Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop



Win a mobi or epub copy of THE TIME BENDER.

If you've already read it then comment on your entry with a link to your Amazon review and I'll automatically send you the second book in the series for FREE! Win, win, win.

If you want to win and read THE TIME BENDER, be sure to enter. I'll be giving away at least twenty copies - your odds of winning are great.


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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Parable of the Sheep and Goats



The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is found in Matthew 25: 31 – 46. Many preachers use this text to encourage us to be kind to strangers, to help the needy and to visit those in prisons. Great advice – but there is so much more to this parable. In fact rather than call it a parable let’s call it a secret message about the last days. You know I love decoding secret messages . . . here I go:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. (Jesus Himself is talking about His 2nd Coming at the end of the 7 years of Tribulation)32 All the nations (“nations” refers to Gentiles) will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (the sheep are the saved, those who will come to belief in Christ during the Tribulation, and the goats are the unsaved, those who will side with the Anti-Christ)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father (implies grace, that is, salvation through faith, not of works); take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  (Did you get that? The Kingdom has been prepared for us since Creation!) 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (All of these kind acts, though definitely things we should do now, are in fact referring to the potentially fatal acts that Tribulation Christians will graciously perform for “Christ’s brethren” mentioned in verse 40.)
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (Christians will be surprised that as they help Christian Jews during the Tribulation they help Christ.)
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (“One of the least of these who are members of my family” or in some translations: “these brothers of mine" refers to the 144,000 Jews who will proclaim Jesus as Lord during the Tribulation.)
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ (These verses about what happens to the goats contrast exactly with what happens to the sheep. The goats commit the greatest sin of all: a sin of omission; they fail to put their faith in Christ.)
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Jesus is quite clear: it’s either eternal punishment or eternal life.)

What do you think? Did I miss anything?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Psalm 133, A Song of Ascent - Going Up the Steps


There are 15 psalms in a row, Psalm 120 through Psalm 134, that are labeled “Songs of Ascent” or some translations may have “Songs of Degrees.” Since I love to solve a puzzle I did a little research and found that these psalms were sung by the procession as they went up the steps to the temple. Some sources say there were 15 steps from the court of the women up to the next court in the temple and the priests would chant the next psalm as they ascended. Possibly the key changed, musically going a step higher as well.

I looked into this because Psalm 133 is often read as a responsive reading in church services. It’s very short, just 3 verses, but seemingly obtuse on first looking at it. Here it is, verse by verse:

1) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Well, yes, that’s a nice thought. Actually King David wrote this when he regained his throne after his son Absalom’s rebellion. The story is in 2nd Samuel and 1st Chronicles and tells how the people were of one mind to make him king and support him again – together in unity – and the Hebrew word for together and for unity is the same word and is repeated here so the verse ends with the same word twice.

2) It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
Sounds kind of messy and oily, but as I looked up the recipe for this oil (Exodus 30: 25) I found that it contained myrrh and cinnamon and lemon grass and other great smelling herbs and I bet it was a very pleasing aroma, very different from the smells I suspect were common place in Bible times.

3) As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
This place called Hermon has really, really heavy dew, so here the psalmist is just coming up with a way to show how the Israelites’ unity was covering them all. I love the commanded blessing: life for evermore.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Family Cliches

“It’s dumb. It’s stupid. I hate it,” were the standard three sentences my step-son gave in response to anything that didn’t work out right. If he was frustrated or angry or annoyed we could count on hearing this triad of opinions.

Are there “family clich├ęs” in your household? Phrases that everyone can finish? If I say something is dumb, I can expect my husband to add that it’s stupid and a daughter to say she hates it. Then we all laugh.

Something bad happened one Christmas years ago and one of the kids accused another of ruining Christmas. Her response was “I said ‘oops’.” Now everyone waits for the inevitable mishap at any family holiday so they can be the first to say “you’re ruining Thanksgiving (or Easter or whatever)” and someone else will say, “but I said ‘oops’.” Again we laugh. It never gets old.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Near Rape?

I had heard this story as often as the usual anecdotes that started with “did I ever tell you about the time...” My mom didn’t have to retell this one over and over in order for me to be able to recall, with vivid clarity, every detail. At the time of her ordeal I would have been too young to understand even if I had been awake, and not in my crib.

