Thursday, January 31, 2013

Checking A Prayer List

Yes - I've used this very subject before. It came to mind this evening as I thought about the prayer requests given in services last night, the Pray Until Something Happens list I keep, the people who come to mind and I simply know I need to pray for them. We really do need to ...

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

My goodness! How can anyone do that? Without ceasing? Wouldn’t that be like talking to God all the time? Of course!! And you can start with the very next verse:

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

Come on – surely not giving thanks for every thing! There are some really bad things that happen to people. Really great, loving people become terminally ill. How can we give thanks for that?

Give thanks that you’ve known them. Praise God for their lovingkindness as you praise Him for His. Ask Him to comfort you both; to remind each of you of His promises and look forward to a reunion that cannot be described.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28 KJV)

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. And then we’re promised that all things – even the bad ones – work together for good for those who love God.

With David we can pray:

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. … Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. (Psalms 40:11, 13 KJV)

Can we know what God has in store? Not in this lifetime:

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 are the promises He has given, and we have seen that He has kept, even in the very next verses:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 KJV)

So I shall pray throughout each day, remembering many examples set before me:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 KJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. … But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6 KJV)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Drama Isn’t Just On The Screen

How comparable are drama and gossip - whether it involves teenagers or grownups? Yes, neither drama nor gossip are confined to teens. In fact, teens are more open about it than adults. Want to know where gossips fit in the Bible? Take a look at the list of things in Romans 1:25-32.

See that word “whisperers” in verse 29? That sounds so innocent, doesn’t. We think of whispering between friends, but that denotes secrets, doesn’t it? The Greek used here, ψιθυριστής, is also defined as a secret calumniator. No, I didn’t know what that word meant, either – and I have a pretty good vocabulary. So, I looked it up. That’s what we’re supposed to do when we study – dig deeper for understanding.

A calumniator is one that makes maliciously or knowingly false statements. Now that’s a bit worse than simple gossip – which is casual conversation or reports about other (definitely not the two people conversing!) people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. It’s the “Did you hear …” I wrote about years ago.

How about the phrase “inventors of evil things” in verse 30? That’s similar to the calumniator, isn’t it? Inventing words that describe actions that have never taken place? Yes, that is not confined to young people. Adults can be guilty of drama and gossip, too. Long term injury can be done by both youth and adult. Verse 31 describes them well:

Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: (Romans 1:31 KJV)

This can strike early. One very sweet pre-teen explained the person who hurt her with ‘drama’ was “my used-to-be best friend.” Both will remember this, not with pleasure, as they grow and mature. What could have been a bonding experience has become a rift.

It can strike late. I’ve recently seen in adults, seeking to learn a “Why?” after a change in someone’s life. When asking others “Did you hear …” they include speculation as to the “Why?”, which always involves unconfirmed details. Obviously the person making the change did not explain – nor was an explanation required. Speculating about it does constitute gossip.

Drama? Gossip? Neither can be applied to the positive examples we’ve been given for our conversations:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

Before we speak, we should T H I N K:
T – is it true?
H – is it helpful?
I – is it inspiration?
N – is it necessary?
K – is it kind.
Remember, we will be called to answer for our words:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anger Management

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit about arguing, a form of anger. Looking back over the years, I’ve done several, but our Sunday School lesson covered scripture in greater depth than I ever considered. It was a lesson I needed. The course is ‘Journey Into Building Better Relationships’, this lesson 8 is ‘Controlling Your Anger’ and the base scripture 1 Corinthians 13:5c
Not easily provoked

There are things that raise anger in me. I depended on scripture to justify a righteous anger, such as:

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26 KJV)

This lesson gives a completely different perspective. The Bible contains the word ‘anger’ 234 times in 228 verses, none of them supportive of staying angry. Jesus called for forgiving more than seventy times seven. He expressed exasperation toward religious leaders who mislead God’s people, and He physically lashed out at those who turned God’s house into a den of thieves, but He never advocated anger, always teaching and exampling forgiveness.

There are three Greek words that are used for the English ‘anger’ in the New Testament. The one used in the first part of verse 26 is ὀργίζω, “to provoke or enrage, become exasperated.” Wrath, in the last part, is παροργισμός, “rage.” Basically, we can become exasperated with what is going on around us, but we should never keep that wrath in our minds by the end of the day. Why? One line in the lesson explains:
The reason we should never be angry with a person is we cannot love them and be angry with them at the same time. … Anger is almost always the first thing that must be dealt with before relationship problems can improve.
The lesson also asks us to consider the consequences of our anger:
  • Anger makes us act like fools – it’s been called ‘temporary insanity (Proverbs 29:11)
  • Anger makes conflicts worse – it grows (Proverbs 15:1)
  • Anger causes other sins – it cascades (Proverbs 29:22)
So, how do we manager our anger? This lesson gives five items:
  • Consider the type of anger
  • Contemplate the consequences of the anger
  • Concentrate on the cause of the anger
  • Constrain our words
  • Confess anger as a sin.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; (Proverbs 27:4a KJV)

Which is good reason why Solomon wrote:

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: (Proverbs 22:24 KJV)

Why should we confess anger as a sin? Two good reasons, in my opinion. First – Jesus has commanded we love, as He did (John 15:12) and anger will keep us from that love. Second – when we sin, that sin is not simply against someone here on earth, it is against God, as David knew (2 Samuel 12:13) for He is the one who gave us commandments.

