Saturday, May 31, 2014

Responding To A Challenge

I picked up this photo several years ago during a business seminar. The instructor placed a wide selection of photos on the table and asked us to pick out one that reminded us of our work.

At the time, I was a Software Quality Engineer.  I was paid to break things, as long as I could give a detailed explanation of how I broke it and could recreate the breaking point. This photo of a scribe working on the Torah was indicative of the detail required to accurately describe the steps I need to document in order to duplicate exactly the previous actions.

Such attention to detail takes time. Social media takes up time. My remaining time in this is limited as I grow older.

All that went through my mind when I read a recent challenge to spend some time without social media. I immediately thought of what I would be missing!! There are family members that share photos and happenings on Facebook and Google+ and I thoroughly enjoy those. There are friends that do the same and I keep up with their activities and their growing families. Missionaries!! So many missionaries – the Bassham, Coats, Griffin, Jacobs, and other families our church helps support; Maslin, Buhman, Maria Elena and others I’ve met only through social media – all are on my prayer lists!

My blogs – although they haven’t been daily for several weeks now – are also part of social media. So how would I spend my time without all of these?

I’ll find out in the next two weeks – from June 1 through June 14, I will be abstaining from Facebook (where I post quite a bit and read more), Google+ (where family and friends post a bit more often), Twitter (which I read much more than I post), blogs (both writing and reading) – but, continuing to use texting (not while driving!!) because we’ve come to use it as a family communication tool, just as telephone calls, compliments of my deaf daughter-in-law. It is a good tool!!  I will continue to use e-mail just as I would USPS mail – again, as a communication tool.

What do I hope to gain from this fast from social media? First – I do look upon it as a time of fasting, of doing without these things and replacing them with contemplation, study and the intention to learn more. Will my focus change? I expect it will. And, I will let you know.

See you back here on June 15. In the meantime - let me know what you are reading in the Bible, which I encourage you to use daily.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Stitched Panorama
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

I learned a new word today, HORTATORY: strongly urging to some course of conduct or action; exhorting; encouraging. I found the word while studying Romans 12:12. That verse is part of a longer section, Romans 12:1-14:23 where Paul takes time from his doctrinal writing to include everyday examples that would display in our lives when we practice those doctrines we believe.

The Complete Pulpit Commentary explains:
Saving faith is ever with him a living faith, to be shown by its fruits. Nor, according to him, will these fruits follow, unless the believer himself does his part in cultivating them: else were these earnest and particular exhortations needless.
That reminded me of the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-33. Because of the length, I’ll not post the verses – just open your Bible and read it, or click the link to I think you’ll make the connection between the Commentary’s paragraph and this verse:

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:23 KJV)

Paul gives us specifics on those fruits:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

A rather short list, isn’t it?  Much shorter than the fruits of the flesh – which cause great heartache and physical pain:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

We hear much more about the fruits of the flesh in all the media, social or news. Is there that much more of that fruit than of the Spirit? As Christians, we are to be walking with and in the Light of the World:

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46 KJV)

Paul explains that, along with mentioning the fruit of the Spirit:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (Ephesians 5:8-12 KJV)

Paul also explains how to obtain the faith necessary to cultivate that fruit of the Spirit. Will you take this hortatory to heart and build faith?

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

Please, spend some time reading and studying the Bible to see if this is indeed true.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Remembering Those Lost In Battle

I wrote a bit about Jack back in 2009, for a CNN Memorial Day Article. Jack's photo is on the left, second row. I had been thinking about how the loss of a single soldier costs families their future. The death of John Clarence “Jack” Blickensderfer in World War II changed our family forever. It is in honor of his sacrifice for his country that we personalize Memorial Day each year.

Our family has been fortunate that later service -- honored each Veterans Day -- was not as costly, but it too changed our family. This year three generations of veterans represent three different branches of our military. My husband, my son-in-law, my grandson each chose a branch for a variety of reasons – none of them for military tradition. Their service was not a career choice, but was service in time of need. Each returned to their family, to ‘every day’ lives.

Jack, too, responded in a time of need, at nineteen years of age. Within just a few months he graduated from flight school, celebrated his 20th birthday, flew a bomber to England and died in the skies over Hoorn, Holland on July 7, 1945.

