Getting Personal

St PaulI, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.    1 Corinthians 16:21

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!    Galatians 6:11

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.    Colossians 4:18

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.    2 Thessalonians 3:17

I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.    Philemon 1:19

Paul had a vision problem, probably a left over from his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus:

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[b] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

It is thought that he normally dictated his letters, which make up most of our New testament Bible.  You’ll see the five references above where Paul made the effort to write the letters himself.  He even references his disability, mentioning how large/distinctive his handwriting is in the case of his letters to Galatia and Thessalonica.

What was the point?  It came to me on Reformation Sunday when Pastor had borrowed a Lutheran bible that was printed at the time of the Reformation.  It is over 500 years old, and it is a physical connection for us to that time.  People lined up after the service to get a glimpse of this old Bible up close!

It’s amazing how a physical artifact can make a connection between people!

Grant_crop_of_Cold_Harbor_photoRobert_E_Lee_in_1863I remember once seeing a shoddy, old pencil in a display case at the Hayes Presidential Museum in Fremont, Ohio.  Looking at the display card, I saw that it was the pencil used by Generals Grant and Lee to sign the surrender at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War.  WOW!  Out of everything I saw there that day, that’s the one thing that really made an impression on me; a pencil.  A really cool pencil!

So getting a letter from arguably the greatest of the apostles in his own handwriting would have an impact.

Emails.  They’re easy, fast, and inexpensive…not counting the equipment and internet access needed!  I used to write a lot of letters to friends over the summers between years at college.  There was always a gathering around the student mailboxes during the school year every day to see if we got a letter from home, relatives…ANYBODY!  Or maybe we just got “airmail”; an empty box.

The last time I visited The ‘Berg I don’t think there were any mailboxes.  No need for them in the electronic age, I guess.

But then I got a letter from a friend a few months ago, and it was such a pleasure.  A real letter in someone’s own handwriting!  I mean, who does that anymore?

Note Cards BlankSo I made an adjustment this week.  I got a box of blank notecards.  I sent one to the group that went to Haiti and made a presentation on it last Sunday.  I just wanted to say thank you in a tangible, personal way.

This morning a I sent another card with a very brief note to a friend and her three grown children who lost their husband and father a few months ago.  I continue to pray for them, but a thinking-of-you, handwritten note will have a much greater impact than a too-easy email.

This is part of a bigger imperative; doing things for people!  Jesus was very plain that we should do good things for others, especially widows and orphans, the disadvantaged and defenseless.

Hard Rock_Haiti

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.    James 1:27

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.    James 2:14-17

If you really want to say hello to someone, say it in handwriting.  Don’t go cheap, buy a card, and just sign it.  Write something from you.  Send it by snail mail.  Stamp and everything.

Let’s…get personal.  Again!

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The Closet Christian

“Daughters have secrets from their mothers — the unsuitable man, the vodka habit, the misspent night…But what I really did not want her to find out, what I could never bring myself to tell her, was that I go to church — and not just at Christmas. My mother, Marion, was an atheist — a genuine one with no hedging of bets at the last minute when she died, no keeping her options open just in case.”

Wheelchair WomanSo begins an article for The London Daily Mail by Sarah Foot, novelist. Her mother was an atheist due in large part, if not entirely, to her multiple sclerosis. Wheelchair bound and helpless for decades, she saw no reason to believe in any God. Right through to the bitter, eternal end.

After reading many books about different faiths, Sarah settled on Christianity, specifically The Church of England “…thanks to an Anglican priest. He believed that different faiths were just different ways of reaching the same end.” However, the church she attends is rife with the same problems discussed in my recent articles on the book Already Gone by Ken Ham.

Anglican ChurchShe regularly attends, albeit with a shrinking group of parishioners: “There are so few of us, we sit in a tiny side chapel. Even on a good day numbers rarely exceed 20. The faces are nearly always the same. And though I won’t see 50 (years old) again, I am invariably the youngest, sometimes by a decade or two. Who will sit with me when I am the age of my fellow communicants, I have no idea.”

She could not confess her “sin” of going to church to her mother. She felt guilty over the idea of telling her mother that there’s a loving God when she herself can walk about freely in an undamaged body.

She wonders why she believes and even whether she believes. She struggles with her faith. As I read her, I hear a cry for a reason to believe in the One True God and to look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come even as she repeats the Nicene Creed every Sunday. It sounds as if it would be so easy for her to let go, to escape the seemingly unanswerable questions that vex her faith.

