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Monday, September 29, 2014

Mason Jars, Pallet Furniture, and People

Mason jars are used for canning and: lighting, containers, organizing, for drinks, as vases, and a million other functions. They add the shabby chic touch to home décor.

Illustration by: debspoons

Wood pallets are nailed together and finished to make beds, sofas, armchairs, tables, and patio furniture. They’re taken apart and made into wall art, headboards, signs, and different kinds of shelving. (In our house, we burn them in the wood stove for heating.)

Photo by: artur84

I’m amazed at all the uses for normal, everyday things! (Just today, I saw a novel use for cereal boxes. Amazing!)

Take something ordinary, be creative, et voilà! You have something new and wonderful.

That’s exactly what God does with a person.

Jesus saves a rotten old sinner who puts his faith in Him for salvation. (Ephesians 2:5)

He makes that person a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

He puts a new desire in his heart—for the Word of God. (1 Peter 2:2)

Jesus gives him a new meaning for his life—to glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Jesus takes the weak things and makes them useful. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

Jesus provides wisdom when he needs it. (James 1:5)

He becomes his best Friend. (Proverbs 18:24)

Jesus gives him the most abundant life. (John 10:10)

Jesus does much more than upcycle: 
He makes everything brand new! 

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 

Praise God!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Author and Finisher

Illustration by: Stuart Miles

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2)

An author writes the story. That involves making it up and intricate planning. The Bible says that Jesus, before the creation of the world, already planned our redemption. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God (1 Peter 1:18-21).

God knew mankind would sin, and He had already planned to sacrifice His Son, before the world was created. God is the Author of salvation.

Jesus’ virgin birth and sacrifice are prophesied in Genesis 3:15, just after Adam and Eve sinned: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The word finisher brings to mind Jesus’ words on the cross, as He gave up His spirit. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:30). What was finished? The whole payment of redemption. The giving of His blood. The Sinless dying for sinful man.

I looked up the word used for faith in Hebrews 12:2 (Greek: pistis). It means “conviction of a truth, belief.”* Jesus planned to die to pay the price for sin, and He thus provided for all those who would believe in Him. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (Romans 3:25).

When we put our faith in Jesus provision of redemption through His death on the cross, there are some amazing benefits:
  • Peace with God—Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
  • Access to grace—By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2).
  • Boldness and access in prayerIn whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Ephesians 3:12). But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (James 1:6a).
  • The indwelling of the Holy SpiritThat Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17a).
  • A sure hope of heavenNow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
  • Motivation to demonstrate faith with our worksEven so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works (James 2:17-18).

Who can have faith?
Anyone who trusts Jesus as SaviorFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

How can a person find out about faith in Jesus?
Read the Bible. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). You can start by reading the Gospel of Saint John. It’s all about Jesus’ life and ministry. In John, chapter 3, Jesus tells a man how he can be born again.

I always thought salvation was about works. Is it really about faith?
Read these verses. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . . .

(If you need to know more about salvation, take time to read the Gospel of John. Enjoy reading about Jesus, who died and rose for you.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Non-Fiction Book Review: Jew in the Pew

Photo by: Serge Bertasius Photography

Jew in the Pew: A Memoir by Jenny Berg Chandler reflects the feelings and thoughts of Mrs. Chandler, a Jewish lady married to a gentile man. They attend a Baptist church together with their three children. Mrs. Chandler feels empty because she perceives her Christian church friends don’t connect with her Jewishness and her familiarity with the Old Testament feasts. They don’t even know about Pesach!

Mrs. Chandler looks back on the days when she was a child, when the extended family got together for Jewish Sabbath observances and the feasts. Those were special times, with all the family around the table, the blessing being said, and she remembered them with fondness. She felt that her children were missing out.

So, she begins observing the Sabbath—not without some hilarious problems—and makes it a tradition for their family. Then, she observes the feasts and invites friends and family. Mrs. Chandler joins a Jewish women’s organization and finds herself drawn back to synagogues for worship and skipping church more and more.

The author is definitely a believer in Jesus as her Messiah, and she appreciates Him in her life. Her problem seems to be that she misses the celebrations and the family gatherings and the Jewish forms and traditions. I also felt she lacks consistent, devotional Bible reading.

