Monday, May 21, 2018

"Letter to a disappointed graduate"

Graduating from college is a wonderful accomplishment and a high point in a young person's life. It's a rite of passage. It also is a major life transition point for a young person. They are no longer a child nor even a youth but now considered fully an adult. With that, comes adult expectations. Often the graduate is at a loss with how to maintain equilibrium during this hectic and heady time. Sometimes they drift aimlessly for a while before getting their footing. Others drift emotionally.

Christian graduates may be harboring secret feelings of shame for their behavior during the college years. Perhaps they feel ashamed of their pornography viewing habits, their laziness in studying, squandering mom and dad's money, mishandled relationships, or other things. With passage to adulthood comes adult feelings and awarenesses.

Here is a wonderfully written letter from Samuel D. James called Letter to a Disappointed Graduate addressing those feelings.

I suspect his opening paragraph has meaning for more grads than we know.

Dear new college graduate, 
I’m supposed to start off by saying "Congratulations," but I doubt you want to hear that right now. If I've understood you correctly, today doesn't feel like a victory to you. You say you've wasted most of the last few years. You've say you've been selfish, lazy, and unkind. You say for too long you were hung up on pornography and video games, and that your graduation today is mostly due to the kindness and forbearance of professors and the intervention of family and friends. Today, you say, feels good, but as you watch your classmates celebrate their high GPAs, their entrance in grad programs, and their lives that look way more fruitful than yours, all you can think about is how behind you are.
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This week we received an email from our Superintendent of Schools, forwarded from the Deputy Superintendent of Policy and External Affairs; Georgia Department of Education. It involves the suicide program on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why. Though the missive was aimed at educators who work with younger children, I think the information can be applied to Graduates who may not be transitioning as well as we think into adulthood. Paired with Mr James' letter, I offer this information as a plea to be aware of our young people. The GA Deputy Superintendent's letter follows:

As you may be aware, Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why will debut on Netflix tomorrow, May 18, 2018. The fictional series, based on Jay Asher’s book of the same title, explores the suicide of a teen, with the Season 1 finale showing the suicide in graphic detail over a 3-minute scene. As with other Netflix series, all episodes are released at once with viewers frequently watching a season from beginning to end in the same day. 
After the Season 1 release of 13 Reasons Why last year, the web-search phrase "how to commit suicide" rose 26% above what would normally have been expected for that time according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Internal Medicine). The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) sent a notice to their members across the country on how to talk about the show and posted Considerations for Educators online. More recently, NASP shared Information Regarding the Upcoming Release of 13 Reasons Why, Season 2.

You may be interested in some of the information contained in the following articles that were tweeted this morning by Safe Schools Georgia (@GaDOESafeSchool) as well as Peer-to-Peer Suicide Prevention PSAs that were developed by Voices for Georgia’s Children, GBI Child Fatality Review Panel, and members of the Georgia Department of Education’s Suicide Prevention Task Force:
As 13 Reasons Why Returns, Schools Try to Help Students Who Are Thinking Of Suicide

School Officials Issuing Warnings Ahead of 2nd Season of ’13 Reasons Why’

Also, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities offers the Georgia Crisis and Access Line which is available 24/7 for any type of mental health emergency: 1-800-715-4225.

Public Service Announcements: "Georgia's Children in Crisis"
30 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621210

45 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621204​ ​​

60 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621192

90 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621179

Long Peer-to-Peer PSA (17 minutes, 27 seconds): https://vimeo.com/254621215


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As we see with the increase in violence and school shootings, we know that our youth are vulnerable and living with pressures we as older adults never did, nor can really conceive. Let's protect our children and emerging adults. Pray for them, have open eyes to danger signs for emotional instability, and above all, be a Holy Spirit filled non-hypocritical example for them. We are their islands of peace and safety in this troubled world.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Kay Cude poetry: Prelude and Postlude of the Light

Click to enlarge. Used with permission. Poetry written by Kay Cude



Prata potpourri: Tully, Royal Wedding Sermon, the Ascension, the Holy Spirit, Big Mirrors, Lawn Chair Season & the Books that go with them, more

A plethora of potpourri items from around the web for your edification and amusement.


Housewife Aimee Byrd (The Housewife Theologian) discusses the new Carlton Pearson movie Come Sunday personally and theologically in her piece The Gospel of Inclusion.



