Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Christianity?

That question was raised in Darci’s Random Thoughts … Combine it with the J. C. Ryle quote, and I have some random thoughts, too. Darci looks at differences between the largest of today’s religions and Christianity – their founders did not claim to be the son of God; they did not die to provide salvation; each lived and taught a lot longer than three years; none prophesied/accomplished resurrection.

That last claim is mentioned more than once in the Bible, but I like how Paul put it:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8 KJV)

John saw Him later, but under very different circumstances:

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:13 KJV)

Yep – very different circumstances, and the description continues for additional verses. The resurrection does not exist in the other religions. It’s importance is evident to Paul:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (1 Corinthians 15:14-15 KJV)

That’s a high standard to meet, isn’t it? If Christ did not rise, their testimonies were empty. Yet Paul’s meeting with Him on the road to Damascus, a story told by Luke in Acts 9, and again in Acts 22, surrounded by soldiers protecting him from those who would kill him for preaching the gospel.

Some people who claim to be Christians have killed in His name. Yet, when Peter defended him by striking a man with a sword, Jesus responded:

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11 KJV)

While each of the major religions in our world have writings that are similar in minor respects, the resurrection stands alone as proof of God’s grace and mercy. Not only did He give His life that we might have salvation, He left us with proof, testified by witnesses, that He rose again. Although I love and believe the New Testament authors, Paul’s witness stands out. What does it take to change a man from a prosecutor seeking death sentences to a defense witness? Truth.

I’ve seen that truth in action – bringing huge changes to lives of people I love. Because of that – not because of where I was born – I’ve chosen Him, too. I’ve spent time reading and studying the Bible, looking as much for something I cannot believe as looking to understand. No – I do not understand it all.  I still see through a glass darkly. But there will come a time when I sit under the tree of life beside the river of life.  Come, picnic with me.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whose Rules?


In my lifetime alone, there have been a large number of people who were (and are) determined to live by their own rules without regard to anything else. We call most of them dictators – Hitler’s name was the first I heard as a child, but other continued to rise and fall after he made his impact on this world. They are like the fish on the left, “Apparently, I have different rules.”

I heard someone being witnessed to by a Christian respond, “Oh, I believe there is a god. Mine is just different from yours.” When asked about their doctrine, there wasn’t an answer. The person was agnostic – there may be a god, but we don’t know anything about it. No books, no words, no suggestions – every one just does what they know to be right. So far, that hasn’t worked out very well in human history, and specifically failed in biblical history.

Moses promised there would come a time when there were instructions on what to do when it came to a place to worship:

Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. (Deuteronomy 12:8 KJV)

When they were in the place God wanted them to be:

Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD: (Deuteronomy 12:11 KJV)

God provided rules to live by. Israel often failed to follow those rules. Twice we’re told:

In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6 KJV)

Seven times in Judges alone we’re told:

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, (Judges 2:11a KJV)

The biblical list of kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord is a bit long. What do you think that list would look like today? How do we know what they did was evil? They broke specific rules laid out by the Lord God they worshipped. Guess that hasn’t changed much either.

So – whose rules rules do you prefer? Ones set by society that changes with the whims of the most impressive speech makers? Ones that allow every man to do that which is right in their own eyes – then find a man who is willing not only to slaughter a close family member, but his wife and children? That’s not confined to ancient history, is it?

I believe the rules laid out in God’s word offer the best for my life. The people who know me understand that I have chosen this as my standard. When I deviate from this standard, they also know I am subject to questioning and correction. Those are the rules I prefer. Actually, those are the rules on which my country was established, though many deny that today.

Let me know your preference. Whose rules are followed in your life?

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15 KJV)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Love You

Stitched Panorama
I do, you know. We don’t see each other now, and I have no idea if we will in the future. Our knowing each other was by chance – the right question, the right answer, and our lives intermingled.

I don’t know you as others do. You have people around you every day who love you dearly and know so much more about you than I do. They not only know your favorite food, they are apt to make it for you, where I’ve not prepared anything especially for you. But, I love you.

I’ve loved you since we met, somewhat late in life, and I know my influence is limited, so I have to give something tangible that you can return to again and again to believe I mean what I say, even if it appears to be bugging you.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4 KJV)

I believe John was not speaking of his natural-born children, but those he loved. I know that’s how I would apply the verse – those geographically distanced loved ones that I may not see again except in sorrow, but really want to be together eternally. I’m prepared, but I know you are not because you have told me that you have not received the gospel Paul described:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen … 1 Corinthians 15:1-5a KJV)

You’ve told me that you question whether there is a God, though Jesus told Nicodemus:

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

If you haven’t understood that, you can’t possibly understand:

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)

I do pray for you. I give thanks for knowing you. Knowing you has enriched my life, and I wish the best for you. Much as Jesus wanted the best for the people of Jerusalem, a place chosen by the Lord to be special:

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

No – you haven’t killed or stoned anyone, but you have ignored witnesses to God’s love. I know they are in your life – you’ve mentioned it, I’ve seen them online and I’ve prayed often that God would send effective witnesses to you that you might come to understand what we’re telling you – we love you, and God does, too.

Between John 3:16, about how much God loves us, and John 3:18,  about what happens if we don’t accept that love, is:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)

That’s what I pray for you – salvation. I do not condemn you, your lifestyle, your loved ones, your choices – I just want to look forward to spending eternity with someone I love.

