While visiting our family doctor for our yearly exams, the subject turned to eating out. Our physician said, “The price of food in restaurants continues to rise as does the suggested tips. Isn’t it interesting that some folk have no problem giving the server a 25% tip yet struggle with a 10% tithe.”Continue reading “Struggling With 10%”
Category: God’s Creation
Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire
On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”
According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.
Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)
This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.
Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?
As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
What went wrong?
Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.
Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).
Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).
Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).
Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).
My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”
This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
Going to the Mountain
Living in the mountains is in my limited estimation a little glimpse of Heaven! One of my greatest joys in life is hiking, especially the AT, and immersing myself step-by-step in the sustaining handiwork of God as I journey to waterfalls, vista points, cliffs, or just singing along the trail.
Two weeks ago, I had the immense privilege of hiking with a dear friend on the AT in Spivey Gap, near Erwin, TN. What made this hike so special was the week of snowfall prior to our hike. Trudging upward to High Rocks was difficult in the measurable snow of six inches to two feet. Arriving early in the morning, the cloud cover gave way to a beautiful sunny sky which caused the snow to sparkle like a jewelry store. Animal tracks were in abundance as was the partially covered footprints of a hiker from the previous day.
Of all the glorious things I experienced on this hike, what touched me the most was the serene stillness all around us. My friend and I were the only ones on the trail. Several times I would stop to just listen to the quiet and commune with my Lord in silent prayer.
Speaking of prayer, do you do all the talking? Is your prayer life consumed with petitions only. When’s the last time you just knelt or sat in the presence of your Heavenly Father listening to Him commune with your heart in the stillness?
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. While reading this passage this morning from Luke 9:28-29, I came across a rich commentary by Alexander MacLaren that speaks of prayer in a way that I am afraid is foreign to so many, of which I long for as well.
Prayer is more than petitions. It is not necessarily cast into words at all. In its widest, which is its truest sense, it is the attitude and exercise of devout contemplation of God and intercourse in heart, mind, and will with Him, a communion which unites aspiration and attainment, longing and fruition, asking and receiving, seeking and finding, a communion which often finds itself beggared for words, and sometimes even seems to transcend thought. How different is such an hour of rapt communion with the living God from the miserable notions which so many professing Christians have of prayer, as if it were but spoken requests, more or less fervent and sincere, for things that they want! The noblest communion of a soul with God can never be free from the consciousness of need and dependence. Petition must ever be an element in it, but supplication is only a corner of prayer. Such conscious converse with God is the very atmosphere in which the Christian soul should always live, and if it be an experience altogether strange to us we had better ask ourselves whether we yet know the realities of the Christian life, or have any claim to the name. ‘Truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ,’ and if we have no share in that fellowship we do not belong to the class of whom it is the mark and possession. (MacLaren’s Expositions)
Just as the freshly fallen snow had blanketed the mountains with a calming stillness, may you be transfigured by simply moving from the “corner of prayer” petitions to the quiet contemplations of the vast vistas of our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, loving, merciful, gracious Heavenly Father!
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
Listen to Him
Last night’s presidential debate, . . . well, what a fiasco! What an eye-opening view once again into the heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9).
How difficult it is to listen to three men argue, interrupt, accuse, disparage, and fuss! Proverbs 18:13 reminds us, If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
This past Sunday, I had the joy of listening to Carl Butler, the new pastor of Thompson Baptist Church, Thompson, PA, preach from Hebrews. The major portion of his message was seven reasons why we should listen to the Lord Jesus Christ.
As God’s final Spokesman, Jesus Christ deserves to be heard because . . .
- He was appointed heir of all things (1:2).
- He was God’s Active Agent in creation (1:2).
- He revealed the Divine Glory (1:3).
- He represented God’s character in the flesh (1:3)
- He upholds all things right now by the word of His power (1:3).
- He has totally purged our sins (1:3)
- He finished the job and is seated at God the Father’s right hand (1:3)
Against the backdrop of last night’s disappointment and debacle, may I say to you today, because of Who Christ is, listen to Him. Men will fail you. Men are not omniscient. Men are fallible. Men are self-serving. Men need Jesus.
Open your Bible. Sit at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42). Listen to Him (Romans 10:17; James 1:19-21; Revelation 2:7).
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)
(Debate pic from thinkadvisor.com)
The Views Are Magnificent!
COVID, masks, social distancing, 6 feet, signs to tell me where to stand, restrictions, regulations, no football, protests, riots, fake news, lies, cynicism, murders, hatred, fear, loneliness, seclusion, death, etc. That’s the world we are living in right now. We read about it everyday, see it in town, hear about it from others, and are constantly notified via social media.
