Welcome to the September 2005 Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
Scripture on this page taken from the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain.
A WORD FOR TODAY, September 2005
September 1, 2005
Time It is hard for me to believe, but the children have been in school for nearly three weeks. I know there are many places around the nation that do not start again until next week, but my kids are already receiving progress reports. While it has been only three weeks, it seems like it has been much longer. I was surprised when I looked at the calendar today because I was certain that they'd been in school at least a month.
Time is so deceiving. An hour at a park seems like no time at all, while the day before Christmas seems to last forever. In helping Dad with his medical problems this week, I was trying to recall some important dates, but it seems impossible that the events happened so long ago. I recently saw an advertisement for a movie that was popular when Vicki was in Kindergarten and could not believe it had been released ten years ago. Time flies and it drags. It flies when we are enjoying the things we are doing; it drags when we are going through a difficult time. The hands on the clock spin quickly on our wedding day and they stop in the middle of an earthquake. Our sense of time is unreliable.
Though time is based on natural phenomenon – the day and seasons depend on the movement of the sun and the months depend on the moon. Yet, time as we know and understand it was established by man. Clocks counting the hours of the day, years with twelve months divided into twenty eight, thirty or thirty one days – these are human creations. When did time start? Every culture has its own calendar. In America the year is 2005. According to other calendars it is 1426 or 5766. In India, there are too many calendars to count. When Vicki was searching for the answer to a homework assignment about calendars, she found one even the teacher had not heard of.
So, time is relative and our judgment about time is unreliable. Yet, we live by our clocks and calendars. Who doesn't have a day runner or a watch? Which one of us does not keep one eye on a clock while we are trying to accomplish too many things? We wish for another hour in the day or another day in the week, thinking maybe more time will help us. However, we will just fill that time. That's why time flies for me – I'm constantly busy and I never seem to have enough to do what I need to do.
We take our addiction to time into our spiritual lives, expecting God's time to be like ours. When we ask in prayer, we expect immediate results. When we pray for patience, we give God only a moment before we wonder what is taking Him so long. It is said that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years but a day. If time is meaningless to God, why do we think He worries about our sense of time in this world?
"How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Jehovah of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of Jehovah; My heart and my flesh cry out unto the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even thine altars, O Jehovah of hosts, My King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: They will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; In whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the valley of Weeping they make it a place of springs; Yea, the early rain covereth it with blessings. They go from strength to strength; Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion. O Jehovah God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our shield, And look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For Jehovah God is a sun and a shield: Jehovah will give grace and glory; No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O Jehovah of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee."
We need to be aware of time in our world today. We have appointments to keep and things to accomplish. We can't always leave our clocks on the bedside table or ignore our calendars because we have responsibilities that come with time constraints. Yet, when it comes to our spiritual lives, we should never think of it in terms of time as we know it in this world. There is no date that can be placed on Christ's return. There is no moment we can identify as the time of salvation. God lives outside our understanding of days, weeks and months. He lives in eternity and He has promised eternity to all who believe. We may desire to spend a thousand years in God's presence, but it might be just one day. That day, however, will last forever. Thanks be to God.
Cell phones Five years ago I swore I would not have a cell phone. I was not going to let the world interrupt my life by making myself accessible every moment of every day. If it was important, they could leave a message and I would get to it as quickly as possible. Technology caught up with me and we realized a few years ago how valuable a cell phone could be for busy families. I am now able to be in contact with anyone, even if I am not close to a phone. If I have a problem, I can call for help. If my kids have a problem, they can find me. My cell phone has been my lifeline as I have been dealing with my dad's situation.
I left my charger in the hotel room last week and since I was not sure I would return they cleaned the room as if it would house a new guest. When I returned to the hotel the next night, the lost and found was locked up in the housekeeper's office and not accessible to the front desk. After a day of phone calls, with another long day ahead, I desperately needed to charge the batteries. Luckily the desk had a charger that fit my phone which they loaned me for the night. I got my own back the next morning.
We take for granted the things we have until we don't have them. I can't imagine what it must be like for those people who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Many of them left home with enough for a few days, not knowing that they would have nothing once it was over. I don't think anyone wants to make a guess at the number of homeless but it could reach a million or more by the time there is a full count. Thousands are filling shelters in San Antonio today, having their first decent meal and shower in days. They have not been in contact with family – they have no idea if their loved ones are safe or if they have anything left. They don't know when they will be able to go home, if they will be able to find work, how they will pay their bills. Even if they were able to carry a cell phone, they've been without electricity for days with no way to charge their batteries.
At one of the centers here in Texas, the local phone company set up a large telecommunications system. Though I'm sure most of the people want to shower, eat and rest, I think those phone banks will be full quickly. The immediate needs are pressing, but sometimes the emotional needs far outweigh even our hunger and thirst. We take all those things for granted – telephones, computer, email, our cars and even our families. We even take the presence of God for granted most of the time.
"Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth. Hereby shall we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him: because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us." 1 John 3:16-24 (ASV)
We take for granted many things – our cell phones, our homes and our lives. We have no idea what it must be like for those million or so people who have lost everything. For many, they have lost all connection with their lives. The have no way of knowing if their homes stand or if their family is alive. Even the churches are shut down. After days of waiting, wondering, suffering, they might have a chance to have a shower and make a phone call, but there is still so much uncertainty.
