No Rest for the Wicked

My mother often used the proverb, “There is no rest for the wicked” and I suppose that I picked it up from her.  Mom was full of idioms and proverbs.  Many a student of mine shook their heads wondering what some idiom I had just quoted meant.  It is just part of me.  Frankly, it seems I just can’t help myself from blurting out some little gem of homespun wisdom.

Yesterday I found the foundation for the aforementioned proverb.  Isaiah 48:22 states, “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.”  And it is repeated almost word for word in Isaiah 57:21. I suppose the words from the Bible were a bit distorted to be used as rest rather than peace in the 1930’s where I dug up an old comic strip with the title, “No Rest for the Wicked” by Harold Gray, cartoonist for Little Orphan Annie.

I know very little and don’t really want to know much, about the music of the 1980’s when a song of the same title is popularized.  One thing I do know for sure is that neighborhoods where crime abounds have no peace or rest.  Neither can those neighborhoods be changed by prosperity.  Rage, crime, and marital disenchantment can be cured only by the changed heart that is turned from wickedness to righteousness by the saving gospel of Jesus.

When I am settling down for a snooze and the phone rings, and I mutter, “there is no rest for the wicked; I must be very wicked. . .” as I pick up the call, perhaps my own heart will remember the words of Isaiah instead.  Isaiah gave me a new outlook yesterday. A better outlook. Coupled with the words of Jesus in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, not as the world giveth give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid,” there is an overcoming peace and rest. In Jesus I can rest while I work and I am clothed in His righteousness for I have none of my own.

 

Marking up Your Bible

Recently, someone remarked to me that her grandmother would be horrified to hear someone actually ask people to underline something in their personal Bible.  Really?  Yes, I believe we should show respect for our personal copies of the Bible, but marking in a book makes it mine.  I refrain from marking in a borrowed book, but what makes a book mine is the notes in the margin and underlined passages that stood out to me as I read.

What about an electronic Bible?  Oh, the Bible on my Kindle® is very colorful with the choices the highlighting gives me.  I cross reference in the notes, and if I use the electronic Bible in church, it is easy to take sermon notes.  I suspect that one of the treasured items that my children might fuss about after my death is who gets my Bible.  Frankly, I think a grandchild should be the next owner.  Time will tell if I make that decision in advance.

Another marking I make in the margins is a guide of sorts.  For about 26 years I carried and studied a Thompson Chain Reference Bible.  When the print became too small to easily read, the large print Bible I took on had very few references of any kind.  Here is a sort of guide if any of you wanted to take on the habit of reference marking:  A is for mention of angels, CN is for mention of creation, P references a Bible promise, C is for a Bible command, CP is for a conditional promise, W refers to warning, and RS stands for Red Sea crossing.  I added the RS two years ago, when I noticed the frequency of God’s reminder to the Jews that time is marked from that time forward in the establishment of their own country.  Prior to the Egyptian bondage, God referred to the land as belonging to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Whatever your goals are for Bible reading or Bible study this coming year, above all, just read it.  Make reading it a part of your daily habits.  When I was in college, 50+ years ago, now, I determined to make the Bible my first reading of the day.  No newspaper, assignment, or note from a friend took over first place.  Today, it is Facebook.  The Bible still gets first place.  Jesus, speaking tenderly with his disciples in John 15 tells them, “Now ye are clean through the words that I have spoken unto you.”  When we handle the Word of God we are handling a quick and powerful tool.  Quick, here means living.  I do not question why or how, but I know it to be true that as stated in Hebrews 4:12 it is a  “. . . a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Picture yourself walking in a quiet meadow with Jesus while you are reading the Bible.  The Good Shepherd is speaking.

