Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Picture Mixture: Baby elephant, Maria, Old postcards, beauty

Photographer Finds Locations Of 1960s Postcards To See How They Look Today, And The Difference Is Unbelievable

Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer's desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.

I love how this series is displayed. The old postcard is shown and in that same spot the photo fades to the exact view of the scene today. It is a stark reminder to us that nothing on this earth is permanent, no matter how large, luxe, or solid it looks. The series is wistfully melancholy.

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This baby elephant runs around chasing birds. He slips and falls, and what he does next is so precious. Babies are cute, whether pachyderm or human! 25-second video.

Baby elephant chases birds

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The recent quakes and quake swarms, not to mention hurricanes, remind us that the earth is under a curse. only to be lifted by its Creator, Jesus, in His timing. Below, workers race to find survivors of the 7.1 quake at Mexico City which collapsed a school. Reuters photo




Scientists say recent quake swarm at Rainier is rare but not unprecedented



Rescue teams take to Puerto Rico streets in darkness amid warnings that power could be out for months following devastating hit from Hurricane Maria

Below, damage on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Our infrastructure, including electrical power, is so tenuous. Only God is power.



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And yet, amid the damage and heartache caused by a restless earth, beauty. Jesus created all the beauty we see in creation in under one week. Wow.



Throwback - Repentance brings blessing

This essay was first published on The End Time in December 2011

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EPrata photo

I listened to a very good sermon on Sunday afternoon. Don Green is [was] the pastor of the Grace Life section of the Grace Community Church of John MacArthur. Green's preaching Sunday on the "The Call to Repentance" was an eye opener. The verses were from the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5 and also Matthew 4:17.

His theme was not what you might expect. Repent, yes, but the call to repentance always has with it another part to the message, one that is often forgotten. When Jesus calls people to repent, there is always a blessing associated with it.

Pastor Green's point was that we of course should call people to repent, yes, but do not forget to tell them they are blessed if they do! Matthew 4:17 says, "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is the summary statement of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon, He is explaining what repentance means. The verse from Matthew 4 is the summation, but the Sermon is Jesus explicitly teaching what He meant regarding repentance. Matthew 5:3-9, for example, is linked to the Matthew 4:17 verse in that Jesus now gets specific about what happens to a person on the inside when they repent.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Look how many blessings come when a person repents and allows the Holy Spirit to change them on the inside! Jesus ended His sermon with reminding us that it IS an internal change. He said in verse 20:

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 23:13). The scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day, but they were only righteous on the outside, with what they wore and what they said and how they acted. Their internal state was not one of humble repentance, and as a result they were cursed, not blessed.

The call to repentance is to:
--turn away from sin toward biblical righteousness
--in order to give irrevocable allegiance to Jesus
--and to receive divine blessing

Pastor Green's sermon focused on understanding the third point, that with repentance comes blessing, and this shapes the way we explain the Gospel to people.

We call for repentance and warn of the justice from the Highest Court in the universe, from the most perfect Judge. Punishment for sins is real and must be declared to the unbeliever. This is our duty. But don't leave it there, Pastor Green urged. Because love is part of the equation, too. Jesus blesses His children. He bought us with His blood as pardon from the justice they would likewise receive but instead blesses them when they do repent.

Nine times in Matthew 5 (NASB) Jesus used the word "blessed". Nine blessings are pronounced! Also in Matthew 11, Matthew 13, Matthew 24, more blessedness is offered to those who do not take offense at Jesus, to those upon those who see and hear the message, and on those slaves who are doing the Father's will. The change brought about at repentance comes with is blessings that start there and continue on the growing believer.

When you share the Gospel, love them enough to tell them of the justice for the sins, but also love them enough to tell them of the Lord's blessings waiting upon them if they do repent. This is a good lesson for me, too.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

17 minutes of continual sin

We need a savior. We are evil, evil continually rising from a corrupted heart. Our human nature is depraved, polluted, and thoroughly iniquitous. Don't believe me? Think that Genesis 6:5 is only historical? You imagine I'm being unnecessarily pessimistic? "I haven't murdered anyone," you protest. "I'm not, like, a Nazi war criminal," your mind challenges. Hrm. Read on.

This piece is pretty well-known. It has been floating around the internet ever since it was published in World Magazine in 2005. Our pastor read it to us on a recent Sunday and then it became known to me. Boy, did it ever. I urge you to read it. Better still, read it out loud. Best of all, read it aloud to your spouse or friend, together, with someone. The relentlessness of it picks up steam, and the commensurate heart conviction rate increases also. Or it should. The article deftly illustrates why "good" folks "like us" need a savior. We. Need. A. Savior.

Postscript at the end.

Seventeen minutes
It's the thoughts-ordinary, daily thoughts-that count
By Andree Seu Peterson

These are the thoughts of a woman driving home from the Stop 'N Shop on an ordinary day.

She conjures three comebacks she could've hurled at Ellen if she had not been caught off guard.

She spots the baby shower invitation on the dashboard and schemes a way to be out of town that weekend-then thinks better of it because she has a favor to ask the sender at a later date.

She sizes up a woman standing at the bus stop-and judges her.

She stews over a comment her brother made behind her back, and crafts a letter telling him off-and sounding righteous in the process.

She reviews the morning's argument with her husband, and plans the evening installment.

She imagines how life would have been if she had married X (a well-worn furrow, this).

She magnanimously lets a car merge into traffic, and then is ticked off when she doesn't get her wave.

She resolves to eat less chocolate starting today-well, tomorrow.

She replays memory tapes going back to the '60s, trying to change the endings.

Somebody rides up the road shoulder and budges to the head of a traffic jam, and she hates the driver with a perfect hatred.

She passes the house of the contractor who defrauded her and fantasizes blowing it to smithereens.

She passes Audrey working in her garden and waves-but thinks, "If Audrey has chronic fatigue syndrome, I'm a flying Wallenda."

She glares at a driver who runs a red light in front of her, forgetting that she did the same about a mile ago.

She checks her slightly crooked nose compulsively in the rearview mirror, and reassures herself it isn't too bad.

An inner voice tells her to turn off the radio and pray, but she decides that's the voice of legalism.