But there is hope. Her soul is crying out to God, and the Holy Spirit is still calling her to a strong faith in that One Eternal God: “…if I was told I could not go to church again, I fear something in me would completely wither and that despair would then set in.”

Here’s the real question for her and the reason why she, in her fifties, is by far the youngest attendee at her small church. It’s the Anglican priest himself who is letting her down and destroying his own parish. How? It’s right there in the quote above. He preaches that all faiths are merely different routes to the same end.

If that same priest himself would preach the unadulterated Word of God, his attendance would grow. Sarah’s faith would become firmer, and she would know the answers to her misgivings.

Angry at GodShe would know that sin, not God, is responsible for her mother’s ultimately fatal MS (see Unforced Errors). She would not have to feel guilty about her faith, as if she is the weak one who relies on a possible fairy tale. She would know that the stirring in her soul, the part she says would wither and die if she stopped altogether, is crying out for solid, spiritual food. She would know she is still alive spiritually, albeit faintly.

Already GoneI am saddened to see such a graphic example of what Already Gone is all about. I am heartened that she still listens to the small voice of her soul seeking that which is wants so desperately.

“…I seek that reminder more than once a year — even though, intellectually, I can demolish my church-going in seconds, having no rational explanation for it…I desperately want to believe that there is a peace beyond my understanding, a place of infinite tenderness, that, in the end, I am — that we all are — always loved. So I will be on the side of the angels — and not just at Christmas — in the hope that they are not just a figment of my imagination and yearning, but genuine tidings of comfort and joy.”

Please join me in praying for her and all of those like her who are being let down by weak clergy and still seek. Pray that she finds her way to really know that One True God she doubtfully confesses every Sunday in the Nicene Creed.

Pray.

Please see the article in its entirety: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2885809/Secret-scared-tell-mother-Millions-pay-annual-visit-church-tomorrow-daughter-zealous-atheist-reveals-finds-solace-pews-week-despite-agonising-doubts.html

Words of Wisdom

I use Portals of Prayer by Concordia Publishing as my daily devotional.  Every day is a reflection on a short passage and a Psalm.  The other day I was really struck by Psalm 91.  Allow me to add my thoughts in the midst of the psalm –

Praise the Lord!

Praising GodI will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.

People disdain organized religion. They say they see no need to meet, worship, and study with other Christians.  No less than St. Paul urges us to meet together, build each other up, and carry each other’s burdens.  Praise God?  Alone?  Now where’s the fun in that?  How can you do The Wave with no one else in the stadium?

The works of the Lord are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.

Chuck as MosesKnow the narrative! God has done some galactically spectacular things, starting with Creation!  Then we have the Flood.  He later took less than 100 people INTO Egypt and brought out 2 million plus of their descendants!  Frogs, locusts, boils, bloody water were all over Egypt EXCEPT where the Jews were living in Goshen to convince Pharoah to let them go.  When we realize how powerful and loving God is to those that are with Him, how great a feeling to know we are on HIS team! That’s pleasure!

dead-sea-scrollHis work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;

We don’t have the originals of everything written, but when we look at copies that continue to be found dating over centuries, the consistency of translations and content is amazing!

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He has declared to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations.

 That food includes the spiritual, saving food of Jesus, offered up in our stead just so we can spend eternity with Him. All we need to do is say, “Yes!”

The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

being-nice-to-people____-funny-fridge-magnet-ep--4274-p

Actually, a GOD idea

We are instructed to do unto others as we would like others to do to us. Be nice in traffic!  Hold the door for someone behind you.  Be honest on your dealings with others.  Love God with all your heart and soul and love others as much as you love yourself.  If everyone did that, how great would the world be?  How great can we make at least our small corner of it by just doing what God tells us to do?

 

A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.    Psalm 111

Psalm 94

The Rainbow Connection

And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”    Genesis 9:12-17

perfect-rainbow

This song from The Muppet Movie was used for one of the dances on Dancing With the Stars on their Disney Night. It’s a cute, wistful song, but I was conflicted over the lyrics as I listened.  It’s meant to be a song about positivity and hope, but it doesn’t get there.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows, And what’s on the other side?

