Monthly Archives: December 2008

THANK YOU!

          It seems important to me to express appreciation for some people who’ve made helpful contributions to my life in the past year. I’m coming up on my one year ‘anniversary’ as a ‘blogger.’ Many of you who visited the site, or contacted me personally, have been a source of great encouragement. I just hope some of the things I’ve written have caused you to think, and have been helpful in your own spiritual quest.  

          Incidentally, when one of us “ole timers” wondered about the use of the term ‘blog,’ I took a little time to acquaint myself with a relatively unfamiliar term to my self, in my never ending struggle to become adept in the use of an ever expanding technology and vocabulary of the computer and the Internet. I found it (“blog”) is a sort of shortening of another relatively new word, ‘weblog.’ ‘Web,’ I could understand fairly easily, is the ever expanding Internet (sort of like a spider’s ‘web,’ you know. Reaching out in all directions, making connections, with everything always having a relationship in some way to everything else. ‘Log,’ as I understand it, is simply a continuing record of activity or observations, sort of like a diary I suppose. You know truckers keep a ‘log’ of the mileage, destinations, contents of their deliveries, expenses, etc. And the folks on board ships keep ‘logs’ of their activities. So, a ‘blog’ is simply a continuing record, or conversation, between or among lots of people sitting at lots of computers wherever they may be in the vast Internet. Now, there.

 But, please note: Any time you catch me talking about computers or computerese, you will know I’m out of my element. Please feel free to correct me when I’m wrong and help a poor computer cripple limp his way in the right direction!

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          Among those whom I especially enjoyed meeting via the Internet are some folks I wish you could meet:

          Ebby Dickens. That’s a pseudonym (She’s told me her real name, and we’ve exchanged some correspondence. We’ve also become friends.). She just stumbled on the site one day, and wrote a note of encouragement. Since that first exchange, she’s visited the site as faithfully as anyone. That includes my own family. Frequently I sent her advance copies of ideas I was about to post, asking her to proof read, critique my thoughts, etc. She’s never refused, and has often offered valuable insights and posted meaningful comments on the site. I sort of felt the Lord had a great deal to do with the way our paths crossed. **

          Neil Simpson is probably the first person I found when I went “surfing” and searching for any sites similar to what I had in mind. What I found, for the most part, was disappointing. The “Bible” studies seemed to me to be “grinding some axe,” or “strumming some string” ad infinitum and ad nauseum, or selling something. Neil’s site was different. He has a widely varied site which deals with lots of issues: current events, apologetics, Bible Study, some of his family events and lots of other things as well. He’s a Christian businessman in Texas, and among other talents he is an excellent photographer. His filming of his daughters’ ballet troupe performing “The Nutcracker Suite” was so beautiful you could almost swell with pride just as the proud “Poppa” did. He will be worth your visiting for a number of reasons. When you visit my blog, click on his photo to your right. It will take you to his site. Enjoy your visits and know that you’ll always be welcome. His blog is http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com.

          Robert Sutherland is an attorney in Canada. I’m still uncertain about how we found each other.   He first began to comment when I was studying Job.  I discovered that he’s not only a lawyer, but also a Bible scholar/theologian.   He and his wife  have two Saint Bernards (Thass right, TWO!).   And I thought my wife and I liked pets!!  In a position of great responsibility, Robert is taking his commitment to Christ very seriously.  Dealing with some of the harsh realities that come to light during litigation, we should thank God for and pray often for those who fight for justice while retaining their integrity and compassion. In addition to his work in court, he’s written a scholarly book on Job.  It examines this ancient document from the perspective of an attorney.  The work is going to be used in the States as a supplement to a text which will be used teaching the Bible in the U.S. public school system.   I want you to know more about him, but I also want to be sure my facts are straight.  He’s documented his writing and his case studies correctly and in good form.   Also, as soon as I hear from him and have his approval, I want to give you some facts about his book and where and how it will be used in the U.S.  

Tim an Ashley

Tim an Ashley

 

My sons, Paul Timothy and Mark Jonathan, helped me get the site up and running. They continue to monitor and mentor ‘ole dad.’   I cannot tell you how much I appreciate their expertise.  Tim does his own site entitled ItsaboutTim.wordpress.com.  He and his wife (who’s doing her Medical internship just outside NYC) are both cycling enthusiasts and the best chance I have of having grandchildren via that union is a Cockatoo.  Both Tim and Jon are ‘high techies,’ and they’ve encouraged and enabled me to continue this enjoyable effort (I almost called it “work.”).  I love ’em both and am fortunate to have them around.  They also have a way of gently, firmly, keeping ole dad on track.  Occasionally, very occasionally, they say something. . . but ‘occasionally’ is the operative word. Guess they took me seriously when I used to tell ’em: “Donchoo sass me, boy.  Or I’ll mash youah mouf!” Jonathan and Heather (who recently received one of the prettiest engagement rings I ever saw) are scuba diving enthusiasts and are talking (not seriously, I hope) about selling everything and going to live on an island.  They take their scuba diving seriously, apparently.  Looks like the closest proximity I’ll get to grand parenting anything with their names on it will be grand kittens. But I think “Titters” has already been deprived medically of his masculinity, and the other one is so darned scared or lazy I hardly ever see it when I visit. I get the impression that the very idea of reproducing anything would require more energy that it’s willing to invest!

          Some of the folks who write me just “happen” upon the site. Or my wife mentions it. Occasionally, I’ll get brazen and invite someone myself. And some of you have invited others (Thanks. When anyone shows any confidence in what I say, or me I’m grateful and feel responsible. If someone has enough confidence to recommend me to someone else, I feel doubly grateful and doubly obligated. I don’t want to disappoint them, and I sure don’t want to embarrass anyone who recommends me to someone else!). For whatever reason they come, I’m grateful and feel I should always speak and write  the truth in love.