Thank God, we don’t have to work through our anger alone.  The Holy Spirit dwells in us to help us through all temptations, even anger:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)

Monday, January 28, 2013


I don’t know the source of this graphic, but it’s one of my favorites because Jesus is the solid rock for me, the foundation of my faith. Part of that faith is a Baptist doctrine – eternal security. That was our lesson last night. Chapter Four of “First Steps for New Christians,” by Paul Chappell.

There’s absolutely nothing that we Christians have done to earn this security. We’ve done nothing to earn our salvation, either. It’s offered based on His love:

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

I did add a bit to Paul’s words from one of these foundational scriptures that firm my belief:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
Nor any form of earthly strife,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
Nor things from Satan’s bowers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor far away, nor near at home,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
Nor false God, nor wrong teacher
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:38-39 KJV)

There are other scriptures, too, that speak of this security.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. (John 10:28-30 KJV)

It is God’s boundless grace and mercy that provides eternity, not one ounce of activity on my part. I’ve done nothing, absolutely nothing, to earn His love. In fact:

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

Because He is not limited by time, God knew this before the foundation of this world:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (1 Peter 1:20 KJV)

Based on those forgiven sins detailed in His word, what could I possibly do that could cause Him to cut me off? Murder? Forgiven. Sexual sins? Forgiven. Come on, come up with something other than Matthew 12:31.

God has not promised us life until we mess up, He has promised eternal life. Not ten-year eternal, twenty-year eternal, but eternal as in everlasting. So, does that give us permission to live sinfully, to do as we please? Paul had that answer (obviously the question came up!!):

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:15 KJV)

We do have to live in this world, as His children. As Christ prayed for us, He asked our Father:

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15 KJV)

Paul’s discourse in Romans 7 about what we would do as opposed to what we should do pretty well covers the fact that we will make errors. We can expect parental discipline spiritually, through a loving Father, eternally.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


During a recent Bible lesson I became curious about how many times ‘fruit(s)’ or ‘fruitful’ was used in the New Testament, most in relation to a Christian’s life – seventy-three verses, where one or the other of those words are used 84 times. Guess it’s pretty important,then, beginning with John’s words:

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8 KJV)

There should be visible changes in a person’s life when they become a Christian. I remember a Junior High girl who asked, “If someone keeps sinning but say they are a Christian, are they?” It’s a sad question because it is usually asked with a specific person in mind. The one on her mind was herself – there were no changes in her life after she said Christ was her savior. She was correct in questioning her understanding of salvation. Good fruit is expected.

Jesus was speaking of false prophets, but it’s applicable to Christian lives:

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. (Matthew 7:16-18 KJV)

Just a verse below Jesus explains that not everyone who calls upon His name will be part of the kingdom:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 KJV)

He sets such a scene later, turning away those who called, but did not follow:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. (Matthew 25:41-43 KJV)

Our ‘fruit’ is constantly being inspected, especially by someone under conviction who is afraid their lives will be damaged by the expected changes. They easily see those who carry the name Christian, yet have no fruit to show for that carrying. Then they apply the label  “Hypocrite,” and want no part of what is being offered.

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:18-20 KJV)

If Jesus were to walk by us in the morning, what fruit of ours would He find? What fruit would you expect to offer Him? Or, have we withered on our own?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Patient?

See the two bridges? Want to build like that? How’s your patience quota:
Living root Bridges are built in the deep valleys of East Khasi hills in central Meghalaya, Northeast India. The people of these villages (Nongriat, Laitkynshew and others) are isolated from rest of the world as these are located in a deep valleys which can only be reached by an arduous trek. Now though the situation is better as there are steps built to visit the valley. You have to descend and climb more than 2100 steps at a time. Since these valleys were inaccessible for a long time people came with this ingenious solution to cross rivers which were very full due to tremendous rainfall in the monsoon. They plant the strangler fig trees on both sides and once they grow they use guides such as bamboo poles or string for the roots to grow around them. Then in 10-15 years (mostly more), a bridge is grown. This is multi-generational effort. these bridges are extremely durable an last 5 to 6 centuries.
Have you been involved in anything that took decades, much less last centuries? Not hardly. We live in a planned-obsolescence society that builds bridges by way of the lowest bidder, though built with steel and concrete. Some have lasted longer than expected, some failed in spectacular displays.

Jesus of Nazareth built on human faith, nothing tangible at all. The foundation had been set in place by God through generations culminating with Moses when Commandments were written in stone.

Copied by scribes, lived by many, ignored by many more, Jesus parsed them down into two believable 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)

Those who planted the trees and stretched the first roots did not do it for themselves.  They knew it would take a long time to grow, as their ancestors had done this before.

Jesus did not live for Himself. What He did was for others, totally, but He provided a bridge of Himself between us and God.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 KJV)

Best deal around, isn’t it? For eternity, not simply centuries. How patient can we be in serving our Lord when what we build will last eternally?

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Right Heart in God’s Sight

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: (Acts 8:9 KJV)

Have you met someone such as Simon? Not that they’ve used sorcery, but certainly bewitching people and making them think he was something great?

His story comes after Jesus had given His disciples their responsibilities before His return to heaven:

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

Acts 8 begins with Saul’s persecution, then moves to the scattering of His disciples:

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. (Acts 8:4-6 KJV)

It was enough to convince a number of people – including Simon:

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. (Acts 8:12-13 KJV)

As often with new converts, there were problems.

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. (Acts 8:18-21 KJV)

Simon believed. Simon was baptized. Simon wanted to do more, yet his heart was not right in the sight of God.