She brainstorms talking points for her upcoming woman's Bible study lecture on "Ephesians" and considers how she can improve it-and make it better than Alice's talk of last week.

She is angry at God because here she is a Christian and broke, while her good-for-nothing heathen of a brother is rolling in dough.

She thinks how much better her life would be if she were beautiful, and fantasizes all the bungee-jumping, maggot pizza-eating "fear factor" stunts she'd be willing to subject herself to to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.

She wonders how her parents will divvy up the inheritance-and how long she has to wait.

She rehearses two good reasons why her sister and not she should take care of the folks when they're too old. She thinks about her childhood and counts the ways her parents have screwed up her life.

The Johnsons drive by, and she recalls all the meals she made for them 10 years ago when Lydia had toxemia during pregnancy, and bets they don't even remember. Hmm, did they even send a thank-you card?

The word treachery flashes through her mind (Mr. Beaver's succinct epithet for Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) but leaves no footprints.

An SUV cuts her off, and she decides to punish it by tailgating.

Her heart smites her for this. So she determines to try harder to live righteously from now on. Who knows, God may reward her in some amazing way: Her husband may give her grounds for divorce, and God will lead her to the arms of Mr. Right.

She tries to pray but doesn't get past "Our Father."

There are lots of other people that the woman does not think of while driving home with groceries, people who are not important to her social status, or just not interesting.

She doesn't think about AIDS-ravaged Africa, she doesn't think about the death sentence dangling over millions in Sudan, she doesn't think about missionaries, she doesn't think about martyrs in Kim Jong-il's prisons, she doesn't think about ways she could encourage her children.

She pulls into her driveway. Total driving time: 17 minutes.

And if you were to ask the lady, as she rustles parcels from the car, what she has been thinking about on the drive from town, she would say, "Oh, nothing in particular." And she would not be lying.

Imagine believing that we don't need a Savior.

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Jesus brought light and cleansing to our blackened hearts.


Hurricane Irma was approaching Georgia on that Sunday. It was due to hit on Monday. Our church service runs from 3:00-4:30. After church, I stopped at the nearby grocery store to pick up a few last minute items. It was packed. Jammed. And a sheen of tension overlay the store. People were in more of a hurry than usual, pumped up from the weather forecasters' predictions of downed trees, lost power, and other dire unknown things that were sure to happen. I got into the self-checkout line, which was not any shorter but I was hoping that I might gain a slight time advantage.

I didn't, and I waited in line without moving, for a long while. As I stood and waited, and my stress levels increased, so did my thoughts. I began having a stream of consciousness, nothing-in-particular thoughts about everyone else in line. I judged their clothes. I judged their slowness of movement. I even judged their purchases. Shocked, I realized that I was the same as the woman in the article, thinking evil thoughts continually. Here, ten minutes after the service ended, still in my church clothes.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Thank you Jesus that You covered us with your blood, cleansed from our sin in Your eyes. Our sin has been erased from our record to be thrown into the vast outer places, as far as the east is from the west. Seeing my sin record before me, I stagger under the weight of carrying it, never mind a lifetime. I would have justly been penalized for it, had You not submitted to the Father's plan of the cross.

You bore the weight of eternity's sin of all the people You have chosen since before the foundation of the world, and their/my punishment. Thank You.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Was Achsah's request too bold?

You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2b)

So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (Luke 11:13)

The second scripture above from Luke is a story Jesus delivered just after teaching the disciples 'The Lord's Prayer', in the section on how to pray.

We know of the more familiar examples of Bible people asking things boldly. David, Jeremiah Habakkuk, Job, Hannah...they all asked for things of the Lord and did so honestly, with raw intensity. There is no doubt that they were sincere believers who felt awe and reverence for God. They feared Him. Yet when it came time to pour out their heart in naked emotion or bold prayer requests, they did.

Here is a less well known example of someone in the Bible asking for something of her (earthly) father, boldly. Achsah. Here she is in scripture, Judges 1:12-15,



And Caleb said, "He who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter for a wife." 13And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter for a wife. 14When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you want?" 15She said to him, "Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water." And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Was Achsah too bold? Was she greedy? Was she rebellious in her asking when she should have remained meek and submissive? The Jamieson Fausset Commentary explains it this way
that is, when about to remove from her father's to her husband’s house. She suddenly alighted from her travelling equipage—a mark of respect to her father, and a sign of making some request. She had urged Othniel to broach the matter, but he not wishing to do what appeared like evincing a grasping disposition, she resolved herself to speak out. Taking advantage of the parting scene when a parent's heart was likely to be tender, she begged (as her marriage portion consisted of a field which, having a southern exposure, was comparatively an arid and barren waste) he would add the adjoining one, which abounded in excellent springs. The request being reasonable, it was granted; and the story conveys this important lesson in religion, that if earthly parents are ready to bestow on their children that which is good, much more will our heavenly Father give every necessary blessing to them who ask Him.
The last sentence of the commentary explanation harks back tot he verse from Luke above. And here is another short explanation of this small incident from Judges about Achsah, it is Matthew Henry from his Complete Commentary. The tenth commandment was "Do Not Covet."
From this story we learn, 
1. That it is no breach of the tenth commandment moderately to desire those comforts and conveniences of this life which we see attainable in a fair and regular way. 
2. That husbands and wives should mutually advise, and jointly agree, about that which is for the common good of their family; and much more should they concur in asking of their heavenly Father the best blessings, those of the upper springs.
3. That parents must never think that lost which is bestowed upon their children for their real advantage, but must be free in giving them portions as well as maintenance, especially when they are dutiful. Caleb had sons (1 Chr. 4:15), and yet gave thus liberally to his daughter.
Ye have not because ye ask not! Now, just because we ask, doesn't mean we will get what we ask. God is not a magic genie, bestowing upon us all that we desire. There are conditions to asking boldly of our Father in prayer. First, the rest of the James verse explains that sometimes we do not receive because we ask wrongly. If we are asking in order to indulge our passions, it will not be granted. If we regard iniquity in our heart, prayer will not be heard. (Psalm 66:18). There are other conditions, too, which if in place mean the prayer will not be heard, no matter how bold it is. (source with scriptures here,please look at the list).
Conclusion:

Prayer: Nothing is too great and nothing is too small to commit into the hands of the Lord!
-- A. W. Pink
Our Father who is holy, will give good gifts. Be bold in prayer, be diligent in asking, be sure of the result.

