Archive for August, 2011

Bits and Pieces 8/31

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

The Bible In Two Weeks: If you want an overview of the entire Bible, these passages, which you should be able to read easily in 14 days, will give you a kind of “Cliff’s Notes” view of the Scriptures.  The reading plan is here.

Amazingly Small Things:  While I love to glorify God through what we can see through the lens of the Hubble Telescope, being astonished at gigantic images we cannot begin to comprehend or ever hope to see with the naked eye, I am equally able to praise Him for His tiny creation, things so small they can only be seen with a special scanning electron micrography.  Take a look here.

Video Classroom Teaching: If you want to “take a class” with a well-known theologian, pastor, teacher, writer, these series of videos are now available free online.  Taught by Dr. R. C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries, they are entitled “Chosen By God” and can be viewed here.

How Suffering Is A Blessing: This article/blog written by a Christian counselor can speak to anyone who wants to be able to put despair, suffering, hardship, difficulties in the proper God-centered perspective.  He illustrates his main point by telling of a counseling situation, then goes from there to teach how each one of us must undergo suffering.  His premise is “personal suffering is the thing we fear the most.”  You can read and meditate on the article here.

Do You Take Enough Pictures?

August 29, 2011 2 comments

During the past few months, I’ve had two different occasions for which I’ve needed to look back through several years of our family’s photograph albums.  The first was to pick out pictures to make a memorial video for my mother’s funeral.  The second was to choose photos to be used during my husband’s retirement party. Although these have been two quite dissimilar reasons for perusing through the album pages, each time I’ve been so thankful I took snapshots of events, occasions and even everyday activities.  At no time was I sorry I decided to pick up my camera and photograph someone.  In fact, I have instead asked myself, “Why didn’t I take more pictures?”

If there’s one word that describes what photos do for us, it’s the word remind. Since a photograph “freezes the moment,” when we see that moment again, we are able to remember the feelings we were experiencing when that situation was happening.  We get to relive both the happy and sad times, perhaps realizing, with the passage of time, that the sad times weren’t as sad as we thought they were then, and that now the happy times bring another round of happiness as we view the scenes again.

It’s especially joyous to view photographs in the company of friends and family and have them share these moments with us.  If they were there when the pictures was taken, and they express their impressions and feelings, then you’re able to understand them and their emotional makeup even better, and if they weren’t there, but you are explaining the scene or the people, then your retelling of the situation puts things in a better perspective for both of you.

Like a photograph, the reading and teaching of God’s Word is a form of reminder. In 2 Peter 1:12, Peter writes, “I shall always be ready to remind you . . .” and  then he writes again of the importance of pursuing holiness and seeking righteousness.   Paul does the same thing in his letters, and the entire book of Deuteronomy is a “photo album” from Moses to the people of Israel.  The pages of Scripture are reminders of truths we’ve heard and experienced for ourselves, of God’s purposes He has planned for us from eternity past and certainly of people, including His Son, He has placed in His Word to give us a picture of who He is.

Similar to the joy of sharing our family photos, when we open up God’s Word and share these people and events and truths and insights of Scripture with each other, we gain new perspectives and notice little details we’ve never seen before.  Perhaps the best similarity between the Bible and a family photo album is that His entire Word is simply an incredible portrait of His love for us in the face of His Son, Our Savior Jesus.

I would definitely suggest taking more pictures, but much more importantly, take the time and effort to view the revelation God has given us of Himself through Scripture.

Bits And Pieces 8/25

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Here are a few random, but interesting (at least to me) items I’ve run across lately.  They don’t really fit together, so they are just bits and pieces.

The Prison Gates Opened:  John Piper writes an encouraging word about difficult obstacles in life after having meditated on the story in Acts 12 of Peter being released from prison by God’s hand.  Acts 12:10 says,  “The iron gate leading into the city opened of its own accord.”  From this verse, Piper notes, “If God has a good purpose for you — and he always does — every gate will open of its own accord. That is, we can’t make it open. We pray. We work. And we wait. The accord belongs to God.”  Read the full devotional here.

Thinking About God: One of my favorite bloggers and writers, Tim Challies, wrote in a recent blog about A. W. Tozer, a theologian, writer and pastor from the last century and this statement he made:  “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Asking another person or yourself the question, “What comes to your mind when you think about God?” will reveal not only a knowledge of God but the depth of that knowledge.  See the full article here.

