Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, July 27, 2013


      It was Monday morning and Bernadette Henderson was taking a stroll through the park enjoying the sounds of the morning birds. About halfway through the park, she saw someone she thought she knew from church sitting on a bench and decided to go over to her and say hi. As she neared the bench she was able to tell that it was none other than April Zaspella.

     “Hi, April!” Bernadette called out, “Mind if I set beside you?” “I'd love the company, Bernadette.” April said with a smile. “How did you know it was me?” Bernadette asked as she sat down, “I thought you couldn't see?” “I can't” April replied, “But I can hear and I know your voice from church.”

     “What brings you to the park?” Bernadette asked. “I'm just meditating on yesterday's sermon and thinking up a poem to help me remember it.” “Oh.” Bernadette injected. “How did you like the sermon yesterday?” April asked. “It was alright.” Bernadette answered, But I couldn't understand why Randy kept telling us God doesn’t want his name used in Spain.”

     “What did you say?” April asked thinking she heard wrong. “Is said I couldn't understand why Randy kept telling us God doesn’t want his name used in Spain.” “I don't remember Randy saying that.” April said. “Of course he did.” Bernadette insisted, “He said his sermon was bout the third commandment - Don’t use God’s name in Spain.” “Oh boy!” April said shaking her head.

     “I keep asking myself 'Isn’t God’s name good enough to use in Spain?'” Bernadette said. “Yes Bernadette.” April giggled, “It is good enough. In fact It’s good enough to be used everywhere.” “Then why can’t they use it in Spain?” Bernadette asked, “Is God afraid they'll us His name the wrong way?”

     “Well...” April said, “That’s close to what the third commandment says - don’t use God’s name in vain.” When Bernadette heard that she started shouting, “Vain!? Vain?! I thought Randy said Spain!” “Nope.” April giggled, “He said vain.” “Oh great.” Bernadette said slapping her forehead, “Do you know what that means?”

     “Of course I do.” April said with a smile. “Now I'm going to have to crawl up on our roof.” “What?!” April exclaimed, “What does your roof have to do with it?” “Where else would I find a vane.” Bernadette snorted, “I just hope nobody put God’s name on our weather vane. I wouldn’t want to be breaking the third commandment.”

     “What are we going to do with you?” April asked shacking her head. “How about holding the ladder for me.” Bernadette answered, “That way I won't fall.” “No,” April answered, “I think I'll just stay here and work on my poem.” “Suit yourself.” Bernadette said as she stood up to go, “I just hope I don't fall.”

     Bernadette, she'll mix things up and still not come far from the truth for it is not only those in Spain but everywhere that need to use God's name correctly.

     After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself. And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, he planned with his officers 2 Chronicles 32:1-3a (ESV)

     Hezekiah was one of the good kings of Judah and had done much to return the people back to God. Now Sennacherib king of Assyria was planning to make war against Jerusalem. Hezekiah started prepping fro war. Let's see what happens.

     He planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him. A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land, saying, "Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?" He set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it, and outside it he built another wall, and he strengthened the Millo in the city of David. He also made weapons and shields in abundance. And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles." And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

     After this, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who was besieging Lachish with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, "Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, 'On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem? Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, "The LORD our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria"? Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, "Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices"? Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!' " And his servants said still more against the Lord GOD and against his servant Hezekiah. And he wrote letters to cast contempt on the LORD, the God of Israel and to speak against him, saying, "Like the gods of the nations of the lands who have not delivered their people from my hands, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver his people from my hand." And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city. And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men's hands.
2 Chronicles 32:3-19 (ESV)

     Hezekiah cuts off the outside water supply, strengthens the city, makes weapons and encourages the people and then Sennacherib starts the war …. with a war of words doing his best to discourage the people treating God as some worthless idol

     Exodus 20:7 says You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (ESV) So, what does it mean by “vain” use of God's name? To treat God's name vain is to make it: empty, false, worthless. It is to profane or misuse it. We need to give God's name respect, honor and glory.

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • How often do you treat God's name in vain as in OMG, etc?
  • Does it bother you when other's treat God's name in vain?

Saturday, July 20, 2013


     It was Sunday morning and Randy Smith was standing behind the pulpit delivering a message on the second of the ten commandments. Everything seemed to be going well but for some reason, he kept hearing what sounded like drill and saw noises coming from behind the curtain which was separating the sanctuary from the baptismal area.

      As Randy continued the noise kept coming and than came the pounding, not a quiet tap tap but a load bang, bang, bang. “What in the world.” Randy exclaimed in the middle of his message. Soon all eyes were staring at the curtain. “There is only one kid who would interrupt a sermon with noise like that.” Randy said as he headed toward the curtain.

     “HAROLD!” Randy yelled out and as he did there came an even louder noise from behind the curtain. Suddenly Harold popped out from behind the curtain and causally said “Hi,” as if he was doing nothing wrong. And then, Harold asked, “Do you have any nails I can use?” “NO!” Randy answered a little upset. “How about some screws or some glue” Harold asked “No! NO!” Randy replied “Now what are you doing back there?”

     “Who, me?” Harold said looking around the room. “Yes, you.” Randy answered, “What are you doing back there?” “I'm just making a statue of me.” Harold answered as if he was doing nothing wrong. “And why may I ask,” Randy said, “Are you making a statue and why are you doing it during the sermon and why are you doing it the church building? You are interrupting an important message on the second commandment, which you SHOULD be listening to!”

     “Because I’m a king.” Harold answered, “If Stella is a queen then I am a king and I want a statue of me.” “A statue of you?” Randy questioned. “Yeah,” Harold answered, “I'm going to put it in the park and when I play my drums, everybody will have to bow down before it and say Harold is better then Stella.” When the congregation heard that, everyone burst out laughing for they knew Harold couldn't be better than anybody.

     “Harold!” Randy said , half laughing himself. “King Neb ah, ah, ah chooooooo did it.” Harold replied with a sneeze from all the dust he was creating. “You mean he tried to do it.” Randy tried to tell Harold. “But God showed him who was the real boss.” “Well, my statute will be better.” Harold claimed, “It will be electric.”

     “Electric!?” Randy exclaimed, “Harold, You’re not safe with electricity.” “Yes I am.” Harold responded and then there was a loud snap and smoke started rolling out from under the curtain. “Harold!” Randy shouted, “What are you burning back there?” “Quickly Harold disappeared behind the curtain and then everyone heard him scream “My Statue! It’s on fire Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” The next thing everyone knew the fire alarm sounded, the sprinkler system came on and the fire department came with sirens blaring. As everyone rushed to get out of the building, Harold slipped out the back door.

     Do you ever build statues? Idols? Exactly three months after the Israelites had left Egypt, they reached the Desert of Sinai. - Exodus 19:1 (NCV) It was here that the people of Israel heard God speak to them the ten commandments. It was here the people became frightened of God and asked Moses to be God's spokesman. When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke rising from the mountain, they shook with fear and stood far away from the mountain. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.“ Then Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, because God has come to test you. He wants you to respect him so you will not sin.“ The people stood far away from the mountain while Moses went near the dark cloud where God was. - Exodus 20:18-21 (NCV) It was here that the people of Israel also forgot.

      The people saw that a long time had passed and Moses had not come down from the mountain. So they gathered around Aaron and said, “Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don’t know what has happened to him. Make us gods who will lead us.“ Aaron said to the people, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, sons, and daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.“ So all the people took their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from the people and formed it with a tool and made a statue of a calf. Then the people said, “Israel, these are your gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!“ When Aaron saw all this, he built an altar before the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a special feast to honor the LORD.“ The people got up early the next morning and offered whole burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. They sat down to eat and drink, and then they got up and sinned sexually. - Exodus 32:1-6 (NCV)

     They would had claimed they would serve God, they saw His miracles, they heard Him speak, and then they left Him in the dust. They collected gold, they melted it down and they made a golden calf. They made it and then they claimed it led them out of Egypt and they worshiped it.

     When they heard God speak, they heard Him say "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. - Exodus 20:4-6 (ESV)

     When it comes to idols, what should we know?
  • We should know that idols are nothing - Jeremiah 10:2-5 Thus says the LORD: "Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good." (ESV)
  • We should not be deceived to follow - Deuteronomy 11:16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them;(ESV)
  • We should know God will not give His glory and praise to idols - Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (ESV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • What kind of statues / idols do you have?
  • Do you give God first place in everything?

Saturday, July 13, 2013


If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, - Mark 8:34b (NASB)

      As many of you may know, Louie Blackwood is sort of a quiet person and is often overlooked. By many of the kids he is looked at as being unimportant. It could be because of his red hair, it could be due to his freckles and it might even have something to do with the fact that he is an orphan. On the other hand, might just be the people he knows, like one Stella Peterson.

     As Louie sat by himself on the merry-go-round at the play ground, minding his own business, he was rudely interrupted by a loud trumpet blast. “Now entering – Queen Stella” Came a loud call after the trumpet blast and on to the play ground walked Stella wearing some kind of make shift crown. “All bow before your queen.” she called out as she came towards Louie.

     “Stella.” Louie started complaining but was cut off. “ That’s Queen Stella and you will address me as such.” Stella said smugly. “Okay,” Louie wondered, “What have you been watching?” “Alice in Wonderland.” Stella answered, “And I am going to be just like the Queen of Hearts.” “Isn't that the one who wanted Alice's head cut off?” Louie asked.

     “That is correct.” Stella replied, “And I am going to have the same thing done to Harold. Not only that but I want it on a silver platter.” “Isn't that going a little too far?” Louie asked. “For Harold? Never” Stella said with a sinister laugh, “Besides, I am a real Queen.” “Since when.” Louie quipped, “There's no way you could ever be a queen.”

     “But I am.” Stella assured him, “My Family is of royal descent and I can even prove it.” “How” Louie wanted to know. “I bought a computer program that lets me trace my family history and see who I’m related to.” Stella told Louie. “And you found your name in it?” Louie asked. “Well, no, not really.” Stella replied, “But it did have Peterson, sort of. He was Peter the Great.”

     “And you're related to him?” Louie asked in disbelief. “Yeah,” Stella assured him, “And that makes me a queen and since I am a queen, I am number one and everybody is suppose to serve me.” “Something is not right here.” Louie injected. “Everything is right.” Stella went on, “And I can't wait until I tell Harold that he must worship me and no other because I am a queen.”

     “Worship you?” Louie exclaimed, “I can't do that!” “Yes you will!” Stella ordered, “In fact, Everybody will fall down and worship me. Praise be to Queen Stella!” “Well,” Louie said smugly, “If you're a queen than that makes Harold a king.” When Stella heard that she froze. “And I can't wait to tell him.” Louie finished.

     “You wouldn't” Stella said with a scowl, “Do you know what will happen if you do that? He’ll let it go to his head.” “Just like you.” Louie said with a grin. After a few rather awkward moments of silence, Stella said, “I think I need to do some more research.” and then quietly left.

     Are you like Stella? Wanting to be the center of attention? Wanting to be praised? Wanting to be worshiped? Is it all about self?

     In the last chapter of 2 Kings, the kingdom of Judah went into captivity. The Babylonian king was now in control but, it was not for the reason he thought. Romans 13:1b tells us No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God. (NCV) The Babylonian king needed to be reminded of that, you may have heard of him and this story. His name is Nebuchadnezzar and his story is found in Daniel 4

      King Nebuchadnezzar sent this letter to the people, nations, and those who speak every language in all the world: I wish you peace and great wealth! The Most High God has done miracles and wonderful things for me that I am happy to tell you about. His wonderful acts are great, and his miracles are mighty. His kingdom goes on forever, and his rule continues from now on. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was happy and successful at my palace, but I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying on my bed, I saw pictures and visions in my mind that alarmed me. So I ordered all the wise men of Babylon to come to me and tell me what my dream meant. The fortune-tellers, magicians, and wise men came, and I told them about the dream. But they could not tell me what it meant. Finally, Daniel came to me. I told my dream to him. … Then Daniel was very quiet for a while, because his understanding of the dream frightened him. So the king said, “Do not let the dream or its meaning make you afraid.“... You saw a tree in your dream that grew large and strong. Its top touched the sky, and it could be seen from all over the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, and it had plenty of fruit for everyone to eat. It was a home for the wild animals, and its branches were nesting places for the birds. O king, you are that tree! You have become great and powerful, like the tall tree that touched the sky. Your power reaches to the far parts of the earth. “O king, you saw an observer, a holy angel, coming down from heaven who said, ’Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; leave it in the field with the grass. Let him become wet with dew and live like a wild animal for seven years.’ “This is the meaning of the dream, O king. The Most High God has commanded these things to happen to my master the king: You will be forced away from people to live among the wild animals. People will feed you grass like an ox, and dew from the sky will make you wet. Seven years will pass, and then you will learn this lesson: The Most High God is ruler over every kingdom on earth, and he gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses. “Since the stump of the tree and its roots were left in the ground, your kingdom will be given back to you when you learn that one in heaven rules your kingdom. So, O king, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Stop doing wicked things and be kind to the poor. Then you might continue to be successful.“ … Twelve months later as he was walking on the roof of his palace in Babylon, he said, “I have built this great Babylon as my royal home. I built it by my power to show my glory and my majesty.“ The words were still in his mouth when a voice from heaven said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, these things will happen to you: Your royal power has been taken away from you. You will be forced away from people. You will live with the wild animals and will be fed grass like an ox. Seven years will pass before you learn this lesson: The Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth and gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses.“ Immediately the words came true. (NCV)

     The first of the ten commandments reads - "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3 (ESV) God wants 1st place not 2nd, 3rd or what ever. But all too often we put other no-name gods before Him. God is to be number one in everything.
  • In our giving - Deuteronomy 17:1 "You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God. (ESV)
  • Above our families - Matthew 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (ESV)
  • Over our wealth- Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (ESV)
  • And let's not forget self - Mark 8:34b If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (NASB)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • What does the first commandment mean to you?
  • What no-name gods -including self - are you putting ahead of God?

