|Children, Not Kids|
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matthew 25:32,33.
In this parable, Jesus equates the righteous with sheep and the unrighteous with goats. Having grown up on an island, I know very little about farming. While I was reading the bible on the beach, I met a nice Mennonite couple from Virginia. I mentioned I had two kids. He said he didn't have any kids, but the Lord had blessed him with children. I got that puzzled look on my face and he said that the baby goats are known as kids. I agreed with his concept - they are children, not kids. This is a good way of honoring your offspring and I think they will appreciate knowing your sensitivity. I'll end this with something to remember concerning your children and God's law:
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:18,19.
Picture of kids graciously provided by www.gotpetsonline.com.
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In Your Captivity
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah 29:7.
The Israelites had sinned against God, breaking the covenant and rejecting his instruction. And so they were exiled into foreign lands. Those from the Southern Kingdom of Judah were carried off by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Here they cried and mourned for their freedom and their homeland - By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy, they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion! Psalm 137:1-3. All this fulfilled the prophecy of the curses as outlined in Deuteronomy 28. However, despite the misery of their situation, God instructed them to pray to the LORD for the land they were now living – seeking both its peace and prosperity. What wonderful instruction this is for our own difficult situations. Are you in a dull job that seems to have no future? Have you moved to a new location which is not at all what you expected it to be? Is your marriage filled with misery and unhappiness? This is your own Babylon, where you feel stress, grief, unhappiness, even bitter anguish. As you sit in your bathtub, you may feel like the Israelites by the waters of their captivity – remembering past times and places which seemed so much better. But even in the place you’re in, God admonishes you to pray for it – pray for your unbelieving, abusive, or adulterous spouse. Pray for the boss who persecutes you or the co-workers who make you so unhappy. Whatever the unpleasantness of your situation, God wants you to pray for it rather than looking for a way out of it. Why? Because by praying, we learn to rely on God rather than ourselves when facing these difficult times. And, in addition to praying for it, we need to actively seek to improve the situation – not turn from it or attempt escape. Notice what it says “because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” If we consider modern day Israel or Iraq, we see people in turmoil. The disgruntled inhabitants have rejected God’s advice. Instead of working to make the situation better, they have chosen to send their sons and daughters to their deaths, destroying the productive peaceful citizens of the land. The result is misery upon misery, not just for those they attack, but for themselves. When they destroy the infrastructure aren’t they harming themselves? Likewise, when you strike back at your spouse, boss, or situation, you are relying on yourself rather than God and only increasing your own misery. With this mind-set, you will never have peace nor prosper. As the Lord Jesus said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36. After 70 years of exile, the Israelites had been purged of their iniquities, refined as though through a furnace. And so you too will be. Your captivity will end and you will prosper when you rely on God. When your employer prospers because of your efforts, you too will prosper. When your marriage prospers, you too will prosper. When you plant flowers you will have flowers to smell. Remember, these words of the Lord Jesus aren’t just good advice from a kind gentleman, but the words of our Creator as he walked among us.
How about getting down on your knobby knees right now and thanking Him for his blessings. And while you're down there, say a prayer for me that I may publish only that which honors Him! Thank you.
Harp Photo: Copyright 2004, Jubilee Harps, Inc.
A Prophet for This People
If a liar and deceiver comes and says,
'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,'
he would be just the prophet for this people! Micah 2:11
Micah prophesied to both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah from approximately 742-687 BC. As with most of the prophets, Micah prophesied concerning judgment because of the sins of the nation. In the second chapter, his words rebuke the false prophets of the land who came promising abundance to the people even though they weren’t right with God. Nothing has changed. We’re surrounded by those who are telling us things are heading towards a brighter future, and that we can expect prosperity at every turn, that life is good and nothing will change that. Wake up! Look around you and open your eyes. The land is everyday moving towards full acceptance of all sorts of perversion – on our TV, in the government, even in our churches. What was just years ago considered abominable is now common and accepted. Perverts stand in our pulpits and say God is doing something new. However, Hebrews 13:8 says: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Old Testament calls homosexuality an abomination. The New Testament says the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. Why would this blueprint for man be written by an unchanging, eternal God if he didn’t really mean it? Of course he meant it! We have a society that places higher value on turtle eggs than human children. Yes – it is against the law to walk down the beach and disturb a turtle nest but we accept as a right the aborting of unborn children – created in the image of God. A fetus, at any point, is entirely separate from a woman. It contains its own DNA and blood type. A woman is merely a vessel in which a child is carried. Again and again the bible makes it clear that an unborn child is set apart as a creation of God.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16
As nutty as it may sound, I agree with the analysis that the terror attacks on September 11 were a wake up call before the destruction which is promised will come.
