I Want to be Somebody!

Sometimes I plod through the book of Numbers.  It can be a challenging book to absorb.  Then there are days when I can’t stop reading it!  Chapter 15 begins a narrative that is interesting but not absorbing; the narrative spills into chapter 16 which takes on more interest.  This is not dry listing of laws and census data.  Chapter 16 gets exciting!

When God chose Moses as the leader of the Hebrews, Moses was endowed with wisdom that not everyone wanted to follow.  Among the Levites, the esteemed family that would carry out Tabernacle duty, jealousy lurked.  The Tabernacle duty included the wearing of special attire and had great notice among the rest of the Hebrews, but some of the jobs were mundane and required only strong bodies.

The Kohath family bore the task of transporting the Tabernacle as the families journeyed.  The task undoubtedly took organization skills, but by most people, was not a glamourous job.  After all, they were Levites, and the Levites were important, right?  That’s what Korah thought.  I suppose each time they disassembled the Tabernacle and then stopped to assemble it again, his rebellion grew.

The rebellion erupted when he and his restless group of 250 out of about 7,500 (Numbers 3:17-22) protested.  I suppose no one looked to them for spiritual advice and they were feeling neglected.  I don’t know if their protest was as we think of today with placards and rowdiness, but it did grab the attention of Moses.  It grieved him.

After reasoning failed, God intervened with His plan.  The end result was disastrous.  The earth opened up into what we would call a giant sink hole and swallowed all 250 of them.  Done. Gone.  Don’t mess with God’s plans.  In mercy, God did not destroy Korah’s children.  That generation lived on, probably reminded often of their father’s fate.  They were gate keepers of the Tabernacle (see Numbers 26:9-11 and I Chronicles 9:19) and later in the permanent Temple built by Solomon.

Psalm 84 is written for the sons of Korah.  Verse 10 sums it up:  “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.  I had rather  be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell  in the tents of wickedness.”

Next time you are asked to do a task at your local assembly of believers, and you don’t want to do a task that no one notices, remember Korah and his protesting mob.  There is no unimportant job when it is done with robust energy for the glory of the Lord.  Be the sheep that follows the Shepherd.

The Sin Factor 2

A reader suggested this song to go along with the piece I posted earlier today.  It is an excellent support to the once and done sacrifice of Jesus.

I hope this works, I am doing something new today.

The Sin Factor

In June I completed the reading of the entire Bible and started over again for one cannot possibly absorb enough of the Word of God.  Every reading of it should be fresh and most of the time for me, that is true.  The Word of God is a living thing.  We know that by verification in Hebrews 4:12 “. . .the Word of God is quick. . .”  Quick there is referring to the portion of nerve ending under our finger and toe nails. We also know on the living Word as it meets our spiritual needs when we read it.

Two days ago I started Leviticus with a sigh.  “Here we go again. . .” passed through my mind.  All those laws, all those ceremonies, all those sacrifices, and this morning it occurred to me, all those sins!  We human creatures sure can find complex ways in which to sin.  Since God knows the “heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) God also developed a system of sacrifice for all of those categories of sin.  The remedy for sin(s) are laid out in Leviticus.

There had to have been some in the wilderness where Moses received these laws who like me would have thought, “Sin, Sin, everywhere lies the possibility of sin.  I am engulfed in the possibilities:  so many ways to sin, so many sacrifices!  Help us all!”

Since mankind did not allow his conscience to guide him, God issued rules to keep.  Then, God issued a way to pay for the broken rules.  Then, at last, when the “fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4) God sent His Son.  Jesus came, Jesus lives a sinless life, Jesus gave His life on Calvary, Jesus rose again, Jesus is now the answer for all that sin factor.

Are you now singing “Jesus Paid It All”?  My heart is singing.  Still, there is the sin factor, but only one sacrifice and it is done.  It is finished.

The songwriter, goes on to write, “all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”  The third verse, which is seldom sung is precious: “For nothing good have I, whereby Thy grace to claim, I’ll wash my garments white, in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.”

Take that sin problem to Jesus, the soul’s shepherd.

The House of Winslow Books 1-8

The prolific historical fiction writer of this forty-book series is a favorite of mine.  Regardless of what era of American history Gilbert Morris writes, he writes well-researched material and well-developed characters who live in interesting and inspiring plots.  Sometimes, in fact, the development of his character almost borders on too many features!

