Proof positive

This is a rare picture! In this distant, aloof and impersonal society it is unusual to see someone care so much about beauty as to be willing to cry over it. Its nice to know that passion is not dead and I know this because it is worn on her face. But, it hurts to care, it hurts to love and as with all things there is a price to pay. If you put your heart out in the open where others can see it, they is a chance someone may just step on it. Jesus had just given a stern rebuke (the seven "woes") and then he says these words...

Matthew 23:34-38 (WEB)
34) Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city;
35) that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar.
36) Most certainly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!
38) Behold, your house is left to you desolate.
(Matthew 23:34-38, WEB)

I wonder, was it easy for Jesus to say these words? Even though he KNEW that he would be a victim of Jerusalem, he still said them. Obviously, he cared. How could someone do so much for others NOT care? He showed his caring by giving the gift of himself and that is greater proof than any tear on the cheek could be.



What is the American dream? Recently, I have seen TV newscasters and articles on the Internet saying that "it" is dead. So, when I saw this picture, I just had to say something to this concept. Where is it written in our constitution that we are guaranteed home ownership? Where is the promise of continued financial success? What is success and more specifically, what is American success. Although it may seem odd at first, lets read this passage from the book of Joshua.

Joshua 1:1-9 (WEB)
1) Now it happened after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying,
2) “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people, to the land which I give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3) I have given you every place that the sole of your foot will tread on, as I told Moses.
4) From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even to the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border.
5) No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you.
6) “Be strong and courageous; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
7) Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
8) This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.
9) Haven’t I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid, neither be dismayed: for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:1-9, WEB)

Joshua was told he would have success, but not a success based on money or wealth. Having the word of God in his mind and obeying it was to lead him to success. How does this old testament book relate to us? Well, consider, that the founders of American wanted religious freedom and their desire for this eventually led to our constitution. Houses decay, are destroyed by fire or flood or earthquake, but the eternal soul nurtured by God lasts forever. So, DO NOT FOLLOW THE ADVICE IN THE PICTURE; instead, let your heart be won over to the almighty God and he will guide your way. Then you will have success and no housing recession or job reductions can hurt you. You may or may not have a house, but an eternal dwelling in heaven sounds a lot better to me.


Written between the lines...

This is the Hebrew text of the Bible. The connected lines are typically connected by computer analysis. They purport to tell the future and who knows, maybe they do. But, if they really do, then what? While I was thinking about this, the following short passage came to mind. Once you read it, I think the application will become obvious.

Deuteronomy 29:29 (WEB)
29) The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

This verse says volumes. Secrets belong to God and are HIS. What has been given to us is ours for the purpose of obedience. Why would anyone want to go further? Curiosity, power, prestige, knowledge, gain, greed... I guess the list could go on and on. Although there may be legitimate, even godly reasons, for the most part, the things I thought of were, shall we say, LESS THAN SPIRITUAL. If someone wrote you a letter and after reading it, you did something like the picture shows, I think most people would say you are crazy. OK, I know that God operates on levels and in ways I will never truly understand, but Bible Codes, really? I hope that after a little reflection, you might agree with me, but if not, that's OK too. Only, please, don't dissect my writings as they do in the picture; I am just not bright enough to embed secret codes and I have never met anyone so far who could do this either. Just take things at face value; life becomes simpler that way.


How much is enough?

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? How many times have you heard that one? This container looks like something that will hold beer, so lets just say for a moment that it is beer. Why would you want to label it half-empty? To get more and more and more of course. That's the thing about questions like this; you just have to ask why the question is being asked in the first place. So, lets take this concept and apply it to the words of Jesus.

