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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Truth Versus Tradition

I was just reading in Acts 19:24-41 where Demetrius the silversmith started ranting against the Apostle Paul. The Bible tells us that Demetrius and quite a few more craftsmen made big money making silver shrines for Diana. These images provided a lucrative business for the city of Ephesus, where they believed the image of Diana fell down from Jupiter (See verse 35). Ephesus had a temple to the goddess, and apparently she enjoyed a large following.

Demetrius had a problem, though. It was Truth. Paul had persuaded and turned away much people saying they be no gods, which are made with hands. (Verse 26)

I’m reminded of a couple of Bible passages about people making their own gods. One is Isaiah 44:16-18a: He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. They have not known nor understood.

Even a little child can understand this: Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. (Psalm 115:4-8)

This wasn't only in Bible times. Today, many religious practices worship or give some kind of homage to man-made images. They might be called gods, goddesses, saints, virgins, or icons, but they are objects of worship. Offerings of flowers and food are given to them. Candles and incense are burned before them. Dances are performed to honor them. Concerts are organized on their special days. People kiss them and pray to them. Some images are even sprinkled or submerged in various “holy” waters.

The first and second of The Ten Commandments read like this: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God. (Exodus 20:3-5a)

The Truth hasn’t changed since Paul’s day. The Truth is that there is a God. He was not made by man; He made man. He is the Creator of the universe. He is Truth. God desires a relationship with man, His creation. He sent His Son, Jesus, to become man and to redeem man. God is the only One worthy of our adoration and worship.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (from Revelation 4:12)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How Did He Know?

Did you ever wonder how the prophets knew what God wanted them to do or say? My curiosity is aroused when I read about men like Elisha. (I’ve only gotten to 2 Kings, chapter 8 in my reading so far, but this is what I’ve seen.)

How did Elisha know:
  •         That hitting the Jordan’s waters with Elijah’s mantle would part them? (2 Kings 2:13-14)
  •         That salt would heal the nasty water? (2 Kings 2:20-21)
  •         That they should build ditches to hold rain and that they would win the battle over Moab? (2 Kings 3:16-19)
  •         That God would fill pots with oil, and, first of all, what instructions to give to the widow? (2 Kings 4:2-7)
  •         To prophesy to his hostess, the Shunammite woman, that she would have a child? (2 Kings 4:16)
  •          To stretch himself on the child so the dead boy would come back to life? (2 Kings 4:34-35)
  •         To tell the messenger to tell Naaman to wash in the Jordan seven times? (2 Kings 5:10)
  •         To cut a stick, throw it into the water so the axe head would float to the surface? (2 Kings 6:5-6)
  •         That the horses and chariots of the Lord were all around them and that he should ask God to blind the enemy? Also, that they should send the enemies away after feeding them? (2 Kings 6:16-22)
  •         That on the next day “a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel in the gate of Samaria”? They were in a siege! (2 Kings 7:1)

      How did God tell him what was going on, how to solve the problem—what God was going to do—and what prophecies to tell someone? It seems obvious that God guided him, but how? Did God whisper audibly into his ear? (I think of the still, small voice for Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13.) Or, did he get a mental impression and somehow know it was from God? Although I would love to know the mechanics of God’s communications, the important thing isn’t how. It is, rather, Elisha’s complete trust in what he knew God had said.

      How about us? We have it easy. We have God’s Word all written out for us. We can see what God says each time we open our Bibles. Have we read it and gotten the message? Do we have full confidence in it—so much so that we believe it unswervingly, obey it, and trust its prophecies?
      Something to think about.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ten Strange Facts About Me

I keep seeing these cool blogs where people share their funny or deep secret selves. It seems strange that anyone would be interested in this stuff—but they are! I’m going to follow in their footsteps and share ten strange and little-known facts about me.

1. I have lived in six houses as a single young lady (in three different states). After we married, we lived in three houses before moving to Spain, and five here. Where we live now, a cottage in the country, is the longest I have ever lived in one place.

2. I studied French from age eight on through college, and then I became a missionary to Spain, not knowing one word of Spanish.

3. I got my college degree in art and later worked in an art department for children’s fashions and then for a Christian magazine. I learned much on the job in both places. I also taught calligraphy in the evenings at a community college. Here, in Europe, the art and architecture are enough to keep my eyes busy for a lifetime. Fantastic!