As my friend Greg said, "This is how to show appreciation and express criticism in the same article. Well said!"
What Would Jesus Say About Bishop Curry’s Royal Wedding Sermon? - Garrett Kell
Today Bishop Michael Curry gave a powerful sermon at the Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Princess Meghan. If you have not heard it, listen here or read the transcript.


Have you considered the Cross? The resurrection? Me too. All the time. But have you considered the Ascension? /crickets/ Nope, me either. Here in his essay at Reformation 21 called Ascension Matters, Tom Bertolet discusses it, and it's good.



Justin McKitterick at The Expositors Blog reminds- Pastors, We Are Shepherds.



Dallas Holm has thoughts about what is perhaps the overlooked Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit in his essay Understanding the Holy Spirit


Kress Biblical Resources: is dedicated to helping those who study the Scriptures find the resources that will help them understand, apply, and proclaim the Word of God. timely, clear, and doctrinally sound books and resources for pastors and Bible students. Our authors are approved workmen, not celebrities. Our books are designed to stand the test of exegesis, not chase after every new wind of doctrine. Kress began in 2002 to provide solid, biblical resources for those who have set their hearts to study God’s Word, to practice it, and to teach it. Seeing a growing trend in unsound and insubstantial materials, even in books meant for pastoral preparation, Eric Kress, a former pastor himself and a Master’s Seminary graduate, set out to reprint previously published books that would be of help to the expositor and Bible student, and to develop new resources that rightly divide the Word of truth.


Carrie at Carrie's Busy Nothings recommends two books in her ongoing series What's On My Nightstand. Ahhh, summer reads.


At Delivered By Grace, in this short video Weekend Spotlight, Josh Buice, Steven Lawson, Tim Challies, and Phil Johnson talk about missions and how it’s the responsibility of the local church.


Santa Fe Texas High School shooter's family puzzled by attack
10 died inside the high school, two teachers and 8 students


A movie review of Tully by World, and also Common Sense Media, that might not be to everyone's taste but I include it because the depression moms of newborns feel (not postpartum) about the sameness and mundanity of motherhood isn't often explored. World "reports the news from a Christian worldview: interpreting world events under the reality of the Christian faith".

You might want to know of Ted Baehr and his page that reviews movies and TV shows from a Christian point of view. Common Sense Media is common sense but not an explicitly Christian site. Baehr is Founder and Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®:  The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment and Chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry. His review of Tully is here. All reviews detail what might be objectionable, so I leave it to you.



Country Life UK has a pleasant article about Jackdaws and while you're there take a gander at the real estate section, estates and castles for sale.


Victoria Elizabeth Barnes is a hoarder of Giant Fancy Things, and sees a mirror that is in Philadelphia. Only problem is, she's in New Mexico...


Julie Ann Baumer writes (very well I might add) of Lawn Chair Season. This is an important season when you live in Maine.



As for me, I have one week of school left then I'm sprung for my own lawn chair season. I am hoping to snag the following items at my favorite deep-discount vintage store. There's also a glider, I'll take a look at it. Both might be snatched up before I can get there, but that is the way of things.



Also this sweet, sweet mid-century teapot. The prices on the items are what were on for the estate sale, the prices are always lower at the store they wind up in by the purchaser of the estate.


And this, this is the reason I've been haunting the vintage store for two years. I am in search of a little, round teapot with white background and flowers motif. It doesn't even have to be excessively vintage. And here it is. I knew it'd show up eventually!


And if the price is right, this little mid-century teacup wouldn't hurt, either:


Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Prophecy thoughts

Here are various thoughts on prophecy from me.



When men misuse the teachings of the Savior for their own evil ends it is a heinous thing to watch. It is written, "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;" (2 Peter 2:12).

God means what He says. He will not be used, abused, or mocked.

Apostasy is a brutal condition, far worse than most Christians think.

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Often, the bible will predict owls to come to roost on places that are waste places, or ruins, or uninhabited. Same with vultures and eagles. The picture that had formed in my mind of reading the articles related to the snowy owls coming to roost silently all over the US was the verse of the angel at the end of the Tribulation calling the birds to feast on the dead. It is called The Great Supper of God

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God," Rev 19:17.

This moment is after Jesus bursts back onto earth on a white horse with His saints following, and slays all those hundreds of millions assembled at the battle of Armageddon. The angel then calls to the birds to come eat the dead.

