Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Psalm 1

I thought I'd give a try at putting the Psalms into my own words. The Psalms is the book that helps me the most in life. I believe God understands our feelings and our day to day life when I read them.

Psalm 1

It feels so good inside not to listen to the wicked or hang around with them. I love to think about the good things God has done and what he has told us to do.

It is like being a tree planted by a stream. It is always watered, like the Holy Spirit waters me. He enables me to grow fruit so I can bring joy to others.

This isn't true of wicked people. They do worthless things that will be blown away forever. They will be judged for what they do that hurts other people.

For God watches over the path of the ones who love Him.
But the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

God Our Home.

Two of my granddaughters, aged 16 and 18, were visiting yesterday. The eldest is graduating high school this year and has to find a job or go to college. She's not too excited about that. The girls were talking about the toys they played with when they were small and how much fun they had. My oldest granddaughter said, "I wish life was easy like it was back then."

I know what she means. If you have a loving home, good friends and like school, then having to find a job and go out into the big world can be daunting. She is such a sensitive, sweet girl and the world can be harsh. But she'll still be living at home while she works or goes to college and I'm sure she will do well.

For me, God is like a loving home I can go to when life is harsh. I can run to him and feel safe.

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

"For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in." Psalm 27:10

"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:2,3

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I went to see a counselor today for my depression and was overjoyed to find out she was a Christian too. God has worked things out for me this way many times. At different times in my life I have needed some counseling. More often than not my therapists have been Christians who easily understood my references to God.

We talked about writing in a daily journal. She said the reason this helps people so much is that our minds become too full of feelings and thoughts and if we don't talk about these different feelings with someone we can feel overwhelmed. She said that after you write each day you then throw the paper away and not read it again. This is so you don't emphasize those feelings to yourself over again.

So, I will be doing this and see how it works. I used to write my prayers down each day because I found it so hard to concentrate. I don't need to do that any longer and I will move on to writing about my feelings and thoughts, and will probably address them to God. It is wonderful how God uses different people to help you in your life and I thank and praise him for this.

In the Bible, Moses received counsel from his father-in-law and it helped him. God can use other people to help you and me also.

Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 

Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.

 But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.  Exodus 18:24

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

From Birth to Death.

"Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. 

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will save you.   Isaiah 46:4,5

I read this verse yesterday and found it so comforting. I am in my old age with gray hairs now. I have walked with God since I was 19 yrs. old. Still, I do believe God had me in his hands from the day I was born. The first verse says he carried me before I was born.

I love the description of what God will do for us through our lives; he made us, he cares for us, he carries us, he sustains us and finally he save us. What a description of our God! Sometimes we don't see this with literal eyes. We suffer and wonder why. But these things must be seen with spiritual eyes, for God is speaking of something deep and eternal. He is speaking of our inner life where he will lift us up above the things of this world.

From cradle to grave, our God is with us. He will give us strength to live this life if we ask him.  He will give us comfort if we pray to him. He will give us eternal life if we believe in him.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rain in the Wilderness.

"The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will plant trees in the barren desert--cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine."
Isaiah 41:17-20

One of the themes in the Old Testament is God turning the desert into a garden full of streams and pools of water. This is symbolic of what he will do with our lives for without him we are barren, lonely and dead while we still live.

Perhaps we feel that even with him we are not yet a garden but sometimes still feel barren. These are just feelings and we can never rely on feelings. This promise is not just for now but for eternity, where we will live with God in heaven. He will make up for us all the suffering we had in this world. He will turn our desert into a garden.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."  Isaiah 43:19

"You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the LORD, have created it." Isaiah 45:8

Friday, April 18, 2014

Headline News.

I read yesterday about a mother in Iran. A man had murdered her son and was to be hanged. In Iran, the family of the deceased can take part in the death sentence. Instead of kicking the chair out beneath him, this woman took the noose off of his neck. This made the headlines in the newspapers.

Forgiveness like this is so rare it makes front-page news. Forgiveness like this is what God does every day, but when people do it in this world it is a shocking thing.

Remember Rodney King, who was beaten almost to death by police which sparked the Watts riots? What I remember best about the riots is the forgiveness shown by two men.

'King said he had forgiven everyone involved in the incident."God has forgiven many people on this Earth. Not only that, but people have forgiven me over the years ... so why wouldn't I forgive them? I would have to forgive them, because I wouldn't want to go to bed with all that anger every day, being mad about something that you have no control over," he continued."
Reginald Denny, who was pulled out of his truck and beaten during the riots also forgave his attackers.
Although Denny was targeted because he is white, he said focusing on race in thinking about the riots is foolish and shortsighted.
“People seem to forget it was black folks that saved my life,” Denny said. “On one hand, there were some out there to try to kill me or do me in. On the other hand, they are trying to save me because I’m not the enemy, and believe me I am not the enemy.”  At the time of the interview 10 years ago, Denny had long since forgiven the men who assaulted him. 
It is hard to find forgiveness when we hurt someone's feelings; it is hard to forgive when someone hurts us. Yet, when we realize the great beauty of forgiveness and how good it feels to forgive and be forgiven, it becomes easy. God is full of forgiveness, and we can be too if we ask him for that gift.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

God Understands.

