Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Thin Layer

This is a NASA handout shot from the International Space Station as Atlantis re-entered the earth’s atmosphere on her last journey.  I want to call your attention to that thin, oh so very thin, visible atmosphere.  Consider the size of the earth, based on this small view through the window.  Between the surface and the blackness of space is that thin greenish line that means the difference between life – and the lack thereof.

I haven’t found an explanation of how high that thin line is.  A definition includes:
Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an end to Earth's atmosphere: An atmosphere does not technically end at any given height, but becomes progressively thinner with altitude.
However, it is much below that thin line that mankind exists without technical assistance.  Keep that in mind when reading the December, 2009, issue of National Geographic (amazing what’s on doctors' waiting room tables) by Timothy Ferris as he writes about the number of earth-like planets waiting to be found:
We believe that billions of such worlds must exist and that they hold the promise of expanding not only the scope of human knowledge but also the richness of the human imagination.
His belief is based on scientific papers published after years of study. Yet the sentence shows a similarity to the faith spoken of by the religious.  We “believe”, and what we believe “must” exist.  We extrapolate from what is known, what has been seen, what we have done ourselves.

The difference (to me) is, I can accept Ferris’ hypothesis that billions of other worlds exist and that living organisms may inhabit them.  Many cannot accept my own hypothesis that God created this vast universe and has interacted with mankind – a personal God.

No, I do not know why I’ve recently blogged on this premise.  I could say that God inspired it, but it could be just the simple explanation that when you notice one yellow car, you’ll see dozens within a short time afterwards.  It may just be on my mind.

I do find it fascinating to see our earth from space. It is a beautiful planet.  We don’t see the litter, the battlefields, the boundaries defined by men through which others cannot cross.  Well, except for the Great Wall of China, which can be seen from space. 

The night photographs, showing the lights we use to keep going past the close of day, show delineations unseen elsewhere.  Those show how we’ve clustered together.  Well, most of us.  You won’t find our lights in the night photos, we’re twenty miles from cities of 5,000 or less, and we have no security lights on the acreage.  We like looking at the night skies.

What does that have to do with a devotional?  I find it in the Bible.

What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? (Job 7:17 KJV)

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalms 8:4 KJV)

LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! (Psalms 144:3 KJV)

Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 6:11-12 KJV)

What is man?  Man is what God loves.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Friends In Deed


A couple of years ago (I think) I posted a blog on correcting errors.  I introduced it with this paragraph:
I met a dear friend through the internet when I left a short message correcting an item she had posted. She did not take well to the short, terse note and we had a long explanatory exchange that led to friendship.
Recently, because of a multitude of things going on in her life, I did not  include her in a prayer request I sent to a mutual friend.  I was wrong.

The only way to have a friend is to be a friend – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

By not including her in the prayer request, I deleted her opportunity to show her friendship.  I was wrong.

Christ spoke of friendship in more than one verse:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 KJV)

Jesus laid down His life.  Would seem from that that he did so for friends.  Do you think of yourself as His friend?  Jesus had more to say about the subject in the next verse:

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:14 KJV)

Christ also showed the greater love that God has for mankind by laying down His life for those yet to come. The billions of people alive today, and the billions who came before.  Including those who decline to be friends with Him.

Solomon agreed with Emerson:

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 KJV)

Another quote I ran across, but could not locate the author is:  Friends are people we choose to be family.  I agree with that.  For what ever reason we make that first contact, however the friendship grows, true friends become family that do stick together.

Never take friends for granted.  Let them know how important they are – to us, and to the Lord we serve.  His resurrection was for them, too, and it is up to us to remember that, teach that, live that.

Rather than a lifetime, these friendships may last an eternity.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lions and Lambs and Other Things

A search in Wikimedia Commons for lion/lamb combination came back with lots of pubs.  And, the explanation about heraldry.  A search in Google for that same image combination came back with pages of paintings, photographs, drawings, and clip art, along with references to:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6 KJV)

The images of lions and lambs do not match the verse.  This one comes close:
It is so easy to misquote the Bible, taking from it what we would like to hear, or taking something that sounds biblical and accepting it as so. CNN wrote a blog about such biblical misquotes earlier this summer.

The article begins with “This too shall pass,” but that one does have a biblical base in:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35 KJV)

Even though the words are not exact, that verse tells us that all things shall pass – but God’s words will not.  See, we also forget “the rest of the story” even when we get the gist of the verse.

People get so tied up in correcting misquotes, or looking for conflicts, that they neglect to study for content and meaning.  We forget why we study God’s word, and where it should reside:

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:10-11 KJV)

How do we seek God?  By listening to others, or asking Him directly? Why do we seek Him?  Because others have said we should or because a part of us wants to know Him?  Why do some deride those who say they have found Him?  Jealousy, because of a personal lack or fear of Him?

Those are very personal questions and while they have no exact answers, some are afraid of even thinking of them.

Finding out what God is, and isn’t, is a very personal journey.  I doubt that there are two people on the planet that have exactly the same answer.  For those two to find each other would take a lot of people discussing Him and sharing those discussions.  Whatever their religious beliefs are, they must search their foundations, know the source of their beliefs, during any discussion.

For a Christian, that would be getting to know their Bible.  Being able to go to the source, understand where those books came from.  Who wrote them?  When were they written, and in what language?  Who did the translation and why? 

