Eva

Eva is a sweet, sweet lady that resides at one of our city’s local 24-hour care facilities.  I visit there every week and Eva is in attendance every week possible.  Once in a while she has a doctor’s appointment, but otherwise, she is present for the devotional time.  Her age is unknown to me; she is probably in her early eighties.

Eva never married.  She was reared on a farm in the southern part of the county by a grandmother.  Whenever I mention the importance of daily Bible reading, she always interjects that her grandmother read the Bible every day.  She puts the sweet emphasis on everyday.  That sweet grandmother’s example is still having an impact on Eva.

Eva and I have something in common:  we both like sheep.  Her years on the farm in our county made her a keeper of sheep so we talk about sheep from time to time.  I love Eva.  She is now confined mostly to a wheelchair but she does use a walker in her room.  Her snow white hair is always carefully arranged and a smile adorns her wrinkled face.

Recently, when her medicines increased, she began having some digestive issues.  In spite of her long upbringing of being part of the “clean plate club” Eva has lost a considerable amount of weight.  She told me last week that she has lost 25 pounds and is down to 77 pounds now.  She gladly munched on some M & M’s that another person gave her during our time last Thursday.  “The nurses tell me I have to gain some weight,” she used as her excuse.  We all chuckled.

When it comes to her weight spiritually, Eva has lost nothing.  She is a delightful blessing to me and others.  When Eva speaks, we all listen.  She is kind and she has an unshakeable faith. She knows how to abide in the Shepherd’s Presence.  One day, when her work on this terra firma is complete, and mine is done too, Eva and I will bask in the Presence of our Good Shepherd and “talk sheep” for as long as we desire.  Did I mention to you that I love Eva?

I want to be like her.  Sweet, undemanding, unshakable faith.

Counteraction: Flesh vs. Fruit of the Spirit

Today (July 19) I have had time to think.  No noise, no responsibility, and time to think carefully.  This morning I heard a sermon on “Aimless is not Blameless.”  When I turned to the passage for this week’s devotional challenge I give at three locations, I found the word, strife; so, by putting the thoughts together I kept pondering on the blameless walk described in Psalm 101.  Strife is certainly not part of that walk.  That took me to my personal Bible reading which was in Galatians 4-6.  See, it pays to have quietness of mind and heart to put these things together.  (Smile)

All of that set me to wondering about those lists in Galatians 5.  There is a list of the works of the flesh in verses 19-21 and there is a list of the fruits of the Spirit in verses 22-23.  First I hand wrote the list into my journal.  After that, I took a fruit of the Spirit that would counteract each of those works of the flesh.  Sure enough, there is something from the list of fruits that will absolve the flesh desires!

I made a chart but I can’t figure out how to present it on the blog site.  You will have to make your own.  I’ll be using it with my devotional/study groups this week.  Sin is as ageless as the Garden of Eden.  The groups I tend to are elderly and one would think quite mellow.  That is not so, however.  As I age, I sure hope that I do not get as feisty and unpredictable as some of those folks can get!  It does help to have the peace of God that comes with conversion and living a life of following the precepts of God’s Word.  My heart aches for those who have rejected Christ’s salvation and now their aged minds shut everything out.  As in most dispensations of time, there is always a remnant—a small group—of steadfast Believers and it those whom I seek to encourage each week.  They love to sing, listen to God’s Word, pray, and enjoy the inspirational story I bring each week.

Now, before you age any longer, make that check list.  It will help you see clearly when you need to combat the fleshly wants whether it be for envy, strife, or something as subtle as quiet troublemaking.  There is an answer.

Walking in the Shepherd’s Presence is not always an easy path, but He is there to hold fast to you in times of wavering.

Rodney “Gipsy” Smith

March 31, 1860 was a day that years later became a happy day for thousands of people who would hear the voice of Rodney Smith. He was born in a gypsy wagon outside the village of Effing Forest, England. The unique life style of a gypsy often gave them a bad reputation because of the often misconduct where they encamped their wagons outside of villages. Often they cheated people and stole.

