Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Christianity is …

Our scripture Sunday morning was Paul writing to the Philippians:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10 KJV)

I enjoy hearing sermons. I always learn something. This past Sunday, I enjoyed the verses pastor shared with us, but enjoyed even more his statement:

Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ.

That’s right – Christianity is not achieved by attending church regularly, though we should. Christianity is not giving any specified amount to the church. Christianity is not challenging people to become Christians. Christianity isn’t a set of rules and regulations that must be maintained without error.

Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ, and I am a Christian.

Now, I’m a member of a Baptist congregation for a wide variety of reasons. Most of them are outlined in the “What I Believe” tab at the top of my blog. Those beliefs are very close to the doctrines of Baptist churches I’ve attended. They are very close to some other Christian denominations, too. The Rochester’s “Brighter Day” album has a song “I’ll be there” where they sing “It’s not where I go to church, but I’ve been to Calvary,” that’s what being a Christian is – a personal relationship with the Lord who died on Calvary.

Skip down in Philippians chapter three to verse 20:

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (Philippians 3:20 KJV)

See that word translated “conversations”? That’s πολίτευμα in Greek (politeuma), which means “a community” or “citizenship”. It makes me think of “birds of a feather flock together.” We converse with the people who make up our community.

Perhaps our world community does not hold relationships as important. Switching spouses, breaking up families, raising children separately from their parents – all of this is acceptable as citizens today. Greater importance is placed on doing what is personally pleasing rather than a relationship with God. If current laws don’t fit, change them to match what the majority has in mind.

Paul was familiar with that, too, addressing it in this same chapter:

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (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 3:17-19 KJV)

What was he asking his readers to do to follow his example? Go back to the first of this chapter and read his resume – a Hebrew of Hebrews, he was the top of his class in this world, yet he wrote:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3:7 KJV)

Verses 8 and 9 explain that a bit more, then bring us back to verse 10, knowing Jesus. That’s being Christian. Got it?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Where’s The Mark?

Sunday night service was a great pleasure last night when the Wylers on Wheels visited our church and presented the worship service. Their music is uplifting and utilizes every person in the family (okay, maybe one couldn’t stand on his own two feet and sing.) Piano, trumpet, French horn, glockenspiel (I believe the bars were metal) and their harmonious voices, all making a joyful noise to our Lord. That’s a blessing!

Notice the young man between his Mom and Dad? The one without a jacket – that’s Titus. He’s two.

You can’t see the small square of tape under his foot, but he knows it’s there, and he pretty much stays on it. Pretty much. He’s been taught that’s his spot. It belongs to him, and he belongs on it.

His grandfather told of a time when Titus decided his spot needed to be one step down. He reached down, pulled the tape from the carpet, placed it on the next step lower, then placed himself on top of the tape. In his mind, he was on his tape, where he was supposed to be.

How often do we do that?

What, you didn’t get it? I’m talking about how often Christians change the mark, lower the mark, that we’re supposed to be aiming for. Remember, Paul wrote:

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 KJV)

If we keep lowering the mark, placing it where it’s convenient for us, how can it remain the ‘high calling of God’? Haven’t we changed what He gave us to do? We’re like Titus – a step below where we should be.

Only, we haven’t stopped at one step. We keep lowering our marks because it’s too hard to remain on the one God provided. For everything we do, there are instructions in the Bible. We can begin with:

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)

Think, before we act. Think on these things and our actions will be virtuous and praiseworthy. Unfortunately, we’re not doing that.

I actually wrote an example – but it failed to carry as much weight as our true authority, God’s word.  When we are aware of missed marks – our own or those we love – we have instructions as how to handle it.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2 KJV)

Titus’ parents, I’m certain with some longsuffering, rebuked Titus and helped him reset his mark. I’m positive our Heavenly Father stands ready to help reset our marks to match what He has planned for us. It is our loss when we accept the lowering of that mark we are to press forward to achieve.
Where is our mark?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Deep?

A friend posted the reference, Luke 5:4-6, without the actual verses. I couldn’t think of those verses (so few memorized!) so I looked it up:

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. (Luke 5:4)

Peter, Andrew, James and John were partners as fishermen. In the previous chapter, we’re told Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, so they were familiar with Him and had heard him before.

In these verses, Jesus is on boat, a ways from shore, teaching a crowd that gathered to hear Him. If Peter wasn’t considered the captain, he certainly had leadership sufficient to be the one addressed in Jesus’ request. Peter had an answer that we’ve all used at one time or another – “Tried that. Didn’t work.”

And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing:

After working all night without a catch, he must have been tired and somewhat frustrated. At least he answered respectfully, but wanted this landlubber to understand that when the nets came back empty, Peter knew from experience that would happen. Even though his mind was made up about the result, he followed our Lord’s request:

nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. (Luke 5:5)

Was that out of respect? Or was it a dare? Which attitude do we have when we say, “Okay, Lord, if you say so.”

And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:6-7)

I have held back from going into the deep, even when it appeared it was God’s will that I do so. There were sufficient reasons, just as Peter, based on my experience and the advice of others. I’m not concerned about what I’ve missed – the past cannot be changed.

I am aware now, however, to listen to His word so that I am prepared to go out into the deep to see what shows up in those nets. Like Peter, I have confessions:

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Luke 5:8)

Peter didn’t want Jesus to leave because of a net full of fish. Peter realized this man was so much more than expected, and he was so much less. Thank God that He sees our potential, not what we are in our present state. Like Peter, that astonishes us:

For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.