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Further resources:

Sermon "Pray Boldly", here John MacArthur explains the weird scene from Luke 11
jmac sermon "don't be afraid to ask'

Charles Spurgeon's sermon Have not because ye ask not? exposits the scene with Achsah.

Thomas Watson quotes on prayer, here at Grace Gems

Valley of Vision, The Prayer of Love

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sipping wine in the place where the grape is grown

In the late 1980s I was inspired by the movie Shirley Valentine, a film that depicted a middle-aged London wife unhappy with her boring husband and her dreary life. "I want to sip wine in the place where the grape is grown" Shirley had said. So she chucked her husband and her life and jetted off to sunny Greece, swam topless, had an affair, and decided to stay. I guess she liked the wine better than her husband.

Vineyard in Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy. EPrata photo
I was very much taken with the notion of changing one's life. I was entranced by Shirley's life mantra, of 'sipping wine in the place where the grape is grown'. I had tried a conventional life, but my husband had chucked me, I was saddled with a house in a dreary climate and three jobs to pay for it. I wanted more. Sipping wine in places where it's grown was certainly not the dying mill city of snowy Lewiston Maine. It bespoke of gentle Tuscan hillsides, green California dreams, or Greek whitewashed stucco. What a goal, Shirley, what a goal.

I went to wine places. California, Tuscany, South of France, rolling hills and grape vines abounding. But wine was just wine and the problem was the same. I met my goal. It was empty.

I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. ...

What was the meaning of life? Where was permanence, solidity, something that would not disappear in a breath? Something that would give lasting joy, meaning, and purpose? What is man's chief end??

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:2-4, 11).
Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Puritan Thomas Watson preached on this in his sermon, Man's Chief End is to Glorify God
Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God. 
First. The glorifying of God, 1 Pet. 4:11. "That God in all things may be glorified." The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. l Cor. 10:31. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. 
The great truth asserted is that the end of every man's living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.
Q. What is it to glorify God?
A. Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection. This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.
Watson continued in his sermon to explain what and how to appreciate, adore, love, and submit to God.

King Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes concludes with the eternal wisdom:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Wine is vanity, travel is vanity. All we do when we relocate is bring our depravity with us. We are the problem. Godless, we are adrift in a sea of evil, wafting from one vain flurry to another. Drifting as dust motes upon an acid air, we leave evil, bring evil, and expire as evil. We believe ourselves to be maidens of rosy blush and coy innocence, when we are simply mud mounds cast upon miry shores. Godless, we are drenched with corruption.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (Genesis 6:5,12).

When we are saved by His grace through faith, we are cleansed, our sin nature is given a Helper. We are dressed in white robes and stood on our feet, no longer to crawl in the dust like the serpent. We are given a will and testament that promises eternal peace, treasures, crowns, and dwellings in glory with the Savior. Our goal shifts to one of giving Him glory and enjoying Him forever.

What a goal, what a goal.






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kay Cude poetry: When We Remember

Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Click to enlarge

Artist's Statement:

As I continue to go through them my perspective is reinforced with the fundamental truth: it is necessary that we learn and grow through "issues" and situations we'd rather avoid. They will either drive us deeper into Scripture and prayer, or we will allow them to drive us into despondency, confusion and sorrow. When we experience breath-knocking blows, above all else it is necessary that we "remember" Who our first love is and that He, Christ is our ever-present secure help. He is our All-in-All, our sufficiency, protection, strength and giver of wisdom. We must remember that issues and circumstance have eternal purpose for His beloved redeemed.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Picture Mixture Saturday: Earth predicted to end this month, APOD, thrift stores, outdoors in fall, more


Biblical prophecy claims earth will end on September 23. Good to know.


This is why I love second hand stores. Second hand books! My local store often has good quality Christian material. I buy books to give away. Except for a few volumes that will always stay with me, my Christian bookshelves are revolving.

Here's some reasons why thrift store shopping is cooler than you thought.





This is why I love photo editing software (Pixlr.com, free)




Do you have a quiet place to enjoy God's creation this weekend? 10 Outdoor activities to grow closer to God and each other




If you're not familiar with NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), then this might spark your imagination. "Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer." Photo for September 15, 2017 credit and explanation is below

100 Steps Forward
Image Credit & Copyright: Camilo Jaramillo
Explanation: A beautiful conjunction of Venus and Moon, human, sand, and Milky Way is depicted in this night skyscape from planet Earth. The scene is a panorama of 6 photos taken in a moment near the end of a journey. In the foreground, footsteps along the wind-rippled dunes are close to the Huacachina oasis in the southwestern desert of Peru. An engaging perspective on the world at night, the stunning final image was also chosen as a winner in The World at Night's 2017 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.


Though the man is standing in a desert in Peru, I think about this being the same universe that Joseph, trapped in a desert well, looked up into. That Job, mourning and grieving, cried under. Habakkuk questioning God at night, the disciples, asleep in Gethsemane with Jesus praying under these same stars. Our God created all those stars...and named them also. What a gracious thing it is, to know Jesus and understand the universe is God's.


Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 33: Permanent Transience

click to enlarge

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Isthmus of Life

This essay was first published on The End Time on March 9, 2013. I'd like to add to my essay, that you see how narrow an isthmus is. That is life. It is but a breath, a narrow strip whereupon we dwell for only a short time. Then the eternal boundless ocean of either wrath or glory will wash over us adn we will be forever it its depths, either in torment or in peace.

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"I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of this life, between two boundless oceans." ~John Wesley, 1747

An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas, usually with water on either side. A tombolo is an isthmus where the strip of land consists of a spit or bar.

The sandy isthmus or tombolo connecting
North and South Bruny Island in Tasmania, Australia
One of my favorite spots on earth is at Lubec Maine, and this shot is of the East Quoddy Lighthouse at Campobello Island, New Brunswick Canada. It is across from Lubec. The famous tides in this area rush in and rise to heights of thirty feet or more. This narrow spit of sand submerges in furious fashion when the tide comes in and covers it up.