          In Jacob’s case, one night I’d been doing my own amateurish “surfing” and somehow came across his site.  He’s only sixteen or seventeen years old and a relatively new Christian.  But his writing showed such enthusiastic sincerity I wanted to encourage him and invited him here.  Now, between us, I’d be really ‘blessed’ if some young, impressionable students found their way here and I could be of some consequence for Christ in their lives.  I’d be particularly gratified if he began approaching the Scripture and read it like it’s fresh and new.   Jacob’s testimony, like Neil’s, made me know we’re “kin.”    In his case, also, if you click on his photo on the right in my site you’ll be taken to his site. He’s bright, young, and enthusiastic. We need more young folks like Jacob. Pray for him and encourage him to grow in Christ. His blog, incidentally, is called “THORNTREE.”

          Marie N is a writer and translator (specializing in English and Bulgarian) who lives in Massachusetts. Her site is devoted to a variety of issues, but her heart beats most strongly for the persecuted Church. Wherever her brothers and sisters in Christ are caused to suffer for no other reason than their faith, Marie speaks out in strong protest. And reminds all who listen to her of our obligation to pray for them, support them in whatever ways possible, and be grateful for the freedom we have in our loved country. 

          Mark is the talented pastor of a historic little Quaker Church which I attended (Vacation Bible School) as a youth and where some of my relatives still attend in the little town of Graham, North Carolina. He has a very sharp intellect and a warm heart. He’s extended the church’s ministry to reach many of the police officers (Didn’t stop one of them from giving me a ticket not too long ago, though!). He also has developed an impressive website which attracts attention from all over. He’s a very dedicated, serious student of Scripture, and is undertaking a commentary of the entire Old Testament which he hopes will serve as his master’s thesis. He then will tackle the New Testament for his doctorate! If you think his ambition is admirable, you’ll be equally impressed with his ability. His site is http://www.markyman.com. He’s very careful about Bible Study, and has become quite well acquainted with many of the leading theologians in Church history. If you pay attention to what gets published, I expect you’ll be hearing from him in the future. You may also enjoy visiting his church’s website. It’s one of the best I’ve seen as far as Church communicating is concerned. 

          Mary Ellen Bowman came to my attention several months ago when I learned of the work she does with the Christian Women’s Job Corps in Wilmington, N.C. She’s the Director of that group and emphasizes their mission is to give a helping hand up. . . not a “Hand Out.” They concentrate on battered women, or those just leaving the prison environment. Often with children, most frequently without jobs or transportation, and almost always without a safe place to live. I sometimes wish I were independently wealthy so I could concentrate on finding people who need help. . . and just help them. Mary Ellen is doing that, with very, very limited resources, a very, very modest salary, and a few valiant volunteers. The group doesn’t have a web site, but Mary Ellen has an email address which you can reach for more details. . . and please feel free to do that, especially if you will take time to pray or have a few extra dollars lying around that need to be invested in a good work! Her email address is mebow85@hotmail.com. if you care to contact her. If you’re unsuccessful in that effort, please let me know and I’ll get you some more information. She’s a really wonderful lady, doing good work for ladies who really need a helping hand.

          Judith is an attorney and long time friend.  She’s sort of quiet and doesn’t verbalize her opinions often (She’s accustomed to getting paid for that!), but her observations and comments to me via email have been very insightful, very helpful, indeed.  She also knows if I get anybody riled up and taking me to court I’ll need lots of free advice and help!

          Mark Fox is Pastor of the Antioch Church in Alamance County.  He was my Mother’s Pastor and the last time she and I were able to attend worship together, it was in his church.  That morning, knowing Mom had prayed and invested so much in me, and knowing she’d be ‘going home’ very soon, I rededicated my life publicly to Christ.  It must have been there that I began my “journey back to faith.”  Mark has written a devotional column for the Burlington Daily Times News for years.  He has also served students at Elon University as a faithful witness for Christ.  He can be reached at antiochchurch.cc.

          I also gained inspiration from visiting the site of Dr. J. L. Williams, founder and president of the international ministry of The New Dimensions ministry based in Graham, North Carolina.  When I first knew of their work, it was primarily a modern, upbeat musical ministry with great appeal to youth.  As they grew, their outreach expanded to include practical, helpful ministries in many places.  The core of the work these days is the solid teaching and preaching of Dr. Williams as they continue to reach some who would have otherwise been overlooked.  His internet address is:  jlwilliams.net.

          Very soon I’ll resume the studies of God’s “Comeback Kids.” If you haven’t been able to find one of them with whom you can identify, stay with me.  I can assure you someone a long time ago faced challenging and life changing conditions almost exactly like yours.  For some time now I’ve been reviewing the life of Jacob (a cunning con man) who became Israel (founder of the proud nation.).

** Before posting this, I secured consent from the people I mention. I will always respect your privacy and will not ever publish or  divulge anyone’s personal information. . . certainly without your knowledge or approval.   I place a premium on confidence and mutual trust and respect.

SORRY, NO VACANCY

 “She brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; for there was no room for them in the Inn.” Luke 2:7

          Although I said the most recent post was my final study on the Christmas narratives, some other ideas had been brewing in my head and seemed to beg to be said.

          You’ve probably already captured in your own imagination and experience and memory some of the humanity of the story.  No matter what Hallmark artists and others have done to beautify and sanitize the situation, the reality remains.  Jesus’ birth occurred in an enclosure of some sort where farm animals were kept; in the middle of abject poverty.  I do mean abject poverty.  For most of us, that’s incomprehensible.  We cannot even begin to view the event from God’s perspective.  Paul tried to describe the descent (He spoke of how Jesus, equal with God, took on himself the form of man, identified Himself forever with the lowest, lost, poorest of our race, humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. . . yes, by one of the cruelest  means of torture ever devised by man.  The method of crucifixion which came later wasn’t meant simply to punish.  It was designed to torture, humiliate, and extend the agony and excruciating pain beyond the limits of human civility or endurance.  While still a young man, He suffered and was executed like a criminal, among criminals. While soldiers bullied a helpless prisoner.  While a gawking, insensitive public spat and ridiculed Him. ).