All they have is the hope that comes from faith. For all too many that hope is fleeting as they can't find help or satisfaction of their physical needs. For those with faith in Jesus, the hope is beyond tomorrow. No matter what happens with their lives on earth they can know the presence of God. As for those of us who were spared this disaster, we can be living reminders of the promises of God, sacrificing ourselves for their sake. We may not have the opportunity to give to the evacuees directly, but we can help in some way. We who feel helpless in the face of such disaster can rest in the knowledge that God will make it even our insignificant offerings spread farther than we can even imagine.
Afterthought Why is it that after someone falls or trips we tell them to be careful? Is it not too late to do anything about that particular moment? All too often, instead of asking "All you alright?" to someone who has stubbed their toe or cut their finger, we tell them to be careful. Then we realize it is too late and we should ask them how we can help.
This brings to mind what is happening in the gulf coast region and around the country as millions of people are left to find a place to live until they can go home – if they can ever go home. Sometimes I think that the news reporters simply do not know what to say, so they try to put the Band-Aid on the amputated foot. They say "be careful" when it is too late, but this then leads to finger pointing and blame. Most of what we've seen on the news has been political, but there are also religious folk who are taking the opportunity to rant and rave about sin and judgment against New Orleans, the gulf coast and the United States of America.
I was in Houston yesterday, where many of the evacuees have been placed until more permanent housing can be secured for them. The hotel in which I stayed was home to many displaced Louisianans, most of whom had little or nothing left. We were only a few blocks from Reliant Park and the Astrodome, where so many are sleeping on cots in a large room with little comfort and few conveniences. As I drove by the park from the hospital to the hotel, I saw a street corner preacher, with a microphone and high-powered portable speakers, crying out to the people passing by on the street. He was also blasting his message toward the buildings where thousands of homeless families, many of which are separated from those they love, were just finding some rest, food and perhaps a bit of hope. He was preaching about the sin that brought us to this moment and ranting about God's wrath.
Interestingly, if you look at the prophetic ministries that exist in our world today, they are also pointing fingers. Now these ministries or prophets have posted dozens of 'words' that were given before the hurricane, but they did not make them public until after the fact. What good is a prophetic utterance, knowledge of impending doom given by God if it is not spoken to the people for whom it was given? What good is it to trumpet a prophecy when it is too late?
"But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed unto Jehovah, and said, I pray thee, O Jehovah, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I hasted to flee unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O Jehovah, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. And Jehovah said, Doest thou well to be angry? Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city." Jonah 4:1-5 (ASV)
There are many reasons why a prophet might withhold a word from those to whom it was sent. For Jonah, the reason was because he did not want his enemies to be saved. He knew God was merciful. Others might not proclaim the word loud and clear because they have not really received it with understanding. Some of the prophets get a vision or dream that they can't explain until after the fact. So when a disaster strikes that sounds like it fits the situation, they refer back to the word and say, "See, that's what God was saying." Yet others simply take the opportunity of people's trouble to preach their own words and claim they are from God, bringing despair alongside the destruction that has occurred. Some, I am sure, are afraid they are wrong, and wait until they are proven right before sharing what they have seen. This does nothing for the people of God, it only raises the prophet's status in the eyes of the world.
There are still prophets today – men and women that preach God's good news of grace and mercy to the world. There may even be prophets to whom God has given a vision of what is to come. However, let us be careful we do not follow every voice that claims to be from God, for if they preach a message without hope they are not speaking for God. Even when Israel was facing the destruction of her enemies, God promised deliverance. He does not wait until after the destruction to warn His people. He sent John the Baptist before the kingdom. He sent Jonah before the destruction. Rather than saying "be careful" to those who are suffering from the devastating affects of hurricane Katrina, let us ask what we can do to help. Instead of blame, let us offer to them the love of Christ, that they might find some peace and hope even in the midst of their tragedy. Thanks be to God.
Today's WORD was first posted on September 7, 2004
Feud There is a game show on television called Family Feud. The show has been on for decades and little has changed in all those years. They have become technologically more sophisticated, enhanced their sets and been through several hosts over the years. The game, with which many of you are probably familiar, puts two teams against each other – families competing for money. The questions they are asked to answer are polls taken with audience members and are often ridiculous, challenging and amusing. The only thing about this show that looks like a feud is the fact that they are setting two families against one another.
It is nothing like the family feuds that are part of our historic folklore and legends. Families pitted against each other for much higher stakes – life, land and power. These feuds often led to bloodshed. It didn’t matter if the people lived in the city or the country; anger over small problems grew into wars. Of course, these wars still pop up among the inner-city gangs, but one of the most famous family feuds involved the Hatfields and McCoys.
There was a long history of rivalry between these families. They settled on opposite sides of the river in the 1830’s, one family in Kentucky and the other in West Virginia. No one knows why the feud started, but by the 1860’s the families were raiding each other’s property. The first death occurred in 1865. In 1878 a McCoy accused a Hatfield of stealing his pigs. The Hatfields won and from that point on the violence escalated. For nearly thirty years the families warred until the states and courts finally got involved. Men died, others were prosecuted and there was nothing left to fight about.
