I wrote this about six weeks ago. Much has happenedd since that confirms in my heart that the message of Jeremiah is more pertinent than ever. A Lazy River may be fun at a water park, but it ends disastrously in real life.
The entire book of Jeremiah is a thorough identification of how Judah cam to be captured by the Babylonian Empire. In my opinion, it is the most interesting book of the four major prophets. It contains history, exhortation, storytelling, and foretelling. It reads smoothly.
Directly following Jeremiah are five chapters of lamentations that Jeremiah cannot help but express. You see, Jeremiah survived the captivity and was left in Southern Israel (Judah). Near the end of the book, he predicts that instead of turning to the Lord after a majority of Judah is forced to move to Babylon, that instead of turning to the Lord for their help, they will turn to Egypt. It would be a mistake when they did that because Assyria came against Egypt and the Jews were still not safe.
If we were in Jeremiah’s place, we would also walk through the desolation of a war-torn Jerusalem and weep. In chapter 2, verse 14 I see such sadness. “Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.” What? Let me clear that up. Jeremiah is saying that the preachers gave them excuses for their sorry estate instead of exposing the sin of idolatry and indifference that drove God to allow the enslavement to Babylon.
When preachers, or our clergy, offer excuses for wrong doing instead of personal responsibility, in fact, they may as well allow the parishners to just float on down a lazy river. Just go along with the crowd because it is easier that way. Just hop onto that little raft and ride the current because that sure is easier than standing against the current of a sinful crowd.
Verse 16 gives the results at the end of lazy river. In some water parks the lazy river runs into deep water or a wave pool that is challenging. Jeremiah says, “All thine enemies have opened their mouths against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, ‘We have swallowed her up, certainly this is the day we have looked for, we have found, we have seen it.’”
Floating on the lazy river, even if your preacher makes excuses for it, is not the answer when you can stand fast for the Lord. If, or when, the time comes (I speak hypothetically now) that your clergy speaks softly of sin and tells you it is okay to dress your boy like a girl—find a better place to worship! Do not ponder the decision. Your church leader is on the Lazy River
If you have been reading this weblog for very long, you already know that I love baseball. The team I have followed since I was a ten-year old girl, the Atlanta Braves (then the Milwaukee Braves) happen to be in the season play-offs this year. Now regular baseball is exciting to me, but post season is even better.
It just so happens that the game is in our hometown stadium tonight and the crowd is loud; it is roaring loud. Add to that a grand-slam homerun was just hit by a rookie Braves player. The excitement of the crowd just came right over the radio waves!
It’s only the second inning.
ow, it happens that I was in the political crowd that wanted Judge Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court. All of us in the same persuasion let out collective cheers last Saturday when the votes confirmed him. We were not in a stadium but as you know, my imagination can get away from me!
Every time a person finishes radical surgery followed by extensive chemo therapy and comes out clean, collectively a whole team of medical caregivers, family, friends, and even neighbors give out whopping cheers. Prayer supporters give out vocal “Praise the Lord” and you will see many high fives happening.
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said that there is rejoicing in Heaven over the one lost sheep now found that in the 99 sheep that were safe in the fold and there is joy in Heaven over that found sheep. So, it is my understanding that in Heaven there is a grandstand of cheering when we win victories here on earth. I imagine a roaring crowd!
The lonesome victories are those fought in the arenas of temptation. No one cheers when a temptation to eat a big helping of dessert is overcome. No one knows except the person facing the struggle to say, “No thanks.” Passing up a sales rack when the budget will not allow even a small purchase can be challenging. No roaring crowd is around.
So, let’s do this: Use your imagination to hear a stadium of angels cheering you on as you round the bases in the grand slam “No.” You may say it quietly, courageously, but the stadium in Heaven is roaring.
Jesus told Thomas, his disciple, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Further in that long and beautiful prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17, Jesus declared, “. . .thy Word is truth.” In fact, John uses the word truth more often than any other writer in the Bible. He uses it a total of 48 times. The book of Psalms uses the word 41 times. If you really want to find truth, you will find it in the pages of God’s Word.
