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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:

  1. Two small sparrows are sold in the marketplace for the equivalent amount of our dime. They were ready plucked and arranged in a dozen on a wooden skewer, or like our kabobs. Somewhat like the fade for chicken wings in today’s society. A sparrow compared to an eagle, dove, or exotic birds was basically worthless. However, that’s man’s evaluation. The picture is that two cheap birds were purchased and one fell to the ground. From man’s viewpoint, it’s no big deal. One is left. The heavenly Father watches over birds and notices even when the cheap bird fall to the ground (Assumed to be dead). The lesson is obvious: If God cares about what happens to birds guess how much more He cares about you and me who are created in His image.
  2. Then Jesus calls attention to every person’s hair. Hair care is a billion dollar business involving cuts, styling, coloring, transplants, etc. A closer look at the text reveals that Jesus used the Greek word arithmeo, from which we get arithmetic. Therefore, Jesus is actually saying God counts every hair on our heads and keeps a tally. Today hair number 1001 fell out; seven new hairs grew in. We only see a mass of hair on our comb or brush but Jesus knows the exact number. Here’s the point: God is aware and involved in EVERY aspect of our lives. Imagine, He actually counts and keeps a record of our hair. This means He really, really, and I mean really loves and cares for us.

     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:

  1. God knows what we are going to THINK before we know it—it is omniscient: (Psalm 139 again): “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my THOUGHT afar off” (Psalm 139:2).
  2. God knows every word we are going to SAY before we say it: “For there is now A WORD on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4).
  3. God knows when we are cursing, belittling, mocking, and making fun of people in our thoughts or private places at home: “Do not curse the king, even in your THOUGHT; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom” (Ecclesiastes 10:20).
  4. The Third Commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” (Exodus 20:7). This not only refers to the overt cursing of God but also includes the inner cursing God in the heart: “… “For Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.”
  5. The wickedness which caused God to the destroy the world with a flood originated in the heart and thoughts of mankind: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY intent of the THOUGHTS of his HEART was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God has our hearts covered!
  6. God knows where our inward thoughts and attitudes are when we are involved in overt worship practices. Ezekiel was given a vision by God which showed 25 priests outwardly worshipping in the temple but inwardly they were worshipping the sun god (Cf. Ezekiel 8:7-18). God has our worship covered!
  7. A good news point is that while we try and fall short of our spiritual goals, God knows the INTENT of our hearts. He knows we want to do and be right. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a DISCERNER of the THOUGHTS and INTENTS
  1. We cannot fool God with our rhetoric and pseudo-wisdom; He is monitoring our thoughts and lack of real wisdom: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’, and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (1 Corinthians 3:19-21). God gives you wisdom from above; He has you covered (Cf. James 3:17, 18).
  2. Jesus made it clear that the sin of adultery could occur within the thinking process of a man. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not COMMIT adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to LUST FOR HER has already committed adultery with her in his HEART (Matthew 5:27, 28). The word lust isn’t referring to a casual look at a woman or noting her appearance. The word lust is the Greek word epithumeo and means to “desire greatly.” (Cf. Galatians 6:7; James 4:2).
  3. God is aware of the fact that when we lie it is because Satan is in our hearts: “But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your HEART to LIE to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the lad for yourself? … You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3, 4). When we lie to a person we are also lying to God!

     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!

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!

  1. Keep in mind you are developing a new HABIT. It has been proven that it takes on an average 66 days to develop a habit that sticks with you.
  2. Keep in mind you are developing ONE habit at a time; not a multiplicity of habits.
  3. Have a deep and dynamic reason for WHY you will develop the writing habit.
  4. Remember the old K-I-S-S principle: Keep-It-Simple-Sir. Inch by inch it’s a cinch and yard by yard it’s too hard. Choose a familiar and simple subject at first, e.g. an event in your life—past or present.
  5. Never, no never, miss two days in succession in writing something. If you miss one day your chances of continuing drop 55%, if you miss two days in a row it drops to 90%. Keep on keeping on.
  6. Set the time each day you will write. The morning for most persons has been proven to be the best time. The mind is fresh, alert, and productive. Keep the time you choose.
  7. Write out your plan for starting to write. Yes, I said write your plan! This will be your master goal setting agenda, which you’ll change from time to time. Do it NOW!
  8. Keep your practice simple and consistent. You’ll be motived to start launching out but wait until you’ve gotten the writing habit ingrained in your nervous system, etc.
  9. Ask someone to hold you accountable for practicing your writing habit routine. This will serve as a major motivation. Don’t try to make excuses or get out of your commitment to write habit.
  10. Create a reward system for yourself. It may be a certain dessert you enjoy, a book, etc. Give it only after you have achieved a specific goal.
  11. Never surrender your goal to develop the writing habit. NEVER!
  12. START writing right now: Your name:________________ address:________________________

