Friday, August 11, 2023

Recent History: Is It Ushering in the Coming Age?

“Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea there is no God; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8

When going through some old writing I did over a decade ago, I discovered the upsets and insecurities about the future we face today, we also faced back then. The details may be different, but the theme and the characters are the same.

Almost every year, I read through the Bible. In general, the reading at the beginning of the year starts at the beginning of time, in Genesis. Like a farmer sows in anticipation of a great harvest, so I dove into God's Word and the new year expecting great outcomes. Come the fall, I'm usually reading the prophets. Amazing to me is how those prophets reflect a harvest of the works of Israel. A harvest that is a disaster. It causes me to reflect on the year and consider my fruitfulness. Am I having a great harvest?

These last couple of years have been shocking, to say the least. Our world, as we know it, has been turned upside down. Rarely does a morning pass these last few weeks when I didn't close my Bible after reading and studying, and marvel at how applicable the words of the prophets are to our current world events. And I sit in awe at the God Who is in control.

The course of the world has already been laid out. However, we do not know or understand the details of that course. We guess, make assumptions, and try to predict, but the bottom line is we do not know the details. 

There are some facts we do know. We know that whatever happens, the Middle East will be the center of action. We know that the world as we know it will come to an end. We know that there will be a great war and the Son of God will prevail against the forces of evil. We also know that only those who are counted as the children of God, those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and have accepted Him as their personal Savior, will one day rule with Him. We know at the end of time, there will be a Great White Throne Judgment where the unsaved is judged, and those who rejected Christ as their Lord and Savior will suffer in a place designated for Satan and his angels. 

When President Bush declared war on the terrorists that attacked our country on September 11, 2001, did he know he was engaging a spiritual enemy? I'm pretty certain our current president doesn't comprehend the spiritual warfare going on right now. If he did, I would hope that he wouldn't have left in Afghanistan American citizens who will be martyred for their faith. If our current president was aware of eternity and Who created this universe, surely he’d not support the Woke community and some of the policies that are clearly reflecting a nation in rebellion to the Creator of all, the Lord of Lords, the Great I AM.

But our president doesn't understand that, and I believe most if not all of his advisors don't understand that either.

Unfortunately, our perception of reality is only what we can physically see, and we choose not to look at the spiritual world. This present world, what we see, hear, feel, touch with our physical bodies, will come to an end. What lasts forever is the spiritual. I put to you, therefore, that the spiritual realm, and what goes on there, is of greater import, than the physical, and thus has a greater effect on 'reality'. 

We tend to look at world events and our lives from a limited 'here and now' perspective. I'm not sure that is the wisest outlook. 

You cannot look at history and not see God's influence. I know, I have a very western perspective, but I think if you look closely, with a mind to see God's hand, you'd see that God even influenced the east as well. He positioned leaders and sent missionaries who influenced the outcome of nations. 

Because of these facts, I did not envy President Bush's position. He had locked horns with those who are directly opposed the true God, the true Messiah, and had presented themselves as the enemy of the people who will one day reign with Christ. Because he had done so, he had also aroused other enemies of Christ who do not wear the title of Muslim or Islam; Palestinian or Arab. He had inadvertently stirred the hearts of those who are unwilling to embrace the One True God, His holiness, His design, and His righteous judgments. Some claim to be Christians but fail the test of a true Christian; some blatantly oppose Christianity, and some are just down right confused. 

What Bush had led the United States into was a Spiritual War, being fought on the physical level. Unfortunately, many fail to understand this, and most fail to consider how important it may or may not be for the future of this world. Now, more than ever before, the born-again believers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, must pray, must study, and must take a stand for Truth and for the Gospel.

I hear a lot of doom and gloom prophets today. I doubt most of them are looking at what they ‘foresee’ from the lens of Scripture. However, time will tell whether what ahead of us is just a repeat of history or whether God is issuing in a new era known as the Great Tribulation. 

While speculating can be an interesting exercise, the result should lead to an urgency to tell others that they need Christ, to stand up for what is right no matter the cost, to realize that we do not need to fear what man will do to us because we know what the end will be.

“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” I Peter 3:14-15

Job: An Evil Presence or Just My Flesh?

 "Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:" Job 4:14-15

Many people can feel an evil presence. Here Eliphaz, one of Job's friends, confesses to feeling such a

I've often wondered what presence he actually felt. Did Satan send a demon to him to whisper things in his ear to convince him of Job's sin? He did seem to think that Job was suffering because of his sinful life.

Have you ever wondered why some people make horrible accusations that either are completely untrue or hold just enough truth to cause you to speculate that maybe there was something to it? 

I do think human nature causes us to see the worst in others. Afterall, if that other person did the horrible thing we think, then maybe we won't look bad? Silly reasoning, isn't it? But how often have I chosen to believe a lie simply because doing so might make me look not quite so bad?

I wonder if Eliphaz felt in competition with Job. I wonder if, when the friends all got together, they'd slap Job on the back and tell him what a goody-two shoes he was, sacrificing to God for his whole family. How he worried too much about being good. And secretly, Eliphaz wanted that backhanded praise. I wonder if Satan knew that was the very thing he could convince Eliphaz so that he would accuse Job of being a terrible sinner.

