All About Prayer

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Praying does us good

Pray – image from pixabay.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer

“There are no atheists in foxholes.”

  https://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/11/02/foxhole/

Foxholes – images from pixabay.com

So praying (presumably to a higher power) is good for us on several levels and, we may also assume turning to GOD is the main function expressed by prayer . . . but, . . .

Christians have on one hand a framework for prayer and on the other hand flexibility in how we pray.

Holy Spirit- images from pixabay.com

Matthew 6:9-13 ESV 

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

My criteria for prayer adopts the pattern Jesus taught with the freedom to  personalize, include spontaneity and, include worship, praise and thanks as well as, petition GOD for myself or others ( intercessory prayer).

Philippians 4:6 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Romans 8:26 ESV 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

 

 

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Connections

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Since scientists acknowledge we have a “common ancestor” we can assume all people are connected in some way.

Connections – images from pixabay.com

Not just about the creation story in Genesis but connections to people around the world right now.

DNA – images from pixabay.com

Hebrews 11:3 ESV

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

The formulas for all living things is encoded in the complex molecule known to us as DNA. We share the complex chemistry of life; people around the world not just family and those near. There is another view of how we are connected: a theory known as six degrees of separation espouses we are only six degrees (or persons), or less apart. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation

When the Orlando, Florida mass shooting occurred a coworker of my brother was killed; when the Las Vegas Massacre occurred one of the men in our Bible study told us his friend’s son was there.  my Late uncle fought in The Battle of the Bulge during WWII and he was commended by General George S. Patton personally. Think about it . . . we all are connected.

Human Connection – images from pixabay.com

Yes it is a small world because technology has brought us closer than ever: transportation, commerce and communication.

Acts 17:26 ESV

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

As followers of Jesus, or Christians, we are known as The Children of GOD: We are connected.

Christians – images from pixabay.com

John 1:12 ESV 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

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Faith Not Sight

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Three Monkees – The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Monkey’s Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed October 7, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Faith would not be faith if we only believed in what we can feel, see, hear or taste; would it?

Hebrews 11:1 ESV

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Science is unveiling the long held view that “seeing is believing” for what it is: suspect. A program illustrated this when a number of people were positioned around a street where unknown to them a staged auto accident was to occur.  After they all witnessed the incident they were immediately separated and asked to fill out a form and provide a narrative based on what they saw. You can research this one or similar experiments to learn what the results were in great detail but, for this blog I will only write: agreement as to what the facts were by no means would convince me that I was getting an accurate explanation of the occurrence.

Landscape – images from pixabay.com

Perception gives particular meaning to what we acquire through our senses to each of us; even when we seem to agree there are differences.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

But does not this also apply to the Biblical accounts? The Holy Spirit helps with this.

GODS WORD – images from pixabay.com

Any thing humans devise, write. mimic or copy can have mistakes and flaws yes, perhaps in some details; perhaps in cultural and social perceptions; perhaps in conveying things using different languages. BUT, the essence of what the Bible reveals with the help of The Holy Spirit such as: Who GOD is, What GOD is like, What GOD’s Standards are, what our relationship is with GOD and that GOD is ultimately in control is clearly explained within The Holy Bible.

John 14:26 ESV

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Christian Faith – images from pixabay.com

Even Christians can disagree on some things yet we do have a core belief system that must be agreed upon to be a Christian.

Romans 14:1 ESV 

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Our faith in all we know about GOD is presented in the “Old Testament” and “The New Testament”. It is my perception that GOD initiated a relationship with us and therefore we do not need to do a myriad of ceremonies, sacrifices, pleadings and other extraordinary things to get the attention of GOD. Neither do we have to invent images, substitute icons for GOD, nor chant repetitive incantations; all we need to do is acknowledge who GOD is, accept we are part of GOD’s creation and talk with GOD.

John 13:34-35 ESV 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

One comprehensive list of essentials of the Christian faith:

https://www.thoughtco.com/basic-christian-beliefs-700357 

 

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Food

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Cornucopia – images from pixabay.com

Food: necessary for life, social consumption is important; Food is: an industry, an asset, abused, hoarded and a temptation for gluttony.