In the year 2000, the ancestors of the original Hatfields and McCoys gathered for a reunion – to show the world that the old battle was really over. They wanted the world to know that the sins of the fathers, whatever they might have been, no longer put a strain on the relationships of the children. One of the people who attended the reunion is quoted as saying, “People have the misconception that all Hatfields hated all McCoys and all McCoys hated all Hatfields. That is simply not true. Many friendships and even marriages have taken place between the two families before, during, and after the feud. The feud has not been kept alive in spirit.” Yet, when we think of the Hatfields and McCoys, we think of fighting. As we look back at the Old Testament stories of God’s people, we see that there are many times when the people simply did not walk in God’s ways. They turned away from Him toward the gods of other nations, sought the aid of those who would become their enemies and did what they felt was right. It’s a wonder that they were not completely destroyed by God’s wrath. And yet, we know that God is also merciful and longsuffering. His heart melts at the sight of the repentance of His children and He turns His anger away.
“How long, O Jehovah? wilt thou be angry for ever? Shall thy jealousy burn like fire? Pour out thy wrath upon the nations that know thee not, And upon the kingdoms that call not upon thy name. For they have devoured Jacob, And laid waste his habitation. Remember not against us the iniquities of our forefathers: Let thy tender mercies speedily meet us; For we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; And deliver us, and forgive our sins, for thy name's sake.” Psalm 79:5-9 (ASV)
The current generations of Hatfields and McCoys gathered together to show the world that the old feud was over. They know that the story has become legend in American history, but they were unhappy with the way they were treated as purveyors of the feud. It ended a hundred years ago with their forefathers and they have since lived in peace.
God’s people may have deserved destruction, but God has mercy on those He loves. For this we should be eternally grateful. We can’t look at the Old Testament characters without seeing ourselves, for we have also turned away from God to follow our own ways. Rather than meet us with His wrath, He meets us at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who took on the bloodshed for our sake. The sins of our fathers are not remembered or applied to our lives. The Hatfield/McCoy feud ended with death and judgment. So did the feud between God and His people. Today we benefit from that end by being saved from sin and death. Those who look to Jesus, cry out to Him for mercy will see it. He has promised this and provided it through the final shedding of blood. Thanks be to God.
Decisions We are facing some difficult decisions when it comes to the continuing care for my father. We have talked to dozens of people, searched the Internet and considered all our options. Some of the information has been helpful. Some of the advice has been unfortunate. Everyone has good intentions, of this I have no doubt, but everyone's situation is unique. We have, of course, also talked to Dad and we are trying to put everything together so that he will have the best care available and be happy.
I have certainly prayed during these past few weeks, but I'm not so sure I've prayed about making the right decisions for Dad. I've prayed for good health and for quick healing. I've prayed that the nurses and doctors will do well for him. I've prayed for safe travel for all of us who have been working so hard to make him comfortable. But I don’t recall praying for God's will when it comes to my Dad. George Mueller, the German evangelist and philanthropist, laid out six principles for following God's will. Any decision we make in this world, no matter how insignificant or important it is, needs God's guidance. We need Him to step forward, trusting that He will lead us in the right path.
Mr. Mueller's six principles begin with opening our heart to God's guidance. He says, "I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter." He goes on to say that nine tenths of our trouble with decision making is that we are usually decided before we even seek God's will. When we let go, God can rule. Next, he says not to leave the result to feeling or simple impression. Our hearts are easily swayed, we are easily deceived. If we follow whims or feelings, we are liable to great delusions. Next Mr. Mueller tells us to go to God's Word. He says, "I see the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined." We spend many hours studying God's Word, hopefully so much so that it is written on our hearts. However, we can never let it go, especially when we are making decisions. We can recall God's Word wrongly when led by our own selfish desires and by our emotions. If we try to justify a decision by seeking our answer in God's Word, we will be deluded. We must do so in connection to God. Next Mr. Mueller says he takes into account providential circumstances. God uses the every day to accomplish His will. What may seem like coincidences to us might just be God speaking through His creation. Next we are to turn to God in prayer. Prayer is a part of the whole process, but once we have looked at the situation from every perspective, then we stop and listen. Finally, we can come to the decision.
"Trust in Jehovah, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness. Delight thyself also in Jehovah; And he will give thee the desires of thy heart. Commit thy way unto Jehovah; Trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass. And he will make thy righteousness to go forth as the light, And thy justice as the noon-day. Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him: Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Psalm 37:3-7 (ASV)
All too often we do research – we talk to others, get advice, seek information. We probably seek God's Word in His scriptures and perhaps even look for His hand in our circumstances. Unfortunately, we do not often stop to listen. We jump to conclusions, we manipulate the process and we seek to have God answer as we would desire rather than seek what He wills to be done. We can pray about a problem from a million different directions, but until we stop and listen we will never know what God wants us to do.
Disagreement My kids are always fighting. Well, I don't know that they are fighting constantly, but I don't think a day goes by without them having some sort of disagreement. I'm sure this is fairly normal and that many siblings even quibble more than they do. The bickering is about silly things, issues that really should not matter all that much. Vicki tries to tell Zack how to do something but Zack wants to do it his own way. They bicker over who will set the table or whose turn it is to clean the bathroom. I've even heard them argue over things.
I usually let them argue it out and they come to some solution about the problem together. They do love each other and they do not allow some silly argument make them so angry they can't get along. It isn't always so easy, however. There are just some issues that can't be solved so easily. I always hope I have the wisdom to make a good judgment about the event. It is difficult to know who is at fault if the situation is not witnessed. They both can give convincing arguments, especially if they believe what they are saying is true.