Rodney’s mother died while he was yet a child. The family made and sold baskets. Since he was a lively boy he often sold a majority of the family wares. Sometimes he would offer to sing for people and they gave him coins for the entertainment. In some places, he was known as the “little singing Gypsy boy.”

Rodney’s father came to know Christ along with his two brothers when they wandered into a Methodist camp meeting. Later when they were mistakenly arrested for tying their horses where a sign that read, “No Gypsies” because they could not read, they were put in jail. Their rousing singing and testimonies in that jail influenced the jailer’s wife and she came to Christ!

Rodney was a hold out in the family when it came to following Christ. One night he went apart from the rest of the people and surprised himself when he heard his own voice telling him to trust the grace of God for salvation! He was 17. Immediately he had a hunger to be able to read. One day he stood in front of a billboard wondering what it said. A lady passing by asked “Son, is there something I can help you with.”

“Yes, he replied, “tell me what that sign says.”

“Ma’am I really want to know how to read, how can I do that?” She patted his arm and told him that with such a deep desire, he could teach himself.”

Soon after that, Rodney purchased a Bible, and a Dictionary. Like his father, what Rodney heard, he remembered. It was a struggle to learn the letters and figure out the words, but little by little, he did teach himself to read. Although he never attended one day of school, he was honored later in life to speak to the students at Harvard University! Someone suggested to Cornelius Smith that he try to send his son to Spurgon’s school to learn more about the Bible, but it never came to a reality. Once Rodney learned to read, he committed large portions of Scripture to memory.

The bold testimonies of Cornelius and his brothers left a big impact on Rodney. He tells many stories about his father’s violin, and crowds gathered just to hear him play his “hallelujah fiddle.” He tells a story of a time when he was selling wares and a sudden rain hit. He dashed to the closest shelter of a shed and to pass the

time away, he took off his cap, kneeled on the ground, and prayed. Not knowing that he was being heard, and not knowing how long he was in prayer, he suddenly heard a “sniff, sniff” sound. There he was between his basket of wares, his cap, and being heard by the occupants of the house. He was embarrassed and hurried off and regretted later that he had not taken the opportunity to tell them of the Jesus to Whom he was talking.

A year after his conversion experience, Rodney met William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Booth liked the singing voice and eager testimony. Booth gave him a part in the ministry. While he struggled to learn to read so that he could read Scripture, he also sang and preached throughout England and some countries in Europe. He became well known for singing the song, “There is a Fountain.”

Eventually, he launched out on his own. By then he had met and married a wife. She was a great help and encouragement to him, but when he made his first trip or nearly 50 trips to America, he came alone. He had two letters of recommendation with him, and knew of only one name to contact. Smith found his way to the church to introduce himself to the pastor and found them in prayer. For three weeks they had been praying nightly for revival.

After introduction he was welcomed and scheduled to speak in a three-week campaign. Smith, in the book he wrote Gipsy Smith, His life and Work, by Himself said of that first meeting: The prayer meetings had started before I left England, and by supplication and consecration the people had been getting ready for my coming. They did not know it, and I did not know it. But God who brought us together did. From that meeting to many others, Smith sang and preached his way across America. Perhaps it comes from a question asked him regarding revival that he described revival in the best of terms:
He said, “Find a piece of chalk, and find an empty room. Go into that room and shut the door. Draw a circle on the floor with that chalk, kneel down in that circle, and ask God to start revival right there.”

For seventy years Rodney “Gipsy” Smith carried the Gospel across Europe and across America. On that first meeting he met Ira Sankey, that great song leader. He had met Sankey before but wondered if Sankey remembered it. On a drive on the evening before his first meeting he asked Sankey, “Do you remember when Mr. Moody and you were in London you came out to a Gypsy camp at Effing Forest?

“Yes, I remember it very well, and I remember meeting the converted gipsy brothers who were doing a good evangelistic work up and down your country.”

“One of these brothers, Cornelius Smith, is my father, and he is still doing the same work.”

