Friday, October 31, 2014

Again, Corrie ten Boom

I’m always blessed by reading about Corrie ten Boom. The most recent was a Facebook post about her time in prison. There was another teen there who asked her each day:  “Aunty, what is your message today?”

The examples given were simple. “Jesus is Victor," - "Underneath are the everlasting arms," - or "Fear not, only believe.” These messages were passed on.

How often do we pass along uplifting messages? Exhorting others to get through the days? That reminds me of:

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)

Corrie’s messages, even after the War, spoke of strength, love and forgiveness – the gospel. We differ on at least one doctrinal item, though. Corrie did not accept a pre-tribulation Rapture, writing:
She believed that such a doctrine left the Christian Church ill-prepared in times of great persecution
While I believe the Bible does speak of the rapture, it is not my job to convince anyone one way or the other. My difference does not negate her faith, nor mine. We both believe the gospel message, the need to share that message and the fact that there are many reading to receive it.

In fact, I agree that we must not focus on Christ’s return as a solution to the persecutions Christians are facing now. Jesus spoke of persecution long before Luke wrote of tribulations in Acts:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matthew 5:11 KJV)

We learn of Christian martyrs early in the New Testament, through the following centuries and still today. Do we really believe Christ will return before such display of faith will be required of us?

I believe Corrie’s family was very instrumental in preparing her for the hardships endured under Hitler’s Nazi regime. How well are we preparing our families? Do we study:

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV)

Can we prepare ourselves and our loved ones to withstand suffering – and give our reasons for our hope:

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:14-15 KJV)

Could we do as Corrie did, long after the War:
In her book Tramp for the Lord (1974), she tells the story of an encounter while she was teaching in Germany in 1947. She was approached by a former Ravensbrück camp guard who had been known as one of the cruelest. Reluctant to forgive him, she prayed that she would be able to. She wrote:  "For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."  In the same passage, she wrote that in her post-war experience with other victims of Nazi brutality, those who were able to forgive were best able to rebuild their lives.
We celebrate God’s forgiveness in our own lives as we worship Him in services and in His service. I know I need to build forgiveness. Do you?

Thursday, October 30, 2014



My specific unwellness includes the Pharynx, Larynx and bronchial tubes, not included in the picture. Warm liquids help. Soups. Lozenges. Time, and a bit of my doctor’s prescription. This isn’t a stranger to me – it happens because of seasonal allergies. Ragweed seems to be the most virulent catalyst. Usually I stay under air-conditioning, but we took a trip over the weekend and I spent a lot of time in “fresh” air, laden with allergens.

It made me think of yeast:

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matthew 13:33 KJV)

The Pulpit Commentary tells us:

While our Lord thus promises that the permeating influence of the kingdom of heaven shall at last be entirely successful, it is unfair to so press the parable as to deduce from it that the world as such will continue to be gradually and continuously improved up to the Lord's return.

Just as the ragweed had an impact on me, yeast is used in this parable to tell us that the kingdom of heaven will have an impact – but the commentary is pretty clear that we’re not to depend on that to accomplish the spreading of the word we are supposed to do.

Leaven, or yeast, is not usually used in a good sense in the Bible, as Christ explained to the disciples:

And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. (Matthew 16:5-7 KJV)

I believe we often take things in a logical, face-value way, leaping to conclusions that are not what our Lord had in mind. In this instance, He took time to explain:

Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:8-12 KJV)

Just as the tiny pieces of allergens have a detrimental effect on my health, the erroneous doctrine of the Pharisees, Sadducees or any misleader will have a detrimental effect on my spiritual health.

Paul used the same analogy when dealing with specific sexual sins in Corinth:

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6 KJV)

Paul used leaven as an example of even also here:

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

Next allergy season I will take greater precautions to remain separate from pollen, just as I take precautions to remain separate from sin. One has a short term effect – the other has eternal ramifications not only for me, but those who listen to my example.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Worst Boss

If Ahab is remembered as Israel’s worst king, then Obadiah could have had the very worst boss:

And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: (1 Kings 18:3 KJV)

Other than being Ahab’s governor, we don’t know Obadiah’s background. While there are several men by that name in the Bible, some believe:
According to the rabbinic tradition, the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, this is the same individual as the prophet.
Matthew Henry sees it a bit differently:
Who this Obadiah was does not appear from any other scripture. Some of the ancients imagined him to be the same with that Obadiah that was steward to Ahab's household … But that is a conjecture which has no ground. This Obadiah, it is probable, was of a later date, some think contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos; others think he lived about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, when the children of Edom so barbarously triumphed in that destruction.
1 Kings tells us a bit more about this Obadiah:

