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, February 22, 2014


     Sometimes, as Randy Smith was standing behind the pulpit speaking on Sunday mornings he would be interrupted. And almost every time he was interrupted, it was by a kid in the pews and almost every time, it was Harold Peterson, But this time it wasn't Harold for he was not even in town, and it wasn't even a kid. This time it was his wife.

     Walking down the middle aisle to the pulpit, Daisy stopped right in front of her husband and let out a loud “AHEM!” to get his attention. “I know,” Randy said as he looked at her, “ Everybody who went into Harold’s room has been found.” Un-phased by the remark, Daisy looked him in the eye and said “I need you to make an important announcement for me?”

     “I must be important.” Randy, said, “If you're interrupting the morning sermon like this.” “It's extremely important.” Daisy said, “The ladies of the church are going to be meeting this coming Tuesday evening.” “Nice Dear.” Randy frowned, “What are you going to be doing? Sewing? Cooking? Cleaning? That doesn't sound important at all.”

     “We are going to be praying.” Daisy said, “And furthermore, all husbands are welcome also. Harold is missing.” “And do you have a meeting time and place for this prayer mee....” Randy said and then froze. “Did you say Harold is missing?”

     “Yes.” Daisy exclaimed, “But not only him, several others from the monastery are missing too.” “So,” Randy asked, “What has Harold been up to now?” “I don’t think this can be blamed on Harold.” “If Harold's not to blame,” Randy went on to ask, “Then what happened?” “An earthquake hit the monastery.” Daisy said starting to quiver.

     “An earthquake!” Randy exclaimed out loud catching the attention of everyone in the pews. “An earthquake destroyed part of the monastery.” Daisy said out loud and people started to murmur behind her. “How bad is it?” Randy asked. “It took out the entire wing where Harold slept.” Daisy said starting to cry.

     “When did it happen?” now asked with great concern. “Last night.” Daisy said, “Which means Harold would have been in his room sleeping.” “Did you say others were missing too?” Randy asked looking for more information. “At least six others sleep in that wing.” Daisy said, “And it’s several stories high or at least it was.”

     “How soon before they will know anything?” Randy asked. “It could be several days.” Daisy told him, “They can’t get rescue equipment up the mountain side.” “That's bad.” Randy said forgetting all about his sermon. “Let's not wait until Tuesday. Let's pray now!” and with those words, everybody in the congregation got down on their knees and started to pray.

     In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 Kings 18:13 (ESV) How do you react when troubles comes your way? Do you try to take care of things your way? What if you know you can't take care of the issue at hand like Hezekiah? Let's see what he did....

     As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. They said to him, "Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left." When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, "Say to your master, 'Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.' " … Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. … And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
2 Kings 19:1-37 (ESV)

     Somethings are beyond our control. Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray and what a defense prayer can be. The last part of the Armor of God found in Ephesians is that of prayer. Ephesians 6:18 reads Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people. (NCV)

     When it comes to prayer we need to:
  • Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
  • I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV)
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
  • Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (NASB)
  • But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind. James 1:6 (NCV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you use prayer as a defense, to keep you from harm?
  • When you pray, do you wait until it's too late?

Saturday, February 15, 2014


     It was laundry day at the Peterson house and even though Harold was gone, the amount of Laundry had not diminished. “Really.” Martha thought to herself, “How can one teenage girl go through so many clothes in just one week.” As she headed up stairs to Stella's room to drop of the first basket load she her attention was caught by some weird sounds coming from the TV room.

      Normally, hearing weird sounds from the TV room would have been normal but the TV was broke. Leaning her ear against the door tot he TV room she heard someone say “And you thought you’d never escape.” followed by another voice saying, “ I think you are the one who will never escape.”

      “Did Bill get the TV fixed?” Martha thought to herself as she pressed her ear even harder to the door. “Don’t under estimate my use of the force.” came the first voice she heard followed by “You are but a learner, I am the master. Prepare to be eliminated.” “That doesn't sound like the TV.” Martha thought, “It sounds more like Bill.”

      “Not so fast. I didn’t come all this way unprepared. I have Sting.” Came the first voice again followed by “So, you have made for yourself a light saber. I am impressed. Never the less I have the experience. I have the dark side of the force.” and then the first voice spoke again, “The dark side is no match for the light. Draw your sword.” All of this was followed by what sounded like a tornado going through the TV room.

      “Alright!” Martha yelled out as she pushed the door open, “What's going on in here?” Startled by Martha's presence, Bill let out a scream. After Bill caught his breath, Martha again asked, “What's going on in here?” “Uhm,” Bill said looking around a bit embarrassed, “Playing with Harold's light saber.”

      “Aren’t you a little old for light sabers?” Martha asked. “Well, maybe.” Bill said, “But somebody has to defeat the evil Over Lord and this light saber is just what is needed.” “I think you've been hanging around Harold too long.” Martha said shaking her head.

