Wheelchairs, rocket boosters and rules

It must have been a bureaucratic brain surgeon with an IQ just above that of retarded snail that came up with this wonderful idea. Perhaps there may be someone in the remotest parts of outer Mongolia than can explain this to me; I just don't get it!! Why do this? Everyone knows wheelchairs don't go vertical without an elevator! Trying to make something work that just will not work is stupidity. This bit of foolishness reminded me of a passage from the book of Colossians. See if you can spot the problem.....

Colossians 2:6-23 WEB (R)
(6) As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him,
(7) rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving.
(8) Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.
(9) For in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily,
(10) and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power;
(11) in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ;
(12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
(13) You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
(14) wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross;
(15) having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
(16) Let no man therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day,
(17) which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's.
(18) Let no one rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
(19) and not holding firmly to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God's growth.
(20) If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances,
(21) "Don't handle, nor taste, nor touch"
(22) (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men?
(23) Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren't of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Christ, the son of God died to remove barriers like legal regulations that had separated God and man. So, why make more rules? Why do things that appear religious and have no useful value? Its like making safety hoops for vertical wheelchair use; it just makes NO SENSE! Unless, of course, there is a three stage rocket booster under, primed and ready to fire.


on the inside

This isn't some strange animal, but one that you have seen before. I put the way you normally see him (or her) at the bottom of the page to show you this is not some monster. This animal had an disease which caused all of its hair to fall out, creating this scary looking appearance. So, this is the way the animal looks on the inside. I wonder, what do PEOPLE look like on the inside? How many times have I thought I knew someone, only to have them do something so outrageous that I was amazed that they were capable of their actions. Yet, God knows us; beyond just what's under our skin, but right to the very heart of our being. Listen to the words of David to his son Solomon.

1 Chronicles 28:9 WEB (R)
(9) You, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for Yahweh searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts: if you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

God knows everything about us and loves us anyway. Every thought, every action, every intention; from the very best to our most horrible, every single one. Which of course is why we must try our best to seek and to follow him. Any other course of action is very, very dangerous. Something to think about on this cold wintry night. By the way, look at the picture below to see the animal before it became sick.


What is it?

What is it? It looks like a cloud and it looks like a rainbow, but it is neither. If you find out, please tell me because I really would like to know. Until that time, I will continue to ask the first sentence again and again. If I never find out, that is OK too, because, well, I don't need to know everything. I will just have to learn to appreciate the beauty of the thing that God has provided and be thankful. Everything in life should be that simple; know what you can, learn what you don't and leave the rest to God. Too bad Israel didn't know that. Consider Exodus chapter 16 for example.

Exodus 16:1-35 WEB (R)
(1) They took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
(2) The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness;
(3) and the children of Israel said to them, "We wish that we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, when we ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
(4) Then said Yahweh to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.
(5) It shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily."
(6) Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening, then you shall know that Yahweh has brought you out from the land of Egypt;
(7) and in the morning, then you shall see the glory of Yahweh; because he hears your murmurings against Yahweh. Who are we, that you murmur against us?"
(8) Moses said, "Now Yahweh shall give you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to satisfy you; because Yahweh hears your murmurings which you murmur against him. And who are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against Yahweh."
(9) Moses said to Aaron, "Tell all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before Yahweh, for he has heard your murmurings.' "
(10) It happened, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of Yahweh appeared in the cloud.
(11) Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
(12) "I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At evening you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread: and you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.' "
(13) It happened at evening that quail came up and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay around the camp.
(14) When the dew that lay had gone, behold, on the surface of the wilderness was a small round thing, small as the frost on the ground.
(15) When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, "What is it?" For they didn't know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread which Yahweh has given you to eat."
(16) This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded: "Gather of it everyone according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, you shall take it, every man for those who are in his tent."
(17) The children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less.
(18) When they measured it with an omer, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack. They gathered every man according to his eating.
(19) Moses said to them, "Let no one leave of it until the morning."
(20) Notwithstanding they didn't listen to Moses, but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was angry with them.
(21) They gathered it morning by morning, everyone according to his eating. When the sun grew hot, it melted.
(22) It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
(23) He said to them, "This is that which Yahweh has spoken, 'Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.' "
(24) They laid it up until the morning, as Moses asked, and it didn't become foul, neither was there any worm in it.
(25) Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh. Today you shall not find it in the field.
(26) Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none."
(27) It happened on the seventh day, that some of the people went out to gather, and they found none.
(28) Yahweh said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?
(29) Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day."
(30) So the people rested on the seventh day.
(31) The house of Israel called its name Manna, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey.
(32) Moses said, "This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded, 'Let an omer-full of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.' "
(33) Moses said to Aaron, "Take a pot, and put an omer-full of manna in it, and lay it up before Yahweh, to be kept throughout your generations."
(34) As Yahweh commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
(35) The children of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate the manna until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.