Ezekiel 39:17 at the end of the Gog-Magog war depicts God's use of His birds,

"Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: 'Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood."

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No matter how serious the news is, His constancy, His sovereignty, His plan, and His ways are Good. Even if you feel you do not have much to praise Him for, you DO! Seek ways to thank Him. He is active in our lives to the n-th degree. Nothing escapes His hand, from the most high work of salvation of souls, to the smallest sparrow's needs. How much more, then, are YOU valuable to Him? (Matthew 6:25-26)

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Despite the Great Tribulation to come for the Jews, for the Middle East, for all those left behind who delayed their decision to repent and were not raptured, the LORD is merciful! He saves His people personally, from the first day to the last days invading Gog-Magog coalition. He says He will send mercy upon the Jews, look at this verse-

"I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 39:29)

He will pour out His spirit. POUR. Not ration it out. Not mete it out. Not distribute it. Not send it. Not give it. POUR it. When you pour something it means "To stream or flow continuously or profusely." The Hebrew word in use here means translated, "to gush". That is what I mean by the LORD being merciful. He gives so freely, so copiously. He is good and gracious. He has not forgotten His people the Jews, nor will He forget His sheep living now on a fallen earth with terrible sins all around.

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JESUS IS COMING SOON! He has always been imminent. I pray you live with that imminence in your heart and mind.

Brethren, examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2 Corinthians 13:5.

It would be devastating to fail the test. How do you know that you are in the faith?

Because you are sensitive to sin.

Because when you are tested, your faith grows stronger, not weaker.

Because you bear forth fruit

How to detect a false conversion

Friday, May 18, 2018

Thoughts on introspection and journaling

DebbieLynne Kespert wrote a great piece about journaling the other day. I recommend it. I linked to it below, too.

Journaling is the act of consistently writing down one's thoughts, feelings, and events in a notebook, as the definition goes. Some people do that to track growth, or to leave as a legacy to coming generations, or to vent. Journaling is distinct from many other kinds of diaries, like food diaries people keep for medical reasons, or weather diaries farmers keep, stress or anger management diaries, and the like. Journaling expressly focuses on one's conscious inner thoughts, sensations, and feelings. It is a method of emotional self-examination.

I've never gotten into journaling. I like to experience the day and then move on. As someone on the autism spectrum, I'm not that in touch with my feelings anyway, seeing them as not precisely unnecessary, but usually as unhelpful. Yet many others see journaling as very helpful--
Ever wondered why history’s great minds including Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marcus Aurelius, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Maya Angelou would spend so much of their precious time writing things that will never be seen by another soul? ... Many famous creatives, writers, innovators and original thinkers of our generation keep journals— for many, it is a creative necessity, for others, a place for exploration, and for some an art form in and of itself. (Source)
For Christians, some self-examination is good. It is worthwhile to examine one's self to see if one is in the faith. Scripture admonishes us to do just that. (2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Peter 1:10-11).

In the Christian spheres, Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, kept a diary and also wrote letters constantly. Those became his autobiography after he died. The great theologian Jonathan Edwards kept a journal. In it, he penned his famous 70 resolutions. As the pastors say at the Netherlands Heritage Reformed Congregation, "these resolutions were birthed out of his felt weaknesses and known deficiencies, not his personal attainments. They represent, therefore, his sanctified, biblically-conditioned aspirations."

My personal journal: In my journal below, I am trying to figure out from the Bible
about the different resurrections.


Christian journaling can be very good.

However caution abounds. Ligonier says that self-examination is important, but must be done rightly. Faulty self-evaluation, the passage tells us, is an obstacle to walking by the Spirit. If after examining ourselves we "conclude that we are superior to others" the self-examination is faulty, but alternately if we conclude that "if we consider our gifts inferior to those of others, thinking we are unable to assist burdened believers" it is also faulty.

So the Bible does call for some self-examination to be done, and there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

But is a good thing, ever too much of a good thing? It can be. In her article, Journaling: The Pitfall We Should Recognize, DebbieLynne Kespert says that she journaled for 17 years, venting feelings, writing experiences, and meditating on her disappointments, her frustrations and her fears. Then she had an epiphany. She wrote:
So when someone uses a personal journal to ruminate on their feelings, should it surprise us that we wind up wallowing in self-absorbtion? Self-absorbtion, however, is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity. Christ demands that His followers actually die to ourselves for His sake.
It's the tendency of sinful man to wallow in self-absorption to begin with. Journaling only increases that tendency. Excessive navel-gazing is not good as it takes our eyes off Jesus, upon whom we are supposed to fix our eyes. (2 Corinthians 4:18, Hebrews 12:2).