Matthew 23:1-12 (WEB)
1) Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples,
2) saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat.
3) All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do.
4) For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them.
5) But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments,
6) and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,
7) the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ by men.
8) But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers.
9) Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.
10) Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ.
11) But he who is greatest among you will be your servant.
12) Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:1-12, WEB)

Why does Jesus say these things? Because the Scribes and Pharisees wanted to be viewed as great, to be exalted above others, that's why. If keeping a law which was hard to do was a great thing, then keeping an extremely hard law made you great ABOVE THAT OF YOUR PEERS (even if you didn't really keep it). It made you somebody, your glass was always half-full, no matter how much spirituality you had in reality. Jesus takes their half-full attitude and shows that they should be longing to be half-empty (for spirituality, not pride). Attitude is like that, it changes things and a good attitude will do just that, it will change you!!! When it comes to desiring a good (that is humble) attitude, always let your glass be half-empty, its good for you. Drinking too much beer, well, that can get you in trouble.



Sometime ago, I found this picture on the web under a listing called "being in the right place at the right time". Its just three birds flying, but I see a smiling face; how about you? Just coincidence, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because after all, it IS just three birds and no, because God put it there at just the right time for YOU to see it. If you get the last sentence, then you really "get" this blog. Nothing occurs by accident, if your eyes are open you can easily see God in the smallest of things and the world becomes a window through which God can teach you. The following is a "chance" lesson for us all.

Matthew 17:24-27 (WEB)
24) When they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the didrachma coins came to Peter, and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the didrachma?”
25) He said, “Yes.” When he came into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive toll or tribute? From their children, or from strangers?”
26) Peter said to him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Therefore the children are exempt.
27) But, lest we cause them to stumble, go to the sea, cast a hook, and take up the first fish that comes up. When you have opened its mouth, you will find a stater coin. Take that, and give it to them for me and you.”
(Matthew 17:24-27, WEB)

Jesus taught from nature and this episode is just one example. I love what it says and also what it doesn't say. The teaching is that the sons of God are above tribute. How special those who love God are! Its interesting to me what the passage does not say: Namely, that Peter actually did as he was told... it is assumed. Since the Bible doesn't say anything more about it, I can only assume Peter did it, but the doing somehow just doesn't SEEM necessary. I prefer to think that Peter did it because it makes sense, just like it makes sense that God would allow birds to smile at me. Somehow this just seems to make the world a wonderful place to live in. Only thing left to do is to go fishing; who knows what I might catch?



One thing that has greatly surprised me while I have been doing this blog is how much I really love rainbows. I never imagined there were so many variations! This one was new to me as well; it couples Crepuscular rays with with a rainbow. It reminded me of the openings you see when a movie starts, so when I saved the file, I named it "Tada". The "Tada", of course, referring to an important announcement. Immediately, I thought of Luke and the proclamation of Jesus' birth.

Luke 2:1-20 (WEB)
1) Now it happened in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.
2) This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3) All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city.
4) Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;
5) to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.
6) It happened, while they were there, that the day had come that she should give birth.
7) She brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.
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.”
16) They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough.
17) When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child.
18) All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds.
19) But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.
20) The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them.
(Luke 2:1-20, WEB)

There is no denying that Jesus was and is someone very special!!! The announcement of his birth by an angel is very appropriate and a bit terrifying to the shepherds who heard it. If his birth was important, how much more his death. Where would we be without it? Lost in our sins is the only answer that makes sense to me!!! So, the next time you put in a movie, watch the opening credits and remember that while the beginning is important, its the end that really counts. Thank GOD our lives can have a happy ending; Jesus' life ended in life and that is all I really need to know!!! Oh, yes, and that rainbows are beautiful!


The "bad" job

You think your job is bad? Consider doing this one for a couple of HOURS? I wouldn't even think of it!! Take a moment and think; every job you have ever had, wasn't there something unpleasant about it? Even in the best jobs I have ever had there was always something wrong; either the pay was too low, or there was some JERK who made life miserable or a boss that was just plain obnoxious... there was always SOMETHING. And, its not about a personal quirk in me, either; consider the Apostle Paul, now there was a man who was understanding, patient, considerate, in short, a really good guy. He had problem on the job too... and here are just a few.