What is gluttony? It seems to me it can be as simple as over eating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluttony

GOD provides people what they need to survive: water, air and food.  When we are blessed with abundance we often fall to the temptation to overeat; perhaps overeat again, again, again and again.  There may be less privileged people near yet, we may consume much more than we need and not share with widows or orphans and others without proper food supplies. Worse? We may justify our behavior by blaming them for their predicament: “they are lazy”; “they are wasteful”; “they are sinners”.

All – – images from pixabay.com EXCEPT Luxury Liner Illustration: Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “DINNER [held by] HAMBURG-AMERICA
Fine Dining: Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. “Jose Limon with Mary Wigman” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 25, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/0c6c63a0-bde3-0131-3767-58d385a7bbd0

If the world was populated by people without sin then the existence of the poor, orphans and widows would not be so precarious. Perhaps wars, famines and plagues would not decimate groups of people. Since it is not so, even if all Christians living right now behaved as the first ones just after Our Lord’s Crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension there would still be great need in the world. We are saved for eternity but still sinners and, still the many unsaved people insure that there will be a need.

Migrant-mother – images from pixabay.com

Do not despair; their need gives we Christians an opportunity to express our gratitude for Jesus redeeming us and an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that GOD cares for us all.

 

GOD Spells Out what we Should Do: express GOD’s Love by caring enough for others by sharing what we have and helping them.

Luke 14:13 ESV 

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,

Proverbs 23:20 ESV 

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,

Leviticus 19:9-10 ESV 

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

Isaiah 1:17 ESV 

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

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Unexplained Behavior

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Evidence of Evil – images from pixabay.com

Do you wonder how some people can seem to do awful things? …

. . . and seemingly do them without affecting their conscience? Do you think perhaps they do not have a conscience?

Complex Mind – images from pixabay.com

Common wisdom indicates that initiating a pattern of ignoring pangs of conscience leads to ever greater tolerance to what is offensive. For example: doing nothing when someone is observed to be abusive toward another gradually leads to a more tolerant view of the nature of abuse.

Leviticus 5:1 ESV

“If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity;

You are Responsible – images from pixabay.com

The Moral Compass within us is vital

Inner War – images from pixabay.com

Knowing good and evil may have begun with Adam and Eve partaking in the forbidden fruit long ago that, enabled us to recognize the standards of good and evil of GOD but, it is very much still a part of the human experience – in our nature.  This ability provides us with discernment and with discernment coupled to free will we have a great responsibility to do right. As Christians we have an even greater responsibility to do right, promote good and, oppose evil than those ” who are perishing”.

Ephesians 6:12 ESV

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.

Remain vigilant, ready to  good and oppose evil at all times.
Help not Hinder – images from pixabay.com

2 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

 

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Marriage Today

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Married – images from pixabay.com

Marriage evolves with cultures and in the Western World it could soon be obsolete.

What do you think?  Seems today young couples often live together, have children and maybe, then get married if they can afford it.

Unmarried – images from pixabay.com

In the past when life expectancy was perhaps forty-five years one spouse and one family  seemed to be about all that could be expected; with increased life expectancy could having time for more than one of each become the norm?

Divorce – images from pixabay.com

 

Do you have an opinion?  Can we disregard the few married couples who remained married for sixty, seventy or, more years?

Happy Family – images from pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

Even Abraham and Sarah remained married for life in an era when life was very demanding ?

 

As a Christian there is no debate or alternative to “‘Till Death Do Us Part . . .”.  Marriage is ordained by GOD.

Genesis 2:24 ESV 

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

 Replacing a spouse is no more acceptable, than discarding your OWN flesh and donning NEW flesh in GOD’s view. Doing this just because you grew tired of your OLD spouse or your OLD flesh.

Hebrews 13:4 ESV

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Christian Family – images from pixabay.com

Yes, society and cultures change and with new technology, attire, foods and the way humans organize themselves so does the character of life for the people affected.  Yet GOD spelled out standards that enhanced human survival and quality of life and Jesus affirmed this.  Therefore as a Christian the attainable goal for those of us destined to marry (or already married) clearly is spelled out in GOD’s Word.

