Eyes That See not

Our church held an Independence Day celebration last night. They had 7 food trucks, 5 bouncy houses, music, and a special speaker.

(I chose to stay home and play with twenty-two-month-old Gideon.)

Our daughter Laura went with David. She surprised us by staying for the fireworks.

Laura gets up between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. for work. I wondered if she got enough rest last night.

“Did Laura sleep on the way home?” I asked David.

“No,” he replied, “but her eyes were glazed over.”

That was a perfect example of someone in a stupor!

Romans 12:8, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.”

New American Standard Bible

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Dear Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Amen.

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Ollie, Ollie, in Free

Yesterday, I talked about freedom and liberty. True freedom is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“This is the ‘ollie, ollie, in come free’ opening book of the New Testament. Hide and seek is over; the Savior has been found! Everyone can come home, we all win!”

The Founder’s Bible,
The Origin of the Dream of Freedom,
Introduction to the book of James

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As we walk in faith, we do our best to live a holy life. But it is not “do,” but “who.”

“First, we are called to ‘be’ holy, not ‘do’ holy. Second, holiness is relational: it’s not so much about an absence of wrong behavior as it is about the presence of Someone. When Moses was told to take his shoes off because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:1-5), the ground was not holy because it was some special kind of dirt; it was holy because the presence of God was abiding there. Third, God is the source of our holiness…because He is holy, and He lives in us, we shall be holy, for we shall be like Him.”

The Hope of Holiness,
The Freedom Bible,
The Origin of the Dream of Freedom,
p. 2017

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We cannot be holy in ourselves but we can do everything to “keep ourselves unstained by the world.”

James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

New American Standard Bible

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It is by grace that we are saved and God’s grace makes us holy.

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Freedom Versus Liberty

“Freedom is something that a government grants; liberty is something we own that a government cannot take away. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” President John Adams

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” Benjamin Franklin

“Freedom Versus Liberty”
The Founder’s Bible, The Origin of the Dream of Freedom,
p. 1860
John Adams, The Works of John Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851) Vol. VI, p. 484, to John Taylor, April 15, 1814
Benjamin Franklin quotes, Notable Quotes. (at http://www.notable-quotes.com/f/franklin_benjamin.html) (Accessed April 26, 2012)

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Works of the Law Versus Faith

Galatians 2:15, 16, “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, 16) nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”

New American Standard Bible

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Galatians 2:29, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.”

New American Standard Bible

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I am grateful that we can celebrate liberty in America. We are more than free! (America is a Republic, not a democracy. Remember, you learned that in the Pledge of Allegiance.)

I am more grateful that I do not have to rely on the works of the Law to be justified. Jesus Christ paid the price so I can live justified (just as if I hadn’t sinned). It is by faith in what He did on the cross that I can live in liberty!

Since I belong to Christ, I will receive everything promised to the Jews.

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The Love of Money

The most misquoted verse in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10. They say, “Money is the root of all evil.” But the verse says it is the “love of money.”

1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

New American Standard Bible

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We assume this verse only applies to the rich. But the poor can be greedy, grasping, and discontent, too.

David and I have lived under the poverty level a few times. We had a choice. We could continue giving to God over and above our tithes (10%) or we could buy lottery tickets and try our luck at gambling. We chose the first option every time and God pulled our income back up.

I was sure we didn’t have a problem with money whether it was just enough or we had extra.

Then I read Hebrews 13.

Hebrews 13:5, 6, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ 6) so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’ “

New American Standard Bible

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Is my character free from the love of money? Do I rejoice when my friends get a new car, house, or go on a trip? Or do I think, “It must be nice?”

Am I “saving for a rainy day” or hoarding? Have I missed church working for money?

Am I content with everything God has provided or do I treat it with disdain wanting newer, bigger, or better? Do I clean and maintain them or treat them like junk?

Do I fill my refrigerator with food and then throw it away when it spoils?

God promises never to leave us. He helps us stretch our money to its greatest potential. He provides our food, (see 2020 post). We don’t have to be afraid of going hungry.

We need not fear rising gas prices. He will show us where to cut back on our spending to cover it.

He has a new car for us. Our job is to save to pay for it when it is delivered!

I look at external things. God is working on my character.