Knowing what I believe and why I believe it still comes down to faith.

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

Someone else told me first, then I sought to know for myself. Take care when that seeking is done.  There will come a time when He cannot be found.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

“Ten Little Christians”, author unknown

Not to long ago we held a conversation about a family that had left our church a couple of years ago.  They had been offended, and though I know by what, that’s not important.  This verse, from Wednesday night’s service is:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalms 119:165 KJV)

That verse came to mind when I read this on Alfie’s Multiply page.  Have you been, or can you see, some of these who were offended:

Ten little Christians standing in a line,
One disliked the pastor, then there were nine.
Nine little Christians stayed up very late,
One slept in on Sunday, then there were eight.
Eight little Christians on their way to heaven,
One took the low road, then there were seven.
Seven little Christians chirping like chicks,
One disliked the music, then there were six.
Six little Christians seemed very much alive,
But one lost his interest, then there were five.
Five little Christians pulling for Heaven's shore,
But one stopped to rest, then there were four.
Four little Christians, each busy as a bee,
One got her feelings hurt, then there were three.
Three little Christians knew what to do,
One joined the sports crowd, then there were two.
Two little Christians, our rhyme is nearly done,
Differed with each other, then there was one.
One little Christian can't do much 'tis true;
Brought his friend to Bible study, then there were two.
Two earnest Christians, each won one more,
That doubled their number, then there were four.
Four sincere Christians worked early and late,
Each won another, then there were eight.
Eight little Christians, if they doubled as before,
In just a few short weeks, we'd have 1,024.
In this little jingle, there's a lesson true,
You belong to the building, or the wrecking crew.

I prefer the building crew!  Where do you fit in? Jesus offended His followers:

When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? (John 6:61 KJV)

What He said did offend them, and they responded as those Christians above:

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:66 KJV)

God knows we will be offended, and that we will offend. 

For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:2 KJV)

We must work to bridle our tongue, our thoughts, our lives, building them with God’s laws.  We must let the imperfections pass pass through us, knowing that while we are not perfect He is.  We must forgive as He does, never holding on to the offense.

Do that and we’ll never be one of those nine who walked away from their church.  The choice is ours.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

To See The Universe

Laser Towards Milky Way’s Centre

Just revisiting a thought I had as I wrote about Einstein the other day.
We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.
I agree that the universe is marvelous and our minds are limited, but that doesn’t mean we should consider the universe before God. Mankind has often substituted His creation for the Creator.

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19 KJV)

We all enjoy watching the diamond sparkle of the night sky.  Every once in a while there are displays of fire as pieces of rock streak as molten lava across the skies.  We stay up late – or get up early – not to miss the show.

We build observatories, place them in space and capture photographs that man’s mind could hardly conceive. They are beautiful, and they raise some of the same questions from millennia before:

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalms 8:3-4 KJV)

We have a place in God’s universe and in His plans:

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: (Psalms 8:5-6 KJV)

David’s son, after many years of giving it thought, came to a conclusion:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)

Unfortunately, not very many came to a similar conclusion, neglecting God as they achieved great thoughts and progressed through time. They never work past the “I will” syndrome to reach “Thy will be done.”

Jesus said His presence in our world was solely to do His will:

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (John 6:38 KJV)

He went further in the next verse, speaking of God’s will for each one of us:

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

Continue to consider the heavens, the work of His hand.  Consider the beauty of the world around us.  Speak to the Creator as part of our whole duty of man.  Then follow Moses’ advice:

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; (Deuteronomy 4:9 KJV)

Friday, August 26, 2011

What We Have

My friend Larry posted a quote he found, and I’ve come to appreciate very much:
What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?
When I first read that, I was grateful that I had thanked God for my home, my family, my church, my church family, which I do on a regular basis, but there were some things I would miss from the day before.

I would have food, we give thanks to God for our meals, asking that it be used to nourish us as we do His will.  I have also shown gratitude to Him for our transportation, as well as the freedom of choices we have as to where we can go.  I’m not certain I give thanks daily for our doctors, but I do for the health that we have.  I need to give daily thanks for our doctors, too.

See, when we really consider how we express our gratitude to God, it helps us count those blessings that make our daily lives abundant. We’ve been promised abundance:

… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b KJV)

However, can we follow Paul’s exhortation and give thanks for everything:

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20 KJV)

All things?  Even spending the day at the hospital with Second Daughter?

OK, how about – thanks there are trained professionals to walk her through the series of tests she has to undertake.  The intake clerk, the first nursing station where they put her on a moving bed (and gave her one of those airy gowns that tie in the back).  Thanks for the quick and easy blood letting by a very nice ‘vampire’, and for all of them who saw to it there were no latex gloves around her (she’s allergic!)  Thanks for the equipment, and those who maintain it.  For the sparkling (literally, you’d have to see them) floors and the cleaning staff who see to that.

And that’s all within the first hour, and there were hours more to go.

I’m still reading notes from a number of people who joined us in prayer for her test today.  Possible side effects were migraine headaches and nausea.  She really prayed that those did not happen – and they did not.  We’re grateful for the prayers, and for this answered prayers.

We’re very grateful for a personal God.  We see Him as David did:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalms 139:14 KJV)

I long to spend time with those who also would praise the Lord!!