Married Couples – images from pixabay.com – collage: Mountain Tapir Collage Maker

Mark 10:8-12 ESV 

And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

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911 and What People do to Each Other

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Special 911 Issue

Pentagon 911 – image from pixabay.com

We respectfully remember those, murdered by our enemies, fallen in war and met their demise because of self sacrifice; remembrance as it should be. Today we pay our respect to those lost and damaged by doers of evil on September 11, 2001. *During the September 11 attacks in 2001, 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others wounded.

*Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11_attacks

We should also keep in mind those we loose in less dramatic but more personal events: illness, accidents, ignorance or plain neglect.  Here are some statistics that suggest we people can and should do a better job (be more careful) in protecting and caring for one another:

Road Danger – image from pixabay.com

Auto Deaths: *National Safety Council estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicles crashes . . . . http://fortune.com/2017/02/15/traffic-deadliest-year/

 

Ship Wreck – image from pixabay.com

Transportation other than auto: 2010 (not counting injuries) 2066 https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/by_the_numbers/transportation_safety/index.html

 

 

Bad Health – image from pixabay.com

Illnesses : 2002 all causes per 100,000 individuals =  916.1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_causes_of_death_by_rate

 

 

Neglect – image from pixabay.com

Neglect (famine) Preventable poor health care, unhealthy choices made such as smoking: Statistic complex beyond the scope of this blog. You can do some of your own research if you are interested.

 

Disaster – image from pixabay.com

Natural Disasters: “Between 1994 and 2013, EM-DAT recorded 6,873 natural disasters worldwide, which claimed 1.35 million lives or almost 68,000 lives on average each year. In addition, 218 million people were affected by natural disasters on average per annum during this 20-year period.  . . .” (Excerpt) http://reliefweb.int/report/world/human-cost-natural-disasters-2015-global-perspective

Conflict, War . . . 

War – image from pixabay.com

Humans in general cause harm to other humans in many ways directly or indirectly; sadly it is in our very nature.

Genesis 4:8 ESV

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Psycho Terror – image from pixabay.com

We humans cannot overcome our inherent  nature on our own no matter how hard we try.

Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

 Where does our hope lie? GOD has given us the way:

John 3:16 ESV 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  . . .”

images from pixabay.com

 

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Discipline

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Self Ordered for Success – image from pixabay.com

Potential Means Nothing Without the Discipline to Make Use of It

Warsaw War Damage – Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Figures and buildings from war-torn Warsaw” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 4, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea513600-a7a3-0131-4d07-58d385a7bbd0

I know this all too well because my family was not well versed in what real achievement required. It was not their fault: as far as I know all my ancestors were hard working practical people.  What also was a hindrance for them was the low expectations that seemed to have been fostered by, a fear of authority and even a fear of success itself.  Again who can fault them having  this attitude they came from the often harsh authoritarian societies of eastern Europe during the 19th century. A part of the world not unaccustomed to frequent wars especially from mid twentieth century and earlier.  I think life is much better for more people there these days – never having visited the region I can not be absolutely sure though. Yet The Word of God can teach anyone how to live better no matter where they live; be whatever GOD intended them to be.

 

The Word of God equips us with the knowledge that we have a purpose and a way to find out what that may be.

Skilled Hands – image from pixabay.com

We Christians call our talents gifts from GOD; the gifts are to be used for the right purposes. Praising GOD and worship, doing what is right and not doing wrong, opposing evil, supporting and edifying our brothers and sisters in The Lord and, being the best stewards of all resources as we  demonstrate GOD’s Love.

Talents:

Exodus 35:30-31 ESV

30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, . . . 

 . . . etc.

Weaving – image from pixabay.com
Standards:

Leviticus 19:19 ESV

“You shall keep my statutes. . . .”

This is the bare minimum and it is taken out of context because in order to appreciate the standards of GOD, it requires study of the entire Bible.
Purpose:

Genesis 1:26 ESV 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Choosing good over evil, managing the resources of Earth well and other actions done in responsible way with integrity . . . above all:

Leviticus 19:18 ESV 

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Achieved the Goal – image from pixabay.com

The result? FULFILLMENT and pleasing God

 

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A Secret to Success: Be Humble

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Have an enjoyable Labor Day Holiday weekend all of you in the USA.