How can we be certain our hearts are right in God’s sight? Depend on Him to do it:

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

That’s basically Peter’s message to Simon, too:

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. (Acts 8:22-24 KJV)

That gall of bitterness is built on arrogance and pride which blinds our hearts to God’s message and fills us with a desire to have what we should not, which places us within the bond of iniquity, which is sin. What we need is to ask God to cleans and release us, isn’t it?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bad Things, Good People


What are we supposed to do when life as we want it to be is no longer possible? How do we respond when bad – very bad – things happen to good people?

There are lots of examples around us. One reminder hangs on my bedroom wall.  Has for years. It doesn’t ‘go’ with my choice of colors, more orange than I would have chosen. But I’ll keep it always. Leaves and a butterfly against  the sky, stretching upward from a fence post. Simple, until we look closely at the intricate brush strokes, paint selections and the fine lines that draw your eye and you appreciate the work of the artist.  Then, we’re told that her neck was broken in a diving accident at seventeen. She’s a paraplegic.

Not inspirational enough? Try this – she’s also a renown author, not just writing about disability, but about her faith in Jesus Christ. Forty-eight books, at last count, but I doubt she is finished sharing. She is the center of Joni and Friends.

How can we possibly compare our daily frustrations, along with a strong lack of patience (no, I haven’t been peeking  in your windows, I’ve taken a look in the mirror) with Joni’s accomplishments?

She could have wrapped herself in bitterness and depression – many do. She could have shut herself away from a world that worships red carpet runways and celebrity status – many do. She could have become a political activist, the ‘poster child’ for a segment of our society – many do.

Instead, she chose to help us all through Christ’s redeeming love. She has been blessed, and she is a blessing. In my opinion, her ministries (yes, many more than one!), embody this statement from her beliefs:

We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by Whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

On our own, we fail. Even with the Holy Spirit indwelling, we are able to quench His work within us.

Quench not the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

Let me also state that I do not see that God caused the accident in order to use Joni’s life as an example. I do see His work through her life in spite of the accident because she turned to Him.

Christ’s example of parents’ love for their children in Matthew 7 is summed in God’s love for His children:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11)

When you look at Joni’s sites, at her biography, at her life’s work, can you see the fulfillment of His promise:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Our abundant life with God will be different from Joni’s and it will be eternal. Without God – it will be without abundance and, eventually, without life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Time–it’s filled!!

Sunday morning’s lesson had a verse mentioning ‘redeeming the time’, but I like these a bit better for what I have on my mind.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:2-6 KJV)

I’ve looked at next week’s calendar, and it’s full. Monday afternoon was taken up by my neuro-ophthalmologist’s testing for Henry’s impact on the optic nerve and surrounding tissue. He has not touched the optic nerve, there's been no pressure on it and no damage (yeah!!) Then I can forget about him for a while.

Tuesday (of all things!) is an open day and I hope to actually do some wash and house cleaning – as well as start a granny square blanket for Jaylin (who will be joining the family in May).

Wednesday is rough. We want to be at the hospital before 7:00, when my Second Great-grandson is having his knees operated on. He just turned 11 last week and there are cartilage problems in both knees that have to be fixed now or tendon problems will just get worse. So hard for a lad interested in wrestling, and a Mom who is hurt when her son hurts. Prayers appreciated!

Thursday is Beloved Husband’s plasmapheresis day. Usually Wednesdays, but not this week. We’re up at 5:30, at the hospital at 8:30 and do our errands on our way back.

Friday is a trip back to the middle of Fort Worth (third one this week) for David’s appointment with the nephrologist who will be checking on his fistula to see that it is healing well.  When it does, there will be another operation to remove the permanent ports that have kept him alive this year. For that we continue to give thanks!! And for all of the supporting prayers from so many people around the world. Thank God for your faithfulness.

All of that is a precursor to stating that I don’t know whether I’ll find the time to post each day. I’ve been surprised in the past when I’ve felt overwhelmed by a lack of time and words simply flowed. I find it strange that they flowed so well all through Beloved Husband’s treatment, while they seem stifled as we garner doctors for me. Maybe I’ll figure that out later.

Anyway, if you miss me for a day, I’m fine – just a bit tired and will be back in a bit.  I’ll leave you with another verse from Colossians, one I think of when I pray for my readers (and I do pray for you!):

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9 KJV)

Monday, January 21, 2013


I enjoy reading Matthew Henry’s commentary after I’ve read a verse. Though generations have passed, we often see the same message.  I was looking up Lamentations 3:23 after seeing it applied in another’s comments, wanting to see it in context. That third chapter starts with complaints (not laments, but complaints!), and Henry wrote:
The title of the 102nd Psalm might very fitly be prefixed to this chapter - The prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and pours out his complaint before the Lord;
Yep – we are not alone when we feel completely overwhelmed, either by people or events, certain that we are doing what God has in mind and they simply are not listening! Do we complain to them? Not hardly – we complain to and about God.

So many of that third chapter’s verses begin with “He hath …” and follow with an example of what God did not do to help or did do to hinder the people.

Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. (Lamentations 3:3 KJV)

I heard a loved one say that God hadn’t given him anything, that he had worked for it all. A few sentences later he stated that they never seemed to get ahead. Every time they took a step forward, there was something that went wrong. Sounds as though the man who authored Lamentations 3 would have agreed with those sentiments.

He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. (Lamentations 3:15 KJV)

Even in the midst of this lamenting what is happening, Jeremiah does not forget God’s existence:

And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. (Lamentations 3:18-19 KJV)

Eventually, he acknowledges and accepts God’s sovereignty:

My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (Lamentations 3:20-22 KJV)

The next verse not only offers hope, it’s the foundation for one of my favorite hymns:

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:23 KJV)

The verses turn from lamenting God’s lack of attention (or amount of correcting attention) to praising Him:

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:24-26 KJV)

Oh, do we ever have problems quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord?! I can only speak for myself when I say I mostly want it RIGHT NOW!! If it’s coming, why wait?

