Thursday, December 30, 2010

IMHO - December 30, 2010 Edition

Let us lump some game summaries together.

Tarheels vs. Evansville
  1. Sloppy 1st half play
  2. Better 2nd half play
  3. The match-up was for the Zeller family to come down from nearby (approx. 40 miles) and watch the game, they were not disappointed.
Long Beach State vs. Tarheels
  1. Too close
  2. Teams kept exchanging fast breaks
  3. Parents got to attend the game

William and Mary vs. Tarheels
  1. Carolina had better dominate in this one and did.
  2. Our 3-ball showed up
Tarheels vs. Rutgers
  1. 3 Pointer continues to drop.
  2. Too many turnovers for both teams IMHO.
  3. Great ball movement!
To all...Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays, oh yes, and...GO HEELS!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I WANT, I WANT, I WANT

What a world we live in today!  A world, but especially a nation, the U.S., where companies perfect their skill at convincing you that their product or service is something you can't live without.  The successful "fisherman" of a company gets the best of us to say to them "I want, I want, I want" and I wanted it yesterday and on sale.

Things. Our world is populated by physical, material things.  Because as the song goes, "We are living in a material world...", except I'm not a girl and I'm praying I'm not materialistic.  Of course the world has been this way for some time now - trying to outdo the last latest and greatest gadget or gismo, but if you can afford to give your condition some time, even the latest and greatest will be outdated soon and the next in line will be pushed even harder.

There is something to be said about always having to have.  There is a void there that someone is trying to fill.  Always jumping to the next new car or new house or the desire of more lavish amounts of money itself will never satisfy the hunger monster of this sort.  BUT GOD!  With the LORD's help this monster can be overcome with the spirit of contentment.

Here is a prayer you do not hear very often..."LORD...give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." - Proverbs 30:8-9.  Which flows nicely with Matthew 6:11 - "Give us today our daily bread".  The Proverbs passage is probably one of the best descriptions of contentment that I have seen so far, an excellent definition.

The following are some additional verses that speak to being content and living the content life.

Luke 3:14 - "Then some soldiers asked him [John the Baptist], 'And what should we do?' He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay.' " Here, I believe, John was teaching it is better to be satisfied and thankful and content with what you have.  However, if you are seeking advancement within your ranks don't use the methods of extortion or false accusations to get there.

Philippians 4:11-12 - "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  It takes experience(s).  It takes life and the living thereof to know as Paul did - the surplus and the lack on the journey.  It evidently takes time to work out this truth and find the balance that works best.

1 Timothy 6:8 -  "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.The essentials.  If my memory serves me right, Paul was a tent maker and he would have relied on this skill and his LORD to provide money to grant the needs (food and clothing) in his life.  His fellow believers helped him in the way of shelter some of the time.  But even when he was shelterless, God was there and Paul was content.

1 Timothy 6:10 -  "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  And so we come to it.  Here we have one of the most famous verses about money, if not the most famous, in Scripture.  This verse simply stated - misplaced life emphasis, focus, and/or trust will put you in a world of hurt and one of those is the love of money.  It is sad that society has dictated that money rules instead of relationships, but we could change it around if we wanted to, with God's help.  But there are so many of us so enamored with money that we treat it better than some relationships.  Think about it.  You can use and abuse money and it doesn't talk back, well at least verbally.  You get to do whatever you want to it, whenever you want.  For the holder, no matter how much you may have, money is an instant "Genie in the Bottle" god.  And boy does this god have a hold over many people.  You see it everywhere - in sports, the business world, government, etc...  But just to drive home the point further here is another verse that supports our famous 1 Timothy 6:10 passage.

Hebrews 13:5 -  "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' " Wow!  Now this warning and instruction then comes with a reinstatement of God's promise.  I love to hear God's promises read aloud.  I also love to pray them to Him and remind Him of them (even though He might not need that, I declare it out loud and think it is more for me and my faith).  Read from "God has said,..." onward out loud.  Get it in your spirit.  God is not going to forsake you.  He is your and my provider -  "for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills" (Ps. 50:10). 

If everything is His to begin with then He should know what is good for us and what is bad for us.  God was gracious enough to tell us that "the love of money" is trouble while being content with what you have is His way for me and you to live.  Even praying for a huge monetary blessing I have not found to be necessary because Christian leaders have still misused, misplaced, mis-focused these monies on other things than what they promised the LORD (and sometimes publicly).  We try to add, "Oh, well, I would never do that!  I would be an excellent steward of God's funds and spend it only where He lead me."  Famous last words.  Hey, here's a personal note for you.  I'm not rich, by what this country deems rich, I'm even struggling somewhat, but I have perspective.  I'm in this journey of life learning to be content.  Learning to lean.  That sounds like a song...
Chorus
Learning to lean
Learning to lean,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus
Finding more power than I've ever dreamed
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.
(repeat)

Sad broken hearted, at an alter I knelt
I found peace that was so serene
And all that He asks is a child like trust
And a heart that is learning to lean
(Chorus)


So who/what are you leaning on?  Who/what are you trusting in?  Where is your focus?  Money?  That goes the way of the mothball and will never satisfy.  Jesus?  Right answer.  No multiple choice in this one.  Redirect your time and energies to relationship.  But not just any relationship.  Cultivate the one, if you have it, with Christ - "and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).  It's all about relationship.

A FAVORITE VERSE, BUT VERY CHALLENGING - PROVERBS 27:2

I'm going to let you in on a bit of myself - I LOVED TO BE PRAISED.  I eat it up, soak it in, take it to heart and try my best to balance it all out with a healthy dose of humility so my head doesn't get too much bigger.

Proverbs 27:2 states, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips."

Why is this so challenging?  Because I know what I think I do best.  Others may disagree and think I'm on another level than where I think I'm at, but that is where the "rub" begins.  I want to start my speech out with the same person that started this sentence - "I".  Then, I want to brag a little.  Shoot!  How else are you going to know I did something of worth outside of my relationship with you?  I guess I don't trust others enough to tell, do I?

