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Treasure In My Heart


 

Heart Leaf in Fancy Frame with Text

Heart Leaf in The Park in Decorative Frame

 

Welcome to the first installment of Theologically Thursday. The word of God and the doctrines of serving Him are good for every day of the week, so you may see theologies on other days as well. However, my goal will be to always bring something specifically related to Scripture and Bible study on my Thursday blog posts.

For a simple post about matters of the heart, I started with a search for Scriptures that pointed to the heart, and that brought me to the one in the image above from Matthew 6:21 in the King James’ Version.

Next, I read over Psalm 37:4 where the words from the New King James’ Version say, Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. And then I read in Proverbs 4:23, in the Complete Jewish Bible, the following: Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life’s consequences.

There are so many Scriptures on the heart that I can see a variety of topics drawing me in for deeper study. For today, however, I will focus on the idea that God is in the business of granting our desires in the same way good parents want to grant the desires their children have. A good parent doesn’t say “yes” to everything–no matter how much the child whines and begs. Instead, a good parent teaches a child why some things are better to desire than others. For example, a good father doesn’t help his son find drugs that will harm him no matter how much the son thinks he wants them to “be cool” to his friends. And, a good mother will teach her daughter to desire a mate that will treat her as a person of value rather than helping her get the attention of the most popular guy in school just because that what she says she wants at the time.

In His holy word, our Abba Father teaches us that if we will focus on Him, seeking Him first above all else, He will grant us our desires. I believe that if our treasures are truly wrapped up in Him, our desires will be for things He desires to fulfill. The Scripture in Psalm 37 may actually mean that God will literally place the correct desires in our hearts.

To make sure our loving Father can freely bless us with whatever we desire, all we need to do is protect our hearts from distractions that seek to turn our thoughts away from God and His love. If we trust in His sovereignty, we will have desires, but we will not covet anything not already in our lives because we will trust that He is our provider of right desires and of fulfilling those right desires.

May we all seek to hide an abundance of treasure from God’s word in our hearts that we will not sin against Him even in our desires, and may He fulfill every right desire of our hearts.

August 4, 2016 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, Theologically Thursday | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jonah Jonah


I don’t think I’ve used this video yet, but it’s one of the first songs I heard by ApologetiX, and as Larry the Cucumber would say, “I laughed; I cried; it moved me, Bob.” Just wait until you hear what they say the whale thought Jonah tasted like. Oh, and listen all the way to the end because they tag a couple funny lines on. If you want the full lyrics, there’s another video at the bottom with no images but all the lyrics.

So what do we know about Jonah–from the song or otherwise? We know he’s a minor prophet with his own book in the Bible. It’s a short book with four chapters that tell us a story of God’s abundant grace and mercy. It opens with God’s request to this Hebrew who is a faithful servant of God until God asks him to minister to the ungodly. He runs and says he’d rather die than to see God have mercy on Nineveh.

As Jonah sleeps on a ship at sea, God stirs up a storm, and even those who don’t serve Him figure out why. They don’t want to throw Jonah overboard because they don’t want his blood on their hands, but they do what they must to calm the storm. Just in case, though, they make an offering to God to repent to Him. In the meantime, it takes three days of Jonah floating in belly acids and darkness to figure out that God is also having mercy on him for his disobedience. He repents to God and declares that salvation belongs to The Lord, and God speaks to the whale to vomit Jonah onto dry land.

This time, Jonah obeys God and preaches to Nineveh. He is okay with it as long as he is berating them for their sin and threatening them with disaster, but when they repent, he gets upset. Imagine that. Imagine preaching “Hell” to someone you’ve seen thoroughly disrespect God and seeing them seemingly get away with their behavior because the price of their sin is taken away. Hopefully, if we have experienced God’s grace in our own lives, we will be happy for those we can help get delivered from eternal damnation.

Jonah should be glad at their repentance, but he isn’t. God, however, is glad to be merciful to people He created, and their repentance is beautiful to Him. In one of Jonah’s tantrums, God tries to explain this to him by comparing the pity Jonah himself showed for a dying plant with God’s love for a dying people. I’m thinking that Jonah never really understood it, but the job he did to bring about repentance of the people of Nineveh mattered enough to be included in the gospels Matthew and Luke and the ministry of Yeshua.

In Matthew 12:41, Yeshua even said to the Pharisees that the people of Nineveh would rise up in condemnation against them because Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and the Pharisees refused to repent even though Yeshua was the greater prophet.

God hasn’t changed, and His mercy hasn’t changed, so He sent the same message into the midst of people in sin, and He desired the same result. He even upped the ante and provided a perfect sacrifice to give them the best chance ever. The grace and mercy at Calvary were so great, it overflowed from those who rejected it to give whosoever will an opportunity to receive it now.

The Prophet greater than Jonah is still here, and His blood still flows from Calvary. Listen to His heart as He looks over Jerusalem and weeps (in Matthew 23:37)…

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

The plan that started with Jonah still exists, and Yeshua still has love for Israel. Read all of Romans 11 for the whole story. I like the way it reads in the Contemporary English Version. Here are a couple verses from Romans 11 in the CEV…

  • 1a) Am I saying that God has turned his back on his people? Certainly not!
  • 11) Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous.
  • 15) When Israel rejected God, the rest of the people in the world were able to turn to him. So when God makes friends with Israel, it will be like bringing the dead back to life.
  • 25) I will explain the mystery of what has happened to the people of Israel. Some of them have become stubborn, and they will stay like that until the complete number of you Gentiles has come in.
  • 28a) The people of Israel are treated as God’s enemies, so that the good news can come to you Gentiles. But they are still the chosen ones, and God loves them.
  • 29) God doesn’t take back the gifts he has given or forget about the people he has chosen.

What a promise! God doesn’t forget, He doesn’t change, and He doesn’t stop loving us. He still loves His chosen ones, and He loves those of us grafted into the root of the chosen. I’m thankful for what Jonah started way back then because it opened a door for what is offered through the blood of Yeshua now.

And here’s the Jonah Jonah video with lyrics…

December 6, 2014 Posted by | ApologetiX, Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rearrange Your Path


Following the Light by Flickr User Nathaniel Eldridge, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Following the Light by Flickr User Nathaniel Eldridge, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever gotten lost? Have you been so lost that it felt like you were going in circles, stuck in an endless loop of hopeless twists and turns that never get you where you wanted to go? I’ve been there on foot, and I’ve been there in a vehicle–at night, in a bad neighborhood. Getting lost is no fun. Being lost from God is no fun either, but God in His mercy allows us to rearrange our paths. As author Allison Gappa Bottke puts it, God Allows U-Turns.

If your path is filled with the chaos of uncharted turns and bumps and misdirections that keep ending you in places of frustration and hopelessness, make a change and rearrange. (I just couldn’t help but to make that rhyme. 🙂 ) To illustrate some rearrangement, I’m going to rearrange some verses from Proverbs Chapter 4. Using the New King James’ Version, I’ll list them in no particular order as bullet points. See what the verses in the following order might tell you about your own path of life.

  • Ponder the path of your feet.
  • Let your eyes look straight ahead
  • Do not turn to the right or the left.
  • Remove your foot from evil.
  • Do not enter the path of the wicked.
  • Do not walk in the way of evil.
    Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    Turn away from it and pass on.
  • The way of the wicked is like darkness;
    They do not know what makes them stumble.
  • But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
    That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

And from Isaiah 30:21

  • Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
    “This is the way, walk in it,”

There’s plenty more in Proverbs 4, so I recommend reading all of it. As a matter of fact, I find a lot of inspiration in the idea of reading the entire chapter of Proverbs on whatever day of the month it is. So, since this post was started on December 4th, I took a visit to Proverbs 4, and all those verses about paths are what jumped out at me. With a little rearrangement, I love the wisdom and promise that’s presented.

To continue with the message about your path, here’s a little bit from some of lessons I’ve gleaned as I’ve walked before Yahveh Almighty.

Many paths will visualize before you on your life’s journey, but only one path will lead you where you want to be in the end. It begins with a narrow gate, so no one but you can fit to walk through it. You don’t get through on the coat tails of a preacher or a parent; or even a friend or loved one. You get through it by using a key of mercy and grace provided when you walk through the blood of your Savior, Yeshua.

Once you’ve chosen to walk through the narrow gate, you’ll be on a straight path. It’s not as narrow as the gate, so you’ll have friends to encourage you and walk with you. Fellowship with them and make it a joyful walk. God will light that path for you, and His Holy Spirit is always there to comfort you on your journey. Trust Him to guide you. Seek His wisdom and understanding because the way that seems right to man doesn’t have the promise of God’s way. Look carefully, watch your step, train your eyes on the prize, and listen for that still, small voice that tells you the way to walk.

And here’s one bit of caution… Take heed of anyone who tries to lead you off the path onto another path. God’s path is always the straight one. Because God’s path is straight, even if it looks like it’s a long way off, the end should always be a clear vision ahead of you. Without that vision, you can be turned away and perish, so keep your eyes trained on the goal, and keep pressing forward. Don’t give up, and you’ll cross the finish line and receive your reward.

If you are on a path that doesn’t have a promise of eternal life at the end, ponder your steps and seek God. If you are still breathing in and out, it’s not too late to rearrange your path and follow God.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, Proverbs & Wisdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not One Who Kneels


No Share in God's Glory Without the Cross by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

No Share in God’s Glory w/o the Cross by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever read the lyrics to all the verses from Frank Sinatra’s classic hit My Way? In case you haven’t, here are the words for verse three…

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Notice the words of the fourth line. For all the confidence-building and encouragement the song is supposed to inspire in those who may feel a lack of personal empowerment, it lacks real power. Real power, like so many things, begins with an acknowledgement of who and where we are and what we need to move forward. Think of the Twelve Steps in multiple anonymous programs. They all start with the first step and the words “I admitted I was powerless.”

What has changed in the modern church world? There’s more preaching about power than powerlessness. There’s more push to gain and be the head and not the tail than of losing ourselves to make Christ the Lord and head of our lives. There’s too many messages about what God can do for us, and not enough messages about the blessing of giving our all for a God who already gave it all for us.

I think the problem is from a lack of blood flow (aka Calvary). We want to go right from sinner to saint without stopping to kneel at the cross first. We tell people that with a few minutes at an altar, or a simple confession of Christ, they are saved. It’s like hiring someone for a job without checking any qualifications or doing any training. What will an untrained person do when he faces a struggle for which he is not prepared? What will a new Christian do with temptation if he has not left all his sinful desires under the blood of Yeshua and made a decision that all sacrifice is worth it for his loving Creator?

We’ve got the proverbial cart before the horse when we introduce someone to Heaven and future hope before we teach them how to live for Christ on earth right now. And if we try to teach an unrepented soul how to live a new lifestyle before he has died to the old one, we’re doing it again. When we plant a seed in the earth, the seed dies before it sprouts to new life. How do we claim a new life until we have died to our old life? As Scripture says, we can’t put new wine into old bottles or they will burst.

Do we trust that what God has to offer is better than anything anyone on earth can offer us? If not, we can never die out to doing things our own way. If we don’t die out to our way and our old ideas and skewed understanding, we can never rise up to walk in the newness of life. If we want God’s glory, we must give up our personal glory and be willing to kneel before our Eternal Creator. We must choose to fall in repentance at the cross of Yeshua and let His blood wash over and cleanse us, and then we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. Once we do that, we can rewrite the words above to line up with the Scripture from Mark 8:36-37 (NKJV)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The new words might read something like…

For what is a man what has he got
Without The Lord then he has naught
To think God’s words and to Him yield
And be a man who repents and kneels
His sins will go under the flow
When he’s walking God’s way

And if you want to hear another person’s version of the whole song, sung to the tune of the original, here’s a video I found at YouTube…

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Lyrics and Song, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Tall is God?


At 4 feet, 10 inches (4′ 10 & 3/4″ when I was younger–LOL), I’ve compared my height to a lot of people. I like that I can make even short people feel a bit taller. I remember when I worked in a truck stop travel store. The cash register was on a platform, but it wasn’t obvious, so when I stepped down from it to make coffee by request, it shocked the driver standing there waiting for his coffee. He said it looked like I had just fallen down into a hole.

Unless I’m trying to retrieve something from a tall shelf, I’m happy with being short, and sometimes it can even be fun. But, if everything in my life was way above my head, then I might desire to measure up to those who can reach all things easily. Spiritually, however, it’s a very different story. I don’t know that I can ever grow enough, so I want to keep growing and learning as long as I’m in this life. Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about our need to set a goal to measure up to a stature greater than ourselves.

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirtieth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirtieth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 30

The Purpose of Ministry

“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
EPHESIANS 4:11-13

Each of these ministry functions fulfill different roles, but their purpose is the same, and that is, to bring ALL of us into that same fullness, that same spiritual maturity, that same experiential knowing, which the elders themselves enjoy. Thus, He gives SOME, till we ALL… SOME, till we ALL… SOME, till we ALL. Do you see this? And He will continue to give SOME till we ALL. Once He has ALL then the work is complete and these ministries will no longer be needed. Until then they ARE needed, and they are critical to God’s Purpose.

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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I think this is a great post for my last day of sharing Chip Brogden’s newsletters with readers. Before I go on, I want to encourage readers to subscribe to these newsletters for yourselves. I’ve been on the list since 2009, and even those posts I’ve read more than once have encouraged or taught me great things more than once. To get deeper, purchase the books he takes these studies from, or go to the site and get involved with the discussions.

On this topic, I love the point Chip makes about God giving some to each of the ministries above with the purpose that we will all become complete in Him. Our completion comes with learning how tall Yeshua is, so we can measure up to His stature. When all of us have become perfect and can measure up to The Lord, we will no longer need others to minister to us. For now, we need teaching, guidance, examples, perspective, and accountability. Not one of us has it all together on his or her own, even if we are teachers ourselves.

Our purpose in serving God is not to become better at being human, but to become more and more like Christ. We are promised that we will see Him one day, and on that day we will see Him as He is. At that time, we also have the promise that our bodies will become like His glorious body. How tall is God? We don’t know right now, but we know He is taller than us, so we might as well keep growing.

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rest for the Weary


While the apostles sat in chains or endured torture, and while they were on their way to martyrdom, do you suppose they ever got weary? Do you suppose they were tempted to give up hope? I can’t say what was in their hearts, but something in them kept pushing forward, or we wouldn’t have the word delivered to us in this day. Maybe The Lord gave them a glimpse of what their sacrifices would be worth, and it rested their souls enough to keep hoping–even to the point of singing praises in the midst of their bondage.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter comes with a dose of encouragement to remember that God IS on the throne and in control. He will cause ALL things to work together for the good.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Ninth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Ninth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 29

In Due Season

“In due season we shall reap…”
GALATIANS 6:9

The good news is that even if the Ekklesia has been underground, it is still growing and developing. When the season is right it will burst forth and once again those who have eyes to see will indeed discern the blade, the head, and the full grain in the head. In fact the blades have already broken ground in several places and we are even beginning to see some grain taking shape. If you have traced the recovery of the Heavenly Order so far then you know there have been many obstacles and hindrances to God’s Will over the last six thousand years or so of the history of mankind.

So far God has defeated everything that rose up to challenge His Purpose in Christ. Not only has He defeated it, but He has actually used evil to bring about good and further increase His Son. The Scriptures provide us with every expectation and assurance that God will continue to do the same with our generation. He is very much an active part of world affairs, whether they be secular or sacred.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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As time moves closer to the end, we may struggle to contain our fears and not grow weary. We’re bombarded by warnings of a future with no freedom and a lack of provision. We know our coming days may include a loss of the free ability to spread the gospel, and we may face battles similar to what the apostles faced in Bible days.

These days, though, it seems our focus is more on our personal struggles. I know I’m not alone in having bad days when the car won’t start, hair won’t cooperate, and the rain keeps coming down. I believe it is the enemy that pushes us to think about our own lives losses, so we’ll focus on ourselves and struggle against personal weariness. I’m certain members of the early church faced personal struggles too, but we rarely read about those things. What we do read of is what Chip talks about; God’s defeat of everything that rose up to challenge His purpose in Christ. God will comfort us in personal battles, but I think we have even more assurance of His deliverance when it comes to battles in working for Him.

As we press forward into the future, we can remember the Scriptural encouragement to not be weary in well-doing. That’s the Scripture used above that ends in the promise of reaping in due season. The whole verse reads…

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

In Hebrews 12:3, we have this reminder…

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Most of our Scriptural encouragements are about comfort in weariness of serving The Lord, so that tells me we should keep our focus on Him, so we’ll see the comfort when it comes our way. I’ll close with King David’s Psalm of promise to those who keep working even through their weariness. Psalm 126:6 says…

He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

God’s Street Address


Suppose you are a detective hired for an undercover assignment to infiltrate a group of law-breakers. You will need to look like them, talk like them, and in many ways act like them, but you also need to remember that you are not really them. Because you are different at the core of your beliefs, no matter what they ask you to do, you will try your best to uphold the law. You will not unthinkingly or uncaringly violate the law just for fun as the criminals do. If you must violate the law to maintain your cover, you will work as quickly as possible to undo any harm created from that action. Again, above all, you must never forget that you are a law-keeper and not a law-breaker.

Now, suppose you are a child of Almighty God who is on the earth to bring a message from your Father to those who do not yet know Him. You look like unbelievers, in some ways you talk like them, and in some ways you act like them, but you are not truly an unbeliever. Because you are different at the core of your beliefs, no matter what they ask you to do, you will try your best to uphold God’s instruction. You will not unthinkingly or uncaringly violate God’s commands just for fun as unbelievers do. If you do fail, you will work as quickly as possible to repent and undo any harm created by your failure(s). Again, above all, you must never forget that you are a child of The King and not of this world.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter speaks of where we get the best rules to live by as children of God.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Seventh by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Seventh by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 27

The Heavens Do Rule

“God does not live in temples made by man.”
ACTS 17:24 ESV

We are not zealous for the establishment of any earthly nation, but for a heavenly nation of kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). We are not praying for the building of a physical temple, but a spiritual temple, a house of living stones, of which Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, Builder and Architect. We are not looking for the appearance of an earthly Messiah, but a Heavenly Messiah, Who is building His Ekklesia upon the earth; we are not of the earth. This is not our home, for we are from above. Though in the world, we are not of it. We will not eat its meat or drink its wine, and we will not bow down to its idols. Though we live in the shadow of Babylon, we are not afraid of its fiery furnace or its den of lions, for our God is able to deliver us.

The heavens do rule. We affirm it boldly and confidently, regardless of appearances to the contrary. The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory belongs to God (Matthew 6:13) – not man, not the devil, not the nations of this world.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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God’s address is not behind a manmade wooden pulpit, and He’s not dressed in a clerical collar. As the author points out from Scripture, He doesn’t inhabit manmade temples where we go to visit Him. His purpose in our salvation is to create holy dwellings for His Holy Spirit. Without being covered by His blood, adding His Spirit to us would be destructive rather than comforting as He intends. Once we are cleansed, the word (in 1 Corinthians 6:19–NKJV) says God’s address becomes the same as ours…

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Fortunately, we’re not “undercover” here on earth, so we’re not required to hide our true identities. We should be shining His light from within us to attract the lost to a safe harbor in Christ. It’s in the best interests of both us and The Lord to remember that we are not of this world even though we must live within its borders. Oh yeah, and we may freely share God’s address because He has never requested it to be left unlisted. 🙂

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Taste Test


Remember the old commercial that told what kind of peanut butter choosy mothers selected? They would do a blind taste test to let people choose their preferred flavor without the benefit of knowing which brand they were tasting. Of course, the commercial displayed those who selected the brand paying for the advertising time.

