Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Ready For The Real Thing

Ready For The Real Thing

Sounds like an advertising slogan. I intended to use it for the title of a sermon. Not sure about it now.

But, it does capture a bit of what I feel the Lord is working in, with and around me.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:2-4 (ESV)

God wanted the earth to have light. He wanted whatever and whoever that was earthly to have light.


Because light reveals what's real.

Darkness hides what's real. Shadows distort and confuse. The black of night overwhelms color and form.

Gloom depresses.

God wants me to see the real thing.

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29:1-2 (ESV)

God is the real thing. Everything else is his creation, his reflection. The realness of God is glory, strength and holiness.

I sit in a library, near a window. Opposite me, about ten feet away sits someone else.

Is that person real?

My eyes detect light reflected off their body. The light changes form as the person shifts position, turns a page, swipes a screen.

My ears detect vibration in the air as the person coughs, scrapes shoes against carpet, sets a cup on the table.

None of this is's all a reflection, an echo, a suggestion.

What is real? God.

God created the air that vibrates, the light that reflects, the eyes and ears that respond. We are created to respond to God.

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Mark 1:4-8 (ESV)

John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you've been baptized in John's baptism, you're ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.

Acts 19:4 (MSG)

John's life was an echo, a trumpet sound from a watch tower, a reflection of something greater...something more real.

My life - when I'm acting as if there is no God, when I'm acting as if I am God - is lived according to a shallow, dimly lit, obscured and tiny definition of "real". This small definition of "real" consists of what time should I get up in the morning so I don't get in trouble with other people? What can I do today so that I don't get in trouble with other people? What can I do so I don't feel bored, useless, worthless and small? What can I do today that will make me feel happy but not take much time or thought? What can I do to avoid getting hurt, lost, shamed, confused, depressed - or worse, uncomfortable?

Some days my life feels without form and void, with darkness covering everything.

Thank God for Light!

Light allows me to see my life when it's covered in darkness. Light allows me to see the greatness of the One Who created, sustains, sees and satisfies me. Light brings me out of my shell of dark boredom and smallness and joins my soul once again with the Real Purpose, the Real Person, the Only Real Person.

Thank God for Light!

Now, this moment at least, I am ready for the Real.


Anthony Quintano / "TV Abandoned" / / CC BY 2.0 / adapted by Milt Reynolds

Jungle_group / "Forest" / / CC BY 2.0 / adapted by Milt Reynolds

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A New Folder - An Illustration of Faith

The image above is an illustration of faith. It's a reminder of how in one way I've expressed my faith...faithfully. It's evidence of my confident expectation that I'll continue to express my faith next year.

Today is December 31, 2017. It's about 9:00 am. I'm not feeling especially well now...struggling with symptoms of a head and chest cold...head heavy, runny nose, tired, sneezing and coughing.

But I'm working on next Sunday's podcast. I've recorded and posted an audio podcast weekly (nearly sometimes happens and I've skipped a few weeks here and there). It's a podcast of me reading aloud four different passages from The Holy Bible, based on the Common Revised Lectionary.

I started the podcast in 2016. My first post to SoundCloud was for Sunday, March 6, 2016. It's no longer available on SoundCloud because I have only the free account, which limits my posts. So, when my account gets filled, I delete a couple, making room for a couple more uploads.

The podcast started selfishly.

I wanted to listen to the weekly passages as I drove to work. I had about a 25 minute commute. I tried out several apps for my phone, several audiobook versions, but none fit my needs. I wanted to listen to only those four passages, daily and repeatedly. I wanted to listen to them while driving. I wanted to listen to them while working. I wanted to listen to them repeatedly because my work causes my attention to shift focus often, and I lose track of what I was listening to. If it's on a loop, I eventually, through the course of the day, would hear, meditate and consider most of what the passages were saying.

None of the apps and audiobooks allowed this.