If you are standing on the sand when the tide comes in you will find that the current stirs up the sand and pebbles and what you thought was solid to stand on becomes completely unstable. The forces of the water sweep you off your feet and carry you away. Your strength will not able to overcome the strength of the water. Its chilling effect weakens you and hypothermia sets in rapidly. The webpage for the lighthouse warns--
"If you become stranded on the islands by the tide, wait for rescue. Even former keepers of this lighthouse have lost their lives by misjudging the strong, frigid, fast-rising tidal currents, and tide-pressurized unstable pebble ocean floor, while attempting to make this crossing. During a summer in the 1990s, two visitors attempted to swim across this passage. One made it across, but the other was swept away by the current. After a rescue by boat, both had been stricken with hypothermia, were rushed to the hospital -- and luckily, survived."
The page ends with this warning:

DANGER!--TAKE NO RISKS & DO NOT LINGER!

We think of Wesley's notion of life as an isthmus. It is narrow and temporary. The boundless oceans of heaven and hell are on either side, pressing in. Eventually the land gives way and we are carried away by one, or the other.

Which direction you go depends on your attitude toward Jesus. At the moment of your death, the difference in direction will all come down to one point, one only. Jesus. He will lift you from the hopeless, chilling waters of your looming eternity in hell and bring you to the warm bosom of Himself in glorious heaven. The difference in which boundless ocean you will spend your eternity is repentance. Repent and be saved!
What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as "two sides of the same coin." It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

So this is the message: DANGER!--TAKE NO RISKS & DO NOT LINGER! Every day one lives on earth without knowing Jesus is a danger. You are taking risks with your eternity. Do not linger in repenting and placing your faith in Jesus.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Picture Mixture Thursday: Polaroid is back, New feature called Crypti-tweet, Prototype movie, more

Photos for you today.

Great news! Polaroid is back. Instant, analog photos. Good. Digital photos are fun but do not have the same sense of generational care and personal story that well-worn photo album with analog photos does. And the instant is just a super bonus. No more waiting for film to be developed and returned from the store! The original Polaroid was launched 80 years ago. Wow. You can also buy vintage original Polaroid cameras at the new site for as little as $19. Hmmm.




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As Hurricane Harvey and Irma leave devastation in their wake, we remember the costliest and deadliest hurricane in the US ever, the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. Isaac's Storm was a fantastic non-fiction book recounting the storm, its people, and the result- birth of the modern National Weather Service. Meanwhile, here is an interesting movie project that released today at the Toronto Film Festival. It's called Prototype,

Revisiting a Devastating 1900 Hurricane in an Experimental 3D Filma non-narrative journey through the aftermath of the Great Galveston Hurricane shot in crisp 3D.

I like stereoscopic photographs, and occasionally post one here from an old book called Earthly Footsteps of the Man From Galilee, pictures taken in the stereoscopic format in the late 1800s and compiled into a book. My grandparents had a stereoscope and a library of photos I used to look through. It transported me to foreign lands and sparked my imagination.

The Prototype movie opens by using vintage stereoscope cards, a primitive 3D viewing method popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The stereoscopic cards in question are souvenirs made from photographs of the devastation wrought by the Great Storm of 1900, a hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, says the movie's synopsis. Here is a review of the movie a critic saw as a sneak peek.



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Unsplash- a repository for high-resolution, creative commons, available-to-use photos. The photography is so outstandingly beautiful and mine just do not belong there! These photos will take your breath away. Just go look, if you want something gorgeous to feast on. Here are just 2. Use Unsplash for your blogs, you can search by photographer or theme.




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Here's a very funny photo publicizing the new study group based on work done by Jess Pickowicz in writing a study guide to go along with the MacArthur & Mayhue tome Biblical Doctrine:



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Here's a new feature I made up called Crypti-tweet. These are tweets from self-professed Bible teachers or Christian leaders which make no sense. I know it's hard to say what you want to say within the confines of 140 characters, and we all flub up sometimes. I'm not talking about those tweets.

I'm also not talking about the poetry we sometimes get carried away with tweeting, tweets that attempt to capture an ephemeral but powerfully real spiritual emotion we might have been feeling at the moment. I'm not talking about those intensely personal and understandable but generally cryptic-to-outsider tweets either.

No, I'm talking about teachers or leaders who are charged with making sense, as in, that is their sole task, (able to teach, 2 Timothy 2:24) but consistently issue tweets that are just insane sounding, ergo, directly contradicting the one and only skill-level command that the Bible insists that teachers possess, which is "making sense". Here is Beth Moore, inaugurating the Crypti-tweet:



Till next time!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why are there so many natural disasters?

Irma devastated the island of St Marten. CNN photo

I posted the other day in my essay "Is it the Birth Pangs?" that natural disasters have always been with us. One perspective I had offered was from a John MacArthur sermon. Dr MacArthur had said in his sermon Supernatural Lessons from a Natural Disaster,
We live in a society unlike any in the past, a world of electronic media, a world of mass communication, a world of overexposure to relentless visual images and enhancements.  We see everything and we see it constantly.  In fact, we're not isolated from anything that happens anywhere in the world 
Every catastrophe, every calamity, every cataclysm, every disaster, every tragedy everywhere eventually comes to us through the media and we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death...
It's true. I know that when I hunch in front of my laptop and watch in real time Houston flooding from Hurricane Harvey and then a few days later watch the news eagle eyed because Hurricane Irma is predicted to pass over my own area, my mind and heart gets beleaguered. The flood surges, drowned animals, missing elderly, lost homes, evacuations...are all so terrible. It's difficult to comprehend the significance. And we do look for significance. Why is there so much disaster in the world?

In that previous essay I wrote that the pangs have been appearing for 2000 years, since Jesus ascended. and that this is just the beginning. (Matthew 24:8). Earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters have always happened, since after the time of Genesis 3. Do you know why? The curse. Sin. The earth groans under it.

I'd focused on the curse from Genesis 3.