For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) (1 Kings 18:4 KJV)

For all the differences in their trust in God, Ahab trusted Obadiah:

And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. (1 Kings 18:5-6 KJV)

Obadiah knew that Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought – even though Elijah simply gave God’s words. Obadiah trusted that Ahab would kill if crossed. When Elijah told him to go and tell Ahab that Elijah was found, Obadiah was rightly concerned:

And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. (1 Kings 18:12 KJV)

Eventually, Obadiah believed Elijah’s promises:

And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. (1 Kings 18:15-16 KJV)

There are several lessons here. First, Obadiah did not leave Ahab. His witness made no changes in Ahab’s life, but Obadiah was able to serve his Lord even while in the service of the worst boss. He was able to save lives, too.

Obadiah was afraid of dying – aren’t we all? As much as he loved the Lord, and as trusted as he was by Ahab, he was certain that a misstep would cost him his life. He voiced his concern to Elijah, not afraid of him. Believing Elijah, he returned to Ahab, as instructed – and did not die.

What fear keeps us from responding to God’s commands? Are we so afraid of what He’s asking that we make excuses? Obadiah was only a messenger. Can we be God’s messenger, too?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Faith and Loneliness

Recently on Wednesday nights Pastor has been teaching us about the life of Elijah. Other than being a Tishbite, we don’t know of his family or background. We hear of him first as he stands before King Ahab:

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1 Kings 17:1 KJV)

And there wasn’t. Last night’s lesson began over three years later:

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. (1 Kings 18:41 KJV)

As Elijah said those words, there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. He had faith in God’s words to him that there would be, but Elijah still sent his servant to check seven times before the cloud appeared.

And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:43-45 KJV)

A major point in the lesson was that we cannot count on every biblical promise being applicable in our own lives. Some of the promises are specific to a person / time / place. Some are unconditional, but most are conditional, such as John 3:15-17. We can cause ourselves serious problems when we cling to a promise that does not belong to us.

Or, when we expect our problems to be solved by one incident, one act of faith. Which reminds me of a coming lesson where Elijah sounds very defeated:

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. (1 Kings 19:2-4 KJV)

He had done as God asked. He faced a powerful king, withheld rain, defeated false priests, proven God’s word was true and returned rain to the land – and this queen promised him death. Elijah felt lonely, so defeated, that he asked to die.

He didn’t, and it’s worth reading further to find out how he was reminded that he was not alone. Neither are we.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Think Fruit

In 71 verses, we find fruit/s 82 times in the New Testament. I think that makes understanding “Why?” rather important to Christians, don’t you?

The first usage is an excellent place to start, with John, the Baptist. I suggest reading Matthew 3:1-12, then coming back to concentrate on fruit:

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

Luke uses the same quote:

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, (Luke 3:8a KJV)

My favorite scripture that describes these fruits is:

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)

(Note the fruits begin with ἀγάπη – that beautiful Greek word (one of four translated as “love” in the New Testament) that means the unconditional love between God and man. Christ used it twice in speaking to Peter in John 21:15-17, though Peter didn’t use it to answer Him.)

The first fruit we should display is God’s love.

The second usage of “fruit” may be just as important:

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Matthew 3:10 KJV)

Much later, in Matthew 21:18-22, we see Jesus’ response to a fruitless tree. A bit earlier than that, Jesus used John’s words in describing what happens to trees without good fruit:

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Matthew 7:17-19 KJV)

Back to Galatians to see descriptions of evil, corrupt fruit:

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)

There are God-promised consequences for specific deviations from God-given commandments. To believe these have changed, I would have to be shown a scripture reference. As I continue to read and study the Bible, I do not find where these scriptures are shown to be in error. Feel free to point out to me my error.

The last reference in the New Testament is one I’ve used often:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2 KJV)

That scripture takes us back to Genesis 2:9, the tree planted in His garden:

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9 KJV)

Please note that the tree of life was not included in the “Do not eat”:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17 KJV)

The tree of life fruit is freely given. Please, take some time to become a knowledgeable fruit inspector:

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:20 KJV)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is He Enough?