In the midst of it all, my greatest need each day is time in the presence of my Lord reading His Word, sharing my heart in prayer and listening to His response. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
Recently, my heart needed one of my favorite spots to meet with the Lord. It is aptly named, Beauty Spot. Located in Unicoi County, TN, on the AT, the views are 360 degrees, the quiet is so calming, and the distractions of life below are removed.
As I opened my camping chair and my Bible, Psalm 121 became food for my weary soul.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help.
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
My journal is a dear companion to me, and I began to write as the Word spoke to my heart.
I will – An action from the heart based upon who Jehovah is and my need.
Lift up my eyes – I must look above my troubles and see the Lord, high and lifted up and not on earthly things, people, etc.
To the hills from which comes my help. My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth – The hills have no power to help me, but they resoundingly speak of the character and greatness of their Creator, Jehovah Elohim!
Sitting there enjoying the breeze and the stillness, I pondered the beauty and majesty of Unaka Mt., Rich Mt., Buffalo Mt. and others and the following thought came to my mind. When I lift my eyes to the hills for help, I can gaze at Mt. Mercy, Mt. Love, Mt. Power, Mt. Joy, Mt. Presence, Mt. Omnipotence, Mt. Omniscience, Mt. Faithfulness, Mt. Refuge, Mt. Grace, Mt. Righteousness and these transcendent peaks go on-and-on!!! Also, in Christ, I am always at the summit!! Positionally, I am at God the Father’s right hand!!
My friend, today, will you lift up eyes to the hills? Will you fix your gaze on the One Who made heaven and earth? The view is always thrilling, always praise-worthy, always magnificent!!!
Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #3
CRAZY BUSY!!! That’s how so many people respond if you ask them how they are doing. Busy is basically the norm of life nowadays with work, school, recreation, smartphones, internet, chasing the American dream, etc. Sadly, most folks are out of breath! We have no time for God, for our spouse, for our family, and/or for eternal things. We are crazy busy!!
Last week, I shared two blogposts with you about taking the scenic route in marriage. The first post called our attention to the fact that the scenic route is not the normal route. Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage. So our first point was to understand that God created marriage, not man. The second post added the thought that God directs marriage, not man.
Today, I want us to consider that the scenic route is a steady, slower pace.
My wife and I love riding the Blue Ridge Parkway that courses it way for 469 miles through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. If you were to travel the entire route, more than 200 overlooks would be calling for your attention.
These designated pull-offs look onto wide, breathtaking vistas, luring you to stop your car, get out, and see what God has created. You stand there and look this way, then that way as you listen to the quiet, soak up the sun, enjoy the breeze, perhaps see Peregrine falcons soar through the valley, as well as much more!
To enjoy this grandeur along the Parkway, you have to intentionally pull over, stop and get of out of the car to take it all in!
I want to ask you do something. Would you slow down, pull over, stop the car, get out and take a fresh look at the grandeur of this grace-gift called marriage? Sadly, too many couples are so crazy busy they have forgotten the awesome blessing of marriage!
Therefore, set a time for you and your spouse to “pull over” and read through the following passages. Husband, you read audibly the first verse, and wife, the second, and continue back-and-forth like that until you have completed the designated passage. When you are finished, each of you need to share what stood out to you in a positive way about marriage. Share with each other what verse struck a chord in your heart and why. Let the Word speak as you look at God’s creation, marriage. This could be a part of several dates to come as you read through one passage at a time, at each “overlook.”
- Genesis 2:18-25
- Proverbs 5:15-19; 18:22
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
- Song of Solomon 1:15-16; 2:1-17
- Song of Solomon 4:1-16
- Song of Solomon 5:1-16
- Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:18-33
- Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-12
Perhaps, you have lost the overall grand vista picture of what God intended marriage to be? Slow down. Make time for your spouse a major priority. Look into each other’s eyes. Share terms of love and endearment. Wrap each other up in your arms.
Exchange CRAZY BUSY for
Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #1
When I die, my wife could put several statements on my tombstone, and one of them could be, “Wonder where that road goes?” I love taking the scenic route.
Recently, my wife and I got away for a two-night retreat in the Allegany Mountains of Virginia. The morning of our departure, I said to my wife, “I’m going to go north and over the mountain.” In doing so, we saw lovely horse farms, beautiful mansions, majestic mountains, quiet meadows, and long-distance vistas.