What is it? Its a test. A test for them to see if they would keep the LAWS OF YAHWEH. For me, the rainbow-cloud is also a test, a test of humility to see if God will someday provide the answer. I wish Israel had listened and hope that I will learn to be patient until I am given the answer. This isn't going to be easy, I can see that already; I am an impatient sort of guy.


In the right light

You probably already know what this is, but I will tell you anyway; The moon. Seen in infrared, it changes from the silvery grey we have come to expect, to this magnificent montage of color. If this is your first time seeing the moon this way, you may have been a bit surprised. Life is like that; we think we know things and then suddenly something happens and we them in an entirely new light. Then everything changes. In thinking about this, an episode from the new testament came to mind. Read on, its a short passage and well worth the time.
Mat 8:23-27
(23) Jesus' disciples went with him as he left in a boat.
(24) Suddenly, a severe storm came across the sea. The waves were covering the boat. Yet, Jesus was sleeping.
(25) So they woke him up, saying, "Lord! Save us! We're going to die!"
(26) Jesus said to them, "Why do you cowards have so little faith?" Then he got up, gave an order to the wind and the sea, and the sea became very calm.
(27) The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!"

Jesus had just presented the sermon on the mount (chapter 7) and after that healed a few people, then this happens. Its amazing how focused your thoughts become if you think you are going to die. Suddenly, they saw Jesus in a new light; in a way that would begin to change their whole lives. Everything would be different, because here was a man who could control nature... and so, the question: "What kind of man is this?" Good question, but its not just for them, its for us as well. And perhaps it is the most important you will ever ask. Just be sure you are looking at him in the right light, with eyes of faith.

Larger than life

The world is full of curiosities and this is one of them. I have never seen anything like this before, except in the terminator movies. It seems to me it must be a round glass or steel mirror, but its real purpose is a mystery. What it does do, however, is to magnify its surroundings so that they seem more intense than they really are. Curiosities are like that; they really focus your attention, but sometimes they cause you to come to a wrong conclusion. Here is one example.

Acts 14:8-20 WEB (R)
(8) At Lystra a certain man sat, impotent in his feet, a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked.
(9) He was listening to Paul speaking, who, fastening eyes on him, and seeing that he had faith to be made whole,
(10) said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet!" He leaped up and walked.
(11) When the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in the language of Lycaonia, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"
(12) They called Barnabas "Jupiter," and Paul "Mercury," because he was the chief speaker.
(13) The priest of Jupiter, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have made a sacrifice along with the multitudes.
(14) But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their clothes, and sprang into the multitude, crying out,
(15) "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them;
(16) who in the generations gone by allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.
(17) Yet he didn't leave himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
(18) Even saying these things, they hardly stopped the multitudes from making a sacrifice to them.
(19) But some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
(20) But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up, and entered into the city. On the next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe.

The miracle of healing at Lystra caused the natives to come to the wrong conclusion about Barnabus and Paul. It took a bit of persuading, but eventually the multitude came to their senses and realized he was not a god. The Gospel was preached, but opposition arose and almost killed Paul. In one of the most courageous actions in Scripture, Paul goes back into the city that stoned him. I know he was not one of the "gods", but he sure was a larger than life hero. I wonder how he would look in the bubble mirror above? Humm, I wonder how I would look? No, I better not go there, mirrors tend to put ON WEIGHT!



I don't know who made this or why, but that really doesn't matter; what is important is that it is a beautiful thing to look at. I wonder what sort of music is played on it; classical, light classical, easy listening or maybe even pop. Somehow rock and roll seems out of the question, but maybe someone would dare to play Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin music on it. I can't help but think about angels when I look at this guitar and wonder how they would use it. Speculation aside, there is a passage in the New Testament which refers to angels celebrating and is worth reading.

Luke 2:8-15 WEB (R)
(8) There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.
(9) Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
(10) The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people.
(11) For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
(12) This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough."
(13) Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,
(14) "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men."
(15) It happened, when the angels went away from them into the sky, that the shepherds said one to another, "Let's go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."

Shepherds were not sophisticated city folk, but they were a hardy bunch. (Living outside with the flocks would do that to you I guess) They did have the good sense to be afraid (literally, feared a great fear) and the even greater sense to actually listen. They even wanted to see for themselves. But, I wonder, what did they actually see and hear? I wonder what angel praise sounds like and would it be accompanied? Don't know, I wasn't there, but one thing seems certain to me, it must have been w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.... Maybe they did have guitars accompanying them and if they did, I could imagine a heavenly rendition of stairway to heaven might have been on the score. Who knows? I will just have to add that to the list of things to do in heaven. It will be right after a few thousand questions I have about the baby in the manger.