"Things come up every day. What a blessed thing it is to have the Master at hand, to hand them over to him as they come up and say, "Lord, here is another piece of your territory; govern it; I don't know anything about it." But there is the business.

I don't know myself, but God knows me, understands all the complex relationships of my life, knows how matter affects mind, and physical and mental and spiritual are blended in one in the high ideal of humanity."

written by Henry Drummond

This is something that gives me comfort, that I believe God knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I need in every situation. Whatever comes my way, he will hold my hand and walk me through it.

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."  Isaiah 41:13

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."
Psalm 139:2-6

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Forgive to be Forgiven.

Quiet Talks On Prayer.
by S.D. Gordon

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

      “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 

“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

A man owed his lord a great debt, 12 million dollars; that is to say and unpayable amount. And his lord generously forgave him the whole debt. That is Jesus' picture of God as he knows him best. Then this forgiven man went out and found a fellow servant who owed him - how much do you think? Have you ever thought Jesus had a keen sense of the ludicrous? Surely it shows here. He owed him about $16.25. . 

In effect, Jesus says what we have been forgiven by God is an unpayable amount. And what we are not willing to forgive is like $16.25 by contrast. What little puny folks some of us are in our thinking and feeling!

"Oh, well," someone says, "you do not know how hard it is to forgive." You think not? I know this much - that some persons and some things you cannot forgive of yourself. But I am glad to say I know this too, that if one allows the Spirit of Jesus to sway the heart he will make you love persons you cannot like. No natural affinity or drawing together because of disposition, but a real yearning love in the heart.

Jesus' love, when allowed to come in as freely as he means, fills your heart with pity for the man who has wounded you. An infinite, tender pity that he has sunk so low as to be capable of such actions.

But the fact to put down in the sharpest contrast of white and black is that we must forgive freely, frankly, generously, "even as God," if we are to be in prayer touch with God. End.

Personally, I have found this to be true. When I have had anger or hate in my heart towards anyone, I have asked God to put love in my heart. He does this. I learn to pity those who hurt me and it gives a great freedom to my heart.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Greatest Thing.

The Greatest Thing in the World. (Abridged)

by Drummond (1851-1857)

Everyone has asked himself the great question of antiquity as of the modern world: What is the summum bonum - the supreme good? You have life before you. Once only you can live it. What is the noblest object of desire, the supreme gift to covet?

We have been accustomed to be told the greatest thing in the religious world is faith. Well, we are wrong. If we have been told that, we may miss the mark. 

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,b but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" 
1 Corinthians 13.

"The greatest of these is love." It is not an oversight. Paul was speaking of faith just a moment before. He says, "If I have all faith, so I can remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." So far from forgetting, he deliberately contrasts them. "Now abides faith, hope, and love," and without a moment's hesitation the decision falls, "The greatest of these is love."

And it is not prejudice. A man is apt to recommend to others his own strong point. Love was not Paul's strong point...the hand that wrote, "The greatest of these is love," when we meet it first, is stained with blood.

Nor is this letter to the Corinthians peculiar in singling out love as the supreme good. The masterpieces of Christianity are agreed about it. Peter says, "Above all things have fervent love among yourselves." Above all things.

And John goes further, "God is love." And you remember the profound remark which Paul makes elsewhere. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Did you ever think what he meant by that? In those days men were working their passage to heaven by keeping the ten commandments, and the hundred and ten other commandments they had manufactured out of them. Christ said, I will show you a more simple way. If you do one thing, you will do these hundred and ten things without ever thinking about them. If you love, you will unconsciously fulfill the whole law.

You can readily see for yourselves how that must be so. Take any of the commandments. "You shall have no other gods before me." If a man loves God, you will not require to tell him that. Love is the fulfilling of that law...If he loved man, you would never think of telling him to honor his mother and father. He could not do anything else. It would be preposterous to tell him not to kill. You would only insult him if you suggested he should not steal - how could he steal from those he loved...In this way, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." It is the rule for fulfilling all rules, the new commandment for keeping all the old commandments, Christ's one secret of the Christian life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Sermon: Tolerance

From the book: Discipline and Other Sermons
by Charles Kingsley

...And so religious men have hindered the very cause for which they fancied they were fighting; and have gained nothing by disobeying God's command, save to weaken their own moral influence, to increase the divisions of the Church, and to put a fresh stumbling block in the path of the ignorant and the young.

