Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cumbered, Careful and Troubled


But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:40-42 KJV)

The Bible does not tell us that Martha was doing anything different from her regular household chores – seeing to her guests needs. We aren’t told that Jesus told her to stop serving as she intended. Basically, the result was that Martha continued with her chores and Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening, as she needed.

American woman are told over and over that they may choose how they live their lives.  This is a basic tenet of feminism, from what I read. Yet, when a woman chooses homemaking as her career, there seems to be a great deal of finger pointing. From the other side of the coin, homemakers are aware of what the working mothers (or unmarried career women) are missing.

For both of those activists, I suggest Proverbs 31:10-31. She actually did it all.  She sells merchandise and real estate. She has help at home, of course, befitting her position. She sees to her household, provisions, meals, and clothing. She raises children who appreciate her and is beloved by her husband – who is helped in his career.

Did you notice what was missing in the life of this Proverbs 31 woman we all point to as our desired achievement? She’s not working in the temple. No Sunday School classes, Ladies Meetings, prayer services. Not until we get down to verse 30 do we find:

… a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 KJV)

Just as Mary was doing what was needful – by her own choice - so was the Proverbs 31 woman. Only Martha is shown complaining, and not about her own status, just that her sister was not with her.

While a Titus 2 woman is told:

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 2:4-5 KJV)

... we aged women are not assigned the task of enforcing our teachings, and that’s a very good thing. We need not defend our choices, nor accuse those who made others. We are to teach, and teaching by example is where our actions speak so much louder than our words.

That will help us to remain careful without being cumbered or troubled.

Friday, June 29, 2012

God’s Plan of Salvation

This week I heard a great story about giving the plan of salvation, and then I read Beth Amatelli’s GPS blog.

When I think about presenting the salvation plan, I think of the Roman Road – while there are variations, here’s a short one with a huge message:
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
All of the information in those verses was given by a student to his graduating class – a public school graduating class – in a speech just a few years ago. A teacher, speaking after him, stated that although she had prepared a speech, she tossed it aside and suggested that the audience spend time considering what that graduating senior offered them – belief in their eternal future.

I caution, however, that sticking with God’s Plan of Salvation, not our own, is extremely important. I’ve used a global positioning system that directed me incorrectly. As I sat at a corner, looking down the road at our church, that gps was sending me to a spot several miles away, assuring me it was the way to go. Wrong!

Stick to the Bible, which tells us good works will show our faith, but faith is what saves us:

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)

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

We can have good works without faith; we can show faith through good works; we cannot be saved without faith. We’re not witnessing to people in order to get good works, we’re interested in their eternal soul. That’s why I ask that you read and check further anything I write here.  Like Paul, I ask that you:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8 KJV)

Rather than ask “What would Jesus do,” read the Bible to find out what He did, then set personal standards based on His actions, not society’s.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

We Agree! And, Disagree

I just read a piece on a resolution by the Southern Baptist Convention, and I agree with the premise of that resolution as reported at While both the resolution and the article are much longer, the agreement point I want as focus is:
God desires for every person to be saved and that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person.
The discussion of soteriology, the study of salvation theologically, does become divisive among those who believe there is a God. This particular subject, the ‘Sinner’s Prayer,’ has been a topic in our own church.

Several years ago we had a group of young men, still in high school, who were committed to a life of ministry. (As a side note, all but one are ministers in a church today.) They witnessed at every opportunity, encouraging the use of the Sinner’s Prayer. When the person repeated the prayer, they expressed success. However – I personally agree with the SBC resolution as the article commented:
One strong caution in the resolution: "The 'sinner's prayer' is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel."
Take for example the jailer’s question and Paul’s response:

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. (Acts 16:30-32 KJV)

I like that pattern – give those asking the truth as we know it, then give them “the word of the Lord.”  As I’ve said often in this blog – do NOT take my words here as fact.  Verify and study the scriptures, the divinely inspired word of God given to men. Jesus said so:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

However, taking one verse and creating a religion around it causes problems. That’s tantamount to reading War and Peace (if people still do that) and reviewing only one paragraph. Know your scriptures, and how they came to be. ( As an aside:  Even Peter included Paul’s epistles as scriptures:

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 3:16 KJV))

Does all of that sound as though I agree?  Yep, sure does.  What about that ‘Disagree’ then?  Well, I disagree with assuming that a resolution, even with 80% voting for it, speaks for all SBC members. Disagreements remain within the denomination. Disagreements remain within Christianity.

I thank God that the differences are in God’s hands, not man’s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We’re Talking!

That’s ‘our’ table in Armend's, second from far right. Empee and I meet there at least once a quarter just to chat.  I’ve written about her before, and Tuesday we were able to meet there for lunch.  If you’re ever in Southlake, Texas, I suggest you eat there, too.

Yes, we go for their good food – but the service!! Even though we’re in there no more than five times a year, they know what we order (yes, our drinks and the garlic cheese bread don’t change, and usually it is the meat tortelli with aurora sauce, even if it’s not a Tuesday!)

Better than the food, though, is Christian fellowship. We differ in many ways yet we mesh -- I'm her mother's age, she's younger than my youngest daughter. We both held the same job, for a while, she moved up while I stayed on.  We were both raised Baptist, but that’s a huge umbrella and we fall into differing sub-categories.  As adults we’re both in sub-categories that differ from our childhood.

