Monday, April 30, 2012

Well, I've Never . . .

I've never had a pedicure.
I've never had a professional massage.
Never smoked a cigarette.
Never been drunk.
Never been on a cruise.
But . . . I have flown a plane, made a speech in front of hundreds, performed synchronized swimming routines in front of live audiences, given birth without pain, and found the perfect spouse (and he's mine!)
What average things have you never done? What unique things have you done?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Analysis - Psalm 1

Yesterday I explained what NOT to do in order to be blessed and happy according to the first verse of Psalm 1. But what SHOULD you do? Verse 2 gives the answer: “[the happy man’s] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Meditating or studying something day and night is a pretty intense thing, almost an obsession or at the least a fixation or fascination. Somewhere in there the object becomes one of your passions, like when you fall in love and you think about that person all the time. We should fall in love with God’s Word, that’s what is meant by “the law of the Lord”. The original word in Hebrew is “Torah”; the Torah is the first five books of the Bible.

So if you meditate on God’s Word what will happen next? Verse 3 says that a person who does so will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Imagine how drought and heat shrivels plants and leaves, but a tree with roots that tap the streams of water blooms and thrives. Don’t you want to be like that? Those streams of water are the living words of the Holy Bible.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Analyzing the "Hell" Out of a Sentence

Triple threat here – I’m going to use my English degree, my decoding hobby skills, and my interest in learning Hebrew to analyze one simple verse. This is the first verse of the first Psalm:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Psalm 1:1.

“Blessed” is the word pictured above in Hebrew. My dictionary tells me it means “happiness”, but as it is used here as an interjection it means “How happy!” or “O the bliss of . . .”

Hence, how happy (!) is the man who . . . does NOT do three things. Notice the movement of the verbs that follow – from walk to stand to sit. From walking in the wrong direction > to standing where you shouldn’t stand > to sitting and being a part of something you shouldn’t be a part of. Each verb is followed by a pair of prepositional phrases that further illuminate the passage.

1) Do not “walk in the counsel of the wicked”. To walk is a metaphor for your way of life, so don’t let your way of life be counseled or influenced by the spoken word of “the wicked”. Our definition of wicked may not match up with the Bible’s. Here it means “ungodly”, that is, someone who is an enemy of God’s, someone who is not righteous, someone who is morally wrong and/or a bad person. As you walk in the world you’re going to be around all kinds of people, but don’t listen to the “ungodly”.

2) Now the movement stops; the verb is “stand”. Do not “stand in the way of sinners”. Standing shows a more deliberate action, that is, a person has stopped to join in. “The way” can be translated “the path”. What is the “path of a sinner”? Answer: the way of life, or lifestyle, of those who by their actions are under the wrath and judgment of God (per the fifth verse of this psalm) and face ultimate destruction.

3) The third verb is “sit”. Do not “sit in the seat of mockers”. Some translations use “scorners” or “scoffers”; the original Hebrew word is a verb that means to deride or to boast in such a way as to express utter contempt, that is, utter contempt for God and God’s Word. These scoffers are all around us, belittling us as “Bible-thumpers”, “Jesus freaks”, “religious fanatics”, and “holier than thou”, scorning religion as “the opiate of the people”, and denying God’s existence.

Well, happy is the man who does NOT do the three things in Psalm 1:1. In simple English: don’t hang with and listen to people who don’t believe in God; don’t spend a lot of time with those who openly violate God’s commands and reject the truth; don’t engage in wrong behavior by joining the wrong crowd and adopting their eternally fatal attitude.

Tomorrow – verses 2 and 3.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

Megan twirled her hair and tried to form her next question about Mrs. Kremer when headlights swung across the front window and a car pulled up and out of sight. A moment later they heard a car door slam and then the side door exploded open.

“You first.”

“No, you first. Out of my way.”

Ben chuckled. “Hey, Chuck,” he called, “come and meet Megan, our new roomie.”

Something was thrown down the basement stairs, there were hushed whispers, and then a tall, thin boy walked into the living room. He was finger-combing his hair behind his ears. He stopped and looked from Ben to Megan.

“Hello,” was all he said.

Megan greeted him back, watching for signs of something. Weirdness, danger, something. But he only seemed shy, hunched a little, much less sure of himself than Adam who had bowed with a certain elegance. Chuck had no style.

“You okay?” Ben asked him.

Chuck stared for a beat or two before replying, “Sure.”

“Take your . . . vitamins, buddy.”

Chuck’s eyes flew to Megan to see if she discerned the hidden meaning.

Monday, April 23, 2012

7 Mottos I Live By

1) There are many ways to die, but only one way to live. Live honestly, with integrity, morals, hope, and happiness.