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalms 107:8-9 KJV)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Survey


I know, it appears that’s all I’ve read for the last couple of days – both on USA Today, too.  But both interest me.  Yesterday’s was on faith in America – today’s on the King James Bible.  And, do I have things to say about that!
“If thou hast a Bible in the house right now and readeth it at least once a month, chances are strong it’s the majestic King James Version of the Bible in Elizabethan English”
Now  that’s not too hard to understand, is it?  Neither is the rest of it. Look up a few words (or get e-Sword and look up the Strong’s definition of the Greek or Hebrew for even greater understanding.)
Of the 89% of U.S. adults who own at least one Bible, 67% own a King James, which marks its 400th anniversary this year, according to LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research agency.  … 82% of those who read the Good Book at least once a month rely on the translation that first brought the Scripture to the English-speaking masses worldwide.
You will find people who state they’ll “Stand by the 1611” or that the spelling of “Saviour” in the King James is the only way!  Unfortunately, for many those really are “fightin’ words.”  They shouldn’t be.

And my spirit hath reioyced in God my sauiour. (Luke 1:47 KJV-1611)
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (Luke 1:47 KJV)

I feel much more comfortable reading the second spelling, even if it is slightly less American.  There are no changes in the meaning.

When I quote the Bible, I like the fact that the KJV is not under copy right.  A group of translators do not own what I read.  I do not need their permission to include any words in my posts.  I also like the ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and ‘ye’, which hold different meanings besides our all inclusive ‘you,’ which covers both singular and plural. Was the promise to one, or to all?  Pronouns make a difference.

I like using a single version in services, too.  When our Junior High Girl’s Sunday School class reads the lesson, we are able to focus on what is being read in each verse rather than the differences in each version.  Here’s a small example.  Suppose three of the girls had these versions of Daniel 1:1:
NIV:  In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 
ASV:  In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
GNT:  In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem and surrounded the city.
They each provide the same concept, but reading aloud, the focus should be on pronouncing the king’s name (hard enough as it is!!) than on sentence structure.  Why not read it all together as:

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. (Daniel 1:1 KJV)

I’ll leave it to theologians to discuss apologetics regarding the translations.  My family has chosen to be in a church that uses the King James Version, and I’m quite content in my reading of God’s word.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Topography of Faith

The Pew survey results are shown on the USA Today website. The site quotes Pew as saying it was a survey of 35,556 adults, based on random telephone interviews conducted in English and Spanish from May 8-August 13, 2007.  Another 1,050 interviews were added from a poll of Muslim adults in American in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu from January 24 through April 30, 2007.  The surveys are available on line at

On the results map it is possible to cursor over states and see some extrapolated results.  Take care, however, if you wish some state results – they are combined with others (i.e. North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana).  The number of people specifying no religion is highest in the northeastern states and along the Pacific coast.

Don’t think of those being just the highly populated areas.  The combined results for Vermont/New Hampshire is 26% of the population not affiliated with any religion with Maine the second highest at 25%.
To me that’s a high percentage of people who are not affiliated with any religion.  My home state sits at 12% who consider themselves not religious.  Mississippi appears to be the lowest, at 6%.

I do pray that with that high percentage of people saying they are attending a church that there is a large display of the fruits of the spirit!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (Ephesians 5:9 KJV)

If they are like me, I have a tendency to fall short.  I have problems with ‘longsuffering’ – fortitude and patience.  But, I’m working on that.  ‘Meekness’, too – humility before my God is fairly easy, but there are times pride in my work takes over.  I pray to be content with satisfaction, not pride.

Love, joy, peace – those fill us quickly when we open our hearts to God, for He is love.  To know Him requires love.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8 KJV)

Temperance – Okay, so I come up short on self-control, too.  Yes, I can admit to my faults, and there are many.  Why not?  God knows them all, too. Again, the Bible tells me so:

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (1 John 3:20 KJV)

David understood this and shared his heart with us:

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:10-12 KJV)

For that, I am eternally grateful!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yesterday’s quote research took me along another path.  Many famous people have been asked, and have responded, about their beliefs.

Albert Einstein made very known his religious views on many occasions, clearly stated in a 1954 quote: 
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. [Letter to an atheist 1954]
There were other years, other quotes.  This one gives a bit more definition to his beliefs on the intelligence behind the universe.
I'm absolutely not an atheist. ... The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds.  ... We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.
Mankind as a whole has benefited from the time Einstein spent working on those laws that define the moving of the constellations. He was able to formulate concepts that keep scientists busy today searching for proof, building on his foundations. 

He also was quoted:
I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws.
In this and the earlier quotes I can see his search for the physical laws that control the dancing stars, and the understanding of a “mysterious force” that includes “immutable laws.”

Christians, too, see a mystery:

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, (Romans 16:25 KJV)

Christians, too, see a God who instituted immutable laws.  Breaking one of the universe’s immutable laws has consequences. Why limit the “mysterious force that moves the constellations” to the physical? Why should men deny there are also “immutable laws” within the spiritual?

Einstein’s religious concepts were partially shaped in a Catholic school in Germany, a culture that at that same time was incubating Nazism, filled with anti-Semitism.  When Christians compromise God’s laws for comfort within a culture, His will is not accomplished and the affect on others has lasting, wide-spread consequences.

