Called and Equipped

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.
“And I, indeed I have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all I have commanded you:”
Exodus 31:1-6 (NKJV)
And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship.
“And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  He has filled them with skill…,”
Exodus 35:30-36a (NKJV).

God is giving some instructions to Moses about the building of the Tabernacle, the place of His presence among the children of Israel.  But this building will not suddenly just appear; God will use men to build it.  He called the earth into being by His word, but not this.  Men have the honor and privilege of working with God.  Make no mistake about that.  He doesn’t need any of us; He is pleased to use us.  More glory to Him, to use such poor instruments.

Two men are named, Bezalel and Aholiab.  One was from Judah, the head tribe of Israel, and one from Dan, perhaps the “tail” among the tribes.  It doesn’t matter where we’re from; what matters is where we are, and what we’re doing.  One thing about Bezalel.  He was mentioned hundreds of years later when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the place he had prepared for it prior to the building of the Temple by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 1:4.  His work was still valuable and useful.  Who knows how the Lord will be pleased to use our efforts for Him?  The thing is, they will last far longer than any mere thing of this world we can do, necessary though those may be.

These two men were the foremen, if you will, of the artisans doing the work, 31:6, but the other men were also gifted for their work.  1 Corinthians 12:4-7 has something for us here:  There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. 

That last phrase could be translated, “for the mutual benefit.”  The gifts of the Spirit aren’t about us.  It’s about those around us, especially in the assembly and how we may be a blessing and benefit to them.

Early in our marriage, Sharon and I attended a church who taught for a while on the ministry and gifts of the Spirit.  The emphasis was on how we could know which particular gift was ours.  For some reason, this bothered her because she couldn’t figure out “which” gift was hers.  That seemed to be focus of the series and it really bothered her that she couldn’t see her “gift”.  She couldn’t teach or sing or play the piano.  But one of the gifts of the Spirit Paul lists in I Corinthians 12 is helps, v. 28, and that was and is her “gift”.  She has always been more than willing to pitch in, to help.  This says nothing of the fact that she has put up with me for more than 48 years….

You see, it may not be the man behind the pulpit; it may be the ones who listen to him.  Do you pray for your minister?  His “job” is perhaps one of the most important there is.  He stands in front of men and women who will never cease to exist and it may be that something he says either prepares them for an eternity of glory or for an eternity under God’s wrath because the sin question has never been answered for them.  Spurgeon used to say that the sight of the crowds he preached to at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London crushed him to the ground because he recognized his responsibility toward them.
But standing behind a pulpit is not the only “ministry”.  Your job is a ministry, if you could but see it, how you do it.  Do you have little ones?  Oh, the ministry there!  Those little souls, so impressionable and willing.  They’re like sponges, and they likely learn more from what they see you do than they will from what you say.  Our culture may devalue them, but they are a treasure.

Nothing is unimportant in the life of a believer.  After all, God has numbered the hairs on your head, Matthew 10:30.  If you’re that important to Him as His child, do you think your life and doings are unimportant to Him?  Nothing is “minor” or of no concern to Him.  As little as a cup of cold water given in His name will be richly rewarded, cf. Matthew 10:42.  As Paul put it, let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith, Galatians 6:9, 10.

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“The Kindness of God.” Part 2: “Sin Entered.”

We began our post last time using the question in Psalm 8:4 as a starting point, what is man, that you are mindful of him?   We looked at the creation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent disobedience to a simple command of God: a single tree in the Garden is out of bounds.  And He told them why, they would die.  We discussed what that meant to them.

In this lesson, we want to look at what that means to us.

The Scripture speaks of man being created “in the image of God,” as we’ll see below, and so there are those who talk of  “the divinity of man,” and the “divine spark” in his heart that only needs to be fanned a little for man to show what a wonderful person he really is deep down inside.  This isn’t what the Scripture means.  God did not create another “god.”

B. The Condition of the Family of Adam and Eve.

In Romans 5, Paul built upon the historical fact of the Fall of our first parents in his development of its effects.  Scripture from Genesis to Revelation shows us the condition of the human family.