I like that Peter spoke up about his hesitation regarding the result of Jesus’ request. I like more that he went ahead and threw out the nets. I like most of all Jesus’ response to their astonishment:

And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. (Luke 5:9-10)

And, he did.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


A friend of ours has a television for their son that is set up for tapes/DVDs only – no antenna, no cable connections.  Another has a computer for personal use, but no internet connection. They function just fine without social networking, breaking news and the latest on fashion fads.

On the other hand, I seriously missed my internet connectivity this week. After missing a couple of days of posting, I was so prepared Thursday morning with thoughts from the night before – only to find no internet connection. I was frustrated.  I could attempt a connection, with no response.

Oddly enough, that was the beginning of my Thursday post – no connection, no response. Habakkuk wrote:

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! (Habakkuk 1:1-2 KJV)

There didn’t seem to be a connection, in spite of Habakkuk’s prayers. He wasn’t the lone example of this disconnect. Job certainly felt separated from God:

Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. (Job 19:7 KJV)

David knew what would happen if he came to God in prayer inappropriately.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18 KJV)

The Bible tells us there are times prayer doesn’t help.

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. (Proverbs 28:9 KJV)

There is a disconnect, a hindrance.  Peter knew about this. There were many things listed in verses before and after:

... that your prayers be not hindered. … (1 Peter 3:7b KJV)

It is not necessary to repeat the Lord’s prayer word for word, but there are specific concepts that we should understand and utilize:
Acknowledge Who we are addressing and give Him honor.
Make our request based on our needs.
Forgive others before requesting His forgiveness.
Ask for directions.
Bend before His will.
We have a tendency to ask for what we want without acknowledging His position, and we are slow to say thanks or seek His will. At least, that applies for me way too often.  Christ explained that our Father is not only capable of giving what we need, He knows what is best:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 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 7:7-11 KJV)

We need to keep the connection between us and our Lord strong. Fortunately, we have instructions:

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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Who’s Your Backup?

Several things about Esther’s story keeps bringing us back, interested enough to enjoy the move, “One Night With the King”, about a beautiful woman with exceptional bravery. There’s that one verse, too, that applies to all of us:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

God’s people have been chosen for annihilation more than once. Haman (always said with a hiss!), Hitler, most recently Iran’s president, who was quoted in his own official website:
اسرائیل بايد از صفحه‌ی روزگار محو شود,
Israel should be erased from the page of history.
Would it appear from the story before verse 4:14 that God was working in Esther’s life? Her people were in bondage, but were going about daily lives. She was orphaned, but part of a larger family group that provided support. She did not rebel against her government, there were no protests, no wails of how inappropriate it was to gather beautiful maidens across the land simply for the pleasure of one powerful man. There’s not even a mention of God, only a hint of His work, in this book.

There is a full-fledged display of faith that “then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews” with or without Esther’s cooperation. I believe that commitment by God to this people is just as valid today as it was then. I also believe it is valid for all who love and serve Him. He has a purpose, a plan, that will be accomplished.

Often, we cannot see the His plan in the works. Mankind has a tendency to add a definition or two. The life – and death – of Jesus is a perfect example. Satan tempted Him three times to take an easy out, thinking Jesus’ life and His message was God’s plan of salvation. It wasn’t, and mankind was the least of those who did not know God’s plan:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

There wasn’t a backup for Christ – He was perfection and no backup was necessary. God, Himself, was the plan. But there was a backup for Esther. We’ll never know what might have been simply because she followed through. She was in the right place, at the right time. She responded to the call. She faced death and survived. The deliverance from another was not required.

Now, apply this to our lives. Who’s our backup, and will they be needed to complete the purpose God has planned for us? Our answers speak loudly to where God is in our lives.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nothing New

Violence is nothing new to us, just as it wasn’t new to Israel in Habakkuk’s time.

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! (Habakkuk 1:2)

So, we’re not the first to wonder why it appears God is not hearing, is not saving.

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. (Habakkuk 1:4)

God did answer:

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. (Habakkuk 1:5)

An answer that Paul was inspired to repeat in an Antioch synagogue:

Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. (Acts 13:40-41)

Even when God’s work is promised, declared openly and laid out simply in order to be understood, it is not believed. Israel knew this from Moses’ time, which included the loss of an entire generation that failed to follow God’s direction into the promised land.  Do a comparison between what God requires of us and how people respond.

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)

All the law, all the preaching, all contained in just a couple of verses. Nothing onerous, nothing beyond the capability of any one of us, yet we all fail and require God’s grace.

It is not God who does not hear, for He has provided salvation. It is mankind that ignores, and eventually pays the price for that ignorance. Just as Habakkuk saw the vision that was to come, the price to be paid for disobedience:

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: (Habakkuk 3:16-17)

He was able to see God’s mercy and salvation:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18)

Can we see ahead and still rejoice? Do we acknowledge His salvation? Do we accept that we need it?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Imagine Their Meeting

My parents in 1949

Monday I attended a Baptist funeral – a celebration of life as it continues. It reminded me a lot of my parents.

For more than twenty years, my Dad was caregiver for my Mom who had ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Monday’s service was for a lovely lady who spent the last years of her life with Alzheimer’s, being cared for by her husband, too.