Why indeed? Very simply, it’s because people are looking for earthly answers in the world that God created for us.  Even though we’ve collectively ruined it by giving Satan sway with our sinful choices since Adam and Eve, Earth is still a beautiful place, complete with rainbows.

the-floodThere are theories that the earth was covered in clouds before The Flood. The water that made it was drawn in large part from the skies.  It was a warm, moist blanket to cover and protect the planet.  The Bible refers to dew covering the ground, indicating that it was the dew, not rain, that watered the earth.  When the earth dried, the skies were clear but for clouds as we see them today.  Rainbows were visible for the first time.

God used that part of His creation to declare a truce with all living creatures, that He would never again destroy the entire world in a flood.

But without keeping our eyes on Him and in His Word we have lost our way. What’s at the end of a rainbow?  A pot of gold?  Riches?  Dreams fulfilled?

Most recently the LGBT community has profaned, indeed blasphemed God’s sign of peace with “all flesh” by making it their banner, flaunting their sins under its arch. Like everyone on earth, they have their temptations to resist, not revel in!

Rainbows. What’s on the other side?  That’s no mystery.  It’s a Spoil Me Rotten Eternity through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour!

Spoil Me Rotten!

Garden of EdenAnd God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  Genesis 1: 29-31

Julie and I went on vacation last week. It was unusual for us, because we normally go to historic places, museums, and such things.  We are not the type that run madly about in pursuit of “fun.”  We do tend to have active vacations, drinking in what we can experience.

So. Last week.  I did a pretty good job in 2016.  I did well enough to win what my company calls a Pinnacle Award.  It’s an all-expense paid trip for two to my choice of a vacation package; a Golfing Vacation, NASCAR Vacation, Sports Vacation, and even an Eating Vacation.  Seriously.

We couldn’t quite decide, but we settled on the Spoil Me Rotten Vacation. One week at the Naples Bay Resort, Naples, FL.  I told the agent that I hadn’t felt this silly since ordering a Super Duper Chicken Sandwich at some restaurant chain.

Cabana

Oh, Cabana Boy?

There was a credit for us at the grill and another at the health spa for a massage. There was a poolside cabana reserved for us for an entire day; two lounges chairs plus something like queen sized bed.  We went first thing in the morning and were greeted with a fruit tray and a large bucket of iced bottled water.  We lounged, noshed on fruit, relaxed, read, took a dip in the salt water pool, got out…repeat as needed.

 

Fruit PlateLunch? We dragged ourselves the ten yards to the grill for a delicious – free – meal.  Back to the cabana we went for more reading, napping, and dipping.  It was dinner time before we knew it, so back to the grill we went.  Obviously, we didn’t NEED to eat, but we were being Spoiled Rotten, OK?

The next morning we took a walk to the gulf coast about a mile and a half away. Getting back noon-ish, we decided it was time to hit the pool again to cool off and get some lunch.  At the grill.

People asked me how the vacation was, and I feel so conflicted in telling them that we didn’t really do anything, but…IT WAS FANTASTIC!

What Did Adam & Eve Do?  Life was something like that once about 6000 years ago.  Give or take a few centuries.  God fixing to spoil us all rotten in The Garden of Eden!

Adam & Eve:  “I mean, LOOK AT ALL THIS FOOD!  Ponds for swimming, animals to play with…  This is so cool!”

God:  “Adam? Eve?  Enjoy!  Knock yourselves out!  Just leave that one tree alone.  That’s it.”

No work. Just play.

What in the world were they thinking?!?

Well, there’s Jesus, Mercy, and salvation coming. Hang in there.  We’re going back…to a Spoil Me Rotten Eternity!

Fight…But in a Good Way

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Fight the Fights

The American President – “Fight the fights that need fighting!

“You only fight the fights you can win? You fight the fights that need fighting!” A.J. MacInerny to President Andrew Shepherd,  “The American President”

 

This is hard, because I don’t do this really well myself. I guess that’s why it’s a good post to write.  I’m doing it mostly for me.  Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful too.

St PaulSt. Paul definitely fought the good fight. He even went for it when he couldn’t win.  He’d been shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, left for dead, and more.  He was a smart guy, so I’m sure he saw a lot of those beatings coming.  He didn’t have to go to Rome.  When he was on trial in Jerusalem, he could have gotten off easily.  But, no, he appealed to the emperor and his Roman citizenship.  That pretty well sealed it for him.  Rome is where he was imprisoned for a long time and eventually executed.  He told the ship’s captain who was taking him to Rome not to sail according to plan.  Bad time of year, bad winds, bad storms.  Paul tried to warn him, but they shipwrecked.  Told you so.