1.  Man is fallen naturally, Genesis 5:3.

More attention should be paid to this verse.  Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. However, Genesis 5:3 says that Adam…fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth (emphasis added).  There are those who believe that every infant is born “in the Garden,” that is, innocent and without sin.  Innocent they may indeed be of actual transgression, but, as there was never an infant born in the actual Garden, so there is no infant born without a sin nature.  It doesn’t take very long in real life for an infant to demonstrate that he is indeed a sinner, “born and bred.”  No parent ever has to teach his child to be selfish, be dishonest, to lie or to cheat.  They go astray as soon as they are born, Psalm 58:3.  There is no “divinity” in man; there is only, if I may coin a phrase, “devility.”

2.  Man is dead spiritually, Ephesians 2:1-3.

Paul described the unsaved as dead in trespasses and sins.  Clearly, this doesn’t mean non-existence or unconsciousness, as some erroneously teach about physical death.  However, spiritual death cannot be compared exactly to physical death.  A corpse is totally passive and unresponsive, seeing nothing, feeling nothing, knowing nothing and doing nothing.  It is completely indifferent to its surroundings.  It is dead.  However, according to Paul, spiritual death is a condition of separation from, rebellion against and resistance to God.

“Death” refers to both an event and to a condition.  We say, “So-and-so died,” referring to the event that ends physical life.  We say, “So-and-so is dead,” referring to the condition that results from the event.  For mankind spiritually, the event took place when Adam disobeyed God.  From that time forward, beginning with Cain and continuing down to us and our children and grandchildren, every single one of us has been born into the condition of spiritual death.  We are “born dead” spiritually as surely as we are “born alive” physically.  This condition has two elements:

a.  separation.

Physical death separates us from our family and friends; spiritual death separates us from God.  To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote of their pre-conversion life in part as being separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12, (emphasis added).  In spite of all the religion in the world, without the Lord Jesus Christ we are all afar off from God, Ephesians 2:13.  We are dead to God.  But there is also –

b.  alienation.

Paul wrote to the church at Colosse that they once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Colossians 1:21.  In our natural state, so far from our being His children and He the Father of all mankind, as many believe, – so far from our struggling toward Him in some dim and obscure fashion, – so far from our being on one of the many roads which lead to heaven, – we are His enemies, Romans 5:10.  We have turned every one to his own way, Isaiah 53:6.  We are dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 (emphasis added).

3.  Man is dysfunctional personally. 

Another term for this is “total depravity,” which conveys an inaccurate picture.  When we think of someone who is depraved, we think of a Hitler or some vile criminal.  However, that’s not really the meaning of the word.  Even Hitler did “good” on occasion.  The word itself comes from the Latin.  “Pravus” means “bent” or “crooked,” and “de” is a particle emphasizing the meaning of the word.  So then, being “totally depraved” means that we are “thoroughly bent.”  We are dysfunctional; nothing works right.

As to his personality, man may be considered in three aspects:  mind, emotions and will.  With his mind, man thinks, reasons, understands.  With his emotions, he has feelings and desires.  With his will, he makes choices and decisions.  The Fall has affected all three of these areas, even the will.

a. the mind.

Part of our difficulty lies in the fact that we are finite, that is, mere creatures, trying to understand the works and ways of One who is infinite.  As well might an amoeba try to understand physics as for us to “understand” God.  Still, our main difficulty lies in the fact that we are fallen, sinful creatures.  Even what little we do know is messed up.  Jude wrote, whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these they corrupt themselves, Jude 10.  No part of our lives or being has escaped being “messed up” by the fallenness, the sinfulness, of man.

However, the fatal flaw lies in our lack of “spiritual” understanding.  In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul taught that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Two things are in this verse:  1). We won’t receive the things of God because we think they’re foolish.  This refers to our attitude toward them.  2).  We can’t received the things of God because we don’t have the ability to receive them.  We are dead in regard to them.  In Romans 8:7, Paul wrote, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot (emphasis added).  “The mind set on the flesh” is another way to describe “the natural man:”  us as we’re born physically.

b.  the emotions.

Our Lord taught that men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil, John 3:19.  For the most part, man loves his sin and is quite content to remain in “darkness.”  As long as the gospel “invitation” centers on his escaping the consequences of his sin, man will listen.  “Do you want to be saved from hell?”  Of course, he does, even if he doesn’t believe such a place exists.  Folks may joke about it or use it as a swear word, but no one in their right mind wants to go there.  However, if the question is, “Do you want to be saved from your sins?” the response is usually quite different.

c.  the will.

