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.


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."


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)


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.


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.

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, 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, Bünting 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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How to be a good wife

Our church sponsored a Womans' Event recently. We ladies had brunch together and then retired to a classroom to hear a talk by a charming and wonderful woman on being a Christian Wife.

Karen Schaeffer is wife of 52 years to Fritz Schaeffer. Now, Dr Schaeffer is a world-renowned Doctor of Chemical Physics. He is one of the most highly cited scientists in the world. He is also a Christian, as is his wife.

I mention Dr Schaeffer's renown to provide a backdrop for his wife's talk to us ladies at our church. Wives have a difficult go. Wives who are mothers have an ever harder time. Wives with children who are married to men in the spotlight have even more challenges. Reputable scientists' wives who are also Christians face challenges most of us never even know.

Being happily and solidly married to a man for 52 years is an achievement. It is only by the Holy Spirit that two people who at birth and up to conversion are selfish and evil. After conversion men and women are still cursed with tendency to either be passive or to usurp. It is by the Spirit that He grows submission, respect, and love between two people. Through Him, man and woman are united and one flesh, living a Spirit-empowered life.

It is with that wisdom we went to hear what we could learn from this remarkable woman.

I noticed immediately her demeanor. A woman is supposed to be a lot of things, according to the Bible. Both men and women are supposed to be meek and gentle and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Add to that special instructions for young women and/or older women as Titus 2 says, and then add to that special instructions for wives as Ephesians, Proverbs, and 1 Peter explain, and we have a lot to consider as we strive to honor our glorious Savior.

Mrs Schaeffer exhibited these qualities and in humility shared from the wisdom gained from her experience as a long-standing wife. Her humble and gentle demeanor was striking and at once noticeable to the ladies in the audience including me.

She began by sharing that in turn, she was mentored and influenced in her younger days by a Godly women, with whom she is still friends. She noted the importance of surrounding one's self with mature -in-the-faith women from whom one can seek advice, or ask questions. Like this one Mrs Schaeffer had asked her mentor/friend long ago:

Mrs S.: Can you wear jeans to church?
Mentor: Sure. ... If that's the best you've got.

Note: Not the Schaeffers
As a wife, she said to be sure not to impose your personality upon your husband. She said for example, that she is an introvert and he is an extrovert, and it would be easy to become dissatisfied with his rambunctiousness, eagerness to be among people, and excitement at trying new things. Be wary, wives, of pressuring him to conform to your personality, Instead, support him in his. "Let your husband be himself".

This might seem like obvious advice, but how many of us fall in love with a man because of certain qualities he exhibits that we find charming or fascinating, then as the decades go on, those very same qualities begin to grate on us?

t's easy to compare your husband to others. When we do, we become dissatisfied. "Her husband does the dishes," one grouses learn to be content. "Her hubby notices things that need fixing without having to nag," another wife might complain. Do not compare. Consider no others and make no comparisons. You chose him. He chose you. And, you're no prize, either. :) If your husband isn't all you want him to be, God might be growing your faith.

If I can interject my thoughts at this juncture, I'd like to say that though Mrs. Schaeffer's advice to wives to be content and patient may be obvious, it is a revolutionary thought. Many women these days expect immediate results because all they ever wanted was immediately gratified. Many others want what they want Without working for it. Learning contentment is a foreign notion. It wasn't foreign to Paul, though. Philippians 4:11 says, "I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances."

Mrs. Schaefer used a vivid symbol here. She said to "fence your marriage." She was speaking here of becoming too close to other men. "Don't go to lunch one-on-one with men, do not confide in them. Don't draw too close in friendship with men.

Criticism. That's a huge subject. Mrs. Schaeffer said that it seems that men are highly affected by a wife's criticism. "A little goes a long way," she said. When something happens, she advised praying for three days. "If you still remember it, if it still seems like something that needs addressing, then bring it up." But first, cook him his favorite meal, or bring it up when he is feeling good. "Be careful with criticism."

Note, not the doorknob in question
She related a story about when they lived in Germany for a while. He wanted to go for a long walk on a trail that goes beside the river. They would end up in Munich. "It looks like rain," Mrs Schaeffer said. The reply was that everything owuld be fine.

Well come a deluge. There was nowhere to hide for miles, and they trudged on. No umbrella, no rain gear, they were simply soaked. They eventually got to their destination, and she said she never said a word and never ever said "I told you so."

"Don't yell or argue, ever." James 3:5-6 was cited here, So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 

Humility is in order, forgive as Christ has forgiven you. If you have done wrong, apologize fully, not saying "I'm sorry, but..."

