Thursday, October 31, 2013

Questions - and Answers?


Months ago I wrote a blog that generated quite a few responses.  One question was on Facebook – but has since disappeared.  I thought it was a very good question, though I cannot quote exact.  Something to the idea that if Lot was a righteous man (links will take the reader to the verses that give the necessary background) why didn’t he remove himself from the evils around him?

The answer is as true today as it was back then.  He became comfortable with the world around him.
Lot had followed Abram from Ur, traveling through several chapters of Genesis until they settled, and disruption occurred among their herdsmen. So, they decided to separate, and Abram gave Lot first choice. Lot chose the plains, as lovely as Eden. Wasn’t too long before the lights of the city beckoned, and Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Years passed, Sodom changed, war occurred and Lot was taken captive. Abram received word, fought for his kinsman and returned Lot and his family to their home.

Nothing there to question Lot’s righteousness, but then angels came to visit. They accepted Lot’s invitation to stay with him. The men of Sodom came to Lot demanding the visitors be turned over to them that they might be raped. Notice the next verse:

And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, (Genesis 19:6 KJV)

He’s no longer in a tent pitched toward Sodom, he’s in the city and has earned the right to sit at the city gates.  He’s part and parcel of the community.  And that community has demanded he help them achieve their goals.

We’ll skip over Lot’s offering his daughters in place of the angels, the angels protecting Lot, even skip their personal response to the men of Sodom and get right to the point.

Lot did what we all do – became complacent to evils around us. Now, simply being in the city wasn't the problem. However, it does appear that the more people congregate together, they more they become accepting of their neighbors' errors. Rather than change their goals, it’s easier to say:

And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. (Genesis 19:7 KJV)

Yeah, right.  When has that ever stopped anyone? Have you tried that lately, “Don’t do that, it’s not right!”  Say it with emphasis, why don’t you? Does it sound any stronger?  Would it have stopped the men of Sodom from entering Lot’s home?  Will it stop anyone from entering yours?

What’s that?  People aren’t knocking on your door to do evil? Really? What’s on your television? Is any of it fruit of the spirit? As much as I enjoy aspects of NCIS, I can’t find any of the fruit of the spirit in it. I’ve pitched a tent in the wrong direction, haven’t I?  But, that’s only an hour, what’s wrong with an hour?

As Lot lingered, so do we.

The world is different.  As far as I’ve heard, angels no longer move a man, his wife and daughters out of sinful destruction. Women no longer become pillars of salt, though they do look back – even fall back – into lives that are much worse.

Can we recognize what is around us that needs to be changed?  Do we have the desire to see it changed?  What action will we take?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Paul, by El Greco

"Simple, easy, quick, convenient." That's the first definition. Another shows "Appropriate to a purpose." Still another definition says, "convenient and practical, although possibly improper or immoral."

However you look at it, the word was used often by the King James translators. The one that caught my attention was:

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12 KJV)

“All things” were convenient, easy, quick, appropriate to a purposes – but possibly improper or immoral. That’s a summation of a Christian’s freedom, to my mind.

You see, as we are born again (following Jesus' teaching to Nicodemus), we are forgiven new creatures in God's family. When we have sufficient faith to accept Jesus as our savior, our sins are gone. We are not free of their consequences - what we have done is not wiped out of our past, not wiped from history, but is wiped out of our future. I know – that’s hard to understand.

Early in our experience, we take in “milk,” information that we digest just as babies. Then we move up to digesting - or understanding - the meat of lessons Jesus taught. Each one of us are at different points on our ability to discern and apply God's lessons in our daily lives.

When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, he was further along in knowledge. He understood that nothing held him back from doing anything he wanted to – except his understanding of and love for his Lord. Still, he fought against doing wrong, recognizing:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (Romans 7:15 KJV)

What keeps us from taking advantage of our Christian freedom to simply live as we wish without God’s commandments is the same love for our Lord that led Paul to share the gospel with the world. The Holy Spirit dwells within those who share this love:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:14-16 KJV)

When Paul encouraged Timothy, he mentioned this:

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14 KJV)

One by one, we’re to tell another what we believe:

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 KJV)

That’s all I’ve done here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Greatest Faith

This blog isn’t complete with your knowing yesterday’s. Please, take a moment if you missed it. The story begins with Luke 7:1, and we had gotten just to verse 7:

Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. (Luke 7:7 KJV)

There was no doubt in these words, as there was with the father in Mark:

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (Mark 9:23-24 KJV)

Though, I do love this verse – the words could be mine as I search to rid myself of unbelief. No, the Roman did not express unbelief. He didn’t wait patiently in his home, either, for Jesus to appear. He sent to our Lord an acknowledgement of his unworthiness, and his belief in Jesus’ ability. It was not the Roman who said this to Jesus, but the Roman’s friends: Just as he first sent Jewish leadership to Jesus (and they went for him), he sent his friends to tell Him it was not necessary for Him to respond as though this was a Roman command. It was a public acknowledgement of Jesus’ ability:

For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about,

The Roman recognized that Jesus operated under the authority of God. When he told people to do things, they did it. What a blessing it is to recognize that the man Jesus was completely within, surrounded by and operating under the authority of God. That is what the Roman saw, accepted and publicly acknowledged, knowing his unworthiness. Yet he called upon this Son of God, just as Mary His mother did at the wedding in Cana, knowing what He could accomplish.