Here’s where the controversy lies.  Many who say they believe in “total depravity” believe as well, contrary to Scripture, man is able to understand and to receive the things of God, especially salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without or perhaps with a little grace that leaves the final choice up to man.  After all, “whosoever will.”  However, Revelation 22:17 says, And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely (KJV).  How many people out there in the world, or even in “church” for that matter, are “athirst” for the water of life?

At the same time, let us agree that man does indeed have a will.  When I say the will been affected by the Fall, I don’t mean that it has been destroyed, as some claim the doctrines of grace teach.  We make choices all the time, even about spiritual matters and about God and His Word.  Indeed, it is the choices we make that determine the kind of life we lead and the kind of person we are.  Man has a will.

The question is not whether or not we have a will, but how does it work?  In other words, how does a man or woman, boy or girl, decide something at any particular moment and in any given situation?  What “decides” the deciding?

Further, let us agree that the man or woman, girl or boy, actually makes the choice and does the acting.  We’re neither puppets or robots.  On the one hand, it’s possible to take a belief in the sovereignty of God to the point where that is what is really being said.  For example, I used to know a brother who would always say, “I was caused to believe.”  He would never say, “I believe.”  Cf. 2 Timothy 1:12.  The sovereignty of God does not negate, diminish or undermine the will of man.  On the other hand, it’s possible so to emphasize man’s will that a “No Trespassing” sign is, in effect, put up, and God can’t do anything in our lives without our permission.  Though much more prevalent, this view is as wrong as the other.

In order to understand how the will functions, look at two examples of its working:  one before the Fall, and one after.

Genesis 3:6 says, …when the woman saw that the tree was food for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…. Her mind and her emotions were both involved.  The fruit of the tree was good for food and could make one “wise.”   These appealed to her thought, her mind.  The tree was a delight to the eyes, and its fruit desired.  These appealed to her feelings, her emotions.  Based on these factors, Eve “willed,” deciding to take and eat the fruit.  Her choice did not happen by itself.  Neither do ours.

We see the other example, after the Fall, in Joshua 7, especially v. 21.  Compare the two incidents.  They are identical.

If a person is hostile toward God, thinks His Word is foolish and wants no part of righteousness, it’s unreasonable to assume that his will, his choice, is not affected and determined by these things.  As much as modern man might want it, the will is not isolated and insulated from what we are.  It’s in the same boat we are, and goes along for the ride quite “willingly.”

Beside the will does “decide,” but follow through isn’t always successful.  How many of you have decided to lose weight, or quit smoking or some other bad habit?  How about starting some good habit, like exercising or reading Scripture more faithfully or more regular prayer?  Paul knew this:  to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I find not, Romans 7:18.

4.  Man is declared guilty judicially, John 3:18. 

In Ephesians 2:3, Paul wrote that even believers, though elect from the foundation of the world, 1:4, are by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  See also John 3:36; Romans 3:19.  There is a mistaken notion that everybody is headed for “a better place,” regardless of what kind of life was lived by the person going there, or what kind of person they were.  However, John 3:18 says of those who do not believe in Christ that they are condemned already.  We may not want to believe it, but Scripture reveals that it is already too late.  It’s too late for good works, for reformation, for turning over a new leaf!  Apart from the Lord Jesus, we’re condemned already!  It’s too late for religion, for ceremony, for good intentions.  The verdict has already been reached:  we are guilty before God and sentenced for execution.  Apart from the Lord Jesus, this life is little more than a cell on death row, and life is simply a waiting for the executioner to come and carry out the sentence.   He who does not believe is condemned already, John 3:18.

5.  Man is disapproved individually, Romans 3:10, 11. 

 It’s human nature to believe that we’re better than Scripture says we are.  After all, look at so-and-so!  The trouble is, with Scripture, we are the “so-and-so” – there is no difference…, Romans 3:22.  In the verses at the heading of this section, Paul tells us:

a.  there is none righteous.  

This means that none of us measure up to God’s holy standard, as revealed in His Word and demonstrated by the Lord Jesus.  Our very best, our “acts of righteousness,” are nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of God, Isaiah 64:6.  What must our unrighteousness be in His sight?  The term “filthy rags” refers to a menstrual cloth, or a rag that a leper might use to wipe his sores.  Not very pretty, but a graphic description of our natural state before God.

b.  there is none who understands.