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. (Lamentations 3:27-28 KJV)

Instead of continuing a litany of what God has or hasn’t done that we want, we need to look around for the lesson to be learned. That is better done in our youth rather than in later years – giving us much more time to better serve His purposes.

And, that’s less than half the chapter!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How Far Are You Willing To Go?

Yes, those are steps going down into a well. Constructed in India about 800 AD, I’m told it has 3,500 narrow steps in 13 stories extending 100 feet into the ground, and has been used in films. Here is a different perspective:
How far are we willing to go for water? Down those 13 stories? to the green water shown in the photo? Would we carry our load of water to the top and share with others?

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (John 4:7 KJV)

The Samaritan woman would not have had to go a hundred feet down to get water for Jesus, but we’re not told that she did give Him water. She did ask questions:

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. (John 4:9 KJV)

For all their differences, she stayed to talk. She asked a question. She listened to His answer:

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10 KJV)

We are so much like her – if we knew the gifts God has in store for us, we would be asking for them, too. Especially that living water He knew so well:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14 KJV)

The Samaritan woman asked for that living water, not understanding what she was asking:

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. (John 4:15 KJV)

As we do, she first thought of her physical comfort. Don’t we? Isn’t that what we expect – provision of manna, release from pain, healing for our bodies? Do we even consider how far He was willing to go to bring that water for us. He came to us looking and living as us:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:7 KJV)

It wasn’t just his reputation that suffered, this man of sorrows, acquainted with grief:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)

Isn’t that the person we want talking to our Father about us? The Christ who was willing to go to earth, for us?

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32 KJV)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

WARNING: Political, With No Scripture

The other day I was reading a mother’s thoughts on gun control. I can’t place a link because it was on another’s FB page. The lady was concise, thorough and stated very well her case for protecting society’s children – without a sense of argument or rancor. I was impressed, until about two-thirds down when she mentioned rights.

She understood gun owners would be giving up rights and she mentioned that she would not be willing to give up her right to an abortion. She spoke of a woman’s control of her body.

Oh, we agree on that.  All  women should have control over their own bodies – especially to the extent of preventing pregnancy. After that has passed, we argue over semantics - zygotes, fetus, pre-born, new-born.

In compiling my thoughts, I determined not to use Biblical references. Abortion supporters do not believe the Bible applies, therefore they will not respond to God’s word. Let me, instead, discuss the reality of science. It begins with DNA.

The creation of a zygote, the earliest developmental state of a fetus, requires DNA from two sources – half from the female (mother), half from the male (father.) Science does away with the words in parentheses and cloning may change the equation, but (as Wikipedia puts it):  “A zygote is always synthesized from the union of two gametes, and constitutes the first stage in a unique organism's development.” Please, remember that ‘unique’ part.

Once that DNA combination is established as human, the (zygote, fetus, pre-born, new born) becomes the most defenseless part of the human race. It will not change species as it develops, it will remain human. And it will remain unique.

Except for in vitro fertilization, the zygote is totally dependent upon the mother’s womb for nourishment and protection.  Surrounded by and connected to a woman, this new human DNA is not hers. She may come to love and cherish it, but it is a unique life separate and apart from her own. It is created in combination with another.

The womb’s ability to feed and protect the zygote is matched by its ability to enlarge as this unique human grows. Its ability is matched by other species, but humanity is the only species that has developed methodologies to remove that unique individual, that most helpless of humans.

You see, the woman who wrote of her right to an abortion differs with me. She does not see this most helpless (zygote, fetus, pre-born, new born) as human. She – and half of America – sees only a mass of cells, synonymous with a mass of cancer cells that should be removed for the well-being of her body. It is not. It is surrounded and protected by her body, but the DNA defines it as unique, connected to but not part of her body.

Through recent years I’ve seen a society grow that divides humans into segments. Some of those segments may be tossed aside for the convenience of others. I see a society who segregates humans into “people who provide something I need” who can be kept, and those “non-humans who provide nothing for me” which can be destroyed. Previous societies made a different segregation, with similar results.

Bottom line – a large portion of our society no longer cares for these most helpless of humans. I grieve for that lost caring.

Yes, I also have scriptural and spiritual reasons for my grief – but isn’t it sufficient that an existing human society no longer protect humans?

Friday, January 18, 2013


I read other blogs and hope you do, too. There are some very good ones around. A few weeks back, one of those had an excellent post on Appealing to Agrumentative People, at Far Above Rubies. I thought of that when reading (again):

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. (Proverbs 22:24-25 KJV)

As I read Jasmine’s blog about argumentative people, I like the basics of her suggestions:
  • She suggested starting with openly admitting differences.
  • She reminded us not to make judgmental statements.
  • She suggested pointing to shared values, experiences and problems.
  • She also said to ask the other person to keep an open mind (I might add, we would do good to do that, too.)
  • Hopefully, we can work to overcome negative stereotypes.
My question was, how does this relate to scripture? We do meet argumentative people when witnessing. I like Jasmine’s response:

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:17-18 KJV)

Each of her points offer an opportunity to continue discussions, lessening argumentativeness. When there is discussion, there are good opportunities for witnessing. If we are where we’re supposed to be in God’s plan, the words He has for us will come:

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12 KJV)

On the other hand, there seems to be little value in spending time in arguments where either participant becomes angry – as shown above from Proverbs. Yet Jesus accomplished miracles under such conditions. I like this example:

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (Mark 3:1-5 KJV)

No, His actions, His words didn’t change the Pharisees’ anger, confirmed by their next action:

And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:6 KJV)

My conclusion? We do the witnessing about what the Lord has done in our own lives. He provides the miracles.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Many of you know that my daughter-in-law has been deaf since early childhood. This past year she had a cochlear implant. Isn’t that an awesome change in one’s life?