What did Jesus have to say about this? Only what I wish He could say about me:

and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Luke 7:8-9 KJV)

No, though I am as unworthy as the Roman, as we all are, Jesus knows and responds. Thanks be to God, I need not be worthy to approach Him, and His requirements are lenient:

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)

Thanks be to God, also, that I have faith in His grace, not in my worthiness or ability:

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

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)

Monday, October 28, 2013


When I was growing up there were quite a few epic biblical movies. I can remember Ben-Hur. It was a bit difficult to think of Charlton Heston as a young Jew after seeing him just a few years before growing old as Moses, but it was an awesome story. I remember how Romans were portrayed – strong, authoritative, powerful and arrogant. Richard Burton had been such a Roman just a few years before both of these movies. Rome controlled the Mediterranean and beyond.

Sunday morning I was reminded of a Roman who fit into God’s category:

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

Yep, a humble – yet widely respected – Roman.

Beginning in Luke 7, Jesus had just finished what is called in Matthew the Sermon on the Mount and head into Capernaum:

Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. (Luke 7:1 KJV)

A Roman centurion heard Jesus was coming, also heard of His healing and the Roman had a dear servant who was ready for death. Ready. Think about that – I did for the first time Sunday. Oh, I had read these verses before, many times. But this time I noticed:

And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. (Luke 7:2 KJV)

I have had several friends and family members become ill and die. I can honestly say there is only one that said she was ready. I believe her because she has been truthful before. She has inoperable cancer and her doctors have confirmed liver failure. But she is prepared, and ready to die. Many of her friends are not as ready, just as the Roman was not as ready as his servant. He called Jewish leaders and asked them to take his case to Jesus.

And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. (Luke 7:3-5 KJV)

He was worthy. Only – he felt he wasn’t:

Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee:

Is that why there were times we couldn’t approach Jesus? Is that why we could not open our hearts and invite Him in? Because we were not worthy? Oh, that we could have understood His power, as the Roman did:

but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. (Luke 7:6-7 KJV)

He did not feel worthy – but He knew what Jesus could do.

Tomorrow we’ll read a bit more and think about what Jesus did, what He said – and what it means to us. Overnight, think about the Roman, the power behind him, the authority he wielded and the fact all this was said without meeting Jesus.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why The Bible?


(While Beloved Husband and I sneeze and cough with pounding heads, 
I'd like to revisit a post I wrote last year:)

In the tab “What I Believe”, the Bible is listed first, with an explanation:
I place this belief first, not because it is the most important, but because it explains and provides answers for so much of the following. Without the Bible, there is not a foundation for believing ...
The Bible is not the most important part of our faith, but it does explain a good bit of it. Christians need to remember how easily it has been misused. Examples of this abuse are contained in the Bible, and should never be used as reasons for doing wrong.

Satan knows God’s word. He used them in his first temptation.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1 KJV)

Then, he lied, and Eve fell for the temptation.  He used them again when tempting Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4:1-12.

He still lies and still uses God’s word to mislead, confuse and confound. It is quite possible to pull a verse, or several verses, to support what any individual wishes to do.

If a divorce is desired, there are many verses that give reasons for divorce and how to accomplish it. A thorough reading also brings out that this is NOT God’s plan. Divorce was created by and for hard-hearted people who bypassed God’s marriage plans.

One verse that will be of most help when the world uses God’s word as temptation would be:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV)

There’s another verse in that chapter that we should take to heart. We need to memorize:

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (1 Thessalonians 5:12 KJV)

When a fellow Christian, having a great deal more experience in dealing with the world’s temptations, admonishes us, we would do well to heed the words.  Especially when they come from God’s word and appear to be applicable to our situation. Rather than defend our actions, we’d be better off spending time in prayer to be certain our actions do not have the appearance of going against God’s will.

There will be valid differences between children of God, but temptations to live by the world’s standards instead of God’s should not be one of them.

As imperfect humans, we can find justification for everything we want to do.  We live in a “Just Do It” world, but our instructions from God require careful consideration as to whether God is glorified, or we are being selfish. For example:

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)

When admonished by fellow Christians caring for my soul, my answers should include the virtue and the praise to God – or I need to change what I am doing.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Just A Bit Off

Thank you for stopping by! My apologies for not having a blog ready for you this morning, but both Beloved Husband and I are battling minor complications from seasonal allergies - along with weather changes.

It appears that at our (slightly advanced) age, bodies do not function as they did years earlier and healing takes longer when we feel just a bit off. Nothing of major concern, but medication does make the head swim and thinking straight takes longer than it should.

May I suggest the book of 1 John as a reading for today? Just five short chapters. In fact, take a chapter a day and really study it. Look at commentaries (you can find some freebies through or and see what others say about this book.

He closes with what we should know from hearing God's word:

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:20-21 KJV)

P.S.: A little prayer for our health would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Trivializing Translations?

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:17-23 KJV)

That's a very long selection, and I thank you for continuing to read. It is one that I've found not to be easily understood. I read a portion of it in another devotional and wanted to be certain I understood in context the excerpt used by the author, who used a different translation:

God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.” But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. (Romans 1:17-23 The Message)

Now, The Message (written by Eugene H. Peterson from 1993-2002) is the author's idiomatic use of words as figurative meaning, not the literal meaning as other translations, which is how:

And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

... becomes ...