So, I recorded myself and used an MP3 app on my phone to play back the recording repeatedly, on a loop, without fuss or expertise. I use MusiCloud, but there are lots of apps that can do the same.

It worked.

It worked well.

I use my phone to record myself (Voice Record, the free version.

I use NoteTab Lite to draft my script.

I then wanted to share the recordings with those at church. We were all reading the same passages weekly, we were all hearing a sermon weekly based upon those passages. I thought there had to be others who would want to listen to an audio version on the way to their work.

I mix my recordings with music using Audacity, and post the podcast to SoundCloud with a cover image found on Flickr using CC Search.

Oh! Almost forgot..I also use Jamendo to find music.

Because I speak a little Spanish, I thought I could also try recording the passages in EspaƱol. That didn't work. My pronunciation is inaccurate, my pacing is erratic. It was painful to read it aloud, and worse to hear it.

But I had a friend, a co-worker. Born in Mexico, raised in the United States, fluent in both languages, devout Christian. He instantly agreed to help. I'm so glad! Now I can listen to the passages weekly, in English and Spanish, helping my faith and language skills to grow.

Thank you, my friend!

But, back to the original thread of this post.

"The image above is an illustration of faith. It's a reminder of how in one way I've expressed my faith...faithfully. It's evidence of my confident expectation that I'll continue to express my faith next year."

Today's the 31st of December, now about 9:43 am, and I'm looking at a newly created folder in my Raw Audio folder: 2018.

It's not 2018 yet, but I confidently expect that I'll have a post to upload for the first Sunday in 2018. I've got three folders worth of podcasts, spanning from March 6, 2016 to December 31, 2017, mostly every week included.

What makes me confident? Am I simply ignoring all the potential circumstances that could bring this podcast to a sudden end? Because I have 612 podcasts, requiring 36.7 GB of storage on my computer, do I believe a sovereign, almighty God really likes me and will divinely support my work? Or is hope simply an emotion based upon statistics and historical trends?

What creates "hope"? What is the true, physiological basis for faith? Is my faith in another year of podcasting the same as my faith in a resurrected Savior?

I can't see what will happen tomorrow. I'm not a prophet, I've never felt that I've been given a divine revelation of the immediate future. The best I'm able to do at prognostication is to look back where I've been and compare it to where I'm at now. A lot of similarities and common trends indicate a strong possibility of the same tomorrow.

Perhaps that's what I do with my weekly well as with my faith in Christ. Reading The Holy Bible is a way of looking back. Watching my children grow up, my jobs change, my home move, my friends change...they all form a pattern of the past that I can compare with my present circumstance.

I'm not sure about that. I don't think that's the faith that Jesus died for.

Faith is a deliberate decision to act upon something told you, regardless of circumstances that appear to contradict the wisdom of that decision.

"Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Hebrews 12:2-4 ESV)

The Message puts it more dramatically:

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God — he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through — all that bloodshed!" (Hebrews 12:2-4 MSG)

Faith, biblically, is based upon what you're told, and who told it to you. In this instance, we choose to do all we can to resist sin because Jesus told us that was a way to joy, a way to God.

Biblical faith, for me, means that I confidently expect to continue recording and uploading my weekly podcast because I've decided that The Holy Bible is a faithful record of what God has spoken to us through Jesus Christ. Reading, recording and listening to passages from The Holy Bible is a way - not the only way, but it is one way - of experiencing joy in the midst of trouble. It reminds me of what I regard as true and long-lasting. It transforms my heart and mind toward that of God's image with which I was created.

I could refuse to spend the time required to prepare this podcast. I could decide that it would be more worthwhile to spend that time preparing for potential events and circumstances that would harm me. I could decide to spend that time doing things that please me temporarily, despite harm done in the end.

But my eyes are on the finish line - the joy that awaits after this life of trouble and death.

"Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them." (Hebrews 11:13-16 MSG)

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)

"Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. So, friends, confirm God's invitation to you, his choice of you. Don't put it off; do it now. Do this, and you'll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:3-11 MSG)

I computer's hard drive may crash. The internet may become dark and fenced off. My cold may turn into pneumonia. I may lose my job. The extremists may take over. The sun may fail and the stars may fall.

But all of that is maybe. Now, this moment, is what I have. I'm going to create a new folder for a new year and keep on keeping on, trusting in what I've been told by Someone I trust.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy Rejoicing

Peter and the apostles had been imprisoned, interrogated, slandered, disbelieved, minimized, oppressed and beaten by the Jewish High Priest and council of religious rulers.

And the apostles left happy.

They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 5:41-42 (ESV)

"Rejoice" is a good way to translate the Greek word that describes the emotion felt by the apostles after severe mistreatment. The English word derives from the Latin, gaudere (to give joy, to gladden). "Joy" is from the same word, meaning the emotion resulting from the acquisition or expectation of good; gladness or delight. The definition of "joy" includes happiness, bliss and gaiety.

Some try to distinguish between joy and happiness, exalting joy and denigrating happiness.

"Happiness" is a debatable issue for Christians. Some feel that happiness means the enjoyment of earthly, temporary, often self-indulgent pleasures. For many, to seek happiness seems a simplistic, child-like goal that betrays altruistic service and good works. Happiness for some is viewed even as a sinful pursuit.

"Joy" has a solid place of honor on the shelf of Christian pursuits. "Joy" seems to convey the pleasureable contentment felt when experiencing, or hoping to experience, good things that are eternal and heavenly.

"Happiness", on the other hand, has connotations of cheap worldliness, or fleeting fancifulness.

Does the Bible say that Christians should seek happiness? What does "happiness" mean? Is it something less than "joy"? Does the Bible exalt joy over happiness?

"Hap" is an old-fashioned English word that simply means an event or incident. To be "happy" means to regard an event or incident as good or fortunate. "Happiness" is an experience that one considers to be favorable, pleasureable, or good. Because experience is closely followed by emotion, happiness has come to mean the feeling that is triggered by favorable experiences.

Compare the definitions. The distinction is small between "happy" (the experiencing of good) and "joy" (the emotion excited by good). It is entirely acceptable to use the two words interchangeably.

Is "happiness" or "happy" in the Bible? It depends upon the translation!

The King James Version has 28 different instances of "happy". The English Standard Version has only 11, with two additional instances of "happiness".

Regardless of how the Bible is translated, what about the original language? What Hebrew and Greek words does the Bible use that are close to the meaning of the English words, "happy" or "happiness"?

Perhaps the closest equivalent to "happy" is the word used in Psalms: esher. This Hebrew word is translated differently by the King James Version (KJV) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God."

Psalms 146:5 (KJV)

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God."

Psalms 146:5 (ESV)

The same Hebrew word, esher, is translated differently by KJV and ESV.

"Esher" is used 45 different times in the Old Testament. The King James Version translates it as "blessed" in some instances and as "happy" in others. Why the inconsistency?

Psalm 128:1 translates esher as "blessed":

"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways."

Psalms 128:1 (KJV)

In the very next verse, esher is translated as "happy":

"For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee."

Psalms 128:2 (KJV)

The same Hebrew word, translated differently!

The translators seem to have used "blessed" to describe someone receiving a benefit from God. "Happy" seems to have been used to describe a person's emotional response to a benefit from God.

However, they are translating the SAME word!

The New Testament poses the same situation: "Happy" occurs 6 times in the King James Version of the New Testament. The English Standard Version of the New Testament has no instance of "happy" or "happiness".

The Greek word that KJV translates as "happy" is makarios, as used in John:

"I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

John 13:15-17 (KJV)

"I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."

John 13:15-17 (ESV)

The KJV translates makarios as "happy" while the ESV translates the same word as "blessed".

How often does "makarios" occur in the New Testament? 50 times!

There are other words used in the Bible that are similar to what we mean when we say "happy":

"Chairo" is used 77 times in the New Testament! In the KJV it is translated variously: farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy, joyfully and rejoice.