His father wrote this after receiving word of his death:

Out of the sunlight into the gloom
The light turned off for a darkened room
I heard the words the message bore
"The one you loved so is no more."
The dreaded thought rang through my head
He's numbered now among the dead.
I stumbled on with head bowed low
For I had ever loved him so.
Ne'er again would life be bright
For I had passed from day to night.
When, quietly, a still voice said
His plan includes the honored dead.
He Who created worlds unknown
Has set a task, your very own.
Countless men have grown through sorrow
Countless more will grow tomorrow.
Reluctantly I raise my head
And saw not dark, but dawn instead.
A new day filled with mellowed light
A path to guide my steps aright.

The death of his only child was a devastating blow, but his love did grow - enough to raise two sons who remember not only their earthly father, but the heavenly Father who helped him through the darkness into His dawn.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV)

Not with this family. We've been offered - and have accepted - light for our path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105 KJV)

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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Imagine – as John Lennon


I can’t imagine anyone not having heard Lennon’s “Imagine” and giving thought to the meaning of his words. I have, though I don’t buy into them all. A friend reposted them sometime back, reminding me why I find the song useless.

Oh, lot’s of people will tell you “It’s about world peace. It’s what we should be striving for!” I’ve been told the words are where Lennon wanted mankind to go – to live up to what we could imagine, our dreams of the future. Yet, he was not willing to live up to his words, either. While singing, “Imagine no possessions,” his grew. While singing, “Imagine there’s no countries,” he tried to find solitude and safety behind walls he owned – to discover safety did not exist.

I strongly regret his inclusion, “Imagine there’s no heaven .. No religion too,” as though these were bad things. It is true that people have executed atrocities in the name of religion, and I can imagine how better things could be if that were not done – but I cannot imagine existence without God.

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

We find it first in Job:

What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? (Job 7:17-18 KJV)

And again in the words of David:

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: (Psalms 8:3-6 KJV)

Would mankind be perfect without religion? It has never happened in the past, why would we expect it to be so in the future? Are men naturally benevolent when they perceive no boundaries? What would have to be imposed on other men to achieve Lennon’s perceived perfection?

Unfortunately, that temptation of imposing “what’s best for you” exists not only in men but too often in their perception of religion. The first that comes to mind is a church which attempts to impose their views by hate filled picket signs. I cannot imagine they relate this one verse:

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)

Just as unfortunately, many pick that one verse and speak of all paths leading to God, ignoring the preceding verse:

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

Unlike Lennon, I cannot imagine mankind living in peaceful harmony with all others without a companionship with God, understanding with Micah that:

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)

Perhaps then we can look back on Memorial Day as a distant memory and not repeat mankind’s errors.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Can’t We Get Along?

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: (Philippians 2:14 KJV)

Really?  All things? Without grumbling or begrudging? Without debating or disputing? Surely our Lord didn’t mean Christians should do . . . exactly what Paul wrote, did He?

Maybe it has something to do with the previous verse:

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 KJV)

When we are working God’s will, how can we be murmuring or disputing with others working His will? Aren’t those our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Suppose we run across someone we can determine through biblical examples and verses that God’s will is not being followed? Should we murmur about them and dispute with them? Actually, I can’t find a good biblical example of our Lord doing more than quoting scripture.

Think of His answers to Satan:

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)

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

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)

So, if there should be murmurings and disputes, perhaps we should be quoting scripture, too:

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35 KJV)

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:9 KJV)

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22 KJV)

Peter continues with this thought:

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. (1 Peter 3:8-11 KJV)

I need these reminders as I face some murmurings and disputes that contain no brotherly love. When these touch one of my loved ones, the temptation is deep to forget that love is the basis of all 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)

Love. The foundation upon which God has built His kingdom, the goal He sets before us and the goal I seek to attain. I need reminding. Thanks be to God that His Spirit provides that, too:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26 KJV)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why Scripture?

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

I see the Bible as the final authority on questions of faith. I see both the Old Testament and the New as scripture. Although I'm not alone in this, many others do not.

Differences within the early church are evident in the New Testament. Putting Jesus' teachings into written form as well as applying them to daily living quickly became arguments within the church. While some look upon this as a reason to doubt, I find a sentence from a look at Marcionism to be of interest:
"Marcion forced more orthodox Christians to examine their own presuppositions and to state more clearly what they already believed”
I would paraphrase that to my own thought process:
Questions about Christianity allow me to examine my own presuppositions, assumptions and to state clearly what I believe along with the source of my information.
I ran across Marcionism during a look at the history of the New Testament. There were considerable dissenters during the process of determining which writings could be considered inspired, and which were not. Differences of opinions were not new, even then.