Following Mom’s home-going, Dad attended his annual high school reunion. When you are in your 80’s and graduated from a rural school that was eventually closed, changes over the years include combining with other such schools in the county. There was a good sized group, and he was asked to give the blessing for their dinner.

He explained later that he began the prayer with his head bowed, but inexplicably lifted it and saw Mom standing before him.  I won’t go into the full description, just to say he was very detailed in what he saw – some aspects expected, some not.

I was not given such a blessing after his home-going, though I have no doubt his favorite verse was fulfilled:

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)

I thought about all of that Monday at the home-going of this other wife, as deeply loved, and cared for, by her own husband. I can imagine their meeting, unbounded by time, taking place within eternity and the sharing of knowledge recently discovered.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

They may sit for a while under the Tree of Life, beside the River of Life, sharing the stories of blessings they know. Dad may tell Mom of the delicious Israel melons the new arrival’s husband gave him during Men’s Breakfasts on Saturday mornings. Mom missed out on those fellowship times, they’ll be new for her.

They may talk about how their families are joined by their love of and service to the Lord who provided that very tree and river. Since time has so little meaning in eternity, it may seem but moments before they are joined by their families, rejoicing as Jesus instructed:

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)

You see, I believe what is promised:

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)

I also believe what is promised in one of my favorite verses:

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 14:3)

Please, imagine yourself joining in with us.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“When To Watch Over Our Marriage”

I do read other blogs, especially those Christian/Bible based. Time Warp Wife is one I’ve enjoyed, and last week I received an e-mail about this particular post. Yes, I did enjoy reading it – but I think a couple can start much earlier watching over their marriage. I think it should begin while they are still in high school.

We taught lessons to our Junior High Girls Sunday School class about keeping themselves pure for their husband. We taught them to begin then praying for that young man while he’s on his way to meeting them.

People should not marry in a vacuum – they need to know the person well enough to make a lifetime commitment. Those marriages are not confined to previous generations, either. Divorce has been around since Moses’ time (at least!) Pharisees asked Jesus one of those trick questions about divorce:

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (Matthew 19:3)

Being priests, they had studied the scriptures intensely. Being human, they had found what they considered loopholes, just as intensely. Jesus knew what they did:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:4-6)

Thinking they had backed Him into a corner of contradiction (people still do this) they asked another question:

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? (Matthew 19:7)

Didn’t work:

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:8)

How do hearts get so hard that a loved one is put away? By being outside God’s will. Israel, after being in the promised land, kept asking for a king – so they could be like the other tribes around them. That was not God’s will, but He allowed them to have a king, just as He allowed divorce. What good came from it? What blessing were missed by not following God’s will?

The concept of the lifetime commitment of marriage – two becoming one flesh, inseparable – has been under attack since the serpent in Eden. We’ve seen marriages last. We know why those do – husband and wife work together for the best interests of both. Ask any of them after a half century – was it worth it?

Ask those questions before marriage. Ask them before dating, before courtship, before setting yourself up for divorce. Ask them before telling someone “I love you” when only committing for today, not “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.”

The promise is not only to the one standing next to us – it is to the witnesses and to our Lord. Plan on keeping it, then work on keeping it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


This showed up on my Newsfeed in Facebook. No, I didn’t select it. A very kind, loving lady of my acquaintance did. She approves, as shown by her “Like”.

Dawkins rejects Christianity – all religion, in fact. From what I’ve read, he believes Christianity is not reasonable. It appears, too, that many feel that same way, including this very lovely lady. I think she has reason for mistrusting some who called themselves Christian, based on their actions that title is questionable. However, it is not reasonable to condemn all based on the actions of some.

If we did that, we could not trust science or scientists, either, to be truthful, factual representatives of their chosen profession.

Unbelievers are quick to point out the Catholic hierarchy condemned those who, through scientific reasoning, determined the earth might not be flat, that the sun did not circle the earth and stars were more than bright spots in the sky. They are not as quick to say how many hundreds of years ago that occurred, nor do they point to failed science, even a generation ago.

In the name of science mankind was fed eugenics. Understandably a failure by today’s standards, it was embraced and taught just a generation before me. It has since been debunked, as many scientific experiments have been.  I’ve enjoyed Wired.com’s article, Freeing the Dark Data of Failed Scientific Experiments, where a failed experiment is reviewed as:
. . .  a textbook example of so-called publication bias, where science gets skewed because only positive correlations see the light of day. After all, the surprising findings are what makes the news (and careers).
Now I hope Mr. Dawins’ coin is a tongue-in-cheek make-over indicating science is as fallible as he believes faith to be and that he’s not any more supportive of science than he is of religion.

Unfortunately, Humanists do place faith somewhere – usually in the same humans that create failed religion and failed science.

I find it unreasonable to place my faith in humans.  I also find it unreasonable to deny a spiritual existence beyond a human’s ability to explain. I contend this spirituality is measurable in a reasonable manner, too. Unfortunately, many view this as Festus viewed Paul:

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. (Acts 26:24 KJV)

Paul’s background, his education was common knowledge, even among his captors. For that time, he was among the most educated of men. Paul later describes what will be in the future for educated men:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (2 Timothy 3:1-3 KJV)

I have no idea whether these are the “last days” or not. Many times in the past it would appear it was, and it was not.  I do know there are many:

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7 KJV)

Keep an open, reasonable, mind. Don’t accept what is in the written word – paper, stone or internet – without checking it out. Including what is written here. Search for the truth.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We’re The Same

My prayers last night included Boston and West. I’ve been to West,  it’s geographically closer than Boston. One was the plan of a specific person’s hatred, the other an apparent industrial accident, both with pain, suffering, loss. Our hearts are broken and we wonder “Why?”