Earthquakes and Hurricanes: Are you hearing the footsteps of Jesus in recent weather and disaster stories?  You’re not the only one.  Joseph Farah, columnist for WorldNetDaily writes, “He’s trying to get your attention. Are you paying heed? What will it take?” You can read his full article here.

Contact With The Author

August 23, 2011 3 comments

In a recent Bits and Pieces  post in this blog, I shared a new devotional book called The Heavens:  Intimate Moments With Your Majestic God written by Kevin Hartnett, NASA Deputy Science Operations Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope.  A few days after I wrote that piece, I was surprised to receive an email from Kevin.  While trolling through the internet, he had come upon my notice of his book and, since I had mentioned I was intrigued by the title, he wanted to share with me how the Lord had worked in his life to bring this book to publication.

I love how Hartnett ended his correspondence with me:  “Through intimate moments of revelation I pray that the Holy Spirit might refresh, strengthen and inspire the readers with a view of the Lord’s countless and majestic excellencies.”  He also included a sample of the book’s contents in PDF format. You can read my review of the book here.

As exciting and enjoyable as it was to hear from this author, how much more exciting it is to have contact with the author of life itself, with The One who breathed into Adam’s nostrils and made him the first living soul.  As beneficial and enlightening as it was to hear this author’s story of how he came to write this book, how much more beneficial it is to hear God’s voice on every page of His book and to understand the purpose for which He wrote it.

Perhaps the best explanation of what The Author intended for us with His Words is given in Deuteronomy 8:2-3 and then repeated by Jesus in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  His Word, like bread, is meant to both satisfy us and to give us life.  Those are The Author’s own words about His Book.

What Do I Pray?

August 18, 2011 2 comments

Prayer is often defined as “just talking to God.”  While that is true as a simple definition, prayer is much more than talking.  To be effective, as in James 5:16,  “the effective prayer of a righteous man has great power,” our talking to our Heavenly Father must also be in communion with Him, must be tuned in to His way of thinking.  And what better way to communicate in this way with God than to use His own words?

One day during an extremely difficult time in our lives, with multiple crisis swirling all around us, my husband, knowing I prayed for him each morning, asked me, “What are you praying for me these days?” I shared with him I was only praying one prayer over and over for both of us.  It was what I called one of my Personalized Scripture Prayers, that is, the very words of God repeated back to Him.  By praying in this way, I could be assured that what I was expressing to the Lord was in keeping with His own heart, was expressing His own desires when we were so uncertain of our own motives and what we needed to do.

Here’s what I was praying for my husband from Colossians 1:9-11, “Father, I pray that he  may be filled with the knowledge of your will, with all wisdom and understanding so that he will walk in a manner worthy of you, to please you in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of you, strengthened with all power, according to your glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience with thanksgiving.” 

There are numerous passages like the one above that can be personalized and prayed back to God and can be used to “talk to God” in His own words.  Let me know if you have some favorite Scriptures which you pray often to our Lord.

Bits And Pieces 8/13

August 13, 2011 1 comment

Here are a few random, but interesting (at least to me) items I’ve run across lately.  They don’t really fit together, so they are just bits and pieces.

An Interview With Paul In Jail:  Here’s a fictional account of one of the Apostle Paul’s old friends coming to see him while he’s locked up in a Roman prison.  He asks his friend, “Has Jesus Been Worth It, Saul?”

A Starry Sky From Joshua Tree:  Here’s a time lapse video of a meteor shower and the galactic core of the Milky Way as seen from Joshua Tree National Park.  See the heavens declare the glory of God through The Milky Way.

Evolution Refuted: Here’s an animated video from the website, Answers In Genesis, which offers insights and answers to the evolution debate.  It only lasts about two minutes and it’s simply called Evolution.

Will We Know Each Other In Heaven?

August 10, 2011 Leave a comment

A subscriber to my blog recently wrote to ask me that question after we shared with each other some feelings about our loved ones’ dying.  I’ve been asked this question before, so I know others often wonder about being able to recognize our dead friends and relatives once we enter into Heaven ourselves.  I do believe we will know and fellowship with each other in Heaven, although these relationships will be so different from what we experienced here on earth because they will not be tainted by the blackness of our sin nature, they will not be marred by our emotional weaknesses and they will not be limited by our lack of intellectual understanding and discernment.  In other words, our relationships with each other in Heaven will be just perfect! 

