Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home Made Soap–Yeah!!

I’ve completed tomorrow’s blog – about waiting.  And I must confess I’ve waited long.  Today’s the last day of June, and I had promised Angela at Home Made Natural Soaps that I would review her soap by the end of June.  I won a bar of my choice and her only request was a review of how I liked it.

My excuses are that the Blueberry soap arrived the first week our guests did.  In fact, Angela’s well-wrapped package arrived in the same mail as several gifts for our 50th wedding anniversary.  The next couple of weeks were crowded, and the soap was put aside as we enjoyed family and friends. 

Then, forgotten.

Thanks to Angela, not only for the soap, but for her patience and her reminder!

Since I hadn’t used it, I took another week to be certain about the results.  This is what I like about her soap:

It lasts!  That could be a problem for her – not for us, since it will last quite a while.  I haven’t made a dent in it and I’ve used it daily for a week.

It cleans!  Yep, it does that very well.  Softly, without drying, and that’s great at any age.

It has fragrance!  Such a good blueberry lightness – that doesn’t stay on your skin.  After washing, all I can smell is the freshness of clean, no leftover fragrance.

It does no harm!  I have sensitive skin, prone to break out when dry or when I use some petroleum based products – this soap did not cause any breaking out.  That’s always a concern with any new product.  For me, this bottom line is the best part of Angela’s product.

We can buy soap anywhere – from the big box stores to online home makers, with a plethora of choices in between.  So why think about this one?  Because it does exactly what is promised.  My old company used a line that holds true here:
Customer expectations exceeded

Yes – I expected a nice product, and received one that exceeded my every expectation.  I recommend this soap and hope my readers will visit the site and make their own fragrance choice.  Enjoy!


With many others, I’ve laughed at the nothingness that was Seinfeld’s old sitcom.  Since I don’t watch “reality” shows, I have no idea what his current program is like nor anything about its audience.  A recent participant, however, despises the show and what his appearance there did to his future.

When asked about this situation, Seinfeld responded to The New York Daily News Monday by saying: "When people get upset I enjoy it … Anything that alleviates the withering, blithering boredom of existence I'm in favor of."

How bored are we?  Frankly, I’m not.  The only thing withered in my life is the seven-decades-old body that I’m required to hang on to for a while longer.  How can I be bored with family around?  Those lively jumping beans called great-grands keep the blood moving through this old body, well over and above its speed limit.

Here we are retired, and we still need a calendar to schedule activities – I just found one I need to reschedule the first week in August right after I volunteered for Vacation Bible School.

I regret that Seinfeld’s existence is witheringly, blitheringly boring, but no one is writing his life for him.  He must live it on his own.  Too bad he doesn’t remember:

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee. (Psalms 66:1-3 KJV)

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. (Psalms 95:2 KJV)

I don’t think one can be bored living just these two verses – and there are many, many more.

Here’s another opportunity not to be bored:

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 6:7 KJV)

What a blessing would it be if his television shows followed the precepts of this one verse?  Where’s the reality TV for teaching children diligently?

I believe when God really wants us to “get it,” He has “it” repeated:

And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 11:19 KJV)

Same song, second verse.  Didn’t lose anything in the repetition, did it? I don’t believe it lost anything in the translation from Hebrew, either.  When we are sitting at home, walking any where, when we go to bed, when we get up.  Teach the children about the Lord.

Boring?  Not my life, not on your life!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peter’s Testimony

Peter is so human.  He is rash, he is loving, he is afraid, he is brave. He was all of that in the one night Jesus was taken prisoner and tried, in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18. In Acts 10 he learned that God is no respecter of persons, and testified to other disciples about it.

Later, in his second epistle, he endeavors to continue this testimony long past his death:

Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

That is a normal human longing, to last beyond our death.  Peter, though, knew that earthly death is simply a passageway.  A passage that many attempt to deny or ignore, and only One has returned from, if Peter can be believed.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

An eye witness – for three years, then more.  But even those have been discredited in today’s court. We need more than eyewitnesses.

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

That matches what the gospels tell us, too.  Peter heard that heavenly voice confirming God’s pleasure in the work being accomplished. Multiple witnesses telling the same story for years afterward.  Yet, Peter offers us more.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:14-21 KJV)

I believe, as Peter did, that prophecies were fulfilled.  I believe that a study of those same scriptures with a prayerful heart will confirm that the Holy Spirit provided those prophecies.  I believe they were fulfilled in Jesus, as the promised Messiah, that He is Christ.

Long after his death, Peter’s words are read, discussed, accepted, ignored, ridiculed in hundreds of differing languages.  He did not ask for less, only for the opportunity to have these things always in remembrance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011



We didn’t watch the DVD, though the above is a crop from its cover. We watched it on Hallmark Channel last Saturday.  It was a good reminder of how to use ‘pollyanna’ – which often is used as a pejorative.  Watching the story unfold around her “glad game” did bring to mind several verses.  My favorite is:

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 KJV)

Another comes from Psalms, too:

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. (Psalms 122:1 KJV)

There are 89 instances of ‘glad’ in the King James version.  I had read this one before:

And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. (Luke 23:8 KJV)

Is that what we want from Jesus, too?  Having heard so much of Him over our lives, as Herod did, are we looking for miracles?

What He teaches is so much more than that.  He taught us fear:

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:5 KJV)

He also taught us not to fear, because of our importance to God:

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31 KJV)

He taught us how to 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. (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV)

He taught us how to die:

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:28 KJV)

And he taught us how to live:

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:15-16 KJV)

Go ahead and call me a pollyanna for believing all of what He has told us.  Go ahead, eternally.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Daniel Purposed


Sunday night I had our three oldest great-grandsons spend the night, for the very first time. Twelve, nine and eight, they contain more energy individually than Beloved Husband and I put together, no doubt about it.