Paul could have not kept his foot on the gas so hard. That might have meant he’d lived longer, made more missionary trips.  God, however, knew better.  Rome was the center of the world.  What better place to proclaim Christ than Rome?

To all appearances, Paul was going to lose. He knew it was coming.  Jesus told him that He would show Paul “…how much he must suffer for My sake.”  Paul didn’t fight the fights he could win in the body.  He fought the fights that needed fighting for souls.  Even when those souls rejected and tried to kill him.

cone_of_shameAs for me, I can’t tell you how many times I have not spoken about the Gospel with people I know. I couldn’t find a way to insert it in the conversation.  I couldn’t think of how to bring it up without – in my mind – making it a complete non-sequitor.  It might have been embarrassing.  It might have put them off.  But maybe I should just dive in.  Fight the fights that need fighting.  Get the message out and let the Holy Spirit worry about how the message is received.  Just go after it and do the best I can.

Paul had a lot to make up for in his mind. I’m sure he carried the shame of having persecuted Christ and killed so many innocent Christians.  He knew he was forgiven, but we don’t forget as well as God does.  God says, “I will remember their sins no more.”

I need to fight those fights. I need to wade in and do what needs to be done.  I might lose a friend.  I might tick someone off.  I could lose in any number of ways, but certainly not as much as Paul did.

That’s the real trick, isn’t it? That’s earthly loss.  Heavenly loss is something else.

What I’m really talking about is good works, right?

“20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:20-22

We need to fight the fights that need fighting, regardless of whether it looks like a winning position in this world. You see, faith saves.  And faith without works is dead.

Then what happens after we die? Well, my Lutheran upbringing tells me we go to heaven as believers.  Cool.  But I’ve also come to learn that we will face judgment.  For example:

woman-shouting“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Matthew 12:26

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10

But Jesus will step in and acknowledge us to His Father as we have acknowledged Him. I still don’t take this judgment lightly, because we will face it, and I believe it will be terrifying to see God’s wrath poised to strike us.  I’m pretty fearful of that time, because I know what I can remember.  Bad enough without all of the rest I can’t remember!

One other piece about heaven. There are levels of heaven.  Check out Matthew 11:11 – “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Or Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 6: 20 indicates that we can actually make heaven better by virtue of how hard we work for Christ in this world. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

There will be those who will sit in places of greater glory in heaven than others. Those who shirk the tasks God has given, those who are of minimal faith and works will occupy places of lesser glory.

Am I saying we need to start working the system? No!  We need to listen to everything Jesus told us.  He did so, because He wanted us to know and act.  He wants our actions as a loving response to our faith in Him.

Revelations and the letters to the seven church should also give us a chill. Each letter contains reprimands and warnings about the works they do and don’t do.

Charity

Charity

“And I will give to each of you according to your works…And he who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.” Revelations 2:23b & 26.

 

“I know your works…I have not found your perfect before God…He who overcomes shall be clothes in white garments and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelations 3:1, 2b, & 5.

Aren’t we saved by faith? Yes.  Recall, however, the above passage from James, which tells us that faith without works is useless.  Why?

Simply put, we do what we believe we should do. If we don’t think that we should share God, help the downtrodden, and do all things Jesus told us to do, well, we have to question just what we really believe.

I use my works as a mirror, some sort of indicator as to whether I’m fighting the fights God wants fought. I must admit I do a lousy job.  I must do better.  Because I want to please God.  I don’t want my name blotted out of The Book of Life.  I want to see Jesus and everyone else in heaven.

One Last Gun Topic

Sword RomanThen said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.    Luke 22:36

Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.    Exodus 22:21

And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.    Numbers 10:9

But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?    James 2:6

Magnum 44Guns are a necessary thing. Without them we leave ourselves open to oppression by both individuals and governments.  That is why the authors of our Constitution included the right to bear arms, the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

EXHIBIT 1: Laws prohibiting gun ownership by blacks after the Civil War were what made it so easy for the Ku Klux Klan and generally racist people to murder blacks in cold blood.  The following is from Do Black People Have Equal Gun Rights? By Charles C.W. Cooke for The New York Times Sunday review, 10/25/2014.