I know you question our belief in eternal life. The alternative is simply nothing. If you are right, and there is nothing, neither one of us will know it. If I’m even close to right, that there is much more than these few short days, there is tremendous importance in your decision.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

All Peace, Love, Joy??

I read a lot about Jesus being all peace, love, and joy. I’ve heard that He accepts everyone as they are, being themselves, without reservation. That all roads lead to God (however He may be defined.)
Sorry to burst that bubble. Today’s graphic is but one example. Jesus was openly against an activity that detracted from worship at His Father’s house of prayer.

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:12-13 KJV)

Do you ever think about the fig tree?

And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. (Mark 11:13-14 KJV)

Do you think that story’s in the Bible by accident? Do you think the fig tree deserved to be cursed? Remember what happened later?

And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. And when even was come, he went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. (Mark 11:15-21 KJV)

Right in the middle of that is the word “doctrine.” Yep, there are beliefs held by Jesus that He taught to His followers – and expected they would teach them to others:

And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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 28:17-20 KJV)

The “they” that saw and worshiped were the eleven, we’re told in verse 16. We’re also told that “some doubted,” so we’re still in good company, aren’t we? How can we help but doubt when we’re told that Jesus is all peace, love and joy – when there are people and actions that cause Him to say:

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23 KJV)

That doesn’t sound loving, does it? It is necessary to know God to understand that His justice is perfect, and it is tempered with His mercy and grace. He is forgiving and encourages repentance – turning around, toward Him, seeking Him and His will for our lives. Whatever good we’ve done before can produce wonderful results with His peace, love and joy!!

Monday, January 27, 2014


Last Wednesday I blogged about our weekly church schedule. I need to clarify that those services are pretty much traditional times, and are not reflected across denominations or geographic regions. They are, however, ones I’ve attended from the 1950’s to present – Sunday School, Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday evening services. Missing today is a Southern Baptist Training Union of my youth – not found in those churches today. Traditions are subject to change.

Tradition was part of Sunday’s sermon, too:

Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. (Mark 7:1-3 KJV)

There is no indication those who came from Jerusalem to Galilee did so because of a positive interest in Jesus and His teaching. As usual, they were prepared to seek out error and complain. Their only complaint came down to tradition. And, the complaint wasn’t pointed at Jesus.

Make it current – suppose someone complains about my not attending a Sunday evening service. It may be expected, but it’s not sinful to miss a service. Though we've been told to gather (Hebrews 10:25), and the disciples did on the first day of the week, specific services are not listed in the Bible. It is not simply tradition that brings me to church – it comes from the my heart to learn, worship and honor our Lord.

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (Mark 7:6 KJV)

If I attend solely to earn good points with God, that’s not going to work:

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)

No one can attend enough church services to get a ticket to heaven. However, those services are a great place to learn about God, His word, His son and our reason for existence. Yep – there are several verses that are specific about why we’re here. Nope – you’ll have to find them on your own (or keep reading ‘cause I’ve posted them before and will probably post them again within the next three or four years!)

And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (Mark 7:9 KJV)

It is so much easier to do this for selfish reasons – to be lauded for appearing religious, to be noticed and praised – than to comply with God’s commandments:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

That’s much harder, isn’t it? Well, it is for me.  First part sounds easier than the second, but “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”? I don’t even get that accomplished though I would like to. That second, “as thyself”? Yet, that’s what I want to do. Especially since I know that tradition without loving God with all my heart creates problems:

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:13 KJV)

My prayer is to never make the word of God of none effect – through empty traditions, selfish errors, sins of commission or omission! May what I do, say or write praise Him, direct attention to Him and be within His will for my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Warning–this one contains political material.

An Oklahoma lawmaker isn’t the first to suggest that a person’s lifestyle choice not be legislated. I’ve read libertarian viewpoints questioning why any government should be involved in personal living arrangements. Why, they ask, since people live together in a wide variety of arrangements without benefit of government approval. If taken to court for their lifestyles, people claim discrimination - why must there be limitations upon consenting adults?

Now, there are multiple laws at state levels that looked upon marriage as a question of morality. Most of those are going away (which is one reason this lawmaker even suggests removing legal barriers) because one cannot legislate morality. I’ve been told that since I was a child. Now, instead of legislating morality, the tendency is to legislate social change.

If marriage is solely a contractual agreement among any number of parties (Utah recently determined that one marriage license is legal, more are not, but cohabitation does not require a marriage license, so any number of people may cohabit), then a government should be able to determine the validity of a contract that may end up in courts when people disagree. Should cohabitation require a contract, too, whether or not participants wish one? Will our society accept Islamic law that defines a Muslim's right to four wives? Should the situation be reversed, one wife, multiple husbands?

Many Christians have looked upon marriage as a secular contract and have ended up in divorce courts, helping to move marriage into courtrooms where it is being redefined to fit within federal tax laws as non-discriminatory. “Traditional marriage” has been used as a pejorative and supporting it has been described as "hate filled." Biblical stories of plural wives are tossed in as being examples of “biblical marriage.” Proponents of same-sex marriage state that Jesus never said it was wrong.

