Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Where Is God?

It's at Christmas time that we are reminded of the silence between God and His people from the end of the Old Testament to the birth of Jesus. In fact, it was 400 years of silence. Can you imagine how the people must have wondered how God could allow so much evil around them? Armies traipsing through their country, taking over, bringing order but also destroying their peace at the same time. Syrians, Greeks then the Romans. Don't you think they would have asked where God was in all their misery?

Because we have 20/20 hindsight, from our perspective we can see that it was for a purpose. Without the Romans, there would not have been a census to send Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem thus fulfilling prophecy. (Isaiah 7:13-14) And, only with the Romans did Jesus die on a tree thus becoming sin so He could save us from sin, and again fulfilling prophecy. (Matthew 16:21) Later, Paul used Roman law to make his way to the capital of the greatest empire to rule the world. From there he reached many Gentiles. For this, I am thankful.

In recent days, I have reflected on the terrible things happening around the world. Crazy killings and bombings. Destructive forces that seem to be unstoppable. Are we going through another time of silence from God? Are we once again asking where is God? Is the church praying regarding the crimes being done to our fellow brothers and sisters around the world? You may wonder, is God even listening?

The message in a recent sermon I heard was: Do not mistaken God's silence for His absence.

My question now, is there a reason for the apparent silence? Is God planning something big again? The last time God was silent Jesus came as a baby. Is His silence leading up to Jesus' return? How bad will things get before they can get better? Another blogger wrote about God and His answering prayer, read it here.

The peace that the angel called the shepherds to have (Luke 2:10-14) is here for us today. My peace comes from knowing that God is watching it all. And those who are guilty will one day know the truth about God and His power. There is always hope in knowing that God has a plan and one day we will get to see it unfold.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Miracles in the Midst of Tragedy

There has been so much coverage on the attacks in Paris that I'm sure there is probably nothing new to discuss. It brought back memories of being downtown one night and hearing the sound of gunfire. As I remember, the sound bounced off the buildings, so it was hard to tell where the shots were coming from. I didn't know where to run. I can't imagine the fear and confusion the people of Paris must have felt as the sounds of multiple shots and explosions filled the night air.

When 9-11 happened the attacks were spread out, but just as confusing. The thought of all those attacks happening in one place almost simultaneously grips in a way that we did not have to deal with here in the U.S. And, may we never have to experience.

Nevertheless, I see the lesson from both tragedies as the same. In both situations there are stories of how people survived even though they should have died. If God still needs you for a purpose then nothing can stop Him from using you. He knows your time and will not let man stop Him from achieving His objective. Take the following two examples. I remember hearing of a man who jumped up and rode atop the debris as the World Trade Center came tumbling down. Miraculously, he survived. The second example occurred when I watched the news coverage of Paris. I saw a shooter taking aim at a woman on the ground, shaking his gun before he fired then walking away. The woman was reported to have said the gun jammed, so he left. He didn't attempt to bring her more harm. She also survived, miraculously.

What was the purpose of these two examples of surviving a tragedy? I don't know, but for right now I would say it's to show the world God is still in the miracle business. May all the world look to God for more miracles and comfort in this time of much needed direction.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nothing New

I'm sorry I haven't shared anything in several weeks. Frankly, I am struggling to stay focused enough to finish the editing of my first solo book, as the woes of my circumstances threaten to overtake my emotions. Staying focused on God has been my saving grace.

God has been faithful, and through Him I find joy and direction. But still the struggle is daily. The other day as I read my devotional reading I came across a rough draft of a note of encouragement I apparently wrote several years ago. Wouldn't you know it was like I wrote a note to myself.

The first scripture I encouraged the reader to look at was Psalm 138. The verses felt like they were written for me. That's when I realized that nothing I am going through is new to God. He has been here before. Nothing that happens in today's world is new to Him. He's seen it all. He made the human body and knows how delicate it can be. How one wrong thing happening within can trigger all kinds of changes. Changes that send out ripple effects to everyone around.

Again I find that I need to stay focused on Him. Only then can I find my way through the muck and foggy state of my current situation. I encourage each of you to do the same. You don't have to be going through awful situations to look to God for direction. But I can tell you that by doing so, you will find a peace that you are not alone and that someone bigger than you or me is on our side. Let me know how it's going for you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Navigating The Wilderness

I have been given a vision of promise for the future. A goal from God, so to speak. Have you ever been given such a word? Maybe it's the vision of a particular ministry or outreach you will be a part of. If so, then you know what I mean about seeing the possibilities of what will be.

Recently I was reading Acts 7. Stephen is speaking to the Sanhedrin and reminding them of Israel's experience in leaving Egypt and traveling to the promise land. At first the Israelites knew where they were headed - a land where sustenance would be found and the harshness of the Egyptian life could be forgotten. But they took their eyes off the promise and let the worries and discomforts of the wilderness they had to traverse cause them to look back to Egypt as though it was a good thing.

They were so unhappy with being uncomfortable and not knowing what lied ahead that they preferred to consider leaving a God who provided shade in the heat of day, light overhead in the dark of night, and, how can we forget, manna. They wanted to return to poverty and beatings. They even wanted to worship a golden calf rather than the God who had proven Himself over and over again.

You're probably thinking, "How could they ever do such a thing?" The place these people left was awful. Who would even look back when there's the promise of freedom, peace, joy, happiness just ahead? Well, I'm here to say that I was convicted of doing the same thing as I read Acts 7. Now granted, I'm not traveling away from the same terrible things the Israelites experienced. But, I was lingering on the "what if's." My understanding from God was that every time I thought about a different word or action I would've, could've, should've taken I turned my eyes from the promise land and looked back to Egypt, so to speak. I don't want to do that.

I want the better life of the promise land. Don't you? What goal has God given you? Are you just starting out? Know that there will be a wilderness before you get to the final goal. Hopefully, it won't be forty long years for us, but it may feel like it. So no matter what comes our way, let's keep our eyes on the promise of the future and leave the lesser way behind us. May God have greater mercy on you and I as we work to maintain the right focus on the goal He has set before us.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Where Is Peace?

Are you looking for peace? What kind of peace do you want? Do want peace between countries, so that the news won't be filled with who is blowing up cities and the people in them?

I've heard it said that the days of Rome were peaceful times. But if you look closely, you'll see that they used military force whenever and wherever it was needed in order to maintain that peace. I'm sure there were many who didn't think of the Romans as peacemakers.

Right now, we do not live in a time of peace. There are so many groups who want to see the great and mighty countries of the world fall so that their smaller regimes can prosper, and maybe even bring about a religious end to the world. On the one hand, we have leaders saying the current treaty will bring peace, while other leaders warn us of the ulterior motive of the treaty signers. Do you find peace in this? I don't.

So many people are looking for peace to come from their fellow man. That type of peace will always be elusive because man is finicky. He can't even trust himself. Where I do find peace is not from outside sources, but from God.

In recent months I've heard the song "It Is Well With My Soul" more times than I care to count. Each time I sang it or heard it I became more choked up over the song. You can look up both the song and the songwriter here and here. In the midst of complete sorrow and downturns in life Horatio G. Spafford wrote the words to this song. The peace Spafford held onto and wrote about didn't come from his life experiences. In fact, what happened to him would have put most people on tranquilizers nowadays. The kind of peace Spafford leaned on focused on scripture like Psalm 30:11 where God turns wailing into dancing and mourning into joy.

That's what I'm looking for...joyful dancing before God in spite of what is happening in my life. That's the peace I want. Not the temporary peace that comes from a signed treaty which can be wadded up and tossed into the wind at a moment's notice.

