Monthly Archives: February 2016

Vanity of Vanities

My little friends and I are working on a 1000 piece puzzle. It is a lot of fun. My granddaughter informed me when we started, that the first thing you need to do is find all the pieces that have a straight edge and put them together. The first four prize pieces to find are the ones that are the corners. Doing this sets the direction and makes it easier to put together the outside frame of the puzzle. The rest of the work is in scanning pieces for similar colors and structures and fitting pieces together. It takes time and vigilance, but it is a satisfying type of effort when the pieces fit.

The whole activity reminds me of the importance of having the Bible as a top priority to understanding life. Life can be very puzzling without some kind of direction and meaning. The Word of God provides the ultimate picture of life at its fullest.

My habits of reading the word have changed throughout the years. I read the Bible in such a different way than I used to. Instead of reading because it is something that must be done to have knowledge of God, today I read it to find how to handle everything in life. It is a book about life! The framework of the word of God is very important.  There is an over-arching context which needs to be established first, then everything else starts to fit together in that frame.  As each of us experience life and continues to go to God, we fill in the missing pieces as they fit within the frame. The Word of God is personal.

The current political miasma cannot help but effect us and although I have tried to put it beyond arms length,  it still permeates the air. All of it is so ungodly and out of control, I have never seen anything like it this bad. I guess all the wheeling and dealing is so blatant that nobody worries anymore about being caught in a lie, or slandering some one else incessantly.  This attitude is permeating all of society.  A word from Ecclesiastes popped in my mind and I looked it up. It was the word ‘vanity’. As I started to read some verses in Ecclesiastes,  my perception of what that book is about suddenly became very real, The knots in my stomach about what is going on disappeared. Just like what the word ‘vanity’ means in the Hebrew, “poof it is gone!”. These things are but vapors and smoke.

As things come up in life, we can find answers that match our questions and fit them in where they belong in our personal big picture. This is incredibly satisfying work! It takes time and persistence in turning our eyes above rather than down, but it is the only way to go. It makes life a lot less puzzling!


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Psalm 94 – Days of Adversity

We are living in a turbulent time. We live in a country where people are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech.  Cable TV keeps its ratings up by expanding our exposure to a full spectrum of ideologies, gripes, criticisms and a lot of snark. The internet is available for blogging, commentary and news from every corner of the earth. We can be exposed to so much information, whether it be true or untrue. It stirs up a lot of reaction and adversarial rhetoric.

We all go through swirling times of unrest in our lives through relationships, our own musings and our exposure to the culture around us. The time in which we live seems turbulent, but there have always been turbulent times in history, as exemplified in reading the Old Testament. The Old testament is pretty clear about the why’s of problems in a society.  It involves an inverse relationship with God and lack of trust. We read about 40 years of peace in a given reign in Biblical times and it usually means there is a greater respect and love for God and thus a subsequent down season of evil.

So how do we deal with the miasma of the world and life in general. I was thinking of all that late last night. It was one of my mental dizziness moments.  I ran across Psalm 94 when I opened my Bible. It is a wonderful song and it speaks to all that is going on in the world. I like solutions and verses 12 and 13 caught my attention:

12 Blessed is the man (geber) whom thou chastenest (train), O Lord, and teachest (instruct) him out of thy law;13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. Psalm 92:12-13

This particular use of the word ‘man’ has a sense of strength to it. It could even refer to a warrior. Evil exists in this world and it is not something to be ignorant of. We are in a fight. Dealing with it involves training. It also involves instruction. Teaching and training is where rest can gain a strong foot hole in our thinking. That happens in our minds. We commit to the training and instruction of God. That is what a strong person does. In verse 19 the psalmist talks about his ‘multitude of thoughts’. We all have them and a strong person will also say ‘thy comforts delight my soul’ in response.

The wicked are digging their own pit.  It is in their own iniquity that they will be tripped (verse 23). God hears (verse 9) and God sees (verse 9 again) all that is going on and sooner or later everything will be brought to light.  In verse 1,  there are two references to vengeance. It does not say God is vengeful. It says both times that vengeance belongs to God. That is all God’s business.  He is a great one to figure out the best way to deal with evil.  In the meantime, we have access to His delightful rest in His word.

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Mary Worship?

What are Rosary beads? I should know, but recently I decided to look  up the reason for this type of praying.  It requires repetition of prayer.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.9 After this manner (along his line) therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:7-10

In the rosary there are basically three prayers that are repeated:The ‘Our Father’, ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Glory Be’.  For every 1 ‘Our Father’ there are 10 ‘Hail Mary’s’. The Our Father is found in Matthew 6 where Jesus gave his disciple and example of what is contained in prayer, not something that was to be memorized and repeated over and over.

The truly alarming part of this is the ‘Hail Mary’:

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

This prayer is to be said 9 times more than the ‘Our Father’ prayer Jesus used as an example in Matthew 6.

Mary was a special woman, yes, but mother of God?  Is Mary to be worshiped?  Absolutely not! The ‘fruit of thy womb’ is not to engender uterus worship! There is a big difference between ‘worship’ and ‘honor’.  We worship God above all else.  Mary deserves honor because she loved God and did what He asked her to do.

Another point about Mary is that Jesus Christ died for her too. In that sense also, we honor her as we honor all those who love God and recognize what He did through Christ.

Actual prayer involves ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’ (also in Matthew 6) and in that thinking we don’t just robotically recite words and not think about what they are implying. There is a whole lot more in the Lord’s prayer than a mere repetition of words.

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God Is Not Mocked!

God is not fooled by anything! Man can fool us and we can fool ourselves.

6 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:1-7

In verse 7 says ‘God is not mocked’. I looked up ‘mocked’ and the definition I found from Thayer was: ‘to turn up the nose or sneer at, to mock, deride’.  God is not to be sneered at. The action of sneering at God is like planting a seed that grows into a poisonous plant. The kind of seeds we plant are our responsibility, not God’s.

Verse 7 also tells us to ‘be not deceived’. Deception is going on all the time. Sometimes it is blatant and sometimes it is sneaky.  Blatant is easier to handle because it is easier to see. Sneaky can be exasperating because it lurks trying not to get caught. The shadows of lurking are exposed by light.

One of my favorite experiments I did with my Biology classes to help them understand the scientific method, was planting seeds and watching them grow. We planted 5 seeds in a cup and then hid them in a closet with no light. Then I had them plant 5 seeds in a cup and put them under a grow light. Seeds do grow in the dark, but the plants are spindly and white.  They grow very tall because they are looking for light. Seeds grown in the light are green, lush, leafy and look healthy. They have nice thick stems, and larger broader leaves to garner more light as they mature.

In Deuteronomy, Moses taught the younger generation the wise pathway to success. There are great life lessons in Deuteronomy. He sheds a lot of light on the successes and failures of the Israelites in bringing God’s promises into fruition.

The light of God’s word produces good results.  Yes, it takes time to grow from a seed to a mature plant. That is not the issue. In our lives, our thoughts are like seeds. We think both good and bad things. Whether good or evil, our thoughts need to be guided by genuine light from God. If you want to rout out those ‘sneaky’ influences, you need the light of God’s word to do it.

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