Philippians 3:1-21 (WEB)
1) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not tiresome, but for you it is safe.
2) Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.
3) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh;
4) though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I yet more:
5) circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6) concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.
7) However, what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ.
8) Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ
9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10) that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;
11) if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12) Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
13) Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,
14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15) Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, think this way. If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you.
16) Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind.
17) Brothers, be imitators together of me, and note those who walk this way, even as you have us for an example.
18) For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ,
19) whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who think about earthly things.
20) For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
21) who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subject all things to himself.
(Philippians 3:1-21, WEB)

I don't know how Paul did it; but he put up with hardships that would drive most of us crazy. Well, that's not quite true; Paul knew Jesus, and knew him well. I guess that is what made him so special and so able to put up with so much. I wish I knew him when he wrote his messages to the churches he knew so well; maybe I could learn something from him? Since the person in the picture may still be around, who knows, maybe someday I may meet her. It would be interesting to find out how she copes with her job. Just one thing... I won't get to close to her when we talk (I have a sensitive nose).


Are you kidding?

A jumping gay walrus? Is someone trying to be funny, or what? I have seen walruses and I can't imagine them jumping. Now, what exactly is a gay walrus? Is it a happy animal or one that is homosexual or is it something else? Sometimes trying to understand what others mean by what they say is difficult to say the least. Here is a series of the same sort of problem: misunderstanding.

Matthew 16:1-23 (WEB)
1) The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven.
2) But he answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’
3) In the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you can’t discern the signs of the times!
4) An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there will be no sign given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” He left them, and departed.
5) The disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread.
6) Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7) They reasoned among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.”
8) Jesus, perceiving it, said, “Why do you reason among yourselves, you of little faith, ‘because you have brought no bread?’
9) Don’t you yet perceive, neither remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
10) Nor the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
11) How is it that you don’t perceive that I didn’t speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
12) Then they understood that he didn’t tell them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
13) Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14) They said, “Some say John the Baptizer, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
15) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16) Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17) Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
18) I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
19) I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.”
20) Then he commanded the disciples that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.
21) From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.
22) Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This will never be done to you.”
23) But he turned, and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.”
(Matthew 16:1-23, WEB)

The Pharisees and the Sadducee's didn't understand Jesus and most of the time Jesus' disciples didn't either. Peter seemed to for awhile, but then Jesus had to correct him. Life is like that; full of misunderstandings and miscommunication. Sometimes our misunderstandings are humorous like the sign and sometimes serious, but they happen. So, I guess we all have to try harder to get it right; especially when it comes to the serious things like really listening to the words of Jesus. Only one thing left to say... "Does anyone know where this sign is... I really want to see those walruses!!!


Reflections on beauty

Fire-rainbows are beautiful, no matter how you look at them. They are unusual because light has to be refracted at a very specific (and rare) angle in order for the prismatic effect to occur. I have only seen this beautiful occurrence once in real life and it was a memorial event. I couldn't help but think about beauty as a result of this composite picture and the following passage from the New Testament came to mind.

1 Peter 3:1-12 (WEB)
1) In the same way, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; so that, even if any don’t obey the Word, they may be won by the behavior of their wives without a word;
2) seeing your pure behavior in fear.
3) Let your beauty be not just the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on fine clothing;
4) but in the hidden person of the heart, in the incorruptible adornment of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God very precious.
5) For this is how the holy women before, who hoped in God also adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:
6) as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose children you now are, if you do well, and are not put in fear by any terror.
7) You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered.
8) Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous,
9) not rendering evil for evil, or insult for insult; but instead blessing; knowing that to this were you called, that you may inherit a blessing.
10) For, “He who would love life, and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.
11) Let him turn away from evil, and do good. Let him seek peace, and pursue it.
12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears open to their prayer; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
(1 Peter 3:1-12, WEB)

I imagine there are many who will read this passage and take offence at it. But, Hey, I didn't write it, The Apostle Peter did. God desires a hierarchy in marriage, whether it is popular today or not. HE considers beauty within the human heart something worth having and peace, order and tranquility in marriage something to strive for. This is NOT RESTRICTED TO WIVES, but rather the real emphasis should be on the husband because its up to him to foster an environment where marriage reaches its ideal. So, guys, its up to us to do something about the situation. If your marriage isn't similar to the standard found in 1 Peter, then do something; lead more, love more, understand more, be more gentle. Ladies are different than men (DUH) and should be treated with all the respect and understanding they deserve. Perhaps someday we may be able to think of our martial relationships as something very, very beautiful, like these fire rainbows; now we just have to get our angle of thinking adjusted to the proper perspective.

