Can I just say, although I really enjoy the Olympics, I am appalled at the dress that is ordained for some of the sports. Beach volleyball comes directly to mind. The men get to wear long shorts and tank tops; the women, however, must don barely-there, bikini-style skimps. Like gymnastics – the men get to cover more than the poor women. The divers, male and female, sport scanty, tight suits. How is there not a chorus of protests? I did hear that one country refused to wear the official garb, and were thus fined $15,000.
Even what are generally considered modest countries wear these uniforms: China, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, etc.
I am pleased that the swimmers’ suits have evolved to cover more; although that is due to streamlining and faster times.
I wonder stuff; do you? For instance, I got to thinking about Jesus walking around on Earth.
When Jesus was here, He was God. “In the beginning,” He was “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1) So He knew every inch of that earth, and who else had walked right there; He knew what everyone had done in any given location.
Did He lift His eyes to look upon the burial ground of Moses? Did He feel the great victories of David beat in His breast as He walked over the battlegrounds? Did the words of Jeremiah ring in His ears as He walked the streets of Bethlehem, feeling the terrified cries of mothers as the prophesy was fulfilled and babies were killed? Did He ponder the histories and peoples of Judah, Israel, and Samaria as He traveled region to region?
Was His body physically overwhelmed as He walked Jerusalem, contemplating Abraham bringing his son, Isaac, to sacrifice; as David brought the ark back; as the temple was built, and later destroyed and pillaged?
What other stories and people did He know from Bethany, home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus?
What other people did He ponder, how many millions did He consider who are never mentioned in the Bible, and who we will never know until we live in eternity?
We took a trip last month for our family reunion, stopping in to see other family, as well. We opt for driving over flying, even when the distances are long. We drove over 2400 miles for this trip. It was all worth it, many times over, of course.
When we drive, my husband takes the wheel for the bulk of the trip. I drive for a couple-few hours once in a while, but he is a road warrior, and enjoys driving. I am the navigator.
The navigator, you may ask? Yes, indeed. When we go on a road trip, we use paper maps. We have a good navigation system in our car, and we bring our phones with us, which are the portals to anywhere one may desire to venture.
But, as we drove from here to there, and then from there to here, I appreciated our paper maps more and more. Granted, there is much folding and re-folding involved, but those maps give us a big picture.
Before we left for the trip, my husband got out all the state and regional maps. He figured miles, which cities we would or would not drive through, how long each leg would take, and the best routes taking into consideration all our needs. We made the decisions. We were able to look at many different options, we could see other locations around where we were driving, and we could prepare for our trip using a wide range of information.
Navigation apps show the short-range. Turn here. In one-half mile, turn left. In two miles, take the exit. The small print at the top shows that we’re to travel 58 miles before the next turn-off.
It occurred to me, while on the road and using our maps, that navigation apps are a pattern of a larger issue in our society. Navigation apps are very short-sighted. The computer makes all the decisions for us, and tells us where to go. We tell it our destination, and we assume that’s where we’re going as we follow its route; but we don’t get to see our other options, we don’t get a peek at the big picture. We can see only a few miles around us at a time.
Are we turning into a short-sighted culture? We want information, and we want it now. We make snap decisions based on what our feed tells us. While short-range information and decisions have their place, how often do we step back to take a look at the big picture? When our community / state / nation makes thus-and-such decision or votes for a particular issue, do we think of the long-range effects?
Wind turbines (or wind farms) are portrayed as good for the environment. We thought so, too, until we looked at the costs and energy needed to produce each turbine, the cost of using wind energy vs the cost of other types of energy, the government subsidies and the money going into promoting wind energy, the fact that the huge blades last ten years and then go into a landfill (non-recyclable materials), the cost of producing and transporting the turbines, and the minimal benefits we reap from them.
Defunding the police: yes, there are serious problems within our penal system. Serious problems come anywhere people are involved. Some communities are looking at long-range solutions and implications, such as diverting funds for other programs that improve the community as a whole.