The husband is out in the world, working and providing and persevering, sometimes in a job he loves and sometimes not. Make him happy to come home, Mrs Schaeffer said. "If he is getting criticism at work, then make the home a happy, safe haven. If he's getting praise in the world, and you criticize at home, then why would he come home? Therefore, no nagging."

Mrs Schaeffer told a story of the loose doorknob. It was broken, kept falling out. She waited. She asked him to fix it. She asked again. It ground on her nerves. Then she got some perspective. Paraphrasing, she said counted her blessings. "If he can live with it, so can I." Her advice: Fix it yourself,hire someone to fix it, or ignore it.

I thought important advice to hear was not to rely on him for all your emotional needs. "Have close (female) Christian friends or prayer partners. Develop your talents and hobbies, something he can respect."

After the Lord, make him your number 1 priority. Get away together alone, occasionally. It's never a good time to go away but make time.

By the Lord's grace, perhaps you will be blessed with a 51-year or longer marriage. It isn't easy, sometimes it is downright boring, but overall, it is worth it to meld together into one flesh on the journey into being transformed into Jesus' image.

Further Resources:

7 Marks of a Good Apology vs. 8 Marks of a Bad Apology

Monday, May 14, 2018

An encouragement on fixing our eyes on Jesus

Our Church is Reformed Confessing. Prior to the sermon, we have a time of confessional led by one of our Elders. We have 4 elders. One is the main teaching elder, though any of the men can teach at the pulpit. The other three men rotate in leading the confessional. The Confessional-teaching elder gives a short talk based on what the upcoming sermon will be and then stands silently as we individually confess and repent in our pews. Then he closes in an audible prayer. I appreciate the opportunity to set my heart and mind aright, and to confess, particularly when it's a Lord's Table Sunday.

This past Sunday, our elder gave  a confessional talk that had so many wonderful points. Well, each week the confessional is always good, but this week I really enjoyed some things that stood out to me. I'm paraphrasing, but

If You want to look like Jesus, look at Jesus.

Our elder made the statement that we should fix our gaze upon Jesus, not the latest comedy or sports teams. I ended up focusing on the phrase "fix your eyes upon Jesus" from Hebrews 12:2. I looked up the word "fix" and the Strong's says
872 aphoráō (from 575 /apó, "away from" and 3708 /horáō, "see") – properly, "looking away from all else, to fix one's gaze upon" (Abbott-Smith).
How helpful. I should not glance, not peek, not glimpse, but FIX my GAZE upon him, looking away from all else and steadily drinking in all that He is.

I need to spend more time with Jesus to look more like Him. What a great line. Moses only got to see God's 'back' and His face after being with God was so bright it had to be veiled. We have the privilege of looking at Jesus' "face" as it were, through His word. I want my face to be shining, to have my being conformed to Him, to have my mind transformed. But it won't happen unless I read the Bible.

I was convicted because I found a new comedy that I got involved in binging this week and let my Bible reading go. I excused it by saying I was tired from the last week of school. All I wanted to do when I get home in this record heat was plop down and not think. But it's not an excuse. Not at all. I must look away from all other distractions and FIX my GAZE on Jesus. A Bible skim won't even do.

If you're interested in hearing the Confessional, here it is, in all its 13 minute power. I pray it convicts you as it did me, in some way that will honor and glorify the Lord as a result. I know what I'm going to be doing when I get home.

May 13, 2018
We become like what we behold.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day: Thank you to Christian Mothers of now and yesteryear

Christian mothers are precious in God's sight. I've talked before about the effect Charles Spurgeon's mother had on him. Today we see the effect Frank Boreham's mother had. She nurtured and raised a man who became one of Christianity's top 20 preachers, ever. What a glory to Jesus mothers give, when they raise their children in His name! What a long-lasting effect they have on the faith throughout the ages!

Spurgeon had a mother. She bore 17 children. Nine of them died. Phil Johnson wrote in his essay "How childhood influences shaped a great preacher",
Spurgeon's mother was the one whose influence first awakened him to the claims of Christ on his life. Her exhortations to her children, as well as her prayers on their behalf, made an indelible impact on Charles as a young boy.
It is the same with Boreham. From the 4-part video of Boreham's life, we hear the narrator speak, and then an actor re-enacting Boreham reading from his memoirs.


Narrator: FW Boreham adored his mother. His admiration was magnified because of the stories she told and the engaging way she told them.

