I am just three days short of finishing the reading of the Old Testament. Since I usually read it in chronological order as much as possible, I usually end with Nehemiah.
Reading the Bible chronologically helps the reader to capture the time line of history in a sensible, orderly way. Knowing that now that the people of Judah have been allowed back into their own land, I pulled down my stack of maps and charts to review the period of history that is considered “intertesamental.” From the time the Jews returned to Jerusalem to the birth of Christ is a period of approximately 400 years. These are silent years mostly although not in entirety. If, when you read the Bible one pays attention to writers such as Daniel, some of that history can be anticipated. That statue in Daniel chapter 2 gives insight into Biblical and world history that few scholars of history in our public institutions rarely point out.
The chart that I use is produced by Jewish scholars who start their timeline with Abraham and proceed to 1967. I noticed that they chose to use CE rather than BC or AD. CE is the abbreviation for common era. I understand that the Jewish population may well avoid using BC (before Christ) because most of them are still looking for the Messiah, or the Christ. It is certainly handy for them to adopt the common era abbreviation for their purposes.
Here’s the touchpoint: the dating from BCE and CE takes place on their chart at the approximate time of the Birth of Christ. The destruction of the Temple is accurately marked at 70 CE or as I would call it, AD. Without acknowledging the existence of Christ and His central part of all world history—it is a glaring acknowledgement nonetheless.
See, history is actually His Story and folks, God is still writing history today. Every time the date, hour, and minute is marked on a receipt, legal document, or postmark, we are acknowledging Jesus, my Good Shepherd.
It has been two weeks since I have published anything here. Why? I’m not sure. In fact, I have a rough draft waiting but no desire to get back to it. Maybe it is summer doldrums. One thing I have been doing is reading. McCullough’s bio of Harry S. Truman is 1,120 pages of in-depth study of the man, Truman. I chose to use Talking Books for this Presidential read. It took 45 hours. During the process of listening, I actually started to like the man. Then I felt sorry for him. There were times when I wanted to say, “It serves him right!” And there were the inevitable times when I was sorely disappointed in his decisions. The one thing I observed is this: politics can destroy a person. Truman chose not to be destroyed and succeeded.
At the same time I was listening to Truman, my night time reading took me away to the 1880’s in a charming book by Lucy Montgomery. While all the tales of the red-haired orphan, Anne Shirley, captivate most readers and rightly so, I found a little-known book by Montgomery called Kilmeny of the Orchard. Hopping from a biography laden with details to a work of light fiction was like dessert in my night time hours. If you want a metaphor, it was a strawberry ice cream cone. The plot is entirely different from Anne of Green Gables, although the setting is Prince Edward Island.
Now I am listening with great interest to Things that Matter, a book of gathered newspaper and magazine columns by the recently late Charles Krauthammer. He stands head and shoulders above any of our modern thinkers. I almost always liked him on the Fox News channel as a commentator and am certainly enjoying each column. The book is compiled by subject matter so the columns range over a period of thirty years.
On my night stand is a cowboy novel. It is a large-print paper and ink book. Oh, and I have challenged myself to read all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets so I have been reading two each evening. That makes me break away from a possible disappointing loss of my baseball team, the Atlanta Braves.
Those of you who have read my “stuff” here for awhile know that one book I read every day is my Bible. In about six weeks, I am estimating, I’ll have read through it again. I heard some statistics today on Americans and Bible reading. The poll showed a disappointing fact: American Christians are no longer reading the Old Testament. In fact, a well-known Bible figure in our country told his congregation/audience that it was time to unhitch the Old Testament because only the New Testament mattered. Wow. I’d hate to stand in his shoes for that comment when it comes to the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Reading is important. We absorb facts, enjoy fancy, and wander off into the sublime in poetry. Always be careful about what your eyes look upon even in the contents of books. Best of all, never neglect God’s Word.
Maybe next time I publish, I’ll have something meatier.
For the last week the news spotlight has been on the probable nominee for the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Near riots have been broken out in protesting crowds over a proposed assignment to this position. People hauling signs and screaming voices have convinced me that the protestors are not interested so much in the judicial, Constitutional, decisions as in their selfish special interests. No. The protestors want license to loose rulings that allow the law to be flexible. They want laws that are like the waves of the sea. Tossed about. James called them double-minded. See James 1:6.
They forget the most important Judge of all. Hebrews 9:27 proclaims that “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that, the judgment. Every person will at some time face the judgment of God. In light of that truth, Paul, in I Corinthians 4 expresses the need for self-judgment.
Our introspection cannot be on flexible rules made by man, but rather the strict measuring rod of the Word of God. As we stand in the present, under the government rule by a Constitutional Republic, it is our personal responsibility to be as fair and just as we can possibly be. In that case, I can stand erect and responsible before God at the judgment day and hear the fair words of the Master Judge. My respect for that most just God surpasses any early judge.
At the same time, we are also admonished to obey those of earth who have jurisdiction over us. As good citizens, we must obey the laws of the land and pray for them as they lead us. You and I cannot possibly pass every test that comes our way, but with our hand in the Good Shepherd’s hand, we will at least escape the final judgment of hell’s eternal fires through the price paid in blood on Calvary. The choice is ours.