How do you expect to get ahead?

Harsh Boss – image from pixabay.com

Contrary to what some aggressive people espouse being humble often leads to a more sane successful life.

Rushing around, applying “The Law of the Jungle” (The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling) to human life or “Dog eat dog” ( Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission) in our effort to get ahead may contribute to our gaining material success. But, what impact on our conscience will that success have?

Dear readers you know I am about to recommend a “kinder gentler” approach . . .

. . . because it is very much a part of the Christian experience. Yet I see that it goes beyond just being fair and just; it is more about the spirit of love, empathy and kindness but, above all having a servant’s attitude.

Selfless Servant – image from pixabay.com
Leaders such as: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are well known examples.

Yet about 2000 years ago Jesus Christ challenged the Hebrew hierarchy to abandon legalism and adopt a spirit of love: Manifest GOD’s Love to all people through fairness, justice, compassion and accountability.

Jesus Washes Feet – image from pixabay.com

Those who expected the messiah to be a military leader were disappointed when Jesus called all to emulate his examples:

John 13:1-20 ESV 

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. …

Luke 22:24-27 ESV 

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

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Is Honesty the Best Policy

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Honesty – image from pixabay.com

Is it possible to be honest all the time?

As I grew from childhood into adulthood I took the instruction from my family and church seriously concerning telling the truth (even though I saw a wink from a family member now and again). Movies and television programs (especially for young people) proclaimed the merits of being honest as a way to a better life.

My Father Explained What a White Lie Was

Truth or Lie – image from pixabay.com

My mom smacked his shoulder and they both laughed when my dad began to explain to me what a “Little White Lie” was. In school, in church and on Kid’s TV I did not get an explanation so I remained puzzled.  This conundrum followed me into my teens when my idealism peaked and matters such as misused truth, deception, hypocrisy, politics and human to human manipulation troubled me a great deal. Mostly I just struggled to navigate daily life always weighing these issues trying to reconcile the ideal with the reality I found. During my time serving in the U. S. Army the contrast between the touted ideal and reality was at its greatest contrast – I will not go into details save soldiers have a history of decadent behavior when off duty for one thing.

Deception – image from pixabay.com

In College I was Immersed in Postmodernity . . .

. . . and was unaware of it for many years.  I am a lifelong learner so eventually I acquired philosophical knowledge and a keen sense of comprehensive thinking (I am a product of a liberal education in that I do question everything and attempt to make sense of what I discover). Mankind experienced great failures in science and morality and this was perplexing so a philosophical upheaval set humanity on a strange course (see the following):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism

In a logic class I learned about faulty reasoning and fallacies: this gave me a great deal of understanding but did not solve the dilemma concerning “absolute honesty”.  One variable is how one defines honesty and whether it is in an ideal or in a practical sense in which we refer.  Words (languages) are powerful and can be used to a person’s advantage without too much trouble especially to the unsuspecting.  I could introduce situations where lying saved a life or lives but that may be an exception and it will do little or nothing in the quest to solve of the core issue at hand: how do we really define honesty and can we be honest all the time?.

Excuses – image from pixabay.com

Midway in my life – 35 years old – I became a Christian: “My dilemma is solved I thought”

Not so fast.  Rather than offer my analysis let us inspect what GOD has to say in The Holy Bible and thus allow you to ponder the questions about honesty for yourself. I already expect the comments will reflect whether or not, you are a follower of Jesus Christ (have The Holy Spirit as a helper), you believe in GOD at all or are a secular humanist:

Exodus 20:16 ESV 

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Proverbs 12:22 ESV 

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Matthew 5:37 ESV 

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Colossians 3:9 ESV 

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

 

ESV = ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION BIBLE 

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I BEGAN THIS BLOG WITH JUST ENOUGH KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITY TO PLUG ALONG.THE FORMS AND THE EMAIL LIST ARE STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS PLEASE EXCUSE ANY BUMPS IN THE PROCESS AS I WORK TO SMOOTH IT OUT. THANKS.

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