Jesus said these things happen, and those impacted have done nothing to bring such pain to themselves.

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5)

The victims of man’s cruelty and the victims of industrial accidents have done nothing more than the rest of us. Perhaps part of our grief is that we fully understand – it could have been us.

So, what should we do?

Care. About those hurt, and help in any way we can. Support community efforts to provide medical care, physical comfort and emotional comforting. Also, care about our relationship to God.

That word "Repent" doesn't mean to carry a load of guilt for all of our life. It means to be sincerely regretful about our own actions. It also means to change, in attitude and in direction. It means to be aware of the harmful effects of wrong and work to reverse them.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18)

Words are very important – they can be hurtful and they can heal a broken heart. Knowing the meaning of being a contrite spirit, of understanding why we must all repent, provides a path through sorrow that is beyond understanding.

There is also peace beyond understanding:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

The promise isn’t that thing will get better. We aren’t promised that the pain will go away, either. There’s nothing there about healing. Nothing about making things ‘right.’ We’re not even told we’ll have peace – it’s God’s peace. We’re simply promised that our hearts and minds will be kept.

Is that sufficient? It was for Paul, and he was inspired by God to share that peace he felt, telling how it was achieved:

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

The learning part is fairly easy – just listen, read and heed. The receiving part is a bit more difficult. Too often what we’ve heard and seen is rejected, not received, even when we’ve seen it work in another person’s life.  Paul has given us his own life as an example, just as he did to those who saw and heard him.

Then comes the hardest part. Do. Do what has been learned, heard, seen and finally received.  … do: and the God of peace shall be with you and me and all of us hurting from the events of this week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:40 KJV)

My agenda for this week is in shambles. Though it was laid out as orderly as these lettuce crops, it didn’t remain orderly. A doctor decided David needed another test, and our “Together We Can Change” ladies met Tuesday – I forgot that until during church on Sunday.

So, instead of planting my own lettuce and tomatoes for a homegrown BLT, I’ve been away from home.  Oh, I did purchase some plants, and I do have seeds, but they are far from the ground. I would not have traded the time, though.

Tuesday I counted change donated to make changes in lives. We used part of that to purchase skirts for a group of young ladies headed to Bible college. We also sorted through ties destined for young men in that same college, as well as planning to obtain shirts for them. There were bags sewn last month to be filled with personal hygiene items for children – toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, combs – all for classes to be taught in a mission school that our church helps support.

We read letters from three of the children we are sponsoring through another program, praying for changes in their lives. One in English, two in the most beautiful swirled alphabet that had been translated for those of us confined to a single language. It’s a blessing to touch their lives through Bridge of Hope:
It only takes $35 a month to give a child everything they need—school supplies, a daily meal, medical checkups and more—to attend a Bridge of Hope Center. 100% of your sponsorshipis sent to the field to support your child.
Now that’s what I call getting things done in an orderly manner, whether my week goes as scheduled or not. When I measure what I had in mind and what was done in God’s name, I remember a verse where the direction of a man’s life was changed. Paul wrote:

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 KJV)

Well, I haven’t labored more abundantly than any other – yet it is by God’s grace I am what I am. Regrettably, my life, my home, my time – none are as orderly as those rows of lettuce in that field above!

I also gave a devotional lesson yesterday – a slightly longer version of what I posted yesterday about Boston. I continue in prayer for all hurting from that tragedy. Spend some time with me, praying for healing, for comfort, for understanding that even when evil people accomplish evil deeds, God is not ignoring us. While we do not know why these deeds are allowed, we do know that there are consequences of sin. We also have the comfort given through so many Bible verses, including:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4 KJV)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fear Not, Please

What happened yesterday in Boston, no matter who is found to be responsible, is an act of terrorism. It was designed to instill fear, and the bombers were successful – for a moment.  It also caused pain for those impacted by the explosions. Across our county and in many nations around the world there are prayers asking God to provide comfort and healing.

I’d like to go one step further and ask our Lord to remove our fear. We may feel sorrow, we may even feel anger, but we are not to feel fear of those who wish to instill fear in our hearts.

The simple two-word phrase “Fear not” is found sixty-two times in my Bible. First is Genesis 15:1, said to Abram following Lot’s rescue, after Abram’s meeting with Melchizedek:

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

No, I’m not going to go repeat all sixty-two instances of those two words. They were spoken to Jacob, to Joseph, to Moses – and by Moses to the children of Israel and to Joshua.  Boaz uses the words to Ruth; Samuel uses the words to the people of Israel; Jonathan uses them to David; David uses them to Jonathan’s son. David said them to his own son in 1 Chronicles 20:17:

And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.

The same message echoes across the ages. He will protect, He will never leave, and His work will be accomplished.  We are told, though, to fear some things. Just not what yesterday’s bomb builders want us to.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 KJV)

We were told much earlier to fear the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalm 111:10 KJV)

We know that there are people who are determined to kill others. That hasn’t changed since Cain and Able, and there many different such groups in our world today. Not all of them are strangers.

