Sunday, October 19, 2014

Do You Need a Friend?

They are probably best friends since they were...
They are probably best friends since they were kids.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
New International Version (NIV)

       We need friends.  Living on one's own can be depressing and desperate when trying to get through difficult times.   When you're dealing with troubles on your own you have no sounding board or outside support.   Scripture and prayer can certainly get you through such times if your mindset is in the right place, but having a good friend by your side provides a strength that you may not be able to muster by yourself. 

          Independence can be an admirable quality for us to have.   We should not be overly and needily dependant on anyone else.  That situation can be dangerous for us in many ways.  However we need other people in order to get us by in this world.   We need to have friends whom we can trust when trust is needed or just to keep us company when company is desired.

          Jesus Christ is the ultimate friend.  He loved us so much that He gave his life so that we could find salvation and eternal life.   We rarely have to give up our own lives for our friends--at least not in the literal sense that Jesus did.  But often being a friend does require sacrifice.  Our time, material goods, money, or even our emotions might be necessary to give to a friend in need.   Then there are the times when you may look to a friend to provide these things to you.  True friendship is an exchange, a sharing experience, and a relationship with mutual benefits. 

          We can try going it alone and indeed many of us do.   When you have friends by your side, traveling life's sometimes difficult road can be so much easier.    Companionship makes a burden a lighter load to carry.


Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13
New International Version (NIV)


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is Anger Unhealthy?

English: Cereal crops near Wendens Ambo Views ...
 Cereal crops near Wendens Ambo Views across cereal crops on farmland near Wendens Ambo. Some angry-looking storm clouds on the horizon.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Psalm 37:8
New International Version (NIV)

       This past week I have felt sick.   Not from any germ, virus, or anything that could be physically diagnosed, but I have been sick in my emotions and in my mind.   I have been functioning, but in a run-down and discouraged manner.  I have been tired and distraught.  

        The incident caught me totally unaware, like being hit unexpectedly by a truck.  I was left dazed and bewildered by a verbal attack that literally seemed to come from nowhere.  I had done nothing to provoke the incident.  Anger was incited as the result of a figment of someone else's imagination.

         Unlike the anger I might have felt from an encounter with a stranger, my anger and that of the loved one who attacked me gnawed at me from the inside, left me shaken, and stayed with me for several days.  The impact of the incident will now stay with me for a long time.

         For the most part keeping my restraint I tried to defend myself against the ugly words that were hurled my way.  False accusations and irrational fabrications were inveighed against me.  This person who is very close to me unleashed things that had apparently been brewing and stewing from within for quite some time, catching me entirely off guard.

         Ironically the whole mess could have been easily straightened out if only calmness and reasoning had prevailed.  I was able to answer the charges against me, but the verdict had been decided before I could even speak.  The anger was in the air and flaming in the heart of another and I was the whipping boy.

          That evening things were brought to a calmer state, but the hurt has lingered for me.   Sometimes anger leads us to do and say things that we should not.   Anger leads us to sin.   Anger makes us sick.  I try to keep the peace, but war only breaks out when at least one side wants to shatter that peace.  

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1:19-20
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Teaching Our Children





Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6
English Standard Version (ESV)

          Most Christians are well aware of the battle that goes on to win over the minds and souls of our children.  It's a tough war between the forces of the spiritual and the worldly and unfortunately the world seems to be the victor in many cases.  What our children are learning now will impact the way they think when they reach adulthood and that mindset will influence what they pass on to their own children and grandchildren.

           The entertainment media encourages the secular while turning its back on the spiritual realms.   Many children grow up with a negative view of that which we typically term "religious" while others never understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, what that means to them, or anything about the history that is depicted in the pages of the Bible.

           Many people see the Bible as a boring book of genealogies, difficult rules, and history that they don't relate to.   Kids often would prefer to read about wizards, vampires, and subject matter with an underlying evil pervading the stories.  Parents need to take control of what their children are viewing and reading.

           There are options out there that will lay the groundwork for Biblical teaching in a way that is fun and alluring to the impressionable minds of the young.   Sugarcoating the seriousness of life can help children absorb meaningful lessons that will influence them in years to come.
 
            Dan Holom, a friend of mine for fifty years, has written a very fine children's book Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel.   This is a fun retelling of the famous story of Daniel and the faith that caused him to be sent to the lions den where he was unharmed due to God's protection.   The story is retold with humorous animal characters who learn the meaning of love, trust, and faith.

             Delightfully illustrated by acclaimed animation artist Mark Henn, the story is geared toward children but told in an intelligent manner that adults will appreciate.   This book is part of a planned series of similar Sleepy Sheepy tales that Dan hopes to have out in the near future.  The dream of publishing this series is partly dependent on the sales of this current book.

           Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel has just recently been made available as an e-book on Amazon.   Those of you with children or who know children that you would like to see gain a love for the stories of the Bible can play an important role in helping Daniel Holom achieve his dream of producing this book series by purchasing the book and encouraging others to do so as well.    Also passing this information to others can help tremendously.

            Please visit the Amazon listing for this book to read more about it.   If you do obtain a copy of the book I hope you'll review it to help give the author a boost.  Those of you who are authors understand the importance of reviews especially on Amazon.

             Help an upcoming author, but most importantly teach our children about the Word of God.   This is learning that will impact them for eternity.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15
English Standard Version (ESV)




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Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Shall We Do With Jesus?

English: A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's...
 A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people. See: Eccehomo1.jpg for full version.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)



I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Psalm 22:22-23
English Standard Version (ESV)

        Every day we are faced with questions.   We decide what we will wear, what we will eat, where we will go or what we will do.   Most of these are easy, things done with barely a passing thought.  They involve decisions nevertheless and whatever we decide is rarely ever of any consequence.