Boreham: I have never heard anybody unfold the classic biblical narratives with such dignity and winsomeness and charm such as she could command. And when she came to the story of the cross, she could move us all to tears. I confess that although betwixt those days and these, I have attended many theological lectures and read ponderous theological tomes. The conception of the cross was always in my mind and in preaching and in writing, is the conception that took shape within me by the fireside in those days of long ago.

Narrator: Boreham could say that on those Sunday nights in front of the fireplace with his mother nine times out of ten the evenings closed with the singing of his mother's favorite hymn that exactly summed up all her teaching:

Jesus, who lived above the sky,
Came down to be a Man and die;
And in the Bible we may see
How very good He used to be.

Boreham: And all through the long years of pilgrimage I've never sung that hymn or heard it sung without experiencing a clutch at the heart and a moistening of the eyes as the fond recollection has swept over me as those heart to heart talks in the flickering firelight of the old home.


Christian Mothers, thank you!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

What is blasphemy, exactly?

One thing I get tired of is the culture blaspheming the Lord.

Psalms 74:10 O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?

Deuteronomy 16:21 - "Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God,"

Barnes' notes on blasphemy:
The word "blaspheme" originally means to speak evil of anyone; to injure by words; to blame unjustly. When applied to God, it means to speak of him unjustly; to ascribe to him acts and attributes which he does not possess; or to speak impiously or profanely. It also means to say or do anything by which his name or honor is insulted, or which conveys an "impression" unfavourable to God.
Eaton's Bible Dictionary: sacrilege-
The sin or crime of violating or profaning sacred things; the alienating to laymen, or to common purposes, what has been appropriated or consecrated to religious persons or uses.
In 2 Corinthians 6:16 Paul was urging the new believers not to join in with the wicked and the profane, not to attend the festivals where vestiges of the old false gods and the vibrancy of the new false gods still were worshiped openly. He said not to join in any way with their sacrilegious activities. Believers must separate from these activities, soundly and firmly, visibly and demonstrably. Paul wrote: "What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

John MacArthur:
The issue here is an issue of sacrilege. All false religion is demon worship. Listen, now remember an idol is nothing. You can carve an idol out of wood, you can make an idol out of stone, you can make an idol out of silver, you can make one out of gold. You can do whatever you want to paint one on a wall. You can form one out of marble, whatever it is. When you're done with it, it's nothing. But the religion and the ideology that it stands for is the teaching of demons. It is lies from the pits. It is the doctrines of demons coming from seducing spirits. So that what happens is demons impersonate the idol and you worship a demon in the idol, though you don't know it. It is a demon who creates the religion, who conducts the relationship with the worshiper. It is demon communion.
MacArthur was speaking of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21:1-4-
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.”
He put the idols back into the Temple where the name of the ONE HOLY God's name resided! One of the false gods they worshiped idolatrously was Asherah. Those old gods are NOT GONE. Satan still perpetuates them, or recycles them. In Josiah's day it was Asherah. In Paul's day it was Diana. In our day, Molech has become "Abortion." The queen of heaven mentioned in Jeremiah 7:18 and  Jeremiah 44:17-25 is now Mary, Co-redemptrix of the Catholics.

GotQuestions explains that blasphemy is:
to speak with contempt about God or to be defiantly irreverent. Blasphemy is verbal or written reproach of God's name, character, work, or attributes.
Blasphemy was a serious crime in the law God gave to Moses. The Israelites were to worship and obey God. In Leviticus 24:10–16, a man blasphemed the name of God. To the Hebrews, a name wasn’t just a convenient label. It was a symbolic representation of a person’s character. The man in Leviticus who blasphemed God’s name was stoned to death.
The truth is, every time we misrepresent God in word or in behavior, we blaspheme. It's not just actively worshiping a stone false god that enacts a blasphemy but our own misrepresentation of Him. He is holy and perfect. We should be careful, oh so careful, to ensure that our lives and our words represent Him rightly as the God He is.

Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Parables in the Old Testament

We know and love Jesus' New Testament parables. Here is the parable of the mustard seed.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade". (Mark 4:30-34)

The seed is the word of God.
The work of grace is small in its beginnings, but comes to be great and considerable at last (v. 30–32); "Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God, as now to be set up by the Messiah? How shall I make you to understand the designed method of it?" Christ speaks as one considering and consulting with himself, how to illustrate it with an apt similitude; With what comparison shall we compare it? Shall we fetch it from the motions of the sun, or the revolutions of the moon? No, the comparison is borrowed from this earth, it is like a grain of mustard-seed; he had compared it before to seed sown, here to that seed, intending thereby to show, Source: Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible
The illustration is, that the smallest seed takes root and grows to something that is strong and fruitful- even mighty. Who doesn't look on a strong, tall, might tree and feel awe and marvel at its strength, symmetry, and beauty? The seed does not do this of itself, the Grower grows it.

