January 11, 2015

Things Really Haven’t Changed



SCRIPTURE: Haggai 1:5-6   5.  Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hoses, Consider your ways,   6.  Ye have sown much, and bring little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. (KJV)

REFLECTION:  Haggai, living in pre-Christ times, describes today’s society. I watch, read and sometimes experience all the behavior he describes.

I see people who work hard and have little to show for their labor. I myself sometimes eat and drink gluttonously and yet remain hungry and thirsty.

Media ads convince us we never have enough clothing to keep warm (or at least, enough clothes reflecting the current trend). And bankruptcy is routine and acceptable, as people incur so much debt their earnings fall through holes like water through a container filled with holes.

These behaviors are not new to our society, although we somehow feel they originated with us. What caused the existence of those behaviors in Haggai’s time? What causes them today?

The root causes are probably similar: too much stress, greed, the need to have (more…)

December 7, 2014

Saving Beyond Necessity: A Question



SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:34   (and Joseph instructed) Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.   (NIV)

 Related Scripture:   Genesis 41:35-36, 47-48

DISCUSSION: Joseph not only interpreted dreams, but also presumed to make practical suggestions for a course of action necessary in light of the interpretation. He presented his case successfully to the Pharaoh, who immediately began to sift through candidates for the position of “Secretary of Agriculture.” Finally, he said to Joseph: as much as God showed you all this, you shall be over my house. Pharaoh conferred on Joseph symbols of the high office to which he had been appointed. (5 pp. 103)

REFLECTION:  A question occurs to me: If there were to be seven years of abundance, then seven years of famine, would not one save one-seventh of each good year’s harvest? Yet Joseph instructed Pharaoh to take one-fifth of the harvest, a significant difference (14% versus 20%) beyond what would be needed to pull the Egyptians through the famine, assuming one-seventh would be sufficient for one year’s sustenance.

Why the extra? Possibly because (more…)

August 24, 2014

Preparing Meals From Scratch



SCRIPTURE: Genesis 18:7-8   7.  And Abraham ran to the herd, and brought a calf tender and good, and gave it to the young man (to butcher); then (Abraham) hastened to prepare it.  8.  And he took curds, and milk, and the calf which he had made ready, and set it before (the men); and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. (AMP)

REFLECTION:  I thoroughly plan Thanksgiving dinner. I know (approximately) when people will arrive, when they will leave. But the meal is always big enough to feed extra people. It is cornucopic table, a table of plenty.

At other times I plan for unexpected guests by having easy, pre-planned menus on hand. Meals not taking hours to prepare. Or we dine out.

Our unexpected guest chomps on my summer flowers.

Our unexpected guest chomps on my summer flowers.

This scripture amazes me when I read it. Abraham had unannounced guests. Realizing they were (more…)

June 29, 2014

Adam & Eve Ask: How Did We Get To This Point? Part 3 of 3



Part 3 of 3   

Why must we struggle with life? This is the third of a three-part series based on the story of Adam and Eve responds to the question:. How did we get to this point? Read parts1 and 2:

In their shame and guilt Adam and Eve attempted a futile cover-up to hide themselves from each other and from God. Their whirlwind of activity resulted in a stylish apron made of fig leaves.

Fig leaves. Have you ever felt a fig leaf? At certain points in their growth cycle they feel like (more…)

June 22, 2014

Adam & Eve Ask: How Did We Get To This Point? Part 2 of 3



Part 2 of 3

Read Part1 at  Adam & Eve Ask: How Did We Get To This Point? Part 1 of 3

Why must we struggle with life? Thisis the second of a three-part series based on the story of Adam and Eve responds to the question:. How did we get to this point?

Adam was well satisfied with the woman he named Eve. Together they shared the beauty of the garden while nurturing it. In return, they ate from the richness of the food it produced.

Adam and Eve knew “good.” Everything around them was good. There was nothing to fear. Animals weren’t vicious, plants were edible, and relationships to each other and God were rich.

They sensed something different—evil and its result. They knew there was a tree in the garden whose fruit would add to this knowledge. It was at their one prohibition in their garden. God permitted them freedom to eat the fruit of all the other trees in the garden, but not from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This was the tree that would test man’s love and trust in God.

God wanted man’s love—a love that included respect and obedience. But God wanted his creation to love him voluntarily.

This is a very important fact.

  • What if I stood up here as your proxy pastor and said: “I am here. I am appointed to represent God to you today in Monte’s place. Therefore, you MUST love me, trust me, obey me. You have no choice.” Now, how do you feel? How do I feel”

Isn’t that the point of God providing His first creations with freedom and limits? Love just isn’t real if (more…)

June 15, 2014

Adam & Eve Ask: How Did We Get To This Point? Part 1 of 3



Part 1 of 3

Why must we struggle with life? How did we get to this point?  This three-part series based on the story of Adam and Eve responds to the question.

Wildlife on the far side of the field cringed at the yelling, so loud was Adam and Eve’s disagreement. This wasn’t the first time it had happened—it got worse with each battle.

Adam had just returned home after tilling the fields from sunup to sundown.