I thought about that and yesterday’s post. What a tendency people have to apply labels, to ourselves and others.  Still others apply labels to us whether we like them or not.  Often the same word used to label us is a pejorative to one on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Doesn't mean the same thing, either.

I like the label Christian, and I hope a lot of people apply it to me. It’s earned when people see that one is a follower of Jesus, the Messiah. Barnabas and Paul were in Antioch, preaching for a whole year, then it was written:

And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:26b KJV)

Because we’re each unique individuals, there could be a multiplicity of sub-categories and we’d still find ways of splitting us. Perhaps those of us who follow Jesus’ teaching should be called Ones:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 KJV)

There is but one heaven, and those who believe that only their sub-category will have mansions there haven’t paid attention to His word. Might do well to spend some time studying, researching, praying and most of all – listening.

O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. (Jeremiah 22:29 KJV)

That word tells us there is but one LORD.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 KJV)

That’s the same LORD God Jesus described to Nicodemus:

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)

If you have it, what a blessing!  If you don’t, just believe. We’ll be happy to have you join us in Jesus’ invitation:

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. (John 21:12a KJV)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No Longer An Athiest

I found Lea Libresco’s interview on CNN – a very intelligent interviewee, capable of explaining her position without hesitation. I was interested in why this atheist now accepts as reality of Jesus Christ as her savior, especially when she wrote this last year:
A lot of the experiences that Catholics suggest to me (Adoration, prayer, etc) seem to be behind a firewall of faith.  It’s supposed to have discernible effects, but only if you’ve already bought a little way in.  I’m willing to keep trying some of these proposals, to make sure I’m covering my bases, but it seems like a lot of these are an effort in futility even if I’m wrong about atheism.
That’s a screen capture of her holding her sign at Reason Rally in March of this year.  It’s on a blog where she responds to a skeptic. Her blogs are personal, well written, often with phrases and concepts I have to research. Her intellect is well exercised.

Yet, she passed through the “firewall of faith”, though some atheists attribute that to an emotional romantic breakup or physical stroke. They do not understand change in her life and look for a reasoned cause.

Faith, that substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen, is what Christians live with daily and are still unable to explain fully to the nonbeliever. I met such a person a couple of years ago – another blogger who understands:

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? (Matthew 18:12 KJV)

There are members of Christian congregations who leave that membership and become agnostic, atheist, Buddhist, Muslim – and members of those beliefs who become Christian.  The movement from one belief set to another is not a confirmation or validation of either choice.  The decisions are personal, individual and cannot be changed by any other person.

However, their decisions can be made with a greater depth of knowledge if all share our own testimony and witness.  Leah’s is very public and has incited a great many web discussions. Reminds me of Paul standing in Antioch, Athens, Corinth, even Rome, starting conversations (and arguments) among his hearers that opened faith for thousands.

As a Catholic convert, Leah and I have doctrinal differences, but we’re both still learning – she after a few months, me after half a century plus. Our walk with our Lord remains a learning process until we are home with Him and we know.

Until then, I will read His word, pray for His guidance, enjoy the fellowship of like-minded (and slightly differently-minded) believers that know:

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. 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 3:14-16 KJV)

Monday, June 25, 2012


Looking at Apollos’ life the other day brought to mind another non-writer, but fascinating Christian. I had the pleasure of of visiting his home island Cyprus. It is a lovely place, mountains and valleys, almond groves and fishing boats. We aren’t told what brought him to Jerusalem, but we are told he loved the Lord, believed the gospel and we first hear of him having a giving heart:

And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36-37 KJV)

This was something the first Christians did as they were of one heart, according to verse 32. We’ve lost that, haven’t we? Not just the sharing in common, but doing it because we are of one heart and one soul.

We see Barnabas next with Paul:

And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26-27 KJV)

Here we see Barnabas as a steadfast friend.  He saw Saul boldly speaking the gospel to all who would hear and support his ministry. Just a couple of chapters later, Barnabas was sent to Antioch:

Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. (Acts 11:23-24 KJV)

He was a good steward, too, trusted by the disciples:

Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:29-30 KJV)

God had plans for Barnabas, too:

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (Acts 13:2 KJV)

Their partnership continued, even though it broke over his nephew, John Mark:

And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other:  (Acts 15:39a KJV)

Paul wrote of Barnabas in his letters, so they moved beyond this contention.

Wouldn’t you love a good man filled with the Holy Ghost, having a giving heart, trusted in stewardship, willing to stand up for both a man of God and for his family?  Yes – Barnabas would make a very good friend.  Take time to read more and get to know him. We would do well to be like him.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whose Path?

Lately I’ve taken time to read while waiting (and waiting, and ...)  Lynn Squire’s recent post 'Your Marching Orders Are Not Mine' contains a paragraph that gives me food for thought:
God gives each of us unique experiences, and we need to respect that. He knows our characters. He knows what we need to go through in order to grow or to humble us or to reveal Himself to us in a way we'd never considered before. The reasons for our individual paths are as vast as He is.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)

That’s where we must take great care – when something seems right, and loving friends let us know there appear to be problems with our path. There are some check points we can make if they – or we – have questions about that path:

When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7 KJV)

When there are dissenting opinions, it’s best to get to the heart of the matter, and that’s where the Lord knows best:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2 KJV)

Peter and Paul are two of our best New Testament examples for service in different ways.  The way they were called – Peter at the first of Christ’s ministry, a fisherman, while Paul after the crucifixion, a highly educated Pharisee. Simply because Peter followed Christ we can understand his religion was very important to him, but the Bible does not give his education, as it does for Paul. They both served our Lord very well.