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.

 

    

INTRODUCTION:

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.”

GOD’S PRAYER QUARTET:

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.

The Father’s Role: 

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).

The Role of Christ:

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 Role of the Holy Spirit:

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 Role of Man:

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.

 

In 1937 an Italian, Carlo Collodi wrote the Adventures of Pinocchio, the story of a puppet carved by the old wood-carver named Geppetto. The puppet is brought to life by the blue fairy, who promised Pinocchio he could become a real boy if he proves himself “brave, truthful and unselfish.” As he meets various characters he lies and his nose grows longer. Through the year the name Pinocchio was become synonymous with lying.

     In recent years the media has created an award called the Pinocchio Award. It is awarded through checking the statements made my politicians, scientists, and other disciplines to document the facts as true or false. Based on the perceived seriousness of the words or issues in question, facts are checked for accuracy and truthfulness; then an award ranging from one to four, with four being the most severe is awarded.

     In order to continue placing a high and godly value on truth and truth telling –“Buy the truth and do not sell it (Proverbs 23:23)—take a few minutes and honestly respond to the following observations about yourself:

 

YOU MIGHT BE A CANDIDATE FOR A PINCCHIO AWARED IF . . .

 

  1. …you stretch the truth
  2. …you bend the truth
  3. …you twist and torture the truth
  4. …you pervert the truth
  5. …you deliberately change the truth
  6. …you refuse to acknowledge the truth (cf. John 8:32)
  7. …you refuse to stand for the truth (don’t want to be involved, “leave well-enough alone”)
  8. …you refuse to support the truth (keep silent, argue against it, etc.)
  9. …you deliberately deceive people (pattern of lifestyle, hypocrite, etc.)
  10. …you intentionally reject the truth (afraid of the consequences)
  11. …you hurt others by lying (out of anger, dislike, protect self, etc.)
  12. …you make dishonest gain or acquire a position by lying
  13. …you have secret and clandestine behaviors
  14. …you lie under oath, on contracts, about taxes, etc.
  15. …you trick people with misinformation (“half-truths”, concealment, lies, etc.)
  16. …you cannot stop lying—pathological personality issue (need professional help, etc.)
  17. …you continually make a joke out of the truth (try to dilute the effect of truth)
  18. …you avoid exposure to truth (don’t want to hear it)
  19. …you justify telling a falsehood or a lie (“Don’t want to hurt feeling,” “best for them”, etc.)
  20. …you cannot discern error from truth (cognitive disability)
  21. …you never, ever admit you are wrong nor made a mistake (a form of narcissism, pride, etc.)
  22. …you have a secret agenda you are hiding or pushing
  23. …you are contradicting God’s word—THE TRUTH (John 8:32, 36).
  24. …you don’t like to be around persons who stand for the truth or tell the truth
  25. …you keep silent when you should speak up for the truth (may be interpreted as supporting)
  26. …you pervert God’s word to prove or sustain your position or beliefs
  27. …you mix truth with error—just enough to get by or pass inspection (know how to play system)
  28. …you attack a person’s character when he or she tells the truth (“can’t trust them”, “liar”, etc.)
  29. …you had rather be “liked” than known as a “truth teller and supporter of truth”
  30. 3…you want to impress others and stay in good with them (“keep friends at all cost”)

 

 

 

© Dr. JJ Turner and ©Jeremiah Institute - All Rights Reserved (usage)

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