Mr. Sankey was pleased to hear this.

I further asked him: “Do you remember that some little gipsy boys stood by the wheel of the trap in which you were driving, and that, leaning over, you put your hand on the head of one of them and said, “The Lord make a preacher of you, my boy”?

“Yes, I remember that too.”

“I am that boy.”

Mr. Sankey’s joy knew no bounds.

That little gipsy boy became fondly known as “Gipsy Smith” and is well-known today for his driving desire to see folks come to Christ. Thousands, tens of thousands of people came to Christ in his ministry. His illustration of the chalk circle is as appropriate today as it was in the latter 19th century and well into the 20th century as the recipe for revival. It is said that he did not know the exact date of his birth until after he knew the date of his New Birth in Christ. A family member kindly researched it for him and found it to be March 31, 1860. He left this earth in 1947 but somewhere in Heaven, he may well be singing, “There is a Fountain” with Lester Roloff and Curtis Hudson! May his life continue to be an inspiration.

Pastors and Politics, a good Question

If your pastor exemplifies Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the prophets that took on moral decay, I am happy for you. It just seems rare these days to find a church where the pastor is well equipped to confront the culture of the day. This blog I am sharing may answer the reasons, and give you the courage to confront your pastor on the issue.

http://www.monicaboyer.com/8-reasons-why-your-pastor-will-not-engage-the-culture-or-politics/

I usually deal with the nitty gritty of living everyday in the Presence of Jesus, our Good Shepherd and am easy to read, not long, and not tedius. This article grabbed me by the neck and demanded to be spread out to any of my readers who may be seeking answers in this area. We are in trouble as a nation because our clergy has been derelict in their duty to prompt their congregations to live morally in a corrupt world.

Charleston and Choices

Generally I refrain from current events. This time I just cannot ignore the push I am feeling for writing thoughts on the events surrounding Charleston, South Carolina. For two years I worked in S.C. and must say, I did enjoy my brief stay there. The hospitality was very generous, the weather was much warmer than my home state of Wisconsin, and I enjoyed my first two years of teaching in the small city of Chester.

Out of curiosity this morning I looked on the internet to see what radio stations beam into Charleston and found 56 stations listed; to my pleasant surprise, of the 56 stations listed, 18 of them had the label of Christian or religious. That is remarkable to say the least. We do not have nearly that many in my nearby city of Indianapolis. It puzzles me as to why those folks in transit daily do not find encouragement for living from one of those stations as they maneuver the streets. From what I have read and heard on the news, it seems to me that Dylan Roof did not avail himself to the air waves carrying the message of hope through word and music.

Somehow, he did find himself drawn to Emanuel Methodist Church, an African-American congregation who chose to meet in the mid-week for prayer and Bible study. He sat in their presence for most of the service. They welcomed him, in fact. Their friendliness no malice toward a person whose skin was a different color; they showed no signs of racial hatred. Yet, he chose to murder nine of them. His anguished mind, altered by drug use, chose to extinguish the lives of innocent people who meant him no harm.

Let’s think back now to the radio stations. Faithful, industrious radio engineers, speakers, musicians, and those who open their wallets to support such stations all had the desire for Dylan to hear the Word of God. However, Dylan had to turn the dial to the station. The choice was his. It could be that in a city the size of Charleston that someone, maybe more than once, in the 21 years of his life, had knocked on the door of his home and extended an invitation to attend a church. I’d be so happy to know if he went.

Little by little the facts of his past will leak out into the press and well-meaning Christians will reach out to Dylan even in his prison cell. He will have still an opportunity to hear the plan of salvation and receive Christ as his personal Savior. One thing is for certain: the choice will be his to make to accept or reject the message from God’s Word. It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of personal responsibility.

The Triple Crown

Recently the American owned horse, American Pharaoh, won the Triple Crown in horse racing. The Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont: three races of prestige and now the horse will retire. Thirty-seven years had passed with American horses coming up short on winning all three races.