A way with words

Trick shirt? You betcha! But the fact is love and hate can be confusing. I think women understand this better than men and often use it to their advantage. Here is a tale that illustrates the truth of this statement.

Judges 14:12-18 WEB (R)
(12) Samson said to them, Let me tell you a riddle now. If you can declare it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing;
(13) but if you can't declare it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. They said to him, Put forth your riddle, that we may hear it.
(14) He said to them, Out of the eater came forth food. Out of the strong came forth sweetness. They couldn't in three days declare the riddle.
(15) It happened on the seventh day, that they said to Samson's wife, Entice your husband, that he may declare to us the riddle, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire: have you called us to impoverish us? is it not so?
(16) Samson's wife wept before him, and said, You just hate me, and don't love me: you have put forth a riddle to the children of my people, and haven't told it me. He said to her, Behold, I haven't told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?
(17) She wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it happened on the seventh day, that he told her, because she pressed him sore; and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
(18) The men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? He said to them, If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, you wouldn't have found out my riddle.

Samson was extremely strong, but not smarter than his wife. True, she wasn't given much of a choice because of the threats against her and her family, but she got results. Samson really didn't know how to handle her and she was able to manipulate him. Its been my experience that women are smarter than men when it comes to interpersonal relationships and this tale shows that its true. Like the tee-shirt in the picture, the ladies have a way with words and white can seem black and love and hate can get blurry sometimes. Still, you gotta love em... I do!

..beautiful, simply beautiful!

This is a 1951 Chevrolet. Nice car; old, but nice. I am not fond of the color or the styling, but I really do like the way this car has been restored. Mint, simply mint. Even more than the quality of the restoration work, the shine and shadows of this picture are absolutely OUTSTANDING! Prime HDR photography! This picture made me think of how people can be like this car. Read the following passage from the book of 2nd Corinthians to get a better idea of what I mean.

2 Corinthians 3:1-18 WEB (R)
(1) Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?
(2) You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
(3) being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.
(4) Such confidence we have through Christ toward God;
(5) not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
(6) who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(7) But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away:
(8) won't service of the Spirit be with much more glory?
(9) For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
(10) For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses.
(11) For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
(12) Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
(13) and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn't look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.
(14) But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away.
(15) But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
(16) But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
(17) Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
(18) But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.

The comparison here is that of the old and new covenants of God. Moses' face and the reading of the old covenant are a reflection of the power of that which was, as compared to the power of the reflection of the new covenant of Jesus, which causes a shine of the heart. The beauty of the car in the picture is a reflection of where the car has been and how it reveals its surroundings. The beauty of the human heart caused by the Christ is a shine that goes way beyond a mere reflection and in fact is a transformation of the very essence of what it means to live. Like the car, the message may be old, but still shines even after 2000 years. And that is beautiful, simply beautiful!


A tiny terminator

I don't know who the man on the left is, but the center one appears to be Arnold Schwartzennegger and the one on the right is Andre the Giant. Compared to the other two, Arnold looks like a tiny terminator. That is something to think about, because Arnold is one big guy. Compared to Andre, though he is a pipsqueak. That's the problem with comparison; someone else is always bigger, or smarter or more refined or .... whatever. The following passage from 2 Corinthians is something to think about.

2 Corinthians 10:7-18 WEB (R)
(7) Do you look at things only as they appear in front of your face? If anyone trusts in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again with himself, that, even as he is Christ's, so also we are Christ's.
(8) For though I should boast somewhat abundantly concerning our authority, (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down) I will not be disappointed,
(9) that I may not seem as if I desire to terrify you by my letters.
(10) For, "His letters," they say, "are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is despised."
(11) Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present.
(12) For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding.
(13) But we will not boast beyond proper limits, but within the boundaries with which God appointed to us, which reach even to you.
(14) For we don't stretch ourselves too much, as though we didn't reach to you. For we came even as far as to you with the Good News of Christ,
(15) not boasting beyond proper limits in other men's labors, but having hope that as your faith grows, we will be abundantly enlarged by you in our sphere of influence,
(16) so as to preach the Good News even to the parts beyond you, not to boast in what someone else has already done.
(17) But "he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord."
(18) For it isn't he who commends himself who is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

Boasting is a one way street to embarrassment. There is an exception, however and that is found in verse 17. If someone boasts about God, he can't be outdone. I like it!!!!



At first glance this looked like a painting, but of course it isn't. What stays with you though is the feeling of serenity, peace and calm. Today, that is a rare thing indeed, because our lives are filled with deadlines and a barrage of information and a constant connectivity that fills our entire day. So, this shows a slower, more reflective way of life that you normally experience on vacation or if the following Psalm applies to your life.