Here are some Scriptural reasons I believe we can count on knowing each other in Heaven.  In Genesis, each time one of these men died, it is noted, “he was gathered to his people.” When David’s child died (2 Samuel 12:23), he said, “I will go to him.” These were words to give comfort, and they wouldn’t have comforted if there was to be no recognition of each other in Heaven.  In the New Testament, there is the enlightening account of Jesus being transfigured (or showing a little bit of His pre-incarnate glory) before His disciples (Luke 9).   Moses and Elijah arrived from Heaven to talk to Jesus about His upcoming death, and the disciples easily knew who these men were.  I believe they “knew” in the same way we shall “know” each other in Heaven.  Paul mentions in several of his letters that he looked forward to seeing those who were his converts in Heaven. 

Besides our loved ones, we will also share our Heavenly lives with the millions of other believers who are called the “children of God” (John 1:12).  These descriptive words were chosen by God to paint the picture of Heaven as a family setting, to paint the picture of Heaven as a place of relationships.  Paul says we will “be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).  So, yes, I believe we will recognize those we have known on earth, and we will also know those whom we had never met while in this earthly life because we will all be in a perfect relationship with the One who brought us all together as a family.

“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Categories: Bible, Devotionals, Theology Tags: ,

Our Childhood Bedroom

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I was intrigued recently by a new photography book entitled Where Children Sleep by James Mollison.  You can view about twenty of the pages here. There’s an obvious stark contrast between the children born into poverty and those born into an abundance (or over abundance in some cases). In fact, the project was undertaken by Mollison in order to represent needy children around the world.  Yet, he has approached this assignment in an insightful way.  He notes that each child’s sleeping area is “. . . your little space within the house.” 

So, where did you sleep at about 8 years of age?  My sleeping space was in a bedroom I shared with my two younger sisters in a church parsonage in Gideon, Missouri.  They had bunk beds, but I slept in a twin-sized bed with a headboard.  That was important, that headboard, because it held my “things.”  My things mostly consisted of books given to me by my grandmother who lived in Texas and who shared my love of reading.  There was also a radio, a stuffed black and white dog named Spotty, and a musical jewelry box that held only pens for writing.  As I think back on it now, those things still represent me.  I love technology (the radio), dogs (Spotty), writing (the pens) and, of course, good books.  Mollison is right, this was “my little space.”

Categories: Books, Personal Tags: ,

Bits and Pieces 8/02

August 2, 2011 Leave a comment

High Priest’s Golden Bell Discovered

During a recent excavation led by the Antiquities Authority in Israel of a drainage channel near the Temple Mount, a small golden bell was unearthed.  This is the type of bell that was to be sewn on the hem of the High Priest’s garment.  Exodus 28:33 says, “Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.”  Evidently, some 2500 years ago, as the High Priest made his way from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple, the little bell came loose and fell into the drainage canal that was built alongside the road. 

Is this significant to me today?  Yes, because it serves not just as a matter of interesting historical significance, but also as a reminder that we have a great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is more significant than any earthly High Priest, for as Hebrews 4 tells us, he is the Son of God. And, He didn’t just pass behind the curtains to the Holy of Holies, but He passed into Heaven itself to bring atonement to all who believe.  For more information about the finding of the golden bell, visit The Golden Bell.

A Heavenly Devotional

I am intrigued by the title of a new devotional book called The Heavens:  Intimate Moments With Your Majestic God by Kevin Hartnett.  The author is NASA’s Deputy Science Operations Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope.  I’ve always been fascinated by the mystery of the heavenly bodies and have often gazed in wonder at the incredible photos sent back to earth by the Hubble Telescope. 

This book sounds like an obvious way to come to know God.   Psalm 19 says,  “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”  I recall one day studying for a lesson I was to teach on Genesis and creation and finding the Hubble Website.  I lost all sense of time and had a joyful worship experience as I looked at photo after photo of the world God created to declare His glory. 

Ponder This

A quote to ponder from John Piper:  “Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him?”

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