Fences and Over 60 Million Veterans’ Gifts

Gifts are wonderful. We usually don’t know what they are until we receive them, they make us happy, and we don’t have to pay for them. But someone does.

Millions of men and women, young and old, served this country and gave. Some lost their limbs—others’ their lives. According to Wikipedia, approximately 1,354,664 have died in America’s history of war[1] and approximately 1,498,237 were injured. That’s close to 3 million. According to Quora.com, about 57 million served in the military in war and peacetime in U.S. history.[2]

What does this have to do with a fence? There are fences called the, “I don’t like either candidate” fence, or “I don’t have a good choice” fence. To those who are sitting on any of those rails I’d say you not only have a choice but an obligation. Your gifts of freedom and the right to vote were paid for by close to 60 million people. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for the person—vote for the party, Republican or Democrat, which reflects your values. You have about 60 million reasons to get off your duff and vote November 8th.

[1] From the internet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war, retrieved October 13, 2016

[2] From the internet: https://www.quora.com/How-many-people-have-served-in-the-U-S-military, retrieved October 13, 2016

Addicts, Alcoholics, and Apple Pie

No, this is not about people addicted to apple pie–or a recipe of apple pie made with liquor. It’s about a story I read in lesson I took. It referenced a pastor who went to an apple orchard to pray. Workers came through to harvest and left behind quite a few apples. They told the pastor to feel free to take the leftovers. He gathered them though they were damaged and bruised and gave them to some of the women in church. And what did these women do with those apples? Well, they made scrumptious, beautiful, apple pie! God showed the pastor that a lot people were like these apples waiting to be gathered. [1]

My thoughts turned to why so many of us feel disconnected from society. I believe a lot depends on how we view our worth. Do we base it on what someone else has and we don’t? Is it on our number of friends? Is it if we’re not married or don’t have a significant other in our life? Does our significance depend on our education, finances, or a career? The truth is, there’s only one that can give us true substance.

When you buy something, don’t you decide whether you’ll pay the price on what you think it’s worth? If something is overpriced, we don’t fall over ourselves to purchase it.

God looked at us and came to earth in the form of man. He taught, healed, and then died so that we could spend eternity with Him. Are we worth it? He thinks so. He sees addicts, alcoholics, and whatever else we are as something desired, like apple pie. He makes us beautiful.

[1] Hurst, Randy. 2005. The Local Church in Evangelism, an Independent Study Textbook. 3rd Edition. Global University, pg. 190

The Apocalyptic Rainbow of God—a Fascinating Find

I have some fascinating finds. This apocalyptic rainbow is unveiling in itself.

The word apocalyptic sounds mysterious. It comes from the Greek word apokalupsis meaning to unveil. (Revelation in Greek is apokalupsis. That’s an entire book of unveiling.)

As I studied my course on how to interpret the Bible,[1] it was suggested I compare Old Testament apocalyptic verses to those in the New Testament. They gave instances of Old and New Testament scriptures with parallel meanings. I chose the first example about God’s appearance stated in Ezekiel and Revelation. Ezekiel 1:28 says:

 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.  

The vision came to Ezekiel while in captivity. “He was commissioned of God to rebuke Israel in captivity for her many sins, for constant and ever-deepening hardness against Him, and for rebellion against His word.”[2]

We’ve all seen rainbows—the phenomenon caused by reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water droplets. Though Ezekiel described God’s radiance in this manner, this was no ordinary rainbow. Look at the two previous verses:

Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. (Ezekiel 28:26-27)

Stunning.

I pondered why Ezekiel’s description and studied deeper. The Hebrew word for bow means of bending, a bow for shooting (hence figuratively strength). It also means the iris. Puzzled, I went to the second scripture in Revelation 4:3:

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.

Revelation (or unveiling) was written by John on the island of Patmos, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Like Ezekiel, John was in captivity. He was exiled because of his testimony about Jesus Christ, and like Ezekiel, John about believers’ shortcomings. But what did these similar scriptures mean?

The Greek word for rainbow translates as iris, as the Hebrew word did too (mentioned above). Strong’s Concordance says it is, “perhaps from the Greek word ereo (as a symbol of the female messenger of the pagan deities).”

Why would the Apostle John make a connection to a Greek goddess?

