’t go into the whole story. This morning, re-reading it, I want to focus on the first part of one verse.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself …[Daniel 1:8 KJV]
He did not hear a voice from God, as Samuel did.
That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. [1 Samuel 3:4 KJV]
He did not become blind from God’s visit, as Paul did.
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? [Acts 9:4 KJV]
He did not ask the Lord for an understanding heart, as Solomon did.
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? [1 Kings 3:9 KJV]
He didn’t go to a family member, for none were left near him. The Bible doesn’t say that he discussed it among his fellow royal prisoners, either. The verse clearly stated that Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.”
There were no promise rings, there were no special robes, there were no outward signs of his decision. He requested that the prince set over him simply allow him a different diet from that sacrificed to idols.
We don’t have to go that far. We can purpose in our hearts that we will not partake of that which defiles us. We choose what goes into our minds, into our hearts. We choose what we hear and what we see. We can purpose in our hearts that what we see, what we do, what we take into our lives does not defile us.
Why don’t we? It’s easier not to. It is much easier to keep quiet at the off color joke. To just ignore the lyrics though they are degrading to women. To look past the suggestive photography of the beauty pageant. It is harder to make a conscious decision to refute them and request a replacement that edifies rather than defiles.
Except for the verse, this wasn’t a part of Dr. Henderson’s message to the graduates. And, if you read that first chapter, it might not be the message you receive from those verses. God speaks to us individually through His word, when we listen.
Purpose in your heart to do so. It is to your advantage.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It’s the “aged” part that is giving me fits right now. As so often happens with age, portions of our anatomy either change or fail. Right now I’m facing a change in the growth of cataracts and my eyesight is failing. As much reading and writing as I do, this gives me qualms.
I know, I know. There’s nothing to it. Thousands upon thousands of such surgeries are done without incident. And, I know that God already knows how it will turn out and He’s not worried at all.
My uncle lost his eyesight in his 30’s. He had a gasoline service station (hey, this was more than half a century ago – they really sold service as well as gasoline.) There was a fire and his eyes were damaged. The family bought out his siblings and returned to his parent’s farm. For the next thirty years they ran a dairy. I watched him place cows in the stalls, attach and detach milking machines. I read articles about him, journalists enjoyed watching him work, too. I do not believe I could adjust as well myself.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [Philippians 4:11 KJV]
That, I can do. God has been merciful to me and I’ve come to understand that the states I am in do not last long, why not be content in them? Besides, just two verses down is the answer to all of our questions.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. [Philippians 4:13 KJV]
Does that mean accepting without questions? Not for me. I’m asking questions of those who have had the same operation. Who did their surgery? What were the results? Were there any complications? What complications might be expected? I do hope you know those questions, too, to ask about any medical procedure.
Similar questions should apply when asking about religions. Do not blindly follow because the speaker’s doctrine sounds good. There are excellent orators around and they gather many followers. Remain skeptical as Christ suggests, not all leaders are correct.
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. [Matthew 15:14 KJV]
Apply that to what I write, too. Don’t agree with me, read the scriptures and see if I’m using them correctly. Study the references for validity as well as appropriateness. Check the surrounding verses to be certain they are used in context. That would be a wonderful response – if it helps anyone open their Bible for study.
Oh, yes – prayer during Bible study is great, too!!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Matthew 28:19-20 KJV]
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [Matthew 6:14-15 KJV]
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [2 Timothy 4:1-2 KJV]
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]
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, [2 Corinthians 6:14-17 KJV]
(When living a Christian life, this issue may take care of itself.)
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. [Jude 1:18-19 KJV]
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; [Philippians 1:9-10 KJV]
Remember, Christ gave us the source of His testimony, and the reason for it:
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. [John 5:30 KJV]
But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. [John 5:34 KJV]
Sunday, May 16, 2010
With those limitations, there are times when only one facet of a multi-faceted jewel is displayed. Yesterday’s post is a prime example, and Bro. Brad noted a lack of depth. I do appreciate his mentioning the differences.
His reference was: But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. [1 Corinthians 2:15 KJV] is not only appropriate, but reminded me of a favorite verse.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. [Acts 17:11 KJV]
We are supposed to search the scriptures for truth, and we are also to be able to judge the truth of other matters. We have been told that our ability to judge will be put to good use.
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]
What I believe we are NOT to do is tied within a non-biblical word, retribution. Retribution is justly due. The punishment perceived is deserved, repayment would be demanded, but it is owed to God, not to us. Two good examples have to do with women in the Bible.