Here is another reason why, perhaps, there are disasters like hurricanes in the world:

The scene is Jonah 1. The ship is underway. Jonah is rebelling, and the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, which tossed the ship. (Jonah 1:4). In this sermon called Running Away from God's Will, John MacArthur explained

Well, they were praying, and none of their prayers were doing any good, and they figured they ought to get Jonah in on it. Verse 7, "And they said every one to his fellow, 'Come, let us cast lots, throw dice, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.' So they threw the dice and God controlled the dice, and the lot fell on Jonah," and it was Jonah. Isn't it interesting that sin here causes a ...a natural disaster? You know, I really believe that, as we look around our world, we see all the earthquakes and so forth and so on that are going on. You know, there's a...a percentage of earthquakes today that's greater than at any other time in history, and I think it follows right along with the mystery of iniquity unfolding toward the coming of Christ, because natural disaster follows in conjunction with sin. 
Now, if you go back to 2 Chronicles, for example, chapter 7, I think it is, verse 13. "If I shut up heaven that there is no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among the people, if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear...hear from heaven forgive their sin and will...what?...heal their land." 
You see, God responds to sin with very often natural disaster; and so God brought a storm in response to the sin of the prophet Jonah.
In other words, sin again. The creation is cursed and groaning, and the humans are sinners causing drama and disaster.

All this should point us to the Day, the time when Jesus renews the earth and the heavens, and no curse will ever exist. No disaster will ever befall any glorified human or holy angel. No howling rainstorm will flood, only fresh dew will spring from the ground. No screeching wind, but only soft breezes to ruffle the hair and kiss the leaves. No trees toppling, only stately cedars standing strong, giving shade to us and homes for birds of the air.

The Lord is grace itself, His mighty voice upholds the heavens. Some day, the heavens will be fresh and perfect, and no curse of disaster shall ever trouble us again.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In My Seat: a 9/11 Pilot's Story and the Providence of God

God is in sovereign control of every single thing on this earth, in heaven, and throughout the universe. He is at work providentially, invisibly. We would never have known this story until the video was made and the man told of this event. Yet known or unknown, this story of providence is repeated millions of times per day, every day, over and over, by Jesus, so that His plan will come to fruition at any given moment and at every moment.

Do not fear. This same Jesus has your life in His hand. He is orchestrating all things for your good and His glory. Whether His plan had been to put you in that seat, or to take you out of that seat, on any given day, His ministrations and ordination of events will come to pass. He is God, and there is no other.

This 15-minute video is WELL worth your time.

Synopsis:
September 10, 2001, First Officer Steve Scheibner packed his suitcase and waited for the phone call finalizing his assignment to fly American Airlines Flight 11, from Boston to Los Angeles. The call never came. In My Seat recounts the events leading up to Flight 11 and the subsequent death of Tom McGuinness in the seat that should have been filled by Steve Scheibner.




Examples of a spineless gospel presentation



Here are two men, both preachers of God's word, both with church flocks, both well known. One is known for his falsity and prosperity gospel and has a poor reputation among true believers. The other is known for his Reformed stance and is highly thought of by many believers.

Three times the interviewer asked the guest if Jesus is the only way, and three times the guest had the opportunity to state the true answer unequivocally. They didn't. Eerily, both men's responses were similar despite being several years apart and on separate and different forums.

Here are both responses in video plus link to full transcript to interview #1, below.




This summer I was researching Tim Keller. I heard a lot about him but had not personally delved. Well, I delved. In all the product I consumed to do my research, this interview stood out.

As a side note: When I research and I come across things that are grievous to me, I am spiritually pierced. I literally mourn, and I weep literal tears and I pray. I do not take posts like this lightly. I find no joy in them.

My method is journalistically solid. I don't cherry pick to fulfill a pre-conceived agenda. I don't lift one wayward quote from a body of work that is otherwise solid. I look at the person's overall life's work over time. I look at the entire essay, I watch the entire interview- for context. I wait to discern. I observe if the person will repent or course-correct.

That said, MSNBC journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Tim Keller about Christianity, at Columbia University in February 2008, related to his book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. This full Veritas Forum interview is quite lengthy, it's 1 hour 24 minutes. I watched the entire program. Here is another blogger's transcript of the 6-min excerpt from the longer interview. There are other problematic answers later int he program to other topics as well.

Here in this 6-min clip from the above full-length interview, I'd like to direct your attention to the fact that the interviewer asks three times if people who aren't Christians are going to hell or not, just as Larry King had pursued the question with Osteen.





In listening to the above 6-minute clip, I was reminded of similar answers from the 2005 interview Larry King did with Joel Osteen. In looking for transcripts of both interviews, I was struck by the similarity in tone, the vagueness of the responses, and the gutless gospel given. I made a chart so as to compare the responses. I tried to go apples-to-apples, comparing similar questions' topics with their individual responses, as closely as possible. I deliberately left off the names of these two gentlemen. See if you can deduce who said what. Click to enlarge it.


Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:27)

John MacArthur has always been bold. I remember he explained his tactic when asked to go on a secular interview show. He said that he gets the Gospel out as quickly and succinctly as he can. Oftentimes he is interrupted or time doesn't allow, so he cuts to the chase and presents it. He said that his main responsibility in life as a pastor is to explain and defend the Bible, and whenever he has a national opportunity to speak, he feels obligated to pursue souls quickly, with grace and clarity. Here is MacArthur on Larry King Live in 2003, on a panel that consisted of 4 other men of various faiths. I edited out two responses by a Catholic man so as to keep the focus on MacArthur's answers.

KING: John MacArthur, you believe that Muslim people, the Islamic people are wrong. Their beliefs are wrong.

MACARTHUR: That's right. And this is not some personal belief of mine. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life..."

KING: Yes, but if they don't believe that...

MACARTHUR: If they don't believe that, no man comes to the Father but by me.

KING: He died for the Islamic, too?

KING: You believe that, too, right?

MACARTHUR: Well, I believe God loves his creatures, his creations.

MACARTHUR: But in the end he's going to condemn to an eternal hell all those who reject his son Jesus Christ.

KING: All of them?

MACARTHUR: All who reject his son Jesus Christ, the Bible says, are condemned to eternal punishment.

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If MacArthur is on a panel with 4 other men, speaking under a shorter time frame, with looming commercial interruptions every few minutes, and still managed here and elsewhere in that same interview to get the truth out, what excuse do men like Osteen and Keller have, who were alone on a show with over an hour of leisurely talk time and one of those without any commercials at all?

