Sunday, July 31, 2011
A simple cut on a finger. We’ve all had one at one time or another. It hurts, too. Since we use our hands so much, they usually reopen or take a long time to heal. The blood is necessary to heal, too. It provides the covering scab for protection.
We give blood to help others. Well, most of us can. Those of us who have had specific diseases are no longer acceptable as donors. Blood from umbilical cords can be used later to help the child. Blood is necessary for us to live. Yet, blood has given us so much more.
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28 KJV)
Paul, when speaking to the church elders, states that the church was purchased with blood:
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:26-28 KJV)
We must never forget that we are not our own, but have been bought with Christ’s blood, and this was God’s plan.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:23-25 KJV)
“Remission of sins that are past,” are not my words, but from the Bible. Some understand this to mean that future sins will again separate us from God. Believe that backsliding creates unremitted sins. Move forward with me into the next chapter:
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:7-8 KJV)
As Paul, I have faith that God is even more capable of forgiving me way past seventy times seven, capable of keeping me with Him:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV)
I count myself among those redeemed – would love to have you join in:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7 KJV)
Saturday, July 30, 2011
This morning I woke up with the hymn “Heavenly Love” running through my mind. As I read my e-mails, there was a devotional a friend sent that included:
“The Holy Spirit not only convicts us of sin, but He also brings to mind godly principles and leads us on a righteous path.”That brought to mind this verse:
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)
What do the three things have as a common thread? God’s love guides those who hear Him, through the Holy Ghost who reminds us of God’s love. It is a never ending circle that begins with God’s love (John 3:16) and our love for Him (1 John 4:19).
It is that bringing into remembrance that provides comfort to me. When I wake with a remembrance of His love, I face what the day brings wrapped in the peace Jesus left us holding:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 KJV)
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 KJV)
Facing each day’s wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines, disease and natural disasters will eventually take its toll, without hope. Even though we cannot see the future holding peace, plenty, health and stability, God gives us the very substance of things hoped for.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
Many times I been asked about – and I have written how to gain – that faith:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
It’s not only the world’s troubles that press in upon us – we each face daily pains and sorrows similar to but yet unlike anyone else’s. The friends we would turn to have problems of their own. When no one else is around, we turn to Him, which brought to mind another old hymn, “Where Could I Go But To The Lord.”
Now, when we do get to this point, where we turn our lives over to our Lord in faith, hope and love, He provides one of the greatest comforts I’ve ever known – people of faith. Those with troubles of their own that have found the Comforter and will fellowship with us through trials and tribulations, sorrows and sadness, even health and happiness.
There is nothing quite like Christian fellowship. Join in.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38 KJV)
The subject in verses before this is forgiveness and mercy. Yet some “prosperity ministries” quote this verse as promising financial increases. Quite often such ministries ask for funds to continue their ministry from luxurious surroundings.
We might remind them that the man who spoke those words did not have a place to lay His head that was not provided by the kindness of others.
I’ve also read we deserve financial prosperity based on:
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV)
Paul wrote this. A man who worked along side Aquila and Priscilla making tents. A man who understood that Jesus left all His riches for a while, and asked Paul to follow Him. A man who did follow, becoming dependent on churches to provide for his missionary work, and thanked them for it.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; (2 Corinthians 9:12 KJV)
Maybe we need to spend some time in Matthew 19, where the young man asked the question so many of us do:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16 KJV)
Jesus’ answer tells me several things. First, the young man addressed Him insincerely, using ‘good’ when he didn’t mean that he thought Jesus was of God. Second, Jesus knew the young man was aware of the commandments. Third, he wanted to shorten them, because he asked “Which?” Finally, Jesus knew the treasure of the young man’s heart when He said:
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21 KJV)
Give up prosperity now, acquire eternal treasures in heaven. The young man made the choice so many of us do today, he opted to retain his riches, tossing heaven aside.
Does any of this mean that only the poor can be saved? No, even when Christ’s disciples question if anyone could be saved, Christ explained:
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:25-26 KJV)
Peter voiced the question that remains in the minds of those who want their cake and eat it, too:
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (Matthew 19:27 KJV)
“What’s in it for me?” Are we still asking that question before we serve Him? Read the next verses for Christ's answer.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I was thinking of:
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 KJV)
Here Paul was explaining why he was giving small increments of lessons for new Christians that still had a carnal spirit, just as he would give milk to babies who could not digest meat.
She was thinking of:
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJV)
Here the writer of Hebrews was decrying the fact that mature Christians should be long past the milk stage, able to digest the difficult principles spoke of God. Instead, they are requiring the full attention of teachers instead of teaching others.
Second Daughter put it down to our society being so used to fast foods that we expect the same in our churches. Run in on Sunday morning for the worship service and that should hold us for the entire week, right? If not outright milk, at least a milkshake, not meat.
We all know what happens to people that eat only fast food – and weight loss at Subway is NOT what we had in mind. There are empty calories there, just as keeping John 3 as the only chapter or 1 John 4:8 the only verse would be empty for a Christian.
The mature Christian must be able to handle the hard to understand.
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV)
If, as a mature Christian, you only receive only milk in services – go seek the meat, at another church, Bible college or in prayerful Bible study as you read through it.
For the new babe in Christ, seek out a teaching mature Christian and learn from them.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
This graphic from Wiki Commons doesn’t do justice to the fluorescence I see in those jagged lights that accompanied my migraines, and that I still experience about once a year.