When disaster comes to a city,
has not the LORD caused it? Amos 3:6
I don’t know if it was the final call, but God removed his hedge around a nation which once called upon his name and allowed that tragedy:
Shout against her on every side! She surrenders, her towers fall, her walls are torn down. Since this is the vengeance of the LORD, take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done to others. Jeremiah 50:15
I implore each of you if you doubt this message, but really question if it could be true - to pray with simple faith that your prayer will be answered – that God will open your eyes to the path which we are on and the destination to which it will takes us. I am not an alarmist, nor am I one to preach doom and gloom when there is so much joy and love in Christ; however, I would be negligent to those who have not accepted Christ if I were not to be a watchman on the walls ready to blow his trumpet as an alarm of a coming attack. And this website is as much my warning as my way of showing thanks to my wonderful Savior. We cannot go on condoning the lifestyle of perverts, nor slaughtering our children without receiving the just punishment for these actions.
Therefore, don’t listen to the false prophets promising peace, security, safety, wealth, and abundance forever. We will only be protected by God as long as we honor and obey his will.
If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain upon the earth.
Anyone who's known me for long knows that there isn't a popular, county, rock, or hard rock song from 1960 until 1998 that I don't know the lyrics to. As soon as the music starts, I can tell you any words that will follow throughout the entire song. I've always enjoyed music and once owned thousands of albums and tapes. In 1972, a guy named Peter Ham wrote a song, Day After Day, which almost everyone is familiar with. You hear it in Denny's, you hear it on the oldies station, and I'm sure you've heard it on a commercial at one time or another. When I hear it, I become nostalgic about the past as songs often do to us. My memory is standing in the garden at my home in Malaysia. This is because while playing it, my neighbor Mr. Ong recalled his memories of it when he was obtaining his commercial pilots license in America. That memory (of his memory!) has stayed with me for these many years. However, now that I've given my life to Christ, this and many other songs are no longer the priority they once were. I threw away all of the music I once held so dear. I did this, not because I feel it was necessary - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9. I did it because I wanted Christ as the priority at all times in my life. I now only listen to the local Christian station - just go to "Click Here" to listen on-line - and found that the music is comparable to the music I once listened to, but the lyrics glorify Christ and always contain Holy Scripture. This is a huge leap for me, because when I first came to a saving knowledge of our Savior, I said I'd go anywhere for him except to Christian music! To me, it was just too goofy to consider. Jesus felt otherwise, and through a turn of circumstances, I found myself listening. I praise God that he raised up such talented musicians and singers for His purposes. I also praise God for the people who work at the stations which broadcast such inspiring music. Without them, my life in Christ would be so much less fulfilling...truly I mean that. I believe the lyrics Peter Ham wrote are beautiful, and the music is beautiful as well, but without Christ as the focus, the song just missed the mark. Here is the first stanza as originally written and performed, followed by what would have made it eternally useful.
I remember finding out about you
Every day my mind is all around you
Looking out from my lonely room
Day after day
Bring it home
Baby make it soon
I give my love to you.
I remember finding out about you
Every day my mind is all around you
Looking out from my lonely room
Day after day
Bring me home
Jesus, make it soon
I give my love to you.
You see, no matter what beauty we fill our lives with - no matter how clever the invention, nor lofty the goal - no matter what, without Christ, I fully believe it just misses the mark. I challenge you to try Christian radio for thirty days. Listen as you drive, listen on-line, listen during the hour or so of talk shows and sermons that most of them have. I can't help but believe your life will be fuller and more filled with joy! And as Paul exhorts: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16, 17.
The handsome folks pictured here are my favorite Christian band, Phillips, Craig, and Dean. If you click on their picture, you can listen to their sample music....but be sure to come back and visit me. Tell your friends about this site too. Thanks!
Oh Christ, how often we just miss the mark,
As we err and stray from the right to do wrong,
Be it with our lips, our thoughts, our actions,
Or even when we compose a song.
Bring us back to you, O Glorious One,
Teach us to do what is right in all our ways
Lead us with your Light on this darkened path
Give us your Comfort throughout all our days.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you've made a commitment to try Christian music, let me know how you've found it: MusicToMyEars@Wonderful1.com
Flowers photo: My friend Suzuki-san in Japan.