However the secular legal hassle turns out, I must be counted on the side of biblical marriage – clearly defined and stated in a positive manner to be what God intended, from the beginning. Though the original question addressed divorce, Jesus’ answer defines marriage:

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.

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 19:3-8 KJV)

Secular law is determined by society. Changes within a society will end up as changes in the legal system. Since the beginning of time, those who follow the Lord’s word have made decisions that often differ from society. However, never once did Jesus attempt to change a government’s edict. His parents complied with a tax law and He complied with a death sentence. What was preached on mountainsides and synagogues was the personal relationship of one individual with his creator.

Had Christians lived by biblical standards, shown their beliefs by example, would this marriage question be in the forefront today? We will never know, will we? What can we do about it now? Live as though we truly believe that Jesus came, taught, died and rose again that we might live an abundant life.

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

It really does not matter to me what laws are written defining who and how many may live together in what contractual manner. Secular laws never have been nor will they be a determining factor in how I see what God has joined together. What matters to me is clarifying a biblical doctrine set forth by Jesus that Christians should understand and live by.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


The word “musick” is found 16 times in the King James Bible – 15 in the Old and once in the New Testament, but singing and songs are much more evident. They are a part of worshipping our Lord with praises and thanksgiving.

Singing is first mentioned in Genesis, as Laban berates Jacob:

Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? (Genesis 31:27 KJV)

So, we know they looked upon singing with celebrations, laughter and musical instruments. Things haven’t changed a whole lot. If someone is moving away, we’d plan to hold a party, too.

We next read of singing in Exodus – again speaking of celebrating, only this time it is rejoicing because they were safe from Pharaoh:

Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:1-2 KJV)

Maybe that’s why I don’t like very much of today’s music which exalts the wrong things in life. Rock music has been known to cause ear drum damage, and I can’t make out the words most of the time, but when I do, I don't find them uplifting. Rap music – well, making out the words is the beginning of the problem! They are words I would prefer not to hear for the most part and some advocate violence. Blues? Nice rhythm, but those words are too sad. Country/Western? About the same as blues – no happiness there, too many words about broken marriages, dead-end dreams and pickup trucks (which I do like, and miss the one we had!)

Music is a money-making industry in today’s culture. Certain combinations of genre and words sell better than others. People did buy what they heard from a naked woman on a wrecking ball – but can they remember what was popular twenty years ago? Is it popular now?

So - my dislikes come down to the words chosen - not the artists, instruments or the music genre. I like stories told in song. I like scriptures in song – the wonderful story of God speaking to us. When I was in Youth Choir (yep, 5 decades ago) I loved this put to music:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (Psalms 51:10-13 KJV)

I have not found that music, though I’ve looked this past year. But, it flows through my mind. As does the last of this verse:

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6 KJV)

Sometimes the words have similar meaning, even when not quoting scripture exactly:

O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

It is easily equated with:

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; (Psalms 8:3 KJV)

We have been given a glimpse of eternal life filled with a new song. A “new song” is mentioned often  in Psalms, once in Isaiah, but it’s Revelation that I’m looking forward to singing:

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9 KJV)

Maybe that’s what Fanny Crosby had in mind for:

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another Book I Recommend

Of course, the Bible is the first, best, most wonderful book of all that I recommend everyone read, but this one is the second this week that I would suggest. It, too, is available from Amazon, and I think is under $5.00. I’ve bought it and “Return From Tomorrow” that I wrote about Tuesday as gifts as well.

I do have a bone to pick with Susanna Aughtmon because of her target audience – tired supergirls. Too confining. What she covers in her humorous writings is valid for all – or am I the only one that has gone on a guilt trip thinking of God as being aware of my errors, and ready to pass judgment:
We know this is how life works. … We sin big? We get punished big. … for every wrong action there is an even greater smackdown coming, since you knew better in the first place and what on earth were you thinking anyway?
She gives a lot of credit for this excessive guilt to the Liar. You’ve met him:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44 KJV)

He began his lies before the throne of God, started on mankind with Eve, stood before Jesus with specific lies using God’s word and continues to:
… layer our hearts with the belief that God is unforgiving and harsh and vengeful, so he brings to mind all the punishments that we deserve.
Oh, we know we deserve punishment, that sin has a price. God told us:

For the wages of sin is death;

And, we find that much easier to believe than the rest of that verse:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

The Liar using a tiny part of truth, then spins it (and us) so we don’t see the perfect judgment of God is balanced by His mercy and His grace. We accept the judgmental first part (and often apply it to the lives of others!) without the gift filled with love, offering peace with God. We look for the God who would break us, neglecting to see that He heals. All of this in just the first chapter of her book.

Never forget - God loves us:

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

Enough to die for us:

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5 KJV)

Then, we get to the really good stuff:

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6 KJV)

Let Jesus’ words be all we need before the Liar:

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10 KJV)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD. (Malachi 1:13 KJV)

The graphic is Pride, cropped from Pride, Arrogancy, Self Conceit, Worldly Glory, an illustration from Henry Altemus’ edition of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I think it catches the turned up nose of those who found the Lord’s temple a weariness and snuffed at it.

What they found so wearying was the requirement given that offerings to the Lord should be without blemish. What they were bringing as offerings were the lame and the sick. The Lord asked a question – in fact, this methodology is found quite often in Malachi – God’s messenger. God makes a statement:

Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar;

then gives what hearers would ask in response,

and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?

finally He explains.

