Quote for 10/24/2021

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.    Colossians 3:16

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So just how does that work? How do I let the word of Christ dwell in me richly in all wisdom and teaching? Is this something we wait for, a work of the Holy Spirit? Remembering that Scripture interprets Scripture, let’s consider the following:

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.   Proverbs 2:3-5

Also Proverbs 25:2…

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Our faith is to be an active faith! Church attendance is not enough. We need to study and seek out the wisdom of God in Scripture. And when we gather together for church, we need to interact with each other, teaching each other, sharing what we’ve learned to build up everyone. We also use wisdom to correct each other in love, forgiving and being forgiven.

Our prayer life is important, but so is community worship with singing and psalms. Sing to the Lord with each other with pure hearts in grace and love.

That’s how!

Dying Alone

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”    Matthew 28:19-20

I’ve been watching the old series Boston Legal lately.  You might remember that every episode ends with Alan Shore and Denny Crane sitting on the balcony outside Denny’s office, drinking scotch and smoking cigars.  It serves as a recap of the episode, wrapping up certain points as well as continuing to define their friendship.

Denny is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, which he usually refers to as his Mad Cow disease.  He is sometimes a lunatic and sometimes brilliant.  He’s always politically incorrect.  In one episode he gets Alan to promise to shoot him whenever he’s too far gone to be of any use anymore.  They often profess their friendship, their love for each other.  Alan quoted Emerson once: “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”

I was struck by a balcony scene I just saw where they agree that their friendship means they won’t ever die alone.  It was poignant but not entirely true.

Whether or not we have a friend, spouse, or child in the room, we will never die alone.  There will be someone there no matter what.

My pastor told me the following years ago as we discussed my mother’s recent death.  He said he’s seen to incredible sights over his career that don’t always happen but often do.  One was when he sat by the deathbed of an elderly, comatose woman, a member of his church.  She suddenly did a perfect sit-up, stretching her arms toward the ceiling with a beautiful smile on her face.  She then laid back down and died.

By the same token, he was at the death bed of an elderly man who was not a Christian.  Pastor was there to comfort the family who he knew.  Also comatose, the man started becoming agitated, making sounds of great fear.  He kept pushing toward the head of his bed as he seemingly tried to ward something off from the foot of his bed.  He died in that state of agitation and fear.

The woman likely saw Jesus coming for her and was overjoyed to see Him in person.  Likewise, the man likely saw his eternal fate approaching and tried to get away.

This also reminds me of something a nurse once told me.  She was working third shift and had an elderly woman to care for.  She wasn’t expected to last the night.  The nurse checked in periodically.  The last time she went in, she was shocked to see a white dove sitting on the woman’s chest.  The dove looked at her and took flight toward the door and out into the hall.  She gave chase into the hall, but the dove was nowhere to be seen.  She asked the cleaning woman in the hall if she saw the bird fly out of the room and where it went.

The cleaning woman said she saw nothing.  When the nurse explained, the woman smiled and told her that must have seen the Dove.  It sometimes comes to take peoples’ souls to heaven when they die.  I’ve shared this with a couple other nurses at other hospitals, and they have also see the Dove.

My point in all this is that we will never be alone when we die.  There will always be someone to see us into eternity.  If you’ve accepted Jesus’ as your Savior, accepted His payment for your sins, you may well be greeted by Jesus’ Himself or maybe even the Dove, the Holy Spirit.

If you have not accepted His saving grace, you may find yourself greeted by whatever terrified that old man so.

You will not die alone.  It’s up to you who you want to greet you when you pass from this world into eternity.  If you haven’t accepted Jesus, I urge you to pray to Him right now.  Ask Him to enter your life and forgive you.  Accept His free gift of eternal life and then get yourself a Bible.  Study it so as to know you Savior and God and how They designed you to live.  Amend your sinful ways and live a life of gratitude for what Jesus has done for you!

Quote for 10/23/2021

Trust in the Lord forever, For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.    Isaiah 26:4

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How did I do it? Twenty years ago I kept a schedule that I couldn’t hope to approach now whether work or personal life. Especially my workouts. I can’t begin to fathom doing any of that now!

I keep aging. I keep getting weaker. My energy levels are nowhere near what they were. I never needed naps back then, Even when recovering from heart surgery I was able to do more than I can now.

Thankfully, God isn’t like that! He made every atom of the known universe. He arranged events on earth to enact His plan for salvation. Despite the horrible emotional hurt of Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey, He made a plan ready to go right there on the spot. No recovery time needed.

It’s now 6000 years later. God has neither aged nor weakened. As I continue to deteriorate, God remains strong. At the end…my end…God’s strength will revive me and walk me into Forever!

For His strength everlasting!

Quote for 10/22/2021

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.    James 5:16

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My first thought was wondering whether this is talking about just confessing sins to others that I committed against them or about all my sins.  After carefully rereading the verse I believe James is talking about confessing all my sins to my Christian community.  James writes that we should pray for one another for healing and that fervent prayer from the righteous is effective.