Our addiction to sugar and fast / convenient food: We pay extra money for the easy route; but we pay in other ways, too, such as deteriorating health. Fake foods don’t have the nutrients we need, so we are increasingly hungry. We keep eating non-nutrients, and our bodies cannot be satisfied.
Pharmaceutical companies make lots of money from selling their “medications.” As we get sicker and sicker (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, allergies, auto-immune diseases, Alzheimer’s ADD/ADHD, autism, and suicide numbers are at their highest-ever), we look for someone to fix it for us, rather than thinking about the long-range implications of our lifestyles. Focusing only on healthy, nutritious food and exercise, to the exclusion of junk foods and couch-potato-ing, “miraculously” heals a multitude of physical and mental ailments.
Government is happy to take over the education of our children, and many are happy to give it. In the long-range picture, we are training future generations to let someone else do the thinking, and to go along with whatever “they” say.
Government pays us when we don’t work / don’t farm. Some like the situation, but it is leading to a nation of non-workers, and worker shortages. [We know a young man in his twenties who turned down a $40,000+/year job because he could make more money by staying at home – in his parents’ house.]
Disposable items are right-now convenient: diapers, swiffers, plastic bags, water bottles, food storage, single-use items. But if you can see the future, you can envision that we are destroying our planet little by little.
Finances: use money with long-range goals in mind, not short-sighted gratification.
Education: whether for yourself or loved ones, look at the big picture.
Family values and decisions: How do you want your children to look when they grow up? Where should they be spiritually when they fly your nest? Parent with this far-reaching vision in your decisions and discipline.
5G technology is celebrated and promoted as the latest and greatest, despite research evidencing the detriments to our health.
Our dependence on electricity and technology is growing. Are we still using and learning the “old-fashioned” way to do things, in the event that a power grid is hacked or destroyed?
You are a steward of God’s resources. Use His gifts wisely. 1 Corinthians 4.2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
If you are a long-range thinker, I applaud you and I thank you. Those who take responsibility for their own actions, who carefully consider the future outcomes of present decisions, and who make decisions based on a wide range of options are the people who will ultimately run the world. The short-sighted folks will just follow along. Since they are short-sighted, they don’t know where they’re going and don’t know where they’ll end up. Many don’t care, as long as someone is taking care of them.
Please also consider the long-range picture of eternity. If you are living for the here-and-now, you must lift your eyes and take a good, long look at where you will spend eternity; because eternity is coming, it is a reality. God is Creator of Heaven and Earth. He created time and eternity. He wants to spend eternity with you. He gives us all the information we need to understand that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life; no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14.6).
My dad likes to make up words. His pet word for our family is, “fambly.” We’ve all pretty much adopted it.
We had a family reunion last month. We do this every two years, for a full week, and we siblings take turns arranging the venue. We each pick a night to cook, so it’s only the one day that we need to be responsible for the meal.
My brother-in-law started this for us in 1997, and we’ve continued it. Nowadays, my generation is retired, or close-to retired. But our children are career-age and can’t always make it. My parents aren’t able to attend any more, but it pleases them to no end that we still hold it. This year’s reunion missed several of us, but those of us there really enjoyed each other.
God instituted family, and for good reason. We are to take family seriously, and work hard to make those bonds as close and good as we can. No, it’s not all in our hands to do so, but we are accountable to God, as far as it is possible, to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12.18).
Sometimes we can’t change our family dynamics. For instance, I get to have a sisters weekend every other year. We went to a nice restaurant for dinner one night, and got into conversation with the waitress. She couldn’t believe we wanted to spend time with our sisters. “If I did that with my sisters,” she said, “we’d end up killing each other.” But she thought it was so sweet that we liked spending time together.
I love my fambly. Fiercely. Each and every one. How did that happen? My parents worked at it. They taught us to work at it. We work at it. It’s worth it to work at it.