I no longer suffer from the pain of a full-blown migraine headache, but for over twenty years I could testify to the pain. Mayo Clinic defines it quite well:
A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or pulsing in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.I remember reading that nothing short of terminal illnesses and childbirth compare to that pain. My Second Daughter experienced one last night. In addition to the “dark, quiet place to lie down,” she and her husband considered an ER – she does not have these often at all, and that is a kindness.
Thinking about that comparison, childbirth, brought to mind a verse that is very familiar to every Christian:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 KJV)
Nicodemus, the other participant in the conversation, did not understand the analogy, and made his confusion very plain. Jesus didn’t give a much longer explanation, other that He spoke of a spiritual birth:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:5-7 KJV)
Why then do we think becoming a Christian is easy? Babies experience pressure during birth. Babies are thrown into an unfriendly environment at birth. Babies cry right after they are born, even when handled by professional, competent caregivers – as well as loving, yet untrained, parental mentors.
Why do we look upon the cries of new Christians as inappropriate? Why do think they should be taking meat when we understand fully that newborns require milk before solid foods. The analogy Jesus gave is so very accurate.
Surely those of us who love Him and have grown in His word can take these newborns and provide a loving family that will aid their growth. Along with them, we can put Peter’s advice to good use, giving God the glory:
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)
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Then, I thought of Thomas. He missed one important meeting! Perhaps he should be excused, it was a Sunday evening, and every knows that it’s only necessary to attend one service on Sunday. I had one person ask me, “What do you do so bad on Sunday afternoons that you have to go back to church that night?”
I might miss something. Thomas did.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. (John 20:24 KJV)
I wouldn’t want to miss a single meeting with Jesus. But this one was momentous – it was Resurrection Sunday. The doors were shut, the disciples had gathered in fear and Jesus appeared. Thomas missed it.
And, he didn’t believe it happened when he was told!! He demanded proof.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. (John 20:25 KJV)
Seeing wouldn’t be believing, Thomas said. He needed more proof than just that.
It took another week, the disciples are gathered again and the doors once again closed against outsiders. Thomas is with them. This time he’s the center of attention:
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (John 20:27 KJV)
Please note that we are NOT told he did so. There is no description telling how Thomas reached out and touched those wounds. Instead, he speaks:
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. (John 20:28 KJV)
The next verse speaks of us – those who have not heard Jesus’ spoken words, have not seen the resurrected Lord, were not given the Great Commission in person. The ones who have also said “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29 KJV)
I have not seen Him except as a reflection with those who love and serve Him, yet I have believed. Yes, I am blessed. And, the day will come when I do meet Him.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Last Thursday morning our church was a bee hive of activity. The final cleaning before the dedication of our remodeling project was well under way with four worker bees scrubbing away. Another two were buzzingly rehanging plaques in a lovely arrangement, two two were returning the Ladies classroom to it’s previous order, while the nursery was retrieving its goodies from that temporary quarters. Most of the cleaning crew left on vacation and missed out on their own work Sunday morning! But the rest of us rejoiced in the newness.
While part of this was going on, there were two people in the front of the sanctuary, taking a moment’s respite to pray.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20 KJV)
Not only in His name, but in His house. I know these two, and their prayers are not confined to His house. Nor do they require companionship to speak to their Lord in prayer. What they do realize, though, is His commitment to be in the midst of them when they are two, together.
Christ prayed alone more often than not. There are examples in the Gospels over and over again where He left companions and prayed, even at the last in Gethsemane: And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39 KJV)
Jesus not only gave examples of prayer, but suggested a place: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:6 KJV)
Yet, when He is in the midst of us, as we gather in His name, we are wont to speak with Him. We should prepare ourselves, too: And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25 KJV)
The verse before this speaks of receiving our desires. It will seem to many that it is not a valid promise – they have asked, and not received their desires. There are two things we must remember:
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4 KJV)
and, the close of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane:
… thy will be done. (Matthew 26:42 KJV)
When God is our heart’s delight, He is also our desires and His will is the most important thing in our lives.
Our strongest desire will be to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. That desire will be fulfilled and we will know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)
So, find yourself a prayer partner, whether it be for a few moments or longer opportunities. Gather those who will sit in the midst of their Lord’s love, for the time is closer today than ever before and we know not what tomorrow brings.
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)
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I have been aware of ‘confirmation bias’ studies, and I’m certain many look upon my blog as being the result of searches on my part to confirm beliefs I’ve held for decades. I think it would be good to take a serious look at ‘confirmation bias’ in order to look both sides of any issue. Especially within the current climate of social and political polarization, going far beyond religious polarization.
Several resources on confirmation bias studies quote Wickens and Hollands (2000, p. 312) defining CB as being the process:
“…for people to seek information and cues that confirm the tentatively held hypothesis or belief, and not seek (or discount) those that support an opposite conclusion or belief.”Industries are built on confirmation bias. The media, print and online, use it. To the detriment of many who have beliefs we hold to be fundamental, not wishing to see the word used as a label. It does not have to be that way.
I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a very diverse group of people – with at least one similar goal: To create revenue for the international company that employed us in order to have them continue in business and continue to employ us.
We came from different continents, countries, societies, religions and totally different biases! If we could not get past our own confirmation bias, how could we work together? Was it necessary for any one of us to relinquish our fundamental beliefs? Of course not.