Peter and Paul are considered top of the line resources. They were undisputed leaders in the new church, with differing views in some areas and without concern about pointing them out.  Both men stood before church leaders in Jerusalem and explained what they believed and gave the source of that belief. We should be able to do the same.

As Paul prepared to go to Jerusalem to answer questions, he told the Elders at the Ephesus church that he had kept nothing from them. That what he preached was what God gave him to preach – all of it:

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

Paul knew scripture, there is no doubt of that. He encouraged others, as he wrote to Timothy the source of scripture:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

But he also told him why we should be using it:

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)

I was reminded of one story in the Bible, Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-40, as I said my prayers last night. There are several loved ones who have rejected God’s existence and I prayed for them, asking God to send them a Philip who could answer their questions. One very important aspect of that story was:

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? (Acts 8:30 KJV)

The Ethiopian was reading scripture. He did have questions. God sent Philip to answer someone who was seeking Him.

I encourage reading the Bible. When questions arise, ask God for a Philip, please.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Question. An Answer.

A friend’s blog asked the question – would you continue to blog if you had no readers?

I had to think about that for a while. I have not blogged regularly for months now, and my readership has dropped off.  Oh, yes, Blogger keeps statistics as to how many people stop by each post. It also tells me from what country the connection is made.  It does not tell me if they read the blog when they stop by, and there’s no way of knowing if they retained any of the information or picked up a Bible.

Yes, I do think about readers – not how many and seldom about specific people who might or might not stop by. I do not write these for anyone but me. When I started (years ago!!) it was on Yahoo’s 360 specifically for junior high girls in our Sunday School class. I posted preparation Bible reading and study questions for the upcoming lessons. Others began stopping by and it sort of grew as I examined Bible verses from my own point of view as I read.

I do believe the Bible has answers for our everyday questions in life. A friend posted that it was “basic information before leaving earth,” a reference to our belief in eternal life, as outlined in the Bible!

There are a multitude of translations from a variety of sources. Some are concerned with maintaining exactly what was written, even though it is translated into languages. Others paraphrase what was meant then into what they think it means today. Others (such as Thomas Jefferson’s) remove what they don’t like or can’t accept and treat it as a buffet to pick as they choose.

My own preference remains the King James version, for a number of reasons. Ask me, and I’ll explain – but I must say that the Lord is quite capable of reaching lost people through Bibles in their own language for His own purpose. He is quite capable of reaching the lost without a Bible. I simply find it comforting to spend time with the words He inspired through a vast number of writers to show us across ages that He remains the same, involved in the lives of His children.

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

He states that:

For I am the LORD, I change not; (Malachi 3:6a KJV)

Though the verses before and after that affirmative are not a comfort to those who do not seek His will nor follow His commandments, which I continually post – reminders that help me remain close to Him:

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, my answer to the question as posed is, “Yes.” I would post if there were no readers. It makes me think deeper, research longer, seek answers to questions I have. If these are read, I pray that the readers find a question themselves, and that their Bible will provide the answer. I can’t.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

For Mothers, Everywhere

(Unknown source)

This Mother’s Day I woke up thinking about Mary, and how all mothers have their children as a loan, then they go on to do things we never imagined were possible. Mary had it a bit easier than most of us – she was told how and why she would be carrying a child.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:28-35 KJV)

I wonder how blessed she felt on that journey to Bethlehem. I remember traveling in relative comfort during the last part of my first pregnancy. How blessed would she have felt being turned away at the inn? Laying her son in a manger? Oh, that night with shepherds and angels she would ponder in her heart – along with the visit from the magi.

What do we mothers see when we look at our newborns? I believe we see some of what Mary did – hope for their future, dreams for what will be – and little of the reality we face, so very little for the heartbreak along the way.

Her son’s actions caused her sorrow:

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. (Luke 2:48 KJV)

We know she had confidence in His abilities as well as faith He would respond to her requests:

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. (John 2:5 KJV)

We know at one point he used her as an example to show brotherhood with all mankind:

Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:47-50 KJV)

During His last hours, her son thought of her:

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:26-27 KJV)

She never gave up on her son, was with Him through His death. That’s what mothers do. We, their children, honor them and we love them, always.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Lord’s Prayer

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8 KJV)

We need to go back to Matthew 5:1 to see who Jesus was talking to:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, (Matthew 5:1-2 KJV)

Reading one way, the Sermon on the Mount was given on a mountain, away from the multitudes, to the disciples who were considered His. Yet paintings from over the years, as Carl Bloch’s above, indicate the mountain was a vantage point to address a large crowd. Last December, Joel Shurkin wrote an interesting article about what size crowd could hear a speaker without amplification.

