Friday, May 18, 2018

James, part 1, Faith, Obedience and Righteousness

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It is generally believed that the New Testament book of James was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus. He wrote to the twelve tribes which were scattered so it is assumed that he was writing to Christian Jews who had dispersed after the persecution. James’ theme is that religious service is the expression and proof of faith, that is, faith produces works. Faith is shown by the outward acts of obedience and righteousness.
Let’s start with chapter 1: 1 – 8:
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hebrews, part 4, Faith, Marriage, and Bible Codes

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Read Hebrews 11:1 for a definition of faith:

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

A word about marriage in Hebrews 13: 4:

4Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

All the sexually immoral! “Whoremongers” is the word used in the King James Version.

One last favorite verse, 13:8:

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Praise the Lord!

Lastly, a word about how the 66 books in the Bible link up to one another.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Hebrews, part 3, Reincarnation? Not a Chance!

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More about Jesus’ priesthood is revealed in Hebrews 7: 1-4:

1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
 4Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!Look at how Melchizedik was a type of Christ figure: king of righteousness, king of peace, no earthly parents, no beginning of days or end of life, a priest forever.

I have put in bold print below some things you can ponder from Hebrews 7:11-22:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Hebrews, part 2, Jesus, the Ultimate High Priest

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Look at Hebrews 3:1-6:

1Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. 3Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

 I put “house” in bold because it’s important that we remember that we are His house.
Now look at Hebrews 4:14-16:

14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus is the great high priest. I think this links back to 2nd Chronicles in an interesting way. Remember that in Chronicles the kingdom was divided into the northern region of Israel (10 tribes) and the southern kingdom of Judah (2 tribes). The priests and Levites left the northern region because of the idolatry. Where there were parallel accounts in Chronicles to historical events recorded in Kings, Chronicles always had many more references to the priests and Levites. Here, in Hebrews, we have the ultimate priest. Read Hebrews 5:1-10:

1Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
 4No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
   "You are my Son;
      today I have become your Father." 6And he says in another place,
   "You are a priest forever,
      in the order of Melchizedek."
 7During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

An important part to clarify is in verse 9. The translation here says “once made perfect,” which sounds like He wasn’t always perfect. The original Greek meaning, however, is “having been made perfect,” implying that Jesus was made perfect originally. Jesus was sinless and perfect.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hebrews, part 1, Stay Strong in the Faith that Jesus is God

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Hebrews was written by . . . well, we don’t know, though some believe that Paul is the author. Martin Luther thought it was Apollos, Tertulian thought it was Barnabas, others thought it might have been Priscilla or Philip.

There seems to be a double intent in this book: first to confirm Jewish Christians by showing that the Jewish age had ended by the fulfillment of the Law through Christ and, second, that there is an urgency to be strong in the faith and not lapse back into Judaism or fall short in faith in Jesus.

First let’s read Hebrews 1: 1-5:

 1In the past God spoke

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Last Book in THE TIME BENDER series Released Today



THE TIME ENDER is the exciting and unexpected conclusion to The Time Bender series.

Selina Langston is confused about recurring feelings for the wrong guy/alien. She’s pretty sure Alex is her soulmate and Coreg should not be trusted at all. But Marcum … well, when he returns to Klaqin and rescues her she begins to see him in a different light.

Since her secret power can pull her and everyone around her into a slow measured existence, she has plenty of time to figure it all out. But she’s not the only one with special powers. Plus there’s a galactic war going on … treachery and treaties … killing and carnage … battles and betrothals. Specifically her betrothal. Marcum has been through an incredible transformation since arriving on Gleezhe, but is he destined to be her betrothed?

And there’s someone … or something … that can stop time in a way that could mean the end of everything.

Friday, April 13, 2018

It's My Birthday! Lucky Me. I was Born on Friday the 13th

I am not superstitious. Never have been. Never will be.

Here are some birthday facts about me:

In high school I was a synchronized swimmer and in my senior year I won the soloist's spot.