And how do I do that? By keeping my focus on God and the fact that the ultimate victory is His. Nothing this life can throw at us, looking at Spafford again, is greater than the peace we can find in God. I just have to keep my eyes on God's victory and off my own shaky path.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Lies Beneath?

There is a show titled Cities of the Underworld that I was hesitant to watch simply based on it's title. But then I gave it a try when the description of an episode intrigued me. It's really a fascinating series. It plays on the fact that as people walk the streets of cities they often have no idea what lies beneath their feet.

The one episode I refer to today first aired on October 26, 2008. You can check it out here. The show takes you beneath one of London's churches. Apparently, there is evidence that prominent leaders of this church went below ground to a sanctuary decorated with features of hell. And while it is speculated that it was only used on a short term basis there is evidence that satanic worship may have occurred there.

So I have some thoughts after watching this episode.

First, I have to wonder how the church body didn't sense these things happening. Surely there was some form of awareness. And maybe there was, and that is why there is evidence that the activities below the church were short-lived. Perhaps the Godly people of the day put a stop to it and the area below the church was left alone until the show made it known.

Secondly, the show dated these happenings to have occurred during the Victorian Era. I usually think of the Victorian Era as being filled with highly moral, strait-laced people who would never have allowed a step away from God's path. But, I guess I was wrong. Don't you think it strange that even in the midst of a time when God seemed to have an upper hand on life there was still an element of people who dabbled in the ways of darkness? I wonder, did they think they were above the laws of God that they could get away with it? Perhaps that was the thinking of the Hebrews whenever they created high places to honor false gods and idols. (1 and 2 Kings)

My question today is, "Does this still happen?" Do we put on a face and go about our daily activities all the while having something sinister lying below the surface? Do we show our true selves to others so that all levels of our being reflects who we are and what we think?

What lies beneath your skin? Is it a solid foundation in God? Is it the sandy ways of the world that will falter the moment life's winds become a hurricane? These are reflective questions to help you know yourself better. We need to ask these of ourselves regularly ... like an annual medical check-up. As the world continues to head into crazier ways of thinking we need to know what lies beneath so that we are not led astray.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Uncertainties of Life

The last three weeks of my life have been something out of a soap opera. And I had to live through it. I hope none of you ever have to travel the same steps I have traversed. Let me give you a broad overview. At a point when I felt harmony had been reached, I was jolted into a position I never ever imagined I would find myself. I had been confident that I would not be taken from my place of solidarity. Then a threat was made, and before I could catch my breath tragedy beckoned. As victory over the affliction unfolded, the original threat returned from more than one side. Accusations and intimidation led to a shift in loyalties.

It's been a nightmare. Unfortunately, it's not over.

But, in the midst of all of this I have been comforted by the prayers of many. I have seen a miracle unfold before my eyes. In the despairing moments, the shoulders of friends and family have been there to catch the tears. The whispering songs of God prepare me and see me through.

I cling to the fact that God's victory has been claimed and He will do what He has to do to bring glory to His name. In the meantime, I look to Him. Through it all, as the song goes, my eyes are on Him. The One who is a father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow, a comforter to the wounded. I could not go on if it wasn't for my Lord.

I don't know if any of you struggle with emotional upheavals but I can only say that Jesus is the key to surviving and having strength to face each new day. He's not a person we can see with our eyes, but His presence is tangible and welcoming. Call on Him. He's there for you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Truth Always Comes Out

So did you hear the latest? It's been on the local and national news scene recently. Representatives of Planned Parenthood are taking fetal baby parts and selling them for use elsewhere. Don't believe me? Check these sites out:

Washington Post

A second Washington Post story

Fox News

What surprised me was that they are aborting babies in the second trimester. I did not know this. I actually feel sick finding out. It saddens me that many women choose to end a life rather than offer a child up for adoption. AND the federal government is helping this organization do this.

I once heard the saying, "the truth always comes out." And it does. In some ways because things are getting crazy, I'm not surprised that something as disgusting as selling fetal parts is happening. It's like a production of The Twilight Zone come to life.

I first heard of this through Joel Rosenberg's blog post. I encourage you to check out his post and the sites I hyper-linked above. Become aware of the filth that has crept into our country so that we can join together in prayer against these things, and beg forgiveness from God. Re-tweet this post or share it. Or, write your own post about how this makes you feel. Let's get the word out and wake up the church members who are totally unaware of this atrocity.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

America's Reflection

On the fourth I was treated to my first food truck experience while watching fireworks over our neighborhood's pond. Actually, from my position I could see the fireworks display of two other cities. That was fun. But what really left an impression were the people who surrounded me.

People of all nationalities sat on that hillside. Multiple languages besides English could be heard...Indian, Arabic, Asian, Spanish, the list goes on. It was a wonderful example of America at its best.

From its inception America has been the place people could come from all walks of life and all backgrounds in search of something better.  A place where people could be free to be themselves and worship God in the manner they wished.

What struck me that night was how America, unlike any other country, has such a large number of cultures within its borders that in many ways it's an earthly representation of heaven. When we get there it won't just be white, or black, or hispanic, or whatever background you're from. It will be a mixture of races, a rainbow of colors, united in the glorifying of the One who brought us there, who paid the full price so we could be free of sin and free to enter a peace only found in heaven. We'll all be celebrating next to one another, praising and cheering Jesus.

While America represents the land of the free, Heaven is the place of true freedom. While children can be born into the freedom found in America, each of us must make the choice to accept the gift heaven offers. The freedom available in America finishes at one's death. The freedom found in heaven is forever - as in - doesn't ever come to an end. Our forefathers paid the price for our freedom here in America. Jesus paid the price for our freedom in heaven. My hope is that each of you has taken that step to join forces with Jesus, so that when they set off the best fireworks ever in heaven you'll be sitting near me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Independence Day

What do you think of when you see or hear the words Independence Day? Do you think of the Revolutionary War and people dying for a cause? Or, do you think of the action packed 1996 movie in which the world was given a reason to celebrate Independence Day? Or, do you think of bar-b-ques, swimming pool parties and fireworks? Normally that's the first thing that pops into my mind, and I hope to enjoy some of those this week.

But there's another concept that came to me just this past week when it comes to Independence Day and it has nothing to do with the Fourth of July. It's my independence day. It’s the day I declared my independence from temptation, from sin, from the pressures of worldly pleasures. I announced that I wanted Jesus in my heart and as a result gained His ticket to heaven. It’s my spiritual birthday, which also happens to be the same date as my physical birthday, April 7.

Do you have an Independence Day? Can you say you are free from the pressure of trying to keep up with all the new fads? Do you keep up with fashions because you like them or because you want to be like everyone else? I don't want anyone to feel I am singling them out, but everyone has something they struggle with when it comes to the way the world functions.

Can you say, "no," to any activity, or thing, and know you are still worthy and loved by God?

The more time I spend studying the Bible and focusing on my walk with God the easier it becomes to say, "No," and the less pressure I feel to conform to the way the world thinks. The day I realized that the pressure was gone was a liberating experience. There is no struggle of what to do, of what to think, of what to say to others. I'll admit some of this freedom came suddenly while the rest came slowly. Time with God only solidifies my stance.

Our world is quickly changing and becoming more and more like the days of Lot and Noah. We need a life-line to hold on to, to know where we need to stand, to be free to be ourselves and who God created us to be. I encourage any of you who still struggle with the world to talk to God. Ask for help. Read His Word - the Bible - for direction and confirmation. There is nothing like being free and celebrating your own Independence Day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When a Low Blow Triumphants

Last Thursday my soul was shaken when I heard about the gunman who opened fire in the middle of a church's Wednesday night prayer meeting. I feel that was a low blow at a most precious time in the Lord's presence.

