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, January 25, 2014


     Harold Peterson was off to a monastery and his dad, Bill, was enjoying the peace and quiet around the house. Not only was he enjoying the peace and quiet, he was enjoying not worrying about what he was up to. On the other hand, what was he going to do? As Bill thought upon that thought, he heard someone start singing and around the corner came Robert “Hi! Ho! Hi! Ho! Its off to, to, to...”

     “Hello Robert.” Bill said to his father-in-law, “Where are you off to? Or are you just singing?” “Uhm,” Robert said scratching his head, “I can't remember.” “That sounds about right.” Bill said, “Have you heard anything from Harold?” “Harold?” Robert said scratching his head again, “Harold, who?

     “Your Grandson!” Bill reminded him. “Oh, that Harold.” Robert exclaimed, “No I haven’t but I'm getting ready to go and visit him.” “So your off to the monastery?” Bill asked. “The monastery?” Robert said a little confused, “Is that where Harold is?” “You mean you didn't know?” Bill asked a little surprised. “I thought space aliens got him.” Robert said.

     “If space aliens had got him,” Bill said, “How would you have gone to visit him?” “Good question.” Robert said “Maybe I did know he was there.” “So,” Bill said, “When are you leaving?” “As soon as I'm ready.” Robert replied, “By the way, what do I need to visit a monastery?”

     “I would suggest bringing your Bible for starters.” Bill told him. “To a monastery?'Robert questioned. “Of course.” Bill answered, “They spend most of their time in God’s word.” “Oh great!” Robert said when he heard that, “All day sermons. I better bring a pillow and my anti snoring device.” “I don't think so.” Bill said, “They study and meditate on God’s word, not sit in all day sermons.” “That's a relief.” Robert sighed.

     “Do you like oatmeal?” Bill asked. “Are you kidding?” Robert laughed, “I love oatmeal. Do I need to bring some?” “No.” Bill replied, “But that's all you get to eat three meals a day.” “Three meals a day?!” Robert exclaimed, “I don’t think I like it that much.” “And you may want some warm clothes” Bill added on, “They don’t keep it very warm in there. The building is to big to heat.”

     After some thought, Robert asked, “Will I need a suit and tie?” “I don't think so.” Bill said, Just a robe will do.” After doing some more thinking, Robert finally said, “Maybe I’ll go visit my brother in Florida, visiting Harold doesn’t sound like much fun.” “Well,” Bill said, “I suppose getting ready for a trip to Florida would be a little easier, but Harold is closer.”

     “Yeah.” Robert said in agreement, “And I am curios as to how he’s doing. Maybe I will go visit him. Hi! Ho! Hi! Ho! Its off to, to, to... Uhm, Bill, Where exactly am I going?” “To visit Harold at the monastery!” Bill said. “I know that.” Robert responded, “Where is the monastery?” After thinking about it for a few minutes Bill had to shrug his shoulders, That, I do not know.”

     A 150 mile bike trip is great exercise and a lot of fun but what if your legs say “No Way, I'm not going anywhere.” You go anyway and soon your legs cramp up and they win. Why?

      And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them."
Genesis 6:13-21 (ESV)

     Noah had to get ready – he had to build a boat and fill it with animals and food

      and the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. "Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house.
Leviticus 16:2-6 (ESV)

     God would bring forgiveness but first, Aaron had to prepare himself to offer the sacrifice, he had to get ready..

     Before Robert could go see Harold he needed to get ready. In Ephesians 6:15 we read of the third piece of the Armor of God - and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (NKJV) Roman shoes had spikes to protect and keep from slipping. We need to cover our feet with readiness / preparation of the gospel. What is like to be prepared, to be ready, can preparedness protect us?
  • 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (ESV)
  • 1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; (ESV)
  • Titus 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, (ESV)
     It will be hard for the enemy to get us if we are ready for anything.

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • In what ways are you preparing yourself to meet the enemy?
  • Does your preparation include God's word?

Saturday, January 18, 2014


     It was Sunday morning and Randy Smith was in his office at the church building getting ready for the morning service. As he was going over his sermon notes one last time he was interrupted by the sound of crying coming from outside his office door. “I really don't have time to deal with another problem right now,” he thought to himself but decided he better see who it was.

      As Randy stepped into the hallway he saw a sobbing Bernadette with what looked like some kind of pottery in her hand. “What's wrong, Bernadette?” He asked, “Why are you crying?” “I broke it?” came the reply through the mournful sobs. “I’ll probably get sent to my room for a week.”

     “What did you break?” Randy asked, wondering if it was something belonging to the church. “Our best plate.” Bernadette said. “Your best plate?” Randy said, “How did that happen.” “Well,” Bernadette went on to explain between her sobs, “I was trying to get it down from the cupboard and it slipped out of my hand.”