         As eloquent and spiritual as he was, Paul failed to probe the depths of the mystery of the Incarnation.

         Look at some of the grimy reality.

          His “cradle” was a “manger.”  Now that’s a sort of nice word, made especially so when we think of it in this context.  Let’s peel off the sentimental layers we’ve attached to this idea and get to the reality.  It was a feed trough.  It was the crudely constructed place where the animals ate their hay, or whatever was available for them to eat.  And knowing that was the place where they normally got fed, chances are some of them (sheep, goats, cows, no pigs, gratefully.  No Jew would have allowed such.) were probably milling around.  Smelling and searching for food, not knowing what to do about this helpless little Baby who’d taken over their space.   It was  their feed trough!  Perhaps there was a bit of straw which hadn’t been eaten, leftovers from earlier meals, to soften the place a bit.  But it was a feeding bin.

           Mary brought forth her first-born son.  We don’t even know for sure there was a ‘midwife’ around.   Other weary travelers had their own dire circumstances with which to deal. Having been a young father myself, I can probably identify a bit with Joseph.  I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do.  When Jo Lynn (my first born) got here, I was so excited I almost kissed the wrong new mother!  It didn’t get any easier when the others came.  My son, Brad, arrived right in the middle of final exams my second year in Seminary.  As evidence of my brilliant foresight and strategic planning, I’d also committed to help in a revival in Greensboro, North Carolina.  That’s right.  At the same time all these other events were unfolding.  So, in a blur of activity, I’d commute early in the day to seminary (about fifty miles from my home), run by the house to grab a bite and try to cram for the next exam, then hustle off to the meeting.  In the middle of that, my wife told me she was about ready to go.  Great timing!  I ran to the corner of our bedroom, stuck my head out the window and hollered out to my Dad (who’d been helping me with some project at our house) that “she’s gotta go.  Now!!”  I quickly turned to do some more running in circles and cracked my head on the corner of a large aquarium, which was angled where the windows came together in the bedroom corner.  It had sharp corners and the cut wasn’t pretty. Excitement and confusion deteriorated into near chaos, but we managed to get to the hospital in time.  Just in time!

          And I had help.  The hospital wasn’t more than three or four miles from home.  And when I got to the hospital, the staff took charge quickly and efficiently and took care of things.  Joseph had none of the amenities I did, but I guarantee you as a young father he didn’t win any awards for being “super cool!” 

          And dear, dear Mary!  I can’t know how she felt, but for sure it wasn’t ho hum time or “business as usual.”  The Bible says she was “great with child.”  Friends, that means she was very, very pregnant!  Any mother knows the apprehension she must have felt. . . especially given the circumstances   Exhausted from the travel.  Labor contractions getting closer and closer.  Probably in her early or mid teens. Far from home.  No help.  The burdens of travel and taxes, neither of which they could afford. How would the baby do?  Who’d cut and tie the umbilical cord?  And, surely, she must have known her neighbors might be aghast at the idea of her being so young and so pregnant!  They head no idea what was going on.  And, surely, their idle tongues were wagging!  Mary must have suspected as much.   

           Then she “wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.”  Each of my children has had “receiving blankets.”  Nice.  Really nice.  Soft, pretty, made of good material.  Linda, my wife now, really got wrapped up in stuff like this a while back when her daughter had twins.  You’d have thought she was going to deliver them, not just be able to spoil them rotten.  And they had to have, of course, really nice “receiving blankets.”    Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes.  I’m not certain what kind of textiles were available in Palestine at the time.  China had by then mastered the production of silk.  But what was the “blanket” really like?  My guess is it was something akin to burlap.  Mary did the best she could to make it as comfortable as possible, but she didn’t have access even to Downy Fabric Softener.  The dictionary says simply that swaddling clothes are strips of rags towrap and bind.   Swaddling clothes, I suppose, were fairly crudely woven fabric, certainly the best she could afford.  But it made me wonder.

          And the Birth event probaly actually took place outback, perhaps behind the little hotel outside somewhere, because “there was no room for them in the Inn.”  We can’t conclude with absolute certainty there was a shed overhead.  Or even a cave enclosure.  The Scriptural account gives scant details in this regard.  We never knew anything about the size of the Inn or name of the Inn or the Innkeeper.  It was obviously a small place, unprepared for such a sudden surge of travelers who were weary from travel, aggravated, irritated, and frustrated to the point of explosive anger at the reason which forced them to come to Bethlehem in the first place. 

          PLEASE, don’t judge the Innkeeper too harshly or too quickly.  He was probably just an honest, hard working guy, trying to make an honest living.  Trying to deal with a growing, ornery, impatient crowd.  Knowing he had to “make hay while the sun was shining,” and it was for sure shining on him right then.  He took in as many as he could and they were probably stacked and packed like cordwood, wall to wall people in every possible square inch of space.  In the rooms, out in the halls, in the vestibule. And a line was probably backed up at the check in desk trailing out into the courtyard where some were already camping out.  What was the poor guy to do?  How was he to know that on his watch, in his place, without making a reservation, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was about to make His entrance? 

          So, the sign, “Sorry, No Vacancy” is understandable.  Did you ever hear the haunting spiritual: “Sweet Little Jesus Boy, born long time ago.  Sweet little Holy Child; We didn’t know who you was.  Didn’t know you’d come to save us Lord, to wash our sins away.  Our eyes was blind.  We couldn’t see.  We didn’t know Who You was.”

          That poor, overworked, busy, harried Innkeeper.   He didn’t know.  He just didn’t know.

          But you and I do. 

          Wouldn’t it be wise to take down the “No Vacancy sign” today.  Right Now.  If you have to evict some unruly tenants, or turn down some attractive occupant/applicants, wouldn’t it make sense to make place for Him?

          In this time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, how wise and beautiful are the words the little children sing: “Into my heart.  Into my heart.  Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.  Come in today.  Come in to stay.  Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”

Have a joyous Holy Day!

Your brother, friend, fellow student and God’s servant, ~donkimrey

HE GIVES YOU HIS WORD. . .

