Friday, February 26, 2016

Live Peaceably

"IF it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men"
Romans 12:18

I was pleased to see these two birds cooperating with each other at our bird feeder.  The female Cardinal and yellow-bellied Sapsucker were sharing quite nicely.  I was especially glad to see this since we have another bird that's been frequenting the feeder and acting quite ugly with the other birds. 

The yellow-rumped Warbler is a smaller bird, but he doesn't let that stop him from acting like a big, selfish pig.  Yes, it appears that a bird can act like a pig as he hogs the feeders and tries to keep other birds away.  The Warbler chases smaller birds from the feeder and perches on the pole like he owns the place.  The Warbler even flies after little birds in nearby bushes in order to keep them from nearing what he considers to be "his domain."

Have you ever known someone who is like the Warbler?  Some people are so contrary they chase people away with unkind words, selfish motives and/or callous actions.  If you have a yellow-rumped Warbler in your life, you need a lot of prayer - both for said Warbler, and for yourself.  We are told in Hebrews 12:14:  "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord."  Pursing peace with a Warbler is a tall order, but our God can accomplish the impossible, and my, what a victory when a peace accord can be reached with a prickly person!

The Lord Jesus tells us in the book of John, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" 13:34. 

Even before Jesus made that statement in John, He gave us the two greatest commandments in all of the Bible, indeed - in all of the world.  When He was asked what was the first commandment of all?  He answered, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'  This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  There is no other commandment greater than these."
These verse are found in Mark 12, Matthew 22, and Deuteronomy 6.

If we obey the first command, I've no doubt the second command will come quite naturally to us.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


This is an ugly picture of trash we saw when we stopped at a pretty beach on a port call on the island of Jamaica a few years ago.  Beside the parking lot trash was piled in an ugly heap.  Of course, I had to snap a picture, knowing that someday I would find a spiritual message in such a visual - today is that day.  I'm reminded of a truth written by Paul in Romans 7:

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. / For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." 

Haven't we all felt that way?  In fact, we feel that way a lot more than we think we should as Christians, and that can be very frustrating.  Did you detect more than a little frustration in Paul's voice as he wrote that seemingly convoluted truth?  I too get extremely frustrated with my own "self" at times and feel like saying with Paul, "O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?"

Ugly trash (symbolizing our "ugly sins") is not something that should be defiling a pretty little beach (symbolizing our redeemed Christian lives).  A trash man should come, shovel the filth into a truck, and take it away to be burned.  Likewise, the sins that so easily beset us should be brought before our redeeming God, shoveled away through forgiveness, and our hearts cleansed.

Would more trash be dropped on this beach?  Yes, of course, but if the trash was disposed of soon after it was dropped, there would be no piles of ugly litter to contend with.  One or two pieces of trash are easily handled, this pile is a real problem.  God wants us to confess our sins quickly and regularly, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9.

Even so, Paul's verses in Romans 7 are still an issue with us.  As long as we live on a sinful earth in a human body, there will be that frustrating pull of sin.  Only God can lift us from the muck and give us victory -- not to be perfect and never sin, but to be forgiven when we do.  Paul also encourages us in the next chapter with this truth:  "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" 8:1.

We are not perfect, and trash will fall into our lives, but praise God, if we confess, He will take it away as if it were never there.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Snakes & Satan

Snakes & Satan

Let's consider the Garden of Eden and the part a snake had in the way things turned out.  While I don't know the exact timing of everything, I'm using scripture and my imagination to try and get a better picture of what happened that fateful day.
After the beautiful Garden of Eden was humming along nicely, with the first man and woman enjoying their perfectly wonderful  life, something happened up in heaven that would greatly affect this new spinning ball called the earth.

Up in heaven, there was a beautiful angel named Lucifer who was an “anointed cherub who covers,” considered wise and perfect in beauty.  We know he was there in the garden, because Ezekiel 28:13, tells us, “You were in Eden, the garden of God…” even before the Fall.  Pride grew within Lucifer and he began to say in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High” Isaiah 14. 

Whoa!  No one gets away with that!  Lucifer was cast out of heaven for his sin and betrayal of God.  Thousands of years later, Jesus described the moment to his disciples, saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” Luke 10:18.

We don’t know where on earth Lucifer fell, but we may be sure it didn’t take him long to find his way to the Garden of Eden where he knew God’s two beloved children were living.  He was probably still licking his wounds when he decided to try and wreck havoc on God’s beautiful new world.

So, here we are back in the garden with the first young couple.  Now, this was no small garden.  It was massive, with four rivers running through it, gorgeous flowers and trees, gold and precious stones probably glittered from stones and hillsides, and the animals were probably lots of fun to watch and play with.
            God had told Adam and Eve to enjoy everything to the fullest, and that there was only one thing on the whole earth that they could not do – only one thing.  They could eat from every single tree, except one.  They could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in that day they would surely die. 

            Things were going along wonderfully.  God was enjoying His visits with His two young children, and they were probably basking in His love.  Then, Satan appears on the scene and does what he does best – he undermines God at every opportunity. 
          I used to wonder why Satan chose to appear as a snake.  One thing to remember is that the snake was not as we know it today.  At that point, it was just another beautiful animal God had created to be enjoyed.  Also, the snake was considered to be “more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” Genesis 3:1.  Ah, the snake was cunning and probably beautiful – two things Satan could use to his advantage.
           Most likely, the snake was able to walk upright and, it appears that he could talk as well.  Eve didn't seem surprised to hear the snake conversing with her, so it was probably common for it to speak.  The first words out of this creature's mouth was to question God, "Has God indeed said....?"  Those same words, or words to that affect, have been the ploy of Satan since the beginning of time. 
          The snake didn't fare too well after being used by Satan.  God put him in his place, saying, "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field.  On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed.  He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" Genesis 3:14-15.
          From the first failure of woman and man to trust and obey, all of humanity has followed in their footsteps.  I'm so thankful God did not give up on us.  I'm so thankful He gave us hope, even in the garden, and that He sent His Son to crush the head of the old serpent Satan and provide a way for us to regain our relationship with God that had been so badly damaged in the Garden.
~~photo:  I took the photo of these snakes, confined to the NC Aquarium in Manteo, North Carolina.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Blessings of Friends

(note that a few people in our group thought we were
doing a funny picture -- ha-ha!)

If Friends are a blessing, Christian Friends are a double/triple blessing.  Sunday night, after an early church service, we had our annual FEG (Football Experts Game) party.  We've been involved in this annual get-together with friends from our church for over 30 years now, and it's always fun.

The term "Football Experts" is by no means an accurate description of our group.  The men in the group are football fans, as are a few of the women, but most of the women are just there to enjoy getting together -- and having some nice munchies to chow down on.

Each year in September, members of our FEG group (numbering around 30 at present) turn in their ballots on which they "guess" how well each football will do and who will win divisions and the Super Bowl.  There are winners and losers on Super Bowl night (just like in the real game), and trophies are awarded (again, just like in the real game).  It's all in good fun and we have a lot of laughs and good times together.

I'm proud to say my husband Larry won the first place Men's trophy this year.  Congratulations to all the winners - and the losers too.  We are so very thankful for our wonderful friends - who are also brothers and sisters in Christ!  It's a real win-win!

1 Peter 4:8 -"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."

1 Thessalonians 5:11 - :Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

John 15:12 - "“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."