If you have an e-mail account or are on Facebook, I’m certain you’ve seen the YouTube video of the toddler, sucking on his pacifier, when they turned on his cochlear implant. His mother was speaking to him and his mouth dropped open. He had no idea what the words meant, but this was new and different. He lost the pacifier, concentrating on her face, grinned for a moment, listened again, then just smiled. His whole world had changed. From that moment on, he would learn differently.

Same for my DiL. She had decades of learning – in school and at home. She read in English, ‘spoke’ in American Sign Language and in local deaf vernacular. She also spoke aloud, with the lack of inflection the deaf have, as they have nothing to compare. Now, think for a moment what she needed to learn.

The word ‘read’ – we know how it sounds. She did not. She recognized the written word. How long does it take to associate the sounds to those written words?

Yet, we expect new Christians to understand ‘Christianese,’ to be able to read God’s word and have it be as clear to them as it is to the deacon who was raised in the church and baptized at ten? Not hardly, and we do them no favors. Often, we place stumbling blocks in their way with our own expectations. We are at different places in our learning.

Congregants certainly aren’t (or aren’t expected to be) as well versed as the pastor shepherding them. We expect him to lead and to teach us. Why then do we expect new Christians to know what we know, to be beside us on our journey?

Perhaps we need to slow down a bit – not in our learning or desire to be with the Lord – but He said the way was narrow, not the fast lane. He said strait was the gate, not that it was the starting gate in the race where we were to remain steadfast. Taking time with new Christians opens whole new vistas, seeing the glorious message take root in their hearts. Often, that’s where we’ll see an answer to our prayer:

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; (Psalms 51:12a)

It is His salvation, not ours. It is given, freely, and we may enjoy it eternally, but it was created by God for His purpose and it is offered as a gift that does bring joy.

Some learned long ago how to listen to to the Lord through the Bible and prayer. Some are just starting, as we once did, as we all must:

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

Some have come to a complete halt. Listen with your heart. Renew the joy of His salvation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Setting Expectations

Heart Bible
I’ve been giving some thought to what people expect from God. The thoughts come from the way we speak to other people about Him.

“Just wait, God has the right person for you,” said to someone looking for true love. Really? would you want to suggest they read the book of Hosea right after hearing that?

“God has great things planned for you,” said to someone uncertain about their future. Again, would you suggest they read:

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. (Luke 2:25 KJV)

Suppose God has in mind that we simply wait for the Lord’s coming – are we prepared to do that? Simply wait? It’s suggested for us elsewhere:

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalms 27:14 KJV)

That’s how David closes a Psalm that begins with his statement:

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1 KJV)

Mostly, we are afraid of not achieving our goals. It is entirely possible that we will not. What should concern us is achieving God’s goal in our lives because we can’t possibly know the long term results.

Sarah didn’t wait on the Lord and Ishmael was born. David didn’t wait on the Lord and Uriah died. Judas didn’t wait – yet God’s plan was fulfilled – and Judas died.

How many years did Joseph wait? Through sibling betrayal, false accusation, imprisonment, forgotten, elevated, then reunion with his family. Was the wait worth it?

Jesus was very specific about planning ahead:

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:30-33 KJV)

Seek God first. He’ll add the things necessary to accomplish His purpose:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) (2 Corinthians 9:8-10 KJV)

Bottom line, we should not be telling anyone what God has in store for them, except the wonderful gift of His merciful salvation. Instead, direct them to the Bible and join them in prayer that God’s plan will be manifest in their lives – and in our own.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Sound of Stones

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. (John 8:1-2 KJV)

Jesus was at God’s house to teach people about Him and their relationship to Him when a woman was brought to Him by demanding religious leaders:

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? (John 8:3-5 KJV)

You can see the stones at the priest’s feet as he calls for judgment upon the woman. They were liars. They didn’t care about her, really.  If they had, they knew the written penalty. Their purpose was to snare Jesus.

That is our enemy’s purpose – distracting God’s people from sharing God’s word. They posit their own concepts, saying what they think God should have said, twisting a verse or two away from God’s purpose and man’s responsibilities. Aren’t Christians confronted in similar manner, a planned argument with an agenda by closed minded people?

Can we respond as quietly as our Lord, or do we become defensive:

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. (John 8:6-8 KJV)

We know the scene, but do we ever think of the sounds? Not just the sounds around Him – breeze across the porch, rustle of clothing, scuffling of shoes – but the sound of stones, dropping, one at a time, as men left, one by one.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (John 8:9 KJV)

She stood before Him, convicted yet free. What a beautiful portrait of ourselves, with contrite hearts, standing before our savior, uncertain what is next. Knowing we are guilty, knowing the penalty, yet hearing Him say:

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-11 KJV)

Did she sin again? I’m certain she did, in some way. We all do, even when we’ve promised not to. Thank God, His forgiveness has no limitation, not even seventy times seven. Thanks be to God for the sound of stones, dropping.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Words? Or Actions?
He must have been reading Paul:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV)

Or maybe James:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 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 2:17-18 KJV)

The ‘charity’ Paul used means the spiritual love between God and man. As Matthew Henry puts it:
love in its fullest and most extensive meaning, true love to God and man, a benevolent disposition of mind towards our fellow-Christians, growing out of sincere and fervent devotion to God.
Without agape, our activities in His name is of no profit. These activities, these works, are an outward sign of an inward change in our lives when we give God the allegiance He is due. No works does translate into no faith, as James so plainly put it.