The Bible tell us:

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. (John 4:48 KJV)

Einstein saw signs and wonders through the movement of constellations, but could not accept the concept of a personal loving God:

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

There’s nothing more personal than this, and the combination of an all powerful yet loving God is awesome. This is what Christians should be teaching through their lives.  Often we are the Bible others read.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Researching A Quote

Former Bishop N. T. Wright is considered a conservative in the Anglican Communion, which I found to be a valid statement, based on reading his 2009 Times article regarding the schism in his community:
“But saying ‘we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules’ is cynical double-think.”
The Bible is not to be rewritten nor ignored in order for selfish people to continue erroneous lifestyles.  Better they admit they do not believe all the Bible says and be open about the parts they do not wish to follow.
While I disagree with former Bishop Wright’s lack of concern about hell and his dismissal of what is termed ‘rapture,’ I do find several of his quotes right on.  The first was included in a question to him about hell:
“… it seems to me that the New Testament is very clear that there are people who do reject God and reject what would have been His best will for them, and God honors that decision.”
There we do agree.  God never has sent a person to hell, but does honor their decision not to be with Him in heaven.

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)

I found the above information while researching the source of a quote. I do not post quotes until I know something about the person quoted, even when I think it sounds worthwhile. It may have been taken out of context and not mean the same thing to the author. It appears Bishop Night and I do agree on this, too:
“...the work of salvation, in its full sense, is (1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us.”
To accept Jesus as Christ, then focus on what rewards are expected in heaven is to reject the Great Commission and the second greatest commandment. What we do in the present is of utmost importance to our future. Living within God’s will, He is able to work through us to display His glory to those around us, nothing of our own.

I love both the lyrics and music of “To God Be The Glory.”  We sang it last week in services and I was again reminded of Fanny Crosby and her gifted talent.  A blessed example of what God accomplished through her, not what He did for her.  Opening her heart to His work, her hymns are sung world-wide, her present was blessed and ours is, too.

Few people from two centuries ago are so widely remembered.  Few from this century will be remembered two centuries from now.  If we do little or nothing, we will not be among those few.

God will honor our choice to be with Him, or not.  He is available for those who seek Him.  He answers those who call upon Him. He has given us guides to find Him.  Among those guides are people who chose Him.  I do, as Joshua did:

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

Sunday, August 21, 2011



Sunday’s lesson is “Faithful Old Daniel.”  No longer the purposed young man taken from Judah into captivity, he has answered and counseled several kings.  Now his political enemies (last mentioned in Politics, As Usual) have succeeded in backing him into a corner with the decree Darius signed that said:

… whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (Daniel 6:7 KJV)

All Daniel had to do to save his life was nothing.

The commandments told Daniel that he must love the Lord, his God, with all his heart, soul and mind – but there was no commandment requiring him to petition Him daily.  So, for those thirty days, Daniel simply had to do nothing.

We’re very good at that, aren’t we?  Most of us pass a church or two every single day.  Daniel was in a country that did not offer him that opportunity.  We’re very good at saying, “I go on Sunday morning, and that’s enough.”  It takes faithfulness to attend the remaining services and activities. I don’t know about your church, but attendance is highest on Sunday morning than it is for any other service.

It appears Daniel was alone, too.  No mention of the three companions we hear of earlier in the book.  No peer pressure, no supportive fellowship, just communion with his God.  Simply say nothing in prayer for thirty days.

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10 KJV)

Daniel did not allow the laws written by men of malice to change his relationship with God. He did as he had always done, in a window open to the world, not quietly in a closet.  To have changed his habit would have been to acknowledge an earthly power.

The God he petitioned is the same God I petition.  The gifts we have received are not.  We are unique, as is our calling.  I am grateful that God’s will has not taken me on the same paths of Joseph and Daniel, though I am blessed by their lives.

Faced with Daniel’s death, Darius looked for a way out:

Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. (Daniel 6:14 KJV)

Once signed, the law of the Medes and Persians could not be changed, and Daniel’s enemies had counted on this.

In our world we often choose to do nothing.  Thus our beliefs, our Lord, is not visible through us.  By his consistent actions, Daniel displayed his love of God.  Will we continue to choose nothing?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Loaded Question

"As a parent when we see our children do wrong are we still not willing to stand by them and still love them?"

I answered the parent that wrote that very loaded question. That question arises often, though the circumstances change from family to family.  So, I decided to expand a bit here and share my thoughts.

The quick and easy answer is, "Yes. This is my child, forever and nothing can change that. I stand by them and love them, no matter what"

The factual answer is "As a parent, we never stop loving our child, but their actions can become painful for both of us.  If they do wrong, breaking man's law or God's, and turn away, living in danger or error, we cannot stand by and keep quiet." 

No matter how much we love our children, we can be faced with the same situation Christ was:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37 KJV)

There are times when a child does wrong and a parent's heart is broken because they have tried to gather and protect -- but the child will not listen to loving experience.

The Bible has the answer to the final question that person wrote, too, about how to know when something is wrong: "How do you figure that out?"

Through Bible study and prayer. Good verses are:

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:16-20 KJV)

The Bible also tells us what those fruits are:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

It also tells us what is wrong and should not be done:

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)

While it is true that there are parents that do not love their children (and for those children, my heart breaks), we all have a Father who loved us first (1 John 4:19), enough to die for us (John 3:16, John 12:27) and has taught us forgiveness (Matthew 18:35).

He has provided requirements as well as instructions on how to achieve those requirements.  When we fail to follow those instructions, there are consequences – also spelled out in His word.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Which One First?