We retained our differences. And we retained our respect for our co-workers without changing ourselves. A cube-mate knew I believed his homosexuality was defined as sin by scriptures in the Old and New Testament. He most certainly did not. Differences did not require changes in either of our lives in order to work together. A teammate kept his Quran in his office, just as the Bible resided in mine. We discussed social issues and religion without rancor, without defining labels. The examples from this one work group could run on and on.
Yet, in each example, no matter that we looked for as confirmation of our belief system, we found no need to destroy the other’s. That does not hold true for extremists who will not allow others to retain differing beliefs.
Extremists exist within any belief system, whether social, political, or religious. They need no other descriptive label than “extremist”. They are often violent, be they left, right, religious, atheist, race conscious, ad infinitum.
A study of scripture can help us all:
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians 4:5 KJV)
As Christians, we can do that when we realize that God is in control.
Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (1 Samuel 2:3 KJV)
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Mike Mislan is a Friend on Facebook. He is a missionary and has his own website: MIKE MISLAN In The Philippines. He is also a student. We know that because he recently had this Facebook Status, along with an explaining Comment:
A STUDENT'S HORROR! "Please REWRITE ALL reports. Carefully read and reread instructions until you have mastered them and follow instructions in every detail."
That was the reply I received, after I sent in some school work for grading. I thought I had done a great job. But after I double-checked their handbook and materials, I found I had been pre-warned: "Please read carefully and remember these instructions." This sentence was followed by eight paragraphs which explained it all in perfect detail. After I saw my negligence and apologized, the school had added: "We understand, this is common among our students. May God bless you!"
In the same way, God gave us Written Instructions which we are to master in every detail. We are to understand and obey His Written Instructions, without adding, subtracting, compromising or making exceptions. It makes no difference if we are Pastors of large churches, missionary church-planters with many ministries, Sunday School teachers or simply new converts just starting out in our walk with Him.
What do our Christian Report Cards look like? How do we know if we aren’t even reading the instructions? Paul’s instruction to Timothy is just as relevant to us:
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)
I met a man who said he had read, and had determined that the Bible could not possibly be correct by the time he finished Exodus. I regret that he did not complete reading the Bible and get to the end of the story. In fact, I find that a chronological reading of the Bible is just as interesting a study as in the authorized layout of books.
We should be following the Berean’s example, search scripture daily:
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)
Realize, too, that the scriptures searched in Berea were those of what we call the Old Testament, the Tanakh of the Jews. God’s word is open to everyone.
Early on we are told to love Him: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV)
Later on we are told why: We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)
How do we get this good report? Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. (Hebrews 11:1-2 KJV)
How do we get this faith? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
Thursday, July 21, 2011
This is posted late Thursday evening simply because we’ll be at a hospital by 8:00 Friday morning, and it’s over an hour drive to get there. When I told my friend we would drive (across a couple of counties and several incorporated cities) to be with her, she wrote:
I REALLY, REALLY appreciate you and [Beloved Husband] coming to sit with me. Dr. said surgery would take two hrs. I was so afraid I would have to go thru this alone. That's good friends!!!
It is our pleasure, for our friend and her beloved husband. There are so many things we should not face alone. A loved one’s surgery rises to the top. Monday an elderly (yep, older than I am!) lady in our church had two stents inserted. A couple from our Thursday dominoes group was right there with her husband during the procedure.
This is a beautiful ministry that is so gratefully appreciate, and just takes some of our time. How willing are we to give it? Only to friends? Then how do we get to be friends?
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: (Proverbs 18:24a KJV)
The first verses of Mark 2 tells of four friends who tried to get through a crowd so that Jesus could heal the one they carried. Unable to do so, they went to the roof, broke open the roof and let their friend down in front of Him. Would we bring our friends to Jesus? What did He say we are to tell our friends?
Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (Mark 5:19 KJV)
Can we tell of great things the Lord has done for us? I can, and I hope though this blog I’ve told of His love, His plans, His sacrifice, His giving His life for me, and all of His other friends. How do we get to be Christ’s friends? In His own words:
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:14 KJV)
How closely did you look at the Ten Commandments when I posted on them last week? Did you look up the scripture references, or just see the words I typed (and the ones I copied)? Only portions of verses were used. As each one is studied, there is more information to be considered. Today I’m thinking about:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7 KJV)
Of the four dealing with our relationship to God, this one spells out consequences. The graven image commandment does mention visiting iniquity on future generations, but this one gets personal and speaks judgmentally.
It’s a simple statement to begin with. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. That’s usually where we stop. We look at the commandment, not the consequences. It says the LORD. That’s who will hold us guilty for taking His own name in vain. Others may call attention to inappropriate language, but when it comes to His name, He determines guilt.
There are so many ways of breaking this commandment, too. Matthew Henry’s Commentary listed a few:
[1.] By hypocrisy, making a profession of God's name, but not living up to that profession. Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do
[2.] By covenant-breaking; if we make promises to God, binding our souls with those bonds to that which is good, and yet perform not to the Lord our vows, we take his name in vain
[3.] By rash swearing, mentioning the name of God, or any of his attributes … to no good purpose.
[4.] By false swearing, which, some think, is chiefly intended in the letter of the commandment
[5.] By using the name of God lightly and carelessly, and without any regard to its awful significancy
And you thought it was just using curse words!! We should use God’s name as though He were standing beside us and we were introducing Him to those with us.