I wonder if Eliphaz felt that men held Job in too high esteem, secretly wanting that esteem himself. He was trying to be the wiser one. Afterall, the Temanites were known for their wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obediah 1:8). Eliphaz had to live up to that reputation.

Whether Satan whispered in his ear or Eliphaz came up with the accusation himself, we don't know. But I think we can safely say that each of us has been willing to listen to gossip against someone of whom we are jealous. Something about learning of the failings of someone we think everyone else holds up on a pedestal makes us feel a little elated. And we can so often hide that by feigning true concern with catch phrases like "telling the truth in love, sister" or, as those in the south say, "Bless you're heart" (when they really mean don't mean anything like that).

Some wise person once said that he always thought the best of everyone so that he wouldn't think the worst. I wonder if the judgment Eliphaz would experience in the last chapter of Job would not have happened if he didn't give in to the whispering accusations or the temptation to see Job in a bad light.

"Where no wood is there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
He that hateth dissembleth with his lips and layeth up deceipt within him;" Proverbs 26:20-24

The God of Comfort

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

When you suffer, how do you react? What are your thoughts toward God and toward those around you? What questions do you ask?

In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul defended his worth as an apostle. In the church at Corinth, divisions were happening and there seemed to be a great lack in understanding how a church should operate. Paul contended with them in love, desiring for them to live a life worthy of Christ. The members were not unaware of what Paul had endured through his life as a missionary. They knew the price he paid to give them the Gospel message, to disciple them so that they would know the depths of God’s love. 

Paul knew what persecution felt like, unfortunately from both Christian and unbeliever alike. But as we read in this chapter, we see that he viewed his suffering as beneficial. The more he suffered, the more he was comforted and was able to comfort others. And Paul wanted the Corinthians to do the same. 

Paul relates how he and his associates were pressed and sentenced to death in Asia, and how did he respond? I believe he saw what was happening to him as an opportunity for God to be glorified, and that faith proved to be well placed since God delivered them. In relating what happened, he pointed out the Corinthians’ part by how they prayed for Paul and his associates. 

What an example to us.

I am, by nature, an adventure seeker. Over the years, I’ve been thrilled to see God’s hand protect me, provide for me, and work through me. I confess to be someone who is willing to jump off the cliff if I believed God said, “Jump!” simply because I have seen time and time again that the ‘adventure’ of the fall gives great opportunity to see God at work. But I can also account for many times when my faith was weak and, shamefully, I missed out on what God had for me.

I want to have that faith and that courage Paul demonstrated. I want to be able to face the trials and tribulations of life with a song of praise and a battle cry that leads to the shouts of victory. For I’m merely passing through this world, and while I pass through, wouldn’t it be wonderful to draw some others along with me? I’d love to be a part of a company of believers whose faith made them face the lions in Ephesus and sing in the jail at Philippi. 

Okay, maybe I’m not so excited about the beatings, but I want to know the comfort of the Holy Spirit and His healing touch…and if that means hurting a bit to get it, well I think it would be worth it.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

The Lord's Chosen Servant

 "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." Isaiah 42:1

The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe, has no equal. 

No one directs God, or gives Him counsel, or teaches Him.

To God, all the nations are nothing. Isaiah 40:17 states that all the nations before Him are counted less than nothing, and vanity.


No president of the United States has power God hasn't given him. No organization (even the United Nations) can take God out of the governing of the world. 

But did you know in the era between 930-586 BC, that Israel showed to all the world that God would with draw His hand when a nation chose something or someone over Him? 

King Solomon ruled before the nation split into two kingdoms (the Northern Kingdom and Judah). Though he was the wisest of men, he did something very foolish. He married women from other nations, who worshiped other gods, for political reasons. Solomon allowed these wives to worship their gods, and as a result, he began to worship them as well. A direct act or disobedience to the law God gave the nation of Israel:

"For thou shalt worship no other god:...And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods." Exodus 34:14-16

Most of the kings to follow Solomon, both in the Northern Kingdom and in Judah, did just that--worshipped other gods.

When the people went away from God, God did not go with them, and they lost God's protection and provision.

By the time Isaiah wrote this chapter, the Northern Kingdom had gone into exile and Judah's fate had been determined. Isaiah warned of their coming exile to Babylon.

But that's not the end of the story. That's not the plan God had for them. Isaiah, led by the Holy Spirit, wrote of hope for Israel and for all of world. Yes, judgment was coming--and is coming--but they were not to despair. God would send a Savior. And such a Savior! A man of compassion, of victory and of great power.

"A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law." Isaiah 42:3-4

That Chosen Servant is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, our nation is a mess...the world is a mess. We have wandered far from God and have done despicable things by creating laws in direct rebellion against God. Yet our God still has compassion.

God will not move from His position of righteousness. He is unchanging and what is good and right come from Him. He's shown us in the Bible what is good and right and what we should do. And He will hold us accountable.