In the small book of 2 John, the phrase occurs, “for the truth’s sake. . .” and John uses it in comparison to deceit. He warns the readers of his little letter than deceivers abound and the only real place to put your trust is in God’s Word.
Currently the news is saturated with determining the truth of a matter. The heart of deceit lies in the father of lies, the master liar: Satan. It was a bold accusation made by Jesus to the religious and political leaders in Israel when he said, “Ye are of your father the devil. . .there is no truth in him.” The saddest fact of all is that those who sow deceit do not recognize truth because there is no truth in them. They are not only deceiving others; they are deceiving themselves. Earlier, in John 8, verse 32 Jesus had also declared to those who sought to follow Him, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
If you are seeking truth, seek God’s Word. Find your Way, your Life, your Truth in Jesus. He is waiting to hear your confession of sinfulness and your desire to trust Him alone for your eternal destiny.
I feel as if an enormous black cloud is hanging over America. There is much more at stake than a Supreme Court Confirmation going on. This isn’t just about one thing, but several. Let’s pray as never before that God’s strong arm of Truth will prevail and pray with an open and humble spirit. I Peter 5:5 assures me that God gives grace to the humble. God resists the proud. This wonderful poem that has since been set to music has flooded my heart for several days now. I share it again.
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,
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
(Refrain) His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
Wonderful resource: http://www.homecomingmagazine.com/article/he-giveth-more-grace/
In my goal to read a biography of every U.S. President, I sometimes stray into other areas. I knew so little about Warren Harding and now I know why. His morals kept him hidden. I found a book devoted to his wife, Florence. I know nothing of the biographer, Carl Sferrazza Anthony, but some reviews said he is reputable.
The book, Florence Harding: First Lady, the Jazz Age, and the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President, published by William Morrow Company in 1998, portrays Mrs. Harding as a manipulative, self-serving, power-driven woman. Warren Harding was a successful business man who enjoyed people and started his own newspaper business with a partner when Harding was a mere 19 years old. The year was 1884. Florence was the daughter of an enterprising, hard driving father who owned a hardware store in the same town. Her father controlled her so tightly that it drove her to rebellion. She had a child out of wedlock (her family adopted and raised as their own). Warren and Florence had no children. Florence was not the “motherly” type. And she wasn’t.
The author, Carl Anthony, seems determined to expose every sin possible about the Hardings and documents them; however, he also inserts words such as, “it may be. . .” that leads the thinking reader to know that the truth may be stretched or imagined.
I say all this to say—Harding was President from 1921-1923. America was hungry for some conservative pull back from the Theodore Roosevelt years followed by Woodrow Wilson. The government needed some drastic trimming and certainly needed time to heal from World War I. Harding seemed the man. While Harding himself was not into all the scandals reported by the press, his cabinet was guilty of taking bribes and assorted transgressions. I do think Harding was guilty of imbibing alcohol when Prohibition forbade it under the Nineteenth Amendment. It is reported that he also paid blackmail monies out of the coffers of the Republican National Committee treasury.
Considering that, I wonder if a hundred years from now a book, or books will pop up about current corruption that we all suspect. The generations following me will read them with shock and wonder how we managed.
Policy prevails. Scandals relate to morality, and morality relates to the Bible. It is not a standard of conduct that was taken for granted in our founding years of this country. Scandals will come and go as man and woman refuse to follow the principles of God and rather make up their own ever-changing rules.
Florence Harding gives no credit to God for anything. She secretly, and frequently saw a Washington D.C. astrologer. Enough said.
No one will write a book about me. I have no big secrets or scandals to dig into. However, a hundred years from now, I hope generations that will follow me will say, “It is said of my great-grandmother that she loved the Lord and wore out three Bibles.” That’s what I hope for a hundred years from now.