Much of advertising is set to compare one brand to another, so consumers can make a choice between the two. If that comparison is done with actual experience, such as taste or feel, the advertiser best be certain of the quality of his product before putting it to the test. If the product is of good quality, there should be no fear in comparing it with any other brand.

There are a lot of voices in the world hawking their theories and beliefs as to what is truth. With an array of opinions, both old and new, the advertising and reports of each can seem overwhelming. But as old theories are disproven by new facts, the one that stands the test of time is the word of God. Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter speaks of why it continues to stand.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Sixth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Sixth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 26

His Word is Truth

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
JOHN 17:17

I am frequently asked how do we partake of this fullness? How do we walk in it? What practical application exists for living according to this Truth? We see what God says, but we also see our situation. We see Jesus, but we also see ourselves. God says we are complete in Him, but we say we are incomplete. God says we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, but we say we still need this or that. What is the problem here? Is it not a glaring discrepancy between what God says and what we say? Whose word is more reliable?

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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King David said it this way in Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

When all is presented before us, we must be choosy. Whose report should we believe? The one that goes beyond theories and ideas and stands with personal testimony that cannot be disputed. Our own testimony, and the testimonies of those we love and trust, will tell us more than any educated and intelligent scientist can tell through disassociated theory.

When I served my most recent jury duty, one of the things they taught while going over how things worked was evidence. Testimony, they said, was the strongest form of evidence available. Testimony coupled with physical evidence is what makes the difference in knowing whether a report is believable; otherwise, anything could be called the truth.

God’s word is true and believable. Those who stand against it have rarely put it to an actual test of experience, especially of long experience. I would both encourage and challenge anyone who is unsure about the written word of God to read it and try it for yourself. Read it over and over and apply it to your life. Regardless of what you’ve heard from pulpit heralds, good or bad, nothing will be as convincing as your own experience. The saying goes, “Try Jesus: If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you back.” I say, take God’s word for your own “taste test.”

Psalm 34:8 from The Message Bible

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Teaches the Teachers?


I remember an algebra teacher in the ninth grade that made me wonder who was the student and who was the teacher. It was my desire to get a good grade, but it was even more my desire to learn the subject. Apparently, I was a rarity in that. When I approached the teacher for help, he was content to just look up the answer in the teacher’s manual. He was surprised that I wasn’t satisfied with his answer. I explained that knowing the answer and not the solution would only benefit me for that question and not future questions on tests and such. He considered me argumentative.

That’s not the first time I’ve been called argumentative, and it was definitely not the last. What really frustrates me is the times when I have approached Bible teachers for solutions, and they too just wanted to provide a pat answer. You know, the kind of answer like, “Just because it’s always been done this way.” Scripture might tell us to avoid foolish and vain questions, but it does not tell us to avoid questions altogether. I guess what matters on getting answers is who or “Who” we consult.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden speaks about teaching and learning.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Second by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Second by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 22

When Men Fail

“The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you.”
1 JOHN 2:27

It was God who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to His Ekklesia, to encourage, edify, and establish all of us deeper into Christ. Can the Holy Spirit in John contradict the Holy Spirit in Paul? By no means.

What then? John was the sole survivor of the first twelve apostles, and now he is very old. Naturally he is concerned with the welfare of the Ekklesia after his death. So God comforts John, and then John comforts us, with this truth: even if we do not have access to the apostle, or prophet, or evangelist, or pastor and teacher, we are still instructed inwardly. The Ekklesia that Jesus is building is not dependent upon the great men or women of God. We are grateful to the ministry gifts when we have them, but we are not dependent upon them for our Life. The Life is greater than the ministers through which it may be ministered.

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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The “Five-Fold Ministry” (from Ephesians 4:11) the author mentions above is to bring ALL SAINTS deeper into Christ. And we–all of us–must go deeper for a reason. Verse 12 tells us that the ministry is… for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. And why are all of us supposed to be equipped for the work of ministry? Verse 12 continues by saying…for the edifying of the body of Christ.

There are teachers and students, but when you read these notes to the Ephesians in context, it should be clear that God’s intention is that we all eventually become teachers. Just like newborns don’t stay infants, and don’t stay toddlers, and don’t stay children; everyone has to grow up eventually. It works the same in spiritual things. Our growing up in The Lord is to “unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God” according to verse 13. Continuing in verse 14, we read…

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.

Children can be more easily fooled than learned adults. If we remain spiritually immature, we risk being tricked by apostate leaders who call themselves prophets and apostles of God but are instead blind leaders of the blind. I can’t tell you how many times in my walk with God I’ve heard the term “winds of change.” Most of the time, it has introduced some new “minister” with wild new doctrines or miraculous-seeming powers. With this warning about not being carried about with every wind of doctrine, I think it’s wise to be careful of any doctrine that calls itself new or coming in with winds of change.

Just because people proclaim themselves to be teachers does not make them teachers. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 speaks of those who transform themselves into apostles. If someone says he or she is a teacher, reverend, minister, prophet or otherwise, we should watch to find out who taught the teacher to see if the teaching is from God. If those teachers are simply parroting what they learned from other men, we must be careful of them. Better yet, If we’ve been serving God for a while, we should be teaching more than being students. We should seek God as our Teacher, so we do not have to fear being blown around by any false winds of change.

In case you wonder if you are living up to what Scripture considers maturity in Christ, I recommend reading all of Ephesians 4. It gives clear and precise descriptions of the behavior that will be displayed by those who walk with The Lord. May we all walk worthy of the calling of God.

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arrogance in Authority


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference in confidence and arrogance. I worry sometimes when people claim dominion or authority over things in this life and world because God gave it to Adam. That’s just it; God gave it to Adam. To blatantly claim then that we have that same dominion and authority may be based on Scripture, but is it based on context?

More contextual issues arise when I think about the authority Yeshua gave to His disciples. For example, He told them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in Heaven. Does this give those of us who live today the authority to bind or loose things on earth and claim they are bound or loosed in Heaven? I’m not certain it does, though I still think we have authority but to act as The Lord commands. The latter part is what I feel carries the most weight; as The Lord commands. If God tells an individual that what He binds on earth is bound in Heaven, that person has the authority because God gave it to him.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter gives the proper foundation for a life of authority in Christ.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-First by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-First by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 21

Better Than “Willpower”

“I die daily.”
1 CORINTHIANS 15:31

Paul might have buckled under the pressure. He certainly grew weary. He certainly was misunderstood, rejected, and persecuted. He suffered so much. What kept him going? Verse 29 of Colossians 1 says, “To this end I labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” He labors, and he strives. That’s the way Paul was. Laboring and striving, even when he was laboring and striving for the wrong things, he was absolutely dedicated to the mission. But there is something more extraordinary at work in Paul, something more than sheer willpower or determination.

I tell you willpower will only take you so far. Willpower is overrated. We need something else, something supernatural, something that does not rely upon my limited willpower. What was it? “I strive according to HIS WORKING which works in me mightily.” It was not the strength of Paul, but the strength of Christ in Paul, and through this Christ, Paul said, “I can do all things” (Philippians 4:13). All things!

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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Context in all things is important. In Scripture, it’s especially important. Without context, we could be thinking that Paul literally lost his life on a daily basis. If we automatically take the words of Yeshua to His disciples as if they are for all of us, then to be in context, we should take all His words to them. For example, if we claim we can bind and loose because they could, then we should never take up a collection for our ministries because the disciples were told not to. Instead, they were to go without script in their purses and trust their hosts to provide their needs. And whatever gospel message we spread, we should begin at Jerusalem.

I know the above paragraph sounds a bit extreme, but considering how extremely to the letter we hold other things, we should consider context in all we claim from Scripture. We should be humble enough to seek the context and foundation behind all our behaviors and rituals, so we can make sure we’re doing them to please God and not men or ourselves. Like Paul, we should die daily to self and ask God for His direction in our lives. It’s better to learn what He would have us do and say and pray rather than to arrogantly claim we have authority just because the Lord gave it to those He sent out.

I don’t find in Scripture where God gave authority to every follower and believer. Those He did give it to were also given instruction to not rejoice in authority but to rejoice that their names were written in The Lamb’s Book of Life. In that, I can see confidence in humility. We realize we only have authority because we have Him. The two cannot be separated, and we should not want them to be. The minute we begin to act just because we think we are something, or have something in and of ourselves, we risk a loss of humility and a gain of arrogance.

Here’s a perfect Scripture to sum this up from 1 Peter 4:11 (NKJV)

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Let us be confident and sure in what He gives us as individuals rather than arrogant in what we think we can proclaim just because we read it in the Bible.

November 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, Prayer, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cross for Our Comfort


If someone trades the cross for personal comfort, is it a trade up or a trade down? Well, if you’ve ever truly experienced the comfort of the cross of Christ, you know there is nothing better for which you can trade, so it would be a trade down. His word tells us that the way of the transgressor (one who stands beside the way; a deceiver; or one who deals treacherously) is the way that is hard. It also tells us that Yeshua’s way is the easier way because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. In addition, we have the promise that God’s commands are not burdensome.

Some people get weighed down by having their eyes in the wrong direction, and they exchange the cross for a deception of what might seem more comfortable. However, if we’re struggling like that, if we persevere, we will find that the cross IS the ultimate comfort we are seeking. The truth is, if we are facing any kind of battle, it means our backs are to the cross and we’re facing the wrong direction. We get turned around sometimes without realizing it, but once we know, God gives us grace to turn back to Him.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden points out the emptiness of a life without the cross.

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventeenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventeenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 17

Apart From the Cross

“I determined not to know anything among you
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 CORINTHIANS 2:2

We can quote these teachings of Jesus, seek to imitate Him as our Example, strive to walk the narrow Way, and even accomplish many good deeds in His Name. But apart from the Cross these activities are wood, hay and stubble.

In calling us to come back to the Cross, God is asking us to lay down our lives and embrace the Wisdom of death, burial, resurrection, and ascension in order to live as sons and daughters within the Kingdom of God. Apart from the Cross we can neither enter the Kingdom nor live in the Spirit, no matter how great the desire. For apart from the Cross, we do not know what it is to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. Apart from the Cross, we do not know what it is to submit to the will of God, accept suffering, and cast ourselves upon Him. Apart from the Cross, we do not know what Resurrection is.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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Plowing the fields God puts in our lives is not always easy, but it is necessary, and the crop yield will be worth it. While Luke 9:62 reminds us that looking back after we have put our hand to the plow makes us unfit to serve, the unspoken reminder there is to turn around. Of course we can’t push forward with our back to the plow, just as we can’t fight with our back to the enemy. But the cross and the word of God before us enable us to stand and fight with the strength of The Lord. His armor prepares us to face our tasks, not to run from them, and His cross brings us the surrender we need to admit our own weakness and find our strength of Christ. That’s why He says to take up our cross daily because He has provided the cross for our comfort.

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Humble Beneath the Heavens


We’re told in Psalm 128:2 that when we eat the fruit of the labor of our own hands, we will be happy. The problem happens when people go beyond happy and become arrogant. While God has created the world according to “the law of the harvest,” we must remember that He is still “The Lord of the Harvest.” He allows us to have the fruit of our labors as a blessing, not just because we deserve it.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden of “The School of Christ,” we get a reminder that God still rules in the kingdoms of men.

Infinite Supply Image for November Fourteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Fourteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 14

The Most High Rules

“The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men.”
DANIEL 4:17

Christ is increasing and filling all things. Have you seen this? If you have, then embrace it, submit to it, cooperate with it, be in harmony with it, order your life around it, demonstrate it to the world around you, and pray for its fulfillment.

Get aligned with something and Someone higher and greater than yourself. For when you see God’s Purpose, and you adjust your life according to that Purpose, and you consistently pray for the fulfillment of that Purpose, then His Purpose cannot be stopped; His Will cannot be frustrated; His Kingdom cannot be defeated. Heaven singles you out and Hell trembles with fear. You just became undefeatable! You just joined the Remnant.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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The full context of the Scripture referenced by the author is where Daniel interprets two visions of King Nebuchadnezzar where God issues a warning to him about his future. We can see from the king’s personal statement near the beginning of the chapter (Daniel, Chapter 4) that he still doesn’t understand who God really is. He tells the reader, in verse 8, the following…

“His name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God.”

So, he knows that the Creator God is holy, but he doesn’t yet know Him as his own. Daniel warns him that he can repent and stop sinning, and maybe then God will remove the future curse from him, but Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t get it. To the contrary, by verse 30, he says…

“Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

I have built”? “My mighty power”? “For my majesty”? Those things make it pretty clear why the curses from the visions had to come to pass. The king ended up having the mind of a wild animal and crawling around in a wet field until his hair and nails over-grew. By the time it was over, the king knew who God was. In verse 34, he declared something quite different from verse 30…

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever.

What he first claimed as the result of his own power, he realized was only the result of God’s power–even over a king and kingdom. As God told him in the vision, “The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men.” Even when we work for it and earn it, or even when we receive it as an inheritance or a gift, our position on this earth is never above God and never without God. When we understand that, we will be humble beneath the Heavens instead of feeling the need to exalt ourselves, and our humility will bring us more power. As Chip says, if we align ourselves with God and His purpose, we become part of the remnant of the undefeatable.

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Your Finish Line?


What is it that you will have accomplished in this life that will make you feel you’ve achieved your best goal? Is there a finish line you see in front of you that will make you feel successful? Some want to die old. Some want to gain riches or fame or some other earthly prosperity.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden, we’ll read about pressing toward the right goals.

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 13

Press Toward the Goal

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
PHILIPPIANS 3:14

God has a purpose for the universe: that in all things Christ would have the preeminence. This is the Heavenly Bullseye. Since you, dear reader, are part of the universe, you are one of those “all things.” So this purpose includes you.

Actually, this is the same purpose He had in mind for Adam: that Christ would have the preeminence in him. But Adam chose an independent path and failed to give Christ the preeminence. He took the preeminence for himself. Adam missed the mark, which is a life submitted to, and totally dependent upon, God.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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You know what your finish line is by what you focus on each day. For example, do you focus on where you are now with a steady look at where you are going, or do you fill your thoughts with sentences that start with “if only”? If only my ship would come in. If only I’d win the lottery. If only my health were perfect. If only I’d been discovered when I was young, so I could be famous now. If only we had bigger, better, more, etc.

Like the author says, Adam (and Eve) chose the personal finish line. They had those sentences like:

  • “If only we could eat from the Tree of Knowledge,”
  • “If only we knew what that tree tastes like,” and
  • “If only we could be wise and know good and evil.”

Paul would have told them to change their sentences to something like:

  • “We have the promise of being able to eat from the Tree of Life,”
  • “Thankfully, we have the best flavors from all the wonderful trees we get to eat from,” and
  • “It’s so peaceful to just trust God and not have to know everything.”

Paul’s finish line was to become more and more like the Christ he loved and served. He sought to draw closer to Him each day regardless of what it took for him to get there. He learned how to be content in all things by focusing on the steps that were drawing him nearer to Yeshua and Heaven than on anything he was missing here on earth. His finish line was to become less and less attached to earth and its pleasures and more attached to Christ and the promises of eternity with God.

We all have finish lines, little ones and big ones. We all have to set goals in order to know how to run in this life. The big goal, however, should be the same for all of us, and it should run us on the race of faith Paul speaks of in Hebrews 12:1

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Pray, read God’s word, and offer praise up to The Lord, and then when you are in His holy presence, as yourself: What’s my finish line? Comment below if you’d like to share what you discover.

November 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Against God’s Will


I recently watched an interview with an author whose new book sounds quite interesting to me. The author is Johnnie Moore, and his book is What Am I Supposed to Do With My Life: God’s Will Demystified. Haven’t we all asked questions about God’s will in our lives? And haven’t we all been absolutely certain we’ve missed the mark and let God down? I know that many, if not all, of us have paid a price for a bad decision (or two) in our lives, and then we beat ourselves up with debilitating guilt for our failures.

The author of this book points out that God’s will is more about who you are than it is about where you are or what you are doing. In other words, if you make a decision to go to tech school instead of gaining a full college doctorate, you don’t have to wonder if tech school was against God’s will. Instead, you should simply make sure that you keep loving God with all your heart, soul and strength whether you are in school for one or eight years.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about the real problem when people step out of God’s will; spiritual decline…

Infinite Supply Image for November Twelfth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twelfth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 12

God’s Response to Spiritual Decline

“Who is he who overcomes the world,
but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
1 JOHN 5:5

The Lord’s answer to a state of decline is to reveal Himself and His eternal purpose. Once the Lord has established for Himself a people that will represent His interests, then He will move immediately to secure, protect, establish, and strengthen the Remnant. Here is what I want us to see. When we align ourselves with God’s Thought, with God’s Kingdom, and with God’s Will in Christ, we are invincible.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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So, the answer to falling away from God’s will is to watch for God to reveal Himself. When we seek Him and find Him, we will also find His will. When we line ourselves up with God’s will, we have promises that have little to do with what we do in life and everything to do with who we are through the days of our lives.

I’ve always thought the Scripture promise of I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) was more about doing everything we do in Christ than using Christ to do more. If God’s will is to line up with who He created us to be, then for it to apply to all people, it would have to do with what we become in our spiritual selves. Otherwise, those with lesser abilities could be considered to be less in God’s will, and that makes no sense because God is no respecter of people.

I put the book on my “wish list” because I find the concept refreshing and freeing. The concept tells me that, even seeking God’s will, I may not make perfect decisions, and I may pay prices for some bad decisions. I will also make some good decisions and receive good rewards for those. But my prices and rewards have nothing to do with God’s will. They are simply the law of the harvest that all earth is created under; we will reap what we sow.

If I want to please God, my job is simply to keep seeking Him and yielding my heart to His Holy Spirit in the midst of whatever decision and whatever price or reward is in my life. It means I won’t blame Him for the outcomes in my life, and that frees me to love Him even more–no strings attached. It means I use guilt for nothing more than a reminder to repent, and then I let it go. I don’t have to let it torment me for years over “letting God down” or going against His will.

God’s most simple will is that no man should perish, so going against God’s will is just detaching ourselves from Him and moving away from His leading. If we love Him, we won’t want to do that no matter what other decisions we make in our lives.

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When God Builds Walls


Me, I’m not so good at dealing with walls. How about you? For me, a wall automatically seems like an invitation to stop and give up. I can press on over bumps and hills, but pressing through walls is a different story. Often, I feel guilty for not fighting harder. But what if I’m feeling guilty for nothing? What if walls going up have purpose in my life?

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden from The School of Christ made me think of thinks a bit differently…

Infinite Supply Image for November Tenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Tenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 10

Why God Resists Us

“God resists the proud.”
JAMES 4:6

Our automatic assumption is that anything which resists us or hinders us is of satanic origin. Yet we learn from James 4:6 that there is Someone Else who can resist us. There is Another Who carefully watches what we do, and frequently hinders us from making progress. It comes as a shock and surprise to some Christians to see one day that God, not the devil, is resisting them. The Lord Himself resists us, closes doors, causes things to be unfruitful, and spoils all our plans. How so? Because “God resists the proud.”

This resistance from God is insurmountable. It is a fearful thing to fight the Lord. We spend most of our lives wrestling with God instead of cooperating with God, and in the end we have nothing to show for it. So much time and effort is wasted because we proceed in our own, stubborn way. We attribute all difficulties to the devil, or to other people, or our circumstances, or our environment, and fail to recognize that the Lord Himself is resisting us.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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I am in total agreement with the author that most of us consider resistance an attack from the enemy. We also tend to think that if things go easy, it must be a sign from God that we’re headed in the right direction. However, when we look at the secular world and see all the things that seemingly “go right” for so many there, we can see the flaws in our thinking. It rains on both the just and the unjust, and the sun shines on both the good and the evil. Some things just happen, but some things are a sign. So how are we to know?

