Saturday, August 25, 2012

Not From Concentrate - Complete & Unabridged

"Whoever, then, annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but, whoever keeps and teaches them, He shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 5:19

When I go to the grocery store to buy orange juice, apple juice, or grape juice, I really try to buy the juices not made from a concentrated form of the juice.  I want the 100% pure orange juice - not something mixed with other juices - not something watered down, or broken down, or cut with other inferior products.

I want the good old 100% - no other version or reasonable facsimile will do!  I want the full impact of the pure with all the inherent benefits!

The same thing with my movies. Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy the original versions of the classic movies better than some of the popular contemporary re-makes. 

Perhaps they are made with a bigger budget, better sound effects, more amazing visual effects, and more grandiose marketing promises to deliver the story goods.  However, often the story suffers to accommodate the sensational.  The new seems like a cheap thrill of eye candy, lacking true heart - stripping the story of all the power once felt when viewing the original.

And, then there's literature!  When I want to read the classics, I want the complete and unabridged version - not the re-written for the modern audience or "dumbed down" version. 

Often, a new, abridged version spin on an old classic changes the story to some degree - and the meaning of the words written, altogether.  Something just feels missing in these "updated" versions.

Then, there's the issue concerning our modern legislature.  These "McServants" are often doing more to re-write history than to preserve the integrity of the original foundations laid . . .

Leaving us with a watered down Constitution that stands for nothing, but falls for everything.

In our text for today, there is the word "annul" which, in the Greek, is "luo".  This means, "to dissolve, to water down, to break down."  Our Lord warns us not to dissolve or water down His Word.  We are not to break it down so much that we change the meaning, that it loses its intent, its context.  He wants us to get the full benefits, the full impact in the reading and hearing of His Word.  He doesn't want us to miss a thing.  He doesn't want us to cut corners, to "dumb it down".  He wants us to embrace the full council of God, the mind of God!

So, we must make every effort when we are preaching, teaching, witnessing, sharing - to get it right.  When we feed our children, we give them nothing but the best - pure wholesome food.  The same with our Bible teaching, preaching, witnessing.  No cut corners, no revisonist history, no changing of meanings.  In getting it right, we need to properly study and apply the Word.  In order to do this, we must procure for ourselves the proper tools. 

A good "word for word" translation of the Bible is a good place to start. 

The translations that follow this principle is the King James Version, New King James Version, New American Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version.   "Thought for thought" translations such as the New International Version, New Living Translation, the Century English Version, and others, are fine - but, I prefer the word for word in my personal studies.

In addition to your Bibles, may I suggest the use of a concordance with the original languages dictionary included.   

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance by Nelson Publishers,  or The Strong's New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance by Zondervan Publishers are two of the best.  They both include Greek and Hebrew dictionaries with their original meanings, not a rewritten one.  With these tools we get the full benefit, the full impact of God's Word, based upon proper study of His Word, and not heresay.

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." 
II Timothy 2:15  KJV

In the New American Standard Bible, this portion reads:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth."

When we get it right we can share it with others, we can teach others the right way, the correct way, which is the least we can do - and, nothing to be ashamed of.

 How do you read?  What do you think? 

Sharing Not From Concentrate with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jots & Tittles - A Hairy Subject

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say to you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled."

Matthew 5:17-18  KJV

The old joke goes, "God made a few perfect heads, and put hair on the rest."

This saying rings me comfort as well as a smile because - I am folically challenged!

I am not totally bald.  I do have hair that creates a sort of monk's tonsure.  It does go from ear to ear, but there's very little on top.  This little piece of fur that will not leave the top of my head, I affectionately call it, "The Little Engine that Could."

"I think I can . . . I think I can . . . I think I can . . . spread to the rest of Ed's scalp!"

Did you know that the average human head has over 100,000 strands of hair?

I know that I don't have that many on the top of my head, but I make up for it by growing a beard.  The average male beard has between 7,000 to 15,000 strands of hair.

I believe that my beard keeps my head on the level!

To explain hair loss, scientists calculate that fifty to a hundred hairs a day are lost or fall out.  I must've lost a decades worth overnight when I turned forty!

Matthew 10:30 says, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered."

God can count my hair on both His hands!

How do we know all this - where did we get all of this knowledge?  I Corinthians 12:8 says, "For to one is given by the Spirit the Word of Wisdom, to another the Word of Knowledge, by the same Spirit."

