Pharaoh Lived In “Dumbsville” Thursday, Dec 26 2013 

It is pretty hard to look back over world history and find someone as dumb as Pharaoh!

This guy was actually leading a Nation! Pretty crazy.

While reading the sequence of pain, anguish, and disaster again I again read a verse that has troubled me all my life.

Exodus 9.16 “for this cause have I raised thee up”. I have always struggled to believe God created him just to be the stubborn idiot that brought such horror to his country. This does not fit my template of who God is!

While reading it recently and doing the “be aware and compare” I wrote about in a recent blog, I was happy to understand this better.

In place of “for this cause I raised thee up”, is also translated “for this cause I have allowed you to remain”.

It appears God simply allowed Pharaoh to remain on his throne to show His (God’s) power and deliverance to Eqypt.

There is vast difference between creating someone just to serve a wicked purpose, and simply allowing them to remain there because it serves your purpose when you could have rubbed them out long before 🙂

That mental knot was untied for me today so I decided there could possibly be someone else out there in Blog-land that has also scratched their head and thought hmmm.

Thanks for reading today.

Bible Versions: Be Aware And Compare Saturday, Dec 14 2013 

Bible Versions: Be aware and compare.

This is a controversial subject among all faiths and many scholars. The reasons are complex and we make decisions based on what other “scholars” write and say. This makes it difficult to come to conclusions first hand. The issue becomes who to trust and who is right?

The basis of discussion is that we have no original manuscripts (hand written copies of scripture). We only have copies from many time periods and geographical locations.

To oversimplify, there are two camps of thought and translation today. One is a very large camp of manuscripts that number around 64,000. These are everything from a small scrap of paper, to whole books, and entire copies of the Bible. These are from all over the world, and from many different centuries.

The other camp is relatively small and represents only a few manuscripts from very few locations. These are dated around 100 years earlier so are considered more authentic by “modern” scholars. This is one of the hotly contested issues.

Most manuscripts are well worn from being copied many times until they virtually wear out. These “earlier or older” manuscripts are in excellent condition. The critics say this is because they are faulty, hence they were not used but were discarded.

This smaller group is referred to as the minority text, while the larger camp of 64k manuscripts is generally referred to as the majority text.

The King James Version is translated from the majority text group from a specific group of manuscripts sometimes called the Textus Receptus, abbreviated TR.

Virtually all other modern versions since the King James Version are based on the minority text.

There are somewhere around 60,000 plus differences between the KJV and the modern versions. When there is a difference it is called a textual variant.

Some of these differences are small and hard to notice while others are glaring and disturbing. The minority text omits some verses that are traditionally important to Pentecostal people.

Here are a few examples of verses that are omitted: Mark 16.9-16 (These signs shall follow, etc), Matthew 17.21 (this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting), Acts 8.37, 1 John 5.7, et al.

Other times the verses are changed such as in 1 Timothy 3.16 where God was manifest in the flesh is changed to He was revealed in the flesh.

Many times the words Jesus or Christ or Lord are omitted in the modern translations from verses. Another example is in John chapter 8 where the woman taken in adultery calls Jesus Lord in the KJV. Minority texts usually translate Lord as Sir.

These are the issues that cause debate and emotions to ride high among Pentecostals.

I have adopted the position that The King James Version holds the preeminent place for me. I personally trust the majority text more than the minority text. I still use the KJV in church exclusively. We are simply more used to it and more familiar with it. It also provides us with a uniform Bible text for our public worship service.

Having said that, I use, and encourage, the reading of other versions. I have adopted the phrase “Be aware and compare”. Be aware there are differences and always compare against each other to get the most complete reading.

Nothing will ever take the place of the KJV in my life, but I will be aware and compare as I continue my “life walk” through the Word by reading other versions also.

God bless you, thanks for reading today.

Modern Day Matriarch Monday, Dec 9 2013 

In the long history of the Bible there is only one woman whose life is chronicled, and her age is given. Only one. Maybe that is why you should never ask a woman her age 🙂 It is a Bible thing!