My mother used to tell the story of some sibling who listened to part of what their mother said (which was “Do not put beans in your nose.”) and as soon parents left, began sticking beans in his nose.  The doctor was able to remove them all (we think.)

I was reminded of this when my Second Great-GrandDaughter was at the lake with her grandmother and some teenagers.  Everyone was chatting over a project, no one noticing more than Second GGD was tearing tissues into strips.  Not until the pastor’s wife said, “No, no, Sariah!”  They were carefully removing strips when she sneezed and yuckily removed them all (we think.)

Sometimes we forget the “Don’t,” and get our instructions out of order, at the least.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:27-28 KJV)

What a nice directive.  An ecologist’s dream – fresh new earth, fully stocked with fish in the sea, fowls in the air and living things moving upon the earth.  All Adam and Eve had to do was be fruitful and multiply, using all the raw materials at hand, and having enough time to walk in the cool of the evening with their Lord. Truly Paradise.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30 KJV)

Later on God gave them an additional command:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17 KJV)

They had not been fruitful before Eve messed up on that second directive.  There were no children to blame, though Adam tried his best to blame Eve:

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12 KJV)

What has God told us to do?  What has God told you, specifically, to do? Are there “Don’t” commands where we’ve dropped that word and proceeded to the equivalent of putting beans in our noses?  How about a quick check of the priorities God has given us.  A little paying of close attention to His word?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Politics, As Usual

Here we have a two-party (for the most part) system where the incumbent president isn’t challenged within his party but it’s a wide-open field for the other party.  And our presidential election is still over a year away.  Time for many to fade away, and others to get a case of foot-in-mouth disease on any number of television appearances.

Wasn’t that way back when Cyrus took over Babylon.  We’re told:

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. (Daniel 6:1-2 KJV)

Whole different aspect of “one man, one vote,” isn’t it? No year of campaigning, just political appointment. Cyrus did pick the right man for one of the jobs of president – in fact, he wanted to promote him quickly.

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. (Daniel 6:3 KJV)

That did not go over well.  No better than it does today when diametrically opposed ideologies meet.  Today battles are pretty much confined to gerrymandering by the winners to retain advantages.  Daniel’s opposition took it a step further.  Looking at Daniel’s life, they found a soft spot.  An area where he could be attacked and stopped.

Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. (Daniel 6:5 KJV)

Politics as usual.  The media writes and the public reads all about the action, character and beliefs of those running for office. Michelle Bachmann recently received a journalist’s question regarding submission. I’m certain there is more to come.  Some of them will come for the same reasons cause was sought against Daniel.

They were successful in creating a law designed to stop Daniel from speaking to his God, or die.  They went to the king and convinced him:

… to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (Daniel 6:7 KJV)

Do we have the courage of Daniel?

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10 KJV)

Do people know what our beliefs are, or are they hidden in secret. Are we able to discuss our beliefs calmly in daily discussions?  Do we continue our praises in difficult situations, or ignore Him? Can we follow Peter’s exhortation?

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Who Do We Turn To?

We’re still in the book of Daniel in Sunday School.  Way past the time he explained a couple of dreams to Nebuchadnezzar.  You remember, the ones that gave attention to his God.  We’ve ceased to hear of his three companions following their deliverance from the fiery furnace.

Seems as though all of that has been forgotten.  We’ve moved from Chapter 4 where Nebuchadnezzar’s voice tells of that second dream and in Chapter 5 we have a new king, Belshazzar.  And, he’s having quite a party.

Reminds me a bit of the book of Esther.  Surrounded by those he wishes to admire him, he decides to show off.  Instead of attempting to display the beauty of a wife, Belshazzar picks instead the treasures of God’s temple.  He shouldn’t have.

We aren’t told at this point what was written, but the sight of a disembodied hand writing on the wall was sufficient to focus the attention of a drunken king.  As twice before in the book of Daniel, the cry went out:

The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. (Daniel 5:7a KJV)

Why didn’t he just call for Daniel?  It had been a while, a couple of kings between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, and Daniel had been forgotten.  Leave it to a woman to remind a man of what he should have known.  His mother described the man who helped Nebuchadnezzar:

Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. (Daniel 5:12 KJV)

I particularly like “shewing of hard sentences.”  Maybe even a bit more than “dissolving of doubts.”  Have we ever dissolved anyone’s doubts?  Are we known as a person another can turn to, one who has knowledge and understanding?  One who can handle the hard stuff?

Don’t just look at Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams.  That’s a God given gift, just as his prophecy in later chapters. It is the building of an excellent spirit, just as Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself spiritually, that can be within us. 

We decide whether or not we will be pure before our God.  We decide whether to study His word or to ignore Him.  We decide what to do with our bodies, to turn them over to His will or to show off what we can.

And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. (Daniel 5:25-28 KJV)

We, too, will be weighed in the balances.  Will we be found wanting?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Colorado was rather dry that year.  We made the trip up from New Mexico and there were few bright flowers along the way.  Near a bridge over the San Juan, two bits of color caught my eye.  I love watching butterflies.

Pastor reminded me of this shot with the example he gave Sunday of someone helping the struggling butterfly out of its cocoon, only to see it die because it could not fly.  We’ve all heard this example at one time or another, but few apply it to our own lives.

