From Jim McGuiggan... TRUST the STORY


Credit me with this: I’m not talking about the nonsense we can see so much of in the movies or on the television! I’m talking about the well thought-out, well-written and well-acted dramas that there’s plenty of if we’re able and willing to tolerate some material in them that’s distasteful. [How much and what that is you’ll have to work out for yourself.]

We’re all gripped by such stories; our emotions are stirred; we make inner vows as we identify with the heroes we feel like applauding and we rage at the villains as they set our teeth on edge. We often speak to one another about such stories—I don’t doubt for a moment that’s part of the pleasure—we can’t keep quiet while the images continue to burn in us.

We feel satisfaction when the rogue finally gets “what’s coming to him.” [I’m not talking vindictiveness—a hunger for fairness is not the same as spite or vindictiveness though, of course, we’re capable of the worst, aren’t we?] There’s something about even a single case of fairness shining through that lifts our hearts and triggers a hunger for a world filled with such fairness.

But it’s often more than that, is it not! Sometimes it acts as a promise and assurance; it’s as if life won’t let us believe that lies are forever, that evil is all there is and all there will be. Every now and then when we see the oppressed vindicated and we’re thrilled to watch and listen to their joy fully restored, every now and then an actual event seems to whisper, a great story that has stayed in touch with reality and life seems to whisper: “Yes, do smile, do rejoice, don’t feel foolish, believe in happy endings—a day is coming when that is all you’ll see and hear; joy without end.

Great literature, great movies and dramas send out the same message. They may be fiction, it’s true but “fiction” that reaches down into the deep places in us and stays around for years is not based on “fiction”—it’s based on the very best that’s in us—and the very best that’s in us is there by the grace and work of God; there, via all the ways that He who loves us ceaselessly and relentlessly works it in us and leading us to believe even when we don’t really believe or maybe we presently don’t want to believe; and yet, we wish we did [just as Steven Weinberg, theoretical physicist and atheist, wistfully confessed that at times he wishes he could still believe that the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky shows his handiwork—Psalm 19].

I meant to say and got a bit sidetracked, when we see such an event, watch such a movie or read such a story we don’t need people to spell it all out for us in an overload of detail. A glorious event clearly seen, a great story well told has its own power without others micromanaging our thoughts and feelings about it. If Hollywood [now and then], if creative writers and story-tellers are able to imagine wonderful things, speak of things that reach us in the depths of our beings and in doing so move us so—if they can do that with fiction why can’t ministers of “the gospel” do it with truth? 
     If our truth is duller than fiction...?

Perhaps we will come to trust the Story to work its lovely magic in human hearts [Acts 20:32] and we’ll dispense with the eternal micromanaging with the same banal moralizing. If that should happen maybe people will come to believe that we who preach really believe what we’re saying about the glorious gospel and they will begin to believe it and find themselves inspired and liberated. Who knows, maybe they will begin to tell it to others.

Is God Talking to Me? by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Is God Talking to Me?

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Among those who profess to believe that the Bible is God’s Word, it has become a common practice to avoid following certain biblical commands. They do this based on the idea that such commands were specifically for the individuals at the time of the writing, and do not have broader application to those of us who are reading the text in a modern-day setting. For instance, one religious group formed a committee in 1992 to research the biblical passages dealing with homosexuality. One of the four tenets upon which the committee was able to reach a consensus was the following statement: “The 7 references to homosexuality in the Bible represent ancient culture and not the will of God. They cannot be taken as definitive” (Robinson, 2005). The idea, then, is that God is not really talking to us, but was talking only to “those” people “back then.”
Jesus had something to say about this very idea. On one memorable occasion, the Sadducees came to Jesus, testing Him with questions pertaining to the resurrection. In their minds, they had concocted an unanswerable scenario. If a woman had seven husbands in this life, they questioned, whose wife would she be in the resurrection? Jesus, knowing their wickedness and their ignorance of the Scripture, explained that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). He then said to the Sadducees, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32, emp. added).
Notice that Jesus was quoting to the Sadducees a segment of Scripture that was taken from the Pentateuch (Exodus 3:6). The text was written almost 1,500 years before this group of Sadducees even existed. In the text, God was speaking directly to Moses, who had a much different culture than those of the first century Jews. And yet, even with such a lengthy time span and major cultural differences involved, Jesus stated clearly that God was talking to His first-century audience.
Several lessons can be learned from Jesus’ statement. First, we must realize that God speaks to us today through His inspired Word, just as He spoke to the Sadducees almost 2,000 years ago. Second, while it is true that some things in Scripture must be analyzed in their cultural setting, and the division between the Old Testament and New Testament must be recognized, it is extremely dangerous to jettison applicable commands and divine principles based on the idea that they no longer apply to us. Even though our culture may drift far from many of the biblical teachings, those teachings have not changed, and will not change due to ever-waffling cultural trends. Regardless of cultural shifts, it will never be right to jettison God commands regarding homosexuality, or any other sins, based on the idea that such commands were solely for someone else in some other time. As the psalmist wrote about God in the long ago, “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160). If you want to listen to God speak to you today, open your Bible.