Psalms 23:1-6 WEB (R)
(1) Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.
(2) He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
(3) He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
(4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.
(6) Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in Yahweh's house forever.

Contentment, guidance, fearlessness and a heavenly future. Quite a list! One thing even greater than all these is to know your maker by HIS NAME and not just the title LORD. So, just for a second put yourself in the picture and realize that you are NEVER alone, for Yahweh is always there. Comforting thought which makes the picture even more relaxing.


Time to go

There is a time to go; it may involve work, school, a date or just life in general. At some time preparation is ended and its time to go. Jesus had spent years with the twelve; they had been trained; Jesus was about to ascend to the father and now it was time to go.

Mat 28:16-20
(16) The eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go.
(17) When they saw him, they bowed down in worship, though some had doubts.
(18) When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
(19) So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
(20) Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. "And remember that I am always with you until the end of time."

Discipleship isn't something you do, its something you are and while you are you, you do it. Remember what you did when you decided to follow Christ; keep doing it. Don't stop, continue being the new you that the Christ of God has made and as you "are" so will the others around you "be"; its called discipleship. Well, that's all I really had to say.... time to go!

What's next.....

OK, its just a nursing baby getting its nails cut, but look at that baby's eye. Its obviously concerned to say the least. At first I thought this may have been the first time nail cutting, but judging by the amount of hair on the baby's head, that's probably not true. The phrase "what's next?" comes to mind. The Apostles had seen Jesus ascend to heaven then chosen a replacement apostle (with God's help) and then the following happens.

Acts 2:1-21 WEB (R)
(1) Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all with one accord in one place.
(2) Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
(3) Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them.
(4) They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.
(5) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the sky.
(6) When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language.
(7) They were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Behold, aren't all these who speak Galileans?
(8) How do we hear, everyone in our own native language?
(9) Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia,
(10) Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
(11) Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages the mighty works of God!"
(12) They were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another, "What does this mean?"
(13) Others, mocking, said, "They are filled with new wine."
(14) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke out to them, "You men of Judea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
(15) For these aren't drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is only the third hour of the day.
(16) But this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel:
(17) 'It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams.
(18) Yes, and on my servants and on my handmaidens in those days, I will pour out my Spirit, and they will prophesy.
(19) I will show wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and billows of smoke.
(20) The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.
(21) It will be, that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

A miracle; nothing less than a miracle. But, one predicted by the prophet Joel. Exactly how this happened pales in importance to the fact that it did happen. God testified by HIS SPIRIT and a door was opened for those who desired to be saved. What's next? Read the rest of Acts chapter two in order to find out......


The hard way

Somehow I don't think this boy really wants that morsel of food. In fact, he seems to NOT want it. Who knows why? Perhaps there is medicine mixed with it or maybe its just something he left on his plate that his parents wanted him to finish. Maybe its a punishment or a promise or one of a hundred possibilities? One thing is for sure, its not pleasant to look at this youngster; it brings back too many memories or things I HAD TO DO when I was young. As I kept looking at the picture, it reminded me of the Corinthians and how they ultimately dealt with the sin referred to in Paul's first letter.

2Co 2:1-11
(1) I decided not to visit you again while I was distressed.
(2) After all, if I had made you uncomfortable, how could you have cheered me up when you were uncomfortable?
(3) This is the very reason I wrote to you. I didn't want to visit you and be distressed by those who should make me happy. I'm confident about all of you that whatever makes me happy also makes you happy.
(4) I was deeply troubled and anguished. In fact, I had tears in my eyes when I wrote to you. I didn't write to make you uncomfortable but to let you know how much I love you.
(5) If someone caused distress, I'm not the one really affected. To some extent-although I don't want to emphasize this too much-it has affected all of you.
(6) The majority of you have imposed a severe enough punishment on that person.
(7) So now forgive and comfort him. Such distress could overwhelm someone like that if he's not forgiven and comforted.
(8) That is why I urge you to assure him that you love him.
(9) I had also written to you to test you. I wanted to see if you would be obedient in every way.
(10) If you forgive someone, so do I. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did in the presence of Christ for your benefit.
(11) I don't want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan's scheming.

The Corinthians had taken their medicine; they had dealt with their problems and now need to restore an atmosphere of love. After all, wasn't that the motivation for correction in the first place? My heart goes out to the boy in the picture, much as Paul's did for the one who needed discipline, but what is necessary needs to be done and that is that. But, somehow a line comes back to me from the movie "Mary Poppins", where Julie Andrews sings that "a teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down". That's the easy way to accomplish what is needed; the picture seems to be the hard way!


Its going to be alright

This little guy has a look on his face which seems to say: What's next? or perhaps.. You are going to do What? One thing is for certain, he is filled with apprehension and concern. Which reminds me of a situation in the New Testament.