Ooops, I’m sorry – some of my readers doubt His existence. They cannot visualize Him standing beside me, as I can. I would then expect them to respect my belief that He is and not take His name in vain, just as I would expect them not to denigrate a family member to me. That would be rude, and I expect my friends to be publically polite.
What? You say, “But you write of Him here so often! Every day you have something to say about Him or His word. If I’m here, I see it.” Yep – sure do. And, while I appreciate very much those who stop by and read, that’s why I write this blog. This is my response to:
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32 KJV)
I do pray that my readers will be there with me.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
If you are saved – yes, you are called. With a holy calling. If you haven’t found your calling yet, you haven’t spent time with your Bible.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9 KJV)
When we spend time reading in prayer, we find what God has in mind for us – and each follower of Christ has a calling. While some are similar in nature, none are exactly the same. Some have multiple jobs. Paul wrote, to all of us, and to specific people:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV)
A loving letter from a preacher to a young man he’s mentoring. We can find the same today in many churches – can we find it in our own? Do we expect it only from our preachers? From men who have a way with words?
I pray not.
Every adult in our church can provide guidance for new Christians – especially for teens. And every adult is needed to do so for so many reasons. We are admonished to do so.
For the men: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (Titus 2:2 KJV)
Truthfully, guys, are you strong in all of these qualities? Are they apparent to the teens in the congregation?
For the ladies, Paul even explains the expected results: The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5 KJV)
Are we gals living these qualities as well as teaching them? Teen years are difficult. They can be more difficult for a Christian teen determined to respond to peer pressure in a Godly manner. The same holds true for all new Christians as they move from newly baptized and grow with Christ. The active support of these ‘aged’ men and women should be available to them without the asking.
Why do all of this? Among the many answers Paul has written, here are two from the same books:
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2 KJV)
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13 KJV)
How about a prayer for those who answered His calling:
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: (2 Thessalonians 1:11 KJV)
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
It was a dream. Not a prophetic dream, but one I recognized. There were no crowds, but I knew beyond the scope of the dream that we were not alone. A large number of people were moving toward a final destination, as we were. Others followed us, reaching out to hold us back, but the name of Jesus kept them beyond arms’ length.
We came to a gated entrance, with iron work filling the opening. I reached out to one woman behind me, begging her to join us, taking her hand and moving through the gate. She pulled away from my grip and jubilantly returned to the few standing outside, joining together with their calls for us to return.
I stepped back through the gate, asking them to call upon Jesus, to come with us. A woman reached out for my hand. I took hers and made a cross on the back of it. The image remained on her hand and we backed through the gate as I woke up singing:
Fanny Crosby’s full lyrics are found in numerous places on the web. I wonder if her inspiration could have been Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia:In the cross, in the cross, be my glory everTill my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Galatians 6:14a KJV)
It is the author of Hebrews, though, that describes the cross best for me:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
I believe Christ described that joy Himself:
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 KJV)
Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that they fall into that ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance, remember other words from our Lord:
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)
Though my dream was just another dream, there is the reality of reaching out to share the cross with one not on our same path. That, I do.
Monday, July 18, 2011
God may not have blessed you with an abundant childhood, your parents may not have always been the role models you would have liked them to be, they may not have always been able to express their love for you in words or in deeds that we associate with love - but they are, regardless of their shortcomings, your parents. For that alone, they deserve the honor and respect God commands us to afford them.
Recognizing a few of my errors in raising children, I apologized to each of them in their early 20’s. Now, they have doubled those ages and each has raised children of their own. I’ve never asked if they’ve apologized. My Beloved Husband had multiple sets of parents, birth, step and adoptive, while I had one mother, one father and thought that was quite a good fit. His birth mother let he and his brother go to their father, yet abandoned four more children by running away with a married man. My parents stayed married to each other till death did part them. They raised my sister and I actively involved in their church. Yet my mother had difficulty expressing her love, and mentioned that to my Second Daughter as a regret late in her life.
I have known people whose children might have very good cause to doubt their parent’s love, but they are not exempt from God’s commandment.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12 KJV)
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (Ephesians 6:2 KJV)
Jesus spoke of this commandment in Matthew 15:3-7, ending with a description that is too often found as we speak, but do not live, His commandments.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15:8 KJV)
There is no “Honour thy father and thy mother expect when they are (insert description that fits: drunk, high, verbally abusive, physically abuse, absent, divorced – the list continues).”
Nope, just as a combination of DNA identifies you as their child, they are your parents and always will be. The important thing is that we do not carry the negative emotions they generate within us. For that, we must do the forgiving, and the honoring. Jesus spoke to this on a broad scale:
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)
Sunday, July 17, 2011
How true that one line is – His being alive changes everything, nothing would be the same, ever again. The expectation of an earthly kingdom that would destroy Rome was gone. The gift of eternity with God was confirmed. The soldiers would eventually come for Peter and the others, but the message would resound in the hearts of generations unimagined.
Nothing would be the same. Yet, some things remained the same.
The same as when Eve listened to the serpent, and Adam listened to Eve, ignoring God’s word.
The same as when Abel approached God with an open heart, and fatal hatred was conceived in Cain’s.
The same as when Joseph’s brothers hated him for his dreams, selling into slavery and placing him right where he needed to be to save their families later in life.
God’s word, too, remains the same. He sends it where it is needed, and it will not return to Him void. It will accomplish His purpose. Can you find the verse that confirms this?