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.  3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.  10  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

 

This is how John (the ‘Beloved,’ not ‘the Baptist’) treated Jesus’ entrance to human history.  “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.  And we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of The Father; full of grace and truth.”

            As I’ve considered the Nativity narratives once again, it’s obvious each of the writers has a different “take” on how the Incarnation took place.  That is understandable, of course, because a different person from an entirely different perspective wrote each account.  And, it also appears, each was written for a potentially widely different audience.

            John, it seems, is addressing a primarily Greek audience.  The Greeks were, as you might correctly conclude, a bit more inclined toward metaphysics and philosophy.  That became, in fact, along with their art (you’ve seen the awe-inspiring sculptures and architecture,), some of the lasting contributions of that great, ancient, sophisticated, spiritually sterile society.

            In their thoughtful pursuits, they focused upon the concept or idea which they called The Word.  The Logos, as John says in his intro.  Now, if John had been writing and thinking most of his readers were going to be Jewish, he’d probably have used the word “Messiah” instead of “Logos.”  The Hebrew prophets had introduced the concept of a great Leader and had repeatedly foretold the arrival on the one who would deliver His people.  Devout Jews expectantly awaited that “Promised One.”  Unfortunately, when Messiah finally did arrive, His own people didn’t recognize him.  They had a different notion of what he’d be like and the idea of a baby in a manger just didn’t fit their preconceptions.  The Greeks, however, had a different expression which they used to express some similar ideas and hopes and aspirations.  In their intellectual endeavours, they viewed “The Word” as the highest and noblest of all their ideas.  It was the absolute epitome of beauty, and virtue.   The “Logos” was the highest and noblest concept in their thinking.  The sine qua non. *   They wrestled valiantly with the Idea.  Tried to understand it.  Aspired to live up to the Ideal and, forever, even the best of them fell miserably short of that goal.  In a word, The WORD was the symbol of perfection.  Absolute, unobtainable purity and perfection. 

            However, the best minds and spirits among the ancient Greeks devoted huge amounts of time and emotional, intellectual and spiritual energy to such a pursuit and in spite of many admirable accomplishments never reached that objective.  They had lots of gods, but none of them were able to keep Grecian culture from crumbling and lying in broken ruins. . . much like most of their fallen ancient majestic ruins which to this very hour have never failed to spark imagination and appreciation for their ingenuity and artistry.

            It seems to me that what John is attempting to do here is simply: make the Truth known to the readers by using a concept with which they were familiar, perhaps make it a bit easier to understand what he was trying to get across. That makes immense sense to me.  Why try to explain anything to anyone, using words and ideas with which they have absolutely no familiarity?  Is it the responsibility of the hearer, for instance, to learn the language with which you’re familiar in order for you to tell him what you think he should know?  If that’s the case, wonder why missionaries would ever have wanted the Bible translated into any foreign language?  Much less Chinese or Arabic?  For that matter, why would God have ever encouraged anyone to translate the Hebrew Old Testament, or the koine Greek or Aramaic New Testament into King James English?  What would be the point of organizations like Tyndale publishers going to the expense and trouble of translating Scripture into the language of primitive people like the Auca Indians?  Much less the popular, widely and more easily read translations like Peterson’s recent version or The Living Bible or the NIV? 

            The world’s most brilliant scholars wouldn’t have to be called in to figure that out.  The obvious reason John used ‘their word,’ was to introduce them to The Word!

            The whole idea is to help you understand.  And that’s done very often by taking you from the things with which you’re familiar and going from there to a better understanding of the message.  The progression of learning seems always to be from the familiar to the unfamiliar.  From the simple to the profound.  A good teacher has a way of meeting us where we are and taking us where we need to be.  This appears to me to be exactly what John is attempting to do.  And quite successfully, it would appear!

            Another thought that has been floating around in my mind is that the word… words… are the means by which we communicate.  We speak and we write and we use words.  Even more basic than that are the letters we use to form the words we use.  There’s a place where Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega (the ‘A’ and the ‘Z’ to us modern Westerners.  And, by implication I believe, everything in between.).  Thus, as basic as it can be, Jesus likens Himself to our alphabet.  The very foundation upon which we form our words!      We keep adding new words to our dictionary, and the “alphabet” continues to be adequate for every demand a changing culture creates. 

            And that is so simple!  AS SIMPLE AS A,B,C’s!  Haven’t I been saying all along?   That’s the way God works!  He intends to be understood.  His love is so basic, and so encompassing, that He stoops to the lowest level possible so everyone can know.  You don’t have to be genius or endowed with all kinds of intellectual, social or other special credentials  or accomplishments to believe the simple, profound, beautiful, life-changing Truth.  

            As a very unaccomplished amateur ‘thinker,’ I remember once (in high school as I recall) saying I thought it was not possible to think without words (or similar symbols.).   That stirred up a little “stink” among us adolescent pseudo-intellectuals.  It was worse than the time ‘us guys’ were coolin’ out at the city park watching girls and watching the merry-go-round.  I’d just begun Algebra and was about to understand the axiom: “D=RT.”   “If that’s the case,” in newly acquired Freshman wisdom, I declared authoritatively that:  “the horses on the outside of the carousel are going faster than the swan seats and ducks on the inside track.”  The buzz in the hall before classes the next morning made me very sympathetic with Galileo Gallilei.

 It sure seems difficult for me to think, and even more difficult to express my thoughts without putting them into words.  I know there’s ‘non-verbal’ communication, and there are probably fallacies in my logic here, so you notice I’m not being too dogmatic.  The point I can make, though, without fear of being successfully contradicted, is that words are the main means by which we communicate.  That is true, whether they are spoken or signed or written down or conveyed with symbols.  Or, as we say sometimes, “Unspoken.”