Whether there were just disciples or multitudes who heard His words is, to me, a pilpul, a Jewish word indicating a deep analysis which some consider unproductive. I believe looking at the Jesus message here is more productive than determining to whom it is addressed. I believe whoever heard it, just as whoever hears His message today, will benefit from reading, studying and applying it in life. The Sermon on the Mount covers much in understanding Christianity.

One of the best topics is prayer. In Matthew 6:8, Christ tells us that our Father knows in advance what we are going to ask. We’ve seen that in a smaller scale in our families. We have anticipated what our children will ask. Taking into consideration our Father is omniscient, of course He knows what we will ask, just as He knows what is best for us.

The Concordia Publishing House posted the Small Catechism Martin Luther wrote, which includes the Lord’s Prayer and how “. . . the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.” Luther also looked at the individual requests.

It is a good thing to do now, too, and our congregation studied the requests in the Lord’s Prayer last Wednesday night. When we do repeat it, we need to carefully consider our words and not simply repeat them as memorized. Why would our Father pay heed to this prayer if it was simply a repetition without coming from our hearts?

It really doesn’t matter what it meant to Luther, to my pastor or to me when studied by someone else. It only becomes important when prayed from each individual’s heart with their understanding of the words and how it is applied to their life.

I would consider right now, though, that the first two words are of utmost importance.

When I use them, in this prayer or another, I understand that I am a child addressing my Father and He has innumerable other children who love Him as I do. What I request should take them and His love for them into consideration, for they are my family, too.

And, if I begin looking into every following phrase, word, thought, you’d be reading for a very long time – and might miss out on your own understanding.  So – take a few moments to read – and pray – the following verses, putting yourself on a mount in Israel at Jesus’ feet hearing the example of what our Lord wants His children to consider when speaking to Him. Listen, please, for His response.

After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father
which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever.
Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Third Man

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. (Matthew 27:38 KJV)

When The Rochester Family was here, they sang “Three Men On A Mountain.” That second thief’s story gives me hope.

Now, Matthew tells us:

Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. (Matthew 27:41-44 KJV)

I don’t know why Luke was inspired to tell us more detail:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:39-43 KJV)

I do not doubt Matthew and Mark’s view of both thieves, nor do I doubt Luke’s detail of the one coming to understand that the man in the middle was not like them. He saw enough of Jesus to believe there would be a kingdom, though they were dying. I believe Jesus’ commitment that we shall see that thief in paradise, too.

This is why I can hope that someone who lived a sin filled life without acknowledging God to my satisfaction is as this one thief who waited until his dying moment to believe. I can hope such a person did, with death so near, believe.

The Bible is clear on what God requires of us as we ask the question Micah put into words:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:7 KJV)

Each one of us must spend time with the Lord, get to know Him and what He has for us as individuals, though Micah also had the bottom-line answer for mankind:

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)

Which ties in so closely with the prioritization I posted from Jesus so many times:

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)

The third man made that choice late in life, but it wasn’t until the very end. I can't help but think about what he missed out on by not following Andrew, Peter, James, John and others when they went to Jesus. Perhaps then we would know his name. Still, I am given hope by his witness that he believed Jesus would have a kingdom and that he could be a part of it. I am given assurance by Jesus' response.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book of Life

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12 KJV)

I hope the graphic is clear enough that you can read the typed entry on the left, “Maggie Holley” as well as see the written name, “Maye.” I know it is Maye because that’s my mother, visiting her in-laws during the 1940 census. The third name down on the left is shown as “Woodron”, but I knew the man as “Woodrow,” a much more common name for that time because of President Woodrow Wilson. For people documenting their family history, seeing the written entry is much more important than the man-made index. In the older census records, where many could neither read nor write, even the written records contain errors, as I found my Walden ancestors entered as “Waldon,” “Waldren” or even “Wallon.”