This young man entered a church prepared to end lives. But he didn't charge in yelling and shooting. No. He waited until he had been in the service for an hour. An hour of singing and prayers, welcoming the presence of God into their midst. And when everyone was relaxed and focusing on God's direction he opened fire and killed nine people.

It doesn't matter the color or culture of this church; this was an attack on God and His people. And it breaks my heart. My tears have finally stopped but I still hurt over this event.

The one thing I loved hearing Thursday was when an elder of the church stated good was going to come from this. When I heard him I knew he was right - what a faith-filled statement to make. Then there was this report on CNN's News 800 site. What remarkable witnesses of God and of His forgiving abilities to those who love Him. Incredible.

My hope is that this low blow to the church here in America will open the eyes of the rest of the nation. And, that Christians everywhere will use situations that come their way not to cry, "Foul," but to cry, "God will be victorious." It's hard, but the last six days have shown us it can be done.

Friday, June 19, 2015

When is the End the End?

Is the earth going to live forever? Or, is there a set time when everything will change? When the face of the earth no longer resembles the beauty it is now. Arguments over the end of time have been happening since the days of Jesus. See Matthew 24 where the disciples asked Jesus to tell them about the end of time and what to expect.

I must admit it would be a bit of a mystery for me if I didn't search the scriptures for answers. Whenever you talk about the end of time the key to remember is that God never changes. So in looking at what Jesus told His disciples - reiterating the teachings of the prophets then adding a few new things - these still hold true. That's why we look to the Bible to see if all the craziness of this world meets the prophecies of the Bible.

Now keep in mind, the verses on the end of the age are scattered like puzzle pieces. You see, God has told bits and pieces to His prophets, but never the whole plan. It is up to us to put all the pieces together. I recently saw a sermon given by Jimmy Evans that pointed to the creation as the outline when God tells about each and every turning point in history including the end of time. I had never heard this before, and figuring you might not have heard it either I drew up a chart showing the parallel he gave.

Day of Creation
Major Impact to Man by Millenium
Light and dark that co-existed were separated.
 Adam and Eve sinned which lead to man being separated from God who is the light that shines in our lives.
The sky was created to separate the waters that mingled in the heavens and on the earth.
 Noah and his family survived a flood that wiped out the earth when the waters came back together for a short period of time.
Plants and trees that yield seed were created.     
 Abraham is promised that his seed will be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
 Lights to shine in the darkness were created - the stars, the sun, the moon.
 Prophets rose up to tell the people about God, to warn leadership and the nation when they were headed into darkness, or that they needed to stop their evil practices.
 Animals of all sizes and shapes were created.
 Jesus was born, dies, and rises to life again thus allowing man to become new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
 Man is created.
 Man now inhabits most corners of the earth.
 God rested.
 Millennial rule of Jesus

Now looking at this correlation I can now see why God waited to create the stars, etc in the heavens until after He created the plants. If I had created the earth I would have put the lights in the heavens first then started work on the earth next. But when you compare the days of creation with the history of man it totally makes sense. Which makes the rest of the comparison shine bright with truth.

So, all this being said, we could be near the end of the sixth day and headed to the seventh day of rest. I don't say this to scare you, just to prepare you. God has told us when the time of rest will come. But not the exact day. It's going to be like a surprise party, we just don't know the date and time. So be ready to go and don't be late.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

When Failing Leads to Hope

Have you ever failed at something? Did you kicked yourself for days or weeks because you didn't do what you wanted to do? Didn't accomplish what you knew would be a good thing? Or, have you ever thought to say just the right words only to have the words die on the tip of your tongue, and then you spend the next week regretting never having said the words?

It's a terrible feeling. And, I hope not many of you have experienced it. But, truth be told many of us have. At some point everyone stumbles when it comes to our words and speaking them in a profitable manner.

So what do we do when failure happens?

The Bible is a good place to find out how we should act and think. At the same time, in its own way, it tells us how we screw up. But it's definitely not a condemning book. When you read James 3:2 you see that everyone, and I mean every one, messes up. Look at the author. He grew up with Jesus but didn't really believe in Him until after Jesus rose from the dead. (John 7:5; 1Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:4)

Knowing man sins and makes mistakes frequently is common knowledge. There's no surprise there. Churchgoers and Christian believers are expected to be closer to perfect than non-churchgoers. That's an unwritten presumption. Which makes it more difficult when we fail because we not only let ourselves down, but others around us.

There's a saying I've only heard in Texas - "He needs to pick himself up by the bootstraps and get going." Meaning, no matter what comes your way, whether it's financial mishaps, illness, or missing an opportunity to do the right thing, just get moving. Don't let anything set you back.

There's actually a verse in the scriptures that says basically the same thing - Proverbs 24:16. I'd read it many times but until my pastor, Danny Rivers, pointed it out this past Sunday I hadn't given it much thought. The verse sums up everything I've said today. One, even a good Christian is going to fail more than one time. Two, we need to get back up and try again. Learn from what we did wrong and try, try again. Remember, there's always hope for change in the days ahead of us.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

All Things Are Possible

The last few weeks I have seen or heard of changes happening because of the amount of rain Texas has received. Some people may be focused on all the bad this rain has brought. Lives lost and damage done as the wall of water made its way to larger bodies of water.

And while there were innocent people who lost property in the wake of this wall of water I still see God's healing hand in this. "How?," you may wonder.

Let's pull back for a minute and think.

Creeks and rivers that had long ago lost their flow of water now carry water from one location to another.  Lakes that were dropping to their preexistence status are now in various stages of re-filling. Some have even filled completely.

Yes there was some destruction along the way to their filling up, but some of that was brought on by the lack of clean-up and preparedness of man. Trees and debris left near or in dried up creek beds added force to the demolition done as the water made its way south. Short cuts taken on houses and bridges added to the structures demise that then lead to further devastation downstream and the loss of lives.

Was this part of a wake up call? Yes, I believe so.

Many have been praying that the nation would turn their hearts and focus back to God. God knows in a time of trouble or devastation is when the majority of people seek Him out. It's also a time when He sees His people act for those in need. Now is the time for each church to do something, no matter how big or small. Send help through organizations or even make a trip. I am blessed to be a part of a church that has made one trip up there and plans yet another in the future.

What I'm trying to say is that sometimes the answer to our prayers comes in the destruction of a storm. We also need to see that God has provided a way to return the land to life at a time when many men were saying there was no possible way for lakes to be resuscitated, that they would never return to their full glory. To quote my dad, "Never say never." God has shown us His ability to do the impossible and to show He is in charge of making all things possible.

Friday, May 22, 2015

When Did Prejudice Begin?

Prejudice is an ugly thing. As we've seen in recent days it can lead to abrupt actions that make no sense whatsoever. It harms. It insults. It ostracizes. No one likes or deserves to be on the disliked side of it.

So the question is why can't we stop it?

I think prejudice can't be stopped because it's been around for so long that it's ingrained in us. You may think it started during the years of the slave trade. Or shortly after the Civil War when the slaves were free, but I'm here to speak to a different time.

Open your Bible and you'll find that the Philistines, or Sea People, were a hated group of people. All nations disliked them, not just the Israelites. On the other hand the Jews were disliked by all the nations around them because they fought and won wars in quite a variety of ways, when they were in right standing with God.