Looks like something from a cave’s wall – or modern art, but it’s not. It’s a photo from an electron micrograph of an ebola virus. Amazing that something that small has nations responding around the world. Scary, as headlines focus on death statistics as well as the number of people in quarantine. Those numbers grew exponentially, from a small family, through hospital contact and travel interaction.

Yet – in America one man was diagnosed, and died. Two people fighting the illness were brought from west Africa and were cured. Two nurses, infected while caring for the dying man, are being treated at the same facilities where two people were cured. Those statistics are pretty good, aren’t they?

While checking a number of resources to verify just how concerned we should be, within an hour’s drive from Dallas, I not only discovered we’re just fine (and so is everyone else) but learned from one of the patients.

I read a quote from “Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol, an unassuming Christian missionary”:
“The night that they put me on the airplane to evacuate me and bring me back to the U.S. … I was very, very ill and not sure that I was going to make it across the ocean — not sure if I would see David again or our [two sons] again,” Writebol said. ”And I remember, as they put me on the airplane, that I just told the Lord, ‘Lord, I don’t know what’s going to happen and I need your help.’”
And that’s when she said she felt God responding to her with an important question:
“Nancy, if I take the boys, if I take David away from you and if I take your life and you are with me, am I enough?”
What an answer! Is God enough at any time in our lives? I remember what Esau said to Jacob who offered riches as he returned:

And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. (Genesis 33:9 KJV)

Or Isaiah’s description of those who never have enough:

Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. (Isaiah 56:11 KJV)

What God offers is much more than enough:

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. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)

If God took our loved ones, and us, to be with Him, is He enough? Consider what He has offered?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13 KJV)

Believing in Him, Nancy Writbol tells us:
“I just rested in God’s arms and in his presence and in his peace that he was enough,” she said.
Do we? No. We read headlines and are concerned for ourselves and our loved ones. We do not consider asking ourselves, is He enough? I believe He is when we follow His instructions:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thanks For Participating

I want to thank everyone who participated in last Saturday’s craft bazaar. All the different activities provided over $5,000 for specific mission programs this coming Christmas and we are grateful. Two bed sets were donated for a drawing, one is today’s graphic.

All of this was a lot of fun, some hard work, considerable time spent – but the result is funding for three specific mission projects that will help them in many ways.

Physically closest is a church’s mission to assist the homeless. The pastor was once told that it would be impossible to fund a church for homeless people who have no income. Regrettably, they forgot the one Man who founded His church:

And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matthew 8:20 KJV)

That was His answer to a man who wished to follow Him – a reminder that on this earth, He had nothing – but His life to give for us.

Geographically a little further away is the Blessed Hope Boys Academy in Alabama.
Blessed Hope Boys Academy is a program that is a minimum of 1 year requirement. In this 1 year, young men receive schooling through our A.C.E. Curriculum, hear preaching, learn how to work, memorize Scripture, learn songs, build character and are away from all of the distractions of the world.
Several of the boys visited our church this summer and were such a blessing to us as we listened to their stories and heard their testimonies. They reminded me of the Bereans in their descriptions of searching for truth:

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

Third, and half a world away, is a project very dear to our hearts – orphanages in a war-torn country. I won’t draw attention to the location, but assure you it provides what John describes as pure religion:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27 KJV)

There is something I really do appreciate about our church – missions is a top priority. One quarter of our tithes go directly to missions, including the three mentioned here. Missionaries we support come visit us, as do others seeking support. We get to meet them, shake their hands, hear their testimonies and their stories of working in fields that are white:

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35 KJV)

It is a blessing to be a part of their ministries. They could not be in the fields without our support. We could not be in those same fields without their calling. Together, we work on the Great Commission:

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Self-Inflicted Wounds


Mark Dohle is a blogger who left me with a question, his answer and some continued thoughts:
What happens to our hearts when we mock, gossip and belittle others? It is a self inflicted wound that will only bleed and become more infected until the time we seek forgiveness and mercy for the damage done.
It’s not just forgiveness for what we said or done that makes us uncomfortable, it’s understanding that we’ve wounded people with our words or deeds and we need forgiveness for those wounds. Without that understanding, we’re simply wanting forgiveness from God for our own good without seeing the wounds that need healing.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24 KJV)

When we come to our Lord with our gifts is when we’re most apt to remember our failures. Here brotherhood goes much beyond our siblings to include our fellowman. We have inflicted wounds.