They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

Frankly, I can see the picture in The Message's idiom of a tourist trap - but it doesn't really carry for me Paul’s view of a first century shop selling household idols to be worshipped in homes. To me, the idiom trivializes how strongly those first century citizens felt spiritually. And, how strongly we need to be spiritually.

The differences make me think of “Darmok” where understanding idioms was a necessity. The more I study the Bible, the more I realize it must be studied, preferably in prayer, that we may understand the invisible things of him from the creation of the world. Just as true is the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Faithful Witnessing

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exodus 20:16 KJV)

So much has changed since my childhood. Used to be that before taking a witness stand, a person swore upon the Bible that the testimony they were about to give was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In the United States, using a Bible is no longer required, but not telling the truth remains subject to charges of perjury.

The basis of this common law item has roots in the Ten Commandments where we’re told not to bear false witness.  In Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20 Jesus includes it in a list of commandments as He answers the rich young ruler's question "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?":

Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

Paul ties it to Jesus’ response to Pharisees in Matthew 22:36-40:

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Romans 13:9 KJV)

I was reminded of these verses after reading a news article yesterday that included this as a separate paragraph:
NBC News has not independently confirmed the account of the anti-bullying video.
As I was growing up, newspapers were divided into sections. I don’t have a newspaper subscription today, but I imagine it is similarly divided into news, advertising and editorials. News was to be reported factually and editorials were opinion pieces. Today, there appears to me that opinions are more often reported as news, lending itself to greater opportunity for bearing a false witness.

In addition to other biblical references, Christians should pay close attention to Jesus’ words:

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37 KJV)

In being faithful witnesses, we should avoid speculation as to a person’s actions or their motives. We should speak only of our own personal knowledge of events, keeping in mind how best to relate them:

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)

Why do we find that so difficult?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What We Have In Common


I’ve been humming a tune with words running through my head – “the man in the middle was Jesus.” Found the Lyrics on the web:

Three men on the mountain
Up on Calvary
And the Man in the middle was Jesus
He died for you and me
Well the man on the left was a sinnin man
Tied to the cross, he bled
He could have been forgiven
But he mocked the Lord instead
You say you are the Son of God
They nailed you to that tree
Come down, come down and save us
If God your Father be
Well the man on the right was a sinner too
But he was sorry for his sins
He asked the Lord's forgiveness
And Jesus said to him
Fear not, fear not this earthly death
Before this day is o'er
You'll be with me in Paradise
On Heaven's golden shore

I found much in common with all three men on that mountain. Where do you fit in?

Both of the men were sinners. They both broke the Roman law in such a way that their lives were required as their punishment. I doubt that either one accepted their fate. Unlike Jesus, that had not known for years that they would be nailed to the cross.

One of them railed against his torture and demanded that Jesus take them all down from the cross.  He did not believe Jesus’ teaching, but knew that He had accomplished miracles. He taunted Jesus:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. (Luke 23:39 KJV)

That does sound as someone who believes but has some doubts. That sounds like someone angry against the world looking for a way out, but believes it can’t happen. I think I’ve had some days very similar, ready to say “If you are …” Of course, that “If” is connected to something I wanted, not what God willed. Just as the thief, if I don’t get what I want, there must not be a God.

Then, we have the man on the other side:

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. (Luke 23:40-41 KJV)

He knows how he got to where he is. He knows that his trial was just, no matter that he would prefer to be anywhere else. He believes God exists, and that Jesus is innocent.  He does not state openly and publicly that he believes Jesus is the Messiah, Christ. He speaks to Him directly:

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

So, what do I have in common with these three men? Just as two of them, I have sinned. Just as two of them, I know God is, and is a rewarder of those who love Him. Just as one of them, I have asked to be a part of His kingdom. Just as two of them, I believe His words:

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, (2 Corinthians 10:16 KJV)

I think of that verse when giving directions to our house. We certainly live “beyond”!! No one simply stops by on their way somewhere else, they have to be coming here. And, within a half-mile or so from our house, there is no telephone signal, and GPS stops working to. In fact, part of my directions are, “When you think you are lost and start to call, you’ll find there is no cell service. That means you are on the right road so continue around the curve for half a mile.”

I had an out-of-state visitor this weekend. I had sent Google maps along with directions, but her GPS worked perfectly and got her right to our front porch. Wonderful!!  The GPS didn’t work so well on her way back to DFW, adding a bit of frustration on her journey home.

I’ve seen that acronym shown as God’s Plan of Salvation – in fact, I used it in a blog earlier this year. I also think of it as God’s Perfect Solution. And, I think we can reach places in our lives where we are unable to receive instructions from Him that provide solutions to our problems.

Oh, He’s still there – we’ve moved away from His will and are ignoring the signals He continues to provide. We become confused, frustrated and look for ways out without considering reaching out to Him. We think that since we got ourselves into this, surely we can get out – and maybe He won’t even notice? Foolish thought, isn’t it?