      “Maybe.” Bill said again, “But, I haven’t seen him in over a month. On the other hand, maybe I'm missing him.” “Yeah.” Martha sighed, “I guess I'm missing him too.” After standing there in silence for what seemed for ever, Martha suddenly through her basket of clothes at Bill, whirled around and grabbed another one of Harold's light saber and took off after Bill. “Don't forget the Black Queen.” she said as they started swing light sabers at each other.

      It's a football game and you're winning by 1 point. Time is running out and the other team has the ball. Suddenly the crowd starts to yell “DEFENSE! DEFENSE!” Why? So the losing team doesn't score. Sometimes when God doesn't want us to do things, He puts up a defense to stop us.

      In Genesis we read of a cherubim (angel) with a sword God used as a defense. Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24 (NASB)

      Adam and Eve had the life, they had few rules but they had to break an important one. God kicked them out of the garden among other things, Then, with a flaming sword kept them out.

      Later we read of another sword in the hands of an angel. But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way. Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall, so he struck her again. The angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick. And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now." The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No." Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. Numbers 22:22-31 (NASB)

      Balak saw people coming and wanted them cursed. He thought God's prophet would help. Balaam decided to go but his donkey wouldn't. Why? Because an angel with a sword was blocking the way.

      As we continue looking at Ephesians 6 we come to the second part of verse 17 - and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (ESV) - The sword of the Spirit, it is more than a weapon, it is for protection, it is a defense. Let's think about the power of words to coll things down and protect us.
  • Hebrews 4:12 says For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV) We can see that the sword, that words, especially God's word hold power.
  • Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (ESV) One of the best ways to protect us.
  • Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (ESV)
  • Proverbs 15:23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (ESV)
  • Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (ESV)
      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you use God's word to protect you or hurt you?
  • Do your words act to protect you or to harm others?

Saturday, February 8, 2014


     Things had been really quiet around the police station while Harold was visiting the monastery and Sergeant Halfway was somewhat enjoying the quiet, well, almost. For the Sergeant it had become almost too quiet. So much so, he was getting bored. “Well,” he said to himself, “I guess that's another day.” and grabbed his coat and headed for the door but he never made it.

      Although it was quitting time, he had his duty to fulfill and when the phone started ringing, he had to answer it. “Hello.” he said. “This is Sergeant Halfway, can I help you?” “My husband is missing.” came the frantic voice on the other end of the line. “Alright.” he said slumping back into his chair, “What is his name?
      “It's Robert Grey.” came the voice on the line. “Is this Helen?” Halfway asked. “If I remember correctly, he's not lost, he went to the monastery a couple weeks ago to visit Harold, or did he forget where he was going?” “Oh, he made it there alright,” Helen replied, “And came home a couple days ago.”

      Hearing that, Halfway forgot about Robert being lost and started asking how Harold was doing. “He seems to be doing alright.” Helen said, “But I guess he's been kind of cold.” “Cold?” Sergeant Halfway laughed, “I've never heard of a kid that eats as much as Harold does ever get cold.” “Well,” Martha said, “He hasn't been able to eat like that and Robert said they don't keep the monastery heated and remember that mop of hair that sits on Harold's head?” “How could I knot?” Halfway replied. “Well,” Helen continued, “It's gone. Robert said he shaved it clean off.”

      Hearing that must have put Sergeant Halfway into shock. After several moments of silence, he finally said, “Do, you mean he is bald?” “Balder than my husband.” Helen replied. “I bet he looks funny.” Halfway half laughed. “That's what my husband thought too.” Helen responded. “I once shaved my head bald too and I remember looking funny.” Halfway laughed. “You still do.” Helen replied with a laugh.

      Not liking the direction the conversation was going after that remark, Sergeant Halfway turned things back to the missing Robert. “So,” He said, “What can you tell me about your missing husband?” “Well,” Helen said, “I told you that Harold shaved his head so he asked Robert to find his space helmet and send it to him so he could keep his head warm.”

      “So,” Halfway asked, “What does this helmet have to do with your husband missing?” “Robert went to find it and hasn't been seen since.” Helen told him. “When and where did he go to look for it?” Halfway asked. “He went looking for it two days ago in Harold's room.” Helen said. When he heard that, Sergeant Halfway started sputtering, “I think you'll be on your own on this one.” he said, “I can't spare anybody to help in case they get lost too. I will pray for you though.” “Alright.” Helen sighed, “I guess I'll just wait.”

     What do you do with the things you consider valuable? In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus tells of a man who found something he considered to be valuable - a pearl of great value. So, he sold all he had to buy it, took it home and then.... Did he take care of it? We usually don't want to lose things of value but I know of four men who all lost something that I would consider valuable.