Often people will respond with an acknowledgement that God exists, but decline to place their faith in His promises, in His plans for an abundant life. Some believe with their mind, but will not entrust their eternity with Him. James wrote of this, too:

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

Take a look at Satan’s temptation of Christ in Matthew 4:1-11. He kept saying “If” about Jesus being the Son of God, but he knew. That separates us from angels – they know God exists. Just as men, though, some chose to deny God’s will in their lives and were denied access to Him. The choice was theirs, just as it is ours.

How much time is there for us to make that choice? We have no idea.

Friday in Lewisville, Texas, there was an industrial accident – a utility company broke a gas line. Before repairs could be completed, gas accumulated in a duplex that was obliterated in an explosion. Before that accident, how long would we have thought the house would have remained standing?

We have no idea. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised an hour from now. We have only this moment in time.

What we do with it becomes what we preach. What we do with the decision about God is what we do with our lives. Do our lives reflect what is written in His word?

What do we want others to know about our faith? How do we tell them? Aren’t our actions worth much, much more than words?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In Between

Yesterday morning I wrote on a Status that it was an in between day. Today is, too. It is a day where sadness continues, but joy is evident.

Thursday afternoon I stopped by the hospital to visit with a family. My friend in the bed would not be able to acknowledge our presence, and the family was there to add to everyone’s comfort that her passing was peaceful. Now, husband, parents, siblings, extended family and friends mourn the loss of her company. Monday we will gather to remember the past and celebrate the future.

Why? Because of words Jesus spoke so long ago, yet live eternally:

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. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. (John 14:28-29)

His death, as it does for all mankind, did come to pass. It took a while, but His disciples were able to rejoice because they did believe. They came to understand what He said to Nicodemus:

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)

Why did John write all that he did?

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)

Knowing – and believing – His promises doesn’t mean our sorrow is gone. We miss her. There’s an emptiness when we look to where she would be seen. She will not be faithfully attending church services. She won’t be there, reaching out to hug as people enter the door, to ask how we’ve been and chat about family. Her husband will, and he will receive hugs this Sunday, along with expressions of love, comfort and remembrance.

Monday we will meet in the church again to celebrate her life and her love for the Lord. The gospel will be given with promises for tomorrow:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:7-8)

May God bless and comfort those who love and miss her.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It Just Takes A Little

Looks good, doesn’t it? An American classic – peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Second daughter loves peanut butter. The rule in her home is that no one opens the jar except her, so she can get the full effect of fresh peanut butter fragrance! Back in 2007, though, our favorite brand wasn’t available. Somehow, salmonella invaded their plant. The peanut butter was linked to 425 cases of salmonella across the United States. One article estimated the cost to the economy from one salmonella contamination at a billion dollars.

What’s the cost of sin in our lives? Just as the salmonella outbreak, the end results are not immediately apparent, but eventually cause and effect are apparent. Moses was aware of this as he led Israel. They would regret not following God’s will:

But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)

It doesn’t take much sin. Remember the list from Revelation 21:8? If anyone can convince me they’ve never, ever, told a lie – black, white, good reasons or bad – I will be shocked.  It’s one of the first rebellious things we do as we learn to talk.  “Did you _____,” our parent asked and our immediate response was, “No!”

God knows we’ve sinned. He knew there would be a fall. It had happened before, by creatures He had created. They, as we, cry “Unfair!” but He isn’t. His judgment comes following a process whereby we may learn and use what we’ve learned to come closer to Him.

Jesus said it:

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

Peter remembered that and repeated it:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Coming to repentance means recognizing that there is sin in our life, even if we think it is small, insignificant and can’t possibly be as bad as the horrible sins of those around us. In the Bible, leaven is often used as an example of a small amount of sin. Paul used that analogy in his letter to the Galatians:

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)

Once we recognize that even small sins contaminate, just as a small bit of salmonella contaminated, what are we to do?

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalms 116:12-13)

Then, build your faith through His word.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. (Job 31:6 KJV)

Job knew he had lived a good life, yet he lost all things material, even his children.  His friends were sympathetic, but continually searched for the thing, the error, the sin that had brought down God’s wrath upon him. Job also knew there was nothing to confess.

TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. (Daniel 5:27 KJV)

Belshazzar’s life did not match Job’s. Without asking for it, his life had been weighed – and found that he simply did not measure up.

Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:8 KJV)

Paul was writing to Christ’s followers, explaining some of the greater good they could be doing in His name. Some today look upon this verse and say, “I’m as good as [insert the name of any Christian] so I’ll receive of the Lord!”  Careful – that same author wrote:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

We simply cannot be good enough on our own. Also, calling ourselves Christian is insufficient. Paul knew of specific examples:

(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Philippians 3:18-19 KJV)

I’ve listened to people justify a specific sin as “not being as bad as” another.  Unfortunately, lies are as bad as murder, according to:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8 KJV)

I can hear the question being raised, right now – “Are you telling me that lying is as bad as killing someone?”
No, I’m not. The Bible is. It also tells us we cannot measure up.  A little earlier in chapter 3, Paul quotes Psalms 53:3:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12 KJV)

So – what’s available to us?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

That’s what it is all about. From Job's life through John’s to yours and mine. God’s grace. What an unspeakable gift.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


In 1875, Henry Alexander Douglas, bishop of Bombay, charged new priests and used this description of those in need of forgiveness:
... souls burdened with an intolerable load of guilt, and crushed by a sense of sin which is the greatest of all agonies
That’s what is meant by a contrite heart. It’s more than feeling regret or being apologetic. King David knew this when he wrote:

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. (Psalms 34:17 KJV)

David knew against whom he had sinned when he committed adultery and required the death of a good man.