At the end of the rainbow

Can you imagine being in that car? Going through the end of a rainbow has to be exciting! The Irish say that there is gold at the end of it, but for the Christian I think it would be something different. Read on to see what I mean...

Revelation 21:1-7 (WEB)
1) I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more.
2) I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
3) I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4) He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.”
5) He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” He said, “Write, for these words of God are faithful and true.”
6) He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life.
7) He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son.
(Revelation 21:1-7, WEB)

Being with God, not just spiritually, but physically is something that would be better than any amount of gold. After being exposed to this world for many decades, I can tell you that I am eager to see a world without sin, in perfect harmony with God. Today, it seems almost a dream-like concept but someday...


Anyone seen MACGYVER? I could use a little help!!!

Sooner or later we all face this situation; you have to go, but there is no paper in the restroom. This picture raises an interesting question: What would MACGYVER do? This TV star uses his intellect and resourcefulness to make the impossible, possible. We all know that its just TV and not reality, BUT, what if someone could make something out of almost "nothing"? Something somewhat similar happens several times in the New Testament and what follows is one of those instances.

Matthew 15:32-38 (WEB)
32) Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away fasting, or they might faint on the way.”
33) The disciples said to him, “Where should we get so many loaves in a deserted place as to satisfy so great a multitude?”
34) Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.”
35) He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground;
36) and he took the seven loaves and the fish. He gave thanks and broke them, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.
37) They all ate, and were filled. They took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces that were left over.
38) Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
(Matthew 15:32-38, WEB)

Unlike the picture, this episode was initiated by love and concern and NOT immediate need. How did Jesus really do it? I haven't a clue, except to say that Jesus was a man, but more than a man. His power goes way beyond my feeble understanding. God is like that, you know! As far as the picture goes... I would cut the cardboard with my box cutter (did I say that I almost always carry a box cutter at work?) into four pieces for use as four blotters. Anyone have a better idea, please let me know.


A different life

Its a dog eat dog world out there; OK, I know you have heard that one before but nevertheless I think it fits the picture. What is unusual here is that it is happening so quickly that two "lunches" are happening simultaneously. In 1979 I remember graduating from preaching school and leaving New York for my first church in Delaware. It wasn't long before I began to understand that my concepts of what church should be and the reality of real life situations were not the same. In every church where I ministered there were always problems and that should have been no surprise, but hey, I was only 29 and full of idealism. With that in mind, I thought you might find this passage interesting.

Galatians 5:1-18 (WEB)
1) Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
2) Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing.
3) Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4) You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace.
5) For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.
6) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love.
7) You were running well! Who interfered with you that you should not obey the truth?
8) This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
9) A little yeast grows through the whole lump.
10) I have confidence toward you in the Lord that you will think no other way. But he who troubles you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.
11) But I, brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been removed.
12) I wish that those who disturb you would cut themselves off.
13) For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another.
14) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
15) But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another.
16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17) For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire.
18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
(Galatians 5:1-18, WEB)

Love, true love, means new rules. It means living a different life; one based not only on your interests (your well-being), but on that of others. The Galatians, and in fact most churches need to learn this. Life within the church is not to be a dog-eat-dog environment, but rather one based on love, rather than on rules. I really like the saying: Love God and do what you like. To me it says we have great freedom and very few rules. Except perhaps that small little thing called love. I have been trying to get that one really right for decades and frankly I am still working on it. One last thought: if you waited a few minutes and then slaughtered the snake, would you be eating snake or a combination food. After you devour the first bite you might know...

Foolishness like a fox

If one of your children does this, get them to STOP, NOW! Most of us would look at this youngster and one word would probably come to mind... Why? What the purpose? Perhaps its just the mindless antics of youth, but ask yourself, what if an adult did this? What if a grown-up did something outrageous, and did it just to get your attention? Consider this chapter from the New Testament and think about it a bit.