They’ve recently moved geographically closer to us, but we’re even closer to the church than their new home – and Second Daughter is accompanying the group going to Youth Camp, so they spent the night here.  Monday the oldest, GGS-1, will head off with the Youth, while GGS-2 and GGS-3 will head out with another group to Children’s Camp.  Grade level determines the difference. GGS-1 will be in the Seventh this year, hence the split.

We have a full sized bed in the guest room and a trundle in the loft, so there had to be a game of rock, paper, scissors to determine who got to choose the trundle.  It’s so easy to say, “The Eldest,” but so very unfair.  Also unfair is “I chose first,” because the others didn’t know the choices when he did.  I was pleasantly amazed at their acceptance of the results.

Even more pleasant surprises awaited as two out of three reached for their Bibles for an evening reading.  They asked me to select verses, but I asked if they had a favorite.  Though I had something in mind, there was another in GGS-1’s mind – Daniel.  Our last two Sunday School lessons in Youth had been on Daniel, so we read and discussed the first eight verses.  The boys ended up highlighting the first part of verse eight:

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8 KJV)

We talked about Daniel being taken into captivity, away from his family, his culture, his country.  We talked about the kings meat, thinking of reasons why Daniel would not eat it, the dietary laws of God’s commandments, how the animal was killed, was it sacrificed in a religious ceremony.  We talked about how none of that would be important today, so what was the application for us?

Then we discussed how people defile themselves today. The first thing they mentioned was smoking.  The second thing said was beer. The third surprised me as GGS-3 said, “Taking candy from a stranger,” then seriously explained that instead of taking the candy, one should say, “No,” and walk away.  The older boys agreed that saying, “No,” to all three situations was the right answer.

Thinking of their father, a non-church goer until now, a smoker and occasional beer drinker, I asked, “Is it our place to make people change?”  Oh, how I loved their answer as all three said, “No.”

Then what do we do?  Again the answers were in agreement.  “We don’t do those things.”

Thus we discussed how to purpose in our hearts to not defile ourselves.  How do we learn?  Yep, their answers matched mine again, through the Bible.

We prayed together before heading off to bed and I gave thanks for them and their eagerness to learn.  I prayed the camps would be safe, they would make new friends and have a wonderful time.

Did they quickly and quietly go to sleep?  No, there were some pounding feet, flashing lights and lots of giggles.  Aren’t those wonderful blessings?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Natural?

The above is a 24 June screen capture from MSNBC’s Week in Pictures (it's photo #8 in the slideshow).  When I first saw it I thought it was a diorama – looking too sharp in detail, and totally impossible to achieve!  The depth of the scene stretches for miles, doesn’t it.  The worker appears at the end of any possible path.

Yet, he – and the work – must  move forward.  Now, Christian, don’t you sometimes see yourself right at that point?  Thinking that there’s no possible way to get to the top of the looming mountain?  Surely life is better in the valley where there is no danger of falling?  Have you forgotten the work you’ve given to reach where you are now?

Yep, all those thoughts and questions ran through my mind when I saw that picture.  But that’s not what runs through his.  This is part of his daily work. In fact, the caption states that the work “comes naturally.”

How much of our Christian life comes naturally?  I think all of us have to keep working at it. Paul exhorted Timothy to continue fighting for it:

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12 KJV)

In writing to the Philippians, Paul tells us what to think about:

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)

All of that is done within ourselves, not for show to someone else, not to win favor with God, but to keep us close to Him.  We have His grace and His mercy as soon as we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

Changes within us confirms to ourselves and others that very acceptance. Jesus taught that in His ministry:

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew 15:11 KJV)

How hard can that be?  Surely no more than building a road, by hand, up the side of a vertical mountain?

Saturday, June 25, 2011



I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. (Psalms 37:35-36 KJV)

Wednesday night’s Bible study was Psalm 73, a reflection of Psalm 37 we’ve recently studied.  When we think of life not being fair, that evil abounds and good cannot be found, these two Psalms come to mind.  Very similar, they carry the message that these things will happen, they will cease and that God truly is in control.

At times it doesn’t seem that way.  A song of Aspah tells us:

For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalms 73:3 KJV)

Do you know such people?  They continue to prosper in spite of what we are certain are lives filled with waste and destruction.  Many times we want what they have – fame, fortunes, a flock of following fans.

They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. (Psalms 73:5 KJV)

Today’s headlines provide specific examples of people who seem to shed trouble – or buy their way out of it – and return to the public arena as though problems never touched them.  Those who live as if above the law, without a thought for what goes on beneath them.

They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. (Psalms 73:8 KJV)

David, in the earlier Psalm, paints a more vivid picture:

The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. (Psalms 37:12 KJV)

There really is little we can do.  We may speak out against specific injustice, we can vote to remove oppressive leadership, we can become actively involved in helping others, but there will always be someone spreading himself like a green bay tree.

What, then keeps our frustration level down?  How do we face each day knowing there is evil walking amongst us that we cannot touch?

I do it with the Lord’s promises in my mind and heart, just as these men did.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. (Psalms 37:8-9 KJV)

Both a command and a promise – cease from anger, evildoers shall be cut off.

Even repeating that will offend some who do not see the world in the same light.  There are those who would spread themselves as those same green bay trees.  They do not see their actions as being against their fellow man.

