For “Scripture Sunday”:
Life Lessons: Scattering Feathers
There's a story I've heard told in different ways but it always ends with the same lesson.
It seems that a prominent church member saw a younger woman leaving the pastor's office one morning before office hours. The younger woman was disheveled, and due to the early hour, the older woman thought this was odd.
Later the older woman heard that the younger woman was divorcing her husband. She told her friends about the early morning incident. They speculated that the younger woman was having an affair with the pastor. Soon this rumor spread throughout the congregation.
The older woman then found out that the rumor was false. The couple wasn't getting a divorce after all. The younger woman had been suffering from depression and had spent the night counseling with the pastor and his wife in his office. Because of the gossip, the reputation of both the younger woman and pastor had been severely damaged. The older woman went to the pastor and asked how she could rectify the situation.
The pastor replied, "I want you to take a feather pillow to the top of a high hill, rip it open and scatter the feathers upon the wind. Then find and pick up every feather."
"That's impossible," exclaimed the older woman.
"That's right," replied the pastor. "That is what happens when you spread gossip. It is impossible to contact and change the opinion of every person who heard it."
Points to build on
1. Gossip can be attractive like a forbidden fruit
Proverbs 18:8 "The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body."
2. Gossip can do incalculable damage to a person's reputation and relationships.
Proverbs 16:27-28 "An ungodly man digs up evil, And it is on his lips like a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends."
3. Gossip is the fuel of conflict and those who spread it like to kindle conflict.
Proverbs 26:20-21 "Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood is to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife."
Five questions to ask yourself when you listen to a story about another person.
1. Is it true?
2. Is this story an attempt to destroy a person's reputation?
3. Why is this absolutely necessary for others to know?
4. Why is this person telling me this information?
5. Should I go to the person and seek his or her side of the story?
Remember, dealing with the damage of gossip is like trying to pick up feathers scattered in the wind.” From: http://www.ucg.org/blog/life-lessons-scattering-feathers/ by Gary Petty
Who Is to Blame?
“People often ask why God allows so much evil, pain and suffering in the world. But who is really to blame for this dysfunctional and troubled world?
People often wonder, Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why would God allow this to happen? The numerous wars, weather disasters, murders, shooting rampaging, rapes and injustices around us should not be allowed by a loving God, right?
People cannot understand why God cannot fix all the problems out there or help this person or that situation. But rarely do you see the devil get blamed for anything. God is good and the devil is evil, so why does God take the blame for everything?
Satan’s blame game
From the beginning, Satan has tried to get men to think that anything bad is God’s fault since God is in charge. The devil then tries to make his own way seem better.
Consider Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. The devil told Eve that the fruit was not bad for her, and then he proceeded to tell her why it would actually be good for them. He made it sound like his way was better and that it was God who had lied to them.
Satan has masterfully placed himself as the underdog and constantly tried to ridicule the ways of God. He casts blame on God for everything bad that happens.
God’s way does not work, Satan says. Satan labels God’s way as too restrictive and legalistic. We must cast off restraint and go another way—a way that seems right, looks right, feels right and sounds right, but is not right.
Humanity generally looks to science, education, government, human reasoning, other gods, etc., to find supposed fixes to our problems.
The devil cannot directly sell “Satan’s ways” as great, because many would be suspicious of his name brand, and then recognize his ways for what they are. However, he can change the packaging, give them some truth along with error and make them sound like they are good for everyone. With this kind of false advertising, it can seem like he offers real solutions to the problems we are facing.
God’s ways portrayed as too hard
The Bible shows that if everyone lived God’s way, the problems of this world would eventually be solved. Breaking God’s laws is the ultimate cause of evil and suffering.
But Satan turns things around. He has used mankind’s proven inability to obey God’s law perfectly to convince people that God’s law is the problem. Since it cannot be obeyed fully, it must all be thrown away. But God’s laws are not the problem. Really, Satan is the main problem, along with our willingness to believe him, whether or not we recognize his existence.
For the most part, mankind has unwittingly listened to Satan. We have tossed out God’s ways and His commandments. Since nothing much is being done to solve the problems we face, many have declared that God does not exist or that He couldn’t care less.