Luke 22:47-62 WEB (R)
(47) While he was still speaking, behold, a multitude, and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He came near to Jesus to kiss him.
(48) But Jesus said to him, "Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
(49) When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said to him, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?"
(50) A certain one of them struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
(51) But Jesus answered, "Let me at least do this" -and he touched his ear, and healed him.
(52) Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and elders, who had come against him, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
(53) When I was with you in the temple daily, you didn't stretch out your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."
(54) They seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed from a distance.
(55) When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard, and had sat down together, Peter sat among them.
(56) A certain servant girl saw him as he sat in the light, and looking intently at him, said, "This man also was with him."
(57) He denied Jesus, saying, "Woman, I don't know him."
(58) After a little while someone else saw him, and said, "You also are one of them!" But Peter answered, "Man, I am not!"
(59) After about one hour passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Truly this man also was with him, for he is a Galilean!"
(60) But Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you are talking about!" Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.
(61) The Lord turned, and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the Lord's word, how he said to him, "Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times."
(62) He went out, and wept bitterly.

Jesus is betrayed and taken away. Can you imagine what is going through the minds of Jesus' disciples? Even Peter loses it!! There are times when we all fall short of our potential; when we wish we had the courage to do the things we know we should, but somehow fail. Peter failed. Peter remembered what Jesus had told him and wept bitterly, but later on was comforted by the resurrection. No matter how bad things are God always has a way of bringing us back to him. To the little guy in the picture I would say: hang in there, its going to be alright... and it will.


top dog

There is no doubt as to what is happening here; one dog is dominant and the other submissive. Very straightforward, simple. One has the power and the other does not. Humans are another matter; often its hard to tell what is going on. But what about the spiritual realm? Here is a passage which gives some insight into the matter.

Matthew 8:28-34 WEB (R)
(28) When he came to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, two people possessed by demons met him there, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that nobody could pass that way.
(29) Behold, they cried out, saying, "What do we have to do with you, Jesus, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?"
(30) Now there was a herd of many pigs feeding far away from them.
(31) The demons begged him, saying, "If you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of pigs."
(32) He said to them, "Go!" They came out, and went into the herd of pigs: and behold, the whole herd of pigs rushed down the cliff into the sea, and died in the water.
(33) Those who fed them fled, and went away into the city, and told everything, including what happened to those who were possessed with demons.
(34) Behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus. When they saw him, they begged that he would depart from their borders.

Jesus and demons; no contest, Jesus always wins. With the word "Go" the demons are sent into swine. This exhibition of power inspires fear and it should. If you had any doubts about who is "top dog" in the spiritual world, this passage makes things pretty clear.

Children, bubbles and humility

Isn't it amazing how a simple thing like a bubble can provide such enjoyment to the young. They are fascinated by bubbles. And even though they don't last very long, they give enormous pleasure. One of the things I like best about being a GRANDFATHER is watching my grand kids learn to do the simplest of things. As I watch them experience something for the first time, somehow I experience it all over again WITH THEM. Even though I may know a bit more about what they are seeing (in this case, surface tension and the refraction of light), still I can see the wonder in their eyes and their obvious blessing. I guess God must feel that way about us too. As we grow spiritually, I imagine HE must derive pleasure when we begin to grasp spiritual concepts. Consider this passage from the book of Romans, for instance.

Romans 11:22-36 WEB (R)
(22) See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
(23) They also, if they don't continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
(24) For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
(25) For I don't desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won't be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,
(26) and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written, "There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
(27) This is my covenant to them, when I will take away their sins."
(28) Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.
(29) For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
(30) For as you in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience,
(31) even so these also have now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they may also obtain mercy.
(32) For God has shut up all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.
(33) Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!
(34) "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
(35) "Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?"
(36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

Christians need to understand that they are grafted into the tree of God's blessing. We are not anything special in and of ourselves, but are blessed with forgiveness. How? I guess we will never fully understand because we will never truly comprehend the wisdom and knowledge of God. But, we can rejoice; we can be happy and give glory to him who has done such an awe inspiring thing for us. Like little children we can enjoy the gifts God has given to us. The best part is.... we don't have to know everything, and am I glad... my head hurts when I try to really, really understand such things. Perhaps I should just stick to bubbles...


Yum, Yum!

Well, today Linda and I went to the Florida State Fair. As we walked by Krispie Kreme I saw someone making this hamburger using donuts and took a few pictures. A friend of mine mentioned that he had eaten two of them and really loved them. They were followed by a tasty dessert of deep fried butter. Yum! I didn't really think anything of it at the time, but something bothered me. He asked something like: Is it wrong to do this? Which made me think of this passage from the New Testament.

