Friday’s Quotes – Importance of God’s Word

  1. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  2. How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living accord to Your word.
  3. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
  4. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
  5. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  6. It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
  9. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  10. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Going the Extra Mile

Nike created a tennis shoe they called “The Extra Mile” and their ad campaign said:

We take the extra steps to chase something bigger. Even better…we go the extra mile.

However, Nike was not the first one to share the idea of going the extra mile. While Nike was suggesting we get out there and move and physically run/walk more, Jesus challenged us to pursue something greater than just another mile on our walk/run.

He said in Matthew 5:41:

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

What exactly did Jesus have in mind when He made this statement? The Greek word used here refers to someone being forced to help someone. Jesus was talking about a common practice at that time. According to Roman law, any Roman soldier could order a Jewish civilian to carry the soldier’s baggage, often his heavy armor, for one Roman mile.

Obviously, this practice was resented by the Jewish people. But instead of resenting it, Jesus said to carry it one more mile.

So it is with us. Many times we are offended, hurt and we harbor resentment toward the one who has harmed us. Jesus is saying we need to deal with our resentment and go the extra mile. To seek peace and offer forgiveness. This verse was part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus added that we are to love our enemies, pray for them and not turn anyone away if we can meet their need. All of these require us to go the extra mile.

Many times, we are quick to remember when someone has offended us, but we need to ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of times when we may have offended someone else. Going the extra mile may require us to be humble and reach out and say, “I am sorry.”

May God help us to be people that will seek to go that extra mile in offering forgiveness, understanding, love and devotion in our marriages, with our children, our parents, our neighbors and yes – especially with that person whose opinions and beliefs are so opposite of ours.

Friday’s Quotes – Importance of Prayer

  1. Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray.
  2. Intercession is service…unlike all other forms of service and superior to them in this: it has fewer limitations. In all other service, we are constantly limited by space, bodily strength, equipment, material obstacles and difficulties involved with differences of personality. Prayer knows no such limits…S.D. Gordon
  3. Prayer is partnership with God’s activities on earth…Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  4. The greatest need is prayer. Without increasing the number of Christian workers or their financial support, we could see multiplied results if we would only multiply prayer…Wesley Duwell
  5. One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying “my life for yours.” My time, my energy, my thought, my concern, my faith—here they are, for you…Elizabeth Elliott
  6. Praying takes personal time, energy and determination. No other personal commitment has been so hard to carry out.
  7. Prayer is asking God to align you with His will rather than asking Him to be aligned with yours.
  8. Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed…E.M. Bounds
  9. Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts…Mother Teresa
  10. I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day….Abraham Lincoln

Sixty-eight Years – and He is Still Faithful!!!

I posted this in 2018 but today I celebrate 68 years of walking with my Savior, my best friend.

Life has had its ups and downs, but one thing has remained true. Jesus has been faithful to me through it all.

  • He was there when my father left my mother and I when I was fourteen. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
  • He was there when my husband was killed in an accident leaving me with two little girls to raise. “I will be with you always.” Matthew 28:20
  • He was there when the doctor told me “The odds are not in your favor” and gave me little hope of surviving more than a few more years. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23
  • He is here as I began to age and face pain of arthritis and all the other issues of the aging. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

In 74 years of life, I have made a lot of decisions, some good, some bad. But that decision as a six-year-old was the best one I ever made and one I have never regretted.

I Have My Rights!

Probably no country in the world has been more adamant about the rights of its citizens and the role of government in maintaining those rights. When the U.S. Constitution was written, three delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not sign it because it lacked a bill of rights.

Created in 1787 the Constitution became the official foundation of the USA in 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state out of the 13 to ratify it. Many states agreed to ratify it with the understanding that a bill of rights would be quickly added.

In 1789, 19 amendments were submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. James Madison is given credit for writing them although it is believed others, including George Mason, who had refused to sign the Constitution without a bill of rights, had given input. Seventeen of the 19 amendments were approved by the House and sent to the Senate. The Senate approved 12 of them and in December 1791 the states had ratified ten of them.

Throughout the history of our country these amendments and the rights they gave have been debated and challenged in our courts. Today it is the Second Amendment that has produced so much disagreement and arguing.