            So I began to think: this is the ultimate means God has chosen by which to communicate.  One of the New Testament writers agreed with me (you know it should be the other way around!):  “God, who at sundry (varying) times and in divers (different) manners has spoken to us by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” **

            Let’s think about this a bit:  Scripture says God has spoken in the past, trying to communicate with His creation.  There were spoken words.   Even “The Heavens declare the word of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.” ***  Written words.  But now, John seems to be saying, God is communicating with His world in as powerful and personal way as it could ever be possible!  He speaks to us through HIS SON!  When He really wanted to get across to us the way we could and should live, He didn’t just tell us.  He showed us.  He spoke clearly in the most powerful way He could.  Through the LIVING WORD, His Son.   When He wanted to tell us and show us how much He loved us and how far He was willing to go to bring about reconciliation, He spoke through HIS SON.  HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON.

            You may need to listen carefully to hear it.  He doesn’t shout.  He doesn’t compete and raise His voice above all the confusion and raucos chaos that so often accompanies our sometimes polluted and diluted and distorted commercial observation of His Son’s visit to our planet. 

            But, if you listen carefully, you can hear the Word.  You may need to get quiet, turn off your tee vee, ipod, gameboy, or other new electronic attention diverters.  Sometimes He whispers.  But if you listen, you can hear The Living Word of the Living Lord.

If you are serious about understanding the REAL meaning of Christmas, then you must be serious about that effort!

                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A personal note:  I probably won’t post again until after Christmas.  But my effort to come to grips with the Truth of this event has rewarded me richly.  My efforts are now my gift to you.  Along with that “gift,” I send you Christian love and this assurance of my prayers for you, your loved ones, and a world that seems madly intent on self-destruction.  The Angels ‘got it right’ that night.  Pray God there may be “peace on earth, and good will toward men.” As I write this, I’m almost within walking distance of Marine Camp LeJeune.  Especially do I request your prayerful thoughts and gratitude for those who are willing to sacrifice so much for us.

 *   A dictionary definition of that Latin phrase sine qua non means “that which is absolutely necessary.”  Nothing else its equal in value and certainly nothing is more important.

**  Hebrews 1:1

***Psalm 19:1

A SKEPTIC’S RESPONSE. . .

 

          Matthew 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 
 6” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'” 7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

           9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

 

          AS YOU PONDER THE WONDER AND THE BEAUTY OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY, you simply cannot escape the beauty of simplicity.    God doesn’t try to impress or confuse us.  He continues to keep things simple.  In case you haven’t noticed, that is the way God works.  The way of salvation, for instance, was deliberately made so clear and simple that “a wayfaring man, though he be a fool, need not err therein.” Some of simplest things in the entire world are the most profound.  When God attempts to communicate, He doesn’t try to complicate the message.  He makes deliberate attempts to simplify it.       

          There’s hardly ever anything to create brain strain.  Not just in the Christmas message, but throughout Scripture.  Jesus said things like: “ If you’re tired (spiritually), I will give you rest.”   “If you’re hungry, I will give you food.”  “If you’re lost, let me show you the way to get home.”    “If you’re frightened, I’ll always be with you, so you don’t need to be afraid.”

           I’m sure I mentioned this somewhere else.  And I hope you pick up on the fact that I view Scripture as alive, fresh, thought-provocative, life changing and many other things.  When I read and try to view the incidents prayerfully, but also imaginatively, it continues to enlighten and excite me.  The powerful ideas contained in what I consider to be uniquely the living Words of The Living God, continue to bring me hope and joy.  Along with a compelling desire to share that hope and joy with folks like you. 

           Look at those whom He chose “in those days.”  Consider those whom He chooses “in these days.”  Look at the clear, understandable words in the Message.          

         It caused me to think about THE EXTRAORDINARINESS OF THE ORDINARY.   I’m very sure there’s a better way to say that, but think about it.  See if you don’t agree. God has always excelled in taking what men considered useless, worthless, throwaway stuff, and using them in ways they (and you and I) could not have imagined.  For that very reason alone, I take heart in the fact that I’m not worthless so long as He views me as valuable.  Nor are you!   I don’t care how low you go, or how bad an opinion you may have of yourself, God isn’t through with you.  Not yet.  Christmas, if it is anything, is confirmation of the fact that God can and does come to His people in the worst of times, in the most insignificant places, and brings new glory to their lives!

          Christmas is a wonderful time of reflection for me.  I’ve been reading and thinking about the visit of the “Wise Men.”  We don’t really know how many there were (We only know they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Ergo, there must have been THREE.  RIGHT!!  Really? There may have been that many or more.  But we can only suppose.  The Bible doesn’t say that. ).  Nor do we know who they were (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasaar are clever names but they came from somewhere outside the Scripture.  It isn’t the first time writers have taken “artistic liberty.”).  We only know they were “Magi” or “wise men.”  Actually, they seem to have been astrologers.  They certainly weren’t astronomers.  There was no such thing as astronomy.  Telescopes hadn’t yet been invented.  Galileo hadn’t yet shaken the religious and scientific world with his revolutionary notion that the earth revolved around the Sun.  The very idea!   The “scientists” and intellectuals at that time KNEW the earth was the center of the Universe!  By that time they’d barely begun to get over the fact that the world wasn’t flat at all.  Then here comes an audacious arrogant heretic spewing nonsense!  Can you imagine??!!       

           I’m at a loss trying to understand the mystery about the star they saw.  What had those guys read to alert them to look for such a sign?  Had they in some way obtained a copy of the Hebrew prophets words?   Is there any literature in any other language which could have alerted them to the possibility of the “Star” and its significance?  If so, I’ve never heard of it.  I HAVE heard and read some amazing stories about how ancient wisdom charted the stars and constructed impressive structures displaying their uncanny knowledge of astronomical phenomena.  But, they did not have telescopes.  How could they have known what they knew? 