“Understands” what?  Our condition before God, in contrast to His perfect holiness and righteousness.  Man can and does understand much of the world he lives in, but forgets he must answer to the One who created, sustains and governs it.

c.  there is none who seeks after God.

Because of our innate belief that “loincloths” are sufficient to cover whatever deficiencies we might have, we don’t realize that God is the only One who can do that. We don’t understand that our “answers” are all wrong!  And too often, we don’t care.  In our sinfulness, we refuse to come to God, yet He is the only One with the answer to our sin problem.

In our next post, we’ll begin to look at how He has answered it.

Questions

 1.  Whose image did Adam pass along to his children?

 2.  What is the effect of this?

 3.  What does “spiritually dead” mean?

 4.  What are the two elements of spiritual death?

 5.  What does “total depravity” mean?

 6.  How does total depravity affect our mind?

 7.  Our emotions?

 8.  Our wills?

 9.  What is our standing before God judicially?

10. What is our standing before God individually?

11. What is “righteousness”?

“An Eye for an Eye”.

Here is the first time such a phrase occurs in the Old Testament:

If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,  burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe, Exodus 21:22-25.

“A woman with child.”

Not “a fetus,” not “a byproduct of conception” (!), not just a lump of cells, but a “child.”

Our world may have decided that the unborn are disposable at the convenience of the mother, but God considered them to be deserving of the same protection against harm and injury as anybody who had made it through the birth canal.

And, yes, I know what the Lord Jesus said about “an eye for an eye” in Matthew 5:38-42.  I doubt that He had this particular situation in mind when He said it.

There’s a lot that could be said about the text in Exodus, which we’ll not get into.

Scripture uniformly says that God is interested and involved in the development of a child from the moment of conception.  We grant this normally is through DNA and the process of development in the mother’s womb – a “natural” process.  But because it is “natural,” science says that “God” can’t possibly be involved – there is no God to be involved.  It’s a “natural” process.  That’s all.  But where did the DNA and the process come from?  Did they just conveniently evolve “naturally” along with everything else – all those countless “everything elses” that are necessary for it to work?  And all at the same time, so that it could work?

Blind, random chance?

Mutation?

It seems to me it takes a great deal more “faith” to believe in that than it does that God created it and sees to it that it keeps on working.  It’s strange how the evolutionist and the Christian can look at the same “evidence” – the marvels of “nature,” whether through the microscope or the telescope, the intricacy and complexity of the human body – and arrive at completely opposite conclusions.  The evolutionist says, “Well, that’s just because Christians are ignorant.”

I guess it depends on what one chooses to be “ignorant” about.

Here are just a few of the Scriptures which speak about God and an unborn child.

Genesis 25:23, And the LORD said to her [Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, who was having a difficult pregnancy], “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body.” 

“Two nations.”

Not just two little boys, but “nations”.  God looked at their descendants, as well as at them.  When an unborn baby dies, he or she’s not the only one.  All those who would have descended from them also, in effect, die.

Have you ever thought about how many people it took to get you here?  You think of your parents, your grandparents, perhaps even your great-grandparents.  Just for fun, take it back 20 generations, to about the time of the Reformation.  You might be surprised at how many people were alive then, not necessarily all exact contemporaries, who contributed part of the DNA that you carry, which they got from their parents and ancestors.  They had a part in what color your eyes are, the color of your hair, how tall you are, whether you’re musical or can’t carry a tune, etc., etc.  It’s really mind-blowing when you think about it.

This generational “identity,” if you will, is how the Scripture could say that Levi paid tithes in Abraham, cf. Hebrews 7:9, 10.

Genesis 29:31, When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb…. Here is just one of several verses which describe the Lord as opening or closing the womb.

Judges 16:17, Samson, in his foolish dalliance with Delilah, “…I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb.”  Indeed, his mother had been instructed about what she could or could not eat while she was carrying him, cf. Judges 13:13, 14.  The idea that a mother’s diet could affect her child is not a new idea.