Scientists may think that they had discovered this, but it was our all knowing, all poweful God that granted this knowledge.  Sorry about that, Richard Dawkins!  We might as well ge this into our heads and hearts right how - God knows all because He created all.  Because He has set all things in motion, all things will be fulfilled.

Jesus was asked if He had come to destroy the law of the Old Testament.

Was He going to null and void the Scriptures and make something new and contrary to what had been preserved and passed down for so many generations?

Consider John 1:1:  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

In John 1:3, he says, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made."

And, finally, in John 1:14 we read, "And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us."

So, in the beginning there was Jesus, Who made everything (set it in motion), and now dwells among us, and He is asked - will He destroy the law? 

In the Old Testament there are 23,148 Scriptures.  In the New Testament, there are 7,958 - between the two a grand total of 31,103 verses of Scripture that became Flesh - that are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ!  And He is asked if He is going to destroy the Old Testament!  That would be like cutting off His arms and legs! 

Let's revisit His answer:

"Think not (don't even think about it!) that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets (the Old Testament, my Foundation):  I am not come to destroy (make null and void), but to fulfill (carry it all out!).  For verily (truly) I say to you (pay attention to Me, now), till heaven and earth (all of My creation) pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all (all means all and that's all that all means!) be fulfilled (carried out).

In closing, let's look at the words, "jot" and "tittle".  

JOT - Greek - 'iota'; Hebrew - 'yod'; both meaning the smallest Hebrew letter - small, like a mustard seed.

TITTLE - Greek - 'keraia' meaning smallest stroke in a Hebrew letter.

It is like the dash ( - ) in this week's post title and the dashes used throughout this post.  'Keraia' comes from the Greek word, 'keras' which means - get this - A HAIR ON THE HEAD!!

Not one dot of an 'i', nor a cross of a 't' - not a single hair will be lost till Jesus fulfills every word in His Word!

Remember - since the return of Israel to their own nation in 1947, we are in the home stretch of prophecy fulfillment.  We are this close to 99.9% of Biblical prophecy already fulfilled - and the headlines bring the world closer to 100% everyday!  Knowing this, what is your decision for and about Jesus Christ?

It's time to be like a hair - stand up and be counted!

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing Jots & Tittles this week with:
Laura on Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
Charlotte on Spiritual Sundays

Friday, July 27, 2012

Candles & Flashlights

"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 5:14-16 NASB

Here's another way to put it:

"You're here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I'm putting you on a light stand.  Now that  I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light-stand - SHINE!  Keep open house, be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven."
The Message

"The painful preacher, like candlelight, consumes himself in giving others light."
Benjamin Franklin

When there's a storm, and the power goes out, what do we usually reach for?  What's the first thing that we stumble around in the dark for?  A waffle iron?  The T.V.? 


Maybe, if you have one - a generator would be worth reaching for.  But, most reach for a trusty old flashlight. 

After finding the flashlights, we'll usually go to the cupboard and get out the candles, matches, and candlesticks.

Candles and flashlights, our first line of defense against any storm power-outage.  Why is that?

It's because in the midst of the storms and darkness, we crave light!  We need to see where we are going.  We are uncomfortable in our vulnerability in the darkness.  In darkness, we lose our sense of direction, lose our sense of balance.  In all, we lose our bearings.

Ever notice when the lights go out, someone usually says, "Nobody move til I get a flashlight and some candles!"

And, when these things are procured, do you notice how you feel afterward?  Things become more focused.  You remember where you are, and where things are put.  Order is restored, and we all sigh a collective, "That's better!"

We remind ourselves that we're okay and that nobody's gotten hurt and that we'll ride out the rest of the storm just fine.  Some of us actually start to enjoy the glow of the candles and flashlight.  With the warmth of the glow, we'll cuddle on couches and put sleeping bags down on the living room floor for the kids.  We might even break out in song - perhaps, This Little Light of Mine.

Yes, we're enjoying ourselves - we have light.  But, what about the drain on the batteries?  And, what about the candles burning down, running out of wax and wicks? 

A common element in children's literature is to give human thoughts and feelings to animals and inanimate objects - like candles and flashlights.  Were we to employ "personification" here, we might wonder if Flashlight Fred worries about his batteries running down -

Or Carl Candle is fretting about how soon his wick burns to the bottom! 

Truth is - candles and flashlights don't bother about such things.  It's just not in their character.  They are designed and called to one service - one purpose:  To give light and SHINE

They give no thought to rewards or accolades.  They just shine their light in the darkness - showing the path on the way to where you are going - getting you there and back again safely. 