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)

Too often, when we do speak of or to God, we follow the Pharisee’s example:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:10-12 KJV)

We dare to say that? To One who has said:

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15 KJV)

We need not only to be aware of our sins, confessing our sins but acknowledging that only God provides the mercy to cleanse us from our sins.

This past Sunday we began a thirteen week study on Christianity basics. Acknowledging that we are sinners is primary. We cannot weigh our errors against those of anyone else, for God judges us individually, as we are, on our own. He judges fairly, too. That’s why in Hebrews we read:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:29-31 KJV)

It is a fearful thing and we should stand in awe at the power and glory that we can only consider from a very narrow point in God’s eternal plan. Do we become a part of this greater good, shedding our errors? Or, do we walk over His narrow way without notice?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Here’s Gene Howard! John Wayne?

No, not the graphic – that’s sermon notes Gene Howard took while in a service. You can see Gene Howard as John Wayne on his website. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing him in person at our church and of being a Friend on Facebook.

Hearing him preach is a blessing. Watching his work grow is, too. Knowing his background is awesome. Here’s what he wrote about taking such notes in college:
… that is how I got through college. I was taking 12-14 hours as a student, and because of my art education, taught 4 hours as a professor, and was going to churches on weekends with my Visual Communication Seminar, so I had little time to study. So I took my notes into simple drawings, and just before the test I would review the pictures and pass the test. … Any way that is what I teach people in churches to do. … Anyone that can write their name can learn to draw with my course. I have my complete drawing course available on a 2 hour video DVD.
Obviously, Gene’s just as busy today as he was then. Watch his FB page in the spring, though, when he’s gardening, too!!

But – right now take time to look at this one page of his notes. A small illustration (that does take talent!) along with the scripture citation. Doesn’t it make you want to look up those verses to see if they say what he’s drawn? An excellent way to present the gospel. He stated the cliché, but it’s true – a picture is worth a thousand words. Yet, 5,000 people did respond to words:

Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. (Acts 4:4 KJV)

Don’t you want to know what was said that convinced 5,000 people to change their minds and follow Christ? This was a brand new message within a religion that was as old as time itself. Their supposed leader had been crucified by Rome along with thieves. What was the message that changed so many lives – and why is it changing lives today?

Politicians have run ‘Hope!’ into the ground with their lack of fulfillment, but a Christian’s hope is in vain without one specific reality:

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (1 Corinthians 15:13-15 KJV)

Paul knew Jesus died on the cross. Paul watched Stephen die for that belief. He held the clothes of those who stoned:

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1 KJV)

Seeing the risen Christ, Paul was changed. That’s the message Gene Howard draws, and people are changed now, too. If they'll hear His word.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Game Day

There's so much to write about! But, this is going to be a busy morning for us. It's Game Day at our church, and we need to do some preparation. 

I have a new computer and I'm still learning about what it can do that wasn't there before (not much) and what it can't do that was there before -- my Windows Live Writer where I prepared my blogs is no longer available with this upgrade to Windows 8. We lost downward compatibility, even though both products were created at Microsoft. 

What that means this morning (as I'm still adjusting to a new machine and new software) is that my time is limited - and I had to give up doing something this morning.

Please accept my apologies, but I am looking forward to being with friends and enjoying their fellowship - while winning at some of my favorite games, I might add. It's a sack lunch, so that will take extra time, too.

Sunday night we started a new thirteen-week series that I do want to write about. I took some notes, so you'll get those as well as what is in the book we're using. This time, fun does come second.

Second?  Yep - Bible reading will be accomplished. I'm reading a YouVerson Major Beliefs plan right now. Take a moment and leave me a note - what are you reading today? Let me give you one, just in case:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 KJV)

See you tomorrow!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Honor Is A Commandment

I almost married the wrong man. I was certain I was in love, though my parents were equally as certain it was a passing fancy. They didn’t know him as I did, though. He wasn’t as thoughtful about them as he was to me. I knew they simply did not understand. I did, and I was ready to leave with him.

Several things happened that kept us from getting married, and I am so very grateful for that and those who prayed for me. God had something in mind. if I would wait.  I know that because months later on a Sunday after I prayed for God to choose a companion for me, the man who became my husband spent most of Sunday with me and my parents. The following week he spent several afternoons working with both my Mom and Dad while I was taking college classes and working. We will celebrate 52 years of marriage this spring.

Please note that one of the young men was not interested in my parents. The other was. One was not interested in my spiritual life (or his own). The other was, and is. I really like the cliché that makes the internet rounds:  If he’s not interested in your soul, he’s not your soul mate. 

That’s just a saying, though, and I like to back those with scriptures that address the situation.  The young man in question wanted me to break one of God’s commandments – the only one with a promise:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12 KJV)

The first young man wanted me to turn my back on my parents, on their values, their teachings. The second honored my parents, respected them and helped them. I have a grandson in high school who honors his girlfriend’s parents, too. They do not wish their daughter to date right now, so at 17 the youngsters are content to visit at school and on the phone, waiting for her parents’ timeframe.