May those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the LORD Almighty;
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel. Psalm 69:6
How we as Christians act in front of others is of the utmost importance. King David felt this burden when he penned these words so long ago. His first point is that as a servant of the Living God he should never cause another believer to be ashamed of him because of his actions. Imagine you're in a store with your Christian friend, Brian, and you're both proudly wearing T-shirts with Christian logos. Brian is also carrying his bible for everyone to see. When the two of you approach the counter, he loses his patience with the clerk and starts to demean her and use foul language. Unless you're not serious about your faith, you will obviously feel disgraced as a Christian because of his behavior. Further, you have probably blown any chance of finding a new convert in the face behind the counter. The same perceptions occur when someone has Christian stickers on their car and yet they speed, run red lights, give the finger to others, etc. You have violated Gods trust in you by your actions and made other Christians feel disgraced. You must be very careful about how you act as a Christian at all times. As Paul said in the book of Titus:
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. Titus 3:1, 2
David's second point deals with those searching for the Lord ... may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me. Just as your friend Brian embarrassed you, he also shocked and frustrated the clerk. If she was seeking a relationship with Christ and then faced someone like Brian, she would probably right then give up on her search. Her perception of all Christians will be shaped by this one encounter. It would take very strong convincing on someone's part to change these perceptions. How many times have we heard stories just like this? By such careless actions, we may be held partly responsible for this precious soul's eventual condemnation. This is not a light matter. Christ came and died for each person on this earth. What a terrible realization when we stand before his burning eyes and he reminds us of how we shamed his holy name. For King David to actually put these thoughts into words shows us the immense importance of this issue to God.
Now for the trickiest part of all - when and how to rebuke a fellow Christian when they get out of line? Here's some advice:
Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.. 2 Timothy 2:23:26
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
We're all fallible and subject to error, so watch yourselves and your actions closely as you deal with others.
At The Store
"It's no good, it's no good!" says the buyer;
then off he goes and boasts about his purchase." Proverbs 20:14
This is typical of much of the world today. If you've ever owned your own business, as I once did, you know what it's like to have a regular stream of customers just like the one in the proverb above. No sooner is she (I say she because it's mostly the ladies!) through the door than she picks up an item and tells you "I can buy this same item across town for 13 cents less." - Do not lie. Leviticus 19:11 - Then she looks around a little more and says, "The quality just isn't what I expected." Being a slow month, you feel desperate for a sale and you feel frustration as sweat rolls down your forehead. "Well, I suppose I could give you a little discount. How about I take off 10 percent?" Immediately she picks the item up and says, "I just had to pay my vet bill yesterday. I don't think I can afford to pay that much for this...it's just not worth it. If you take off 85%, I'll just be able to squeak by with my budget for the month." You feel nauseous, but you really need to pay your bills, so you agree. She smiles at you knowing she's in control. You also know you've been had, but it's just so slow this month... You start to write out a ticket when you hear the familiar "I'll pay cash, that way you don't have to charge tax, right?" Now she's expecting you to commit fraud as well. You have to draw the line and tell her that's not appropriate. - Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. Matthew 22:12 - She gets angry and starts to put the item down because of the bad deal she's getting. You say in desperation, "Listen, Ill pay the tax for you, and here's the pin number to my bank account and my life insurance policy. Will that do it?" She grudgingly picks the item up and agrees, "Yeah, but only if you gift wrap it." You say, "I thought you were buying this for yourself!" She admits, "Oh yes, but I just want to give myself a nice present." You grudgingly agree and wrap it for her in 24 karat gold-leaf and a beautiful bow. Finally she pulls out a wallet from her $4000 purse. As she opens it, you see it's crammed full of $100 bills. The light reflects off one of her diamond rings and you're temporarily blinded. She chooses the most tattered bill and hands it to you. "Don't you have anything smaller? That'll take all my change and I'll have to close for 45 minutes while I go to the bank and wait in line." She ignores your question and holds her hand out for the change. "Can I return this if I decide it's not right?" You quickly hand her the change and tell her you're sure she'll love it and not to think like that. Meanwhile you start to think non-Christian thoughts. - In your anger do not sin. Ephesians 4:26 - She starts out the door making you feel guilty that you're not running around the counter to hold the door for her. Just as the door is closing behind her, she sees a friend and yells out, "Susie, Susie look at this beautiful thing I just bought...and you'll never BELIEVE the deal I got!" Slowly the wrapping and bow that she tore off blows down the street.....
Friends, when you go shopping, try to remember that the person behind the counter is a human too. Whether it's their own store or a Walmart, you're dealing with another human who is probably underpaid and has faced several difficult people already. Instead of making their life more difficult, show them the love of Christ. If they seem short tempered with you - Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with a blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 - Do this even if they're plain old rude. When you feel like pulling the house down around them, treat them with Christ's love, you never know what a positive and lasting impact you may have on them.
Send me a note telling me this advice has inspired you to be friendlier: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give God all the honor and glory! Remember Him as you come in and as you go out. Remember him in the presence of others. Wear him like a garment - ever praise his name!