"Cheerfulness" is so closely related to "happiness" that the distinction is negligible.

The point of all this is to highlight the frequency with which the Bible speaks of happiness. Whether we call it being "glad" or "rejoicing" or "joyful", the distinctions between the words are very small. All of the words describe an emotional response to something good.

For a Christian, nothing happens accidentally or randomly...all things are given by God for our good. Even the hard things, the painful things, the "crosses" in our life...all things are given by God for our ultimate good.

Does the Bible encourage Christians to seek happiness?


God wants His people to seek Him!

Use a Bible reference book and look up the verses that mention the Hebrew word "esher" and the Greek word "makarios". God's Word uses happiness to encourage His people. God presents happiness as something that should motivate us to obedience and worship. God exalts happiness as an incentive and a reward...a promise given to us of the glad consequences of making Him our Treasure.

Remember, "esher" and "makarios" are translated inconsistently. Regardless of how it is translated into English, the original word is the same!

In the following examples, the word shown in bold type is "esher" (Old Testament) or "makarios" (New Testament):

"Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole."

Job 5:17-18 (KJV)

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."

Psalms 1:1-2 (KJV)

"Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord."

Psalms 144:15 (KJV)

"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding."

Proverbs 3:13 (KJV)

"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

John 20:29 (KJV)

"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."

1 Timothy 1:11 (KJV)

Amazing! Literally, this verse points to the Lord as the "happy God!"

The Bible is full of "happy" references to happiness. Translators may use different English words to communicate slight shades of implied meaning, but the basic original words remain constant.

"Happiness" has lately gotten a bad reputation. The value of happiness should not depend upon different levels of emotion or ectasy. The difference between joy and happiness is not measured by time or depth of feeling. Joy, rejoicing, blessing, blessed, gladness, contentment and satisfaction...all of these words communicate the basic emotion that is a consequence of regarding current events as good and favorable: in a word, happiness!

I believe that "happiness" is often denigrated because our fallen human condition tends toward seeking happiness from people and things that at best are only temporary, and at worst they are harmful and ultimately destructive.

We tend to reserve the word "joy" for emotion we feel when contemplating people and things that are longlasting or ultimately good and healthy.

However, in exalting "joy" over "happiness", we are falsely accusing the word "happy" of being cheap or tawdry. It is not.

"Happiness" deserves to be revived as a word that describes what God ultimately promises us: Life with Jesus will ultimately be good...very good!

And that hope makes us happy, right now!

Let's end this with a look back at the verse with which we began:

"They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."

Acts 5:41-42 (ESV)

It would be insane to pretend that they were rejoicing happily over their bleeding backs and bruised skin. Our own experience shows us that pain and loss in themselves never bring happiness. Rejoicing in bad experiences comes only when the pain leads to something good beyond the bad. What good thing caused genuine, happy rejoicing for the apostles?

They were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus.

Suffering dishonor did not bring the apostles happiness, but the dishonor led them to realize that Jesus counted them worthy to suffer on His behalf. What joy! To have the Creator and Redeemer of the world regard me as worthy of suffering for Him! This intense experience of good sprang directly from an intense experience of bad.

And the good trumped the bad!

What Do You Think?

When have you had a bad experience in which you see now led directly to a good experience? Does your life story reflect the truth that happy joy can result from an initially bad experience? Is it fair in your opinion, to equate "happiness" with "joy"?


Quinn Dombrowski / / "Happy baby" / / CC BY-SA 2.0 /

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Established Forever!

Established Forever!

I don't long to be ruled by a king.

In my social studies class in high school, I was never drawn to the idea of a monarchy or an empire. I considered such forms of government to be oppressive, impractical, and impersonal.

My first year of college brought me into close contact with people much different than I...different skin color, different social rules, different spiritual journeys. The only constant preference that drew us together was the fervent belief in democracy, in representative government, in collaboration and the right of the individual.

