Sunday, May 17, 2015

Temporary Hiatus

English: The open road: the B3224 across the B...
 The open road: the B3224 across the Brendon Hills. This fast and open road carries surprisingly little traffic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       With summer around the corner and so much for me to do at the present time, I have decided to take a break from posting at this site for an indeterminate period.   This will be the case with all of my blogs except for Tossing It Out which will most likely go into a cut back summer schedule to be decided in the next week or so.   If circumstances change I may be back up and running at A Few Words, but the time being my projected date of return to this site will be sometime in September.  

See you then if not before!

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9
New King James Version (NKJV)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A to Z Reflections for A Few Words

       As a participant in the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge I'm joining in with others who are offering their reflections on this sixth edition of the annual event. The Reflections posts have been a tradition from the first Challenge in 2010. To see the entire list of bloggers with Reflection posts visit the A to Z Challenge Blog. The Linky List will open on Monday May 4th.

A Few Words about A to Z 2015

       As a rule this blog receives few visits with a very minimal number of comments.   This past April was no exception.  During A to Z A Few Words had an average of less than 50 visits per day with the largest number occurring for the post I for Idols which received 90 visits.  This was the only post I promoted to any great extent and even though the post had more visits then others, there were only three comments on this somewhat controversial approach that I took regarding this topic.   

       Low turn-out is probably to be expected on this blog due to the nature of the subject matter.  Of course I'm disappointed that there are not more visitors to this blog, but I'm not surprised either.  Something that I do wonder about is how many people actually do find blogs from the Linky List.  A Few Words was added a few days after the list opened and probably started near the number 500 spot or somewhere in that vicinity.  I guess we'd need to know more stats from other bloggers to come close to any conclusion about the effectiveness of visits coming from the Linky List and that's something we'll likely never know for sure.

        As on my other blogs with low traffic, I'm disappointed about the performance but not discouraged.  At least I have content added to my blog that has the potential of being seen by someone eventually.  And some of the content might be something I can eventually use for other purposes one day.  Content is good to have on hand as we never know when we might need it or how it might be useful to us.

         My focus remains on my main blog Tossing It Out.  That's the blog I tend to promote the most and the blog that serves my interests the most.  I see A Few Words as my attempt to serve God.  Even if this blog is merely writing and blogging practice for me, preparing the posts helps keep me in some Bible study while giving me more opportunity to write.   The blog is not in vain nor is participation in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Sometimes the effectiveness of what we do now is not evident until sometime in the future.

Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3
English Standard Version (ESV)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zion (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...
English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in the background, in Rishon LeZion. עברית: דגל ישראל בראשון לציון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”
Zechariah 8:3
New International Version (NIV)

      We hear much condemnation of Israel in our time.  This is not surprising to anyone who knows the Bible.  The amazing prophecies of thousands of years ago should be enough to turn all eyes upon Jerusalem in reverence and awe.   Yet, as predicted in books of the Old Testament, Jerusalem has become a source of contention to many nations.  The time of settlement of this dispute appears to be close at hand.

        Many nations are turning against Israel and this is their mistake.  God will protect Israel and those who condemn the nation will face judgement and ruin.  If you think of "Zion" with negativity then perhaps it is time for you to research the matter.  Christ will one day rule from his throne in the Holy City of Jerusalem.   The lines have been drawn.  Which side are you on?

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

1 Peter 2:6
New International Version (NIV)

      And so ends the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  My A to Z Reflections post for this blog will appear on Sunday May 3rd.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Youth (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Fulbe youth (Fula youth), Mauritania
Fulbe youth (Fula youth), Mauritania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,
Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,
Before your vision dims and the world blurs
And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

Ecclesiastes 12:1
The Message (MSG)

        The time of youth is often the time of rebellion, irrational behavior, and egocentric focus.  When we are young, strong, and full of vitality we can feel indestructible with the attitude that we only need tend to our feelings of the moment without any regard to the future.   Unfortunately many young people don't think they need a loving God ruling over their lives.  Instead they create their own gods and try to take charge of everything themselves.

        An awareness of grower older often hits us at inopportune times in our lives.  At some point we find ourselves as members of the generation for which we may have once felt disdain.  We become the adversary of youth and the advocate of orderly existence.  Eventually we are the old, the feeble, and the diminishing in health as we become at the mercy of that generation of which we were once a part.

        If only we could see things of the future through our eyes of youth.  When we have good examples in our parents and elders there is an opportunity to learn and better understand.  Parents have a responsibility toward the children they bring into this world just as the children have a responsibility to listen and to respect their elders. Fortunately sometimes this happens.  Sadly it sometimes doesn't.