But praise God, in His great compassion for us, He has provided a way of escape. He has paid for our redemption. He took the judgment we deserved and put it on His Son (the Chosen Servant) at the cross.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

There is still hope. Will we pray? Will we turn to Him with all our hearts? Will we determine to not allow our nations to reject God, His righteousness, and all that is good? Will we tell others about God, His righteousness, our sin, and His redeeming love?

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11


The Worship of God

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."
Psalm 55:17


Read: Exodus 19-20.

Did you know that the Jewish day starts in the evening? How wonderful to go to bed with thoughts of God and wake up with His kindness and His leading.

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He took the time to teach them how to worship Him. The tabernacle and the method of worship all pointed to Him and to the deliverance He provided not only from Egypt, but to the deliverance from sin and death Christ would provide when He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again.

The Israelites were to burn incense, which represented their prayers. God provided them with manna and meat when they were in the wilderness, and we receive the spiritual food from God as well when we meet with Him, reading His Word and praying. God met with Moses on Mount Sinai to give the Israelites the law (the Ten Commandments) and God's plan.

Imagine God, thrilled to bring His people out of the bondage of Egypt, looking forward with great expectation the life He would have with them in the Promised Land. He wanted a relationship with them: a close, intimate, passionate relationship. And He wanted them to know how to have that relationship, through faith and through the right worship of Him.

But they needed to give God their hearts. And they didn't.

For about 1500 years God dealt with them, sending them messengers (prophets) and calling for them to make a complete surrender to Him. Sometimes they did become faithful, but more often than not, they turned from Him to worship other gods. And sometimes, even when they followed the 'rituals' of worship set out in the ceremonial law, their hearts were not in it. 

God sent the prophet Amos (and others) to warn them and tell them that their sacrifices (worship) did not please Him, because they were not walking in obedience to Him. Amos exposed their complacency, idolatry, and oppression of the poor. 

Their morning sacrifices did not honor God, and for that, the LORD mocked them and judged them. hmm. 

We may well do our devotions in the morning, but if our time is done in ritual and insincerity, we are no better than the Israelites at that time.

We may go to church and sing the songs, but if our minds are on things other than God, we're not better than the Israelites.

We may routinely pray and go to our prayer groups, but if we are not honest with God, if we do not fully open our hearts to Him, our words are meaningless chatter.

But all praise and glory be to God for He knows our weakness. He patiently draws us to Him. He'll put things in our path, He'll speak to us through His Word (whether spoken from the pulpit or read from your Bible) and cause us to focus on Him again: in the evening, morning, and at noon.

Do you correct your wayward thoughts when you are reading God's Word? Do you refocus your mind when it wanders during worship service? How well do you communicate with God when you're praying with others?

For further study read: Luke 22:39-46; Acts 12:1-16.

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26


A Reason to Live

 I have nothing to give. I am worthless. I have no one to love. No one loves me. The world would be better off without me. My family shouldn't suffer because of me.

A modern epidemic, even within the Christian community, is depression. At some point in a person's life she may decide she does not want to go on with life. Sometimes this is chemically induced, and sometimes this is situationally induced.

Life can become grueling. It may seem at times, hopeless. There may even arise in one's mind the lie that others would be better off without you. Don't listen to it.

I know of those who have lain in wait for death. The doctors say their illness is terminal. They are shuffled off to hospice to die as painlessly as possible. There is no hope. Their family begins to mourn and suffer the long trial of life lost. Tears are shed; anger is felt; sorrow is deepened.

I also know of those who long to live, even though they are told they would die. They hold on to the hope of life like a bulldog holds on to a bone. Letting go is not an option. They cling to life even though death holds for them a place where there is no more sorrow or pain or fear. Why?

David, of the Old Testament, was one of these people.

Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Psalm 6:4-5 (KJV)

David had plenty of reasons to give up: the king turned on him; he lost his wife and his best friend; he had to live among the rejected and in the wilds. Nonetheless, he knew if he died, he could not give thanks to God as he could in this world.

The Apostle Paul suffered great persecution and hardship. If ever a person should long for his heavenly home, he had that right. However, he saw that if he died then God could no longer use him.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . . For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:21-24

Paul's work was not yet done and he determined to complete it. There came a time when he knew he would die, and he was ready for it, but until that time, he set his mind on finishing the course God had given him.

The bottom line: our lives are not about ourselves, they are about God. When we turn our focus inward, into our desires and wants, even to what we see as our needs, we turn our focus off of God. We lose the faith (not meaning faith unto salvation, but faith unto perseverance).

When we throw our hands up in the air and say all is lost, we've lost focus on God and the wonderful, hope-giving anticipation of what He might do. We have forgotten that those who endure will be saved.

Suicide and euthanasia are selfish escapes. These deaths show a lack of faith, a lack of desire to see God at work. They reveal a heart fixated on the "me-god" our society has created. They are not the answer.

I know this seems harsh. Nasty even. Especially when one is not willing to humble herself to the God who created her. But until we realize that life is not about us, it's about God, we'll live in the dark and seek a dark death.