And what have been the consequences to Christ's Church? Have not her enemies - and her friends too - for centuries past, cried in vain: "For forms of faith let graceless zealots fight, his can't be wrong whose life is in the right."

Of Christian morals our enemies have not complained, but that these morals have been postponed, neglected and forgotten, in the disputes over abstruse doctrines, over ceremonies, and over no- ceremonies; that men who were all fully agreed in their definition of goodness, and what a good man should be and do, have denounced each other concerning matters which had no influence whatsoever to practical morality, till the ungodly cried, "See how these Christians hate each other! See how they waste their time in disputing concerning the accidents of the bread of life, forgetful that thousands were perishing round them for want of any bread at all."...

Have we not need to hear our Lord's solemn rebuke, when John boasted how he saw one casting out devils in Christ's name, and he forbade him, because he followed them not. Jesus said, "Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us." Luke 9:50

Have we not need to keep in mind the canon of the wise Gamaliel? He said, "If this work be of man, it will come to nothing; but if it be of God, we cannot overthrow it, lest we too be found fighting even against God."

Have we not need to keep in mind that "every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God," and "no man saith that Jesus is the Christ save by the Spirit of God," lest we too be found to be more fastidious than Almighty God himself?

Have we not need to beware lest we, like the scribes and Pharisees, should be found keeping the key of knowledge, and yet not entering ourselves, and hindering those who would enter in?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tolerance... Part 3.

Sermon: Tolerance

From the book: Discipline and Other Sermons
by Charles Kingsley

The natural man - whether the heathen savage at one end of the scale, or the epicurean man of the world at the other - has no such instinct. He will feel no anger against falsehood, because he has no love for truth; he will be liberal enough, tolerant enough, of all which does not touch his  own self-interest; but that once threatened, he too may join the ranks of the bigots and persecute, not like them in the name of God and truth, but in those of society and order; and so the chief priests and Pontius Pilate may make a common cause.

 And yet the chief priests, with their sense of duty, of truth, and of right, however blundering, concealed, perverted, may be a whole moral heaven higher than Pilate with no sense of aught beyond present expediency. But nevertheless, what have been the consequences to both? That the chief priests have failed as utterly as the Pilates. As God forewarned them, they have rooted up the wheat with the tares; they have made the blood of martyrs the seed of the Church; and more, they have made martyrs of those who never deserved to be martyrs, by wholesale and indiscriminate condemnation.

They have forgotten that the wheat and tares grow together, not merely in separate men, but in each man's own heart and thoughts; that light and darkness, wisdom and folly, duty and ambition, self-sacrifice and self-conceit, are fighting in every soul of man in whom there is even a germ of spiritual life.

Therefore, they have made men offenders for a word. They have despised noble aspirations, ignored deep and sound insights, because they came in questionable shapes, mingled with errors or eccentricities. They have cried in their haste, "Here are the tares, and the tares alone."

Again and again have religious men done this, for many a hundred years; and again and again the Nemesis has fallen on them. a generation or two has passed, and the world has revolted from their unjust judgments. It has perceived, among the evil, good which it had overlooked in an indignant haste and passion, learned from those who should have taught it wisdom, patience, and charity. It has made heroes of those who had been branded as heretics; and has cried, "There was wheat, and wheat alone." To be continued...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tolerance Continued...

Sermon: Tolerance

From the book: Discipline and Other Sermons
by Charles Kingsley

...And all the while the words stood written in the Scriptures which they professed to believe; "Nay, lest while ye root up the tares, ye root up the wheat also."

They had been told, if ever men were told, that the work was beyond their powers of discernment; that, whatever the tares were, or however they came into God's field the world, they were either too like the wheat, or too intimately entangled with them, for any mortal man to part them. God would part them in his own good time.

If they had trusted God, they would let them be; certain that he hated what was false, what was hurtful, infinitely more than they; certain that he would some day cast out of his kingdom all things which offend, and all that work injustice, and whatsoever loveth and maketh a lie; and therefore, if he suffered such things to abide awhile, it was for them to submit, and to believe that God loved the world better than they, and kenw better how to govern it.

But if, on the contrary, they did not believe God, then they would set to work, in their disobedient self-conceit, to do that which he had forbidden them; and the certain result would be that, with the tares, they would root up the wheat likewise.

Note here two things. First, it is not said that there were no tares among the wheat; nor that the servants would fail in rooting some of them up. They would succeed probably in doing some good; but tey would succeed certainly in doing more harm. In their short-sighted, blind, erring, hasty zeal, they would destroy the good with the evil.

Their knowledge of this complex and miraculous universe was too shallow, their canons of criticism were too narrow, to decide on what ought, or ought not, to grow in the field of him whose ways and thoughts were as much higher than theirs as the heaven is higher than the earth.