Somebody else had what I call this "I Disease" and he fell hard and permanently.  Isaiah 14:12-15 speaks to this disease and subsequent fall.  I definitely DO NOT want to be this dumb, stupid, and extreme.  Talk about learning from someone's example, this is a great one.  Lesson 1 - What words NOT to say to the King of Glory.  Lesson 2 - Pride, something that is dangerous.  I can imagine the angels around Lucifer when he decided to rebel saying something like -(Lucifer: "I will ascend to heaven") "What did you just say?", ("I will raise my stars above the throne of God") "Do you understand the words that are coming out of your mouth?", ("I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain") "RIIIIGHT, you are going to try to play King of the Mountain with The King?", ("I will ascend above the tops of the clouds") "You are already airheaded to think this way Lucifer", ("I will make myself like the Most High God") "DANGER Will Robinson, DANGER!".

Pride, the dark side of praise.  Not to say that we should not give anyone praiseworthy words or encouraging/uplifting compliments. On the contrary, Proverbs 3:27 encourages us to give a pat on the back to whomever, whenever we can.  It says, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act."  But Proverbs 27:21 also warns that praise is a constant test - "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives."  In addition, the "air about me/you" or how we carry ourselves should line up with Scripture, such as Proverbs 29:23 - "A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor."    If praise is not tempered quickly with humility it has potential to do an amazing amount of damage, not only to yourself but to others around you as well.

Take away that you could have skipped to the bottom here and read - Praise, give it - but when you get it be careful what you do with it.

  

Monday, December 6, 2010

IMHO (Kentucky and more, Edition)

A shout out to Tanya's uncle, Herb Price, for the tickets he supplied me and my dad to the Kentucky vs. UNC game!  The National Anthem was worth the price of the tickets!  The Chancellor played a nice, smooth jazzed up version on the keyboard while a female staff member sang the song.  Great team!

After the game we went out the door to find everything covered in snow.  Very beautiful.  Kinda cold standing in line waiting for the next bus to come pick you up with a "jillian" other people, but the win and being with my dad made it all worth it.

There was a little spark of what Barnes can provide for the Heels in this game.  But the inconsistent play by him still continues.  Thankfully for Carolina the low post is occupied by one Tyler Zeller.  And I cannot scream loud enough - Feed The Monster!  If the others can practice and really nail down some perimeter shots then when the "monster" is full or cannot partake because he has got others that desire his entree, then Zeller can pass the ball out and allow others to "dine".  This has happened a number of times with other players.  The other team would double up and try to trap, especially Henson, and leave Zeller open for the underneath basket. 

I like the two big man plus three more speed body line-up that coach Williams has sometimes.  The key to the success of this line-up and any combo is ball handling, especially by your point guard/floor general, if you have one.  Leave Larry Drew off the court and UNC is better for it.  I'm not crazy about Watts either.  And those that know me, know how much I have wanted these two guys gone for such a long time now.  These two had better step up their play or when they come in the game it is going to bring the Tarheel's level of play down, In My Humble Opinion.

I tell you a situation Carolina better get a grip on quickly is the switching of the screens going on around the top of the key or around any area concerning the three-point arc.  Any amount of hesitation of who is guarding whom and a three ball is on it's way.

Low post play, defensively from Zeller and Henson and offensively from the same players, plus the free throws from Zeller at the end were the keys to this victory.

Switching gears...I'm not one that is much on Carolina football.  I wish them well and all, but who and where they are playing is messed up.
UNC vs. Tennessee at Nashville, TN
6:40 PM, ESPN, Music City Bowl
December 30th
Really!  You are going to allow TN to travel 2 hours and 52 minutes west to Nashville and play in their own state in a bowl game?  The Florida Gators are doing that too this year.  USC played in their own stadium against Texas a few years back and lost.  This is another something I think that has to change.  This would be like UNC traveling west to Boone and playing at ASU's field.  Get these games into parts of the country where the income could use a boost.  They say it is all about the money, well use it to help the underserved areas in the country that don't see this kind of action.  My word you have enough bowls to spread the love with, why use the same locations year after year?  And get them at neutral sites, at least out of the state of both teams concerned.

Evansville is next on the schedule for the UNC basketball team then Long Beach State.  Carolina better be prepared for these teams and not slack off by looking ahead to the Texas game.  We shall see.

GO HEELS!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

IMHO - Enstallment 2 - 2010

Plain and simple:

The Tarheels loss to Minnesota was due to the lack of not spreading the "love", the "rock", the ball around for others to contribute in the points column besides Barnes.  You can not wait for a star player to get hot and watch him go 0-12 and not have others REALLY take a crack at getting the team back on track.

The loss to Vanderbilt was due to the lack of knowledge of what play signals go with what plays and "where-in-the-heck am I suppose to be on the floor" mentality for everybody - which leads everybody and their grand mama to scream - the Heels have no leadership.  Carolina desperately needs a floor General and we have been missing that ever since Larry Drew took the point.

The Ashville win?!  Really?! (Sarcasm included)  This was due to the fact that we allowed other players to play (note my comments on Minnesota).  Zeller got 23 points.  Wow!  Look what happens when you get the ball to someone who has been on the team and knows the plays slightly better than most of the others, especially the newbies (sarcasm included).

For the young, General-less, confused Tarheel squad that now presents itself before the nation, the national ranking it has should not be.  If you are going to HAVE to rank UNC then put them at the bottom, #25, and let them work up.  Don't start them off at #8 just because of.......  You got to look at the whole capability. 

I believe I heard Coach Williams said that he was not going to allow himself or the basketball program to go through another year like last year.  Well, a few losses like this does not constitute panic but it sure smells like the old rags of last year - let's go ahead and get it in gear, shall we.