I became a Christian during that first year of college. It was an inexplicable change of heart and mind that I often wonder at even today. The foundational truths of this new faith were to be found in The Holy Bible, which often referred to God as "King of kings, Lord of lords."

"I charge you in the presence of God...he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion." (1 Timothy 6:13-16 ESV)

I believe this, mentally, but I have little emotional connection to the concept of having a King. I've never experienced life as a subject of a monarch. I've seen examples from afar, examples of miserably ineffective and abusive kings...kings far removed from the people over whom they ruled...kings who used power and force as we may use toilet paper and plastic credit cards.

Our passages this week connect the earthly reign of David as king over Israel, with the universally everlasting reign of Jesus Christ as King over all nations and all generations.

How does knowing God as King affect your daily life? How can 20th century, democratic North Americans living in a republic connect with God as King?

God appointed David to reign over his people. Every incident and circumstance worked together to bring David to the throne.

God promised that the house of David would last forever. The eternal reign over God's people would be held by a descendent of David.

No enemy will triumph over the reign of David's eternal descendent.

No place on earth, no nation of people, will not be under the rule of David's eternal descendent.

Jesus, born of Mary, Jesus Christ the Son of the Most High, is that descendent. Of his kingdom there will be no end.

Jesus our King is merciful to those who fear him. He is strong. He scatters the proud and brings down the mighty. He exalts those who are low, and he fills the hungry with good things.

Like it or not...understand it or not...emotionally desire it or not...Jesus is and forever will be our Most High King, King of kings and Lord of lords.

The sooner we like it, the sooner we understand it, and the sooner we emotionally desire it, the better. As Mary responded, so should we:

"Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Our texts for this week, the Third Sunday of Advent, December 24, 2017:

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38, 46-55

Scriptures are taken from the English Standard Version of The Holy Bible. Readings by Milt Reynolds.

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent."

And Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you."

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, "Go and tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.

'In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"

'Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

'And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.

'Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house...And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'"

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness."

You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: 'I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'"


Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:

"I have granted help to one who is mighty;

I have exalted one chosen from the people.

I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.

The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him.

I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.'

Romans 16:25-27

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith - to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ!


Luke 1:26-38, 46-55

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.

And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God.

"And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."

And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

And the angel departed from her...

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

"And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."


LifeWay Christian Resources / WORDsearch Basic, free Bible study software /

English Standard Version, 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers, 2011 edition

Peteris / "Christ the Redeemer statue" / / CC BY 2.0 /

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Story of Deborah and Jael, Part Four: A Mother in Anguish

The Story of Deborah and Jael, Part Four: A Mother in Anguish

My Name Does Not Matter

"You do not want to be God's enemy."

I've been asked me to explain why my story is in the Bible, and how it connects with you all.

That's going to be a bit difficult.

For one thing, I do not want to be here. I don't care about you all. I don't care about your God. For that matter, I do not care about anyone's god. All I care about is what I've lost. All I care about is what I feel I deserve, all that's been taken away from me. I was a way more better person than those whimpering, self-absorbed whiners who came waltzing into my country, singing songs about their God and then making cozy with us and our gods when they got fat and sassy.

I lost my son.

I lost the only thing that gave me pride and joy.

I lost the only thing that gave me purpose and protection.

I lost my son.

My attendants tried to comfort me. They assured me that he was on his way, victorious over those "God-of-Jacob" people, those refugees from the god-forsaken East, those on-again, off-again followers of God. They assured me that he was loaded down with red satin fabric and salacious slave women, that the return home was delayed because of all their plunder.

I lost my son.

I lost everything.

So, what can I say to connect my story to yours?

Their God beat my god.

My final words to you? Words from a mother in anguish?

"You do not want to be regarded as an enemy of Deborah's and Jael's God."

Rod Waddington / "Anguish, La Recoleta, Buenos Aires" / / CC BY-SA 2.0 /