I believe the author’s message, and the message of Scripture, hold the clue. If we couple the fact that God resists the proud with the knowledge that He disciplines those whom He loves, we can see that His resistance could possibly only be against the proud of those who love Him. That may be why we see unbelievers seemingly “getting away” with all their bad deeds. However, when we who serve Him are running full steam on our own power and forgetting Him, He just might build a wall to protect us from the destruction our pride could bring. After all, this Scripture is written to believers even though it’s to believers who are engaging in all kinds of sin.

So, next time you run into a wall, if you are a believer in God Almighty, consider the fact that He might be the Builder. If He has put some resistance in your path, it may simply be an invitation to slow down and pray. Seek His perfect will for your life, and become humble that you can find His grace…and maybe even a new door to walk through.

November 11, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Know Him is to Love Him


When I was a little girl, my mom often sang the chorus, “To know, know, know him, is to love, love, love him, and I do.” After I fell in love with God, I would sing it about Him. Through the years, I’ve sang a lot of love songs written for humans to my Savior because the words said just how I felt. It’s hard to explain to someone who does not know Christ just how those of us who do know Him can be so deeply in love with someone we haven’t met in the flesh. The key to falling in love with The Lord is wrapped up in getting to know everything about Him, and getting to know His heart. That happens by reading His word and seeking Him through prayer.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, the author speaks of getting to know Christ to effectively share Him with others.

Infinite Supply Image for November Ninth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Ninth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 9

To Be With Him

“He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him…”
MARK 3:14

The first order of business was not the preaching or the sending forth; it was simply being with Jesus. During those times of being alone and apart with Christ He revealed Himself to them in a deep way. They walked with Him, watched Him, and listened to Him for three and a half years. Just as importantly, they learned to walk with each other. They learned how to serve one another in love. When Jesus finally did send them forth to preach they actually had something worth sharing and worth listening to.

Your primary calling as a disciple is to BE with Jesus, because that is how you LEARN OF HIM. It is not learning about the Christian faith – that is a thing. It is not learning about Bible doctrine – that is a thing. It is not learning about Christian things or religious things or spiritual things. It is not learning about the Bible. It’s not even learning ABOUT Jesus, it is learning OF Jesus FROM Jesus.

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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The whole verse from the reference above, and the verse just after it, says (in New King James’ Version)…

Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.

As the author notes, the first thing is just to be with Christ. Unfortunately, in our zeal, we may get the cart before the horse. We rush out to preach and heal and cast out demons, and we think that just because we’re doing it in Jesus’ name, we’re okay. But, if we’re not doing it because we know Yeshua and are following His will, we’re walking in ignorance and disobedience. We’re acting presumptuously and of ourselves, in pride, and we risk misleading souls and being responsible for them.

There is a preacher out there (Todd Bentley of “The Lakeland Revival” in Florida) who recorded a message about a vision he had explaining why he didn’t need training in God. He said that God took him to Heaven, cut him open, and filled him with little gift boxes. Then, God supposedly told him that time was too short for him to study and learn before he started preaching. God was pouring a bunch of gifts into him right then. Really? It sounds to me like the man formed a vision to line up with his desire to be up in front of people earning money and fame instead of waiting on God. If he took the time to get to know God better, maybe he wouldn’t have ended up having an affair with a woman on his staff–twice.

Other than just sharing our personal testimony of what God has done for us, we must get to know Christ before we can effectively introduce Him to others. If we want to get to know Him, we find that His word tells us in Deuteronomy 4:29 (NKJV)

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

If we want to love God, we should seek to please Him. In order to please Him, we need to obey Him. To obey Him we must hear His voice. To hear His voice, we must become His sheep. To even desire to be His sheep, we need to get to know The Shepherd. Once we know Him–really know Him–we won’t be able to help loving Him.

November 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Am I?


When you have a genuine relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) as your Lord and Savior, you have something that goes so far beyond religion and behavior that it sustains you. It holds you up when you’re feeling down, and it carries you higher in your moments of joy. It strengthens you when you are weak, and it gives you endurance when you stand to fight the good fight. There is no religious study or sacrifice that compares to being in love with God and know that He is in love with you.

Those times when I read His word and feel as if He is speaking directly to me are priceless. When I pray and somehow know I’m not just talking to air, but that He is right there in the room with me, it makes every sacrifice and good behavior worth it. I do what I do because of who I am in Christ; because of what He made me through the mercy of His blood that was shed on Calvary. It is in those times that I can feel the heart of those who write great lyrics like those written by Rusty Goodman in 1965 for the song Who Am I. (Video with lyrics below.) The chorus says…

Who am I that a King would bleed and die for?
And who am I that He would pray not my will thine for?
The answer I may never know,
Why He ever loved me so,
That to an old rugged cross He would go,
For who am I.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden talks about the whom versus the what…

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventh by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventh by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article and other resources at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 7

Knowing What vs. Knowing Whom

“I know Whom I have believed.”
2 TIMOTHY 1:12

A certain brother was always emphatic about what he believed until someone with equal or greater argument confronted him. This occurred one day when someone pointed out several supposed “errors” in the Bible. This caused the brother to be very alarmed. He went to an elderly sister and informed her of these alleged errors and wanted to know her opinion. She simply stated that the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of these questions.

He thought, perhaps not to you, but to me it is important! So he spent the next year investigating what this other person had told him and found it to be untrue. But, had he simply known God He would not have found it necessary to study the whole thing and reason it out. The elderly sister was right, the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of those questions. If you know Who, knowing what and why become less significant.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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A friend of mine went into a store in Florida that was owned by a Jewish proprietor. She was wearing a necklace with both a Star of David and a cross on it, so the owner asked her about it. She explained a bit about Messianic Judaism, and he responded with a statement that she later shared with me. He said, “As long as it is who you are and not just what you are.”

When we have the “who” down (both Whom we serve and who we are), we have an identity. With it, we’ve got a better chance of hanging in there when things get tough. It’s part of what attracts people to gangs and similar groups. People need identity, and who better to share an identity with than The King of Kings? As a matter of fact, I heard a story once of a young gang member walking by a church once where someone was singing Rusty’s song. The thought that he could share an identity with a king apparently meant something to him, so he rushed into the church and asked if he could meet that King.

Have you met The King? If so, have you made Him Lord of your life? If you haven’t, you are welcome to write to me to learn more about God. If you already serve Him, I’d love to hear something about your walk with Him, and who you are in Him. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Who Am I as performed by the “Altar of Praise Chorale” and backed by some beautiful imagery…

November 8, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Tell the Truth


I remember a college class where the main book focused on the thought that “truth is subjective.” They used examples like two different people looking at something from different angles and therefore seeing different truths. In some ways, yes, truth can be subjective. The argument between my grandparents as to whether my uncle’s front door was brown or white was recorded for posterity. We still laugh as we watch Grandpa sitting on one side of the open door and Grandma sitting on the other; both insisting on the color from their perspectives. One side was white, and one side was brown, so both descriptions were the truth.

Real truth, however, is the whole picture. In the case of my grandparents, neither were actually telling the truth because neither saw both sides of the door. To tell the whole truth, you must know the whole truth. Grandma could tell Grandpa it was brown all day long, but he would never believe her as long as his view was only of the white side of the door.

Today’s Infinite Supply talks about “The Truth,” meaning Jesus Christ who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the article and other resources at The School of Christ website.

November 6

Seeing As God Sees

“He, the Spirit of truth… will guide you into all truth.”
JOHN 16:13

To choose the Truth is to want the Truth at all costs, even if it means sacrificing everything I have believed up until now, challenging all my paradigms, questioning all my teachers, examining everything I have ever experienced.

Of course our first decision about Truth is based upon Who Jesus is. With that question settled many Christians are content, but Truth is living. Truth will continue to reveal Himself to us and around us for as long as we will allow it. What, after all, is Wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to see things from heaven’s, and thus God’s, perspective. Daily we must choose between ignorant bliss or seeing things as God sees them. It is a daily choice. You cannot be told, you have to see it for yourself.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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I think what Chip says about truth having to come by revelation; that it’s something we cannot be told, is important. Yeshua speaks to Peter (Hebrew Kefa) in Matthew 16:13-20 and asks him who people say He (Yeshua) is. Peter confesses that Yeshua is the Anointed Messiah, and Yeshua blesses him for it. He tells him that it’s not something he could have figured out on his own, but that only God could have revealed such truth to him. That’s where Yeshua follows up with the prophecy that on that rock (the foundation of revelation or revealed truth), He would build His church.

Truth must be revealed. It’s like the truth of realizing you are in love. No one else can tell you. I think that’s why people compare it to falling. It comes on quick like you tripped and fell into it, and then you just know, and you know better than if someone had tried to tell you.

Christian Country singer Ann Hartmann has a song called God’s Got the Box on her “Look Up” album. In the lyrics, she talks about how hard it can be to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the box. Then, she talks about life being like a jigsaw where we struggle until we realize that God sees the whole picture because He’s got the box. It’s an analogy that has stayed with me since I first heard her sing the song.

To tell the truth, I guess “truth” really is subjective since the only One who really knows and sees it all is the One who is Truth Himself. Knowing that, however, we can walk in truth simply by walking as we are led by His Holy Spirit.

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choose Your Daddy


One of my favorite songs by ApologetiX is the parody of “Who’s Your Daddy” into “Choose Your Daddy.” J Jackson does a great job of imitating Toby Keith in vocals, and the song teaches a great lesson in a fun way. The video with this song is at the bottom of this post, and the lyrics are in the comment section if you view it at YouTube. Yesterday’s post mentioned not being able to eat from both a tree of life and a tree of death, now we get to choose who we want to lead and guide us to our provisions and destinations. Do we work for riches and believe they will be the answer to all our problems, or do we work as unto the Lord?

The choice comes out in multiple ways in our lives. Do we choose to care what our friends think of us, or do we choose to care what God thinks of us? Do we go for the good, or do we always make sure to go for that which is God? Do we seek miracles, or the Maker of miracles? Religion or relationship? God’s word or the doctrine of men?

As I prepared this writing, it occurred to me that if the love of money is the root of evil, and if we are not to strive to serve money, then prosperity messages that point to money as being the prosperity don’t add up. (Pun intended.) Biblical prosperity must mean something very different from money or God would be gifting us with something that sets us up for failure. Besides, if prosperity were about money, then how could people who live in countries where money doesn’t flow freely ever expect to receive God’s blessings of prosperity? And, if our country faces a market crash, will God’s children cease to be prosperous in His eyes?

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 22:1 that a good name is to be chosen over great riches. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:14 that he rejoiced in the ways of God’s testimony as much as in any riches. Riches are not necessarily bad, but we read in Psalm 62:10 that if riches increase, we should not set our hearts on them. Now, here’s what Chip Brogden of The School of Christ says about choosing which master to serve…

Infinite Supply Image for November Fifth

Infinite Supply Image for November Fifth by The School of Christ
Click on the image to open a new tab/window to view the article online and leave comments if you like.

November 5

Serving Two Masters?

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
MATTHEW 6:24

The context of this passage is talking about mammon (the love of, and the endless pursuit of, wealth). But the principle applies to everything else. There can only be one master in your life. You can only serve one thing at a time. You are not free to do as you please. Even if you say you serve no one, you are still serving Self. So which will it be? Jesus says if you love Him then you will hate everything else. What does that mean?

It means that you will allow nothing and no one to take the place of the One you love – not for a day, not for an hour, not for a minute. If our love for the Lord is strong then we will learn to hate everything which competes against Him. We will despise anything that seeks to hinder our relationship with Christ.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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I love the author’s point here that there can only be one master at a time for you to serve. Trying to serve more than one would be like trying to play on competing teams, or serve in competing armies, at the same time. As Chip teaches, we learn to hate everything that competes against Yeshua. Even if that competition shows itself within the church, be it in evident sin or the apostasy we’re warned about coming into to us unawares, we need to watch. If it competes against our Lord and His truth, we must reject it and turn only to Him. Micah 3:11 puts it this way in the New King James’ Version

Her heads judge for a bribe,
Her priests teach for pay,
And her prophets divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord, and say,
“Is not the Lord among us?
No harm can come upon us.”

And while this sounds like it should be talking about a group that doesn’t know God at all, unfortunately, it is talking about priests of the house of Israel. Of course, we know from Torah study that God warned of those days, but it’s still painful to read about these blind people who work miracles for money and then claim it’s the Lord.

The good news after all of this is to put everything in a category. Does it draw you and others closer to God or farther away? If it draws you to God, and if it helps you draw others to God, then choose it over those things that put a wall between you and your loving Savior. Avoid evil of any kind, and choose the Daddy that loves you and laid down His life for you.

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing the Tree of Life


In Deuteronomy 30:19, God says to the children of Israel that He gives them a choice between life and death and between blessing and curse. He follows that choice with the encouragement that they should choose life so that they and their descendants can live.

Obviously, if they choose death, they won’t be alive to bear descendants, but I think there’s even more to this. Remember that among the cursed behavior of these people, they were offering their children to the fires of the false god of Molech. Women actually self-aborted to give their babies to this worthless statue because they thought it would benefit them somehow. So, by choosing God’s blessings instead of continuing to live under the curse of serving false gods, their children received a benefit from God Almighty and from life itself.

I am happy tonight that as of today’s election, we have a majority of conservative senators in power. This means, we have a majority of those who support life for the unborn, life for our military, and life for our allies in Israel. Somehow, more people went to the voting booth and chose life, and I believe God is pleased with the USA–at least for today.

Chip Brodgen’s Infinite Supply newsletter is about life today. It’s about The Tree of Life…

Infinite Supply Image Nov Fourth

Infinite Supply Image Nov Fourth
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the article at The School of Christ website.

November 4

The Cross: The Tree of Life

“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life.”
REVELATION 2:7

Like Adam, we can choose to eat from either tree, but we cannot eat from both. Adam sinned when he fell into the flesh and yielded to his Self-life. He rejected the Tree of Life in favor of something that was “good… pleasant… and desirable” (Genesis 3:6). The Cross does not look like a Tree of Life at all. It is neither good, nor pleasant, nor desirable. It looks like death. Perhaps this is why Adam did not eat from it first.

But God’s End is not death, regardless of appearances: God’s End is Life out of death, which is resurrection. To eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life is to glory in the Cross of Jesus Christ and find Life out of death. It is becoming popular to preach and teach about the Cross these days, but how many are eating of its fruit? Can we really see the Cross as the TREE OF LIFE, and are we eating its fruit? We will know a true disciple of the Lord, not by words, but by fruit, and the Cross is the Tree of Life from which this fruit comes.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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So, from the beginning, free will has never meant that we have a right to choose bad behaviors and still end with good results. It has always been simply that we have a choice between life and death, blessing and cursing. I like the point the author makes about not being able to eat from both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge that brought death. When Adam and Eve chose the tree of death, they were blocked out from the Tree of Life. And, even that was God’s mercy. If they ate from the tree that gave life after choosing from the one that gave death, they would have spent eternity in the state of death. But, once we have overcome through the blood of Yeshua, we will have the chance to eat from the tree that assures us eternal life in that state of overcoming.

Right now, with all the offerings on life’s plate, it may seem hard to know which ones to choose each day. So many of them are in gray areas in our minds because the enemy has strong sales tactics. But, if we can separate what we choose to only two subject headings–life and death–it should be easy to simply choose life.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creative In God’s Image


My business cards usually include the line “Writer and Creative Mind.” I have been creative for as long as I can remember, so it’s nothing I’ve worked for or been trained in. I know my creativity is a gift from God, and that I am made in my Father’s creative image. God gives me authority over my gifts, so I can use them for Him or for things which are not pleasing to Him. I can even choose to not use my gifts at all. But, my love for Yahveh drives me to want to create positive and uplifting designs whether that be in writing or in products on my Zazzle page.

Speaking of the latter, I finally plugged in the new night lights I created and ordered last month, and they are my favorite items from Zazzle so far. I’d love to know what my readers think of these two items. Also, do you think customized night lights would make good Christmas gifts for friends and family? If so, tell me which of the 29 I recently created are best, or if you think some other images might work better. The two I ordered are of my Pink and Yellow Fractalized Butterflies with Stars and Yellow Daisies in a Field of Purple.

Now, when thinking of God’s gifts, we often think about the promise of His word that we can do all things through Christ. In addition to that Scripture, we have Yeshua’s claim that we can do nothing without Him. Here’s what Chip Brogden wrote on that subject in today’s Infinite Supply newsletter…

Infinite Supply Image Nov Third

Infinite Supply Image Nov Third
Click the image to open a new tab/window and view the article on the School of Christ dot org website.

November 3

Nothing Without Him

“Without Me you can do nothing.”
JOHN 15:5

Jesus would explain to His disciples that spiritual life hinges upon living in active dependence upon Himself. That is the fundamental lesson to learn because it is the fundamental sin of mankind – the independent path. Jesus says without Him we can do nothing. Nothing! But it is human nature to try and do something in ourselves. We call it freedom and liberty; blazing our own trail; making something happen. But the end result is death and destruction.

The fall of man illustrates a fundamental truth: that whenever Self is allowed to rule in the place of Christ, the result is sin, sorrow, separation and death. Apart from Him we really can do nothing.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom

by Chip Brogden

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Again, the author covers an important topic for all Christians. I love that he says we need an active dependence on our Savior. Salvation isn’t a “set it and forget it” lifestyle change. It’s more like a raging yet contained fire if we’re fully committed to walking in the newness of a life with Yeshua as our Lord and Savior. We should always be learning something new from His word or from the words He speaks in our spirit. We should be acquiring understanding from Him instead of leaning on our own. And, we should be walking and creating as He leads even if we can generate a million ideas “on our own.”

I know when I’m trying to do things on my own. It’s usually a time of great chaos on my life. My ideas will come at me so fast that I don’t know whether to jump, duck, go around, or catch them straight on. I’ll have an abundance of thoughts but nowhere to go with them, or I’ll want to go everywhere at once. That’s the downside of having a creative mind, and I’ll admit to still not being sure I have all my creativity in God’s hands. Thankfully, God is merciful, and He gives me a new chance to try again with each new day.

Are you creative? If not, do you wrestle with your gifts, whatever they may be, trying to drive you to acting first and praying later? Ideas of any kind can pop up and threaten to leave if we don’t act on them right away, so I’m certain I’m not the only one who faces this challenge. Tell me about your challenges, and we can pray for each other.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life, Zazzle | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Before You Vote on Tuesday


The above video should start at about 10:16 in for a segment of Israel Now News called “Ask the Source.” The host, Josh Reinstein, is interviewing a Pastor Larry Huch about celebrations in Israel at the time of the filming. The part I want to refer you to begins at about minute 13 and continues to minute 19 where the pastor talks about the effect a divided Israel will have on Christians. To summarize briefly…

Larry began a program called The Jerusalem Call to make Christians aware of the biblical and international law showing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We will lose much if Jerusalem is divided. First, Israel is the only place in the middle east with true freedom of religion. Even at holy sites like “The Western Wall,” he says you can find people of multiple religions from all over the world praying there. We will lose that if Jerusalem is divided. In addition, we will lose access to “The Via Dolorosa” (the road Christ walked to Calvary), “The Church of The Holy Sepulchre,” and more. He says we’ll also lose where Yeshua was crucified and where He resurrected.