GO HEELS!

Monday, November 15, 2010

IMHO 2010 BEGINS

Welcome to another great year and edition of In My Humble Opinion.  The self-proclaimed, award-winning publication on the pulse of the Carolina Tarheel men's basketball team.  I am Chad the writer, editor, CEO, and all other positions and it is great to have you along for this wonderful ride with the true Blue and White!

Our journey starts with Lipscomb this time.  Before the encounter Coach Williams said he was concerned with this team because of their outside threat (3-point capability).  That fear was well met with plenty of bombs from the Bison in the first half that kept them in the game.  This shot has always been Carolina's weakness and everybody knows it.  The percentages have been played and continue to be played to a certain degree, but with three point specialist in other teams arsenal, UNC is going to have to develop a plan for that threat.  I suggest placing someone with very long arms and the talent of knowing how to move his feet well with his opponents movement - to guard the three-point shooter.

The team overall looked dull.  I realize it was the first game of the season and the Heels were finally playing a game that counts against somebody other than themselves, BUT with the young and old talent we have on the team, I thought we would look a little better.  This dullness was in all aspects of the game so I can't single out one or two areas and focus on them.  However, a bright spot to focus on is the shot blocking ability.  That will come in quite "handy" (pun intended - ha).  I look forward to all the backward rejections.

At first glance, my first impressions of the new kids on the block for the Heels were good.  Down the road a piece I can see the following line-up doing some serious damage.......
Knox
Bullock
McDonald
Barnes
Henson

 Next on the list is Hofstra, at 5 PM in Puerto Rico on Thursday, November 18, 2010.

GO HEELS!

Friday, November 12, 2010

FEEDING ON THE WORD - PSALM 119

The first impression I got when I started reading this Psalm was that of an attempt to stay away from "shame".  The shame of missing a command, law, or statute that the LORD had given to His people. 

"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.  Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.  They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.  You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.  Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!  Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands." (vv.1-6)

We should all know by now that there is only one person that has not missed fulfilling a command, law, or statute in history - Jesus of Nazareth.  However, this Psalm goes on to describe how one can "keep his way pure" and the answer is found in verse 9.

"How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word."

For the Jews the Law was extensive to say the least.  I have enough trouble with "Love thy neighbor as thyself." (Lev. 19:18)  But Judaism had hundreds of laws and commands to have to follow.  It is no wonder that scattered throughout the remainder of this chapter of Psalm 119 we have instances of cries for understanding.  I can empathize with these verses.

"Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders." (v.27)

"Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands." (v.73)

"I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes." (v.125)

So many times I lack in this area and so many times the Holy Spirit says, "Jump back into my word."
His Word also states to associate with those of like kind - "those who fear you[God]" and have put God's word in their heart.

"May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word." (v.74)

It is always good to have confirmation from the Holy Spirit as we read His Word and from fellow believers as we bounce ideas and experiences off of each other - as iron sharpens iron.  And speaking of confirmation and good words, the following verses are passages that speak to the goodness and benefit of His Word within this chapter.

"At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws." (v.62) (Interesting time he picked)

"Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.  Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you." (v.89-91)

"...you yourself have taught me.  How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path." (vv.102-104)

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (v.105)

"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." (v.114) (What a declaration!)

Some, if not all, of these verses could stand alone and teach or preach a sermon on any given Sunday.  However, it is this whole Psalm and key verses and points, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, that lead me to understand His Word even more.

If you desire to live a pure life the best you can, stay plugged into His Word, The Bible and plugged into His people too.  Scripture will give you God's instructions, directions, and guidance you are looking for on a daily basis.  I had a bad habit of waiting around for bad things to happen before running to the Word and seeking out His advice.  That is not living.  It sure is not living the abundant life that Jesus says we can have in Him, with Him, and through Him.  And we get that pure life, again, that abundant living by "feeding on the Word" daily, SO THAT we can do whatever He says for us to do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A PACKED PASSAGE ABOUT WORSHIP

If any of us, especially worship leaders, were wondering about where to find some answers on the topic of worship in the Bible start at Psalm 92:1-3.

"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp."

What? And who and a little bit of why? 
"It is good" for us to worship the LORD and not only is it "good" to worship Him, but worship is actually already broken down in this verse into "praise" (Hebrew - Yadah) meaning to give thanks, extol, make a public confession,or make an admission AND "make music" (Hebrew - Zamar) meaning to sing, sing praises. 

Another why? 
Of course all of these praises and making music is to the glory of His name.  Here, "O Most High" is the name that is selected and lifted up.  But in each one of our lives we can pick a different name we know God by and "praise" and/or "make music" to that name (Provider, Great Physician, Shepherd, Healer, Defender, etc...).

Another what and when?  The passage offers specific subjects about what to "praise" and "make music" to the LORD for , especially in verse two ("love" and "faithfulness").  We are even told the time (when) to worship - "proclaim [His] love in the morning and [His] faithfulness at night." 

With what?  Voices to sing, naturally.  However, the Scripture reveals the selection of instruments to be used - "ten-stringed lyre and...harp."  Can you imagine a modern day worship service where just these instruments or the instruments of Moses's or David's day were used?

There are many other Scripture passages in the Bible which speak to the subject of worship, but this one was only three verses and loaded.  It was also the first one about worship I've come across in my third reading of the whole Bible that really struck me so.