Somehow, I do not envision that crowd of people at the Great White Throne as a throng of angry protesters. It will be quiet. It will be too late.
Folks, it is Independence Day.
That is what my calendar declares it to be. It has been about six generations since the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence. What a document it was and remains. The War for Independence was fought by men who literally did give everything to see that our nation could be independent from British control. Let us be thankful for their sacrifice.
I know that our modern veterans need recognition, but more than that, those forerunners of our country deserve to be remembered. Not only those who lost money, homes, blood, and businesses in quest of freedom from the control of a monarch who refused to give up the very liberties that sustain us: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is not merely the Fourth of July. It is Independence Day!
Go ahead and enjoy your cookouts, parades, and fireworks. It is a day of celebration like no other. Jefferson himself said that he hoped it would always be a day celebrated with parades and conflagrations. Fly the Stars and Stripes with pride. Tell your children and grandchildren what a grand Constitutional Republic was born shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Be sure that they know and respect the names of our founders: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Those who sat in the Continental Congress formed for us the framework of a government that later Lincoln expresses as a “government by the people and for the people. . .”
I am patriotic to the bone. It is our Independence Day and I love my country!
In case you have forgotten it, here is the preamble to that famed document we celebrate the signing of today:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I have this ancient little cookbook that was assembled by the Pastor’s Wives of the Minnesota Baptist Convention more than fifty years ago. It is stained and has yellowed pages. The book was printed on a mimeograph machine. Some of my favorite recipes come from that worn and well—used book.
It is now held together by a bulldog clip because both the front and back covers are completely detached along with numerous loose pages, but it is still in order!
Recently I went hunting, not for a recipe, but for a poem. Oh yes, it has nuggets of inspiration and a touch of humor sprinkled throughout.
Here it is:
I didn’t have potatoes,
I substituted rice,
I didn’t have paprika,
So I used another spice;
I didn’t have tomato sauce,
I used tomato paste
A whole can, not a half of can,
I don’t believe in waste!
A friend gave me the recipe—
She said you couldn’t beat it.
There must be something wrong with her,
I couldn’t even eat it!
At the back of this little gem of a cookbook is a page of how much to cook for a crowd. Another page gives actual substitutions for general items, and a bit of cooking math such as 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon, etc.
This morning at our local Active Adult Center (Senior Center) the subject of substitutions came up and I quoted my little rhyme. This afternoon I mused about how Jesus was my substitute. Jesus went to the cross in my place. I do not need to purchase a perfect lamb and hope that it will be good enough. Jesus, the Lamb of God, took my place.
I posted this on Facebook, then thought, why not share it on my blog site too. This is the unvarnished Karyl! No grammar check, no cold edit—just me. Journalist under pressure: not me.
I always struggle when the Braves play Cincinnati because I have a certain appreciation still for the Big Red Machine days under Sparky Anderson. The Reds certainly outplayed the Braves and took the three-game series 2/3. Good for them. The Reds have anew manager and I see hope for them. The Braves are in first place in the NL East but are suffering with only two decent pitchers in the starting rotation. Walks are killing them, and they will drop out of first soon if things don’t straighten up. I am a Braves fan through winning and losing times. I listen to every game I can.
Churches suffer too, when there are too few key positions filled by consistent, strong leadership. Leaders who can wield the Sword of the Spirit are important, sure, but we need the quick and bold who know how to pray and serve with humility. Only then will a church truly survive. Only then will God receive all the praise for the results. Some sow, some reap, God gets the increase.
That’s about it for my mini blog of the day. Time to get ready for my story time tomorrow. On loan to me are two wonderful stories from a children’s worker friend. One is a story I have never told so I am busy memorizing. Keeps this old brain functioning. Please, if you don’t mind doing this: pray for lasting fruit among the children and the workers of this year’s VBS. I say workers because if the workers are not blessed and challenged by what their area of service is, something is wrong.
Call me busy this week so I am letting a guest do the work. Author Tom Heck is so practical, a fellow Wisconsin citizen, and warm-fuzzies sort of writer. I think you’ll enjoy this column in my absence.
Have you ever fainted? What brought it on? There have been times I felt faint and quickly put my head down between my knees before I fully fainted—except once. I didn’t even feel faint, but it happened. I woke up a few minutes later on the floor of the ER and the attending doctor said, “Welcome back.” Of all times, I fainted on the job! Since I lived and worked in a town of about 600 people, word spread quickly. I have never fainted since that one lone time. Now you know my second most embarrassing moment. Never mind the most embarrassing one.
I am happy to announce today that my grandson was admitted to the Florida State Police Academy. Policemen cannot be fainters. They come upon some horrible sights and are expected to be strong. That strength is in various situations we can’t even imagine. The Academy does not want quitters when the going gets tough. Although it is not a Christian, biblically sound place of study, they do understand the verse in Proverbs 24:10, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.”
Now, please excuse the grammar teacher in me as I explain. This is a complex sentence. It has a subordinating clause (If thou faint in the day of adversity) and an independent clause (Thy strength is small). I would probably choose to write the sentence reversing the clauses putting the main thought first. Your strength is rather useless if you faint under difficult circumstances. Consider that the “Karyl version” for practical purposes.