I picked this book up for an understanding of Jewish Christians and how they might feel. In this, I believe the book was profitable.

I had some problems with the language Mrs. Chandler uses—some crude language and one profanity used several times throughout. She also has no problem with drinking alcohol, and I do. I felt that she had some valid points about Christians not understanding the Old Testament feasts, especially in relation to Christ, pointing to Christ. We gentiles should be better educated! We would appreciate the Old Testament more, were we to see Jesus in the feasts.

On the other hand, I felt that she was somewhat only thinking of herself when she did some of the things. The book comes across as very “me” centered. Maybe it was just the way I read it, but I thought her husband was very accommodating towards her, and she didn’t seem to want to do much for him—like attending and enjoying Easter services. I really didn’t understand why she couldn’t enjoy the resurrection of her Savior—a crucial part of the gospel. I also had a problem with her leading the Jewish women’s society, where one of the rules for her was “no proselytizing.” If you’re not allowed to share your Messiah . . .?!

It was, however, an interesting book and well-written. I would only recommend it to someone who wants—as I did—to understand a Jewish believer’s view on the issues of Old Testament Jewish traditions versus the gentile Christian church. Especially if you minister in a Jewish neighborhood, it would be worth your while, with the caveats mentioned above.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Save the Pandas, Etc.

Photo by: tiverylucky

I just watched some video clips of three baby pandas in Guangzhou, China from their birth and filmed again this week. They were so cute, making funny noises that sounded like those little horns you blow at birthday parties. From almost hairless, now the baby pandas have distinctive black and white markings and fuzzy fur. They are just now being introduced to their mother, having been kept in an incubator and cared for meticulously. Pandas are an endangered species, so each tiny cub is important. They’re so important to zoos that the Edinburgh zoo paid six million pounds to the Chinese government for the loan of two giant pandas, a male and a female.

I went out to the outdoor bench where I like to have my devotions, and I decided the bench needed repositioned. Then I sat down and noticed that, in the bare patch now uncovered, there were a lot of red ants and just about as many little white pill-shaped packets, almost as big as the ants. Those red ants were moving like crazy! Within just a few minutes, they had moved all of the packets underground, out of the sun. Soon, there wasn’t a red ant or a packet to be seen.

I came back inside and did some research. I found out that the little white ant packets were capsules containing baby ants. The ants didn’t want their babies exposed to the elements. They protected every one.

Which brings me to human babies.

I believe that an unborn human is a child. Just like an unborn ant is valuable to an ant, an unborn human should be valuable to humans. Just as the ants protect their own unhatched little ones, we should protect our unborn children.

Baby pandas are cared for with white gloves. Unborn human children are butchered in the womb.

I read some statistics the other day: In the United States, each year 121,000 people die from accidents, 580,000 from cancer, 600,000 from heart disease, and 1,600,000 from abortion. Abortion is the number one killer of Americans.**

I wish we were more like ants.

Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13)

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life (Exodus 21:22-23).

**Statistics from National Pro-Life Alliance.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Photo by: marin

In a Sky News interview, Barbara Streisand was asked if she thought there was too much pressure on women performers to conform to a certain size and shape. She answered, “Yes. I think there’s too much emphasis on superficiality.”1

Superficiality means “the quality or state of being superficial.”

Superficial means “concerned only with what is obvious or apparent; affecting only the outer part or surface of something; lying close to the surface.”2

We usually think of these words when talking about face, hair, clothing, body size and shape, etc. Superficial brings to mind celebrities like Dolly Parton (with her big-hair blond wig, copious make-up, and enhanced body) and recently deceased Joan Rivers (known for so many face-lifts that she joked, “When I die, they’ll donate my body to Tupperware.”) Magazines are filled with models that have been Photoshopped out of recognition. Their necks are lengthened, their bodies whittled away. Every hint of a blemish has been hidden. What you see, the superficial, isn’t even what you actually see!

