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Friday, August 31, 2012


GROW OLD WITH ME by Melinda Evaul

Sarah runs a bed and breakfast called Mosey Inn. When carpenter Benjamin Pruitt arrives on her porch, Sarah can only gasp. Mr. Pruitt’s face and hands are horribly scarred. After that first awkward moment, their friendship takes off. And, so does the book. It flows so perfectly for the first third of the book that I honestly was so wrapped up in the story, I didn’t notice words or style.

After that first third, though, this nice romance between two fifty-something people sometimes has its cart-before-the-horse moments, a few implausible events (like Benjamin’s talking his heart out to a fearless, wild rabbit), and some awkward writing. I personally thought this back and forth was distracting to the story as a whole, although I still enjoyed the book. There are a couple of details that bothered me—quite a lot of physical relationship before any commitment (just kisses and hugs, but good kisses and hugs), and the fact that Sarah has no idea if Benjamin is a Christian at all until very late in the book (and she’s already in this relationship way over her head and heart). Personally, I think the physical can wait until after there’s a commitment (and should be limited then), and you should never even entertain thoughts about a relationship with someone until you know he’s a Christian. First things first.

GROW OLD WITH ME explores some interesting topics, such as rheumatoid arthritis, finding missing people, quilting, a pastor’s relationship with his flock, a rich, nasty busybody, and, of course, late-in-life courtship and romance. Overall, it’s a nice read, even though it has its faults. (I rate it three stars out of five.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Were You There?

Two weeks ago, in my Sunday school class, a visiting ten-year-old girl said the typical European lines: “I’m not sure there is a God.” “The Bible is just men’s thoughts.” “God didn’t create the world.”

When people say God didn’t create the world, a popular creationist asks them, “Were you there?”

God asked Job the same question. (Job 38:4-6 and following)

My answer to the ten-year-old was that I feel we can trust God. He was there and saw everything, and He can best tell us what really happened.

I remember when the least popular of the theories about how the world came into existence was the Big Bang. Today, people just assume it is true. The other day, a scientist on TV was talking about the planet Venus which has an atypical orbit, direction, and speed. (The orbit is circular instead of elliptical, and it goes clockwise instead of counterclockwise like most of the planets. It is also rotates backwards and slower.) He tried to explain the difference by saying something cataclysmic happened millions of years ago . . . .

Reason would tell us that Venus was created to be different from the other planets. It is proof that not everything is a “spin-off” from the supposed big explosion. No way could things have been thrown into space backwards! I always “love” it when the scientists explain the unknown and untested by millions and billions of years. Incredible!

It’s so much easier to trust our Bible, God’s Word. God knows exactly what He did and how. He knows the earth is older—by at least four days—than the sun, moon, and stars (and, I assume, the planets). He knows the earth is special, the central focus of His creation. He knows how he planned the light, plants, animals, and man himself. God totally understands His own design.

Why are some planets a little different from the theory mold? Because God did it. Why is the earth made like it is? Because God created it. And, because of the catastrophic changes that occurred with the universal Flood, so much changed so fast! What about earthquakes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters? Read the Bible. We’re going to have more and more earthquakes. (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11) Eventually, there will be the granddaddy of all earthquakes, the worst one since men have lived on the earth. (Revelation 16:18)

For me, give me God’s Word. Let me read God’s explanation of what He did, does, and will do. He was there in the beginning. He is here now. He will be here in the future.

In the beginning God . . . (Genesis 1:1).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"I Know That My Redeemer Liveth"

There’s a question mark over when the book of Job was written. Some think it might be the first book ever written, even before the books of Moses. Others think it might have been written in the days of Abraham. We don’t know.

The book of Job both fascinates and frustrates me. It fascinates me because of its depth of understanding about everything from science facts to spiritual truths. It frustrates me because sometimes I get lost as to who is speaking when (so I have to look back) and because some of the “loving” advice from Job’s “friends” was so cruel.

One of the beauties of the book of Job is Job’s complete dependence on the sovereignty of God.

Job made statements that are some of the crown jewels of Scripture:
            1:21b, The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
            13:15, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
            From 16:19, My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.
            19:25-27, I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
            23:10-12, But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

In the face of suffering, much, much hope . . . in the LORD!