“God Knows” a poem story

Yes, I am one of those people who occasionally sits down with a book of poetry to read just for pleasure.  I can’t write it at all!  I depend on those to understand the metical value of words.  This morning I came across this poem with which I am familiar,  however, I did  not know the significance of these lines to the people of the British Crown.  Here is the link to the story.
https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/gate-of-the-year/?utm_source=Reasons+for+Hope%2A+Jesus&utm_campaign=0fbaff11d5-Hope_for_New_Year_12_30_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b2f0cb52da-0fbaff11d5-102838805&mc_cid=0fbaff11d5&mc_eid=9091682dbd

No man cared for my soul

David, the chosen King of united Israel is in despair.  While he had been chosen to be king, he was far from sitting on a throne in a royal palace.  He was sitting in a cave.  That lonely cry of despair is found in Psalm 142.  David said that he looked to his right, then all around him, and finally he understood–there was no refuge.  Imagine the fear and despair of such loneliness.  It was a low, low time in his life.

Fortunately, for us, he recorded his words and they are found to be a refuge for us when we hit the depths of despair.  There they are for us to consume when we feel unloved and even persecuted.  The words of the Psalmist bring hope and even peacefulness because at the end of his song, David asks of the Lord to bring him out of his trouble.  “Deliver me” he cries.  Why?  “. . .that I might praise Thy name.”

Today I stood in the cold at the bus stop.  I waited.  I waited some more.  Then finally after twenty minutes, I turned and walked back home.  It was the first time since my car quit on me that I was really discouraged.  Once home, I logged on to the bus route site only to find that no buses are running this week.  Not one single bus.  If they ran a notice about the decision not to run buses this week, I didn’t see it.  I felt left out.  For just a very short while, maybe ten minutes, I felt that no one really cared if I could get to the drug store for my medicine.  Who cared for my soul?

Of course, my daughter cared.  She rescued me and we even shopped at other stores this afternoon.  Yet, still, the phrase echoes in my heart.  How many people sit somewhere tonight and feel the depths of rejection.  They think that no one cares about them.  If only someone will knock on their door and give them hope in Christ and show them the wonderful peace that comes from knowing God’s Word.

We must reach those folks who are on the brink of giving up.  They will turn to liquor, or drugs for solace.  Some even seek revenge with a weapon on an unsuspecting person.  The homicide rate is up all over the nation. Can I just sit by and let that happen?  At the very least, I can pray because God knows where that person or persons are right now. I can pray that they find hope.

They CAN know that someone cares for their soul. The Lord can send someone in my place.  It might be you.

 

Remnants of Christmas

Here it is approaching noon and I am still in my night wear.  A cup of coffee sits before me.  I had cookies for breakfast.  It was a busy day yesterday.  It keeps a person busy opening gifts, preparing food, visiting with loved ones, and playing games! I enjoyed all of it, even washing dishes.  Today I am tired but it is a good kind of tired.

Today I am cleaning up my house of the remnants of Christmas.  Putting away gifts, picking up bits of wrapping paper, folding gift bags for next year’s use and eating miscellaneous, delicious cookies.  My lunch will be a turkey sandwich.  Why not? The day after a holiday is usually like that.  After the Fourth of July, for instance, we walk around the yard picking up remnants of bottle rockets and fire crackers.  We eat leftover potato salad.

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Christ.  Today we celebrate his life-giving Word.  Today we endeavor to love Jesus a little more than we did even yesterday as we celebrated the time of His birth.  Living for Jesus is a 24/7/365 project or at least it should be.  Paul challenged Timothy to be faithful “. . .instant in season, out of season. . .” (II Timothy 4:2)

As I walk in the presence of the Good Shepherd, I’ll endeavor to be experiencing the joy of the Lord and to be serving Him heartily throughout the next 364 days.

How about you?

Merry Listing!

The lingering benefits of attending church cannot be overrated. This morning I was refreshed and renewed in my church service. It is possible to have internal movement and stirring of my spirit in …

Source: Merry Listing!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American Poet who is a national treasure, penned the words to this lilting song.  It was set to music in 1872 by John B. Calkin.  Most church songbooks leave stanzas out of the song to shorten it to a mere three stanzas.

I live close to a college that has a bell tower.  At six o’clock each evening the bells chime out a song and then strike the hour.  I suppose it was the chiming of bells on that Christmas Even on 1864 that stirred the poet’s heart.  Longfellow kept a regular journal.  It is from those journal entries we learn the stories of things that tore his heart, particularly at Christmas.