During Christ’s ministry, Peter appears somewhat hot-headed, responding with emotion in several situations. Paul, on the other hand, stuck with the Torah’s judgmental view, unable to perceive God’s mercy. Yet, each felt they were right with the Lord before and after their time with Christ. Eventually, I believe they came to understand they were to:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 KJV)

Lynn Squire used different biblical men – Saul and David – both chosen of God to lead His people. One needed the accolades of the nation over obeying God and looked for excuses to answer for his unfaithfulness.  The other acknowledged his sins and wrote Psalm after Psalm in humility:

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:2-4 KJV)

God delivers what is necessary for each and every one of us and it may be clear only to the recipient. We pray for our friends and loved ones as they follow the path God has laid out for them, just as they pray for us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Apollos and Scripture

The New Testament mentions him ten times, first in Ephesus:

Acts 18:24  And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

An Egyptian Jew, Luke found him to a good speaker and well-versed in the scriptures that Jesus said spoke of Him (Luke 24:27), Paul expounded on (Acts 17:2), that give comfort and hope (Romans 15:4) and Timothy knew from childhood (2 Timothy 3:15).

Acts 18:25  This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

It is here I came to a halt and reconsidered Jesus’ baptism. John had proclaimed to all in the sound of his voice:

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)

But later he had doubts and needed to know if, indeed, Jesus was what he expected (Luke 7:22).  There wasn’t a yes or no answer when Jesus told the questioners “Go … tell John …” (Luke 7:22) what Jesus had been doing. Those who listened were expecting the Messiah to remove Israel’s yoke and restore the throne of David.

That hasn’t happened.

Instead, God’s plan unfolded as He willed, even though His Son asked that the cup pass, but bowed to God’s will. As the disciples did. As we are to do. And, which Apollos did.

Go back to verse 25 – catch that Apollos was fervent, diligent, spoke and taught what John taught. He must have known the scripture:

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29 KJV)

Which proved true in Ephesus:

Acts 18:26  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Notice that he ended up with people who enfolded him into their lives instead of rejecting him in his error. They recognized his understanding of the scriptures, and shared the gospel with him.

In my mind I see them talking over a meal, asking questions, checking scriptures, confirming what he knew and explaining about the crucifixion, the resurrection, Pentecost – can you imagine what it would be like to hear that?  To have our faith, our belief corrected, perfected? Or, do we think we know it all now?

Apollos was diligent in his study of the scriptures. What Aquila and Priscilla told him was not the opposite of what he learned but showed the fulfillment of the scriptures he so diligently taught. We need to be just as diligent, knowing what we believe, and why. Then we can use Christ’s words, having accomplished what He said to do:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tarnished Rules

Today is more of an Opinion piece than just thoughts from Bible reading.

Have you seen/heard what happened to the Greece, New York, school bus monitor? A group of middle school students verbally abused her as they rode to school one morning.  Videos were made, and posted on YouTube. They went viral.  One contribution site was set up with a goal of $5,000 to send the monitor on vacation.  As of Thursday evening it was reported the donations had reached close to $200,000.

She has been interviewed on the national media.  One ‘expert’ said the problem with the children was:
We're not setting the importance of cultural rules, that you treat each other with decency and respect, that cruelty is wrong and punishable.
How can we set importance of cultural rules when they are argued over by adults? The cultural rules that existed while I grew up are gone.

The culture I was raised in allowed the Jewish Ten Commandments to be placed on walls in courtrooms and classrooms. They have been removed.  That same culture allowed Christian Bibles to be in courtrooms and a teacher could have it in the classroom. That culture allowed punishment, too. My parents applied corporal  punishment, their hand to my bottom or a slap to my hand. I was very aware that a similar punishment would be applied should I be punished at school.

Of course, there were other cultures in America that were not similar to the Bible belt where I was raised. “The Blackboard Jungle” of 1955 gave us a taste of where our country was headed, and has now reached, where there is neither respect nor punishment.

Removed from courtrooms are the words:

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)

Rude language, even cursing is proclaimed to be freedom of speech. To stifle it is deemed illegal.  Children are encouraged to express themselves as they please, to speak back to authority. Teachers can no longer refer to the Golden Rule:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12 KJV)

This is not limited to Christianity and could be taught as the ethic of reciprocity without mentioning religion – treat others as we would like to be treated. We’re not even teaching the negative – don’t treat people the way you don’t want to be treated.

Perhaps these teens have never heard the Torah or the New Testament:

…  thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself …  (Leviticus 19:18 KJV)

… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39 KJV)

Where should respect be taught and punishment given? If your answer  is ‘At home,’ that’s half right.  As adults, they will not be spending as much time at home as they will moving around in our society, within our culture, within our neighborhood. Would we want these children as friends? Co-workers? Employees?

What changes can we make to our culture now so this is not repeated? Or do we ignore the problem – as has been done in too many places?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Is He Able?

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was planning to lay siege against a number of cities, including Jerusalem. Hezekiah, King of Judah, recognized that he was in direct line of fire and took counsel with his “mighty men.”  They made preparations outlined in the first verses of 2 Chronicles 32.