The point of this post is not to argue for or against exactly what that amendment meant in regards to our right to possess guns.

But what distrurbs me is the role many evangelical leaders are taking in pushing an agenda of the “rights” of Christians. Many have been very hostile in speaking against those who do not agree with the “Christian” point of view. Sadly they seem to feel that their viewpoint is the “Christian” viewpoint and anyone who opposes that is clearly not a Christian.

The contrast between this militant voice of many evangelicals and the voice of Jesus shows that the Christian “right” has lost its Biblical connection.

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus said we need to become a servant. To be a follower of Jesus does not mean you have no rights. It means you give up your rights freely in order to bless and help someone else.

Hear how Jesus was described:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”

Although Jesus had a “right” to be treated like royalty he gave up that right and make himself “like a slave.” In doing so He modeled exactly what He meant when He said “If any man desires to be first, let him be last and servant of all.”

Jesus ministered in a country that was under the rule of another nation, the Roman Empire. There was much that was unjust in that time. But Jesus said nothing about trying to change the political scene. He said his kingdom was not of this world. He had a plan that was much bigger and greater than any government, any nation, any political party.

The issues we as Christians face in our country today do need to be faced and legislated and thank God because we have rights, we have the right to express ourselves. But we must not invest so much of our time and energy in trying to make our nation Christian by trying to force our beliefs on others that we fail to introduce them to a different kind of kingdom, one based on the love of God. (Laws may change behavior, but they will never change hearts.)

“Passing laws to enforce morality serves a necessary function, to dam up evil, but it never solves human problems. If a century from now all that historians can say about evangelicals of the 1990’s is that they stood for family values, then we will have failed the mission Jesus gave us to accomplish; to communicate God’s reconciling love to sinners….Jesus did not say ‘All men will know you are my disciples…if you just pass laws, suppress immorality and restore decency to family and government,’ but rather ‘if you love one another.’ “

He made that statement the night before His death, a night when human power, represented by the might of Rome and the full force of Jewish religious authorities, collided head-on with God’s power. All his life, Jesus had been involved in a form of “culture wars” against a rigid religious establishment and a pagan empire, yet he responded by giving his life for those who opposed him. On the cross, he forgave them. He had come, above all, to demonstrate love: “for God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son…”

Philip Yancey in his book “the jesus I never knew.” i highly recommend this book

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Friday’s List for Wisdom and Laughter

Recently I posted about my visit to the Wesley Garden on St. Simon’s Island.

Looking at that visit, I was reminded of the list John Wesley created for the group of people who were gathering each week to pray and encourage one another in their walk with God.

He had a list of questions they would use in their gatherings to help them in their Christian commitment. These are good questions for us to also consider today.

Questions to Ask:

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Did any of my words or actions this week cause someone harm?
  6. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  7. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  8. Did the Bible live in me today?
  9. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
  10. Am I enjoying prayer?
  11. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
  12. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  13. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  14. Do I disobey God in anything?
  15. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  16. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  17. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
  18. How do I spend my spare time?
  19. Am I proud?
  20. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, like the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  21. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  22. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  23. Is Christ real to me?

A Christian Nation?

As we hear a lot of debate now about whether or not we are/we should be a Christian nation, I would like to share the words of The Rev. Joseph Farnes, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Boise. I think he gives us much to consider.

“But let’s ask a question: What would a Christian nation really look like?

A nation that gives access to health care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay? Jesus healed a lot of people. He didn’t even ask whether they were employed or able to work.

A nation that supports education for all? Jesus taught the crowds openly and freely, and his disciples provided for material needs. Good thing Jesus wasn’t working on a teacher’s salary!

A nation that supports families and children — with access to nourishing food, clothing and community support? Where kids can go to school in safety, without fear of being murdered by someone with a gun? Imagine being eager to take care that there is no stumbling block for one of these little ones.

A nation that is slow to anger and abundant in steadfast love? Love toward neighbors and even enemies?

A nation that is quick to forgive crippling debts and burdens? “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors!” Uh-oh, what about personal responsibility?

A nation that embraces refugees, remembering that Jesus, Mary and Joseph sought refuge in Egypt when despotic Herod targeted them?