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. [John 8:4-7 KJV]
Retribution – the deserved punishment – was due and defined by law given by God. The execution of that law was displayed by His Son in His mercy.
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. [John 8:11 KJV]
Christ knew the full sinfulness of the Samaritan woman.
For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. [John 4:18 KJV]
Instead of retribution from this knowledge, witnessing to others resulted.
The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. [John 4:28-30 KJV]
Still, the subject of judging deserves more study – another bit will come tomorrow.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
When it comes to scripture, Paul’s writings are included more than any other. He declines to judge others and accepts no judgment upon himself from men, knowing our Lord will not only judge all, but will judge by His own standards.
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. [1 Corinthians 4:3-5 KJV]
Judging fellow Christians is not in the book, but doing all for the Lord is – in the same verses.
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. [Romans 14:1-8 KJV]
Matthew 7:28 comes to mind.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: [Matthew 7:28 KJV]
Are we still astonished at His doctrine, while accepting mankind’s?
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [Matthew 15:9 KJV]
In Colossians 3, Paul is quite specific about what our actions should be, to think of Christ as our life and that what we do is for Him. We acknowledge the way we walked was wrong and have put on the ways of God, instilling the word to dwell within us. When we do so, we’re ready to work for God, not for men.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; [Colossians 3:23 KJV]
Remember, Christ’s gospel is meant to be simple.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. [2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV]
Friday, May 14, 2010
I go far enough back to remember Ed Ames singing “I Don’t Believe In If Any More.” I ran across the lyrics not long ago. The chorus ends with: “If is for children building daydreams.”
My favorite line is:
If I knew then what I know now
(I thought I did you know somehow)
If I could have the time again
“If I had …” Done what? What could have been done to change the situation today? First and foremost, it doesn’t matter except as a point of topic when witnessing to another, and “if” doesn’t belong in the situation.
How much better is it to tell the actuality of what happened, how Christ changed our lives once we turned them over to Him, than to tell what might have happened if we had done it earlier? How much better is it to tell what Christ has done in our lives than to tell what might happen if they give their lives to Him?
Suppose a child grows up to turn their back on what has been taught – how much time can be wasted on how many ifs: If I had spent more time with them in prayer; If I had taken them to church more often; If I had read the Bible with them; If ….. There is no end to the possibilities.
All of life’s disasters leave an insurmountable mountain of ifs to be sifted through. Divorce brings an entirely new set of ifs. The death of a child has a devastating set of ifs.
All of the above have been ifs in the past. We know they didn’t happen nor can we go back and change them. We may learn the consequences of actions, or the lack of action, and use that example, but we will never return to the point where an if could matter.
Ifs in the future are dependent upon the unknown. “If (x) happens, I will …” and we never know whether or not (x) will happen. Spending times with the ifs, past, present or future, is a waste.
There is no need to spend another moment with them. God has plans within His will for each and every one of us. We have the opportunity to choose to do them, or not. We’ve been told what will happen should we refuse.
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? [Esther 4:14 KJV]
There is the answer for any if when it comes to God’s planning. Deliverance would come from another place. And destruction was part of the consequence.
Bottom line – playing if situations over and over takes away from God. It not only takes our time away from Him, it takes our thoughts, our actions and our prayers. There is no glory for Him when we spend time saying, or singing:
If only. Lord, if only
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Over the past years I’ve spoken out in favor of stem cell research – as long as it is NOT embryonic. Those who favor the death of a child to help others have replaced ‘embryonic stem cell’ with simply ‘stem cell’ in their writings, but there are huge differences. One requires the death of an unborn human, the others do not.
To use the two-word description, however, allows those who advocate death to make it appear the conservative right would deny research to those in dire need of assistance right now. That view is an outright lie.
Even when President Bush’s decree stopped new embryonic stem cell research, existing research lines continued with government funding, and private funding was never squelched. Other stem cell research, not requiring the death of an unborn, continued, too. In the past I’ve posted results of such research. If you think there are a lot of posts here on this subject, it is because it is very important to me.
Stem Cell Research, June, 2008
Did You Notice, November, 2008
Timing, January, 2009
Missions Accomplished, January, 2009
Patience, March, 2009
Stem Cells Again, September, 2009
Stem Cells Four, December, 2009 (only it's more than four!)
Once again non-embryonic stem cell research makes headlines, on Fox News this time – I could not find it on CNN or MSNBC.
