Monday, December 29, 2008

Living the Christian Life

Living the Christian life isn’t easy. Thankfully, Ephesians 4:25-32 provides a few guidelines for Christians to live by. The verses say:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehoods and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every other form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Living the life of a Christian is an ongoing process of studying, learning, putting learning into action, and constantly reflecting and evaluating your actions. It can be a very liberating process, but it can also be very daunting as well.

Getting back to the passage from Ephesians…..first, we are told to be truthful to one another, but notice the same section discusses how we are all members of one body. The reference is to the body of Christ….other Christians, not the body of mankind. I don’t think this is telling us it is ok to lie to non-Christians….not at all, but our Christian brothers and sisters deserve more honest attention from us.

Once we admit with our mouths that Jesus is Lord we are sealed. Nothing can undo the grace we receive at that moment because we are sealed…protected by the Lord. However, our lies and the other negative things we say grieves the Holy Spirit. Thereafter, we should only use our mouths to build each other up.

The part about not letting the sun go down on your anger…I heard my mother spout that bit of advice over and over as I was growing up. Part of her spill was the advice was always something her mother told her. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s amazing all of God’s instructions regarding life make sense. Hmmm….I guess it’s amazing because God’s plan for us is perfect.

Getting back to that anger thing…The longer you wait to settle something with someone the harder it becomes to face the person no matter who was right OR wrong. Anger allows too many other sins to creep in and gain a foothold. One sin that comes to mind is pride.

Work…work not just to provide for your family, but to keep your hands busy. This passage from Ephesians takes the idea of work one step further to becoming Christ-like though. Work to help others….work to be able to provide for others….work to make a difference in the world.

So, let’s see….as a Christian I cannot lie, I cannot be angry with anyone for very long without dealing with the issue, I must work not just to buy stuff but in order to be able to help others, I must watch my tongue and totally turn my back on any type of malice. I must strive to be kind always and forgive others as Christ has forgiven me.

The problem? While I am a Christian, I am also human. Professing Jesus is Lord saves me for eternity, but it does not make me perfect during my stay here on Earth hence the need for the constant study, constant learning, constant putting things into action, and constant reflection and analysis....oh, and constantly praying as well.

No….it’s not easy to be a Christian, but it’s worth it. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jesus or Santa?????

With just a few days to go before Christmas, REMEMBER: Jesus is better than Santa

1. Santa lives at the North Pole. JESUS is everywhere.

2. Santa rides in a sleigh. JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

3. Santa comes but once a year. JESUS is an ever-present help.

4. Santa fills your stockings with goodies. JESUS supplies all your needs.

5. Santa comes down your chimney uninvited. JESUS stands at your door and knocks…and then enters your heart.

6. You have to stand in line to see Santa. JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

7. Santa lets you sit on his lap. JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

8. Santa doesn’t know your name, all he can say is “Hi little boy or girl. What’s your name?” JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future, and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

9. JESUS has a heart full of love. JESUS offers health, help, and hope. Santa says, “You better not cry!” JESUS says, “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

11. Santa’s little helpers make toys. JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

12. Santa may make you chuckle, but JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

13. While Santa puts gifts under your tree, JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It’s obvious there really is no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back in Christmas.

Jesus is still the reason for the season.

May the Lord bless and watch over you and your loved ones this Christmas, and may He prosper and bless the works of your hands in the New Year.

Other bloggers are participating in Thursday Thirteen. You can view them here.

Many thanks to my friend Carol who forwarded the text of this 13 to me in an email.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Christmas Bell...

Christ Bell
I received this in an email. Isn’t it awesome. Someone took a lot of time setting up this message.
THE BELL
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
Who you are?
Keep this bell ringing...pass it on
'The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The LORD turn His face toward you
And give you peace...Numbers 6:24-26


Other bloggers are participating in Wordless Wednesday today….you can find them here.
Many thanks to my friends, Rosetta and Carol...They forwarded the emails to me that contained the message seen above. :)

More Scriptural Affirmations

The other day I posted 13 Scriptural Affirmations. Here are a few more.

The following list is a great reminder regarding how Scripture tells us who we are and why we are here.

1. I am valuable to God. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

2. I am a member of God's family. (1 John 3: 1-2; Ephesians 2:19)

3. I am God's treasure. (1 Peter 2: 9-10)

4. I am dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12)

5. I am being transformed. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

6. I am an heir of God. (Romans 8:17)

7. I am a friend of God. (John 15:15)

8. I am given spiritual blessings. (Ephesians 1:3)

9. I am God's delight. (Zephaniah 3:17)

10. I am invited to confidently draw near to God. (Ephesians 3:12)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santa: Alive and Well

I received this from my pastor yesterday with the words, “This is too good not to share...”

He’s right.

I’ve written before at History Is Elementary concerning different ways to keep older kids believing in the magic of Christmas especially when everything around them is so often falling apart…..one such post is The Story Where I Prove Santa Exists...

I also enjoy receiving an additional story I can add to my treasure box of holiday stories, and this one is makes the grade.

I hope you enjoy it!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted.... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go.""Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous.

Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.


See, my pastor was right. It is a good story.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

13 Things Concerning the Book of Nehemiah

1. In the earliest Hebrew manuscripts Ezra and Nehemiah were one book.

2. Nehemiah follows the outline set out below: Chapters 1-7:3 Nehemiah rebuilds the walls around Jerusalem, Chapters 7:4 – 10:39 Changes under Ezra, and Chapters 11:1 to 13:31 Nehemiah’s plans

3. Nehemiah is written in first person and appears to be a memoir.

4. Many scholars believe Nehemiah is written by the same author as Ezra.

5. The key word in the text is “walls”

6. The key text is found at Nehemiah 6:15…The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul.

7. Nehemiah had served as an attendant for Artaxerxes. The king granted him a leave of absence to go to Jerusalem and was given an official military escort.

8. Nehemiah is remembered as one of the greatest organizers of the Bible. He kept records regarding how the work was divided section by section.

9. Why was the wall so important? In the ancient world a wall made the city significant. This particular wall was extremely important as Nehemiah 6:16 mentions when the Israelites’ enemies heard the wall was complete….all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.

10. Nehemiah’s enemies were the Persian appointed governor of Samaria (Sanballat) and Tobiah. They accused Nehemiah of wanting to create a rebel city.

11. Nehemiah 6:15 tells us the project was completed in 52 days. There is archaeological evidence that Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day wasn’t as big as it is today, so it is possible the wall could be completed within that time frame.

12. The wall was celebrated with music as two large choirs walked around the town.

13. From the time the Hebrews were into captivity until the wall was finished 140 years passed.

Find other bloggers participating in Thursday 13 here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When In Rome....


We have been working our way through Romans each Sunday for the past few weeks at my church.

This Raphael painting depicts Paul preaching in Athens. It was completed in 1515.