In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:7-8 KJV)

Unfortunately, the Lord was speaking of the religious leaders, the priests who were to be the closest to Him, the teachers to others:

For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 2:7-8 KJV)

Their actions impacted others:

Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? (Malachi 2:17 KJV)

There’s that statement / question / explanation again. There’s also the concept of doing evil and calling it good that Isaiah faced earlier:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 KJV)

Why was all of this important? Because God is to be glorified:

And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel. (Malachi 1:5 KJV)

That glorification by Israel would be seen by and was for the whole world:

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
(Malachi 1:11 KJV)

Right now, everywhere the sun shines, God’s name is glorified by a gentile and His name is known by those who do not know or do not believe Him. He has not gone unheard.

We’ve each heard, we each have responded in some way. Do we glorify His name? Are our offerings without blemish? Can we accept our blemishes are covered by the love of God through Jesus, Christ?
Can I have an Amen?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hospital for Sinners

“Hospital for sinners,” that’s how my cousin put it. It is an excellent reminder that while our sins have been remitted, we are human and we’re a work in progress. It’s not a simple prescription, “Take one savior and give plenty of service.”

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV)

That’s why I attend those four services listed on that welcoming sign.

Sunday School – we’re there a little after 9:00 because Beloved Husband has returned to the choir. Now, that’s a blessing in itself – for so long he could not read because of the double vision, nor could he retain his balance. Now, he’s holding up well in the bass section! So I get an extra cup of coffee as others arrive for Sunday School at 10:00.

We are there at 10:00 when Pastor opens Sunday School with coming announcements, lists prayer requests and opens with prayer. Then he leads us in Bible study, ready and able to answer our questions as they arise.

Morning Worship begins at 11:00 with congregational singing followed by a special by our choir. We are very much together, even those of us off key (guilty.) A moment or two of reports, announcements, a special music presentation and sermon. An orderly movement from one thing to another, just as Paul wrote:

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

We may not be very organized – being an independent church – but we do follow scripture and understand that learning what it means is an important part of the services.

Sunday evening we return. Again, Beloved Husband and I are there by the 5:00 adult choir rehearsal – so they can sound good for the following Sunday morning! Someone once asked me why we return on Sunday evening – had we been so bad in the afternoon that we needed to? Sorry, we don’t go to church “because we’re bad” nor “to get good.” We go to share what we know and learn what others know. We are exhorting – strongly encouraging – one another. That’s absolutely biblical!! Luke mentions it:

Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22 KJV)

Then there’s Wednesday – lots happen on Wednesday. Beginning at 6:30, children and teens arrive for their lessons. We used to work with the children by preparing and serving treats. We both miss that, but BH’s health did not allow that for a couple of years. So, we meet with the adults at 7:00 for Bible lessons and a prayer service. That helps us with another Bible verse:

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

We do that a lot, don’t we? Every single service, and every single day in between, for many hours during the day. I see a name – I pray for that person. I see a picture – I pray for that person. God has laid a couple of people on my heart (one I’ve never met and am absolutely certain I never will!) – and I pray that God’s will be done in their lives. And, in mine.

So – that’s what the “hospital for sinners” does on those days. Another time I’ll write about our Youth activities, the Children’s specials, our Adult special Tuesdays, Monday visitation, Ladies Meetings, banquets – yes – we keep a very busy schedule. Come, join us.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

“Return From Tomorrow”

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 KJV)

In December, 1943, an Army medical technician found Private George G. Ritchie without a pulse. Having been in the hospital for quite a few days with influenza, pneumonia had become a serious complication and several other soldiers had succumbed that winter. A doctor was called in to the room, double checked for pulse and listened for heartbeat, which he did not find. He pulled the sheet over the body, straightening the arms and returned to his other patients.

What happened just before that – and for years afterward – makes this book one of the best I’ve read in a while. No more than Paul, I cannot tell: God knoweth about the author’s experience. I do know that he believes God is love.

The author wrote:
Much of the misery originated in me.
The misery was a part of him that was loved by Jesus. A love the author described:
I knew that this Man loved me … A love beyond my wildest imagining. This love knew every unlovable thing about me … and accepted and loved me just the same.
What I liked best, though, was his recognizing that same love in others:
It was Christ who all this time had been looking at me out of Jack Helm’s eyes.
I have been in congregations that are described as “friendly”, “welcoming” and people are comfortable coming back, visiting again and again – joining as members when the situation warrants. I believe that’s what is truly seen – Christ looking through the eyes of those who love Him.