The granddaughter that lives closest to me (a mere six blocks) has been spending Friday afternoons with me now since she was about three and a half years old. My requirement was that she be toilet trained. Thoroughly. My daughter knows that if the day ever comes when Kamryn doesn’t want to come spend time with me, well, I’ll be sad but accept it.
She is now eight, and comes every Friday afternoon after school and occasionally, she even spends the night. She keeps me young; she makes me laugh; she gives me the chance to teach. She even has won a game of Scrabble against me already! (It helps when a single players draws ALL of the high scoring letters!)
I mention the word teach because she is willing to garden with me too. Unless it may involve a worm. Last fall I lost my tulip planting partner after she spied a worm. She can run fast and scream loudly! Had I been that worm I would have dug twenty feet deep and fast! This last spring when she was admiring the tulip blooms she once again mentioned the worm. I told her he was probably in China since it is approximately on the other side of our world. Her grin was just a little wicked.
I am getting to my point.
Sometimes on Friday afternoons Kamryn helps me prepare a meal for her family. I planned a baked potato bar. We stood at the kitchen sink gabbing and scrubbing potatoes for the oven when Kamryn curiously questioned, “Where do potatoes come from anyhow?” I casually told her, “The grow underground,” (but did not mention worms or she might not want to eat them anymore) and gave her the simple details of planting potato eyes, the potato plant, the blooms indicating how many potatoes might be beneath the plant, digging them up in the fall, and storing them for the winter. Kamryn never complains about a long answer and is usually eager to learn.
Since our little kitchen discussion, I’ve been thinking about potato bugs. Nasty things. My grandfather encouraged me to pick potato bugs with him, but I eagerly pulled weeds between the carrots rather than touch those nasty things! He wasn’t being cruel; I knew he was teasing. Grandpa also inspected the tomato plants for worms, and the cabbages. He was the old fashioned “organic” farmer.
If only we looked at sin like my grandpa looked at potato bugs and tomato worms. Max Lucado’s Hermie and Wormie would have met their deaths in his gasoline bucket. Sin needs to look disgusting, deplorable, despised. Next time sin looks innocent, just think of that big, fat tomato worm. Then run screaming!
Kamryn, always hate sin as much as you hate the innocent earthworm. That is my prayer.
If you don’t know what a potato bug looks like, here’s a link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlEkHqpnE5E
“Nana, how old is this vacuum cleaner anyhow?” asked my grandson who had come to get me out of my muddled mess.
“I’d guess about 15 years at least. I had my first vacuum for 30 years before I got this one,” I replied.
“They don’t make things so sturdy anymore, do they?” Kholton observed.
Here’s the surprising thing: I still had the book that came with the vacuum cleaner, so had the instructions for how to change the belt. As I searched my file for the manual, I laughed at myself for keeping manuals for items that I no longer own. As I put the manual back into the bulging file folder I heard a voice in the back of my head telling me it was silly to keep all those warranties but I argued with the voice.
“This is a folder of memories. A folder of blessings. I looked at the glider rocker that is long gone but oh, the memories of snuggling with a grandchild in that chair. The voice is correct. I don’t need the directions that went with the chair assembly. Why keep it?
It is just stuff.
Some of it brings back wonderful memories; some of it reminds me that a particular appliance never did work to expectations; none of it will endure into eternity.
Paul said that what we build on in this life will be judged by fire. Wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, precious stones. Which will it be? (I Corinthians 3:13-14)
So, replacing the belt on my aging vacuum cleaner became a lesson in mortality. It is a reminder of how important our lives are in this brief traverse on earth. The “stuff” in the file folder is still there. You never know when it might become important!
As for the vacuum—it is humming along ingesting dust and dirt just as it was designed to do—thanks to my ingenious grandson who can put something back together that he didn’t take apart. My failing eyesight just can’t do those tasks anymore. Bless his heart!
There is a book lying on my bedside table waiting to be read. My Prison Without Bars, by Pete Rose, an American baseball player with records that are yet unbroken. He has been passed up for a place in Cooperstown Hall of Fame because of his own failure in the morality market. In lieu of reading that book, which is regular print, I will likely listen instead to another book about Pete Rose I found on Talking Books.