By the middle of this week, it all is forgotten; well, nearly all. Horse loving fans are still quietly celebrating as they brush down their own special horses in their own stables. After all, the crowns here on earth are corruptible. Trophies collect dust. It is the way of man.

Paul said, the race is won for something corruptible. Indeed, it was a mere wreath of vines in Paul’s day. It quickly withered. Yet those races were important in the first days of Olympiad. In order to win special care was taken to prepare: weightlifting, diet, endurance training, and all for a wreath of flowers and a few weeks of recognition.

I run a race daily. Not a literal race in which I must be the fastest; but nonetheless, a race. It takes temperance to maintain a testimony for Jesus. Sometimes endurance in prayer pays the big rewards when we see answered prayers on the behalf of others, or even ourselves. Training takes place daily as we absorb the Word of God into our life practices.

Our crowns, presented at the Judgment Seat of Christ will not perish; no, it is an incorruptible crown. “And every man that striveth for the master is temperate in all things. Now, they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.” I Corinthians 9:25 My son is a runner. He runs, usually for a cause of some sort but he also runs for his health. Someday he wants to run at least a half marathon just to say he did it!

The race of life takes time for daily preparation. Are you prepared today? Run, reader, run because the cause of Christ is worth it. Envision Jesus as you run, and in His presence you will find an incorruptible prize.

Laughter, Mockery, and Scorn

Recently I wrote of King Asa. Today, once again, I visit King Hezekiah. Indeed, I did look back through my posts and see that I have already addressed something in the life of Hezekiah three previous times. Well, here is another time. It seems each year that I read my Bible through, I see new things. Let me give you an off-the-subject suggestion: each year I use a different color to mark verses and leave notes in the margins of my Bible. It keeps me organized to a certain extent.

As I have mentioned before, Hezekiah was king in the Southern Kingdom, sometimes noted in the Bible as Judah. Only the groups of Judah and Benjamin remained more faithful to God. During his tenure as King, Hezekiah called for a renewal of keeping the Passover. The temple was once again restored and since Hezekiah felt sorry for the Northern Kingdom who had been captured by Assyria, Hezekiah reached out to the few remaining in the Northern Kingdom to join in the celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem. The reaction of many of them leaves me baffled.

In II Chronicles 30:11 the reaction to the invitation by the posts sent out by King Hezekiah was one of laughter turned to scorn. “. . . they laughed them to scorn and mocked them.” How rude can people get? Well, downright rude. The posts carrying the message were merely messengers, but look at the treatment they get! Perhaps that is where we get the expression don’t shoot the messenger.

Until the past few months, those who carry a message of truth often are turned away by indifference. While that saddens a heart, it does not injure it. Now, the message of truth and hope is often laughed at, mocked, and the message held in derision. I see it all too often in Facebook posts. While debate can certainly be robust in disagreement, I see those disagreeing do it by being disagreeable. Mockery often takes place in these unfortunate posts.

Did the return messages of mockery stop Hezekiah? No, it did not. The Passover went on as planned and a small number from the Northern Kingdom did join in the Passover observance. We need to applaud those who face the mockery and scorn and do the right thing. Applause for those in Hezekiah’s day and clapping now for those in today’s divisive culture of secular progressives. Their mockery should not change the mind of those who seek to follow the Truth. Jesus said it in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

Only in the presence of the Good Shepherd will we find the stamina to stand for the Truth. Jesus understands. He withstood mockery too.

The Heart-Shield Bible

A few minutes ago I downloaded a book from WallBuilders.com that holds nine letters by John Quincy Adams to his son. The letters tell about the importance of reading the Bible and methods of Bible reading. The price was certainly right, just $4.99.

Here on this blog I have written a few posts about the history of the English Bible and often reference Scripture passages in my inspirational weblogs. You know how very important the Bible is to me and I encourage others to just read it. Just pick it up and read without worrying whether you are doing it correctly. Just read it!

Here is a link to the site that led me to the book. If you are not familiar with David Barton and his wonderful collection of Patriotic and Religious works, take the time to get to know him.