I stopped on my way to work at dawn to admire this tree in the pasture, cows around it, ground mist rising, pond glittering, sky just pinkening:

The parable/allegory of trees is seen in Old Testament texts as well. Yes, the OT has parables! The use of the words parable and allegory are specifically stated in Ezekiel 17:1-2 (NIV). The LORD continues after verse 1 in relating to Ezekiel the parable Ezekiel is to relate to the Israelites. From Ezekiel 17:3-10 the parable of the tree continues, with the trees representing kings. In the latter part of the chapter, the LORD explained the parable to Ezekiel (and us!)

There are still other comparisons to trees in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 31 in its entirety reveals Assyria's fate. Here, the tree is likened to nations. In Ezekiel 17 the tree was likened to kings.

Daniel 4 also has a parable of a tree. This time the LORD did not say it as a parable but gave it in a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king did not understand it. He called for Daniel to interpret the dream, which Daniel graciously did, thanks to wisdom from God. In this case, the symbol of the tree was Nebuchadnezzar, whose kingdom had grown strong and tall, will be cut down, but the stump is banded, and will grow strong once again.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. (Psalm 92:12 NKJV).

I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree. (Psalm 37:35 NKJV).

When we say we would like to "dig deeper"into God's word, this is one way. We can ponder the symbols and parables and allegories in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Did you know there were parables in the OT? The Bible is rich in learning for us, lyrical as a written form, full of depth and power.

Most important of all, it is where we find truth and life.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Call for comments

Are you a Christian painter, musician, or crafter? Writer, poet, or other creative person?

I'm writing an essay on the Christian and the creative process.

Would you care to contribute a comment for publication on how you engage in your creative process as an image bearer and honoring the creativity God gave you with exalting Him? and the like? Or just how your process goes in ensuring pride-dampening, holy-God-exalting finished pieces? Or anything about the use of the creative talents God gave you?

Send to my email listed at the bottom of the About page for this blog, here


Elizabeth Prata

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 3/3

This series first appeared on The End Time in March 2011. Today's essay has been edited & updated.

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

"The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth." (Psalm 18:7).

The USGS essay regarding the historical New England earthquake of 1727 and its aftermath continues
"The people of New England were affected by this earthquake as they had never been before, being fearful of divine judgments for their sins and lax responsiveness to the call to religious duties. The clergy taught them that it was "a loud call to the whole land to repent and fear and give glory to God." The next morning great numbers of the inhabitants of Boston gathered at the old North church for prayer and other religious services. The fear of further immediate danger was somewhat dispelled in the pleasant sunlight, but as soon as the sun had set their fright returned, and in greater numbers than in the morning the people crowded to the old Brick church, which could not hold them. The old South was then opened, and those who failed of admission to the Brick church flocked thither, and that was also filled. Rev. Thomas Paine of Weymouth, Mass., and some other ministers, tried to prove to their congregations that the earthquake had not a natural cause, but was a supernatural token of God's anger to the sinful world."
"The selectmen of Medford, Mass., appointed the next Wednesday as a day to be observed by fasting and prayer on account of the earthquake; and Lieutenant-governor Dummer recommended that Thursday should be kept in the same way for the same purpose throughout the province. Many sermons delivered on the latter and other days were printed and are still extant. In Salem, Mass., a meeting was held on Saturday at the upper meeting-house (then so called) which was attended by the largest congregation that was ever in that edifice."

They repented, the fasted, they prayed, and they entreated. The people fell down before a mighty God and supplicated in proper Holy Fear.

In his sermon "A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments" John Cotton defined Holy Fear:

--Trembling for fear of God implies our solemn an awful apprehensions of the great God, who brings such judgments upon us

--Trembling for fear of God means that we are sensibly touched and affected with the consideration of the judgments that are or may yet be brought upon us.

--Trembling for fear of God means our humbling ourselves exceedingly before Him who is thus visiting and threatening us.

Do we tremble? Rarely. We strut, we dismiss, we forget the power He wields, and holds back. Holy Fear, repentance, and awe of His majesty are not popular topics today. Prosperity, ecstatic experiences, all paths leading to heaven are the topics of today, when the bible is even referred to at all.

I remember the bright fall day of September 11, 2001. I was in my newspaper office happily writing the last of the articles for upcoming publication, and then my world shattered. Planes smashed into the Twin Towers in NYC, the Pentagon in Washington DC (where we lost a home town boy) and into the Pennsylvania ground. Our complacency was gone and the world never looked the same after that day.