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Your Bed

Photo by: luigi diamanti

A bed is for sleeping, right? Or reading, or thinking, or . . . .

In the Bible, there are several curious revelations about things people did in bed. (Don’t get the wrong idea, now. I’m not going there at all.) Some of these bedtime activities are humorous, and some are sad. I think you’ll find them all interesting:

  • Pharaoh entertained frogs in his bed, two nights, by his choice! (Exodus 8:3-11)
  • Michal made a dummy and put it in David’s bed in order to save his life. (1 Samuel 19:13)
  • King Ahab pouted on his bed because Naboth wouldn’t sell him his vineyard. (1 Kings 21:4)
  • Elisha, through the power of God, brought the Shunammite’s son back to life on the same bed the boy’s mother and father had provided for the prophet. (2 Kings 4:32-36)
  • Wicked Haman fell on Queen Esther’s bed (or couch), begging for his life, and the king was furious! (Esther 7:8)
  • David prayed in bed. Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still (from Psalm 4:4). David also cried many tears in bed. (Psalm 6:6) Maybe the best thing David did from his bed was to praise the Lord and meditate on Him. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches (Psalm 63:5-6).
  • The wicked deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil (Psalm 36:4).
  • Isaiah 28:20 is perhaps the funniest verse about a bed. (Are any of you tall?) For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. (The context of this verse is serious judgment, but taking it out of context, you have to chuckle a little at this one!)
  • King Nebuchadnezzar received two important dreams while sleeping in his bed. (Daniel 2 and 4). God then gave Daniel the interpretations.
  • Daniel had his own prophetic dream in bed, Daniel 7.
  • I saved the very best for last, Jesus. Jesus healed people on their beds, and He freed them so they could carry their beds. Glory!

What do we do when we lie awake at night? Hopefully, we’ll take some tips from David. We can praise the Lord, meditate on Him, and pray. A good use of downtime!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Hope

David wrote in Psalm 39:7, And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.

In the Bible, the word "hope" is a sure thing. It isn't a sighing "oh, I hope so" accompanied by doubt. It's something you can count on. It will happen, because God promises it.

I am thankful for the hope we have in the Lord. One of my favorite hymns expresses the believer's hope so well. It is aptly titled "My Hope is in the Lord."

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me,

And paid the price 

Of all my sin at Calvary.

No merit of my own

His anger to suppress;

My only hope is found

In Jesus' righteousness.

And now for me He stands

Before the Father's throne.
He shows His wounded hands

And names me as His own.

His grace has planned it all.
'Tis mine but to believe,

And recognize His work of love,

And Christ receive.


For me He died;

For me He lives,

And everlasting life

And light He freely gives.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Little Fish

Yesterday, my husband and I went with a friend to a nice aquarium. We saw sharks as big as we are, some little ones too. We saw many, many different kinds of fish, eels, and jellyfish. It was great!

We went by a part of the aquarium that is shaped like a vertical glass cylinder. A school of fish swirled round and round inside. They were beautiful and fast, and it looked like they were all going in the same direction. Our friend pointed to one fish going in the opposite direction.

I admire that little fish!

Every other fish was doing what they do, going round and round, all in the same direction. But this little guy dared to be different, swimming against the current. Now he was the same kind of fish as all the rest, but he was different as well. He wasn’t carried along by the crowd.

The Bible says Christians are in the world but not of the world. We are humans, live with other humans, but we’re not exactly like other humans, because the Holy Spirit lives within us.

Jesus prayed this prayer for believers before His crucifixion. Jesus understood very well that Christians would need to swim against the world system: And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world (John 17:13-18).

I pray that God would give me the strength to be just like that little silver fish I saw yesterday, brave enough to defy the “school of fish” that is the world and to follow the Lord instead—even if I’m the only one. I want to live by His truth, be sanctified through God’s Word, be in the world but not of the world. Amen!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wifely Advice

In the biblical book of Esther, wicked Haman’s wife Zeresh gives him some “wonderful” advice: build a very high gallows and hang your archenemy Mordecai on it. (Esther 5:14) We know the end of the story: that Haman is made to honor Mordecai, and Haman ultimately gets hanged on that high gallows himself. His riches and house go to Queen Esther, a member of the Jewish race he planned to wipe out.