4. My loves include my husband, children, grandsons, and all the rest of our families. I love the Lord’s work and people. I enjoy good, clean humor, true Christian fellowship, and people with like ambitions—to know God and please Him. I love nature, beauty, fresh air and sunshine, walking, flowers (wild flowers, cultivated, roses, all kinds!), green grass, and rolling hills. I love the ocean, beautiful lakes, and the sound of water. I love birds, wildlife (as long as it stays out of the house), and domestic animals of all kinds. I love visiting places with lots of history, especially those with over a hundred years of history. I really enjoy living in Europe. I love castles!

5. I love books! (This has to be a different category, because I have a lot to share here.) From the time I was three, I’ve been reading. I have always loved the way words go together. I love the sound of people reading aloud or reciting poetry. I enjoy all the places I have traveled through books. Some of my favorite authors--Robert Louis Stevenson comes to mind--have transported me back to different times and exotic settings, places I will probably never visit, but they fascinate me. I love the education you get through good books. I read different genres and from different time periods. My least favorite books are sappy romances, although I don’t object to a touch of romance in an otherwise exciting plot. I love it when an author can describe a room so vividly that you can visualize it to the last detail, and you can actually smell the lemon furniture wax. I love “round” characters that grow and change. I enjoy the very good poets and hate poor poetry. I love it when someone can catch the essence of a concept in very few words—and you have to think about it for a while afterwards. I have every respect for a gifted author. (I understand how much hard work is behind the gift!)

6. I love Bible study. Every time I get into the Word for myself, I dig up a wealth of blessings. I love sharing these “new thoughts” with others.

7. Favorites: Colors—purple and blue, any shades. Food—spaghetti (No kidding!). Dessert—hot fudge sundae (Gotta have those in heaven, with all the calories taken out!). Fashion Style—fairly classic with some funky touches, modest, love blue denim. Home Decoration--Since we live in a cottage, I've tried to keep the cottage look. It's a mix of almost all used furniture, bright earthy colors, and traditional European objects. Places I’ve Been—France (the whole country, especially Normandy); the Alhambra palaces in Granada, Spain; amended new favorite is England. We loved England! Music—Mahler, Debussy, Handel, Beethoven, anything Baroque, violin played well, piano concertos, cello, French horn, trombones, classical guitar, flute. In Christian music, conservative, uplifting, not discordant. I love the old hymns! Bible Verse—1 Thessalonians 5:24, Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

8. Pets: When I was growing up, my family had three dogs (one had five? puppies), three kittens (only one living to grow up), and a parakeet (that my grandmother bought us without asking our parents). We got some kind of a shepherd mix dog after we moved to this house. Sadly, he has passed away . . . .

9. Hobbies: reading, writing, cooking, walking, watching tennis, touring historic places.

10. I have never colored my hair. (Now, that’s really strange—and subject to change, if needed!)

So, now you know--whether or not you really cared. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Crazy" Rhoda?

Rhoda is a fascinating Bible person. In three short verses (Acts 12:13-16), we learn much about this young woman.

She is attending a prayer meeting at John Mark’s mother’s house. (Good thing to do in the evening!) She must be praying near the door of the house. Was she the last person in? Is the house so packed that the entrance is the only place left for her? Or, is she the doorkeeper?

We know Rhoda is a “damsel.” This word means she’s a young girl, possibly a maid servant.

People are praying, specifically for Peter’s release from prison and for his life to be spared. Rhoda appears to be the only one who hears the knock at the door. She goes to the door, recognizes Peter’s voice, and turns around and tells everyone, “Peter is at the door.” They think she’s crazy, and she insists, “Peter is at the door.” They decide it must be his ghost. (How superstitious is that?) She still insists, and finally, they open the door. VoilĂ ! There’s Peter, out there on the doorstep! The prayer warriors are “astonished.” Pray . . . believe . . . surprise!

Rhoda is where she should be as a Christian—praying with other Christians.
She is a single young woman.
God lets her be the first to know their prayers are answered.
Rhoda tells others about the blessing.
She is misunderstood. They call her crazy, and tell her she must have talked to a ghost!
Rhoda insists it’s Peter.
Finally, they open the door and prove her right! God is great! Peter is safe!
And, Rhoda isn’t so crazy after all!