Note that we’re not to remove our gift from the altar. I see good reasons for leaving it. It was ours, and is no longer – we gave it to God when we took it to the altar, just as we gave ourselves when we made our profession of faith. To take it away is tantamount to removing it from God’s presence. That we do not wish to do. Leave our gift, but go to do what must be done.

Be reconciled. Not an ongoing process, but an active command, an accomplished act to be done first. That’s often much more difficult than it sounds. Especially if the other person has no desire to be reconciled. Often it’s more than a one trip, one effort. The gift remains in God’s hands, but we must return to make the offering complete.

These simple verses are part of what Matthew wrote of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: (Matthew 5:1 KJV)

I wish there was more description. I can visualize Jesus walking upwards, seating Himself and His disciples gathering around. Did the multitude gather, too? Were they close enough to hear this teaching? It really doesn’t matter, for it was given to His followers, and that’s what I’ve chosen to be – so the message is for me. For sharing, too, as God inspired Matthew to do.

So, how do I apply this lesson to my life? Remember my gifts to God, but also be aware of wounding people in my life. I must recognize when I fail to be the person I’ve committed to God that I am. It’s up to me, not God, to request forgiveness and redress wounding I’ve done. Or, perceived wrongs done to me.

How can I request forgiveness from perfection if I’m not willing to forgive?

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:2 KJV)

Why forgive? Because of God’s love:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 KJV)

Heal wounds, even self-inflicted ones.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I Miss Her

I’ve mentioned the fact that my husband was adopted, and that he and his siblings were reunited after being separated 35 years. It hardly seems possible that was thirty years ago, too. Time flies. We grow older. Most, but not all of us.

One of us stopped growing older October 18, just three years ago, and I miss her very much. Long before the reunion, she married the third brother. We didn’t know about their wedding, their three children or her husband’s service to our country. By the time we met, we were already grandparents.

We had already determined service to our Lord was really the most important thing we had to share. In addition to being sisters-in-law, we were also sisters in Christ. I miss her.

She loved our Lord enough to share Him with others, even when they failed to believe. She helped teach me to accept that, but to continue in prayer and love for each and every one that still need Him.

She knew her heart was failing – it had failed before, a consequence of radiation treatments that beat Hodgkin’s. Each time there was a treatment, a doctor, perhaps even a miracle along the way that gave her years to enjoy her family, her children, her grandchildren, new brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.

Through the years she explained what I later recognized as part of Pascal’s Wager:
Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. 
Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
That’s not the way she said it, of course. She made it much more personal and easier to understand:
I’d rather live my life believing there is a God and die to find out there isn’t than to live my life not believing there is a God only to find out there is.
She believed. She believed, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelations 22:21. She didn’t understand all of it any more than I do, but she found love, comfort, peace that passes understanding. Before her last surgery, knowing it might not be sufficient, she shared that peace with us. But, I miss her.

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV)

There are verses that comfort me as I plan a picnic with her in a specific place:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5 KJV)

A picnic beside the river of water of life under the shade of the tree of life with God-given light, where we can once again sing the praises of our Lord, glorify His name and I will not be missing her.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Have A Blessed Day

Mat 5:2  And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Mat 5:3  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:4  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Mat 5:5  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

And the verses continue, beginning with μακάριο, blessed. Strong’s has one of the best definitions – there are some others – of how this word is applied when we say, “Have a blessed day.” What we’re passing along is a bit more than a simple greeting, it’s a wish that people we meet really are fortunate and happy.

What I did not realize until a day ago is how that is received by some people. One person that I know. They find it offensive.

Why? Because it is said by Christians. Believers in God. And the people complaining about it are not. They find our good wishes offensive because we believe God exists.

I wish I could point you to the original Facebook post, but like many others, I couldn’t find it. I did find several results when searching for “atheist have a blessed day” in Google. One, an atheist site, basically told complainers to chill out, that it’s not a big deal. Another was a letter to Dear Abby, and her answer to a complainer what just about the same.

The Dear Abby writer expressed a desire to return the greeting with a Zeus blessing, but that would not indicate either his personal belief nor a true desire that his greeting is expressing happiness. When I hear “Have a blessed day,” I think the person made a statement of faith and I appreciate the thought they wish me happiness.