Perhaps we’re as Samuel was, thinking someone else is calling us. If so, we need to listen to Eli’s advice:

Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (1 Samuel 3:9 KJV)

How can we know when it’s God speaking?  John tells us there are many false spirits:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 KJV)

John also explained how to tell the difference:

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:2-3 KJV)

Plain enough, isn’t it? Especially when Paul pretty much gave the same advice earlier:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 KJV)

We have a standard whereby to measure the direction we’re headed, the advice we receive and the goals we set in life. Use them wisely.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Sticks Have Names

I have company this morning. She’s not up yet, but will be soon. I fully intended to repost a blog from several years ago. The subject’s been on my mind since our mission conference. It’s from a sermon years ago – enough years ago that it was before I posted on Blogger, therefore the post is lost and the thoughts must be recreated.

I do not remember the speaker’s name – only the story he told of a man who came to a conference of missionaries, asking them to send someone to his home. The man carried a bundle of sticks and as he described people who lived around him that had not heard of Jesus as written in the Bible, he gave their names and held up a stick. When he spoke of them dying without hearing, he dropped the stick.

The speaker’s delivery – along with sticks in his own hand – stuck with me because of the visual image, along with the fact that “the sticks had names.” No longer dead wood to be tossed away, each stick had someone’s name, someone’s story, someone’s life and someone’s eternity.

The sticks have names.

No longer faceless concepts of fields ripe for harvest. No longer a vastness referred to as ‘mission field.’ No longer thoughts of a city where a missionary would set up services. Names. Individuals.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (Acts 16:9 KJV)

Read from the first of that chapter – it’s a turning point for Luke. In verse 4 he wrote “as they went;” in verse 6, “when they had;” in seven, “but the Spirit suffered them not.” Then comes Paul’s vision, and in verse ten:

And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:10 KJV)

For decades I was aware – and supported financially as well as prayerfully – of missions and missionaries. I thought of missionaries as individuals as I had met many. I thought of the people they were ministering to – as a whole. After this one sermon, though, I understood that “the sticks have names.”

Each of us has a ministry, a mission, a field. We could pick up a bundle of sticks and apply the names of people we know could use the comfort of our Lord, the love of our Lord and most assuredly, the salvation offered by our Lord. As Christians, we’ve every one read:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)

Perhaps they should read two verses ahead:

And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17 KJV)

Move beyond the doubts we all experience at some time. Accomplish the ministry our Lord has called upon each of us to accomplish.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Goodbye


Blogs come and go for a wide variety of reasons. Jasmine, the author of Far Above Rubies, has written a blog encouraging ladies to seek biblical principles in their lives. The title refers to:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
(Proverbs 31:10 KJV)

The verses that follow describe that virtuous woman, and we all find ourselves falling short. In this ‘Goodbye’ Jasmine writes:

And, I'm especially tired of women feeling like they are not worthy because we, who write, are not honest enough to tell them our struggles.
I struggle, ladies. I do.

I have commented on her blog asking that she continue to write. We are all struggling. No one ever walks totally down the middle of that narrow way 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)

We stumble. We veer. Our attention is caught by something beautiful – or horrible – along the wayside. We need companions who reach out with words of encouragement and guidance in those moments. Ones who have had pitfalls of their own and understand there are struggles.

Ones, who in the midst of pain and struggles can write:

I will write about the true and living God who wants a relationship with His people.  ...  My deepest desire for you is that you know the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He longs to pursue you if you would only let go. Let go of your preconceived ideas of what God is and is not. Stop letting man tell you who God is and search it out for yourself.

That’s the gospel – the good news – a one-on-one, individual relationship with our Lord. To do that, we each have to make the choice to seek that relationship. I can only do it for me, you can only do it for you. We can share information about our experiences, but we cannot share the reality of our relationship with God.

That relationship cannot be encompassed in words. Words are too limited in scope and vary in meaning from person to person. The widely used ‘Father’ is tinged in each one of us by our relationship to our earthly father. We’ve over used ‘love’ to include the entire world, not the Greek agape, very limited in scope, with unmeasured depth.

When we look for the biblical principles for each of us to follow, know that God’s love provides what we seek, not rules. His grace sustains, not adherence to laws, and especially not adherence to someone’s interpretative standards of those laws. We need not maintain a list of ten, or a book filled with laws when we live these two:

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)

Yes, the way is narrow, the gate is strait – but it is filled with love, and ladies such as Jasmine who love their neighbors.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Looking At A Reason

One of the missionaries we help support posted a link. I enjoy sharing their views from the field, and this one has quite a bit to think about. Clicking on the title will take you to the full article:  10 Reasons Not To Become A Missionary.

That in itself is eye-catching. Aren’t we suppose to encourage people to ask God where He wants them? Shouldn’t we look at all possibilities, seeking to know His will – then follow through the doors He opens for us?  Why then think:

Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Going to Change the World.

Switch out one word: Don’t become a Christian if you think you are going to change the world.

Now, can you relate to the problem a little bit better? Christ changed people one at a time. He called His disciples one at a time.  Well, two at a time if you count Peter and Andrew, or James and John. Yes, He had crowds of people follow to hear Him preach and His feeding of the thousands did impact crowds, but the healing was one on one. The in-depth teaching was in small groups or one on one.

That leaves a lot of world untouched. It has taken two thousand years to get the word around to all parts of the world, and we haven’t reached every individual yet, though Christians have had a huge impact on the world.