There were spiritual preparations to make, too, and Hezekiah told his people:

With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:8 KJV)

They trusted the words of their king.  However, when Sennacherib heard all of this he was attacking Lachis. Rather than leave that battle, he sent word to Jerusalem that should have them shaking in fear:

Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? (2 Chronicles 32:14 KJV)

Considering Sennacherib’s battle history, perhaps they should have feared.  He had won the battle against Babylon and broken the allegiance it had with Chaldeans, Aramaeans, and Elamites. Today we can read of him on reliefs, as above, in the writings of Josephus, the Babylonian historian Berossus.  Josephus referred to the writings of Herodotus and the Chaldean 'Berosus'::
"Now when Sennacherib was returning from his Egyptian war to Jerusalem, he found his army under Rabshakeh his general in danger [by a plague], for God had sent a pestilential distemper upon his army; and on the very first night of the siege."
Josephus, hundreds of years later and following the loss of Jerusalem to Rome in 70 AD, understood that God affected the army to save Jerusalem.  How sad he must have felt that God had not done the same while he was fighting Rome in that same city.

Why would God bless Hezekiah and not Josephus? Why save Jerusalem some of the time and not others? Could Sennacherib be correct in asking if God was able?

Answers are tied in with God’s sovereignty, His plan for the world and for individuals. There is much which remains hidden. Daniel was shown portions of the future he could not reveal. John, too, was given revelation that he could not share. We do not know the mind of God:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

What we do know is that He is able.  I like the way Jeremiah says it:

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10 KJV)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Different Views

Isn’t it amazing how the many facets of a fly’s eye combine to provide the information it needs to survive. Those different views do not negate the reality the fly sees.

After reading yesterday’s post, some clicked on the link to the MSNBC article mentioned. There were over a hundred comments, the majority of them deriding religion. Some of them echoed the thought “Imagine there’s no heaven … no religion.” Those who worship are considered unlearned, or in one instance, irrational:  “Religion and conservatism are classified by the American Psychiatric Association as forms of MENTAL ILLNESS.”

I have long held that reading comments on media articles is not a good idea. They follow a variation of Newton’s third law, changing it to read:  “For every post there is an equal and opposite vitriolic post.” A Christian posts a verse or doctrine, a non-believer posts a laugh at mythological beliefs. These anonymous grenade-slinging battles occur on bulletin boards, too.  Even on ones ostensibly for the same belief system.

There were divisions in the early church, too, and they didn’t have the ease of communication that exists today. Paul addressed these differences:

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Philippians 2:2 KJV)

He continued with additional information to get his message across that our goal is to be more like Christ.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 KJV)

That doesn’t mean living through another’s life, though.  Matthew Henry’s commentary puts it better: 
We must interest ourselves in the concerns of others, not in a way of curiosity and censoriousness, or as busy-bodies in other men's matters, but in Christian love and sympathy.
God’s love for men is defined by Christ in John 3:16, just as Christ’s mission is defined in Luke 19:10. As Christians, these are words we are to live by.  If we do not, we fail to share His love, and fail to be the light He has for us to share:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 KJV)

So, I do not post responses, even the ones that hurt me the most. Instead, I think of Paul’s advice to Timothy:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:20-21 KJV)

I am not called to apologetics, only to share what the Bible means to me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Awareness vs Reality

MSNBC often gives me food for thought.  Their article about an awareness of death making the religious more devout did just that. “The findings show how differently people manage their thoughts of death.” The study gave a group specific tasks:
Each participant was tasked with writing either a brief essay about how they felt about their own death or a religiously neutral topic, such as loneliness or how to cope when plans go awry.
There was a link to another article, another study:
"The dance with death can be a delicate but potentially elegant stride toward living the good life," write American and Dutch researchers in a study published online April 5 in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review.
There is a vast difference between an awareness of death and the reality of knowing death is inevitable. Death does come to all. How do we approach it? How do we prepare for it?

How about Hezekiah’s reaction in 2 Kings 20:1-2? That’s not fair, though, because he believed in the Lord. How about Naaman, a mighty warrior of Syria in 2 Kings 5? His religion is not mentioned at all. He didn’t want to follow God’s commands, but did so to rid himself of leprosy’s lingering death.

However, neither the study nor my tiny examples have a bearing on whether one should or should not believe there is a God, and whether or not that God is described in the Christian Bible.  I do believe God speaks to mankind today through the words written across millennia. I believe He is easily found by those who seek to know Him. Accepting what He offers is a decision faced by all of us.

Everyone who hears of Him can make their decision at any moment in their life, as the thieves in Luke:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  (Luke 23:39-40 KJV)

One accepted what he learned about the man on the cross next to him:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:42 KJV)

The thief didn’t expect an immediate change in his life.  He didn’t ask to be removed from his cross and he didn’t expect Jesus to come down from His. He left everything in Jesus’ hands. Jesus came through then, just as I expect Him to in my own future:

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43 KJV)

It absolutely is not necessary that everyone agree with me.  I’m not trying to change any minds – but just getting people to think. Death does come to all of us. Some much younger than I am. Preparation for any trip is a good idea.  In this case, are we aware of the reality?

Monday, June 18, 2012

When Do We Teach Our Children?

Yes, it’s been over thirty years since I had a child in school, and at that time, it was High school.  They were much older than the children above, but they all began learning much earlier at home. Including myself, I’ve seen the learning process over four generations.

Sunday evening’s sermon challenged us to think seriously about fathers and their children. The Bible tells us when to teach our children:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:7 KJV)

That pretty well covers it – we are to teach in our homes; when we are away from home; when we lie down and when we get up. And, every time an opportunity arises!