There is a hope. You never know how or when God will chose to heal you or to save you from your situation. You never know how God might use you.

Today I know of someone who lies in a hospital desiring to live but is told he will die. The doctors fight with the family, complaining that medicines that might help this person are too expensive. Yet this man has communicated that he wants to live, because he wants to serve God. Even now, when he can't get out of bed without help, he is serving God because of his tremendous faith. Yes, he believes God can heal him, but more than that, he is determined that should he live he would serve God; such commitment is testimony of true faith and an undying love for his Saviour.

Such a person is an inspiration to me, and in that, he acts out his reason for living. Indeed, life is not about me, it's about God. And well I do to remember this.

Where Do You Find Joy?

 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. Philemon 1:7 (KJV)

What brings you joy? Are you taking joy in your possessions? Are you rejoicing over the government's decisions? Are you finding great pleasure in what Hollywood has produced lately? Are you finding solace in the success of your favorite sports team? Are you spending hours playing video games?

Our American society takes great pleasure and delight in many activities. Recreation has become a place where we hide from our stresses and seek a time of rest and comfort. There is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves, provided that what we derive our pleasure does not become our god.

Paul sat under guard when he wrote Philemon. He had endured stonings, he had endured beatings, he had endured desertion of friends. Life boiled down to existence. When all was stripped away from him, where did he find his joy and comfort? From those fellow Christians who loved and served the saints (those people who are saved by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ).

A while back, my husband and I took an account of our recreation budget and laughed. According to Dave Ramsey*, this portion of our budget should be 5 to 10% of our overall spending budget. We laughed because our recreation budget didn't even make 1%.

However, this finding made me reflect on where our "joy" (that is, our pleasure) is placed. How are we spending our spare time? For us, our spare time is spent with our immediate family and our church family. We don't attend sports games. We rarely go to the movie theaters. While we do enjoy playing board games (and now, via the Internet so that we can include or kids that live a few states away), the purpose is the fellowship, not the games.

When I look at what brings me the most joy, I realized that spending time with my father, or my adult children, discussing some Biblical passage is something I look forward to doing. I love getting together with other Christians and discussing God's work and things of His Word. My favorite family times are around the supper table when we are talking about some Bible story. These are times of real joy.

I don't believe these "joys" are natural. When I am daily studying God's Word, meditating and praying, and listening to good music then my joy and consolation comes from knowing others are walking with Him and enjoying fellowship with them. When my mind is cleared of the things of this world, then I discover great joy in the things of God as revealed through fellow believers.

I wonder if we better off to be as Paul and have all things stripped from us except the essentials of life to experience the great joy and consolation that Paul found in knowing others love and service to fellow Christians.

* Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University Workbook (The Lampo Group, Inc., Brentwood, TN, 2008) 52.

Tertullian and Montanus, a Scene of Thoughts

 Tertullian leaned against the half wall at the entrance of his house. The days had grown longer as summer moved into the area. He cocked the corner of his lips, remembering how much his wife had loved the summer, and turned to move into the shade of the walls within his house. 

How good God was to have given him a wife who knew the Gospel. It was her faith, and it became his, gripping a hold of him, thrusting him into a new life, changing him to the very core of who he was.

But the world was changing. Christians were changing--could he call them Christians, those that moved down roads of theology he was unwilling to go? He ran his hand down his face and felt squeezed by the thought.

Then again, he was in part culpable for these shifts in what men believed was truth. Had he not explored dogmatic thoughts on how to live a Christian life, perhaps some of these thoughts would not be deemed by some to be sacred and therefore a must to adhere to had he not mentioned them. If superstition had not dogged his every thought, perhaps rituals would not have replaced reason...was this not an influence of a pagan parentage?

He sighed and ran his hand along the cold wall then shuffled to the cushions and blankets placed for him in the corner of the great hall.

He would not apologize for his writings on baptism. Perhaps, though, perhaps he could have been more thorough in his original work. Perhaps he should have relied more heavily on Paul's letter to the Corinthians where Paul himself confessed he did not baptize others. Surely that was evidence that baptism was not necessary for a person to be a Christian. Or did that simply confuse the matter?

He ran his wrinkled hand through his now white hair and lowered himself to the brightly colored cushions, his bones and muscles complaining in the movement and sighing in the relief.

Tertullian had insisted on re-examining and rebaptizing anyone who'd come to his Carthage church. The Christian community here had grown too fast. They did not know truth. They rushed into faith without understanding and in order to help them, the leaders of their faith gave them traditions. 

Was that not the issue Christ had with the Pharisees? The traditions of men, not of God.

One could not join his church without being properly baptized. But not all agreed, leaving Tertullian no other choice but to leave. "That was the right decision, was it not Dear Lord?"

There were many others, beside himself that withdrew from the churches that had become corrupt. It was necessary for the purity of communion. They had to resort to worshiping God as circumstances allowed, privately or publicly. 

He'd watched the change, even as it now continued. Every sacred appointment--polluted. Could they not see? He shifted a bit on the cushions so he could get a glimpse of the sky from the window.