Does Satan hide?
If we think God does not exist, then we will think Satan doesn’t exist either. In fact, even many who believe God exists no longer believe in the devil. Satan has masterfully made himself disappear in the minds of humans. As a matter of fact, he has more Americans believing he does not exist at all, according to a Barna study.
If Satan is not around, then someone else has to be blamed.
The god of this age
Most people think the Creator God is the god of this world, and therefore they blame Him. Yet the Bible says differently in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
The devil has been allowed to rule this world during this evil age, but he has placed in the mind of people that he is not in charge, and therefore cannot be blamed for anything.
Don’t get me wrong. God is the One with the ultimate authority and control; but for the present, He is allowing Satan to run the show as the god of this world.
Satan’s ways involve all forms of lying (John 8:44), cheating, stealing, hating and the list goes on. Not only does he accuse God, he accuses people who follow God’s ways as well. He is called the accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:10). He does nothing to solve the issues but likes to point the finger and place blame.
The problems of this world are caused by Satan’s influence and the poor choices of humans. God, the ultimate authority, has allowed this, because He wants to give mankind the freedom to choose. Otherwise why not create us all as yellow pencils or robots?
The coming solution
Christ, the true King, will step in and end Satan’s governorship one day soon. Don’t be fooled into believing God’s ways don’t work, that He does not care and He is not watching. He is very much tuned into what is going on; and when the time is right, He will send back His Son to usher in a time of peace.
Until then, let’s place blame where it really belongs, not on God, but on the grand accuser, the devil himself.” From: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible-questions/blog/who-is-to-blame/ For more about these subjects, see the articles “God vs. Satan” and “Why Does God Allow Suffering
A Special Lamb
How does God see you? As a sheep, or a goat?
“The light colored coat, illuminated by brilliant sunshine, stands in stark contrast to the lush green background that surrounds it. There is no hiding for this one, or any attempt of secrecy being made by it. Its life’s purpose is solely to serve humans, and it does so without defense or hesitation. “Ovis aries” is the name of this common domestic breed numbering over one billion in a species that is deeply entrenched in human culture.
The contributions it makes have filled crucial human needs in societies throughout the history of human kind. Whether grazing the lush hills of New Zealand or browsing across sparsely growing fields in Africa; their hair, pelts, meat, dairy and laboratory uses fill many of the complex needs of modern societies. We know them as, sheep.
“Lamb” refers to the tasty meat of a sheep that is less than one year of age, after which it is referred to as “mutton.” Their prized meat is flavorful and tender and is often served as, “lamb chops,” “lamb shank,” “leg of lamb,” and “rack of lamb.” The latter refers to its row of eight small ribs whose delicate size will fit on an outstretched hand. As tasty as these tender lamb dishes are, they come at a price: the death of a precious little lamb.
Surely there are few lives more innocent than that of a lamb. After its five-month gestation period, it tumbles out of its mother and soon takes awkward first steps. This baby of the sheep family is of a subspecies that is without aggression or menace, and poses no danger to anyone or anything, except grass. It has no horns, no weapons and no intention of hurting anyone. When frightened, its defense is simply to run away.
God created sheep with specific traits that allow them to harmonize with humans, which provides an unusual opportunity to graze important animals with unparalleled convenience.