I highly recommend watching the entire video, and other videos by Israel Now News for informative news from The Holy Land. If you click to view the video at YouTube, you can subscribe to be notified when new videos are added, but there are 152 episodes available now.

So, I titled this in reference to voting simply to remind Christians to check whether the politicians they vote for are supportive of Israel as an ally. Our current establishment is actually causing those who used to be our enemies to rejoice in our new policies. We are supporting those who are enemies both of us and of Israel, and we can be sure God is not happy with it. He said He does not change, and His word (that stands forever) is that He will bless those who bless her and curse those who curse her. We must choose if we will support candidates who bring us blessing or curse.

Now, to switch gears since I promised Infinite Supply for the full month. Here is today’s post…

November 2

All I Have is Yours

“Bring out the best robe and put it on him.”
LUKE 15:22

To put on the Lord Jesus is to be clothed with the very best robe. This robe makes us look better than we really are. But when we are dressed with the best we begin to act differently. Having put on the Lord Jesus, we are clothed with Him and His character replaces our character. His Life is received in exchange for our life. If we cooperate with the Life we will naturally find our behavior is changed.

But what of the elder son? “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours” (Luke15:31). Hallelujah! There is no partiality with God, however much we may think God is being more fair or more generous to some brother or sister. Not so: the robe, the ring, and the shoes only represent the “all,” the fullness of the Father, and “of His fullness we have all received” (John 1:16). The Father says, “All that I have is yours!” Who can dare ask God for a single thing apart from the Son?

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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The above is how the author wrote it, but I have linked the Scripture passages to Bible Gateway for easy reading. If you click on the date at the top, you can view the article at School of Christ where you can also leave comments.

I love the idea that putting on Christ is putting on the best and therefore requires us to act our best. I remember those childhood days where my mom would put my sister and I in dresses of velvet and lace, and then she’d top that off with shiny black patent-leather shoes. We knew better than to jump in mud puddles when we wore those clothes. Usually, we sat down, folded our hands, and tried our best to be “little ladies.” Many times, people would put money in our tiny purses to reward us for being so ladylike.

I’m going to try to remember this when I get up in the morning. As I put on my clothes and say Good Morning to my Lord and Savior, I’m going to imagine putting Him on for the day. I will do my best to avoid any spiritual mud puddles and to act Christ-like all day. Since He must increase, and I must decrease, when I put Him on, modeling my best behavior in Him is what matters the most. And one day, as is promised in God’s holy word, I will be rewarded for treating my garment of Christ with the utmost of care.

P.S. I have decided that I will give my characters their due and spend my NaNo month with them instead of creating new characters. May all of you pushing for your 50,000 word goal be abundantly blessed and just keep writing.

 

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hallow-What?


Halloween Kitten by Flickr Users Bill & Vicki T aka Great Grandpa & Grandma T, CC License = Attribution

Halloween Kitten by Flickr Users Bill & Vicki T aka Great Grandpa & Grandma T, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

This is a day of many mixed emotions for me. I love cute little images like the kitty and pumpkin above, kids dressed up in all variety of adorable outfits, and the smile on a child’s face when they score big candy treasure. I have never been one to like the dark side of the day, like witches, vampires, and zombies, but an abundance of superheroes and princesses roaming the streets is adorable.

Many years ago, I was in a “no TV” phase of my life, so reading and a shortwave radio were my main entertainment. I found a book at the library that is out of print but one of the best books I’ve read on the history of Halloween and other American festival days. It’s called Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, and it’s co-written by the editors of Hallmark Cards, so it’s unbiased and probably more accurate than many such books. It was through this book that I learned, not only the history of “All Hallows Eve” but the history of many traditions for the day as well. It’s not pretty.

The main thing I learned about the day (and no, I won’t call it a “holiday” since that’s a shortened form of “holy day”) concerns the spiritual elements. In spiritual terms, it compares to “hell night” when kids have one last night of partying before trying to buckle down for nine months of school. In this case, spirits have a wild fling before the religious season that begins with All Saints Day aka All Hallows Day. So, the eve before, called All Hallows Eve or Halloween, is a last chance for evil to run amok and get away with it. Sure.

Anyway, people would perform all sorts of rituals to try and appease the spirits to keep themselves free from harm. The rituals may have been partly based in religion, but they were most certainly pushed because of fear. Some rituals included dressing up as that year’s deceased, a feast to appease the spirits, or a parade to lead evil spirits out of town. Where a virgin girl was demanded to appease the spirits, parents would put candles out in pumpkins or gourds to show they had an available daughter.

As God’s own people, we know we have a Power (Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world) that will protect and defend us. No rituals are needed except maybe prayer and fasting as Yeshua said to the disciples in Mark 9:14-29. We are told in James 4:7 that all we have to do is resist the devil and he will flee. Note in the Scripture that it does not say “rebuke the devil” and the resist part comes in only AFTER we have submitted ourselves to God.

Still, even with that authority, Yeshua reminds the disciples not to rejoice because of their authority over evil. Instead, they should rejoice because their names are written in Heaven. That speaks of humility before God and gratefulness for the blood of The Lamb over our repented lives. It’s why I have some trouble with songs that rejoice over the enemy and say things like, “I’m marching through the enemy’s camp to take back what he took from me.” I worry about the arrogance in that. I worry about the dark “Christian metal” bands with names like “Demon Slayer” that sound as if they are arrogantly bragging about their authority over evil.

So, should we celebrate this festive day that coincides with Day of the Dead celebrations around the world? Personally, I don’t like it. I don’t even like that my husband wants to give out candy, but I understand both sides. I understand the joy of making a child smile, so for parents that dress them up and nice neighbors who treat them, it can be fun and festive. For those who do want to play dress up though, if they call themselves Christian, I believe they should avoid anything dark. I would even suggest trying to dress kids (or yourselves) up like Bible characters, so when candy-givers ask what you are, you can share God’s word. 🙂

Whatever people believe and do, I encourage you to study the word of God, and I suggest you find out more about whatever festivals and recreations you take part in. Whatever you do… Do all things as unto The Lord (Colossians 3:23), and Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). On this holy Sabbath eve and day, I bid you Shabbat Shalom in The Lord, and I leave you with these words from The Amplified Bible

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pray Now, It’s A Lost Art


Prayer, Conversations With God by Flickr User Evan Courtney, CC License = Attribution

Prayer, Conversations With God by Flickr User Evan Courtney, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

There’s nothing like fellowship with like-minded Christian friends. In fellowship tonight, we talked about what it means to have a real relationship with The Lord. Just as I was mentioning that all real relationships involve some heartbreak, my friend Debbie was thinking in her mind about the times she’s been on her face weeping before God. We talked about how that happens, not because we are burdened or crying out for some kind of favor, but because of the brokenness we sometimes feel in God’s presence. When our flesh gets in the same room with the living God, we can break under the awesomeness of His love, and that’s just how it should be.

In a real relationship between real people, we have ups and downs, hard days and easy days, good times and not-so-good times. We have days where we feel so close that we almost feel like we’re actually one in body and mind. We also have days where we feel so distant from each other that we may wonder if the other person knows us at all. We share in all these times because we have made a commitment to be there no matter what, and we will usually find that upon reflection, we’re glad for that commitment. After all the hours, days, weeks and years, those who are truly in love will say it has been worth it all.

Well, it’s the same with God. We have ups and downs, hard days and easy ones, good times and bad times. We have days where we sense that God is walking right alongside us every step of the way, and we have days where, like King David said, it seems the heavens are brassed over. If we truly love God, we will make it through all these times because we are committed to Him just as we are to the humans to whom we have pledged our love.

In the relationship business, commitment is the key to keeping things together, and communication is the key to keeping them together in a pleasant way. With our spouses, and even with our friends, we don’t grow closer by being distant from each other. We fellowship, we share our dreams and hopes, we share our stumbling blocks, and we do our best to help each other walk through both valleys and mountain top events. We always try to talk to each other before we make judgment calls because we give the benefit of the doubt as we trust our partner or friend will do for us.

So, why don’t we do the same thing for God? With God, we often make rush judgments. It’s a blessing. It’s a curse. It’s a punishment. It’s a lesson. It could be any of those things, or it could just be life, but we can’t really know unless we ask God what He thinks. But, if we are not in the habit of talking with God, we may not know His voice as well as we should when it comes time to listen. His word promises that His sheep know His voice and listen, but why does a sheep know its shepherd’s voice? It knows the voice it hears on a regular basis. Here’s how The Message Bible states it in John 10:1-5

“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”

See, it’s all about being familiar with God’s voice. To do that, we must have communication with Him. We must pray, and we must listen. We must read His word to see what He tells us from there. When we worship Him, we may hear His voice even better because He inhabits the praises of His people. Prayer is not about rubbing the magic lamp just because we need God’s assistance (though He is there for us and willing to be our very present help in times of trouble), it’s conversation. It’s our time to draw nearer to Him, to get to know Him better, and just to spend time in His presence. As the ApologetiX song in the video below says, “Pray now, it’s a lost art….God is listening, you know.”

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk A Mile in My Shoes, Lord


In Mom's Shoes by Flickr User Impulses, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

In Mom’s Shoes by Flickr User Impulses, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord,
Then walk another mile or two.
Order my steps and show me the way
To do what You’d have me to do.
Lead me and guide me, walkin’ right here beside me,
So I can be more like You.
Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord,
Then keep walkin’ my whole life through.

Those are the lyrics to a chorus I wrote once while having a conversation with God about His understanding of my life’s trials. They began with the words, “Put yourself in my shoes, Lord,” but I plan to move those words to the verse when I fully develop the song.

I think most of us wonder whether anyone else understands some of what we go through. And even those of us who love God with all our hearts may sometimes wonder if He truly understands. I think poems like the popular Footprints in the Sand come for those kinds of wonderings. And, since there is nothing new under the sun, I would guess people have been turning to God with that question for many centuries.

We can know that God does understand by the fact that He did, in fact, walk miles in human shoes. John 1:1-18 begins and ends with statements that declare Yeshua as both with God and God; both Unique Son and God Himself. Yeshua told His disciples that if they had seen Him, they had also seen The Father. And the verse that convinced me that God was not a child abuser but did love me enough to lay down His own life for me–the greatest love of all, is in John 10:30. Here, Yeshua declares, “I and my Father are one.”

Even with these truths, though, we may wonder if God could possibly understand what it’s like to live in our particular shoes. We look at His life and think maybe we could endure if we were Him. Sure, we could be homeless and sleep on a stone pillow, right? But thinking that was the only way He suffered before Calvary is like Bruce Almighty thinking he had too much to do with being responsible for the prayers of only three city blocks. We haven’t worn His shoes to know His times of rejection and sorrow, like when He looked over Jerusalem and wept for her past and her future. In Matthew 23:37 (NLT) we read…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

How often, I wonder, has He been there to walk in our shoes, and we haven’t let Him. I speak this for myself as much as anyone. I need to be reminded sometimes that it’s not my job to sit on the throne, and I’m not in control of everything. Still, even as I let go and let God be God and fix things in His own way, I want to know that He understands. And when I slow down and read His word, I find encouragements like the following…

  • This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)
  • Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
  • What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)

With understanding that God does care about me personally, and trust that He will lead in the right direction, I can sing from my heart, “Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, then keep walkin’ my whole life through.” I hope you can too.

P.S. Just for a little encouragement, here’s a video of the song Give Them All to Jesus

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perilous Times Are Here


Stick Figure in Peril by Flickr User Kenneth Kiffer Fong, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Stick Figure in Peril by Flickr User Kenneth Kiffer Fong, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Because peril is a serious subject, let me start out with some lighter fare. The image above is from a Flickr group called Stick Figures in Peril. People post images of warning signs, and then group members comment on them. For example, on the above image, someone wrote, “Skipping like a girl will get you shot.” It’s a fun group since some of the warning signs are not exactly evident, especially if they’re in languages other than English. Plus, many of the stick figure warnings look less like people, so they will not have gender or age issues, and the comments often make fun of the figures themselves. For example, many will say something like, “Don’t do this, or you’ll end up with a detached head and no hands.” The older images have more comments of course.

As for the serious subject, we have this warning in 2 Timothy 3:1 (KJV): “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” In other Bible versions, the words used instead of perilous include hard, grievous, terrible, distressing, difficult, terrifying, dangerous and trying. Some versions are more detailed and give other descriptions. They say there will be times of stress, much trouble, times of difficulty, and violent periods of time. In The Living Bible (TLB), Paul speaks to Timothy this way…

You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian.

And so it will be, and so it is, but what kinds of peril do we most often hear reported or complained about these days? Stepping away from what the Bible calls “perilous” for a moment, let’s think about some troublesome times I’ve heard about just in my lifetime. My grandfather worked three part-time jobs before he came into a career. It was difficult to find full-time work, and even with all the jobs he put in, it was hard for him to feed his family. His family of five shared a small travel trailer on a lot, and their most frequent meal was pinto beans and fried potatoes. (Those years did teach my grandma how to make the best beans and potatoes though, hence my strong desire for those foods now.)

Anyway, those were truly difficult times, but my grandparents persevered until they were able to buy a home. Once they both has jobs, times got much easier for them. They went from a hand-dug pool to a professional pool, and eventually they got a retirement home with riverfront property. But even when times were better, they were frugal and thrifty about most things, like only using the pot belly stove for heat while everyone was awake. I lived with them for some of those days, and only using upstairs heat meant my downstairs bedroom was really cold, but it also meant a few more times out to eat too.

When people complain about being poor in today’s society, it usually means they can’t afford a smart phone with an unlimited plan, a flat screen television, and premium cable. They feel left out if they don’t have a computer and high-speed Internet. Oh, and don’t even think of telling them to be satisfied if they don’t have steak for dinner and a refrigerator full of 2-liters. Where my mom and her siblings would’ve been grateful for hot dogs to go with their beans and potatoes, people are selling their food stamps for cigarettes and then griping if they run out of soda. I’m telling the truth here. And I’m not saying everyone should have to deal with eating from food banks where you get mostly canned mixed vegetables (I still think Veg-All is disgusting) and off-brand mac and cheese. I’m just saying that people complain when they could have it much worse. They could have to work for a living and still struggle for beans and potatoes.

Now, though, let me tell you what the Bible calls perilous times. I’ll share 2 Timothy 3:1-5 from The Message Bible

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

The KJV Bible lists the last of verse 4 and first of verse 5 like this…

“…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

And doesn’t that explain perfectly why we are where we are in the last days? The real power of God can change everything. Religion is a form of godliness and only changes some things. Ethereal power (angels, miracles, etc.) have their place, but that’s still not the power people deny. The power too many of us are missing now is truth and balance; trusting that God is on His throne, in control, and absolutely knows best even when we don’t understand. We put too many things in our own thoughts and understanding, so we end up with statistics like those shown in a recent article where 63% of active Christians think sex outside of marriage is fine. The article calls them “sexual atheists” and makes very good points.

Yes, perilous times are here in so many ways, but if you know Yahveh as your Lord and Savior, you know from His word that none of this comes as a surprise to Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and is just as able to deliver us from these end times as He was to deliver Israel from her enemies of old. He can and will govern our lives and minds if we let Him. We have the power of His Holy Spirit to carry us through. His wisdom from Proverbs 3:5-6 (Amplified Bible) gives us a perfect promise…

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

October 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In The Beginning, God…


The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

First, God. Then, God created. That’s the necessary order for the best possible world because without God and His wisdom, creation would be soulless. But God didn’t want soulless creatures that operated like programmed robots, so He created man in His own image. Like God, we have a soul, a spirit, and a body. As it says in Colossians 2:9, For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. And because we are like Him, we can communicate with Him even from our human bodies while living in this temporary world.

Somehow though, today’s world has gotten wrapped up in the pursuit of knowledge instead of operating from the soul God gave us. But, if knowledge and thinking were enough for a good life, we would have no problem sharing our population with androids, and men would not try so desperately to humanize artificial intelligence. We know from the soul God gave us that life requires more, yet we keep trying to shut out that voice of reason as if what brings pleasure in the flesh should have priority. And even when we conquer the flesh, we often prioritize thoughts and feelings over the wisdom of God’s Spirit.

So, here I sit, working on my 402nd post for this blog and desperately wanting to make sure that I write from the leading of God’s Holy Spirit more than my own thoughts and ideas. At the same time, I must trust that because my creativity is also in God’s image, my ideas can come from Him too. I don’t write for readers nearly as much as wanting to write out of obedience and leaving readers in God’s hands. I guess that’s why I might be something of a perfectionist when I write.

Torah season has started again, but I’m not going to do daily updates on portions. I will, however, post a link to the weekly portion in The Complete Jewish Bible at BibleGateway.com for those who want to follow the annual reading schedule. I actually got a week behind, so you can read the full first week’s portion as part of today’s Shabbat (Sabbath) before sundown on Saturday, October 25th. That portion is Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 6:8. The divisions are written in the CJB, and there is a page with the divided readings and links available at Hebcal.com. The name links to the first portion with a list of links to all other portions.

Another great place to learn about the Torah and Hebrew roots of the Christian faith is Hebrew4Christians.com. Save the following links for your year of reading Genesis through Deuteronomy…

Now, speaking of current reading, for this week, the portion is called “Noah” in English and is Genesis 6:9 through Genesis 11:32. With the seven divisions, this can be seen at http://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/noach. And with all that information, I’d say my readers have a chance at a good beginning for their Torah year. I hope you will join me and my husband this year, and please stop in now and then to tell me what you’re getting out of the readings for yourself and your family.

In closing for the day, I want to say that it is because of God’s original plans and designs at the beginning that we get the new beginnings we experience each day. I believe His plans were to make humans in His image for good communications and interactions with Himself, but we sought flesh and soul over His Spirit. Still, even though we pushed Him behind the stuff we have too often made more important than Him, He comes in with mercies that are new every morning. It’s hard to imagine being loved so much that all we have to do is earnestly desire Him and He’s there with open arms no matter what came before, but that’s the truth. And that truth is shown beautifully in the song He Was There All the Time, so enjoy this video. View it at YouTube to find the lyrics in the video description section…

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes, I Need to Play Pollyanna


Sometimes I need to play Pollyanna and to find the good in every situation. It’s not a matter of simple desire, it’s a matter of survival. As a deep feeler, when an abundance of negativity surrounds my days and weeks, I just need to play the glad game. If you haven’t seen the movie or heard the story, click the video above for a clip about Pollyanna’s game. It was something her father taught her before he passed away, and it helped her survive the tragedy of his loss. It wasn’t well-accepted by her bitter aunt and the employees who inevitably picked up on the bitterness that riches could never fix.

Since I became a follower of Yeshua, my glad game is a little different from Pollyanna’s. I still try to find something to be glad about in situations that would otherwise make me sad, but I try to find that reason in Scripture or in a promise from God. Maybe I’ll remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Or, maybe I’ll just think about how grateful I am to know that Yeshua will never leave or forsake me, so whatever I go through, I will never be alone.

I think King David played the glad game too because he said things like…

  • I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:2 NKJV)
  • I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble. (Psalm 31:7a NKJV)
  • Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 NKJV)
  • Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8 NKJV)
  • The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory. (Psalm 64:10 NKJV)
  • But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. (Psalm 68:3 NKJV)
  • Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! (Psalm 90:14 NKJV)
  • Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness. (Psalm 96:11 NKJV)
  • This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 NKJV)
  • The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad. (Psalm 126:3 NKJV)

Maybe believers should just call it The King David Game when we look for reasons to praise God because it sure looks like he had a handle on the idea of being glad in God no matter what. He even wanted his broken bones to rejoice.