Family connections go both ways: up generations and down. If you are a parent, make specific plans to strengthen those family ties. Establish traditions (yes, they can be crazy; we have some crazy little traditions in our fambly). Keep important routines. Bake that cake or that favorite meal. Cherish your moments.
So, call your brother. Send a note to you mom. Text your sister. Send a heart emoticon to your son. Keep the connections going with love, as far as it is possible with you. God loves family. He blesses attempts to grow the bonds of love.
It’s likely that many of you have already hit upon this easy solution, but here it is for those who, like me, were unaware:
I have this long hair. And I have a vacuum with a beater brush. So you can see where this is going: I have an issue. It doesn’t happen every single time, but often the beater brush gets wound up with hair.
I’ve attacked the problem with scissors*, but that mostly leaves me frustrated. Inspiration hit (thank You, Lord), and I thought upon my seam ripper.
Problem solved. 😊
I’m thinking a very sharp pair of manicure (or “cuticle”) scissors* might also work well.
*An aside: Words are funny.
“Scissors” is in a very small group of words that are the same word, whether singular or plural. “Glasses” and “pants” are the only other ones I can think of, off hand.
“The scissors are on the counter.” [Here, you can’t even tell if it’s singular OR plural. These kinds of words are always used with a plural verb. However, “a pair of” can be used to denote a singular (with a singular verb, such as The pair of scissors is on the counter).]
“Hand me a scissors.”
“She has a collection of several antique scissors.”
I looked up the etymology, and discussions referred to Latin and French origins. It is thought that it started out as a plural since there are two blades that slide against one another. I suppose that’s the logic behind pants (two legs) and glasses (two pieces of glass), as well. Merriam-Webster refers to such words as plurale tantum. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/singular-of-scissors )
Throughout the Old Testament, God lavishes gifts upon His people. His people accept the gifts, then turn away from Him: Adam and Eve; Jacob; the Israelites: The Israelites, in escaping from Egypt and traveling to the Promised Land, saw God’s provision and miracles, and their belief in Him lasted all of about five minutes before they whined and complained about the next issue. Finally, after numerous prophets, God pronounced His judgement on His people, and they were carried away to Babylon.
Notice that God’s judgement in the Bible is only against His people. We do not read of His judgement against heathen nations, except in the Final Judgement, or as punishment for persecuting His people (i.e., Amos Chs 1 & 2). God uses heathen nations to bring judgement on His people, but God saves His judgement on Earth for His people, to bring them back to Him.
In Joshua 24.15 Joshua directs God’s people to “choose you this day whom ye will serve. We really need to do this every single day (moment).
Again and again, God’s people are enticed by the cultures around them, and adopt those customs which appeal to them. Before they know it, they are living entirely in a heathen culture, following evil practices, and have forgotten their God.
Sound like America?
There is some discussion as to whether our country was a chosen nation of God. We established our nation according to Christian principles, but we did not include God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our nation’s documents. Even in our founding days, we were a split nation, embracing other-than-God cultures, striving to please and include all people.
There is much talk these days about God surely bringing judgement upon America. But God has called His people to come out of a heathen culture and give our lives fully unto God, and God alone. In that we have departed from our single focus, He will bring judgement on His people to bring us back to Him, not necessarily upon America as a nation.
God does not bring judgement upon one nation or another; He judges HIS OWN PEOPLE. That takes the onus off the unbelievers in America and places it where God intends: The responsibility for obedience is on the shoulders of His people.
Just as Israel in the days they were brought to Babylon, and there were many Israelites devoted to God who were carried away because this was a judgement against God’s people as a whole; so may God bring judgement against His people in America. When God either punishes the heathen, or brings judgement upon His people, there will be much suffering across the board. Perhaps this has already begun (drought, flooding, plague, sickness).
Where are you, as a Christian? Do you follow God with your whole heart? Or, are you a convenient Christian, keeping those things close to your heart that you cherish, but which are not fully obedient to God? Do you read God’s Word daily? Do you hide His Word in your heart, so that you might not sin against Him?