I love taking the scenic route.
The opposite of the scenic route in most cases is the interstate highway system in our country. Sadly, there are too many parallels to marriages today in America
- Its life in the fast lane . . . and somebody behind you blinking their lights at you wanting you go faster.
- It’s the quick route . . . like fast-food; no waiting in line – we want everything now.
- It’s the slow route . . . stalled traffic, construction – creates tension, anxiety, anger and impatience.
- It’s monotonous . . . miles and miles of no excitement – looks like many marriages that are dull and boring, just existing.
- It provides many exits for you to get off – sadly, so many are looking at exiting their marriage.
- There all kinds of signs calling for your attention (South of the Border; McDonald’s; Adult bookstores; The World’s Greatest Coffee) – oh the distractions in marriage!
Do you remember the day you were married? Do you remember the excitement you felt together as you began your life-long journey?
How’s the trip going so far? Have you met with a few bumps and turns in the road? Has the scenery become monotonous? Do you disagree over which road to take? Or, is your journey still the same exciting adventure as when it began?
Now, when I describe marriage as the scenic route, I am not saying that it is all smooth travelling. But I do want you consider as an analogy what the scenic route looks like in marriage.
First of all, the scenic route is not the normal route. Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice.
Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.
You see, God created marriage, not man.
If my car breaks down, I am not going to take it to a dentist. He may have drills and various other tools, but unless he’s a good sideline mechanic, he is not working on my car. Therefore, to understand marriage, to know how marriage should work, to have wisdom to respond correctly in marriage, I must go to the Creator of marriage.
Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning, God created . . . . Jehovah Elohim is the creator, the producer, the fashioner, the sustainer of all things, including marriage. He is introduced in this passage as the One Who existed before anything in our universe.
Genesis 2:18-23 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
God created marriage, not man and with that, please consider the following concerning Jehovah Elohim:
- Since God existed before anything in our universe, Who can speak to marriage any better than the One Who was here before marriage?
- Since the name Jehovah Elohim is a plural form speaking of His awesome sovereign power, potential and possibilities, what awesome things could happen in your marriage if you brought it all under God’s sovereign power?
- Since God transformed that which is formless and empty into a beautiful creation, Jehovah Elohim can transform your marriage from a formless, no purpose or goal, empty, lifeless work into a beautiful creation.
Begin with God for every area of marriage. He created marriage, not man.
Take the scenic route, it’s not the normal route.
(More on this subject in my next blog post.)
As I opened the door of the Activity Center, I was greeted with wall-to-wall people! Finding a bit of space to enter, I said to a couple of ladies, “Have mercy! What’s going on?” Their reply, “It’s the eclipse. Have you not heard about it?”
How could I have not heard about it? It has been the buzz for the past two months and rightly so. Social media and the internet have been lit up. The Weather Channel, schools, law enforcement, employers, resort areas, motels and families, to name just a few, have been in major planning mode for this historical event.
When my family reserved our get-away for August 21st, I seriously did not know about the eclipse. Nevertheless, Wyndham Resorts in the Smokies made sure we did. That was the reason for the crowd I mentioned above. We were treated to free viewing glasses, goodie bags with Moon Pies, Eclipse gum, glow sticks, and other items as well as a finger-food buffet in the social room which included chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme donuts to help us celebrate.
As the time drew near, the crowd increased as people with their viewing glasses made preparation for this phenomenon. As I looked all around me, I saw what I would expect, but it said so much to me. Everyone with glasses in place were looking up.
Soon the sky drew dark, the pools lights kicked-on, and an eerie stillness came over the crowd. The eclipse here was not total but very, very close.
After two minutes plus, the sky started to lighten again. Within minutes, we were back to a bright sunshiny day, life moved forward in post-eclipse form. Of course there was more food to be had, so the upstairs gathering continued, I promise you!
So many thoughts coursed their way through my mind leading up to the eclipse and afterwards.
- An event like this in such precise order, timing, and fulfillment once again proves the awesome work of the Creator and Sustainer of this whole, vast universe (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 19:1-4; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17).
- How interesting that man was able to pinpoint its direction and timing, and make plans to be in its path, even willing to set for hours on the interstates to not miss such a sight.
- As I watched the upward gaze of so many, I could not help but think of Titus 2:13, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. We have been given a promise that Christ will come back in the clouds to receive His Church (John 14:3; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). This event will happen because God cannot lie, yet He has not told us when it will occur. There are no signs for the rapture of the Church, only for Christ’s second coming. Believers, we need to be ever looking up because the Rapture could occur today! His imminent return should always have immediate effects upon our lives.