The hardest part of playing Pollyanna is when we face tougher and tougher circumstances that threaten to make it impossible to find something good. My personal version of the game is in my challenge at my website, For One Soul. But, even having this message, it’s not always easy. There have been times in my life that were so hard, even my husband said, “And don’t tell me it might be for one soul because I don’t want to hear that now.” King David talks about feeling like the heavens were brassed over and about watering his couch with tears. There are days when all the encouragement in the world doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

A problem that can arise while playing Pollyanna is when it becomes difficult to accept negative truths. We may try to believe the best about someone when they have clearly crossed a line into darkness or deceit. Or, we may tell people that something is okay when it’s not just because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. Me, I only want to give five-star (or whatever is the best) reviews on things because that’s what I hope to get, but that’s not reality. Only God is good enough to always get a top rating every time. But, if I give top ratings to everyone, then people may even have a hard time believing me when I uplift God as best of all.

So, let’s go ahead and play Pollyanna when we need to balance the darkness and pain around us. Find a reason to play the glad game and to rejoice in God, maybe even by looking for where God will make things work for one soul. But, let’s also keep it honest. It’s a lie to say we are whole when we are broken, but it’s the truth to say we are whole in God because we know He is the Potter who will repair us. It’s the truth to say life is hard, but God is good. And when it gets really tough, we can remind ourselves that what we go through here are light and temporary afflictions. Paul even tells us in Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

With that promise, I think all of us can get away with playing Pollyanna’s glad game a little bit more often. HalleluYah!

October 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Really Know Your Creator?


God's Handiwork by Flickr User listentothemountains, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

God’s Handiwork by Flickr User listentothemountains, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

God is God and we are not. That’s step one. Psalm 46:10, as in the above image, reminds us from The Amplified Bible

Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

I know He knows me far better than I can ever know Him this side of Heaven, and yet I have a desire to know Him more deeply every day. He is more than just an idea to me, and He’s more than just what I read in Scripture. It’s difficult for me to express the depth of my heart for Yahveh Almighty. I guess it’s a little like trying to tell you about the love I have for my husband. I mean, I can try, but no matter what I say, I can’t convince you to love him the same way I do. I hope that, if you are in love with someone, there’s nothing I can say that would make you feel more love for my mate than for your own. And, if you are in love with God, I hope there’s nothing that anyone can present that would make you love anything more than Him.

I think, above all else that God is looking for in us, it is a sincere heart. If we sincerely love Him, we will automatically be faithful to Him. If we are faithful to Him, we will automatically want to please Him and do what He desires by obeying His commands. It won’t be about trying to be perfect for the sake of some kind of reward. It will be about trying to be as close to perfect as we can get simply because we don’t want to hurt the One we love.

There are many who try to tell us who God is, or what God is, or what God wants from us, but can they really tell us those things? Each of us is different. God is able to become exactly what each of us needs, so if I tell you the attributes He has revealed to draw my heart to Him, it may mean nothing to you. If I battle fear, and God comes in showing Himself to me as the victor over my fears, that will mean everything to me. But, it will mean nothing to confident people who need to know God as a source of gentleness and compassion because their confidence has been built on hardening themselves against pain.

I’ve talked before about the group of young church girls whose behaviors were lacking in godliness. A deacon of the church tried to correct the bad behaviors. They answered him a bit indignantly with the oft-repeated line, “God knows our hearts.” In essence, they told the deacon to mind his own business because if God knew their hearts, nothing else mattered. However, the deacon was undaunted and asked them a question that I hope has come back to them as often as it has come to me. He answered their prideful attitude with, “Yes, but do you know God’s heart.”

In Romans 11:33 (in the Holman Christian Standard Bible) we read…

Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments
and untraceable His ways!

That’s not an excuse to say He is too hard to get to know. It’s an invitation to get to know Him in a more personal way. His word promises us that if we seek and search for Him with our whole hearts, we will find Him. We can’t judge by what someone else says God is (or isn’t) to them. We can’t base Him on written word alone because we need the guidance of His Holy Spirit for understanding. If we want to know our Creator, we must shut out all the other voices and words and seek Him for ourselves.

The people of the community of Israel saw God from a distance, and they saw smoke and fire. The priests saw Him from a closer place, and they saw feet that stood on a sea of glass. Moses went into the holiest place, and up on the mountain, and he saw the face of a Friend. Do you know your Creator as your Friend? If so, leave a comment. If not, keep on seeking and push into the holy place beyond the veil of your flesh. When you meet Him there, you’ll find a friend–and you’ll never want to leave Him.

October 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Freedom of Speech Week!


Speech Balloon by Flickr User Marc Wathieu, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Speech Balloon by Flickr User Marc Wathieu, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Guess what? I know, I already gave the answer in the title. October 20-26th, 2014, is Freedom of Speech Week. Apparently, this is something to celebrate every 3rd week in October. And yet, the news is telling me that there’s a mayor in Texas who is demanding copies of speeches any pastors make to verify that what they say won’t offend anyone. So, maybe the freedom of speech thing only works if what you speak is not offensive? Well, obviously that can’t be the criteria since offensiveness is subjective and based on the thoughts and feelings of whomever listens.

See, the idea of never offending anyone is pure fantasy, as is the idea of never being offended. I want to be allowed the freedom to speak from my heart, so I know that will require my allowing others to speak from their hearts. But I also realize how often that freedom will be abused as long as we live in a world governed by men and not by God. What I share as life and truth from God’s word can be received as offensive criticism by those with no intention of bending to God’s will. To pay back those perceived offenses, men will claim they are harmed and demand news laws to protect them from such harms. The laws then start chipping away at the foundations of our freedoms.

The other side of the coin can be equally severe. Did you know that child porn was at one time covered under freedom of speech and freedom of press laws? I was in my first semester of college when I learned of that, and all I knew to do then was to pray.

So, if I want to be free to speak words from the Holy Bible, does that mean I must give people the right to parade disgusting images in front of my family? It would seem so with all that is becoming uncensored even in “prime time” television. Little kids now have to see displays of homosexuality, feminine products well before they understand such things, and commercials about drugs for herpes. I don’t know if the scantily clad underwear commercials are in family hour time slots or not, but I know I don’t like them paraded in front of my husband either.

Even though I don’t want all that stuff shared as freely as it is, I would probably be a little more understanding if there was some balance. A channel owned by the once family-friendly Disney company (ABC) puts out a disclaimer before showing The 700 Club, but they don’t put out a disclaimer before displaying language, witchcraft, sexuality, etc. Why not? Because they don’t care if they offend people with the ungodly stuff? Or just because we, as Christians, try so hard to be “harmless as doves” that they know we are not as apt to march in protest or hire an attorney to file a civil lawsuit? As frustrating as the imbalance is, I’m thankful that we can at least still see the programming.

We may not be able to control how others will react to our words, but we can do our best to line up everything we say an do in our own lives to the written word of God. That said, I decided to look up some Bible Scriptures on speaking, and I found some interesting instructions in the 10th chapter of the book of Matthew. Compare the following two Scriptures…

Matthew 10:27 (NKJV) (Yeshua speaking) “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”

Matthew 10:19-20 (NKJV) Yeshua had more words for them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Matthew 10:16 (NKJV) Yeshua gave the disciples a warning. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

I know I have the verses reverse of how you would read them, but it was reading them in this context that showed me something. God wants us to shout His words from the roof tops. We first need the confidence that no matter what men say about God’s word being offensive, it is His will for us to share it. But, confidence alone is not enough. what we share, when, and with whom we share it must all be led by God’s Holy Spirit.

Just because God anoints us, and we are truly wise and harmless, we have no guarantee that we won’t be delivered to uncomfortable situations or face false accusations of offense. After all, we are still carrying these words of life into a world of wolves that desire darkness and death and that despise the Light. Don’t give up, though. If Christ has set you free, you are free indeed, and you can celebrate that freedom with Him…especially since it’s “Freedom of Speech Week.”

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Sweets; Trick or Treat?


Candy, Candy, and more Candy by Flickr User kristymp, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Candy, Candy, and more Candy by Flickr User kristymp, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

It’s almost that time again. Kids of all ages dress like pirates and ghosts to hunt for sweet treasures and scare up tasty treats. As a child, I loved the dress up, and of course, I loved all the candy. Don’t most of us? We’ve got pictures of ourselves or our children with frosting face from one-year birthday cakes and chocolate noses from first Halloweens and Easters. It all seems so fun and harmless until things like diabetes and obesity become the later-in-life prices for childhood indulgences.

So often, it seems we think that because we don’t see an immediate result to a particular behavior, we don’t think the consequence will truly matter. We don’t end up with a sugar imbalance from just one sweet holiday, or even our first few years of them. (Read the article linked under the word “sugar” for some great insight.) But, thinking we have to see instant results is its own kind of trick. We don’t grow a tree the day after we plant a seed either. Years of excuses to indulge in Christmas candy and birthday cake come to haunt so many of us, and even then, the cravings are so strong that it just seems impossible to switch from suckers to celery. After many doses of sugary treats, we have developed a sweet tooth.

So, what do you think Adam and Eve would tell us now when it comes to our wonderings about tricks and treats? I’m guessing they looked at the Tree of Knowledge as harmlessly as a young mother looks at a chocolate bunny filled with high fructose corn syrup. It’s only one bite. What could it hurt? It grows wild. It’s all natural. There was no warning label on the trunk to say, “If you partake of this fruit, you will end up with a sin tooth.” But that’s exactly what happened, and it spread throughout generations up to where we are today.

Our garden couple did realize something had changed almost immediately, but instead of being humble and repenting for their behaviors, their “sin tooth” had already begun to take hold of them. They began tossing around blame like it would undo what they had just done. They blamed each other, they blamed the enemy, and eventually they even blamed God Himself. (The woman “You gave me” fed it to me.)

Adam and Eve didn’t realize what would happen as a result of their indulgence in either the sin or the excuses for it. They couldn’t see a future outside the garden. The death they inherited with their actions took longer then than it does now, but it started none-the-less. Maybe it wasn’t even the fruit or the revelation of good and evil that brought that death, but the craving for sin that it set up in them. Maybe it was just being outside of a place where they could walk with God daily and learn His wisdom and will for their lives. Maybe there is something that grew outside the garden that negatively affects mankind, and all of us who live and eat from the earth consume it to our detriment.

We still don’t really know what brought death to Adam and Eve. We don’t know exactly how much sugar or which of the other additives in the candy we consume can bring physical suffering to kids as they age. We do know that listening to God would have yielded better results, and we do know that listening to some common sense about health will result in kids growing into healthier adults. I’m certainly not condemning others since I have done my share of “spoiling” kids I’ve cared for in my life. But, what if I hadn’t done that? Would some of them be less apt to be depressed or crave alcohol now? What if my caregivers had taught me to love fresh veggies instead of candy? Would I have less trouble with cravings that lead to weight gain? (A sugar fast has led me to cut down on sugar recently, and I’m already feeling better for it.)

If you are in the place to feed or teach a child, I would ask you not to feed or teach in ways that would create either a sweet tooth or a sin tooth. Fill them with praises of The Creator instead of praises of His creations. Guide them a desire for God’s wisdom more than for man’s knowledge. And, teach them to like the good stuff in flesh and spirit before they have grown up enough to indulge in too much of the bad stuff in either. They may feel tricked more than treated now, but they’ll thank you for the treats of better health and a stronger spirit later.

O taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8 NLV)

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inconceivably Inconceivable


A minister, a Boy Scout, and a scientist were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came running back to the cabin and explained that the plane was going to crash, and anyone who wanted to be saved would have to jump. “But,” he added, “there are only three parachutes and four people. I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children. The rest of you will have to figure out what to do.” So, he grabbed a parachute and jumped. The scientist jumped up almost immediately and declared that he should have one of the parachutes because of his value to the world. He said, “I am the smartest man in the world and they all need me.” With that, he grabbed one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout with a sad smile.  “Son,” he said, “you are young and have your whole life in front of you, and I have already lived a rich life. You take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” Then the Boy Scout said, “It’s okay, Reverend; the smartest man in the world just jumped out with my backpack!”

Inconceivable! How can someone so smart make such a stupid decision, right? But people do it all the time. We’re told in John 1:4-5 (New King James Version)…

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

With the little bit of light it takes to illuminate darkness, it seems inconceivable that darkness would have any choice but to comprehend it. Of course, the word may also mean that darkness could not defeat it based on footnotes, but I can see evidence in this world that those in the dark have no understanding of The Light. To the contrary, we’re told in John 3:19 (The Complete Jewish Bible)…

Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked.

It’s not that they are in too much darkness, and it’s not that they are ignorant. They cannot blame being unable to see for their behaviors if they have been presented the truth and knowingly turned it away. There may be difficulty in finding God’s light, and The Light may seem a bit blinding to them when first introduced to eyes not used to it, but it can be done. There is difficulty in bringing sin into our lives. I coughed and hacked and choked when I tried my first cigarette, but I kept working at it until I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be accepted by the girls who introduced me to smoking, and at that point, I felt it worth the struggle.

Maybe it can be a struggle to get free from the bondage of sin, and maybe it will take some work to choke up the darkness we’ve swallowed before meeting God, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because sin is bondage, and God is freedom. It’s worth it because sin is a lie, and God is Truth. It’s worth it because living in sin is like living in pitch blackness, but living with God is living in The Light. God offers so much light that the Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 139:11-12 (New Living Translation)…

I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
    but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

If we introduce people to The Gospel, and they choose to remain in darkness, it is not because we have done an improper job of presenting The Light. As you can see from the Psalm, God can turn even darkness into light. No, instead it’s about people who choose to keep their eyes shut tightly against God’s light and hope to claim ignorance in the end. It’s inconceivable to them that their lies won’t work because they are in bondage to them. For those of us who know God and His abundant mercy and grace, we cannot imagine rejecting such love and wonder. To us, rejecting Yeshua and His salvation is inconceivably inconceivable.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 NKJV)

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living On Minimum Wage with God


Poverty Wage or Fair Payment by Flickr User Jez S, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Poverty Wage or Fair Payment by Flickr User Jez S, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever tried to live on minimum wage; or below? I have, and it wasn’t fun. Though I don’t have that much now, there was a time when I would have considered anyone who lived like me to be rich. I mean, I can actually go out to eat, and I can order a full meal. At one point of my life though, I couldn’t even think about going out to eat. Later, there was a time when a waitress dubbed me and my family “The Biscuit and Gravy Bunch” because that’s all we ever ordered. It was all we could afford, but it was worth it for the treat of going out and not having to cook or do dishes.

Until a person has had to live at those low levels, they may not realize the stress of such a lifestyle, and unfortunately, that means most who are making the laws have no understanding. But, for all of us who have had to combine multiple families under one roof to bring in enough pay to keep the rent and utilities paid, we know how hard it can be. If we could demand pay equal to the quantity and quality of work we put out, then only those who refuse to do their parts would suffer those low lifestyles. Even the Bible, in Proverbs 23:21, tells us that drowsiness will clothe a man with rags, but it’s sad when hard work can bring rags as well.

Still, there are some problems with the demands for increased wages. One of those problems is that people want an increase in wages even if there is no increase in work ethics or output. Many want to be paid more just for showing up simply because they want a more comfortable lifestyle. When I worked in Arizona, many jobs weren’t required to pay even minimum wage, so even though I worked hard, I lived on about $10 worth of groceries per week. It got me ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and lots of potatoes. It may not have been great, but at least I felt I had earned every bite I put in my mouth.

That demand for higher wages regardless of work slips into our spiritual lives as well. As the song says, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” People don’t want to die to self either, but they want Heaven on earth with God meeting their every need even if they are not truly sold out to Him. Sometimes, He may give them some extras to draw them closer, but if they continually resist His discipline, He will back away. But does that mean people become lost just because they stop listening and obeying as they should?

It is not my place to judge the final place for our souls, but I can share what I feel based on Scripture. First, we must remember that God only disciplines those whom He loves. If we are hearing His voice and being told to change, we should be thankful for it. But, if instead of being thankful we become rebellious, then we can only blame ourselves for the troubles we suffer. Here’s how the New Living Testament speaks of those who refuse to listen to God’s wisdom in Proverbs 1:25-26; 28

You ignored my advice
    and rejected the correction I offered.
So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
    I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—

When they cry for help, I will not answer.
    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

I know that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s just like good parents do when it comes to discipline. We don’t reinforce negative behaviors (like our child running into the street where she can get run over by a car) by rewarding them. God doesn’t either. But this is not about our salvation; this is about our works. Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 about our works (what we build on the foundation of Yeshua) being tried by fire and how that will affect our salvation. Here it is from the Easy to Read Version

But the work that each person does will be clearly seen, because the Day will make it plain. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work. If the building they put on the foundation still stands, they will get their reward. But if their building is burned up, they will suffer loss. They will be saved, but it will be like someone escaping from a fire.

Truthfully, though, is that how we really want to live out our eternity? As someone who was just delivered from Hell fire? How is it we would fight against minimum wage here on earth but be satisfied with it for eternity? We have our name in The Lamb’s Book of Life by the price Yeshua paid on Calvary, but we are responsible for our deeds and the rewards they bring both here on earth and in eternity. God has a fair wage scale, and He is ready to shower us with blessings now and forever. When we can have a high salary and all the company benefits and perks, why should we be happy living on minimum wage with God?

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tag, You’re It


Family Luggage Tags by Flickr User Gabe Taviano, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Family Luggage Tags by Flickr User Gabe Taviano, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
Lots of neat craft ideas in this one.

I never liked being it. I mean, I didn’t like not being it either because that meant having to run from it to keep from getting tagged. Still, there’s just something about the rejection of everyone running away from me that was just no fun. It’s okay though because I’m not writing about that kind of tag today. I’m writing about luggage tags.

Have you ever thought about all the things your luggage says about you? It tells the world whether you shop high-end stores or at department stores. If you’re like me, it tells the world you like bright colors. (My pink luggage with white paw prints always gets remarks from fellow travelers.) It tells if you pack light or heavy, and if it’s bulging at the seams, people will know you stuffed in as much as you could, as fast as you could. But even if your luggage itself said nothing about you, your luggage tags would do a lot of talking.

People are more careful now than they used to be when it comes to how much personal information they would put on a luggage tag. However, even without detailed addresses and phone numbers, the many tags on a piece of luggage give everything from the departing station or port to the traveler’s destination and stops along the way. An abundance of tags says the person is likely a frequent traveler, and some leave old stickers on bags to start conversations with others. The world is too big for most of us to see it all, so communing while we commute can be a great virtual travel experience.

So, what if the luggage of our lives came with tags? What would those tags say about us? Just like with real luggage, we probably keep most of our travels and personal information to ourselves. We don’t often want to admit to some of the locations where we’ve spent time unless we find others who have been there. Shared experiences can make us feel safe to tell the truth, which is why self-help groups can do so much good. Sometimes, though, we become willing to share the less glamorous places we’ve been because we hope our testimonies will help others to avoid those places.

Do you have places in your past that are not quite postcard-worthy? Liz Curtis Higgs has inspired and encouraged many women with her Bad Girls of the Bible series because she shares those travel stops that make many people cringe. When she speaks, she shares her own journey through dark places, and she uses her luggage tags, and those of biblical women, to give all of us more hope.