Friday, November 5, 2010

THE RED LETTERS

Red Letters (by D.C. Talk)

Pages filled with a holy message
Sealed with a kiss from heaven
On a scroll long ago
Phrases, words that were bound together
Now have the power to sever
Like a sword evermore

Heed the words divinely spoken
May your restless heart be broken
Let the supernatural take hold

(chorus)
There is love in the red letters
There is truth in the red letters
There is hope for the hopeless
Peace and forgiveness
There is life in the red letters
In the red letters
 
One man came to reveal a mystery
Changing the course of history
Made the claim he was God
Ageless, born of a virgin Mary
Spoke with a voice that carried through the years
It's persevered

Heed the words divinely spoken
May your restless heart be broken
Let the supernatural take hold

(repeat chorus)

(bridge)
What You say moves me, revelation, come and take me
The more I look [the more I look] the more I see [the more I see]
The Word of God [the Word Of God] is what I need

Oh yeah, oh yeah
Yeah, it's the book of love
Yeah, yeah, yeah
It's the book of love
That moves

(repeat chorus)

Speak to me, breathe in me new life [x2]
Let Him in your heart [x4]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DAVID SAID IT WELL (MY PRAYER TOO)

"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O LORD my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave."

Psalm 86:11-13

INCREDIBLE CHRISTIAN MONUMENTS

 I saw an article that had a picture with the caption "Incredible Religious Monuments" recently.  That is what triggered my thoughts and spirit to the subject at hand - us as Incredible Christian Monuments.  In describing my faith I do not call or label myself "religious".  You can be "religious" about tying your shoes every day or other activities.  I am a Christian and I am honored to be branded as such. 

Usually most monuments are set up in honor of people, places, or things of the past.  To that end I still say that we as Christians and even non-Christians wanting to learn about the faith can study the great men and women of Christendom, the "Monuments" that have passed on (C.S. Lewis, Walvrood, Moody, etc...).  BUT I believe we, as Christians, can be "lively monuments".  A person where other people can come to and draw from their life experiences but more importantly their life walk with Jesus in those experiences;  a living testimony that has a "Hall of Fame" to the Lord just waiting to be shared for the encouragement of all.

I pray I am a beautiful, living monument for the LORD.  That whatever I share or can answer from my own walk with Christ will strengthen and encourage by brothers and sisters in HIM and believers to be.  I know my structure may need renovating every now and then, but my God is in that business too.  I also pray that the LORD would give me more opportunities therefore stories therefore encouragements for my "Hall of Fame".

LORD prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy tried and true
With thanksgiving I'll be a living
Sanctuary for you

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

THAT IS MY GOD!

Laying my heritage aside and given all the options of faith there are out there, I still choose you LORD.  You knew I would and I can see you smiling in my spirit-man, but I still had to make the decision.  There is no better explanation for our human condition and no better plan of salvation that has been executed than my God's.  You are My God!  I count the cost and see what it cost Father God and Jesus and can see no greater love than this.  That is My God!

Monday, October 25, 2010

23rd PSALM REVISITED.......AS THE SHEEP

I am a sheep, my shepherd is the LORD Himself.  Wanting anything will not consume me because the Shepherd directs me to rest in and on His provisions (green pastures).  The Shepherd even leads me into a time of refreshing, beside quiet waters, where He restores my soul from my daily wanderings.

The Shepherd guides me down the right path that I might boast on Him alone.  And even though I may come close to death sometimes I will not be afraid of any evil because The Shepherd is with me, protecting and comforting me with His rod and staff.

While the lions, tigers, and bears - my enemies - stand before me and look on they are powerless as you, The Shepherd, prepare a trough (table) of provisions before me.

The Shepherd anoints this sheep's head with oil and I witness my blessings/provisions (cup) overflow.

For sure, His goodness and His love will follow me around every day of my life and I will be in the Shepherd's house forever.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ESTHER OBSERVATIONS

My first observation is Haman's wife, Zeresh, and friends were the major contributors to his downfall. Haman still was the one who kicked it all off and kept it going but he was helped along his path of destruction by his own wife and friends.

My second observation is that as you read the book of Esther from front to back (not skipping around) I saw a shift of character focus.  The main character in the beginning is Esther with slight undertones of Mordecai.  Then in the middle of the story Mordecai is a greater figure, at least equal to all the other characters of the story.  Finally, there is no doubt Mordecai is the prominent character at the end of the story.

To elaborate on my first observation let us look at what happened in the story.  To summarize and paraphrase some (Esther 3:5 - 5:13) it all started when King Xerxes's high official, Haman, saw that a certain someone, Mordecai, would not give him any respect.  Haman not only thought of hurting Mordecai personally, but all his people too (doesn't that sound devilish?).  Haman gets King Xerxes to create a document proclaiming on such a date that the Jews are to be wiped out.  Mordecai hears about it and persuades Esther, who is Queen, to intervene on behalf of the Jews (Mordecai's people and Esther's people).  Esther prepares banquest number one, but for some reason does not have the opportunity to tell the King about her Jewish heritage then so she requests a second banquet.  Meanwhile, Haman goes back home and boasts to his wife and friends about being "the man".  His pride swells as he tells them about the private banquet that the queen invited him to with the King.  Then Haman makes the following statement which sets up his downfall.

" 'But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate.' 

His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, 'Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it.  Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.'  This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built." (Esther 5:14)

That night King Xerxes didn't sleep, so he had the history of his reign read to him.  During the reading the instance where Mordecai uncovered an assassin's plot to kill the king was read to the king.  King Xerxes asked if any reward was given to Mordecai for this service and the answer was "nothing".  Morning comes and in walks Haman ready to ask the King to hang Mordecai, but before he can ask him his question, the King asked one of Haman - "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?"  Of course, Haman thinking he was "the man of honor" says that you should give him one of your crowns, one of your robes, one of your horses and parade him through the city shouting "this is the man".  The king was pleased with that response and put Haman in charge of doing just that for.....Mordecai.  After being humiliated Haman "rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. (Esther 6:1-13)

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, 'Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him - you will surely come to ruin!'  While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared."

While "ruin" does not necessarily mean death, Zeresh and company prohesy Haman's doom.  Even while they were still finishing their thoughts with Haman the entourage arrived to escort him to Esther's banquet number two. 