2 Corinthians 11:1-33 (WEB)
1) I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you do bear with me.
2) For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
3) But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4) For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different “good news”, which you did not accept, you put up with that well enough.
5) For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best apostles.
6) But though I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not unskilled in knowledge. No, in every way we have been revealed to you in all things.
7) Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached to you God’s Good News free of charge?
8) I robbed other assemblies, taking wages from them that I might serve you.
9) When I was present with you and was in need, I wasn’t a burden on anyone, for the brothers, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my need. In everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and I will continue to do so.
10) As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
11) Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows.
12) But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion, that in which they boast, they may be found even as we.
13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ’s apostles.
14) And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
15) It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
16) I say again, let no one think me foolish. But if so, yet receive me as foolish, that I also may boast a little.
17) That which I speak, I don’t speak according to the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.
18) Seeing that many boast after the flesh, I will also boast.
19) For you bear with the foolish gladly, being wise.
20) For you bear with a man, if he brings you into bondage, if he devours you, if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, if he strikes you on the face.
21) I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet however any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also.
22) Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
23) Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I am more so; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.
24) Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one.
25) Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep.
26) I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers;
27) in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.
28) Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the assemblies.
29) Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I don’t burn with indignation?
30) If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weakness.
31) The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, he who is blessed forevermore, knows that I don’t lie.
32) In Damascus the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damascenes desiring to arrest me.
33) Through a window I was let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands.
(2 Corinthians 11:1-33, WEB)

This is the SECOND letter to Corinth; and it differs greatly from the first. I have always liked this one better, because of its more personal nature. Paul writes to them with his heart first and his great intellect second. Exaggeration, plays on words and examples that show the foolishness of their folly all have one goal; that is, to make them realize that they need to LISTEN to Paul. Sometimes it takes something bordering on the ridiculous to prod us into doing something different. I hope they listened. The boy in the picture must have had some reason for making this face and frankly I don't couldn't even guess the reason for it. However, it did get my attention and maybe that was the point after all.


Be afraid, be very afraid!

Somehow the words from a movie I can't remember come back to me:"Be afraid, be very afraid". If he is trying to frighten me; he succeeded! For me anyway, its very easy to see the danger here, but all danger is not so easily spotted. Check out this passage from the book of 1st Peter and you will see what I mean.

1 Peter 2:1-12 (WEB)
1) Putting away therefore all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speaking,
2) as newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby,
3) if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious:
4) coming to him, a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, precious.
5) You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6) Because it is contained in Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, chosen, and precious: He who believes in him will not be disappointed.”
7) For you who believe therefore is the honor, but for those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone,”
8) and, “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” For they stumble at the word, being disobedient, to which also they were appointed.
9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
10) who in time past were no people, but now are God’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11) Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12) having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation.
(1 Peter 2:1-12, WEB)

Every time you turn on the TV, someone is trying to sell you something; from cold medicines to slinky's and everything in between, we are bombarded with advertising. We become programmed to want more and more and more and MORE! Whether we think much about it or not, we are in a war; a war for your SPIRITUAL LIFE! There is real danger out there, danger that is much harder to identify than that in the picture above. It can start with the increasing desire to have more things (lust) and can progress to all sorts of spiritual problems. Be careful, be watchful, take some time to think about your life and ask yourself the question: Am I closer to God than I was a year ago? If your honest answer is uncomfortable to think about, then think of the guy with the machete and "be afraid, be very afraid"


Names, labels and the outworking of the heart

When I saw this picture on the net the other day, it caught my attention. There were a series of them, all with the "ideal" on the left and the "distortion" on the right. This one didn't quite achieve its intended purpose, though, so it seemed worth mentioning on the blog. I must confess, I hate the right title. Lets rename the right title to something more palatable, say: What would those who try to follow Jesus do? OK, so I am not a Roman Catholic, but that does not mean that many, many of its adherents genuinely TRY to do the right thing. Love and compassion go hand in hand and the logical outcome is action. Consider the following passage from the book of Luke to see what I mean.