"Then there came two women that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, Oh, my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also; and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman's child died in the night, because she lay upon it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thy handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead; but when I had looked at it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, whom I did bear. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. And the king said, Fetch me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her heart yearned over her son, and she said, Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, It shall be neither mine nor thine; divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do justice." 1 Kings 3:16-28 (ASV)
This was a brilliant solution to a difficult problem. It seems odd that two prostitutes would be able to approach the king about this situation, after all neither the women nor the baby would have much significance in the community. Yet, who else could make such a wise choice? It was a risky move, one I'm not sure I could make. Certainly, my children would probably agree to cut a toy in half or something like that just to test me to see if I would do it. They are more willing to see it destroyed than to give in to the other.
A life is far more valuable than a toy, however. Somehow Solomon knew that the mother would have compassion. Of course, we know from the story that Solomon's wisdom was a gift from God. He knew because God was the source of his wisdom. I don't know if God is all that concerned about a toy my children are fighting over, but I certainly hope that He will give me the wisdom to deal with all their bickering according to His good and perfect mercy. Thanks be to God.
Continuity I went to the grocery store the other day and I was struck by the way everyone was going about their business as if life was normal. Of course, I was suffering from my own emotional stresses. The situation with my dad was nagging and I was overwhelmed by the situation in New Orleans. We had just spent two days in Houston, time at my father's hospital bedside and then time in a hotel housing dozens of evacuees. It was a difficult time for all; it is never easy to see a loved one who is ill. Though there was hope in the midst of the tragedy, the troubles of the world weighed on my mind.
So it was almost shocking to me to walk into the grocery store and see people picking food as if nothing was different. Life does go on, and most of my neighbors had not spent two days dealing with the same stresses. As a matter of fact, most of them probably had a pleasant holiday and were ready to get back to the normal daily activities they would face the next morning. Kids still had to go to school; people still had work to do. It was a normal day; I was just seeing it from a completely different perspective.
I imagine that there have been times when I was the person too happy when shopping in the presence of someone who was dealing with a difficult situation. I wonder how they felt, seeing the world go on while their own world was crushing down on their shoulders? Could I have seen it in their eyes, if only I'd looked? Could I have done something, spoken a word that might have sent them on their way with a little bit of hope or peace? I am greatly blessed because my family cares so much that they have been there with me through it all. They've taken care of me, given me the space I need and even more so the love I need to keep moving forward. What happens to the person who has no one to be the strength?
"And behold, a man named Joseph, who was a councillor, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), a man of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was looking for the kingdom of God: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain. And it was the day of the Preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women, who had come with him out of Galilee, followed after, and beheld the tomb, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. And on the sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Luke 23:50-56 (ASV)
It might seem odd to bring up Jesus' burial at this time of year. Yet, as we look at this event we realize there are so many parallels to life in the U.S. today. The world around Jesus' disciples had just collapsed around them. Their Lord was dead and there was no reason to hope – except for His words. The disciples were terrified and went into hiding. Though the women may also have been afraid, they watched from a distance, dealing with their own emotions while trying to decide what to do next. There were others in Jerusalem, people who had no connection to Jesus. Life did go on for those people, even while time was standing still for Jesus' followers.
Joseph took a risk, stepped out in faith and did what needed to be done. He went against the judgment of the council, disagreeing with the decision to have Jesus killed. He took Jesus' body and dealt with it properly, covering it in linens and laying it in a tomb so that the Jewish followers could rest during the Sabbath as God intended. He was a tower of strength in the midst of tragedy.
It might be hard to see others going about life as if it is normal when our world seems to be falling apart, but we should consider it a blessing. For in their lives we can that there is hope beyond our tragedy and peace in the acquaintances we meet along the way. There may be time when we are like those disciples, hiding in their room afraid of tomorrow. However, there will also be someone like Joseph, willing to step out in faith to take care of things. There will also be those who are like the women, standing by and watching so that they can pick up things when everything settles down. There will also be those like the regular inhabitants of Jerusalem who were not affected at all by the tragedy. Life does go on. We may need to fall apart, but we can rest assured that there will always be someone to pull us together in the midst of our trouble. Thanks be to God.
Competition There is a corner near our home that we pass regularly to most of our activities. There are five gas stations on this corner, all of which are competing for customers on a junction of major highway and a busy local road. These gas stations are always within pennies, the name brand holding on to the top price. The other gas stations stay close, putting their prices as high as possible while still trying to attract as many of their competitors loyal customers as possible.
It is not unusual to drive down that road in one direction and see one station with a lower price than the others and then return to see that all the stations have reduced their prices. Of course, it goes the other way also, but that is a whole other devotional. When the competition starts, it is humorous to see how fast the prices drop. This is good for the consumer, of course. However, it is not always best to go for what appears to be the best deal. I have recently discovered that the gas I was buying that was less expensive is actually also a cheaper grade of gas. I was getting far fewer miles to the gallon. At first I thought there was something wrong with my car, I could not understand why I was running out of gas so fast. But then one day I was forced to purchase a name brand and I realized what a difference it made.
We are constantly bombarded with advertisements in the media and in our every day life. Wherever we go someone is trying to get us to purchase their product or do what they want. Even in the midst of the tragedy on the Gulf Coast, we are hearing from dozens of agencies seeking our financial support. Not all of them are legitimate. Some are using the hurricane as an excuse to cheat people; others are taking advantage of the situation. We have to be careful to judge carefully when making our decisions.