      The first was a man named Goliath. Goliath makes a challenge, David accepts and... Here's the story in brief. And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. And as he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. And David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. - 1 Samuel 17:20-51 (ESV)

      The second man was Saul. He was in a battle with the Philistines And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Thus Saul died. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head. - 1 Samuel 31:1-10 (ESV)

      The third man was Ish-bosheth and he was taking a nap when they came into the midst of the house as if to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. When they came into the house, as he lay on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him and put him to death and beheaded him. They took his head and went by the way of the Arabah all night, - 2 Samuel 4:5-8 (ESV)

      Are you seeing a pattern? You may then guess what Sheba lost. Sheba led a revolt against David, lost and ran. Joab found him. And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, "Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, 'Come here, that I may speak to you.' " Joab answered, "Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city." And the woman said to Joab, "Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall." Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab.- 2 Samuel 20:1-22 (ESV)

      Do you see the pattern? Heads are valuable, at least I wouldn't want to lose mine. In Ephesians 6:17 Paul says and take the helmet of salvation, (ESV) and as we all know, the helmet protects the head and the head contains the brain or the mind. Here are some versus o the mind.
  • Romans 8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (ESV)
  • Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (ESV)
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (ESV)
      The mind is very important so lets use it and Ponder On These Things.
  • Do you go out go the way to protect your mind – what goes in?
  • Do you use your mind in a proper way before God?

Saturday, February 1, 2014


     Randy Smith was having a good day. He had finished up work at the office early and was on his way home to enjoy some time with Louie before he had to go on a call to visit someone at the hospital. As he drove home he thought of Harold at the Monastery and wondered if Bill ever made it there and if he even remembered why he was going. He even laughed a little thinking about Bill's story.

      After tossing his suit coat over a chair, Randy headed to Louie's room and as he approached the door he heard some strange noises. “Beep, beep, beep. Come in spaceship At-a-wak. This is commander Louie.” “Spaceship At-a-wak?” Randy said to himself, “That doesn't sound familiar.” “Is that you admiral?” Randy heard coming from Louie's room next.

      “Admiral? Admiral who?” Randy said as he picked his head through Louie's door. “Let me speak to Admiral Halftrak.” He heard Louie say and than he heard what sounded like a bunch of laser shots. “What are you playing?” Randy asked but Louie never heard him and started shouting amongst more laser sounds “Space ship At-a-wak come in. I’m under attack and I need help.”

      “Louie?” Randy called out again. “Come in Admiral Halftak!” Louie said in response, “I can’t hold out much longer, my shields are giving way, ” and then there was the sound of a loud explosion and Louie flopped over as if he was dead. “Louie?” Randy called out, “Are you okay?” But Louie didn't answer. Finally, he walked over to where Louie was laying on the floor and as he bent over Louie shouted out “BOO!”

      “Aagh.” Randy screamed jumping back, “What are you doing?” “Just playing with Harold’s new super sonic force field shields.” Louie said as he sat up, “He brought it over for me to use before he left but it never seem to work.” “What is it?” Randy asked as he looked it over. “Some kind of force field shield.” Louie said, “It is suppose to protect you from anything.”

      “If it is suppose to protect you from anything,” Randy went on to say, “How come you got blown up?” “I forgot to turn it on all the way again.” Louie said “I keep thinking I can wipe out the enemy on my own with out the shield at full strength.” “And you keep losing.” Randy stated, “How do you know you lose?

      “It's part of the shields programing I guess.” Louie said shrugging his shoulders. “Why don’t you try using it the right way.” Randy suggested. “That wouldn’t be any fun.” Louie replied. “Well, then,” Randy said, “How about letting me have a turn.” “No can do.” Louie said, “ I got to go. I just got a message from space station Bean Bag. They need my help.” “Well turn you shields on!” Randy said as he heard a loud blast come from the shield.

      Hebrews 10:36 reads For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (ESV) We need endurance especially when trials come at us, when Satan tries to pull us down to his level. To give us some encouragement when it comes to our faith, the writer of Hebrews gives us the faith chapter (chapter 11), a list of heroes faith.
  • By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice
  • By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death
  • By faith Noah in reverent fear constructed an ark
  • By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out
  • By faith he went to live in the land of promise
  • By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive
  • By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac
  • By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau
  • By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph
  • By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus
  • By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents
  • By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter
  • By faith he left Egypt
  • By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood
  • By faith the people crossed the Red Sea
  • By faith the walls of Jericho fell down
  • By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish
  • By Faith – the list goes on
      We are looking at the Armor of God and this week we come to the shield of Faith. Ephesians 6:16 says In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;(ESV)

      What kind of arrows do you suppose Satan sends are way – doubt? Lies or half truths? Temptations? Promises he can't keep? Bad council? I'm sure we could go on. Satan will do what he can to bring us down, to destroy our faith and yet our faith is our shield to protect us to help us to endure.

      We have a great list of examples of those who endured because of their faith, whom couldn't be brought down because of their faith.

      Here are a few verses on faith.
  • 1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (ESV)
  • Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)
  • James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (ESV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • How strong is your shield of faith?
  • Do you lay your shield down or hold it up?