Can we pray for them? We should, even though we believe that there is punishment awaiting them by the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

So, what I’m suggesting today is that we fear not.  I suggest that in response to God’s promises, we trust Him to know what is needed for His will to be accomplished and that He is able to provide all that’s necessary to accomplish it. Our only concern should be to be doing His will.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

An Agenda

First day of the week – and there’s a busy week ahead.  A couple of appointments (one’s a plasmapheresis day – that takes a while!), but the really busy part are some spring projects that simply most be accomplished. Less than three days this week to do them, so some time must be taken from others. This year that means less computer time, so if you miss me for a couple of days please understand that I’m digging in dirt getting grass out of an overgrown flower bed or I’m picking up more dirt (of the right kind) to put in some raised garden beds, along with tomatoes and herbs and I’m not certain what else.

Our last freeze was this past week, of that I’m fairly certain. Based on experience over several years, I don’t expect to see temperatures in the 30’s (that Fahrenheit for my island friends) for many months. Our pastures are green, trees leaved out, photinia shining red at the tips and ready to blossom out with white flowers. It really is spring!

Swallows have returned and are remodeling their nests in the eaves – and we have to keep the garage door closed so they don’t think that’s an invitation to homestead. Let me assure you, however, there are no more hours in a day. Even though clocks will tell you it’s lighter later, there are still 24 hours in a day and I still require eight of them for sleep. The need to spend more outside for a while must take away from computer time.

I won’t give up time with Beloved Husband, and I won’t give up time with my Lord.

At church we have been following different themes in Sunday School, evening worship and Wednesday. Over the winter at home I completed the chronological reading of the Bible, fifteen weekly YouVersion plans as well as researching verses for this blog. Of course, some of the themes overlap with that. My blog ideas come from daily interaction with the Bible. Frankly, I could sit with a Bible beside the keyboard and comment on every verse. So – I must move away from the keyboard for a bit and get this annual commitment out of the way.

Before Beloved Husband went through the diagnostic process a couple of years ago, I started Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System. I had printed out the bookmarks (on card stock) found on this website. Too soon we were moving through medical appointments, crises and hospitalizations. I did not complete that system, so that’s next on my reading list. It, too, is available digitally as a Reading Plan on Olive Tree and YouVersion. Those are the two I have on my iPhone, Kindle Fire and PC. The plans synch across all three.

I encourage each of my readers to have more than one source of Bible reading available to you each day. In Hebrews we’re told:

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:13-14)

Thus I encourage, daily, that we partake of God’s word. Even when I’m not posting daily. I promise. It’s always on my agenda.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Waiting At The Gate?

Airline employees have a nice perk – fly at a cost based on fees, but it must be on a stand-by basis. That places them at an airport gate, waiting to see if all the paying passengers show up, in case there might be a seat available. Any employee, family and some friends can take advantage of this perk. Many opted not to due to the inconvenience. My Dad worked for American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at one of their maintenance bases. There were a large number of employees, and limited seats. My brother-in-law worked for them years later, fewer flights, fewer seats. Longer stand-by time. This graphic reminded me of that travel.

I thought of how that applies to a Christian’s life, too. There are times in this life when I wish I was waiting at the gate for the next flight to our Lord. I look forward to the trip and It is one of the perks of salvation. I have had my travel arrangements confirmed and a place has been prepared:

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 KJV)

Care must be taken, however, that I don’t spend time waiting at the gate for the transportation. No matter how firm my faith might be that transportation has been arranged, I have assigned tasks that really should be completed before arriving at that gate:

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)

If I simply spend time waiting at the gate, my tasks are not finished. Jesus knew when His were:

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4 KJV)

As did Paul:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (2 Timothy 4:7 KJV)

I really don’t know what task anyone else is supposed to complete. I don’t know where anyone is on their narrow road to the strait gate:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)

I just know what I’m supposed to do:

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

God will let me know when to wait at the gate for my journey. In the meantime, I have work to do.

Friday, April 12, 2013



I met a lady who takes walks and photographs God's beauty when she does. She also comments on her days as she walks a sunlit pathway. Wednesday she wrote about watching television, and this caught my eye:

The second preacher who came on this morning made me cringe . He was all about tearing down Christian churches who he perceived to be lacking. He did nothing to encourage the people in their Christian walk or to reach out in God's love. I can see nothing positive in tearing down others who are in the body of Christ!

It reminded me of teaching positives. Yes, Jesus told people not to do some things, but the vast majority of his teachings were positive examples. Even when He spoke against, He defined what required changing:

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (Matthew 12:34-35 KJV)

They didn’t heed Him:

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: (Matthew 23:31-34 KJV)

When we focus on the wrongs of others – even other churches or denominations, we’ve become part of the lesson in Matthew:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. (Matthew 23:23-26 KJV)

Our job is to open our hearts to God’s cleansing, to become what He has planned for us:

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

Consider the law, judgment, mercy and faith in our own lives, cleanse from the inside, before considering someone else’s exterior. God knows their heart. Our names are written:

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:16 KJV)

And he catches our tears in His bottle and our deeds in His book:

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? (Psalms 56:8 KJV)

I’m positive.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Do a Google search on “guaranteed for life” and you’ll find no less than 17 million results. From life insurance to headsets, guarantees are available. On products, there may be wording similar to:

Unconditional Unlimited Lifetime Replacement Guarantee

Of course, there are some limitations, and we’re not certain until the very fine print whether it’s the lifetime of the product or our own lifetime being referenced.