It appears those advocating the use of embryos are very concerned with human rights, so let’s discuss from their viewpoint. As far as I’m concerned, it is a human rights issue besides being a moral, ethical issue. Supporters speak of these embryos as being nothing more than a mass of cells unrelated to a human being. These cells are given different names as they progress through growth phases. None of those names resemble the word “baby,” but as they grow, they become nothing else.
From the joining of the sperm and egg, the outcome does not change from human to research animal. Nor does the DNA change from that given by the woman and man. The DNA is unique, unlike any other. Nurtured in their designed homes, individual humans will be born.
Setting aside any religious beliefs, the use of embryonic stem cells is scientific research on humans. The most vulnerable of humans, and there should be crowds of human rights activists marching in protest. They are not.
This tells me that such activists place differing values on human lives. Some are more important than others. Some lives must be lost to ensure others gain. Thank God He does not look upon us that way.
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]
Peter closes this epistle with a request, one that will help us understand how much God loves each one of us from our beginning.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. [2 Peter 3:18 KJV]
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The disciples’ memory wasn’t too good. They forgot the bread.
And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. [Matthew 16:5 KJV]
Guess they had that on their minds when their logic failed, too.
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. [Matthew 16:6-7 KJV]
I don’t get their reasoning – it’s not really a giant leap from leaven to bread, but they had to leap over Pharisees and Sadducees to get there! They personalized Christ’s encompassing message into a complaint against their small error. Much as we do today.
Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? [Matthew 16:8-9 KJV]
How could they forget that when it came to bread, there were no limits to the number of loaves Christ could create to feed multitudes? They were there. They had partaken of that miraculous feeding and took up the abundance left over with their own hands.
Yet, because of their mistake, they felt Christ was chastising them. We do that today. Why, when we’re learning of Christ and His will in our lives we continue to focus on the lack, the failures? Do we forget Christ’s other examples?
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [Matthew 25:21 KJV]
Two out of three servants received commendation and reward. One stood in fear of his master’s abilities.
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. [Matthew 25:25 KJV]
That lack of faith brought punishment.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. [Matthew 25:28 KJV]
What good does it do to save one’s soul and lose the reward from doing Christ’s work? Will we remember that giving Him our lives also means working in His service?
How’s our memory?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I received a forwarded e-mail that included the word Dhimmitude. Not knowing what it meant, I did a bit of research and found that it came into existence in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War.
Lebanese president-elect Bachir Gemayel is quoted as stating, just before his assassination on September 14, 1982, “Lebanon is our homeland and will remain a homeland for Christians… We want to continue to christen, to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish… Henceforth, we refuse to live in any dhimmitude!”
Bat Yeor, who has written many books and articles on the root word, the Islamic dhimmi or pact of protection, described dhimmitude in 1983, "The origin of this concept is to be found in the condition of the Infidel people who submit to the Islamic rule without fighting in order to avoid the onslaught of jihad. By their peaceful surrender to the Islamic army, they obtained the security for their life, belongings and religion, but they had to accept a condition of inferiority, spoliation and humiliation. As they were forbidden to possess weapons and give testimony against a Muslim, they were put in a position of vulnerability and humility."
Bat Yeor’s website, http://www.dhimmitude.org, offers a deeper look at the debate regarding dhimmitude. I was struck by a paragraph there: “Many Muslims theologians and intellectuals teach that it [jihad] has never been waged. Muslim armies had taken all those countries, because the people wanted it and asked to be conquered. … Muslims praise the tolerance of their domination, while Jews and Christians challenge the very idea of protection, considering that each human being enjoys inalienable rights and do not need to be tolerated to merely exist.”
During a speech in Turkey just before Easter, 2009, President Obama said: "You know, I have said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is -- although, as I have mentioned, that we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
Within those ideals and values reside certain inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness granted by our Creator. May we keep in our national memory the culture that gave us our ideals and values. President Abraham Lincoln said as part of his Proclamation for a National Day of Prayer:
"We have been the recipients of the choices bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God.
"We have forgotten the gracious land which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us:
"It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."
A search regarding presidential viewpoints turned up an interesting page at Wallbuilders.com. While there are multiple examples from previous presidents, my favorite comes from Harry Truman. "This is a Christian Nation."
Let us follow Lincoln's request and God’s word.
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]
Monday, May 10, 2010
And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. [Exodus 1:15-17 KJV]
The actions of theses two women went against the highest authority, negating another verse we’ve been given.