If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. (Psalms 73:15-17 KJV)

I may not make an impression on others, they will continue in chosen paths that lead away.

But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Psalms 73:28 KJV)

Both psalmists tell of God’s judgment, and admonish us to leave to Him that which we cannot change.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (Psalms 37:7-8 KJV)

Friday, June 24, 2011


I follow several blogs.  There are beautiful nuggets of God’s word in so many of them.  One had this small precious find:

Isn’t wonderful?  And it is so very biblical:

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

It reminds me of a parable, too:

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. (Matthew 18:12-13 KJV)

How does this prove that each and every one of us is on His list to find? Just check out that next verse:

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14 KJV)

Paul learned this lesson well and passed it along in his writings:

Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 KJV)

I must caution, though, those who use this one scripture to build “all paths lead to God” or “every one will be saved” should study more thoroughly to understand God’s word.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:13-14 KJV)

I do know of one man who, within hours after meeting Him, was offered a place in paradise by our Lord, but none of us are the thief on the cross.  We must believe and call upon Him now.  Believing alone is not sufficient:

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19 KJV)

Do we tremble at our knowledge of God’s power, or do we err by not knowing?

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 KJV)

How many times have the scriptures been laid out before us?  How often has someone spoken to us, concerned for our future – for our very souls?  Has anyone mentioned they are praying specifically that Christ would be active in our lives.  What response? 

How many times do we speak to family, to loved ones, to our close friends about this very subject.  Do we ask “Do you know my Jesus?”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Euodias and Syntyche

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. (Philippians 4:2 KJV)
There were no graphics specific for Euodis or Syntyche.  No painter was shown as selecting them as subjects.  In searching for something “appropriate”, I ran across this vase, Greek in origin, centuries earlier in time, but to me it carried the story of two women, set apart, not hearing each other, frozen there across time.

Paul prayed for them and asked others to help them.

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3 KJV)

I had an uncle who was a deacon in a church for many years. He and his wife had served the Lord well, and their children grew up active in the church.  One son did not invite another deacon’s daughter to a school event.  It should have been a minor detail, but the mothers became involved, taking sides as though there had been an obvious slight.  Of course, the subject matter differed from children, as did the ensuring arguments between the deacons in board meetings.  Within a year, that church split.  Because mothers were not of the same mind in the Lord. Neither were the fathers, within a short time.  And neither was the church.

When we see fellow Christians as our adversaries, we tend to forget the one who consistently is our adversary:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV)

Why let him into our family, God's family, our brothers and sisters in Christ?

We are given no clue as to the division between Euodias and Syntyche, and I appreciate that.  The example can then be used in any divisive situation within a congregation.  We need to be reminded that as Christians we do hold the same mind in the Lord, for His body is not divided.  We do not all have the same talent nor the same job, but we do have the same goal – to glorify God. 

We should remember that when we close the Lord’s prayer:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13 KJV)

Jesus told us to do good works simply to glorify God:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 KJV)

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, explained a bit more:

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 KJV)

There it is again one mind -- and the reason for it is is given -- to glorify God. Thus should Christian brothers and sisters put aside differences between themselves.  While they may agree to disagree on non-biblical matters, God’s word not only requires that they be of one mind, but that others in the congregation work with them toward that end.  The differences should not be ignored, they should be cleared and all parties glorify God and move forward.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Did Happen?

I recently surfed by a blog entitled “What Happened To You?” and was uplifted by the salvation testimony there.  The writer answered that question very well!  That linked to an earlier blog, her salvation story.
My favorite part of her story is:
A few weeks later during our weekly counseling session, Pastor patiently explained Salvation to us. I didn't understand so he repeated himself. After the third explanation he finally asked, "What don't you understand?" I said, "You are telling me that I can come to God just as I am, smoking, drinking, all the stuff I've done, and He is just going to forgive me?" "Yes." I shook my head. I honestly believed that I had to "clean myself up" and make myself presentable before I could come before a Holy God and ask forgiveness.
Yes, we must admit that what we are doing is sin.  Yes, we must realize changes are needed in our lives.  Yes, He forgives us in that condition.  Change comes with Him in our heart and lives.  It comes because of Him, not because we’ve cleaned up our act.  He does a much better job of that than we can possibly imagine!

The writer mentions that some thought she had “joined a cult.”  I can relate to that.  I was raised in church, came to Christ as a teen.  My Second Son-in-Law (SSiL) was not.  His salvation came when his teen daughter became active in church.  He was looking for assistance in completing a twelve-step-program and asked the pastor for advice.  The pastor explained a one-step – ask Jesus Christ to be his personal Lord and savior.  He did, and the change was so evident that his parents thought he had joined a cult instead of a Bible-based church with God at the center of his life.

It may seem that way as we follow God’s commandments.  As we separate ourselves from those things that would drag us back into a sinful lifestyle.  Paul tells us what happens to those unequally yoked, explaining that light and dark cannot co-exist.  He tells us:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 KJV)

The alcoholic no longer goes out to drink with buddies.  The faithless spouse no longer seeks companionship elsewhere.  The gossip no longer seeks another to garner attention, whether telling truth or not. The foul mouth no longer spews curses.  This is what happens when we follow His commandments, and it often causes friends and family discomfort.

Ephesians 4 describes these differences in detail, summarizing:

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24 KJV)

Are you ready to find out what happens?  We’re ready to talk about it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How’s your cup?

If someone knows this photo is subject to copyright, please let me know.  I think it came in with other shots of natural beauty, but I do not know its source.  It may be from our canyon lands, but could be from elsewhere in the world.  What caught my eye was that the cup, though overflowing, continued to be filled.