But then the Jews had their own prejudices. None of them liked the Samaritans, descendants of Abraham who refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Holy Place. The Jews didn't speak to them and they didn't speak to the Jews. Knowing that makes the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) and Jesus speaking to a Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) even more significant. Sadly, it doesn't end there. Galileans were also despised by non-Galilean Jews. Why? Because they tried to keep the peace with the Romans and tried to speak Latin and Greek. Today we could compare it to a backwater-hillbilly trying to speak Chinese or Arabic to appease the modern language demands of a foreign captor.

Did it stop there? Of course not.

Through the centuries European countries fought over boundaries which lead to likes and dislikes of neighbors or fellow Europeans. Having lived there I know this. Some of these prejudices are held for fellow countrymen and some are for other nationalities. And because the countries are old the dislikes are often based on actions taken by a country or region many centuries ago. I could list who doesn't like who but that might not serve any real purpose other than to divide.

And, let's not forget what's happening in the Arabic countries today. Those factions that are fighting are all rooted in the same faith. Ouch. They're fighting each other. They're so dead set on having everyone follow their "faction" that they're willing to destroy cities and people to do it. They are so blinded by prejudice that they'll bring harm to anyone not with them.

Sadly, it's not too different from what we've seen in this country. People fighting for a supposed victim and in their rage they destroy the property and lives of their neighbors to make a point. Blinded action making no sense at all when you step back and ask the question, "Why did they do that? What purpose did that serve?"

The truth is, if you stop and think about it every culture, every nation can find someone who dislikes them. And they can find someone they dislike. No one is free of a prejudice. It's sad but it's true. If only we could see that we are all different, with various ways of taking on life.

Our enemy is not in the people who are different from us. Our enemy is the one who wants us to think we need to destroy others because they are different or because they don't like us. Our enemy is the prejudice instigator whom we cannot see. And as long as we give into it, prejudice will continue to exists.

How do we individually make a difference? We need to ask God to help us tolerate and work with those we have a hard time understanding or living around. We need to ask God to let us see others the way He sees them. Attitudes will change.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Word For Safety in Hebrew

Weeks ago I wrote a post about warning. I don't want to seem to be fixated on this topic but there is scripture, Ezekiel 33, that speaks of the watchman sounding the trumpet to warn the people. Let me just say I am not the main watchman, but I feel a certain responsibility to inform you of one of the watchmen. Listen to his alarm and sounding of the trumpet.

I know you're thinking the media makes things sound bad enough as it is and you don't need or want to hear about anything else. To this I say, "Just hear me out." For those of you thinking there is nothing to take warning over then I have two books for you to read, The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah. Thanks to my sister I have read both of Jonathan Cahn's books. 

These books are a bit prophetic but not in a "this is what will happen out of the blue" kind of way. Cahn looks at our past as he warns of the path our nation is taking. Both books look at 9-11 as being part and key to what lies ahead for this nation and the world.

When 9-11 occurred I remember hearing the media report how religious leaders were shouting that the attacks happened because of God's judgement on the sins of the nation - with the leaders always pointing to the nation's current immoral acts. But Cahn doesn't bring these under scrutiny. He comes from a totally different perspective.

In The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn compares the U.S. to Old Testament Israel. The scary part is the identical paths taken by both nations. It'll give you chill bumps. The Harbinger is an easy read and not only compares what happened on 9-11 and the aftermath to ancient Israel, but also to George Washington's inaugural day activities. If you ever doubted that one could have anything to do with the other you should read this book.

The Mystery of the Shemitah takes a different approach. I found it to be a more difficult read because of the detail and form of warning. In this book Jonathan Cahn does a marvelous job of taking past events and what we as a nation have experienced financially, including 9-11, placing them on the Jewish calendar and showing their correlation to our neglecting God's year of rest. You may think there's no connection, but I'm here to tell you there is. In fact, this book takes you from chill bumps to hair raising.

So when news or books like this scare you, what should you do? Pray, right? Well, Anne Graham Lotz has issued a call to prayer for our nation, May 15-23, which is also mentioned by Joel Rosenberg in his blog. All of us attend different churches which vary from each other in superficial values but we all believe Jesus died for us. Let us stand united on this front and bow our knees asking God to guide us in bringing our nation to Him.

Remember there is always hope.

To this statement I have one final comment that I hope will uplift your spirits. Near the end of The Mystery of the Shemitah Cahn shared an interesting tidbit of information. In Hebrew the word for safety is yeshua. If it sounds familiar it's because it is. This is the root word for Yeshua... the Hebrew word for Jesus. Every name has a meaning, but I never wondered about the name of Jesus and it's meaning... safety. No matter what comes our way in future judgements for our nation or world, we can find safety in Jesus. Have you sought Him? Or, become right with Him? Yes, then you are saved from worry over any coming calamity.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Be A Light

The first weekend in May I attended the Gateway Women's Conference, Pink Impact, in Fort Worth. What an incredible time of worship and teaching I experienced. I want to share how the teachings from a variety of speakers (including Kari Jobe, Jimmy Evans and Missy Robertson) came together.

The subject was light. We need to be a light to others, but also we need to allow God's light to shine in the dark places of our inner being. If we allow God to shine His light inside our inner man we will find a freedom from whatever was previously held as an embarrassment. And the best part is enjoying a better relationship with God.

Two presenters spoke of emotional/mental healing taking twenty-one days of mental exercises to change your perspective on life and attitudes. The key is remembering that the mind is separate from the brain and it is the mind that leads the way for the brain to change how it reacts to life. While it would take too long to cover all the initial steps I will say that blessing your enemies and the people who hurt your feelings is a major part of that. And when you are done you will find you are a unique wonderful person with a clear mind filled with clear thoughts. If you're interested in this you can go to the following websites: Jimmy Evans and Dr. Leaf

But if you think you can't be used of God until you're perfect, you're wrong. God uses everyone in any way He chooses. You don't have to do something extraordinaire before you impact others for the cause of the kingdom. In fact, as Missy Robertson put it, "God uses the ordinary and broken to do the extraordinary." If you don't believe her look at some of the heroes of the Bible.

It's important to keep our eyes on our current battles and not start worrying about future battles or seasons of life. If we take our focus off what God has for us today, in this moment, then we might lose some of the promise God has for us. Take courage and stay put, stay the course, God's still working.

A Biblical example of this was found in the book of Esther. Esther's Uncle Mordecai made himself available to her by staying at the gate wherever Esther was, first at the gate of the harem then at the king's gate. Years later when the king realized he never honored Mordecai for saving his life, the king knew exactly where to find Mordecai. Don't give up on the course God has placed you on or you may miss the opportunity of change that He will bring your way.

And when life gets even crazier than it already is, don't worry that God has forgotten you and your needs. He didn't forget about the widow and her son or the prophet Elijah in 1Kings 17. First, God has ravens bring bits of food to feed the prophet then He extends the meager food supplies of the widow. God doesn't need much to work with, He just needs something to work with. Keep doing what God has shown you to do. God can't act on earth until his people do something.

To drive that point home Pastor Tim Ross pointed out the randomness of how Elijah raised the widow's dead son back to life. Verses 17-24 tell us this story. Elijah, after praying to God and receiving no specific directions, lays on top of the widow's dead son - how random and awkward is that? The point made was that God doesn't do something on the earth unless He does it through us. In this instance, God used the random act of Elijah which resulted in the revival of the son. All because Elijah did something.

I would like to end with the prayer example Jimmy Evans gave us (I tweaked it slightly).

Dear God, Thank you for honoring my efforts 
and letting Your light to shine from me to others.
I need the Holy Spirit in my mind today. 
And if something is coming my way give me 
the emotional grace and spiritual grace I will need. 
Lead me in all truth as I put on a garment of praise.
Thank you. Amen.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

We Can Die?