How relieved he was when he met Montanus, a man saved from the cult of Cybele by Christ. Montanus was a brave man. Tertullian could respect that. Perhaps it was part of what piqued his interest when he met the man. Montanus was a humble man as well. He did not strive for attention as most men did.

Tertullian laid back and pulled the brightly colored blanket over him. He agreed with Montanus that Christianity was simple in nature. As the Apostle Paul had written in his first epistle to the Corinthians:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures". (I Corinthians 15:1-3)

A sigh relaxed Tertullian's mind and a smile played upon his lips. No need for complicated philosopic notions or customs. The Gospel, plain and simple. Yes, he did agree with Montanus on this very point.

Ritualism had no place in the church. Had not the Apostle Paul argued against it in his letter to the Galatians? Had he not said, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)

And then there were some of those men who thought themselves above the average Christian...the rise of a clergy class. The Apostle Peter had said we were all priests, all capable of going before God. And was there not that passage in the prophets that spoke of the Holy Spirit giving everyone understanding? No, the so-called clergy were not needed, not as a superior being. Christ Himself, had humbled Himself to the cross, but would those clergy do likewise? Tertullian snorted. Of course they would not.

His heart beat faster in his chest and the pain there intensified once more. "Oh Heavenly Father, You have called for us to know You. To truly and fully know You! and yet we have chosen instead to use systems of thought and actions to make us feel as though we know You, when all we've done is replaced true fellowship with Your Holy Spirit with ritual and emotion. Forgive us, Oh God!"

The Apostle Paul would not have tolerated it. He did not in the church of Corinth; he would not in the church of Carthage. Oh but if only the so called clergy would actually seek God and read the letters of the apostle with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If only...

"Spiritualists." That's what these clergy were calling Montanus' followers, claiming Montanus (who declared it himself) was an enemy to philosophy and religion. Well. Perhaps he was, and so was, therefore Tertullian.

No. From this day forward, Tertullian would align himself with Montanus. He would work beside Montanus to practice the purity of communion, to baptize only by immersion, and to the holiness of life. 

His eyelids began to weigh heavy over his eyes. "I'll stand by Montanus' desire for church discipline, and to defend the Trinitarian Theology. I will defend the complete Word of God, both Old and New Testaments."

A yawn forced his hand to cover his mouth and he let his spirit wing its way into the presence of God. "And I will look for the return of Christ to set up his millennial kingdom on earth as the Apostle John wrote in his Revelation of Jesus Christ."

He felt the warmth of God's presence, God's comforting hand, the Holy Spirit, and he drifted off to sleep.

Behaving Wisely

 "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him." I Samuel 18:14

We spent Easter in Florida with our daughters and son-in-law. That meant a break from cows, but that didn't mean the cows were taking a break. 

Sure enough, a heifer was born. It didn't surprise me. I knew the cow would calve within a week, and she did.

However, I was not prepared for how big the calf would be.

We raise Murray Greys. This cattle breed is known for their calves weighing around 60 lbs when born. This particular heifer was probably a few days old before I could give her an ear tag. Even so, she likely weighed more than 60 lbs at birth. 

While I did catch and "throw" her (so she is lying on the ground), Momma cow was upset. She's had a few babies by now, and I've never had a problem with her. In fact, she's somewhat of a pet. However, her behavior changed, and I blame the dogs. 

If you know anything about cows, you've probably heard that momma cows are more dangerous than bulls when protecting their young. This is God's way of helping them deal with predators. While our little 10 lb chiweenie dog could hardly be characterized as a predator of cattle, this momma cow was not taking any chances.

I frequently have the dogs with me when I am out in the fields. Neither of my dogs are fierce protectors, but they give me a sense of safety. At the very least, they sound the alarm if someone they don't know comes near (even someone they know that takes them by surprise). In Texas, wise counsel (aka special rangers) recommends having a dog with you, because illegal aliens (or anybody for that matter) may cross your property, and you don't know what they'll do. It seems a good excuse to have my dogs tag along.

Back to the cow.

I caught the calf, threw her down, and found momma's nose blowing very near and her face a great picture of agitation. The calf weighed more than I'm used to and, being an older calf than what I normally catch, was strong and lively. In the course of trying to keep it down to check gender, health, and tag...well, I dropped my tagger and the ear tag fell out. Meanwhile, the calf is struggling to get up, lifting me off the ground with it. Momma cow is growling (yes, I'd say cows can growl...not quite the way dogs do, but the meaning is the same).

I gently pushed against the cow's nose, something that is usually enough to tell my cows to back off. This momma didn't. And I suspect she may have even pushed back a little. At this point I had lost track of my little dog and based on where the cow was looking, I was pretty sure the dog was behind me.

Now, that put me between the cow and the dog, and I'm pretty sure that cow meant to chase that dog and toss her over the fence. So, yes. I let that calf up and moved out of the way. 

Guess what, not only did the cow chase the little dog, she chased my Border Collie as well.

So, jumping off that calf...I'd say that was behaving wisely.