Morris started this series in 1986 as far as I can tell, but I am not sure.  I know that by 1990 the first four books could be purchased together for a set at a value price.  They started in hardcover, then moved to paper back in a very short time. The last book of the series, The White Knight, was published in 2007.

 The main character is Gilbert Winslow and he is developed.  He is fictional although several of the characters in the first book are actual men and women in history.  In the first eight books, Gilbert is mentioned and from what I read about the last book, he is mentioned in that book too.  There was an Edward Winslow who signed the Mayflower Compact and it is my assumption that author, Morris, draws on that name as well as several other names in The Honorable Imposter that are included as passenger names on the Mayflower voyage in 1620.

Book 2, The Captive Bride, features Gilbert Winslow’s sister, Rachel, and the progression of the settling in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The Salem Witch trials are also in this book.

Book 3, The Indentured Heart, features Adam Winslow, grandson of Gilbert Winslow and his adventure in England where he rescues a girl from a family of terrible circumstances.  He brings her back to America not as much as an indentured servant but as a means for her freedom.  This book includes the fascinating research into the Jonathan Edwards family and entwines into the Winslow family.  This book began capturing my heart! It remained my favorite until book seven.  Adam Winslow is an exceptionally strong character.

The Gentle Rebel, book 4, takes the readers into the Pre-Revolutionary era with the Winslow family.  The leading character is now a fourth generation from Gilbert, but he appears in a book published from his journal.  The rebel is a girl who disguises herself as a man and is pushed into joining the Continental Army.  The story has plot twists and absorbs the reader’s interest for sure. While Julie is the main character, both Nathan (Adam’s son) and Paul (cousin to Nathan) are also strong characters and they continue into the next book.

The Saintly Buccaneer takes the reader from Valley Forge unto a sailing ship and into the Continental Navy.   This book introduces characters that travel into the next book, The Holy Warrior, and a plot that is entirely different.  The plot is gripping and I found it one of those plots that make your eyes pop open and you audibly say, “Now what!”

Book 7, The Reluctant Bridegroom, takes the reader back to the parents we found in Valley Forge.  Their son, Christmas Winslow, casts an entirely different Winslow image.  While the book has ties to the previous book, the story is about Sky Winslow, the son of Christmas and a half-breed Native American woman named White Dove.  Until this book, book three had been my favorite.  This book took over.  It features the Oregon Trail.  It is a love story that keeps the reader thinking, “Well, Sky, just move into this love thing,” but he doesn’t.  He has good reasons.

Book 8, The Last Confederate, features Sky Winslow’s family after they move back to Virginia.  The era is the Civil War.  Thad Novak is the lead character.  I really liked Thad.  He kept bumbling his way along and finally he does some heroic things that make the reader’s heart dance.

Gilbert Winslow does keep appearing in each book by reference; he has a powerful impact through the generations.  I intend to keep working on these books.  The first one was free for e readers, and still is at this time of writing, then the second five books were $1.99, but now they are increasing in price to $4.99 so I will be borrowing as many as I can in large print or audio.  My goal is to be a finisher.  The books all feature Christian values, feature persons from our nation’s history, and make people and places come alive.  Entwined in each book is a love story that is always above reproach but with its own set of twists and turns..

Perhaps this has whet the appetite of those of you who also are fans of historical fiction.  You may want to research this author for some four or six book series he had on other eras of history.  At some point, I’ll do the same as I have done here and write about another string of books in this forty-book series.  It will take a while.

Police, Arrests, and Me!

Law and order has always been a challenge.  Whether it dates back to European days or further back to ancient days, human government was established post Noah’s flood.  Prior to that, God expected mankind to choose right and wrong according to his conscience.  Then later, Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai and those guiding principles have helped establish laws and government in numerous nations including our own justice system.

The Latin term from which our word police is formed means civil administrator.  Civilizations around the world have some form of civil order in their cultures. Spread across our country, America, communities have some officers who patrol the community.  From quiet villages to noisy metropolises there is some form of law and order.  It is the right thing to do.

The electronic age of instant news has now manufactured the distribution what the news outlets hope to engender opinion.  The simple telling of facts now seems obsolete. The evening news has now become drama to a high degree and it is many time difficult to sort the facts into any sense at all.  Gone are the days of contemplation because things are fed to us so rapidly that there is little time to think.  The fast pace also produces anger and that anger is spreading as if it were a wild fire.