We are the butterfly – not those around us.  We are the ones who need to accomplish the struggle.  We aren’t the kind person who, as an outstanding co-dependent, erroneously help the one struggling.

This shouldn’t be an example of our backing off from helping, it should be the best example to encourage us to continue struggling to achieve the future God has in store for us.  No one has been promised life without struggles.  The opposite, from Eden’s exit.

… cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, (Genesis 3:17b-19a KJV)

“But, but…” people say, “I’ve had it so rough!  No one has faced what I have.”  We cry out as Elijah:

… and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:10 KJV)

“So there are good reasons why I am (insert feeling that keeps us from doing what God has in mind for us).”

Hey, I know about that!  I use(d) such excuses  myself. Yep, have one or two sitting nearby to use in case of emergencies.  Don’t you?  Early Christians did, too.  Except, maybe, for Paul:

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1 KJV)

We do, however, have an even better example:

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (John 13:15 KJV)

That’s not John speaking, that’s Jesus.  And He knows how we’ll feel when we follow His example:

If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:17 KJV)

Be the butterfly you are born to be. Struggle and grow strong, and be happy!

Monday, August 15, 2011


This past summer, three of my great-grandsons accepted Jesus as their Lord.  The oldest, now in the 7th grade, was at our Youth summer camp.  His two younger brothers went to the Children’s camp. First GGS made his profession of faith at camp.  Since this is a big step, not to be taken lightly nor as peer pressure, he has spent time since talking with his parents as well as his Sunday School teacher and our pastor to be certain he understands this decision before being baptized.

Second GGS made his profession of faith Tuesday during Vacation Bible School.  Once again, due to his youth, adults counsel with him to be certain he’s not simply following his brother instead of making a personal decision. Then, on Thursday, Third GGS made his profession of faith, too.

Sunday, they and their father were baptized by our Pastor.  Baptism is a big step – or, better put, it SHOULD be a big step.  Following His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus came to be baptized by John.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. (Matthew 3:13 KJV)

There is so much more in this chapter about baptism.  John’s was to be different from Christ’s:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11 KJV)

Jesus did not baptize while here on earth, but His disciples did:

(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) (John 4:2 KJV)

But He did promise the baptism John preached, and more:

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:4-5 KJV)

What if a person was baptized, then discovered there was something different?  It has happened:

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:1-5 KJV)

Were baptized, though they had been previously.  They were following the example of their Lord and Savior.  Because of the difference in doctrine between denominations, some have membership requirements that call for rebaptism.  Just as John’s disciples were baptized again, as an indication of their understanding of those very differences. It was this symbolic step taken Sunday by my First Grandson, father to the three GGS’s, leading the way for his sons.

For us it is not a physical washing away of sin. But it is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Christ, who does remove sins in our life.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Time To Work

(The above graphic came with others in an e-mail and I have not been able to make out the name of the artist.  It is used in good faith and will be removed if necessary.)

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14 KJV)

Can’t stand to work in Vacation Bible School?  Can’t find time to work with children in Sunday School?  Feel that the church is there for adults to come and worship?  Think children should sit quietly at parent’s side and receive the meat of the service along with them?

Revisit Matthew 19:14 above or Mark 10:14 or Luke 18:16.

There are times for milk, before taking in meat, even in Christian services. 

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)

While adults are expected to grow quickly in Christian life, children need that milk.  They need to sit and learn at Jesus’ feet.  Through the loving examples of their parents is the very best way.  Next best, from loving Christian workers seeing to their growth in church activities.

This past week was filled with such workers looking after the spiritual well being of children from pre-K through the 6th grade.  The opportunity to serve them was an opportunity to serve Him. Remember Christ’s parable of all nations gathered before the throne? Those sent to the right heard:

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

Others stood there, too, heard words of condemnation and were sent to everlasting punishment with these words ringing in their ears:

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

James would not only understand where I’m going with this, he wrote to us to tell us of it:

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

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35 KJV)

Go to work!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It’s Over

The shuttle came down, the black skies of space were ripped off, the planets and stars stored away. Instead of the shuttle door, the sanctuary will be wide open to crowds on Sunday.  Moon rocks and landers have been removed and the choir loft again holds chairs, ready for hymns.  The Big Jumpy Things that covered the yard returned to folded pieces that fit into the backs of pickups and went home.

Unless you were at Vacation Bible School, it is as though it never happened, but it did.

Decisions were made this week that will affect individuals and families for years to come.  Children were introduced to each other and made friendships that will last.  Teachers gave and received hugs, praying they would see these children in their Sunday School classes.  Many wouldn’t be coming back on a regular basis.

There was a young brother and sister we invited that won’t.  They spend their summer days helping their Mom at a local restaurant. We were in there for lunch on Monday.  Second Daughter, her niece and nephew were with us.  The children fell into the same age groups and we had fun chatting with them.  She asked, they were interested and the next day one of our vans brought them in.

First Gil (granddaughter-in-law) took photographs all week and one of them is of this young gentleman in group, bright and shiny-eyed, excited and having a great time.  I took a copy to him Friday morning and his Mom looked just as happy about as he was.  Those are the moments!  But, they have a church home of their own and are happy there.  We’ll see them on special occasions, but not on a regular basis.