It was not Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. It was not even Mary, the mother of Jesus. It was Sarah. The only woman in the Bible whose age is given is Sarah. Why? I submit it is because she was a/the matriarch!

A matriarch is a venerable old woman. A woman of great age, impressive dignity, and worthy of reverence.

When a woman is a matriarch she rises above the average. She imprints her life on others. She instills her spirit in others.

When a woman is a matriarch, she leaves behind things ordinary women jettison at the grave.

In many ways matriarchs never die. They live in hearts, minds, and memories forever.

Saturday, December 7, 2013, I attended the home going service of a matriarch. Her name is Ruth Luke. She is the mother of my neighboring pastor Mike Luke.

As I sat in the service listening to the impact she left on so many, my mind went back over half a century.

I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was a very battered, mistreated child who was angry and mean. The people of the neighborhood where my grandmother lived asked her to not allow me to go to their houses. In those days kids played late in the neighborhood until after dark.

I was very mean. I poked the neighbor’s pets with sticks and threw rocks at passing cars.

I was a child pariah.

Across the street from my grandmother’s house on Mark street in Arvin, California, in the 1950’s lived a nice woman. In fact she was the only woman in the entire neighborhood who was ever nice to me.

While others watched to make sure I would not visit their property, she watched to see when I was standing out on the sidewalk looking at her house. She even gave cookies to that childish bundle of anger and hate.

55 years later I went down memory land and thought how crazy life is. The last 15 years of her life I was privileged to spend many times around her talking about “Mark street” many years ago.

Like her namesake in the Bible, Ruth Luke is an amazing woman. She is a modern day matriarch.

She being dead yet speaketh.

Thanks for reading today.

Sarah, we will miss you! Friday, Dec 6 2013 

Today I read of Abraham burying his wife Sarah.

Abraham was 137 years old. He would live another 38 years without Sarah.

Many were the memories with Sarah. Packing to leave Mesopotamia. The years in Haran. Finally the last move to the land of Canaan.

The 25 years of waiting for the promise. The faux pas of Ishmael, and that debacle.

Sarah had been there for it all. Now she was gone. Abraham looked into her cold still face for the last time.

Standing beside Abraham was his 37 year old son of promise, Issac.

Ishmael, who was 51, was probably there also. Maybe there were others as well.

Many years of memories were being laid to rest in that lonely, barren cave of Machpelah.

Eliezer, Abraham’s servant of over 60 years was there. That faithful servant who had lived the victories, hardships, and tragedies along with the family. He would be the one who would make the journey to bring back Rebekah in three years, when Issac was 40 years old.

Rebekah would never know her husband’s mother. Her children would never know their grandmother. Death was denying them ever knowing that.

We will never know the thoughts and feelings that ambled through all their minds as they walked away from a huge chunk of their lifetime. Sarah was gone. Dead. She had been there for so many years, now she was gone.

Death is such a horrible foe. It is so final and powerful. It takes so much from us. It leaves us lonely, sad, and empty, and sometimes angry.

In my opinion natural, physical, death does not compare with the pain of spiritual death.

The agony of watching someone walk away from God after years of worship and shouting and church functions is pain beyond description!

Early Morning Light Thursday, Dec 5 2013 

Early Morning Light

This is the 2014 Theme for First Pentecostal Church of the Puget Sound.

God is light. Light is one of the two Biblical things that state what God is. The other is love.

In the history of planet earth, there has never been a single failure for light to appear every 24 hours. God is light.

Our desire is to incorporate that light into our life each morning before we begin our day. May we begin our day each day of 2014 as receiving that light and then truly lighting our world, beaming His light into the darkness.

The busyness of our modern world has stripped us of options with our time and demands we prioritize our day. It is our desire to begin each day fresh with prayer and reading of the Bible. By making this our first priority, we will have the fresh light of creation from God to shine into the morass of a world spiraling downward to endless darkness.

Our world is in need of His light more today than ever before!