It takes one to know one, to be able to describe the love that knows no bounds, but is not understood unless Christ provides the answer.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 KJV)

The love of God was described by Jesus:

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)

Jesus also told us how to show our love for Him:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15 KJV)

And, He tells describes those commandments:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

So – why do we not love the unlovable, just as He loves us? “Return From Tomorrow” doesn’t answer that question for each one of us – but it will hold our lives in front of us with questions to be answered.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bread of Life, Daily

Give us day by day our daily bread. (Luke 11:3 KJV)

Pastor’s last three sermons were from Mark 6. Sunday evening we moved from the feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6 to that same story in John 6, continuing to talk about bread. At least a portion of the crowd has followed Jesus from Tiberius to Capernaum. They had a question:

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? (John 6:28 KJV)

Now, that may sound as though they understand something miraculous had happened and they wanted to learn more:

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:29 KJV)

That answer was unacceptable to many, just as it is unacceptable to many today:

They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? (John 6:30 KJV)

The feeding of five thousand raised questions – what’s the next sign? What can you do that’s better? What more can we have? Jesus then moved into a parable. In Matthew Jesus explains the “Why?” of parables:

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: (Matthew 13:13-14 KJV)

The remainder of John 6 is simply awesome. The Jews speak of the manna that kept their people alive, but Jesus tells them it came from His Father. Even with that manna, the people eventually died. Then it gets real to me as Jesus explains:

… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 KJV)

He speaks further – then comes the verse I chose for part if my logo. My testimony that I believe Him when Jesus said:

I am that bread of life. (John 6:48 KJV)

My reaction is not that of the crowd that followed Him. Although they had experienced miracles, they could not accept His words:

These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? (John 6:59-61 KJV)

Many remain offended today. They join with those in what my pastor described as the saddest verse in the Bible:

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

That still happens today. People who have heard the message, and walk away without listening. Sadder, though, are those who responded to the message, made a public profession of their faith, then walked away. Knowing the answer, Jesus still asked the twelve:

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? (John 6:67 KJV)

I think of Peter, who answers first:

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:68-69 KJV)

Not long after that, Peter denied Jesus, three times before the cock crowed. That’s not the end of Peter's story – and it shouldn’t be for us, either. All it takes is living with our daily bread of life. Read, pray, understand more. Do not walk away.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. (Galatians 4:20 KJV)

Have you ever taught someone – then discovered they didn’t quite get the lesson? Paul did. So, he wrote them with clarification.  I’ve always liked this particular graphic – even though it has a bound book on the table. I get that he has all kinds of the written word about him for reference – I do, too. For example, Matthew Henry’s commentary on Galatians 4:
In this chapter the apostle deals plainly with those who hearkened to the judaizing teachers, who cried up the law of Moses in competition with the gospel of Christ, and endeavored to bring them under the bondage of it.
He spent time explaining an allegory:

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. (Galatians 4:24 KJV)

In other words, this subject cannot be covered in a verse, it’s a lesson that must be taught in depth, and the sons of Abraham are the examples – one born in bondage, one free. One was conceived naturally, one miraculously of parents way past child-bearing. There are several differences in these two men, and we must consider that one was born because of three people’s reaction to cultural expectations, the other as God’s plan for the people to carry His story to the world.

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4:28-29 KJV)
These things, says he, are an allegory, wherein, besides the literal and historical sense of the words, the Spirit of God might design to signify something further to us, and that was, That these two, Agar [Hagar] and Sarah, are the two covenants, or were intended to typify and prefigure the two different dispensations of the covenant. The former, Agar, represented that which was given from mount Sinai, and which gendereth to bondage, which, though it was a dispensation of grace, yet, in comparison of the gospel state, was a dispensation of bondage, and became more so to the Jews, through their mistake of the design of it, and expecting to be justified by the works of it.
The Law is something that can be discussed, debated, defined by theologians (though they might differ in their definitions) where lines can be drawn between right and wrong. The new covenant returns to the faith – and obedience – of Abraham, where mercy and grace are totally unearned gifts of God.

Where the law confines, faith frees.

Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? (Galatians 4:21 KJV)

Paul doubted that they understood, and he sought to explain. Do we understand his explanation? Where are we? Standing with the Galatians looking for the rules to follow, or with Paul living in faith that God’s grace will provide as we’ve accepted His mercy? Do we read the Bible with the desire to be obedient, or to earn points? Do we look upon our teachers as an enemy – or a shepherd?

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16 KJV)

Are we seeking the truth? Are we desiring it? Or is it easier to read a list of rules and attempt to not break one? The only answers for these questions come from within ourselves.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Through A Glass


For now we see through a glass, darkly; (1 Corinthians 13:12a KJV)

In Girls Auxiliary at Immanuel Baptist Church, I memorized 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13. A couple of years before that, I got my first pair of glasses. I wore glasses for over 50 years, then had surgery, replacing my cataract covered lens in both eyes. For a rather large additional amount (large in proportion to our budget), I could have lens that had both near and far vision. At the Medicare covered rate, I could choose near or far.

Either one of those meant glasses for the other – so I chose “far,” with the idea that when I read, I would need glasses. That wasn’t the case.

When cutting vegetables on the kitchen counter – I needed glasses. When I combed my hair, glasses were helpful. I also found that I heard a bit better wearing glasses. Old, engrained, habits were hard to change. After a couple of years of laying glasses down and losing them, or wearing on a chain so I wouldn’t, I returned to bifocals, wear them all the time and feel much better.

This verse remained with me much longer than any set of glasses. And, eyeglasses are not Paul’s subject – just mine. What I see is impacted by the eyeglasses I use. When we look at God’s word, at the history written about Him and the events that show His specific interest, we do not see them clearly. They are third hand information, distorted just a hair, as seen through a glass darkly. We should remember that, because there is a promise here:

… but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12b KJV)

The way we know God now is spiritual:

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)

Jesus walked and talked with people for three years, and they did not understand that instead of becoming the physical ruler of Israel He would be killed and rule in the hearts of those who believed Him, forever. They were looking for the conquering Messiah without reading about the suffering Messiah who will return as the conqueror.