The Wordless Wednesday hub can be found here

Thursday, November 13, 2008

13 Scriptural Affirmations...

The following list is a great reminder regarding how Scripture tells us who we are and why we are here.

1. I am a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17

2. I am forgiven. Ephesians 1:6-8

3. I am gifted with power, love and a sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7

4. I am chosen for success. John 15:16

5. I am complete. Colossians 2:9-10

6. I am secure. Romans 8:31-39

7. I am confident. Philippians 1:6

8. I am free. Romans 6:18; Romans 8:1

9. I am capable. Philippians 4:13

10. I am spiritually alive. Ephesians 2:5

11. I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 2:10

12. I am welcome in God’s presence. Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:14-16

13. I am sheltered and protected in God. Colossians 3:3

Happy Thursday!
You can visit the Thursday Thirteen hub here

You can find ten more affirmations posted here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feeding the 500....

This is a picture from the annual wild game dinner the Men’s Ministry at my church puts on each year….Instead of feeding the 5,000 we fed the 500. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-Fil-A restaurants was the speaker for the event.

The Wordless Wednesday hub can be found here.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!


11---11---at 11 o’clock. Does that signify anything to you? If you are a World War I veteran it would. That is the exact day and time of the armistice….the time when all fighting was to stop. From that point until the years following World War II each November 11th was remembered as Amistice Day.

Due the scale of World War II and the number of soldiers and sailors who took part, who were injured, or were killed Amistice Day was broadened to include all veterans of the armed forces for all time.

As you have noticed I’ve been absent a bit over the last few days. I’ve been busy. The historical committee at my church changed up our normal method of recognizing our veterans to include a photo display and video recognizing the men and women of our church who have served their country.

I encourage you to go visit the site using this link which takes you to all of the postings on the blog regarding veterans including a video presentation, pictures of our framed display (61 veterans, so far), and postings for each war era including the pictures of the veterans, their names, and a bit about their service to our country.

The postings involving each war era would be a good place to have students complete research on particular veterans or particular wars or conflicts. In many cases I have linked to the history of our veteran’s battles and ships where I could.

It was an honor and blessing for me to work with these photos and information about each veteran. I hope you click over and enjoy viewing the postings.
This post appears in its entirety at History Is Elementary and Georgia on My Mind.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Name Your Vice...Pay the Price

Romans 7:15, 17-18…I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. But I can’t help myself, beause it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things…I know I am rotten so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.”

What’s your habit? Do you gossip? Drink to excess? Gamble? Sleep around? Rather than list bad habit after bad habit I could just say go visit your local bookstore and take a stroll down the self-help aisle for ideas concerning the latest vices. I’m sure there is a book there that claims it will solve your problem if you follow a few simple steps. In fact, if I went down to my basement I’m sure I could round up a few self-help books from my past. Think about it though…..why are my self-help books in the basement?

That’s because they were the wrong self-help book. The only tried and true self-help book is the Bible because it breaks the code to our sinful nature no matter the sin…..no matter the bad habit we want to curb.

I guess this is the point where I should confess my sin. I have several sins being the human that I am, but one looms in front of me currently. My sin involves food…..allowing food to be a crutch for me in stressful and emotional times in my life. I allow food to become a reward when I “think” I’ve done something well or even when I manged to do something I didn’t really want to do.

Over the summer I began to notice a change. I was loosing weight little by little. My family and a few friends began to notice it. My clothes were looser. I puffed up with pride. Oh, it’s because I’m make better choices concerning what I eat. Oh, it’s because I’m just not as hungry. Look at me….I can go until 3 or 4 o’clock without eating a thing. I just wasn’t as hungry.

What I didn’t realize at the time was I was in a bad way. Endometriosis has invaded my bowel. I wasn’t as hungry because I had an obstruction in my intestines. If I hadn’t have developed appendicitis in late August I would have continued reveling in my pride and would have died from my health issues without the intervention of a doctor. My post regarding my hospitalization is here.

Now that I’m over 8 weeks out from the surgery I can truly say I’ve been through a lot. Since June I’ve lost 30 pounds. It was a bad way to lose it though.

My sinful nature regarding food has not gone away….I didn’t leave it in the operating room. It’s been asleep….masked by all the other issues I’ve had in my recovery, but within the last few days I have begun to feel the return of my cravings and the need to hide behind food.

Sin is scary, and I’m beginning to feel a little concerned. I’ve made a good start with my 30 pounds, and I want to continue THAT journey. Yet, I hear that voice inside me urging me to return to my old habits. The voice is attractive, it is familiar, it is comfortable, it is soooo easy…..

So, how can I handle this?

There was a reason why I sat in church a couple of weeks ago to hear a sermon from my pastor, however there always is. It seemed as if it had been tailored exactly for me. The thing is…….many other people commented how the sermon was speaking to them. Wow, how does a pastor do that? How do they make a sermon fit almost every person listening to it? Well, the truth is they don’t do it. It’s a God thing, and God spoke to me through my pastor the other day.

It is true that each of us have God’s promise of personal freedom. I explored free will a bit in my post here. I have the freedom to eat whatever I wish….whenever I wish. I have the personal freedom to listen to that little seductive voice in me telling me to go through that fast food drive-through. Who will know? Yeah, eat that….that’ll fix the issue. Oh, it won’t hurt anything….just this once.

However, the Bible tells me I’m just deceiving myself. 1 John 8:32 advises….When you know the Truth, the Truth will set you free. Change in your life only comes about when you you change how you think and feel. You must admit to yourself there is a lie behind every self-defeating act.

Find the lie…..what’s the root cause? 1 John 1:8 states…If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. The root of the problem—no matter the problem—is sin. This is a condition that starts in the mind where we decide we are in control, we have the power, and in essence we choose to be God.

I’m now 46….I’ve had an issue with food and weight probably since I was six, so for 40 years I’ve listened to that little voice in me. I’ve allowed food to see me through stressful times. I’ve allowed food to control my life. I’ve tried several different diets. I’ve regulated my life with more water, more movement, more food measuring to no true success.

Christ is the true self-help solution, and actually the only self-help part of the Christ solution is believing that Christ can change the situation. He does the rest, if I let Him. Romans 7:24-25 asks…Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul is recognizing in his sinful nature he can’t go it alone. He needs a manager, and the manager is Christ.


Another part of the Christ as manager solution involves confessing your struggle to another, and I’ve done that. Per James 5:16 we should….Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen. This isn’t always easy depending on your situation, but God dropped someone in my lap who I can trust totally. My friend has similar issues as I do, and we have bounced a few ideas off each other regarding why we do what we do and what is working and what is not….., but I’ll admit Christ needs to be involved a bit more on my side than He has been and that’s where the next point come in….

Romans 6:12-13…Do not let sin control the way you life; do not give in to its lustful desires…Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given a new life. What are you controlled by? Is it fear, your ego, bitterness? My pastor recently made this comment….and it makes so much sense….”Mastered by the Master I can master myself.” I must dedicate myself completely to Christ.