None.

Our lesson as laypeople is the same. Despite the current trend away from speaking of sin and wrath and judgment, it is important to state the truth - the whole truth - clearly and unflinchingly. We have the truth, as Christians. It's a privilege and responsibility to state it to people & to the world as it is stated to us in the Bible. No shrinking back, no alterations, no equivocations.

During a Q&A at Grace Community Church, Phil Johnson, Moderator, thanked MacArthur for his clear stand on a previous Larry King Live interview session, in this session called Standing Firm in Unstable Times. The more unstable times get, the more we need good men who are clear with the Gospel.

PHIL: I want to say...Thank you, John, for the clear stand you took for Christ and for the way you made the truth of the gospel clear. You don't see that very often on Larry King.
JOHN: Well, it was a pleasure, believe me. It was a great opportunity and, you know, when you get an opportunity like that to give the simple straight-forward gospel to the wide world, it's just a great privilege.

Amen.

Picture Mixture Tuesday: kids' digital footprint, bacon, 9/11, piano, gelato, more

There are lots of people in my area without power from yesterday and into today due to the remnants of Hurricane Irma passing north through the state of Georgia. Thank you, Linemen, for your dangerous but so important work!



Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11. On waking up that bright fall morning, millions never knew that in a few hours their families would be devastated, and our national security and psychology would never be the same.



A new trend, this precious moon nightlight!

I'm a vegetarian due to taste and preference issues (not philosophy). I rarely eat any meat and I dislike cooking bacon because of the mess. But this is funny. In the south, I hear many wives mourn the fact that they can't get their men to eat vegetables, and salads are practically anathema. This dish would be close to the truth in any proud southern home... ;)



I thought this was pretty. I'm getting set to do a musical instrument series. I shot this after church Sunday. The delicacy and beauty of a well-crafted instrument is wonderful to behold. When it is played skillfully by someone singing hymns to the Lord, it's even better.




Something to think about when posting pics of your kids on Facebook. Are you widening their digital footprint to the degree that their future privacy will be lost? More here.




Where is the best gelato in the world? Well, duh, Italy of course! After three years and many nations competing, one gelateria in Spoleto Italy has won. I'm not an ice cream fan but when you are in Italy tasting real gelato, your world will be rocked. More here on the winner.



Psalm 63:6-8

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me

Have a great day!



Monday, September 11, 2017

Why is it so hard to pray?

We're commanded in many places in scripture to pray. We have the duty of continual communion with Him. And yet, so often we don't pray as we ought. Why is this?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

It seems so easy. Praying isn't as hard as spreading asphalt in Nevada on a summer day. It isn't battling a five-alarm fire in the canyons. It isn't helping your mother with Alzheimer's. All you do is sit in your air conditioned place, put your hands together, and speak to Jesus, our friend.

But is that all prayer is? No.

David McIntyre in his 1912 book, The Hidden Life of Prayer (free online) explains why praying is so hard sometimes. He tells why we do not do it as we ought. The Hidden Life of Prayer was one of the books that Tim Challies selected for his program "Reading Through the Classics." Challies wrote,
McIntyre was a Scottish preacher who succeeded Andrew Bonar as minister in Finnieston and later served as principal of the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow from 1913 to 1938. His book was first published in 1913.
McIntyre is insightful when he writes this,
Our Lord takes it for granted that His people will pray. And indeed in Scripture generally the outward obligation of prayer is implied rather than asserted. Moved by a divinely-implanted instinct, our natures cry out for God, for the living God. And however this instinct may be crushed by sin, it awakes to power in the consciousness of redemption.
Photo by Anna King on Unsplash

McIntyre is powerful when he writes this,
And yet, instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.

We know that we do not wrestle with others, but with powers and principalities of the air. And who is the prince of the power of the air? Satan. (Ephesians 6:12, Ephesians 2:2). But to put the two concepts together as one of the reasons prayer is so arduous, we have a powerful truth.

And lest we think that even if we had an easy life with no problems, or can slack off due to our tight communion with God, McIntyre write this about Jesus:
And this one who sought retirement with so much solitude was the Son of God, having no sin to confess, no shortcoming to deplore, no unbelief to subdue, no languor of love to overcome. Nor are we to imagine that His prayers were merely peaceful meditations, or rapturous acts of communion. They were strenuous and warlike, from that hour in the wilderness when angels came to minister to the prostrate Man of Sorrows, on to that awful "agony" in which His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. His prayers were sacrifices, offered up with strong crying and tears.

Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

"Prayer is the key of heaven; the Spirit helps faith to turn this key." ~Thomas Watson.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Is it the birth pangs?

Tuscany was lashed with torrential rains and floods. There were fatalities.
Bangalore is flooded. Water levels rose over 5 feet. And it's drought season.
Mexico was subjected to a 8.1 earthquake with many dead. The President of that nation declared a three-day period of national mourning.
Hurricane Harvey inundated the US city of Houston this week.
Wildfires are raging in three US states.
Of course Hurricane Irma devastated the Carribbean and also the SE of the US, where it is predicted that it will take billions of dollars to reconstruct.
A new hurricane is in the Atlantic, Jose.
The Guardian has a run-down of the disasters currently in play. Below, Hurricane Irma photo taken by Russian Cosmonaut Randy Bresnik aboard the International Space Station.