In 1861 a fire accidentally set by a brisk wind and a candle put Fanny Longfellow’s dress on fire.  Before the fire could be extinguished, her body was so badly burned that the next morning she succumbed in death.  Longfellow was so badly burned in the effort to save her life that he was also was severely burned.

The country was in a war within its own borders over the right to own slaves.  Longfellow watched his oldest son, just 20 years old go off to battle for the Union.  By 1864, just four months before the surrender of Lee, Charles was hit in the shoulder that left one arm paralyzed.

The chiming of the bells brought these seven stanzas forth from the poet’s pen.  Words that are heart-wrenching but in the last verse deliver hope.  Those words bring hope to me this Christmas.  “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep! The Wrong shall fail; the Right prevail!

“Christmas Bells”
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day”
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men

The Stagecoach

This is an illustration I heard in church yesterday.

Years ago, during the days of transportation via stagecoach a traveler approached the ticket window and asked for a seat to Denver.  The ticket clerk asked him if he wanted a first class, second class, or third class seat.  Bewildered, the traveler asked the prices and decided on a third class.  When he asked the difference, the clerk shrugged his shoulders and replied, “You’ll know soon enough.”

Soon the coach started approaching rises that became quite steep. The driver stopped the horses. Then the driver yelled out “First class passengers, keep you seats.  Second class passengers, you will need to walk.  Third class passengers, you will push.”

Church pews need to be filled with third class passengers.

Once again, the pastor reminded us:  If you are not fishing, you are not following.

 

A Soldier’s Night Before Christmas Poem

Credit to the writer is at the end of the poem.  I’ve had it in my file for quite some time.  Read it to the meter of “Night Before Christmas”
In honor of Pearl Habor Day, I thought this fitting for today.

A Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.


Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.


My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.


The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.


My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.


“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”

“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.


My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas that ‘Gram always remembers.”

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.


I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your w ife and your son.”


Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Playing Dominoes

I spent Thanksgiving out of town.  It was only about an hour away but I spent two nights away.  It was a sweet Thanksgiving without stress or struggle.  Katie and I ate Cornish hens instead of turkey.  No fussing about but special.  About three or four years ago, Katie and I took a trip to Tennessee to meet with my daughter and family at a cabin in the Smokey Mountains.

At that time, I took along some games for us to play with the grandchildren.  I grew up playing dominoes and still have the set that once belonged to my father.  It is antique so it is very special.  No television meant playing cards, dominoes, checkers, and reading the comic strips in the Sunday paper.  I learned on that trip that Katie did not know how to play dominoes.  So, I took my modern set with me to her house. Katie and I are friends from over 30 years and both retired teachers.  She lives on a 40-acre wooded place with a creek; she writes books in which the main characters are cats, and she is owned by three felines, one of which is the “star” of *Yellow Cat Tales.

Now, Katie plays dominoes and plays well.  We played “first man out” while she learned, then started taking score and using some strategy.  We just had fun and neither of us is a boastful winner or a sore loser.  One game we just kept going until every domino was used.

In the modern sets, the numbers have representative colors which makes it much more difficult to cheat.  My father would cheat with the old black and white set because I was, as a child, not observant enough and an eight spot was close enough to a nine.  My mother would walk by and see him cheating and give him a whack and scold him for cheating with a child!  She was right.  Dad would just grin.  It did teach me to be more observant.

Close enough is not good enough.  Neither is it right for the Christian walk.  Yet, I can say, I see CINOs far too often.  A CINO is a Christian in Name Only.  Let’s not do that.  Let’s not cut corners.  Let’s not pretend that God is deaf and blind.  Let’s walk the talk.  Just as in dominoes, the spots need to match.

 

*You can find the books:  Yellow Cat Tales, or Inspirational Cat Tales by typing in the title, or author name which is Kay Gibson.  I am unashamedly promoting her work.  There is another book on the way sometime this year.  The books are printed in a 16-point font for easy reading.