1 Timothy 6:17, 18, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18) Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

New American Standard Bible

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Dear Lord, keep my character free from the love of money. Amen

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Show Hospitality

My cousins gathered for our family reunion a few weeks ago. I have 47 cousins on that side of the family. The hot, breezy weather kept me from attending. (I attended a cool, rainy, send-off picnic in May and battled allergies for a few days afterward.)

Another cousin, Danny, lives three blocks from us. They were hosting three of the out-of-town cousins. His wife Laura brought Jerry over to meet me. He lives in California and hadn’t been back to Iowa for years.

After a few hours of visiting, they rose to leave. They planned to go to my cousin’s farm.

“Can we stop somewhere for food?” Jerry asked. “I haven’t had lunch.”

Embarrassed, I realized I hadn’t even offered him water, sweet tea, or lemonade! I am not the “hostess with the mostest!”

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David went to the reunion with our daughter, Laura, and met our son’s family there. Derek and Rachel were amazingly able to put twenty-one-month-old Gideon down for a short nap. David made a video of Gideon playing on some “rocker animals” to show me.

He casually said, “David and Becky are in town until Wednesday. Cousin Laura is going to bring them over one night.”

After failing my hostess duties on Friday, I went into high gear! Monday, I cleaned the house and made more sweet tea, lemonade, and “no-bake” cookies. I was prepared! (I hid the cookies.)

They came over Tuesday evening and I “talked their leg off” about our trip to Israel. (That means I did most of the talking.)

I apologized and explained, “I don’t get out, literally!”

My favorite memory was David’s face when I brought out the cookies!

“Where did you hide those?”

I didn’t tell.

I felt better about being a hostess until I read Hebrews 13.

Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some had entertained angels without knowing it!”

New American Standard Bible

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I think I’m doing okay but Jesus wants me to go above and beyond what is required. Obviously, it is too dangerous to invite the stranger walking by to come in for cookies. But I could carry some extra water to give away.

The temperature is in the 90’s and humid this week. A bottle of water could be a life saver.

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Random Acts of Kindness

All of my life we have prayed for revival. We ask God to send people that need Him to our churches. As much as we love each other, and the new people coming in, we still will have problems. Look at the first church.

Acts 6:1, “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.”

New American Standard Bible

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Complaints come from those being overlooked. In this case, the Hellenistic Jewish widows were not being fed. So, after fasting and prayer, they chose Stephen to ensure they were given food. Stephen was martyred.

Acts 8:1, “…And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

New American Standard Bible

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Disciples scatter. Apostles stay. How do we become an apostle? Spend time with Jesus.

The disciples did not abandon their faith. They preached everywhere they went. They were witnesses in their country, the next country, and to the remotest parts of the world, see Acts 1:8. But eventually, they had to come back to Jerusalem.

Acts 8:25, “So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”

New American Standard Bible

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Those who scattered were sent, and the road they were on wasn’t pleasant.

Acts 8:26, “But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a desert road.)”

New American Standard Bible

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The disciples couldn’t avoid persecution by leaving town. It followed them.

Acts 9:2, “…so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

New American Standard Bible

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Jesus stopped Saul on the road to Damascus. He went from being a persecutor to joining the persecuted.

Acts 9:22, “But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews…”

New American Standard Bible

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Where did Saul’s strength originate?

Acts 9:9, 11, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 11) …a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.'”

New American Standard Bible

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Strength comes from fasting and praying. But no matter how strong we become, at some point, we have to return home, see Acts 9:30. Home is where they know you – the good and the bad. They know your history and will not shower you with honor, see Mark 6:4.

Your greatest witness is going home and letting them see how God has changed you. Your greatest testimony is how you treat your family, friends, and those in need.

Acts 9:36, “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”

New American Standard Bible

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It is easy to do “Random Acts of Kindness” for strangers. Charity begins at home.

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The Heat of Summer

We experienced all four seasons while we were in Israel. It was the last three days of winter but it felt like fall – cold and rainy. We were on top of Tel Megiddo when a storm hit. Our umbrellas turned inside out and on some, the material tore off of the spokes! Peggy Knudsen, our Pastor’s wife called it a monsoon!

On the third day, the high was 39 degrees. I didn’t bring a coat!

I put on the capris and long-sleeved Henley top that I planned to sleep in. I layered a tee-shirt, 3/4 length sleeve tee-shirt, and jeans over them. I put on my cardigan sweater and stowed protein bars in my backpack.