The real question is, who was John addressing? John was on a Greek island, immersed in Greek culture, and so he used a word that would provoke an image they would understand easily. To the Greeks, the goddess Iris was a messenger that traversed between earth and the heavens. Her symbols were rainbows and water. Some of her themes include peace, protection, promises, and beginnings.

Comparing these scriptures, I discovered the apocalyptic rainbow of God. He revealed Himself to Ezekiel and John bathed in a rainbow. He displayed that He’s our peace, our protector, the keeper of promises and new beginnings, even as He promised Noah in Genesis 9:13 by setting a rainbow in the clouds.

These two wonderful scriptures illustrated that God’s radiance can fill the sky. I learned that, like a rainbow, he can’t be physically touched. I learned He is in fact a full circle of light, though I may only see half. I learned He is my strength, far greater than any Greek goddess. These are the fascinating facts I found of the apocalyptic rainbow of God.
[1] Carl Gibbs, Quentin McGhee, Willard Teague; Introduction to Hermeneutics: How to Interpret the Bible, (2010),  third edition, Global University, Springfield, Missouri, pgs. 227-228
[2] Dake, Finis Jennings. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, (16th printing 1984), Summary of Ezekiel, pg. 855

 

A Drop in the Ocean of Miracles

The birth of a Jesus is ever-changing the world. He brought salvation, a wonder in itself, and myriads of ongoing miracles in His name.

According to Acts: The Holy Spirit at Work in Believers, “the healing of the lame beggar is the only healing miracle recorded in the first seven chapters of Acts.” (Wood, George O., (2010) Acts: The Holy Spirit at Work in Believers, 3rd edition, Global University, Springfield, Missouri, pg 89)

Of about thirty-seven miracles mentioned in the New Testament, the healing of the lame man was the first recorded by the Apostles since they were Spirit baptized. Imagine the scenario. They brought the crippled man daily to the Gate Beautiful at the Temple to beg alms (donations). He couldn’t walk, they carried him, and he solicited the people.

It was the ninth hour, or three in the afternoon, the last of the Jews’ hours of prayer. (They prayed at 9:00 am, noon, and 3:00 pm. The Jews taught that Abraham instituted the first; Isaac the second; and Jacob (or Israel) the third.) (Dake, Finis Jennings, (1963) Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Acts 3:1 note l, pg. 124 ) Another drop in the ocean of miracles would occur. Peter and John passed. The disabled man asked for money, and received something far more precious. The Apostle Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” ( Acts 3:6) With these last twelve words, transformation flooded his life and deposited miracles: his salvation, his healing, and the miracle of eternal life for thousands. Peter preached after the lame man’s healing, “…. many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.”(Acts 4:4)  How many have become believers since? Myriads. It started with the birth of a child, a drop in the ocean of miracles.

Even with Crooked Lines

Living on opposite sides of a crooked line, Abel and Cain were diametrically opposed.

Cain was the oldest, “a tiller of the ground,” taking after his father Adam. But he didn’t have his father’s heart, and brought an offering that wasn’t his best. He brought “fruit of the ground,” produce from his occupation, but was it a harvest he knew wasn’t fit for his own table? He didn’t choose something excellent, as if giving a hand-me-down. God wasn’t pleased and detected something crooked.

Crooked. The dictionary explains this Middle English word that originated in the 1250s to mean something bent or curved. It later came to mean someone dishonest as a crook. Cain’s offering may not have been dishonest, and all he had to do was straighten this bend in his offering. What he did next was more than deceitful.

Abel was a keeper of sheep—a shepherd (a person who herds, tends, and guards the sheep). In the New Testament we see Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He brought an offering “from the firstlings of his flock,” also from his occupation. It wasn’t old, and with this present, Abel gave up the future offspring that offering would have generated. Being a newborn, it was most likely adorable (as little ones are) and hard to part with. It was an extravagant, costly gift.

However, there was a crooked line, and Cain remained on the other side. As most of you know, he killed his brother.

The lines are there today. Many don’t cross over to the straight though they can. What did He say? “If you do well, won’t you be accepted?”

Isaiah 45:2 says He makes the crooked paths straight. He fashions good from our crooked lines.

1 heart lines in the sand

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