Luke 10:25-37 (WEB)
25) Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26) He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
27) He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
28) He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”
29) But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
30) Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31) By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32) In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side.
33) But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion,
34) came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35) On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’
36) Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”
37) He said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:25-37, WEB)

There is an old saying: Love God and do what you like. The idea is that if you truly love God, you will WANT to please him in everything you do, so rules and regulations are not necessary. Religion that is worth something, does something. The loving in the heart yields a doing in the life. Don't worry about people putting labels on you, just continue to try to do what is right and your heart will ultimately find a way to express itself. Might also be a good idea to read the Bible as much as you can, too!!! On second thought, maybe being called a "Jesus freak" might not be such a bad idea after all, because if loving others gets that label, then I am all for it.


I think I can, I think I can...

I think I like this youngster! Somebody probably put him up to doing this, but what if he did it himself??? Now that would be something indeed!! Not that I think he could actually lift something like this, but if he would try... WOW!!! Optimism, it is the outward expression of hope! With it, anything seems possible, without it, all seems lost. Its all in your thinking. One of my favorite passages of Scripture talks about this...

Philippians 4:8-13 (WEB)
8) Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.
9) The things which you learned, received, heard, and saw in me: do these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10) But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length you have revived your thought for me; in which you did indeed take thought, but you lacked opportunity.
11) Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it.
12) I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need.
13) I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:8-13, WEB)

Paul was a little man who had very poor eyesight, but had a seemingly boundless faith and optimism. He did things that even the original apostles of Christ did not do and did them to such an extent that he far outshines them ALL!!! How, what made him different? Well, I never met the man, so, I REALLY DON'T KNOW, BUT, let me take a guess. I think the answer is found in verse 8. The human mind is like that of a computer (in some ways at least) in that what you put in yields what you get out (computer geeks often say"garbage in, garbage out"). But, its true, for over a period of time, you become what you think about day by day. So, if you reread verse 8 and really put it to mind... who knows, EVEN YOU MIGHT DO THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE!!!

By the way, I was thinking about this a lot today because we just found out that our oldest daughter is expecting in January. Forty two years young and having a BABY! This will make grand-baby number nine. And I thought it would never happen again; anything, but anything is possible!!!!


The learning curve

If you have ever watched "that 70's show" then you may remember Eric's girlfriend and her mother (who was a little dense [to put it mildly]). Personally, I think the thing about blonde's is all a put on, but who knows? This lady sure isn't going to win any awards for photography in the near future. But, hey, who among us hasn't screwed up occasionally? Sometimes we do things wrong because we are distracted or tired or angry or one of the seemingly endless list of possibilities, but PRIDE? Here is a case of pride and it a full blown one......

Acts 8:9-24 (WEB)
9) But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who used to practice sorcery in the city, and amazed the people of Samaria, making himself out to be some great one,
10) to whom they all listened, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is that great power of God.”
11) They listened to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his sorceries.
12) But when they believed Philip preaching good news concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13) Simon himself also believed. Being baptized, he continued with Philip. Seeing signs and great miracles occurring, he was amazed.
14) Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15) who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit;
16) for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus.
17) Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18) Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,
19) saying, “Give me also this power, that whomever I lay my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20) But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
21) You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart isn’t right before God.
22) Repent therefore of this, your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
23) For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the bondage of iniquity.”
24) Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have spoken happen to me.”

It must have been hard to have been put on the sidelines when you are accustomed to being called .."that great power of God"!! So, when he saw power of the Holy Spirit, he actually thought he could BUY it!! Talk about dumb!!! But he learned, he repented and moved on. Hopefully, our BLOND lady will someday actually learn how to use that camera or she will have a lot of pictures of her nose (I sincerely hope she doesn't have a cold in the nose). Life is full of our mistakes, from learning to walk to understanding God's ways, it is just one litany of trial and error. Hopefully, we will wind up pleasing God in the end. Humm, I wonder if God keeps a scrapbook of our stupidity; if so, the lady in the picture may find this picture as the cover.