Almost fifty years ago I discovered that children are tape recorders. What we say, they repeat. It’s hard to lie to them and get them to believe us. They see what we do, they hear what we say and they are smart enough to figure out when actions do not match words.

We begin teaching our children with meaningless coos and baby talk. Fortunately, we grow up a bit as they do and hold meaningful conversations. That’s when it becomes important that we also know what to teach, as well as when.

That comes from Deuteronomy 6, as well:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 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: (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 KJV)

Even those who believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant while following Christ have read His words:

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. (Matthew 22:37-38 KJV)

That pretty much takes care of the first four of the Ten Commandments.  Then Christ took care of the next six:

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

I’ve heard statistics from a Cornell University study (though I could not find that particular study this morning) that the average father spends 37 seconds talking directly to his child – even if it’s quality, that’s not enough quantity.  While I find that stunning, I can understand the statistic.  Being in the same house for hours with a child does not mean there would be interaction. Still, the child is learning. Even with our silence, we are teaching them – sometimes to keep their thoughts within and not share.

Now we know what the Bible tells us to teach, and we know what the Bible says should be taught. It also tells us how important our children are:

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

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Father …

DomerMaye (2)
Dad and Mom, 1938
… had many jobs.  He made a list one time of jobs he had and told why he no longer had them – most simply ceased to exist, such as delivering blocks of ice for ice boxes or being the fireman on coal burning steam engines for the railroad. He had lots of stories, and I’ve been able to get a few of them written down.  Many are on cassette tapes and I’m looking for a reasonably priced (according to my budget, not their value) place to digitize them so my kids and grandkids could hear him.

To my knowledge, those tapes contain family stories and not his Christian witness.  His life was a witness, though. He attend a Methodist church as a child, but was over 40 when he accepted Jesus as his savior and was baptized at Immanuel Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1953.  His membership remained there until 1999 when he moved it to First Baptist Church of Cottondale. He was a strong supporter of being a member of a local congregation.

My father was in a car wreck when he was fourteen and sustained what we now call traumatic brain injury. He was unconscious for weeks. When he woke up, the lady sitting next to him asked him questions. Finally, he asked her, “Do I know you?” and his mother began to cry. Fortunately, most of his memory returned.

Even with short term memory loss, he graduated as valedictorian, studying each morning as he drove a school bus his senior year. He maintained a check list of what he was supposed to do each day, yet he never forgot his Lord or his favorite verses from the Bible. First was:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2 KJV)

Most of his life Dad did roofing on homes, some were very large, luxurious mansions and would never be within his budget. There never was envy for he knew he would have a mansion of his own. Our Lord told us so.

He also shared this verse with us:

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

Even with this verse in his heart, he grieved when my mother died.  She spent the last twenty-five years of her life with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Dad as her constant care giver. When she passed away, he was lost for a while, but took the comfort Christ offered.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18 KJV)

The year after Mom passed away, he attended his school reunion and was asked to say grace before their meal.  As he bowed his head and began the prayer, a movement caught his eye. Bare footed, not touching the floor, dressed all in white but with the red hair of her youth, Mom stood before him, healed and smiling.

He only spoke of this a couple of times.  The vision, and the memory was for him.

Can anyone suggested a better comfort?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

You Be Jesus.

As the story goes, two brothers, just a couple of years apart, wanted the first pancake their mother was cooking for their breakfast. As they argued, Mom told them, “Jesus would let his brother have the first one.”

The older brother turned to the younger and said, “You be Jesus.”

Don’t we all do that?  We want someone else to be Jesus, not us.

Think of any one of the Bible stories we’ve heard, how it applies to our lives, then think of our responses.  Haven’t we asked someone else to be Jesus? The very first thing that comes to my mind:

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 KJV)

Our Lord forgave those who nailed Him to the cross, and we can’t get over an argument with a family member? A neighbor? How difficult is it to say “I’m sorry.” Or, if on the receiving end, “I’m sorry, too, that this came between us.” Instead, we hold a grudge, justify our actions and allow the rift to grow wider.

How about Jesus’ attendance at temple and synagogues. He was taken as a child and spoke in synagogues as an adult.

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

Do we let others be Jesus here, too?  Not attending church services and not even considering teaching?
Lets combine some of these and throw in healing:

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23 KJV)

Well, now, we can’t do all of that. Oh, maybe the synagogues, but travel? We’re limited.  Healing?  We’re neither doctors nor miracle workers. Here it will take Jesus to be Jesus, right?

Nope. We need to be witnessing with every one we meet. Perhaps simply by saying “Have a blessed day.” And, while we may not be physical healers, we can certainly visit those who are ill, hospitalized or in physical therapy. We can certainly assist in their healing and help keep their spirits up.

See?  There’s no need for us to say “You be Jesus.” We just need to follow the Bible’s instructions on being the light He left in the world.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5 KJV)

Ye are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14a KJV)

It begins with love and two commandments.

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 22:36-40 KJV)

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Army?

If you need to defend yourself there are some specific tools that will help you. But what if there’s an army waiting out there?  That’s the choice that faced Gideon. So, he gathered an army of his own. That’s not what God had in mind:

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. (Judges 7:2 KJV)

We do that, don’t we? “I had such a good lesson prepared for Sunday School.”  “Didn’t he select such beautiful music for this morning’s service?”  “Boy, the preacher was right on target with that sermon!”

Those are all affirmative, positive statements and they were right – but in each case the glory, the praise, should all go to God.  Don’t stop thinking and praising the workers, though.  Just include the fact that they were working within God’s will and He deserves praise and thanks.