Job 31:15, in describing why he couldn’t be harsh or unjust to his servants, male or female, Job said, “Did not He who made me in the womb make them?  Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” 

Psalm 22:9, 10, a prophecy of the Messiah, perhaps as He hung on the Cross, cf. v.8, But You are He who took Me out of My mother’s womb; You made Me trust You while on My mother’s breasts.  I was cast upon You from birth.  From My mother’s womb, You have been My God.  If it’s argued that this refers to Messiah’s birth and infancy, that’s true, but how was the Messiah conceived, that is, if Scripture is reliable?  (Just to be certain, I believe that it is.)  Cf. Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25.  God was directly involved in this conception.

Isaiah 49:5, another Messianic prophecy, “And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His servant,….”   This takes us again to the virgin conception, for after His conception, the Lord Jesus developed like any other child in the womb.  All that’s mind-blowing to think about, too.

Jeremiah 1:5, the Lord speaking to Jeremiah the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  Cf. the similar remark by the apostle Paul, But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace…, Galatians 1:15.

Ministry, whether the prophets, the Lord’s, yours or mine, may not “begin” until after we’re born, but the preparation for it starts at conception.

We don’t usually think of it like this, but there’s an entire world involved in that little “baby-bump”.

God said to take care of it.

Yearbooks, Memories and Such.

One of our grandsons was over at the house recently and we got to talking about chess.  This led to the attic and a search for a beautiful granite chess set one of our daughters brought from Mexico several years ago.  In the course of rummaging around up there, I came across a box with a bunch of yearbooks:  mine from college, one of my wife’s from high school and some of my mom’s from high school and college.

I got to looking at my mom’s yearbooks and was struck by the fact that almost every page was filled with autographs, well-wishes and mysterious sayings, which I’m sure made perfect sense to her and her friends.  My own yearbooks? – pretty vacant in comparison.

One of her college friends prophesied that Mom would become a famous biology professor at Harvard (her nickname was “Bugs”) and that she would marry a President of the United States.  Well, she did teach nurses, but she married a truck driver.  A good thing for me, otherwise someone else would be writing this.  My youngest son was born in a hospital where she worked as a nurse, and while my wife and I were there, this lady probably in her 60s (she seemed old to us at the time!) came and asked if I were related to ? – and she named Mom.  I was.  This lady had been one of her students in the hospital, and she told me what a wonderful teacher and woman Mom was.

It’s hard to believe that the yearbook with the prophecies is 80 years old.  It’s from 1933.  I doubt if Mom ever thought about her 73-year old son one day looking at this book.  There’s probably only one or two of all those girls still alive – they’d be around 100 now.  She herself would have turned 100 last year.  But she’s been gone for more than 40 years.

The books served as an interesting snapshot of an earlier, much different, time.  The fashions and hairdos looked funny.  But then, ours would probably look funny to them as well.  Probably embarrassing.  The interesting thing about her high school yearbooks was that two of them mentioned this club of boys whose goal was to advance Christian values in the school.  One of the books mentioned the Bible studies they held.

This is certainly in stark contrast to the internet article two days ago about a high school student who was suspended for saying, “bless you,” when one of her classmates sneezed.  Seems this expression was on a list of several “religious” words forbidden by the teacher.

TImes have certainly changed.

But they do that.  Children grow up.  Fashions come and go.  Some may come back, others may become a laughingstock in the future. Today’s treasure may become tomorrow’s trash.  The only thing that doesn’t change, I guess, is that things change.

If our focus is on this world, it’ll change.  That may be good; it may be bad.  I have some ration books from WWII.  Very precious at one time, but just an historical curiosity now.  I have a work history which goes back to 1961.  I can tell you every job I’ve held in that time and how much I made.  Interesting (perhaps only to me!), but pretty useless now.  I remember the first job I had making a buck an hour!  I was rich!

One of our children will have been with her employer 20 years next January (my! – where has the time gone! 🙂 ).  Some of our grandsons are thinking about college and what they want to do in life.  I kid my daughter that in just a few years, she can look forward to be a grandma!  I don’t think she’s ready for that 🙂 .  I think it would be great to be a great-grandpa. 🙂

The point of all this rambling?  There’s really only one thing in this life that never changes.  (And yes, I know you can think of exceptions to that generalization.  But you’ll see what I mean.)  In praising God, the Psalmist said, Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.  They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed.  But you are the same, and Your years will have no end, Psalm 102:25-27.  The writer to Hebrews quotes these verses in Hebrews 1:10-12.  Then he wrote, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, 13:8.