Romans 14:12-14 WEB (R)
(12) So then each one of us will give account of himself to God.
(13) Therefore let's not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother's way, or an occasion for falling.
(14) I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself; except that to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

What food you eat is up to you and a matter of conscience. What another person might or might not eat doesn't matter. What does matter is your attitude toward what you are doing. Eat or don't eat, but feel good about it. Frankly, the burger smelled pretty good to me, but I didn't have one because I am trying to cut back on sweets.

Wake up call

I was taking my wife to New Port Richie a few months back and I saw something like this for the very first time. This is a marvelous picture of a vertical rainbow. I have seen many, many rainbows but only one vertical one. Life is like that; you think you know something and then all of a sudden you have a new take and everything is redefined. Jesus is exactly like that; he changes everything. This passage from the book of Mark is a good example.

Mar 6:1-6
(1) He went out from there. He came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.
(2) When the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things?" and, "What is the wisdom that is given to this man, that such mighty works come about by his hands?
(3) Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" They were offended at him.
(4) Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house."
(5) He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.
(6) He marveled because of their unbelief. He went around the villages teaching.

Jesus went to Nazareth, his hometown and the people couldn't understand how he had become so wise and powerful. They had known him and made up their minds about him and were not about to change. Does the following sound familiar ? Don't confuse me with the facts, I have my mind made up! I know vertical rainbows are real because I have seen them and ever since that day rainbows have had new meaning to me. Jesus is who he is because of what he has and continues to do; his life has changed mine because I can see the truth of it. I know that what Jesus said is true because I have put what he has said to the test and it passed (or maybe I did, not sure) What a wake up call! Better than a thousand rainbows! Now, if I could ever see an upside-down rainbow, that would be something. Humm, I wonder what a rainbow looks like from space; would it be upside-down?


The good old days

No, this is NOT a roll of film! The frames of film are supposed to go sideways in relation to the holes. Clever; someone photo-shopped a new photo to look old. For just a split-second though, I thought I was looking at film. This picture caught my eye because of the nostalgic effect and the fact that I saw the movie "prairie home companion" today. Both made me think of "the good old days". However, when you think about it, those days may have not been all that good. We were younger, that much is certain, but along with youth came all the problems of it. Israel in the desert long for the past, for the "good" food they had in Egypt. They had forgotten they were slaves and found fault with the food in the here and now. They focused on their problems instead to remembering that their "bread from heaven" was itself a miracle. Sound familiar? Read on....

Numbers 11:1-6 WEB (R)
(1) The people were complaining in the ears of Yahweh. When Yahweh heard it, his anger was kindled; and Yahweh's fire burnt among them, and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
(2) The people cried to Moses; and Moses prayed to Yahweh, and the fire abated.
(3) The name of that place was called Taberah, because Yahweh's fire burnt among them.
(4) The mixed multitude that was among them lusted exceedingly: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, "Who will give us flesh to eat?
(5) We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for nothing; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic;
(6) but now we have lost our appetite. There is nothing at all except this manna to look at."

Israel complained. Not anything new, but God was angry with them. Moses prayed and the fire stopped and then they complained about the food. Next, God said...

Numbers 11:16-20 WEB (R)
(16) Yahweh said to Moses, "Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you.
(17) I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit which is on you, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you not bear it yourself alone.
(18) Say to the people, 'Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, and you will eat flesh; for you have wept in the ears of Yahweh, saying, "Who will give us flesh to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore Yahweh will give you flesh, and you will eat.
(19) You will not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days,
(20) but a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it is loathsome to you; because that you have rejected Yahweh who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, "Why did we come out of Egypt?" ' "

I can only imagine the stress on Moses right about now and that stress was showing...

Numbers 11:21-23 WEB (R)
(21) Moses said, "The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand men on foot; and you have said, 'I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.'
(22) Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?"
(23) Yahweh said to Moses, "Has Yahweh's hand grown short? Now you will see whether my word will happen to you or not."

So God gave them the flesh they wanted AND MORE!

Numbers 11:30-33 WEB (R)
(30) Moses went into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.
(31) A wind from Yahweh went out and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the earth.
(32) The people rose up all that day, and all the night, and all the next day, and gathered the quails. He who gathered least gathered ten homers; and they spread them all abroad for themselves around the camp.
(33) While the flesh was yet between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of Yahweh was kindled against the people, and Yahweh struck the people with a very great plague.

Plague was the reward for Israel's hard heart and the dissatisfaction for the way God does things. Think about today. Do we complain about how bad things are and long for days of yesteryear? STOP, THINK and BE THANKFUL, because you may be more blessed than you realize. But whatever you do, don't complain... you might get more that you expected.