- Man calculated the timing and track of the eclipse and man, although blessed by God with great intelligence, is fallible. God is infallible. Oh, that we would put more trust in our faithful Creator (Psalm 33:4; Lamentations 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23) than man whom God created.
“Oh, yes, ma’am, I’ve heard about the eclipse, but do you know about the greatest eclipse that has ever happened? That was on the day when Jesus Christ died on the cross and the whole world was dark for three hours” (Matthew 27:45-50).
With that, I received a smirk from her face and a shrug of her shoulders.
My friend, do not let your thinking eclipse God’s truth and promises.
I Met Jordan
Living in the mountains of East Tennessee gives many reasons for rejoicing and thanksgiving! The scenery changes every day and every season through the myriad acts of God’s creative, sustaining, sovereign hands. How often I find myself singing “How Great Thou Art,” and “How Great Is Our God!”
Yesterday while driving back from Asheville, NC, I had in my mind to stop along the creek near Rocky Fork State Park near Flag Pond, TN. Major rains had descended upon us through the night so I knew the waterfalls would be awesome, and it would provide a peaceful place to sit and commune with my God in prayer.
The Lord had other plans for which I am oh so grateful. When I turned onto the Old Asheville Highway, there was a bearded man with a full pack and hiking poles which immediately signified an AT thru-hiker. Since I love to hike, especially on the Appalachian Trail, this was a great opportunity in many ways! Upon offering him a ride, he threw his gear in the back of my car, and we headed for Erwin and Uncle Johnny’s. What a special treat to listen to his recent weather-related stories as well as the back-story of his life.
The very best part was the joy of talking about eternal life, listening to his answers, caring for his needs and ministering to him Christ Who has finished the work of salvation for all sinners including Jordan and myself. What a special privilege!!
Please pray for my new friend, Jordan, as he hikes the trail.
Meeting Jordan was the highlight of my day!!
Here are two links to his story and the reason for his AT journey:
Here is a video link for you to learn how you can have a personal relationship with God and know for certain your sins are forgiven and that you have a home in Heaven forever.
So, what did God’s Word say to you as you considered from yesterday’s post that marriage is the creation of God, the Originator?
Today we will we consider the second reason why marriage matters #mondaymarriagematters.
Marriage matters because this is God’s ultimate earthly plan for companionship. (Genesis 2:18, 21-22)
God said that it was not good for man to be alone, so he gave Adam a woman, his wife. Consider the following thoughts with me:
- The only thing in God’s creation that He said was “not good” was man being alone.
Genesis 2:18 “begins with the striking announcement by God that the man is not yet as God had planned to be. Adam is alone, and that state is not good—the only thing in creation that is not good in God’s opinion. Since the idea of ‘good’ describes that which is appropriate and fitting within the purpose of creation, the man’s being alone was not good, because he could not do all that God had planned for humankind.” (Allan Ross)
- Nothing else in the world completes a man, answers the “is it not good” situation except a woman (2:18-20).
This is God’s perfect plan from the beginning. His ways and thoughts are transcendent and perfect (Psalm 18:30; Isaiah 55:8-9). Adam did not find this completion in the animal world. According to the divine, righteous plan of God, He “made a woman” for Adam (2:22).
- Both man and woman are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
This means that both man and woman are personal, relational, rational, moral beings.
- Each in their God-given role, man and woman, complete each other (Genesis 2:18).
The word “helpmeet” in the KJV means:
Help – one who provides what is lacking; not a demeaning term; God created man to need a partner, a wife.
Meet – one who corresponds to physically, socially and spiritually
So, how does this apply to today?
- A husband and wife should be best friends. There is nothing wrong with a man having time with “his buds” or the wife having some “girl time,” but each should always long to be with their spouse over everyone else.
- A husband should seek to understand his wife (1 Peter 3:7) and the wife her husband so they can learn each other strengths and weaknesses. This will enable them to “play to each other’s strengths” and support each other’s weaknesses. Your wife is not your enemy. You should each be looking out for one another, to help, to assist, to learn, to work together. There you find completion.
- The greatest way to understand companionship is to learn of Christ and His relationship with you through His Word in power of the Spirit. God made you for a personal relationship with Him, and you are to love Him with all your heart (Matthew 22:37). Therefore, as husband and wife draw closer to God, they are automatically drawing closer to each other.
More tomorrow . . . because marriage matters.