What better example for:

… my cup runneth over. (Psalms 23:5b KJV)

Six verses in this one Psalm of David’s, and almost everyone is familiar with it.  David speaks of God’s provision in every part of his life – eating, drinking, walking, sleeping.  All of our daily activities are watched over by the Good Shepherd.

… thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4b KJV)

The tools of the shepherd. Other psalmists recognized this parable, too:

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. (Psalms 80:1 KJV)

Earthy shepherds provide protection and guidance to their flock, even when they are disgruntled or discontent.  The Good Shepherd sees each of each flock as individuals, knowing them before they were born, continuing to prove guidance throughout their lives.

The difference is that, unlike the shepherd’s flock, The Good Shepherd’s flock has reasoning, the ability to think about whether they want that guidance or not.  Some choose not.  The Good Shepherd seeks them:

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

It is up to each individual to determine their response to Him, and by doing so, how fully their cup runs over.  You see, we are promised blessings:

He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalms 24:5 KJV)

And who shall receive God’s blessing?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalms 24:4 KJV)

How do we get cleansed?

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalms 51:10 KJV)

All for the greatest blessing, life for ever more:

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (Psalms 133:3 KJV)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Death, Life, Funerals, Reunions

Recently a Multiply friend wrote of her father-in-law’s funeral.  Of the family – and extended family – gathering in sadness and support.  I’ve written specifically about Baptist Funerals, thinking of mine in particular.

Friend’s F-i-L died the day before his 59th wedding anniversary.  You know we just had our 50th.  Based on family health history, ancestral longevity, actuarial tables and general knowledge, I most likely have somewhere between five and fifteen years remaining in my allotted time.  Excluding accidents and the Lord’s return, of course.

That still gives me more than the Psalmist’s original figure:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (Psalms 90:10 KJV)

Miss Bobby in our church often requests this song, based on that Psalm’s ending:

Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away (I'll fly away).
I'll fly away, Oh Glory I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone, I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

Just a few more weary days and then, I'll fly away; 
To a land where joy shall never end, I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

Please, know that is what my own death means to me.  I believe I will be missed, but I pray I will not be mourned.  To me, there’s a difference based on faith.  Paul understood:

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 KJV)

Paul heard it second hand from Christ’s disciples, it wasn’t mentioned as their discussion on the Damascus road, but Paul believed it. It is something Jesus promised:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2-3 KJV)

Whether I get there before or after those I love, I plan on meeting at a specifically described spot:

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2 KJV)

Join me there, when the time is right. It's a simply journey from faithlessness to a faithful life.  There is an  instruction book and plenty of the faithful around.  There’s also an open invitation:

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14 KJV)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


What did a young farm boy from Oklahoma do in the mid-1930’s?  Head to California -- and have his picture taken so he could send  it home and prove he got there.  That’s my Dad, Elmer Jerry Holley. 

He had a cousin, Aurlie Tyler Blackmon, who could not pronounce Elmer correctly, so he ended up with the nickname “Domer” for the rest of his life.  Some people thought that was his given name.  Here he is with one of his childhood friends, Jim Warren – a friendship that lasted all their lifetime. They both grew up in Oklahoma, and both went to California:
He picked his wife from his home county in Oklahoma.  Their courtship was about as long as mine, but their engagement much shorter.  He asked her on Sunday, “Would you like to get married on Monday or Tuesday?”  She selected Tuesday, which gave him a great joke to tell to new friends.  That Tuesday was December 21.  So he would tell that "... it was too short a day to do a good day’s work, and too long a night to pass up."

In the 1970’s, Mom spent months and long trips being diagnosed about her recurring problems.  Eventually, though she did not fit the usual ‘type’, it was determined she had ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Daddy was her caregiver for more than twenty-five years, taking early retirement to see to her needs.  She went home to our Lord in 1995.

Daddy then travelled, fishing in Oklahoma and Texas, lakes and rivers, making up for those years he had no time for himself.  It was scary for me, not knowing exactly where he was on the road at age 81, but the next few years were good for him.  During the coldest and the hottest months he could come stay with us.  When the weather was right, he told his stories among campsites.  Until his health began to fail and he stayed with us full time.

We were able to give him a gift he had not yet received – a cruise to Alaska.  We got to see that trip through his 80 plus years, and those of our teenage granddaughter.  Awesome!!  Here they are in Seattle, before we sailed:
EJH-AJW Seattle
In 2000, he made his last trip, home to be with our Lord.  His favorite verse came from the book of John:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:1-2 KJV)

My father was given a vision after my mother’s death.  I have no doubt about what he saw.  I have no doubt about his beliefs, and no doubt as to where he is. Someday, we will meet again. Under the Tree of Life, by the River of Life, where together we will rejoice and say:

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

1913-2000 -- What a journey!

Saturday, June 18, 2011



I find it impossible to “turn off” thoughts.  Beloved Husband responds to “What are you thinking?” with “Nothing.”  But then he’ll talk about things that are on his mind.  I’ve wondered how others are, and every once in a while find out they can’t stop thinking, either.

A recent comment on another blog included a note that the writer couldn’t go to sleep by thinking about tomorrow’s activities – she’d be getting up and making a “To Do” list.  That helps me understand that my thoughts are not alone. In fact, trying to stop them actually creates more and creates a conflict.

Why not put those constant thoughts into productive work?  It worked for those who loved Peter:

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.  (Acts 12:5 KJV)

The next verses tell us of the angel that broke his bonds and Peter walked out of prison. 