Rules, rules and LESS RULES

If its religion you are looking for, there are literally thousands of them out there. Everything from cults like the one Jim Jones led to the worship of the giant mushroom and everything in-between. Some are easy to follow and some have rigorous rules and regulations. Since everybody is "right" it really doesn't make a difference; or does it? This sign says a lot to me because it emphasizes Jesus and not Judaism. Why is that important you might ask? Well, Jesus was brought up a Jew, but had some startling news; true "religion" is more about relationship with God than rules and regulations. It is more about "being" than "doing". Read Matthew chapter five and I think you will see what I mean.

Matthew 5:1-48 WEB (R)
(1) Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
(2) He opened his mouth and taught them, saying,
(3) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
(4) Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(5) Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
(6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
(7) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
(8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
(10) Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
(11) "Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
(12) Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(13) "You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.
(14) You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden.
(15) Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.
(16) Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
(17) "Don't think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn't come to destroy, but to fulfill.
(18) For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.
(19) Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
(20) For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
(21) "You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, 'You shall not murder;' and 'Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.'
(22) But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.
(23) "If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you,
(24) leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(25) Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.
(26) Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny.
(27) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;'
(28) but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
(29) If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.
(30) If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.
(31) "It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,'
(32) but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.
(33) "Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,'
(34) but I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God;
(35) nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
(36) Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't make one hair white or black.
(37) But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.
(38) "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'
(39) But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
(40) If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.
(41) Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
(42) Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you.
(43) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
(44) But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,
(45) that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
(46) For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same?
(47) If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don't even the tax collectors do the same?
(48) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

The first eleven verses are commonly called the beatitudes and describe the blessed state of one who embodies their principles. Jesus goes on to say that he didn't come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it. So, religious practice is still valid, but is more concerned with the heart and being in a right relationship with God than obeying rules. Rules are important, but why we do things in our effort to follow God is even MORE IMPORTANT! You don't have to put a sign in front of your house to proclaim that you love God, but you do have to have a heart that endeavors to follow him. OK, want to know what to do? Open your Bible and follow the guidebook, but remember to concentrate on your heart. Jesus will show you the way... and he is IT!

Difficult and simple

This fascinating document is a mystery. The greatest minds in the world have been working together (via the Internet) for sometime to try to decipher it; without success. It is called the Voynich manuscript and contains information on Astronomy, botany, microbiology and other topics. Written in two intertwined languages it defies understanding and even the last page which contains the key remains a complete and utter mystery. Some say it was written by Rodger Bacon, but no one really knows. The Apostle Paul refers to a mystery too, but his comments do not need explanation (someone has already translated from the original Greek language).

Ephesians 3:1-11 WEB (R)
(1) For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles,
(2) if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you;
(3) how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words,
(4) by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ;
(5) which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
(6) that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News,
(7) of which I was made a servant, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power.
(8) To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
(9) and to make all men see what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ;
(10) to the intent that now through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places,
(11) according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord;

Paul was a nobody, but God used him greatly. Most of our New Testament was written by him, but, why? Because God wanted it that way and so it is. God also wanted those who were NOT JEWS to have a way out from sin and so Paul preaches that this "Good News" is for everyone. You don't need a secret decoder ring or a Wee gee board, just the ability to hear and respond. Not very mysterious, but sometimes things don't have to be. And am I glad, because I was never any good at crossword puzzles or scherades.



I have never seen a dog do this before; very strange behavior! Yet, for people, not so strange. People do all sorts of unexpected things, sometimes even to their friends. In the book of John, Jesus refers to something he knows will happen because it was predicted in the 41st Psalm.

Joh 13:10-18
(10) Jesus said to him, "Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you."
(11) For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, "You are not all clean."
(12) So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
(13) You call me, 'Teacher' and 'Lord.' You say so correctly, for so I am.
(14) If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
(15) For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
(16) Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him.
(17) If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
(18) I don't speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen. But that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.'

Psa 41:9
(9) Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who ate bread with me, has lifted up his heel against me.

Jesus amazes me! How could he daily associate with Judas knowing full well that he was to be a traitor? Yet, he did and the weight of that knowledge must have been enormous. I am glad Jesus did what he had to do because of the blessing we all have received because of it. The thing is... if we stop following God's will for our life, aren't we acting like the "friend" in the picture? So, be clean from sin, obey God and stay out of trouble. Besides, both sin and mud are hard to clean up; its just easier to avoid the whole mess in the first place.


A star, a bow and an attitude

This picture was taken high atop a mountain in Hawaii. The two points of interest (besides the mountains and the sheer altitude that the picture was taken) is the bright star at the left (Mars at its closest to Earth) and the rainbow which is really not a rainbow called a fog bow. Understanding how Mars can be so bright is easy because of its closeness to Earth, but the fog bow?? Frankly, I am not sure I understand the reasons for its formation, but I know such a thing exists and perhaps someday I will do the research and know. But not today; I am tired and just don't feel up to it. Ever feel like that? You have just had enough and need to come to an acceptance of truth without knowing everything. If you have, then you and the patriarch Job have something in common. Here is an interesting passage from the book that bears his name.