We offer a reading plan for each month. It is not a daily reading plan, but rather a monthly plan. This allows for the time of daily consecration to be fluid for prayer and Bible reading. There will possibly be moments prayer will need more of your devotion time. Other days, time in the Word may be preeminent. Also this allows for Sunday reflection and catchup if needed.

We recommend a physical Bible of your choice and translation. We also recommend a study Bible with notes. It is our desire you hold the book, underline verses, write in the margin, and share insights, questions, and inspiration with others.

In this regard using the same Study Bible has great value. Using a Bible a friend or family member also uses allows discussion on the notes and helps. Reading an electronic Bible is fine in a pinch, but the goal here is involvement with the text, making comments and notations. Most of all absorbing and meditating on the Word!

This year I will use The everyday Life Bible (Amplified Version) by Joyce Meyer. I also follow in the KJV to note the difference in words and passages. I invite anyone who would like to, please read along and comment as you read. The more the merrier 🙂

Here is the reading schedule for 2014:

2014 Bible Reading

January Genesis 1 – Leviticus 19
February Leviticus 20 – Joshua 13
March Joshua 14 – 1Kings 13
April 1 Kings 14 – Ezra 8
May Ezra 9 – Psalm 90
June Psalm 91 – Isaiah 30
July Isaiah 31 – Ezekiel 17
August Ezekiel 18 – Zechariah 10
September Zechariah 11 – Luke 11
October Luke 12 – Romans 9
November Romans 10 – 1 Timothy 6
December 2 Timothy 1 – Revelation 22

May you find strength and inspiration in Early Morning Light!

Grown up promises! Monday, Dec 2 2013 

Grown up promises.

I suppose all of us feel like we are given promises from the Lord. Some promises are verbally spoken to us. Other times we simply feel the inner assurance of a promise. We latch onto these promises and cling to them with many emotions. Sometimes we hold on for dear life. Sometimes with patience. Sometimes with fragile hope.

As time goes by some of our promises die and we bury them unfulfilled, and maybe prematurely. May I encourage you to hold on to your promises until your promise grows up. Let me illustrate from the Bible.

Abram was 75 when we first meet him. He is a heathen. He lives in a land of idolatry. For reasons unknown to us, God singles him out and calls him. God instructs him to leave his familiar surroundings and everyone he knows and go to a land of promise.

His promise is born. His promise is a bit sketchy. It is undefined. It is hazy. It is a bit unnerving. But he responds and embraces his promise. He goes.

Farewell to all he has know for 75 years. Goodbyes to the family and the sneers of the doubters. He takes his family and father. He responds with partial obedience. He left Father’s house but he took father with him. So God waits patiently until father dies and then resumes the growth of the promise.

The next 100 years is most likely the most amazing 100 years in the history of our world. Abraham is now on the stage of our world for 100 years. During this 100 years he becomes father to three world religions. The Jews, the Christians and the Muslims. To this day he impacts over half the people on planet earth. Can anyone of us name any 100 year period that affects half the population of our world?

That is why we have to let our promise grow up! With a half born, half grown promise Abraham journeys on to the land God promised him. God says wherever your footprints land are the boundaries. It is a cloudy, uncertain, undefined, hazy promise. Exactly where is the boundary of my promise. Be patient Abraham, for our promises must grow up.

Events transpire and things happen. There are stretches of peace and accumulating wealth. There are times of conflict and war. There are moments and days and weeks of uncertainty. He meets Melchizedek, he fights wars, he separates from Lot, all with his promise still not grown up.

And then there finally comes a moment when his promise is grown! God says offer some animals three years old, and a couple of birds. While this man with only a half born promise and a thousand whys watches, God walks down the middle of the sacrifice and says this is the boundary of your promise! It starts at this river and goes north to such and such a place.

After years of waiting and a whole lot of living, the promise spoken years ago and miles away is finally all grown up!

May I encourage you today to hold on to your promise and just let it grow.

He that has promised is faithful!

Thanks for reading today.