A nation that prizes goodness and righteousness over wealth? “You cannot serve God and wealth,” as it says in Matthew 6:24.

Now that’s an interesting image of a Christian nation. Even so, I wouldn’t want the nation to be conflated with Christianity. As a faithful Christian, I want all these things for people, no matter their religion, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, abilities or lack of economic power. An America for all Americans.

Christianity should always push for greater goodness, greater justice, greater mercy, not greater power. That’s a Christianity worthy of the name of Christ.”

How Does Blood Make Me “White as Snow?”

The Christian religion puts a lot of emphasis on the blood of Jesus. Depending on what church you go to, you are asked to remember the death of Jesus by taking communion daily, weekly, monthly. Again, depending on what church you go to, you will told that this wine actually becomes the blood of Jesus – or is just a representation of the blood of Jesus.

Growing up in my church we often sang songs about the blood of Jesus.

What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

There is power in the blood of Jesus.

Oh the blood of Jesus, oh the blood of Jesus, oh the blood of Jesus. It washes white as snow.

To be honest as a child I wondered how blood could make something white as snow. In our culture, we see blood as a stain. If we cut our finger and get blood on our clothes we immediately try to wash it out before it leaves a stain.

The Old Testament is full of the concept of using blood to cleanse. All the animal sacrifices were said to cover the people’s sins. Blood was to be sprinkled on a person with leprosy and on homes with mildew or mold. It was sprinkled on the priests as they began their ministry in the Temple.

The New Testament speaks often of the blood of Jesus making us clean and in the last book of the Bible we are told

they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

While I never understood how blood makes something white, I did believe that the death of Jesus somehow cleansed me from sin.

Recently I read a wonderful book called “In His Image.” The book is co-authored by two doctors who worked in India, one of them with the leprosy colony. Their description of the function of blood in our body is amazing.

When the writers of the Bible referred to the cleansing properties of blood, they had no knowledge of our body and how blood serves us. But, of course, God did.

Modern medical science has shown how using blood as a symbol of cleansing is so accurate when seen in our body.

The writers of the book suggest if you want to see the power of blood as a cleaning agent to put a blood pressure cuff on your arm, pump it up until it is as tight as possible and wait. After a few minutes of being uncomfortable, try to pick up a pencil or cut a piece of paper. They note that after a few minutes you not only will not be able to do those tasks, you will be in terrible pain. When you release the cuff and the blood comes rushing back in, you will find relief from the pain and you can function again.

The pain, they say, comes because you forced your muscles to keep working without any blood supply. As our muscles work, they produce waste products that are flushed away by the blood. When the blood was not allowed to flow through your arm, these waste products began to build up and you had pain from the toxins not removed by the blood.

The authors describe how our blood circulates through our body carrying toxins to our liver and kidneys to be removed and to our lungs so we can exhale the carbon dioxide and rid our body of this poison.

This example of how blood cleanses our body from toxins, is a great example of how the blood of Jesus does “wash us white as snow.” As we accept the forgiveness of Jesus, his sacrifice on Calvary cleanse us from the waste products we call sin. These sins are to our spirit like toxins to our body. If we do not get rid of them we will be poisoned spiritually just as our body would be if blood stopped flowing through our system.

The writers say:

Too often we tend to view sin as a private list of grievances that happen to irk God the Father, and in the Old Testament He seems easily irritated. But even a casual reading of the Old Testament shows that sin is a blockage, a paralyzing toxin that restricts our realization f our full humanity….Pride, egotism, lust and covetousness are simply poisons that interfere with our relationship to God and other people. Sin results in separation from God, other people, and our true selves.

I would encourage you to get this book “In His Image” by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. They share more insights into how marvelous our body is and how it points to the image of God.

Overheard in an Orchard

As I sit in my easy chair and watch the birds in my back yard – robins, cardinals, flinches, blue jays and doves, this poem comes to my mind.

Said the Robin to the Sparrow;
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so?"

Said the Sparrow to the Robin;
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."

Elizabeth Cheney

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29–31 — New Living Translation (NLT)

Do You Take Your Shoes Off – or Pluck Blackberries?

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes,
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning