All of us are used to reading, whether it is a book or a magazine or just a note or letter from mom and dad or grandma and grandpa. And when we read, oftentimes we find something that is very interesting and piques our inner being. We often reread what we just read so that we can remember it and digest it.
I’m reminded of a story about a man’s dog who found an animal bone in his back yard from a critter that had died. The owner watched the dog as he gnawed on that bone for several minutes. Then the owner decided to go see what his dog was chewing on and as he approached his dog very carefully, the dog growled with that deep growl from within. It was not a loud growl but one of those of content. The dog was really enjoying that bone.
The dog’s growling reminded me of the lion in a verse of Scripture found in Isaiah 31:4, “…as the lion or the young lion growls over his prey…” The word “growls” caught my attention. What that dog did with that bone was making that low throaty rumble of pleasure, as the dog gnawed on that bone and savored his find.
The word in Hebrew is the word “hagah”, which means to meditate. This is a word that our Hebrew ancestors used frequently for reading the kind of writing that deals with our souls. I don’t think the word “meditate” is really the word I would want to use here. Meditate is more like what I might do in my quiet time when I’m reading God’s Word while on my knees. What the lion in Isaiah and the dog were doing is they chewed and swallowed, using tongue and stomach and intestines. The lion was meditating on his prey and the dog was meditating on that bone. There is a certain kind of writing that invites this kind of reading, soft low growls as we taste and savor, and take in the sweet and spicy mouth-watering and soul energizing morsel words as the psalmist says: “O taste and seed that the LORD is good…” (Psalm 34:8). Isaiah uses that word again a few pages later in Isaiah 38:14 for the cooing of the dove. A careful reader of this text caught the spirit of the word when he said that hagah means that a person is lost in his religion, which is exactly what the dog was into his bone. In other words, it is like allowing a lozenge to slowly dissolve in your mouth until it is gone.
I say all that to say this: I want that kind of reading when I open the Word and read quietly and try to digest what our Father is saying to me. All serious and good writing anticipates precisely this kind of reading. These kinds of words are intended to get inside us, to deal with our souls. This kind of writing anticipates and counts on a certain kind of reading–a dog-with-a-bone kind of reading.
Spiritual writing requires spiritual reading, that honors words as holy, words as a basic means of forming an intricate web of relationships between God and the human, between all things visible and invisible.
There is only one way of reading that is conforming with the Holy Scriptures, writing that trusts in the power of words to penetrate our lives and create truth and beauty and goodness, writing that requires a reader who doesn’t always focus on the words written as much as he often leans back and closes his eyes over a line he has been reading again, and its meaning spreads through his blood. This is the kind of reading named by our ancestors as lectio divina, often translated “spiritual reading”, reading that enters our souls, as food enters our stomachs, spread through our blood, and becomes holiness and love and wisdom.
If only we would all learn to read God’s Word with such anticipation, allowing it to soak our minds and hearts.
Holly Garden, PI: Red is for Rookie by Anne Greene
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love stories in Texas. What a great read! Holly is definitely a terrific character. The book is very heartwarming and inspirational. Anne is one of my favorite fiction writers and she always keeps the language clean and easy to read. This is quite a turn from the male PI and a welcome site. Anne never ceases to put in the right plot for a mystery. I would highly recommend this book to you. You will be pleasantly surprised!
I received a copy of this book from the author. The review is my honest opinion.
View all my reviews
One of my favorite country music artists is the great Travis Tritt. Although I don’t know him personally and I’ve never met him in person, he is still my favorite. On my bucket list would be the opportunity to meet him in person and talk with him about some of his many songs and ballads.
The lines from one of his songs goes like this:
“And it’s a great day to be alive
I know the sun’s still shining
When I close my eyes
There’s some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can’t every day be just this good.”
I was thrilled when I reached the finish line and my book was finally published. It is now available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook. I hope you will view it and even consider buying it. It will make a great present also.
When your car breaks down you take it to a mechanic who has the proper tools to fix your broken car. If you have mental or physical problems, there are trained doctors or nurses qualified to help fix your problem.
As a Christian, you will encounter spiritual problems as well. Who do you go to for your spiritual problems? When your pastor or counselor is not available to help you with your problems, you do have tools that are designed to help you with your problems. Many of those problems are caused by sin, and that requires the Great Physician—the Lord Jesus Christ. What are those tools? You will find them in my book.
A familiar song we have sung over the years called “Open My Eyes Lord,” written by Bob Cull is a song I find myself singing quietly as I begin my bible study. Part of that song also says, “Open my ears, Lord and help us to listen.” I ask God to open my ears that I might hear Him clearly. I’m reminded by the verse in Psalm 40:6 that says, “…my ears You have opened…” Clearly, we want to hear what the Lord has to say to us.
The writer of the book of Hebrews quotes nearly all the verses from this psalm. Without reservation, it is indeed a most blessed revelation. What this psalm allows us to do is actually listen to a conversation in heaven between the Father and the Son, before He ever came into the world. The Lord makes clear to us in Hebrews 10 that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins. Animal sacrifices were just insufficient. Sacrifices just would not be accepted. What was the meaning of these sacrifices? They were types, a shadow of good things to come according to Hebrews 10:1 which says, “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. (NKJV)”
The Son of God in the bosom of the Father, before His incarnation, is the speaker, who declares the insufficiency of burnt-offering and sin offering. A greater, a better sacrifice is needed to solve the sin question.
In Psalm 40.6, Jesus declares His willingness to come to do the Father’s will. He says, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.” God opened His Son’s ears as he also did to Isaiah in Isaiah 50:5, “The Lord has opened my ear…” There are other instances where God opened a person’s ears (Ex. 21:1-6).
If He was to come as a servant, obedient to God, and obedient unto death, the death on the cross, He had to take on a body and that body was a body prepared for Him. He indeed came with a body prepared, nothing whatever sinful was attached to the blessed body. He was “holy” who not only did not sin, but could not sin. He came to do God’s eternal will.
You see, what we want to do is clearly hear what the Lord has to say to us. As David realized how evident God had made it possible to hear the word of God, he was given the ability to obey the Lord’s direction. It is inherent upon us to ask God to open our ears so that we can clearly hear His voice. If we are seriously listening for His voice, He will speak to us.
As God had prepared Jesus’ body to come in the flesh, He will also prepare us to hear His voice. Listen closely and patiently for God’s voice, and then obey Him. Having an open ear means trembling at the threats that God issues and the warning that God gives those who fall away and turn from him.
If we are going to be good readers of His Word, we need to have our ears opened by the Spirit so that the Spirit can write the Word of God on our hearts, so that we can be obedient to him.
COVID-19 has put many of us at home, either in self quarantine or personal isolation. Many people today are in a state of confusion and paranoia, even fear, because of this pandemic called COVID-19, or better known as the Corona Virus. At the other end of the spectrum, some believers are becoming even more lacksadaisical toward others in regard to this virus.
Understand that self quarantine or isolation is a biblical aspect rooted in Jewish tradition. In the book of Leviticus, Moses, guided by Yahweh laid out guidelines on how to deal “with a leprous” infection. In Leviticus 13:45, in talking about the test for leprosy, God says, “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovdered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!'”
Verse 46 goes on to say, “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.” It is obvious that, though we may not be infected, we need to keep ourselves separate from groups or even strangers we are unfamiliar with. One does not want to be put in a position of isolation, but because of the seriousness of this virus, it is most assuredly the solution for today.
One positive tool we have at our disposal during isolation is prayer. There is no better time for us to build on our own relationship with the Lord. Not only does the Lord want to hear from us, but He wants to be close to us and know our needs. This is also a great time for us to spend time in His Word.
Here is what we need to remember, the quarantine measures are aimed at not just helping ourselves but more importantly others.
Also important is the need to “wash our hands!” As simple as it is, we must adhere to that.
I am praying for everyone to be safe and practice social distancing. May God bless you and keep you healthy during this pandemic.
Yes, I have changed the name. The Christian Writer’s Office was a mouthful and also required a little more effort to share my site with others. That being said, I have changed the name to The Light Writer (thelightwriter.net). The same content is here and nothing has changed with the blogs. I will continue to write blogs but I will also be freelancing my services.
I have been published in David C. Cook Publishing Co. in their Devotions magazine. Most recently, my articles were published in the week of May 9-13 of this year 2019.
I am also in the process of writing a book that will be of help to new Christians and more mature Christians who want to get back where they should be in life. My desire is to hopefully have this book published by year end, although I can’t promise that.
I would also say that I will be creating Bible studies that will be of interest to those who are students of the Bible.
I will continue to send out a newsletter, preferably a monthly newsletter. So if you are not subscribed, let me encourage you to sign up to receive it.