Getting back to the personal freedom thing…it’s not about doing what you want and having the power and control in your life. In my situation I thought I was in total control, making good choices, and making great changes in my life to overcome my vice.

It was all about ME…..trouble is I wasn’t in contol at all, and that was made clear to me in a most dramatic and frightening way not only for me but for my friends and family. My free will to eat as I wish or not eat as I wish, my free will to choose not to visit the doctor over the last several years, my free will to be own master almost mastered me into an early grave.

I’ve tried all the other self-help methods…..I think I’ll choose the God plan for awhile.

I’ll let you know how that works out for me over the next few weeks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

13 Quotations Regarding Religion

So what are folks saying about religion....past and present. Here are 13 quotations:

1. A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one though at one time, at all times, who suffers harm to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.
Attributed to Abraham Joshua Heschel

2. That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures, and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.
Attibuted to Abraham Lincoln

3.The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone in the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
Attributed to Anne Frank

4. The moral and religious system which Jesus Christ transmitted to us is the best the world has ever seen, or can see.
Attributed to Benjamin Franklin

5. Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.
Attibuted to Bill Gates

6. Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Attributed to Blaise Pascal

7. I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure—that is all that agnosticism means.
Attributed to Clarence Darrow

8. I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
Attributed to Frederick Douglass

9. We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love.
Attributed to Jonathan Swift

10. When men destroy their old gods they will find new ones to take their place.
Attributed to Pearl S. Buck

11. The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.
Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

12. I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our worlds, that our religion must be judged.
Attributed to Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Mrs. H. Harrison Smith

13. In the faces of men and women I see God.
Attributed to Walt Whitman

Many bloggers participate in Thursday Thirteen. You can locate them here

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You

Though I generally disagree with the politics and social views of Whoopee Goldberg I love the Sister Act movies. This week's Monday Music is Joyful, Joyful.....the Sister Act version.

My Monday music selections tend to slow the blog down if I post the video here, so here is the link to watch Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee on YouTube.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

13 Things Concerning the Book of Ezra

1. In the earliest Hebrew manuscripts Ezra and Nehemiah were one book.

2. Ezra follows the outline listed below:
Ezra 1:1 to 2:70 first group of exiles return to Judah
Ezra 3:1 to 6:22 the temple is rebuilt
Ezra 7:1 to 10:44 Ezra returns and beings ministry

3. Scholars think the author of Ezra/Nehemiah also wrote Chronicles 1 and 2. They all share certain characteristics.

4. The writing of Ezra has been dated to 440 BC. The text discusses the rebuilding of the temple in 516 BC

5. Ezra taught the people the law and reformed their religious life.

6. Ezra’s actions were important since surrounding nations needed to see God’s chosen people had returned.

7. Hebrew exiles began to return to Judah from Babylon during the reign of Cyrus (559-530 BC)

8. Cyrus of Persia allowed the exiles to return with the captured temple treasures.

9. King Darius I (522-486 BC) gave permission/authorization for the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

10. During the reign of Artaxerxes (465-424 BC) other exiles were allowed to return. Among them were Ezra and Nehemiah who was charged to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

11. The Murashu Archives at Nippur contain the tablets which document the rebuilding of the temple. Ezra contains Persian Court information, lists, and narrative letters see 6:16. Jews remained in Babylonia amost 50 years after Ezra.

12. Why did the Babylonians suddenly allow the Hebrews to trickle home over time? In 539 BC Babylonia fell to the Persians.

13. Nearly 50,000 Hebrews were in the first group to relocate. The temple treasures were entrusted to Sheshbazzar, a Jewish prince. Upon arriving in Jerusalem Zerubbabel is mentioned as a leader, but this could be another name for Sheshbazzar.

Find others participating in Thursday Thirteen here

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wordless: Verse 53

This image was sent to me via email. These people are protesting in England. I love their open minds and love for their fellow man.

Astounding, isn't it?

Locate other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Amazing Man

No Monday Music today but I am focusing on a music man…..His challenges put all of your problems into perspective. My Monday music selections tend to slow the blog down if I post the video here, so here is the link to watch the amazing Tony Melendez on YouTube.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

May God Continue to Bless You With the Little Annoying Things...

Received this through email the other day from this guy…..thought it was interesting and thought provoking, and the best way to share is to publish!

As you might know, the head of a company survived 9/11 because his son started kindergarten.

Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts.

One woman was late because her alarm clock didn’t go off in time.

One was late because of being stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike because of an auto accident.

One of them missed the bus.

One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.

One was late because their car wouldn’t start.

One went back to answer the telephone.

One had a child that dawdled and didn’t get ready as soon as he should have.

One couldn’t get a taxi.

The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work, but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot.

He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid.

That is why he is alive today.

Now when I am stuck in traffic,

Miss an elevator,

Turn back to answer a ringing telephone….

All the little things that annoy me

I think to myself,

This is exactly where

God wants me to be

At this very moment.

Next time your morning seems to be going wrong….the children are slow getting dressed,

You can’t seem to find the car keys,

You hit every traffic light,

Don’t get mad or frustrated;

It may be just that

God is at work watching over you.

May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things

And may you remember the possible purpose.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's a Miracle!

Wouldn’t it be great if all you had to do to receive a miracle is eat some pie. This lovely recipe was given to me by a good friend who brought us dinner a few nights ago soon after my hospital stay. ALL of the ingredients are blended together and just like a miracle the crust, the filling, and the topping forms during the baking process.

I’ll stick with with Scripture at first…look at the end of the post for the actual ingredients.

Miracle Pie Ingredients…

1 cup Jeremiah 6:20…What do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me.

¼ cup Genesis 18:8…He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

4 Deuteronomy 22:6…If you come across a bird's nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. 7 You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.

½ cup 2 Kings 7:18…It happened as the man of God had said to the king: "About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria."

2 cups Hebrew 5:13…Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.

1 cup Genesis 43:11…Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.

½ tsp. 2 Kings 23:15…Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.

¼ tsp. Matthew 5:13…You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

1 tsp. Vanilla

Put all ingredients into a blender. Blend thoroughly. Pour into a 10 inch pie plate that has been greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. A crust will form on the bottom. Pie filling is the center and a coconut topping above.

Make it a family project to look up the ingredients. In case you need the cheats here they are:

1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter
4 eggs
½ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup coconut
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Religion vs. Relationship

1. Religion is a series of man-made procedures that satisfies the heart into thinking that growth is taking place. A relationship with Jesus encourages growth as you learn more about Him and strive to emulate Him.

2. Religion is an opportunity to stifle the Holy Spirit into nothing more than a dance or a palm raised in the air because it’s what others do around you. A relationship with Jesus helps you to understand the Holy Spirit is power….power Jesus used to cast out demons, heal people, and defeat death. Amazingly that very relationship enables the power to reside in us.

3. How many times have you been told that God is a mystery when you have questions about the weather, about tragedies, about why the birds always seem to know when to fly south? Religion sees God as a mystery. A relationship with Jesus according to 1 Corinthians 2:10….but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

4. In fact, Religion will often beg you to accept things without question. There’s no reason to search for the truth because we have steps to follow and works to complete. A relationship with Jesus tell us that He is the way the truth and the light. Therefore by growing our relationship with Jesus our questions will be answered.

5. Religion reveres ministers, pastors, elders, and the people mentioned in the Bible. A relationship with Jesus teaches that all men are the same….we are all ministers and responsible for advancing His kingdom.

6. Religion states Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are separate. A relationship with Jesus shows us that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are three different manifestations of the same God.

7. Religion will leave you asking questions, wishing you could change things, and will leave you very unfulfilled. A relationship with Jesus with help you find ways to change things, solutions to problems, and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

8. Religion encourages listening to a sermon over studying the Bible. A relationship with Jesus encourages you to study on your own and with others.

9. Religion prefers hope over expecting God will bless you. A relationship with Jesus begs you to expect great things including blessings and power.

10. Religion states money makes people evil. A relationship with Jesus shows us that He wants us to live more abundantly and it’s how the money is used that makes all the difference.

11. Religion explains that people like Moses, David, and Solomon were very special people and that we would find it hard to emulate them. A relationship with Jesus helps to explain all of the people set aside in the Bible were annointed by the Holy Spirit. Believers have the Holy Spirit within them. There is nothing that can hold us back.

12. Religion shows Satan as powerful foe. A relationship with Jesus provides us with the power of the Holy Spirit. Through that power Satan can be defeated just as Jesus defeated him.

13. Religion teaching provides information about God. A relationship with Jesus enables us to actually know God.

Look for a few more comparisons between religion and relationship later….

Many bloggers have published their own personal list of 13 things. You can see the complete list of bloggers here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless: Verse 52


Ever wonder what Jezebel looked like. So did the British artist John Byam Liston Shaw. He created this image of Jezebel in 1896

Happy Wednesday! You can locate other Wordless images here

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Getting Excited

I’m getting excited. At my church we are in the middle of planning a women’s event. Naomi Carroll will be our speaker.

My Monday music selections tend to slow the blog down if I post the video here, so
here is the link to watch Naomi Carroll on YouTube.

The event is titled A Reason to Celebrate, and it will be held at First Baptist Church, Lithia Springs on Saturday, October 4th. Tickets are $20.00. If you live close by and want a ticket you can contact me through my email over in the right sidebar. The evening includes dinner, door prizes, and Mrs. Carroll. Wow!

Find out more about Naomi Carroll at her website here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sweetly Broken

I had a plan this morning. I wanted to post music as I normally do on Mondays, but I’m in one part of the house and my Bible….containing my notations regarding various songs that were used yesterday at chuch….is at the other end of my home.

These days moving from one end of the house to the other isn’t as simple as it was pre-operation, so I was putting the trip off by making a quick stop by YouTube to see what I could see.

The video I’ve placed here today caught my eye on the main screen when YouTube popped up. I would venture to say “this” is the one I was meant to use. It features the song Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle. The lyrics appear below the video screen.

Watch the video closely…..the images are “most execellent”, and as any of my former students can tell you that is the highest accolade this educator gives. :)

You can access the Jeremy Riddle MySpace page here

My Monday music selections tend to slow the blog down if I post the video here, so here is the link to watch the video on YouTube.

...and here are the lyrics:

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

Chorus:
At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled
Chorus:

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is your faithfulness

2x’s
Chorus:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Carnival Time in the Georgia Blogosphere

The Georgia Carnival has posted over at Georgia on My Mind.

The best thing about a carnival of this sort is all of the various types of postings you can discover.

There’s a little something for everyone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Christian Carnival and a Short Video

Diane over at Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet is hosting the latest edition of the Christian Carnival. You can access it here. I’m off to read all of the interesting things over there, so while I’m gone you can watch this interesting video:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Was God on September 11th?

'MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL'

You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news On September 11, 2001. Neither will I. I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who ca ll ed his wife to say 'Good-Bye.' I held his fingers st eady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK…I am ready to go.'

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. 'I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!' I said. 'Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now.'

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their fait h has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan . I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me? I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all know Me.

Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; 'Come to Me... this way... take my hand.' Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me? Sept 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you . But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are 'ready to go.'

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.


This poem came to me through an email along with several images of that horrible day. My September 11th memory can be found here. Other posts regarding terrorisim and other visions of 9/11 are here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Choosing YOUR Life


The image here is my paternal great-grandparents and some of their children. My grandfather is the young man in the middle. Granny Land lived to be 102 and was fairly healthy until the last couple of years of her life. Both of her daughters seen in this image also lived to be 100 or right up to it. My grandfather and his brother seen in the picture also lived to be in their late 90s. The joke in our family is that the Lands just old and ugly away, and finally have to be put down because we live forever.

I would hope that I could follow in my great-grandmother’s tradition of living a long and varied life, but I don’t think I’ll make it to 100. First, I don’t tend to follow along the genetic lines of my dad’s family. Another reason why I feel many from my generation won’t live to be 100 has to be our 21st century society.

Sure, I lead a very charmed life in comparison to my grandmother. I have instant information at my fingertips. The only information source Granny had was a book….and not many of those. I have three college degrees. Granny barely finished grade school. I have every timesaving device you can think of from a washing machine and a dryer, a phone, a vacuume, and a cell phone. Granny saved time by hitching a plow to a plowhorse, washed her dishes by hand three times a day, and she raised her children instead of having the luxury of allowing others to care for her brood.

I have a book I carry with me to schedule my appointments and to make my life easier. Granny didn’t need one. Her only appointment consisted of a meeting with God and other believers on Sunday morning. I can vote. My great-grandmother could not do for many years. Heck, I have a car that can sense water on the windshield and immediately the wipers begin on their own and end on their own. I mean why do I want to expend my energy to push a button? I don’t think my great-grandmother knew how to drive other than driving a plowhorse or a wagon.

Other than having a loving God, a loving man, and loving children my great-grandmother and I have little in common, yet we like to think we have it so much better than our ancestors. Things are so much better now.

But are we just fooling ourselves?

It just seems to me that for all our efforts to save time and make our lives easier all we have really accomplished is we have produced a very frenzied and wild ride for ourselves. Many of my friends express being tired, being over scheduled, and giving in to a cyle of frustrations, compulsions, and depression all in the name of having a charmed life with timesaving devices and freedom to do what we want, yet, most of us aren’t having the life we want.

This is not the life my great-grandmother would want for me, and it certainly isn’t the life God wants for us either.

The NIV translation for Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us….Be very careful, then, how you live---not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Recently I was fortunate enough to hear a sermon regarding making the best use of our time, and three points to remember were provided. First, we need to get our priorities straight. We have to know what is important, and we have to have a plan.

Proverbs 17:24 teaches….A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. Being a discerning man also means we need to know when to be quiet and allow God’s plan to come into view. Often we race around on our own at a hurly-burly pace, but our plans are contrary to God’s, and this is the very reason we end up in cycles of being busy... yet there is no growth... only stagnation. Scripture gives us an answer for this problem. In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his stepsProverbs 16:9.

Anxiety is the catalyst and the byproduct of our busy lives. A catalyst because we latch on to certain ideals and mores society promotes such as the superwoman ideal. Recently I was given an opportunity to discuss the need for taking time for ourselves with a group of women at my church. I told them that I believe some of the distress my peers—the girls of the 60s and 70s—feel as grown members in our society today—is we were constantly told we could do anything. We could have it all and be everything—the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect career, the perfect volunteer, the perfect friend, the perfect aunt, the perfect daughter and daughter-in-law. However, no one told us what a toll it would have on our psyches—the constant drive to have it all.
We need to lighten up. By this I mean we need to turn off our own life and turn to God’s light. The Bible clearly explains….Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it downProverbs 12:25, and if I truly want to be like Granny Land and live to 100 or beyond…a relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life….Proverbs 14:30.

We are meant to enjoy our lives…not endure them.

Look to the example Jesus set for us. He was never in a hurry. He always took time with his Father and held to the promise of Proverbs 14:26 which reminds us… He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge...From God’s perspective our concerns our very small because our ultimate focus should be being about our Father’s business.

I truly believe that we all need to stop and take stock of our lives from time to time to see how we are spending our lives.

Are our actions focused on God and His business?

Are we spending the right kind of time with our Father?

Does our life game plan need to be tweaked a bit?

Do you really trust God? In this life you exchange your soul for something…..What are you willing to exchange?
Here's a hint...He doesn’t want our religion. He wants our relationship.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wordless: Verse 51


Thyatira…..today a modern Turkish city referred to as Akhisar….is mostly forgotten, however, readers of the Bible will find Thyatira mentioned in Acts 16:14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message

Revelation 1:11 mentions Thyatira as one of the seven churches….which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

Revelation 2:18-19 where it states…To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love an faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first…

….and at verse 24Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you)…

I found some great pictures (and used one here) of the ruins of Thyatira here taken by David Phillips with informational captions. He states Thyatira was a city big enough to boast of triple arches, multiple businesses, pottery factories, purple dye, wines, dried foods, many kinds of bronze and metal works, sculptures and textiles…..

Thyatira is a great example of a New Testament city where early Christians had to coexist alongside more non-believers than believers. Little is known about the growth of Christianity at Thyatira, however, the letter to the church mentioned in Revelation places the church there in the latter half of the first century A.D.
Find other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

So, Where Ya Been EHT?

I’m home.

Finally.

It has been a harrowing ten days in the hospital…an unexepected stay.

Thirteen days ago from seemingly nowhere I began to have severe pain in my abdomen. Pain that came in waves reminiscent to labor pains. Being the strong, stubborn woman I am I attempted to heal myself and summed it all up to the fact that many forty-something year old women tend to do…..”Oh, it must be The Change.”

Wrong.

I finally had had enough on the third day and decided to visit my doctor. My insurance provider then sent me on on wonderful travel tour of Atlanta as I had to visit first one office and then another in order to have this test and then another to determine the source of my discomfort. I tell you it isn’t easy to navigate Atlanta traffic lying prone in the passenger seat of you vehicle……it makes it very hard to help Dear Hubby drive.

Finally, with a set of ultrasound results in hand I visited my internist only to hear her say some parts of my innards were still invisible and I would have to trek to north Atlanta to have yet another test…..a CT Scan…at yet another wonderful facility my insurance company owns.

I couldn’t believe it. Another pain-filled ride through another rush hour….my second such ride that day…..I didn’t think I could endure it. It was crazy.

“Dear Doctor,” I said as I made a direction point with my finger, “there’s a fine hospital right on the next corner, and you’re telling me I have to drive an hour for a test….and then I might have to drive again to the hospital my insurance company wants me to be at?”

She confirmed. I’d had enough. I should have gone to the emergency room to begin with with, but…..I was trying----trying----trying to play the insurance game, so when payment time came there would be no problems.

Dear Hubby and I high-tailed it to the ER on the corner….Dear Doctor had called ahead, gave me my assortment of test results, and we didn’t wait long at all. Within minutes I had an ER doctor, an IV feeding me some sort of wonderful drug called Newbaine, and the CT scan was completed.

Then enter my medical savior…..a fine young man with a face any mother would love (man, these doctors resemble teenagers these days) who wanted to enter my body and complete a Laparoscopy to see what exactly was going on in my innards. Dear Hubby and I consented and suddenly there was a flurry of events. While the surgery nurses were trying to get together items to prep me for an unexepected Friday evening operation and asking me hundreds of questions I was racking my brain regarding the many things that Dear Hubby needed to do.

Then I was removing my rings for Dear Hubby to keep. Reciting a quick “to-do” list…calls to our children….our parents, our pastor, friends and other family.

A rushed good-bye kiss, and then I remember nothing until I woke up in recovery.

A one hour look-see turned into a four hour major surgery.

I can only imagine what Dear Hubby went through as he sat in the waiting room. It had been too late in the evening for our parents to travel, but two couples from church along with a pastor showed up to wait with him.

For the last ten days I’ve been in a Morphine induced trance recovering from the removal of a tumor in my Colin, removal of approximately one foot of my intestines, removal of my Appendix, and the removal of an ovary…..a complete Hysterectomy now waits in the wings.

….and I get You just thought Elementaryhistoryteacher was just being a bit lazy with the blogs. :)

….and BTW…..those of you that put those doctor visits off and don’t go for your screenings as you should….please, please, please make those appointments this week. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

13 Things About Paul's Brief Stay in Samothrace

1.As I stated yesterday Samothrace is an island in the northern Aegean Sea. During Paul’s foray into Asia Minor discussed in Acts 16:1-10 he stopped on the island while on the way to Phllippi as detailed in Acts 16:11….From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of the district of Macedonia. And we stayed here several days.

2.While we don’t have an exact amount of time Paul spent in Samothrace, he did spend the night. There is no mention of any converts at Samothrace even though they are frequently documented at other towns along Paul’s travels.

3.That very fact begs for further study concerning this place. Why is just a bump in the road to Paul? Why no mention of converts or interaction with the people of Samothrace?

4.Paul’s letters generally indicate to us that one of the first things he did upon arriving in any location was to visit the local synagogue, however, there is no archeological evidence of a synagogue on the island of Samothrace.

5.Remains of several small church have been found but they are dated to a period many years after the time period Paul would have visited the island. The remains of one church can be found at the base of Mount Phengari at the end of a city wall that runs down the slope.

6.In 1863, Monsieur Champoiseau, a French Consul, stationed in Greece made some chance discoveries that sparked archeological interest in Samothrace. In 1873 and 1875 two Austrian teams made extensive excavations of the area and were able to publish their research. In 1938, New York University began excavations on the island led by Karl Lehmann. The process continued until the 1970s except for an eight year period during World War II.

7. The Americans found ruins that help to explain the ancient religion of Samothrace including a colonaded fa├žade of a santuary structure, and they excavated several cemetaries.

8. The ancient religion is known today as the Kabeiria Mysteries of Dionysus. It attracted people from all over the Greek world including the parents of Alexander the Great. There are literary references from the Chrisitan Era supporting this fact from Aristophanes to Plato.

9. Was Paul aware of the mystery religion/cult that existed on Samothrace?

10. We aren’t told, but the idea isn’t that far fetched as the Romans were very interested in the cult religion after they conquered the Greek Empire from the 2nd Century B.C. Many Romans made annual pilgrimages to the island and many initiates of the cult include high ranking Roman officials.

11. It is true, however, that Pauls brief overnight stay on the island would not have been long enough to fully examine the culture and lifestyle of the people there. Many Bible scholars feel that if Paul had been able to fully experience Samothrace he would have condemned the actions of the people much like he did the people of Athens in Acts 17...Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

12.Over time the interest in the mystery religion ebbed and flowed, but eventually fortunes on the island began to decline and by the fourth century A.D. the cult seems to have disappeared. The island began to suffer from pirate attacks and later they would hide out on Samothrace. By the 8th Century the harbor was filled with sand due to severe erosion from deforestation. There are absolutely no historical records to follow regarding the island from 1500 to 1800 A.D.

13. Seems like a lot of wasted time. What if Paul’s stay in Samothrace had been longer? Would it have made a difference?

Check out other blogs and their 13 posts here.

Wordless: Verse 50

This is an image of the port city of Samothrace which is an island in the northern Aegean Sea. Today it’s main industries are fishing and tourism. Apparently back in Paul’s day those industries were just as important…..of course, Paul wasn’t just a tourist, was he? However, he did have a "layover" on the island of Samothrace.

The island’s name comes from the fact that Greeks from Samos colonized it hence Samos of Thrace eventually was shortened to Samothrace.

Within hours after Paul’s vision of the man pleading with him to come over to Macedonia and help, he and his mission team boarded a ship in Troas and sailed across to Samothrace (Acts 16:11) It was very common in those days for ships to stop at Samothrace as it was along the sea lanes from western Asia Minor to the Black Sea, and to Macedonia in northern Greece.

In my post When Doors Slam in our Face I discuss the events prior to Paul landing at Samothrace detailed in Acts 16: 1-10.

Other bloggers are also posting images today. You can find them at the Wordless Wednesday hub

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Disturbed

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the
strength, courage, hope and love.

The above prayer was sent to me by a friend, and I liked it. I even like the fact it is attributed to Sir Francis Drake, the English privateer, navigator, politician, and slave trader. It fits in nice with the whole “history teacher” thing, don’t you think?

The word “attributed” is code for “we don’t really know”, so I went on a little research jaunt to discover a little more about Drake’s religious proclivities. His father was a Protestant farmer turned preacher. In 1549, however, being a Protestant during the Prayer Book Rebellion wasn’t a good thing as the family had to flee their home environmment for Kent.

Historians have been able to verify through other first-hand accounts that upon landing on the west coast of North America, Drake’s chaplain held Holy Communion; this was one of the first Protestant church services in the New World. From this it would seem that Drake was a believer.

Unfortunately we don’t have diaries or papers that could show us exactly how Drake felt about God, or how he was able to connect a Christian belief with being a slave trader and ruthless warrior and politician. All of his first-hand records from voyages, including his logs, paintings, and charts were lost when Whitehall Palace burned in 1698.

Also, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that all of Drake’s movements should be considered the highest of state secrets since the Spanish would have loved to obtain the mass of data Drake had acquired on his voyages, and they wouldn’t have minded getting their hands on Drake as well. While he was a well known English hero, the Spanish considered him nothing more than a pirate.

In fact, the Spanish nicknamed Drake, “El Draque”, probably originates from an old Spanish word meaning “the dragon”. The English etymological root is also the same since both languages are based in Latin. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Spain’s King Philip II placed a price of 20,000 ducats on the head of Francis Drake.

There is also other evidence to show Drake was not as Christian-like as we would wish him to be today……In 1578, Drake accused his co-commander, Thomas Doughty, of witchcraft during a shipboard trial. Mutiny and treason were also charges against Doughty. Drake did consent to have Communion with Doughty and actually dined with him as well, however, Doughty was beheaded on July 2nd, 1578 having been denied a request to see Drake’s commission from the Queen to carry out such trials and was also denied his request to be taken back to England for trial.

So much for Christian behavior.

While I have no problem asking God to disturb me and disturb me often, I am also disturbed a bit today by Mr. Drake.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thank You, Lord!

Thank You, Lord! - Dennis Jernigan

For all that you’ve done
I will thank you!
For all that you’re going to do!
For all that you’ve promised
And all that you’re
Is all that has carried me through!
Jesus, I thank you!

And I thank you!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you! Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for loving and setting me free!
Thank you for giving
Your life just for me!
How I thank you!
Jesus, I thank you!
Gratefully, thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you!

For all that you’ve done
I will thank you!
For all that you’re going to do!
For all that you’ve promised
And all tht you’re going to do!
For all that you’ve promised
And all that you’re
Is all that you carried me through!

And I thank you!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you! Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for loving and setting me free!
Thank you for giving your life just for me!
How I thank you!
Jesus, I thank you!
Gratefully, thank you!
Thank you!
And I thank you!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you! Thank you, Lord!

Thank you for loving and setting me free!
Thank you for giving your life just for me!
How I thank you!
Jesus, I thank you!
Gratefully, thank you!
Thank you!

You can see more Monday Music by clicking on the categories at the bottom of this post, look for Monday Music or Christian Music in the site index (left sidebar), or find the list of all Monday Music songs in the right sidebar.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Waiting on God

Dear Daughter went to a movie the other afternoon with a fairly large group of friends. I ran some errands from one end of the county to the other while she was at the mall. At the appointed time I arrived to pick her up along with a friend I was to take home.

No Dear Daughter…..no friend.

I was met with an empty sidewalk.

I slid my glasses onto my nose, flipped open my phone, and sent my own personal form message for certain occaisions like this……”C’mon!”

I waited.

The empty sidewalk still greeted me.

I went through the process again. I slid my glasses onto my nose, flipped open my phone, and this time…..this time I sent form message number two for certain occasions like this….”Here….NOW!”

I waited. A few people passed me. They seemed to be mocking me as they sauntered by. I heard their giggles and every now and then I swear I could make out a chortle.

I expelled a very heavy breath, picked up my cell phone once again and flipped it open. As I began to text a searing form message number three I heard the distinct sound of the door handle as Dear Daughter opened the door.

Well…….FINALLY!

