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REDUCED CHRISTIANITY

I use those words with slight caution, for many folk with which I fellowship might think that I categorize them thusly!  I speak again of the levity, the laxity, which has filled the, so called Christianity, in this day and age.

There was assignment of that title at Antioch as the disciples were teaching about the resurrected Christ.  They were there for at least a year. (Acts 11:26)  It is interesting to note that they taught “considerable numbers”.  People are not always favorable to the teachings concerning Christ, because it places demands on them concerning their acceptance of Christ.  Having heard the teachings of Jesus, a person is bound by what they have heard.  Failure is rejection!

Currently we are faced with a generation of individuals who want an identification of being Christian, but it is on their terms.  We find more and more of these individuals avoiding a literal adherence to Scripture. 

I have heard many of the arguments that hinge on being selective, meaning that they feel some things are outmoded and inappropriate for a modern day and age.  God recorded for us His desires, and less than total obedience to them is the assumption that one believes he knows more than God.

Did you ever make a list of the places where it is recorded that Barnabas was there and was teaching total adherence to the prophecies and doctrines of the Savior?  He was not a compromiser!  He was unbending in his adherence to what Christ had taught.  He obviously was a stalwart among the disciples and early believers.  He was the type that every pastor wants in his congregation.

Oh that God would give us men and women with the commitment that these early believers adhered to.  James was ordered killed by Herod (Acts 12:2) but Peter was delivered from prison. 

Give up trying to figure out why God does things or allows them in the manner He does.  As has been said so often, “inscrutable” is the only acceptable definition.

I am certain that I am not alone in trying to understand the workings of the Lord!  At the same time I realize that listening to Him, and obeying Him, will lead to additional avenues of service and approval from Him.

May we bend and yield to what God wants from us, knowing ultimately that this is the only acceptable way of serving Him.  Remember He does not change His Word on “sound doctrine”.

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IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL

By, Esther Kerr Rusthoi, © 1941 by New Spring (ASCAP)

(admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

The song-writer said:               

 It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
          Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
          So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

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A NEW NAME

by, Linda DeSilva

The Government (in Bermuda) is planning to rename Corkscrew Hill and the Sports Stadium in honour of our Olympian Champion, Flora Duffy. This is in keeping with the policy of recent years, when various other locations have been renamed in recognition of heroes and heroines of the past… a fitting tribute to those who have contributed to Bermuda’s heritage.

Not only locations, however, but people receive new names or designations, achieved by various means: marriage, promotion, educational accomplishments, or elevation to a higher professional status, etc. These are welcomed by the recipients who have often studied and worked diligently to reach a higher level. 

Unfortunately, however, there are some whose names are well-known for dubious activities. Wise parents teach their children early in life to develop good values. “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” (Proverbs 22:1 a)


By the grace of God, reputations (good and bad) are not set in stone. Change is possible. In the course of history, we see examples of both.  Rulers who started out well, changed course and became tyrants. Conversely, people of dubious reputation repented and became examples of good and godly behaviour.   In this life, it is not too late to change course. ‘God permits U-turns.’

Paul, the persecutor, met Christ and became ‘The Apostle Paul’. The repentant infidel slave trader, John Newton, preached the Gospel and encouraged William Wilberforce in his fight to end slavery.

A redeemed Charles Colson, of Watergate notoriety, founded Prison Fellowship, which God blessed to bring new hope and life to prisoners in many countries.


New life is available to all who repent and commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. A new name is given – no longer a ‘sinner’ bound for a lost eternity; each one who comes to Christ is designated a ‘saint’ (Christ-follower). ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17a. NIV)  Each overcomer will receive a secret new name. (Revelation 2:17)

“There’s a new name written down in glory. And it’s mine, Oh, yes, it’s mine. With my sins forgiven, I am bound for heaven, Nevermore to roam!” (C.A.M.)


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THE ‘NEW’ VOCABULARY

By Linda De Silva

A friend was delighted to tell me that she and her sister have ‘Safe Keys’ so they are able to dine inside a restaurant rather than eat at an outside table or take the meal home.  How phrases have changed their meaning! Until recently, ‘Safe Key’ meant ‘key to the safe’ where money or documents were stored! I suspect that in a year or so, dictionaries will add a new definition to the two-word phrase.

Now, a safe key may take you inside a store or restaurant, but it won’t get you into heaven. That will depend upon your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Do you know Him as your Saviour and Lord?  If not, you have no right of admission to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Your request for entry will be denied!  Your ‘Safe Key’ – ensuring eternal admission is available NOW (no wait time necessary!) Salvation and entry into the Kingdom of God are yours through the Lord Jesus Christ when you come by faith. (See John 3:16)

‘Contact tracing’ is another ‘new’ phrase. It involves locating everyone with whom a COVID patient has had recent contact. One infected person can spread COVID to many more, so every close acquaintance or relative who had spent time together with that one recently is officially quarantined.             

Just a thought! What if every follower of Christ was ‘contact traced’ to see whether they had extended to others the message of salvation through faith in Christ? Actually, something akin to this happens routinely in countries antagonistic to the Gospel.  When a believer in Christ is apprehended and incarcerated, frequently family and friends are also interrogated and/or imprisoned. How about those of us who claim to be Christians?  Do we share Christ with those we meet?

In the midst of this Pandemic, let us consider seriously our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the troubled, confused, lost world around us. MARANATHA! The Lord is coming!

SAFE KEY: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
CONTACT TRACING: “They continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage.” (Acts 4:31 Ampl.)

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Christmas Thanks

People may move from one place to another, but memories stay in the same place forever, that is in our hearts. It’s those memories that keep us connected forever!

To My Card givers and Care givers:

Many thanks for all of you remembering me, and other family members at this momentous occasion… the Birth of our Blessed Savior!  Our gratitude goes out to every person involved in the support of our Commitment Ministry!  We continue to acknowledge that prayer is the most essential element; THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSISTENCY IN REMEMBERING US!  We deeply appreciate the gifts toward our outreach.  We have scaled back a bit, and sometimes feel that we are doing too little, yet God continues to use us for His glory.

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas!

Ted Cowen

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OUR EVERY DAY, EVERYWHERE GOD!

By, Linda De Silva

Tucked in the middle of a sentence, these words from the TV speaker caught my attention, and I recalled God’s amazing grace experienced over many decades.  Reminiscences flooded my mind and I paused to whisper my thanks to the One who is with me all the time … every day, everywhere, in life’s trials as well as its triumphs.

God’s presence is not limited to one day a week and one location.  Those who are in close fellowship with our omnipresent God through personal, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, will know what I mean – they experience the everyday, everywhere presence of God; while those who do not will find it a mystery.   But it is NOT unknowable, or beyond our grasp.  The Gospel (good news) is that the Lord Jesus came to this earth, helping and healing the sick, the sinful, and the suffering. He lived and loved, was cruelly crucified, died, was buried and rose again. (Romans 5: 8) He is in Heaven, interceding on behalf of all who entrust their lives to Him by faith, that they might know Him personally, and enjoy the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence as comforter, guide, and advocate. (SeeRomans 3:23; 6:23:10:13)

Today, many observers, religious and secular, note the world’s problems – ecological, relational (family, national and international) and express their concerns.  In fact, it is obvious to any thinking person, that the world is becoming a more dangerous place.  As predicted in the Bible, wars, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis and lawlessness are increasing.   Facing the future without a personal saving relationship with the Creator, Sustainer, and Saviour of the world is an immensely dangerous (and unnecessary) situation, when He is so patiently waiting to save all who come to Him by faith.

After the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven, St. Peter warned of the horrors to come in the Last Days.  They are outlined in Acts 2: 16 – 21.  But, there is still time!  Salvation is offered TODAY: “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (v.21) 


Call on the Lord for salvation, TODAY!
Then, live every day, everywhere for God!”

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TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY

The preacher was not one that you would go out of your way to hear; in fact he was a bore!   The organist was giving it everything that she could, but that revealed quickly that she did not have much to give.

It was hard on the ears to listen to the choir squeaking and squawking, and of course there was one dominant voice, intent on proving their need of her.  The building itself was in need of attention, and as for me, I was convinced that I was probably the only one who was given over to proper worship.  Even the offering plate looked like it had hardly ever been used, and maybe they had dusted it off to make sure they did not lose the possibility of a visitor’s generosity. 

You can tell that the devil was intent on making sure that I was not to feel a positive outlook as we began the Service that morning.  I was certain that they were desirous of observing an unusual gift, so I put it in an envelope to keep attention away from the offering plate.

Finally, that “boring preacher” began to preach on the holiness of God, and I found myself bobbing and weaving like I was in a boxing ring.  My justifying mind kept saying, “Look around, you are not alone”.   I was concerned that the pastor might fall asleep himself.  It was time for the closing hymn.

We sang together, “Take Time to be holy, Speak oft with thy Lord, Abide in Him always, And feed on His Word. Make friends with God’ children; Help those who are weak, For-get-ting in nothing His blessing to seek.”  That was the first verse and God the Holy Spirit nudged me with every word!  Verses 2, 3 and 4 were equal to my needs.  2) “Take time to be holy, The world rushes on, Spend much time in secret With Jesus alone, By looking to Jesus, Like Him thou shalt be; Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see. 

3) Take time to be holy, Let Him be thy Guide, And run not before Him, Whatever betide, In joy or in sorrow, Still follow thy Lord, And looking to Jesus, Still trust in His word. 4) Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each tho’t and each motive Beneath His control; Thus led by His Spirit To fountains of love, Thou soon shalt be fitted For service above.”

In moments of reflection I have oft been rebuked for my thought processes.  God had allowed me to be rebuked, and I have been allowed to be corrected.  I needed that sequence of events to prick the bladder of pride, to realize the conditions under which that group of believers was ministering and to help pick up the pieces of their faithful labors.  God took care of ministering to their needs and mine through the simple words of a GREAT HYMN!

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FOR JUST A MOMENT

I have related previously how on one occasion my father decided that it would be helpful for us as a family to take a trip to the West Indies.

He went to the city of Hamilton and purchased tickets for our family, his mother and a cousin to spend 28 days on the Lady Nelson.  There was probably about 30 to 40 passengers total and those were the days when the ships carried both passengers and freight. 

Each moment of that cruise was phenomenal.  Because the Captains table was the biggest, most of our meals were with him.  Hidden in the back of my mind was the knowledge that my parents had mortgaged our home to make this possible.  I realized that this was the epitome of sacrifice.

Watching the flying fish was always exciting, and visiting places, 9 stops down and on the return trip, 8 of them again.  Many of the humorous, as well as historical experiences made for memories I shall never forget.

When Patsy and I were dating, and after our marriage, I often said: “There is something I long for you to see, but the years slipped by and that “something” remained at a distance but always out of reach.

One day, I spotted an advertisement that became irresistible.  We were off to a cruise in the West Indies.  She never asked questions about “why”, she just enjoyed every moment of every day.

One evening as we stood on deck conversing, I said, “look above us”.  Within seconds she said: “It’s a CROSS!”  “That is what I told you I wanted you to see: The Southern Cross!  It was indelibly impressed on my mind from my trip as a youngster. 

It took a few years for me to appreciate it as I do today.  I know what it means to you!”  Rather than ruin those moments by my singing, we hummed together: The Old Rugged Cross!

Another songwriter penned the words: “The CROSS, upon which Jesus died, is a shelter in which we can hide… I will cherish that Old Rugged Cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.”  I know it will be undeserved, but it is reserved for those who fall in love with the one who hung on Calvary for our Sin!  The only sacrifice that would satisfy God for our sin!  In those moments He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” Finally: “It is finished!”

 -Ted

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RECONCILIATION

Every day brings with it the problems of yesteryear, which were not resolved as previously thought. 

Individuals have their “hurts” that need healing, but reaction has replaced response, and we are revealing more and more of the “old-nature”, of which the Scriptures teaches us is inherited at birth.

The Apostle reminds the Ephesian believers of the bitterness that existed between those Gentiles, referred to as the “Uncircumcision”, whose identity related to “that which is performed in the flesh by human hands”.  (Ephesians 2:12)  How difficult it is to cross human barriers that are strictly fleshly!  In fact, it is totally unacceptable for Christians.

Most of the problems that exist in these “fleshly areas” are the results of long ago prejudices that have been continued, or magnified to end in violence.  It is a pathetic development.

There is a definite solution, who some thought could be conquered through violence, which is nothing short of a figment of the imagination.  That thought pattern which originated in the minds of people who were “far off”, or as they envision, “less than” the circumcised is totally outside of the concept that Christ and the “believers” of that day concluded.

Look closely at the thought pattern established by Christ and adapted by the early Christians: “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

Further, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might RECONCILE them both into one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the ENMITY.” (Eph. 2:14)

The solution to this enmity that exists can only find a full manifestation when we adhere to the principle established in Scripture.  Christ alone has done the job of reconciliation!  A Christian is now: “a fellow citizen with the saints, and are of God’s household…in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (2:19-22)

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WRONG DIRECTION

We miss much of the account of Jonah if we do not see where his personal feelings toward the people of Nineveh led him.  Bitterness, turned into hatred, led to manipulations that not only affected him, but others. 

When you read what he said to the Lord in 4: l and following, “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.  He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country?  Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.  Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me; for death is better to me than life’.” 

Need we point out how, though understanding the heart of God to a people who had turned from Him, Jonah allows that personal hatred to drive him into action that affected many others not involved with Nineveh.  How ridiculous for anyone to think that he can out-think God! 

He was acquiring a ticket on a boat, when he should have purchased a donkey or a camel.

There is desperation in Jonah.  He wants God to take his life, and I have to believe that it was so great, but he was fearful of the account that he would have to give to the Lord for a suicidal action.  If God took his life, Jonah would be history from a different direction.

It took a little “persuasive action” on the part of the Lord to get Jonah heading in the proper direction.  There was the storm, a group of God fearing seamen, a large fish and a “throw-up”, a time of bitterness and moping because of the people that he hated turning to the Lord, a plant growing overnight, a worm destroying that plant, and finally God’s rebuke: Jonah!  You had more concern for a worm and a plant than you had for people that you “hated”.

The final rebuke to Jonah is one that none of us should ever forget, especially when it comes to the problem of “bitterness or hatred!”  God Loves people!  He is not tolerant of our intolerance.  Never forget the worth of a soul in need of our Savior!

“For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

-Ted

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QUICKIE LICKITY

People wonder why I write these short, pointed, messages! 

These, in all probability, catch more attention than long, drawn out dissertations.  Of course some individuals are really not interested in what another says on any given subject. 

I must illustrate:  From Psalm 103—“He has not dealt with us according to our sin, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Verses 10-14 – David)

THINK – THINK – THINK

-Ted

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IN A MESS!

I arrived in the United States in 1954, and as soon as acceptable, I became a U.S. citizen.

Admittedly I was, as they say, as proud as a peacock!  From that moment I remember how, I had respect and appreciation for OUR FLAG, the Stars and Stripes.  I also found myself shedding quite a few tears when a patriotic song was sung, and at times I could not sing because of my emotions.  I have never lost my respect or pride to be an American.

There have been times that I wished some things were different in our country.  In fact, I struggle with the antics of numerous groups that indicate their bitterness or opposition to significant problems in multiplied areas. 

Cool heads and warm hearts would accomplish much more, and do so much quicker.  Rabble rousing is repulsive and produces reaction.  Negativity, as we have observed of recent, can only degrade all involved, and the problems go unresolved.

As has been said in the past, “Can we raise ourselves from the ashes of defeat?”  Of course!  However, it must be done thru congeniality!  While combative efforts are necessary, whether in politics, or sports, or other multiplied areas, it does not mean that we should utilize tactics that are “outside” of acceptable guidelines.  While we all have disagreements, common sense applied will quickly negate any “tool” that would produce greater friction.

In the lighthouse, in which my father was a keeper, there is a five faced lens that harvests the light from a lamp in the middle, and projects that light up to hundreds of miles from Bermuda. 

(Aircraft pilots report this)  That lens weighs 1 and ¾ ton. I can move it with one finger, because it floats on a bed of mercury.

All too often we forget the principle presented to us in Holy Writ: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.”  (Proverbs 15:1, 2)

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OUT OF A NEED

There has been unlimited numbers of people with whom I have stopped to minister to, because I sensed or saw them in some type of need.

I cannot recall being told that I could not pray with them or assist them in some way.  I can assert that a few times, I discovered later that I was “ripped off”, but that simply made me more cautious in subsequent experiences.

The very first miracle that is recorded as having been performed by the Lord Jesus Christ was that recorded in John 4.  He went to a wedding and at the celebration of the occasion, someone drew his mother’s attention to the fact that they had run out of wine.  She turned to Jesus and informed Him, “They have no wine!”

It is important that we notice His reply, “Woman, what does that have to do with us?  My hour has not yet come.”  When we review the life of our Lord, we notice that His blood had not yet been shed.  He was intent, even at this stage that there was clarity to her as to why He had come. (7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 12:27; 13:1; 17:1)

She understands the fullness of that statement and then informs the servants: “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  There is obviously total submission on the part of Mary to Jesus!  That submissiveness remains in effect, even at Calvary.

The Jewish custom of water pots for purification; (6) which held approximately 30 to 40 gallons apiece were there.  Jesus said: “Fill the water pots with water.”  They, in obedience filled them “to the brim”.  Then He said: “Draw some out now and take it to the head-waiter.”  They obeyed!

“When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew,) the headwaiter “called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘Every man serves the good wine first and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now’.” (4:9-10)

Again and again in the few years of His ministry, Jesus showed that when we wait for God to perform the miraculous it is obvious He will not only give us His very best, but it will come in His time, for our benefit!

The performance of this miracle and many subsequent miracles should suffice as examples that we must adhere to the realization that He will be there to intervene on our behalf.  He is aware of exposures in advance.   We claim His promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

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PRECIOUS STONES

In his book, “Speak, Precious Stones” Robert Barr writes concerning the carnelian stone:

This carnelian stone is remarkable for its transparency.  Hold it up to the light, and one can see right through it.   Again this is eloquent of Jesus.  He has nothing to hide.  There was nothing shady in His character.   He had no dark secrets in His bosom.  He was pure through and through.  His motives, His words, and His deeds were absolutely clean.  Never a breath of scandal touched Him.   His whole life was sweet as the winds of the morning across the Judean hills.  No less wonderful was the transparency He gave to all who through Him received the new life.  “Now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you,” He said to His disciples in the upper room.  John reiterates the marvelous fact of cleansing.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9)  Do you long to be clean?   Christ can do it.

-Ted

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A DISCIPLINED TONGUE

Quite a few years ago I developed a problem with a cough.  The Dr’s found that they could not bring it under control, so they decided that I should have a biopsy taken.  I remember well the insertion of that tube which felt like a four inch sewer pipe going down my throat.  His comment was: “That is the strongest tongue I have ever felt.”  When I was able to converse I reminded him that I was a preacher and that tongue was exercised constantly.  To this day, I remain uncertain of his response, but I have little trouble envisioning what it might have been!

James reminds us how we all stumble in many ways.  He also reminds us that the tongue, uncontrolled, is probably the worst part of the body to be controlled.  While some people have trouble in multiplied areas, it appears that James knew that devious devil of a tongue is a vagrant, which runs rampant all too often.  As a result, we will incur stricter judgment on that undisciplined rascal.

Another observation, and recorded by James, is the truth that “we all stumble”, and we do so in different ways.  Remember that little ditty we used to repeat-
“I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with the girls who do?”

It was another of those dumb things we endeavor to use to justify our “stumbles”.  Honesty is the best policy, and taming the tongue is a challenge, which I sometimes feel is one of the greatest disciplines one faces.

The continuing thought in this passage whereby we are challenged: “If I can bridle the tongue, I can bridle the whole body as well.”  The next illustration sent me back to my childhood when I would try to bridle my pony!  It is a challenge for anyone, but when I was as short as I was, it became a major challenge.  However, trying to bridle that pony was indeed a challenge of challenges!  Without which I was in for trouble!

James adds just a few more words that are quite understandable; if you have ever tried steering a boat…It takes little action on a steering wheel to change the course of a ship. 

He finalizes all of this…the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity!

My prayer: “Lord!  Help me as I strive to discipline every word I say

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RESURRECTED SAINTS

More and more we hear people speaking of the “end of the world”, and there is little question that we are in high gear toward the “end” of this age.  In the language of the prognostics we are on a downward trend that will eventually see everything falling into disarray and collapse.  They see no recovery!

Following the “marriage supper of the Lamb”, (Rev. 19:1-16) we are told that John beheld “heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  His eyes are a flame of fire and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name if called The Word of God.” A couple of verses later we read “He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’.”

There are things indicated in the verses that follow that has to do with Armageddon; that is followed in Chapter 20 of Revelation with the promise of a Millennium of peace.  If one notes carefully the quality of what follows, you will read with mixed emotions. “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand, and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

To rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years – Back to verse 4 to see who qualifies… “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus…”   QUITE A QUALITY!

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TRY TO IMAGINE THIS

I was looking for a particular word in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, and for some un-be-known reason, I looked at the introduction, and became aware of the fact that it took him 30 years to prepare this masterpiece… You read it right, 30 years!

Hold on, just as I was fumbling in my mind about the amount of work involved, I remembered that he did it without a computer.  I doubt that he had time for many of the things that we “work” into our schedules these days.  Think of the financial support that God must have laid on some of His treasured helpers who saw to his customary needs.

Many in this day and age have come up with new Versions in order to somewhat assist those of younger, or newer converts, in their reading of the Scriptures and understand what they read.

  I have often wondered exactly how Philip broke down the wording of Isaiah for the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:32-33)!  When you read the rest of the Chapter, do you get goose pimples as the Holy Spirit guides all involved on this roadway and others subsequently?

Let us read the portion that the Ethiopian was reading: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth.  In humiliation His judgment was taken away; who will relate His generation?  Of himself or of someone else?” (Isaiah 53)  “Please tell me! Of whom, does the prophet say this?  Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.”

What followed was more than an eye opener; the eunuch not only understood that message, he follows up with questions on baptism and Philip baptizes him.

(The Baptists love this verse: “and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”)

You know what?  The end of verse 39 says:  The eunuch “went on his way rejoicing!”  That should be enough to make any of us “go on our way rejoicing”.

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SUBSERVIENT

When John opens the story related to Jesus, naturally, He is intent on communicating the wonderful truth that Jesus is The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.  (John 1:1)

After presenting the uniqueness of Jesus being both God and man, he presents the beauty of His purpose, to redeem man who is totally corrupt, into a spiritual child of a sinless God.

When one reads the uniqueness of the virgin birth of Christ, you also discover that from a human stand-point, Jesus, and John the baptizer, were cousins.  Because of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, I cannot help but believe that somewhere along the way Jesus and John the Baptizer had social interaction.

When John began his ministry (John 1:19) I have to wonder what type of relationship and understanding they had of each other.  Of one thing we can be certain, both had to know where they fit into God’s plan.

John’s preaching and baptizing in Jordan is filled with condescension-“I am not the Christ, I am not Elijah, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

The Pharisees asked John: “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah the Prophet?”

John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.  It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

On the next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, I came baptizing in water’.”  John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.  I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’  I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:21-34)

I passed the room of my Father-in-law late one evening and there kneeling by his bed I saw a 90 year old man finalizing the day with the Almighty!  One, saying in effect: I am merely your servant Lord!   And like John, he was!

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COMMON SENSE!

Even if you are prone to a negative view of the Scriptures, I have to believe that a person reading the 17th Chapter of Proverbs would find agreement with the many conclusions of the wise man, relating to common sense.

Verse 4 – “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”

Verse 7 – “Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, much less are lying lips to a prince.”

Verse 10 – “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”

Verse 12 – “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.”

Verse 13 – “He who returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”

Verse 14 – “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.”

Verse 15 – “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.”

Verse 16 – “Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, when he has no sense?”

Verse 17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

There is ample advice for both – you and me!  We might refer to it as wisdom, it is also common sense.

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KINGDOM PREACHING

I am certain (in my thinking) that your pastor has showed the difference between the preaching of Jesus, and even that He sent his disciples to preach in the same manner, with what might be called “Kingdom Preaching”, prior to His immediate crucifixion.

This was in keeping with His presentation initially as King, and then as Savior.  Let us remember those Kingdom principles are also appropriate for any man who wants to be blessed and a blessing.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Rejoice and be glad, for you reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under feet by men,

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp

stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:1-16)

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SHE / THEY WERE SO EXCITED!

A friend and I usually get together once a week to talk about Scriptures, our families, and sometimes we go to some high-class diner, like Burger King, and eat while we yak on and on. 

The other morning we were about to leave when I spotted two elderly ladies sitting in another section of that classy diner.  I stopped to greet them, and as usual said, “Good morning ladies!  Have a blessed day!  ‘This is the day that the Lord hath made and I am going to rejoice and be glad in it’.” (Psalm 118:24)  He makes them and I enjoy every one of them!

Before I could say anything further one said, “Think about the Rapture!  At any moment we could be caught up in the air to meet the Lord”.  The other jumped into the conversation.  “I too believe that!  It might happen today!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet our Savior?” 

We conversed on that for a few moments, than I noted to them that I was aware that they had a new pastor, and I will look forward to meeting him.  By the time I got out the door, I had left two happy saints inside and another two outside.

I might mention that I have used that little “springboard” time after time.  It works!  It opens doors to people that you do not normally get to speak with. I do not have to manipulate the conversation in my direction.

By the way, have a most blessed day in the Lord!   Look for peace; hope; joy; and whatever you feel your need to be.  Let go and Let GOD!

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TEN COMMANDMENTS

Most of you reading this title will immediately say: “I know all ten!  Why print them.  Follow me and you cannot help but notice the ten of the New Testament were not what you had expected.

I do not know who compiled the list originally, but blessing will be for us to follow the schedule suggested!  Quotes from King James Version)

 1)  “Repent ye and believe the gospel.”  (Mark 1:15)

 2)  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:33)           

  • “Take no thought of the morrow.”  ((Matthew 6:34)
  • “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.”   (John 4:35)
  • “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”   (Matthew 5:16) 
  • “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  (Galatians  6:2)
  • “A New commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you.”   (John 13:4)
  • “Ye tithe, this ought ye to have done.”  (Matthew 23:23)
  • “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  (Matthew 28: 19-20)
  • “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”   (Matthew 24:44)

A fresh look at our entrustment!

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KNEE-MAIL

Traffic was at a “crawl”; “the good old days” of driving up Grand Avenue with one lane in each direction without much by way of interruption, has long gone. 

This snail pace because of development all around us has become a gigantic problem that worsens each day.  Since boredom set in, I began reading all of the license plates, bumper stickers and window decals; one of them caught my eye: “God answers knee mail.”

I said to myself: “I wish I could have thought of something like that!”  Some people have a way of projecting a thought with clarity and challenge in just a few words.  This one seemed to incorporate an entire sermon into four words.

The mind traversed more than half a century when we were kneeling to pray beside old home-made benches in the Evangelical Church in Bermuda.  In those days, Prayer Meetings were conducted on our knees. 

Just as quickly, my mind went to an Evangelical United Brethren Church in Milton, PA in 1955.  I had gone there to preach.  When it came time for the “pastoral prayer” in Sunday Morning Worship, the entire congregation went to their knees to pray.  In another preaching engagement in a Pentecostal Assembly, I was asked to lead in prayer.  We all gathered at the front, on our knees, and prayed.  Each of these experiences left an indelible impression in my mind and heart.

Here I was on Grand Ave being made aware of the blessedness of bowing the knee before our Wonderful Lord.  True, the words were a play on e-mail, but they were coming through loud and clear… we need to, if possible, get down on our knees and do business with God.  Encompassed in that act is a demonstration of subservience to the Almighty.

I am oft reminded of the old deacon, addressing the young man being considered for pastor of their church.  The young man asked: “How big a man do you want?”, to which the deacon replied: “We want a man who, on his knees, can reach heaven.”

The bended knee is often repeated in Scripture.  In Philippians 2:9-10, we read: “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Wouldn’t it be more sensible to here and now bend the knee before the Almighty in humility rather than to be forced to do so in eternity future?

God answers KNEE-mail!

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MOSES’ DISCUSSION WITH GOD

I smile when I read some portions of Scripture.

You see, they tear into me, reminding this old boy of times when the Lord and I would get into a debate.  I always lost and should have known better.  Moses debated the Lord and lost.  I guess that to be my consolation.  Let’s visit their discussion in Exodus 3.

A reminder!  Moses was left in a basket of reeds as a result of Pharaoh’s decree to kill all Jewish babies.  Pharaoh’s daughter came to take a bath in that area, heard the baby’s cries, took him home and brought him up like an Egyptian.

Blood of an Israelite flowing through Moses veins, when he saw an Egyptian endeavoring to kill an Israelite, he killed the Egyptian, and naturally had to put on his running shoes!

While pasturing the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, he saw a burning bush, from which an angel of the Lord appeared.  Obviously, it was the Lord Himself!  Then we read: “The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.  So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.”

“Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.  Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Moses belittles himself for a lack of words, (v13) with fitness, (v14) with authority, (4:1) with power of speech, (4:10) and special adaptation. (v4:13)  God still uses men with all our weaknesses. 

Moses was so intent about the things that he lacked; he forgot that it was the Lord who was going to enable him.  Sometimes we have to be hit with a 2×4 or its equivalent.  Moses, like many of us, was forgetting that it was God who chooses to empower us for the assignment He sends us on, and that we forget also that He has spoken and He intends to enable us for His assignment.

Our reluctance to tackle assignments from God is simply because we look in the mirror, see ourselves, and are prone to the weaknesses as over against the Strength of Our Savior.

Like Moses, I cannot – He can!  Never forget – He delights in using His Servants to accomplish His assignments.  Let us repeat: “I can’t? He can!”

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THE FAMILY INHERITANCE

We read about and we hear about it constantly.  Someone dies and all of a sudden there is an eruption in the family about what a WILL says or does not say; sometimes it does not even exist.

What really is confusing is that some in the family says that it was believed to be entirely different and it must have been changed because of pressure; even mental deterioration may spring into the center of it.  What a mess!

That which catches my attention in Luke 12, where “someone in the crowd” was endeavoring to manipulate Jesus into disclosing his opinion about an inheritance!  First our Lord places the burden of such a responsibility in the hands of the one in control.  If there is a personal responsibility, it remains the decision of that individual.  If one feels he has been left nothing, do not let greed produce the quest to obtain part of the inheritance.  Remember, you had nothing and therefore you have lost nothing.

Jesus moves on to speak of the one who has great possessions.  Such an individual can become as greedy as the person who was requesting Jesus give His opinion on who is “Mr. Stingy”!

It is clearly apparent that the inheritor was probably the one who was the recipient of the inheritance… “I will tear down my barns and I will build bigger barns.”  Not only that, but “I will store all my grain and goods”.  The reason…  “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Jesus goes on to say, “do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for what your body, as to what you will put on; for Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing;” He does refer to the birds who have no resources stacked away, but are out working for their meals daily. 

Jesus continued by illustration:  “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  Do not even worry about what you will eat or drink, God knows your needs.”

A stinging rebuke!  “But seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Quit worrying about an inheritance.  Read about our RICHES in Christ Jesus—so amplified in Ephesians!

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GOD USES UNUSUAL PEOPLE

Every so often you meet a person that you think to yourself, “My, what God could do with that person! 

He has such a personality, and his ability to communicate is beyond the normal; wow!”  You meet another who you are convinced: “What a “nice” individual!  However, I doubt that he or she will get far in life.”

Try reading Exodus 3:13, 14 “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’”

“Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you.’  Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’  ‘What shall I say to them?’  God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; AND SAID, ‘Thus you shall to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’”

As we read through Exodus we are made aware of numerous excuses that Moses used.  First he referred to his ability to speak. (v13)  We read of his fitness in verse 4 of Exodus.  There is also God’s reminder of his authority. (4:1 and following) Success lies in obedience, not our own strength.  Moses refers to his inability to speak in 4:10. (I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.)  Then God tells him: Go to Pharaoh in 9:13 and tell him: “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me!’”

One might remember how Moses was saved from drowning in a “sea going bassinette”; he was brought up in Pharaoh’s household; he killed one of Pharaoh’s people, and he was assigned by God to lead the Hebrews back to the Promised Land!  He named his excuses to God only to be told “I will go with you.”

We all have limitations of which we are aware, but we must learn to obey the leading of the Lord.  I was young in the Lord when I heard someone say: “Me and God make a majority!”  The road maybe rough, and the excuses of which we are well aware may be many, “But me and God make a majority!”

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MAGNETIC FORCE

The man watched my frustration for a few moments and then disappeared.  I had dropped a screw in the rocks and could not find it, thus causing the frustration. 

(For those of you unfamiliar with it, we replace grass with decorative rock most of the time in Arizona.)  As I continued my search, he suddenly appeared with a large magnet on a string, hoping that our problem would be solved quickly.  It was!

He felt the necessity of explaining why he kept this magnet handy.  He was so tired of nails appearing suddenly in his yard.  The construction crews had dropped them when the house was being built.  Occasionally he went around trying to gather those nails that had surfaced.

A friend of mine is in the aluminum siding business.  The magnet was of no use to his crew because the magnet would not pick up the aluminum nails.  Someone else decided that I should have one and made a donation to that end. 

I carry it in the truck always.  I remember well the magnets that we took out of those little generators that were attached to our bicycles and, by applying them to a bicycle tire, they would produce electricity for the lamp on our cycles.

Over the years I have found myself endeavoring to utilize some “gimmick” or the other to get people to be born into God’s family.  Far too frequently, I have endeavored to take over the job of the Holy Spirit of God.  I have not been alone, for I have watched many manipulative procedures and psychological ploys to convince people to be saved, to give generously to God’s work, or a host of other goals to be achieved.

Two verses of Scripture have been a blessing to me of recent.  John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” 

John 12:32: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”  A man or woman comes to Jesus for Salvation only when the Father, in and through the Holy Spirit, DRAWS him.

Along with other brothers and sisters in Christ, I have endeavored to make the gospel of Jesus as attractive as possible.  However, no matter how masterfully I make my presentation, the ultimate work of a person’s salvation is contingent on the Holy Spirit touching the heart and “drawing” the person to Himself.  The magnet is the magnetism of Calvary.  When Christ was lifted up on the cross, it became the catalyst to cause people to repent and embrace Him as Lord and Savior.  Like aluminum, all will not be drawn, but there are those whose hearts will be tenderized of God and will humbly bow before Him as Lord.  Are you one of those?  I trust so.

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VICTORIOUS NOT VICTIMS

The Book of Acts is filled with the victories that the disciples of Jesus experienced as they presented Christ to a basically Jewish audience. 

Though the going was rough, they were resting on the promises that Jesus had made concerning the follow up to His crucifixion, and then the resurrection and ascension.  While there may not be the violence of that hour, but it remains a stigma if a Jew converts to Christianity.  We must realize that selected vocabulary does not change the underlying resentments.   However, that is basically true of any religious conversion.  I would not go into the thinking of some of my friends toward my faith being placed in Christ. 

Understanding the message that Christ left with His disciples, 1:8 of Acts, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And the subsequent speaking in languages that they had never used before shook all the folks that were present when these things happened.  

The overriding ministry of the Holy Spirit enabling such occurrences was sufficient to verify that what had been predicted was now taking place.

One of the most significant experiences was the understanding of what was written in other portions of Scripture: “Let His homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it; and let another man take His office.”

Someone wrote: “Fill the cup with incense, and load the altar with odorous wood, but fire is still needed to send out fragrance – So the prayers, talents, genius and other gifts need fire from above, before they can achieve results.”

Once the Holy Spirit descended on the Day of Pentecost, (Acts 2) there was victory upon victory throughout the then known world.  Nothing could hinder His working in and through those believers. That is the reason for VICTORY upon VICTORY throughout the Book of Acts.  Some have called it THE ACTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Does God want another display of His power?  I have to believe that the answer is YES!  Will it be identical?  Who knows!  I am certain He is not satisfied with our milk fed believers that give little evidence of a total dependence on Christ!

-Ted                   

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REDUCED CHRISTIANITY

I use those words with slight caution, for many folk with which I fellowship might think that I categorize them thusly!  I speak again of the levity, the laxity, which has filled the, so called Christianity, in this day and age.

There was assignment of that title at Antioch as the disciples were teaching about the resurrected Christ.  They were there for at least a year. (Acts 11:26)  It is interesting to note that they taught “considerable numbers”.  People are not always favorable to the teachings concerning Christ, because it places demands on them concerning their acceptance of Christ.  Having heard the teachings of Jesus, a person is bound by what they have heard.  Failure is rejection!

Currently we are faced with a generation of individuals who want an identification of being Christian, but it is on their terms.  We find more and more of these individuals avoiding a literal adherence to Scripture.  I have heard many of the arguments that hinge on being selective, meaning that they feel some things are outmoded and inappropriate for a modern day and age.  God recorded for us His desires, and less than total obedience to them is the assumption that one believes he knows more than God.

Did you ever make a list of the places where it is recorded that Barnabas was there and was teaching total adherence to the prophecies and doctrines of the Savior?  He was not a compromiser!  He was unbending in his adherence to what Christ had taught.  He obviously was a stalwart among the disciples and early believers.  He was the type that every pastor wants in his congregation.

Oh that God would give us men and women with the commitment that these early believers adhered to.  James was ordered killed by Herod (Acts 12:2) but Peter was delivered from prison.  Give up trying to figure out why God does things or allows them in the manner He does.  As has been said so often, “inscrutable” is the only acceptable definition.

I am certain that I am not alone in trying to understand the workings of the Lord!  At the same time I realize that listening to Him, and obeying Him, will lead to additional avenues of service and approval from Him.

May we bend and yield to what God wants from us, knowing ultimately that this is the only acceptable way of serving Him.  Remember He does not change His Word on “sound doctrine”.

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CLOSER HOME

Copyright Ted Cowen

I woke this morning, just before the dawn

The body felt better than did the previous morn

And so, preparing for the day that plainly lay ahead

I spoke with Jesus; He is the Living Bread.

After going through the normal preparations

I checked the headlines for sensations

Things had not changed much, since the night before

Democrats and Republicans were trying hard to score

I headed for some good old-fashioned grub,

Fixed myself a pot of coffee, not quite a tub.

Next came some pills to cure and stop the ills

At my age, I would not be running up the hills

And soon I found myself, thinking about today

My Father had created it, for work and also play

What would I do with the hours that lay ahead

I surely would not consider going back to bed.

Pondering the agenda, and thinking what must be done

I looked out the window and once again saw the sun.

The darkness had left; the welcomed dawn arrived,

It was time to get a going, that’s how things survived

Then it “dawned” on me, “With Christ I am secure!”

I AM ONE DAY CLOSER HOME THAN I EVER WAS BEFORE!

So my friend, before you head out to make your great display

Remember, this could be your very last, before the Judgment Day

You need Jesus as your Savior, to wash away your sin

Welcome Him into your heart; He’ll give you peace within.

When that is done, hope will prevail, you too will feel secure

For you will be One Day Closer Home than You Ever Were Before.

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BLESS GOD IN THE CONGREGATIONS

As one searches the Scriptures daily, so a verse of the Word seems to come alive.  Its contents seem to say, “You did not notice me when you last read me, but today it appears that you finally were impacted with a deep sense of appreciation.   What a magnificent application of loving rebuke!  How did I miss it previously?

My mind went to this attitude of Blessing God in the congregation.  In the “good old days”, we went to church to pray.  I recall “kneeling benches,” some with pillows, as the pastoral prayer was lifted to God.  I recall some churches where the folk all knelt before the altar at the front of the church, praying aloud and also some kneeling before benches or pews and lifting an Amen as the pastor shared the concerns before the Lord.

I have been concerned about prayer much of lately.  It appears that our churches have switched from prayer citadels to entertainment centers for Sunday and often for Saturday.  Often you see a lonely figure endeavoring to manipulate into a sanctuary, and because of the problems they have to ring a bell, give their name and state their purpose before admission is granted.  I wonder if that is permitted by any church anymore.

A large number of churches no longer have a prayer meeting, and we cannot blame it on Covid 19.  It happened long before there was a “plague” to justify our absence.  While some of us recall  a church with prayer warriors, kneeling on hardwood floors, it gradually yielded to work schedules, school schedules, both parents occupied with earning sufficient to keep up with the “Joneses”, and sad to say, ignoring the importance of prayer in our congregations.

What would happen if we had a box for praise and prayer items to be lifted before the Lord throughout our congregations?  I recognize it would have to be carefully worded, and “grouping” would eliminate many problems.  Suppose that we took our last name on A’s, B’s, or C’s on day one as our commitment for each day of the month.  Every person in the congregation would be involved in prayer and every person would be prayed for frequently throughout the month.  By the way, a phone call or e-mail would find out specifics for prayer!  Naturally, we should not be limited to this, and our prayer interest should increase.  Meanwhile, I have a group that prays for me and my ministry daily.  Please do not quit!

All of these ideas may help to “Bless God in the congregations, Even; the Lord!”
(Psalm 68:26)

-Ted

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LOTS OF SHOES

I studied her features, listened to her accent, and finally decided that I would have to ask: “And where did you come from originally?”  Her reply surprised me, because she didn’t resemble those I’ve known from the Philippine Islands.  She proceeded to explain that her family had moved there from Spain and Holland prior to her birth.  She began to explain many things about the Philippines and their culture.  It was an exciting time of learning.

Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, she mentioned the multiplied millions of dollars that had been stolen by Marcos.  I expressed my “indebtedness” to the Philippines for my heart surgeon.  Turning to the lighter side, I explained how I had to build shelves for a lady’s shoes that must have numbered close to those of Mrs. Marcos.  (Not quite…  Approximately 100 pairs.)  It was then that she opened a vista that I had never considered.

People knew that Mrs. Marcos loved shoes.  She purchased many from far and wide.  However, many of the shoes that she possessed were given to her as gifts.  This produced a problem.  Many of the people of the Philippines are known for their belief in voodoo.  Anything that had been handled by another, stood the possibility of having a curse placed upon it; that could then be cast upon the person who wore it.  This meant that because of Mrs. Marcos’ prominence, attacks might have been launched against her in this insidious form.  Many of her shoes were never worn and, even if she tried to give them away, people would not want to wear them for fear of an evil curse being applied.

Many are those that go through life with various types of fears attached.  Some will say they are not superstitious but will avoid cracks in a sidewalk; walk great distances to avoid a black cat crossing their path; almost have a heart attack if someone puts shoes on a table; avoid the number 13; and the list goes on.  Kurt Koch, in his book “The Devil’s Alphabet”, with no attempt to gather all of them, lists 47 different areas of the Occult and Superstition.  His excellent writing on “Between Christ and Satan” opened up Ephesians 6:10-20.  One cannot help but sense the battle arrayed: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)

We read the words of David: “and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands”. (1 Samuel 17:47)  This is as real today as the day it was written; we approach the elements of Satan and voodooism with confidence.  John writes in his Epistle: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)  We need to read this entire Epistle to garner the truths concerning our not being given over to fear.  Claiming victory in the power of the blood of Jesus is the only method of dealing with such an enemy.

By the way… try this pair of shoes: “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. (Ephesians 6:15 NASB)  That pair is better than a thousand pairs!

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RICHES

Having been brought up in a tight financial situation in World War 2, and following, there were times that I looked at the financially affluent, thinking that it would be wonderful to be in that situation.  However, as the years slipped by I began to realize that what I thought to be “wonderful” might never be mine.  Also, that many of those who possessed “riches” were lacking some of the things that we enjoyed to the maximum.  Exclusiveness was evident as were some of the snobs.

Thankfully, there were those who knew what it was to cross the barrier of riches and allow us all to be treated as equals.  Riches did little or nothing to spoil excellent relationships.

After becoming a Christian I began to study the Word of God, we began to even have better relationships.  Personally, I found it much easier and healthy to apply Scriptural principles in all relationships.

In my studies I quickly discovered that I was rich beyond my comprehension.  Overnight I realized that Romans 1:4 and following was revealing my wealth; that which God had provided.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”  What a contrast: His riches, kindness –tolerance-patience to a hard headed person until I came in repentance to Him.  Then, and only then, did I experience the realization of glory, and honor and immortality, eternal life.

We reach the eleventh verse, and there we discover something that not only benefits me, but to you who would be reveling in those riches, “there is no partiality with God.”  

Die a pauper, or a wealthy person!  God offers riches!

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MAPPING OUR COURSE

We left Sun City with every intention of returning about a month later.  We had in mind the basic route we would cover.  In fact, we did a print out of a map to give clear indication of our various destinations.  Things went well until… Have you ever used a map and discovered later that it was inaccurate?  I did!  The instructions said, “left”, but something in me said, “right”.  I went “left”, only to discover that I should have gone “right”.  It was disconcerting to discover that the map was wrong, but good to know that we discovered the inaccuracy shortly and were able to counteract our instructions.

Our friends had told us: “When you are an hour or so from our house, call and with our instructions, you will be able to cut 20 minutes off of your travel time.”  I listened and that rural setting became quite simple, even with my misgivings.

A gentleman once called me to correct a problem he had encountered.  After studying the maps extensively, I called him back and said: “Your street is not on any of my maps.”  He gave me directions and when I arrived at his home, his greeting was something like this: “You are right!  My street does not exist according to the area maps.”  I inserted it into my maps.

In our travels this trip, my wife and I found ourselves changing our minds frequently about where we would go next.  It was fun, but at times, confusing.  However, in most cases, we were able to avoid “unexpected side tours”.

Most of us like to plan our lives a long way in advance.  We endeavor to “plot our course” and like to feel that, when we pursue our plans, at the end of life things will be as we anticipated.  However, there are always interruptions of one type or another.  My initial plans after finishing College were to enter the pastorate to gain experience that would enable me to become an evangelist.  God had other plans!  Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, we found ourselves in multiple areas of service that we never contemplated.  Our current ministry developed in much the same manner.  Always, we have been able to look back and see God mapping our course in contrast to our jumping on some bandwagon and getting detours that meant the map was incorrect or that we were moving in a self- centered direction.

All of this is the result of reflecting on some precious portions of God’s Word…

“…for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3)  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel (guide) you with My eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)  “…He will guide us until death.”  (Psalm 48:14)  That’s a precious reality!

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Corinthian Catastrophe

When a congregation has at least fourteen major problems, you can be certain that there are other problems “hidden” in a closet that have not been disclosed.  Given the ways disgruntled individuals begin digging in dirt and make mountains out of molehills, you can believe that even the smallest disagreement can be maximized.

Much is being said about spiritual problems at Corinth, and they had not made an effort to correct them, or they had decided that they had a solidified opinion that was in need of attention, even if it was actually trivial.

The Apostle issues a challenge that is definitely in keeping with the way that God would have us deal with any issue that leads to disagreement or argumentative brothers. Naturally, the apostle reminds them of the source for solving the problem.  First, let us consider if there is justification for the item to be discussed.  Perhaps those pushing the problem may be having their own problems, and love and understanding may be a solution without others being considered.

The next item of thought should be to search the Scriptures together.  If the problem has a direct answer, deal with it accordingly.  Allow those involved to share why it needs attention, and which portions of Scripture are applicable.

After following Biblical principles, as was the significant outline presented in Matthew 18 which leads on to FORGIVENESS, be sure to demonstrate forgiveness.  After all, believers are going to spend eternity together.  Would it not be ridiculous to have the Lord say: “I forgave both of you and you still have not forgiven each the other.”  Forgiveness as depicted clearly in Scripture should not be conditional on the “I forgave you, now it is your turn!”  Remember: “As He forgave you!!!”

In 1 Corinthians 2, in particular, we have much said about the Holy Spirit’s leadership in contrast to the worldly way of forgiveness.  A Christian following the principles of Christ-likeness as outlined in this portion of the Word of God allows The Holy Spirit to direct his activity as over against the natural (unregenerate) man.

A reminder can be beneficial to all of us: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)  If agreeable to all of us, let us be punctilious!

 -Ted   

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COINCIDENTAL

My friend Jerry is an interesting character that I met at a prayer meeting when Patsy and I moved to Arizona.  We get together weekly just to fellowship and talk about the Scriptures.

If I share with Jerry something special of the Lord’s working, he will usually say in a very sagacious manner, “Coincidental!”  He knows, and I know that the sarcastic tone is actually an “Isn’t it amazing way to see how God works!”  Sometimes I will reference an individual to some things that have transpired, (In the Scriptures) and I will say “Would you explain this to me?”  After they have worn out the word “coincidental” they realize that they have no explanation of how it happened.

Try explaining the ten plagues that led to Israel being released from Egypt. (Exodus 7 thru Exodus 11)  Give me an explanation for 40 years of travel in the wilderness and God’s provision of food and water all along the way.   What is the explanation for Daniel and his three friends in the fiery furnace? (Daniel 3)  There are hundreds of prophecies concerning Jesus that were fulfilled, how possible?  There are many other incidents that cannot be explained from a human standpoint, save for the fact that God intervened! 

When Jesus was here upon this earth, He healed many, He walked on water, and He fed thousands from miniscule provisions of bread or fish, picking up fragments.  When attempting to throw Jesus over a cliff, He walked through their midst.  As John wrote in chapter 20:31, “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

What is sometimes explained as “coincidence” is actually the intervention of God and no less.  He is ruling in a situation to make us more aware of His activity and desire to have us more alert to our needed dependence on Him.  Our inabilities are quite obvious, and only His ability, superiority, His love and compassion, brought that “coincidence” to a conclusion.

The intervention of the Almighty is the only acceptable explanation!

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IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL

The song-writer said:

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
          Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
          So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

By, Esther Kerr Rusthoi, © 1941 by New Spring (ASCAP) (admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

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GOD HAS SPOKEN

The Book of Hebrews is particularly written to Hebrews, yet it unfolds truths that are equally important for every Christian.  There are always those who like to argue concerning authorship, or some portion of its contents.  However, as we read its contents and interpret them in light of the other books of the Bible, we see a harmony that begins in Genesis and enfolds, in a most logical and interpretive manner, all the way to Revelation.  The reason behind this is because of what we read in Genesis 1:1… “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…”

The gradual unfolding of God’s plan for the ages was given by God to the “fathers in the prophets and as stated “in many ways”.  The authority contained in the Holy Scriptures did not come from man’s idea; they originated in and from God. Thus, we see the cohesiveness through all sixty six books.  Think of approximately forty different authors over 500 years and yet we have ONE BOOK.  Jesus Himself confirmed its authority: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” (John 5:39)

There are no more authoritative words than those of the Scriptures! God gave them to reliable men, prophets.  As stated, He then gave them to us through His Son, Jesus: “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:3, 4)

HE was God incarnate!  His WORD is final!

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MORE REPAIRS

Almost twenty ago I entered the hospital with “chest pains”.  Eleven days later, because of multiplied complications, I came home.  The old “ticker” had problems because the arteries around it were “clogged”.  There was need for a quadruple bypass.  Such problems, or their solutions, are quite common these days.

Joining the “zipper club” is no fun.  Neither is it the worst thing in the world… I am still alive and not pushing up daisies.  Being above ground is really not bad at all.  I have to admit that I contemplate the moment when I shall see my Savior face to face, but I am not pushing Him.  Life is enjoyable but the afterlife I look to be even more enjoyable.

A few years later, I was eating breakfast and noticed that familiar pain of the past.  I told my wife I was going to have a check up at the hospital which is only a few minutes from our home.  Once there, the routine went into effect… cardiograms, x-rays, echogram, angiogram and finally a “TAXUS Stent”.  Twenty eight hours later I was home, ready to get in high gear with anything that weighs less than ten pounds.

All of this reminded me that multitudes of people have heart problems of a spiritual nature that must be cared for.  The Bible describes the heart as the center of a person’s inner life.  It is the person himself.  While the Scriptures may refer to a person’s personality, his desires, his feelings or his character, it also incorporates his spirit, his soul, and his mind.

In his Concise Bible Dictionary, Don Fleming notes: “The heart is what is sometimes called the inner man; and is the source of all the wrong that a person does (Proverbs 6:14, 18; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:24-25; Ephesians 4:18).  Therefore, the heart must be cleansed to bring forgiveness; or, to use another picture, it must be re-created to bring new spiritual life.  Only God can bring about that cleansing or re-creation” (Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26; Acts 8:21-22; Hebrews 10:22).

One needs more than a by-pass or a Stent; he needs the redemptive quality of the blood of Jesus applied to his sin-sick heart.  He needs a life transformed, a heart repaired.  It is affected through the born-again experience. (John 3:3, 5)  It comes when one cries out to God for cleansing through the Redeemer of mankind… Jesus.  There is no other way for entrance into the kingdom of Heaven.  “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)

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GIVING THANKS

The old farmer, visiting a friend, noted that no one gave thanks before the meal. He could not resist his “needed” rebuke: “The only thing around our home that does not give thanks before a meal is the “hogs”.  I am certain I would have been a little more gracious than that, like:  “May I have the privilege of thanking the Lord for your hospitality and food?”

We all should review the 107th Psalm; it reminds us of the things for which we might thank the Lord: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His loving kindness is everlasting.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary and gathered from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”

People can forget to offer THANKS because over time we all forget the benefits of our “location”.  We grumble if it is too cold and grumble if it is too hot.  We moan and complain if it snows or rains or the humidity is too high or it is too dry.  The children of Israel did that and even moaned and groaned because they had to eat too much of the same food for too long.  They did not enjoy the wilderness; they wanted “city life”.  When God provided it, ere long they did not appreciate that either.

What does it take to make us “satisfied”?  If you watch further in Psalm 107 you will note that God filled the hungry and thirsty soul but they remained unsatisfied.  Some were “Prisoners in misery and chains” (v10) which led to rebellion against the words of God. (v11)

When we complain, spurn the counsel of the Most High, (v11) it was then that they finally cried out to the Lord who saved them out of all their trouble.  Here again we receive instruction from God thru the Psalmist:  “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!  For He has shattered gates of bronze and cut bars of iron asunder.” (v16)

Still they allowed themselves to complain.  But they are reminded in this song:  “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of the distresses.  He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness, and His wonders to the sons of men!” (v19-21)

Again we read: “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! (21)

What a Psalm!   Let us quit complaining and view the blessings that God has extended to us!

GIVE THANKS!

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DECEPTION

Daily… that’s right, I said daily, we have to deal with a word that appears in the Bible in its various forms, more than one hundred forty-seven times.  It is not one of the first words that we learn, but what it represents is learned at a very early age; once learned and refined in our thinking we endeavor to utilize it to maximum to accomplish our “goals”, even though they may be in opposition to the truth.

Trying to keep abreast of the latest NEWS and determine what is accurate, an opinion, or an outright lie, dignified by some of our opinions or conclusions or even our goals in life, legitimate or illegitimate is not easy.  A large part of that determination is based upon our relationship to God and His Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Think with me!  God had hardly created man and woman when the devil tried, successfully, to thwart their walk with the Lord.  “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:14; the details are found in Genesis 3)

Those who play with the English language to accomplish their goals are deceptive.   There are warnings in regard to this.  Galatians 6:7, 8 is a good illustration.  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

The far reaching effects of our pilgrimage journey down here, is beyond comprehension.  It involves others.  Duplicity discovered will undoubtedly create a web of entanglement.  One sees another get away with deceit and is encouraged to attempt the same because it seems to them that it is the only way to become top dog in the pack.  Without Christ as the anchor of the soul and His way as the only way one can build for eternity, deception can appear legitimate. 

Let us guard against deception and speak only the truth!  There could be no greater compliment to you or me at the end of life’s journey, than the words of others: “He was honest!   He was truthful!  He endeavored to glorify God in all matters of life!

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THE ROCK

When my father was in the middle age bracket, I recall him often saying: “I will never leave “The Rock”; that simply meant that he would never leave Bermuda to go any other place.  Bermudians often referred to Bermuda as “The Rock”!  Numerous events occurred that caused him to have to change his opinion, and he left “The Rock” on numerous occasions.

The average person will have a “Rock” at some juncture of their life, be it an individual, a place, an experience, or even as a fellow I met years ago who had rocks from places he had visited.

The Psalmist wrote the sixty first Psalm for the choir director; on a stringed instrument.  He probably wrote it with the idea that it would carry a very triumphant message and become well known as a result of its content and musical sing ability.  I often wonder about those songs, hymns of the past, that were lost for one reason or another.

There is such a fantastic message in this Psalm.  Remember how our Savior told the parable of the house on the sand, and the house built upon the rock?  Early in my childhood I was told about the necessity of building on a solid rock.  We have developed all types of foundations that allow us to build on all types of surfaces.  However, nothing equals building on rock!

In referring to the “rock” in Psalm 61, there is the solid base of confidence that is the psalmists, and ours, that we are on “solid” ground: our refuge, our tower of strength, Your tent, Your wings.   He follows that with “Selah!” Think on this!

Another word exudes the confidence of the Psalmist: “inheritance” of those who fear the NAME of the Lord.  It does not stop there: “he will abide before God forever.  And for a final thought: “So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may pay my vows day by day.”

Note: It is not Saturday or Sunday, but “day by day”.

What a ROCK!

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SHEPHERD OF GRACE

Copyright by Ted Cowen


In tenderness the Shepherd sought

This sheep that’d gone astray

He followed in loves pursuit

Knowing I had lost my way

Quietly he whispered

Child, let’s head on to My home

I’ll forgive your sin, and save your soul

Thru My GRACE I will make you whole.


I listened to that voice that day

As He spoke in tender tone

Welcome to the sheepfold

From this day, you’ll never walk alone

You’ll hear my voice

My presence is your guarantee

You are my child, you’re mine by choice

Forevermore you can rejoice.


He laid down His life for me

He did it at Calvary

Forgiven of sin I was told

Forever I rest in His fold


I walk now on the mountains

In the valleys, o’er the plains

I walk now hand in hand with Jesus

He comforts in the midst of pains

I have no needs

That He will not meet

In this journey through my strife

Jesus is my Shepherd; Jesus is my Life.

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GENERATION TO GENERATION

One of the greatest entrustments that one will encounter, yet we see sadly lacking for multiplied reasons, the greatest being the failure to communicate Biblical truths to our children.  Reading the fourth verse of Psalm 145 should make us rethink our obligations and their fulfillment.

The Psalmist impresses upon our thinking when he says: “Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable”. (v3) He follows this with the instruction to the next generation in verse 4, and tells us to declare Your mighty acts.

We have all been confronted with the busyness of our family in various phases of their growing to maturity, and our maturing with them.  At times we feel frustrated, and at times we are jubilant.  Trying to balance our thinking with theirs is a challenge to both of us.  Accordingly, the Psalmist gives us a tip when he says “Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.” (v3)  I must adapt to what God says in His WORD, and applying it graciously.  Parents are not appointed “dictators”.  They will quickly discover our weaknesses just as we theirs.  We are to focus on the greatness of God. 

The content of this Psalm is loaded with suggestions.  The greatness of God is unsearchable (v3);  declaration of His mighty acts (v4); the splendor of His majesty, and His works, along with His acts (v6); His greatness as well His abundant kindness (v6,7);  His righteousness (v7); His gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great in loving kindness (v8); He is good, His mercies over all His works (v9); all godly shall bless God (v10);  His glory and Kingdom that will last forever (v13);  He raises up all who are bowed down (v14); and I continue to quote of what we might pass on to our generation…

“The eyes of all look to YOU, and You give them their food in due time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.  The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.  The Lord is near to all who call upon Him; to all who call upon Him in truth.  He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.  The Lord keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.  My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”  (Psalm 145)

THINK ON THESE THINGS!

-Ted

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A DRUNKEN STUPOR

My uncle got rich on it… he sold it to others.  I lived with an alcoholic; therefore I am alarmed by those who try to convince me that there is nothing wrong with alcohol consumption.  I have counseled couples who have abandoned the deep love they had for each other because they refused to abandon the bottled up poison.  I have been threatened with guns, knives and even forks by some who threatened to beat me up, to pulverize me, along with many other instruments.  All of those threats were taken over by our wonderful Lord… to HIM be the praise!

One of the thickest files in my file cabinet is that of Alcohol!  After all, something that is referred to over 627 times in Scripture warrants many opinions.  I have tried to be gracious in responding to the various arguments as to which word was used and how and why, but I have not always been as gracious as I should have been.  I have even quoted my mother on occasion – “Empty kettles make a lot of noise!” Another of her favorites was: “If it is doubtful, it is dirty!”

I must inject a short note about my friend who ran a Mission for the needy.  One day one of the men came running in and said: “There is a guy out there with a knife, and he has another guy trapped in the alley, and is threatening to kill him.  Jack, a short chunky guy who probably could have rolled faster than running… bolted down the Alley, confronted the man and said: “In the Name of Jesus Christ, give me that knife!”  In that moment the “drunk” turned and passed Jack the knife, who immediately said: “Thank you sir!”  Looking up to Heaven and, just as quickly said: “And thank you Lord!”

Alcohol can make people attempt the most ridiculous things; the one sings and the other fights.  In most cases they do not want to talk about it later.  The Apostle said: “And do not be drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:18-19).

This has been only two verses of Scripture, but there are hundreds more that show God’s displeasure.

-Ted

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LOVE

I take the liberty of quoting 1 Corinthians 13… Love is both a gift and a grace: “If I speak with the tongues of man and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

Does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away, 

For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

(Quoted N.A.S.B. , 1 Corinthians 13 in its entirety.)

Love is not transitory!

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MOMENTARY QUESTIONS

The strongest of the saints can allow terror to strike their heart.  It occurs from the strangest of experiences and leads to despondency.  When a man, a friend, said he had experienced depression, and he found it hard that some Christians can make light, and even utter rash statements… he quietly said, “they do not know what they are talking about.  I have hit bottom, and have been unable to get out of despondency though I read the Word, prayed, along with some other antics to rise above it for months.”

He related how there were moments when he thought about taking his life, even though his business was doing fine.  His wife remained loyal and patient, and became the staying force as the battle ensued.

The Godly David hit bottom according to 1 Samuel 27.  He had lost his ability to rise above the constant assaults of Saul.  We read in 1 Samuel 27: 1, “Then David said to himself, ‘Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul.  There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines.  Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel and I will escape from his hand’.”

Some parts of David’s brain were functioning quite clearly, as he thought!  He left, taking 600 men, crossed over to Gath, and all of them evidently were quite comfortable with their wives joining them.  Then we read, just as David thought; Saul no longer searched for him.  Despondency is usually accompanied with all types of ideas, some good, and some “good for nothing”!

During those sixteen months he felt that he could not “be himself” and ended up attacking other groups.  His actions were to “leave non alive”, lest they should relate his activities to the folk at Gath.  Gradually information leaked out and then no one trusted him.  Oh the pitfalls when one “hits bottom”.  When he should have been leaning on the Lord, he was allowing his tortured mind to reach out in a manipulative manner.

When we go through the pond of despair, it is not the time that we think clearly.  In fact we are probably at our weakest and make the worst decisions.  Fortunately, we live in an era where professionals can help us meander through such situations.

I make the suggestion of learning to lean on Jesus.  Whether you recognize what is happening or not, Read the Scriptures! (In particular the Psalms)  Pray!  Do not try to be sophisticated; just talk heart to heart with God.  Do not try to manipulate your thinking or HIS!  He is preparing you for, as yet, something that is beyond your imagination.  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes. Wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

-Ted

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DEATH, IT’S PROSPECT

Isn’t it looked upon, especially in our younger years, as a morbid time?  We lose someone we loved, admired, and in a moment they were gone.  We felt as though we had been robbed; our jewel of great worth has been dumped underground and all that I have left are memories.  Even those memories will drift into obscurity, or close to it.  I try at that moment to somehow, imbed and tuck them into a section of my brain.

During the last two weeks, a lady that I attended grade School with, and her son, were both welcomed into the presence of the Savior.  On my last trip to Bermuda I spent a few minutes on several occasions with a guy that I knew from days prior to his Salvation; David reminded me that he was now 90 years of age.  It was not too long after that, the Lord called him home.   Three in the same family, all in short order.  Many precious memories!

While I think of this extended family with which I spent many hours, I am regretful that I could not have been there, but the last has not been written or thought upon concerning their service for the Savior.

I have thought of the courage with which they have fought many difficulties.  The solid faith through all of their troublesome times!  The Apostle reminded the believers at Corinth in chapter 1:1 “I preached… you received… you stand!”

I can hear in faith, the echoes of a host of friends and relatives rejoicing… “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.   For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”  Hallelujah!  (1 Corinthians 15:19, 22, 26)

Death is not defeat for us in Christ; it is victory; it is a prospect!

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A LAMP

On one of my trips to Bermuda, I decided to visit the old Lighthouse where my father had been a keeper for many years, and other members of our extended family had also been keepers at other periods.

I climbed the 185 steps with my good friend Joel, and we shared many stories as we moved inside initially, and then went out on the veranda and shared more experiences as we viewed the island.  One has an unhindered view from that “perch”, 145 feet in the air.  You can see approximately two thirds of the island from that viewpoint.  My Father could tell a story and keep tourists enamored much longer then they had intended to stay up there.

When we got back down, the keeper that day said “Ted!  I have something special for you.”  He handed me a post-card that a photographer had taken one night.  The lens for the light weighed almost two tons, and you can turn it with one finger. The photographer had established his camera in a position that enabled him to get all five beams from the light in one shot.  It was magnificent!  Almost impossible!

As I was reading from Mark 4, I found myself drifting back to the old home, joined at the bottom of the lighthouse.  I have been back frequently, and always my mind is drifting in and out of many memories.

I should mention that Mark obviously did not write long dissertations.  He was very pointed.  His first observation is clear, that is, you do not put it under a bed or in a basket.  It is to give light, and that is why it is to be put on a lamp stand.

There is the realization that it is to “give light”.  You do not put it in a hiding place; rather you put it where everything within its potential range can be illuminated.  That was a pleasure to make – a standing lamp!

Jesus, at one point in this portion of Scripture reminds them / and us, that we should, make use of every opportunity to be a beacon of hope to a world in need of the Savior.  As the kids sing so often, “Let your light shine”; let your light shine forth for Jesus!

A reminder to all of us…  All shall be exposed in eternity future… Does it challenge us?

-Ted

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A PRODIGAL PEOPLE

At the height of his prophesying, Hosea is told to take a wife of harlotry and then she would bear children.  The word of the Lord came to Hosea, and explained that his ministry to Israel would present a clear picture to her of God’s assessment of her conduct.  In His advice to Israel, his family was not the most grandiose for a display of how God saw them in the conduct of worldliness, but it was vivid.

The children were instructed to be called by names conducive to their own attitudes.  All the while, Hosea, whose name means “God is help” or another meaning is “Salvation”, was hammering home the message that had come to him.  Israel would be punished in due time, but while she was living like a prodigal, she
would constantly be reminded, “You are not My people,” there would be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.”

People judge us by our conduct and said to say, they viciously throw around accusations that may have justified conclusions.

When she has deeply imbedded her activity as an adulterous woman, and cannot find satisfaction, and even seeks out those who no longer seek her trade, (to no avail) she says “I will go back to my first husband.  For it was better for me than now.”

Remembering that this is a figurative presentation, you can hear the words that traverse her brain.  “For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold which they used for Baal.  Therefore, I will take back my grain at harvest time and My new wine in its season.  I will also take away My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness.  And then I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one will rescue her out of my hand.  I will also put an end to all her gaiety, He feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her festal assemblies.  I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages which my lovers have given me.’   I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them.  I will punish her for days of the Baals.  And direct their desire toward their iniquity.  And it will be like people, like priest; so I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.  They will eat, but not have enough.  They will play the harlot, but not increase, because they have stopped giving heed to the Lord.”

As I said earlier, the picture has more content in the verses that follow.  Hopefully, you will take time to view the remaining portion in your Bible.  (Hosea 3 +)

God will call attention to all of our past when we see Him in all of His GLORY!  He has promised that confessed sin has been dealt with in Christ.  He will reward us for acts performed for His Praise.  Our hearts will be filled with Adoration!

-Ted