The only reason you might not want to share some of those old stopovers is if your destination hasn’t changed. Even then, sharing your journeys could help you come to a place of repentance when you’re ready. But, if you have changed your luggage tag to a destination of Heaven when your life on earth is finished, don’t be afraid to let others know that you weren’t always headed that way. Even as we walk a new highway, we may find ourselves broken down on the side of the road, and sharing our struggle can be like making a call for a tow truck. That’s one reason why God’s word tells us to confess our faults to each other. I love the way it’s worded in The Amplified Bible

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

As I’ve written posts on this blog, I’ve shared a few of the troublesome places I’ve visited because I can also share God’s mercy in bringing me beyond them. Most of them, I’ve shared in comments since some were a bit long for the post, but I will pretty much share all that God has delivered me from. If you want to know more, you just have to ask. The wages of sin is death, but through God, I have been able to change the destination on my luggage to “Eternal Life with Christ.” Now I want to know about you and your destinations–old and new–so, tag, you’re it.

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pick A Hand


Whose Hands by Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Whose Hands by Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
I recommend a visit to this photographer’s page if you like wildlife and stunning nature photos. His work is amazing.

Have you ever hidden a gift in your hand and then put your hands out in front of you or behind your back to let a child guess where the prize might be? It’s a fun game adults like to play with children that adds an element of effort to gift-giving. When we want to give good gifts to children, we might make them play the guessing game with us just to make it a little more fun for both the child and us. It doesn’t matter if it’s our own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or whoever. Making the gift more like a prize for them ups the value at least a little bit.

If you’ve played that game, you know that you will do just about anything to get the child to select correctly. Maybe you’ll lean your head to the side it’s in. Maybe you’ll wink on that side. Maybe you’ll lift the correct hand just a little higher or lower, or push it out a little farther, just to have a better chance that the child will pick the hand with the gift. We want the child to get the gift, and we don’t want the child to feel like a failure. We want to give the prize so much that if we are using the behind-the-back technique, we will often just change hands if the child guesses incorrectly.

Off and on, I’ve studied about the effects of prayer on God. I had heard, and even repeated, that prayer doesn’t change God, but instead prayer changes us. God is God and is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so we cannot change Him. We wouldn’t want a God that is changeable just by human requests because then we couldn’t trust Him. But, the other day I was seeking God’s instruction on this topic, and the above scenario came into my mind.

As I played the hidden gift game in my mind, but with God as the parent, I realized how much God wants to shower good things upon His children. He loves to give us gifts and prizes, but He wants interaction with us at the same time. His word says that we have not because we ask not, so if prayer is not for the purpose of changing Him, then His desire for us to ask is about that interaction. He also knows that our faith will increase when He answers our requests.

That understanding came about in the last week. My understanding of prayers that request things of God went a little deeper today. I watched an older 700 Club that did an interview with Max Lucado, and he made a statement that truly clarified things for me. He explained that prayer does not change God’s intentions, but it does affect His decisions.

As a parent or caregiver to someone we love, we will have certain intentions and a certain will that underlies all our decisions. We want whatever will protect and benefit those we love and care for. Even though we want to give them good things, if they ask for something that would go against our intentions or will for their best care, we will deny the request. As Christians, if we ask God for something that goes against His intentions or will for our lives, He will most likely deny that request. Asking Him, however, creates that interaction that enables us to discover God’s perfect will and His intentions for our lives.

In Matthew 7:7 (NKJV), we get the reminder to just “ASK” for what we want. If I write the verse in three parts, one sentence on top of another, note the first letter of each sentence…

Ask, and it will be given to you;
Seek, and you will find;
Knock, and it will be opened to you.

Yep, the three first lines remind us to simply ask, or as it says in The Amplified Bible and other versions, “Keep on asking.” Again, in The Amplified Bible, we read Philippians 4:6 that tells us to continue seeking God for our requests. It says…

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

Like the old song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” so we can know that He is able to provide whatever we ask for. Reach up in praise and touch the Hands that hold whatever provision you need. Pick a hand and know that you’ll get the prize. Both hands have the nail scars to prove they’ve earned it for you.

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wait Control


Wait for the Lord by Flickr User Charlotte90T, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Wait for the Lord by Flickr User Charlotte90T, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Today, my husband asked me to wait on a decision that will affect our future, and my initial reaction was rejection. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, but I don’t like to wait. And then I read my daily post by Chip Brogden of The School of Christ. His Infinite Supply daily newsletter usually has something in it that I need, and today was no exception. He talks about the disciples fishing without first consulting The Lord, and then obeying at His word and taking in a huge catch. In Chip’s devotion for October 12th, he asks, “Which would you rather have: a whole night of wasted effort on your own, or five minutes of abundance with the Lord?”

I don’t think many of us actually like to wait, but the truth is, life is more about waiting than anything else. When we’re little, we can’t wait to become a teenager, turn sweet 16, become an adult, and all the other steps of growing up. Throughout life, we get excited and can’t wait for things like birthdays, Christmas presents, and vacations. When it’s cold, we can’t wait for spring and summer. On hot summer days, we can’t wait for the cool breezes of fall. If we’re renters, we can’t wait to buy a house. If we have a mortgage, we can’t wait to pay off our house. Cradle to grave, I think more of our lives are spent waiting than just about anything else.

But waiting can be a good thing. It’s all in how we do it. If we actively wait with anticipation, we can find joy in our waiting. There’s a thrill in anticipation that is often better than the feelings we get when we receive the thing being anticipated. It’s like that hopeful place half way through a novel when you really start wondering how it’s going to end. If it’s a well-written work, we’d miss out if we just flipped to the end right then.

Waiting gives us the opportunity to dream and to plan. We can imagine how we would like things to go, and then can do whatever is in our power to push them in that direction. It’s a chance to view the virtual draft of our plans and see if things will actually work. Waiting can be a gift. The words of Psalm 5:3 (from the Amplified Bible) put it this way…

In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

That time for preparation is a gift that can save a lot of future heartbreak. It gives us time to know what we’re getting into, so we don’t blindly walk into something that turns out to be a huge mistake. The Message Bible describes Luke 14:28-30 this way…

Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: “He started something he couldn’t finish.”

Waiting doesn’t just mean standing around and doing nothing, so we don’t have to worry about being bored just because we should wait. Waiting can be a time of service as we walk humbly before God and seek His perfect will in our lives. I mean, think about what they call those people who bring food to your table at a restaurant: waiters and waitresses. They’re not just called that because they spend time waiting for you to place an order and then waiting for a cook to fix it. They offer plenty of service throughout your visit, and that service often makes the difference in whether you will return.

So, like we’re told in Luke 19:13, we should make use of what God gives us while we are here in this life until He returns for us or for all the earth. But, while we are making use of our lives, we need those moments where we stop and wait. We wait and pray. We wait for marching orders. We wait for a sign to move forward. Like the childhood game of Red Light, Green Light, we make sure we wait long enough to know it’s time to go, and then we watch carefully to know when it’s time to stop. The balance of knowing when and how to wait, and finding the joy of anticipation on the journey, can definitely be called “wait control.”

October 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Present Like the Thyme


Keeping Thyme by Flickr User Alan aka Kaptain Kobold, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Keeping Thyme by Flickr User Alan aka Kaptain Kobold, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Do you know why the little boy through his alarm clock out the window? He wanted to see how time flies. Do you ever want to see how time flies, or has age and the progression of the world convinced you that it always moves too fast unless you’re waiting on something? There are very few times for me anymore where I wish time would hurry up and move. Most of the time, I just wish it would slow down and wait for me.

While thyme may not make a very good gift or present, especially if you get too much of it on your hands ;-), time does make a great gift. Ask those who know their days or hours are numbered, or ask a person who longs for more moments with someone they’ve lost. God knows how much we need time, and He knows exactly how much time we need. Because we don’t see the future like God does, we don’t know how much time a person needs, and it never seems like enough. Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway.

It always amazes me when I find out about people who don’t cherish their moments here. I mean, yes, I long for eternity with my Savior because I know nothing on this earth will ever compare, but I also enjoy seeing His Light shine in a dark world. I love to see the conversion and transformation of one who was lost and dying without God. I love to see real miracles that make one or more souls truly aware of God’s presence in our lives. And, I love to be used of God to carry His message and His presence into any situation where He can change a life. At the same time, it’s a very great pain to watch a person reject that message, presence, miracle, or love of God and move forward in the darkness without conversion.

A choir I once sang with performed a song with beautiful lyrics that speak my heart about our moments on this earth. I couldn’t find a video with lyrics, so I’ll type the lyrics and then I’ll attach a video in case you want to hear the tune. I don’t know who the writer is to give credit, but the song is called While There’s Still Time. It picks up on the verse from Romans 13:11 that urges us to pay attention to the time…

(Verse I)
Tomorrow is just on credit,
There’s no guarantee on life.
You could be gone in a moment;
Your time comes tonight.
You also know that Christ is coming,
And if you’re left behind,
How you’d wished for a little bit more time.
(Chorus)
While there’s still time,
Make up your mind.
You can’t be happy living on
The border line.
If you only knew
His plans for you;
You wouldn’t wait,
Or hesitate,
While there’s still time.
(Verse II)
If you’re saved then you’re invited
To spread the news around
To your friends and those you love so much
That time is running out.
Oh just listen to His tender voice,
He’s calling to your heart,
“Draw closer to me child,
While there’s still time.”

And here’s the video…

Time may not matter to God, but it definitely matters to us, and it matters for those we love. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking there is more available than what God has planned. Here’s a little scenario of one reason we might fall for that lie…

The demons were having a big meeting to see if they could stop the great influx of souls that were turning to The Creator. One popped up with the idea to just tell everyone that there is no God. The meeting leader assured everyone that it had been tried, and it worked on a few but was ultimately a failure. Another popped up with the idea to spread the message that there is no devil. Again, the leader commented that it had been tried and failed. The leader asked if anyone had a new idea that had not been tried yet. From far back in the room, a tiny voice whispered, “Just tell them there’s no hurry.”

God’s greatest gift to us is His salvation because it comes through His blood and His love for us. But, in order for us to find that salvation and carry it to others, He has also given each of us a certain gift of time. There is a hurry to value that gift and use it as God intended, for there is no present like the time we have right now.

October 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty Out of Focus


Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution

Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

What does it take for beauty to be beautiful? Perception. Whether it’s a beautiful look, sound, touch, smell, or thought, it must be perceived. We can’t smell with a stuffy nose, hear when we’re deaf, or see when we’re blind, even if those disabilities are temporary. I think we all get out of focus at times, and I think it affects all our senses.

Our lack of perception does not change the quality or beauty of the thing we cannot seem to grasp. That includes trying to see ourselves through God’s eyes, so we can trust His direction for our lives. We fail over and over, and we cannot perceive that God sees us with a love that causes Him to forgive us over and over. We wallow in guilt and feel unworthy, but God wants to swaddle us in His love and help us to understand that His worth is what matters overall.

Imagine if you created something, and you saw it as perfect and wonderful, but someone else came along and kept saying it was horrible. That’s part of the lie the enemy of our souls has tried to create in us since God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. While God gave them every tree except one, the enemy changed their focus and perception to where that one looked greater than everything else they had with God and in the garden. The enemy made them believe they were incomplete without that one provision, and they fell for it–literally.

These days, we have the blood of Christ to cover our imperfections, so God sees us through that. We have God’s written word, so we can understand how He sees us. But, we still have human eyes and human perceptions, so we often see things incorrectly and get ourselves and our lives out of focus. We may focus on a beauty or success that is not beauty or success in God’s eyes, or we may miss a God-given beauty or success completely. When we get out of focus, we end up in chaos and running around as if we are spiritually blind and deaf instead of walking according to God’s path and rhythm.

The lesson of focus has been made abundantly clear to me (no pun intended) through a week of chaos. While I did everything in my power to create a scenario for our authors to present and sell their books, every door I tried to open slammed shut. I wondered if we were missing out on God’s favor, or if we were just under attack. I was missing the mark on both accounts, and I only found my peace in God when I got my perception corrected through prayer.

Here’s what I learned: God called many people to carry His precious good news to the world. He has anointed us to present that message through a variety of methods, and many of those are in the arts. I believe our creativity is a gift from God whether we use it for Him or not. And, because it is a gift from God, it will do its best work when it is done for Him first and for ourselves last. If we get that turned around, we lose perception.

For our writer’s group, we were trying to create an event centered around sales rather than ministry. We thought success meant a lot of people coming to buy our products instead of a lot of people coming to hear a testimony of God’s gifts in our lives. Our perceptions were skewed by the cacophony of voices out there shouting words like marketing and SEO. It doesn’t help that the Christian book market is more than just a niche genre anymore. It holds its own and therefore needs just as much professionalism and proper presentation as any book topic out there. However, if we’re not careful, we can let the marketing become more important than the message.

Well, we learned our lesson, and now instead of wondering how we’re going to handle a bunch of people we can’t sell things to, we’re hoping we can minister to all of them. We did a lot of advertising, but only God knows what souls He is sending and what message He is wanting them to hear. Our job is to be sensitive, so we can perceive His voice and direction. He says in John 10:27 (NLT)… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If we keep our perception in Him, we can see and follow His leading, so we will not become blind leaders of blind followers. If we don’t, we may find even His beauty out of focus.

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fall Birthday Party for Yeshua


The front of our 2014 Sukkah before all the people gathered in and before food filled the tables. It's a welcoming place for a young couple and their new little baby. Cellphone image by Crystal A Murray. CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The front of our 2014 Sukkah before all the people gathered in and before food filled the tables. We love this annual celebration and gathering. It’s enclosed and secure, and it could certainly be a welcoming place for a young couple (and soon a new little baby) after their long journey.
Cellphone image by Crystal A Murray. CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click the image to open a new tab/window for a Flickr search of other sukkah images.

You’ve seen the slogan, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It comes out every December to remind people that Christmas should not be focused on selfish things like gift-giving and wish lists. Still, because most of us have grown up with it being a holiday about gifts, decor, and Santa Claus, it can be difficult to put the focus on the birth of Christ. How much easier would it be if His birthday was actually at a different time that has not yet been so commercialized? Imagine this fictional but possible scenario…

It’s the first holiday of the new Jewish year where the men are called home for worship; the fall festival of Sukkot. Joseph will follow both the Jewish law and Caesar’s law to go to his home town even though his wife is ready to have a baby at any moment. As the couple arrives in Bethlehem, it’s bustling with activity. Caesar seemed to know that this time between two feasts, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, would draw a big enough crowd to make census-taking easier. Miriam (Mary) just admired the many booths built behind every home and business and longed for the day she would have her own home and a place for Joseph to build their sukkah.

“Oh, no, Joseph, I think the baby wants out,” cries Miriam as the donkey stumbles over another rough patch of road.

“Don’t worry, Honey, I’ll find us a place to rest soon,” says Joseph while trying to hide his own level of panic. He knows how important it is to take care of this pregnancy and delivery. The angel told him the baby was Emmanuel; God with Us, and Joseph does not take that lightly. But there doesn’t seem to be any place available for them to stop. Finally, at the last inn at the other end of town, the inn’s proprietor sees the pregnant girl and whispers something to his wife before letting the couple go on their way.

“Listen. We have our sukkah in back, and we were going to stay in there ourselves, so we know it’s suitable for you. Why don’t you just rest in there for the night. The basket is already stocked with bread, so you can eat something if you like,” says Mr. Innkeeper. Meanwhile, Mrs. Innkeeper is quite happy to agree since it means she will have a reason to sleep in her own bed instead of the floor of a tent.

Joseph and Miriam take their place in the booth as the labor begins. We don’t know if there was an available nurse or if the labor was difficult, but we do know that she soon delivered a bouncing baby boy. She knew who He was. Joseph knew who He was. Joseph extended the special blanket he retrieved from their bags. With the baby’s lineage from the tribe of Judah sewn into the fabric, Joseph wrapped the blanket around Yeshua to swaddle the newborn in warmth and comfort.

Weary from travel and delivery, the new family desperately needed rest. “Where will be put the baby?” asked Miriam.

“You know how I sleep, Dear. I’m afraid I might roll over on Him.”

“Joseph, the bread basket!” shouted Miriam as she quickly began to move the loaves to a small corner table. “This will make the perfect cradle for Him.” Joseph agreed. “Happy birthday, Lord,” Miriam whispered as she nestled the baby and His blankets snugly into the makeshift cradle before lying down to rest herself. Did she know, as she curled up to sleep in Joseph’s little town of Bethlehem (meaning “House of Bread”) that she had just placed the Bread of Life into a bread basket? How fitting, huh?

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Fiction, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judgment and Transformation


Repent, Then, And Turn to God by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Repent, Then, And Turn to God by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr

The Hebrew word Yom means “day” in English, and the Hebrew Kippur means “to atone” in English. This is the “Day of Atonement,” and is the precursor to the atonement we now receive through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). This day began Friday (Oct 3rd) at sundown and continued through sundown Saturday (Oct 4th). If you want to read the Torah reading that goes with the holiday, read through Leviticus 16.

This day gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves and repent from anything that may separate us from our Creator and Lord. So, what is repentance? I found a great definition that said, “Repentance is the willingness to allow God to judge and transform you.” I love that. It gives me reason to repent on a regular basis.

The word repent is used in some armies to say, “About face.” It literally means, “Go in the opposite direction.” But how can we turn around and walk in a new direction without acknowledging the current direction we’re heading? We need that repentance that allows God to examine our direction if we want to be sure we’re walking according to God’s will. It’s like looking at a satellite map to make sure we’re on the right path. Who better to tell us we’re lost than the One who can see all the way to the end of our road?

Just receiving judgment is not the end of the things. If we used our GPS to see where we were going, but we failed to turn as instructed, we might hear the GPS voice say something like, “At the next intersection, make a u-turn.” If we still don’t turn, we might hear the voice say, “Rerouting,” as the GPS tries to find a new way for us to get to our chosen destination. If we want to get to the right destination, we must reroute, make a u-turn, do an about-face, or in some way repent. Just hearing that we need to change routes will not get us where we want to go.

I think most of us fear judgment because people use it as an excuse to make us feel less than them. People also tend to stop with judgment, and that leaves us feeling hopeless with the permanence of it. However, until the final judgment, what God finds in His examinations of us is not permanent and definitely not hopeless. He doesn’t tell us something like, “So sad, you’re on the wrong path. You might as well give up and stay there.” No, instead He says (in Acts 3:19 NKJV), “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Be converted could just as easily say, be transformed.

When we repent, it’s like a trip to a diagnostician (doctor who diagnoses troubles). Imagine this doctor finds a cancer that needs to be removed. That’s judgment. You agree to let him do surgery because you trust that he knows better than to just slice it off and leave you bleeding. And you’re right. He medicates and binds up the wound to bring healing and comfort. That’s the beginning of your transformation from sick to healed. It continues until you are fully back to health.

Just like we don’t have only one lesson to learn in life, we don’t repent only one time. We do best if we allow God to judge and transform us as often as possible. Remember, Moses was the only man who talked with God face to face, as a man talks to his friend. And yet, the time came when Moses did not allow God to transform him. He hit the rock to bring forth water instead of being transformed and speaking to the rock. That disobedience and distrust cost him dearly. It didn’t stop God from loving him, and we know he is with God because he was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Yeshua, but he missed blessings God longed to give to him.

So, what about you? Are you willing to come before the cross to allow God to judge and transform you either again or for the first time? Comment below if you would like me to pray for you and with you as you walk through this repentance to your deliverance. Like Paul, I often feel the need to repent multiple times in a day, so I gratefully accept your prayers for me as I seek God for my own judgment and transformation…today and in the future.

And enjoy this video of the song Search Me, Lord by The Heritage Singers. There is one incorrect lyric where it says “holed” instead of “whole,” but the music is great…

October 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Leadeth Me…To The End


With Sukkot beginning this coming Wednesday (evening of October 8th, 2014), I knew we were nearing the end of Torah, but I didn’t expect it this quickly. As it turns out, I actually started this week’s portion prematurely. The last two books of Deuteronomy are supposed to be coupled with the beginning of Genesis when Torah readings begin anew during Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah). However, since I didn’t start with the end of Deuteronomy last year, I need to finish it here to be complete.