I’m a very impatient person. Can you tell?

If you are looking for an apology, or if you think this is the post where I will turn away from my impatience and bask in the warmth of all things patient I’m going to disappoint you.

To a certain degree we are all one collective body of impatience. We only have ourselves to blame as we have created a society where “wait” is a dirty word. Our fast food has never been faster. We can download movie and concert tickets in seconds. We have instant connections for the Internet.

Our collective chant is now, Now , NOw, NOW!

Yet God tells us to wait….to be patient. Psalm 27:14 states… Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Waiting is good. Right? Waiting and having patience....they go hand-in-hand.

Speaking of patience a friend of mine sent me the following story regarding patience:

Flood waters had risen to record levels, leaving Joe stranded on his rooftop. He prayed to God, “Save me, God. Save me.” Later on, a rescue boat floated by, but Joe gratefully declined. “God’s going to save me,” he declared.

Later, as the waters rose to knee level, he prayed to God, “Save me, God. Save me.” Later on, another rescue boat floated by. Again, Joe gratefully declined. “God’s going to save me,” he declared.

Many hours had passed, and flood waters has risen to the man’s neck. “Save me God, save me!”. This time, a helicopter came by, but Joe declined again! With his dying breath, he gulped “God’s going to save me.”

Scene changed to the Pearly Gates., where Joe said, “God, why didn’t you save me.”

God replied, “I sent two boats and a helicopter. What more did you want!”

Clearly Joe was a little mixed-up regarding the whole patience thing, right?

While I clearly need a little more patience with the challenges I face in every day life, Joe’s predicament indicates as children of God we must wait on God, but we also need to be discerning Christians….Christians who know when to act.

What is God trying to tell us in Psalm 27:14?

When I tell a student to wait I mean for the child to hush, to not move, to do nothing until I can get there, to stop, however, when we look up the Hebrew word that was used in the original text we see that the word for wait is qawah. My source tells me the word means to hope in; to wait for; to look for. The Hebrew meaning intends for us to do so much more than simply nothing.
Notice that in each meaning we are to be doing something. To wait does not mean we remain passive and the Hebrew meaning of wait also tells us not to stop hoping, waiting, and looking. We are to wait in a diligent way. We are to work. We are not to give up.

God is busy. We should be busy as well….not busy being impatient….not busy ignoring obvious messages from God, but busy following His plan which entails showing love to one another and sharing the gospel.

If our plans meet these two criteria, how can they be wrong?

Monday, July 28, 2008

We Shine

This song by Steve Fee is a fantastic worship song. It will certainly wake up you up and get you moving.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

13 Things About Controlling Your Tongue

1. In a recent sermon the other day one of my pastors related that the book of James discusses the tongue more than any other…..this seems appropriate since we seem to use a large segment of our time talking.

2. I’m not sure about you but I often find myself saying the wrong thing. I’m often much more comfortable expressing myself through the written word so that I have an opportunity to take some time and be thoughtful concerning the points I would like to make. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury in real-time conversation, and our emotions often take over.

3. James 3:3 states Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. I used to watch my grandfather place the bridle over his plow horse and then insert the bit into the animal’s mouth. I thought it was cruel, but at the end of the row my grandfather could turn the horse on a dime. Just as we place a bit in the mouth of a horse to control it we should have a bit….of sorts…..to control our tongue so that when we are engaged in conversation we say the right things.

4. Now think about large ships like the Queen Mary. How did the crew control such a huge vessel weighing more than 81,000 tons? When you compare the rudder to the actual size of the ship it’s amazing the crew could dock the ship as they did. James 3:4 reminds us [to] consider ships: though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs…in other words----it shouldn’t take a monumental effort to control your tongue.

5. The tongue is a mighty weapon. We often use it to destroy someone else on purpose or unintentionally. What we think of as small little comment can actually wreak a bit of havoc with someone else……So too, though the tongue is a small part [of the body], it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites (James 3:5).

6. James 3:6-7 continues the thought….And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our [bodies]; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. For every creature—animal or bird, reptile or fish—is tamed and has been tamed by man. Our tongue can destroy what we love. Our tongue can get us into mischief. Our tongue can embarrass us greatly. Our tongue shapes our character and provides a method for others to view us. Unfortuntately very few men learn to control their tongues even though we have learned to control many things of this world including various animals.

7. Many people live their lives by excelling as verbal arsonists setting fires everywhere they go. They berate their kids, their spouse, and their friends. They intimidate others with their arrogance and some even turn folks off by their constant comments of doom and gloom.

8. We must remember our tongues display who we are…..the true us….not that fake one we put on for company. Our words shape who we are.

9. The tongue is inconsistent……The words we utter often don’t make sense. James 3: 9 explains…With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God's likeness. How can this be?

10. How many people did you judge today? Curse today? Belittle today? Perhaps you are like me and you have explained your actions away because you didn’t speak your words….you just thought them. Perhaps you voiced your opinion to someone else and not to the person your words could destroy.

11. It doesn’t matter. Your words….spoken or unspoken…..delivered to the person they are about or to someone else are YOUR words from YOUR tongue. By allowing your tongue to flap in that manner you are belittling something…cursing something made in God’s image.

12. The true condition of your heart comes out through your tongue. Many, many years prior to Freud explaining why we have so many hang-ups Jesus had the answer as He said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

13. It would seem then that the solution to control the tongue is not a bridle and bit…..not a rudder….., but a new heart. Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 18:31), and we need to continually ask God for help everyday…..Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).

I’ll be asking God for His help everyday…..will you?

Find other bloggers participating in Thursday Thirteen here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wordless: Verse 49

Judges 13: 1-7 explains:
The Israelites again did what was evil in the LORD's sight, so the LORD handed them over to the Philistines 40 years. There was a certain man from Zorah, from the family of Dan, whose name was Manoah; his wife was barren and had no children. The Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "It is true that you are barren and have no children, but you will conceive and give birth to a son. Now please be careful not to drink wine or other alcoholic beverages, or to eat anything unclean; for indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines." Then the woman went and told her husband, "A man of God came to me. He looked like the awe-inspiring Angel of God. I didn't ask Him where He came from, and He didn't tell me His name. He said to me, 'You will conceive and give a birth to a son. Therefore, do not drink wine or other alcoholic beverages, and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth until the day of his death.' "

The above image show the town of Zorah…the birthplace of Samson. Can you see it? Look to the last hill on the right…yep, there it is.

You can find out more here.

Locate other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reverend: False Elevation or Grammatical Error?

My father and I often have Biblical discussions that I enjoy very much. We discuss Baptist doctrine, issues regarding deacons, Old Testament versus New Testament, and many other things. Our discussions are basically something new in our relationship….it certainly isn’t something we did when I was a young girl. He was too busy being a daddy, and I was too busy being a daughter. Therefore, it’s nice to have a discussion with him that isn’t parent-child based…..it’s nice to converse every now and then as Christian believers. I think it’s important to have fellow believers you can conversate with….someone who you can confront and they can confront you ….someone who prompts you to actually put into words what it is you think and believe.