I did get the cow and calf up to the corrals and the calf safely tagged and ensured its good health.

I suspect that David in I Samuel wasn't tagging calves and dealing with angry momma cows. But I bet he dodged a few fights and negotiated some tense situations. His success, however, put him in a very prickly spot with the king.

Now, I do believe God keeps me safe with my cattle. I believe He has blessed me in handling them and in the overall operation of our ranch. As you can well imagine, a lot can go wrong.

Imagine how much more David was aware of the Lord being with him when he dodged King Saul's javelin twice. Not only that, but when David fled to Samuel, and King Saul pursued, the Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he stripped off his clothes and prophesied. God caused Saul to do the most unlikely thing a man bent on killing another man would do, completely expose himself all day and all night and talking about what great things God was going to do. (Read about it in I Samuel 19).

Behaving wisely doesn't always get you out of trouble. Some people are just bent on causing you trouble. However, wisdom will take you to God, and God will work it out as He deems fit. Are you wise enough to trust that what He deems fit is good enough for you?

"The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." Proverbs 13:14

Friday, August 4, 2023

The Character of a Praying Person

 "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." James 4:8

Read: James 4-5

The true person of prayer spends time with God, not just for a few minutes in the morning or before a meal, but throughout the entire day. Such a person starts his morning greeting God and carries that conversation through every moment of the day, then closes the day with a heart of thankfulness and a departing sweet "Goodnight" to God.

Such a person seeks refuge in God when things get tough.

"But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." Psalm 3:3

He believes God will take care of him.

"I lade me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me." Psalm 3:5

A praying person honestly assesses himself before God.

"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." Psalm 4:5

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" II Corinthians 13:5

 He realizes that he may not always get what he asks for, but he will receive what is best for him, and this will lead him to praise God. 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

Such a person develops a deep and sincere attitude of gratitude that reaches to the very depths of his being.

“Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” II Corinthians 9:11

Praise and thanksgiving lead to a heart of joy and peace, even in the toughest of situations.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Acts 16:25

Because of his continual fellowship with God, his countenance and his impact on those around him will bring God glory, even when undergoing tribulation.

“And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him [Stephen], saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Acts 6:15

How has your prayer life been lately? Is it showing, not necessarily by the answers, but by who you are for having spent time with God?

For further study, read: I Samuel 30; Psalm 56.

To God be all glory and honor and praise! Amen and Amen. 

"But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation." Psalm 69:13.

Job: I Stand Accused

And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity?..." Job 7:21

Read Job 3, 7, and 41.

Do you ever feel as though nothing you do is ever good in the eyes of others? Have you felt the burden of being accused or judged to the point where you come to believe yourself unredeemable?

For a few years in my life, I felt as though everything was my fault. My mantra had become: "I exist; therefore, it is my fault." If the car broke down. It was somehow my fault. If a storm hit and blew down trees. It was my fault. If an animal died that I had nothing to do with. Yes, again, it was my fault.

Okay, yes. Those were lies. Totally screwed up ones. And if it wasn't for the grace of God and the love He showed me through His Word, I would never have overcome those thoughts. By the reading of His Word and much prayer, through the witness of those who knew God's love and were willing to share it, I discovered that these thoughts, these accusations were not truth.

How did I get to the point of thinking that way? The same way Job did. The accusations of others. "If you hadn't done that, this wouldn't have happened." "If you hadn't said such and such, I'd never have done such and such." "If you could only see how you screwed up, then you'd realize this was your fault."

None of us are without sin. Not a single person has never done anything wrong or never made some mistake or never inadvertently evoked another to react negatively. Fact is, we are all in need of God's grace and mercy.

From Adam to the Apostle Paul, from Eve to Priscilla, God used broken and sinful men and women to do His will. Sometimes He worked His will around and through their sins, sometimes through their well-meaning, well-intended words and actions, and sometimes because they were truly led by God to do a specific thing. The point isn't who was more righteous than the other. The point is none of us are good or capable of doing anything good without God's hand working in it.

Without God's grace, we would be guilty of all. But God didn't leave us in the dust. He didn't leave us without a way out of the hole we dug ourselves into with our sin. He sent a Savior. He made a way for us to be good and without blame despite ourselves. 

When Jesus Christ came, He intentionally set His path to the cross. Read the Gospels, and you will see someone who purposefully called out the religious leaders of the time, antagonizing them while telling them the truth, so that they would ultimately kill Him. 

And while that seems cruel, it was necessary. When He hung on the cross, He said, 

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) 

Do you see? On that cross, He forgave you and me before we even knew it was our sin that put Him there. It was for our sin that He died, paying the price we could never pay to cover the debt of all our wrongdoings.

But because Jesus was perfect (He was God after all), death had no hold on Him. He arose from the grave, becoming the first to resurrect from the dead and go to Heaven. He made it possible for us to not only receive forgiveness for our sins, but also spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Job, no doubt, began to believe the accusations made against him. In fact, I'm quite certain he knew he could never be justified before God. He said, 

"...but how should man be just with God?" (Job 9:2)

The answer and freedom from sin isn't found in the guilt. We can't be justified before God by our own works. 