Sunset tonight is actually the beginning of the high holy day, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It is a day of fasting and introspection as believers prepare themselves for the upcoming year. In the days of the wilderness tabernacle, it was the day when God would forgive all sin for the year. Because of Yeshua, we now have atonement anytime someone steps under His cleansing blood through repentance. Because repentance is brought forth by self-examination, I think it is a good idea for Christians to take advantage of Yom Kippur to silence some of life’s noise and spend a day seeking God’s Holy Spirit. I plan to write tomorrow night about any discoveries God brings me through my introspection.

So, in today’s reading from Deuteronomy 34:1 through Deuteronomy 34:12 (the whole chapter), we close out the book of Deuteronomy, the books of the Torah, and another week. Shabbat Shalom. Because this Yom Kippur is also falling on a Shabbat (Sabbath) , it is considered a Shabbat of Shabbats and is very special. Please read the chapter yourself, and consider reading the first chapter of the book of Joshua to watch the baton pass from Moses to Joshua the son of Nun.

Moses’ blessing is now complete, the Torah is done, and Moses life is ready to end. Studying straight through like this has given me a more realistic picture of Moses, so my heart actually grieves his passing. I can see why reading through the Torah every year can be a life-changing experience.

The chapter begins with Moses going to Mount Nebo, at the summit of Pisgah which is opposite Jericho. As he stands on the summit, he’s 120 years old but still with youthful strength and perfect eyesight. God shows Moses all the land He promised as an inheritance to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He tells Moses that he may look on all of it with his eyes, but he may not cross the Jordan to enter it. So Moses dies in the land of Moab, and though they were unsure of his actual gravesite, they know God buried him in the valley near Beth-Peor. All Israel mourned and wept over their great leader for thirty days.

When the days of mourning Moses were ended, Joshua the son of Nun stepped up. He had wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him, so the Israelites listened to him and did as the Lord commanded Moses. The last three verses of the chapter are powerful, and I want you to see them for yourselves, so here they are from The Complete Jewish Bible

Since that time there has not arisen in Isra’el a prophet like Moshe, whom Adonai knew face to face. What signs and wonders Adonai sent him to perform in the land of Egypt upon Pharaoh, all his servants and all his land! What might was in his hand! What great terror he evoked before the eyes of all Isra’el!

We know, of course, that Yeshua showed up on the scene many years later, and He made the holy presence of God available to all mankind. When the temple vail tore in half from the top to the bottom, God’s throne became a place where we could come and speak to God face to face as a man speaks to a friend. The blood cleanses us, so we won’t die in God’s presence. But remember that “as a friend” part because it makes an important distinction. We don’t have the invitation to God’s throne to command Him to do things our way, we have it to ask Him in person how we can do things His way.

Moses is one of the patriarchs in what we often call “The Faith Chapter,” the 11th chapter of Hebrews. I looked through some different translations, and I like the wording from the Easy to Read Version (ERV). Here is Hebrews 11:24-28

Moses grew up and became a man. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin that last such a short time. Instead, he chose to suffer with God’s people. He did this because he had faith. He thought it was better to suffer for the Messiah than to have all the treasures of Egypt. He was waiting for the reward that God would give him.

Moses left Egypt because he had faith. He was not afraid of the king’s anger. He continued strong as if he could see the God no one can see. Moses prepared the Passover and spread the blood on the doorways of the people of Israel, so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. Moses did this because he had faith.

Notice it says,”…better to suffer for the Messiah.” Other versions say “for Christ.” Moses could have sang the song in the video above just like we can today. “By His own blood, He leadeth me.” May all of you, my regular and visiting readers, enjoy the song He Leadeth Me as performed by Candi Pearson, and may you all be able to sing along. May we walk with faith like Moses as we trust God to lead us every moment, every day, from the beginning to the end. HalleluYah and Amen!

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cringing Enemy, Trampling Victor


Trampling Triceratops by Flickr User Alex Morales, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Trampling Triceratops by Flickr User Alex Morales, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

If you read the article at “Got Questions dot org” at the link I gave in yesterday’s post, you know that the tribe of Asher had a future that sounds much like our own future. God gave Asher power and strength to take out the enemy’s of Israel that occupied the land of their inheritance. Asher backed down and did not drive out the Canaanites. That left Asher in bondage that God did not intend. As Christians, we often back down while trying to be harmless as doves, and we too can end up in bondage. We let enemies in our gates because we think our Christian example will win them to The Lord.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:27 through Deuteronomy 33:29, we’ll finish the chapter, and we’ll read about the power given to all Israel. I thought the blessing for Asher was to continue, but Moses tricked me and switched gears. 🙂 Anyway, it’s only three verses, so I’ll paste the text here from the Complete Jewish Bible

The God of old is a dwelling-place,
with everlasting arms beneath.
He expelled the enemy before you
and he said, ‘Destroy!’
So Isra’el lives in security;
the fountain of Ya‘akov is alone
in a land of grain and new wine,
where the skies drip with dew.
Happy are you, Isra’el!
“Who is like you, a people saved by Adonai,
your defender helping you
and your sword of triumph?
Your enemies will cringe before you,
but you will trample down their high places.”

Moses sure knows God well. He captures God’s power and authority, but he also captures His parental and protective love. I find comfort just in the words about God’s “everlasting arms” being beneath the dwelling place of Israel. Because Israel is safe with God, and because God made the first strike against the enemy, He enabled Israel to finish the job and destroy all that was left standing against them.

With authority over the enemy, Israel can live securely in places of abundance and pleasure (grain and wine). Israel is happy under the cover of God’s blessings and dwelling in His salvation. God is Israel’s defender, and Moses speaks this blessing to Israel beautifully. He calls Yahveh Israel’s “sword of triumph” and promises God’s authority over Israel’s enemies. Moses says the enemies will cringe before Israel, but Israel will trample the places where they worship false gods (high places).

I almost named this post Crouching Enemy, Trampling Victor because I wondered whether “cringe” was really the right word in the Scripture. However, when I looked it up in other translations, the cringing is right but there’s more to it. In the Amplified Bible, it reads this way…

Your enemies shall come fawning and cringing, and submit feigned obedience to you, and you shall march on their high places.

It appears the fawning and cringing and acting like they’re in obedience is to save their own lives, not to crouch as if ready to pounce. Maybe the enemy here hopes that if they play the game right, God and Israel will let them worship their false gods without interruption. Obviously, they are wrong because God will never allow people to worship that which represents His enemy.

It’s interesting this should be the Scripture portion for today as our family has just had another major upheaval this very day. If you’ve been following me, you’ll remember the nephew that was in a coma due to an overdose on heroin and morphine from snorting a pill called Opana. You know that God did a great miracle and brought him out of it, and he came home with us 8 weeks later. While he was in therapy and all of it was real to him, he was grateful and knew it was God who brought him through. He even mentioned getting saved.

But, the question is, was he grateful or was he “fawning and cringing in feigned obedience” to get all we offered? Having lived with us before, he knew our rules, but today he tried to sneak out early in the morning. He said we had too many rules about his not spending hours on the phone with strange girls he met on dating sites. He didn’t like that we found out he was getting high again. And who was there to help him? Why, the mother who brought him into the world of drugs and demons to begin with.

Yes, I’m talking about the mother who caused so many problems when he was in the hospital. Read the old posts starting on March 13th to catch some of the details. This mother, whose first words to her comatose son were to call him an idiot, has encouraged him to leave a good future for a bad one. The mother of his baby won’t bring his daughter around him if he’s using drugs or living with his own destructive mother, so now he won’t be seeing his daughter. If his mother takes his disability money, he won’t be able to pay his child support, and he’ll do the five years in prison that is currently on diversion. He definitely won’t see his beautiful daughter then.

So, now you’re back up to date on that situation. We’ve been wounded, but through prayer and friends, we are at peace. We are sheltered in God’s everlasting arms, and we know He is the victor & all things work together for the good. We’re sorry this young man could receive a miracle directly from the hands of a loving God and turn it down for freedom to party and get in trouble. Why should we think free rent, food, transportation, and lots of love would be enough for him when the cross was not? But God will trample the places of the false gods that wish to kill, steal, and destroy any good God wants in his (or any) life. We pray he gets away from the enemy’s camp before it happens. If not, he will be one of the cringing enemies in the way of a Trampling Victor.

October 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Kitties and Pedicures


Here Mousy Mousy Mousy Image on Mousepad at Zazzle by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Here Mousy Mousy Mousy Image on Mousepad at Zazzle by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original product at Zazzle.

Have you ever seen those cute little poodle pedicures? I think they’re especially nice when you see a standard white poodle with hot pink or red nails. Apparently, you can now get something similar for kitty cats when you don’t want them to scratch your furniture. Because most people know you couldn’t hold a cat still enough to apply nail polish, someone came up with colored caps they call “Soft Claws.” I’m guessing I would still have to trim quite a bit from the nail tips first though. You’ll notice the “spikes” on the kitty above. That’s my Midnight kitty modeling for a mouse pad at my Zazzle store.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:22 through Deuteronomy 33:26, we have a few more tribes addressed by Moses in his final blessing to Israel. He speaks greatness to the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Asher, though the blessing for Asher is not complete and will continue in tomorrow’s reading. Again, the post is short and filled with lots of little blessings, so I’ll paste the text here from the Complete Jewish Bible

Of Dan he said:

“Dan is a lion cub
leaping forth from Bashan.”

Of Naftali he said:

“You, Naftali, satisfied with favor
and full of blessing from Adonai,
take possession of the sea and the south.”

Of Asher he said:

“May Asher be most blessed of sons,
may he be the favorite among his brothers
and bathe his feet in oil.
May your bolts be of iron and bronze
and your strength last as long as you live.

“Yeshurun, there is no one like God,
riding through the heavens to help you,
riding on the clouds in his majesty.

Dan, the lion cub, speaks of youth. Old lions mostly just roar to scare the prey while young lions capture and subdue. It seems like a short blessing, but it is a blessing filled with promise and power for a long time. Moses blessing to Naphtali seems simple enough in giving them beach-front property, but there’s so much more to it that I didn’t even catch at first. Moses blesses this tribe with enough favor from God to be satisfied. No lacking in His favor, no want to try and earn more favor, just the perfect amount of favor to bring comfort and satisfaction. Oh that we could all know this kind of favor from Yahveh.

Asher gets the bulk of the blessing, and they will not only be blessed by God but by the other tribes. Instead of just a simple foot-washing when they visit their brothers, they’ll receive a pedicure. Now, I’m not sure what they used bolts for, but if they were for houses, they’d have strong ones. If the bolts were for weapons and/or shields, it sounds like Asher was being blessed to be victorious in wartime. What’s interesting in that is how later in Asher’s history, the tribe backed down and failed to drive the Canaanites out of the land. There’s some great info about this tribe in an article at “Got Questions dot org.” It’s called “What Should We Learn from the Tribe of Asher?” Just click the title to visit.

The last three lines are simply a declaration from Moses to Israel. He takes every opportunity to uplift God and let Israel know that God is there to help them. As He says, there is NO ONE like Yahveh, and He who rides on the clouds in majesty comes through the heavens just to help you. That’s a huge blessing that applies to us now just as it did Israel then. We have a God who was willing to leave the comforts of Heaven to robe Himself in flesh and shed His own blood for us. Greater than that, when that earthly temple was destroyed, He Himself raised it up on the third day to give us victory over death and the grave. I like big kitties and pedicures, but victory in Yeshua is truly the greatest blessing any of us can receive. HalleluYah!

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treasures in Sand


Glass Flowers by Flickr User Arizona Shona, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Glass Flowers by Flickr User Arizona Shona, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Sand is not just dirt. It is filled with treasure whether by what is buried in it, what can be made with it, or what can be made from it. I love to search the web for creative sand sculptures, and I also love glass work. I find it amazing how blown glass is made from super heated sand and pigments for color. And in case you haven’t seen it, there is some great sand to glass art done by God (with lightning) in the movie Sweet Home Alabama.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:18 through Deuteronomy 33:21, we will read more of Moses blessings on a couple more tribes of Israel. It’s another short set of verses, so I’ll post the text here from the Complete Jewish Bible

Of Z’vulun he said:

“Rejoice, Z’vulun, as you go forth,
and you, Yissakhar, in your tents.
They will summon peoples to the mountain
and there offer righteous sacrifices;
for they will draw from the abundance of the seas
and from the hidden treasures of the sand.”

Of Gad he said:

“Blessed is he who makes Gad so large;
he lies there like a lion,
tearing arm and scalp.
He chose the best for himself
when the princely portion was assigned.
When the leaders of the people came,
he carried out Adonai’s justice
and his rulings concerning Isra’el.”

What do you suppose Moses meant when he spoke to Zebulun of abundance from the seas and hidden treasures of the sand? Was he saying they would be fishermen? Was he telling them they would find buried treasure or become seashell merchants? Whatever they became, we know that God can bring treasure from anything if we walk with Him, and in our world today, we live in the midst of great treasure. So much of what we have used to be something else, and God opened the door to teach men how to use it for their blessing. His gifts to us include glass from sand, pigment from plant life, and clothing from animals and plants.

The blessing to Gad is one of power and makes the tribe princely and like the king of the jungle. But, Moses doesn’t stop there. These princely leaders with the strength of lions are blessed to use their power the right way. They carry out the justice of the Lord, and they enforce God’s rulings over Israel. I guess Gad would be the “PLPD” otherwise known as the “Promised Land Police Department.”

I’m still blessed in seeing what was important to Moses before he went on to his eternity with his Creator and Friend. I love that he first made sure Israel had an understanding of their history and of God’s laws to them. From there, he wrote the song of prophesy which would be against them if they didn’t learn from their history and if they disobeyed God’s laws. Now, though, Moses is giving them great blessings of abundance for their future. Maybe it was because of his face to face conversations with God, but somehow, I think these blessings are about Moses seeing through God’s eyes. Where most men just saw a people not much greater than dirt, Moses knew God had made Israel His own treasure in sand.

P.S. Here’s a clip from Sweet Home Alabama with Melanie in the glass shop. At 12-33 seconds, look at the lightning glass…

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only the Best for God’s Kids


Simply the Best by Flickr User Ray Larabie, CC License = Attribution

Simply the Best by Flickr User Ray Larabie, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

We all want the best of everything in life, but those of us who truly care about others don’t want them to have the worst either. So, most of us either become highly competitive or totally non-competitive. The fact is, life is filled with bests and worsts. There are best-case and worst-case scenarios, there are best-in-show designations, and there are bests in our gardens. We have the best of the times and the worst of times, and we have ratings from best (five-star) to worst (one-star). The middle-of-the-road average is just not acceptable to most of us, so the idea that everyone can have the same thing in a world of bests and worsts is pure fantasy. So, since it won’t work that way, then we should see the value in following a God who wants His children to have only the best.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:13 through Deuteronomy 33:17, we will read Moses’ blessing to the tribe of Joseph. It includes a blessing for the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh–his children by non-Hebrew wives while he lived in Egypt. It’s short enough that I will go ahead and paste the Scripture here from The Complete Jewish Bible

Of Yosef he said:

“May Adonai bless his land
with the best from the sky, for the dew,
and for what comes from the deep beneath,
with the best of what the sun makes grow,
with the best of what comes up each month,
with the best from the mountains of old,
with the best from the eternal hills,
with the best from the earth and all that fills it,
and the favor of him who lived in the [burning] bush.
May blessing come on the head of Yosef,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
His firstborn bull — glory is his;
his horns are those of a wild ox;
With them he will gore the peoples,
all of them, to the ends of the earth.
These are the myriads of Efrayim;
these are the thousands of M’nasheh.”

Simply the best, and only the best, of everything from crops to gold to the favor of God. Now THAT is a blessing! If someone said these things to us these days, we’d be saying something like, “From your mouth to God’s ears,” and we’d hope for it all to come true. That said, I see this as a reason to bless our brothers and sisters in Yeshua as much as possible, and let the greatest blessing we offer be one of a deeper walk with our Creator.

If you’re like me, you might sometimes withhold blessing others with your lips for concern of sounding like you carry the apostate messages of our current generation. We don’t want to speak the blessings of God above the God of the blessings like so many “prosperity preachers,” but prosperity in the perfect will of God is not a sin. God says He gives us the ability to make wealth to bless others, so speaking blessings on our brethren for the sake of lifting the needy and spreading the gospel is a good thing. Speaking it only for selfish gain and benefits is what we must avoid.

Readers, I bless you now with the wisdom of Yahveh Almighty to know when to speak blessings and how to speak them–both toward others and toward yourselves. May you have only the best of what God has to offer in your lives that you may draw closer to Him as you walk through this life with Him. And, may you always remember that when all else seems to fail, if you have God in your life and heart, you have the best already.

P.S. Just for an off-the-path side note: If you grew up on Dukes of Hazzard, you probably remember “Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane” as one of the quirky characters. Well, the actor who played him, James Best, was born in Kentucky and raised in the cute little town of Corydon, Indiana, where I live now. I also remember him from a number of old episodic shows like Twilight Zone and Bat Masterson. Click here for his Wikipedia page just for the fun of it. 🙂

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Riding on Daddy’s Shoulders


On Daddy's Shoulders by Flickr User scott.hoag, CC License = Attribution

On Daddy’s Shoulders by Flickr User scott.hoag, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

The memories of being small enough to be hoisted up onto someone’s shoulders are vague, but they’re still in my mind. When I see a child on his or her daddy’s shoulders, I associate it with feelings of comfort and security. It’s just like the feeling of waking up just enough to know I was being carried from the back of a car to my own bed. Although my childhood was filled with many traumatic events, those times when I felt protected and comforted offer a balance I need–even now.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:8 through Deuteronomy 33:12, Moses is still offering a final blessing to the tribes of Israel before he dies. Today, he will begin with a blessing to the tribe of Levi. Because Levi is required to execute judgments for Israel, Moses tells them to let the balance of those judgments (the urim and the tumim) rest in the hands of God.

Moses speaks of the past and future of the Levites, and he testifies that they chose the word of God even over family. Because they put God first, they will teach God’s law to all the children of Jacob, and they will offer incense and sacrifices in the temple of The Lord. With this prophesy, Moses also begins to request a blessing for Levi. He asks God to bless Levi’s possessions, to accept the work he does, and to crush his enemies that those who hate him would rise no more.

Next, Moses changes his attention to the tribe of Benjamin, the youngest of all the children of Jacob/Israel. He calls Benjamin “The Lord’s Beloved” and says God protects him day by day. He says Benjamin lives securely between the shoulders of Adonai.

Because God is everywhere, maybe the idea of dwelling between God’s shoulders is exactly what it says, but I lean more toward thinking it’s an analogy for safety and security. It’s that place above the world, hoisted on daddy’s shoulders, where the rider can see better even if he’s little. Yahveh, through His mercy and grace, gives us the privilege to call Him Abba Father. He would most certainly be the kind of daddy that would lift His littlest one up on His protective shoulders.

Another awesome things about the shoulders of God is found in Isaiah 9:6. Here is that verse from the New Living Testament

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Do you see that? The government is on His shoulders. That means His protective laws and boundaries are right there in that place where He, as our Father, puts His children. I’ve said before that if we read this verse in order, we’ll find that He becomes our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace only AFTER our government is on His shoulders. There is a great blessing in obedience to a Loving Father who cares for us. When we follow His word and walk in His presence every day, there’s no better place than riding on Daddy’s shoulders.