I can’t help but wonder, though, why someone would be offended by another person wishing them happiness. Or, are they offended by an individual’s belief in a supreme being? Or, is it Christianity itself that causes offense? It has before. What Jesus said offended people:

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? (Matthew 15:10-12 KJV)

He also spoke of a time when people would be offended, and hate:

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (Matthew 24:7-10 KJV)

But the one that gives me the greatest sadness is:

And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. (Mark 4:16-17 KJV)

Yes – the ones who heard God’s word, received it with gladness but were hurt, and were offended. Offended enough to find that another person’s belief continues to offend.

However, their feeling offended is insufficient cause for me to cease to greet people with “Have a blessed day,” or the coming season’s “Merry Christmas!”

Receive them as you will.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Everything, Lost


April 27, 2014, Vilonia, Arkansas

I’ve mentioned Horatio Spafford before, a man who lost his “sizeable investments” in the Great Chicago fire, a son to disease and four of his daughters in the sinking of an ocean liner – who could still write: “It is well with my soul.”

Paul listed things that appear to have been important in his life, but eventually he would “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” That’s the same knowledge he spent most of his life sharing with others, truly giving his life to do so.

But I was struck most with Paul’s understanding of his own righteousness:

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9 KJV)

I recognize that concept because I know the only righteousness I have comes through faith in Christ’s life, teachings and specifically through His death, proven in His resurrection. Through that righteousness by faith, we understand as Paul:

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

That I may know Him, too, and trust the power of His resurrection is not nearly as difficult as being prepared for the fellowship of His sufferings along with the knowledge that some – and Paul did – will follow Him in death for being faithful. We’ve seen that occur this summer.

Verse 13 was used by a missionary during Sunday School:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 KJV)

He reminded us that everything we’ve experienced is in our brains. When we recall a previous event, it brings with it sensory perceptions, even emotions. Some are pleasant, some not so much. None of them are where we really want to be. Thus we do need to forget those things that are behind and continually reach for the things before us.

Paul called it pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. Where we have failed is an opportunity to go forward with a bit more information than we had before. The knowledge of a pitfall we can now miss. We can learn from others’ experiences, too, discerning before making the same error. We strive for a perfection we cannot achieve here, but that we do see in our Lord:

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Philippians 3:15 KJV)

I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the last two-thirds of that verse. I focused on being perfect, and thus minded. But if we are otherwise, we can depend on God to reveal this to us.

How? I see it as growing into a close relationship to Him. Spending time in prayer, in Bible study, learning about Jesus through the gospels and about the men who followed Him, writing about their experiences. Every single day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Come And Dine


That’s what I’ve been working on for about a month. 120 pages of recipes from the ladies of our church, and I typed every one of them. Why? Because it’s difficult to do separately, and I type a lot better than the ladies who sew so beautifully. Their work, and this cookbook, will be available this Saturday at a craft bazaar we’re holding to raise money for some specific mission projects.

Our group’s theme is “Together We Can Change Lives,” and that’s something we really believe. Working together, we can make an impact. That was also the worship service message Sunday – the marriage between church and missionaries. Together, lives are changed.

Services Sunday were all about Missions – we had three missionary families making presentations in three different Sunday School classes as well as during morning and evening services. The morning sermon was given by a missionary to Guatemala that our church provides support to monthly. We have for several years. Missionaries do not do well without the support of churches – Paul’s letters tell us how far back that relationship goes. Churches cannot fulfill the Great Commission without missionaries. Our ministries are different in scope, but just as a marriage, we are better for the relationship.

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

“Teach.” Not coerce, bribe, coax, cajole – we are to teach. “All nations.” Not the ones we think “need it” the most, are friendly to us or are closest. All. “Baptizing.” In specifics, too. It takes a reading of all four gospels to see “all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” but He did give the two important ones – and I shared them yesterday in Matthew 22:36-40.

The same word is used in commandments in those verses: ἀγαπάω – agapao. Love – not to be just fond of or affectionate toward, but to love as one loves to breath; to know the love that provides life; the relationship between God and man. A Greek word that is never summed up in a single English word, especially one we use to express feelings for foods, colors or clothing. “I just love that purple hat!”

But – as usual – I digress from my original thought – a cookbook that includes a partial verse from John, chapter 21. It was Jesus’ third appearance following His resurrection. He is on the shore, the disciples have returned to their regular job – fishing. He tells them to cast their nets, which were then filled. Then,

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. (John 21:12 KJV)

They recognized Him. That’s what He expects from us, recognition of our Lord.