Then I read in a commentary that the life of the church should be one of ministering love to the sick, both spiritually and physically.  James is talking about healing of body and soul in this chapter overall.

We don’t often like to ask for help.  Many – me included – like to do for ourselves and not impose on others.  We also value our privacy.  Making our sins public knowledge is not something we care to do!  What’s the saying?  Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.

But sin damages us, and we need healing.  Maybe we don’t confess to everyone every sin we commit, but we maybe have someone we can confide in, share back and forth, and “treat” each other for our spiritual wounds through fervent prayer for each other.

Quote for 10/21/2021

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.    Isaiah 55:6

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The New Kings James translation title chapter 55 “An Invitation to an Abundant Life.” Part of verse 1 reads “And you who have no money, come, buy and eat.”

Chapter 55 brings to my mind the image of a lush bazaar overflowing with colorful flowers, aromas of wonderful foods, and sheer joy at the abundance of wonderful things to please the eyes and pallet.

I’m reminded of my days going through the Eastern Farmers Market on Saturdays in downtown Detroit or my visit to Haymarket Square in Boston. Flowers, produce, and even mouthwatering smells to be tracked down.

But the Farmer’s Market was only open on Saturday’s. If you came any other day of the week, you would find it desolate.

So it is with God and his abundant gifts. There is overflowing grace and mercy to be had, but there will come a time when it will no longer be available. God gives us a lifetime to buy and eat at no cost. However, a time approaches when the stalls will be empty and the wonderful aromas will be gone.

The eternal produce of God’s love is at hand. Call upon Him while He is near!

Give Us What We Want!

You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.    James 4:2-4

I ran across an article last month about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  Thomas made the statement that the Supreme Court has become the most dangerous branch of the government.  It never used to be that way.

‘The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous,’ Thomas said. ‘And I think that’s problematic.’

He made this comment – and expanded on it – in light of politicians arguing over packing the court.  In other words, adding justices to the Supreme Court to get in appointees who will swing decisions their way.

He said that justices do not rule on their ‘personal preferences’ and the country’s leaders ‘should not allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcome that we like…When we begin to venture into the legislative or executive branch lanes, those of us, particularly in the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments, are asking for trouble.’

‘I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are antiabortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out,’ the justice said, per the Washington Post. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician.’  

‘That’s a problem. You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.’

Think on it; if a Supreme Court Justice starts legislating from the bench, there are no longer any checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches.  The system gets short-circuited!

Unfortunately, this is where we are as a society, as a world even!  When we can’t get what we what within a system, we start gaming that system, looking for short-cuts that “allow” us to cheat.

Perhaps we can thank advertisers who have bombarded us for years with slogans like “Rules are made to be broken” followed not long after by “Break all the rules!”  Then there is the feeble excuse that someone operated “within the system” even though they gamed it with technicalities.  They argue that they do whatever they want so long as they at least can appear to follow the letter of the law.

But law and rules are more about intent, which is why we have a judiciary to try and keep things in check.  Indeed, the Founding Fathers knew this about humanity and tried to provide such safeguards.  I am tempted to think that they wrote the Constitution with their hearts in their throats, knowing that it depended on good behavior in the first place.

John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

That statement gives the lie to our current concept of “separation of church and state.”  That phrase originally was addressing the religious persecution by governments over practice of either Catholicism or Protestantism.  Recall that people were tortured to force conversion to one or the other by the state!

The intent was never to remove faith in God and use of His ways from government and society.  It was to prevent persecution for being Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, or any other expression of following God.

We have lost our way after decades of not allowing prayer in schools and removing God from consideration when governing.  Indeed, our society now is not one of community but of self.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.”

Society determines how its members will conduct themselves and each individual affects how society will continue.

The same holds true of our churches; if we don’t get what we want from them or God, we try to change them.  We form our own interpretation of God and Scripture, trying to game The Almighty!  Or we simply leave church and God behind altogether, which America has done for the most part.

If we don’t get what we want, we petulantly stalk away from either just the institution, God, or both.  The real tragedy is if someone is frustrated by a poor church teaching, they reject God!  I once pointed out to someone who was condemning the church to look to God instead.  If you have a problem with topic X, take it up with God.  Study His Word.

What if we want what’s bad for us?  Shall we stalk away from God for not doing us harm?  We often do!

Instead of telling God, “Give me what I want,” our prayer should be teach me what I should want!

Quote for 10/20/2021

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.    1 John 1:7

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I once spent a long weekend at a huge log cabin in northern Michigan.  It was a very remote site, surrounded by forest.  The cabin stood about a hundred yards off the two-lane state route.  There was a dirt road that led into the woods to a stocked fishing pond.  I was there with my best friend and a few of his family.