Everyone has heard the story of Adam and Eve. They sinned by eating the fruit from the one tree God told them to avoid. As a result they realized for the first time in their life they were bare and had unique characteristics in their appearances. Feeling the need to cover up these differences they made clothes out of fig leaves.

But when God returns to the garden and sees them in their fig leaves He knows what happened. He just needs them to confess their ill-taken step. And they do. But what He does next was probably not what they expected.

In Genesis 3:21 we read that God hands them clothes made out of the skins of an animal. Let's talk about this concept.

Adam and Eve lived in a garden where food grew on its own and the animals walked among them. Everyone has favorites, so they must have had favorites too. Favorite foods and favorite animals. Whether they gave the animals pet names or not is neither here nor there, but they would have loved them all the same. Just like many people view their pets in today's world, some of these creatures must have been like children to them. They were family and spending time with them on a daily basis was a joy. The idea of losing one of them was not something they feared nor even gave much thought to.

Then God hands them an animal skin. As far as getting the skin off an animal is concerned, either you kill the animal as you're removing the skin or you kill it first and then remove the skin. The background of this verse can be overlooked and missed in the reading of it. This is the first death mentioned in the Bible. And, because it is from an animal we can surmise that this is the first sacrifice and example of the shedding of blood connected to the forgiveness of sin. But where did God get the animals for the sin sacrifice?

From among the animal family that Adam and Eve knew.

Can you imagine their expressions and thoughts when God hands them the skins of the newest lamb offspring? Up until that point they never knew the end of a life. What a concept to have to experience - something being alive and breathing one minute then no longer there. They ate fruits, grains and vegetables. The killing of animals to eat was not a concept they had or it would have been mentioned in the first two chapters.

And what a reminder that must have been. Everyday they wore the animal skin clothing they were reminded that they acted against God's directions and now paid the consequence of it. Everyday they were reminded that God is serious when He gives directions. And, that a sacrifice must be made when sin is committed.

Today we know we can die, so the concept is not new. However, today we have the advantage of knowing that when we sin we have a Savior we can turn to for forgiveness because his blood sacrifice is everlasting and covers all sin. And the next time we put on a cross necklace we can use this not only as a symbol of being a Christian but as a way to remember the sacrificial death that was made for us.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Leaving Fear Behind

Fear is one emotion most of us don't have to work hard to get. Especially nowadays when the news is filled with so much information about wars, nations readying for war-like action and terrorist attacks. Then there are multiple blog posts out there to tell us essentially that the Biblical book of Revelation is unfolding before our eyes. If you don't believe me check out these two blogs Running From Babylon and Cindy by the Sea.

The first emotion that ran through my body after reading these posts was fear. Then sorrow followed, but I'm not sure who the sorrow was for. Was it for me or for the many who don't see the mess our world is in? The writer of Running From Babylon is not the only one to compare the U.S. to Babylon. And even though I see some similarities, I don't believe it is a full match. But, I've got news for all those who agree with this comparison - Babylon is utterly destroyed in Revelations 14 - 18. A better description of America, I think, is found in Ezekiel 31... Assyria sounds so much like America it's freaky - God destroys that place too.

But wait! We can't let these things scare us. Remember there's hope.

So what is this fear that's being stirred up within us all about?

It's about death. If you have no idea where you're headed when you die then there is plenty to be fearful of. If you know who Jesus is and believe He died so you personally can go to heaven, then when it all boils down you have nothing to fear. You will be walking into paradise the millisecond after you leave the world behind you.

If you live through any destruction that might come our way, God will bring you through it. The Bible is full of scripture that talks about God rescuing His children. (Note: He can't rescue His people and children if there is nothing to rescue them from.)

He will not forget us whether we die and meet Him at the pearly gates of heaven or whether we live to be an evangelist for Him among survivors. He will never leave you alone or abandon you to fend for yourself. (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6) And remember His words — "My peace I give you..." (My translation from John 14:27) — are especially for troubled moments in life. He told this to His disciples right before He was arrested and their world fell apart.

No matter what life throws our way, or what news story brings fear remember this — God wins in the end. And if you're on His side, you win too.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

There Is Hope

Last week I mentioned that there must be a greater good that will come for the Kingdom of God in all the terrible, deadly, terrorist activities. Since then I have read two blog postings that point in that very direction.

The first one is written by my niece. The blog is titled Building the Bridges and you can find the post here. How wonderful it is to hear that God is using the displacement of people of the Muslim faith to hear from and experience the love of God from His people.

I think of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Daniel 1) who after being taken to a foreign country demonstrated to the leadership who the Almighty God in heaven is on more than one occasion. Through their actions the people of Babylon came to know of and on a few occasions worship the one true God. Guess what? God is doing it again, only in reverse. He has taken these persecuted homeless Muslim people out of their country to a land and people where they can find the truth about the God of Abraham.

The second posting is written by Joel Rosenberg and you can find it here. He talks about the newly published book by Tom Doyle, Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It's Not Safe to Believe.

While I haven't read the book, I like what the blog post says about it. The ISIS people hunt down Christians then video tape the executions only to find out there are more Christians to hunt down. I know this may sound awkwardly cock-eyed, but isn't that awesome!? Christians are multiplying! The ISIS terrorists have become the greatest tool of evangelism for Jesus since the Roman Empire.

You remember the Romans. They captured, tortured and then had Christians killed by lions in front of crowds, just for sport. They never ran out of Christians. In fact, Christianity continued to grow to become the major religion of the world long after the Roman Empire dissolved.

These terrorists and their ally countries may think they have the upper hand; that they can control who lives in peace and who lives in fear, for that matter who lives and who dies. But they do not factor in the man who is ultimately in charge of how things are going to finish. He is using all things to work for good for His Heavenly Kingdom. And that my friends cannot be stopped by human hands no matter how hard they try.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Danger Ahead

I believe the Lost In Space robot would be flailing its arms and rolling toward us at the top of its volume setting with the words, "Warning, warning..." In reading Joel Rosenberg's blog two weeks ago my worst fear seems to be coming to light. (His more recent one is more comforting.)

The U.S. is bringing upon itself the curse of not being on Israel's side. This is scary. I don't want God's wrath on me or the land I live in. But, if our leadership doesn't wake up and stop the country from going down the road we are on that's exactly what will happen.

My question is where is the Christian voice? Where is the American Jewish voice? Do we not see the importance, like it or not, of being an ally to Israel? Are we complacent about who does or doesn't like us because we don't have to fight daily for what we believe? Do we have rose-colored glasses on because we stay in our church clique so that we are unaware of what's happening in the world around us? Or do we really not care because the unrest is happening on the other side of the world and not on our home turf?

We need to remember that our country has the reputation of being a Christian nation and stands out above the other countries that once held that title. I wish I could say my country is strong in their faith in Jesus. How much better would it be if our country was known for doing kind actions, whether it's feeding the poor or fighting terrorists, because we love Jesus and want to show others His love?

But we don't.

I'm sad because this country thinks better of itself than it should. I don't want my country to suffer because then I would suffer. It's a pretty selfish fear-filled thought, I know. If I could think about the threat of being on the wrong side of God's wrath with the expansion of heaven in mind, I'd remember that only when we go through struggles and hard times do we turn to God. Only when there is no way out and hopelessness reigns does man finally put his trust in Jesus.