The death of John McCain over the weekend has me thinking about the countless numbers of men who have been Prisoners of War or have died in POW camps through the years. China, Germany, Viet Nam, and other countries too numerous to name have held captive those whom they felt were a threat to their way of life.
Joe Kittinger comes readily to mind. Earlier this year I read his fascinating autobiography. He is noted as the first man to parachute from higher in the atmosphere than anyone before him, 102,800 feet up! (19 miles) When his ground crew lost track of him, they sent a message by code to him and his reply to them, “Come up and get me.” Kittinger served the United States well in his long career in the Air Force. (1951-1978) As a fighter pilot over Viet Nam he was shot down and served time as a POW and tells of it in his book. After his prison release in 1973, Col. Kittinger retired from his military career and took up ballooning and was the first to cross the Atlantic in a balloon as the only passenger on board. In his career (he is still alive, by the way) he broke many records.
Upon his death I doubt highly that Kittinger will lie in state with accolades of honor. Is he deserving? Absolutely.
Christian missionaries are my heroes. They have taken the gospel into areas where no others have gone before them and slept with snakes in their sleeping bags (David Livingston) and walked on dangerous streets of India in search of abandoned children to rescue. (Amy Carmichael) They gave their lives for the cause of Christ, (Jim Elliot) and they do receive honor still in missions conferences but they will not lie in state in the Washington D.C. capitol building.
Like Pete Rose, too many people in America live in prisons of sin. There are no bars except those of their own making. The price has been paid for their sin. The release is a simple, but sincere plea on the merits of Christ’s atoning work finished on Calvary. Without having received the gift of salvation that releases our sin debt, all the honors rendered in this world will mean nothing when it comes to face eternal judgment. Please, don’t leave this world without Jesus.
When a busy and influential man such as Joel Rosenberg asks “So, what are you reading?” I am intrigued. That is exactly the question Rosenberg posed in his weblog today. He asked for replies on his Facebook page and of course I obliged. I am almost finished with A Life: Reflections at Ninety, by former President Jimmy Carter.
I don’t review every book I read but do often mention several titles and give my opinion as to whether the book will enjoy longevity or not. Here’s what I’ve been reading.
Truman, by David McCullough. I chose this for a talking book selection because the book is very, very, long. Amazon lists it as 1,023 pages and talking books listed it as 45 hours of listening. McCullough is absolutely meticulous in research and quotes from so many valid sources, I did find my time well spent. One thing I will never forget from the book is that the “S” in his name stands for nothing. He didn’t have a middle name. His parents couldn’t decide. Why do we remember such trivial things? McCullough is truly unbiased in his approach to Truman’s life and I appreciate his writing. I also read American Lion by him earlier this year. I don’t have a high regard for either Truman or Jackson but somehow McCullough draws out nobleness any reader can appreciate. I do wish that McCullough did not use the cuss words that he does in direct quotes. Truman had a bit of a dirty mouth.
Things that Matter, by Charles Krauthammer is a collection of Krauthammer’s newspaper columns over the last thirty years. The book is divided into topics rather than by date. It was a worthy read. Krauthammer is a deep thinker but puts his thoughts into verbiage that the average reader can understand. Sometimes, I, as a reader, would back up and read a sentence over just to embrace the beauty of the syntax.
The Gallant Outlaw, by Gilbert Morris is a delightful work of historical fiction. It is book 15 of 40 in the House of Winslow series. When I found 8 in a row listed in Talking Books, I jumped on the opportunity to listen and not purchase! This was a nice work of fiction that gave me a weekend break out of the biography world.
On my agenda, lest you think I am stuffy, is Pete Rose: An American Dilemma. Variety is the spice of life. I enjoy baseball and have read books about several ballplayers. This one on Pete Rose is long overdue. I’ll probably come up undecided as to his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but maybe not. I also jotted down three titles from Rosenberg’s list that I might try.
Now, I ask you, “What are you reading?”