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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
This book is a compilation of material gleaned from at least three other books mentioned: The Complete Book of Essential Oils, by Valerie Worwood; Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs, by Rosemary Gladstone; and The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood, and Emotion, by Valerie Worwood. The book is published by Althea Press, Berkley, CA ©2013 248 pages in length.
Since my venture into the use of essential oils about a year ago, this book has been a handy guide. I have also borrowed books from the public library on similar subjects and the information agrees from one book to the other so I think I can use and recommend the book with confidence. Chapter four in the book breaks down most of the essential oils commonly used today and makes it simple to understand. (If you know my ways, you know that I like simple.) To make the book even more simple to use, the lists are all in alpha order.
With all of the parties and money making schemes using essential oils, I did not dive in blindly to the use of hocus pocus medicine. Although my friends call my pain mixture from essential oils a magic potion, I have found the simple mixtures to be the best remedies. One need not buy the expensive pre-mixed potions sold in little bitty bottles from the trendy essential oil retailers. Stay simple.
I also found valuable information in the pages of this book regarding essential oils and my own body’s DNA. Essential oil use is not a “one size fits all.” Knowing my body’s chemistry and reaction to some of these oils is very important. Some oils raise blood pressure, for instance. With each profile of the essential oils listed are precautions and I found that very useful to personalize my own usage.
I give this handy book a thumbs up for practicality. Affordability is also a plus as I recall it was a mere $3.99 for my Kindle®. Before you dash into believing everything your massage therapist or friend, or neighbor tells you, get this handy guide. It will advise you truthfully and carefully if you allow it to do so.
Annie Johnson Flint is an inspirational poet that wrote out of her own experiences. He poetry is rich. Unlike the “free verse” of our times, her poetry digs deeply into one’s soul because she was willing to expose her own soul in the writing. I’ve written of her earlier and put up her poem, “The Red Sea Place in Your Life.” Like most of her poetry, it is not set to music and very few clergymen quote poetry these days so you might want to look for it.
Flint was confined to a wheelchair when she was in her early twenties from the debility of arthritis. Yet, she did not complain. Instead, she forged on with a heart to inspire others. Yesterday I wanted to hear the song, “He Giveth More Grace” so I found it on YouTube but did not stop there. I wanted to see the lyrics and since my music has mostly been given away, I also hunted for the lyrics on the world wide web. What I found was an unexpected verse that is seldom sung. Our needs, indeed, will never exceed God’s grace! Let the words soak in, and follow the link to a nicely written biography of the author, Annie Johnson Flint.
Rather than say, “Lord, I can’t do this. . .” it would be better to say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t do this without You.”
“He Giveth More Grace”
by Annie Johnson Flint
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
(Refrain) His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Wonderful resource: http://www.homecomingmagazine.com/article/he-giveth-more-grace/
This is what I remember from an oral story recently told to me by a fellow citizen of Franklin, IN. It is a first hand, personal experience that dates back to the early 1940’s in Western Kentucky.
Jim and his brother grew up in the Western Coal Field part of Kentucky. The family recovered from the Depression years in the ‘30’s and earned a middle income. The income was enough to hire someone for household help and thus we are introduced to “Miss Lottie.” Miss Lottie lived in a one-room cabin which we might call a shanty or shack without electricity or indoor plumbing.
Jim and his brother loved her dearly.
“Miss Lottie makes the best corn bread in the county,” they boasted and she baked wonderful bread and biscuits too as part of her job. She lived within walking distance of the Ray family and saw the boys off to school in the mornings, and left shortly after they came back home from school. At her aging hands she kept them in ironed shirts and well-creased pants. Often on the walk up the path to the house they would hear Lottie singing songs about Jesus.
Jim knew that Lottie could not read and wondered how she knew about Jesus. One day he courteously asked her. “Jim, the preacher man told me about Jesus out of a nice black book. He said, “Jesus is in this book.” I believed the preacher, and I believed the words about Jesus and learned these here songs I sing.”
Little Kentucky boys know their manners and always addressed her as “Miss Lottie” and treated her with utmost respect. Lottie’s love for the boys was obvious.
One day on a trip into town the boy’s conversation went something like this:
“Miss Lottie needs shoes.
“Well, yes, she does but she seems to be happy without shoes. Winter is coming on though, and she should have something warm for her feet.”
“Yes, something soft and warm, and colored!”
“Mom, can we buy Lottie some shoes today?”
“Boys, we pay Lottie enough that she could buy shoes if she wanted them.”
“But Mom, we just want her to have nice warm feet.”
“Well, when we go into the Mercantile, we can look.”
Miss Lottie often wore a kerchief on her head covering her graying hair that was pulled back into a neat bun. The kerchief was often blue or red, and recently, she found some pink material and stitched herself a cheerful looking head cover. When the boys saw some soft looking, pink house shoes, they begged to buy them for Lottie.
“Boys,” declared Mother, “You just don’t give up.”
Happily the boys brought home those warm looking house shoes and were so excited to give them to Lottie. Indeed, the gift brought tears to Lottie’s eyes. Such love, she felt, must come from Jesus and that Book too. She treasured the house shoes, but continued to come to work barefoot, even as the ground became cold.
Then near Christmas time, Lottie did not come to work. Two days passed and she did not come down the path from her house to the edge of town where the Rays lived. Lottie must be sick. Jim and his brother worried about her.
Two worried boys trudged up that steep incline to Lottie’s humble home. She didn’t answer the door, but it was not locked and cautiously they walked inside. There in her one-room dwelling Lottie lay on her bed, motionless. On her feet were the pink slippers. Under her folded hands lay an open Bible. She died holding the book that told her of Jesus. “Jesus lives in that book” she once told Jim. She died holding Jesus, with those pink slippers on her feet. Feet that Jim feels are now walking on streets of gold.