I love to play games and devote hours to board games, video games, card games ... you name it.

I started writing novels in 2002 and have over 20 books published to date.

Fear of falling into the ocean kept me from going on a cruise, but a few years ago my husband and I took a train trip that included a cruise in the middle and I loved it. Now we've been on 6 and are booked on more in 2019 and 2020.

I have a thing for grammar. Love it. Love words. Love editing. But I hate it when people misuse apostrophes.

That is all.
Anyone wishing to send me a birthday gift be advised that all I want is one more book review on Amazon. So if you are so inclined ... hint, hint ... leave a review.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Philemon, A Short but Captivating Book in the New Testament

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The Hebrew letter mem represents water. The pictograph was drawn as a wavy line depicting waves of water. When the mem is the last letter of a word it is written more squarish like calm water. There are many words starting with this letter that have to do with water like bath (miqveh), fountain or spring, source or origin (maqor or ma’ayin), rain (matar), the flood of Noah (mabul) and baptized or immersed (mutbal). Other keywords that start with mem are king, kingdom and bowels (yes, I know, sounds gross – many translations use the word heart instead).

Paul opens his letter to Philemon by identifying himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” He uses the same phrase in his letter to the Ephesians where he adds “for the sake of the Gentiles.” I like that he reveals the “prisoner” status as he was, at that time, writing from prison. I think he is stating that although he is incarcerated he knows that this is the best place for him to be of service to Christ.

He writes to Philemon (and Apphia, Archippus and the church that meets in their home) and uses a greeting in verse 3 of “grace” and “peace.”  In the original Greek the word here for “grace” has the connotations of that which causes joy, pleasure and gratification. “Peace” means quietness and rest.

Our mem word “bowels” comes into play three times throughout this letter where your translation may use “heart” (verses 7, 12 and 20). Three times is a high occurrence considering how short this epistle is.

Paul appeals to Philemon for mercy on behalf of Philemon’s escaped slave, Onesimus. Onesimus has made himself useful to Paul in prison and, as a matter of fact, the name actually means “useful.” Paul is going against Old Testament tradition and is sending Onesimus back. In Deuteronomy 23: 15, 16 there is a law which says:

 15 If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. 16 Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him.
Of course, Paul can break this law as he is no longer bound to the law, but set free through faith in Jesus. Paul sends him back with this letter that contains subtle suggestions to influence Philemon. Read verses 13 through 18 with that in mind: 13I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 16no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
 17So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.

Boy, Paul is really steering things in a certain direction, isn’t he? We know he didn’t always write his own letters and it was probably Tertius (see Romans 16:22) who was writing this for him, except for verse 19 when he mentions that he is writing this part. This is undoubtedly to give more strength to his offer to pay Onesimus’s debts. This is a picture of Christ paying for our sins. Paul prods Philemon’s conscience two more times in verses 21 and 22:

21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
 22And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

This Onesimus may be the same person who, years later, became the Bishop of Ephesus, mentioned by Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in a letter to Ephesus.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Titus, Should Women Be Subject to Their Husbands?

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The 12th Hebrew letter, lamed, pictures a shepherd’s staff or an ox goad. As a verb “lamad” means teach, learn, point, prick or goad. You’d expect to see the word “teach” show up a lot in this little book that links to this Hebrew letter and, in fact, it does by a rate of about 10 times more (per 1000 words) than any other book. Tell me that’s not amazing.

What does Paul’s letter to Titus tell us? Read chapter 2 for a list of what should be taught. Here’s my summary:

1.         Teach older men temperance, to be respectable, to be self-controlled and to be sound in faith, love and endurance.
2.         Teach older women to be reverent, not to be slanderers, not to be addicted to alcohol and to be teachers of what is good.
3.         Older women are to train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home and to be subject to their husbands.
4.         Young men are to be encouraged to be self-controlled and to do what is good, to show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.
But wait, there’s more. Slaves are to be taught, too. Here it would be helpful to substitute employees for slaves (some would argue they are the same thing nowadays).
5.         Slaves/employees are to be subject to their masters/bosses in everything, to please them, not to talk back, not to steal from them and to show trustworthiness.
Think about these things from a boss’s perspective. How pleased would he be to have such an employee?