2) Each day is a gift, unwrap it with joy and thanksgiving.

3) When you find yourself about to open your mouth in complaint, criticism, or disapproval . . . close it.

4) When you know you can’t please everyone, stop and do what’s right.

5) When you find yourself unable to sustain eye contact with someone, think about why and correct it.

6) Most things that annoy us are just inconveniences and not life or death problems. Put things in perspective.

7) Choose to be happy. Smile more.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Better Than You Expected

I thought I was going to enjoy a nice spring day sitting in the sunshine and look what I got – 3 inches of the white stuff and it’s still coming down. There’s going to be a bright side to this snow, but I have to wait . . . and trust.

That’s something the disciples didn’t do after the crucifixion. They locked themselves up and feared that what had happened to their Lord would happen to them.

But then Mary Magdalene saw and spoke to a risen Christ. She went to the disciples and told them she had seen Jesus. They couldn’t believe it.

Peter saw Him and told the others. Cleopas and a traveling companion saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus; they hurried back to tell the rest.

This was astounding news. But why did they doubt? Hadn’t they paid attention when Jesus Himself told them He had to die and be raised on the third day?

Jesus appeared to ten of the disciples on the evening of the first day of the week. He greeted them, showed them His hands where He had been nailed and His side where the sword had pierced Him. They believed.

Thomas wasn’t there that night, and when he heard what had happened he said he wouldn’t believe it unless he saw for himself the nail marks and the wound. Poor Thomas has gotten a bad reputation all these centuries. He is known as Doubting Thomas. But honestly, was he asking for any more proof than the others had received?

A week later Thomas was with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them again. Jesus offered to Thomas the same proof that the others had had. Thomas believed. In fact, he said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” And Jesus did not rebuke him at all.

Then Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

Megan fingered the thin door key and pressed it into the hole in the knob. A couple of fumbling twists and pokes and the mechanism sprang. The sounds of the house seemed amplified in her pounding ears: the hum of the furnace, the drone of the fridge, the radio behind the door that earlier bore Cori’s beating.

She pushed it open and slipped into the bedroom, closed and locked the door behind her. The shades were drawn; the bedside lamp was on, providing plenty of light to snoop around. The closet door was closed. She started there. Four blouses, two pairs of slacks, three dresses, a night gown, a jacket. Not much of a wardrobe. She conjured up an image of Mrs. Kremer in the first dress. Not likely. It was a petite, size 4, and the next one was a woman’s 22. The pants were size 10 and size 16, all the blouses medium. And nothing smelled of the cigarette smoke that Mrs. Kremer’s clothes had.

Megan frowned at the floor of the closet – no shoes.

She checked the dresser. Pillowcases and scarves in the top drawer. Nothing in the second and third. No personal objects anywhere.

The radio shut off. Megan froze. She could hear groans.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Was Aghast!

Here are 8 phrases. I made up 7 of them. I think that they ALL sound PAGAN. What do you think? I was upset, frightened, and aghast to learn that ONE of them was used by Christians as a way to address God.

1) Luminous Dancing Fountain of Easter
2) High Fruitful Mother of Easter
3) Towering Laughing Bridge of Easter
4) Shining Leaping Spout of Easter
5) Soaring Fertile Music of Easter
6) Shimmering Incandescent Mount of Easter
7) Brilliant Rich Fruit of Easter
8) Glistening Cavorting River-source of Easter

It was easy to come up with so many false names for God. I think all 8 are wrong to use in worship. As I said above I invented 7 of them, but one is from the Abingdon Worship Annual and many churches prayed to God on Sunday using the phrase as His Name. Can you guess or do you know which one it was?

Here is a list of the REAL names of God:

Adonai-Jehovah -- The Lord our Sovereign
El-Elyon -- The Lord Most High
El-Olam -- The Everlasting God
El-Shaddai -- The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People
Jehovah-Elohim -- The Eternal Creator
Jehovah-Jireh -- The Lord our Provider
Jehovah-Nissi -- The Lord our Banner
Jehovah-Ropheka -- The Lord our Healer
Jehovah-Shalom -- The Lord our Peace
Jehovah-Tsidkenu -- The Lord our Righteousness
Jehovah-Mekaddishkem -- The Lord our Sanctifier
Jehovah-Sabaoth -- The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah-Shammah -- The Lord is Present
Jehovah-Rohi -- The Lord our Shepherd
Jehovah-Hoseenu -- The Lord our Maker
Jehovah-Eloheenu -- The Lord our God

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How Not to Get Possessed by a Demon

I had to laugh at the title of this post. It sounds ridiculous to me. I’ve never seen a demon-possessed person, nor seen the movie “The Exorcist”, and, though I was born on Friday the 13th, I am not the least bit superstitious.