John closes that 21st chapter with a verse I believe whole-heartedly, but also believe that in every reading of Bible verses, there is a message and application in our daily lives. Take time to see Him, and the application:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (John 21:25 KJV)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What Is Required

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2 Timothy 4:1 KJV)

Paul is writing Timothy, giving instructions on what to do once Paul can no longer offer advice. This letter has been shared for two millennium and continues to be excellent advice. Our ministry may not be the same as Timothy’s, but we all have one and need to be reminded that our authority remains our Lord.

We know what the Lord requires:

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

He reminds us in other verses:

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)

He tells us that’s the most important commandment, and with one other all law and prophecy is founded:

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)

If we can’t get that first one, how can we possible get the second? Just as the lawyer, we tempt our Lord and ask for definitions of "neighbor":

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:25-29 KJV)

Remember Jesus’ answer in Luke 10:30-37. Mercy. Having compassion when it is within our power to harm. By ignoring the injured man, those who passed by actually harmed him. The lawyer recognized the answer, but we’re not told if he followed Jesus’ instructions:

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10:37 KJV)

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Go, and do thou likewise. See the need, be compassionate, do good instead of nothing and understand that doing so fulfills God’s requirement.

Or – be the gray, shadowed, figure in the above graphic, walking away from God commandments – and His blessings.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

God Is Good

There’s a phrase from the movie “God’s Not Dead” that I hear a lot.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
This morning I read a quote from Corrie ten Boom:
Often I have heard people say, ‘How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at the lovely weather!’ Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp. I remember one occasion when I was very discouraged there. Everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us. ‘No, Corrie,’ said Betsie, ‘He has not forgotten us. Remember His Word: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.” There is an ocean of God’s love available—there is plenty for everyone. May God grant you never to doubt that victorious love—whatever the circumstances.
It comes to me as I’m praying for families in our church – a widow whose brother died from cancer; a daughter whose mother died; a grandfather fighting cancer, another whose heart is healing from surgery; parents with ungrateful children. I know these people, and I know they would assure me, “God is good.”

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

Really? Betsie – and these others died “according to his purpose”? The best answer to that was written by a loving husband and father who soon would be a widower, “If God Does Not Heal.” It is also in recognition that death awaits all of us:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

We do feel that the judgment is faced in our lifetime, and that deliverance seems so very far away. Perhaps we should pay more attention to three men who were condemned to death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego addressed the man who held their lives in his hands, and condemned them for their trust in God:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18 KJV)

Would we be as firm in our belief in His ability to deliver us, but if He did not, would we turn our back to Him? My intentions are to remain firm, and I pray for His strength that in what ever sorrow I face I know that He is good, singing with the psalmist:

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. (Psalms 69:30 KJV)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Differing Opinions

I like this depiction of Luke, and I love the two books of the New Testament attributed to him. He writes to a Friend of God, as Theophilus translates:

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1:3-4 KJV)


The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, (Acts 1:1 KJV)

It may be that he never met Jesus, but he comes across as one who has interviewed:

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19 KJV)

Reading through Acts, we find a perspective change. We move from third person to first person plural as Luke uses “we” in some travels, indicating he accompanied Paul. A true eye-witness account.

Sunday’s sermon included Acts 13:1:

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. (Acts 13:1 KJV)

As you know, I look for background, and noticed in Matthew Henry’s Commentary:
(2.) Lucius of Cyrene, who some think (and Dr. Lightfoot inclines to it) was the same with this Luke that wrote the Acts, originally a Cyrenian, and educated in the Cyrenian college or synagogue at Jerusalem, and there first receiving the gospel.
I was not aware of this before and it raised questions about my long-held thoughts that Luke was a Greek physician. Now, why did I think that? Partly because he was not included in the “circumcision” list:

With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me. (Colossians 4:9-11 KJV)

But in a verse with Demas:

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. (Colossians 4:14 KJV)

And again, when Paul is instructing Timothy:

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:9-11 KJV)

I’ve also been influenced by fiction, remembering Taylor Caldwell’s “Dear and Glorious Physician”, published and read when I was in high school. Reviewing reminds me just how fictional it was!

I may have opinions about the author of The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, but the Bible offers facts. My opinions may differ from others, as does Dr. Lightfoot and Matthew Henry, but the Bible presents inspired writings upon which our faith is based. It really doesn’t matter to me which opinion is correct, but it is important to me to know the facts.