          Another thought that occurred to me is:  “When did the Magi” get to Bethlehem?  As a child and even as a youth, I’d envisioned a beautiful scene on Christmas night.  Bathed, of course in a soft, radiant, heavenly glow.  The Baby was born (without the agony of a delivery by a frightened teen-age mother, of course).  Mary was holding Him close, sweetly, and Joseph stood behind her, looking proud as possible, knowing he’d had nothing to do with the event . . . but somehow managing to hide his questions.   All three of them had the standard halo glowing around their heads.  There were some sheep and other barnyard animals hanging around, “lowing” quietly, reverently. Angels were hovering overhead, for sure. And every such scene (in my imagination or memory or on almost every Church lawn since them…no libraries or courthouses now, you know, in the interest of PC) has been a familiar sight to most of us.

      With that scene in the foreground, appropriately lighted, I’d then hear the familiar, oriental sounding: “We three kings of Orient are.  Bearing gifts, we travel so far. . . Westward leading, still proceeding. . . etc.”

 

            However, we don’t even know for sure the “Magi” got there that night.  If they’d started their journey ‘from the East’ on the night they first saw the Star, how long would such a trip have taken.  Whether on foot or on camel’s backs?  I can imagine days at least.  Possibly weeks.  If you read Matthew’s * account closely, you’ll be able to determine that Joseph and Mary had moved into a house by the time they arrived.  Also, the Greek language which Luke used had specific words to differentiate between “infant” or “newborn baby.”  The word used when the Wise Men arrived is the word the Greeks employed when speaking of a “little child.”   

          Another thing which made me wonder when the Magi arrived is the fact that an enraged Herod took vicious and violent action when he found the Magi had seen right through his effort to scam them.  They knew Herod had no intention to “worship the newborn king.”  He already had enough problems on his hands with the always proud, oftenly stubbornly rebellious Jews.  He wasn’t about to tolerate anyone who could create more problems. He intended to put an end to that threat before it became a real problem.  So, outraged, he decided to kill every Jewish male who’d been born within the last two years!  We don’t really understand the outrageously cruel control ancient rulers had and the severity of the rage that exploded when they sensed  the slightest threat.  But every infant male up to two years of age!?  That sounds as if Herod was determined there’d be no threat to the throne if he had anything to do with it.  He threw a “wide net” and was probably more thorough than he needed to be.  But it does allow for more than a day or so for the Magi to have made their journey.

             We may never know the answers to those questions.  I am certain though, that the  mysterious, anonymous Magi represented the best wisdom of their time. . . even though they  believed the world was flat.  They still represented some of the best intellectual accomplishments of their day.  However it may have happened, they certainly displayed wisdom in following the path that led to Jesus. 

              I admit, too, that I’ve wondered what it might have been like to be an ordinary guy wandering the streets late that night in Bethlehem.  Maybe on his way home from work he’d stopped off at the pub and chugged down a few brews.  Already a bit fuzzy minded, could you imagine how he must have reacted when he left the neighborhood bar and on his way home he runs into these strange men ambling into town.  Maybe on the backs of camels.  And there just may have been three of them, with gifts.  But the real ‘kicker’ is that, as strange as they looked (and as strange as the haunting background music ‘we three kings’ sounded), these strange looking newcomers to town were asking everyone an even stranger question:  “Where is He that is born King of the Jews, for we’ve seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

            Our imaginary friend, on his way home and perhaps on his way toward getting ‘stewed’ answered their question with some of his own and what I call:

A SKEPTIC’S RESPONSE

 

A STAR?

A Child born to be King?

Ha!

What is this foolish thing

You’ve manufactured in your mind?

 

You can’t be serious!

You’re delirious.

The sun and sand have

Driven you insane, I say.

 

Some are curious.

Herod’s furious.

And heads will roll before he’s through!

 

But, oh!

How I wish the tale you tell were true.

That story, so filled with glory

Could bring new life

To this darkened life of mine!

 

Peace,  Joy, and Hope for you now and always.

 

God’s servant, your friend, brother and fellow student ~donkimrey

 

  

SUDDENLY . . .

          The Christmas narratives are so beautiful and have become such a part of our collective consciousness and memory that we can almost recite them without effort.  And, sadly, often without thought.  Some things are pretty obvious and clearly evident.  There are also thoughts and ideas which encourage a thoughtful person to look just a bit further.  Try to return with me to the night when the little coos and cries and baby sounds  of the Infant Jesus were first heard outside the Inn in the little town of Bethlehem.  Go outside that scene and see if you can capture in your mind’s eye some of the surprise and excitement when the angels first burst upon the quiet night out beyond the edge of  town.  Luke tells that part of the “old, old story” and we pick up his account:

 Luke 2:8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10But the angel said to them,  ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

 

      13  “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’

 

SUDDENLY. . . As I observed in the last post, that’s one of the words/ideas that caused me to stop and think a bit.  I’m aware it is ‘just a thought.’  It’s an adverb which describes an action that is about to happen or be taken: Quickly, unexpectedly, and decisively…The angel’s appearance happened in a way for which the shepherds simply were not prepared.  They were startled, nearly out of their wits.  When Luke says the shepherds were ‘sore afraid,’ you can almost hear their hearts pounding.  So bad it actually hurt.

          Even when the ‘message’ may not have been as eternally important as the angel’s announcement of The Advent, I’m sure you’ve had something happen so unexpectedly you were caught completely off guard.  

           In several cases about which we may read in Scripture, people were going about their daily tasks.  They weren’t just “sitting and hoping and waiting and prayin’.  They were dealing with “ordinary” things.  The shepherds were caring for their sheep on the night Jesus was born.  That was their job.  Beyond that, it was “who they were.”  My guess is not one of them had ‘angels’ on his mind.  The Bible has a story about Gideon (he of the valiant three hundred) and his encounter with the mighty Midianites.  When the angel appeared to him suddenly, he was threshing his wheat quietly, secretly for fear that he’d be discovered.  It’s kind of amusing, in that light, to hear how the angel addressed him: “Hello, you mighty man of valor.”  Gideon knew he was anything but that.  A coward, perhaps.  Certainly not a candidate for the ‘Soldier of the Year’ award in any Jewish army.  His mission, his entire character, his destiny. . . and that of his nation…were changed, suddenly.  Very suddenly.  He was, in fact, never the same after that meeting.  