"Wisdom hath builded her house; She hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; She hath mingled her wine; She hath also furnished her table: She hath sent forth her maidens; She crieth upon the highest places of the city: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: As for him that is void of understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat ye of my bread, And drink of the wine which I have mingled. Leave off, ye simple ones, and live; And walk in the way of understanding. He that correcteth a scoffer getteth to himself reviling; And he that reproveth a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scoffer, lest he hate thee: Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, And the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou art wise, thou art wise for thyself; And if thou scoffest, thou alone shalt bear it. The foolish woman is clamorous; She is simple, and knoweth nothing. And she sitteth at the door of her house, On a seat in the high places of the city, To call to them that pass by, Who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; And as for him that is void of understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; That her guests are in the depths of Sheol." Proverbs 9 (ASV)
Do you hear Wisdom and Folly calling? Sometimes they call from the street corner at the gas stations. What might seem like a good deal is actually a waste of our money. They might call from the high mountains, seeking our presence. To whom should we listen? Folly might be louder. Folly might have what we really want. Folly might seem like the better choice. However, Wisdom will always provide because Wisdom comes from God. In Wisdom's house we will be fed with the right kind of food, the food that replenishes our souls and feeds our spirits. In Wisdom's house we will gain understanding, drawing ever closer to God.
It is not easy to enter into Wisdom's house. All too often Wisdom goes against the expectations of the world. Refusing any charity at this time might seem to be without compassion, but not all those calling to us are true. Buying the more expensive gas might seem foolish, but in the long run it will save us money. Let us always follow Wisdom and enter into her house, no matter what consequences it might have for us, because the consequences of Wisdom always lead us to God. Thanks be to God.
Aroma I chopped an onion the other day, one that was very strong. I washed my hands after I was finished and yet the odor lingered. After several washings, I thought I was finally rid of the smell. As we were driving to an event, a pot luck dinner at which we were going to eat the casserole I had made, I smelled something unpleasant. I couldn't identify the smell at first and then I checked my fingers. It was the onions. I was constantly aware of the odor and thought everyone near me must be aware of it too.
Onions do not give off a pleasant smell, but there are many things that I would not mind having around. I love the smell of fresh baked bread and melted chocolate. It is wonderful to walk into a house with a fresh cut Christmas tree or and apple pie fresh out of the oven. A rose bush by the window or a field of lavender brings peace. Smells are often identified with pleasant emotions, fond memories and good tidings. I think of my childhood when I smell lilac. Other people remember their mothers when they smell certain perfumes. Which of us don't think of our children as infants when we get a whiff of baby powder?
The scriptures tell us many stories and the writers often give us a good description of the events that are happening. We can usually imagine the scene, almost feel the heat of the desert or hear the sound of the thunder. The words help us to visualize the people and places involved. I suppose, if you really think about it, you might even smell the smells. What might it have been like being Abraham, though wealthy, still a herdsman? He did not live in a palace with sweet scents wafting through his room. He lived in the field among his livestock. He was nomadic, traveling often in search of new pasture and water sources. He did not bath often, nor did his family. Yet, though those smells might be offensive to our sensitive noses, it would have been comforting and real for Abraham. What about the other stories?
"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, and she poured it upon his head, as he sat at meat. But when the disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. But Jesus perceiving it said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." Matthew 26:6-13 (ASV)
We've all studied this passage, or the other related passages in the Gospel, numerous times. We've looked at the woman, her motives, her love and her generosity. We've looked at Jesus' humility and His grace as He received this special gift. We've considered the intimacy of the moment, the scandal of her boldness and deeper meaning of what was happening. We've considered Jesus' future death and burial. We have also thought like Judas about the waste of such a moment and wondered if she should have done something better with the money.
Yet, I wonder if we have ever considered this scene from a nasal perspective. The disciples were certainly aware of the event. What sort of feelings might that smell have brought to them? It might have even been overwhelming and sickening, like a woman wearing too much perfume in an elevator. It would probably have brought sad memories to the disciples as they recalled their own experiences of death. It would have also been a harsh revelation of Jesus' true mission amongst His people. I wonder if I will ever hear this story again without having the faint aroma of some perfume in my nostrils. It might seem, on the surface, to be an offensive memory, since Jesus' death is such horrific event. And yet, we can also remember that the sweet smell of that perfume is a vivid reminder of Jesus' love and mercy for each of us. Thanks be to God.
Bill I have been working on a new website for our church. The person who designed and maintained the old site has moved and it was much easier to start fresh than to do everything necessary to turn over the account to a new person. We would have needed to purchase expensive programs and learn how to use them. Our new server is less expensive, easier to use and has more to offer than our old account. The changes have created some confusion, but overall the turnover has been great.
The other day we received a piece of mail from an Internet company. The correspondence looked like a bill and seemed official to the treasurer. As he looked over the bill, he questioned the necessity of paying the amount listed. He thought it was a renewal for something at the old site and wondered if it would really still be needed with the new site, so he shared it with me and asked if he should pay it.
Unfortunately, the 'bill' was not a bill at all. It was a solicitation for services. The mail was sent to the person whose name was listed with our domain registration, information easily retrieved by those who seek the business of groups that use space on the Internet. They made the solicitation look like it was a bill, though there was a disclaimer on the remittance. How many people really read the fine print, particularly when the mail looks so official? It is a deceptive practice, one that I am sure fools too many people. I've almost paid similar 'bills' for my own website for services I did not order or want. Fortunately the treasurer did not pay the fee before asking and we have saved ourselves some money.