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]
Is there a conflict between the two situations? Should Shiphrah and Puah have subjected themselves to the king of Egypt because God allowed him to rule?
There are those today who would say we must follow all the laws of our land, except the ones with which the speaker disagrees, and those disagreements are many. A pharmacist does not wish to be involved in the transactions of RU482, but loses the job because they discriminated. An illegal immigrant is sheltered from INS, though their status is described by the word “illegal.” An abortionist is killed by a church member – which one is guilty of breaking the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”? [Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17, Matthew 5:21-22]
When there appears to be conflict within God’s word, spend more time with it, placing each verse in context, then follow what God has laid out for His people. The answers lie within His Word.
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. [Acts 4:19 KJV]
When authority, higher powers, conflict with God’s word, each of us must judge our own actions – do we listen to mankind or God?
How can we listen to God if we don’t speak to Him? Jesus gave us the examples in word [Matthew 6:9-13] and in deed [Matthew 26:39-44.]
Paul tells us we can ask God for anything.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [Philippians 4:6 KJV]
We are not promised that all our prayers will result in what we want, but we are promised a result for the asking.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:7 KJV]
Sunday, May 9, 2010
There are some today who do not believe that verse, but I do. As Brownies we learned “Bairns are a blessing.” They truly are.
I am counted with mothers this coming Sunday because of three blessings. During the years of their births, I knew several young women who were not so blessed. I began to feel guilt because I not only had beautiful babies (OK, so maybe the first few hours they weren’t the most beautiful in the world, within a day they were) but I had them without medical complications or difficult labor. I was not only blessed by having them, I was blessed while having them.
In some ways, they made up for that ease as they got older. They were normal. They grew up to raise families of their own. The girls will be given attention and due tomorrow by their own children as will my son’s wife, too. Each of the couples will attend services that will include recognition of mothers.
Some of my friends were unable to conceive. I think of women in the Bible who prayed and waited. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah among them. Each prayed, but for years they could not receive the blessings of motherhood. Sarah eventually had one; Rachel two; Hannah was blessed with both sons and daughters.
Christ used children as He explained the way to heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. (Matthew 18:5 KJV)
With that in mind, think of the reverse side of that coin.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 KJV)
As mothers we have a tremendous responsibility to bring the word of God to our children and others. We must not hinder their belief in the Lord. I think He was serious about the millstone! To do so, we must be able to live up to what we teach the children.
We will fail, in so many ways. We will be forgiven, by our Lord and by our children. We’ll remember how our mothers raised us. The heartaches we brought to her and the blessings she gave in return, becoming our example. We follow her, even as she followed our Lord.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (Ephesians 5:1 KJV)
My Mom has been with our Lord for several years, as are many of my friend’s mothers. We’ll be wearing the white rose tomorrow in remembrance, as our own children wear the red. We’ll think of our mothers and we will miss them, wanting still to give them honor and thinking of the one verse we now understand.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4 KJV)
Saturday, May 8, 2010
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (1 Peter 4:3-4 KJV)
Christ himself heard a bit of this. Many in His hometown were astonished at what He was doing.
Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? (Matthew 13:55-56 KJV)
I have met and enjoyed many who came to Christ as children, raised in a godly family. Their joy of salvation is no less than any other, but the change in lifestyle often goes unnoticed. They continue their faithful attendance in His service and their friendships are built with church families.
Others come to Him filled with consequences of their actions and everything in their daily life is affected. It might be as simple as changing language, ceasing to take the Lord’s name in vain and moving away from those who continue to do so. It may be leaving behind a life of addiction – and there are many addictions that supplant God. Once He is given precedence, it is necessary to move away from those who continue their addictions.
Those left behind often do not understand why, which gives the new Christian an opportunity to witness. Some feel not just left behind, but left out. Defending their sinful lifestyles, they denigrate the change in the Christian’s life, seeking to bring them back to the level they left.
Is it worth it? You’d have to ask the individual Christian. For some, it isn’t and they return to their old habits. Christ spoke of them in the parable of the sower. His disciples didn’t understand the parable, so He explained further:
The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 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. 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 4:14-19 KJV)
Does the above apply? Or this one:
And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. (Mark 4:20 KJV)
Unlike the sown seeds, we don’t have to stay on the stony ground or among thorns. We can move to find growth and sustenance. We will still have to endure, experience affliction and/or persecution and face cares and deceitfulness of this world. But, we’ll have the congregation, friends, pastor, God’s word and our Lord Himself helping us bring forth fruit.