          The Bible warns against false doctrine and false teachers.  It warns us against stupid naivete, and yet it encourages and expects us to become  as “little children.”  One of the messages of Christmas, at least in my mind, is that you should be prepared.   You should remain hopeful and expectant. You never know when something might happen of eternal consequence.  When God is involved, you should expect the unexpected.  As long as God is alive, there is reason for hope, and the possibility  and probability of the miraculous.  I conclude that if the birth of Christ means anything at all, it teaches us we should keep Hope alive.  Something new and wonderful might just happen at the time you least expect it!

            There was also the “Great Gettin’ Up Morning.”  The day the Son rose from the grave.  He’d said He was going to do it, and when He did what He’d told them He was going to do, no one was prepared.  They did NOT believe the Resurrection had actually taken place.  Luke says the disciples “believed not for joy.”  In other words, they said, “That’s just too good to be true!”  That was THE DISCIPLES’ reaction when something happened so suddenly.  It seemed as if an avalanche of information tumbled down too quickly for their minds to process.

          And when it did, noting was ever the same again.

          I’m not much good at “spinning yarns.”  It just seems to me that the way this took place. . .so suddenly . . .is strong encouragement for us to NEVER give up hope.  NEVER give in to despair.  God has not lost your address.  He knows your name and where you live.  That fact is nowhere more evident than what took place that first Christmas!  God is not unaware of the burdens you carry, or the problems with which you’ve been wrestling.  Before Moses got called back to Egypt, after years of absence and exile on the backside of the desert, God told him:  “I’ve heard the groaning of my people.” 

          I really don’t have an “axe to grind,” or a point to prove in my approach to Scripture.   I’m simply trying to be as objective an observer as is possible for me, view what happened, and then try to draw some reasonable conclusions based on my observations and the information gathered

              In Matthew 24:27 Jesus was quoted as having said: “For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be.”  Scripture teaches that He will return.  It also says no man…NO MANNO ONE knows the day or hour of that event.  But a couple things seem clear to me on that subject.  One is that CHRIST WILL RETURNNo one knows when.  But another thing I notice, is this: when the event does occur, it will happen SUDDENLY.  Lightning  quick.  You don’t want to wait until lightning strikes before you take sensible steps to prepare for such an event.  And you sure don’t want to try to outrun it!    In speaking of the same event (Return of Messiah), the apostle Paul said it would occur “in a moment; in the twinkling of an eye.”    

           I wondered how long a ‘moment’ is.  How long do you think it would take an eye to “twinkle?”  When we talk about milliseconds, nanoseconds and microseconds, that means: it (The Return) will happen quite quickly, to say the very least.  I won’t have time to bat my eyes, much less pack my bags  

           Suddenly.  It seems to me that reason and common sense would say the better part of wisdom would be “be ready to go” (for in such an hour as you think not, The Son of Man will return).

          God is so patient and so kind.  His mercy is everlasting.  But He is also decisive, and when the time for action arrives He acts.  Quickly.  Suddenly.  If He has something special planned for me, for one, I want to be ready and open.

          When I’m engrossed in something of great interest to me, I can become oblivious to things beyond my focus.  I’ve been known to lose track of time.  Once, when I was a young minister, I was digging into something in my study that had me completely engrossed.  My family knew where I was, but before I realized it, the sun started peeping above the horizon and in sleepy wonder I wrote:

SUDDEN DAWN

Sitting by my window, On the brink between yesterday and tomorrow

I watched in wide-eyed wonder as darkness scampered

to hide from the rising sun.

The grey came this way, drawing in its wake a trail of blue.

Birds chirped in concert, cheering another unfolding miracle;

And a brand new day burst upon me!

 

             Isn’t that the way things happen sometimes?  You’re working on a problem.  Thinking.  Meditating.  Letting time pass.  And, suddenly, it comes clear to you.  It dawns on you.  It’s like a light switch is turned on, and you finally “get it.”  Perhaps when you’d all but given up hope.

            It’s close to Christmas.  If your heart and mind are open, what a wonderful time for God to burst in suddenly,  unexpectedly,  and unannounced once again with the message of “peace on earth, good will toward men!”

              God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student   ~donkimrey

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“IN THOSE DAYS. . . “

  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)”         Luke 2:1-2

      Do you mind if we take a few minutes and think about THE TIMING of what I’m calling an “Eternal Event?” Luke says the story unfolded “In those days.”  I’ve asked myself what was different or special about those days?  In this instance, the ‘High’ (Augustus) Caesar issued an order that all those under his rule were to be taxed.   At his own considerable expense and inconvenience, each and every citizen had to go back to his birthplace to register.  We aren’t told what kind of records were kept; or where; or how the totals were calculated and collected… or what the penalty might be for default.    This may have been the most convenient, most efficient way to register and pay taxes from the Roman government’s point of view.  In absolute power, what care had they for poor, miserable, inferior peasants?

         Do you get the picture?  Rome, the much despised, wielded cruel, savage power using a mailed fist like a sledge hammer.  The iron toed Roman boot on the necks of the Jews ground down and humiliated an intensely stubborn and proud people.  They must have felt they’d been grabbed by the neck like a chicken with taxes wrung out to the last shekel.  And we grumble and complain about “hard times” and bad times and downturns in our economy and a looming bona fide “depression” and deprivation.  I doubt most of us even know what hardship, destitution and deprivation really are.  In those days, they knew the meaning of suffering ~economic, mental, physical, and spiritual to the point of tortured exhaustion.  They sighed and trudged wearily along, wondering perhaps if each step and breath would be their last. . . and not really caring if it were.

         That’s what it was like, in those days.  Tired.  Weary. Oppressed. Crushed down. Defeated. The known world labored restlessly under the militarily enforced “PAX Romana.”  After centuries of trial and error, failed policies, disappointed philosophical and religious quests, historians tell us a certain “taedium vitae” (tiredness of life*) hung like a heavy pall.    Even those who held onto the Messianic hope, did it very tentatively, only half-heartedly. “How long, O Lord, How Long?” they wondered collectively.  “Haven’t we had enough?”