The banquet occurs and Esther reveals her Jewish heritage much to Haman's shock.  She asks the king for him to spare the destruction of the Jews and it is granted.  Moreso, the life of him who made the proclamation, Haman, is sentenced to death on the very gallows that his wife and friends told him to make for Mordecai, built beside Haman's house (Esther 7:8-10).  In addition, the same gallows saw Haman's sons hung on them later on (Esther 9:13-14).

So, the men of the family perished by the suggestion of Zeresh, Haman's wife, the gallows.  Then she prophesied things were going to get worse for them and it did.  I wonder and ponder what ever happened to Zeresh.
________________________________________________________________________________

My second observation portrays Mordecai as a "networking" man, a man who was the perfect example of information and the proper use of it is power.

A Jewish Woman, Cousin, and/or Pawn On The Inside [Esther 2:7-18]
Mordecai is Esther's overseer or caretaker seeing that her parents have died.  He placed his plan in motion of having a high, governmental Jewish influence by having Esther submitted to the King's competition for queen.  His plan succeeded with flying colors, Esther became Queen and would be an awesome influence later for her people.

Right Place At The Right Time [Esther 2:21-23]
Mordecai revealed an assassins' plot to kill the king.  Mordecai heard about this plan, reported it to Esther, Esther reported it to the king-giving credit to Mordecai, the king investegated it, found it to be true, and recorded the whole instance in his records.

Mordecai Takes Issue With Haman [Esther 3:2]
Negatively, Mordecai gets noticed by Haman by not honoring him with a bow or possibly any other manner.  This places Mordecai on the wrong persons radar - Haman.

Mordecai Pulls His Strings for His People [Esther 4:12-14]
Esther, you're the Queen!  The king is not going to kill you!  Now stand and use the position I helped you get and the opportunity that is presenting itself before you or somebody else will be used. (Mordecai, paraphrased of course)

Mordecai Starts To Be Honored [Esther 6:11]
Haman gets the honor of "delighting in whom the king desires to honor".  What a way to start your career in being honored by having your enemy give you praise.

Mordecai Gains Power [Esther 8:9-10]
Mordecai jumps by leaps and bounds in power level when we see him here writing in the name of the king.

The Fear of Mordecai [Esther 9:3]
All the officials everywhere help the Jews because of a deep respect/fear of Mr. Mordecai.

Final Standing - Second To King Xerxes [Esther 10:3]
All to benefit the well being of his people, the Jews. Dedication.

Esther, it is a book that I have read many times but never saw these two observations until now.  A wife, Zeresh, that really aides in the downfall of her family and a character in the story which starts out with a low profile but by the end of the story you might as well name the story after him - The Book of Mordecai.
Zeresh disappears and Mordecai lives on as one of the greatest Jewish heroes of all time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Joy Of The Lord As Your Strength

Do you sense "the joy of the LORD" in your life?  Is it "your strength"?

In Nehemiah 8:1-3 it says, "They [the Israelites] told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.  So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.  He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women, and others who could understand.  And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law."

Continuing on in verses 9-11 it states,

"Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, 'This day is sacred to the LORD your God.  Do not mourn or weep.  For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.  Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is sacred to our LORD.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'  The Levites calmed all the people, saying, 'Be still, for this is a sacred day.  Do not grieve.'  Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them."

I did a search for the unbroken words "joy of the LORD" and only found this address (Ne. 8:10).  With this combination of words as the only home in Scripture and the fact that it has been quoted in many sermons, I thought it deserving of a closer look.

The Israelites were "mourning" and "weeping" because of hearing how much they fell short of their committment to the Covenant.  In addition, it was not just them that was in the wrong, but generations past.  Now Nehemiah had some great news.  Some relief was available to the Israelites.  Can you hear it coming?  IF the Israelites would just.....THEN God would.  Nehemiah never makes an If...Then statement, but the head Levites stand before the Israelites and give an impressive history lesson that warns of the possibility of a repeat IF Israel does not unify themselves, clean "spiritual house", and move on.  Meanwhile, IF the Israelites follow the Law and observe His commands, "the joy of the LORD" will be their strength.  In other words, God's happiness and peace would be upon His relationship with Israel, because of obedience, and would transfer into "strength" for Israel.

Modern application:  Recall what brings and keeps you in alignment with God's will for your life and practice every bit of it.  Read the Bible, listen to your pastor, especially listen to the Holy Spirit's teachings as examples of what you can do and do those things.  Then, I believe, we can experience such a wellness with our soul, a "joy of the LORD" that it translates as "our strength".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OLD TESTAMENT EVANGELIZING - 2 Chronicles 17:7-11

"In the third year of his [Jehoshaphat] reign he sent his officials ...to teach in the towns of Judah.  They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.  The fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat.  Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks;"

The officials who went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people had their part of THE WORD to share - the Book of the Law of the LORD.  Notice what happened as a result of them spreading the news of this Book"The fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat."  And on top of that Jehoshaphat gets tribute in the form of costly gifts, silver, and animals.  All of this because the Word of the LORD went forth throughout the surrounding area.

Wow!  What can we learn from this?  What are we doing personally and in our own local churches that can mimic this effort?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

BLAME JESUS AND GOD THE FATHER

I guess there could be several analogies drawn to the situation that surrounded Jesus at the time of His betrayal, trial, scourging, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  Analogies like "the chess game" analogy or "master puppeteer" analogy or "the great play" analogy.  In each scenario there are many participants with roles that are manipulated by one or more to acquire a desired outcome.  Satan tried to "pull his own strings" by influencing those close to Jesus to try to thwart Jesus' plan.  Like whispering into Peter's ear for Jesus not to go through with His plan.  And Judas being possessed by the Fallen One himself to betray the only begotten Son of God.  BUT God the Father knew the schemes of Lucifer and whatever Satan threw at Jesus for bad God turned for good.

Everybody around Jesus was "moved" (chess perhaps) into position before, during, and after Jesus' ministry here on earth.  The fact that the Son of God was in the form of His chess set or puppets and divine at the same time blows my mind but I am grateful because that is the way it had to be.