There are books, however, maintained in an atmosphere were there are no errors, according to Revelation. Paul was aware of them before John’s vision:

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:3 KJV)

I feel ashamed and cringe when I realize what is written in those books about me:

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

Based on what the Bible tells me, I have no fear of God’s judgment when it comes to my salvation. I believe what He gave us in John 3:16-18, Ephesians 2:8-9 and many other verses. My salvation is based on God’s grace, not the good I do nor the errors I make. However, there are other books that will display my idle words. I have no defense, for I’ve made errors after accepting His saving grace. Knowing this, I thank God for His forgiveness and strive to keep my error rate low.

As a noun, shame is a pretty good word: 
a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior
We should feel ashamed by our own foolish or wrong deeds. When it’s a verb, in that we cause someone to be ashamed, it’s not such a good word. Why should we cause painful feelings of humiliation or distress when it is our responsibility to offer correction or instruction?

Throughout the Bible there are explanations as to what we should or should not be doing, and why. Jesus gives two upon which all the others are based:

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, I use that verse often. Why not? It is the basis for our relationship to God and mankind – isn’t that important? Keep them in the right order and feelings of shame will lessen. Guaranteed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When We’re Stronger

I read this recently:
Corrie ten Boom in "The Hiding Place" described it as a suitcase too heavy to bear. She told the story how as a child she'd asked her father what "sex sin" was (she'd heard that said and didn't know what it meant). In response he asked her to carry his large case of clockwork tools. She laughed because she couldn't -- it was too heavy. And he said that the answer to her question was too heavy for her and that he would carry it for her until she was stronger.
There are some things children should not be given to bear. That’s true for new Christians, too.  Often people expect immediate changes from new Christians, and too often those expected changes are nothing more than pre-conceived notions based on personal standards not doctrinal matters. New Christians have much to learn, and it is a blessing for both when church members recognize and support that learning.

When thinking of the too-heavy suitcase, I was reminded of Paul’s reference to milk and meat:

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 KJV)

After a time of growth, there are greater expectations, as we find in Hebrews, where those expectations were not met:

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJV)

Do we stand in need of learning the first principles? Do we remain unskillful in God’s word? Or do we have the sense to discern both good and evil? If not, we do need someone to teach us to grow beyond being babes in Christ?

We are not alone in seeking answers to those questions. There will be teachers provided who love us enough to share what they’ve learned and they will be able to cite chapter and verse to back up what they are teaching.

The Bible tells us there also are some eager to lead us astray:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 KJV)

Check the source of any doctrine against the Bible. If it takes a book to explain away what the Bible states as truth, we should be able to discern that. If an explanation allows us to attain physical pleasure before glorifying God, that should show us who designed it, as Jesus told Peter:

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)

Being “good” and enjoying life are not the goals of a Christian, though we may achieve those things. Being in the presence of and glorifying God – that is our substance, the reality of our growth.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 KJV)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Please, Pick Up A Bible

Would you please note the date on this – January 25, 1941. My Beloved Husband was just less than two weeks old and my Mom had just discovered she was pregnant with me. Eleven months before Pearl Harbor was bombed our President was concerned about the servicemen “attaining the highest inspirations of the human soul.”

He mentions “the centuries” when “men of many faith and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration.”

Our culture has changed. As has that of many other nations. Soon, China will contain more professed Christians than the United States, though their nation’s culture continues to frown on formation of churches.  It does not take a church building for people to want, read, love and share the scriptures. Why?

I love what Paul wrote to Timothy, knowing his mother and grandmother shared scripture with him:

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15 KJV)

Paul is not  talking about the New Testament used in Christian worship – he was in the very process of writing that. He was writing Timothy about the Jewish scriptures that told of a Messiah. Those very scriptures would lead to salvation through faith. Paul knew there would be unbelievers, as he had been:

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13 KJV)

His eyes were closed until he was blinded on the road to Emmaus. Do you believe what he wrote?

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

That covers a lot of territory, doesn’t it.  The doctrine – the set of beliefs – are in the scriptures. They can be used to reprove, correct and instruct – if they are used. If they are in a book that only picks up dust or actually gets dusted on a shelf but not read, there is no value.

For my readers, I ask – no, I challenge – you to pick up a Bible, look up the scriptures I include. What do they mean to you, personally? If you have a study Bible, are the comments in line with what I write? If not, why not?

Scriptures are also for reproof, which is to rebuke or censure – which should be designed to bring about correction, or the ability to accept instruction.