Add caption

We live in a society unlike any in the past, a world of electronic media, a world of mass communication, a world of overexposure to relentless visual images and enhancements.  We see everything and we see it constantly.  In fact, we're not isolated from anything that happens anywhere in the world. 
Every catastrophe, every calamity, every cataclysm, every disaster, every tragedy everywhere eventually comes to us through the media and we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death, whether it's earthquakes in Mexico, or Japan, or Indonesia, or whether it's famine in Africa or volcanic eruptions on various islands of the sea, or whether it's horrific hurricanes in Asia or in Florida, whether it's plagues in India, avalanches in Europe, wars in Iraq, whether it's genocide, whether it's suicidal terrorists in Israel or New York City or Washington D.C. or in a Russian school, whether it's a plane crash, a train disaster, the sinking of ferry boat in a choppy sea in the English Channel, whatever it is, we are not isolated from these disasters, ...
Whatever it is, we get it all. We cannot escape the information about catastrophic car wrecks that kill people. We see them replay it again and again on the nightly news, or house fires that burn up entire families. 
And the truth is, if we weren't living in this particular era of human history, we would not experience all of this. We would live in a little world somewhere and that little world would have its share of disasters and sometimes pretty devastating ones. But we at least wouldn't have to bear the weight of all the disasters of all the world all the time. There is no little world for us anymore, not in western society. The weight of the tragedies of the world finds its way onto our emotional backs. The tragedies of the globe become ours to process in our beleaguered minds. Supernatural lessons from a natural disaster, John MacArthur
Is it the apocalyptic birth pangs? Yes. But the pangs have been appearing for 2000 years, since Jesus ascended. The two men in white announced to the men staring into the sky as Jesus had just been lifted out of their sight,

and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11).

This is just the beginning. (Matthew 24:8). Earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters have always happened, since after the time of Genesis 3. Do you know why?

The curse. Sin. The earth groans under it.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22)
The simple verb to travail, occurs Gal. 4:19, 27; and the kindred noun birth-pang, in Matthew and Mark, Acts, and 1 Thess. 5:3.  
Together refers to the common longing of all the elements of the creation, not to its longing in common with God’s children. "Nature, with its melancholy charm, resembles a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears" (Schelling, cited by Godet). M.R. Vincent, Word studies in the New Testament
(1.) That there is a present vanity to which the creature, by reason of the sin of man, is made subject, v. 20. When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, and with it all the creatures (especially of this lower world, where our acquaintance lies) became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal.  
(2.) That the creatures groan and travail in pain together under this vanity and corruption, v. 22. It is a figurative expression. Sin is a burden to the whole creation; 
There is a general outcry of the whole creation against the sin of man: the stone crieth out of the wall (Hab. 2:11), the land cries, Job 31:38. Source: Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible
God is sovereign. God either allows a storm (satan can whip up a wind, he has that power, Job 1:19); or for His purposes God creates one. (Deuteronomy 11:17, James 5:17, Numbers 16:30-34). Either way, the earth originally was not home to this kind of trouble. In Eden, things were perfect. Not a harsh wind, not a tornado, not an earthquake, not even a stinging insect. Placid, dew-perfect life for Adam and Eve. Until the serpent tempted the humans to sin, and the humans fell. So did creation.

Paul cried out famously, Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24). We could equally cry 'who will rescue us from this planet of death?' We groan and the creation groans. The most we can do in the face of these storms is remember who God is. We remember why this is happening (sin's curse). We pray that those who do not know these things will turn to God and repent. Today because in all likelihood, the news will bring us another one tomorrow and we will we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death all over again. MacArthur's prayer-
We're reminded of the words of the apostle Paul borrowing from the Old Testament, "Today is the day of salvation." Lord, we have time now. We have opportunity now. We don't know what the future has. We don't know what calamity awaits. But we know we are experiencing Your patience and forbearance now. We know it's not because You're slack with Your promise. It's not because You're impotent, or powerless. It's not because You're indifferent. You could take us at any moment. You could snuff our lives out and You would be just in doing that. 
But You have given us life and time and gospel opportunity to repent. And we...we have to see that opportunity for what it really is and we have to hear what our Lord said, "Repent or perish." Death comes suddenly, unexpectedly, and if we have not repented with a repentance of not just turning, as turning from sin but turning to Christ, then eternal judgment awaits and forever we pay the penalty. What a horrific thought. While there is time, while there is opportunity, while there is the knowledge of the truth, I pray, oh God, that hearts would turn to You even now. Father, now we ask that You would do Your work. We're so grateful for the fact that You have been gracious to us, those of us that know You. 
We were given time and space and opportunity to repent. We were given the truth to hear and to believe and, oh Lord, we pray that You would so move in the hearts of those who have heard now and have not yet repented. May they be warned and shaken to the seriousness of the jeopardy in which they exist. And we ask that many would repent before they perish. And Lord, use us to spread this word of warning and of mercy to sinners everywhere. May they know that judgment comes but that mercy waits. And now send us out to be used to Your glory, we pray in Your Son's name. 
Supernatural lessons from a natural disaster, John MacArthur
PS, the sermon above and quoted at the beginning was delivered 13 years ago, in 2004.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Biblical Doctrine Study week 1 thoughts

Are you desiring to try a thorough study in Systematic Theology but don't know where to start? Have you excitedly bought or were given the John MacArthur/Richard Mayhue tome Biblical Doctrine but are too intimidated to start?

Jessica Pickowicz of Beautiful Thing has written a Study Guide to go along with the book. She has also created a Facebook group of women to gather and discuss it. The Study will take about two years. It just began this week and it is certainly not too late to join!!! I blogged about it earlier.

This is the first essay with thoughts from what I've studied.

I love theology. I love knowledge, and I love wisdom. The word "theology" comes from two Greek words that combined mean "the study of God." Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information. Wisdom is the synthesis of knowledge with appropriate applications to life. If you study God through His Bible and speak about Him in ways where people can find application of His precepts to their life, you are a theologian speaking knowledgeably with wisdom.

The first lesson was to read the preface. I found this passage to be worthwhile:

The ultimate goal of writing such a systematic theology and to study such a systematic theology is
"to elevate one's holy worship. The posture of theology is on one's knees. The model of theology is repentance." 
The quote is from Sinclair Ferguson who was quoted in James Boice and Philip Ryken's book "The Doctrines of Grace."

I think that quote cuts to the chase. If I have any inclinations of accumulating knowledge for knowledge's sake, this cuts me off at the knees. More importantly, it brings me to my knees. The only purpose of such study is to better know God and to offer him increasingly elevated holy worship. This is His due. This is the chief end of man and the reason for our existence: relationship though worship and giving Him glory.

EPrata photo

Biblical Doctrine: Ladies, Study along with Jessica Pickowicz, & #ReadWritePlan2017

Ladies, Jessica Pickowicz, wife of Nate Pickowicz, who authored Why We're Protestant and Reviving New England, wrote a Bible study to go along with MacArthur's and Mayhue's tome, "Biblical Doctrine."