The Jews played their part (play), showing everybody how prideful they were about their position or status in life.  The Pharisees especially brought this out with the High Priest Caiaphas not desiring to give up his post or any and all benefits it may entail.  He didn't camouflaged his intentions by stating, "Better for one man to die than the entire nation." (John 11:50)  The Romans seemed masterly puppeteered especially when Christ said, "You would have no power if it were not given to you from above." (John 19:11)  The Disciples followed their long awaited messiah and supposed king - confused about the messages of sacrificial death He was sending them.

Then it happened, Jesus spoke the words that have finally reached my plugged up ears, heart, and spirit.
"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father." (John 10:17-18)

For many years now the "blame game" has been played and the Jews have lost.  This is mainly due to the statement - "All the people answered, 'Let his blood be on us and on our children!' " (Matthew 27:25)  But now I blame Jesus!  His prophets, especially Isaiah, told of this visitation and event.  There is symbolism throughout the Old Testament foreshadowing the coming sacrifice like Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac.  Jesus Himself tells us His reason(s) for stepping out of Heaven and becoming His creation - to save us, restore us to our proper relationship with Father God by laying His own life down and picking His own life up again.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Thank you LORD that you considered my relationship worthy of the price you paid.  Thank you LORD for saying "yes" to the Father's will, laying down your life and picking it up again.  Thank you LORD that you call me FRIEND! I don't blame anybody but you Jesus and your Father's unmeasurable heart for who put you, Jesus, through all that you went through - for me.  We messed up as a race starting with Adam and Eve, but you could have decided differently, Thank you Father, LORD, and Holy Spirit that you did not.  Thank you that you allowed history to play out, that you allowed my days to arrive and me to know you as my LORD, Savior, King, and Friend for eternity  Maranatha!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A FOCUSED PRAYER

I knew the Islamic faith had many times during the day when they called upon their members to face Mecca, bow, and pray, but I did not know there was any such similarity within Judaism.

Evidently, the history of the Jews "praying toward..." was important enough to have documented twice.  1 Kings 8:22-53 and 2 Chronicles 6:12-42 are the same account - Solomon's Prayer of Dedication (Temple).  When Solomon prays he asks the Lord, God of Israel, to hear the prayers prayed when the people pray a certain way - toward the location of their focus.  Their attention is where the Ark of the Covenant resides - in the temple on top of Mt. Moriah where Solomon is giving this Prayer of Dedication. 

There is no mention of bowing, just facing the direction of who should be their passion.  There is also no mention that this is a command, but what I get from Ezra's (2 Chronicles 6) recording of Solomon's words is a cultural practice of respect.

Solomon prayed to God that when his people "pray toward this... place (vv.20, 21, 26), temple (vv.29, 32, 34, 38), city (34, 38), and land (v.38)" that God would hear and act.  A mind that is focused, a spirit that is focused, a body that is focused, and a prayer that is therefore focused to the Lord, God of Israel.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

humble thyself

Ever heard the expression "just tie a knot and hang on" or heard it explained that life can get so challenging that you feel like you have "hit the bottom of the barrel and now there is no way but up"?  These may be great don't give up sayings or messages but I want to go a different direction. 

To those who have experienced this end of the rope or bottom of the barrel phase of life, you know the emotions attached.  Feelings like helplessness, confusion, and resourcelessness may abound.  A lot of "lessness" words can be applied here.  But when life gets to this point we are likely on our knees consulting someone who should have been consulted before getting to this point - God.  Surprisingly enough, a lot of times this is right where God wants us and can use us, minus the negativity of life's circumstances.

I am speaking about humbling thyself.  Bringing yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually to be totally dependent on God.  Intentionally going to that end of the rope and surrendering anything and everything to God before any negative situation forces you to turn to God is the kind of humbling I am encouraging.

Great promises are associated with humbling oneself in Scripture.  Matthew 23:12 says, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  James 4:10 states something similar, "Humble yourself before the LORD, and He will lift you up."  Then in 1 Peter 5:5 Peter is quoting from Scripture when he says, " 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' " 

I don't particularly like the phrase empty yourself.  It sounds to "New Agey" for me.  So, I'll just say the same thing a different way - pour out everything (hopes, dreams, concerns, problems, blessings, etc.) before the LORD, to the LORD, and on the LORD for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).  He is God, He can handle it.

I have found that whenever I pour out, He pours in.  But it is especially good to humble yourself in the morning, before the start of the day.  Here you begin the day surrendered to God's will and goodness injected into your mind, body, and spirit.  It forms an excellent foundation from which to go into your work day.  A proper state of mind, appropriate language, and peacemaking spirit have been my experience when I humble myself and get filled up.  I'm not perfect, I miss fill up times and pay the consequences to one degree or another until I can get before the LORD and surrender once again.

Totally surrender and totally trust God and He will lift you up, give you grace, and fill you up SO THAT you can pour out or bless others - another form of humility and another blog, but first.......humble thyself.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER by me

To be sure everything is not an accident.  To be sure everything is not by chance.  What is the purpose in living?  What is the meaning of life itself if an accident or chance is the governing force? 

What is the truth?  Who knows the truth?  So many voices claim their way as the truth or the way.  The cry, "It's all relative" is a cop-out and rejection of the correct way or path.  By definition, truth has no relativity.  Truth is true for all.

The fact that these questions are being asked alludes to the answer.  There has to be something or even someone greater than humanity.  From all the walks of faith which one is the truth?  Just by behavior of the members of each faith we know not all paths lead to the same God.  The differences within the teachings found in the many holy texts also show how the same God is not reached by all faiths.  There can be only one.

Who made the claim they knew the truth?  Many.  But one individual stood out above them all when he claimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6.  Even though Jesus was addressing his Jewish disciples and they would understand "Father" as God Almighty, particular to their faith, Judaism, later the gentiles or rest of humanity would be "grafted in" (Romans 11:17-21) to have the same access.