Not all of it good. We tend to glaze over when someone mentions specifics where some Christians by name fail to show they were changed by God’s love. You see, that’s how people know we are His followers:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJV)

Can we show that love without ever seeing a change in another person? It is essential we realize we cannot change any individual – we can tell them what changed us, but we cannot make them accept change.

Can we show that love for a long time without seeing results?

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

Planting seeds doesn’t change the world. Watering the crops doesn’t change the world. But, put them together with God’s planning and the world will be changed.

So – become a part of the whole process, enjoy the fruit from someone else’s planting, another’s watering and enjoy the God given increase that becoming a Christian really is. He'll let you know where your ministry will be.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Project

This is my current project – a lap quilt for Second Daughter. The block is 12” square – there will be three across and four down, with frames around each block. That red is reverse applique. A circle is cut into the block, the applique put on the back, then sewn in.

Each of the twelve applique colors will flow through the rainbow, from the red through oranges, yellows, greens, blues to purples, and each contains a scripture. I’ve been reading them often.

I have a software package where I can type in the verse and then create an embroidery file which I can use in my embroidery/sewing machine. The family and friends selected their favorite verses, so there’s double meaning – the Lord’s word and what loved ones love.

That first one is her son's

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25 KJV)

No – there wasn’t enough room for the entire verse. I have an entry-level machine (and I’m a novice at all this) so I fit what I could into 4x4” limitations and still get the message that He bore our sins in His own body – by whose stripes we are healed! That’s the gospel message.

Her husband’s favorite is:

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

How can we believe God exists if He is not the Creator?

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 8:28 KJV)

That one is her daughter’s. She understand the middle, the conditional part “to them that love God.” A very important distinction. God’s love for His children is unconditional, the all things working for good isn’t.

Her Dad (my Beloved Husband!) chose:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

These last couple of years, he has been weary, but this verse on his hospital wall was part of his renewing strength.

Her daughter-in-law chose a Proverb and trust:

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 KJV)

Her son-in-law chose one that speaks of his calling:

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5 KJV)

Her sister’s confirms our path:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

Her brother’s is the best known of all:

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

Two of her friends participated. Our pastor’s wife chose:

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4 KJV)

She knows that when we delight ourselves in our Lord, the desire of our heart is His companionship, and we have it! Another friend chose:

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6 KJV)

And mine? I’ve quoted here often:

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

I do rejoice, even while grieving, that my father, mother and other loved ones believed this verse as I do and I believe they are with our Father. I rejoice that the other eleven who chose verses for this quilt believe, too. One day, we will be with the Father described in these verses. What a blessing is laid before us in these few simple verses. What a pleasure it has been to read them over and over as I work on this project.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Freely Given

I’ve mentioned before the Jimmy Carter devotional I’m reading. Chapter 43, dated June 16, 1996 has an illustration that touched my heart because my Beloved Husband works beautifully with wood, too.
Carter explains that even sixty-plus years of marriage cannot keep a couple from having serious disagreements. One day, after a strong argument, he went to the woodshop, sliced a piece of walnut, sanded it smooth and wrote:
To Rosalynn: each evening forever, this is good for an apology or forgiveness, as you desire.
He continues, “She has used it several ties, and so far I’ve been able to honor it.”

That’s nice, between a husband and a wife. She has a physical token of her husband’s love. She knows by having it that her husband will listen to her, apologize if she requests or offer forgiveness.

But, there’s a much larger application, if we’ll use God’s word as our physical token of His love, accepting that we can come to Him asking Him to understand us, asking for His forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 KJV)

Just a minute – you say you have no sins? That there’s no reason to be asking for forgiveness?

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10 KJV)

That takes care of us – we know we’ve failed Him. What about God? Has He failed us?

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalms 136:1 KJV)

That Psalm continues, ever repeating the refrain – He is good, His mercy endures for ever. That’s not the only place we hear how God is:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:17-21 KJV)

Can you doubt His love after knowing:

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

Can we understand His mercies?

It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV)

Can we take this Bible, this physical token of God’s love for mankind and His reaching out to His creation, and ask forgiveness? Ask to be included among His children, to share in the riches of his mercy and grace? It is open to us as a 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)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Crowd of Witnesses

Click here for Dr. Daniel Knickerbocker's website

No, that’s not a typo from this verse:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1 KJV)

The “cloud of witnesses” refers to the examples given in Chapter 11, those who lived before the Hebrews author who gave witness of their faith in God.

My thought of a crowd of witnesses came Monday night during a sermon by Brother Dan Knickerbocker as he spoke about supporting missionaries.

There are several ways of providing support – financial comes to mind because of physical needs, beginning with food and shelter, but it is more important to provide spiritual support, to pray for our missionaries. God’s grace is sufficient for those accomplishing His will.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20 KJV)

We know this in spite of our weaknesses because of Paul’s testimony:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV)

Bro. Knickerbocker’s sermon gave me thought not only of the missionaries supported through prayer, tithes, offerings, but of the ones who went before, giving sermons I heard, impacting teachers I had, preachers who stood before me. What a great crowd of witnesses to God’s loving plan, His provision for His word to continue through the ages!