We don’t all pay attention, either. Think about how the selection was made for Gideon’s army:

So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. (Judges 7:5-6 KJV)

Sometimes people just aren’t aware of what’s happening around them. Kneeling down to drink leaves them vulnerable. They see only the water before them. Bringing the water to their mouths leaves their eyes able to look around, their focus is on their surroundings, not the water.  They were not vulnerable, but prepared.

Later in chapter 7, Gideon takes the 300 men and with them routed the Midianites.  Their goal was reached with a much smaller army.

Let’s look at verse three, though, before leaving this lesson:

Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. (Judges 7:3 KJV)

Those are the fearful and afraid that departed early from mount Gilead. Two-thirds of the army turned around and went home. Would you say two-thirds of your congregation sit in pews in churches on Sunday morning, then never pass through the doors during the week?

Where are we? Kneeling to drink or bringing the water with our hands?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who Is The Master?

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24 KJV)

Matthew Henry’s commentary speaks of the verses prior to and including this one:
Worldly-mindedness is as common and as fatal a symptom of hypocrisy as any other, for by no sin can Satan have a surer and faster hold of the soul, under the cloak of a visible and passable profession of religion, than by this; and therefore Christ, having warned us against coveting the praise of men, proceeds next to warn us against coveting the wealth of the world; in this also we must take heed, lest we be as the hypocrites are, and do as they do: the fundamental error that they are guilty of is, that they choose the world for their reward;
We do spend more time with the things we love the most. Non-believers are correct calling out “Hypocrite!” when Christians spend more time focused on achieving the attention of men than giving attention to the Lord.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21 KJV)

That is biblical truth, spoken by our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Why, then, do we ignore it and seek earthly pleasures as well as earthly treasures?

These words were spoken to His disciples, those chosen men who were to carry His message after His resurrection. It is doubly important to those who carry His message today.

Luke uses almost the same words:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13 KJV)

This verse follows the parable of the unjust steward. The Pharisees mocked  and derided Him:

And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15 KJV)

The Bible is full of examples of people justifying what they wanted to do. We’ve not only convinced ourselves, but we’ve convinced those around us that what we’re doing is the best way, even if it appears inappropriate – or even harmful. But, we’re not fooling God.

If we are capable of convincing everyone that good will come out of what we’re doing, how can we tell it’s wrong? The standards are laid out in the Bible, and they haven’t changed.

Christ went in to the homes of sinners and was castigated by the clergy of that time.  ‘Homes’, to me, is a key word. As with Zacchaeus, He did one-on-one. He preached messages to crowds, but met sinners one-on-one.

Christ continues to be our standard, our goal, our teacher and our God. There is nothing new under the sun, for His commandment remains the same:

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)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Person

Author Robert Lloyd’s blog recently included comments from seminary graduates.  Each one merits thought, but this one caught my eye as such a beautiful truth:
I learned that at the core of the gospel is a person to receive, not just a set of doctrines to affirm.
When you hear the name Jesus, what comes to mind? The answer might depend on what time of the year His name is spoken. At Christmas we’ll think of the child in the manger with angels announcing His arrival to shepherds.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

Absolutely appropriate as the portrait of a shepherd caring for his flock runs through the Bible.  We might see Him as a child, being raised in a religious family, being taken to the temple.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (Luke 2:22 KJV)

And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. (Luke 2:42 KJV)

We see Him at the beginning of His public ministry.

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)

Read the four gospels to learn about the next three years, where we will see Him healing, teaching, admonishing while serving as our example and explaining about the kingdom to come.  Then we will see Him as abandoned and alone.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46 KJV)

There will come a time!! A time when the world will recognize Him as we should.

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16 KJV)

No matter how else we see Him when we think of Him, this is the person He truly was, is and shall be – King of kings and Lord of lords. Before Him, it is said, every knees shall bow:

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:23 KJV)

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12 KJV)

Do you see yourself, bowing before Him? Right now would be a good time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Tomato Seeds
Gardeners are beginning to reap some of their hard work.  My little bunch of tomatoes are turning red (in spite of those horrid tomato worms) and will grace our table tonight.  We’ve eaten some of the sugar peas and have used a lot of the herbs from the garden.

There are garden examples across the Bible, from Eden where Adam and Eve dressed the garden before they understood they were undressed.

The 13th chapter of Matthew contains a beautiful example of the sower and seeds falling on a variety of ground. The disciples wondered why Jesus spoke in parables – why not just tell the people plainly? Sorry, but we have to pay attention.  We have to listen closely and reason within ourselves.

For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matthew 13:15 KJV)

Paul used seeds as an example for understanding the resurrection:

And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: (1 Corinthians 15:37 KJV)

Only from previous experience could we believe that a tomato seed really could grow into a tall plant and give us tasty food. Looking at any seed takes imagination to see what it will do with the right soil, water, temperature and care.

So it is when we plant the seeds of curiosity in God’s word. We don’t know which suggested verse will take root and cause a reader to open their Bible and check to see if that verse means what it says. We don’t know what might grow from the seeds that we scatter across the web – and there are many seeds being scattered.