“Debbie has heard this before,” she began, pausing and giving me a glance that seemed to warn that maybe, this time, I was going to hear something different. She went on “But she won’t mind hearing it again.”

We were sitting at a small round table with two of her lady friends from church. It struck me as strange that here were two women she had known for twenty-five or thirty years and she had not told them her famous “near rape” story.

Or maybe she had and now, with their support, she could tell me the frightful truth.

“My husband was gone to a reserve meeting and I was home alone with the girls. I had just put Debbie to bed – the crib was still in our room – and I decided to put Diane in our bed so I could scrub the floor in her room. Well, I got distracted and found myself reading and before I knew it, it was too late to scrub the floor.”

My mom always laughed at this point and she did today, but the story was slightly off. Why wasn’t she telling what it was that distracted her? I remember it was a magazine article, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, and it was so interesting that she couldn’t put it down.

I glanced at the ladies, one had been my Sunday School teacher many years before, and they both had that questioning look that made it seem like they were ignorant of what was coming next in the story. My hearing felt sharper.

“So I went in our bedroom and reached down to pick up Diane and take her back to her own bed . . . and the bedroom door closed behind me and some man’s voice said ‘Don’t move, I’ve got a knife.’ And I squeezed Diane tightly . . . and she woke up and said ‘Oh, mommy, it’s just Daddy.’”

Mom quoted the exchange as if by rote, her eyes focused elsewhere, her hands clasping her purse.

“And I said with a sigh ‘Oh, honey, no it isn’t.’ I said ‘What do you want? You want money?’ And he said no. He wanted something else. So I just started talking.”

This is where always before she would tell how she had read an article by Dr. Crane advising women to keep a man talking so he couldn’t “get his motor running” as she put it. That had always seemed rehearsed to me. She left it out this time.

“So I kept him talking and he was trying to fondle me and kept backing me up. He got me as far as I could go, against the crib, so I said ‘Okay, I’ll give you what you want but you have to give me that knife.’ He said okay . . . and I told Diane to leave the room.”

Mom sighed again and her eyes refocused on her friends.

I knew what she would say next. She would say that she had no intention of giving him what he wanted. She would say that Diane wouldn’t leave the room and had started crying. The man would get flustered then and ask for money and my mom would tell him it was in the kitchen. He would follow her out there, she would dig in her purse and thrust all she had into his hand and as soon as he went out the door she would start screaming. That’s what she would say. But she didn’t.

“Oh, dear, that must have been horrible,” one of her church friends said, the one that had been my Sunday School teacher. Maybe she had heard the story before after all. She leaned over and patted my mother’s hand and said, “Did I ever tell you about the time that George was gone to Cleveland and I was alone for two weeks?”

Friday, June 29, 2018

Who's Your Soul Mate?

According to the internet the chances of meeting your “soul-mate” are one in ten million. And if you do . . . he/she is probably already married. (Reminds me of the song lyrics “sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along”.) Of course this statistic reveals that you may have as many as 600 perfect matches out there since there are 6 billion people on the planet.

Doesn’t everybody think they’re marrying their soul-mate? How did the researchers determine soul-mate status? I’d love to see their questionnaire. I can’t possibly imagine how they could verify soul-mate-ness when the people involved don’t really know. Because, after all, Suzy thought Bob was her one-and-only until it ended in divorce and Jim was shocked when his supposed soul-mate left him for someone else.

Here’s what I THINK the “experts” might ask in a soul-mate questionnaire:
1. Does he/she laugh at all your jokes?
2. Does he/she have the same religious beliefs?
3. Does he/she have the same political beliefs?
4. Does he/she have the same child-rearing strategies?
5. Does he/she have the same taste in movies/books/music?
6. Does he/she have the same interests?
7. Does he/she know what you want without asking?
8. Does he/she understand you?
9. Does he/she keep your secrets faithfully?
10. Do you feel the need to be with him/her above all other needs?
11. Do you have far more similarities than differences in your life experiences?
12. Are your goals, values and priorities the same?
13. Is there a 6th sense of perception between you?
14. Do you rarely disagree? (Arguing may even become a “laughing matter” because of its infrequency.)
15. Do you appreciate each other exactly as you are without desiring or expecting change?

Answer yes to all the questions and you have found your soul-mate . . . maybe. What other questions would you put on the list?

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.