Therefore, I will be putting new light, no pun intended, into the sight in the coming days and months. Thank you all who follow me and please, share my site with your friends.
Blessings to all,
Visiting with an older gentleman one day, the discussion turned to faith. I asked him outright, “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” The man was very kind and said, “Let me tell you what I know about Jesus.”
We were sitting on his porch while he was rocking in his rocking chair. I had visited this man several times while I was pastor in the little community. Life had not been good to this old gentleman, it was plain to see. He had farmed the land around his home for over 50 years. He was rugged and had worked in the fields most of his life and his skin was well parched. His eyes showed wear from years of squinting in the sun.
The old man began by saying, “My daddy farmed this land for many years before me and taught me all I know about farming. When I was a child, the preacher used to come visit us often, much like you have been doing. My momma and daddy attended church regularly on Sundays and took me with them. I listened to preacher deliver those messages and sometimes I would get that feeling that he was talking to me, but I mostly ignored it.”
“I grew up going to that church and listened to many a pastor preach over the years. I even became friends with some of those pastors when I grew up and took over the farming. Farming came natural for me and I could grow practically anything. It didn’t take much effort from me. Oh sure, farming is hard work, don’t get me wrong. Either it’s in you or it ain’t!”
I heartily agreed with the old man. I said, “I feel the same way about being a pastor. It’s either in you, or it’s not!” I will say that I have enjoyed the fruits of the pastorate, wherever I served. I said, “continue with your story.”
The old man sat back in his rocker and continued telling his story. “My upbringing taught me to respect the pastor and his family. I did that and became very close with one pastor. For years, he would come visit now and then and we would have great conversations. Oftentimes we would talk about Jesus and I would get off on another subject. I felt like I knew Jesus pretty well.”
I told the old man, “I’m sure you heard plenty about Him when you attended church. But what I want to know is, do you know him intimately, in your heart?” I could tell that the old man was becoming somewhat uncomfortable. He would change the subject every time he felt the Holy Spirit working on him.
As many times as I have visited this man, I knew when the Holy Spirit was working on him. It was clear to me that day that he was definitely under conviction and I did not want to leave until this man knew Jesus intimately.
I decided it was time for me to take control of the conversation and I began to share my testimony about how I experienced the touch of the Master Himself. After sharing with him, I could see his eyes beginning to tear up. I paused for a moment and watched a tear trickle down this old man’s cheek. He quickly grabbed his handkerchief from his overalls and wiped the tear. Perhaps I was a little melodramatic about my testimony, but it meant that much to me. I looked at the man and he was looking directly into my eyes and I simply said to him, “I sense that you have never had an intimate relationship with Jesus. Do you want to know Him that way today?”
“I don’t know preacher, I think Jesus must have given up on me years ago. I got to where I would go to church and it was the same old thing and I was just not feeling anything,” he said.
I told him, I had heard that same story over and over during my years as a pastor. Then I reached over and placed my hand on his arm very gently and as I did, I felt the power of the Spirit go through my arm into that man’s body. I was reminded of the woman who had touched Jesus’ garment. I truly felt as though God’s Spirit was present at that moment.
I said to the man, “Do you want to know Him, right now? You can! He never gave up on you and He has been here guiding you every day and He says today is your day! Don’t let this day go by without reaching out to Him and asking Him into your heart. You can do that! Won’t you do it?”
Tears began to stream down his cheeks and this time, he did not wipe them away. He said, “Yes preacher, I do!”
With that response, I quickly said, “would you pray with me and accept Jesus right now?” He replied with a hearty YES! I then led him in the sinner’s prayer and felt the power of the Holy Spirit take over that man’s life, immediately.
When we were through praying, he said, “Is that it? That’s all I had to do?”
I said, “Yes, it is that simple. Even a child can do it. So, how do you feel?”
The man was so overjoyed and he said, “It is Him! It is Him! I feel him right here!” He pointed to his chest and said again, “It is Him! I finally know Him!”
We embraced and praised God together.
He told me how he had always read the story and even heard it preached about how Thomas had doubted that the disciples had seen Jesus. He said, “I’ve often wondered what it would be like to reach out and touch Jesus and today I now know what it’s like! Thomas, you finally showed me what happened to you. It certainly is Him!”
Isn’t it strange that so often people live this kind of life not really knowing what it’s like to know Jesus that intimately? Anyone who is open to hearing the truth and accepting it, can have that feeling today.
Yes, it is Him!