I have an interest in the occult only so far as I have done research into the paranormal for my latest novel. There is a wealth of information on the internet, of course, but my main source is the Bible. Everywhere that Jesus preached he cast out demons. I found a pretty good site HERE that gives a thorough covering of the behaviors of demons as presented in the Bible.

I have consolidated what I learned into 3 quick and easy steps on how not to get possessed (laugh if you want):

1) Stay away from the occult and paranormal. That includes astrology, tarot cards, magic, Ouija boards, hypnotism, yoga (yes, yoga), meditation, bio-feedback, and pornography.
2) Do not use recreational drugs, especially mind-altering drugs.
3) Pray and seek God’s will for your life.

Now, why would I, a devout Christian, write a book in this popular genre? Why do you think?


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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

It was after midnight when Emily thought she was waking up because of a car door slamming. She heard that muted yet crisp thump that certain sounds echoed when the temperatures dropped below freezing.

But she wasn’t awake.

And she wasn’t dreaming.

Something was pressing against her chest. Her arms were pinned down and her feet felt bound at the ankles. Her eyes wouldn’t, or couldn’t, open.

The scraping started at her neck. Claws or nails or needles were making at least a dozen scratches down her throat, over her shoulders, toward her elbows, stopping abruptly where the razor cuts began.

She couldn’t breathe.

The scraping started at her neck again and this time the claws gouged over her breasts and down her middle and down farther.

And stopped.

Emily struggled to open her eyes and when she thought she had, all she saw was pitch blackness. No street light glow, no flicker from the candle she left burning on the dresser.

Her whole body tingled with bubbles of adrenaline, rushing to all parts at once. If only she could move. What, or who, was holding her down?

Fear heaved through her small frame, rushing up from her feet, meeting the claws at her middle, and flooding up to her brain.

Fear made her gasp for air. She tried to break free of the demons that held her down.

A soft undertone of air or breath spoke words to her anxious soul. Be calm. Go back to sleep.

But instead she groaned.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Thoughts - by a 4 year old

Last weekend I listened to a four-year-old tell the entire Easter story. She had an egg carton with 12 plastic eggs. She opened them one by one and explained the objects inside: a blade of grass that signified the palm branches, a tiny felt cut-out of a coat, both objects thrown down as Jesus entered Jerusalem. There was a plastic donkey like the one he rode in on, a piece of bread from the last supper, a thorn from his crown, a nail that they used to "pin" him to the cross. I listened to the perfect story from a child who doesn’t even read and write yet.

When she got to the eleventh egg she showed me a stone and told me of the rock that was rolled away from the tomb. I guessed that the last egg would be empty, as the tomb was. She opened it slowly and with great expectation. The animation on her face showed hope and mystery and awe even though she knew she was going to tell me that Jesus had risen from the dead. She whispered the finale: Jesus died for US, so we can go to Heaven, too.

Yes, Jesus was crucified, but NOBODY killed him – He GAVE His life. He could have called on countless angels to escort Him away, but He didn’t.

I’m so glad that He chose to take MY place and shed HIS blood in payment for MY sins. He paid for YOU, too.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

She ran her fingers along the edge of the bed and traced an outline of his head on the pillow. She buried her nose in the pillowcase and took more pleasure in the faint scent of his cologne than she should have allowed herself. The pounding in her ears was muting her hearing. What if she was caught in here?

She raised her head too fast, light headed. She panicked at the thought of fainting here and having Ben discover what a trespasser she was. Emily dropped to her knees and started crawling out of the forbidden space.
And that’s when she saw what may have started her nightmares. The exposed parts of the basement floor, where the throw rugs didn’t cover, showed dark red and brown stains exactly like in the laundry room.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Paradoxes - Jesus as Man and God

His Transportation

As God: Psalms 104:3: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind

As Man: Mark 11:7: And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.

His Possessions

As God: Psalms 24:1: The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

As Man: Matthew 8:20: And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

His Love

As God: John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

As Man: John15:9: As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

He made everything there is out of nothing, yet He had to borrow a boat from which to preach. He created every drop of water that exists in the world, yet He cried “I thirst” as He was dying for you and me on the cross. He was the author of creation and made every tree, but He hung on a cross that was borrowed. He created every rock, but He was buried in a borrowed tomb.

He richly dwelt in the realms of Heaven, yet He made Himself poor and came to earth to save us so that we who believe on Him will enjoy His riches!