I’ve written before about the request I have before God’s throne to have a picnic under the Tree of Life, beside the River of Life. After this sermon, I would extend the invitation further, to all of those who have touched those who touched our lives – and those whose lives we will have touched through supporting those with beautiful feet:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15 KJV)

Just as true as when written by Isaiah

Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isaiah 52:6-7 KJV)

Lord, bless those who go forth in your name to bring the good tidings, that publish abroad salvation and confirm that you reign.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Whom My Soul Loveth

Stitched Panorama
2012 was a benchmark year for my brother-in-law’s family. That March, he and his wife celebrated 50 years of marriage. That September, his granddaughter married, beginning her trek toward such a goal.

2013 was also a benchmark year. My brother-in-law went home to be with his Lord, without knowing his granddaughter would seen be adding another great-grandchild to his descendants.

Sad? Oh, yes – even when we have faith we will see him again. Oh, we miss him, painfully, reaching for the phone to call and realizing he’s not within reach. His wife wakes in an empty room as well as the realization that will remain unchanged.

Their granddaughter used a portion of a verse from Song of Solomon for her wedding invitations. I ran across that invitation, as well as her grandparent’s, this morning. Here’s her selection, in context:

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. (Song of Solomon 3:1-4 KJV)

For those married fifty years or more, it appears obvious they did find the one whom their soul loveth. For the newly married, we pray they have, also. Should they ever question that, I would direct them to the New Testament:

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:10-15 KJV)

Just as Daniel purposed in his heart to obey God, being married carried a God-given responsibility laid out here by Paul. He explicitly states, “not I, but the Lord” is the one commanding. The possibilities that follow comply with God’s planning.

That means entering marriage without a thought of divorce in the future. Being certain this is your soul mate because they are committed to the best for your soul, not just for your physical needs. Are those questions discussed and answered prior to marriage? Or will that “come later”? Be certain through prayer that you are with the one whom your soul loveth. Then, enjoy God’s blessings as His will is followed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

He Feels Our Touch

Stitched Panorama
Can you imagine the crowd? This crop from James Tissot’s “L'hémoroïsse” gives a clue – narrow streets in the city, crowds of people following Jesus and Jairus. There’s a sense of urgency, too. Jairus’ daughter was dying.

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. (Mark 5:22-24 KJV)

Here was a very important man coming to this healer, and the healer responds to the request. Who wouldn’t want to see this? If the child is healed, they would witness a miracle. If she was not, they would see a dramatic failure in front of a powerful ruler.

Instead, they are brought to a halt when He says:

Who touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30 KJV)

Twelve years she had suffered:

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. (Mark 5:25-28 KJV)

She believed He was capable of healing her. She believed she was not important enough to gain His attention. She believed a simple touch of His clothing would make her whole. She was right:

And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. (Mark 5:29 KJV)

Imagine her shock when He knew and asked who touched. In that crowd, who could know? His disciples were their usual, helpful selves:

And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? (Mark 5:31 KJV)

Aren’t we the same? What limitations do we place on our Lord. We say He is the Messiah. We say He was sent by God. We read of miracles, healing, expounding on scripture, preaching to crowds and we ignore His commands for daily living. We do not see Him as one who would notice faith in a crowd.

Did you notice that He did not reach out and heal this woman? He didn’t go looking for her in the crowd in order to heal her, she came to Him.

And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. (Mark 5:32-34 KJV)

Often we look upon the Lord as being too busy for our small issues. If we garnered His attention, it might be taken away from something more important, a life or death issue where He was immediately needed. Why do we limit His abilities? Why can’t we take time in the crowd to reach out, touch? We will discover that our faith has put us in touch with the greatest power in the universe – and He will respond to our touch with His own.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What does it take?

Tee asked the question, “What does it take to beat a child to death?” My answer is, evil.

It also takes complacency for a public to read of this, have sympathy for the child, the mother, the father and continue accepting that it is wrong to advocate a strong family structure with both parents concerned for their child’s welfare.

God’s plan was laid out in the Torah and confirmed by Christ before a crowd of witnesses:

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? 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 19:3-6 KJV)

There’s no discussion of another on the side to provide happiness. We saw in the first example, Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, that scenario brought tears and separation. So did the life and death of this beaten child.

But wait, God allowed divorce, didn’t he:

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 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 19:7-8 KJV)

We asked for it, we got it – and now we live with the consequences.

Besides the beater, who erred in the death of this child? The mother? The Father? No more so than every one of us who accept the hardness of our own hearts and decline to speak in favor of God’s plan for the family. One man. One wife. One flesh, seeking the best for each other.

Christians are supposed to take it a step further:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:21-25 KJV)

Do NOT take that wifely submission out of context and degrade it. We all submit to some things. How better to submit to a husband who loves Christ and understands that love offers more than life. Thank you, but I do not wish to trade what I have for less.

“What does it take to beat a child to death?” Evil. Call it selfishness, jealousy, hate, anger – or call it complacency with children being ignored in life’s decisions. Innocent, didn’t ask to be born, children.

Do we care what happens to them? How do we show that caring?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Reading The Bible For Life

I’ve mentioned that I often get Kindle books at a more-than-reasonable price; some under $3.00, others for free. This is one I paid that top dollar to have on hand. I can read it on my PC, my smartphone or on my Kindle.  I can loan it to anyone who has an account and a Kindle app so they can read it. Nice!!

As I select the book cover on my Kindle app, there’s a small bookmark in the upper right-hand corner that tells me how far into the book I’ve read. Right now this book shows 7%. That’s not very far, yet I’ve found information I wish to share.