David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22). He is an excellent example of a heart wholly given to God. Did David sin? Did he give in to some of the ways of the culture around him? Of course. But David repented. He always returned to the God he loved.
This phrase, “the whole heart,” occurs a number of times in the Bible, especially in the psalm of the Word, Psalm 119. Note the testimony of the psalmist in this great psalm.
1. “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (v. 2). 2. “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (v. 10). 3. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (v. 34). 4. “I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word” (v. 58). 5. “The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart” (v. 69). 6. “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes” (v. 145).
Thus, we should “keep his testimonies” (v. 2), “keep thy law” (v. 34), “keep thy precepts” (v. 69), and “keep thy statutes” (v. 145) with our whole heart, for the good and sufficient reason that He is our Lord and has given us His eternal Word, magnified above all His name. HMM
May we always give our hearts wholly to God. May we read His Word (which is Truth), and walk in obedience. May we ever repent and turn back to His ways.
God is calling us. May we be as Samuel (1 Samuel 3.10) and respond, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” God has spoken through His Word. Let us heed Him. Do not let your heart be divided between two masters. Let go of your sin, turn to God and repent. Even those “secret sins” – they are not so secret. (Read Secret Sin Not So Secret). Die to yourself (John 12.23 – 26).
And, an important reminder: Pray for Christians around the world to be faithful and true to Elohim. Read God’s Word and pray it back to Him. God’s Word will not return to him void (Isaiah 55.11).
Darkness may be defined as the absence of light or the absence of God.
Isaiah 8 gives us some Words that God has about darkness and light:
20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.
And another verse over, He says: Isaiah 9.2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Walking in the dark will cause us to take the wrong path: the crooked way instead of the righteous way. If we persist down this path, we will continue to stumble and fall (these are like roadblocks that God will use so that we fall and look to Him). We will begin to distort God’s plumbline in our hearts by altering, warping, and stretching it. We will blur the distance between where it is and where we are, therefore overshooting or falling short. When we wander in the dark, we forget what the light was like, how we cherished it and depended on it. We begin to cherish the dark. We put ourselves in danger of discounting God altogether, and eventually denying His importance or even His existence.
Beware of visiting or dwelling in darkness. Darkness is disorienting: walking in it leads to errors, believing lies, and stumbling.
Hosea 12.8 And Ephraim boasts: “How rich I have become! I have found wealth for myself. In all my labors, they can find in me no iniquity that is sinful.”
Alas for Ephraim, to be so lost in darkness that he thinks he is innocent and smart. But the Light speaks:
Hosea 13.1When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling; he was exalted in Israel. But he incurred guilt through Baal, and he died…. 4Yet I am the LORD your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, for there is no Savior besides Me. 5I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. 6When they had pasture, they became satisfied; when they were satisfied, their hearts became proud, and as a result they forgot Me.
Let us never become satisfied by the works of our own hands, may we never be so enthralled with the darkness that we wade in deeper and deeper, becoming lost.
Oswald Chambers: “Seeing is never believing. We interpret what we see in the light of what we believe.”
When we make our own “light,” we can believe anything in the dark.
If we walk toward the true Light, but do not step into it, then we are still walking in the dark.
The Light calls you, beckons you with tenderloving kindness. Accept Jesus’ invitation, Step into the Light.
I was reading through Facebook, and someone shared a nice post about what a privilege it is to be a mom, how all the hard work is worth it, etc. One woman responded with bitterness, saying that in the old days women had all day to take care of the house and kids, but modern day requires both man and wife to work; and it must be nice if both of them pitched in with the kids and housework, but her husband never lifts a finger around the house and she has to do it all.
My first response was to pray for her (“Emily”). Then I thought, “Nothing can change until we do.” I can see that God must be working on her heart, giving her life lessons to cleanse her bitterness. But she won’t learn those lessons until she receives the position where God put her, and thanks Him for it.