Other wives who gave equally bad advice:
     Ahab’s wife Jezebel told him, arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite (1 Kings 21:7b). Then she proceeded to forge letters with Ahab’s seal, frame Naboth, have him unjustly stoned to death, and steal his vineyard.
     Job’s wife said, Curse God and die (from Job 2:9). Thankfully, he refused to do so.
Wifely advice that should have been heeded:
      Pilate’s wife said, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him (Matthew 27:19b). Pilate gave in to the other “important” people around him, cared more about his political standing, and disregarded life in letting Jesus be crucified, even though he knew he was wrong. (I wonder if he or she ever slept well afterwards.)

I guess you could call this “pre-wifely” advice:
      It came from Abigail, who was the wife of Nabal at the time. She begged David not to take vengeance on her husband (who deserved whatever he got). She thus averted much bloodshed. And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand (1 Samuel 25:32-33). Later, Nabal died, and David took Abigail as his wife.

And this lousy advice comes from “a woman” whom Samson loved, not exactly his wife. She was clearly not an exemplary type:
      And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee (Judges 16:6). This tale of seduction and nagging and Samson’s very sad end is full of lessons for any man. Any woman who lives loosely isn’t trustworthy, especially with one’s deepest secrets.

I can’t end this blog with Delilah.

There were some wonderful women in the Bible who were assets to their husbands. How about these?
      Sara, Abraham’s wife—held up to generations after her as an example of a submissive wife
      Jochabed, wife of Amram and mother of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam—followed Pharaoh’s law to the letter, yet protected the future leader of Israel
      Deborah, wife of Lapidoth—prophetess, judge, and even military leader
      Ruth, wife of Boaz—Moabitess who trusted the Lord and was abundantly blessed by God
      Hannah, wife of Elkanah—prayed earnestly to the Lord, and God blessed her with Samuel and then with five more children
      The Virtuous Woman—Her husband and children rose up and called her blessed.
      Mary, Joseph’s wife—chosen by God to bear much shame and to rear His only Son
      Elisabeth, wife of Zacharias—encouraged Mary, obeyed God in naming John, and was miraculously the mother of the forerunner of Christ
      Priscilla, wife of Aquila—helped tutor the Apostle Paul in spiritual truth

I am glad the Bible gives us insights into the good women as well as into the bad. I am thankful that any Christian woman can influence her husband and children and those she ministers to for good.

I know that I would like to be known for my good wifely advice. I’m sure you would, too!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Party Decorations

I just started reading one of my personal favorite books of the Bible, Esther. I was struck this time by the amazing decorations for the party in the opening scene of the book. Now, I love decoration, and I love furnishings, and I love creating a mood with decorations, but I never in all of my life have seen anything that remotely compares with the party atmosphere that Ahasuerus planned for his guests. Listen to this:

            Cloth hangings in white, green and blue—fastened with purple and linen cords, attached to silver rings and marble pillars
            The couches for people to lounge on for the feast were made of gold and silver.
            The floor was made of red, blue, white, and black marble. (Were they mosaics, or some kind of a large pattern?)
            The glasses or chalices they drank from were all made of gold, but each was unique in design.

Since I live in Europe, I’ve been privileged to visit more than one royal palace. I’m always awestruck by their dining rooms. Each is designed to show off opulence to any visitor fortunate enough to get an invitation (and to us tourists who will pay for a glimpse without eating there). Just gorgeous! Many times, there will be seemingly endless tables surrounded by fancy chairs and topped with beautiful silver centerpieces and candelabra.

But this . . . . Can you imagine the scene? And, this wasn’t “just” a state dinner for one night. This party lasted seven days! (I wonder what they ate!)

Isn’t it interesting that God describes Ahasuerus’ party furnishings down to the most minute details—the cords that held the hangings! I’m glad He did! There’s something timeless about beauty, something impressive about such opulence.

Can you even imagine the troop of craftsmen working on the drinking goblets? (Don’t copy, now!) Each workman was free to express his own creativity while forming another gold chalice for the king. How fun!