More to the point, the event shook all of us in America. The next Sunday, churches were full. People wanted - needed - answers. Intuitively we knew any answers that came from ourselves would be inadequate. We sought them from 'somewhere or something else.'

The rush to church was short-lived, as it inevitably must be in a pagan nation.

After 9/11, a short-lived rush to church: Mark Chaves on how church business boomed briefly after 9/11

Church Attendance Back to Normal

Repenting. Falling down on our faces. These are proper responses when disaster strikes. It's intuitive that people do these things because as Romans 1:18-20 shows us, we all know, saved or not, that God exists and is in control-

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Do we weep day and night for our own sins, faults, and failures? Do we weep for neglecting to give glory to God? We do not react thus: "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself." (Habakkuk 3:16).

We shake our heads at the poor folks way over there experiencing natural disaster, such as the Hawaiians losing their homes to the volcano, and we move on. We do not do the first and proper thing: repent. I am talking to believers who have forgotten what it means to be a sinner falling into the hands of an angry God.

Why are not the churches in America full today? Why are not people weeping at altars, seeking forgiveness? Do we evidence a Holy Fear? No, we talk of prosperity with a flashy smile.
Rev Cotton finishes, "Oh, what need we have then to cry mightily unto God that He will make the impressions lasting on the souls of parents, children, young, old, rich, poor, bond and free! We have done it already. We will continue to do it, and we hope the Lord will not turn away our prayers nor His mercy from us." 
Will the dreadful impressions of God after 9/11-Japan quake-Indian Ocean Tsunami-Joplin tornado swarm-Hawaiian volcano- etc last in you? In me? It is an awesome thing to see His power in creation. It's even more powerful to see His work in a human soul.

Give glory to God for His power. Give glory to Jesus by repenting, and living an obedient, honorable, and moral life in Him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 2/3

This series first appeared on The End Time in March 2011

Part 1 here
Part 3 here

The events of late summer-early Fall in New England, described in Part 1 of this three-part essay, were fear-inducing to a high degree. The strange events culminated in an earth-shaking display of mighty power, ripping into the consciousnesses of thousands of slumbering Colonials at a quiet moment in the middle of the autumn night. People ran shrieking out of their homes in their night-clothes, never having experienced such an earthquake before.

Then as now, people try to make sense of the events. Many a preacher was spiritually burdened to preach about it on the next Sunday, and one such was the New England preacher, John Cotton. (1693-1757). The old Puritan preachers were learned, well-versed in the bible, and devout. Most importantly, they preached the correct response to an earth-shattering event: Holy Fear.

We don't evidence much Holy Fear these days, it is not a popular topic. But Rev Cotton did, and here are a few excerpts to his eminently readable and wonderful sermon. I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Part 3 of this essay will examine how the people of today respond to a similar earth-shaking event. In his sermon, Rev Cotton lays out the procession of thought throughout:

-------------begin John Cotton sermon--------------

DOCTRINE. The condition and circumstances of a people may be such that their flesh may well tremble for fear of God, and they may wisely be afraid of His judgments. In the prosecution of this doctrine I will show:
1. What is meant by the judgments of God and what judgments we are exposed to that we ought to be afraid of.
2. What is meant by trembling for fear of God and being afraid of His judgments.
3. That our condition and circumstance are such that we have abundant reasons and occasions to tremble and be afraid.

A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments
by John Cotton (1693-1757); Preached November 3, 1727
"My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee; and I am afraid of Thy judgments" (Psalm 119:120)

To fear God means that we adore His sovereignty and righteousness even in His awful dispensations and that we employ our serious, devout, and solemn thoughts on these an other glorious excellencies and perfections of Almighty God displayed in His judgments. They must be the subject of our frequent and solemn meditations so that we may always maintain in our hearts suitable apprehensions of the great God who sends His judgments upon us.