         The cycle of youth to middle age to old age continues.  The attitudes don't seem to change much.  Parents must capture the minds and imaginations of the children when they are malleable and more receptive to receiving the important messages of the ages.   The child gets older and eventually dies as will their children.   The sacred message of the Scripture must be planted in their minds when they are listening to those who are older.  Attempting to teach youth in rebellion is a tough task that usually ineffectual.

Children, obey your parents the way the Lord wants. This is the right thing to do. The command says, “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first command that has a promise with it. The promise is: “Then everything will be well with you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1-4
International Children’s Bible (ICB)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

A Ten Commandments monument which includes the...
A Ten Commandments monument which includes the command to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not lie about your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.
      In some ways I'm baffled about the United States government bending to those who are offended by the posting of the Ten Commandments on government properties and in courtrooms. Okay, so the first four might bother atheists, but then again if we look at these Commandments as the historical document that they are, any offense should be considered a non-issue. After all the foundation of law in western society has been rooted in the Ten Commandments. Thus we can argue that the Commandments are an element of our history.

     Other than to those who have some aversion to God or the institution of religion, there is nothing in the final six commandments that should be problematic to anyone no matter what they believe.  Arguably there is even merit for all in the first four Commandments though none of these have any actual legal implications from the standpoint of government in our day.

       The actual desire in preventing the display of the Commandments is to remove any mention of God from our lives and our society.  The whims of the few are imposed upon the many.  Who should receive the greater respect, those Godless parts of society who would prefer that we all stop believing or God the Supreme Creator?   Personally I'm in favor of God.

        God will win this in the end, but first the other side might have their day of temporary glory.  Believers might pay when that time comes, but our rewards will be much greater when God's time comes.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:17-22
New International Version (NIV)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Worship (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

c. 1460-1480
c. 1460-1480 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Psalm 29:1-2
New International Version (NIV)

      People worship many things--material possessions, celebrities, and even each other.  We have a tendency to elevate others, our activities, and our possessions to a point of keen longing for them when they are apart from us.  Our adulation is often misplaced.  Things and people pass through our lives.  They are temporal while God is eternal.

      Our eternal God is worthy of our feelings of most profound love and devotion and it is to Him that we should direct our worship.  Love our families and friends in the sense that they should be loved.  Enjoy our possessions and experiences but always keep them in perspective of the short-lived things that they are.   But set your eternal sights on Almighty God.  Worship Him for He is Lord.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finishing What You Start -- #atozchallenge

English: School Running Race
English: School Running Race (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Ecclesiastes 7:8
New International Version (NIV)

        My upbringing has always reinforced the idea of finishing what I've started.  There have certainly been times when I have fallen short of this worthy goal and most of those times I was not pleased in having been a quitter.  I try to finish what I've started and carry the burden of not having finished something when that has been the case.

         Our image in this world is reflected in the work we do.  If we gain a reputation for not following through with our stated commitments then we are known as unreliable, undependable, and not up to being given responsibilities.  This can hurt us not only in our work life, but in our relationships with those around us.

          Slow and steady is a good philosophy to heed in most cases.  Jumping headlong into a venture and then losing steam and giving up might look good at the outset, but it doesn't win the contest.   Preparation is important.  Pacing provides strength and stamina.   If you're going to be a winner at anything, you have to finish those things.  

          What you do in life and how you do it tells others who you are and what they can expect from you in the future.   If you look back to see a life filled with failures in work and relationships then evaluate your performance to see how honestly you worked at those things in your life.  Then look at yourself now to see what you need to do to change your image.   Whenever you set out to do something, do it well and see it through to the end.   Finish and finish well.  

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
2 Corinthians 8:11
New International Version (NIV)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Value (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

A sparrow in Mellieha, Malta. In Malta the res...
A sparrow in Mellieha, Malta. In Malta the resident sparrows are mostly hybrids between Spanish Sparrows (Passer hispaniolensis) and the House Sparrows (Passer domesticus). It is difficult to identify this bird with certainty, because of the mix of sparrows wintering on Malta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14
New International Version (NIV)

       If God is great and all of his creation is great then we are great since we are made by God.  That's pretty sound reasoning I would say.  We are fallen creatures so that takes away our perfection, but God's intent in creating us was a perfect one.   Since we all are part of God's creation, we have value in God's eyes.

       Now, if God sees value in us then we too should see value in others and we should be aware of our own value.  When I hear someone say that they are worthless then I have to ask, "According to whom?"     Self devaluation is just plain wrong as far as I'm concerned.  We all have shortcomings, but that is not a diminution of our value.  We always have room to grow and to better ourselves.