All through Scripture, we read about creative people serving the Lord. Everyone from stone masons (who cut the stones for the Temple so exactly that they didn’t make a noise when put in place) to embroiderers, workers in furs, gold, silver, brass, dyes, weavers of linen, sculptors, woodcarvers, instrumentalists, and singers . . . . The list goes on.

I am thankful that God, the Original Creative Person has allowed us humans to be creative, to reflect His beauty in the things we do.

Moses prayed this prayer for creative people: And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it (Psalm 90:17).

Friday, August 17, 2012

With Friends Like These . . .

Nehemiah had some friends named Sanballat and Tobiah. They were the same kind of friends that Job had in Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz. (Job said to them, “miserable comforters are ye all.”) That just about sums it up. These guys were self-appointed critics.

Nehemiah and Job are not alone. I think of the great missionaries of the past and how they were misunderstood (Hudson Taylor, when he adopted Chinese dress and customs), criticized by their peers (William Carey, the brilliant missionary to India, along with many more), opposed by their own families and their own mission agencies (more than could be listed here), and persecuted (all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 3:12).

The rumor mill turns. People talk badly about others, sometimes because of jealousy, but many times because of misunderstandings. Sometimes, I guess, it’s from just plain meanness. The old saying, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” is too appropriate.

If you do something, you’ll get criticized for how you do it. People might say you shouldn’t have tried it at all. If you don’t do something, you’re accused of being lazy, or you should have done this—or that. There’s criticism, whatever you do!

So, when we’re in the fire ourselves—and we will be, no matter what—it is helpful to remember those heroes who have gone before.

I love Noah. Such faithfulness! His wife and sons and daughters-in-law were saved because they believed God’s message preached through him. His sons actually helped him build the ark—on dry land! To say he had opposition is putting it lightly.

How about Jeremiah, the weeping prophet? Was he a cry baby? Not exactly. He wept because the people wouldn’t repent. He faithfully preached for years and years, and the people went on sinning.

There are lots more, but the greatest hero of all is Jesus Himself. His own brothers didn’t accept him as the Messiah until after His death and resurrection, even though they witnessed his perfect actions and reactions at home. His perfection wasn’t enough proof for them? The people in Jesus’ hometown rejected Him. The country’s rulers were out to kill him—several times. The religious establishment didn’t approve. They were always trying to trip Him up verbally or catch Him disobeying the Law of Moses. Jesus was arrested and tried on trumped up charges, flogged, and crucified, even though He was sinless. Through all of this, Jesus was loving, caring, kind, healing, teaching, gracious, and best of all, forgiving.

In the face of unjust criticism, may we bear in mind our own Lord and Savior, the heroes of the faith, godly men and women of the past, and the persecuted saints of today, and may we depend wholly on the Lord.

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:14-18).


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I remember the first few times I saw T-shirts with NO FEAR printed on them. I didn’t get it. Someone told me it was something like not being afraid, the “just do it” idea, only stronger.

Not very realistic!

Who doesn’t fear? I have known kids who didn’t have any fear of heights. Some of them have dressed up like Superman and have jumped off small buildings, thankfully living to tell their stories. I knew one child—one of mine—who wasn’t afraid of water. I saved him from drowning three times! He would jump in, no matter the depth. Everyone has some kind of phobia or at least a healthy respect for heights, deep water, racing traffic, fire, mountain lions, and other dangers.

I am fascinated by the times in the Bible people are told by angels or the Lord “fear not,” “be not afraid,” “be of good courage.” I think we all have fears, very human fears, and we all need this message.

I just read Psalm 34:4 where David says, I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This is the guy who killed a lion and a bear before he went out to kill Goliath! He says God delivered him from “all his fears.” If David had fears, and God could deliver him, I think we should take heart and let God take care of our fears too.

God encourages us to have confidence in Him. (Psalm 31:24)

He wants us to trust Him for the words to speak in persecution. (Matthew 10:19)

He wants us to be bold in prayer. (Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14)

The Bible says we don’t have to live in fear, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee (Psalm 56:3).

No Fear? No, but I have God to help me when I fear. What a blessing!