I have a dear friend who is attending The Master's University. He returned home for summer break and arrived at my door in July with a surprise gift of this wonderful book. Even more wonderful, it is signed by John MacArthur and a verse was selected to include with the signature!


I can't figure out if the verse is an encouragement or a warning to me. Hmmm. Likely both, since I need both!

I love that he did this and I put it proudly on my theological bookshelves. And there is sat, all 1000 plus pages of it. Once in a while I'd look at it as I passed my shelf, and mourned its size and how I was going to approach this study.

Providentially, Jess had been writing a study guide and lessons to go along with the book, and announced it about a month after I'd received the book! The study began this week.

Concurrently, an internet annual organization plan for writers is going on. It's by Alexandra Haughton and it's called #ReadWritePlan. What you do it post one photo a day according to their schedule, showing your favorite pens, planners, papers, highlighters, bulletin boards, desk area, etc. In other words, what does it look like where you write and study?

I love this stuff! But I missed the first week of ReadWritePlan2017 and decided to forgo it until next year. Then the Biblical Doctrine study came up, complete with its choice of binder covers (color, or B&W), papers to be printed, and pads and pens and highlighters suggested. So now I'm back in on ReadWritePlan.

Here is my first post, the preface to ongoing thoughts about the Biblical Doctrine Study I plan to post, combined with a ReadWritePlan once for all post. This is my place, the spot where I study the Bible, read the Bible, listen to sermons, and write my blog essays.

I live in a 425 sf apartment, mainly it's two rooms with a small kitchen and a tiny bathroom. I love it. My dining table was a garage sale find of one of those 1950s with formica top and metal legs. Since everything HAS to be both organized and available, yet fit into the tiny space, here is what I did. The dining table has become my office with the laptop prominently located. Next to the table is a bookcase containing a good light, speakers, and office supplies as normal. It is all within reach without me having to get up out of my office chair.


Coffee, tea, or water is always on the coaster, out of the way of the cat who likes to jump on the table and curl up on his bed. Below, take a tour of my bookcase with me. Top shelf, printer, pencil and pen cup, brown leather notebook I take to church. Second shelf, MacArthur Study Bible and smaller Bible with Grant Horner bookmarks for my ongoing Reading Plan.

Next to that is the laminator and the scanner. Bottom shelf, notebooks, legal pads, printer paper, binders of ongoing studies, like the Biblical Doctrine textbook, and books I'm currently reading.


The weekly Biblical Doctrine Pickowicz Study is issued on Thursdays but my Thursdays are straight out 14 hours, and I don't arrive home until about 9:30pm. So I dedicate Friday evenings for delving into the week's study. It's perfect. I come home, take a nap, awake refreshed and settle in to the quietude with a cuppa and all the time in the world.

Below, doing the first week's lesson, yay!


Jessica offers tips on highlighting for various study-reasons. However, I never, ever, ever, ever write or highlight in any of my books. Ever. Instead, I buy thousands of transparent Post-It arrows in neon colors and put them happily all around. I love my Post-It arrows.




I encourage you to look into the Biblical Doctrine Bible Study. Jess has not only created a Study Guide but also a Facebook Group of like-minded women who are participating in the study, which is expected to last two years. Women from their 20s to their 70s have been added, women who are homeschooling or not, married and not, disabled and healthy, living rural or citified. We are all different but have Christ in common.

Here are the pertinent links for you.

Jess Pickowicz at Beautiful Thing: Biblical Doctrine study, articles

Beautiful Thing's Biblical Doctrine Facebook Study Group

Biblical Doctrine the book for purchase at Grace To You

For purchase at Amazon, it's $20 off right now.



Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 32: Delightful Discipleship


Click to enlarge

Picture Mixture Saturday

Neat pictures from around the web for you. I plan to make this a regular feature.

From Dr Steven Lawson's Instagram (drstevenjlawson):
"Here is a great picture of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaching to a full congregation at the Westminster Chapel. I saw this picture yesterday at The Banner of Truth office in Edinburgh."

MLJ's sermons were recorded and can be heard here.


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Pixlr is one of my favorite free picture editing apps, and people submit their photos after having used the app. Gorgeous. I would love to go to Georgia's Callaway Gardens Blue Morpho Month September event. Anyway, Pixlr said: "Such an exquisite photo of a butterfly. Thanks @tbisdd for sharing it with us!"


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Photo from A Day in the Life of volcanologists seriesmoderated by Sandie Will. This is a lava flow in Hawaii, from Volcanologist Dr. Rebecca Williams @Volcanologist: A Day in the GeoLife Series #geolife #geology


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Speaking of fire, this is a non-photoshopped, real live picture of men finishing their golf game with the hills ablaze behind them. The person who took the shot explains how it happened and its context, which if possible, is even more crazy-surreal than the photo!



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Hurricane Irma from space. Caption: "Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy took this photo of Hurricane Irma from orbit on Sept. 7, 2017 while he flew overhead aboard the International Space Station. A Soyuz crew capsule is visible at left. Credit: Roscosmos/Sergey Ryazanskiy". At the time Irma was a category 5 storm.

I'm glad God is in control, yet, His we fear when it's manifested and evident in seeing the scope of his power and the ease with which He ordains these events.



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Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Andrew comparison. We traveled on our yacht to Florida after Andrew and Hugo and the devastation was still evident.

"Hurricane Andrew was a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that struck the Bahamas and Florida in mid-August 1992, the most destructive hurricane to ever hit the state. Wikipedia".

Gulp. Pray for those affected that His glory would shine through and He would be worshiped no matter what.


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It's Fall. I love this season. For many people the decorating motif changes with the seasons. Here is something pretty to end it with. Even if you don't have a mantel, you can use these ideas for fall tablescapes or vignettes in and among your home, for your hospitality or your Bible study group.

40 Brilliant Mantel Decoration Ideas for Thanksgiving


Blessings to you, all the readers.


Thursday Picture Mixture: Baby elephant, Maria, Old postcards, beauty

Photographer Finds Locations Of 1960s Postcards To See How They Look Today, And The Difference Is Unbelievable Not long ago an old matchb...