Paul believed in praying without ceasing, too:

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; (Romans 1:9 KJV)

The next verse tells us that his prayer was to visit believers in Rome. He did, for many years, witnessing even to those in Caesar’s household.

He also wrote about giving thanks without ceasing that the word of God was received in truth and spirit:

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV)

Paul also prayed without ceasing for Timothy:

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; (2 Timothy 1:3 KJV)

I find it very easy to pray in the morning, when I get up.  It’s wonderful to give thanks during the day for the gifts God provides, the opportunities that are given to share Him and to make requests as the day passes.  It is, however, in the evening that I really go through my prayer list.  At the close of the day, in bed, going over each name, thinking about the person, recalling specific requests.

There are some people on my list where there is a very short prayer for them:  “May God’s will be done in their lives.”  I don’t know what they need.  They haven’t made a specific prayer request, as the others have.  Yet, from their actions, their comments, it is apparent there is something they would like in their lives.  And I love them enough through the love of Christ to include them in prayer.

So, I follow another of Paul’s writings:

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)

Will you join me?

Friday, June 17, 2011



Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (Acts 22:1 KJV)

Here is Paul, having been taken prisoner by soldiers after a misunderstanding at the temple, making his defense.  Jews thought he had taken gentiles into the temple and defiled it.  He had not.

In his defense, Paul gives his conversion testimony.  He tells who he was and what happened to him to change his life.  To turn his life around.  To repent, to change direction.

He tells of his meeting with Christ.  He speaks of it again in Chapter 26, before Agrippa and Festus, admitting before the court:

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts 26:9 KJV)

He did them on purpose – do we?  He did them based on what he believed to be right – do we?
Or do we ignore the two basics of God’s word.  The ones that have remained consistent since the brotherhood of Cain and Abel (which Cain destroyed):

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)

We can’t seem to get those right in our own families, can we?  Oh, don’t give me that answer!  I know you love your children.  Maybe you love your spouse (but do you continually lift them up?), but how about the in-laws?  Oh, you tell me they aren’t lovable?  Please point out to me where anything, Bible or not, tells us it’s OK to be selective, that we may love this one but not that.

The closest I’ve found is in Jude where we’re told to save, not hating the person, but the garment stained by sin – love the sinner but hate the sin:

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:23 KJV)

Paul was a faithful witness.  From the time he told Ananias what happened on that road to Damascus, he continued to tell others on all of his travels.  He wrote to churches, exhorting them to follow the commandments of our Lord.  He changed so completely that those who knew him before held no question about that change.

How about us?  Do the people around hear our witness?  Has Christ made a sufficient change in our life that we speak of it?  Or has even the trips to the Lord’s house become so routine that people there don’t hear words from us?

These are questions I need to answer.  Do you?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Pencil Theory

When I went to work for one of Ma Bell’s children in their Public Relations Department (see how long ago that was, just by the terminology!!), one of my responsibilities had to do with the supply room. We placed an order each week to have central supply replenish what we had used. There were several items that were “Standing Orders”, things we used on a regular basis – pencils, copy paper, carbon paper (remember those?), etc.

The first couple of orders my boss, Wally let’s say, checked my work. The second time, Wally said “I see you don’t ascribe to the Green Pencil Theory.” I must have looked very blank, then he smiled and explained about the Green Pencil Theory he had learned from his boss.

Ten years after World War II ended, Wally’s supervisor went to work for Ma Bell. His responsibilities included ordering supplies. On the shelves in the supply room were dozens of boxes of green pencils, and there was a standing order for a box to be delivered each week. This did not make sense.

Being a curious fellow, he began asking co-workers why they were using green pencils. No one was. He continued his research, finally discovering that they had not been required since 1946. Between 1942 and 1946, the phone company wanted to keep track of certain types of calls. Operators were issued green pencils to mark down those specific calls. By the time the war ended, tracking ceased.

But standing orders often remained. Green pencils continued to be delivered.  Wally’s supervisor got them removed, ten years later.

Are we still doing things that have no reason for existence, too?  Shouldn’t we be clearing out our mental and spiritual supply cabinets and getting rid of the unnecessary items taking up space, replacing them with the useful? Let’s take some inventory on what we should have:

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)

Honest – we have to be discerning, even judgmental, to be certain what goes into our hearts and minds is honest. We cannot accept them at face value any more than we do bins of fruit at the market. We must be fruit inspectors when it comes to honesty.

Pure – that’s easier, a bit.  We know what is impure, just as we know when our water is impure.  Keep the dirt out.

Lovely – that’s often in the eye of the beholder, but we can tell if we see with the love of God in our hearts.  We can see His love reflected in those who serve Him, too.

Good report – yet what we see in the media is so often the bad reports, pandering to the tastes of the audiences.  Do we look for the good reports?  Do we give good reports?

I think Paul’s use of the word “any” with virtue and praise is important or he wouldn’t have repeated it.  Sort of the ‘glass half full’ syndrome, look for good in things before tossing them out.

Honest, pure, lovely with virtue and praise.  Keep these on your standing order and clear out anything that takes up room that doesn’t belong and is no longer useful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Peter Questioned

… what was I, that I could withstand God? (Acts 11:17b KJV)

Do you know this story about Peter?  Most of us know the story from Acts 10.  In verse 1 we’re introduced to Cornelius, miles away from where Peter was in Joppa, in a house with a rooftop.  Verse 2 says he was a devout man who loved God, and God gave him a message.