Do you think the Bible has everything that God has done in it? I don’t. I do believe it has everything in it that God has for us to know, though. Enough for us to seek Him. Enough for Him to be found. Can you find the verse that confirms this?
So many look upon the stories of God’s work with men as myths, yet archaeological discoveries within the last two centuries have given confirmation to names thought to exist only in the Bible. Did you know that?
We have a choice. Know that He is alive and respond – or deny that news and ignore Him. Uplifting music with beautiful words sung by a powerful voice does not make it true. The validity of the song as well as the validity of God’s word needs to be studied. Deeply. Can it be said that we have …
... searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Do you look upon being a Christian as work? Sometimes we hear the phrase “a work in progress” or apply it to ourselves to explain how we’re not a completed, polished, glowing example of Christianity. But, is it really a job?
If it is, how are we doing? If we were to have a performance evaluation, how would it go? First we’d have to take a look at the job description.
What must one do to become a Christian? The keeper of a prison asked that very question, and here’s what happened:
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. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (Acts 16:30-33 KJV)
Notice, please, there was a bit of time between his question and his baptism where they spake unto him the word of the Lord. That usually happens for everyone. It did for the Ethiopian that Philip was sent to:
The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? (Acts 8:32-36 KJV)
Some will say, “Well, that didn’t happen to Paul. He knew right away.” Nope, seems as though they forgot two important things – Saul met Jesus, personally, and heard words directly from the Lord. And, he spent some time studying before becoming Paul and going out to preach.
Do you get the idea that being a Christian isn’t instantaneous? The thief on the cross is the only person I know who received the promise of paradise in such a relatively short period of time. He shows us salvation is immediate, but being a Christian takes time. I've had the time to live my life where people can see what I do and say, and decide whether or not I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. The thief did not. One man, dying, was the only one in that crowd to openly request Christ to remember him in His kingdom.
Have we? Or do we want something on this earth? In such a limited space of time, the thief got the job description right. It is not what we do that measures up – it is what Christ can do and our acceptance of His ability. Do we believe He keeps His word?
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15 KJV)
Friday, July 15, 2011
Go head, spend an hour or so thinking about it, write it out on paper, then come back here and we’ll chat a bit more. I’ll just sit here and do some thumb twiddling.
Beside each one of the items on your list, put an estimate of how much time you spend on that item each week. I know – there’s one or two things that only happen once a year. Prorate for a week’s time and put it down. Do that for each of the other items on your list, then check to be sure that it doesn’t add up to more than a week’s worth of waking time (well, unless you included Sleep on your list – then include sleeping hours, too.)
Got it? If you’ll admit to it, how much of your list includes time with our Lord? Did you include church services? Church activities? Bible reading time? Prayer time? Any of that on your list?
If so, good for you. Do those hours add up to be greater than any of the others? If not, what ever surfaces as the top item of your list may fall under:
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3 KJV)
Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (Deuteronomy 5:7 KJV)
For Christians it also falls under:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21 KJV)
Were there any eye opening numbers that showed up? If you were truthful, there might have been. There were a couple of things I put on the list as things I liked to do – and very (in one case, very, very!) little time spent there.
Our world is changing around us. Lifestyles are being impacted, often without our input, without our ability to affect changes, but we can choose how to spend the majority of our time. We can be productive, or we can be grumpy. We can be grateful or we can be immersed in self-pity. It’s not a half empty/full glass, it should be a cup overflowing, as David perceived it in his psalm of God’s comforting presence:
… my cup runneth over. (Psalms 23:5c KJV)
Does your study of your interests versus your available time bring changes to your schedule? I’d love to hear about it.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Hebrews was written to Jews. Chapter 11 captures the faith of Jewish heroes across ages. I’m moved by what was written of Moses:
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27 KJV)
It was Moses who requested and was given a glimpse of God.
And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. (Exodus 33:18 KJV)
God’s explanation put limitations on what could be seen and still live:
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. (Exodus 33:20-23 KJV)
The results of being with God could be seen by others:
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. (Exodus 34:29-30 KJV)
Amid the list of Jewish heroes in Chapter 11, we find Rahab.
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31 KJV)
Second of only two women in the list. A gentile whose only witness to God’s power was hearing of His people and their approach to Jericho. Yet she is listed with Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and:
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (Hebrews 11:32 KJV)
All of these, and the wonderful stories of their lives and faith, still missed out on what the disciples learned:
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (Hebrews 11:39 KJV)
Today their witness, that huge cloud of witnesses we have before us, speaks to all of us.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
Knowing in advance what was to be done to Him on this earth, but also knowing in advance what would be waiting for Him and for us in heaven, He endured. Why would we want to do less?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I have come to enjoy a blog I found recently, “I Talk, God Listens” which is the title of Beth Amatelli’s book, too. Her recent post about the Ten Commandments struck home because I have often posted: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:40 KJV) While this is true, as Beth puts it so well, the Ten Commandments are not erased nor replaced. The words below are His and hers, and show the relationship between the Commandments and Jesus’ teachings:
In Exodus 20:3 - "Have no other gods before me" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 4:10 "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve". There is the first commandment.
In Exodus 20:4 - "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" -- Jesus said, in Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters."
In Exodus 20:7 - "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 5:34 "Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne"
In Exodus 20:8 - "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" -- Jesus said, in Mark 2:27-28 "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore, the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath"
In Exodus 20:12 - "Honour thy father and they mother" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 10:37 "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me"
In Exodus 20:13 - "Thou shalt not kill" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 5:22 "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement"
In Exodus 20:14 - "Thou shalt not commit adultery" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 5:28 "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (and ladies, this does apply to you - just switch out the words).
