With the continued spread of Covid-19, people spend more time online than ever before. It effects us all and grinds down on our faith as we can't meet face to face and can't hold each other for comfort. So a little to help in these regular articles here. We pray they help!
Charlie was called on the carpet by his parents because of his continual complacent attitude toward his grades in high school. He was contented, yet unconcerned, with no desire to improve his grades or change his study habits. As far as he was concerned he had been getting passing grades for so long, mostly Bs, a few Cs, every now and then a D, that it didn’t bother him as much as it did his parents. After all, he was doing better than several of his classmates.
One has but to take a casual look to see the complacency covering our nation like a blanket of snow in an Alaskan winter. People are feeling content with their own piece of the pie; never mind the neighborhood and city poor who are without food and have staked claims on various streets and reside in cardboard shelters.
Hundreds of years ago the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, asked a question that is relevant today:
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Behold and see if there is any sorrow
Like my sorrow, which has been brought
On me, which the Lord has inflicted
In the day of His fierce anger”
Jerusalem’s sins had found her out (Cf. Numbers 32:23). The Book of Lamentation in the Hebrew language is a collection of five poems or songs of mourning the conquest of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. Payday had come! In the book the prophet paints a graphic picture of the punishment which had come upon the city and God’s chosen people. Why? Because of their own sins. The once glorious city had been brought to ruin because of the greatness of her sins and refusal to repent and obey the voice of God. The people were slaves enduring the distress and famine brought on by their sins.
The once mighty city was flat on her back, lying on the ground of despair with observers mocking and making fun as they passed by. Verses 1 and 2 paint a very graphic picture of the afflicted city with no comfort:
How lonely sits the city, th
Here’s a very interesting and often overlooked Scripture:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the VERY HAIRS of your head ARE ALL NUMBERED” (Matthew 10:29, 30).
Two observations in this text:
The awareness that God actually counts the hairs on our head should create an awareness of how He knows what’s going on in every area of our lives; especially in our THOUGHT habits which, as a rule, are hidden from those we are around. God is obviously interested and aware of our thoughts because the word appears approximately 75 times in the Bible. For some this truth is encouraging and for others, it isn’t. Why? “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7)
GOD’S GOT YOU COVERED
What follows are some Scriptures which document that God always has us covered. Regardless of where we are, what we are doing or have done, our plans and our thoughts are all, and more, known to him. The Psalmist lays this foundation in the following Psalm:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. I say, ‘Surely, the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide me from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You “(Psalm 139:7-12).
Here are some specific examples of how God has our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior covered by His continual awareness:
YES! God has us covered. Every location, thought, attitude, behavior, belief, and desire. He is moment by moment looking out for sparrows and counting the hairs on our head. The question is: Are we as mindful of our inner life as God is? Is our thinking agenda God’s agenda? (Philippians 4:8, 9).
GOD IS COUNTING YOUR HAIRS RIGHT NOW!
Have you ever thought of effective prayer as actually being composed of a quartet? A quartet is made up of four distinct persons. Each participant has a specific voice part to contribute to making harmony. Traditionally a quartet is composed of an Alto, Tenor, Bass, and Soprano. In the traditional Gospel Quartets and Barbershop Quartets, there is a lead singer. Because, as a rule, the human voice has a limited range, the various voice types aren’t able to successfully sing outside of their range. In order to have perfect harmony, each member of the quartet has a specific part he must sing. Each quartet member has a responsibility to learn the song, practice it, and work with the other members of the quartet. Together, “they make a beautiful harmony.”
In the “effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man” (James 5:16), there are four participants who make up a quartet of prayer. Each one has a specific responsibility in creating a camaraderie which contributes to the answering of prayers. Here are the four quartet members.
It is our heavenly Father who has ordained every aspect of prayer. He is our leader. Jesus said when we pray we must direct our prayers to the Father in heaven: In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).
In the quartet of prayer, the Father has ordained that His Son, Jesus Christ, be the sole mediator between man and the Father. The apostle Paul wrote: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, that Man Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 2:5).
The Holy Spirit who is a member of the prayer quartet is rarely every acknowledged when we pray. The apostle Paul says the Spirit is actually involved in interpreting our prayers when we pray: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The Spirit uses the word to help us (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
The other three members of the prayer quartet are always ready to perform their part in the concert of prayer. It is the fourth member of the quartet, man, who must activate the prayer concert. Paul wrote: “I desire therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). This is an amazing responsibility God has given a man.
HOW TO DEVELOP THE WRITING HABIT
J.J. Turner, Ph.D.
Author of How to Drop Your Excuses and Start Writing Today (amazon.com)
As a writer, editor, publisher, and teacher of writing I am continually asked “How do you start writing?” Recently at a university book display a publisher “stuck a camera” in my face and asked me to share my advice on how to become a writer. When I quickly answered, “By writing one word at a time”, those gathered around the camera person, along with the camera person, either smiled or had a strange look on their faces. The camera person tried to encourage me to say more but I continued to say, “All writing begins with one word. Period!”
Here’s a rocket science observation. You can’t write the second or third word until you have written the first word. How amazing is this revelation! Try it and you’ll see I am right.
