"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Be Careful With Comparisons

Luke 18 The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
       If there is a Scripture passage that has grown common through its preaching, it would be Yeshua's story about "The Pharisee and the Tax Collector." After all that attention, one would suppose the lesson had been learned if ever it could be.
        When reading any story, most people identify with one of the characters more than the others. So, here is a pop quiz to ascertain our position on the learning curve: As we listen to "The Pharisee and the Tax Collector," which character grabs our empathy? Do we identify more with the proud, religious guy, or with the publican who could only humbly beat his breast while begging God's mercy?
        Of all who have tread this globe, only one could claim perfect humility. Of course, any third-grade Sunday school student would correctly guess who that was. But if we further examine this familiar story, we might just gain a little more insight than demonstrated by that Sunday school answer.
        First, let's identify that one truly humble person. Yes, the only one who could qualify as truly humble is Yeshua himself. While he was certainly born on this planet to humble circumstances, and while he associated with the dregs of Jewish society, and his closest friends were simple, common men, who was he really? Where did he come from?
        We know from what he told us through his word that he shared heaven with the eternal, self-existent Father before time began. John 8:57-59 NASB So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
        We also know that he created time and the material universe. John 1:1-3 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
        With his unique credentials in mind, we must ask ourselves, did anyone born to a woman ever have less reason to be humble than Yeshua the Anointed of God? Yet, when the time came he was conceived in Mary's womb, and necessarily emptied himself of his divinity to be born a man-child. He grew up in a tradesman's home without the preparatory schooling necessary for a teacher, yet when he was only twelve years old his parents found him teaching the teachers in the temple. The word "precocious" doesn't even begin to apply.
        Even in view of the eternal glory Yeshua enjoyed before his physical conception, mere human beings cannot imagine the magnitude of what he sacrificed, just becoming human, let alone the humble state to which he was born, because we have always been human. As if his life's circumstances weren't humbling enough, Yeshua's earthly ministry ended with humiliation, shame and agony of astronomical proportions.
        What is even more remarkable is he could have ended his ordeal at any time and forgone his grand plan of human redemption, but he never hesitated beyond his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. And even then he placed his Father's will ahead of his personal dread of the cosmic-level ordeal facing him.
        So let's review the initial question. When we read Yeshua's parable of the Pharisee and the publican, with whom do we most closely identify? Compared to Yeshua's humility, is our identification with the humble publican even possible? Even if the adjective "humble" in any way applies to us, comparing it with that of our Savior would be like comparing a five-year-old's scribbling to Rembrandt's art.
        Let us never be the least bit impressed, should we dare to venture any comparison between ourselves and our Savior. As followers of Christ, to think ourselves humble would be the ultimate arrogance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dangerous Heart

Avon Inspire (October 14, 2008)


Tracey Bateman

Leave it to me to order a book for the blog tour that is the "n"th title in a series. Fortunately, I was not disappointed with the story or the writing. The author has a warm, natural writing voice that makes her prose flow naturally, a bonus for one who reads aloud to his wife. Stories that chronicle a hard heart's pulverizing and a cold spirit's melting give me a great deal of joy, indicated by the volume of tears shed while struggling to continue reading aloud. I've finally discovered the secret, though: scoot close to Nancy and whisper the touching parts.
        Read this book, you'll be glad you did.

Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Westward Hearts Series, Defiant Heart (#1) and Distant Heart (#2)

She learned to write by writing, and improved by listening to critique partners and editors. She has sold over 30 books in six years.
She became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the early months of its inception in 2000 and served as president for a year.

Tracey loves Sci-fi, Lifetime movies, and Days of Our Lives (this is out of a 21 year habit of watching, rather than enjoyment of current storylines).

She has been married to her husband Rusty for 18 years, has four kids, and lives in Lebanon, Missouri.


For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for.

On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.

But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.