If you don’t think honoring parents is important, do a biblical search on ‘honour father mother’ in a King James Version and you’ll find not only that one commandment, but eight references to it. It is an important commandment, honoring our parents.

What is even more important is that God is our Father.  The first young man did not agree with that statement. Had I married him, we would have been unequally yoked.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV)

So, why did I want him? Because he was pleasing to the eye, kind and attentive to me and there was a physical attraction. He was there, available and desirable – but there was no spiritual value on which to build.

These are essential dating standards – an interest in your soul and honoring your parents. If not met, this is not the soul mate God has in store.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nothing New

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV)

I’ve been posting a blog almost daily for about six years. Haven’t attempted to increase readership, no advertising, not making a penny off of it, and not spending anything but time to create posts. If you’ve read it for a while, have you realized I don’t post anything new?

The English biblical words have been around since 1611, though in a slightly different lettering in some instances. The most recent writings are only a couple of thousand years old, and the oldest no more than six thousand. They’ve been read, aloud and silently, by billions of people. The words aren’t new.

The response isn’t new, either. Some read and think, “Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Of course! I can do that.” Others think, “Interesting, but I don’t have time to consider how it applies to me.” Still others are ready to shout, “Drivel! Why do people keep harping on this. It hasn’t ever helped anyone.” Pretty much, they are all wrong.

We can’t “do” what’s in the Bible. We must believe, trust and allow God to work in our lives. When we are the doers, the controllers, things literally go to hell. Once we realize that and allow Him to direct our paths, we remain on the narrow path to that strait gate.

Our time is limited and we never know when it’s going to stop. It’s true that the healthiest person living the healthiest lifestyle has only slowed dying. It comes to all, whether we have time for it or not. We make time for what is important. Seeking God is important.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

To the scoffers, the myth callers, the deniers of faith – we’ve tried to explain. We’ve given examples, testimonies and witnesses. Belief comes from learning, reading with an open mind and seeking answers as much as raising questions.

For years I spent more time with such people – much more time than I spent in fellowship with Christians. I found there were good people in both groups, and some bad ones in both groups. I also found that the good ones in non-believers were limited in their viewpoints, while active, believing Christians not only worked hard for now, but had an unlimited eternity ahead of them.

Frankly, I like that better.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Nightmare
After awaking once in the night, it took a while to get back to sleep. I spent that time praying – for a child who had lost her mother, and two mothers whose children had left home for a life that went against their parents’ teachings.

I woke next from a dream where I was speaking of our Lord to a lady in whose home I was visiting. She listened while busy with preparations for her own worship service. I mentioned a scripture and she replied, “I don’t believe in scriptures. The Bible isn’t really God’s word, it was written by men. We reach God through the prophet.”

I stood amazed and wondered how I could reach her, then we went with her family to their worship center. It was all made of brick, the building, which had lots of angles, but no windows, the walks, which slanted to where we could not stand up straight, then dipped so that water stood. “This is all wrong,” I said, but the people around me did not understand. Their prophet designed the building – it had to be right.

When I woke, the dream remained, as did the desire to reach that hospitable lady. My scriptures had no meaning for her or the other followers of her prophet.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:26-27 KJV)

How could I tell the dream lady – or any real person – that even large brick buildings can be built on sand? Then I thought of the verses that came before the building parable:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15 KJV)

Thank God we’ve been given a way to know those people who make promises for our future that seem so wonderful!

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)

If the Bible is not to be believed, at least take time to look at the fruit. Is it sweet, or bitter? Does it nourish, or take away? Does it wither without fulfilling promises?

Each of those -  the ones who promise our future will be better with them - calls for us to live a specified lifestyle, follow their rules, and gives reasons for doing so. Look deeply, long term, at the families already there – at the individual lives – and place a value on their fruit. Do not tell me that is ‘judging’ them. It is no different than picking fresh, attractive, fruit at the grocery.

What fruit will be picked?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Make Them Run

… Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. (Habakkuk 2:2 KJV)

That was used in a message from Joe McGee Ministries that my niece reposted on FB. I don’t know another thing about his ministry – but I really like this verse.

Yes, I read it this past year when I read the Bible through – but it didn’t strike me then the way it did this week. Write the vision. Make it plain. So plain that when it’s read it makes the reader run!

Wow, wouldn’t anyone like to write such a message? Make it unambiguous, plain as the nose on your face, no question about it, understandable. I haven’t read many of those, and the ones I have read come from the Bible.

My favorites are “God created” and “God so loved the world.” Those are pretty plain to me. “Without him was not any thing made.” Very clear, isn’t it?

We know almost nothing about Habakkuk beyond the three chapters under his name. He does not give his tribe, nor his father’s name. We don’t know the town he called home, though many of the prophets were so identified. He spends the first chapter pretty much complaining that the Lord wasn’t paying attention to spoiling and violence, strife and contention. Judgment was required. Sounds fairly modern, doesn’t it. After complaining, Habakkuk writes:

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. (Habakkuk 2:1 KJV)

After railing against God, Habakkuk is going to watch what happens – even though he knows that there’s a strong likelihood he’ll be punished. Instead, he’s given instructions:

And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:2-4 KJV)

The vision is written. It is plain. It hasn’t happened yet, but it is the truth, not a lie. Wait for it. Live by faith.

Did I miss something? Isn’t that the message? And, isn’t it pretty much the same message Christ left with us? There is more to come, that’s the truth. Wait for it and live by faith. Why do we have such a hard time with this truth – isn’t it basically the same message Abraham received? Why do we just have to have it NOW!!!!!?

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2 KJV)

Can we pray Habakkuk’s prayer? Can we wait, justly, in faith?