Robinson, B.A. (2005), “The United Methodist Church and Homosexuality: Conference Decisions,” [On-line], URL: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_umc6.htm.

From Mark Copeland... The Blind Man At Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                  The Blind Man At Bethsaida (8:22-26)


1. Among the many people Jesus healed included the blind...
   a. As foretold by Isaiah - cf. Lk 4:18
   b. Offered as evidence to John the Baptist - cf. Lk 7:20-22

2. The healing of a blind man in our text is unique in two ways...
   a. It is found only in Mark's gospel
   b. It is the only miracle by that occurs in two stages

[Opening our Bibles to our text (Mk 8:22-26), let's first examine...]


      1. Bethsaida Julias, near where the 5000 had been fed - Mk 8:22;
         cf. Lk 9:10
      2. On the NE side of the Sea of Galilee, near the entrance of the

      1. By those who begged Jesus to touch him - Mk 8:22
      2. By concerned friends, similar to those who brought the
         paralytic - cf. Mk 2:3

      1. Leading the blind man by the hand - Mk 8:23
      2. Similar to what He did with the deaf mute - cf. Mk 7:33

      1. Stage one - Mk 8:23-24
         a. Jesus spat on his eyes and then touched him
            1) Similar to what He did with the deaf mute - cf. Mk 7:33
            2) Perhaps to convey to the blind man His intentions
            3) The spit - His intention was to heal, saliva was thought
               to have medicinal properties
            4) The touch - "Something will be done for your eyes...and I
               will do it."
         b. When asked if he saw anything, he looked up and said, "I see
            men like trees, walking"
      2. Stage two - Mk 8:25
         a. Jesus put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up
         b. His sight was completely restored and saw everyone clearly

      1. To his house, not into town, not to tell anyone - Mk 8:26
      2. Similar to earlier admonitions following His healings - cf. Mk 1:44; 5:43; 7:36
      3. Undue attention would hinder His ability to travel and do His
      4. Especially by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Herodians - cf.
         Mk 8:11

[With the account of this unusual miracle fresh on our minds, allow me
to share...]


      1. Why take the blind man out of the town of Bethsaida?
         a. To avoid publicity?
         b. To establish a one-to-one relationship with the man?
         c. Because Bethsaida had been judged already? - cf. Mt 11:21-22
      2. Why didn't the man receive perfect sight immediately?
         a. Was it the spiritual condition of the man himself?
         b. Was it to illustrate the slow progress of the disciples'
            faith? - cf. Mk 8:18
      -- Any explanation is speculation at best

      1. Jesus healed at least eight blind men, using a variety of
         a. Two men were healed by a simple touch of their eyes - Mt 9:27-31
         b. A blind and mute man was simply healed - Mt 12:22
         c. Two more blind men were healed by a simple touch of the eyes
            - Mt 20:30-34
         d. In our text, the blind man was healed with touch and
            spittle, in two stages - Mk 8:22-26
         e. Blind Bartimaeus was healed with but a simple word - Mk 10:46-52
         f. A blind man was healed with the anointment of the eyes with
            clay and spittle, followed by washing in the pool of Siloam
            - Jn 9:1-7
      2. Similarly, prayer is not always answered the same way
         a. God may say "yes" and the prayer answer immediately
         b. God may say "yes, but wait awhile"
         c. God may say "yes, but not in the way you expect"
      -- Faith is content to receive God's working, however He deems

      1. Similar to how this particular miracle occurred
      2. Such was the case with Jesus' disciples - cf. Mk 8:18
      3. So we should expect our spiritual growth to take time - cf. 1Co 3:1-2; 2Pe 3:18
      -- Faith is patient, understanding that important things often
         take time