The author, Dr. George H. Guthrie, is a professor of Bible studies at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, holding a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies. In addition to this book, he has written commentaries on the book of Hebrews and co-authored "The Holman Guide to Interpreting the Bible." The university’s affiliation is with the Southern Baptist Convention.

February 5, 2008, the university was struck by a tornado. Six buildings were damaged, sixteen residence facilities lost. Early in this book, the author discusses with the president what happened the following day:
At 6:00 on the morning following the storm, media from every national network were here … We did a national press conference with MSNBC and then they started talking with our students, just pulling students aside at random.  An hour or so later, one of the major network producers came to talk with me. He said, “Have you prepared or scripted these students? … they’re echoing everything you said during the first interviews.”
The school president’s (Dr. David S. Dockery) answer is one Christ’s followers should be able to give in any situation:
“Our students live their lives grounded in Christ and the Bible, and even in this king of situation, they respond in light of who God is and in light of the bigger picture rather than just out of their own concerns.”
They lived what Paul wrote:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 2 Corinthians 3:5 KJV)

How do we know that’s sufficient?

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (2 Corinthians 3:2-6 KJV)

Dr. Dockery stated:
We had a common commitment as a community to the Bible as the Word of God. We believe it is an inspired Word, that it is true and trustworthy, and that it has authority for our lives.
He went on to say the Bible gives comfort, guidance, direction. He said, “First we must be committed to the Great Commandment, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, as well as loving one another as ourselves.”

I believe the Bible does give all Dr. Dockery stated. It says it will, and it shows that it did. We can look forward to learning how, under what circumstances and even why, when when we study. Come, join me in reading God’s word.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Three Jews

James wrote:

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (James 1:1 KJV)

... to the twelve tribes. Not to Judah. Not to Israel. To all of the tribes scattered abroad. His contemporary, Gamaliel, did, too:
... to the sons of the dispersion in Babylonia, and to our brethern in Media, and to all the dispersion of Israel.
Paul mentioned them, standing before Agrippa:

Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. (Acts 26:5-7 KJV)

James and Gamaliel were addressing the same audience; Paul was explaining why the Jews brought him before Roman law. Three contemporary Jews with widely divergent beliefs.

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; (Acts 5:34 KJV)

Gamaleil set the apostles to one side so that they would not hear his speech. He explains several instances where rebellious men lead others to their deaths. He looked upon these apostles as doing the same thing, but he gave them the benefit of the doubt:

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 KJV)

At the time he said this, Saul was still considering these as bragging rights:

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:5-6 KJV)

If he heard Gamaliel’s words of caution, he ignored them.  It took a meeting on the road to Damascus to change his mind.

Three Jews, connected through so many things, yet seeing the world from such different ways. Some Christian churches today believe Gamaliel became a follower of Christ. Jews do not believe that, looking upon him as first in the Sanhedrin.

I believe his counsel is good today – be cautious, if it be of God, we might find ourselves fighting against God.  How do we know we aren’t? When we see three Jews who loved their people greatly and cared about their relationship with God. When we speak with our Lord. When we use the Bible as our final authority. When we follow His word.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Only a Star Trek fan would recognize the name Darmok. In this episode, Captain Picard and Dathan, an alien captain, are on a hostile planet unable to communicate - Picard combines words to create sentences, Dathan using words to create metaphors, symbols of events that occurred only in his culture. Eventually the lesson of understanding language in forming alliances between individuals and cultures becomes obvious.

What has that to do with reading the Bible? Well, for those of us who speak English, it has to do with: 
The salt of the earth;
Fought the good fight;
Go the extra mile;
Just a drop in the bucket;
Escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Just a few English phrases based on scripture in the King James version. Such phrases come through our literature. Over 1,300 quotations or allusion from the Bible are found in Shakespeare’s works alone. One book I was reading lists a number of human rights movements over the last couple of centuries and states:  “These movements of modern times have all employed the language of the Bible.” (Cahill, Thomas, The Gift of the Jews:)

Thus, to increase knowledge of our language, our literature, our culture, beyond religious content, it is important to be acquainted with the Bible.

That’s for anyone who speaks English. For a Christian, it is much more important. Based on this scripture:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)

Do we think of God’s word, the scriptures, as being powerful? Jesus did:

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

Jesus used scriptures to sort out the physical from the spiritual. He used them to answer Satan just as He used them to answer both tempting and sincere questions from His listeners. He knew them by heart.

The Bible defines us as Christians. Without the Bible, we have no foundation for our faith. That’s one reason I list it first in my own statement of faith, “What I Believe”: 
I believe the Bible is Holy, the divinely inspired and preserved Word of God, the final authority for all faith and life. I place this belief first, not because it is the most important, but because it explains and provides answers for so much of the following. Without the Bible, there is not a foundation for believing ...
I continue with paragraphs touching the foundation of my faith, each built on a scripture reference. I read the Bible to see if it is true, as the Bereans did:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)

I read the Bible so that I might be closer in my relationship to God:

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

The relationship that was lost, so long ago:

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

We read the Bible for that humble walk with our Lord and our God, as it was in the Garden and on the road to Emmaus. Please, join in.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


… we’ve been praying and I don’t understand your answer. We were encouraged to ask:

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9 KJV)

So, we did. We were also told:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14 KJV)

We asked in your name – believing that what we were asking would be glorifying God for years to come.