Hundreds of books, writer seminars and retreats, along with writing teachers have created a mystic or aura around what it takes to be a writer. Some of the advice and suggestions are on target and some is designed to promote and sell. You are discouraged when you hear about all the rules of grammar, syntax, spelling, word choices, etc. If you are interested in writing poetry you are given a list of dozens of acceptable poetry styles you need to master. No, I’m not opposed in pursuing academic knowledge about writing. My interest is in helping people start where it all starts after they’ve completed all the writing courses—writing one word.
12 KEYS TO DEVELOPING THE WRITING HABIT
Here are 12 simple and basic keys I have discovered which help develop the writing habit. Don’t let the simplistic nature of these keys fool you. Give them thought, questions, and application. Today, write on!
You have already started writing. DON’T STOP.
J.J. Turner, Ph.D.
READ ANY GREAT BOOKS LATELY? [ ] Yes [ ] No
Years ago if I had written this article I would have titled it Christians Are Reader. My experiences now with some Christian, which include leaders and preachers, reveal a lack of reading. Talking to bookstore managers confirm that men aren’t buying books like they once did, and the books they are buying now are “fluff and puff”—shallow content. The good news is that women are buying more books, thus the rapid increase in the publishing of books designed for ladies.
Men aren’t reading because they don’t have time, as some claim. They have time but they spend it on computer websites, IPad, cell phones, social media, video games, watching TV, etc. Homes which once had bookcases filled with books that were read, now are filled with pictures, plaques with sayings, and a few unread classics; even Bibles.
I confess that I am writing this article with a bias. I am a readaholic! When I am asked, which I often am, what’s the greatest thing you learned during all your education? I answer quickly, “The greatest thing I learned in school was in the first and second grades. I learned how to read.” Reading opened up the whole world to me, from A to Z. It created an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I average reading a couple of books each week on a variety of subjects, obviously, the Bible is always first on my daily reading list.
Some books, such as novels, I read simply for pleasure, others I read take me into academics subjects. Some cause me to examine my politics and cultural involvement. Some create a spirit of debate as I doubt and challenge content. I mark in books and take notes. I use quotes and illustrations from books I read. Books of humor help me to loosen up with laughter. Books on Bible subjects challenge my exegetical skills as I search to see if “those things are true.”
A lack of desire to read as well as a lack of reading skills is showing up more and more in Bible classes and public assemblies. Some children have a reluctance to attend Bible classes because of a fear of being asked to read. Men decline to read Scriptures because of poor reading skills. Many ties those who read in public mispronounce simple words, mumble, read too rapidly, etc.
The literacy level continues to drop in our country and is evidenced in congregations. In a post by Reading By Phonics.com, under the title Top 10 Reasons Why Kids Can’t Read: The Not-So-Shocking Reading and Literacy Statistics, the following results were given:
Did you know that 67 % of all grade 4 students in
The US cannot read at a proficient level? According
To the National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP), 34 % cannot achieve the lowest basic level
Of reading skills. Unfortunately, it’s not just the
Americans that have reading problems—this is really
A global issue, at least in all major English speaking countries:
*43% of Canadians are considered semi-illiterate
*42% of students in the UK leave school without
achieving a basic level of functional English
*33% of year 5 students in Australia do not meet the
benchmark literacy skills
Since the Bible is a document to be read, it is obvious that a person must know how to read in order to know, learn and practice what God has commanded. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth” (John 8:32). Want to hear something that is surprising? It is amazing how many Christians, even leaders and preachers, who have not read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.
The Bible emphasizes the reading of Scripture:
1. 1 Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to READING, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
2. John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
3. Acts 8:30, So Philip ran to him, and heard him READING the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are READING?”
4. 2 Timothy 4:13, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the BOOKS, especially the parchment.”
5. Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who READS and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep those things which are WRITTEN in it; for the time is at hand.”
6. Ephesians 3:3, 4, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which when you READ, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).”
7. 1 Peter 1:10, 11, “of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ Who was in them…”.
8. Acts 13:15, “And after the reading of the Law and Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, ‘Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’”.
9. 1 Thessalonians 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be READ to all the holy brethren.”
10. Matthew 19:4, And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not READ that He who made them at the beginning, ”made them male and female”’”?
There is no question nor doubt that the Bible ought to be the number one priority on our reading list. In the early years of our nation, when school was conducted in church buildings, the Bible was the major textbook for learning to read and write. In time the function was turned over to the government, which now makes it criminal to read or pray in public schools.
We need to start a revival of reading in the church. It needs to start with the leaders. Since the Bible places an emphasis on reading, why can’t we teach our youth, and older members, how to read? The sequence is simple: First, we learn to read and second we read to learn.
What we are reading shows up in our lives. Emerson wrote, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” Jim Rohn was right when he said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” And Margaret Fuller was on target when she said, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” “It is what you read when you don’t have to,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Think about these words of Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books, one of them is not reading them.”
I encourage you to take a few minutes and browse in my book stores listed on this site. You will find numerous subjects that will edify, educate, and contribute to your growth in Christ.