Friday, May 7, 2010
In the intervening forty-something years, we’ve learned that morality can be legislated, or at least taxed. Over- (and sometimes just) indulgence has been legislated from federal government down to the township level.
Smoking was determined to be bad for one’s body. Smoking is either outlawed or excessively taxed. Alcohol causes lack of control, property and personal damages. Outlawing didn’t work the first time around, so taxation is used. Prostitution has multiple damaging results, outlawed in some places, participants are till required to obtain physical exams and in some places certified and taxed.
A case in point, from MSNBC. Unable to reach into homes and control input, legislation reaches our children through schools. Twenty-seven percent. Do we need 100% of our young people between 17 and 24 serving in our military? What were the percentages ten, fifteen, twenty years ago?
Or, is this just for our own good, legislating morality. Aren’t there many other ‘for our own good’ things besides gluttony? Would the list include the other ‘deadly’ sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, and envy.
Greed is being addressed in the new financial legislation. So, in some instances the USA will legislate morality. Personal pleasures versus the pain of consequences.
This is not new. In his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), Jeremy Bentham states: "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do."
So, “if it feels good, do it” and that is the root of hedonism. Solomon wrote about indulgence.
I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. [Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 KJV]
James wrote against it.
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]
And gave an alternative.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. [James 4:7-8 KJV]
Quite similar to Solomon’s conclusion.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. [Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV]
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23:22)
Ever wonder how I choose what scriptures to read and put into my blog? Let me give you this one as an example of how it often works.
Our church has a lighted sign with changeable letters. Each week the staff changes the message – either an announcement of special events or scriptures, mostly scriptures. Space is limited, so sometimes the scripture is shortened, or the reference omitted. Last night was a case in point when it stated DESPISE NOT THY MOTHER WHEN SHE IS OLD. Well, being an old mother, it piqued my curiosity and I looked up the full scripture this morning.
Sometimes it’s not easy to follow scripture. As I read that, I began thinking – then writing.
My husband and his brother were adopted when they were 9 and 8, after spending a couple of years in a state orphanage and a foster home or two. They had been taken from their father and stepmother as neglected children and their mother (several states away) signed for their adoption, which placed them into the orphanage.
Thirty-seven years later they were reunited, with their mother, full brother, and brother and two sisters from her second marriage.
How does one treat a mother under those conditions? With love and forgiveness. I know, because I saw it at work. The same way God forgives us our transgressions.
His father had passed away a few short years before this reunion. He never experienced the forgiveness of his sons, never knew his grandchildren. We never knew the condition of his soul, either, to know whether to expect to meet him after he experienced God’s forgiving grace.
Every single day of our lives we have opportunity to experience God’s mercy and His grace. They are undeserved, but freely given upon our trust in Him. He provides for us spiritually and materially, providing for our salvation.
Paul says it twice in a few short verses.
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:5-8)
Renew the relationship. It is worth it.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Jill Tarter wrote an opinion on CNN and makes a couple of points that brings my disagreement to the front.
She states, “Longevity or ’L’, is the last term in the Drake Equation, a formula designed to estimate the number of communicative civilizations in our galaxy.” Alien societies with a large L factor, she continues, “ … could also mean that their distant civilization had found a way to stabilize itself in order to survive and grow old. That might require outgrowing any aggressive and belligerent tendencies that may have characterized their youth.”
I find it laughable that intelligent, educated, publicly published professional people assume any civilization would be capable of “outgrowing any aggressive and belligerent tendencies that may have characterized their youth.”
This theory of evolutionary civilizations growing less aggressive with age has yet to be proven here on earth, much less considered for hypothetical yet undiscovered civilizations light years away. I believe this to be a dream among people who look to humans for the answer to all problems. It’s a nice dream, but where did it originate?
Where here do they see such examples? Are there not still wars and rumors of war? Has there been a time when there wasn’t?
These wars are ascribed a number of reasons, among them religion, nations, greed, prejudices, lack of resources and others. Do not all of these hinge upon humans? Upon the human frailties some decry in others yet do not understand they are looking, as elites, above and intellectually beyond reality, yet are just as frail.
Do they not say what Isaiah wrote:
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [Isaiah 14:13-14 KJV]
Personally, I’m not the least concerned about meeting aliens, either here or on their own turf. My concerns have to do with this earth and how it relates to eternity and God’s message. The first order of business is His business. Christ knew why He was here.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? [Luke 2:49 KJV]
Want to know more about that business? Read His word and the reason it was written.
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]