Which Messiah are we seeking? The one who serves us, or the one we serve? Do we seek all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27) or do we prefer the glass be even darker so we see only what appeals to us?

The day will come when we stand before our Lord, face to face. I believe that getting to know Him through His word and prayer is the best preparation for that meeting.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Not As Other Men

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. (Luke 18:11 KJV)

I read two things on Facebook this morning that brought this verse to mind. It concerns me when any Christian writes/speaks of the errors of another Christian’s beliefs as a defense for their own. Yet, I’ve done it and I’ve seen people I admire do it – and, it’s wrong.

This story from Luke is the best example I have in understanding why.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14 KJV)

Did you get the point? Let me repeat it:  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others

Have you done that – trusted that you were righteous and ignored / laughed at / derided / despised another who also stated they loved and served the same Lord and Savior? I have. I’ve said, “Why do they believe that?” even when they quote I verse I know – and understand our interpretation of a word differs. Shouldn’t we remember what John was inspired to say about this:

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:14 KJV)

Are our brethren in Christ only those in our own congregation? Denomination? Will there be differences? Absolutely. Paul had his differences with Peter, explained the situation in Galatians 2:11+ and included why it was a problem:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.  (Galatians 2:16 KJV)

I am responsible for my own sins, no one else’s. I am responsible for understanding God’s word through Bible study and prayer. Based on Matthew 28:19-20, I’m responsible for sharing what I’ve learned. From God’s word, I have not learned to defend my beliefs by denigrating another’s.  Instead, I’m told:

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: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. (1 Peter 3:15-16 KJV)

May I always be prepared to answer a question regarding my actions or my belief’s with God’s word and never use another’s actions or beliefs as an excuse. May I remember the publican:

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. (Luke 18:13 KJV)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cloudy Days


This is a crop from a much larger photograph. I’m not certain the source, so I spent some time digitizing, personalizing and making it reflect the turmoil that was in my mind yesterday.

My daughter mentioned the panic in my voice when I called her for directions. I had completely forgotten about the GPS in the glove compartment when I thought of ways to get direction to the closest hospital. We were on our way back from Beloved Husband’s treatment when his blood pressure/blood sugar/we’re not certain took a nose dive and, except for excessive shaking, his symptoms matched those of his last hospitalization. I knew he was concerned, too, when he wasn’t negative about heading for the closest emergency room.

Fortunately, I neglected one right turn and during the extra few blocks, his color returned, other symptoms relieved and he felt well enough that he wanted to go home. He looked well enough, too, so we returned to our schedule.

During those few tense moments, though, my mind whirled as darkly as those clouds in the photo and I was unnerved. Which goes to show that I have not reached the point where I totally rely on God and believe Him when He says:

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deuteronomy 31:6 KJV)

Yes, these words were written by Moses at a specific place, for a specific time, but we find scriptures with this meaning across the Bible, even at Jesus’ birth, for the whole world:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (Luke 2:10 KJV)

I read an article recently about God giving us more than we can handle. Yes, He does. More than we can bear. Enough to make us question ourselves and Him. Enough to cry out “Why?” even though we’re promised He’s with us, never to fail, never to forsake.

That’s how we handle more than we can – we give it to Him in exchange for the light burden He has asked us to take:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)

Thanks be to God that on those cloudy, tumultuous days, I can can give my heavily laden burdens to Him in exchange for one that carries all of His commandments:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

Accepting salvation through His love:

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2 KJV)

There it was – a direct invitation to serve the Lord. We aren’t told he was a religious man. There’s nothing to indicate He worshipped the Lord, but he certainly recognized who was speaking, and responded.

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:3 KJV)

Jonah attempted the impossible – flee the presence of the Lord. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. It may seem strange, but this helped me understand that God does not need us.

Nope, just as He didn’t need Jonah specifically as the person who was the only one to go to Nineveh, God doesn’t need any one of us. He can call on so many committed to following Him to accomplish any purpose that any single one of us is not a stumbling block to His work. If I do not do the service He has for me, another will be called.

However, He cares enough for each and every one of us to provide discipline so that we understand what we are supposed to do. For Jonah, it impacted the lives of others:

But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god,(Jonah 1:4-5a KJV)

He was not among Godly people. The mariners came from a wide variety of people around the sea, each with their own deity, but their prayers were insufficient.

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:9-10 KJV)

Why didn’t God select another and simply ignore Jonah? My thought is, discipline. Jonah did understand that the words he heard from from the LORD, the God of heaven, which made all things. Here, in this verse, he gave a powerful witness to the men aboard the ship. Perhaps God used that witness as a ripple through time, but it convinced Jonah, too. Toss me overboard was his answer to the crew – and they did.

That wasn’t God’s answer, though. God provided life for Jonah, and enough time to reflect, change his mind and head for Nineveh.
Still, the thought echoes – God didn’t need Jonah, but He wanted him. He desired Jonah’s presence specifically. He desired the companionship of Adam and Eve, too:

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)

Why? He told us that, too:

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

He does not need us, He wants us. Enough to die for us:

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5 KJV)

I give thanks for that love, and return it to the best of my abilities.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Stitched Panorama
And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. (John 6:10-13 KJV)

Sunday morning’s scripture was mostly in John, chapter 6 and Luke, chapter 9, though it could have been in Matthew 14 or Mark 6. Although the synoptic gospels contain many of the same stories in Christ’s life, this story of feeding the five thousand is the only one contained in all four gospels – outside of the crucifixion and resurrection. For a moment, we focused on what made this important enough to be included by all four gospel writers.