The end of chapter 2 tells us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.

Read Chapter 3 for more – we are to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good. We are to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men. Some synonyms for humility are humbleness, modesty and meekness.

Can you see how well our Hebrew letter, lamed, relates? Throughout this epistle I envision Paul holding a staff and teaching, exhorting, explaining, and pointing with it. There is plenty to learn in this short book; take some time now and study it.

Friday, March 23, 2018

2nd Timothy, How to Be a True Servant of Christ

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2nd Timothy was written by St. Paul shortly before he was martyred. This letter to his beloved friend has to do with the personal walk and testimony of a true servant of Christ. 

Let’s see how Paul encourages Timothy in the opening verses of the second chapter:

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

He tells him to “be strong” and the implication here from the Greek is to be strong in mind. He encourages him to teach others to be teachers. There is a huge difference between teaching your subject matter and teaching someone else how to teach your subject matter. I spent over thirty years teaching and the experience of having a student-teacher to train was incredibly difficult yet enriching and like Paul says, you need that future teacher to be reliable.

3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

The soldier analogy is perfect because, unfortunately, every generation can relate to the comparisons. Paul likens Christians to soldiers so we must be at war. Against what? Against the world. Look again at verse 4. The commanding officer is Christ. Do you want to please Him? Start by not getting entangled in worldly things.

Paul likes to use athletic analogies. Some of the qualities he is inferring are effort, setting a goal, being self-sacrificing and following rules. The athlete parallel and the farmer comparison are forever current. The soldier and the athlete are in it for the victory and the crown. What does the farmer get? Ah, yes, the first fruits. First fruits are the blessings.

 1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

The time will come when people will not put up with correct doctrine. And that time seems to be right now as many reject portions of the Bible as being old-fashioned, narrow minded or misinterpreted. Look what verses 3 and 4 say they will do: they will surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear. They will turn from the truth and accept myths. Myths? You mean like horoscopes, witchcraft, paranormal stuff, extra-terrestrials, vampires, Scientology, drugs, global warming, yoga meditation and myriad superstitions? Yup. I like the phrase “itching ears.” What does that mean to you?

In verse 6 the Greek phrase that is translated “being poured out like a drink offering” is an allusion to an Old Testament sacrifice mentioned 32 times in Numbers 15. What do you think Paul means?

Paul finishes by keeping his soldier, athlete and farmer images in order: I have fought the good fight (soldier), I have finished the race (athlete), I have kept the faith (farmer). 

Friday, March 16, 2018

1st Timothy, part 3, Linking the Hebrew Letter Yod

Hebrew letter "yod"

We’ve been showing the links between the 22 Hebrew letters and the corresponding 66 books in the Bible. See CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES for the complete study. We’re on the tenth letter, yod, whose symbol is the hand. The alphabetic verses for the letter yod (KJV) show this clearly:

Psalm 119:73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.Proverbs 31:19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.Lamentations 1:10 The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things:Lamentations 4:10 The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children

The symbol of the hand naturally represents power, might, ability, and authority because with it we handle, control, possess, and manipulate (from the Latin manus = hand) everything in our world. In fact, yod is translated as power twelve times in the KJV and when God gave dominion over all creatures to Noah and his sons, he said "into your hand are they delivered." A ruling king has the land under the "power of his hand" and God freed the Jews from their Egyptian bondage "with great power, and with a mighty hand" (Exodus 32:11).

We saw several instances of “hand” in our other two yod books, 2nd Samuel and Jonah. Now look at 1st Timothy 2:8: 4:14; and 5:22:

 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

I don’t know about you, but this stuff gives me chills. How awesome is the Word of God! 