         IN THOSE DAYSI’m REALLY intrigued by a couple of words and phrases in what we consider the “Nativity Narratives.”  That is one of them.   In my thinking, though, this is how Luke plants this story in human history.  . . in time and on terra firma.  He’s not soaring around in space in some ‘Never-Never Land.’  It is obvious what he’s talking about. And Who.  And when.  And where.   He isn’t talking here about some lofty, unidentifiable, impersonal deity inhabiting some lofty pinnacle of mythical mystical Mount Olympus and hurling lightning bolts across the universe.  Luke is speaking about a real baby boy.  Born in REAL TIME.  Breathing, crying, nursing, sleeping peacefully in Mother Mary’s arms or there nestling and snuggling on the straw in the makeshift baby bed which had been borrowed from the farm animals and hastily improvised to meet an “emergency.”  What a sight!  What a night!!! 

        It all took place “in those days.”  I’ve been asking myself: “What was so special about “those days?”   Nothing.  Nothing at all as far as I can tell. 

         Until you take into account that on one of them Jesus was born.  Perhaps a day JUST LIKE THIS ONE!  Can you imagine?  

         In some sense, the darkest days provided the perfect backdrop for a miracle.  The kind of “times that try men’s souls” turned out to be, in fact, the days in which “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth.” 

         What matters to now, though, isn’t just about what happened then…so long ago and so far away “in those days.”   Not then.  But now.  What effect does this message have upon me IN THESE DAYS?

          GOD’S friend, your brother, friend, and fellow student  ~donkimrey~

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(*I did take a little bit of Latin and have read a little history and philosophy.  Where else could I have used such a phrase?   I called my high school math teacher a few days ago to tell him in all the years I’d studied, he remains the BEST teacher I ever had. In four years in his classes, I learned more about math and life principles than perhaps anywhere else outside my Mom’s influence.  We enjoyed a pleasant telephone reunion, and some of the years seemed to disappear and pleasant memories emerged.   Somewhere in there I reminded him that “The sum of the square of the hypoteneuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the opposite two sides.” )

 

 

THE GIFT

 

           John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

 

          For some reason, I never included this passage of Scripture as a “study” in my attempts to come to terms with the birth of Christ, and the gift of God which is eternal life through Him.  As clear as a bell, it compresses the message of Christmas into one sentence.  And it is stated so simply that you’d have to exercise real effort to miss the point. 

          Does it strike you as a bit unusual that, in celebrating the Birth of the King, WE (not He) are the ones who are offered “THE GIFT?”  In my experience, when there’s a birthday observance the Guest of Honor is the one who receives the Gift! 

          There’s a lot that can distract and confuse you if you permit that. You may be tricked and trapped into thinking “The Gift” has to do with prettily packaged and  expertly wrapped gifts placed under a beautifully lighted evergreen tree with a glowing hearth exuding warmth and good cheer.  Or, it may seem to some to be about the “bottom line” and whether their business year is profitable or a lost cause.  Wouldn’t it seem at best illogical if so much of what we do in observance of “The Birthday of The King” was “much ado about nothing,” and the reason for Christmas in the first place was lost or overlooked entirely? 

THE GIFT, THOUGH . . .  That is what Christmas is about.               

          John could never have stated it more simply and clearly than when he quoted Jesus’ famous conversation later with a Jewish ruler named Nicodemus. The chances are that almost every child who ever attended any “church school” anywhere in the world has heard and memorized a quotation from that conversation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

THE GIFT.  Please don’t lose sight of THE GIFT.  Even if you “tear up” over the nostalgia that prompts such an emotional response, or shy away at first at the idea of a little baby being born and wrapped in rags.  Lying there as He did, in the domestic animal’s food trough (the manger), possibly padded by some straw. This isn’t just about that touching sight. If you read on and get the full story, you’ll discover that little baby boy growing up to be Jesus,  the Carpenter from Nazareth, the Saviour of the Word.

          I would be untrue to myself and what I believe if I failed to make a suggestion here:  If you’ve not done so yet, what better time for an exchange of ‘gifts’ at this season?   Wouldn’t it be wonderfully appropriate if, even as you read and think about “The Gift,” that you were to accept that “Gift” as your own.  And, in exchange, you gave your life over to Him?   He’d like nothing better than that!

           One of my favorite poems about this season is by Christina Rosetti.  She stands in reverential awe as she considers the GIFT of God’s Son.  She then wonders, logically, about her own response to such Divine Extravagance:

“What shall I give him

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I’d give Him a lamb.

If I were a wise man

I’d do my part.

What shall I give Him?

I’ll give Him my heart!

             

          I Believe she got it right.  So did Isaac Watts when, in his great hymn, he wrote: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands (deserves, and shall have *) my life, my soul, my all.”

          Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the “GIFT,”  It is never something you earn, or deserve.  It doesn’t have ‘strings’ attached.  It has nothing to do with how good or bad we are. . . or THINK we are. In this case, God offers His Son,The Gift, “by grace, through faith.  And it has nothing to do with our works (accomplishments), lest anyone should boast.”** 

          Although we’ve not met, and perhaps never shall, I’d like for you to know I pray seriously that your visiting this site will not be an empty  “intellectual exercise” or an equally meaningless “internet excursion.” If what I say makes sense, I’d love to hear from you.  If it doesn’t make sense, shame on me!

             God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey

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          YOU MAY WANT TO TAKE TIME to view the blog, JLWilliams@.net. From my little hometown in the Piedmont section of North Carolina, he’s launched an international ministry reaching others across continents and over several decades.  His work is deserving of your prayers, and his study of Scripture is worthy of your attention.

*The words contained in the parenthesis are mine.  I’m confident Mr. Watts would have agreed.  ~dk

** This reference is taken from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the young Church at Ephesus (vv. 2:8 & 9).