     “That is kind of sad.” Randy said trying to console her, “What were you going to use it for?” “To help you.” Bernadette said and burst in to a loud cry. “Help me?” Randy said “How?” “ I heard you were going to talk about the best plate this morning.” Bernadette said still crying. “Best plate!” Randy said, “I wasn’t going to talk about the best plate, I was going to talk about the breast plate.”

     “What!?” Bernadette gasped, “They turn those into plates?” “No, Bernadette.” Randy said, “I’m talking about a piece of armor that covers the breast area.” “Oh” said Bernadette when she heard that. “This plate is made of righteousness.” Randy continued.

     After a moment of silence, Bernadette asked, “When you get done with it can I have it? I need it to replace the one I broke.” “I don't think that will work.” Randy said shaking his head. “I didn’t think so.” Bernadette sighed, “Maybe I can use it to protect my self when I tell my Mom what happened to her plate.”

     “You haven't told her yet?” Randy asked wondering if she was going to try and hide it from her mom. “Not yet.” Bernadette said. “I don't want to but I need to because it is the right thing to do.” Your right.” Randy said, “And you know what? That is the breast plate of righteousness at work.” “What?” Bernadette said. “You mean doing right helps protect us?”

     “That's right.” Randy said. “Has anybody told Harold that?” Bernadette said almost laughing. “Maybe I can right him a letter and tell him. After all, doing the wrong thing never helped him at all.” “You can say that again.” Randy said in agreement to which Bernadette did and then left.

     During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
Exodus 2:23-25 (ESV)

     Israel had been living in Egypt as invited guests but the times had changed, they were slaves in need of rescue. That was No problem, all God needed to do was send send Moses to Pharaoh to say “Let My people go.” and all will go … Well, maybe it was going to take some persuasion. Through Moses and Aaron, God performed one miracle after another for Pharaoh – a snake from a rod, blood, frogs, insects, cattle die, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, 1st born dead, pillars of fire, dividing the Red Sea. Time and time again, Pharaoh refused to do what God wanted him to do. Instead of doing what was right he hardened his heart and refused to let the people go. Soon after Israel was free, they tried to follow in Pharaoh's footsteps and refused to do what was right as well. (Exodus 7-14)

     In the book of Ephesians, Paul, talking about the armor of God tells us in 6:14b to put on the breastplate of righteousness, (ESV) Righteousness basically means doing what is right and there is much about it in the Bible.
  • Deuteronomy 6:18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers (ESV)
  • Philippians 1:11 be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (ESV)
  • Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (ESV)
     We must also remember that the breastplate coves some very important organs – like the heart.
  • Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (ESV)
  • Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. (ESV)
  • Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (ESV)
  • Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (ESV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you practice righteousness in what you do?
  • Do you protect your heart?

Saturday, January 11, 2014


     After several wraps on the door, it finally opened and Barney was allowed to enter. “What brings you out on a cold day like today?” Bill Peterson asked as he invited Barney into the house. “Harold.” Barney answered. “Harold!” Bill remarked, “You know he isn't here, he's at the monastery.” “I know.” Barny said, “But I need to get something for him.”

      “You've heard from him!” Bill said in excitement. “What's he been up to?” “Dieting.” Barney answered. “What?” Bill said in disbelief, “Harold? Diet? Those two things don't go together.” “I know that sounds kind of..” Barney said, “Make that very strange but it's true.” “What makes you say that?” Bill asked wanting to know more. “He sent me a letter this past week asking me to send him a belt.” Barney said.

     “That doesn't mean he's been dieting.” Bill said. “I know.” Barney said, “But he also asked me to send him a hundred Big Macs, fifty large orders of fries and fifty super sized cokes.” “That sounds more like Harold.” Bill laughed. “I cant afford all that food.” Barney went on to say, “So I’m just going to send him a belt.”

     “I can see why Harold would want all that food.” Bill said, “But why would he want a belt?” “To hold his pants up.” Barney replied. “What?” Bill said in shock, “I’ve never known Harold to have a problem keeping his pants up.” “You’ve never had to eat monastery food either.” Barney said, “Harold said that all he gets for breakfast is a small bowl of oatmeal.” “So?” Bill said no thinking that would be a good reason for Harold needing a belt.

     “For lunch he gets a small bowl of oatmeal.” Barney continued, “And for supper he gets … another small bowl of oatmeal.” “Oh.” Bill said starting to see why Harold would need a belt. “Not only that,” Barney continued, “But they fast twice a week.” “No wonder he needs a belt.” Bill said full understanding why now, “Have you heard if he has been staying out of trouble?” he then asked trying to learn more.

     “I think he’s been good so far.” Barney said, “ This diet he is on has made him to weak to do much of anything.” “Well,” Bill said optimistically, “Hopefully he is learning something that will help him.” “If he doesn't wither away first.” Barney tagged on. “Nobody else there has withered away, have they?” Bill said. “No.” Barney had to agree, “But their not use to eating 10,000 calories a day either.”

     “Well,” Bill said laughing at the 10,00 calorie comment, “Come, on. I'll help you find that belt but you need to tell me everything you've learned about Harold stay at the monetary so far.” “Alright. Barney agreed, “let's get looking.”

     In the story of the boy who cried wolf, did telling a lie help him or set him up for trouble? Abraham and his son Isaac never cried wolf but they did cry something else, they cried “Sister.”

     First there was Abraham - Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, "I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake." When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go." And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.
Genesis 12:10-20 (ESV)

     A famine came and ya got to have food so to Egypt went Abram. Because of Sarai's beauty, Abram feared for his life and lied saying “She is my sister.” Trouble ensued for many till the truth was fessed up.

     Later, following in the steps of his Dad, came Isaac - Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah," because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, 'She is my sister'?" Isaac said to him, "Because I thought, 'Lest I die because of her.' " Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us." So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, "Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
Genesis 26:1-11 (ESV)

     A famine for Isaac sends him to the philistines where he fears for his life because of Rebekah's beauty. So, he says “She is my sister.” He gets caught in his lie and chewed out for what could have happened.

     In Ephesians Paul talks about the Armor of God and why it should be worn Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (ESV) Paul then goes on to tell us that the first piece of Armor is the BELT OT TRUTH. Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (ESV)

     Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.- John 14:6 (NASB) Jesus also said "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31-32 (NASB)

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you wrap yourself with the Truth?
  • Do you tell lies when you fear telling the truth.?

Saturday, January 4, 2014


     Randy Smith always looked forward to the first Sunday of the new year especially the ones that came after a long deserved vacation. As he looked over the congregation, he couldn't but notice someone was missing. That someone was Harold Peterson. Seeing him missing gave Randy an uneasy feeling, a feeling that Harold was already showing signs that he hadn't changed.

     After the service he tried to catch up with the Bill or Martha but the left too quickly to be caught. Randy did, however, catch up with Barney. “Barney.” He called out, “I've just got to know, do you know how Harold is doing?” “Yes and no.” Barney answered. “Huh?” Randy said with puzzle look on his face. “Yes, I know how Harold is doing and no, I don’t know how he is doing.” Barney started to explain. But he made no sense to Randy who said so.

     “The last time I talked to Harold,” Barney continued to explain, “He was making some big plans on how he would stay out of trouble.” “That sounds promising.” Randy injected, “But how can you not know how he is doing?” “Nobody has seen him for over a week.” Barbey went on to say. “What?!” Randy exclaimed, “He's disappeared again?” “Sort of.” Barney shrugged.

     “What do you mean sort of?” Randy asked, “Either he’s disappeared or he hasn’t.” “Well,” Barney said, “It's like this. Harold was planning on leaving town for a while. And as I know he was telling everybody he was leaving. The whole town wants to throw he a get out of town party.” Where was he planning on going?” Randy asked. “To the monastery.” Barney answered.

     “The What?!” Randy shouted out in shock getting the attention of everybody left in the sanctuary. “The monastery.” Barney whispered. “But why” Randy asked. “Why is he going there?” “He was thinking that if he locked himself in a room at the monastery he would never get in trouble again.” Barney said. “That's interesting.” Randy said, “But I'm not sure it will work.”

     “How could it go wrong?” Barney asked, “I thought it was a good idea.” “trouble starts from within.” Randy started to explain. “You mean if he locks himself in a room trouble will start?” Barney asked. “No.” Randy said shaking his head. “Then it will work!” Barney exclaimed. “Has it ever worked before?” Randy asked. “Well,” Barney said bowing his head, “No, not really.”

     “All the trouble that Harold gets into starts in his own mind doesn’t it?” Randy asked pointing Barney toward to the real reason. “Well,” Barney replied, “I guess I’d have to agree with you there.” And unless I'm mistaken,” Randy continued, “He is going to take his mind with him.” After thinking about it Barney finally said “At least he won’t be bothering us, and besides, maybe he will learn something from all those bald guys.” “Bald Guys!” Randy shouted out and Barney ran off.

     Jesus had just been Baptized but He wasn't ready to start the job God sent Him to do. He needed to go through a time of preparation, that preparation came in a strange way.

     And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.' " And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, " 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.' " And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, " 'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and " 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.' " And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' " And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:1-13 (ESV)

     Jesus was led for 40 days, ate nothing and was tempted. Being alone did not stop temptation from coming. Three temptations are named
  • Turn rocks to Bread – Would He trust God to provide?
  • Worship Devil – Did He want it all the easy way?
  • Jump down – They would know Him for certain.
     Devil lost – retreated and waited.

     First things first – Jesus battled temptation with scripture. What does scripture say about temptation? It says...
  • Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. James 1:13 (ESV)
  • But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. James 1:14 (ESV)
  • No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
  • For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (ESV)
  • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)
  • Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41 (ESV)
     Locking ones self away won't keep temptation from coming because we can't hide ourselves from Satan nor can we hide ourselves from ourselves. We can stay away from things though that may encourage us to be tempted or give in. What will you do?

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • What are the things that tempt you?
  • What are the ways that you handle temptation?