In Exodus 20:15 - "Thou shalt not steal" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 4:40 "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also"
In Exodus 20:16 - "Thou shalt not bear false witness" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 12:36 "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment"
In Exodus 20:17 - "Thou shalt not covet (thy neighbor's house, wife, servants, goods or anything that belongs to him)... -- Jesus said, in Luke 12:15 "Take heed, and beware of covetousness"Beth intends to study this in coming days, and I intend to spend some time with her blog, studying, too. Both of us stress to our readers to study His word in prayer, seeking to hear the words God has for His children.
What He desires from us does not change from generation to generation, as our social consciousness does.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The questioning Huffington Post headline read: “What Does The Bible Actually Say About Marriage?”, then proceeds to tear apart verses selected for marriage ceremonies, states there are no “biblical family values” and basically asks if we “Conservative Christians” read our Bibles. As you know, I do. And, I encourage others to do so, too. In fact, the article ends with:
Christians will always turn to the Bible for guidance -- and we should.It is to one reference the author uses that I turn to – and have written on before:
Ephesians 5:22-33 commands wives to obey their husbands and husbands to love their wives. Conservative Christians may try to explain away the offense of this passage, but there's no escaping its ugly reality.This is a diametrically opposed conclusion from my own viewpoint. The author discusses wifely submission out of context. As others who find this concept offensive, he dismisses the scriptural references to the wife's and the husband’s full responsibilities.
The author does not delve into the relationships, studying them in these scriptures. This is not “ugly reality” when wives consider that their husbands are to love them as Christ loves His church. The depth of that sacrificial love is what my husband gives to me.
The opening verse requires me to understand that my submission is as it would be to our Lord – not as it would be to an abusive relationship I am required to endure. Not as it would be to a selfish man bent on getting his own way, but:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22 KJV)
My Beloved Husband has his own requirements to meet:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25 KJV)
Why should a woman marry for anything less than this depth of love? With their greater responsibility, husbands get a few more verses, too:
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (Ephesians 5:28-29 KJV)
Nourished. Cherished. That’s what our Lord requires my husband provide to me. Oh, how I adore that reality! I have for more than 50 years!
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31 KJV)
One man. One wife. As it was in the beginning. Loving each other, and their Lord, unselfishly. Growing daily in the nourishment that love offers. Imperfect creatures that we are, we need that daily growth. I can honestly give my Beloved Husband exceptionally high marks in achieving his responsibilities – better than mine, I’m certain.
How sad it is that the author’s Bible reading, his very religious belief system, does not offer the same to him. It usually doesn’t when we try to make His word fit our lives instead of allowing our lives to respond to His word.
Monday, July 11, 2011
And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. (Daniel 2:3-5 KJV)
There’s a movie out about bad bosses, but even they don’t match this. Not only did the wise men of his country need to tell him what the dream meant, they needed to tell him the dream! His advisors told him what people need to tell some bosses today:
The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. (Daniel 2:10-11 KJV)
“Can’t deliver, Neb, old boy.” Apparently he accepted their word – and it applied to all in that job description – for the order went out to kill:
For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. (Daniel 2:12 KJV)
For once, being a dummy was a very good thing! Unfortunately, Daniel and his three companions were very wise men. Wise enough that Daniel received an audience with the king, gave a convincing presentation, then went home.
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. (Daniel 2:17-18 KJV)
It would be wise for men today to desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning everything in our lives. Placing our future in His hands is the wisest thing any of us can do – and we find endless ways to keep from doing just that, don’t we?
God revealed the secret – He told Daniel not only what the dream was, but what it meant. Daniel praised God for giving him the answer to their prayers. Again, we find endless ways to keep from doing just that, don’t we?
What did our old boy Neb do?
The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. (Daniel 2:47 KJV)
Good for him!! Acknowledging God is always a good response to His gifts. Daniel came out OK, too:
Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. (Daniel 2:48 KJV)
Please don’t expect to be made chief of the governors!! But do take time to follow Daniel’s example. Learn for yourself what trusting in the Lord can provide in your life. And, be ready -- there’s a lot more about this king in the coming weeks.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
As mothers, we want our children to be happy, and when the simplest of pleasures make them so, we tend to edge up to that line of "What were you thinking!?!?"
My brush against that line was when we sold our home in Tulsa. The week before we were to move we discovered bicycles on sale. Our new home was on a dead end street, as yet undeveloped, and not likely to be for months at the least. A great place for our children to learn how best to control their bicycles. They were 5, 6 and 8 and had ridden bicycles before, but didn't have their own. Excellent pricing, so we bought each of our three children one.
They were not supposed to ride them until our move -- into a quiet neighborhood without traffic except known neighbors. I think rule lasted two or three days. They begged, and pleaded, and I gave in with a mother's best command, "Be careful."
The screech of brakes brought me to the picture window as Son's bike lay on the ground, with him, in front of a car. By the time I reached him, neighbors had him wrapped in a blanket and an ambulance had been called. I was frightened beyond understanding that he really was in good shape.
Fortunately, he had a bump on his noggin and a couple of bruises, the driver calmed down and lowered her blood pressure, and the bike was fixable.