"But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be." 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (ASV)
Marketers will use any technique to establish relationships with new customers. Some will even use what is considered deceptive methods so get a few dollars out of gullible folk. There was nothing illegal about the mail we received. The disclaimer was clear, it was not a bill. Yet, if you are a busy business person or a naďve webmaster, it is easy to fall for the scheme.
While this happens daily in the world, it also happens in spiritual matters. There are many false prophets and teachers that will use anything to entice people into buying the message they have to sell. The message might look good, they might even seem official on the surface, but somewhere in the midst of it all we can discover the twist of truth they promote. Some people are fooled into a path of destruction. We can rest in the hope offered in today's message that while there are those who will be godless in this world, God will ensure that they will be revealed.
Jannes and Jambres are traditionally the names of the Egyptian court magicians that went up against Moses in Exodus (chapter 7). They created snakes that looked just like the snake that appeared from Aaron's staff. Moses' snake was real as was proved when it ate the other snakes. The magicians created only an illusion. So, too, do the false prophets and teachers create only an illusion, and that illusion will be swallowed by God's truth. It is unfortunate that we live in a day like this, but our time is not different than the last two thousand years. In these days there are always going to be lawlessness, which is why we must keep our focus on God, walk in His ways and share His Gospel with all who will hear. He has overcome the lawlessness and will overcome those who try to destroy His people. Thanks be to God.
Traffic jam This has been a difficult week. I spent the first few days in Houston with my father, whose health is slowly deteriorating. I was planning on staying until Wednesday evening, possibly Thursday morning depending on the circumstances. On top of my worries about Dad, it was impossible to ignore the fact that a major hurricane was headed toward Texas. Early in the week we had only a vague idea of which direction Rita would go. The models were showing the possibility of the storm affecting Houston or farther down the coast. If the storm hit Corpus Christi, then San Antonio would definitely feel the impact.
I had to make a very difficult decision. Should I stay in Houston near my Dad, risking the possibility of being trapped far from my family if the storm affected either Houston or San Antonio? Or do I leave him and get to San Antonio to be with my family? By Wednesday morning I knew that if I was going to leave, I needed to leave. The doctors, nurses and my sister agreed that there was nothing I could do in the hospital and every minute would mean a longer trip home.
As I watch the news today, I can see that I made the right decision. The three hour trip took me five hours. That same trip is taking people much, much longer today as more than a million people try to flee the coming storm. It was a difficult decision to make, as I felt I should be with my dad, and I was assured that the VA hospital was the safest place to be during the storm. However, if I had stayed, I would have been in the way. It was necessary for all that were able to leave.
I've been thinking about those fleeing the storm, stuck in traffic that is moving only a mile and hour. They are getting concerned because the gas stations are running out of gas and so are their cars. There are no hotel rooms available hundreds of miles from the coast. We saw some of the same problems a few weeks ago with Katrina. It is difficult to move so many people in such a short period of time with so few roads to do so.
I wonder what those people are thinking in their cars as they creep a few feet at a time. Some folk are thinking it would be better to ride it out in their homes rather than be stuck on the highway during the storm. Even if they decided to go home it would be difficult because the authorities have converted many of the roads to one way. I imagine many of them are wondering if they will get away safely. They are afraid and exhausted and the trip will most likely last for many hours to come.
"O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm me, And the light about me shall be night; Even the darkness hideth not from thee, But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. My frame was not hidden from thee, When I was made in secret, And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I awake, I am still with thee." Psalm 139:1-18 (ASV)
We can't compare fleeing a hurricane with fleeing from the Lord, yet it seems like there are some similarities. For those who are stuck in the traffic moving out of Houston, it seems as though they will never make it to a safe harbor. There is no safe harbor when fleeing from God. To run away from God Almighty means running into danger, into temptation and into a harsh and dangerous world.
However, it is impossible to flee from God. Jonah learned that God would not let him go. Others of faith in the history of God have tried to turn away. Yet, God does not abandon those He loves. They might not see Him, or realize how close He remains, but He is there. He won't hold on to us if we wish to run away, but He stays close so that the moment we realize the foolish thing we've done and repent, He is there to grasp us in His loving arms and keep us. He knows the fears and concerns of our hearts and will grant us peace in the midst of our storms even as the wind blows and the rain falls all around us. Thanks be to God.
Season Premier The new television season has begun this week with season premiers for all our favorite shows. The networks have been advertising the episodes, creating a sense of anticipation for those who've waited through the summer to see what will come next in the lives of their favorite characters. The actors from some of the more popular shows have made appearances on the news programs and talk shows, never giving away the story line but giving the viewers just enough to make them want to hear more. Of course, many of these shows left the viewers hanging at the end of the last season. Several shows left characters in harm's way. We've had to wait to see if they are dead or alive. These cliff hangers leave us anxiously awaiting the return of our favorite shows and the commercials build up our excitement.
You might think this technique for establishing excitement was created recently, particularly with the onset of visual media such as movies and television. It was used to bring viewers to the movie theaters years ago. Along with the full length movies, most theaters also played movie shorts with cliff hangers to bring patrons back every week. Radio producers used the technique to ensure listeners. Yet, it goes back even further, with publishers releasing books that made the reader want to purchase the new one.