The Bible offers an even better guarantee – not just for this life, but for eternity:

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)

This concept of eternal life was not new with Jesus. The question had divided Judaism, creating Pharisee and Sadducee doctrines that divide people today. I prefer what the Jesus to say about God:

And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err. (Mark 12:26-27 KJV)

There’s nothing in the Bible to refute John’s claim as to why it was written:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13 KJV)

Not because of anything we do. It is God’s will and His gift:

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)

Now, a guarantee – something that assures a specified outcome – is given by a guarantor. As the giver of this salvation, God is the guarantor, and I believe He is able, just as Paul believed:

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:11-12 KJV)

There is nothing that can break God’s guarantee:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Translators

I’ve been reading as much about the Bible as I have been reading the Bible. In doing so, I ran across this message, “The Translators to the Reader,” from the King James Bible translators to me (and to you.) They cared for their readers. It begins:
Zeal to promote the common good, whether it be by devising anything ourselves, or revising that which hath been laboured by others, deserveth certainly much respect and esteem, but yet findeth but cold entertainment in the world. It is welcomed with suspicion instead of love, and with emulation instead of thanks: and if there be any hole left for cavil to enter, (and cavil, if it do not find a hole, will make one) it is sure to be misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned.
They were very well aware that vilification would be coming, for many had died within the two previous centuries simply for translating God’s word into their own language. They understood:
… whosoever attempteth anything for the public (especially if it pertain to Religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same setteth himself upon a stage to be gloated upon by every evil eye, yea, he casteth himself headlong upon pikes, to be gored by every sharp tongue.
They also understood the power of the scriptures:
But now what piety without truth? what truth (what saving truth) without the word of God? What word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search.John 5:39. Isa 8:20. They are commended that searched and studied them. Acts 8:28-29, 17:11 [one of my favorites!!]. They are reproved that were unskilful in them, or slow to believe them. Matt 22:29. Luke 24:25. They can make us wise unto salvation. 2 Tim 3:15. If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us.
Yep – some of my favorite verses there – what the Bible tells us of itself. These translators loved the scriptures:
The Scriptures then being acknowledged to be so full and so perfect, how can we excuse ourselves of negligence, if we do not study them, of curiosity, if we be not content with them?
Obviously, their studies brought them more than contentment:
Happy is the man that delighted in the Scripture, and thrice happy that meditateth in it day and night.
Now, all of that was written in the same English that was spoken at the time those same translators worked on the King James version of the Bible. Did you notice something?

There are no “thee”, “thou”, “ye”, “thy” here. But – they did include them in their translation because it was necessary to correctly indicate whether the speaker was using the familiar form of the word or to show whether the speaker was addressing a group or an individual. Hebrew and Greek words/sentence structure display these nuances, English does not. (Perhaps that’s why Southerners use “You all”?)

Seriously, take time to study why the translation you use was created. Take time to learn what copies of texts were used. Understand the differences between Textus Receptus and Textus Criticus. Know why Unical, Cursive and Lectionary are important and why their percentage of support for a Textus has impact. Become familiar with Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Washingtonianus as well as translations (Gothic, Itala, Peshitta Syriac).

Yes – you can read and study your Bible without knowledge of these things, but wouldn’t you rather know their impact?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Are You Listening To Me?

Well, don’t. All I do here each day is put down some personal thoughts on what I read in the Bible. If you think it’s important or has special meaning, you need to return to His word and read more:

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. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Colossians 2:8-10)

There are lots of thoughts written about the Bible – most supportive, but some would tear it down, toss it out or simply call it a book of lies. Unfortunately for them, the very history of the Bible tells us that it is special and has been to men for thousands of years. What it says about itself is important:

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Note that patience part. We are not going to understand overnight, but the scriptures are comforting. Especially so when we understand their source:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)

Peter had seen prophecy from scripture fulfilled:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Jesus told His listeners how important scriptures are:

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

Those two items go hand in hand. God gave us scripture that we might know Him. We need to read them, study them, open our minds to what they are and how they impact all men, including our own personal lives. We need to know them spiritually, not simply intellectually.

I think of the wasted time Thomas Jefferson spent comparing the four gospels, writing out a chronological set of events in Jesus’ life, deleting any portion that indicated a supernatural or spiritual impact. He did not heed scripture:

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

While leading Isreal to their promised land, Moses received the command to neither add to nor deduct from the God given commandments:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)

What I, or anyone, say about scripture may have a personal agenda. What God inspires speaks of Him. We are taught what to do with scriptures:

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:11)

The closer we come to achieving that, the closer we come to achieving an even greater blessing – from walking in the garden with Adam, there has been but one goal:

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, (Deuteronomy 10:12)

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)

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

Monday, April 8, 2013


Is it a sunny day as you read this? Can we see the glow from our not-too-distant star that provides our light, warmth, seasons?  Through distant lenses, we get to see the turmoil that creates coronal mass ejections (CME), which in turn creates aurora borealis and austrailis. We can’t look directly at this light source without damaging our eyesight.

