Friday, June 15, 2018

What's Your View of Heaven?


Some people believe that heaven will be a fantasy of happiness, pleasure and complete contentment with no more tears or pain. And no work. All your friends and loved ones will surround you. Imagine the joyful reunions you’ll have! Imagine the fun things you’ll do: fly like an angel, ski down mountains fearlessly, visit other galaxies and more.

You know what’s wrong with that picture? It’s all about YOU.

This is what I think will happen when I get to heaven (and I’m sure I’m getting in because I’ve put my trust and belief in Jesus Christ, the one and only way into the Kingdom):

I will be overjoyed to have a new imperishable body and I will praise God.

I’ll be in God’s presence and I’ll praise His Holy Name and thank Him with more words of praise.

I will bow at the throne and thank Him that my loved ones are there too. I will praise Jesus for His saving grace.

I will see the angels around Him who are praising Him ceaselessly. I will join their songs of praise. (No, I will not become an angel. I’ll still be me.)

I’ll notice who isn’t there: those people who didn’t accept the gift of salvation, who denied God’s existence or trusted some other path as if Buddhism or Islam or just being a Good Person were enough. I’ll have an awful moment of sadness as I realize they will burn forever in the lake of fire, but then I’ll have an awe filled moment when Jesus wipes away my tears and comforts me in an eternal embrace. I will praise Him again.

You see, it’s not about ME in heaven. It’s about GOD! And frankly, here on Earth, it’s about Him, too, though we forget that most days, even the Sabbath.

I don’t expect to fly to other galaxies, but I might. I don’t expect to ski down mountains, but I might. I don’t know what wonderful things God has in store for me, but I’m certain they’ll be wonderful even if I can’t imagine them now. I’m also certain that we will praise God for all of eternity. How can we not?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Recommended Reading: The Hunt for Komodo Cracker

THE HUNT FOR KOMODO CRACKERThe Hunt for Komodo Cracker: A Novel by [Cloutier, Michel]


Komodo hacks into a Montreal pharmaceutical company. He steals nothing, and causes no damage. Instead, he plants encrypted files for the company's network security professional, Thomas Faraday.

Halfway around the world, somewhere in the Zagros Mountains, a secret religious league with time travel technology excavates an ancient Persian gravestone containing a coded message. When the league recruits Faraday for a mission to the mighty Persian Empire of 473 BC, he discovers the league is hiding a sinister plot.

Now trapped in an ancient nation at war and with time running out, Thomas must decipher both the Komodo files and the Persian gravestone if he and his fellow time travelers ever hope to return to the twenty-first century.

But someone does not want Thomas Faraday to succeed.


THE HUNT FOR KOMODO CRACKER by Michel Cloutier is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

Friday, June 1, 2018

James, part 3, Taming the Tongue

Photo by James Barker on Unsplash



Chapter 3 is all about taming the tongue. Read verses 9 and 10:
 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
Really meditate on this. In fact, read the whole chapter in your own Bible and underline the parts that apply to you. If you have trouble with your speech, that is, bad words flow readily out of your mouth, you can at least take comfort in the fact that “no man can tame the tongue,” so you’re not alone. However, the tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” and you would be wise to ask the Lord for help.
Now read chapter 4: 1 – 10:
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   “God opposes the proud
   but shows favor to the humble.”
 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
 That last phrase “he will lift you up” is a match for our Hebrew letter samech which means support.
Have you heard people say I’ll do this or that “Lord willing?” See chapter 4 verse 15 and you’ll see why Christians say this.
Chapter 5 gives a strong warning to the rich oppressors then goes on to encourage us to be patient until the Lord’s coming.  We also learn in verse 12 not to swear by heaven or earth or anything. Finally, James ends his letter with encouragement to us to pray for one another and to confess our sins to one another. Isn’t that interesting? It doesn’t say confess to a priest.

Friday, May 25, 2018

James, part 2, Linking to a Hebrew letter

Image result for hebrew letter samech
Samech

As discussed before the book of James links up with the Hebrew letter “samech.” Since samech means support we will be able to find some connection to this word in the book of James.
Look at verses 26 – 27:
 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

We will get a closer look at reining in the tongue in chapter 3, but examine the last part of the above quotation and see if you agree with me that support, our samech letter’s meaning, is evident here. I interpret looking after orphans and widows as supporting them. Likewise, keeping yourself from being polluted by the world would require you to support all of the Lord’s teachings.
Are there other links to our Hebrew letter samech which means support?  Well, in James 2: 14 – 17 there is a clear implied command to support our Christian brothers:
 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
These verses also show that faith needs the support of works in order to be vital.

Friday, May 18, 2018

James, part 1, Faith, Obedience and Righteousness

Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash



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

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash


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!

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash


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

Photo by Virpeen Syp on Unsplash


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

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash


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


FINALLY COMPLETE

THE TIME ENDER


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

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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?

Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

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.