Note also, that the Lord does not blame them for their purpose. He merely points out to them its danger; and forbids it because it is dangerous; for their wish to root out the tares was not 'natural.' We shall libel it by calling it that. It was distinctly spiritual, the first impulse of spiritual men, who love right and hate wrong, and desire to cultivate the one and exterminate the other.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Being Tolerant of Different Beliefs.

Sermon: Tolerance

From the book: Discipline and Other Sermons
by Charles Kingsley

" Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 

The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
Matthew 13:24-30

The thoughtful man who wishes well to the Gospel of Christ will hardly hear this parable without a feeling of humiliation. None of our Lord's parables are more clear and simple in their meaning; none have a more direct and practical command appended to them; none have been less regarded during the last fifteen hundred years.

Toleration, solemnly enjoined, has been the exception. Persecution, solemnly forbidden, has been the rule. Men, as usual, have fancied themselves wiser than God; for they have believed themselves wise enough to do what he had told them they were not wise enough to do, and so have tried to root the tares from the wheat.

Men have, as usual, lacked faith in Christ; they did not believe he was actually governing the earth which belonged to him; that he was actually cultivating his field, the world; they therefore believed themselves bound to do for him what he neglected, or at least did not see fit, to do for himself; and they tried to root up the tares from among the wheat.

They have tried to repress free thought, and to silence novel opinions, forgetful that Christ must have been right after all, and that in silencing opinions which startled them, they might be quenching the Spirit, and despising prophecies.

But they found it more difficult to quench the Spirit than they fancied, when they began the policy of repression. They have found the Spirit blew where it listed, and they heard the sound of it, but knew not whence it came, or whither it went; that the utterances which startled them, the tones of feeling and thought which terrified them, reappeared, though crushed in one place, suddenly in another; that the whole atmosphere was charged with the, as with electricity; and that is was impossible to say where the unseen force might not concentrate itself at any moment, and flash out in a lightening stroke.

Then their fear has turned to a rage. They have thought no more of putting down opinions, but of putting down men. They have found it more difficult than they fancied to separate the man from his opinions; to hate the sin and love the sinner. So they have begun to persecute; and, finding brute force, or at least the chichane of law, far more easy than either convincing their opponents or allowing themselves to be convinced by them, they have fined, imprisoned, tortured, burnt, exterminated; and like the Roman conquerors of old, "made a desert, and called that peace." To be continued....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Conclusion of Paul and King Felix.

Taken from:
Discipline and Other Sermons 
(1881 edition)
 by Charles Kingsley


But it is written Paul reasoned with Felix about judgement to come. We must not too hastily suppose this means he told Felix he was in danger of hell. For that is an argument which Paul never uses anywhere in his writings or speeches, as far as we know them. He never tries, as too many do now, to frighten sinners into repentance by telling them of hell; and therefore we have no right to fancy he did so by Felix.

He told him of judgement to come; and we can guess from his writings what he would have said. That there was a living God who judged the earth always by his Son Jesus Christ, and that he was coming then immediately to punish all the horrible wickedness which was then going on in those parts of the world which Paul knew. Paul always speaks of the terrible judgments of God as about to come in his own days, and we know that they did come.

We know, God forbid a preacher should tell you one-tenth of what he ought to know - that Paul's times were the most horribly wicked the world had ever seen; that the few heathens who had consciences left felt that some terrible punishment must come if the world went on as it was going. And we know that the punishment did come; and that for about twenty years, towards the end of which Paul was beheaded, the great Roman Empire was verily a hell on earth.

If Felix lived ten years more he saw the judgement in a way which could not be mistaken. But did judgement to come overtake him in his life? We do not altogether know. We know that he committed such atrocities, that the Roman Emperor Nero was forced to recall him; that the chief Jews of Caesarea sent to Rome, and there laid such accusations against him that he was in danger of death; that his brother Pallas, who was then in boundless power, saved him from destruction. That shortly afterwards Pallas himself was disgraced, stripped of his offices, and a few years later poisoned by Nero. It is probable enough that when he fell Felix fell with him; but we know nothing of it certainly.

But at least he saw with his own eyes that there was such a thing as judgment to come, not merely thousands of years hence at the last day, but there and then in his own lifetime. he saw the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men. he saw the wicked murdering and destroying each other till the land was full of blood. He saw the Empress-mother Agrippina, who had bee the paramour of his brother Pallas, murdered by her own son, the Emperor Nero; and so judgment came on her. He saw his own brother first ruined and then poisoned; and so judgment came on him.

He saw many a man whom he knew well, and who had been mixed up with him and his brother in their intrigues, put to death himself; and so judgment came on them. And last of all he saw (unless he had died beforehand) the fall of Nero himself - who very probably set fire to Rome, and then laid the blame on the Christians...

God grant that Felix did remember Paul's words. God grant that he trembled once more, and to good purpose; and so repented of his sins even at the last. God grant he may find mercy in that Day.