If you would like to read from the first chapter of Dangerous Heart, go HERE

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No Whipping Post, or, Church Discipline the Right Way

Matthew 18 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Ban Careless Applications ...
        Before applying this passage from Matthew 18 as the rule for church discipline, we must investigate the other passages that are usually lumped with it. Matthew 18 deals with a personal affair between two brethren. This might be a business deal gone sour, gossip repercussions or family friction. Since it is not—or should not be—general knowledge we must deal with it quietly if possible.
        Also, before applying the Matthew 18 passage as punishment, we must decide what sort of treatment Yeshua meant when saying, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. How did Yeshua treat Gentiles and tax collectors? They were, after all, the very people to whom he was sent; Mar 2:17 ESV And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
        Two passages that bear on differently church discipline are: Titus 3:9-10, But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning ..., and 2 Thess 3:6, Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. Here we read of offenses where a brother or sister is either chronically unruly, or argumentative, especially about genealogical entitlements and legalistic hair-splitting. These verses do not speak to the same situation as Matthew 18, where the offense was a private issue, and best kept confidential until we see the offender blatantly has no regard for appearances.
        First Corinthians chapter five reflects the Apostle Paul's most acute concern. It deals with an offense that, while initially private, risks public scandal when exposed. And it will be exposed. Sexual sin often persists despite any corrective measure the church might take, because the offenders have so thoroughly rationalized their relationship's "rightness." Yet, for justice sake, the church must follow Scripture more diligently than in other situations. The key verses are, 1Co 5:1 NASB It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. 1Co 5:5 NASB I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1Co 5:9-11 NASB I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; (10) I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. (11) But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.
        Verses ten and eleven above should speak loudly to those in the news media who stereotype evangelical Christians as, "The Religious Right," or legalists, trying to force our strict, sectarian moral code on society as a whole. Here, Scripture instructs us to deal with our own problems, but always in view of the Apostle John's many "love one another" passages. This way, we would treat all offenders without rancor, demonstrating God's love even in the difficult situations.

... and Harsh Reactions
        Yes, this even applies when dealing with public issues, such as the entertainment media and government schools who try to make gross immorality a "viable, alternative lifestyle." We must not fuel the world's stereotyping by confronting its establishments with the strong emotions we feel at witnessing our society's moral standards being publicly trashed. Though Scripture tells us, For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, we must ensure that we do not cause the offense through our abrasive manor. Glaring the light of truth on those walking in darkness won't make them less blind. Rather than thumping the Bible at them, or on them, we serve God far more effectively by simply reflecting His glory to them; Mat 5:16 LITV So let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father in Heaven.
        "But that's hard to do," some brethren might complain, "much harder than just telling people what to do." Well, isn't that the point of living Christ's life in this world?
        So we must move our whipping posts back to the junk room and deal with sin in the church exactly in the way, and by the Spirit, of Yeshua our Anointed One.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eternity's Bargain

Luke 9
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

        Looking back signifies longing for what is behind. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." (Mat 5:13 ESV) Though God's word tells us to be salt to the world, he no doubt had something other than rock salt in mind.
        Yeshua's words in Luke chapter nine raises an impossible standard for flawed human beings. We spend the early part of our lives consumed with self-interest and greed. No, greed is not a sin exclusive to Wall Street wheeler-dealers. Most children's' first words are "No!" and "Mine!" With years, that attitude matures into a—usually—unspoken predilection for life.
        Why, then, did Yeshua tell us to be like children? And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 18:2-4 ESV)
        In what sense does he want us to be like children? Certainly he can't want us to act like little children, at least the children of this age. Therein lies the key to this quandary. In a permissive age, those who practice the latest, theoretical, politically correct child rearing technique, not only do not punish their children's smart mouths, but they feel compelled to encourage free expression, so each child will learn to be him or herself.
        Today's society shuns accountability, honoring instead, personal sovereignty and freedom of choice … whatever that is. What does unlimited freedom of choice produce for a child? Not fun or fulfillment, but injury or death. And that is just the physical danger for an uncontrolled child. If no one enjoys undisciplined adults, what can parents do to prevent their children from becoming such irresponsible people?
        If unlimited freedom is dangerous for a child physically and developmentally, how much control must we exercise over children? A parent's sacred responsibility is to, Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pro 22:6 ESV)
        Of course, such lessons from Scripture present us with challenges even today. As Yeshua challenged his disciples to emulate little children, we must pattern our spiritual nurturing after wise child rearing. We must subject ourselves to spiritual elders' discipline and nurturing, learning from those saints who most closely emulate Christ's character.
        So, how can we who have chosen to follow Christ avoid turning, or even just looking back to the bad old days? Only one thing will keep us from longing for our past corruption, and that is loving God far more than we ever loved sin. And the only way to achieve such great love is to intimately know the Lover of our souls. Loving God in that way might seem to carry a significant cost, but it is the Bargain of Eternity compared to the cost of not loving him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