Jared Mellinger wrote about excessive self-examination in his piece "Self-Examination Speaks a Thousand Lies. He said,
Unhealthy introspection is a daily threat to our joy in Christ. Many of us tend to examine ourselves in a way that is excessive, inaccurate, and leads to discouragement. God calls us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40), but healthy self-examination is a difficult and dangerous duty. The flesh seizes self-examination as an opportunity to turn our thoughts against us. Introspection is deceptive because it often looks like we’re doing the right thing: we’re not indifferent to our sin — we want to seek it out! But when that introspection makes us self-absorbed instead of Christ-absorbed, we undermine our faith.
Providentially, Randy Alcorn wrote an interesting piece a few days ago as well. It didn't center on journaling per se, it was about self-control, but it speaks to the where we want our mind to go:
What is your mindset? Do you dwell on selfish, envious, jealous, bitter thoughts? Or do you dwell on what pleases God? Do you focus on God, His Word, and His mighty works on our behalf, or do you focus on woes and misfortunes and abuses suffered at the hands of others? According to Scripture, the choice is yours.
The choice is yours. Journaling can be good when the Christian employs self-control during the introspection process. Do you journal? Do you enjoy it? Has it become simply a way to focus attention on one's self? Let me know int he comments what your experience has been.


Further reading:

The End Time: Is Christian Journaling Good or Bad?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Are there codes in the Bible?

This essay first appeared in November 2010 on The End Time

I hear people all the time say that there are bible codes. That there is some secret, esoteric knowledge hidden within the 66 books of the bible that only people perspicacious enough can unlock and benefit from. This is bunk. God is not the author of confusion and He laid everything out plainly within those pages, so that His knowledge, plan, and wisdom for us would be clear.

They cite, for example, Bullinger, who derived a whole system of meanings from numbers in scripture. Some numbers do have meaning, but not to the extent Bullinger worked up. And anyway, Bullinger believed that the soul died between life and resurrection. He was also an ultradispensationalist, believing that (among other things) the church did not begin at Pentecost but at Paul's conversion. Um...no.

In another code, "The Bible Code", it is purported in a paper by Yoav Rosenberg that there was strong statistical evidence that biographical information about famous rabbis was encoded in the text of the Bible, centuries before those rabbis lived. Wikipedia says of the method of extracting the meaning from the coded language is
"the Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS). To obtain an ELS from a text, choose a starting point (in principle, any letter) and a skip number, also freely and possibly negative. Then, beginning at the starting point, select letters from the text at equal spacing as given by the skip number. For example, the bold letters in this sentence form an ELS. With a skip of -4, and ignoring the spaces and punctuation, the word safest is spelled out."
No again.

Of course, the primary fault with Bullinger's numerical code and Rosenberg's word codes is that the Holy Spirit is taken out of the equation. Believing in codes means man in his own mental acuity can unlock the secrets of the bible, the Spirit is not needed...which is exactly the opposite of what God said would be so.

The question is, "Are there hidden codes in the bible?" The answer is NO. John Macarthur addressed this question quite well, here. His short answer is below.

One of the foundational qualities of the Bible is its clarity (sometimes called perspicuity). That means Scripture's main teachings are plain enough to be understood without the need of special expertise or church-sanctioned interpretations. 
The Bible frequently speaks about its own clarity. Psalm 119:130 says, "The unfolding of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." The average person who humbly reads the Bible can say, "I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99). Psalm 19:7 teaches, "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." 
The idea of hidden codes in the Bible contradicts all of that by limiting accessibility to the real message of the Bible to so-called experts who can decipher the cryptic messages God "hid" in the Scriptures. But such "experts" aren't needed because the Bible contains no hidden codes. 
One hidden-code theory works like a common word-search puzzle--hidden messages are supposedly embedded diagonally within the Hebrew text. But that's as foolish as turning your daily newspaper into a word-search puzzle and expecting to find meaningful stories hidden in it. Newspapers aren't written to convey messages in secret code, and neither was the Bible. Both should be read using ordinary rules of language. 
Of course there are concepts in the Bible that are hard to understand--even the apostle Peter admitted that (2 Peter 3:15). But the way to discover the meaning of those hard passages is not by seeking out hidden messages, but by engaging in diligent study that accurately handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). 
Take heart! The Bible is clear and even the most untrained reader can understand it. God wants you to understand the Bible, and He has provided the Holy Spirit as a guide. After all, "man does not live by bread alone, but...by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The LORD is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33) but reveals Himself to one and all. If you have the Holy Spirit in you, you have an equal chance to understand what He wrote in it as anyone else. As MacArthur said, prayer, study, and diligence will "unlock" His Word. Not codes. If you believe codes exist in the bible then you accept that the Spirit is out of the equation and people like Bullinger have extra advanced knowledge that you must rely on HIM to unlock for you. No, let it not be so!