A couple of decades later he was out on his own, far beyond a mother's "Be careful!" I was more concerned about his soul. He was open about the fact that religion was not as important to him as he thought it was to us. We made many efforts to explain that it wasn’t ‘religion’, but our personal relationship with our Lord that made the difference. Whether or not we failed, the ultimate responsibility was his. This wasn’t something we could do for him. The decision was his. I placed him, in prayer, in God’s hands.
No until his 40th decade did I get the call that he now understood, and the rest of the family rejoiced with him and attended his baptism. I cannot explain to the unbelievers the mother’s relief, and the Christians understand. We rejoiced.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 KJV)
I had prayed, holding to the words of Solomon:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)
Knowing scriptures were given for our comfort:
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4 KJV)
When we’re working toward the same end, the home coming a 100th lamb being the desire of our hearts, we believe:
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4 KJV)
He did. And I shall enjoy the company of my children through eternity.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
I haven’t written much about drinking, but there was an MSNBC article that brought that to mind – and an application to other areas in our lives. The article, “I’ll never drink again! Never mind. Cheers!” had an interesting lead-in:
According to a new report, the perceived social benefits outweigh the consequences.There’s a lot of information in that headline, and a great deal more with that lead, before even getting to the article.
First – both alcoholics and social drinkers will state those three sentences, usually at different times. “I’ll never drink again!” comes after an embarrassment felt after drinking. “Never mind,” comes when the drinker gets over the embarrassment, discovering it is survivable both physically and socially. “Cheers!” comes with the next social occasion accompanied by alcohol. Three sentenced, used by a large number of people.
Second – “perceived” indicates individual perceptions which are not based on fact and may not exist, therefore they do not outweigh consequences. Part of the problem is consequences. Drinkers can always find friends to assure them consequences aren’t real.
Most Christian denominations accept social drinking, holding up several verses speaking against excess. My personal recommendation is not drinking, having seen serious consequences for both alcoholics and for social drinkers.
Proverbs speaks about drinking and the consequences in several places, among them:
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1 KJV)
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21 KJV)
Paul’s writing left no doubt drunkenness is found in the midst of sins of the flesh:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)
Isaiah understood that even those who say they serve God can fail in this regard:
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. (Isaiah 28:7 KJV)
If you are able, please Comment and give me an example from personal knowledge of a decision made while under the influence of alcohol, or other mind-altering drug, which was done with good judgment. I don’t know of one. I know of several where the decisions were damaging. My Second Son-in-Law is missing a piece of his eyelid, thanks to a drunk driver. We feel fortunate he did not lose his eye.
I worked with a young woman who said she had fun on weekends and trips. She couldn’t remember all that she did, because of her drinking, but surely it was fun – people laughed when talking about her. Another dear friend, a social drinker, he said (of course), became a belligerent bore after a few drinks. He always apologized afterwards, when he learned of his actions.
Those aren’t your results? Never had to apologize for your actions when drinking? Excellent! How about those around you? Do you really consider consequences?
Friday, July 8, 2011
It has been said often but never can be said too often – modesty is important. ‘Smelling Coffee’, another inspirational blog, has some excellent advice in her post “Modesty Is The Best Policy.”
From there, head to a testing site for Secret Keeper Girls and learn about “Truth or Bare”, six simple tests to confirm modest dress. Directed to young teens, these are great tests for any age. I can testify that there have been people in our own church that would fail in a test or two. That means awareness is not just for teens.
I know, I’ve written (harped) on this subject over the years, and just recently posted about dressing modestly. But I was just reminded about another aspect that I need to cover with our Junior High girls.
Appears obvious, doesn’t it? It’s not. There was a time in my life where girls really did look like girls, and boys looked like boys. There would not have been a ‘unisex’ clothing store. Girls were expected to grow up to be ladies; boys were expected to grow up to be gentlemen.
Ladies wore dresses or suits with skirts to their place of employment – even if their employment was housewife – and men wore suits to white-color jobs and khakis or uniforms to blue-color jobs.
When dressing for church on Sunday, the phrase “Sunday best” was coined to indicate people did wear their very best clothing to worship their king. Wednesday night service, since it was work week, didn’t require Sunday best, but it was still church and it was considered proper to dress accordingly.
I miss that.
I miss the self respect shown by dressing properly. Our girls often wear jeans with printed T-shirts on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Some even on Sunday mornings. They look as the boys do. Depending on the hairstyles, from the back they look they same. They should not.
Those twenty-one goal-worthy verses for women in Proverbs 31 teach us to stand apart as women. Only one verse, 22, speaks of her clothing, and we have no description. Since the remainder of the verses extoll her activities, it stands to reason her dress is in accordance with those activities, not detracting from all that is recognized as worthy of praise.
What does she get for that?
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (Proverbs 31:28 KJV)
Her praise continues further than her family:
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:31 KJV)
Oh, yes – I did jump over a verse. It includes one item missing in all the activities listed about this lady. A very good one to keep in mind, to keep in front:
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 KJV)
Remember that “feareth” means to be “morally reverent,” which brings us back to modesty, right?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
This week a friend’s granddaughter headed out on a mission journey with other young people, then plans changed. Their overseas flight was delayed due to stormy weather – then news arrived from their original destination that cancelled their arrival. At the same time, another mission field opened up. Here’s part of the notification sent to family and friends following their journey:
“Often, when involved in ministry in the midst of this crazy world, we encounter situations that at first seem frustrating. Sometimes they force us to be flexible and change plans. Thankfully, in the end we can usually look back and see how God had his hand on the situation the whole time and was working it for his glory.”