Did they do this even before there was print? Yes, the bards and storytellers created the same excitement when they traveled from town to town, leaving their audience hanging so that they would be welcomed when they returned.
"And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, having much disputing among themselves. And he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him." Acts 28:29-31 (ASV)
I've often wondered about this end to the book of Acts. Why didn't Luke tell us what happened next? Why don't we hear about Paul's trial and about what happened to him after he left Rome? We know by the letters attributed to his name that Paul was set free after these two years to travel and preach the kingdom of God in more places. Yet, we don't see that in the history.
Luke's book ends on a high note, even in the midst of troubles, Paul continued to do what he was called to do – preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He survived the ordeal and went out to continue the work. Yet, even if he had perished in Rome, the story of Christ's kingdom did not end with Paul. The cliff hanger leads us to want to know what happened next, to read the other stories about the early church. We see these in not only the letters found in the New Testament, but also in the witnesses of the early church fathers. Even today the story has not been completed as each new generation continues the work Jesus started two thousand years ago. If the Bible held every story of Christian witness, we could not house the book on the earth.
I've personally tried to write my own story. I have put a testimonial on my website as have many other Christian authors and ministers. Yet, if you read that story today it would be outdated, for God has touched my life in many ways since the story was written. Even if I tried to complete it today, it would be outdated tomorrow because God's grace changes our lives every day as we grow in faith and move closer to the day we will receive every promise of God. Thanks be to God.
Mission William Carey got off to a bad start in life. He was born in the mid-eighteenth century England, was a sick child in a poor family with little education. He was a troublemaker as a youth, hanging out with the wrong crowd. Eventually he was made an apprentice to a shoemaker. John Warr was one of his coworkers and was a faithful Christian who witnessed to him daily, but William was uninterested. John convinced him to go to a church service for a national day of prayer instituted by King George III hoping for God's help for the war against the rebellion in the New World. William agreed to go.
The preacher gave a rousing sermon urging all to give their lives to Christ. The message spoke into William's heart and he was converted to the Christian faith. He was baptized and became active in a local Baptist church. He eventually began preaching and pasturing in nearby Baptist churches. He married, had a daughter and worked as a cobbler for a number of years, but became increasingly interested in world travel and missionary work.
Unfortunately, William lived in a age when most Christians saw no need for missionary work. He continually brought up the subject at religious meetings, but the other pastors we not interested. The pastor that baptized William even said, "When God pleases to convert the heaven, he'll do it without consulting you or me." He became dismayed, but wrote a book and continued to teach the importance of Gospel evangelism. Eventually he was given the opportunity to present his ideas and he convinced the meeting to support missionary work. On October 2, 1792, the first collection of pledges for organized, home-supported Protestant missions was collected. William made plans to go to India. He ran into many difficulties, but eventually did get to India and accomplished some amazing things. He translated the Bible into six languages, wrote dictionaries and grammar books in five, founded many schools in rural India and founded a college to train ministers, which is still in operation. He introduced the idea of a savings bank, published the first Indian newspaper. His work made such a difference in the country that the ancient practice of burning widows was stopped.
"What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him. I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow-workers: ye are God's husbandry, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 (ASV)
Mary Drewery, who wrote a biography about William Carey, said, "The number of actual conversions attributed to him is pathetically small; the number indirectly attributable to him must be legion." William's work began an era of missionary work in the church, as many Christians went to foreign lands to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of those missionaries impacted the world in which they went to live, bringing hope to the people in both spiritual and temporal ways. He may not have converted many people, but through his life God changed the world as he built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
We, too, are called to go out into all the world to share the Gospel with those who need to know His love and forgiveness. I sometimes think we are in a similar time as William Carey – too many Christians think that if God wanted people to be saved, He'd take care of it Himself. Many churches have and support foreign missionaries, but do we really know about the work we are doing? And what of the responsibility of all Christians to be evangelists in their own homes and neighborhoods? We may not know the impact of the ministry we do in this world. However, we are all called to be in partnership with God to share the kingdom in this world. One will plant and one will water, while God makes it grow. All the while, the Gospel will change the world in which we live. Thanks be to God.
Nickname I have one of those odd nicknames that seem to have no connection at all to my given name. The name Margaret has dozens of variations, some of which make sense, some which make no sense at all. I've known Margarets that have shortened names of Maggie, Margie, and Madge. Others use Greta, Meg and Maisie. Daisy is even a nickname for the name Margaret. Daisy makes some sense because the word Marguerite in French is translated 'daisy' in English. However, it makes little sense to be called Peg.
However, if you follow language, you'll find that words often evolve over the years. I found an anonymous poem on the Internet that shows what can happen to a word. "In search from A to Z they passed, And 'Marguerita' chose at last; But thought it sound far more sweet To call the baby 'Marguerite.' When grandma saw the little pet, She called her 'darling Margaret.' Next uncle Jack and cousin Aggie Sent cup and spoon to 'little Maggie.' And grandpapa the right must beg To call the lassie 'bonnie Meg.' From 'Marguerita' down to 'Meg,' And now she's simply 'little Peg.'"
Not all names come from some historical evolution of the person's given name. Many people have nicknames based on their personality or characteristics. There are people called Gabby, Slim or Red. Some people have nicknames based on a family relationship, such as Junior or Little Bill. Yet others have nicknames based on a specific moment in time or event in their life. These nicknames often sound cruel, but they are used with fond memory and great affection.