Job 42:1-8 WEB (R)
(1) Then Job answered Yahweh,
(2) "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be restrained.
(3) You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' therefore I have uttered that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I didn't know.
(4) You said, 'Listen, now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will answer me.'
(5) I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.
(6) Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
(7) It was so, that after Yahweh had spoken these words to Job, Yahweh said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.
(8) Now therefore, take to yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept him, that I not deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has."

For me, the book of Job has always been a hard one to read because of the complexity of the argumentation and the wordiness of it. Yes, even I have my limits and although I like to think I understand the book, yet its middle eastern methods of expression I find difficult at times. This much is certain, Job reaches a point of humility and repentance, which is exactly where he needed to be. God gives him credit for speaking that which is right and the question of why do the righteous suffer is resolved in the answer that only God really knows. Its not up to us to know everything; you can't. What we all can do is trust God and do the right thing. You see it really doesn't matter how God makes a rainbow or a fog bow for that matter; but it does matter how we respond to him. Therein lies true the true beauty of the human being and that is better than the brightest star in heaven or the most unusual bow we may ever be blessed to see.

Reflections, insight and reality

Since I was a boy I have loved to look at the heavens. Its hard not to gaze at them for long without thinking of their organization and creation. People for thousands of years have perceived shapes, patterns and signs written upon the the skies. I have grown especially fond of the "Northern lights" over the years and marvel at their patterns and eerie glow. This picture caught my eye, not because of the lights (although they are beautiful!!), but rather because of their reflection on the water. This reverse image looks like "Nessie" to me; crazy, I know, but, but, it does! No, I am not out of my mind, just a bit imaginative this early in the morning. All this reminds me of a passage in the book of Acts, where Paul was thought to be "crazy".

Act 26:1-32
(1) Agrippa said to Paul, "You may speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense.
(2) "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before you this day concerning all the things that I am accused by the Jews,
(3) especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
(4) "Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem;
(5) having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
(6) Now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers,
(7) which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa!
(8) Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead?
(9) "I myself most certainly thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
(10) This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them.
(11) Punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
(12) "Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests,
(13) at noon, O King, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me.
(14) When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
(15) "I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' "He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
(16) But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;
(17) delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you,
(18) to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
(19) "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
(20) but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.
(21) For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me.
(22) Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen,
(23) how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles."
(24) As he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane!"
(25) But he said, "I am not crazy, most excellent Festus, but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness.
(26) For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner.
(27) King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe."
(28) Agrippa said to Paul, "With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?"
(29) Paul said, "I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these bonds."
(30) The king rose up with the governor, and Bernice, and those who sat with them.
(31) When they had withdrawn, they spoke one to another, saying, "This man does nothing worthy of death or of bonds."
(32) Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."
Crazy? I think not! Paul's life was changed by God himself! But, to those who will not believe, well, they just will NOT BELIEVE! People see things the way they want to and that is that! Even when Agrippa realized that Paul really wasn't crazy, he still would not believe. Based on the facts however, he did realize his innocence. It is the facts of Christianity that make sense to me as well; for Jesus really did live, die and rise again. Testimony abounds as to this truth; and life for ever to those who obey its Gospel. I wish everyone could see both the truth and my "Nessie" as well, but I will settle for one out of two! Guess which one??


Cloudy skies and loving eyes

Valentine's day will be here before you know it. Just look in the stores and you will see all the candy ready to be purchased for some sweetheart. Reality is that about the time of year the weather is less than wonderful, its cold, cloudy and in many parts of the country its snowing. For Juan and Maria the weather doesn't matter; they can only see one another and when the heart is full of love, other things just are not very important. Which, of course reminds me of a passage from the New Testament. Read what the apostle Paul has to say and I think you will see the connection.

Php 1:12-18
(12) Now I desire to have you know, brothers, that the things which happened to me have turned out rather to the progress of the Good News;
(13) so that it became evident to the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest, that my bonds are in Christ;
(14) and that most of the brothers in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear.
(15) Some indeed preach Christ even out of envy and strife, and some also out of good will.
(16) The former insincerely preach Christ from selfish ambition, thinking that they add affliction to my chains;
(17) but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the Good News.
(18) What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice.

Sometimes circumstances really don't matter; Paul didn't care why people were proclaiming the Gospel, he was just happy it was being done. He knew, just as the couple in the picture do, that the ultimate goal of love is love and even though the surroundings may be unpleasant, love sees only the ultimate good. Having said all that, be sure to buy an extra large box of candy for your sweetie this upcoming holiday, you probably won't even notice the slight increase in her waistline. Besides, she might even give you something??