The sheep of Christ
Sheep are intelligent and quite smart about things that are good, noble, and upright. They remember the faces of up to 50 other sheep and of caring humans for two years. We are to have a similar trait as Christ’s sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14 )
Sheep graze a zigzagging path allowing themselves backward glances utilizing excellent eyesight that can spot danger a half a mile away. They are very food-oriented and develop an innocent trust of those who feed and tend them.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out... This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:37-40)
Being gregarious social animals, sheep love the company of their kind and become easily stressed if separated or alone. Consequently, sheep tend to congregate closely together and move as a group. God made their only defensive strength to be an intimidation they give when bunched tightly together. Shepherds work to keep small groups from wandering off from the main herd. Similarly, Christ’s “flock” is intended to be together for the unity and strength it supplies.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
By nature, sheep have a strong “follow” tendency. A “leader” among them is often just the first one to move. There are no “prima donnas” among the flock, none trying to gain a following, take from another, and no one insisting that he or she is better than others (other than male competitions during rut season). Likewise, we are to be Christ’s humble sheep, following Him and being led by God’s Holy Spirit.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18)
Sheep vs. goats
Outwardly, goats appear similar to sheep in shape and size due to their species being related at higher level of taxonomy. At first glance, it can be difficult to distinguish between sheep and goats, their most defining attribute being tails that turn upward, or hang down. Jesus used their outward similarity in His analogy of selecting true “sheep” for the Firstfruits of the God Family.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory…He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32)
Just as Christ’s allegory highlights a contrast between these species, sheep and goats have little in common beyond their outward appearances. While sheep are gregarious, harmless, trusting followers, goats are typically ultra-curious and self-willed. All goats, unless they are polled, have horns, which they use both offensively and defensively, and sometimes just because they can. Unlike grazing sheep, goats are browsers with a reputation for chewing on nearly anything they can get their mouths on (although they are particular about what they actually swallow). They have a propensity to eat the most prized of decorative shrubs, along with decimating the trees, fruits and vegetables grown by humans. They are independent and self-driven with a curiosity that takes them everywhere to chew up almost anything they find.
Once, on our fenced farm in Arkansas, we had a herd of goats that could not be contained, either with barbed wire or and electric fence. Their whereabouts often involved their devouring neighboring farmers’ gardens, or playing “King of the Hill” atop our car. Goats resist following a shepherd and dislike trying to be led by one. They are self-directed animals that vie to be the highest in stature (or altitude) among the herd.
We humans have developed goatish tendencies during our lives. Human nature tends to be self-directed, self-promoting, arrogant, ambitious and rebellious (2 Timothy 3:2-4) God gave us His perfect Son, partly as an example of the type of Lamb, which we are to become. Those eventually selected for His Kingdom may not have become fully Lamb-like. However, they will have made it as far as becoming like “sheep.”
“Those choosing to retain their goat-like qualities will be separated for slaughter” (Matthew 25:41) “while those who have become “sheep” will be transformed” (Matthew 25:34) “into Firstfruits at Christ’s return” (James 1:18) Revelation 14:4 “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Christ our Passover lamb
The first Passover lambs were killed in accordance with God’s directive (Exodus 12:3-8) Their perfect little bodies were lifted into waiting arms before their throats were slit and their blood was poured out and spread upon doorposts. The entire carcass was roasted and the flesh eaten before the death angel passed over and the Israelite firstborn were saved. The carnage involving little lambs must have made a powerful impression about how the Innocent had to die in order for the lives of humans to be spared. But the lesson is necessary, and it provides us with an awakening to the terrible consequences that our sins generate.
“Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:22-25)
1,984 years ago this March 25th, our perfect God with His loving, serving nature was flogged mercilessly, nailed to a tree, cut open and bled to death. He paid the penalty of death for sinning humans, which He had in no way harmed. Passover helps us to appreciate the magnitude of His perfect gift for us. At the same time, it becomes an example to us of a perfect life of loving, selfless service to others (Luke 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. See All...). After coming to appreciate His fervent life of service and sacrifice, we are to take up our “cross” (Mark 8:34) and imitate His example of personal obedience, sacrifice and service for the good of others (1 Peter 2:21-25). In doing so we will fulfill His desire for us to become Christ-like ourselves (Philippians 2:5-8).
Sheep husbandry is an integral component of cultures throughout most of the inhabited world. Likewise, “sheep” husbandry continues to be Christ’s work in His Church as He leads and cultivates godliness in His Flock (Acts 20:28). David felt very at home here under the tutelage and guidance of the Great Shepherd (Psalm 23). Those growing into true “sheep” in Christ’s flock are receiving gracious mercy from His sacrifice, and will one day share an inheritance with Him as members of the Family of God.
“Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever” (Psalm 23:6) From: http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/special-lamb/
The Bible - An App That Changes Your Life
“It may be convenient having the full Bible on your smartphone, but if it is not changing your life it's not operating correctly.”