Now I want to read Acts more closely, noting where the first person plural places Luke during the chronology. I want to pay attention to who travels with him, when and where. I do not want, ever, to be described as Demas, having loved this present word and is departed.

I’d rather be described, as Luke, being with Paul, or as Mark, profitable for the ministry.

Monday, October 6, 2014


You can pick up this book for Kindle or hard copy on Amazon and other sites. I bought mine back in 1976 when I also bought H. I. Hester’s “The Heart of Hebrew History.” The books, according to the author, are not designed to take the place of the Old nor New Testaments, but to give an “intelligent view” of both. The first edition of “The Heart of the New Testament” was 1950. The one I purchased was the 30th edition – so some came out in less than a year apart.

I bought it – and the other – because I wanted to learn more about the Bible and in this book Hester used scripture, assigning specific scriptures to each topic. These were used in courses offering college credits, too. Used in connection with the Bible, I could evaluate his three sections: the introduction to the New Testament; the earthly life of Christ as recorded in the four gospels; the growth of the Christian movement in later New Testament books.
Regardless of whether or not men acknowledge him as Saviour and Lord they must pay tribute to him as the world’s outstanding man.
That’s evident in how many non-Christians quote Him, even when they are vilifying today’s Christians for not living up to His commands. The author admits that some believe the world has:
. . .  outgrown Christ in the present progressive period of history; he has lost his appeal to men, and the future can never be influenced by him and his teachings like past centuries have been.  According to those who hold this view the place of Jesus in the lives of men is steadily diminishing and will continue to decrease in the future.
That was published in 1976, and the division remains the same today. There are believers, and there are non-believers. Every single day  there are people who respond to God’s word, and every single day there are those who reject it. I like what happens when one believes and changes their direction:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, (Luke 15:7a KJV)

Is it strange to consider that all of heaven is not only aware of us, but rejoices when we decide to live there?

I believe John was aware of this as he explains to us why he wrote about Jesus:

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

John addresses this again, and again:

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:12-13 KJV)

I’m still studying the Bible, and other books that offer insight into God’s word. I still write in this blog about what I read and believe – and will return to doing so more often – as I truly believe a Christian’s witness is important because Christ tells us:

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

I will, and He is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It’s A Dirty Job


If you don’t know the name Mike Rowe, his face might not jump in your mind as being connected, but his show on the Discovery channel was “Dirty Jobs.” For eight seasons Mike got dirty along side workers, doing the jobs they regularly did, and that he chose to do for our entertainment.

But it’s not Mike I have on my mind following Sunday night’s sermon. It’s Joseph.

And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:  (Luke 23:50 KJV).

Apparently Luke respected him. I expect Joseph was used to that as he was a member of the Sanhedrin. Think about that for a moment – those leaders were involved in Christ’s trials. Maybe that’s why Luke next wrote:

(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. (Luke 23:51 KJV)

His actions are included in all four gospels, for he accomplished what none of the others are said to have considered. Neither family nor disciples:

This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. (Luke 23:52 KJV)

He did not “require”, “demand”, “request” but “begged.” Brave enough to face the Roman authority, and humble enough to beg for the body of his Lord. Then, he did the dirty job:

And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. (Luke 23:53 KJV)

I have attended many funerals. A large number of them loved ones, people who were important in my life. I’ve never had to prepare them for their funerals – I don’t know anyone who has. Joseph took the body down and wrapped it linen. The body that had been bloodied by whips and thorns, pierced by nails that held Him to the cross as well as a spear that loosened the remaining fluids and blood following His death.

This was a dirty job. But Joseph was not alone:

And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. (John 19:39 KJV)

Yep – the Pharisee who did not understand being born again. The man to whom Christ succinctly wrapped up the gospel:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:14-17 KJV)

Two men who kept their relationship with Jesus hidden are now not only openly acknowledging Him, but are taking His body for burial.

Nothing here indicates they, any more than His disciples, thought about the resurrection. My imagination tells me they were doing the last thing they could to respect a man they respected. They made themselves unclean by their actions, but there’s no indication of regret.

There is also no indication in the Bible what happened to them after the resurrection. Secular history has speculated and there are traditions, but nothing more biblically. Yet, we remember them both, as we should, for the love and respect they held for the Lord we worship.

Should we ever be ashamed to do a dirty job for our Lord? The one who washed His disciples’ feet?