To have a relationship with the creator, the designer of it all is what it is all about.  The question is do people desire a relationship with God?  God's gift to us is a restored or redeemed relationship that cost the life of God's own Son - Jesus.  And even before acceptance of God's gift and all it entails the answer pre-supposes a problem that one must consider and acknowledge as the reason behind all the problems of the world - original sin or "The Fall".  If there was a restored or redeemed relationship it means that once it was good, then it fell, and now a way has been provided back to that good status and has potential for even better developments.  If people accept this gift and receive Jesus as The Way, The Truth, and The Life then people will either be branded insane (don't know any better), deceived (especially "bad apples" magnified as liers and hypocrites), or wise.  These people are better known as Christians.

However, I have heard God labeled as the "Ultimate Gentleman".  This means that He will not force anyone to decide whose way to believe and practices to keep, right now.  This decision He has left in our hands.  However, He has made the decision even more easy for us.  Besides the fact that with His death, burial, and resurrection all of our sins are forgiven and our relationship with Him and the Father has been restored, we now get eternity with Him in heaven instead of eternal separation from His presence.

This is what one could call the "ultimate No Brainer", yet many people have rejected this gift and the Bible predicts even more will still reject this restored relationship and way of living.  With the benefits clearly spelled out in additional Scripture, Reason screams - Why would anyone reject "The Way, The Truth, and The Life"?  Because no one wants to be accountable to anybody but themselves.  What a low standard.  Even the most advanced human would not be an adequate authority to be accountable unto.  God in the flesh, in human form, was what history - past, present, and future - needed.  With words, deeds, and a plan to support being the standard and authority to live by and live under, Jesus Christ provided all the necessary elements to fulfill the Father's will.  Jesus became to us "The Way, The Truth, and The Life", Savior for "Whosoever will believe".

Again, to borrow the quote from the "Highlander" series - "There can be only one!"  And there is only one.  One truth and truth has a name - Jesus!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Word Study..."Thunder"

Associated with "Punishment"
  • Exodus 9:23, 28, 29, 33, 34
  • 1 Samuel 2:10; 7:10; 12:17,18
  • Isaiah 29:6
  • Jeremiah 25:30
  • Joel 3:16
  • Revelation 8:5; 11:19; 16:18
Associated with "Display of Power"
  • Exodus 19:16; 20:18
  • Job 26:14; 36:33
  • Psalm 77:17-18; 93:4; 104:7
Associated with "Voice of God"
  • Exodus 19:19
  • Job 40:9
  • Isaiah 33:3
  • Jeremiah 25:30
  • Joel 3:16
  • Revelation 6:1; 14:2
Associated with "Describing....."
  • Sons of Zebedee - Mark 3:17
  • Throne Room of God - Revelation 4:5
  • Song of 144,000 or the teaching of the song - Revelation 14:2
  • Voice of Great Multitude - Revelation 19:6

Word Study..."Lightning"

As "punishment" or "a display of power"
  • Ex. 9:23, 24; 19:16; 20:18; 22:13; 22:15
  • Job 36:30; 36:32; 37:3; 37:11; 37:15; 38:24; 38:35
  • Psalm 18:12-14; 29:7; 77:18; 78:48; 97:4; 105:32; 135:7; 144:6; 148:8
  • Jeremiah 10:13
  • Ezekiel 1:4; 1:13,14; 21:10; 21:15; 21:28
  • Hosea 6:5
  • Nahum 2:4
  • Habakkuk 3:11
  • Zechariah 9:14
  • Revelation 8:5; 11:19; 16:18
As "descriptive of Lucifer's fall"
  • Luke 10:18
As "descriptive of the Throne Room"
  • Revelation 4:5
As "descriptive of the appearance of someone"
  • Daniel 10:6
  • Matthew 28:3
  • Luke 9:29; 17:24; 24:4
As "descriptive of His Coming"
  • Matthew 24:27

Friday, August 27, 2010

WHAT HE SAID ABOUT HIS VISIT

We are taught by many teachers, evangelists, and our own pastors the main Scripture passages that pertain to the "why" for Jesus' first visit.  The most used one or at least the first one that comes to my mind is John 3:16.  And if you just ask a Christian off the street why Jesus came to earth you probably will get a standard answer, like "to save humanity from sin and secure our place in heaven with other believers".  While this is true I found there is more.  In asking one question, a good list of Scripture passages help to explain why Jesus came and did what he did and said what he said.  That question was - What did Jesus, Himself, say He came to do?

My research found, He Came To.......
  • "bring division" (Luke 12:51)
  • do the will of him who sent me/not lose any He has given me but raise them up on the last day/provide eternal life for those who look to the Son and believe in Him (John 6:38-40)
  • fulfill prophecy (Matt. 5:17)
  • make us "fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19)
  • "call the sinners" (Matt. 9:13)
  • "bring a sword" (not peace) (Matt. 10:34)
  • "turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matt. 10:35)
  • "serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28)
  • "to preach the good news" (Mark 1:38)
  • "redeem His people" (Luke 1:68)
  • "help His people" (Luke 7:16)
  • save (Luke 19:9)
  • teach (John 3:2)
  • be the Prophet (John 6:14)
  • "Judge this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." (John 9:39)
  • "For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." (John 12:47) [I'm still trying to figure out this one and the verse above]
  • provide "life and have it to the full" (John 10:10)
  • provide "the world a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

HEAR THAT?

Have you ever heard loud, powerful, shattering thunder?  Imagine hearing the wings of an army of eagles fly overhead.  Have you ever heard the crackle and sizzle of lightening as bolts attempt to find their mark?  Have you ever been in the company of a strong trumpet blast?  Imagine yourself standing beside Niagara Falls and hearing that deafening roar.  Have you ever been in a large crowd and just stopped and listened to the murmur of the mob?  Ever wonder what the voice of God sounds like?  The previous questions are Biblical descriptions of God's voice to get you thinking.