The workers – and there were many!! – put in hours before hand in preparation, and hours afterward returning the church to pre-VBS cleanliness.  Each day Fellowship hall held five tables full of children every half hour until all were refreshed.  Each day Youth, too old for the classes yet too young to teach, saw to children’s safety as they enjoyed the Big Jumpy Things to their fullest.  Each day there was check-in for attendance, penny counters for offerings, song leaders, skit performers, people in all areas working with and praying for the children.


For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: (Psalms 78:5-7 KJV)

These workers who display God’s love for man (1 John 4:19) also have beautiful feet, as Paul expounded upon Isaiah 52:7:

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? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15 KJV)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Talk About Children


Monday we started with 96 children, by Wednesday we had 115 and I didn't see yesterday's total.  They are divided into four groups for their class/activities, the largest groups are over 40.  They have 30 minutes for games and refreshments.  This year we have big Jumpy Things for them to play in, so they want their treats quickly!  It's worked well this week with three of us setting up refreshments, and cleaning between groups.  My experiences gave me some insight when reading this article.

A restaurant recently changed it’s policy to not serve children. To put it kindly, the owner said:  'Parents have gradually diminished their cooperation.'

Another site (I neglected to save it’s location) polled it’s readers as to whether the restaurant should deny children.  A great many of the readers chose to take the change personally, fitting it into their view regarding the decline of families in America.

Not me.  I see it as a laxness on the part of parents who did not respect the restaurant, nor their children.  Instead of denigrating the owners for making a call based on their business needs, we need to be setting examples.

I remember a restaurant birthday party.  We had close to a dozen, and so did the group next to us.  There were four children six or under in that group. A couple were a bit wiggly, but the parents paid attention and corrected their table manners.  It was a pleasure to watch them, and I stopped to compliment the family as we were leaving.

I’m proud to say that my grandson and his wife have done a very good job setting examples for their children.  We were a group of twelve at a restaurant recently.  Their four children did ask a good many questions about the menu, but once the selections were determined, they were good dinner companions, too.

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)

I think that includes respect for others.  In this case, an awareness that dining away from home includes those surrounding you.  There are attitudes and actions appropriate in one arena that are not in another.  Teaching children the difference remains the job of parents.

The easiest way to do so is to invite friends and relatives over for dinner – and I don’t mean backyard barbeques.  Have a sit down dinner focusing on including the children.  Check out table manners, correcting if needed, commending where appropriate.  Accomplish this before taking them to restaurants, teaching them that there’s a big difference between fast foods with a play area and restaurants with wait staff who see to their requests.

Teaching that respect for others falls under one of my favorite verses – the one that follows the first and great commandment:

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Taking Care

This week is Vacation Bible School, from 9:30 in the morning until noon.  There’s a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of Bible reading.  There are a lot of questions.  The gospel is given, Jesus is taught and salvation is a topic of conversation.

There is the temptation on the part of some Christians to rely on a form of “The Sinner’s Prayer” and call them saved when a child repeats it. We don’t.  Care must be taken that this isn’t a moment of excitement, of peer pressure or teacher’s great desire.  It is a moment of understanding if a child says they’ve been saved.

Two of my great-grandsons will be baptized this coming Sunday.  Church is not new to them.  They attended long before they moved closer to us.  They’ve attended Sunday School for years.  The older made his profession of faith this summer at Youth Camp.  The younger made his this week in Bible School.

Care was taken with First GGS and he was counseled by several adults to be certain he understood the reason for and the meaning of salvation. Second GGS needed that same attention, from the same people, to be certain he was not following an example nor desiring the same attention, but understood what he was doing.  Guess it also comes down to the adults understanding that, too!

We are aware of Matthew’s example of the sower in Chapter 13.  The word is given to all, but some of it never takes root nor grows into fruitfulness.  Christ explained this parable to His disciples:

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. [Matthew 13:18 KJV]

It is our responsibility to see that the ground is prepared:

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [Matthew 13:23 KJV]

That’s what I want for my loved ones.  Not:

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. [Matthew 13:22 KJV]


But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. [Matthew 13:20-21 KJV]

So, time is taken with each child, not just my great-grands.  Questions asked, explanations given, discussions with parents included – all this long before baptisms are scheduled.

It sounds simple when we read:

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]

Never forget the following verse:

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. [Acts 16:32 KJV]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vacation Bible School

Take a look at this classroom in our church.  Monday it was all laid out for the children who would be coming to Vacation Bible School. Each student’s workbook, along with a Bible for reference, laid before each chair, and crayons for making their stories personal.  Don’t you appreciate teachers that prepares for their students?
Teachers gave attention to details when decorating, adding these tiny stickers to the door.  We know they catch the children’s attention and they’ll show them to each other:  “See the rocket!”  “Look, there’s a star!” A lot of time and effort goes into preparing for and presenting summer’s Bible School.
The theme, planning and largest decorations came from our Youth Director.  The children get to walk through the door of a space shuttle to enter the auditorium.  The skits include astronauts, robots and aliens!  Talk about excitement!
Many arrive in our church vans, thanks to the dedication of drivers who make visits weeks in advance.  And, let me digress a bit – see that covered walkway between the buildings?  My Beloved Husband designed and built that with our children’s help. The congregation works hard making the church attractive and welcoming. Recent remodeling was completed just the week before VBS started.  We love making our church home comfortable for visitors.

But we never lose sight of the main purpose – introducing children to Bible study and the gospel of Jesus Christ, who lived, died and rose again to show God’s love for His creation.