As his men were arriving in Joppa, Peter was on that rooftop receiving the same vision three different times.  A great sheet filled with creatures that according to God’s own law contained both clean and those unclean.  Peter was instructed to kill and eat.  Thinking it was a test, he told God that he had never eaten unclean – all three times.  God gave His message three times, too.

What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. (Acts 10:15 KJV)

That prepared Peter to accept and understand Cornelius’ request.

… God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. (Acts 10:28 KJV)

Now we’re ready for Acts 11.  You see, God did not speak that same message to the Jewish church elders in Jerusalem, who immediately upon hearing about Peter’s trip to Cornelius called Him to task for it.

And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. (Acts 11:2-3 KJV)

There is no concern here for men’s souls.  There is no rejoicing here, as there is in heaven (Luke 15:7) as men repented.  There is no discussion of sharing Jesus’ teachings with these new Christians. There is no remembrance of the times Jesus was accused of the same thing.

Which brings us to Peter’s explanation of what happened, step by step, action by action, word of God by word of God, closing with this:

Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? (Acts 11:17 KJV)

The question we must face is whether we are being the church elders questioning one who witnesses to God’s commands, or are we as Peter, using scripture (Acts 11:16) to explain what God has in mind for us within His plan.  We’ll only know when we’ve spent time with Him in prayer and Bible reading. 

It would do us good to think of Gamaliel, a non-Christian, who did hold God’s word as law:

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. (Acts 5:38-39 KJV)

Obviously it did not come to nought. The other men Gamaliel mentions in chapter 5 are not remembered today. Peter is, as is his savior, Jesus the Christ. 

We are faced with the same choice – serve God or answer to men.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Give Away

I’ve found many give aways on websites.  I entered one this weekend. My blog speaks of a wonderful give away each and every day – God’s grace and His mercy.  It is as available to us as the beauty in His creation.

As Elia in 1826, Charles Lamb wrote of sixteen popular fallacies.  One is that we must not look a gift horse in the mouth.  That could mean we should consider the source, the motive and the horse itself when it's a gift.  The Trojans didn't, to their horror.

So, when we read, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV), we really should look carefully to see if there is a fallacy here, too.

Grace isn't just the ability to walk smoothly with a book on one's head.  Grace also means the free and undeserved favor of God.  It is freely available to those who believe in Him through faith.  Why should it be available to those who do not?

Some look upon Ephesians 2:8 as "easy salvation," expecting much more to earn God's grace, forgetting Ephesians 2:9:  Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:9 KJV)

Paul wrote:  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV) because he had been saved just like that.  Changed from one who hated Jesus and His followers to being the most outspoken of His followers.  That change did not come easily. It cost him his life

Some of His creatures know Him, but do not have faith in Him:  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19 KJV) I think they also understand this verse:  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31 KJV)

The gift is salvation.  The grace is God’s.  The result is a changed life. The motive?  Love.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:15-16 KJV)

For those of us who have this gift, we came to know: We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)

Thus we’ve looked at the source (God), the motive (love) and the gift itself (eternal life with God) and we must come to our own conclusions whether or not to accept.  Do we have the faith?

Oh, yes – He’s told us how to do that, too:  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Love in Action, Christ Outreach = LACO

This photo was provided by a friend I met through the Goden family, a minister in the Philippines.  It has been a blessing for a couple of years to watch Elena’s ministry grow.  Let her tell you in her own words:

Dear Ma'am Phyllis, 

Good day!

Thank you very much for this opportunity to share the prayer needs/ list of Love in Action CHRISTian OUTREACH (LACO). Just for an added info, this was started way back in Oct. of 2009. Just before my 31st birthday as it was my prayer that God would give me a personal ministry for HIM.

When I was in high school, I have dreamt of having my own orphanage. But, it took so many years for me to even take the first step to make that dream a reality. These days, having an orphanage needs a huge budget and wide supports from people.

Though, God hasn't yet open that window of opportunity but for a start, HE has allowed me to start a mini-library for less fortunate kids and every Saturday I get to teach these kids basic literacy and Bibles stories. I take some of the kids to church on Wednesday nights, Prayer meeting on Saturday morning afterwards distribute tracts and also Sunday services.

Known in my area as a Bible Baptist believer, most parents won’t allow their kids to go to church with me. At least though, they allow their children to come on Saturday afternoon. I started with around 11 kids last Oct 2009 to about 40-60 kids these days. Though, I have over a hundred kids on my list but a lot of kids’ come-and-go. I have a big attendance when they know that the snack is tasty. =D   There’s 3 baptism so far. Many would want to be baptized but their parents refused to let them.  About 15 parents received the Lord Jesus Christ last December.

My desire and prayer these days is that God would give us a permanent place for LACO kids. With that, I can go to more places and invite kids to come. This place hopefully would also serve as truly an outreach for them. With that having said, I pray God would give me committed and faithful volunteers.

To add, I have already brought in a 9 year old girl in my family. She no longer has a father and her mother has a new husband but they live in a very small area and have a very menial work that would earn around 2 dollars a day or so. To make matters worse, she has a lot of siblings. So, I have to take her in by God’s grace and divine providence.

The future plan for LACO once God has answers our need; we can open the mini-library daily. We can cater to more kids in my neighborhood and reach out to other localities as well. Hopefully, we can have a discipleship so that they can reach out to their families and classmates soon. Keep children off the streets.

On the other hand, these are the prayer concerns/ needs we have for 2011:

1. Renovation need for these empty rooms so that we can use it. The expenses will be deducted from the monthly rental rate of 60 USD per room. These are 2 rooms. The landlord will not use his own money for the renovation.
Rough estimate of the cost for renovation is around 800-1000 USD.