But, superficiality isn’t only in the unreal expectations and presentations of our day. There’s also superficiality in the church.
  • The man gives a flowery testimony every Sunday of God’s goodness and leadership in his life, yet he parties, drinks in excess, and carouses in night clubs on Saturday nights—every Saturday night.
  • The woman looks like a saint in church. Everyone thinks she’s sweet, and good. Yet, she nags and badgers her husband, and she cannot say anything positive to anyone in her family.
  • The guy seems to be the nicest family man in the world, but he’s cheating on his wife.
  • The woman teaches Sunday school and posts Bible verses on social media, yet she has a hidden side: she’s addicted to script porn.
  • The man dresses up really sharp for church. No one looks better . . . but he has an online poker habit that's threatening everything he owns. Soon he’ll not be financially able to keep up his snappy dressing.3

In Jesus’ time, the technology was lacking, but the problems were the same. The Pharisees were a group of religious Jews that were especially concerned with outside appearances. They insisted on adding to the Mosaic Law all kinds of rites and ceremonies. They had to wash their hands publicly in a specified way. They had to measure just how far they walked on the Sabbath. Their religious traditions began to take precedence over God’s Word.

Jesus wasn’t pleased.

Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Mark 7:1-7).

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:25-27, similar in Luke 11:39).

Do you remember the story of the Pharisee and the publican? Two men went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee made a huge show of praying. (It’s interesting that the Bible points out that he prayed with himself, and not to God.) He tells God how great he is and all about his good works. He brags and brags. He even compares himself to others lower than he: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

In contrast, the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Jesus says, I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Story in Luke 18:10-14).

When God inspired the Apostle Paul with His Word, the Apostle instructed Timothy, This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

How superficial are we? What’s really inside our hearts?

Are we humble like the publican, acknowledging our own sins, or do we show a pretty form of godliness on the outside and have no real godliness inside?

God knows what’s inside. The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7b).

Superficiality has no place in the Christian life.

Let’s be genuine. Let’s be real. Let’s be godly through and through.


1. Sky News interview, aired 9-16-2014.
2. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
3. Not exactly the cases of any people I know. These are typical, but only illustrations. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Photo by; chanpipat

I’m not talking about crime.

I'm not talking about modesty.

I’m talking about sin.

This is what happens:
  • The wife says the marriage problem is all her husband’s fault.
  • The young man says his sinful habit is because his friends make him do it.
  • The liar says she didn’t lie.
  • The young man says he can’t help stealing.
  • The people in jail say they really didn’t do anything wrong.
  • The man says his porn habit is something he can’t control.
  • The young woman completely loses it, and she blames it on her family.
  • The husband says he isn’t responsible—for not being responsible.*

Everyone has a perfectly good reason he sins. It’s someone else’s fault or he has no control over his actions.


Who’s he trying to kid?

Why all the denial? Why blame it on someone else? Why say she didn’t do what she did do?

This is sad and so very typical. No one likes thinking of himself in a bad light, so he makes up excuses why he isn’t responsible. Many times he blames his circumstances, his peers, his family, and says “it just happened.”

The problem is, when an adult sins, he doesn’t want to admit guilt. He wants to ignore his sin. He wants to cover it up. Often, the cover-up means lying (if only to himself), blaming, and denial.


I am always impressed by David in the Old Testament. God said he was a man after mine own heart (Acts 13:22). I believe the reason God describes him that way is because David understood what to do when he sinned. David wasn’t under any illusions. He didn’t blame others for his own sin, and he had the right perspective about sin and his relationship with God.

  • For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great (Psalm 25:11). David doesn’t make little of his sin, and he asks for forgiveness.
  • (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.) Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest (Psalm 51:1-4). Notice how David doesn’t whitewash his sin. He calls it what it is—sin against God—even though it was against Bathsheba and Uriah. He doesn’t say, “Bathsheba tempted me.” He says he did evil. He takes full responsibility for his actions.
  • Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). Here, David is asking God to search his heart and mind for any sin that might be there. What transparency before a Holy God! David also indicates he desires to live in the right way.

Something else that impresses me about David’s attitude toward his own sin is his trust in God for righteous judgment. O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah. . . . The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins (Psalm 7:3-5, 8-9).

You don’t see David—except for one short period of time—hiding, denying, or blaming. He took full responsibility for his actions.

David is a great example of how to handle sin, how to trust the Lord, and how to find peace with God.

Because of this, he could say,

I will bless the LORD at all times:
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
(Psalm 34:1)

*Not one of these scenarios represents anyone with whom I’m in contact.