1. Many commentators have noted our similarity with "The Blind Man At
   a. We are spiritually blinded by sin, in need of "healing" - Ro 3:23
   b. We need the special attention of Jesus to be "healed" - Mt 11:28-30; Mk 16:15-16; Col 2:11-13
   c. When Jesus "heals" us of spiritual blindness, it may take awhile
      to see clearly - He 5:12-14

2. Are you still in sin...?
   a. Blinded by sin, and alienated from the life of God? - cf. Ep 4:17-19
   b. Then you need Jesus to be renewed in righteousness and holiness
      - cf. Ep 4:20-24

Begin by coming to Jesus through obedience to His gospel, and continue
by walking with Him, seeing more clearly day by day...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading December 13

Bible Reading  

December 13

The World English Bible

Dec. 13
Hosea 5-8

Hos 5:1 "Listen to this, you priests! Listen, house of Israel, and give ear, house of the king! For the judgment is against you; for you have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread on Tabor.
Hos 5:2 The rebels are deep in slaughter; but I discipline all of them.
Hos 5:3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from me; for now, Ephraim, you have played the prostitute. Israel is defiled.
Hos 5:4 Their deeds won't allow them to turn to their God; for the spirit of prostitution is within them, and they don't know Yahweh.
Hos 5:5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face. Therefore Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their iniquity. Judah also will stumble with them.
Hos 5:6 They will go with their flocks and with their herds to seek Yahweh; but they won't find him. He has withdrawn himself from them.
Hos 5:7 They are unfaithful to Yahweh; for they have borne illegitimate children. Now the new moon will devour them with their fields.
Hos 5:8 "Blow the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah! Sound a battle cry at Beth Aven, behind you, Benjamin!
Hos 5:9 Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke. Among the tribes of Israel, I have made known that which will surely be.
Hos 5:10 The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark. I will pour out my wrath on them like water.
Hos 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed, he is crushed in judgment; Because he is intent in his pursuit of idols.
Hos 5:12 Therefore I am to Ephraim like a moth, and to the house of Judah like rottenness.
Hos 5:13 "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to king Jareb: but he is not able to heal you, neither will he cure you of your wound.
Hos 5:14 For I will be to Ephraim like a lion, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I myself will tear in pieces and go away. I will carry off, and there will be no one to deliver.
Hos 5:15 I will go and return to my place, until they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me earnestly."
Hos 6:1 "Come, and let us return to Yahweh; for he has torn us to pieces, and he will heal us; he has injured us, and he will bind up our wounds.
Hos 6:2 After two days he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up, and we will live before him.
Hos 6:3 Let us acknowledge Yahweh. Let us press on to know Yahweh. As surely as the sun rises, Yahweh will appear. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth."
Hos 6:4 "Ephraim, what shall I do to you? Judah, what shall I do to you? For your love is like a morning cloud, and like the dew that disappears early.
Hos 6:5 Therefore I have cut them to pieces with the prophets; I killed them with the words of my mouth. Your judgments are like a flash of lightning.
Hos 6:6 For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Hos 6:7 But they, like Adam, have broken the covenant. They were unfaithful to me, there.
Hos 6:8 Gilead is a city of those who work iniquity; it is stained with blood.
Hos 6:9 As gangs of robbers wait to ambush a man, so the company of priests murder in the way toward Shechem, committing shameful crimes.
Hos 6:10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing. There is prostitution in Ephraim. Israel is defiled.
Hos 6:11 "Also, Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of my people.
Hos 7:1 When I would heal Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim is uncovered, also the wickedness of Samaria; for they commit falsehood, and the thief enters in, and the gang of robbers ravages outside.
Hos 7:2 They don't consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their own deeds have engulfed them. They are before my face.
Hos 7:3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.
Hos 7:4 They are all adulterers. They are burning like an oven that the baker stops stirring, from the kneading of the dough, until it is leavened.
Hos 7:5 On the day of our king, the princes made themselves sick with the heat of wine. He joined his hand with mockers.
Hos 7:6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait. Their baker sleeps all the night. In the morning it burns as a flaming fire.
Hos 7:7 They are all hot as an oven, and devour their judges. All their kings have fallen. There is no one among them who calls to me.
Hos 7:8 Ephraim, he mixes himself among the nations. Ephraim is a pancake not turned over.
Hos 7:9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he doesn't realize it. Indeed, gray hairs are here and there on him, and he doesn't realize it.
Hos 7:10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they haven't returned to Yahweh their God, nor sought him, for all this.
Hos 7:11 "Ephraim is like an easily deceived dove, without understanding. They call to Egypt. They go to Assyria.
Hos 7:12 When they go, I will spread my net on them. I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will chastise them, as their congregation has heard.
Hos 7:13 Woe to them! For they have wandered from me. Destruction to them! For they have trespassed against me. Though I would redeem them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
Hos 7:14 They haven't cried to me with their heart, but they howl on their beds. They assemble themselves for grain and new wine. They turn away from me.
Hos 7:15 Though I have taught and strengthened their arms, yet they plot evil against me.
Hos 7:16 They return, but not to the Most High. They are like a faulty bow. Their princes will fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.
Hos 8:1 "Put the trumpet to your lips! Something like an eagle is over Yahweh's house, because they have broken my covenant, and rebelled against my law.
Hos 8:2 They cry to me, 'My God, we Israel acknowledge you!'
Hos 8:3 Israel has cast off that which is good. The enemy will pursue him.
Hos 8:4 They have set up kings, but not by me. They have made princes, and I didn't approve. Of their silver and their gold they have made themselves idols, that they may be cut off.
Hos 8:5 Let Samaria throw out his calf idol! My anger burns against them! How long will it be until they are capable of purity?
Hos 8:6 For this is even from Israel! The workman made it, and it is no God; indeed, the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.
Hos 8:7 For they sow the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind. He has no standing grain. The stalk will yield no head. If it does yield, strangers will swallow it up.
Hos 8:8 Israel is swallowed up. Now they are among the nations like a worthless thing.
Hos 8:9 For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey wandering alone. Ephraim has hired lovers for himself.
Hos 8:10 But although they sold themselves among the nations, I will now gather them; and they begin to waste away because of the oppression of the king of mighty ones.
Hos 8:11 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning, they became for him altars for sinning.
Hos 8:12 I wrote for him the many things of my law; but they were regarded as a strange thing.
Hos 8:13 As for the sacrifices of my offerings, they sacrifice flesh and eat it; But Yahweh doesn't accept them. Now he will remember their iniquity, and punish their sins. They will return to Egypt.
Hos 8:14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send a fire on his cities, and it will devour its fortresses."
Dec. 13
1 John 3