2. Rental fee of 1 room. 60 USD per month.

3. Sponsorship of the kids. At least 10-20 USD per month for the school year 2011-2012. School will commence on June 6. Class will end on April 2012.

4. School supplies needs of the kids like crayons, notebooks, pencils, etc. The much need supplies they need now are shoes, uniforms, socks and food (food snacks/treats). Kids love to go to school but since their stomachs are empty, they can’t concentrate on the lesson being taught to them. All of these are included already in the 10-20 USD per month support per child.

5.  Used children’s clothing ages 0-15 years old.

6.  Used toys and children’s books and perhaps Children’s Bibles.

7.  A multicab for LACO so that we can bring more kids to church. As of now, we either take a taxi or walk to church. In a taxi, if the driver allows, there would be 12 kids with me and it’s like a can of sardines during the commute duration. =)

8.  Faithful and committed volunteers who will work with me.

9.  Used television, used laptops, used projector for the multimedia class. Kids love this and I have rather good and positive responses from them. Also, they easily learn, too. As we are now in the technology age, we should also adopt the change. The lesson remains the same but the approach evolves.

These are our prayer concerns and needs for 2011. Here's the Facebook Group Link:!/home.php?sk=group_170182916934&ap=1


Maria Elena Escasinas

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I’ve been reading in Numbers.  Reading about Balaam reminded me that he’s mentioned in many other books – Joshua, Nehemiah, Micah, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation – and it’s always as an example of how not to be. I’ve mentioned him two times just this year and first posted Balaam’s story in 2009.

He’s one among many whose names have gone down in history – the wrong way. Some have been used for thousands of years as examples of bad responses to God’s commands.

Who wants to be known as a Cain?  All that was necessary for Cain to do was sacrifice to the Lord with a right heart.  He couldn’t and is used as another example in Jude.

It doesn’t take something as evil as killing one’s own brother – who wants to be known as Lot?  Looking for the best, moving closer and closer to evil, it eventually cost him everything.

I recently wrote of Tobiah – who wants to be remembered as he is remembered?  A man determined to thwart God’s will, even to living in God’s house.

The Bible has plenty of these examples and we continue to follow them instead of those who responded to God’s commands.  While we really don’t want to be these examples of the bad, we really don’t want to be a Peter or Paul.  We want someone else to be both the really bad examples and the really good ones.  Doesn’t that make us lukewarm?

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16 KJV)

I’d rather have His attention in a positive way. I’d rather have Him searching my heart, cleansing it and leading my path.  To do so requires that I continue listening and learning.  Otherwise I, too, become lukewarm and worthless.

He has told us:  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30 KJV) and we have chosen to lift heavier burdens alone, without His help. 

Our responses are also used as examples.  Our children see our examples as they grow up.  Our neighbors pay attention to our decisions, as do others around us.  Co-workers are aware of our examples, they know our work ethics and they know their source.  We are surrounded by our communities of interest and interaction.

Our beliefs are displayed in our daily lives.  We do need to be aware of what we want others to know – and whether we are getting that message across.  How will our example be remembered?

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I seldom look at the stats on Blogger, but Friday morning I was curious, then stunned.  In twenty-four hours (10am 6/9-10am 6/10), 18 hits from Iran.  Yep, it brought to mind a verse:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8 KJV)

The internet has allowed a rural great-grandmother to reach into a country half a world away with a message that would be considered forbidden should she attempt to speak it in person. How she would get there is anybody’s guess.

As the stat shows, my blog is not one with a large following.  Some of the blogs I follow have hundreds of readers a day, some thriving on advertising revenue from their hits.  Mine exists simply to share what reading God’s word daily means to me.

The blog  has provided me some very dear friends, not all of whom are Christian.  I’m not trying to make changes in their lives, really.  I do pray they consider the source of my readings and that there be something applicable to their lives.  I leave it in the hands of the Holy Spirit as to what speaks to another soul – nothing I write is pointed to a single individual.

Oh, I’m tempted to do so.  You know, how one verse just leaps out and the mind says “Wow, if (insert name) would only take that to heart!!  How their live would be changed!”  Nope.  I do not feel called in any way to pinpoint a message.

What I read is for me.  There is always a thought there, often a question, that I must apply in my own life or that I must study in greater depth.  So, I write it down.  That helps me put into words what I really feel about what I read.  Does it make sense?  Is it biblically supported?  Would I want the world to know?  If another finds it of interest, they’ll do their own study, find their own reason for an application in their life.

That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in my reader’s souls.  It doesn’t mean I’m not interested in where they will spend eternity. I do pray for specific individuals!  It just means my calling is to share, leaving any change strictly between them and God.

Oh, yes, I believe the Bible to be true, that it is God inspired and is the manual for those who love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind.  It is my responsibility to read, learn and share from it – not to make another think the same way, but to prayerfully open their heart and mind to possibilities.  To think seriously about such philosophical reasoning as Pascal’s wager.  I like the way Osil put it on her page (her own emphasis): 
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13 KJV)

P.S.:  Thanks, every reader in Iran!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Dirty Job?

This is certainly a dirty job – cleaning out the smoke box of a coal burning train engine.  Not one I would be looking forward to doing on a regular basis.  But I wouldn’t trade this one for the one Nehemiah had.