Five presidents of the United States of America. From Jimmy Carter in the 70's to our current Barak Obama, they have led our country. I wonder, which one of them was the greatest? In my book the greatest one isn't even there; for Ronald Regan isn't there. And even he had his faults. So, who really is the greatest? Well, we could argue this all day and all night, but does it really matter? What matters is that they all served (or are serving) our country the best they could. The following passage from Matthew talks a bit about greatness, service and sacrifice.

Matthew 20:17-28 (WEB)
17) As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,
18) “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death,
19) and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up.”
20) Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him.
21) He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom.”
22) But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to him, “We are able.”
23) He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
24) When the ten heard it, they were indignant with the two brothers.
25) But Jesus summoned them, and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
26) It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
27) Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant,
28) even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:17-28, WEB)

Having said Ronald Regan was the greatest was based upon what I think he did for the country and his efforts caused me to give him this title. Even he didn't do what Jesus did; for Jesus changed the lives of untold millions upon millions of people. Now that is greatness; continued service for 2000 years and counting. As great as the men in the picture are, they will never top that record.

By the way, the man with the highest I.Q. is Jimmy Carter. Coming in at 167, he is the smartest.


What time is it?

Weird clock!! Looks like something straight from the mind of Tim Burton, or perhaps even from the Twilight Zone shows (an old black and white series on T.V.). WHOEVER dreamed this up is one very strange person indeed! Which brings to mind a question: can someone be both sane or insane? Here is an example of someone who was sane, then insane, then sane again.

Daniel 4:4-37 (WEB)
4) I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace.
5) I saw a dream which made me afraid; and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
6) Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.
7) Then came in the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers; and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me its interpretation.
8) But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and I told the dream before him, saying,
9) Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no secret troubles you, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.
10) Thus were the visions of my head on my bed: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth; and its height was great.
11) The tree grew, and was strong, and its height reached to the sky, and its sight to the end of all the earth.
12) The leaves of it were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all: the animals of the field had shadow under it, and the birds of the sky lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.
13) I saw in the visions of my head on my bed, and behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from the sky.
14) He cried aloud, and said thus, Cut down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit: let the animals get away from under it, and the fowls from its branches.
15) Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of the sky: and let his portion be with the animals in the grass of the earth:
16) let his heart be changed from man’s, and let an animal’s heart be given to him; and let seven times pass over him.
17) The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men.
18) This dream I, king Nebuchadnezzar, have seen; and you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.
19) Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was stricken mute for a while, and his thoughts troubled him. The king answered, Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you. Belteshazzar answered, My lord, the dream be to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries.
20) The tree that you saw, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached to the sky, and its sight to all the earth;
21) whose leaves were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all; under which the animals of the field lived, and on whose branches the birds of the sky had their habitation:
22) it is you, O king, that are grown and become strong; for your greatness is grown, and reaches to the sky, and your dominion to the end of the earth.
23) Whereas the king saw a watcher and a holy one coming down from the sky, and saying, Cut down the tree, and destroy it; nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and let it be wet with the dew of the sky: and let his portion be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him;
24) this is the interpretation, O king, and it is the decree of the Most High, which has come on my lord the king:
25) that you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field, and you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and shall be wet with the dew of the sky, and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will.
26) Whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree; your kingdom shall be sure to you, after that you shall have known that the heavens do rule.
27) Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of your tranquility.
28) All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar.
29) At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon.
30) The king spoke and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?
31) While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from the sky, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you:
32) and you shall be driven from men; and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will.
33) The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and ate grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the sky, until his hair was grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
34) At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives forever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation.
35) All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or ask him, What are you doing?
36) At the same time my understanding returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and brightness returned to me; and my counselors and my lords sought to me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent greatness was added to me.
37) Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.
(Daniel 4:4-37, WEB)

Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Judah, he was a very great king indeed, but he needed to learn a lesson. Pride was his downfall and The God of all heaven was his adversary. Daniel warned him, but pride must have its way. So, for several years he went a little "crazy". God gave him back his senses and Nebuchadnezzar understood God's place and his own. Sometimes a lot has to happen before we give God his proper praise and glory. Hopefully, in due time, we will turn around and give the God of heaven his due. I just hope we don't have to tell time by this clock; it gives me a headache.