Here’s the link:
http://wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=162093

My father-in-law inscribed every Bible he ever gave as a gift with this: “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” I have a very special place in my heart for Earl Entner. If you type his name in the search bar on this site, you can find out more about him.

An Empty Cup

Author Sarah Price, Waterfall Press, Grand Haven, MI, ©2015. 258 pages in length and estimated reading time is four hours.

Sarah Price authentically and masterfully writes Amish fiction. Price goes a step farther than most fiction writers because very often the antagonists in her plots are living within the protagonist. That technique gives Price an edge when it comes to inserting thoughts and truths on a scriptural level that does not preach or yell at the reader; she is able to make the reader internalize truth.

That said, I don’t really need to add much more to this book. Rosanna Zook has more than an adequate portion of abuse in her young marriage but endures it gracefully. A hidden guilt nags at her after her husband’s death that comes out later in the book to the reader’s surprise. There is an external antagonist in the book as well that poses turmoil to the whole family. Neighbor disputes are difficult for anyone and this dispute is even more unsettling between an Amish and non-Amish neighbor over trivial things such as dogs and property lines.

When I finished this book I felt a stirring in my own heart because the book had ministered to me without my knowing it. Although the book is not what I would call a “page turner” it kept my interest at a level of wanting to read in it every day until I was done. That is a good quality, in my opinion. If a reader is looking for romance that runs amuck or the stirring of inner feelings that borders lust, forget this book. It is a sweet story of companionship in a family that holds them together through both happy and sad times. It is also filled with how the Amish live and work which is an educational experience put within the pages of a pleasant, uplifting story.

I found the book via sarahpriceauthor.com which I subscribe to on Facebook. This is neither the first nor the last book I will read by the author. If you have never read one of her books, give her a try. The books are usually very affordable in the Kindle® store.

Postscript: You have head from me many times in the past if you are a frequent reader that I like simple. This is a simple story without complicated intertwining plots that boggle the mind. Yes, I like simple.

Good King Asa?

Theologians and Bible teachers often refer to Asa, the third king of Judah, as being “good King Asa.” Admittedly, Asa did achieve many good things during his 41 year reign over the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The account of his life is found in I Kings chapters 15 and 16 and in II Chronicles 14-16. If one reads those chapters together in one sitting, a good part of Jewish history can be absorbed.

As I read, I found the crowning moment of his good life displayed in II Chronicles 14:11 when King Asa cried out in prayer: “”LORD, it is nothing with Thee to help whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go against this multitude. O LORD, Thou art our God, let not man prevail against Thee.” God answered, and in verse 12 it is recorded “So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.”

Asa faced conflicts with the Northern Kingdom of Israel and God allowed him peace sometimes through military strength and sometimes during diplomacy. He had to courage to stand against family when he ordered his own mother’s idol worship place to be destroyed and removed the queenly crown from her head.

Those were all good things. Nevertheless, that word, nevertheless, gives us a jerk in our kind and noble thoughts of this good king. A man of God, a seer named Hanani, steps into Asa’s life and gives him a grim warning. In his declining years, Asa did not continue to depend on God like he used to. II Chronicles 16:7-14 reveals a very sad portion of Asa’s life. When he heard the warning of the prophet, Hanani, he was angry—so angry that he put him into prison. Not only did he imprison Hanani, he oppressed his own people at the same time. Evidentially, there were those who dared to be loyal to those who follow God’s ways—like faithful Hanani.

In the 39th year of Asa’s reign, he became diseased in his feet. Verse 12 mentions that Asa “yet in his disease, he sought not the LORD, but to the physicians.” I may be reading into it too much, but I connect the passage as a stubborn resolve not to seek the Lord. He trusted the physicians, but not the Lord. That just isn’t right.

Asa lived well. Scripture tells us that in his youth he walked in the ways of King David with a devoted heart to be a righteous man. Nevertheless, in my opinion, Asa did not die well. I want to die as I have lived. I do not want to crumble in old age under the duress of illness. What would that do to my legacy? Ruination. “Lord, let me die well.”

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