So, why would we be doing all of what’s written in these verses? That’s here, too:

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:17 KJV)

Yep – when we acknowledge God, we’ll want to do good. We’ll recognize our sinfulness and be grateful that God has put it all away from us and we’ll not want to bring it up and look at our error again. We will do our best follow His instructions. I believe FDR knew this when he wrote his letter to those in service to our country.

Please, pick up a Bible and see for yourself.

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Grandson and Three Questions

Sunday we drove about 50 miles to my son’s church where their teenagers presented the morning worship music, skit (that door in the background) and their Student Pastor asked and answered three questions:
Saved from what?
Saved by what?
Saved for what?
All that has to do with what evangelicals are concerned with when we ask, “Are you saved?

First, please consider that oft maligned word, EVANGELICAL, which as an adjective means:  "of or according to the teaching of the gospel or the Christian religion; synonyms: scriptural, biblical"; and as a noun means:  "a member of the evangelical tradition in the Christian Church." As evangelicals, we  believe in God as described in the Holy Bible – actively participating in the lives of His creation. We teach from that book, sharing what we believe.

There are many verses that answer those first three questions, but their Student Pastor chose Ephesians 2:1-10, which contains my most favorite verse about salvation:

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)

I know, I know – I’m answering that second question out of order! But that’s my favorite verse and I want to share it early, before I post the answer to the first question, found in verses 1-3. The words describing us include our disobedience, desiring things that please our bodies, being children of wrath. That’s why we need saved.

The Bible tells us that all have sinned, coming short of meeting God’s requirements and we’ve earned separation from the life God offers. Each of those links go to a part of what we call the Roman Road – which also answers the three questions. It’s the full gospel message that I’ve been writing about for years. The same now as it was when it was written.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17 KJV)

Saved from what? Eternal separation from God. The Bible tells us that all souls exist eternally, but not all in the same place. The Bible describes both places and what it takes to be in one or the other. God does not “send us to hell,” we make that choice on our own when we reject His grace.

Saved by what? God’s grace. Because we believe He exists, provided inspired scriptures that tell us about Him and that faith in His ability to keep His word, we are saved.

Saved for what? Now that’s just as important in understanding what comes next:

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7 KJV)

We will not spend eternity in heaven with Jesus because we were good enough, but because God is showing His grace toward mankind. We’re told much earlier in the Bible that He walks with His creation:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:

… but we are as unworthy as they were:

and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV)

… for all have sinned and come short. Thank God that He has provided the way for us to get past that point and once again fellowship with our Lord.

How do you answer those three questions?

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Must Explain “Crone”

Thursday evening. It was late and I was tired when I reposted an item on Facebook that appears to be unrelated to my life’s choice of Christian living. I answered a question too shortly, but hopefully this will help explain what was in my mind.

The gist was the author’s looking at elderly women returning to their homes near Chernobyl. She referred to them as “crones” and explained the word’s source:
a classic character from myth and folklore, and she often the bearer of great wisdom and supernatural power. She is sometimes a guardian to the underworld. She has tremendous vision, even if she is blind. She has no fear of death, which means: NO FEAR.
Unfortunately for the author’s focus, what she wrote brought to mind much more than myth. I had just finished reading the book of Acts and what came to my mind was a man who was blinded by the greatest of wisdom and power that overcome death itself. A man whose eyes and soul were opened. He not only ceased to fear death, he ceased to cause it. Yet, later, he headed to Jerusalem knowing he faced it.

And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 21:10-13 KJV)

I’m certain the “Crone” author was not thinking of Paul. There’s no indication in her story of a biblical background that would give an ad campaign’s “NO FEAR” greater meaning when heard as “Fear not,” but that’s what I heard:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

As I age, becoming “a withered old woman,” (another of the definitions of a crone) the home waiting for me is much greater than a physical comfort of a well-known physical place.

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

I must be aware of the first definition of crone, “a cruel or ugly old woman,” which people will look for first. I must acknowledge that in both definitions the operative word is “old” and I must fear not the consequences of growing old. Instead of seeking to return to previously known comforts, there is much, much more to come.

Paul did not die at Jerusalem, though many sought to make that prophecy true. He was, however, bound, imprisoned, tried and sent to Rome where he took the gospel message even into the emperor’s household. The was much more to come before he was present with the Lord.

The same holds true, today, as we look beyond growing old without fear.