Those were the days....

This is a picture from 1973; its a picture of my brother David's first wedding. I guess I had weddings on the brain because yesterday one of my fellow workers was leaving to attend HIS brother's wedding. The thing is: when I saw this picture I had mixed emotions; I was happy to see how young and great looking everyone was, but sad to think about some of them must look now. Yet, for many of them, I imagine they have had a full life. I only know about my brother (who is permanently disabled) and myself. Beyond that, I can only wonder. Consider the following passage from the book of Ezra to see what remembering can lead to.

Ezra 3:8-13 (WEB)
8) Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all those who were come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to have the oversight of the work of the house of Yahweh.
9) Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to have the oversight of the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brothers the Levites.
10) When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Yahweh, they set the priests in their clothing with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise Yahweh, after the order of David king of Israel.
11) They sang one to another in praising and giving thanks to Yahweh, “For he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever toward Israel.” All the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised Yahweh, because the foundation of the house of Yahweh was laid.
12) But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
13) so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
(Ezra 3:8-13, WEB)

Human beings have feelings; this is common to us all, but we show them differently. Many of the Jews who had seen the first temple remembered it. How clearly they did this is in doubt because the exile lasted seventy years, but nonetheless, they remembered. I can only imagine the depth of feeling a truly faithful Jew must have held towards the temple, but for some of them it was too much to hold in; they wept. Memories are like that, sometimes they are just hard to remember. I seems unbelievable that I once looked like I did at Dave's wedding, but then was then and now is now. Look for the good and move on. I just can't help but wonder though, were the old men crying out of sorrow or joy?


A Lion of a different color

What an unusual lion! My first thought was: "how cute"! Then I remembered a taped show from Animal planet about Lions that I saw this evening. Lions are such stately, beautiful creatures that its easy to forget the power they have. This show reminded me of their awesome destructive power. With that in mind, consider these few verses from the book of Revelation.

Revelation 5:1-5 (WEB)
1) I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals.
2) I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to break its seals?”
3) No one in heaven above, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look in it.
4) And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look in it.
5) One of the elders said to me, “Don’t weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals.”
(Revelation 5:1-5, WEB)

Plain and simple; Jesus has the power. Power to heal, power to forgive and the power to initiate judgment. Don't be deceived; Jesus is not someone to be taken lightly. I believe that if you study carefully, you will see that the Bible shows his powerful side quite clearly; that as Yahweh of Armies, he has been executing judgment since the beginning and will do so at the end. (See Revelation 19:11ff.) Somehow, the Lion in the picture just doesn't seem the same now.


Expect the unexpected!!!

I downloaded this yesterday from a website that listed it and several others under the general title of "thinking outside the box". Give it a few minutes thought and you will probably guess the answer, but if not, don't worry.... I didn't get it. When I did learn the answer, it was a surprise to me, but life is full of surprises. Here is one such tale that involves a surprise.

Matthew 20:1-16 (WEB)
1) “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who was the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2) When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3) He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace.
4) To them he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went their way.
5) Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.
6) About the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle. He said to them, ‘Why do you stand here all day idle?’
7) “They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ “He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is right.’
8) When evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’
9) “When those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius.
10) When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius.
11) When they received it, they murmured against the master of the household,
12) saying, ‘These last have spent one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat!’
13) “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me for a denarius?
14) Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you.
15) Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’
16) So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
(Matthew 20:1-16, WEB)

For a Jew, works were everything. It meant fulfilling the Law through obedience, by doing. So when those who worked only a short time received pay, it was the natural thing to assume that those who worked more should obtain more. Wrong!!! This incident was meant to be a lesson in the Grace of God, which had nothing to do with meritorious performance. Surprise, God wants to be merciful, not just to be obeyed. They didn't think outside their little "box" of the LAW, but WE CAN! As far as the puzzling pictures goes.... well, they arrested the fireman, BECAUSE HE WAS THE ONLY "HE" THERE; the rest of the group were women. God works this way as well, so go ahead, try your very best to understand HIM, but remember: Expect the unexpected!!!!