If going down this unfortunate path will bring millions more to heaven's way of thinking then maybe it will be worth it. Still, wish our leadership would wake up and halt the terrible turn we're about to make. But it's important to keep in mind that as many times as Israel had to suffer for their wayward ways, God did not abandon them. He kept them ever in His mind. Then I have the hope that He will do that for all us Gentile believers who have fallen down on the job.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And His Name Is...

Last time I mentioned the name of Jesus being precious and powerful at the same time. And it is. This week I wanted to share something with you that I learned back at Christmas time.  The Isaiah 9:6 reference to the name of the Messiah is not several separate descriptive names in the Hebrew language. It's one name.


I checked various websites and found it translated in a variety of ways. Bible Hub and Bible Apps point out that it is only seen in one location in the Bible. I hadn't thought about it, but that's true. Only in Isaiah do we see those names grouped together. The Bible Hub website offers access to various commentaries, and the ones I checked out breakdown the word into the separate names I've been taught for years. If you ever need references about the Bible both of these websites are interesting and put lots of information at your fingertips.

There are some sites that indicate that this name was for King Hezekiah and not for the Messiah. What those writers forget to take into account is that this verse is in the middle of a passage about the Messiah and that God often uses a prophecy in two forms -- one for now and one for a time to come. Other sites do not acknowledge this as names of Jesus but as a title given to him by God. It can be rather confusing when you look at too many websites.

I know some people don't think highly of Wikipedia, but it has come a long way in respectability. It is often a good source of easily understood information that can be verified by other sources. This is the case for this name. And check out the reference section at the end of the write-up.

The definition in Wikipedia includes how the Hebrew and Christians translate this name. The same words are used but the emphasis is different. For example one reference states the title is wonderful in counsel while many others state it is to be read wonderful (comma) counselor. In some languages putting the emphasis on a different syllable makes a difference in what is communicated. But I don't know that it changes much in this case.

This week we celebrate Jesus dying and rising again, it doesn't really matter if you think of Him as wonderful and a counselor or as wonderful in counsel. He is there for all of us. He is the best friend many are looking for -- someone who listens and offers advice when asked. He's alive and well and waiting for us to talk to Him.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scariest Bible Verse Ever

Are there any verses in the Bible that make you sit up and pay attention? Maybe even say to yourself, "I hope that's me." Or, "I hope that doesn't happen to me."

I heard one passage repeated in sermons which came from different sources over a period of about a month. And with Easter approaching I felt it was time to share it. What are the verses? Matthew 7:21-23. It's a story Jesus told his followers. There will be people trying to get into heaven who say they prophesied and cast out demons, and performed miracles by using the name of Jesus. AND. They won't be allowed in because even though they spoke the name of Jesus, Jesus says he never knew them. OUCH!

Actually the verse has always gotten my attention. For some time I couldn't understand how someone could do all those things in the name of Jesus and not know Him. Can you imagine going to church, traveling on mission trips, participating in church ministries, maybe even being part of a miracle of Biblical proportions and still not get to heaven? To have Jesus say He never knew you? Now did I scare you?

This is why the Bible says that Jesus looks at the heart. Only he knows if the church-going-enthusiast and the stay-at-home-never-setting-foot-in-a-church person are on the same playing field. We don't know what the true relationship is. But, God knows who He knows.

What I find scary is that the people in this passage thought they had performed their way into heaven. They thought acknowledging and working through the name of Jesus was the only proof they needed. They forgot one thing. 'Believing in' is different than 'knowing about' the gift of the cross. Sort of a heart vs. mind understanding -- is Jesus in your mind or does He run your heart?

There's another analogy I heard over Valentine weekend at Bent Tree Church in Carrollton, Tx that made sense to me. With the use of Hebrews 6, Pete Briscoe compared this knowing about Jesus versus believing in Jesus concept in a clever way. A high-dive diving board is the church where someone hears the word preached and even participates in the activities of the church. The water is Jesus and his gift of salvation through the cross. To jump off the board and into the water is the leap of faith all of us must take when we believe and get to be known by Jesus.

So how did the people of Matthew 7 do these wondrous things without being known by Jesus? Because they used the name of Jesus Christ, a most precious and powerful name. When His name is honored things will happen.

On the other hand, when people use His name as an exclamatory they weaken the importance of His name in their lives. It's a spiritual law, one I don't know how it exactly works, but it is a fact. Through the years I have heard reports and stories from people's real life experiences that support this spiritual law. If they don't hold the name of Jesus precious and use it only when giving Him praise then when they need it in a time of prayer requests it holds less power, maybe even no power.

So this week I leave you with this encouragement. Be careful what you say and if you haven't jumped off the high-dive into the water of salvation below, do it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What In The World is Going On?

Listening to the news reports do you ever wonder what is happening to our world? People so bent on notoriety that they are killing even their fellow believers. Leaders of various nations, including many middle-eastern countries are coming together to fight these terrorists. But are they acting fast enough? They want us to come along side, but our leadership just doesn't understand what the real experts are saying. What will it take to stop the killing?

And, why is it happening in the first place? I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons out there; all suppositions. But, the reason I think interesting and plausible is that they want to bring about the end of the world. No wonder they find an enemy in any person outside of the their own close-knit group.

Does this mean this group will do what they need to get all non-Islamic countries to come to battle them on the plain of Armageddon? Yes. They are running by the old rules of destruction with modern weapons.

For centuries we have read throughout the prophets in the Bible that there will come a people powerful like Rome, persecuting the saints with wars and rumors of wars (Daniel 7-12). We've read that Christians will be beheaded as this age comes to the finish line. (Revelation 6:9; 20:4) In years past I thought this was inaccurate. . . it won't happen that way; that's such an archaic method. But, hello, have you heard the news lately? Isis loves to behead people.

We shouldn't be surprised that any of this is happening. Will it get better? Not until they're stopped. Will they be stopped? Yes, by God Most High. When will they be stopped? When God decides it is done.

You see, they may think they're going to be victorious and have global control. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before they lose focus and start killing each other. And even if they don't, the fact is they will lose in the end. They're already playing into the hands of God. He is dividing the faithful from the double-minded. When it's all said and done, God will put His hand down and stop this crazy people from inflicting any more harm.

The question remains...what will you do in the meantime?
Will you fret? (An easy natural thing to do.)
Will you push aside the fear that threatens to overwhelm you at the prospect of this group having another successful mass destructive action? (Not such an easy thing to do.)
Will you prepare yourself to be an example? (Willing to die for the name of Jesus.)
Will you teach your children that to die for Jesus may be something we all must do before this group is stopped? (Some children have already died standing up for Jesus. What an example of bravery!)

I'm not saying I've got all the answers. I struggle with some of these. Will I stand strong? Only when we come face to face with death do we really know how we'll respond. . . like a blubbering idiot or a silent strong man or an outspoken evangelist. But we need to be prepared. We need to be ready because waiting for us on the other side is Jesus with His hand extended to congratulate us. He died for us; it's the least we can do, to be prepared to die for Him.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Biblical Oils - Spikenard

Well, we've done it. This is the last week of our review of the essential oils in the Bible. And what an oil to end on. . .Spikenard. It's a strange word to me and begs the question, "What in the world is a spikenard?" Actually, some people call it 'nard'. Still, do you know what it is?

Well, I didn't. It's definitely a word I glossed over in my Bible reading. But it's there for a reason. So what's the reason? Let's see what we find out.

As I mentioned before, depending on your translation of the Bible Spikenard may be referred to as nard, but it may not be mentioned specifically at all. The only place in the Old Testament where it is found is in Song of Solomon. First the bride talks about her scents of Spikenard reaching the king at his table then the king tells her she is like a garden and Spikenard is one of her plants. Don't you find it interesting to be referred to as a garden? Hmm.