When we reached Caesarea Maritime, I put a hooded rain poncho over all of it. I cinched my gardener’s hat, aka tourist hat, under my chin and kept my hands under my poncho. I looked like a soldier with a full pack!

David did not do as well. He didn’t bring a coat either. When we were packing, I asked him if he wanted the black raincoat or the red one. He packed the black one.

They were rain pants!

We left the red raincoat at home! He wore two shirts and a hoody and carried our umbrella.

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We drove through the Golan Heights while they were getting 3-5 inches of snow! The bus driver and guide had never seen so much snow. I pulled a scarf out of my backpack to wrap around my torso under my sweater.

I didn’t need it. We drove down the mountain and the snow turned to rain. Flowers seemed to bloom right in front of our eyes. Spring had sprung!

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Two days later, I struggled to corral my curls into a scrunchie. Peggy asked me what I was doing.

“Probably tying my hair into knots,” I replied.

We were at the Dead Sea and it was hot! I had to get my hair off of my neck and back. People were wearing shorts.

Not only was it hot, but it was also dry. Our guide kept reminding us to drink water.

We took a cable car to the top of the MASADA fortress. The sun beat down on us and the wind parched us. They had a water station at the bottom and the top to refill our bottles.

I looked over the edge and saw a new, straw hat below. I was grateful for the cord that kept my hat secure. The wind caught it twice but the cord kept it from blowing away.

I can’t imagine how uncomfortable Jonah was sitting on the east side of Nineveh.

Jonah 4:4, “The Lord said, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry?'”

New American Standard Bible

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The landscape on the Dead Sea.

God delivered Jonah from his discomfort on the first day with a plant that shaded him, Jonah 4:6. The next day, the plant died and God appointed a scorching east wind. The sun beat on his head until he felt faint and begged to die, Jonah 4:8.

God cares about our comfort. But God does not want us to get so comfortable that we forget about others. Our first concern is for those who don’t know Him.

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“The Woman”

The series at E3 Youth this month is “Clean” teaching about purity. It led to an interesting conversation on the way home.

Laura: “Hey, dad, who did you hope to marry? Farah Fawcett?”

David: “No.”

Laura: “Olivia Newton-John?”

David: “No, but I did like Valerie Bertinelli.”

Me: “Good choice! She is pretty and sweet!”

Laura: “Betty White?”

(We both burst out laughing.)

David: “That would be like having a crush on your grandmother!”

David wisely waited until God sent the woman he was to marry – me!

Abner did not.

2 Samuel 3:8, “Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, ‘Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman.'”

New American Standard Bible

Abner had casual sex, so casual that he couldn’t remember her name. When confronted, he became angry and decided to switch allegiance to the army he had fought for three years. Unfortunately, the leader of that army, Joab, was still mourning the death of his brother, Asahel, whom Abner killed in the first battle.

Abner’s casual sex cost him his life.

King David also started having sex with many women.

2 Samuel 5:13, “Meanwhile David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David.”

New American Standard Bible

Sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. Each time you become one flesh; you glue parts of yourself to each other. You cannot get that glue back.

If you have casual sex with others you lose a part of yourself each time. And a part of each partner, and every partner they had sex with, is stuck to you. You may be healthy and they may be healthy, but someone their last partner slept with may not. It could be years before what is stuck to you displays symptoms.

There is one partner, you may not know, who is ready to spend the rest of their life learning how to please you sexually. They prove it by making a lifelong commitment called marriage. And the temptation to have sex is the greatest right before you meet them.

Sex is an appetite, just like hunger. While trying to lose weight, we remove the temptation to our hunger. We stop buying junk food, snacks, and soft drinks with empty calories.

We know what feeds our sexual appetite. We have to remove the apps, movies, and romance novels that arouse us because they will leave us empty. And giving in to that temptation once could lead to our death – like Abner.

King David’s story is different. After he let his lust rule him, he repented. He was forgiven and didn’t die, but still suffered the consequences. He watched his children die: Bathsheba’s baby, Amnon, and Absalom.

When encountering a sexual temptation, our only option is to run!

1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

New American Standard Bible

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Who Is It?

1 Samuel 17:55, “Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is this young man?’ And Abner said, ‘By your life, O king, I do not know.'”