This is a question that I hear quite often. Why me? I presume people ask the question because something bad has happened to them or something wrong has happened to them. Some people even venture to blame God for their misfortune. It is easy to blame God. Some do it out of disgust while others do it out of shame. Many even claim to be Christian and yet they don’t understand why these things happen to them.
Let me offer my suggestion regarding three teachings in the Bible that just don’t seem to fit together.
- God is good. This simply means that God is absolutely pure. Not only is God pure but He also hates evil. He has to deal with everything that is in rebellion to Him.
- God is great. God is all-powerful and He can conquer anything that challenges Him.
- Evil is real. There are things out in the world that are in rebellion to God and that are at this very moment challenging Him.
So, here is the problem, God would know about evil. If God is really good, then why doesn’t He condemn it and do something about it? Also, if God is truly great—in other words, if He is all-powerful—then why wouldn’t He actually do what His goodness demands and destroy evil?
Do you see the problem? As Christians we believe God is good and He is great, and yet evil still exists and on a magnificent scale. How do we understand this?
Here are some examples of solutions by people who deny the existence of God.
- Deny God’s existence—and, with it, the reality of evil.
This sounds simple enough, wouldn’t you think? If God is good and great, the He would certainly destroy evil. And since evil is not destroyed, there must be no God.
Here is the problem with that thinking—a lot of people seem to miss the fact that if you throw out the idea of God, you have also thrown out the meaning of evil. You see, in an atheistic universe there is no actual good or evil, and therefore no absolute standard by which to judge anything as being ultimately right or wrong. So, all we are left with is are preferences. I have mine and you have yours. Robbery and murder are not my forte, but they might be somebody else’s. Who are we to say what others do is wrong? On the same token, who are they to judge what we are doing?
Now, we can do and make up rules and laws to try to help us get along with one another. But if these rules and laws are not grounded in any objective reality or standards beyond mere human opinion, then what makes them right versus wrong? They are just human preferences.
We should not forget that Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein, for example, had their preferences, which they imposed on their nations. Now, we can say we don’t like it and we can fight to try to stop it, but we’re left with the unanswerable question, “why accept our values over theirs?”
We know—unmistakably and undeniably—that evil is real and that some things, whether legalized and legitimized by society or not, are simply wrong. So, if evil is real, if it truly goes against a set of universal moral standards, it is a powerful indicator that there must be a transcendent moral lawgiver.
- Deify evil.
This comes primarily through Eastern thought, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, and through the New Age teachings in the West. Everything is part of God, these religions tell us—so the thing we call evil is actually, as we saw in the Eastern-influenced story of Star Wars, just the “dark side of the force.”
But if everything is part of god—not a personal God as the Bible teaches, but an all-encompassing impersonal god as is taught in these pantheistic worldviews—then evil and suffering are part of that god too. So, the problem then is that we are supposed to join with the very thing that contains evil within itself!
- Diminish God’s power. Deny God’s greatness.
This viewpoint says that God does exist but is limited. He is good and He sees the evil, but He lacks the power to do much about it. This simply comes from various strains of liberal Christian theology.
We see this idea that God is not all-powerful at a popular level in the best-selling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold Kushner.
There are major problems with this teaching. First, it denies what the Bible tells us—in both the Old Testament (including the Jewish Torah) and the New Testament—about a God who is unlimited in His power; who is unchanging; and who has Satan, the ultimate embodiment of evil, under His feet, ready to crush him at any moment.
How can we know that ultimately there will be any victory over evil? If God is limited, how do we know anything solid about the future? This is simply a weak and unbiblical attempt to explain evil.
- Diminish God’s goodness.
This only suggests that God knows about evil and has the power to vanquish it, but apparently doesn’t care enough to deal with it. He lacks the goodness to take action, letting evil just go on.
A lot of people in the midst of pain and suffering are, consciously or unconsciously, tempted to flirt with this idea. They have privately shaken their fists at God and said to themselves, “He must not be good; He must not care; He must not be loving—why else would I be going through this?
You see, during those difficult times, it is easy to overlook all the ways God has been good to us. It is common in the middle of a drought, for example, to forget that rain is the norm.
So, yes, bad things do happen, but a lot of good things do, too. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the Bible stresses the importance of gratitude—so we will remember God’s many acts of goodness in our lives.
There are many recorded revelations all through the Bible that assure us God is good. And the historical record of God’s patient dealings with His people certainly bears out those claims.