"If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse." (Job 9:20)

Despite the accusations of his friends, Job began to encourage himself in the Lord, acknowledging also his sinful nature, as well as the perfection and sovereignty of God. Pondering these things, I believe, gave Job strength. He began to see his friends' deceit. 

"But ye are forgers of lies, ..." (Job 13:4).

These thoughts build in momentum, and soon Job declares, 

"...let come on me what will.... He also shall be my salvation:" (Job 13:13-16).

Our salvation does come from God. The only task we are given is to believe. To believe that through Jesus Christ forgiveness is found, redemption is made, and we become justified before God--not by our works, but by Christ's. All praise and glory be to Him.

What is your relationship with God? Have you ever come to the point where you knew there was nothing you could do to save yourself? Have you ever reached the point where you've handed your life over to God, because you realized you made a mess of it? Do you now rejoice in the freedom God has given you?

For further study: Romans 5-10.

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:... (Job 19:25-26)

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Man of Prayer

 "Draw night to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." James 4:8

A.W. Tozer was a man of prayer. He wrote on such subjects as knowing God, worshiping God, living a crucified life, and so on. He was known to spend much time praying, lying prostrate on the floor. As a part of his regular devotional life, he read hymnals, claiming the hymns of old were a necessary part of growing in our relationship with God. 

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

The apostle James gives the attributes of a person of prayer. Such a person doesn't depend on written prayers in a prayer book to religiously read. He doesn't pray at set time, reading down a grocery list of names and prayer requests. Such a person has a relationship with God from which he prayers.

Prayer is a conversation with God and much more. Prayer, when done with an attitude of truly seeking the presence of God, deepens our knowledge and understanding of God. If lacking this experience, James tells us a person simply needs to ask God for it, but to do so believing God will provide.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5

"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." James 1:6-8

The phrase "double minded" comes from the Greek word 'dipsychos', which means wavering, uncertain, doubting. It signifies that the person is divided, two-spirited, and vacillating in opinion or purpose.  

Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden. What a privilege. The apostles often spoke of their prayer life. If you look at their epistles, you'll find their prayers included thanksgiving, praise...essentially the element of worship.

I enjoy spending time alone with my husband. He is my favorite person to be with. Part of my pleasure is telling him how much I appreciate and love him, and hearing him say the same. Sometimes our times are filled with discussion on our dreams, our family, our work, and those things that make up our day. The time is special and I find myself growing closer and understanding him better each day because of these conversations.

Time with God results in the same, a deeper knowledge of God, a deeper appreciation of fellowship with Him and a keener desire to obey and please Him. That's when a person knows he has spent time in true prayer.

However, often people pray with their mind on one thing, while their words run their grocery list of names and prayer requests before God. The prayer isn't said in faith because they are simply going through the motions their habit of prayer dictates. That's not to say you shouldn't have a habit of praying. Rather, that it not be a religious habit, done without any real consideration of who one is praying to.

Prayer is about a person's relationship with God. The focus of a person's prayer needs to be on that relationship, deepening it, enjoying it, growing in the knowledge and understanding of God. That relationship is beautiful, powerful, more fulfilling than any other relationship, and it begins with true prayer.

"But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou are my help and my deliverer: make no tarrying, O my God." Psalm 40:17

"The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry." Psalm 34:15 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Short Story: Arnoldo


“They gain their wealth at the hands of the poor!” the bald man dressed in a monk’s habit shouted from a wooden crate in the main street of Brescia. “The Romish Church has no right to own property.”

With one voice, the crowd revealed their reverence of him, but Theresa stood by the door of her father’s blacksmith shop pondering his sanity. Did not this man realize he was inciting his own death?

Her fist tightened around the scroll handed to her by the monk’s disciple. She was playing the fool now. Would she be killed for bearing a message?

“He studied in France,” a passerby whispered as he bumped Theresa’s shoulder.

She draped her scarf over her head and across her face.

“He claims the Church does not have the right to rule as a kingdom,” another whispered in return.

Theresa ducked under a farmer’s canopy and slipped past another.

“The sacraments the Church practices are not as written in Scripture!” The man, lifted a book in his hand. “Convert and be baptized again!”

“Arnoldo!” Theresa hissed as she drew up behind him. “I have a message.”

The monk stepped down from the crate and pulled on his beard. “What is it?”

“A message.” Theresa pressed the scroll into his hand. “You must leave. The count-bishop is preparing his coaches. He plans to take you to the Pope.”

The clop-clop of prancing hooves on cobblestone and the anxious neighing of high-strung horses rose above the crowd’s murmurs. Arnoldo looked across the market. “I see you are right. That is his impressive vehicle now, is it not?”

“Yes. Please, come with me.” Theresa turned and lifted her skirts. “I know a way to the Alps where he will not dare follow . . . not in a coach.”

“But to run . . .”

“To run is to save your life and perhaps give you opportunity to share the truth with many more.”