“Where’s dinner, Eve,” he shouted. “Can’t I at least expect that much after slaving in the fields all day? That dinner will be ready when I get home? And look at this meager crop! The harder I work the smaller it gets. All that grows are the weeds!”

“How can I have dinner ready when I never know when you’ll get here?” Eve yelled back. “And there’s not enough wood? And I spend a lot of time working in the fields too. If dinner isn’t ready it’s your fault. I need fire to cook our meal, and I need food to prepare it. How can I get that stuff when I am so big and clumsy, waiting for this child of yours to be born?”

“We had it made,” Adam shouted back. “Life was perfect! Now look at us!”

“Are you accusing me of getting us kicked out of Eden?”

“If you hadn’t eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree we’d still be in Eden enjoying a life of leisure, pleasure and communion with God,” snarled Adam. “You blew it!”

“I blew it? I don’t recall you refusing to eat the fruit I offered you.”

“You gave it to me. You’d already eaten some. What was I supposed to do? You disobeyed God first!”

“Why didn’t you stop me?” cried Eve. “You were beside me when (more…)

April 10, 2011

Perfect…or Flawed?



     It never ceases to amaze me how two people often view the same person very differently. Below are two interpretations of the same persons, Moses and Rocky.


     Was his a “life, filled with spectacle, mystery and miracle…the Lawgiver and leader of the Exodus, the ‘towering’ and ‘preeminent’ personality of the Hebrew Bible,” or was his the life of a failed man.? 

     Traditionalist Jewish and Christian scholars “emphasize the unity and coherence of the Pentateuch.” The “D” (Deuteronomic) source treats Moses as the perfect hero.

     Then enters the “P” (Priestly) source, which describes Moses as having “uncircumcised lips,” a powerful Jewish put-down, signifying a religions failing.

“D” treats Moses as an intercessor identifying with the guilty people whom he represented, who was allegedly punished for THEIR sin. “P” claims Moses was punished for his own sins.

     Perfect or flawed? It depends on how the evidence is selected and interpreted.


     So it was with Rocky.

     When Rocky died, he was heralded as a town hero. He had ingratiated himself to a lot of persons: running errands for businesses, giving treats to children and college students, and paying attention to other persons. His actions said he considered people as valuable.

     The other picture.

     In spite of (more…)

April 4, 2011

The Church Role in Child Abuse Issues



With The Rev. Monte W. Holland

     The trend of modern times is toward specialization in dealing with life issues. If there is a physical ailment, go to the health care professional, and further, to a specialist in the specific type of ailment that is exhibited. If there is a spiritual problem, go to a pastor or pastoral counselor. If there is a family problem, go to a family counselor or therapist.

     This has its advantages in many cases, because the expert has a deeper knowledge of in a very small issue. Yet there are disadvantages. Many physical and relationship problems cannot be boxed into a narrow category. What ails one segment either emanates from or affects another segment. It can take a well-rounded, multi-knowledgeable person to see the interconnections and resolve the issues. Secondly, persons are often reluctant, or financially unable, to go to the specialized person for help—at least over the long term. Thus, the generalist has a strong role to play in resolving many family issues.

     The first line of encounter with family problems is the lay person—a friend and/or a neighbor. The church’s first role in dealing with a troubled family or individual is one of preparing (more…)

April 2, 2011

A Theological Perspective on Child Abuse



With The Rev. Monte W. Holland

     Some important questions arise when speaking of theology and violence, abuse of children, spouses, family and friends. Below is an attempt to answer some of them.

  • Children must be MADE to OBEY (their parents, their caretakers), right?

Obedience IS important. Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20-21 instruct children to be obedient. But this directive does not stop there. It goes on to instruct PARENTS not to PROVOKE their children (to wrath). Implied is a mutual RESPECT: respect that begets respect. “Nobody ever hates his own flesh, but rather nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ does for the church…” (Ephesians 5:29) Our children are born out of our love, part of a continuation of our flesh. We should not treat them with hate or hateful actions.

  • Does not the Bible state that to spare the rod is to spoil the child? (Proverbs 13:24)

     Nowhere in the New Testament—the “new law”—is abuse justified. Rather, the opposite is expected, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12) The Great Commandment directs us You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40) Our family members—our spouse, our children, and sometimes our parents—are our (more…)

September 30, 2010

Burnt Fat Offerings



SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 4:8     ‘He (the priest) shall take from it (bull) all the fat of the bull as the sin offering…..10.  as it was taken from the bull of the sacrifice of the peace offering, and the priest shall burn them on the altar of the burnt offering.”

Related Scripture:  Leviticus 4:26, 31, 35; 7:3-5; 8:16; 9:10, 19-20; 16:6, 11, 17, 25

REFLECTION: It’s inappropriate in our culture to burn the fat of the bull on the altar as a sin offering. But it isn’t inappropriate to burn our body fat. After all, in our country, one of the most obvious and greatest sins is gluttony.

     Recently, adjustments were made for healthy weights in adults. Needless to say, the weight limits were (more…)

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