“While this is an obvious shift in plans, we are celebrating the fact that God’s plan is bigger than ours and that we’re already seeing evidence of his hand at work. Now they will be able to engage in ministry sooner than we expected.”
On trips of my own, I’ve encountered ‘challenges’ that placed me where I met people I would not have under any other circumstances.
Once, headed to Cyprus on business, I left on a flight earlier than necessary just to make certain I had plenty of time to make the Olympic Air out of La Guardia. We were delayed at DFW, due to weather in New York, then circled for a long time over New York City before we could land. I’ll never forget the glowing clouds over the city, then the sweep to darkness as we flew out over the Atlantic. Over and over again. Landed, deboarded and reached the shuttle to the Olympic terminal – only to get stuck in a tunnel behind a car whose owner abandoned it while unloading. Didn’t make that Olympic flight and had to stay over night.
Had I made that flight, I would not have been in the airport the next afternoon to have a couple of hours to talk with a man from Macedonia.
Not the Macedonia of biblical Greece in Paul’s time, but the Republic of Macedonia of 1991. I heard of Kosovo and Serbia; of changes in the Balkans; all first hand. I heard of faith and trials; peace and violence; newness out of old. We shared our witness, not just of history, but of faith.
As Peter explain his trip to Cornelius’ home, the Spirit will lead:
And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. (Acts 11:12a KJV)
And at times lead elsewhere, as Timothy and Paul discovered:
After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (Acts 16:7 KJV)
Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Jonah, Peter, Paul – the list goes on and on – chosen to do God’s will in ways they never envisioned, in ways they never would have chosen. Yet each will be remembered for making their lives examples under the most difficult situations, in the strangest of places.
Are we prepared for change? Better be.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I can’t say I know much about that phrase – I’ve heard it all my life and still do not understand how success can smell sweet – unless it is something as this pineapple upside down cake, which smells so good while it’s baking, and when it comes out of the oven. But then metaphors seem to escape my understanding.
What I do know is that I’m a sweet smell (no, not because of any soap I’m using!) The Bible tells me so:
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:15-17 KJV)
Of a certainty, in the sight of God I speak of Christ. I do so out of His word, hopefully directing my readers to check out what I type just to be certain that Bible says what I think it does.
It was easy for me to understand about “them that are saved,” for they will understand God’s word and be enriched by reading it. His word does not return void. (Yes, it’s a reference to scripture – look it up; you can find it.)
What I didn’t understand is how we could be a sweet smell unto God “in them that perish.” I’ve often felt a failing when one rejects Him and makes it blatantly apparent. A pastor’s wife recently wrote of a lost relative, one who derides family members’ beliefs and continually pricks at them openly in front of friends. This has gone on for years, with many witnessing to him of God’s love, to no avail.
To me, this has come to mean that our witnessing is sufficient to God. What we do is the sweet savour. How it is received is not within our grasp. Neither our will, nor God’s will, is imposed on another’s soul – it is theirs to offer to Him, or to hold selfishly as it withers. My responsibility is the same as all mankind’s – what I give to God, not what another gives.
Just as Cain was responsible for his sacrifice and his anger taken out on his brother, we should be prepared for resentment as a response. We should be prepared for derision – is this not what our Lord received from those to whom He was sent? Should we expect our reception to be any better than His?
We are told He is sufficient. We aren’t, but He is. He is worthy. The Bible tells me so, in Revelation 5.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Esther was very well prepared to come to her king. In this copy of a still from the movie, One Night With The King, we see her very well dressed. The Bible tells of of two preparations to go to him. The first time for her wedding. The second, to save her people. The first took months:
Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) (Esther 2:12 KJV)
A year of preparing for meeting her king the first time. I know of young couples who sit their wedding date a year in advance, but it is usually spent working, laboring, thinking, planning – and she has no time for months of myrrh and sweet odors!
The second time she faced great danger. To go unbidden to the king could cost her life. This time she took three days, asking Mordecai and others to fast, too.
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. (Esther 4:16 KJV)
So, how should we prepare to come before our King?
We do it every Sunday morning, to hear His word, to worship Him. Seeing some of the women in churches tells us their preparations were for something besides worship.
Some dress immodestly. Should they choose to kneel at the altar, there would be some concern as to portions of their anatomy remaining covered. Others display the latest and greatest fashions. In either case, their choices appear to be calling attention to themselves.
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; (1 Timothy 2:9 KJV)
Does that mean no braids? Of course not, and earrings (whether gold, pearl or costly) are not out of order. If they do not cause eyes to turn nor thoughts to run rampant.
What if they do? What if there is immodesty? This is nothing new, and you and I both know that. Fashions are not usually designed with worshiping our King in mind. But fashionable choices can be made with a few guidelines in mind. Last year I wrote of our Princess Program and gave an update when the girls went shopping. They bear repeating.
We have a wall mirror in our Sunday School classroom. When (not if, but when!) a girl comes in with a too short skirt on, we ask her (either before or after class) to set in a chair facing the mirror, then tell us what can be seen. It’s an opener to very good discussions about modesty in a private situation.
Unlike Arab or Israeli ‘modesty squads’ I wrote of in 2008, we need not encourage confrontations, but we cannot ignore the lack of courtesy before our King. This requires examples as we come to worship our Lord.