New American Standard Bible

Wait a minute. Saul didn’t recognize David? We read how Saul sent messengers to Jesse to send David to him, 1 Samuel 16:14-23.

David played and sang whenever Saul was tormented. It said, “Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.” 1 Samuel 16:24. Yet, when he left to face Goliath, Saul didn’t know who he was?

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This is my “Why!”

I’m working through homework from a Dean Graziosi class that I took on January 4th. One exercise is to determine your “Why?”

“Why do I blog?”

One reason I discovered was that I believe everyone is important. Everyone deserves a place to dream and create. Everyone deserves to thrive – even while unemployed or living under the poverty level.

Been there. Done that. Got the tee-shirt! 🙂

Everyone matters. Saul should have recognized the youth who played and sang while he was depressed. He should have recognized his armor-bearer.

Dear Jesus,

Please don’t let me overlook anyone. Help me to remember names and their story. And give me the words to help others thrive regardless of their income, both here and at frugalfish.org.

Amen.

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Under the Pomegranate Tree

1 Samuel 14:2, “Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron. And the people who were with him were about six hundred men.”

New American Standard Bible

Notice the phrase, “the pomegranate tree which is in Migron.” The Bible does not say, Saul stayed under “a” pomegranate tree but “the” pomegranate tree which is in Migron. What was special about that tree?

“Under a pomegranate tree. Under Rimmon, which not only signifies a pomegranate tree, but also a strong rock, in which 600 Benjaminites took shelter, Judges 20:45. Probably it was in this very rock that Saul and his 600 men now lay hidden.”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible,
Abridged by Ralph Earle,
1 Samuel 14:2, p. 306

It was more than a pomegranate tree but I am not surprised that Saul chose that place because I believe he liked to eat. So do others. Me, I am the others!

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I have a strange relationship with food. If I have an abundance, I give most of it away. When shopping, I buy just enough for a week and then I break that chocolate bar into 7 pieces and only eat 1 piece a day!

I count my cheese, lunchmeat, graham crackers, bread, and coffee pods before I have seconds to make sure I don’t run out before my weekly Aldi’s run.

I learned something about myself this weekend. I have food rules:

  1. Clean up your plate.
  2. When eating at someone’s place, eat everything offered to you.
  3. Don’t waste food – save the leftovers.

Saturday night, we had our annual Star Awards Volunteer Banquet. This year’s theme was “A Taste of Italy.”

They served: lasagna, chicken alfredo, salad, breadsticks, and chocolate cheesecake. After my second breadstick, I was too full for cheesecake! I thought I would eat it during the awards presentation.

I was part of the “Chicken Dance Flash Mob” and ran around a lot during the “People Bingo.” Surely, I would have room for cheesecake after that!

Nope.

After taking pictures?

Nope.

After the “Dad Jokes?”

Nope.

During the awards?

Nope.

The highlight of our evening was when our son Derek and his wife Rachel were named the youngest recipients of the “Volunteer of the Year!” You can only win that award once!

As we gathered our things to go, Derek said, “Mom, that cheesecake is no good.” (It had been on the table for over 3 hours.)

“I know,” I replied.

Still, I put it and the other piece that was left on the table on a plate to take home.

Why? Because of my food rules. I put them in the refrigerator and after 4 days, my conscience will let me throw them away.

Where did my food rules come from?

I grew up in Bible Schools where my father served as the maintenance man. He was a handyman who could fix anything. Part of his salary was food. We ate what the students ate.

(Liver, three times a day for a month. We had a “chef” cooking when a truckload of liver was donated to the school.)

During the summer months, we lived with Grandpa and Grandma on the farm. Dad worked with my uncles who were electricians and mom helped with the gardening, butchering chickens, making homemade catsup, and canning.

We ate whatever Grandma made. We cleaned up our plates and didn’t waste food.

I was taller than my sisters and slender because of my high metabolism. Until I got braces, I had difficulty chewing my food. I ate slowly. They kept trying to put “meat on my bones” by adding a bit more food to my plate.

It never worked. I stayed slim until I turned 40 and my metabolism slowed down.

I am glad to know why I struggle with weight loss. It is my “food rules.” But Saturday, I decided to change them. I will take half-portions to avoid stuffing myself. I will leave the leftovers for others.

I said all of that to say, I can relate to Saul. I like food!

David and I at the “2022 Star Awards Volunteer Banquet.”

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