In my lifetime of a bit over seventy years, I have been stopped by a police officer while I was driving a total of six times.  On two of those occasions, I did pay a fine for my law breaking.  It was nothing serious but the “law is the law” and one must pay the consequences.  I now am much better about latching the safety belt when I get into a vehicle.  On those stops, I courteously pulled to the side of the street and waited for the officer to question me.  Usually before he approached my vehicle I had my driver’s license ready.  I replied with “Yes, Sir, No Sir, and Thank you Sir.”

You see, in almost every stop, I really didn’t know why I was being stopped.  I didn’t feel wicked and had no need to try to escape.  The fact is, the Bible explains in Proverbs 28:1 that “the wicked flee when no man pursueth. . .” so when I was stopped for an expired license tag, I had an easy explanation—“Oh, officer, it was raining the day I got the sticker and I didn’t put it on and then I just put it off and . .      .”  With a smile and shake of his head, he took the sticker, put it on my tag, and reminded me to not do that again.  No ticket.

Those who have done wrong and know they have done wrong seem to be the ones who are getting into trouble.  Pointing a firearm at a cop is just not the right thing to do!  Face it.  It is just not right.  Resisting arrest is going to result in further consequences.

Oh that people would read the Word of God, or at least listen to the Word of God and “esteem others better than themselves,” so many interpersonal problems would be resolved or never begun.

My Three Hamsters

When one of my grandsons turned nine, he longed to have a pet but his parents are not all that pet friendly people.  After talking it over with them, we decided that a hamster would be a good first pet.  That led me to keeping the hamster until a transfer could be done for his birthday.  I fell in love with that hamster!

Since then, I have owned two hamsters of my own, and presently have one now.  First there was Hank.  I have many stories about Hank on this site.  Hank died a peaceful death.  I missed him, and decided to get another, Honey.  Honey was indeed a Honey of a hamster.  He was so “user friendly” but he fell into the hands of cancer and I helplessly stood by administering what I could in love and pain relief that the veterinarian prescribed.  About six weeks later, I just missed my little four ounces of life, and invested in Mr. Tipster.  I’ve had Tipster now for more than a year and he was already about four or five months old when I found him.  He is larger than my others hammies and he has a visible tail.

Recently I upgraded my computer to Windows 10 (that is a story all of its own) and my son-in-love introduced me to using my own photos for backgrounds on my desktop.  Gary started out an album for me and since then, I have tinkered with it and add pictures of both Hank and Honey.  The photos in slide show format  bring great pleasure!

These little bundles of energy are all hamsters with hamster personalities, but they are all different.  Hank was exceptionally tame.  Honey occasionally offered to bite me.  Mr. Tipster is exceptionally alert and loves to eat out of my hand.  They are all the same; yet they are different.  Just like all of God’s creation.  All of us pet lovers know that.

We are all the same; yet we are different.  Each of us has our very own DNA.  God does not love any individual differently.  After all, we all started from Adam and Eve!  Skin color, hair type, short, tall, medium, thin, chubby, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes—all part of God’s unique design for us.  I am God’s workmanship so I should not complain about my lot in life.  Ephesians 2:10 lays out that fact of our individuality so well: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  I am designed to carry out the work of God.  You are too.  The Lord never intended for us to walk away from Him but He did give us that choice.  If you have never come to Christ, today is a good starting place.  Bow your head and heart to Him because He has some amazing plans for you. My hamsters would not get along without me.  Neither can I get along without God.  Neither can you.

Naughty or Nice

Naughty or Nice

In 2012 Mitt Romney ran a clean campaign. He was a “Mister Nice Guy” and it was so difficult for the press and the opposition to find any slime about him.  So what happened?  Too many voters stayed home and refused to vote for a Mormon.  President Obama is not a nice guy yet, he won.  He won because people did not vote at all and to not vote is to vote for the opposition.

Now, in 2016, we have a naughty race.  Both candidates cannot boast of squeaky clean records.  Once again people are going to be tempted to stay at home rather than vote for the lesser of two evils.  That would be wrong too.  A word one candidate uses repeatedly is disaster.  Everything on his primary trail was a disaster!  Well, it could be a disaster if the conservative ticket were to lose the House or the Senate by voters who refused to vote.

I usually do not “talk politics” here on the Shepherd’s Presence because I feel it should be an uplifting place.  As I stray off the path today, I hope that my words of encouragement to vote will have an impact.  To my dismay, actually, my governor, Mike Pence, did our state no favor in stepping aside to run with the Trump/Pence ticket.  Now we are left with a mess and have to scurry around to build a last—minute ticket to fill his seat in the statehouse.  The candidate I would most like to see on the ballot will have to vacate a House seat, leaving us in a scramble to fill that seat.  It is not a good thing.  We are left with a Lt. Governor in the meantime.