Friday, March 9, 2018

1st Timothy, part 2, Does Your Church Have Bishops or Deacons?

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Now on to bishops and deacons. Chapter 3: 1-7:

 1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

This translation uses “overseer,” some say “bishop.” The original Greek word is “episkope” which implies overseeing, observing, examining the state of affairs of something. If your church has bishops here is where you can see the criteria you should hold them to.

 8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
 11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Deacons can be men or women. Verse 11 indicates that women are included as candidates for this office (Phoebe is called a deacon in Romans 16:1). The high standards for both bishops and deacons are strict. The difference in these 2 offices seems to be that overseer (bishop, elder) should be able to teach (vs.2). Both offices have a hand in the affairs of the church.

Friday, March 2, 2018

1st Timothy, part 1, Choking on Women’s Lib/Feminism

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Our third yod book is 1st Timothy, a letter written by St. Paul to Timothy to instruct him on how to deal with the growing problem of false teachers in Ephesus. There are only six chapters; in chapter 1 legalism and unsound doctrine are rebuked; chapter 2 deals with prayer and worship; chapter 3 gives the qualifications of elders and deacons; chapter 4 has instructions to Timothy; chapters 5 and 6 are full of advice for the work of the good minister of Jesus Christ.

Read chapter one. Paul tells us in chapter 1 that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers, rebels, the ungodly, murderers, adulterers, perverts (literally sodomites – think about it, it may make you uncomfortable because it is not “politically correct” to call gay people perverts, but you cannot argue with God), perjurers, slave traders and liars. Oh, and the unholy and irreligious. I think he covered all the sinners and if he didn’t he added “whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” Now if you think Paul sounds a bit arrogant, he goes on to say that he was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man, but that he acted in ignorance and unbelief. He claims that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom he is the worst. So he’s not arrogant, but rather quite self-aware.

Here’s chapter 2: 8-12:

 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

Okay, ladies and gents, let’s examine these verses carefully. Right away in verse 8 there is a reference to our 10th Hebrew letter that matches up to this book and means hand. We are to lift up “holy hands;” Young’s Literal translation says “kind hands.” Is this just for the men? No, because verse 9 actually starts in the original Greek with a word that means “in the same way” or “in like manner.” So, women should lift up their hands, too, plus dress modestly and, to give it a modern interpretation, they should not look like they are vying for a cover shot on a magazine about Hollywood glamour. Nope, instead they should adorn themselves with good deeds – do something to make God proud. (Extra info: three 1st century writers, the poet Juvenal, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, and Philo a Jewish Hellenistic philosopher, all wrote about the women of their time who dressed extravagantly. From prostitutes to the wife of Caligula, they describe the jewelry, clothing and makeup of these pagan women. Paul probably wanted to caution Christian women to avoid being mistaken for one of them and compromising their witness. Wearing jewelry, makeup and nice clothes is not prohibited anywhere in the Bible.)

All right, verse 11 brings out the women’s libber in the majority of Americans. How do we deal with Paul’s statement that a woman should learn in quietness and full submission? Well, first of all this is really pretty liberal in that he’s saying that women should learn, up until then women didn’t get much education, if any. Learning in quietness means just that. Full submission (or subjection, as some translators have used) does not mean that Christian women are not free and equal to their husbands – they are – but Paul is worried about the danger that a wife might usurp the husband’s authority; that would not please the Lord because He has placed the man as head over the woman in the marital relationship. So ladies, don’t get your feathers ruffled over these verses, there is a perfect order here and Paul is not relegating women to second class status any more than the letter g is less important than the letter f just because it comes behind it in the order of the alphabet.

The problem with verse 12 is that the word “woman” is actually “wife” in the Greek and the word “teach” in this instance means “to teach continuously.” Paul is saying that if the husband is present then the wife should not undermine his position in public; she should never encroach upon his role. When you understand the original intent of the language then you can avoid misunderstandings.