And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. (Exodus 33:18 KJV)

Moses wanted to see God. He had listened to God, followed God, spoken for God in Egypt and led God’s people toward their promised land, but all he had seen was a burning bush followed by pillars of cloud and fire. His request reminds me of Philip’s request from Jesus:

Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (John 14:8 KJV)

Looking directly at God would damage a man, as looking at the sun would damage a man’s eyes.

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. (Exodus 33:20 KJV)

Yet each one of us would make the same request that Moses and Philip did. Philip heard that question from a couple of men about Jesus, too:

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:21 KJV)

We would, too, and some day we will.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (Revelation 19:11-13 KJV)

Of course, we'll be different then, too:

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)

Paul gave a longer explanation:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 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 15:42-44)

According to John, in his Revelation, these new bodies will have no need of our star's light:

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23)

That is beyond our imagination, isn't it? Too often we give up even thinking about things we cannot wrap our minds around and find an explanation somewhere. So, we look for answers in the 'natural' realm, ignoring how well designed the universe is, how perfectly adapted this world is to the fostering of mankind. We have a tendency to think it will last and we can control our surroundings. We forget Moses' writings and David's songs on the matter -- or choose to ignore them:

Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.(Deuteronomy 10:14)

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1)

In another Psalm we're told what God did with the earth:

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. (Psalms 115:16)

Are those thoughts overwhelming? No need for them to be. Spend some time getting to know Him through His word.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Holocaust Remembrance Day

I took this photo  in 2007, grateful for a lens powerful enough to capture this butterfly’s beauty. The flower stood out in an arid land and we watched the butterfly land. We weren’t close to it, and I was concerned that I couldn’t catch the moment.

In 2011 I used this photo for the graphic when I learned of and wrote about Yom HaZikaron LaShoah velaGvura – Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day. The yellow butterfly reminds me of Pavel Friedman’s poem from his imprisonment, “The Butterfly.” In that poem is the line:  I never saw another butterfly. Pavel was moved from Terezin to die at Auschwitz.

There is a project that shows the work – prose, poems, drawings – of the children held at Terezin Concentration Camp. Please take a moment to view their work, heed their message and consider how this should never happen again.

Then, think about where similar is happening today. Children are dying because men cannot love their neighbors.

We’ve been told societies must change with the times and such changes are often accomplished with violence. We’ve seen such violence through the history of mankind. In the past few years it has shown itself in what media has termed “Arab Spring.” What a spring, when it no longer encompasses the ability to express and appreciate the beauty of a butterfly.

For Christians, the message was simplified by our Lord. I continue to repeat it for it is most basic of our beliefs:

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)

Let me repeat “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Just these two. They go together. Love for all of our neighbors is not possible without God’s love. There are several “all” words in these two commandments. Consider them, seriously.

Then consider a world where children are not subjected to the personal nor political whims of adults who cannot understand this message and are not concerned with butterflies.

You may start your remembrance today at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site:
The Museum will also lead the United States in observing the 2013 Days of Remembrance, the nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust, from April 7 through April 14. Read more about this observance and how to plan or attend one in your community.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Many Times …

How many times have we heard – or said that? I heard it from my Mom, and I’ve said it to my children. Usually there’s a “not to” in there, too:  “How many times do I have to tell you not to …” There were even: “Do I have to tell you a million times …” Did you ever get tired of hearing that?

Do you wonder about God’s patience? Do we think it’s as short as our own?

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:3-5)

All those things David understood, then wrote:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: (Psalms 37:7a)

God can also wait patiently while those who reject His will move on with their lives and another generation comes on to the scene. For forty years the children of Israel remained in the desert, declining to accept God’s word that the land He promised them was available. They lacked faith, though what they had seen and heard, in Egypt and in the Sinai, were God’s words.

We only have men’s writings of those events, and the ones surrounding the promise of God’s forgiving grace and mercy. How many times must it be shown before we have confidence in God’s word?

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

There are several Bible verses that tell us God is “slow to anger,” but I like Jonah’s the best. Jonah is angry with God for sparing Nineveh when he said:

And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:2)

God was patient with Nineveh, Jonah was not. It took Paul a while to learn this lesson. At first he was not patience with Christians. He did not heed what his teacher, Gamaliel, said:

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

It took a meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus for him to understand, follow God’s will and write:

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (2 Timothy 2:24)

What will it take for us to accept God’s will in our own lives to the point we no longer strive but aptly teach with patience?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sin’s A Big Deal

For Christians, it’s a very big deal. Sin is why Jesus died on the cross. Not His sin – He had none:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV)

It was for our sins. So, what is this thing called “sin”?

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 KJV)

The primitive Hebrew root, חטא, is translated as sin and is defined as to miss – to bear the blame for non-achievement. Paul’s understanding of this lead him to write:

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 KJV)

He did not want to miss that mark. He did not want to sin against God. That’s what sin is – missing what God has laid out for us to do. Back in Genesis, Joseph knew what Potiphar's wife wanted wasn’t a simple betrayal of her husband:

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9 KJV)

David knew that becoming an adulterer and eventual murderer did not solely involve Bathsheba and Uriah. When confronted by Nathan, he knew against whom he had sinned:

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (2 Samuel 12:13 KJV)

The story of the woman taken in adultery illustrates that we all have sinned:

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. 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 8:7-9 KJV)

Paul knew the truth:

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

Fallen short, missed the mark – same thing. We have all – not some, not Non-Christians, not sinners – we have ALL missed the mark by failing to live within God’s commandments. Even the two in condensed version:

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)

Thank God, He has provided for us.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 KJV)

Go ahead, look up that ‘propitiation’ word. It’s worth it to know that God has provided reconciliation to us for those big deals in our lives – and the little ones, too.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Above All Else

I don’t know which translation this is:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I found that verse in my Bible amid some very good advice:

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:20-23)

Whether it was a message from David to Solomon, or from Solomon to his own son, it’s good advice.  Unfortunately, Rehoboam did not follow his father’s advice. He looked elsewhere:

And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people? (1 Kings 12:6)

He received good advice from experienced statesmen:

And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. (1 Kings 12:7)

Apparently that wasn’t what he wanted to hear, so he asked his close and dear friends:

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: (1 Kings 12:8)

They were young, virile, capable of changing an entire generation and they knew just what should be done:

And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. (1 Kings 12:10-11)

That’s the way he chose, but it didn’t work:

And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only. (1 Kings 12:20)

Rehoboam didn’t know his heart, much less guard it. No matter what example was set by his father, no matter what experienced statesmen offered, no matter what he had learned growing up, he listened to his friends. The kingdom of Israel remained divided until it vanished.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We do need to be aware of the issues in our lives, the impact they have on numerous generations. Whether we say “Above all else, guard your heart” or “Keep thy heart with all diligence”, we’re teaching that there are important decisions to be made that affect multiple generations. We need to seek experienced counsel and consider all possible results of our decision – for ourselves and others.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Absolute Truth

Absolute - Free from imperfection; A value or principle regarded as universally valid or viewed without relation to other things.

The only thing changeable about π is the number of decimal points used to show the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. The formula is absolute for any circle and its diameter. While the formula is absolute,  \pi = \frac{C}{d}, the result will vary only in decimal points, most usually shown as 3.14159, but the equation has not been completed to the final decimal. There are many other such formulas regarded as valid – absolute truths.

What is truth? (John 18:38b KJV)

Pilate’s question referred to Jesus’ answer to his earlier question:

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. (John 18:37 KJV)

There is an opposite to believing in absolute truth. Relativism is a doctrine that states there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture. For the Relativist, truth will fluctuate between times, places or persons. Christianity requires absolute truth – God is, now and forever, as is His son, Jesus, the Christ.

The following is part of the closing to Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict XVI) address during the meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in May 1996, entitled "Relativism: The Central Problem for Faith Today":
If we consider the present cultural situation, about which I have tried to give some indications, frankly it must seem to be a miracle that there is still Christian faith despite everything, … the complete, serene faith of the New Testament and of the church of all times.
It does seem miraculous that New Testament Christianity has existed for more than two thousand years.  That the gospel is repeated in pulpit after pulpit, Sunday after Sunday:

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)

That’s only one verse out of sixty-six books in a Bible that we believe contains absolute truths.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:5-6 KJV)

Consider now whether or not absolute truths exist. If not, why not? If so, what are they and how should they impact lives? Did Jesus give truth? Is that truth central in our lives? Why?

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24 KJV)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good Book

I know that many people see me as close-minded, accepting only what I know, not open to new ideas. Many see all Christians that way. I wish you could see the time I spend researching, weighing new concepts, determining what appears valid and what appears to be straw man arguments. I recently found a book that does just that – discussing the investigative methodology used to reach a conclusion.

While I found the premise interesting, I needed to know more about the author. I needed to get to know the motives as well as the methodology behind the book.  Recently I read a ‘historical’ book where the author’s personal agenda went beyond the presentation of facts, and where his book contained neither footnotes nor a full bibliography. For me, those are essential in a good book – unless it’s fiction.

Cold Case Christianity” by J. Warner Wallace is a book that piqued my curiosity simply because it was written by a former atheist. I enjoyed his website, too. I find it interesting to learn how God works in one’s life. I’ve written of this before in “No Longer An Atheist” and “Where?”, mentioning the 100th Lamb. It takes reason and logic for an avowed atheist to be open minded about God.

Non-believers often look at Christians as following blindly, closing their eyes to facts reasonable people accept without question.  Sorry – that’s pretty much invalid. We study. We question. We seek understanding of mysteries and seldom accept ‘facts’ at face value. We want to know the “who, what, why, when” as much as the “how” as any researcher. We’re looking for motives, too.

Looking at an author’s other work allows us to look for consistency in purpose. Does s/he write in sound bites, or is there depth and purpose? Is what s/he writes documented for verification? Are quotes used sourced to see if they are in context? Does the writing glorify God, or personalities? Those are important elements to me not only in current authorship, but in the Bible, too.

We need to look at the authors of those 66 books, the circumstances surrounding them. Question whether their writing was history or prophecy; timelessly applicable or specifically focused? Is it a documentation of a person’s error or an example to be followed? Being written in the Bible does not make it God’s commandment:

And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. (Genesis 25:33 KJV)

Factually reported, but Esau should never have sold his birthright, nor should we:

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (Hebrews 12:16 KJV)

It is necessary to know of Jacob, of Esau, of birthrights and their importance before these verses can be understood in context. It is necessary to know the scriptures, question, study and search them:

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

It is a good book that can raise – and answer – questions about the Good Book. May you find the time and inclination to study and research your own biblical questions.