And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. (Nehemiah 2:1 KJV)

Somehow I don’t think it was as simple as the act of picking up the wine, pouring it, then handing it to the king.  Perhaps a small taste?  Checking for poisons? Obviously Nehemiah had done the job with a positive attitude.  The king must have had a concerned tone in his voice as he asked:

Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, (Nehemiah 2:2 KJV)

From history, as well as from the Bible, we know it was not always a good idea to be called to the attention of the king.  This time was enough to make Nehemiah afraid, but it turned out well.  He was sent to Jerusalem and tasked with rebuilding the temple.  Not to everyone’s liking:

When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. (Nehemiah 2:10 KJV)

Remember Tobiah? I wrote about him before.  He and his friends were described among Nehemiah’s enemies, wishing to do him mischief:

Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. (Nehemiah 6:1-2 KJV)

Four times they sent messengers for a meeting – just as our temptations come back to pick at us, taking our attention away from our jobs.  I love Nehemiah’s answer:

And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? (Nehemiah 6:3 KJV)

Now for the question – can you answer that you are doing a great work?  No, I don’t mean something as physical as rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple, I mean the great work that God has planned for you. 

The only way we can know what work He has for us is to be in communication with Him.  We have to listen to what He says, not turn a deaf ear or talk over Him with what we want instead of hearing what He has to tell us.

Whether it’s a dirty job or not, working where God places us is truly “doing a great work,” and there are great rewards.  What’s your job?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Excess Baggage

It’s just been a bit over two weeks since my husband’s brother and his wife (Obil and Osil in this post) arrived – and this morning we had to take them back to the airport.  No, that’s not a picture of their luggage – it was dark-thirty when we got to the airport as they opened.  Already lines of people were waiting to get through security screening, but the airline had a wheelchair ready for her journey to boarding.

The house is overly quiet now.  Before, there were many times we weren’t talking, but just their presence was a comfort.  This wasn’t a tourist trip, we spent many hours just talking.

One thing we discussed was a lack of knowledge being passed down from generation to generation.  Sometimes this is seen as excess baggage, but it really is important.

Another SiL from OKC was not aware of the full story of how the family was reunited.  When it was, she was going through a divorce, leaving her sole support of her two daughters.  She spent time with her ‘found’ brothers, accepted and enjoyed the reunion, but didn’t find time to ask questions as to how it came about.  She was fascinated to hear, and couldn’t think of why she hadn’t asked.

The children of Israel were the same way.  A generation failed to pass along what God had commanded:

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 6:7 KJV)

Look in Judges to see how often a generation forgot to pass along their knowledge:  Judges 2:11, 3:7, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, 13:1.  They did not teach diligently unto their children.

Are we?  We leave it up to the schools to teach our children – do we check to see what is being taught?  We leave it up to the churches to teach our children – do we check to verify their doctrine?

Do we teach our own children our witness, beyond what they see in our actions and words (and, do we notice if our actions match our words?)

My husband’s aunts wrote of their father’s Christian faith, but they did not speak of theirs.  He wrote of his in his will:
January 21, 1932
To my dear family survivors; the greatest asset I can hand down to you is to commend you to the Lord Jesus Christ whom I have tried to serve from childhood. He is the only rock or foundation you can safely build or rely upon and you should love Him with all your Might.
His actions matched his words, but something was lost in the next generation as only about half of the children followed his example.

As with most important communications in the Bible, the admonition is repeated:

And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  (Deuteronomy 11:19 KJV)

What are you telling the next generation about your beliefs? Or has it become excess baggage?

One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. (Psalms 145:4 KJV)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Against God

The introduction to Psalm 51 says:  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

From his convicted heart, David prayed:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.  (Psalms 51:1-4 KJV)

No where in there is Uriah mentioned, though David specifically required his death.  No where in there is Bathsheba mentioned, though we do not know how compliant she was other than obeying a king’s command.  Here he does not mention the child, either.  Yet all of them, and so many others, were impacted by David’s giving in to temptation.

What did Joab feel when he complied with David’s letter?

And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. (2 Samuel 11:15 KJV)

Yet David says to God:  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight

We don’t have a Nathan to come to us and explain in a parable that we have failed.  When he gave David the example in 2 Samuel 12:1-4, David became enraged and vowed the man would pay for his crime, only to hear the truth:

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. (2 Samuel 12:7a KJV)

We do have the Holy Spirit:

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

One of the things He brings to our remembrance is that we do sin against God – it’s His commandments we’ve chosen to break.  It is His strait way we have left and it is His narrow gate we have chosen to ignore.  Conviction of these errors is the first step in acknowledging His place in our lives.  Can those steps be accomplished?

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)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Testament Church

More than a hundred and thirty years ago, the above building was contracted and paid for by my husband’s great-grandfather, millennia after Christ established His church.

Readers who have joined me for a while know that I belong to a ‘fundamental’ church, one striving to be as one described in the New Testament church.  Most churches today have achieved that distinction simply because people fail.  Beginning in Revelation 2, a few of these churches are described.  These are also interpreted as church ages, but the problems existed in the church then, and today.

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:2-4 KJV)

That’s Ephesus. We can read Paul’s letter to that church and see where their hearts were, and where their problem lay, too. Smyrna, however, had no such problems:

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.  (Revelation 2:9 KJV)

Pergamos, on the other hand, had plenty of problems:

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14 KJV)

I could continue with the remaining churches, but you get the idea that the problems, the hypocrisies, the types of people in the New Testament churches are seen today.  We are a work in progress, incomplete, striving for the perfection Jesus prayed for His disciples:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23 KJV)

Those who come to the church expecting instant perfection will be disappointed.  Jesus is that perfection, our example, but we still fall short.  What to look for is the spirit within the congregation that speaks to all comers that although imperfect, there is a goal:

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 KJV)

Not perfect, but continuing to read and apply the instructions from His word.