One night Rick and I decided to take a peaceful walk along the dirt road toward the pond.  The night was exceptionally dark, but we could see enough to stay on the road.  However, we suddenly hit a section that was pitch black; not a shred of light!  It was as though we had walked through a doorway into the most complete darkness I had ever experienced!

We lost track of each other quickly and became disoriented as to which way to go.  I was lucky enough to turn toward the state route and caught the sight of headlights quickly passing the dirt road.  I made sure not to turn at all and called out to Rick to follow my voice as I slowly, blindly walked in that direction.

In a few yards we had enough light to find each other and get back to the cabin.

We only had fellowship when there was enough light to find each other.  Without such light, whether physical or spiritual, we cannot walk with anyone!

Quote for 10/19/2021

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.    1 Peter 1:3

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There’s a lot going on here.  Peter makes a distinction between Jesus and the Father.  The latter is Jesus’ God and Father.  This one phrase tells us that Jesus is owing to the Father as a dutiful Son.  As God, He is necessarily worshipped by Jesus.

But there is also the love between them!  The Father often calls Jesus His only begotten Son.  We feel the depth of that love and pain of sacrifice from the Genesis account of Abraham dutifully ready to sacrifice his only begotten son in obedience.  There’s a depth of commitment and emotion from the Father that is impossible for mere humans to grasp.  We can only start to see it through Abraham.

But Jesus is no longer the Father’s only begotten!  Through the adoption of faith made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are also His begotten!  In fact, we have been begotten again.

At Creation, God knelt in the dirt and fashioned Adam – and therefore us – from that dirt.  He crafted every detail patiently, lovingly.  We were begotten of Him then and we are again as adopted siblings of our Savior, Jesus!

Quote for 10/18/2021

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.    Proverbs 29:25

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What would you do for fear?  Most people would do anything out of fear.  Prisoners of war have betrayed their countries for fear of more suffering at the hands of their captors.  We will lie and cheat for fear of failing at our job, for fear of being fired.  We even deny Jesus as our Savior for fear of the social cost or even the employment cost.  But remember Jesus’ words:

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.    Matthew 10:32-34.

If anyone will protect us, if anyone will care for us eternity, it is the Father in heaven!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!    Matthew 23:37

Fearing men will lead us into Satan’s snare of disobedience and destruction.  Trusting the Lord?  That is where true safety lies.

Men Are Pigs

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.    Ephesians 5:25-29

First, let me point out that these verses follow the often-maligned section about wives being submissive to their husbands.  The implication of the entire message is that, as Christ has done for us, the husband first should care for his wife with a sacrificial love.  The wife’s response should be submission in gratitude just as Christians – His churchly bride – submit themselves to Christ as a loving response to His sacrifice.

Men today just don’t get it anymore.  By and large, men are pigs.  I’ve watched it happening for decades first with my sisters and now with my daughters.  Not that I’m giving women everywhere a pass, because we’ve all seen our share of Bridezillas.  But today I’m taking aim at the guys, because that is where St. Paul tells us it starts.

My wife and I still hear horror stories from young friends that simply confirm what my girls have gone through.

People are meeting their future (temporary) spouses in bars instead of churches.  Although I sometimes wonder about the guys I sometimes see at church.  Years ago, I saw a mother dragging her kids into church as she held an armload of coats while her husband walked in front of her, completely oblivious and hands-free.  Without saying anything and just smiling, I took the coats from her while she got her kids to stand still for a moment.

“You can always count on someone else’s husband,” was her rueful comment.

Still, if everyone came to church and really listened and had ministers that preached pure, fearless truths from Scripture, many problems would be solved.

A recent conversation with a young thirty-something revealed what at least she and her friends are talking about; maybe it’s better for women to simply co-habit as roommates for their home situation instead of either being alone or trapped with a pig.  It begs the question – for me at least – how many women decide to “become” lesbians, because they simply can’t find men worth the hassle!

Again, I’m not giving women a complete pass, but my perspective is that of a both a literal father and an “honorary” father to a few.  As said above, Bridezillas abound.

Jesus’ selfless love is the only model for men and women to have when it comes to both friendships and marriages.  If men practice a selfless love to their girlfriends and wives, if women practiced the same in response to their men, who knows how well things might start going?

Have you ever read anything about exactly what happens to someone crucified?  It’s horrific!  The Roman soldiers used to laugh about the crucifixion “dance” of their victims.  Hanging by their arms makes breathing next to impossible.  The only way to get a breath is to push up with the feet that have been nailed to a small step, which had to be agonizing.  They had usually been flogged first, with chunks of flesh ripped from their backs.  This means that those deep, open wounds were constantly abraded by the rough, wooden cross…possibly, likely down to the bone!

Jesus endured that for us, and that wasn’t the least of it!  How can we not give at least an ashamed if not loving response to that sort of sacrifice?  How can a spouse not give a loving response to someone who practices even a fraction of that sort of selfless love?

Until people start paying attention to God and His ways, many men will continue as pigs and many women will continue as bridezillas long after the wedding!