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jerusalem is the center of the world

The United States officially recognized Jerusalem as its capital, and moved the embassy there. President Trump said that every sovereign nation has the right to declare its own capital, and instituted the move, based on a 1995 Congressional decision
President Trump touted the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday as tensions in the region escalated over the decision.
Israel is the middle of the world, and the world's war drums beat loudly around her
Israel is the center of the world. We know this because in Genesis 12:3 God said to Abraham- "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Israel is the lens through which God judges nations. What happens to Israel affects the entire world. (Above, B√ľnting clover leaf map. A 1581 woodcut, Magdeburg. Jerusalem is in the center, surrounded by Europe, Asia and Africa.)

Other nations and cities have incorrectly named themselves the center of the world. When Rome was at its height as a city and as an empire, it called itself the center of the world and even marked the spot with a tower and a plaque. The Romans installed the marker dubbed "navel of the city of Rome" (Umbilicus Urbis Romaen) in the Forum, from which all distances to the ends of the civilized world were marked. It was mile zero. This marker was one of the first things I had wanted to see when I visited Rome, because my travels around Italy, even over obscure and distant dirt back roads, invariably led to a road sign pointing to Rome. It is true, in Italy, all roads lead to Rome.

Ecuador is named after the equator, which runs through the country. A museum complex marks the spot and it is called "Mitad Del Mundo" or Middle of the World. Wikipedia says its 30-meter-tall monument, built between 1979 and 1982, was constructed to mark the point where the equator passes through the country in the geodetic datum in use in Ecuador at that time. I was one of the thousands of goofy tourists who have stood with one foot on one side of the painted red line representing the Equator, and the other foot on the other side, laughing while someone takes a photo of me. It was an interesting place, and I really liked the red line of the physical representation of the middle of the world. (photo right, of the Mitad del Mundo, by Elizabeth Prata)

But Jerusalem is really the navel of the world. In the Middle Ages it was even depicted that way. Did you know, that the Hereford Mappa Mundi, drawn in circa 1300, depicted Jerusalem as the center of the world? In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem there is also an omphalos, Greek word for belly button or navel. The existence of this stone is based upon the medieval thought that Jerusalem is the spiritual if not geographical center of the world.

In all of history, there's never been a distinct people group who dwelled outside of a national homeland for thousands of years yet retained their identity like the Jewish people. There has never been a people on earth restored to their homeland after dozens of generations. There has never been a case where generations upon generations who forgot their own language and let it die, had it restored to the entire nation. No people, that is, except for God's people in God's land.

This tiny nation is mighty in many ways, because her very existence has generated hate and war since her birth. Just existing provokes the world into hating her. Allowing her to make her own sovereign decisions as a nation inflames the world (satan).

And again, war will come to her but that time it will be one of the last times. We know from prophecy that the Gog-Magog war will be a surprise attack on Israel as stated in Ezekiel 38-39. We know that Damascus will be destroyed (Isaiah 17:1) indicating some kind of war-like event that obliterates the world's oldest continuously inhabited city. Psalm 83 has variously been interpreted as either an intercessory prayer about a war, or a foretelling of a last days war. And Armageddon, the last war, will occur. The list of wars is long. There will be so many wars that peace does not exist anywhere from the moment the 2nd seal is opened in Rev. 6:4 when peace is taken from the earth, until Jesus returns to restore peace Himself.


Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.
Psalm 122:6-9

"Letter to a disappointed graduate"

Graduating from college is a wonderful accomplishment and a high point in a young person's life. It's a rite of passage. It also is ...