There is a court case in Pennsylvania in which the nickname of the man on trial is a major factor. His nickname is one that makes him sound fully capable of committing the crime, based solely on his name. His defense lawyer has asked that all references to his nickname be barred during the trial. However, the district attorney insists that it will be impossible to do so. The people who will act as witnesses, either witnesses to the event or who are testifying for him, will not know him by his given name. Like those surprised to discover my real name is Margaret, his friends and acquaintances will not know about whom they are talking if they use any other name.
Names matter. There are hundreds of references to the name of God in the scriptures. The Temple was build as a place for the name of God to dwell. God's name is so important that there is a commandment instructing us how it should be treated. It is by His name we know God, through His name we are saved, in His name we have life. Jesus often tells His listeners to pray in His name, to do good works in His name.
"John said unto him, Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man who shall do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, because ye are Christ's, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Mark 9:38-41 (ASV)
The young man is charged with the shooting death of another young man during a drug deal that went wrong. His nickname may have nothing to do with the event in question, but names do matter. He got that nickname somehow and it is the name by which all his friends know him. My nickname may not make sense, but it has simply evolved from one thing to another such as is typical of language. There are many names for God, words that describe His character and work in the world. It is how we know Him, it is how we identify Him and identify with Him. In His name we have our life and through His name we are forgiven. With Him we are part of the Kingdom of God, adopted into God's family by His name. What name is it that matters the most in our life and in our work in this world? It is by the name of Jesus that we live and breath and have our being. Thanks be to God.
Due to another trip to Houston, today's post is a repeat from one year ago. Thank you all for your continued prayers and patience with me.
Diamonds We have a few antiques in our house – pieces we were able to purchase while we lived in England. We were never able to afford the pieces I would have liked to have – Victorian or earlier – but we did find some from the 1920’s that were in our price range. We enjoyed visiting the antique shows and the shops that lined the main street of every town. The better deals were usually found at the shows because the people did not want to carry the furniture back home. Also, the pieces tended to get a little nicked and scratched in the travel. The things we bought were never perfect, but they have served us well.
After awhile we realized we could only buy so much, our house in England was wall to wall furniture. We loved to attend the sales and so found something much smaller to collect – coins. It never ceased to amaze me how much some of the dealers trusted the customers at the sale. Only the most expensive coins were ever locked in cabinets, most of them were just lying on the tables. It would have been very easy to slip coins into a purse or a pocket without anyone noticing. Most of the dealers were unconcerned and rarely kept a close watch of their merchandise.
I suppose those of us who live in America find this difficult to understand because we live in a society where we lock every door and take so many security precautions. This is why it is shocking to us when we hear about an art theft or other criminal activity that should have easily been halted. When there is something of value, we expect that it will be well guarded. We enjoy watching crime dramas, but we do not believe that those situations could ever happen in the real world. Who would ever believe that a million dollar diamond could get stolen in broad daylight?
Well, it happened just recently at an antique dealer’s show near the Louvre in Paris. A jeweler had several expensive diamonds on display – a white diamond of 47 carats estimated at 6 million euros and the other a blue diamond of 15.74 carats worth 5.5 million ($13 million dollars for both stones.) The police reported that the case was forced open and the diamonds were taken in just seconds. Apparently no one was watching the merchandise and there were no security systems in place. I can’t find any more information about this incident, so I do not know if the police have any suspects. I can’t imagine having to guard such a valuable item with no more help than a lock on a glass case.
It seems ridiculous that it could be this easy to steal two $7 million diamonds, yet we often trust our most precious things to even less. We trust our good works to take care of our spiritual welfare. We think we can take a hold of our own salvation by our own strength and protect it with our own power. We hold on to our faith as if it is our Savior, putting our trust in our weak faith rather than in the One whom is our true refuge.
“I will give thanks unto Jehovah with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and exult in thee; I will sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High. When mine enemies turn back, They stumble and perish at thy presence. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; Thou sittest in the throne judging righteously. Thou hast rebuked the nations, thou hast destroyed the wicked; Thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever. The enemy are come to an end, they are desolate for ever; And the cities which thou hast overthrown, The very remembrance of them is perished. But Jehovah sitteth as king for ever: He hath prepared his throne for judgment; And he will judge the world in righteousness, He will minister judgment to the peoples in uprightness. Jehovah also will be a high tower for the oppressed, A high tower in times of trouble; And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; For thou, Jehovah, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Psalm 9:1-10 (ASV)
The stories of those missing diamonds or priceless masterpieces make us wonder what stupid people were put in charge of security. Yet, is there anything in this world that is truly reliable in every situation? I imagine that even if they jeweler had spent a fortune on guards and electronic surveillance, someone could think of a way to beat the system. We can’t live in this world paranoid, but we would do well to remember that nothing of this world is completely trustworthy. We will be sorely disappointed if we think we can control this world and the next.
Our faith is a most precious gift. It is given by God our Father for the sake of Jesus Christ. We can not by our own power or strength believe in all that God has done for us without that faith which He gives. Yet, we tend to take that faith and make it the foundation of our life. We rest in our own faith, turning our hearts and minds away from the one in whom we are called to have faith. Faith is trust in God, but all too often we trust our faith without really trusting in God as our refuge. Our salvation rests solely on the shoulders of the one in whom we are to put our entire faith and trust – Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Thanks be to God.