For millennia, religious liberals, secularists, agnostics and atheists have torn through Bibles—at times, literally—to uncover all its presumed, hidden errors and inconsistencies. Hoping to counter the prejudice of faith, such free-thinking folks believe, without question, in a vast, ancient, Judeo-Christian conspiracy to protect the Scriptures from open scrutiny.
        "Through the tedious process of hand-copying manuscripts, generation after generation, onto scrolls, then paper," say such free-thinking skeptics, " the scribes obviously made mistakes, both in translating and in transcribing tens of thousands of ancient words thousands of times."
Scientific Versus Prejudiced Skepticism
        In answer to such assertions, Dr. Robert Dick Wilson once stated, "When a man says to me, 'I don't believe in the Old Testament, he makes no impression upon me. When he points out something there that he doesn't believe, he makes no impression upon me. But if he comes to me and says, 'I've got the evidence here to show that the Old Testament is wrong at this or that point' then that's where my work begins! I'm ready for him!"*
        Dr. Wilson bore an insatiable curiosity about ancient history, and more specifically, the histories of Old Testament peoples and lands. Yet, ever skeptical about the assertions modern histories present as absolute fact, Dr. Wilson set about to learn the ancient languages so he could conduct his own primary research without the influence of other scholars' hearsay accounts. His quest led him to a thorough familiarity with forty-five ancient tongues, whereby he consumed thousands of ancient, original language texts as handily as most literate people consume their native tongue's popular fiction.
        Therein lies the difference between the arbitrary, prejudicial skepticism of the atheistic or agnostic Bible critic and the truly open-minded, scientific curiosity of the scholar. As schoolyard bullies pick fights with kids they know they can beat, intellectual bullies pick controversies with ignorant opponents, hoping to make them and their beliefs a complete laughingstock. Somehow, the intellectual pursuit has become a personal vendetta; the refusal of faith has become its own, quite emotional, belief system. Simple Question ... Simple Answer? When leveling the telescopic sight of literary and historical criticism on the Bible, critics must be willing to question their own preconceptions as diligently as they do the Bible texts. Any critic must be willing to ask himself one question before challenging the Bible's accuracy: Why, through the millennia it took to finalize the Biblical canon, did thousands of scribes and scholars allow so many obvious textual contradictions and inconsistencies to remain uncorrected? In other words, if, as critics assert, ordinary men wrote the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, then assembled them into today's Bible simply to subjugate the superstitious, unwashed masses, why would they have not produced a more believable hoax?
* Is the higher criticism Scholarly? By Robert Dick Wilson, Ph.D., D.D. (Chicago: Sunday School Times, 1922)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On Observing the Sabbath

Disclaimer #1: Please feel free to take exception to this little study on God's Sabbath. You are welcome to contact me(jlthomp{at}gmail{dot}com) with scripture to counter my evidence, but without pique. Leave your rant for your own blog … er … please.

Disclaimer #2: Don't feel daunted by this post's length. You will notice that half of this tome is Scripture, pasted here for your reading pleasure. The blogger has also provided links to relevant Scriptures on the Internet.