Surely the consideration thereof should fill us with the greatest fear and concern of spirit that God has been so provoked that He has had to come out against us in His anger and to threaten our utter ruin and desolation

Did we ever have more reason to stand trembling before God under fearful apprehensions of impending vengeance when we consider the many scandalous, provoking evils abounding among us including oppression, injustice, fraud, deceit, falsehood, evil speaking, pride contention, intemperance, drunkenness, unchastity, excessive and inordinate love of the world, and may I add, the rudeness and profaneness of young people? God Himself, and our duty to Him, is evidently neglected and forgotten by many, and a form of godliness is maintained and kept up without the life and power of it. The sacred and dreadful name of God is dishonored and blasphemed by profane cursing and swearing. His holy Sabbaths, instead of being strictly observed and sanctified, are very much profaned by idle, vain, trifling and unsuitable conduct. Some forsake the house of the Lord, frequently neglecting and needlessly staying away from the public worship of God. Has not manifold contempt been put upon the Lord’s holy ordinances and institutions? Are there not many who disregard coming to them in a serious and worthy manner? Must we not acknowledge that mutual Christian love and charity grow cold? Are not both the love of men to God and the love of men to their neighbors treated with a visible coldness and indifference that clearly mark the lack of the power of godliness? Alas, for this people!

Are not the iniquities I have just described, and many more, prevailing among us and testifying against us, loudly proclaiming our impiety and great degeneracy, declaring that we are an impenitent, incorrigible, and unreformed people still, ripening rapidly for a destruction without remedy? Surely then, if this is the case with us, we have reason to tremble for fear of God and to be greatly afraid of His judgments. We might wisely be afraid of temporal plagues and judgments of a far heavier and sorer nature than we have yet been visited with, for the transgressions of God’s covenant people are exceedingly provoking to Him and richly deserve to be severally punished. I beg of you, do not forget that our sins are the more offensive and provoking to God for we are a people in covenant with Him.

What awful symptoms there are of blindness and hardness of heart right in our midst. Ought we not to fear that men are dreadfully blinded and hardened in their sins when there is not so much as external reformation in connection with such an awful judgment of God as this earthquake?

We learn from this text that it is not cowardly to be afraid of God’s judgments but very agreeable to true Christian courage.

God is no fit match for us to contend with. No one has ever hardened himself against Him and prospered (Job 9:4). He is our Creator, we are His creatures. We are as clay in the hands of the potter. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. God cannot err on His end, as the princes of this world may in the execution of their displeasure through impotency or want of knowledge, for He is infinite in knowledge, wisdom, and power, and there in no comparison between infinite and finite. It is not cowardly then to fear God. Our Saviour advises us,

"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

Such wise fear is agreeable to true Christian courage. This should be expressed in our lives by maintaining a reverential fear of God upon our minds, in fighting against the enemies of our salvation; in mortifying our lusts; in steadfastly persevering in all the duties of our holy religion; in not disobeying His commands, despising His judgments, scorning His rod or setting ourselves in opposition to His threatening, which is the most daring and prodigious folly and madness and will be found so in the end.

How very surprising and amazing was the first sudden shock and convulsion we felt! Our houses and beds were shaking, and the earth was trembling and reeling under us like, I suppose, none ever felt in this part of the world before. And how many times has the awful noise been repeated, though not to such a fearful degree? Well may the people in this city and in the country round about be filled with the surprise and consternation of which we see and hear. Multitudes seem to be under great conviction, distress, and concern about their soul and eternity. Oh, that the impressions might abide until conversion to God is accomplished and the great work of their salvation is completed.

-------------end Cotton sermon----------------

Rev Cotton was fearful that the initial impressions regarding a just, angry, and powerful God would diminish in the light of day and diminish even further as time passed. How well the Reverend knew the sinful nature of craven men. But the response Cotton preached is the ONLY proper response to a God who is wroth with us. He is the Creator, we are His creatures! We are clay in the hands of the potter. We should fall down before Him, seeking forgiveness as we entreat Him to forgive our sins. But do we? Part 3 coming up.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Holy Fear: The Great Earthquake, part 1/3

This was first published on The End Time in March 2011

The greatest earthquake that New England has probably experienced since its settlement by the English occurred October 29, 1727. The people had suffered much in various ways through the summer and early autumn. A drought continued from the middle of June to the middle of September, the month of July and the first week of August being exceedingly hot. No rain fell in April after the first week, and but twice in May, only one of two slight showers occurring during the sultry, parching heat of the summer. The earth dried to a great depth, and many wells and springs, which had never failed before were now dry. There was much lightning and thunder, but very little rain. On the evening of August 1, at the close of a scorching day, the heavens burst out into a blaze of flame and a roar of thunder, the terrific display continuing for two or three hours. The flashes occurred so frequently that the sky was continually light with them and a writer of that time said it seemed "as if the heavens being on fire were dissolving and passing away with a great noise, and the earth also with its works was to be burned up."

After the drought was broken a violent northeast storm came on, doing much damage among the vessels along the coast, and the trees on shore. This occurred September 16. It caused a high tide which carried away about two hundred loads of hay from the marshes at Newbury, Mass., and drove eight or nine vessels ashore at Salem and thirty-five at Marblehead.

