Saturday, March 28, 2015
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:27-28, NKJV
Ouch. In Jesus's book, hypocrisy equalled the stink of something dead.
Do you strive to look beautiful on the outside, but that same beauty hides the ugliness inside? Yes, I did that. I know the drive to impress the world with outward appearance. I tanned my body in the sun--despite the warnings from doctors. I subscribed to the "dress to impress" theory. I haunted makeup counters in the stores. Talk about whitewashing to cover up the unwholesome interior.
Today if makeup manufacturers depended on folks like me, they'd go broke within a month. Letting my inner self shine through means I need to work on my inner person. I had to let Jesus through the door of my heart to begin His spring cleaning. Wow, did He ever have a job to do. In fact, He's still working on it.
It's not easy coming to that point. Letting go of wanting people to admire my outer shell--seemed like that tendency was superglued to me.
Don't get me wrong. I still put on my good duds when I go to a booksigning, for instance. I hope I'm doing that out of respect for people who will be there. Ditto church, going out for dinner with the hubby, etc. I hope I'm dressing to bring honor to God rather than myself.
Lord, I don't want to be a hypocrite. Please wash me out, every corner, every cranny, every covered sin. Make me so clean on the inside so that it can't help but shine out on everyone around. Help me be a good example. I can't do it on my own. Thank You, Lord. Amen
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Only someone who's been there can understand the heartache of a parent whose son or daughter has rebelled against their teachings--worse, landed themselves in the middle of the drug and/or drinking crowds.
No parent is perfect, but even the best parents sometimes have offspring that land in trouble. That's what happened to Andrea and her husband Charlie. They had the ideal son and daughter--they thought. The kids attended church with them, were involved in youth activities there. The first worm turned when the boy, Jason, became a senior. He began skipping classes, rarely attended church, and even quit eating meals with the family.
Then his sister followed his lead. Andrea and Charlie battled the evil forces that held their children captive.
Do you have a prodigal in your family? I would strongly--no, emphatically--recommend you purchase Andrea Merrell's book. Available from Amazon. What can you lose? It's only $1.99.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’" Matthew 4:8-10, NKJV
A person might argue with the devil, saying he had no authority to promise that to Jesus. But if he didn't, how would this have been a temptation? The Bible says Satan is the prince of this world. Maybe the prince of things worldly. Money, fancy cars, big houses, fame, popularity, power...you get the picture.
Just think if the Pharisees had loved Jesus, if everyone (including the scribes [aka lawyers]) had eaten up his every word? If He had been rich, good looking, powerful, a king of this world, more people would have listened to Him--or at least they would have pretended to. What if Jesus had taken the devil's offer? This world would have been a much different place. Somehow, I doubt it would have been to the good.
I don't think I would have liked Jesus if He had been a phony, would you? No, I didn't think so.
Lord--Thank You for resisting that temptation. Help us too, when we're tempted to do the wrong things, even when it appears that it's for all the right reasons. Strengthen us in our hours of temptations, Lord. Thank You. Amen
Saturday, March 21, 2015
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Matthew 23:26-26, NKJV
How much sense would that make, washing the outside of your dishes and leaving the insides dirty?
The Pharisees apparently held cleanliness next to Godliness. There were certain rules as to how to wash the hands as well as the vessels used for various ceremonies. And even though the people in those days knew nothing about germs, they knew that eating out of a dirty bowl could make them sick.
So now Jesus was telling the Pharisees their lives were like bowls filthy on the inside and polished spit-clean on the outside. Impressive to look at, but writhing with worms where no one could see. Ew.
This little tidbit was only one in a long list of insults (albeit straight-flying arrows) aimed at them. Is it any wonder they wanted to get rid of him?
Notice this happened in Chapter 23 of Matthew. It's drawing close to the time where He will be arrested. Two things are going on: Jesus is getting fed up with the hypocrisy of the church leaders, and said leaders are trying to think up ways to get rid of this Guy who's rocking their boat.