There is nothing we can say to make people suddenly okay with the evil around them or the suffering in their lives. Because—to be honest—we are not okay with it, either! Christianity offers the most satisfying answer to this problem.
This is a question that has come up often: Are we living in the Kingdom of God now? So, allow me to try to address the Kingdom of God first. What is it? Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty [kingdom] rules over all.” (NASB) I like what John Piper says, “the basic meaning of the word kingdom in the Bible is God’s reign — R-E-I-G-N — not realm or people.” He follows that up with “The kingdom creates a realm, the kingdom creates a people, but the kingdom of God is not synonymous with its realm or its people.”
God does sit on His throne of the universe and He rules His kingdom and His reign. In Revelation 19:6, the Apostle John writes: “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” The Greek word “Pantokrator” is our English word “Almighty,” which means “Omnipotent.” This means God is the ruler of all or ruler of the universe.
The Bible says Jesus answered Pilate when he asked Jesus the simple question in John 18:33, “…are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied in verse 36, “…My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” The emphasis here is “My kingdom is not of this world or realm.” In fact, Mark 1:14-15 tells us, “…Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The prophet Daniel said in chapter 2:44, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” The kingdom of God will replace the governments of this earth. The kingdom of God will be established on the earth when the Lord Jesus returns. Revelation 11:15 states, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’” We prepare for that kingdom by living according to rules of the kingdom now. Our task is to learn what God’s laws are and then to begin living in accordance with the rules of that Kingdom.
We simply need to pray for God’s kingdom to come. It is not here yet. It is present in your midst, upon you, at hand. How can that be? The answer is, the kingdom of God is God’s reign. God’s sovereign action in this world is to redeem and deliver His people and then at a future time, He will finish it and renew His people and the universe completely.
M. Scott Peck begins his inspiring book The Road Less Traveled with this profound statement: “Life is difficult!”
Many people today have a different perspective on this. It is easy for us to sit back and want to believe that life should be easy. Instead, the road most travelled is full of complaining about life’s difficulties.
I find that life with Jesus Christ makes life so much easier. However, when one decides to follow Jesus, life is very costly. I believe it is pretty clear in the Sermon on the Mount that living with Jesus actually means walking a road less traveled. Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB) very well describes it. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Jesus also makes it very clear that He promises abundant life to those who will follow Him, while at the same time following Him is difficult and very costly. So if we elect to follow Him, we will travel the road less traveled.
It is one thing to be following Jesus for quite some time and then all of the sudden, He drops this question from Matthew 16:15 on us: “…But who do you say that I am?” If you are like me, you want to quickly say, as the disciples said, “You are the Messiah–the Son of the living God.” What we do not expect Him to say is that He must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law; and that He must be killed and after three days rise again!
In fact, the Apostle Peter could not handle those words and so he said in Matthew 16:22, “…God forbid it, LORD! This shall never happen to you.” Suffering and death just did not fit Peter’s concept of the Messiah. Does it fit in ours?
So what is this cost to follow Jesus? He put it very simple in Mark 8:34-35, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Denying oneself is probably one of the most misunderstood and misapplied commands of our Lord. The word “deny” means “to resist,” “to reject,” or “to refuse.” In essence, it means to say “no.”
To deny oneself simply means to deny your self-lordship. In other words, it is saying “no” to the god who is me! I won’t bow down to my inward self anymore and I say “yes” to Jesus Christ as my Lord.
“Take up your cross.” Many folks just refer to an illness or a disability as their “cross” to bear. Jesus means much more than that. Jesus carried His cross through the streets to His own crucifixion. When a man carried his own cross through the streets, for all practical purposes he was a dead man. A man on his way to crucifixion was compelled to abandon all earthly hopes and ambitions. Jesus was telling us to think of ourselves as already dead, to bury all our earthly hopes and dreams, to bury the plans and agendas we made for ourselves.
Lose your life for My sake. Here is the mystery of the road less traveled. We finally find ourselves when we lose ourselves for Jesus’ sake. But what does that mean? By investing all that we are and have for Him and His gospel. By saying to Him, “Here is my home, my checkbook, my talents and gifts, my brain, my heart, my hands, my feet, my mouth. Lord, all this is Yours. Use it to glorify Yourself and further Your purpose on earth.
The road to Easter goes through Good Friday. The road to new life goes through the death of the old. The road to resurrection goes through crucifixion. Jesus calls us to walk that road, the road He walked.