There are different gardeners, too, with a wide variety of responsibilities – some plant, some water, some reap. Paul was familiar with this process:

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6 KJV)

In 1 Corinthians 15:37-50, Paul speaks of the difference between our resurrected bodies and those we now inhabit. The older we get, the more we look forward to those – even though we cannot imagine how they might appear. Just as the tomato seed does not hint to its appearance as a plant, so shall we be:

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44 KJV)

This is why we sow the seeds of God’s word, that all might hear, understand and be able to say:

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 KJV)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crossing Jordan

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
and cast a wishful eye
to Canaan's fair and happy land,
where my possessions lie.
Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795

The Children of Israel stood on the shores of the Jordan twice, forty years apart. The first time they ignored God’s promises, along with the report of two spies, and chose to turn away. That choice cost them the lives of their men of war.

For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. (Joshua 5:6 KJV)

They allowed the words of ten men and their own fears to set their course:

And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. (Numbers 13:30-31 KJV)

These people had lived through the plagues against Egypt.  They had seen the miracle of Passover when their first born survived, and the Egyptians did not. They crossed the Red Sea, but when it came to crossing the Jordan to receive God’s promises, they balked. They wished they were dead.

And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! (Numbers 14:2 KJV)

Their lack of faith in God’s plan cost them:

Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: (Numbers 14:22-23 KJV)

As Christians, we’ve chosen to be called His children, joint heirs with Christ. He has given each of us work to be done. Have we done it? Or does God still say:

And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? (Numbers 14:11 KJV)

Crossing Jordan does not mean moving from this world into God’s kingdom.  It means crossing from our lives into living His plans for our lives.  If we do not, we continue living in the wilderness while others do His will.

Oh, we love Him. We know He loves us, we look forward to heaven, we sing His praises in worship, but we do not cross the river based on His promises. How long will we provoke Him?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Faith By Hearing

May I introduce you to Jeremy Knight’s website and his first blog post.

Jeremy didn’t stop with a blog post outlining his salvation experience. He built a site that contains a variety of multimedia resources which provided him support and growth during his first year as a Christian, and help him continue that growth to fulfill a mission.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:6-8 KJV)

Jeremy’s hitting Jerusalem (close to his home), Judaea (the surrounding area), Samaria (with the internet, he can reach places where Christians are not welcome) and the uttermost – again, with the communication possibilities of the internet, his witness can reach where he does not physically go.

While I’ve simply written a daily blog about Bible reading in my own life, Jeremy has collected and shared audio sermons (some of our own pastor’s!), videos, books, documents and portions of the audible Bible.

This reminds me of Paul – there are so many times Paul witnessed to others about his own salvation experience, then told them about the scriptures prophesying the coming of the Messiah, the fulfillment of those prophesies and exhorting those who earned the name Christian to keep that name pure. Thus, he wrote:

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

So, we read the Bible as a whole, promises and fulfillment across the ages as God speaks to His people, from their introduction in Genesis to the move to His kingdom in John’s Revelation.  All the stories in between speak to us today, and the message pretty much remain the same, though each of us have to hear and receive within our own hearts. The base to me is:

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)

It takes knowing that God created this world (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1) and that He gave His son (Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:11) that whosoever (that really means anyone, even everyone) believes in Him (yep, that’s necessary, John 14:6) has everlasting life. Those who do not believe – well, another verse lays that out:

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)

Come, hear, grow in faith.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Wife

And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. (Genesis 29:16 KJV)

Jacob was sent by his father Isaac to Laban, Jacob’s uncle. Specifically, he was instructed to marry one of Laban’s daughters.

Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. (Genesis 29:17 KJV)

It was Rachel that caught Jacob’s attention, and his promise to work seven years for her father in order to marry her. Can you imagine that wedding night? How could Rachel keep quiet as her sister was married in her place? Were they so similar in height and weight that Jacob didn’t notice when led into a dark tent at night? Comes the morning:

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Genesis 29:25 KJV)

Within a week, Jacob wed his beloved Rachel, and worked another seven years for Laban – prospering during that entire time. But the marriages brought hatred, for Jacob loved Rachel more.

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. (Genesis 29:31 KJV)

This was the subject of our Thursday Ladies Bible Study. The core of the lesson was how to respond when hated. Leah did nothing to incur her sister’s hatred. Multiple marriages were the norm in their culture. She was compelled to obey her father.  Perhaps she loved Jacob, too. She had done no wrong, yet she was hated.

Christ told us that His followers would be hated, too, and he had a lesson for them:

Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. (Luke 6:22 KJV)

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44 KJV)

The part of the lesson that meant the most to me, though, came through the birth of her first four sons listed in Genesis 29:32-35.

With the first son, she thought her husband would come to love her. With the second, she realized God knew she was hated. With the third, she believed her husband would feel joined with her. With the fourth – Judah – she praised the Lord. Through Judah would come King David. Through the Davidic line would come Jesus, the messiah.

How long does it take us to praise the Lord?

Genesis 35:19 tells us that Rachel was buried in Bethlehem. Leah continued with her husband, who showed care for her as he charged his children as to his burial arrangements:

And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave … There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. (Genesis 49:29-31 KJV)

Rachel, buried alone. Leah, destined to be Jacob’s first and last wife.

Friday, June 8, 2012


During Wednesday night’s lesson, Pastor commented on the number of people who look for contradictions in the Bible, using them as reasons for ignoring everything the Bible says.  He was teaching from Proverbs 26, and gave a very good example of what many see as contradicting advice:

Pro 26:4  Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Pro 26:5  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Which is it?  Do we answer a fool, or not?

Let me jump back a few years to a class I took on software testing.  Our instructor’s name was Rick, and after introductions, he told us he was going to give us the answer to every question he would ask during the course:

“It depends, Rick.”