I really don’t know how to end this.  Just, I guess, an encouragement not to put all our eggs into one basket.  Better – we should put them into His basket and let Him take care of them.

Who Makes the Rules?

A picture has appeared recently, and widely, in the social media, a picture of a man wearing a purple tee shirt, on the back of which are a list of statements about dating his 20-year-old daughter.  Perhaps you’ve seen it.

The list is titled, “Rules for dating my daughter.”  There are four such “rules”.

1.  I don’t make the rules.
2.  You don’t make the rules.
3.  She makes the rules.
4.  Her body, her rules.

It’s signed, “Feminist Father”.

There is an element of truth in this list.  And, with two daughters of my own, I understand the concern of the father for his daughter.

Understand that this list assumes that sex will be an integral part of the “date.”  And in our society, that does seem to have become the norm.  And I agree that a man has no right to force a woman to be intimate with him.

At the same time, the list doesn’t go far enough.

What do I mean?

God often directs our thoughts to something we will need in the future.  And not just thoughts.  When I was making deliveries for a living, sometimes I would say of a street, “Let’s see where this goes.”  I can’t tell you how many times later on that I needed to know where that street went.

So it is with this post.  I read the article about the shirt last week some time.  On Sunday, at church, the speaker quoted something from Psalm 147, which is a psalm of praise to God for His dealings with the nation of Israel, v. 19.  V. 20 continues the thought:  He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules (ESV).

You see, you and I don’t make the rules.  But when it comes right down to it, neither does she.  The rules have already been made.

That was the gist of the argument Satan advanced in the Garden of Eden:  Adam and Eve could make their own rules.  They didn’t need God for that.  And we see the mess they made of it.

Modern society has fully bought into that same argument.  And look at the mess we’ve made of it.

We’ve dealt with this in other posts, but it bears repeating.  Sex was never intended to be an end in itself.  It was intended to be enjoyed in the context of what it might produce:  children.  And it was intended to be enjoyed [only] by a man and a woman who had come together as husband and wife.  I grant that the marriages were usually arranged by the parents; but still, it was to a married couple that children were to be born and to become a family.  And those marriages were certainly no worse than the revolving door marriage has become in our day.  Or no “door” at all, with couples living together wanting the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities.

Children were never considered a “burden” in the Bible.  They were always a blessing – and the more, the merrier.  We’ve certainly gotten away from that!

The robins I wrote about last spring have long gone and they didn’t return this spring.  No other robins took their place.  The nest finally became loose on top of the porch light and it’s also long gone.

The thing is, their young hatched, grew and were gone in a matter of weeks.  Children take years before they’re ready to leave the nest.  It may be true that we learn most of what we learn in the first three or four years, but, as I’ve written elsewhere, no five-year old is ready for his or her own apartment.

It’s in the family that we’re supposed to learn the main lessons of life:  sharing, obedience, getting along with others.  Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be important.  And look at the mess we’ve made of it.

We decided that we make the rules.

 

The Heartbeat of a Mother.

Since I’m only a son, grandson, great-grandson, father and grandfather [no “greats” there yet, though our grandkids are great], I don’t know that I’m particularly qualified to write about being a mother.  But I’ll do my best.

A young woman once apologetically told me that she didn’t work outside the home, that she was “just a mother.”  At once, I told her that no woman was “just” a mother.

A mother is the first, and the most important, part of a baby’s life.  One of the very first things the little one must be conscious of is the nearby heartbeat of that one whose very body is involved in nurturing and protecting this new life within it.  Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. The rhythm of life.  For nine months, that sound is the background of existence, the assurance that all is well.

Then comes the trauma of birth – for both the mother and the child.

For Mom, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over!” – though it’s really only a new beginning.  For the child….

I had a good friend in college whose home in another state I would sometimes go with him to visit.  One time in particular I remember.  I slept in a room where the air-conditioner perched in a window.  This visit my friend’s folks turned it on.  Summer can be hot in Tennessee.  The conditioner was noisy, and I didn’t sleep very well.  Then morning came, and they turned it off.  That’s what really woke me – that deafening silence.

I wonder if that’s what it’s like for a newborn.  All kinds of new stimuli to be sure, new environment, lights, sounds, and yet…

Silence.

Where’s the heartbeat?