Even though in 1 Kings 19:11-13 the voice of the Lord is "a still small voice" or "a whisper", most of the encounters with God's voice leave you quite "shaken and stirred" (nod to 007).  God's voice has been linked in Scripture to the breaking of Cedars, the shaking of the desert, the twisting of the oak, the shattering of Assyria, speaking from a cloud, and even the dead hearing His voice. 

Most of us have associated a god-like voice with a good baritone or smooth bass voice, compliments of the movies and t.v. (i.e. James Earl Jones and the like).  If you were one of the individuals who lived during the time of Christ you actually got to hear the voice of God in human form.  They heard the Word of God, the Logos, made flesh, speak.  That which Father God uttered as words before creation, now was flesh and speaking.  Wow!  Get your mind around that!

The locations and descriptions of the voice of God that were alluded to above and more are listed below.

  • "Speaking to him form between the two cherubim..." - Nu. 7:89
  • "spoke to you out of the fire." - Dt. 4:12
  • Discipline related - Dt. 4:36
  • "a loud voice" - Dt. 5:22
  • "resounded" - 2 Sam. 22:14
  • "roar of His voice" - Job 37:2
  • "majestic" - Job 37:4
  • "thunders in marvelous ways" - Job 37:5
  • "is powerful" - Psalm 29:4
  • "breaks the cedars" - Psalm 29:5
  • "strikes with flashes of lightning" - Psalm 29:7
  • "shakes the desert" - Psalm 29:8
  • "twists the oak" - Psalm 29:9
  • "mighty" - Ps. 68:33
  • "will shatter Assyria" - Isa. 30:31
  • "sound of their wings was like the voice of the Almighty" - Eze. 1:24
  • "was like the roar of rushing waters" - Eze. 43:2
  • "was like the sound of a multitude" - Dan. 10:6
  • "a voice from the cloud" - Matt. 17:5
  • "the bridegroom's voice" - John 3:29
  • "all who are in their graves will hear His voice" - John 5:28 (Wow!)
  • Gives intructions - Acts 10 and 11
  • "the voice of the archangel" - 1 Thess. 4:16
  • "trumpet blast" - Hebrews 12:19
  • Heaven and earth will be shaken by His voice - Hebrews 12:29
  • From heaven while on a mountain - 2 Peter 1:18
  • Trumpet like - Rev. 1:10
  • Rushing Waters - Rev. 1:15
Zephaniah 3:17 says, "...he will rejoice over you with singing."  Talk about The Voice! (Reference to t.v.singing program that searches for The Voice)   And He is singing over you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quotes To Discuss From THE SHACK by William P. Young

  • "He was a rich man. he thought to himself, in all the ways that mattered." (p.29)
  • "His features were pleasant enough, but he was not particularly handsome - not a man who would stick out in a crowd." (p.84 - Isaiah 53:2)
  • "Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature." (p.93 - John 4:24)
  • "'So, when he healed the blind?'  'He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him.  Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself [except John 10:18  - authority to lay his life down and pick it up again - my comment here] to heal anyone.  Only as he rested in his relationship with me, and in our communion - our co-union could he express my heart and will into any given circumstance.'" (p.100 - John 5:16-30)
  • "'Don't you have a chain of command?'  Makenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity.  We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or 'great chain of being' as your ancestors termed it.  What you're seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power.  We don't need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best.  Hierarchy would make no sense among us.  Actually, this is your problem, not ours.  Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible hat people could work or live together without someone being in charge." (p.122)
  • "We created you, the human, to be in face-to-face relationship with us, to join our circle of love." (p.124)
  • "And look what it has cost you.  Is it worth it?  Yes!'" (p.125)
  • "...you cannot produce trust just like you cannot 'do' humility.  It either is or is not.  Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved." (p.126)
  • "'Then it is you (humans) who determines good and evil.  You become the judge.  And to make things more confusing, that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstance.  And then beyond that and even worse, there are billions of you each determining what is good and what is evil.  So when your good and evil clashes with your neighbor's, fights and arguments ensue and even wars break out.'" (p.135)
  • [Giving Fear A Foothold] "To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your hear that I love you.  You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don't know it." (p.142)
  • "...my life was not meant to be an example to copy.  Being my follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus', it means for your independence to be killed." (p.149)
  • Makenzie asks, "Tell me, if I may ask, by what criteria do you base your judgments?" (p.159) "Mackenzie, judgment is not about destruction, but about setting things right." (p.169) [Although destruction is often a means by which judgment is carried out - my own thoughts]
  • "This always works better when we do it together, don't you think?  Jesus asked smiling." (p.174)
  • [MY PERSONAL CHALLENGE - TAKE THE BOXING GLOVES OFF]  "All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you.  It's not your job to change them, or to convince them.  You are free to love without an agenda." (p.181)
  • "Love that is forced is no love at all." (p.190)
  • "There is no plan B." (p.192)
  • God says, "...I am now full reconciled to the world." Makenzie says, "The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?"  God responds, "The whole world Mack.  All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally.  It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but it is the nature of love to open the way." (p.192)
  • "...just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies.  Don't ever assume that my using something means I cause it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes.  That will only lead you to false notions about me.  Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors." (p.185)

Welcome

Here in this world of technology and information and instant access I thought I would join the crowd of people known as "bloggers" and see what it is all about.  From my research, blogging can be anything from a personal diary that is shared to a political soapbox, the spectrum is grand.  A lot of my blogging is going to be centered around my faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings.  But at other times there will be inserts of my other interests such as sports and music that should keep you on your toes, if you are interested in those things too.  So, here's to sharing and I hope we both or we all can grow and share a few laughs and tears of joy as I try something new with you.  Welcome.