The New Testament has two references (Mark 14 and John 12) but they are recounting similar incidents that occurred four days apart, yet both divulge some interesting facts. Spikenard was precious and expensive; it could have been bought and sold for more than a year's wages! It had to be held in a sealed alabaster container so that the smell didn't give it away. Because once it was out in the open the aroma could fill the entire house. It gave Judas and others a fit to have an entire half liter of this spread over Jesus's feet then his head. (Note: Jesus reprimanded the complaining men not the women who spent the money.)

We learn so much about the company that Jesus kept by these passages. When the Bible says it was costly, it was expensive and still is. Of course, the Bible states a year's wages as the price but there's no way to know how much that was. There is much speculation as to the exact amount, but Essential Oil pocket reference does mention that this oil was used only by priests, kings and high initiates. Hello, Jesus had friends who were high in society, which explains why so many of his followers could fit into a house to eat and listen to Jesus teach. And a woman of the house could spend that much money and still be able to entertain a group of men.

People of Israel weren't the only ones who used it either. After all, it comes from India, where it was not just perfume, but also part of medical practices. Historically, Egyptians used it as part of a mixture called kyphi which was used to calm fear and anxiety, thus promoting restful sleep and pleasant dreams. And if you read the word 'nardinum', an ancient oil mixture renown for its aroma, spikenard is in that too.

So what other ailments is it advertised for? Reference Guide for Essential Oils says it's good for allergic skin reactions and has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and deodorant properties. Essential Oil pocket reference adds that it's an immune stimulant.  If you recall I mentioned sesquiterpenes in one of my earlier posts. These help the body return things back to normal. And this oil has a high percent of this in its chemical make-up.

I can't help but be drawn to the fact that there are oils whose very nature is to regenerate an area to the point of wholeness. This is something God does for us spiritually. When we turn something over to Him, He takes us through various cleansing processes and trials to get us to the point that we are whole. Whatever the hurt or wound, He makes it new and better. How awesome it is to see with our eyes what God does to the unseen part of us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Biblical Oils - Cinnamon

I know what you're thinking. Cinnamon, an oil? Well, it's true and it fits right in with the oils we've talked about over the last several weeks. You see, while it's not a tree, although a cinnamon stick looks like a tree, it is processed from the bark of a tree. In fact the oil is actually called Cinnamon Bark.

Most of us think of cinnamon as a spice that brings a delicious flavor to rolls, breads, candy, cookies, and, well, the list goes on. But ancient people knew it for medicinal reasons. China was one of the places that used it as part of their medical practices. And it was listed in the medical "go to" book used in Europe for over 1,700 years according to Essential Oils pocket reference.

"Cinnamon has medical uses?" You ask. Why yes, yes it does.
In fact, it's strong stuff. Used straight it can cause an irritation to the nasal membranes if inhaled directly whether by diffuser or straight from the bottle. However, when used appropriately just look at its laundry list of properties: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antidepressant, antiviral, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-parastic, anticoagulant, astringent, circulatory stimulant, purifier, stomach protectant and antiseptic. Whew, that was a mouthful of words. In case I may have missed a few uses there's more information on cinnamon at this site.

When it comes to the Biblical references of Cinnamon, it's a great example of how something can be used for extreme good or bad. In Exodus 30, it is an ingredient in the sacred only-to-be-used-for-God's-temple anointing oil that made the tent of meeting and all its contents consecrated and most holy. But by itself Cinnamon found its way into the beloved's garden in Song of Solomon. And, here's where the bad comes in, it was part of the perfumes on the bed of the adulteress in Proverbs 7. The last place we see it mentioned is in Revelations 18. It will be one of the spices forever lost when the great and mighty city of Babylon is destroyed.

Perhaps its greatest notoriety was being combined in the mixture now known simply as Thieves.

I know it sounds like an odd name for an oil but when you hear the history behind it, it all makes sense. You see, during the time of the plague in 15th century Europe, thieves rubbed an oil concoction on themselves to avoid catching the plague while they robbed the sick and dead. When caught they were allowed to keep their goods if they told the authorities how they protected themselves. Turns out this concoction contained clove, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and cinnamon.

I must admit that cinnamon packs a punch I never saw coming. I've known it to be a strong flavor, but now I know what's hidden in this delicious spice. And as for the oil blend Thieves, I am growing in appreciation of its properties.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Biblical Oils - Cedarwood

Do you remember me saying that when I read the Bible I often read over words I don't understand, like cities or land locations? Of course, I've written posts in the past based on the importance of some of these places. Well, now I'm admitting to doing the same thing when it comes to sacrifices or cleansing processes in the Bible. Take for instance today's topic, Cedarwood. Look at Leviticus 14 and Numbers 19.

Some translations see the Cedarwood in Leviticus 14 as wood not an oil. Yet, it's part of the purification process after a house has been cleansed of mildew (NIV); sounds like the work of an oil to me. And by the way, I think the "mildew" translation makes better sense than a brown or red plague happening on a wall.

In Numbers 19 Cedarwood is part of the burnt offering of a red heifer for cleansing and purification from sin. And, we again see a wood whose oil is not just part of a renewal process but also the restoration that God will do to the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 17, 31 and Isaiah 41)

The godly are said to grow as tall and strong as a cedar in Psalm 92. This brings up a comparison I'd like to share. The tree species used for the oil which comes from the US and Morocco is said to be closely related to the cedars of Lebanon. When I think of the cedars of Lebanon I think of the redwoods of California. They are majestic and fit all the descriptions ever written about the cedars of Lebanon. Can you imagine having faith so strong that you could be compared to the huge redwoods that can't even be completely photographed in one close-up picture?

And the Bible eludes to this size when it describes cedars as the resting place of a giant eagle in Ezekiel 17. But Cedars were known for more than their beauty. (Numbers 24) They are also mentioned as an example of strength in something such as the tail of a giant animal in Job 40. The covering of a young girl's female parts in Song of Solomon 8.

Curiously, Strong's Concordance and Thompson Chain Reference Bible list cedar only as a wood, not an oil. In any case, either as an oil or as a wood there are far more references to Cedarwood than the previous woods we've discussed. I must admit when I first started writing about essential oils in the Bible I thought the oils of today would be oils in the Bible. But they're not. Nevertheless these oils, as trees, did have some purpose in the Bible. Actually, there are two other kinds of cedar oil, Western Cedar oil and Cedar Leaf oil, each has its own chemical make-up and particular uses. Cedarwood is the only one that is referred to as being in the Bible.

So if Cedarwood was only a wood in the Bible, would essential oil qualities have been seen?

Well, Cedar gives off a strong aroma which would have filled any house built with it. I have to believe that's why it was used in the building of David's palace, in the beloved's bedroom and in each of the temples. (2 Samuel; 1 Kings; 1 and 2 Chronicles; Song of Solomon; Ezra) Do not under estimate the benefits of aromatherapy. The aromatic effects of any essential oil puts it into use in multiple industries in the modern age.

An interesting fact I found in Essential Oils pocket reference is that the Egyptians used the oil for embalming the dead. It also states that the people of Tibet used it for incense and medicine. Presently, it is used for its calming and purifying properties. Because its therapeutic actions ultimately stimulate the release of melatonin many have used it for attention deficit issues as well as a sleep aid.

Isn't interesting that an oil known to kill fungus (mildew) can also calm the body enough to induce sleep? Hmm. Oh, but there's more. It's used as an antiseptic, astringent, diuretic and, get this, insecticide. Lovely. Which is probably why some sources say you should never consume it and why pregnant women need to avoid it. Some forms of this oil can be potent, so if you're unsure about your brand please check with your doctor or an aromatherapist before using it.