Christians do need to vote.  We must not sit on our hands.  We must do our homework, vote for the best candidates, and leave the rest to God.  At best, our country is run by three branches of government designed to balance powers. Those offices are filled with frail men and women to make decisions on the behalf of all of us in the republic.  Elections are not about one or two candidates.

Remember the sentence we learned in typing class years ago?  “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”  We have the right and responsibility to vote.  We have about four months to make our choices.  Stepping into the polling place, selecting our ballot, and pushing the big green “VOTE” button is very important.

Notice, I didn’t tell you for whom to vote.  As Senator Cruz stated last night, “vote your conscience.”  That’s good advice.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” Jesus says in John 10:27.  Yes, but to hear that voice, we must shut off the din or the crowds and live in the quiet strength of God’s Word.  Is that possible?  Of course!  Turn off the television and allow your mind to focus on the principles of God’s Word.  It will give you direction and focus.  Then, vote. We are not voting for a national pastor folks, we are voting for representation that will will insure freedom.

Tolerance and Terrorism

I dream.  As in, dream while I am sleeping.  Sometimes I dream when I am awake, but not much.  I have that in-between attitude of not a pessimist; not an optimist, rather a realist. Someone advised some months ago that the essential oil, lavender would induce a good night’s sleep.  One of the pitfalls of essential oil advice is that essential oils and body chemistry interacts. Since not all bodies are the same, the results are also different.  Lavender tends to give me nightmares.

Last Thursday I had injections of Avastin in each eye.  Yes. It hurts.  Does it help?  Yes. When I have those injections, I spend the afternoon with my eyes closed.  They rebound better and faster that way.  Last night I dreamed because I did not sleep well (naps do that to me).  I thought an itsy bitsy drop of lavender might help.  Nope.

Now, I have never lived in Chattanooga, TN but that is where my dream took me.  In my dream a terrorist was forcing cars to drive over the edge of Lookout Mountain.  They were plummeting to their deaths.  It was awful.  I rolled over, and over, and over, and switched pillows, and sat on the edge of the bed, but the cars kept going over the precipice.

Friday morning, I turned on the news to find out that in far away France, a terrorist was running over people.  How uncanny can that be! Terrorism must be on my mind.  In fact, I’d guess it is on the minds of hundreds, maybe thousands of minds.  In my dream it was as if I were fastened to the ground.  Unable to move, I could do nothing except observe.  And pray.

All those souls going into eternity.  I wondered if they had heard; I wondered if they had ever made an eternal decision on Christ.  I still wonder.

Each one, tell one.  It is a good motto.  The only way our country can change and change for the better is one at a time.  Christians must be tolerant because that is the last thing a terrorist is going to be.  While the terrorist is passionate about killing infidels, the tolerant Christian is compassionate, and there lies all the difference.  Jude is a very short book written by the half-brother of Jesus (at least that is what most theologians believe) and has but 25 verses.  Verse 22 shouts from the page: “And of some having compassion, making a difference.”  Each one, tell one.  One by one, let’s make a difference. Every day, day by day.  Never stopping.  Always loving. Ever compassionate.

The Norman Green Story

A friend gave me this story as just a small paragraph.  Since I wanted to know for sure that this ever happened, I looked further, and sure enough, there was a Norman Green, and he did put himself into self-imposed imprisonment.  Here is the story and what I take away from it.

Hide and Seek. It’s a simple game we have all played one time or another or many times in our lives.  Two can play, or several can play.  Variations of the game are Cops and Robbers, Kick the Can, and of course, family rules that make up personal family games.  The familiar, “Ready or not, here I come,” rings out and the hidden hold their breath as the seeker walks by unaware.  A sneeze is a dead giveaway!  My son used to play when I was unaware of his hiding then jump out of a hamper or closet to the delight of shocked screams.  It would have been terribly disappointing had we not gone in search of him once we found he was missing. That might be called self-imprisonment.

In 1974, in a small community in England, a man did just that.  An 86-year old woman had been murdered.  The police came to Norman Green’s home, arrested him as a suspect and took him to the local jail to question him.  For lack of evidence, Mr. Green was released.  Filled with fear of being falsely accused and put into prison, Green fled because when he arrived home, he spotted a police car near his home.  He shivered in the cold and rain in a community park for three days.  In the dark of night, he sneaked back home and found refuge in a shed where his wife found him and faithfully took him tea and sandwiches for several days.  Finally, Green worked up enough courage to go into his own house and hid in a closet for three more days.   The police were combing the neighborhood and in an effort to fully hide, Green cut a hole in the floor under a secret storage bench and stayed there under the house.