But it also caused me to think about the truth of what they wrote.

What we know of Jesus’ life comes from these writings – and those that follow in the New Testament. But these four are of utmost importance because they contain eyewitness testimony of Jesus words. From these four men we must determine whether or not they were misled by Jesus or if they lied in their writings. If they wrote truth, there can be no doubt that Jesus is the Messiah.

No where else in mankind’s history do we find such supernatural claims that literally changed the course of history. Thomas Jefferson found the miracles so unbelievable that he removed them from the gospels. It is my understanding that he kept only what he wanted from them, nothing to indicate His divinity. Most people don’t go that far – they simply deny without rewriting.

Yet, someone lies.

Either the gospel writers lied about what He said; Jesus lied about Himself; or, we’re lying when we deny that He is the way, the truth and the light. Did all four of the gospel writers lie when they say He fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish? Or, did they see that happen?

Don’t you think we should be certain we understand the importance of knowing whether they wrote the truth? Do we understand the difference it should make in our lives? How do we determine what portion of these words are believable, and which ones aren’t.

We might quickly buy into Matthew 7:1, and just as quickly reject Luke 4:21. Why would one be more believable than the other? Why would Luke 6:31 be more acceptable than John 20:27-28? If we cannot believe the miraculous, why should we give credence to the good – simply because we like it?

Let me close by assuring you that I believe these writers saw what they wrote. I believe they were inspired by God in these writings. I also believe it is of the utmost importance to each one of us to read them seeking to know the truth.

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

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)

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15 KJV)

There’s an entire category on Commons of Jesus’ temptation shown in art. I picked this one because it is one of the few that does not show His tempter as a devilish figure.  Oh, I believe he’s evil – now just as he was then. But he can make things sound so good.

Jesus was a man, just as we all are. He hungered:

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. (Matthew 4:2 KJV)

The first temptation was a simple request to fulfill bodily needs:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Matthew 4:3 KJV)

Why not? Didn’t God miraculously provide manna for the children of Israel? What could be wrong with providing bread for a hungry man after so many days of fasting? Besides, it would be accepted as proof.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJV)

Scripture. Jesus answered with the appropriate scripture.

The devil moved to the next point – again soliciting proof:

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Matthew 4:5-6 KJV)

If you are God’s son – let Him prove His promise, based on scripture. Yep, Satan knows the Bible, too. Still, Jesus answers with scripture:

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Matthew 4:7 KJV)

Satan also knows God – but fights against Him. Still believing he has an opportunity to take God’s place, Satan offers Jesus the world:

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (Matthew 4:8-9 KJV)

While the devil works in this world, it was not – and is not – his to give. Whatever claim he might think he held over it because of our sin was washed away by Jesus. Knowing the cross was ahead of Him, it must have been a temptation to accept this offer – but He knew the scriptures:

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10 KJV)

Ten simple, fairly short verses. There’s one other that tells me that Satan did not know about the cross:

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 2:8 KJV)

When temptation comes, do we know scriptures? When it sounds so good for us, can we remain in God’s plan? When it seems to achieve our goals, can we recognize God’s plan is better simply because it achieves what God wants? We are tempted daily. Can we worship the Lord our God and him only serve?

Saturday, January 11, 2014


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 37:4-5 KJV)

It was difficult to find a graphic that spoke of trust. This one makes it a part of a puzzle. Provenance is the truth behind a valued work, usually of art or literature. That could fit into a puzzle about trust because we depend on what was written about God’s promises that Christians say we trust.

Those promises are part of the data contained in the Bible. It is a history of wrongness and sinful deeds as much as a history of God’s word to mankind. God neither glosses over nor condones sinfulness. The Bible contains the result of sin, telling us like it is:

For the wages of sin is death;

God is not only aware of our sinfulness, He provided a response:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

All of the Bible is necessary to understand God’s credibility. It takes the full story, the whole counsel that Paul preached:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)

Once we’ve established the source of the Bible, it’s reason for existence, we can view the data in its entirety and validate its credibility – then we can trust the application in our own lives.

There seems to be a slight breakdown there. It’s the trust that we have problems applying in our own lives. We read the data, we study its source - understanding the provenance – we even find it to be credible, but that trust factor does not keep us from questioning the Lord’s will in our lives.

We want (name anything you want). We don’t have (that thing you named). We don’t trust that what we do have is God’s will. Surely He know how badly we want that and He’s supposed to give us the desires of our heart, so there must not be a God willing to give us what we want. It is a vicious circle.

When the Lord truly is the delight of lives, our desires will coincide with His plans, not ours. When we commit ourselves to the Lord, He will bring to pass what He has planned for us. I’m almost certain it would not be what we have in mind on our own.

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)

That’s where trust comes in. Do I trust the Lord to provide good things – even if they don’t seem to be what I want?