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 KJV)

Jesus reaffirmed this commandment.  In temptation, He provided our reason for worship:

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:35-40 KJV)

The Bible tells us these teachers are doing great work:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19 KJV)

May you do great work also!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Three Prayers

Graphic Source Unknown
It was an e-mail with a prayer, and I receive it (or one almost like it) several times each year:
"God, our Father, walk through my house and take away
all my worries and illnesses and please watch over and heal my family in Jesus name, Amen."
Of course there are admonitions to keep it going, and someone always does.  Let’s take a moment to consider this little egotistical prayer.

Ooops, did I offend someone by calling it egotistical?  It is very much like one Jabez spoke millennia ago:

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!

Hard to fault either one of them, right?  Especially when we’re  told:

And God granted him that which he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:10 KJV)

We know that Jabez was more honorable than his brethren and this his mother bore him in sorrow (1 Chronicles 4:9), but we aren’t told how dishonorable his brothers were, nor what caused his mother’s sorrow.  Yet, God granted him that which he requested – so shouldn’t we be able to pray the same type of prayer?

Of course.  If earthly comfort is all we are looking for.  Look at what is missing from this prayer.  Compare  both of these with one from another who most certainly was more honorable than His brethren, and His mother pondered over His birth, then watched in sorrow as He died.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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 6:9-13 KJV)

Let’s take a quick look at the manner of these three prayers. 

Both biblical prayers acknowledge God – one as the God of Israel, the other as our Father.  The e-mail does not define God as either, though the prayer is given in Jesus name which precludes most religions.

Only Jesus’ example exalts God, praising Him and bending to His will before asking for daily needs. The two others ask for material things, personal requests – though Jabez does pray that God be with him in all things.
Both Jabez and Jesus ask that God keep them from evil – the third one does not acknowledge the presence of evil in this world. Jabez made it personal – that evil would not grieve him.

Only Jesus closes with the glorification of God, stating His eternal presence.

I don’t really care to determine which one God listens to, for He knows our hearts and our needs.  I would like for you to think about which one you’d rather pray.

Monday, August 8, 2011


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

There were several verses in between tonight, but one Pastor used stuck in my mind:

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (1 Samuel 4:21 KJV)

We don’t know the mother’s name, just that she was the wife of Phinehas, son of Eli.  We meet Eli through Hannah as she prayed for a child and he thought she was drunk with wine.  She explained her situation and Eli blessed her:

Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:17 KJV)

God did grant her petition and her son Samuel came to Eli to serve the Lord.  It was a very good thing, for Eli’s sons, though priests, were ungodly.  They mishandled sacrifices for personal gain and were unfaithful to their wives with women at the tabernacle.  Eli’s words went unheeded.

If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them. (1 Samuel 2:25 KJV)

Ichabod was born the day his father, uncle and grandfather died, then his mother died, too. The glory of this child died.

How many children do we know that could be named “glory is departed” because they do not have a father to be their glory?  How many fathers fall out of love with mothers and leave their children without beauty, honor or valor – the definitions of the noun ‘glory.’  The definition of the verb glory include:  joy, rejoice, boast, pride. 

How many children are left with remnants of their family instead of pride and being able to boast of their father’s achievements? How can these children’s children be their grandfather’s crowning joy? So much is lost.

So, what can we do about it?  What has been done cannot be undone. We can’t go back and undo a family’s breakup.  We can’t create fathers for the fatherless.  Acknowledging that is hard, and sad.

What we can do is introduce them to a Father who will not leave.  The Father who hears our prayers.  The Father for whom all of us can say:

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

The Father who teaches us daily to love His children.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Do You Stagger?

The caution sign shows a staggered road ahead, a decent graphics choice since our paths often become staggered as we make our way through life.  There’s also the thought of a staggering man, unable to keep his way straight, whether by choice or shock.  There are times in our lives where we feel staggered.  We often waiver and stagger in our faith.

Paul tells us that Abraham didn’t:.

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (Romans 4:20 KJV)

This really belongs with the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, where the writer speaks of all that great cloud of witnesses:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13 KJV)

Abraham lived decades with God’s promise afar off, continuing to believe them even when God required his son as a sacrifice.  His faith, and his ability to prophesy, strike me every time I read his answer to Isaac’s question about the lamb:

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8 KJV)

God did not provide a lamb that day. 

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. (Genesis 22:13 KJV)

Not until John do we see God’s provision of that offering:

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 KJV)

We have much more information than Abraham.  We have record of his descendants.  We have the writings of Moses, telling of Jacob’s sons, and their tribes taking God’s promise of a promised land as literal fact.  We have the songs of David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), telling of God’s greatness, looking forward to a Messiah through elation and depression, pleas and praise, through sin, sorrow and salvation.
We have other writings – history, poetry and prophecy.  The story of people looking forward while always remembering the past, confirming God’s hand in all that is done.

Some of them staggered.  Some of us still do.  Mostly we stagger when we attempt to move forward alone, reacting to the prideful sinfulness that says, “I don’t need God.”  Sometimes we add, “…yet” but more often we just neglect to include Him in our daily lives.  We relegate Him to a position similar to a fire extinguisher, handy for emergency purposes when we’ve made misjudgments. 

When we seek His will, walk with His instructions, the likelihood of emergencies lessen.  Then we can, as David did, sing out about our Lord:

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