Her words seemed to convince him for he grabbed her elbow and waved her on. They weaved through the merchant canopies that lined the street. These hovered over her as a net sent by Satan to capture them. She pressed her hand against her throbbing chest and ducked under another tent.

“There he runs!” The count-bishop barked.

“Down here.” Theresa gestured to a stairwell.

“Follow them!” Pounding boots drew close. The monk breathed heavily at her side as he maneuvered the crumbling steps.

“We’ve not far.” She gripped his elbow and led him down a dark corridor. For years her family had used this passage to escape the attacks of the Lombards on their city. Now, Lord willing, it would provide a way of escape for Arnoldo.

Footsteps echoed against the stone walls, riding on the cool of the passage. Theresa shivered and urged the monk forward to what appeared to be a dead end.

“We’ve nowhere to go.” He panted.

She ran her hand along the wall until she felt the familiar star-shaped stone and pressed it. A quiet creaking announced the slow movement of the wall. Earthy air slipped through and surrounded them. She pushed the monk into the black corridor and glanced back before following him.

The bishop’s men had not yet reached the head of the corridor. She tugged on a heavy cord and the wall moved back into place. If God be with them, the men would not see the wall move.

“It’s so dark.”

“Ssh.” She grabbed the monk’s hand and lifted her other hand to the cold wall beside her. Sliding her foot to the edge of the wall, she inched along it.

For a hundred feet she shuffled, holding Arnoldo’s hand with her left and running her right along the wall. Around a turn and a light the size of a pinhead shone at the end. “You’ll need to get on your hands and knees. The ceiling lowers before we reach the exit.”

A whiff of onion and body odor floated by as the rough wool of the monk’s garb rubbed against her hand. She bent down beside him. “Grab my foot, and I’ll guide you.”

They crawled one after the other for several feet while the light grew until blue sky could be seen through a hole the size of a bear’s waist.

The monk’s heavy breathing echoed through the narrow passageway.

Theresa clenched her teeth and glanced back. Lord willing, he would make it.

The grit of the floor pressed into Theresa’s hands, and her knees bled against her skirt. She held her breath as she peered out through the hole. If the things went as planned, her brother, Joseph, would be waiting with horses.


She turned and saw her brother holding two bays. “The bishop’s men have come through the city gates. We must hurry.”

Theresa pointed to the scroll in the monk’s hand. “That is a letter of introduction. My father has a friend in Zurich with whom you will stay. My brother will take you as far as the Liechenstein. There you will be given further directions.”

“God be with you.” The monk bowed his head to her.

“And you.”

Shouts rode upon the wind.

“The guards are coming.” Joseph helped the monk onto the smaller bay. “Theresa, go back.”

She dove into the hole and held her breath as she listened to the thunder of horses’ hooves fade. God of mercy, help them. Keep them safe.

The sun began to set before Theresa made her way back down the dark tunnel. By the time she left the corridors, darkness had engulfed the town of Brescia. She stepped out into the street, pulling her hood over her head and around her face.

“Theresa!” a man hissed.

She rushed to the voice. “Father.”

He took her hands and pulled her into a dark building. “Did he get away? Did Joseph make it?”


He nodded and looked across the alley. “He was Brescia’s hope, you know.” He ran his hand through his thinning hair. “Heaven beheld Italia’s tears and sent us Arnoldo. God be praised.”


Theresa slipped behind her father. She didn’t recognize the voice. Who could it be?

“Eugenius, what is the word?” Her father drew his arm around her and placed her beside him. “This is my daughter. She led Arnoldo to Joseph.”

The tall man with dark robes and a hood that hid his face nodded to her. “My pigeon brought word they made it to Liechenstein.” He rested a hand on Jacob’s shoulder. “They’re safe and Joseph will return in the morrow.”

Theresa felt her father’s arm relax, though her own body trembled with fatigue.

“God be praised,” her father replied and led her to a chair.

Tears rolled down her face as she sat. God had spared them. By God’s grace, Arnoldo would continue to speak of the freedom found in Christ. Perhaps she had not been such a fool to help him after all.

Arnoldo continued to preach the True Gospel of the free gift of salvation. He later returned to Rome, convincing many of their freedom, but when he retired to Tuscany, he was seized. Taken to Rome, he was condemned by the Pope who had him crucified and burned, and his ashes thrown into the Tiber.

While it may appear as though the clergy won, Arnoldo’s followers continued his message of preaching the True Gospel of Christ. Unlike those clergy who did not believe that one is saved by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Arnoldo now finds his rest in Heaven, with other martyrs of the faith.

Food for Thought

  1. How does one get saved? Read Romans 10:9-13.
  2. Does the Bible warn us of those who teach false doctrine? Read Paul's epistle to the Galatians; I Timothy 4:1-5; II Timothy 3:1-9; II Peter 2.
  3. If you lived in a time and a place where you could be killed for sharing God's true Gospel, would you have the courage to do so? Read Philippians 1.

And the Chase Is On

  Years ago, I set my iPad on the treadmill, started up a movie   and pressed 2 for a warmup. I had just begun to punch the button to speed ...