Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu Blogfest: My Thoughts about a Favorite Story



          D.L. Hammons has hosted the Deja Vu Blogfest for a couple of years now.  In this event bloggers have the opportunity to give a second chance to neglected posts that appeared over the previous year.  This is a time when we're also able to allow other bloggers who might be unfamiliar with what we do take a look at an example of our work.

           A Few Words is but one of four blogs that I publish.  I normally post on this blog on Sundays only unless there is a special reason for posting such as this blogfest or the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.    This is my least visited blog, partly due the nature of its subject matter of spirituality and probably because I typically lead off with a Bible verse which I realize might be an immediate turn-off to some visitors.  It's what I do here and I can only hope that those who do manage to make their ways here might be open minded enough to just read through and consider what I have to offer.   For my look back I am offering a post from March 30th which deals with one of my favorite stories from the Bible. 

  Noah

       
The Rainbow set as the symbol of the Covenant ...
The Rainbow set as the symbol of the Covenant with Noah after the Great Flood of the Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.

Psalm 104:5-9

New International Version (NIV)

        The story of Noah is among my favorites in the Bible.   Like so many Bible stories, this account does not go into great detail about all that happened, but there is enough to not only have a clear picture of the event, but also to infer many other possibilities of the consequences of such a great flood.  A worldwide deluge would have catastrophic impact.

          Just thinking of the massive mudslide in the state of Washington recently, we can glean some idea of how forty days of rain would affect the world.   Waters high and deep enough to cover all of the mountains of Earth would cause significant erosion.  The shifting of land as waters receded would have a tumultuous effect upon the geological makeup of our planet.   We can only imagine, but we can probably also come to some pretty good conclusions.

         The epic Bible stories of the Old Testament can fuel some interesting speculation, but ultimately that is not the point of those stories.  For example, the story of Noah is about the faith of a man, the evil of the world, and obedience to God.  But the real story is what is still ultimately to come to this world.   Noah's story was amazing, but nothing like the story of Jesus.  

         We may be the modern version of Noah.   Or we may be like those lost in the flood.  Who do you want to be?


“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.   As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.   For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."

Matthew 24:36-39

New International Version (NIV)


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Relax! Try Your Best to at Least

English: Long Ships lighthouse on a summer's d...
 Long Ships lighthouse on a summer's day A perfect place to get some peace and tranquillity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22
New International Version (NIV)

        Telling oneself not to worry is the correct Biblical approach to the difficult times we face in our lives.  This is one of those things that is often much easier said than done.  Prayer works, but it can be work to stay focused on the prayers when life is putting you through the wringer.

         So much of the time we want to be in control.  Or we have expectations that others will fix the problems.   And maybe they will.  Often God works through others--healthcare professionals, auto mechanics, firemen, neighbors.  You know, the everyday people who keep the world around us going.  It can be difficult to have complete faith in people when situations seem impossible to fix.  Try faith in God, in prayer, and in the heavenly powers.   When all else seems to be failing, that kind of faith can provide not only the comfort we need, but the miracles we need.

          Getting torn with worry and twisted with stressful angst doesn't fix the problems we face, but it can hurt us as well as those around us.   Give those anxieties over to God.  He'll take care of the problems if that is his will, but more importantly He will take care of you.

          A little prayer never hurts.  A lot of prayer can help in big ways.   

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What Keeps You Energized?

High tension line in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
High tension line in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




When I asked for your help,
you answered my prayer
and gave me courage.

Psalm 138:3
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

         The other night while I was alone in the house, the power went out.  

          My wife had gone to visit her daughter for a few days leaving me on my own with some "bachelor" time.   On Friday evening I was prepared to have a relaxing evening of watching old movies on television and spending some catch up time on the computer.   I was all psyched up for my personal time as I prepared a small dinner to enjoy as I watched the tube.   Then the lights went out.

          Actually the lights didn't go completely out, but they were very dim.   The radio was still working fine, but every other appliance, the televisions, and my computers were all off.  It wasn't really a black-out, but there was a definite lack of energy.  I'd experienced black-outs before though nothing quite like this low power ebb.  Everything was out for about ninety minutes and then suddenly everything was back up and running like normal.

         Losing the energy like that made me feel a little helpless.  I had faith that the power company would tend to the problem and all would be well in short order.  As it turned out, this was the case.  What if the power outage had lasted longer, perhaps through the night and into the next day?   In the end I didn't have to find out what might have happened and that was fine with me.

          God is our spiritual power company.   He provides the energy, but it's up to us to know how to use it and keep the power coming in.  With faith that stays strong we can have a direct line from the source of all energy of the universe.  If we keep the prayer lines open to the Lord we will get the answers we need.  They may not come over a phone line or be as clear as any message that we are used to getting.  God's ways can be mysterious, with messages delivered in miraculous ways or even as plain as words passed casually in a conversation with a friend.   We don't always know the messenger, but if we're paying attention we will receive the Message.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Is Your Plan Working?

HERD OF SHEEP - NARA - 544384
HERD OF SHEEP - NARA - 544384 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:8-9
New International Version (NIV)


          "His will be done," we hear it said, but sometimes those may seem like harsh  words to us.   What we were hoping might happen isn't always the way things turn out.  Something's out of alignment and it's not God.

           God has a plan--a plan for you, your family, and the whole world.   Someday we'll understand in full what the extent of the plan is, but for now we need to keep listening, waiting and doing whatever else it takes to get on board with God.    

          God's plan is a perfect one.   Are you in sync with God?

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Ephesians 1:4-10
New International Version (NIV)


Sunday, October 26, 2014

God's Not Dead


God's Not Dead.jpg


My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:2
New International Version (NIV)

       My wife and I recently watched the film God's Not Dead finding it to be highly moving, inspiring, and entertaining.  This is the kind of film entertainment that the Christian community needs more of rather than the kinds of immoral and Godless entertainment often offered to audiences.

       Regarding the critical response to God's Not Dead, Wikipedia says:

The film has been panned by critics, currently holding a score of 16 out of 100 on Metacritic indicating "overwhelming dislike", based on six critics,[8] and a rating of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 18 reviews as of May 2014.[9]

        The article goes on to cite other negative responses by the critics.  Would we expect much else from media spokespersons who continually rip anything related to Christianity while giving raves to films that promote lifestyles of sin and debauchery?  

         A few positive words are given from Christian sources, but even some members of the Christian community are critical of this film.  To me their arguments are weak.  I would wonder why Christians would not be wanting to come together rather than debate petty theological issues thereby discouraging some from seeing the film and detracting from the positive values the film attempts to convey.  No wonder that the anti-God advocates look askance at purveyors of the message of the Gospel.

         In contrast to the generally negative reviews given to this film one can look on the Amazon site where reviewers have given the film over 2400 five star reviews in contrast to the 150 one star reviews and comparatively small numbers in the other star ratings.  Audiences generally respond well to this film and seem to want this kind of entertainment as indicated by the over $60 million in profit the film has made so far.

        If you haven't seen God's Not Dead yet, I'd encourage you to read about it to see if it appeals to you.  If the film sounds like something you'd like to see then I recommend purchasing or renting a copy.   Consider it a vote for God-inspired entertainment.  I'm looking forward to more of this sort of thing from the Christian backed entertainment industry.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20
New International Version (NIV)

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)