September 28, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moses and His Sunrise Serenade


At every time and in every place
    from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets—
    may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people. (Psalm 113:3 VOICE)

A serenade seems to be the perfect way to use song for a blessing. It comes from the word “serene” and usually means a song sung in the open air–often from a man to his lover. The big band leader, Glenn Miller, called many of his songs serenades. Having watched the movie, The Glenn Miller Story, and having seen the beautiful love he had for his wife, I’d guess they were likely all tunes he wrote for her. Sunrise Serenade is one of the most famous, and you should recognize the tune on the video above where you will also find beautiful sunrise and sunset images. (By the way, I would highly recommend this movie starring James Stewart and June Allyson.)

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:1 through Deuteronomy 33:7, we begin a new week and a new portion of Torah. Parashah 54 is V’Zot HaBrachah in Hebrew and means “This is the blessing” in English. In this portion, Moses will bless the tribes of Israel before his upcoming death. He begins here by blessing the Lord and speaking of his love, his power, and his holiness. And, since we’re talking about sunrises, Moses makes an interesting statement here in speaking of God as if He is the sun. He says, “Adonai came from Sinai; from Se‘ir he dawned on his people, shone forth from Mount Pa’ran.

I think Moses was a poet at heart since now he speaks again in a poetic form. He speaks of God truly loving His people, and He says God is holding all His holy ones in His hand. He sees them sitting at God’s feet and receiving His instruction. And then Moses begins speaking the blessings to the individual tribes. He speaks of all Israel in Jacob and blesses them with an inheritance and a king. He says the leaders will gather all the people together. He asks God that Reuben would live and not die even though his numbers have become few. And finally, for today’s reading, Moses blesses Y’hudah (Judah) this way…

“Hear, Adonai, the cry of Y’hudah!
Bring him in to his people,
let his own hands defend him;
but you, help him against his enemies.”

We know that Judah received these blessings and brought forth our Messiah from their tribe. God Himself helped Judah against his enemies, especially since those set against that tribe are against the tribe of King David and King Yeshua. God robed Himself in flesh to help fight those enemies with His own blood, so we have victory against those enemies now by simply resisting evil in The Name of Yeshua.

We have so much to be thankful for in all the battles God has won for us since the beginning of time. He has proven His love for us over and over, and He is worthy of the song of our love toward Him. We can serenade our loving God in praise for His mercy and grace in our lives. We can lift Him up in our hearts from sunrise to sunset and every moment in between. May the people who love and follow Yahveh Almighty bless His name in their hearts and with their praise throughout our every moment. Each day when we rise, may we offer Yahveh our own Sunrise Serenade.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Such A Trivial Pursuit


Trivia by Flickr User surfzone™ aka Ruben, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Trivia by Flickr User surfzone™ aka Ruben, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Trivia comes from the Latin word trivium and means “The place where three roads meet.” Currently, we define trivia as pieces of information and details that are unimportant or meaningless. Somehow, a place where one must decide which of three roads to take doesn’t seem unimportant or meaningless, so I’m not sure how the root word could lead to the current definition. Decisions on a path to follow are definitely not trivial to me. How about you?

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:44 through Deuteronomy 32:52, we complete another week and another portion of Torah. Shabbat Shalom to all who read along and study with me and with God’s holy word. As we complete this week, we also complete the Song of Moses as God has been dictating to him throughout the entirety of Chapter 32. This song/poem is God’s testimony against the people of Israel who will follow after false gods in the future. When future generations read the writings, they will not be able to say that their ancestors were ignorant of the costs of their actions.

Moses speaks the words to all the people of Israel and to Joshua the son of Nun who is called “Hoshea” here for some reason. When he finishes speaking, he tells the people to take the words to heart. He says they should use them to direct their children to be faithful and obedient to the words of Torah. He tells them, “This is not a trivial matter for you; on the contrary, it is your life!” He says the obedience of God’s word will grant them a long life in the land they are about to inherit on the other side of Jordan.

When Moses finishes speaking to the people, God begins speaking to him. God tells Moses to go up to the top of Mt. Nebo to be gathered to his people in death. He tells Moses that He will be able to look on The Promised Land, but he will not be able to enter it. God explains that it is the same for Moses as it was for his brother, Aaron. Both of them had to die instead of being able to enter the land of promise because their disobedience failed to demonstrate God’s holiness among the people of Israel.

All of the Torah that God gave to Moses shows that God’s word and God’s will are not trivial things. Obedience is not trivial. Holiness is not trivial. The plans that God has made to have a people that would follow Him are not trivial plans, and His plans for an eternity with these people are not trivial. God is a dreamer. His word tells us that our hearts have not even conceived how great God’s plans are for us.

We humans may think we are big dreamers. We may even think we have great imaginations. I know I love many of the imaginative thoughts that occupy my mind. Oh, but what we create in our minds or on this earth cannot be compared to all that God has created and still plans to create. Our biggest ideas are trivial compared to God’s smallest ideas. Isaiah 55:8-9, in The Complete Jewish Bible, puts it this way…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Sometimes, we may think it’s difficult to keep walking in the ways of The Lord, but His word tells us that it’s the way of the transgressor that’s hard. Matthew 11:30 (CJB) says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” He knows our battles on this earth, and He wants to help us through them, but He will not bless us if we are not holy and obedient to Him because it can harm us. Like hardened soil that only builds a harder crust from the rain, if God blesses us when our hearts are hard toward Him, it can make it more difficult to reach us later. It is when we break up that hardened (fallow) ground (by repentance) that His blessings can penetrate and grow what He has planted in us.

When we come upon a choice in life, especially a choice of which path to take, let us seek God and His perfect will for us. Seeking God’s path for our lives is important because only He sees the ends of our directions and the results of our decisions. His grace makes a way on to God’s path, and His mercy gives us the strength to keep walking in it. If we seek Him, we will hear His voice. As it says in Isaiah 30:21 (CJB), we will hear a voice that says, “This is the way; stay on it.” This should convince you that seeking and following God’s will is not such a trivial pursuit.

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Very Bad Hair Day


Kelly Has Crazy Hair by Flickr User Jonathan McPherskesen, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Kelly Has Crazy Hair by Flickr User Jonathan McPherskesen, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Whether it’s one wild hair, a cow lick, or a head full of unruly locks, we’ve all had days when we just couldn’t get the keratin on top of our heads to cooperate. Models make wild hair look good, but for most of us, a look like we’ve just walked through a tornado isn’t exactly our goal. Of course, the eighties punk look with spikes and rainbows might be an exception, but I’m sure even those who sported that look had bad hair days. I mean, too much hair spray and a low ceiling and one of those wild spikes might just pop right off, right? I don’t know for sure since I’ve never truly been “en vogue” with that or any other cultural style.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:40 through Deuteronomy 32:43, we continue the poetry and lyrics from the Song of Moses, and we find out why it could be scary to have a bad hair day. These verses are back to a shorter section, so I will paste it here from The Complete Jewish Bible

For I lift up my hand to heaven and swear,
“As surely as I am alive forever,
If I sharpen my flashing sword
and set my hand to judgment,
I will render vengeance to my foes,
repay those who hate me.
I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
my sword will devour flesh —
the blood of the slain and the captives,
flesh from the wild-haired heads of the enemy.”

Sing out, you nations, about his people!
For he will avenge the blood of his servants.
He will render vengeance to his adversaries
and make atonement for the land of his people.

This follows up from yesterday where God declared Himself the One and Only God. He is speaking to those who would create or worship false gods, and He is definitely not happy. We see God here as a warrior, and He is arming Himself for a battle against those who hate Him. His picture of the enemy with wild hair shows that He sees them more like animals than people. And, since He could see their hearts, maybe they were more like that.

The next few lines show us that these wild-haired enemies have been making victims of God’s people. If you have ever been a victim, or known a victim, of someone who just seems to have no concept of the value of human life or dignity, you can understand why God would take the warrior stance described here. Even though His own people have not been faithful, He will not stand for their being victimized. He promises He will avenge all the attacks against them.

Something came to me as I read these verses. God did not create people for unkind and uncaring behavior. Every person alive is, at the core, made in the image of God, and God is love, so anything outside of love is not His will. When He looks at us and sees people destroying and dishonoring that image, it hurts Him. Like a protective Father or Big Brother, He is ready to take vengeance both for His image and His children.

I don’t like violence or punishment, but I know it is sometimes a necessity–even from a God of love. We’ve gotten the definition of love mistranslated to mean allowing people to destroy the image of God without any judgment whatsoever. But God’s image is holy, and those who destroy it by hurting others or themselves, need to pay a price as a deterrent. God, in His love and mercy, knows when someone acts out of ignorance and simply needs to be lead in a new direction. He also looks at hearts and knows when He has found a very real and unchangeable darkness in that person’s heart. I don’t believe He destroys anything or anyone that is redeemable, and I am certain He doesn’t destroy anyone just because they’ve had a very bad hair day.

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Your Rock Rolls Away


Late Morning at Bonsai Rock by Flickr User Bill Shupp, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Late Morning at Bonsai Rock by Flickr User Bill Shupp, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Life can change in a moment. Something we depend on to be strong for us, there for us, or perform for us may change direction and leave us wondering what happened. Imagine if the disciples had really taken Yeshua at His word and told mountains, or even just big rocks, to move into the sea. How many people would come by and wonder what happened? How many who depended on the mountain for geographical direction would then be lost? The Rock of Our Salvation is an identity that tells us our salvation is sure and true, and we know we can depend on Him to always be there. That’s the usual nature of rocks anyway.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:29 through Deuteronomy 32:39, we continue with the poem aka Song of Moses as dictated from God to Moses as a testimony against rebellious Israel. As this section of the poem begins, we’ve got God speaking of Israel’s lack of wisdom and her destiny. God says that if they were wise, they could figure out that the only way to defeat the enemies in the land they wish to occupy will be if He (their Rock) goes before them. God says the enemy has no rock that is comparable, so the people should know that it is God that gives them victory.

As the poem goes on, God says Israel has a root of Sodom and Gomorrah. He says their grapes are poisonous, their clusters are bitter, and their wine is snake poison. There are Scriptures where grapes and clusters refer to a woman’s upper body, so if they are poison and bitter, maybe it’s a meaning of men rejecting them or women worshiping each others’ bodies. Pray for yourself on this because I haven’t studied it out as of yet. Whatever the meaning behind these statements, it’s not good, and the next stanza speaks of God’s vengeance and wrath to pay Israel back for this wickedness.

The final verses speak of The Lord measuring out both judgment and pity on His people. While He will allow them the troubles they bring on themselves by rejecting Him and serving false gods instead, God will be watching them and caring for them. When they cry out in their troubles, He will tell them to seek the gods they served instead of Him, but then He will stand and proclaim that it is Him they need. Here’s the last verse from The Complete Jewish Bible

See now that I, yes, I, am he;
and there is no god beside me.
I put to death, and I make alive;
I wound, and I heal;
no one saves anyone from my hand!

Those of us who know God already know that salvation is not found anywhere else. Many of us have tried other gods like money, fame, friends, possessions and maybe drugs, alcohol, and the wild life. Those of us who have both lifestyles to compare can tell you that the life Yahveh Almighty offers is far better in every way. It makes it hard to imagine how the children of Israel could not see that, but maybe the difference is in having God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us and not just within the camp.

God is so desirous of our relationship with Him that He has gone all the way to extreme of giving His life and blood for our salvation. He is The Rock we can depend on and trust; the One who will be there for us both now and for eternity. He was a Rock for Israel, and He is a Rock for us now. We learn in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that The Rock that followed Israel was Messiah.

If you are not serving Him or committed to Him, please consider it. He is trustworthy. If you find things in your life that you thought were strong are now just rocks rolling far away from you, open the door to The Rock who will never roll away.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adoption Plans


Cute Cockatoo at Parrot Mountain by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Cute Cockatoo at Parrot Mountain by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access my full photo stream at Flickr.

The word “adoption” comes from a Latin word that means “choosing.” So, when we adopt a child, we choose the child. When we adopt a pet, we choose to bring it into our lives and care for all its needs. Hubby and I have adopted eight kitties. We are actively working on an adoption of one of our adult nephews because we want him to feel the value of being chosen as a son. And, I would love to adopt the beautiful cockatoo above, but I don’t think the kitties would like that. I mean, you can clearly see that it was asking to come home with me, can’t you?

By the way, if you click on the image and go to my Flickr feed, you’ll see the golden conure that buddied up with me and refused to go back to his perch. I had a wonderful time at this place called “Parrot Mountain” in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and I would love to have adopted all the birds available in the nursery. It’s a Christian-owned sanctuary with Scripture plaques throughout the park and well-cared-for animals. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever nearby.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:19 through Deuteronomy 32:28, we will read of the desire for adoption created by great wrath stirred up in God’s heart. He desired to choose children who wouldn’t reject Him and seek after false gods. But, He didn’t desire that to replace the original children; He desired it to create jealousy in the Seed of Abraham. This part of the poem is too long to cut and paste, so please click the link to read it for yourself.

The poem begins with God telling the children how He would hide His face from them because they were untrustworthy. And then He sets up the adoption plans…

They aroused my jealousy with a non-god
and provoked me with their vanities;
I will arouse their jealousy with a non-people
and provoke them with a vile nation.

Now, I know it’s hard to think of all the people on the earth that were not of Abraham’s seed being a non-people and being vile, but they were. Because they all started out with the same truth and ended with serving false gods, they had become vile. Israel was well on her way to the same end, and this prophesy tells of God’s answer for that. He would extend His mercy to those in ignorance in order to provoke those who knew better.

As the poem continues, God talks of His fiery anger and plans for punishment. God says He will heap disasters on Israel and use all His arrows against them. He says they will be fatigued by hunger, consumed by fever and defeat, and attacked by wild beasts and poison reptiles. Their troubles will be outside and inside with swords that create childless parents and deaths of young and old alike. The last stanza reads like this…

I considered putting an end to them,
erasing their memory from the human race;
but I feared the insolence of their enemy,
feared that their foes would mistakenly think,
“We ourselves accomplished this;
Adonai had nothing to do with it.”

The poem ends with God saying that Israel is a nation without common sense or discernment. I can see a similar situation happening within Christianity as they bring in the apostate spirits of messages that cause people to focus more on themselves than on God. I think we must be careful not to so harshly judge those who rejected God as if we are unable to duplicate that behavior. Any person who puts the flesh and the soul above being led by God’s Holy Spirit can easily end up just like historic Israel.

There was a time in my walk with The Lord that I accepted “replacement theology” as it was preached because I didn’t know any better. When the church used the Scripture from Revelations 2:9 about those who say they are Jews and are not, and then said, “We are the new Jews,” it seemed to make sense. But I was a new believer. Now I know that adoption of those who are grafted into the original root does not dispose of the original seed. I have a heart for Israel, and I have met Jews who’s love for God is more evident than many who proclaim Christianity. I know that God loves those that do not reject Him. I also know He will make a way for them to spend eternity with Him because we have a promise of a day when the two flocks will become one. But, the door that opened for adoption of those of us not naturally born into Abraham’s seed opened up way back in The Song of Moses.

I am thankful for the open door that allows you and me, our families and friends, and many whom we love, to have the right to call God our “Abba, Father.” We have been purchased and grafted in to a holy root by the blood of Yeshua. I believe that even though we see various methods used throughout history in order to draw a people to God, these methods and changes are not surprises or sudden turns by God. I think that God has always wanted all people to come to Him, and that it has never been His will for any to perish. Knowing what is required to dwell in His presence, I believe that–from the beginning, God made adoption plans.

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spoiled Fat Cats


Big Fat Cat by Flickr User -Tripp- aka trippchicago, CC License = Attribution

Big Fat Cat by Flickr User -Tripp- aka trippchicago, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Okay, I’ll admit it; I’m a cat lover. I own multiple kitties, and I spoil my kitties. I love to hold them and hear them purr, to have them snuggle next to me while I sleep, and to hear them meow at feeding time. I talk to them like they can understand me, and I admire them just for being cats. I will often do whatever it takes to not disturb them, even if it means sitting still under a sleeping cat when I would rather stretch my legs or run to the restroom.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:13 through Deuteronomy 32:18, we continue with the Song of Moses, and the verses are short enough again that I will paste them here from The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)…

He made them ride on the heights of the earth.
They ate the produce of the fields.
He had them suck honey from the rocks
and olive oil from the crags,
curds from the cows and milk from the sheep,
with lamb fat, rams from Bashan and goats,
with the finest wheat flour;
and you drank sparkling wine from the blood of grapes.
But Yeshurun grew fat and kicked
(you grew fat, thick, gross!).
He abandoned God his Maker;
he scorned the Rock, his salvation.
They roused him to jealousy with alien gods,
provoked him with abominations.
They sacrificed to demons, non-gods,
gods that they had never known,
new gods that had come up lately,
which your ancestors had not feared.
You ignored the Rock who fathered you,
you forgot God, who gave you birth.

Moses is still talking about the people of God’s heritage here. He speaks of God’s love toward Israel with passionate emotion. Riding on the heights of the earth, drinking honey from rocks, eating olive oil from crags, eating the finest wheat flour, and drinking sparkling wine all speak of God’s poetic love for Israel in an almost eccentric manner. Remember, these are words God has told Moses to write, so this abundant and amazing love is exactly how God feels toward those He calls His own. He wants to spoil His children and give them the very best of everything!

So, Abba (Father) Yahveh did spoil them. He poured abundant blessing out upon Israel, and then He reminded them to not forget Him when they were taking advantage of all His blessings. But they did forget. God allowed measured troubles to come into their lives, so they would turn to Him and seek Him to fulfill their needs, but when they were comforted again, they would forget again. And then, as the poem says, Yeshurun (Jeshurun is a poetic name for Israel) got too comfortable, too spoiled, and too fat. This prophesy against the house of Jacob has Israel turned to the false gods of the land and abandoning Yahveh, their Maker. As the poem says, they scorned their salvation and provoked God by worshiping false gods and demons.

The last lines show how this broke God’s heart with the personalization God adds in. He says they ignored the Rock who fathered them, and they forgot God who birthed them. The “father” and “birth” terms show the kind of deep love God has for His people as His children. Because He loved them so much, it was a lot easier for them to break His heart when they abandoned Him for gods that did not love them at all–as children or otherwise.

I remember watching one of my “furkids” play one day and thinking how he wasn’t doing anything to try and please me, yet I was pleased and amused with him just being himself. It made me wonder if God looks at people the same way. I think of how happy I get when I pick up or talk with a kitty, and the kitty expresses its happiness by purring. Does God feel as good about our praise as I do about my kitty’s purr-praise?

But for all the enjoyment I get from snuggling and purring, I can get let down when a cat becomes aloof and rejects me. I begin to think of all the times I’ve held my bladder for the sake of not interrupting a cat nap. I think of feeding the cat, watering it, wearing its fur in public places, cleaning up after it, etc. If the cat understood my thoughts, he would hear something like, “After all I’ve done for you, how can you reject me?” I may even say out loud, “Fine! Just be that way!”

It’s no fun to be rejected, and it’s even less fun to be rejected by someone or something we have coddled and spoiled and loved. God is not asking too much when He wants us to remember where all our benefits come from. We may have a paycheck because we have a job, because we went to school, because…because…because. But, God is the One who gave us the ability to learn, and He put all the pieces in place for us to get the job and continue to work. People are quick to blame God for any loss, like an accident that creates a physical disability, but they are slow to thank Him for all the days they are not disabled and are able to work, get out of bed, etc. May we all return to Him with hearts that are grateful for all His benefits, and may we repent for the days when we have acted like spoiled fat cats.

September 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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