What we were asking was for children – children who would be receiving food for their bodies as well as Thy word for their souls. They needed a building. The one that sheltered them was being sold.

As it was for you in Bethlehem, there would be no room for the children.

We also prayed for their teacher. Maria Elena loves those children. Her prayer partners do, too. We know our Lord does:

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3 KJV)

These children are not just examples, symbols, they are as we are to be when we come to our Lord.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matthew 18:4-7 KJV)

So, why wasn’t another door opened, to another building where these children could gather to be filled? That’s why we do not understand the answer.

Yet, we love you, Lord, and we still believe:

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 KJV)

I am reminded of words written by a newly widowed husband and father as he considered his loss and God’s sovereignty:
These things are the reason Job said those great words, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b) We love to think that God gives, but we hate to accept that he also takes away. We have to accept that, trust him anyway, and bless the name of the Lord.
Always keep His word before me, as we continue to pray:

A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. (Psalms 103:1-6 KJV)

May we come to know and understand:

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20 KJV)


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Your Bible?

Sunday a friend gave this to me as a printout. It had a web address, but it’s no longer valid. The author is given as Gene Baker, and I have no idea who Gene is or when it was written. At a time in our lives, this could have been written by a Bible in our own home:


JANUARY: A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year.  They kept me busy for the first two weeks, but they have forgotten me now.

FEBRUARY: Clean-up time. I was dusted yesterday and put in my place. My owner did use me for a few minutes last week. He had been in an argument  and was looking up some references to prove he was right.

MARCH: Had a busy day first of the month.My owner was elected president of the PTA & used me to prepare a speech.

APRIL: Grandpa visited us this month. He kept me on his lap for an hour reading I Cor 13.  He seems to think more of me than do some people in my own household.

MAY: I have a few green stains on my pages.  Some spring flowers were pressed in my pages.

JUNE: I look like a scrapbook. They have stuffed me full of newspaper clippings - one of the girls was married.

JULY: They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation.  I wish I could stay home; I know I'll be closed up in this thing for at least two weeks.

AUGUST: Still in the suitcase.

SEPTEMBER: Back home at last and in my old familiar place.  I have a lot of company. Two women's magazines and four comic books are stacked on top of me.  I wish I could be read as much as they are.

OCTOBER: They read me a little bit today.  One of them is very sick. Right now I am sitting in the center of the coffee table.  I think the Preacher is coming by for a visit.

NOVEMBER: Back in my old place.  Somebody asked today if I were a scrapbook.

DECEMBER: The family is busy getting ready for the holidays.  I guess I'll be covered up under wrapping paper and packages ,again ... just as I am every Christmas. 
Oh, my – you’ve actually read this far! Now I can ask – how would your Bible’s diary read? I know some would read of how they were used daily. How their pages were worn at the edges, stained with tears and bindings loosening. Those are the ones with happy memories, for their owners truly have followed the psalmist’s actions:

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

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. (Psalms 119:105-106 KJV)

Good example to follow!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Warning–Controversial Subject Matter


This past week in Belgium, a person died. By choice, aided by physicians. The loss of life, and the reasons for it, bother me.

Nathan (born Nancy) Verhelst, 44, was killed by voluntary lethal injection. Euthanasia, the act of a doctor directly killing a patient, is controversial, though legal in three countries, according to the International Business Times "... the Verhelst case is set to ignite a firestorm in Belgium, which is one of three European countries where euthanasia is legal, the other two being the Netherlands and Luxembourg."

Nancy decided to become Nathan, giving an explanation in interviews:

... I was the girl that nobody wanted ... While my brothers were celebrated, I got a storage room above the garage as a bedroom. ‘If only you had been a boy', my mother complained. I was tolerated, nothing more.

Nathan decided to die when surgery did go well, physical additions facing rejection and expectations were not met:

My new breasts did not match my expectations

Six months of consultations with doctors ended in legal euthanasia.

The article closes with:

… there were 1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012 in Belgium, a 25 percent spike from 2011. The country is in the midst of deciding whether to allow euthanasia for children.

Did no one ever direct Nancy/Nathan to:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (Psalms 139:14-15 KJV)

That book is available in most countries, though banned in several. The words are spoken in churches around the world, along with:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. (Jeremiah 29:11-12 KJV)

Is it a question of not hearing? Or, not heeding? I grieve for this person whose life was deemed disposable, even by doctors who are taught to heal. Attention was given to physical, then emotional but no mention is made of spiritual.

Euthanasia remains illegal in the United States. However, the same results are accomplished in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Vermont with PAD - Physician Aided Death. The only difference between euthanasia and PAD is who administers the lethal dose.

Why do we look upon suicide as being illegal, change the name and toss in doctors then and call it legal?

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. (Matthew 23:23-24 KJV)

As explained in a commentary regarding these two verses:

Worthless are all outward observances when the moral precepts are neglected. … The gnat and the camel, which were alike unclean, stand at the extremities of the scale of comparative size. Our Lord uses a proverbial expression to denote the inconsistency which would avoid the smallest ceremonial defilement, but would take no account of the gravest moral pollution.

What are the foundations of our moral precepts? When and how do they allow the taking of human life?