Psalm 16. 5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
God always has a good reason for where we are. We might not like it; in fact, if it’s a hard lesson we’ll probably hate it. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. And – here’s the important part: He’s right. God is always right, and He always loves us.
Lord God Almighty, You created Heaven and Earth, and You designed and created us, each individual Us. Thank you. You work from Love, and You continue in Love. You desire us to live Your abundant life; but we cannot accept and live that out until You show us our sin, we repent, and You cleanse us from sin. Thank You for Your Life Lessons, for Your gifts. Teach us to forgive, Lord, and increase our faith (Luke 17.1 – 5). May we accept You and Your ways with grateful hearts. Please bless us with teachable spirits. I love You, Lord. Amen.
John 15.1-8 1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
From this passage I understand that I am grafted into the perfect vine of Jesus. With that life force flowing through me (the Holy Spirit working through me), I am to produce fruit. The fruit of Jesus is bountiful and nutritious and refreshing, and useful for many things.
Mark 12.1-9 1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others
From this passage, I understand that God gives me choice. I can decide how to manage my vineyard. He planted wonderful seed in me (His Holy Spirit), and I have the ability to access that life force for growing wonderful fruit. But I can also decide to keep that fruit to myself and / or to grow that fruit in a different way. My way of growing fruit is not good, as God’s is; therefore, I will produce poison or malnourishing fruit.
From this same passage, I understand that God sends people to me to collect His fruit. Again enters choice: How do I treat those whom God sends?
What kind of fruit am I producing, and what am I doing with it???
Good fruit from the vine of Jesus vs worldly fruit is like eating real food vs junk food. Worldly works “taste” good to the world, but there’s no nutrition, and leaves you wanting more of the junk. Jesus’ fruit is real, and it is satisfying.
As new or immature Christians, coming from the world, we may still like the worldly fruit better. Often, this bad fruit gets pruned away and it hurts.
John 15. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and
v6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered
Isaiah 64.6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses areas filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
As Christians we yearn more and more for the nutritious fruit of the vine.
How do we get fed the nutritious “fertilizer” and nutrients to produce good fruit? Connect to the Source:
Jesus is the Living Water
Jesus is the True Vine
God’s Holy Spirit abides in us
God’s Word is Truth: read it
Romans 5.8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – and – Ephesians 3.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us — Did you get that? The power that worketh IN US. That’s God’s power IN US!
This is the mystery and miracle of God working through us: We are to be channels of God unto others – we commend God’s love to others while they (we) are sinners. To do this, we must die to ourselves. We allow God to take away all those branches and leaves that are our flesh; and we step aside to let Him live through us. Then we will bear His fruit, and it will be so abundant and good that there will be plenty for ourselves and to share with all those whom God puts in our paths. And we will give God the glory!
Galatians 5.22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Philippians 1.11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Matthew 27.25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
As we approach Easter, let us consider the crowds that demanded that Jesus be crucified. Barely a week prior, this crowd had hailed Jesus as He rode on a donkey, as their Messiah and King. They were right about that. But they had not eyes to see from God’s perspective. They had only human, earthly perspective. They wanted a political king; they wanted to be saved from their current predicament.
Before Pilate, the crowd asked for Barabbas to be released, and for Jesus to be crucified (under the chief priests’ and elders’ persuasion). Pilate washed his hands and declared himself “innocent of the blood of this just person.” The crowd replied, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”
They were right about that, too.
In the book of Acts, Peter set them straight about what, exactly, happened. Acts 5.27-30 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28Saying, you… intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said… 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree
All humanity were a part of that crowd – we were a part of that crowd. In our flesh, we want nothing to do with the Holy and Righteous Son of God. Just as Eve decided in the Garden, we prefer to be our own gods and decide for ourselves how we want to live.
But God had a different plan, and a different love.
Jesus’ blood, that blood that we spilled, the blood on our hands: That blood is the same blood that God planned all along to save us. He used that blood to cleanse us from the sin of desiring that blood.
Ephesians 1.7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. John 3.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.