      Don't look down on others as though they have no value to anyone.   And since you are closest to you, don't look down on yourself.  You will never achieve perfection in this life, but that's not any excuse to not try to become the best that you can be.   Living up to God's standards is up to you.  God cares and wants you to become a better person.  God never gives up on any of us because we are valuable to him.   

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.   Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

English Standard Version (ESV)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Uprigthtness (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Look at Earth from the Heaven
Look at Earth from the Heaven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

Psalm 84:10-11
English Standard Version (ESV)

         These days there often seems to be little concern for decent moral behavior.  Many people are shameless about how they conduct themselves on social media and the things they put online about themselves.   In public places we see people dressed without regard to decency and using language that we are embarrassed for our children to overhear.   There seems to be a general lack of respect for standards of decency and uprightness of character.

          High profile public figures often show blatant disregard for respectful behavior and many flaunt their inappropriateness as their badge of individuality and badness.  Bad is good in the eyes of modern culture while sin is merely another synonym for having a good time.  As our society is turning topsy-turvy, Satan is undoubtedly thrilled to see so much disobedience of God's commands.

           Raising children and keeping ones morality on track are challenges that Christians have always faced, but now more than ever we are constantly tempted to fall into sinful ways and evil thoughts.  Each of our lives is merely a brief flash in the span of time.   Is a moment of carnal pleasure or immoral action worth sacrificing an eternity in Paradise with God?

           When we walk upright and keep our sights high, we can lift ourselves above the filth that is all around us.  Our uprightness sets an example for others and especially for our children and the younger generations who look up to us.  

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:5-8
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Talents (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Parable of the Talents
Parable of the Talents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The right gift at the right time can open up new opportunities
and gains access to influential people.

Proverbs 18:16
The Voice (VOICE)

      Despite anything that you might believe about yourself, you have talent.  I've heard some say that they have no special talents or skills.  Untrue!  God has blessed each of you with one or more special gifts.

       Maybe you can't dance, play a musical instrument, or sing.  That doesn't mean you don't have a talent.  Some people might be good at sports and physical activities while others might be better with writing or math.  Talent can encompass many many things.

        One person might be good with children which makes them a good candidate for childcare, teaching, or parenting.  Another might have extraordinary abilities with cooking and other skills in the kitchen.  Maybe you're a good driver or mechanic.   There are many skills that a lot of people don't think of as talent.

        Before you start believing that you have no talent, think about the things that you do well and the things you enjoy doing.  Those are some of your talents.  Chances are you have a number of talents.   Put them to good use.  Look for a career that puts those skills to work or volunteer your skills in service to God at your church or local charity.

         Don't hide your talents.  Be glad for the special gifts with which God has blessed you.  He gave those to you so you could share them with others, give you self worth, and to glorify Him.  Don't waste those resources.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
New International Version (NIV)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Salvation (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Our Lord Jesus Christ
Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

1 Chronicles 16:23-24
New International Version (NIV)

       In some ways we might say that salvation is what life on this Earth is all about.   We may not totally know why we are here and where in this life we are going other than we will one day die and leave this life.   While in this life we are given the opportunity to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

         We are all sinners and are undeserving of God's mercy and yet our Lord has provided us an opportunity to be saved from eternal damnation.  God offers his grace.  It is up to each of his to receive this gift through our profession of faith, confession of sin, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

         You are offered a generous gift.  Will you receive it?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9
New International Version (NIV)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Renewal (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

English: Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Ho...
 Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, stained glass, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10-12
New International Version (NIV)

        All around us we see others struggling with their lives.  There are those who are dealing with economic hardships, health problems, and emotional conflict.  These life difficulties are often self-inflicted, not so much on purpose but more so being the consequences of bad life choices and withdrawing from the aid of the Holy Spirit.

        Alienation from God is our choice, but so often we want to blame God for leaving us on our own and not providing the assistance to pull us from the depths into which we've sunk.  Blame is not the appropriate solution.   Instead we need to call out for God's help and reach out for his hand.   God provides the ultimate answer to the difficulties we face in life.

         Mental health specialists might be able to help some.   Drugs can provide temporary assuagement, but they are not the ultimate long term answer. Friends or family members can comfort us to some degree, but we become a burden to them if we are overly dependent.   God is the perfect solution to our needs, but if we don't recognize this and believe it then we cannot hear his voice of comfort calling to us through the confusion of our pain.

         Each day we are dying.   Yet through God we are becoming more alive and growing ever closer to a perfect eternity with Him.   Feeling defeat and weariness is not an unusual state of human existence on occasion, but we don't have to be constantly beaten down into that frame of mind.  Renewal is at hand and is ours for the believing.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
New International Version (NIV)