That’s the same answer I would give for the example’s apparent contradiction.

First, it depends on the definition of a fool.  That is given in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1:  The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. A fool is one who believes there is no God.

Now that we have that definition, we need to know what the fool’s folly would be. The 37 times it is used in the Bible, it has been described as causing problems for the people of Israel. Much greater error than being irresponsible or absurd, folly resulted in tragic consequences and godlessness often brought about God’s punishment.

Now we’re back to the question – are these verses contradictory? Based on the two definitions, no there is no contradiction.

As one who believes God exists, and that He speaks to His people through His word, we are not to answer a fool in agreement, or according to his folly, or we become as he is in his godlessness.

However, we are to answer the fool, explaining his folly, or he will believe that he is correct and become even more prideful in his belief that what he thinks is important.

The importance to us is our ability to discern whether or not it is a waste of time responding. There is wisdom both in ignoring and in answering. Discerning the correct response will require knowledge of God and the building of faith.

This is a lesson Timothy was given:

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (1 Timothy 6:5 KJV)

If Christians misbehave, the name of God and his doctrine are laughed at by non-believers. Because of this, we should living according to His word so no one speaks lightly of God. Some disputes help, some hinder. Some we answer, some we simply ignore.

However, yesterday’s closing bears repeating:   Become familiar with God’s word. Remain close to Him in prayer. Be aware of backgrounds and be knowledgeable about people – but (a huge hesitation here) do not get in God’s way. Allow His word, His plan, His work be done in our witness.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What We Are

Back in February I mentioned a corporate training program I had taken in a previous, working, life.  It is entitled What You Are Is Where You Were When, and their website explains that the training:
… presents a framework for understanding and working with all different types of people. Morris takes on assumptions about race, religion, age, gender and will help you develop strategies to deal with your homegrown prejudices and acceptance of others.
Back in February I mentioned the program’s three periods:
Imprint (from birth to seven),
Modeling (between eight and thirteen)
Socialization (fourteen to twenty-one)
Thinking about that again this morning, I realized I have spoken with people over 21 who state emphatically, “That’s the way I was raised.” Whether in those words or their actions, they resent the implication change would be beneficial, and do not accept there might be a reason, much less a need, to change. They were past these three periods and felt they knew what they were.

Paul knew that change was inevitable when we come to know Christ:

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24 KJV)

The ‘deceitful lusts’ differ from person to person. The enticement that keeps us from hearing God’s message is personalized to fit us well. To list them all would only serve to tempt. Paul does list a few:

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:25-29 KJV)

Considering all of this when witnessing is helpful, but there’s one more thing of the greatest importance when witnessing:

But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Mark 13:11 KJV)

Christ was speaking of the end times, the latter days. We are 2,000 years closer to them than He was.

Become familiar with God’s word. Remain close to Him in prayer. Be aware of backgrounds and be knowledgeable about people – but (a huge hesitation here) do not get in God’s way. Allow His word, His plan, His work be done in our witness.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Yes, it’s the same graphic illustration from yesterday.  No, it’s not the same message.

When I first saw this graphic I was struck by the illumination. My OKsil works in stained glass and has given us fruit of her labor. Flat in a box, they are indicative of time-consuming work, but not until illuminated is the beauty fully displayed.

Stained glass windows appear rather dull when outside their buildings during the day. At night, lit from the inside, a portion of their beauty is displayed. But inside, with sunlight streaming through, they become the works of art their creators intended.

Sometimes explaining Christianity reminds me of these windows.

For the Christian, God’s light is as illuminating to us as through such a window. We see details that cannot be seen from the outside. We see the vibrancy of color, the truths that are held and we describe them to someone who has never seen such light before. We speak of a man who said:

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5 KJV)

He was promised ages before, a light for God’s people:

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1-2 KJV)

Without that God-given light, the beauty of Christianity appears dull and uninviting, for they see only the darkness wherein they walk:

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2 KJV)

Matthew recognized that scripture as having been fulfilled:

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Matthew 4:14-16 KJV)

Perhaps in the dark the light shining through those beautiful windows will help set their direction:

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19 KJV)

Can we truly be attractive to those in the dark? Can we be what Jesus required, showing Him to others:

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:8 KJV)

The phrase is repeated:

Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. (Revelation 1:11 KJV)

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Revelation 21:6 KJV)

I’ve come to believe that when a message in the Bible is repeated, it is important. We’ve been given a look from the very beginning:

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

To the very end:

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Revelation 22:13 KJV)

There is no end to learning what is behind five words:  I am Alpha and Omega

If everyone in the world wrote their view of what those words mean, publishing the books today, they would have to rewrite them tomorrow.

Oh, He stays the same – but our viewpoints change as we hear more, learn more and move closer to His side.

The Bible exists in order that we may learn of Him. It contains the messages He has given to individuals as well as nations, for one instances and for all time. Finding and learning the lessons for each person’s life is a never ending process.

Mankind has a tendency not to put Him first, and denies that He will be last. Many deny His very existence, deriding those of us who look to Him in faith and worship Him as He requires:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3 KJV)

While requiring that we put Him first, His remaining requirements are simple.  Micah 6:6-7 asks what would please the Lord, then gives the answer:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV)

That was Solomon’s conclusion, too:

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)

But we respond to God the way Adam did, sinfully, even when He comes to walk with us:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV)

Put Him first, last and always and return to walking with Him.