So why these thoughts today? It came up in my Sunday School class and the teacher handled it rather lightly. I spoke out about it. He just “didn’t get it” in my opinion. I hadn’t thought about it all week. Then Sunday morning, he mentioned it again, admitting that I had challenged him. Really, I didn’t so it on purpose. I just thought some clarity was I order. This morning I got the scholarly interpretation. He still doesn’t “get it.” It’s okay. I do “get it.” Maybe I was the only one who needed it. Personal application is important.
I tend to look at a person’s responses through the lens of God’s Word. When difficult choices come our way, do we face them or do we shirk them? Shirking a difficult choice says to me, “Hm, his strength is small.” Small here in this verse means, narrow, crowded. Life is full of choices from what to wear with what, chocolate or vanilla, life support or not, divorce or stay together, compromise or stand firm. For instance, in a family situation, should I stand strong when siblings are weak, or should I compromise for the sake of unity? That’s a tough choice. Yet, families have been making those decisions since Noah or maybe back to Cain and Abel.
Choices have consequences. The choice is like a marker on the path of life. Once the choice is made, there is no turning back except to seek forgiveness if your choice hurt someone else and even that is a choice. Your strength may need some bolstering if you find yourself wimpy and shirking making the decision at all. There are times when we just must “man up” and find yourself empowered in doing so. If it is a question of loyalty, stand up for your family. It may be workplace related. If someone is wavering, you don’t help them by enabling them! If someone is driving a wedge in a relationship, push it away. Those wedges have long-lasting results that trickle down generations. What’s worse, Satan is doing a dance of delight when he succeeds in disrupting relationships. Solomon had it right: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Or you can use the Karyl version too. I really don’t think God will mind.
Coming soon: the law of the weaker brother. Boy, life is tough.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross did not have a fancy sewing machine. In fact, she didn’t even have a simple treadle machine because the first American sewing machine was not invented until 1846. The first flags she handstitched were for the American Navy because they needed flags to identify them. She stitched together thirteen stripes (seven red, and six white) to make banners to mark American ships at sea. Washington gave her the design that included stars and our “stars and stripes” were stitched into history.
My flag, tattered and faded, had to be retired and although I kept looking in stores for a replacement, I could not find one locally. I don’t have a flag pole, so I made use of a car flag that I attach to my mailbox. Since I am a tightwad, I avoided buying one on the internet because I didn’t want to pay shipping. Finally, I gave in and my new flag arrived just in time to fly on Flag Day.
As I’ve written previously, I attended school in a one-room country school. It closed at the end of my sixth-grade year, so I never had the honor of hoisting the flag. That honor went to the eighth-graders. My son had that honor for a whole school year and to tell the truth, I rather envied him. The flag is so special to me and always has been. It is with a deep feeling of gratitude that I stand at attention and recite the Pledge.
Do you have a flag? I hope so. One more thing here is to address is the little song I taught my children in Children’s Church. “Joy is a flag flown high in the castle of my heart, that the King is in residence there. So, let it fly in the sky, let the whole world know that the King is in residence there.” Here’s a link so you can hear some children sing it. Joy should be evidence of our walk with the Lord. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkZ11WgLEZg
Fly the American flag and let people know you are happy to be an American. Fly the flag of joy to show the joy of the Lord in your life.
And thank you, Betsy Ross, for stitching those first banners that mark our patriotism. I’m glad you knew our first President by mending his uniforms!
Life on the Family Farm: Beneath an Open Heaven, written by a dairy farmer in Wisconsin, Tom Heck, is authentic in every aspect. It is 256 pages long and published by Life Sentence Publishing. It is also available by Amazon Digital. Copyright is 2014.
I have already used some of these columns as a feature in my devotional groups that meet weekly. They are wonderful illustrations that incorporate into easy-to-tell stories. The book is an accumulation of newspaper columns that the author produced between 2010-2014 for his local newspaper. They are a delight to read because of the down-to-earth, homespun style in which Heck writes. Because there is no story line or plot to follow and is devotional in nature, I found them good evening reading but seldom stopped at just one chapter/column. After completing the book, I went hunting for more and found that Tom Heck also now writes a weblog on this same blog site that I use (and you are reading).
I lived on a dairy farm myself until I moved away from home to attend college. The smells and quiet of a farm still bring peace to my soul, even as this book did the same. Heck writes about his cows much the same as my dad felt about our livestock. One comes to love the family’s cows, and dog, and cats through reading the book. That’s how personal Heck’s touch is. The family deals with everyday farm life from machinery, to wild life, to celebrating Christmas in a charming, rural way. I loved his column about trapping some feuding coyotes, and his wife’s experience in purchasing a tractor, and don’t miss the one titled, “The Two-Dollar Wheelbarrow.” Each story draws a parallel to something in life; each story can make a difference.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Last time I looked, it was still free on Kindle while the paper and ink version vary in price from new to used editions. The book could be easily used for family devotions time. You will never regret having read these real-life incidents that come straight from down-on-the farm.