There are many parallels here for us. When we pray, believing, God just might do a miracle to answer those prayers! When we tell people God has done something marvelous, they may judge us crazy or delusional—and they might even tell us so! When we know what God is doing, we need to hang on to the truth, just like Rhoda did. Finally, she was proven right. (We might not ever get proven right, but if not, it doesn’t really matter. We’re responsible for our own actions, and others are responsible for theirs.)

I have to admire Rhoda. She didn’t see, but she believed. She was sure God had answered prayer, and she didn’t hesitate to insist on the truth she knew. She was where she should be, praying, with God’s people. She knew Peter’s voice—which tells us she had listened to him preach.

Crazy Rhoda? I think we should call her “Faithful Rhoda.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, Edgar Allen Poe’s hometown, when I think of ravens, Poe’s brilliant, dark poem “The Raven” and its repeated word “Nevermore” come immediately to mind.

This morning in my devotions, I came across some more ravens, this time in the story of Elijah and how God took care of his daily needs during the drought. God told him to go and live by the brook Cherith. He told Elijah to drink water from the brook and that ravens would feed him twice a day. They would bring him flesh and bread.

Now, ravens are naturally scavengers and hunters, meat eaters. Doesn’t it hit you as strange that these birds would bring meat and bread to Elijah, twice a day, for quite a long period of time?

I think there are several lessons for us here:
            God can do anything.
            God can use anything in order to accomplish His will.
            God will meet the physical needs of His servants.
            God might not do things the way we would.

I love it that God used big, black birds to do His bidding. His will shall be done “evermore.” Amen!

(The raven story is found in 1 Kings 17:3-6.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kissing Frogs

Back when we were young, someone close to me said, “Before you meet your Handsome Prince, you’ve gotta kiss a lot of frogs.” I cracked up! “So true,” I thought! I certainly hadn’t been kissing amphibians in my search for Mr. Right, but I had looked around at the lay of the land and found the prospects somewhat barren.
I remember voicing my frustrations to an older girl when I was eighteen. She answered, “Lou Ann, don’t be discouraged. You only need one man.” She was so wise. While I was frustrated about all the men I didn’t think were right for me, I forgot to trust God to lead Mr. Right to me and me to him. Later that year, I surrendered even my desire for marriage to God, and I rested in the Lord.

And, in the strangest of circumstances, I met Mr. Right. I know it’s not usually this way, but when we met, there were bells ringing and lightning flashes. I walked back to my dorm that evening trying to convince myself I couldn’t possible “know” on the first acquaintance.

Three years later, we were married.

Now, more than 35 years later, my Handsome Prince is still my handsome prince.
And I still don’t recommend kissing frogs! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Queen's Pledge

            This weekend, I’ve enjoyed British television coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with all the pomp, ceremony, gold, and color that Great Britain does so well. I cannot help but be impressed by the Queen herself. She is 86 years old and looks fabulous, dresses so beautifully, smiles, stands, and waves for hours at a time . . . . She is wonderful! Even if a person is not pro-monarchy, one can’t deny that Queen Elizabeth does the country proud. Sixty years on the throne!

            When Princess Elizabeth turned twenty-one years old, she made a radio speech from Capetown, South Africa that would serve as an outline of purpose for her life. She said, But through the inventions of science I can do what was not possible for any of them. I can make my solemn act of dedication with a whole Empire listening. I should like to make that dedication now. It is very simple. I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it."
            Sixty-five years later, only the second monarch to reign for 60 years in the history of the United Kingdom, the Queen over sixteen countries, fetes her diamond jubilee. An incredible story!
            More incredible is her devotion to the cause she outlined in April of 1927 at only twenty-one years of age. No one could deny her contribution to the nation, her dedication to the Commonwealth, her unflagging service through sixty years as queen. She has been there for the United Kingdom always. She is universally loved and respected.
            When I heard Queen Elizabeth’s pledge to her nation (at that time the British Empire), I was reminded of the dedication that Christians should have for the Lord Jesus Christ.
            Would we publically resolve to give our whole lives in service to our Lord and Savior? Would we then follow through on that pledge for the rest of our days? Would we be known as a follower of the King of kings and Lord of lords? Would we be willing to unflaggingly represent our Savior in thanks for what He did for us? Are willing to untiringly serve Him?
            “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to my Lord’s service . . . .”