1Jn 3:1 Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn't know us, because it didn't know him.
1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that, when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is.
1Jn 3:3 Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
1Jn 3:4 Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness.
1Jn 3:5 You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin.
1Jn 3:6 Whoever remains in him doesn't sin. Whoever sins hasn't seen him, neither knows him.
1Jn 3:7 Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
1Jn 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
1Jn 3:9 Whoever is born of God doesn't commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can't sin, because he is born of God.
1Jn 3:10 In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn't do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn't love his brother.
1Jn 3:11 For this is the message which you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
1Jn 3:12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one, and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because his works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
1Jn 3:13 Don't be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. He who doesn't love his brother remains in death.
1Jn 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1Jn 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?
1Jn 3:18 My little children, let's not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.
1Jn 3:19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him,
1Jn 3:20 because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
1Jn 3:21 Beloved, if our hearts don't condemn us, we have boldness toward God;
1Jn 3:22 and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.
1Jn 3:23 This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded.
1Jn 3:24 He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

From Gary... A new way to remember

I was on the phone today with my younger brother, Dave.  We had a very long conversation about how he is fixing up the homestead in Melrose, N.Y..  I can't wait to see the pictures, as he has worked on just about every room of that old farmhouse. I can only remember the place being a wreck, so I am hoping that the new pictures will etch new memories and perhaps give me a new perspective about where I grew up.  One thing is for sure- I haven't lived there since 1968, so some things HAVE CHANGED!!!  At the same time, it is comforting to know that the things of God have NOT CHANGED; that God has given his "LAST WORD" to us on the spiritual things that really matter!!!! And that word is through Jesus...

Hebrews, Chapter 1 (WEB)
1 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds.
Now, I have lived in the 20th and the 21st century and have seen the advent of the computer age and it is marvellous!!! As a result, some things (like the internet) have changed the way I live. The good news is that the truths of the Gospel is still the same.  While I may read the Bible on a computer screen as often as I read a paper Bible, still, the truth is the same!!!  And like the graphic above, even if I view it through fifty glasses (mediums of understanding) the same truth exists. I guess the only way I will know the spiritual things of God any better is to have Jesus explain them to me- in person.  Can't wait- can you??