After the Civil War, many Southern states enacted Black Codes to prohibit ownership of guns by blacks. The measures served their purpose. In her remarkable 1892 disquisition on the evils of lynching, the writer Ida B. Wells noted that “the only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense.” Wells offered some blunt advice:

Winchester_1866_Yellowboy“a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”

At the height of the civil rights movement, black freedom fighters took Wells’s counsel seriously. Although he was denied a concealed-carry permit, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had what his adviser Glenn E. Smiley described as a veritable “arsenal” at home.Dr-Martin-Luther-King-1024x531

 

Absence of a means to defend oneself invites oppression and violence from the evil of the world.

 

Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht – The Start of the Holocaust

EXHIBIT 2: Hitler’s success perpetrating The Holocaust was aided in part by gun controls.  Ironically, he relaxed the gun laws imposed on Germany after WWII, except for provisions inserted that made it all but impossible for Jews to own or acquire guns.  Here’s an excerpt from an article on InfoWars.

 

Bernard E. Harcourt, writing for the University of Chicago Law School and Political Science Department, notes:

If you read the 1938 Nazi gun laws closely and compare them to earlier 1928 Weimar gun legislation – as a straightforward exercise of statutory interpretation – several conclusions become clear. First, with regard to possession and carrying of firearms, the Nazi regime relaxed the gun laws that were in place in Germany at the time the Nazis seized power. Second, the Nazi gun laws of 1938 specifically banned Jewish persons from obtaining a license to manufacture firearms or ammunition. Third, approximately eight months after enacting the 1938 Nazi gun laws, Hitler imposed regulations prohibiting Jewish persons from possessing any dangerous weapons, including firearms.

SwastikaThe point was, Hitler had it in for the Jews, so he first disarmed them before carrying out his murderous campaign against them. And, unable to resist, millions died.

 

In case you might be turned off by InfoWars as a source, I found another article by someone trying to argue that gun restrictions had nothing to do with Hitler’s preparations to exterminate Jews.  In The Hitler Gun Control Lie, Alex Seitz-Wald disproves his own theory without even realizing it by citing the exact same laws as the quotation above, and simply pooh-poohs the information.

The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition, “ Harcourt wrote. Meanwhile, many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18 years, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years.

The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general.”

He goes on from to make some analogies that are ill-conceived. One can argue the effectiveness of Hitler’s laws till one is blue in the face, but the fact that those laws were enacted as a precursor to The Holocaust is undeniable by both sides of the issue.

Could such oppression happen in America? Absolutely!  Recall the behavior of the last several presidents, whose actions are Constitutionally questionable.  Those in power love that power and push the limits as far as they can, gaining more and more control over the population in increments.

I think we all know that there were no federal taxes until Lincoln needed to raise money to fight The Civil War. Then those taxes became a permanent way of life.

I am old enough to recall my parents paying their taxes quarterly themselves. There was no tax withholding from your paycheck in those days.  I remember listening to my folks talking about the change to withholding taxes before you ever got your hands on your own money! No one we knew was too happy about it.

Now? It’s a “painless” fact of life with no muss, no fuss, no protest.  They’ve gotten control of money through taxes.  Guns seem to be the next big thing to get a handle on.

For a much better discussion of these issues see another Washington Post article:

Charles C.W. Cooke: The right to bear arms isn’t up for debate

My Mom’s Near Death Experience – In Her Own Words

I’ve heard one other first-hand account of a near death experience years ago from a man I knew at my church. It was a fascinating thing to hear! No less is Caralyn’s mom’s experience; shall I call her Mrs. BBB? Caralyn has provided an audio of her phone callto her mom to record this as well as a transcript of the call. This will be well worth your time!

BeautyBeyondBones

*Before we jump into tonight’s amazing story (I can say that because it’s not mine 🙂 ) I have 2 quick announcements.

  1. Thank you to everyone who has bought my book, Bloom. I am so humbled by the incredible feedback you’ve been sharing with me. It really means a lot. And there are still copies available if you or a loved one could use this wonderful journal.
  2. Secondly, I did something. Every day, I get, no joke, probably around 10 emails asking me how I got 31,000 subscribers. And so I’ve put out an ebook called My Blogging Tips. And I’m not at all saying I’m some sort of “expert” or something – no way! But I have found some strategies that have definitely been beneficial, so I’m sharing them with you 🙂

OK NOW ONTO TONIGHT’S POST!!

Where do we go when we die?

That’s the question…

View original post 3,589 more words

Painting the Room/World

SERPENT IN THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE.jpgAnd the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”   Genesis 2:16-17

“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always… “Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ … 16 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.

26 Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.    Deuteronomy 11, selected verses.