They have purpose and take rest in that purpose.  The Master of the house will see to it that they are properly disciplined and ready when needed with fresh batteries and trimmed wick.  He puts them where they can be found, keeps them properly upgraded and maintained. 

The same is true in our calling and purpose as Christians - to SHINE in the darkness and storms of the world around us.  We're not to worry about running down, or fret that we might burn out.  We trust our Master, Creator, Savior, to take care of us - making us disciplined and ready for use as He wills.  All we have to do is SHINE - and enjoy the journey - to rest in the knowledge of our purpose, what we were created to be - to do - to SHINE HIS LIGHT

After all, He is the One Who turned us on - and He will be the One to shut us off . . . or blow us out . . . in His time, and no other.

We are to take pleasure in showing people where they are and where they are going - and to help them get safely on the path there and back again.  In so doing, we demonstrate the goodness and generosity of our Heavenly Father - our Generator.

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing Candles & Flashlights this week with:
Laura's Faithful Friday at Beholding Glory
Charlotte's Spiritual Sundays

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Salted Peanuts

"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 underfoot by men."
Matthew 5:13

I have read, and re-read this scripture many times.  I read it from different translations.  I read it fast.  I read it slow.  Something about this scripture was troubling to me, and I couldn't quite put a finger on it.  I looked up this passage in commentaries, and read the explanations from various Bible scholars, and still, it didn't feel right.

This was getting personal - I was feeling challenged!

Finally, I read it word by word, and then phrase by phrase, and the Holy Spirit began to breakdown both the scriptures and myself.  He broke them down into tiny-bite-size pieces, or morsels - like little salted nuts.

Funny, the more he broke it down, the more hungry and thirsty I'd become - like eating something salty and then needing a drink afterwards.

One thing I can honestly say about salt is that it makes you thirsty!  Try eating pretzels, or potato chips, or peanuts without drinking something along with it!  As a matter of fact, try eating anything that has salt in it and NOT drink something!  The more you eat, the more drink you require.

Taking a page out of my former life, let me tell you of my "bar" experience.  I spend my time at a different  "bar" now - studying God's Law, and the way I should live.  Old "bar" habits have passed away - behold  all things in my life are new - God is making me a "used-to-be." 

Anyway, in the old days I would go to a bar, looking for liquid refreshment after a hard day's work.  Seating myself at the the bar, there lay before me bowls of pretzels, potato chips, and peanuts all stationed strategically in front of each barstool.

Was it because of the owners being overly generous and wanting to give out free food?

No.  Pretzels, potato chips, and peanuts are loaded with salt!

They were there to make you thirsty!  The more you would eat, the more drinks you would buy.

Talk about cause and effect!

Needless to say, their little ploy worked.  Their registers were singing a most happy tune, right up to the "last call."  You couldn't help but  notice the last call, because all the patrons would go into mourning as the bartenders stopped giving out food and pouring drinks.  Everyone would break out in a bit of a dirge, "the party's over!"

Last Call.

Folks, do we really believe, that in the times in which we live, this could possibly be the"last call" of the Lord for people to be saved?  Do we really believe that this is the "party's over" for the most of the world's population?  Do we really believe that God is serious about us witnessing to the lost?

Think of it this way - Christians are the salted peanuts, potato chips, and pretzels in the earth, strategically placed in front of the unbeliever patrons of this world.  We're here to make people hungry and thirsty for Christ!

Read Numbers 18:19 very slowly:

"All the offerings of the Holy Gifts, which the sons of Israel offer to the Lord, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you as a perpetual allotment.  It is an everlasting covenant of SALT before the Lord to you and your descendants with you."  NASB

It's New Testament counterpart is found in Romans 12:1-2:

"Therefore, I urge you, brethern, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

This is our lot - our heritage - to be salted peanuts to a dying world.

Christians are to live flavorful, to work up people's appetite and thirst for Him!  God has not called us to live a tasteless and flavorless Christian life.  He wants our daily choices in all manner of living, our conversation, what flows from our mouths and our hearts to be the spice of Christ, making those whose lives we touch thirst for - LIVING WATER!

Consider the urgency of the season.  Listen to Jesus in John 4:35 (NASB):

"Do you not say, 'There and yet four months, and then comes the harvest.'?  Behold, I say to you, 'Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest.' "

Also, in Matthew 9:37-38 (NASB):

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore, beseech (beg) the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

So here's that personal challenge I mentioned at the outset - a challenge to me and you and anyone who identifies themselves by the name of Jesus Christ: 

How then shall we live? 

Perhaps, we need to stop being bar-flies, or video game-flies, or vain entertainment-flies, or just plain lazy-flies, and beg the Lord to take out His Saltshaker and shake us out into the world!  Salting the earth so people ask questions like bar patrons asking the bartender for another drink.  Are we keeping the bowls of peanuts, pretzels, and potato chips filled?   Are we lifting up the salted flavor of Jesus at work, at play, in the neighborhood, your family?

Listen to this promise from Jesus:

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, WILL draw all men to Myself."
John 12:32

Are we drawing this "draft" for people thirsting from the taste of our "salted" lives?

If people aren't being drawn to desire to drink, perhaps we've become tasteless.  If they're not noticing the bowls of peanuts, pretzels, and potato chips, perhaps it's because we aren't regularly refilling our bowls. 

If there's no salted peanuts on the bar to begin with, no one will even notice the "last call". 

They won't even care . . .

What do you think?  How do you read?

Sharing some Salted Peanuts this week with:
Laura on Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blessed Are the Chicken

"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 your reward in Heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Matthew 5:11-12

An insult is thrown.
A challenge is made.

The two parties choose their weapons. 

If it's a duel, pistols at dawn.
If it's cars, then a game of "chicken" has begun!

You know the drill in a duel.  The two parties stand back to back, count to ten paces, turn, and fire their pistols. 

The first one hit, loses.  He not only loses the duel, but the odds are that he also loses his life.  The first one who lays down his weapon without firing - "chicken's out".  He bears the former insult and dishonor, and is declared the loser. 

But, at least he's still alive!   Is he really the loser?

In a game of "chicken" two cars face each other as about a hundred yards - the length of a football field. 

A flag is dropped, the two cards barrel towards each other at full speed heading for a head to head collision.  The top speed going to the end of the hundred yards is anywhere from 80 to 85 miles an hour.  Imagine the impact!  Anyhow, the first car to get out of the way of the other car, avoiding the crash, is "chicken", and therefore the loser.  Right?

Well, according to today's text, WRONG!

Word Study:  PERSECUTE

The Greek word for 'persecute/persecuted' is 'diuko', which means, "to be put to flight".

So, blessed are you when you're insulted because of Jesus, and you take flight.  You just get out of there.  Blessed are you for being chicken, or put another way - blessed are you that gets out of the way - turns the other cheek and runs.

Getting out of the way of a bullet isn't chicken - it's being smart - genius even!  Getting out of the way of a car coming at you going 60 to 80 miles per hour isn't chicken - it's being a candidate for Mensa!

Remember the first Karate Kid movie when Mr. Myagi was teaching Daniel karate, his words were, "Best way to block a punch is not to be there.  Best way to save face."  


Jesus' teaching on the Beatitudes was about being poor in spirit, being repentant, being gentle, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, being merciful/forgiving, being pure in heart, and being a peacemaker.  Nowhere did He say, "Blessed are those who mouth off when insulted," OR "Blessed are the vengeful," OR "Blessed is the one who can punch someone's lights out," OR "Blessed is the one who can scare the daylight out of somebody," OR even - "Blessed are the ones who defend Me."

Jesus doesn't need defending.  He's God.  He defends us - not vice versa!

In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us His accomplishments - not his aspirations!  He is showing us His Way - not the way of the world.  It's not, "Blessed is the tough guy."

It's, "Blessed are the meek, the weak, who don't rely on their physique!"

We are told that the prophets of old were put to flight.  We are told of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Gideon, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and many others who were put to flight.  They learned to "Live to fight another day!"

They were put to flight for their stand for God.  So, being "chicken" is to be in good company.  The only one who ever stood His ground was Jesus.  He stood His ground - planted on the cross - fighting for us!  He planted Himself so we could run to God, and that's a great reward. 

Who wants to end up like the Hatfield's and the McCoy's anyway?

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing Blessed Are the Chicken this week with:
Laura on Faith Filled Friday at Beholding Glory
Charlotte on Spiritual Sundays 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Bronco Is Now A Jet

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 5:10

They say that he can't throw.
They say that his style of play is so unorthodox that his mechanics are wrong.
They say that for his position, he's out of position to make a good play.
They say that he's not intelligent enough to be a quarterback in the NFL.
They say that he shouldn't be a quarterback, but a halfback, or fullback in football.
They say that he'll never be a good quarterback, or that he should never start at quarterback in the NFL.  They say that anybody who starts him will not win many games.
They say that he'll never be a winner, that he's one for the bench at best.

They always criticize his style.
They always criticize his public demeanor.
They say that he's a phony - that he's really not what he is in public - in private

Well, let's see . . .

In college, his teams won not only one, but two NCAA National Championships - Number One out of hundreds of college teams!  He was the first ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy - that's the honor of being named the top college football player in the nation - Number One out of thousands of football players!

As a pro, he was drafted Number One for the Denver  Broncos.  In his second year he led the Broncos to a western division title.  In his first playoff game, he led the Broncos to an upset win over the favored, superior Pittsburg Steelers!

Yet, he is still maligned, still put down.  Still - people are non-believers.

Throughout his whole life, he was told that he'd never measure up - that he'd always fall short.  And, what was his reward for leading the Broncos to a division title and a playoff win?

He was traded.
Traded to the New York Jets.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

You've heard people talk about him.
You've read about him in the newspapers
You've seen him on T.V..
You've heard the commentaries on the radio.

I'm talking here about the most polarizing player in the NFL today - TIM TEBOW!

You know, Tebow?  Of the "te-bowing"?  When he runs or throws for a touchdown, he immediately falls to his knees, bows, and prays a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus.

The term, "te-bowing" was given to him by the media, and it has sure caught on!  Tebow has been mocked by everyone from Saturday Night Live to  that wonderful bastion of conservatism, Bill Mahr.

He is criticized for giving credit to his teammates, his coaches, and of course, God - taking no credit for himself.  As a matter of fact, when asked about his ability, he will often quote scripture like:

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."
Proverbs 27:2

For stuff like this, he is often viewed as Public Enemy #1!

Why is he always put down?  Why is his name banter for jokes?  Why is he relentlessly persecuted?

Is it really for his athletic ability?  Is it really for his athletic record?  Is his tie on crooked?  Did he sell somebody a bum used car?


I believe, it's because of his stand for Jesus!

Tim Tebow is the son of Christian missionaries.  He was born in the Philippines and enjoyed a homeschool education.  He testifies that at age 25 he is still a virgin waiting for the woman God will give him in holy matrimony!

His Tim Tebow Foundation fulfills the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.

It partners with other children's organizations throughout the U.S. and supports over 600 orphans worldwide.  Tim spends his free time working to bring faith, hope, and love to those in need.  These things don't bring cheers from the world and the worldly.

It brings raspberries!
It brings jealousy.
It brings slander from a world full of cynicism.


Those worldly minds who so harshly pass judgement on Tim Tebow can't see that his whole focus in life is to add to the Kingdom of God.  He's not after treasure that can be stolen, or rot, or rust.  He's claiming territory bought by the Blood of Jesus.

And, in all this, the world rewards him thus:  An adult porn site has offered a one million dollar reward to any woman - or man - that can provide proof that he/she took Tebow's virginity away from him.

Sounds like they're offering thirty pieces of silver to someone to betray innocence.

He drew "boo's" at Yankee Stadium for his witness for Jesus.  Many say he will fall in Sin Ciry, New York - that temptaion will get the best of him.  Even so, I recently  read that in his competition for the starting quarterback's job for the Jets, Mark Sanchez has stated that Tebow's presence makes him work harder and brings out the best in him!

Tim's birth in the Philippines was a troubled one.  His mother was told to abort him to save her life.  She didn't.  She prayed.  Together they beat the odds.  Instead of being a statistic, today Tim wears scripture verses on his "lamp black" under his eyes, so when people or players get close to him, maybe they'll read the scripture and become a statistic for the New Census in the Kingdom of God.

I have no doubt that he'll beat the odds in NYC, and will win over the fans of the Jets like he did with THIS Eagle fan!

The Bronco fans will rue the day that Tebow was traded, just like the sports world will rue the day that they joined the sinking ship of the media and put Tim down.

Thirty pieces of silver buys a temporal high on a smile from the world.  A soul saved inherits a Kingdom, and praise from the eternal God.  Why hasn't the world been able to beat Tim Tebow down?  Because:

"The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!"
John 1

Yeah - I'm a fan of Tim Tebow - but I'm more of a fan of the One he represents.

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing The Bronco Is Now A Jet with:
Laura on Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays
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