There are many memories I have of spending time with my dad growing up…..handing him tools as he worked on something in the back yard, running to catch up with him as he hurried to another project of some sort, the feel of accomplishment as I finally caught up with him and grabbed his large hand with my own small one, and the feeling of exhilaration as he lifted me into his lap, so I could ride with hin on one of the many tractors he had in his collection.

So many great memories!

I have a feeling, however, the cache of memories I will carry on with me into my twilight years…the ones that I will hold the closest to my heart...will be our heartfelt and sometimes intense discussions regarding Scriptural issues.

Duing one of my last visits he told me a story his Bible Study teacher had related in class one Sunday. Seems that one of the teacher’s neighbors ran into the teacher’s car, and while that wasn’t a neighborly action, the neighbor did come to the teacher and gave him his business card. Throughout the tale the Bible Study teacher kept referring to his neighbor as a minister.

Seeing an opportunity to open up a scholarly discussion my dad questioned his teacher by asking, “Well, how did you know from looking at the neighbor’s business card that he was a minister?” This, of course, caused the remainder of the class to laugh because…..well, isn’t it obvious? Silly, silly Daddy!

The Bible Study teacher knew instantly his neighbor was a minister just by looking at his business card because…….because printed on the card in front of the man’s name was the title Reverend.

That is how many of our Christian ministers are identified, aren’t they?

The members of Dad’s class were none too happy when Daddy challenged the use of the title. It wouldn’t be the first time my father has attempted to challenge what we often perceive as proper Christian actions yet…..when closely examined the action might not be Biblically based or might totally go against Scripture all together. I’m sure some of the folks were thinking, “Durn, here he goes again!”

Of course when you bring up any objection to using the title reverend folks instantly produce a myriad of excuses…..”We’ve always called our ministers Reverend,

We need to show the proper respect due a man of God,

Times are different today and the Bible doesn’t really mean what you think it does,

We need to set our ministers apart,

They deserve a special title”……The list goes on and on.

So, what does Scripture say?

Psalm 111: 9-10 states, He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has! Reverence for the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. The Hebrew word that was used here in this verse and that was translated later to the Greek was the word “yare” meaning fear, reverence, ultimate awe. With this mind Psalm 111:9-10 is telling us that no other name is holy and reverend….only the name of God.

Think about some of the most tireless workers for the Kingdom of God portrayed in the Bible----Peter, Paul, John---did they carry the titles Reverend?

One source that my father shared with me states, Everything we do must be authorized by the word of God (1 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11) and thus in keeping with the apostolic traditions revealed in God’s word (1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:17) in the Bible there is neither a command nor was it an apostolic tradition to use religious titles. Therefore, we cannot use religious titles today.

Only God is worthy to receive glory and honor (Revelation 4:11; 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 24-25) People who take God’s glory upon themselves will be punished (Acts 12: 22-23)..

If you still aren’t satisfied perhaps the words of Jesus can clear things up. In his warning to religious leaders (Matthew 23: 5-12) he states, Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear extra long tassels on their robes. And how they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the most prominent seats in the synagogue! They enjoy the attention they get on the streets, and they enjoy being called ‘Rabbi’. Don’t ever let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters.And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Master,’ for there is only one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 go even further to state that people who do not humble themselves will not be saved.

Since religious titles are not authorized by God this would mean a church employing religious titles is not God’s church but a man-made church vainly worshipping God according to the commandments and traditions of men (Colossians 2: 22-23; Matthew 15: 8-9). Members of man-made churches have no hope of being saved (2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10; Hebrews 5:9; 1 Peter 4: 17-18) since they disobey the gospel of Christ.

So…………this little discussion with my father concerning the use of the title Reverend was a bit sobering. I’ve used the title with various pastors. I’ve seen it used in various ways, yet Scripture states it should not be used. I also felt pretty good since the majority of ministers I’ve had personal contact with since I’ve become an adult have all been close friends….they are my contemporaries or "just a bit" younger….therefore, I’ve usually called them by their first name. One pastor who is much younger than myself has made the name calling a joke of sorts between us…..once he discovered my online name he very rarely ever uses my given name, but refers to me as “elementaryhistoryteacher”. I’ve taken to calling him “mryouthministerman”.

I’ve been thinking on this whole Reverend issue for several weeks now trying to grasp my own understanding and position regarding the matter. Then I happened upon something God intended on me discovering. I am working on a very large projecct for our church historical committee and have been digging into our extensive church archives for several weeks. The other day I stopped by the files for a quick moment and decided to grab a folder of documents and pictures....one folder each from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s to work on at home. There are hundreds of files to choose from….I just reached in and grabbed hardly looking at the notations on the outside or the contents.

Later that evening I began to uncover my treasures. Inside the folder for the 1960s I found a publication titled The Maryland Baptist, dated January 18, 1962. On the back cover was an article titled, “What to Call Your Preacher” written by C.R. Dailey, Editor, Western Recorder. I stopped dead cold. Why had this been placed in the folder? There is no mention of our church, and I couldn’t really find any reason for this to be in our church history archives other than it one day would have had huge significance for me……

The article begins….”Call him Brother, call him Pastor, call him Mister, call him most anything else, but don’t call your preacher, Reverend………..To begin with one of the most basic meanings of the word reverend is “to be worthy of worship,” and this can apply only to God and never to man. Those who use the word in reference to their pastors, however, do not use it in this sense, and this is not the main objection to it. Reverend is an adjective and can only properly be used in conjunction with other titles as The Reverend Mister or The Reverend Doctor. These are clumsey, however, and otherwise undesirable.

………What should a Baptist call his pastor? The most acceptable title is Brother. This is in keeping with the Baptist belief in the the universal priesthood of believers and suggests a closeness between the pastor and member without undue familiarity.……How about Doctor as a title? Though proper, this title is subject to misuse and suggests a rank which should not exist. Relatively few Baptist pastors are really Doctors, and it’s very improper as well as embarrassing to doctorate a man who is not a Doctor. The title ought to be left off. The only difference between a preacher who is a doctor and one who is not is three or four years of additional study in an educational institution. Sometimes a doctor knows more than a preacher who is not a doctor, but sometimes he knows less.

So, choose your reason for not using the title Reverend.....either you don't wish to elevate a mere man to God's level, or you simply have a hang-up regarding proper grammatical usage. As for the term Doctor I think anyone who has slogged their way through eight plus years of school should use the title whether they be ministers of the Gospel or mere little old history teachers like me. However, the point I think Mr. Daley was making in his editorial was often a minister is given the title of doctor when they do not hold the proper degree, but doesn't he make a great point about the true knowledge of a Doctor who is also a minister?

The article goes on to make several interesting points….If you would like to read the entire article click on the image at the beginning of this post to see it more clearly.
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