 

Garden of EdenFrom the beginning of mankind’s existence, God has provided for us. He provided food, water, companionship, animals, a perfect garden…and a choice.

The choice was a very easy one; “Love me the most or love yourself the most. If you love Me the most, you will grant me this one, simple thing; don’t eat fruit from that one tree.  Just that one.  You can eat anything else you want, but leave just that one tree alone.  You do that for Me, you show Me that love, and I’ll show you boundless love and providence.

“Just one thing about that choice. If you choose to love yourselves more, well, you will have cut yourselves off from Me.  You.  That will be your choice, your fate.  Period.  I won’t have done anything to you except to love you unconditionally and ask you to love Me back instead of requiring that you love Me.  Simple.”

Think of it this way. What if you asked your kids to paint a room in your house for you?  You ask them to do it this way, using brushes, maybe some masking tape, etc., to just use good painting procedures.  You put them in the room and go somewhere else for a bit.

You come back, open the door, and find that the room is a riot of paint gone wild. The kids are nowhere to be seen, and you call out to them.  They say they’re hiding in the closet.  “Why?”, you ask.

Paintball“Because we’re covered and dirty with paint,” they reply.

Get the picture? They did it to themselves.  You didn’t cover them with paint; that was their choice, because – at least at the time – going crazy in a paint fight sounded like a good idea to them.

God asked humanity to paint the world for Him. With love.  Instead, we chose a paint fight.

You might point out that you and I weren’t there in the time of Genesis 2. Well, we were.  We are the children of Adam and Eve; flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone.  It’s like they got really drunk, condemning us to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome.  We were there in their cells, their DNA.  We’re part of it even if we weren’t there to make the choice.

And since we’re defective, thanks to their actions, we effectively join in the paint fight, we sin. Most recently that would include World Wars One and Two, Korea, Viet Nam, the Middle East, Africa, and a host of lesser-known crimes against humanity, um, ourselves, to fill in any gaps of so-called “peace.”

Painted KidsWe chose to worship the god of paint fights and let him in the room. Satan on earth.  Natural disasters?  We gave him the opening.  If you believe the stories about H.A.A.R.P., the recent spate of hurricanes were generated by HAARP.  Doubt it?  185mph winds that were sustained for days, including starting to die and then surging again.  That’s never happened before in any hurricane, not at that level.

From NPRThe most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history made its first landfall in Northeast Caribbean islands… It intensified at an even faster clip than expected.

We still have a choice though, just as the Children of Israel did in Deuteronomy above. Every day we can choose to get out the brushes and masking tape and paint our corner of the world properly, with love.  We can choose to do it right.  We won’t, of course.  At least not every time.

Jesus came to earth, Son of God and Mary when…

…the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.    Luke 1:35

He entered the room with us to clean up our mess, including the one we covered ourselves with.

So here we are, you and me. We’re trapped in this room.  We might do well at some moments and not so well at others.  We’re covered with the paint of sin.  But God never went back on His choice to love us and provide for us.  He’s standing at the door with Jesus, cloths and cleaner in hand.  Al we need to do is make one more good choice;

Let Him in!

Jesus at the Door

MY BOOK LAUNCH!

My favorite blogger has published her book, Bloom. I’m excited by this, because, aside from publishing a book which is hard enough, she’s written it in an interactive format. She doesn’t just tell us her story of recovery from anorexia. She models it for us and provides room for us to write in our own progress from WHATEVER struggle we are in. It can be an eating disorder or any fight we feel we are losing! Are you trying to overcome? Are you in the battle alone right now? Well, hang on…the cavalry is coming; it’s Blooming!

BeautyBeyondBones

I cannot believe that I’m about to say this, but…

MY BOOK IS LIVE TODAY!!

Introducing…

Bloom: A Journal by BeautyBeyondBones

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Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the scared, sick, hopeless little girl at inpatient would tell her story one day. But here were are folks. Ten years, one irresponsibly honest blog, and 30,000 followers later. I’m sharing my story.

But this book is not just your normal, cover to cover book. It’s interactive. We’re embarking on the blooming process together: you and me.

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And the best way for me to explain, is to just share the preview:

Bloom: A Journal by BeautyBeyondBones takes the reader on a motivating and inspiring journey inside the mind of a young woman trapped in the cycle of anorexia, and through the raw and often painful journey to new life.

Designed as an interactive, three-month daily journal with room to…

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