The program on WGN-TV this morning:
The Sabbath in History and Prophecy
“Learn about a group of people who found - just by reading the Bible - that they must keep the 7th day Sabbath.”
On This Day:
Lewis and Clark depart Fort Mandan, Apr 7, 1805:
After a long winter, the Lewis and Clark expedition departs its camp among the Mandan Indians and resumes its journey West along the Missouri River.
The Corps of Discovery had begun its voyage the previous spring, and it arrived at the large Mandan and Minnetaree villages along the upper Missouri River (north of present-day Bismarck, North Dakota) in late October. Once at the villages, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark directed the men to build a sturdy log fort. The following winter was a harsh one, but the expedition had plenty of provisions. The two captains made the best of their enforced halt, making copious notes in their journals and preparing maps of their route. Most importantly, they met frequently with the local Indians, who provided them with valuable information about the mysterious country that lay ahead.
As spring came to the upper Missouri, Lewis and Clark prepared to resume their journey. Lewis penned a long report for President Thomas Jefferson that would be sent back down to St. Louis with 16 men traveling on the expedition's large keelboat. Although Lewis had yet to explore any truly unknown country, his report provided a good deal of valuable information on the upper Missouri River region and its inhabitants. He optimistically predicted the expedition would be able to reach the Pacific and make a good start on the return journey before the coming winter. "You may therefore expect me to meet you at Monachello [Monticello] in September 1806," he told the president.
In fact, the journey was more difficult and slow than Lewis anticipated. The expedition actually spent the winter of 1805-06 along the Pacific Coast, and Lewis did not finally meet with Thomas Jefferson in Washington, D.C., until January 1, 1807. However, as Lewis and Clark prepared to leave Fort Mandan on this day in 1805, they did not know the trials ahead and were likely filled with optimism and excitement. As the keelboat shoved off and started down the Missouri with Lewis' report to Jefferson, the Corps of Discovery (and their female guide, Sacagawea) resumed the far more difficult task of rowing their small boats upstream.
That night Lewis wrote in his journal that, "Our vessels consisted of six small canoes, and two large pirogues. This little fleet altho' not quite so rispectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs." As Lewis began his journey into a land "on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden," he proclaimed this day of departure as "among the most happy of my life."
After my daughter’s Saturday morning phone call, I got ready for church. Jay had said that he wanted to go with me, so that meant that we would be going to the morning service at the Conroe church, as he doesn’t like to go to the afternoon service at the Willis church. That was fine by me, as I had to go to Conroe anyway to pick up the breathing machine for my Terry-cat.
That church is a long way across country on wiggle-waggle roads to the Cut-N-Shoot area, way east of Conroe. We didn’t get there in time for Bible Study, and were welcomed back by many of the Conroe congregation. The Praise Team included the talented 15 year old girl on the drums, and later she played the piano, too.
A guest pastor from Houston came up on the stage with some handcuffs dangling from one wrist. We both enjoyed his sermon titled “Handcuffed”. Funny bit of info: Handcuffs in Spanish is esposas (wives). He told how we are all handcuffed to our habits, and that we need to break the chains. I could see Jay cringe when the pastor said that drunks are handcuffed, too.
Unlike the Willis church, this church only has their potluck on the first Sabbath of the month, but we hadn’t gone there because of that, so we didn’t feel right about feeding our faces. Then a lady came up with a couple of plates and insisted, so we ate a little and enjoyed the fellowship. Jay was talking to the pastor, and said that he felt like he was talking directly to him, and the pastor replied, “I was!” Jay says he feels more at home at the Conroe congregation, so that’s why I take him there.
Then I had to drive all the way to Petco to pick up the breathing machine. They were having Adoption Day, so Kenya had brought it with her. One of our enormous dogs, George, http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/25465444 just took to a family, especially the 19 year old son, and the family just loved him, too, so they filled out an application, I hope it is approved.
His face just fits in there. Naturally, he didn’t like it at first, but the second time I think he knew I was trying to help him.
I have had to do so many nasty things to this poor sick cat, it is a wonder he isn’t scared of me, but he jumps up to sleep next to me on my bed each night, and all is forgiven.
I will do it several times today.