Saturday, July 6, 2013


     It was the Saturday after the 4th of July and the Girls are Girls club was meeting at the park to talk about all the fun they had enjoyed over the past week. They talked about the parade, and the carnival and the fireworks. They talked about picnics and family trips and boys.

     Arriving late to the gathering was Mindy Miller. “Did you have a wonderful 4th of July?” Tracy called out to her as she jumped off her bike. “Don't ever mention that day again!” Mindy growled back at her. “The 4th of July?” Tracy asked to which Mindy replied with a scream. “What's wrong with the 4th of July?” Mindy questioned but Mindy just screamed again.

     “Is something wrong, Mindy” Stella asked a little perplexed by Mindy's screams. “The 4th reminds me of independence which reminds me of freedom which, which, which,” Mindy started to answer and then screamed again. “This wouldn't have something to do with wanting to do only what you wanted to, would it?” Came the sound of the leader's voice, the leader being Helen Grey.

     When Mindy heard Helen she just turned at her and growled. “I take it you learned something about responsibility and consequences.” Helen commented. “If I Ever Try Such A Foolish Thing Again As To Never Listen.” Mindy stated in return, “MAKE ME!” “I take it then” Helen said, “Things didn't go so well.” “You can say that again.” Mindy's sister chirped in.

     After giving Cindy the evil eye, Mindy told everyone about her horrible 4th of July. “I woke up on the forth and decided I wouldn't make my bed.” She told them. “Further more, I decided I wasn't going to clean my room, I would eat what ever I wanted and go where ever I wanted too. I was even going to stay up till midnight but I couldn't stay awake and sleeping was miserable.”

     While Mindy was telling everyone what had happened, Cindy sat back and giggled for she knew all to well what had happened. “Have you ever tried to sleep on a lumpy bed with a tummy ache and a sunburn?” Mindy asked “I even missed the parade and the fireworks because I didn't listen and I heard they were great.”

     “And now.” Cindy piped in giggling, “Her favorite china doll is broke into a hundred pieces.” “Shut up!” Mindy hollered at her sister. “So,” Helen asked, “was freedom to do what ever you really wanted really worth it?” Bowing her head, Mindy admitted “Not really. I think from now on I'm going to listen, besides I should have know things wouldn't have worked out.”

     “Why do you say that?” Helen asked. “Because,” Mindy answered, “They never work out for Harold.” “That's for sure.” Stella chirped in, “You should here what happened to him on the fourth.” “No Thanks!” all the girls said in unison. “Let's talk about girl stuff.”

     Can you think of times when obedience to rules would have saved you problems. Can you see how Mindy would have saved herself a lot of problems had she forgone her desired freedom and had done what she had been told to do?

     Sometimes God says to do something and we don't know why but we should still do it and sometimes God says not to do something and we don't know why but we should still not to it. Jeroboam was king of the newly Divided Kingdom and was well in to idolatry when a “Man Of God” was sent to him. This story is about the “Man Of God”

      And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD … And the king said to the man of God, "Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward." And the man of God said to the king, "If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.' " So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel. Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, "Which way did he go?" And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. And he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" And he said, "I am." Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread." And he said, "I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, 'You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.' " And he said to him, "I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.' " But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water. And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.' " And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him.
1 Kings 13:1-24 (ESV)

     God doesn't tell us to do or not to do things to keep us from enjoying life but that we might enjoy life. One of the reasons Jesus came was for us to have life and to be able to live it to its fullest - John 10:10 - A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness. (NCV) We need to remember that rules are their for a reason and it not to break them for God knows what happens when we do.
  • Joshua 1:8 - Always remember what is written in the Book of the Teachings. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything. (NCV)
  • Psalm 119:9 - How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying your word. (NCV)
  • Psalm 119:11 - I have taken your words to heart so I would not sin against you. (NCV)
  • Psalm 119:92 - If I had not loved your teachings, I would have died from my sufferings. (NCV)
  • Psalm 119:93 - I will never forget your orders, because you have given me life by them. (NCV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • How often have you wished you had obeyed the rules and avoided the consequences?
  • How much do you appreciate those who don't listen to you when they should?