After the lightning, thunder, and tempest the country was visited by a tremendous earthquake. October 24, 1727, the weather was very cold; three days later, snow fell, and on the 28th the temperature was still exceedingly low for the season. Sunday, the 29th, was fair and pleasant, and in the evening the moon shone brightly, the air was calm, and no noise disturbed the peacefulness of nature. People retired at their usual hour, and were fast asleep, when at twenty minutes before eleven o'clock a terrible noise followed by a roar and a rush suddenly woke them, and in about half a minute, before they had time to become conscious of what was taking place around them, there came a pounce as if gigantic cannons had rolled against each other from opposite directions. Latches leaped up and doors flew open, houses rocked and trembled as though they would collapse, timber worked in and out of mortises, hearth-stones grated against each other, windows rattled, tops of chimneys pitched and tumbled down, cellar walls fell in, beds shook, pewter fell off shelves, lids of warming pans jumped up and fell back with a clang, and all movable things, especially in the upper rooms, tossed about.

Most people got up in a moment, and many of them ran out of doors in their night clothes, being so frightened that they knew not what to do. The earth shook so much that they could not stand, and were compelled to sit or recline on the ground.

People that were awake when the earthquake came said that a flash of light preceded it. It was seen as it passed the windows, and a blaze seemed to run along the ground, dogs that saw it giving a sudden bark as if frightened. Before they had time to consider the source or cause of the light a sound like a gentle murmur floated to them on the still evening air, followed by a slight ruffling wind. Then came a rumbling as of distant thunder, which approached nearer and nearer and grew louder and louder till it sounded as if innumerable heavy carriages were being rapidly driven over pavements, or like the roaring of a great furnace, but incomparably fiercer and more terrible, having a hollow sound as if it came from under the earth. Then the shock came suddenly and severely and the houses were felt to totter and reel with the trembling and heaving of the ground.

The noise and shake came from the northwest, and went in a south-easterly direction. The whole disturbance occurred within the space of two minutes of time. The cattle ran bellowing about the fields, being thoroughly frightened at this sudden and fearful commotion in the still hours of night. They acted as though suffering from the greatest distress. "the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the tress of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee;..." (Joel 1:19, 20)."

Source: USGS Historic Earthquakes. More at link

Stay tuned for part two.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Faith of a Child

I work in an elementary school. This year I'm working in the 2nd grade. I love children, so this suits me. The Lord is gracious to fulfill me spiritually and professionally.

I really like working with the younger kids. I've worked in Pre-K to grade 2 in these latest times, and in the past taught 4th and 5th.

There's something about the randomness of little kids and their thought patterns that amazes and tickles me. You never know what they're going to say. They way they think is precious and in a lot of cases, logical.

Last week I was assigned a special project apart from my regular duties. I was pulled to do a Reading Assessment on all the kindergarteners. Yay! I'm with the smaller kids again!

The kindergarten kids had seen me around. I am on duty in the morning and afternoon, and I greet them as they come in and I'm with them for half an hour at car riders. They also see me in the hallway.  I don't directly work with them, though. I'm some roving, random adult in their school lives.

What I noticed about these children is that when I came out the door and asked to take a student to my little office I'd set up in the hallway, to do a test, they were all gung ho! Every time I'd come to their door, they say "Are you going to get me?" "Is it my turn?" They were all excited to come with me for a test.

Once settled in our chairs, I explained that they should read a short story book to me and then they would retell it in their own words and answer some questions. Not one of the children balked or asked why or crossed their arms. Not only did they work, but they worked hard.

Occasionally I needed to have them read and retell a second book and if I asked them if they needed a break or wanted to continue, all the ones I asked wanted to go straight through. They were eager.

Most of them even said "thank you" at one point.

I started thinking about the Bible and Jesus. I started thinking about attitude and excitement and submission and effort.

If someone came to my door and wanted to test me, would I be eager? Excited? Striving to do my best? Would I be happy and polite? Trusting and pliable?

Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:14-16)

The faith of a child is just that- full of wide-eyed trust, utter submission, striving to please. Barnes' Notes says of the Mark verses,
As a little child - With the temper and spirit of a child - teachable, mild, humble, and free from prejudice and obstinacy.
I learned a lot being with the 5 and 6 year olds. Where they excel, I sometimes fall short.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Gardens of Damascus

‎Gardens of Damascus
No wonder the Moslems look upon Damascus as an earthly paradise. It is encompassed by gardens and orchards. These cover an area of over twenty-five miles in circumference. Here grow olive, fig, walnut, apricot, poplar, palm, cypress and pomegranate trees. In the above view we have a scene taken from the Jerusalem road in the western part of the city, and looking to the north a ridge of Anti-Lebanon is seen straight before us. In the richness of its soil, in the salubrity and semi-tropical character of its climate, in its varied vegetation, we find the reason for the constant association of Damascus with the thought of gardens. 
It has been for four thousand years a garden. It is surrounded for miles with this splendor of verdure. Its gardens and orchards and far-reaching groves, rich in foliage and blossoms, wrap the city around like a mantle of green velvet powdered with pearls. The apricot orchards seem to blush at their own surpassing loveliness, and the gentle breezes that rustle softly through the feathery tops of the palms are laden with the perfume of the rose and the violet. Tristram, in his account of what he saw, says:
“Tall mud walls extended in every direction under the trees, and flowing streams of water from the Barada everywhere bubbled through the orchards, while all was alive with the song of birds and the hum of bees. The great apricot trees were laden and bent down under strings of ripe golden fruit.” Whatever changes may be made by the hand of man in Damascus, whatever changes in government and in commercial activities, the city is sure to be for all time a paradise of fertility and beauty.

Vincent, J., Lee, J., & Bain, R. E. M. (1894). Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles. New York, NY;St. Louis, MO: N. D. Thompson Publishing Co.

He is The Word

My favorite verses are from John 1:1-5 KJV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:5 in the KJV moves me to tears any time I spend more than a few seconds pondering it. I don't know why, all I can say is it must be the Spirit responding and pointing me to our glorious Savior.

"...and the darkness comprehended it not..." especially. I know that other translations say "overcome it not" which is also powerful, but the one that moves me is the KJV in this verse.

Matthew Henry on John 1:1-5,
'Without him was not any thing made that was made'
"All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, & depends upon him."
What a great Savior! Upon whom would we depend? Who else is there? Peter said "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life".

The words of eternal life, refreshing, life-giving, Christ is all and He is the Word and the Word is all.  Jesus Christ and His Gospel is the Good News.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Straining toward the goal

Straining Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Straining, pressing, racing, it all gets tiring. Sounds a lot different than the mystical notion of 'let go and let God' doesn't it! Christianity is active. We study, pray, battle the flesh, exhort, preach, build up, and more. Here Paul is saying we must not give up!

The road might seem long but in the end we will look back from our vantage point in heaven and say, 'that was but a vapor, our life on earth was but a mist of a moment.' Even this evening I was looking at the Facebook photos of the 8th grade semi-formal dance going on now, and I see handsome and tall young men and lovely ladies who I knew in kindergarten. Their parents write captions such as 'time slow down' and 'where did the time go, he was a baby just yesterday'.

The road might seem long but it's really sort, just over the next rise could come glory

Keep up the good work, sisters, of praying and working for Christ and raising young 'uns and submitting and worshiping and battling and singing and phew, hang in there!

Here is a bit of encouragement from The Bible Knowledge Commentary,
3:12–14. Though Paul was a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Philippian saints, he wanted them to know that he had not yet attained the goals stated in verse 10. He was still actively pressing on toward them. He had by no means reached the final stage of his sanctification. 
Paul’s salvation experience had taken place about 30 years before he wrote to the Philippians. He had won many spiritual battles in that time. He had grown much in those years, but he candidly confessed he had not obtained all this, nor was he yet made perfect (v. 12). He still had more spiritual heights to climb. This testimony of the apostle reminded the saints at Philippi—and it serves to remind believers today—that there must never be a stalemate in their spiritual growth or a plateau beyond which they cannot climb. 
Paul pursued Christlikeness with the enthusiasm and persistence of a runner in the Greek games. Unlike the Judaizers, whose influence was prevalent among the Philippians, the apostle did not claim to have attained spiritual maturity. He was still pressing on, pursuing that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. Nor had he yet taken hold of it, that is, he had not yet attained perfection or ultimate conformity to Christ. But he was determined that he would forget the past and, like a runner, press on toward the goal. Paul refused to be controlled or absorbed by his past heritage (vv. 5–7) or his attainments (v. 8). 
Vigorously and with concentration Paul sought to win the prize to which God had called him heavenward (v. 14). Again the Greek games must have been on his mind as he wrote of the prize. The winner in those games was called to the place where the judge sat in order to receive his prize. Paul may have referred to ultimate salvation in God’s presence, or to receiving rewards at “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Lightner, R. P. (1985). Philippians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 661). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Kay Cude poetry: Prelude and Postlude of the Light

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