And now, on to the study.
God commanded us to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. Though no believer can dispute that fact, we frequently dispute how it applies to His saints under the New Covenant.
        The following passage from the prophet Jeremiah reiterates the Sabbath law to the people of his time. Obviously, the eternal, self-existent One1 had not ended or fulfilled it by then.

Jeremiah 17
19 Thus said the Lord to me: “Go and stand in the People's Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem,
20 and say: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates.
21 Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem.
22 And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.
23 Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction.
24 “‘But if you listen to me, declares the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it,
25 then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And this city shall be inhabited forever.
26 And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord.
27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’”
        The following passage from Mark's gospel demonstrates Yeshua's2 attitude toward celebrating the Sabbath one day each week. In it, Yeshua compared Himself with King David, who violated the temple and ate the bread of the Presence, yet suffered no curse for his disobedience of the law, in a time when such recompense was swift and sure. Then Yeshua applied that lesson to his violation of the Sabbath by allowing His disciples to pluck heads of grain on that Holy Day. His operative principle; "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
Mark 2
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him:
26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?”
27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
        In Hebrews chapter 3, pasted below, the author established Yeshua's authority, even over Moses the law-giver, as compared with a builder over the house he built(including us), and a king's son over his servants.
        Then, writing under the Holy Spirit's authority and voice, he draws our attention to the Hebrews' rebellion in the wilderness over a period of forty years: As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.' Can any oath be more binding than one breathed by God? Because of their unfaithfulness and presumption, God promised they would not enter His rest. Does that mean their Sabbath rest was ended? Quite the contrary; their disobedience bound them to the ceremonial law, the Sabbaths and the holy days.
        Vs. 12 warns us against falling away from the living God due to the evil of an unbelieving heart. And verse 13 tells us to exhort one another "every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of (us) may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin," making every day the right time for such exhortation, not only the Sabbath.
        Does that mean we are bound to celebrate the Sabbath seven days a week? Chapter four, verse one, clarifies God's principle of the Sabbath as a perpetual rest to which we must aspire by faith.
        Verse three is the pivotal verse for this new application of God's Sabbath; For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. The challenge to the literal, calendar Sabbath is, "Does God still rest from His six days of labor creating the universe? Or is His Sabbath periodic, as it was for the Hebrews?" Since God's word tells us nothing of any of His further works of creation, His rest from creation is perpetual, and by entering into His rest, ours is perpetual as well.
        Verse six states that those under the Old Covenant failed to enter God's rest, even though they semi-faithfully honored the weekly Sabbath. And this verse reiterates the Sabbath as a rest to which we must aspire.
        Okay, verse seven tells us, again he appoints a certain day .... That must be Saturday, right? Try again. The day He appointed is Today. Which day is "today?" Every day.
        Verses eight through eleven are clear: For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. Our weekly Sabbath was never God's rest, but a type of the rest we have in Messiah, not only on Saturday, but every day, unto eternity.

Heb 3:11-19; 4:1-11 ESV
11 As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
15 As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?
17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?
19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works."
5 And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest."
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,
7 again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.
9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
        In the following passage, John 5:16-17, Yeshua explains His reason for healing on the Sabbath. That explanation gives another perspective on the Sabbath of God, it completed His creation of the universe; since He rested, there was no more creation work to be done. Again, since God's word says nothing about God going back to His creation work after the sixth day, that Sabbath is still in effect.
John 5
16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
      Did the writer of the letter to the Hebrews contradict Yeshua's statement in John 5? Is God, or is He not, still working since He finished creation? The believer's answer is "No," and, "Yes." God's creation work finished at the end of the sixth day of creation, but His recreation work continues until now.

      From the reasoning presented above, we must at least admit that first-day worshipers have some basis for that practice. Seventh-day worshipers, though their arguments sound convincing as far as they go, have no justification for dogmatically berating others who do not share their convictions.
      This blogger will again visit this touchy issue at some time in the future. Until then, glorify the eternal, self-existent God every day, and you will do well.