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 KJV)

I have only a vague idea of what God has in store – seen through a glass, darkly – but I trust that in this life, just as in the heavenly, He has prepared for those who love Him. And, I do love Him.

Friday, January 10, 2014


And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. (Luke 4:23 KJV)

Yesterday we read about a woman whose faith was so strong that her touching His robe – in a pressing crowd of people – was felt by Jesus. And, she was healed.  This verse follows Jesus’ reading of Isaiah 6:1-2 before his hometown congregation. When the reading of the prophecy was complete, He said:

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:21 KJV)

As we question His message today, that congregation questioned then:

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? (Luke 4:22 KJV)

Today people ask about the historical Jesus, questioning His very existence. Many pick one or two verses attributed to Him and call it religion. Others think He might have been a good philosopher, if he hadn’t become a social activist. Muslims look upon Him as a great prophet foretelling Mohammed’s arrival.

How I see Him depends on who I’m talking to and the needs of the moment. First and foremost, He is my salvation, the unspeakable gift of God whose story is told from Genesis through Revelation in the Bible.

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

Yesterday I went back to my doctor, after feeling so much better that I almost didn’t make the appointment. He found that my ears were not as healed as they needed to be – there was a complication I had not noticed. I appreciate his close attention to my health, catching what I overlooked. I needed a bit more medication and rest.

The Great Physician does even more for my spiritual health, which is why I spend time with Him daily.

Just as the physical world is filled with germs incompatible with good health, our spiritual world is filled with temptations from a specific source:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV)

There is evil in this world. Not the germs of a labeled influenza, those are simply a part of the natural world. There is thoughtless evil making a home in the souls of those who have no hope. Hope is the result of a long process:

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (Romans 5:1-4 KJV)

That’s medicine for my soul, and I need it even more than the medicine for my body. I need it daily, just as I need sustenance for my body. Just as we fuel our vehicles, we fuel our bodies – and we need to fuel our souls. Mine comes through Bible reading, prayer and spending time with my Lord. Thanks for sharing some of your time, too.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

He Knew. He Knows.

For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. (Matthew 9:21 KJV)

Sunday’s sermon is online, “How Do We Respond When God’s Answer Is Wait?” It made me think of this woman. A couple of years ago I had Mark Hopkins’ permission to use this graphic – though it’s no longer on his site, I hope that permission stands because I love this piece of sculpture. We know what she said to herself, both Matthew and Mark record it. We aren’t told what she didn’t say, but I doubt she said, “OK, first I have to learn all about him, then I have to do what he says, then I have to do it perfectly for the rest of my life ….”

No, she said “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” Why can’t we understand that? “If I reach out to him, I shall be whole.” Do we think he doesn’t know?

Actually, I like the way it’s written in Mark even better:

For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. (Mark 5:28 KJV)

In Matthew, he writes that Jesus spoke to her:

But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Matthew 9:22 KJV)

Mark goes into more detail:

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30 KJV)

His disciples didn’t know who touched Him, or how He could possibly be able to pick out one person. She was brave enough to approach and confess:

But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. (Mark 5:33 KJV)

As Matthew, Mark wrote that Jesus acknowledged her faith, and her wholeness:

And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. (Mark 5:34 KJV)

He knew when she touched him.  He knew why she touched him. He knew the strength of her faith – and he wanted those around him to recognize what happened.  They did, and wrote it down.

Now – can I have that same faith? Enough faith that he is capable of doing what I expect? Enough faith that I will reach out to touch even the hem of his garment? Enough faith to believe he will know?

I should. Yet, I sound much more similar to another who reached out and asked Jesus for help:

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)

Please, Lord, do help my hesitation, my unbelief, my lack of faith even though you have provided. Thank you for reaching back, even though my ability to reach for you is limited. Help me know that you do know!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Consider A Mansion

That may not be what you’d consider a mansion, but I like the southern, open styling – the separation between activities and the main living area. Mansions are conceived as much in our own minds as they are by architects, and there are as many styles as there are thoughts. Yours may run more to the Biltmore Estate:
Ira Stanphill’s ran more to silver and gold:
I'm satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city, where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one, that's silver lined.

You see, he believed Jesus’ words:

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. (John 14:1-2 KJV)

My father did, too. And, so do I.

By the way, I’m not the least bit concerned about Ira Stanphill being a minister in an entirely different denomination of Christianity. I am not the least bit concerned about issues of doctrine in which we might not agree. I’m enjoying the words and music he provided for our edification and our praise of our Lord during worship.

I will not ignore his music simply because of differences – the man wrote of a gospel message, and I do look forward to a mansion just over the hilltop, in that bright land where we’ll never grow old. Like Ira felt when he wrote the song, I’m heaven bound.

Oh, not because of anything either one of us has done. I believe others are there and I’m headed that way because of God’s promises, not our actions. Because of His plans, ordained before the creation of this world:

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 KJV)

Jesus knew that He was born to die, and why:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matthew 16:21 KJV)

His disciples refused to accept this, as many of us do today:

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:22-23 KJV)

Peter saw – and we see – His death as unnecessary. God knows that it was necessary, why it was necessary and why we must accept this plan, for there is no other. Jesus said so, back in that 14th chapter of John:

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)

So, when someone asks you – or you ask yourself - the jailer’s question, be certain there is but one answer. The same one Paul and Silas gave:

Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:29-31 KJV)