Never mind that He was exposing their faults they thought they had so carefully hidden. So many people, when Jesus exposed a fault in their lives, said, "What must I do to be saved?" Just think what might have been if these pompous men might instead have done the same thing.
How many times do we try to cover up when we do something wrong instead of saying "I'm sorry" and starting off new? We can't change Jesus's history (and really, we wouldn't want to), but we can change our own.
Go ahead. Clean out the inside of your dishes!
Lord--remind us just as brutally when we get filled with trying to impress on the outside but ignoring the inside. Then grant us the courage to make the change. Thank You, precious Lord. Amen
Friday, March 20, 2015
Liz Toslma is at it again, creating stories from difficult aspects of World War II, this one about an internment camp in the Philippines while the Japanese were in control of Manila. I marvel over the amount of research Liz had to have done to create this beautiful story.
Rand Sterling,an American, had a thriving business in the Philippines before the War. Or rather two. He owned two thriving businesses and had one pretty girl after another on his arm all the time.
But when the Japanese took over, his wealth and prestige went out the window. Americans and other enemies of Japan were thrown into the Santo Tomas Internment Camp. One of the other residents is Irene Reynolds, who had been a missionary in the jungle. Irene works for the enemy in their censor's office, screening letters and messages in order to earn a bit to help care for her blind aunt, Anita.
One day Irene fails to provide a message to Rand in time to prevent his attempted escape from Santo Tomas. He's captured and sentenced to the dreaded prison, Fort Santiago, a place from which few people escape. Most are tortured until they die. Irene is consumed with guilt.
It will take a miracle, and if you buy this book, you can pray for them as they go through their physical and mental torments on the way to...what?
Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Here's June Foster's latest work, released just last Thursday, and I'm really pleased with it. It's the first time we've written in the same series, but I definitely hope it's not the last!
Nathan Stone wants to get out of New Beckton, away from the brother who stole his inheritance to pay for a burgeoning drug habit. Nathan had gone from one of two inheritors from his family's estate, enrolled in college, and driving a new Porche to a destitute, disgruntled, and jobless man in search of home.
He had an uncle and family in Sweetland--even though he hadn't seen them since he was a small child--and the possibility of a job at the hospital there. Hopefully, his uncle, Bill Smith, would let him stay at his house until he could get back on his feet. Then he finds out the uncle passed away years before.
The aunt, Arlene Smith, agrees to rent him the small mother-in-law's cabin in her yard. The hospital job becomes a reality, and even though it's as an orderly, cleaning up the patients' messes. Things are definitely looking up, especially since this pretty nurse, Haley Flannery, is the one who trains him.
His attitude could really use a huge adjustment, though. What will happen to turn this unhappy young man into someone the nurse could actually look up to?
It's on sale now at Amazon, and will be available soon at Barnes and Noble and Kobo!
Monday, March 16, 2015
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’" Matthew 4:5-7 NKJV
There's that "if You are the Son of God" challenge again. And the temptation to use scriptures--or misuse them--for the wrong reasons. If He had accidentally fallen? Yes, but maybe not if He had jumped.
I have a weird fear of falling. It's not so much being on a high, unprotected cliff or structure. It's the nightmares afterwards. Lots of years ago, I helped my dad reroof their house. He needed the help; but then I had that falling fear. Not so much while I was on the roof, but when I lay down to sleep that night. I did something a little different that night, and it worked.
That scripture the devil used? It's from Psalm 91:12. It's there, and it's usable WHEN NEEDED. I really wanted to sleep that night instead of jerking awake every time I drifted into dreamland. I asked God to give His angels charge over me. Guess what? Every time I started to fall, an angel was there to catch me and give me a ride around to look at the scenery from an angel's-eye view. Pretty cool.
There is no way I'd purposefully throw myself off a cliff or a roof or anywhere else and ask for the same protection. That would be tempting God. Do you understand the difference? Jesus did, and He didn't fall into that temptation.
Father, please open our eyes and let us see the difference between proper and improper use of Your promises. Thank You, Lord. Amen