1; The name most translations give to God is Jehovah. A few of them get it closer by using the name, Yahweh. Either way, however, His holy Name is only approximate. Through the centuries, Jewish scribes, believing His Name too holy to pronounce, lest they risk breaking First Commandment(Exodus 20:2-7) made it unpronounceable by omitting the word's vowels. Scholars since then have made a stab at its correct spelling by inserting the vowels from adonai, the Hebrew word for Lord. The author chooses to use the meaning of the Name lost to history because of religious piety, thereby avoiding any ambiguity.
2; The name Jesus is the English approximation for the Greek translation of Jesus' Hebrew name, Yeshua. Why use an approximation of a translation of a name when the name itself is perfectly valid? In a word: TRADITION

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Curse of Plenty

Proverbs chapter 30:1-9(ESV quoted below) begins in a dark mood, with Agur Jakehson(son of Jakeh), the oracle, introducing this Proverb with, "The man declares, ..." But who was the man speaking the subsequent, despairing words? For one thing, he was obviously discouraged from fatigue, but what were his other issues?. Vs. 2 shows his sense of self-worth is dismal, in that he assumes his intelligence is less-than human. Vs. 3 confesses failing to learn about the Holy One. Yet, anyone smart enough to know their own stupidity isn't all that stupid. And only those who know something of the Holy One can know how little they actually know.
        Vs. 4 lists the type of wonders only God could perform. Yet, this man whom the oracle is quoting, though he knows enough to ask the questions, seems not to know the answers. And though he knows of God's son, he knows neither his name, nor the name of his father.
        These are obviously rhetorical questions, asked as from the mouth of a dimwit. The truly remarkable question is how, other than by specially-given divine knowledge, did the oracle know of God's Son? All Old Testament appearances of God's Son treated Him as the LORD, or the angel of the LORD.
        The rest of this passage begins with the oracle praising God by acclaiming some of His attributes. Then he makes two requests that demonstrate the depth of his wisdom. And vs. 9 clearly shows the oracle as one who has either seen or experienced the curse of plenty.

1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.

2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man.

3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.

4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!

5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,

9 lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Non-review Book Review, or, If I'd Only Read It

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Constant Heart

(Bethany House October 1, 2008)


Siri Mitchell


Boy! Did I space this one off. When Bonnie sends out lists of prospective books for these CFBA campaigns, I briefly look them over for the special one that Nancy would love to hear from my croaky voice. Obviously, this time I hadn't taken enough time in making our selection.
        Siri Mitchell is a name I should have remembered from reading The Cubicle Next Door, a wonderful book that had Nancy and me alternately laughing out loud, spitting out words of frustration over the characters' failure to read each other correctly, and squeaking emotion-laden words past a tightened larynx when they finally got it right. Mitchell's works are true emotional roller coaster rides.
        Why, oh why, did I ever start reading Nancy these romance novels. I should've stuck to my manly guns and refused to read any but guy stuff, like sports novels(ho-hum),gangster/crime/stalker/slasher novels(yuckey-pooh), and science fiction stories(well, alright!). But no, I had to go and act like I love my wife enough to read things she would like to hear. Too late now, though, I'm addicted to stories of relationships.
        To any guys reading this, let this be a lesson to ya. Never read anything but your favorite stuff if you don't want your literary tastes broadened.


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

A Constant Heart is her sixth novel. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. She has been called one of the clearest, most original voices in the CBA.


In a world of wealth, power, and privilege...love is the only forbidden luxury.

“Trust was a valuable commodity at court. Traded by everyone, but possessed by no one. Its rarity was surpassed only by love. Love implied commitment and how could any of us commit ourselves to any but the Queen? Love implied singularity and how could any of us benefit another if our affections were bound to one in exclusivity? Love was never looked for and rarely found. When it was, it always ended badly.”

In Queen Elizabeth’s court where men and women willingly trade virtue for power, is it possible for Marget to obtain her heart’s desire or is the promise of love only an illusion?

A riveting glimpse into Queen Elizabeth's Court...

Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is guaranteed ... at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Constant Heart, go HERE