Severn and a half years passed.  His wife got rid of all his clothes so a search of house would convince police that Norman Green had disappeared.  With all shades pulled and curtains closed, Green sometimes came out of his hole to visit with his six children.  Once a neighborhood child spotted him and told his parents but the story was so preposterous that no one believed the child.

In 1984 the murder was solved. Green released himself with the words, “Thank God it is over.”  His self-imposed imprisonment ended. The days of struggle for the family ended. The game of Hide and Seek came to a halt with no real victor.

So what does this prove?  Well, what imprisons you?  Is it a spirit of unforgiveness?  Or, is it a lack of surrender to an authority figure that enslaves you?  It can be any number of things that hold us back.  Sometimes it is simple, but egregious pride.  Pride carries prison bars that are stronger than actual iron bars of confinement.  Next time you say, “I can’t” it might be more accurate to say, “I won’t.”  The “I won’t” is holding you back from the blessings of service to others.  You are hiding but your seekers are unaware.

Jesus gives us liberty!  It is wise to remember that “If the Son therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  It is sad that Norman Green lived in fear because he did not know about freedom in Christ.  I wonder if anyone ever told him about salvation through the atoning blood of Christ.

Net time you feel imprisoned, remember Norman Green.

Observations on the book: Musicophelia

Musicophelia, copyright 2007, in audiobook form consists of 9 compact discs which encompass 11 hours of listening.  The author, Oliver Sacks, is a medical doctor schooled in Oxford University, but starting in 1965 practiced medicine in the United States.  He is not only an exceptional neurologist, but also a prolific writer, and taught neurology at New York University until his death in 2015.

Rather than produce a book review that opinions on the value of this book, I am instead giving some personal observations.  This book came to my attention after I attended a recent presentation on the effects of music on dementia.  The speaker told us that music is the very last thing that our memory loses.    Upon mentioning that fact in a Facebook post, an old college friend who is now a therapist, recommended the book to me.
I borrowed my copy in audiobook format so I could listen and cook, bake, or clean at the same time.  There were times when I found myself finding a chair, however, and soaking in the information. The book covers fascination subjects in its 29 chapters.  The most fascinating chapters were on musical hallucinations.

Observation 1:  Oliver Sacks, the author has no inclination to speak of music and our spiritual connection.  He apparently is Jewish, and speaks often of the musicality of synagogue worship.  However, he does not connect the dots to our inner connection with music and God.

Observation 2:  Sacks brings out detail after detail of how music plays a role in cases of amnesia.  Dementia is a form of amnesia, thus, music plays a vital part in our aging process and the book gives many stories on that plane from his personal caseloads.

Observation 3:  Sacks made me aware that for some music is torture.  Although it is a small percentage of people there are those who hear only clashing sounds rather than music.  That knowledge made me very thankful I am not in that percentage. As Sacks described cases of Tourett’s syndrome, autism, and other maladies, I felt very normal and happy to be healthy in those respects.
Observation 4:  There are those who are mentally unable to count properly or verbalize yet can play difficult musical instruments!  That was new to me.  In my opinion, it shows that God has created us all uniquely wired and everyone has value.

Observation 5: Sacks is a wonderful story teller and used case examples of his own and of others as to how music therapy has helped in the past and continually makes strides into future use.

I rate this books as well-written and recommend it for those who already have some music training.  If you know nothing about music construction there are places the reader will be woefully lost in the weeds.  The charm of that is that one can skip to a chapter you find more interesting and still benefit from the book.

I know now more than ever, that I did the right thing when I spent the last hours of my mother’s life singing to her. I also know that I hope that if my children find me singing happy songs whether they be of Heaven or a “Bicycle Built for Two,” that they will allow me to sing, or hum to my heart’s content.  It has been my goal in life to bring good music into my life whether it is Handel’s Messiah, or show tunes from “The Sound of Music” so I doubt that I’ll sing anything that will embarrass them!  I sure hope not!

In conclusion I would be remiss not to quote from Scripture.  David wrote a majority of the Bible’s songbook and I quote Psalm 40:2-3: “He brought me up also out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings and He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God:  many shall see it and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”

 

 

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