         Then there are those bigger life decisions.  Should I take this job?   Should I make my life with this person?   Should we have this child?   These types or decisions call for more thought.  They are decisions that could decide the quality of our lives and state of our affairs.

         But how often are we faced with those questions that can affect us into eternity?   Pontius Pilate asked the mobs about what he should do with Jesus Christ.   Their answer was to reject Jesus as Messiah and instead put him to death.

          Each of us will have to face the question of what to do with this "Jesus who is called Christ".  Perhaps you have answered. Or maybe you are still undecided.   The question must be answered eventually by each of us.

           What is your answer? 

           This post was inspired by Oliver B. Greene's The Greatest Question.  If you like good expository books about the Bible this one is an excellent choice.  I believe it would be a helpful tool in witnessing to others.



Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”
Matthew 27:22
English Standard Version (ESV)


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jerusalem: Evidence of the Veracity of Bible Prophecy

English: Mamila area in Jerusalem night shot ΧΆ...
 Mamila area in Jerusalem night shot
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Those who love you will prosper.
Psalm 122:6
World English Bible (WEB)

        Anyone who is looking for evidence that the Holy Bible is true need not speculate much farther than what it says about the holiest of cities, Jerusalem.   Since this city was founded in about 3000 B.C. by King David it has been the focus of the sacred as well as the profane.  Many Biblical prophecies involve what will happen to Jerusalem.  More than a few of these prophecies came to be while we see others coming closer to fruition.   The prophet Zechariah prophesied that Jerusalem would become "a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone".  Has this not been the case now for many centuries?   And from the news we see that this situation is becoming even more true.

       The numerous prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus Christ as Messiah should be enough evidence for die hard skeptics to be convinced of the great truth contained in the Holy Bible.  However many continue to resist this truth or turn the blind eyes of ignorance away from accepting this truth.   Some will say the Jesus story is a mythological concoction contrived by conspiracists.   They will argue to their graves about their beliefs, yet they cannot make their case into eternity.   Accepting Jesus can come from knowledge of historical fact, but it is still primarily a matter of the faith in the heart and mind of the one who believes.

        The city of Jerusalem is another story that continues to unfold even in our time.   Those who are willing to study scripture will discover many prophecies about Jerusalem recorded thousands of years ago.  Quite a few of these have already happened.    More Jerusalem and Israel centered events continue to be the headlines in our time.   Jerusalem is the prize that many leaders want to control.   This fact is found in the pages of the Bible.

         An astute reader of the Bible can see what is coming.  From the looks of things on the current events scene, the final prophecies about Jerusalem seem to be close at hand.  You might deny Jesus, but it's difficult to deny Jerusalem in Biblical prophecy.   Once you've accepted what the Bible has to say about Jerusalem, it might be time to reconsider what the Bible says about Jesus.   The two are inextricably linked.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written."
Luke 21:20-22
English Standard Version (ESV)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Angels Stirring the Waters

King James Version of the Bible
King James Version of the Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:11-12
New King James Version (NKJV)

        Angels make numerous appearances throughout the Bible.  They serve as messengers, defenders, challengers, and comforters to name a few of their duties.   They are agents who serve God and offer hope to the Godly.   

         Some of these stories may raise more questions than are answered in the text of scripture.  In fact, some Biblical scholars dispute the King James translation as not being absolutely accurate while there are King James only advocates who believe that their preferred version is the only God-inspired version.   The King James version was translated from a Greek text that appeared after older texts that were used in some of the more modern translations.  

          This is not to say that one version is more definitive or superior than another, but we should be aware of subtle differences in the various translations.  For this reason we should not confine ourselves strictly to any one translation of the Bible.  Sometimes comparing the differences in phrasing and words used can help shed more light on confusing passages.   The use of solid Bible commentaries can also be very useful in studying scripture.

          A good example to look at in comparative studies comes from John 5 where  Jesus heals the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.   Many modern translations omit the fourth verse that is found in the King James translation.   It does seem to be a somewhat odd verse when you think about it especially in context of the healing that Jesus performs for the lame man.

          I believe that the King James version is beautifully rendered and God-inspired, but I won't say that it is the definitive translation especially from the perspective of modern readers.   There is good reason to use more than one translation of the Bible.  As long as the truth is within the covers of the book you are using, then there is value to using it.

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

John 5:1-4
King James Version (KJV)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Does Getting Old Have to Be Bad?

The Christian concept of apocatastasis include...
The Christian concept of apocatastasis includes a restoration of the world to its original state, as in the Garden of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.

Psalm 90:9
New International Version (NIV)

        Sure, we can blame our circumstance on Original Sin, but that's no excuse for disobeying God.  Our sin is not Adam's fault, Eve's fault, nor the fault of anyone else but ourselves.  We can cower from God or resent his authority over us, yet the fact remains that God rules and his wrath upon unrepentant sinners is real.

         Some may laugh at the concept of an all-powerful Creator/Savior.  Many scoff at the laws of living as presented by scripture.  Woe to those who go through life without accepting God's grace and understanding His plan of salvation.    These are the ones who will be excluded from a glorious eternity with the one who put us here in the first place.

         Should we fear growing older, the degeneration of our mortal shells, and our eventual demise?   Uncertainty is the primary component of fear.   When we make the rules and live life according to our own plan of understanding, then we end up not understanding much and wasting away into the creation of a self-made world that offers no lasting hope.   We cannot save ourselves.

           There is hope for those of us who look beyond the limitations of our humanness.   God loves us and wants us to grow in His Word and His Way.   In our discomforts, we can be comforted.   We can conquer doubts and fears with God's power.   God is with us in this life.   And if we are with God then we have an eternity of blessing ahead of us.


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.