I must admit I have not tried this oil. BUT. I have heard wonderful success stories of diffused Cedarwood helping to induce a good night's rest, something that eludes many. Just one more example of how God provides for us through things in nature.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Biblical Oils - Myrtle

Last week we talked about Fir, another evergreen tree used to make essential oils. Some Biblical translations speak of myrtle instead of fir in the references to this tree. So today we'll mention a little about Myrtle and how it stands out as being different from Fir.

One of the differences is the processing of this oil. Where as Fir came from the woody parts of the tree, this oil comes from the leaves of the plant.

It doesn't have a laundry list of things it does for the body, but it packs a mighty wallop. It can be used by itself singly, but is also found in several mixtures that are fantastic at helping different health issues. According to Essential Oils pocket reference and Reference Guide for Essential Oils it is known to stimulate the thyroid, liver, and prostate. It also fights sinus and lung congestion, skin irritations, and muscle spasms.

As far as the history of this plant is concerned, it interestingly enough was worshiped as a plant of mystery by the Greeks according to Reference Guide to Essential Oils. I have never heard of a plant being worshiped. Hmm.

In the Bible references, myrtle is included when they gathered tree branches and limbs for festivities. (Zechariah 1, Nehemiah 8) And when God promises to bring back trees to the barren land the myrtle is mentioned. (Isaiah 41, 55)

So, we find that once again this essential oil of today is not mentioned as part of sacrifices or anointing oils in the Bible. But, it is part of renewal. How fascinating it is that a tree associated with renewal also has a renewing type impact on some body functions.

It never ceases to amaze me that God uses what we see in the physical realm to understand what He's saying in the spiritual realm.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bibical Oils - Fir

When we think of Firs we usually think of Christmas. The smell of a fresh evergreen tree filling the room or house soothes the senses as it ignites the mind to creating a celebration come Christmas Day. Never mind the needles left behind as it slowly dies near the end of the season. But even those give off a fragrance.

There is much to be said for the aromatic effects an essential oil can deliver. I must admit I thought it was silly to think that even smelling an essential oil could affect one's disposition or health. That is until an essential oil worked for me.

Fir is not a pretty smell. Reference Guide for Essential Oils described it as having a woody, earthly, fresh, sweet scent. I can agree with the woody and earth smell. As for the other descriptions I wonder if it is the physical tree and it's parts that are known for that. The oil itself is extracted from the bark, twigs, wood and needles. Like I said, I can agree to the woody scent.

As for the essential oil Fir there are actually specific kinds of Fir. According to Essential Oils pocket reference the essential oil today comes from Idaho and two types of trees. But, according to Reference Guide to Essential Oils there are four varieties from the USA, Canada, Balkans, and France. Overall these two books state it can be used for antitumoral, antioxidant, antifungal, cuts, depression, hemorrhoids, nervous tension, overworked muscles, pain relief, sore throats, or respiratory issues. And can be found in some combined oils and moisturizing cream and deodorants.

I would like to add that Reference Guide to Essential Oils repeated several times that this essential oil was good for colds and the flu. An important thing to know at this time of year. But heed the warning that not all forms of this are safe to be taken internally.

So how was it used in the Bible?

While sources site that it is found in the Bible, I didn't find any mention or implication of it being an essential oil. Oh, and as an aside, depending on your translation the verses may read pine, fir, myrtle or evergreen.

There is mention of fir being part of buildings, boats or musical instruments. (See 2 Samuel 6; Song of Solomon 1; Ezekiel 27; Nehemiah 8) Of all the woods used in the days of the Bible I find it interesting that it was specifically mentioned as being part of the buildings that Solomon built for the Lord. (See 1 Kings 6, 9 and 2 Chronicles 2, 3)

One unique aspect to this tree and its qualities is that it is associated with renewal. God will renew the land by bringing back firs where they once grew and where they never stood before. (Isaiah 41, 55, 60; Ezekiel 31) And, so important are they that a king of Assyria who cut down the firs was prophesied against because of it. (See 2 Kings 19; Isaiah 37)

This tree is also used to illustrate the mightiness of God in Hosea 14. And Psalm 104 continues in this comparison when it mentions the storks nesting in them. Have you ever seen a stork's nest? I have. They are huge. The nests were on the rooftops of houses because the trees nearby weren't big enough to hold them. That's how majestic these Biblical trees were. But as grandiose as they are, Zechariah 11 and Nahum 2 both mention that God is able to bring these trees down.

One last verse to reference. That is Isaiah14:8. Hello. The trees are exulting God? Do you remember Jesus saying if the people didn't shout praises that even the rocks would? (Luke 19) Can you imagine if we could hear at their frequency what we would hear? But then, that's another study.

Back to Fir. I have only covered the effects of Fir in this article, but pine and myrtle have similar benefits. I must admit that Fir has become one of my favorite oils. When I have prayed for relief from neck pain secondary to a physical ailment, the Lord replied with using Fir. Why I was amazed that it worked I have no idea...but it did. And I continue to use it when needed.

So while Fir was not specifically mentioned in the Bible as being an oil used for sacrifices or anointing, we do have it for our use in today's world. We can use it for the aromatic effects it has always been known to have, or the topical uses that have been found through the years. This is yet another way that God cares for His creation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Biblical Oils - Hyssop

Next on our list is Hyssop.

Honestly I thought Hyssop was more a plant than an oil. I probably got this from reading Exodus 12 when the Israelites placed the blood of a lamb on the doorposts to ward off the last Egyptian plague. Or, from reading 1 Kings 4:33 where it talks about it growing out of the walls. Or, from reading John 19 when the Roman soldiers placed a sponge on a branch of hyssop to offer gall to Jesus. But when we read Psalm 51 we see that hyssop is used to purge someone of sin, so in that case it has to be an oil.

Leviticus 14 includes it with cedarwood (a post to come) as part of the cleansing of a person and of a home. But it steps up a notch in Numbers 19 when it's important enough to be included in the sin cleansing sacrifice of the red heifer for the nation of Israel.  Hebrews 9 also says it was used by Moses as part of a ceremony after reading the law for the first time to the nation of Israel.

So what do they say about it today?

It too has a long laundry list of uses, similar to Frankincense. But, several of the sites I checked had warnings for this oil -- do not use if you have epilepsy or are pregnant. Also, keep it away from children. So while this oil has much it can do, externally and internally, it definitely comes with a warning list that might rival a pharmaceutical TV ad. Remember, while it might be used for one ailment it apparently strongly affects the other systems as well.

So, what can it do?

My sources were Young Living , Organic Facts , Essential Oils pocket reference, and Reference Guide for Essential Oils. According to them it has purifying qualities that makes it good for respiratory and viral infections, respiratory congestion, circulatory issues and parasites (worms). Some medical terms for its uses are: anti-inflammatory; antioxidant; anti-rheumatic; antiseptic; antispasmodic; astringent; carminative;  cicatrisant; decongestant; diuretic; emmenagogue; mucolytic; sedative.  Which when simplified means it is good for arthritis, aids in digestion, helps fade scars, increases frequency of urination, helps regulate the menstrual cycle, and reduces risks of nervous disorders.

It isn't one of the popular oils you hear about, but it does hold its own against other essential oils. Young Living was the only one to call it a slightly sweet wood scent. I guess this is why it was included in the sacrifices mentioned in Leviticus. Over all I found this oil to be quite interesting. For a plant that could grow out of rock walls it sure held many medicinal uses in the inner workings of its oil.