I wonder what the newborn feels?  Loss?  Confusion?  Panic?  The one constant of the old life is gone.  There’s no connection with this new life.  There’s nothing for the baby to hold on, so to speak.  How does he or she feel at this turn of events?

Then…

the baby is given to the mother and she cuddles him close.

Ah!  The baby relaxes; there’s the heartbeat.  There’s the connection.

Do you know why mothers are so special?  It’s their heartbeat….

Their love, their care, their concern.  Their “thereness”.

If things go as they should, there will be other “connections” made in life: dad, perhaps brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa, friends, a special “other” down the line, children of their own….

But it all starts with a mother’s heartbeat.

Thanks, Mom.

NOTE:  I’ve published this post before.  It’s slightly edited from having been done before, but it’s still relevant.  My own mom would have been 100.

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms out there.  We’ll never know how much we owe you.

What Will We Leave Behind?

I guess I’m getting old.  Actually, there’s not much “guessing” about it.  I think about death a lot more than I did when I was younger.

Besides, it’s kind of been brought to my attention lately.  I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an elderly neighbor who was found dead in his home.  My next-door neighbor was the one who told me what had happened.  Two weeks later, he died.  He was my age.  [added a day later: Now there’s a “sale” at his house.  Cars parked up and down the street.  People going through the house; strangers dissecting a life now gone.  Got me to thinking about such things.]

Our daughter who lives in Florida was here last week to visit us.  While she was here, she went through a container of things which had belonged to my grandmother and had been in her china cabinet – which we still have, with some of her things, with some of ours, on display.  The daughter has a china cabinet now herself.

While we were up in the attic, I came across a box of old letters, etc.  Report cards, all kinds of stuff.  One problem with all that.  Several years ago, my other daughter came across one of my report cards from elementary school.  Said she knew where her kids got their problems from.  🙂

I have a little box of things from my grandfather – razor, cuff links, things like that.  That’s all, plus a memory of him lying in his casket.  I was six.  Never really got to know him.  I regret that.  He was handy with tools and building.  Grandma told me that, in today’s terms, he flipped houses.  Maybe I’d have learned something from him.

Grandma and Grandpa were Mom’s folks.  Never got to know my Dad’s folks.  Dad, either, for that matter.  They divorced when I was too young really to remember.  I have two memories of my dad.  That’s all.  We have Grandma’s dining room table, a nice desk that stood in her living room for as far back as I can remember, a couple of other desks…. Nothing from Mom, just a couple of pictures.  And some potholders she used to crochet.

I stood by Mom’s grave in 1970 and thought about all the arguments we’d had while I was a teenager.  All the heartaches and sleepless nights I must have caused her.  I was not a model son.  If I’d’ve lived in OT times, I might even have been a candidate for stoning to death.  I regretted it all.  But it was too late to tell her that.

Grandma gave me something more valuable than “stuff.”  I spent most summers with her.  During that time, she saw to it that I listened to Christian radio.  Nothing like we have today, but still there were good, godly men teaching on the radio.  M. R. DeHaan, founder of the Radio Bible Class, Theodore H. Epp, First Mate Bob and the crew of the good ship Grace, and others whose names I’ve forgotten. *sigh*  (good, happy memories)  It didn’t matter if I was outside playing or what, when time came for these programs, I was called in and had to listen.  She saw to it that I went to SS and church.  Gave me as much of a start in the Christian life as anyone, till the guy I worked with who kept inviting me to church and I finally went, just to shut him up!  Strange, that’s where the Lord met me and called me to Himself.

Grandma was a SS teacher herself.  The church was fairly liberal, even though she was conservative herself and taught that way.  Now, she didn’t have the radio on all the time. To this day, I dislike having the TV or radio on in the background.  I have nothing against peace and quiet.

Mom never minded if I went to church, or not.  She was happy when I went to Bible College.  Came to my graduation.  I’m sorry she never got to meet her future daughter-in-law or be a grandma to our kids.  She’d’ve been a good one.  But she died, too.  Two months before I got married.  But she had had trouble with church.  I don’t know the story, but she was told she wasn’t welcome at the church Grandma went to.  Kind of soured her on the whole “church” thing.

The point is,  we all leave this life.  And we leave stuff behind.  Things and memories.

What are we leaving behind for our kids, and their kids?  And their kids?  God grant that it’s good stuff, good memories, good upbringing, most of all, the “good things” of God.