“I’M NOT A CROOK!”

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The word STEAL has many meanings.  The obvious one is to take something from another person which you have no right to.  Over time it has been associated with  thievery, identity theft, stealing a kiss, a base, a scene, an idea or something of value.  We revered a thief named Robin Hood, because he stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  Even the stagecoach and bank robbers of the old west have been immortalized. The movies make it look easy.  Our culture seems to accept it.  Stealing can be motivated by need, greed or a desire to succeed.

When I was a child of seven, I pocketed an item in an antique store.  I don’t recall what it was or why I stole it, but I managed to get outside of the store, walk home and make my way to my room without being caught.  Somehow my father discovered the trinket and knew that I’d stolen it.  He marched me back to the store and made me return the item and apologize for stealing it.  I did.

That event played heavily on my conscience for a long time.  How did I think I could get away with breaking God’s law?  How could I bear the weight of being a thief?  My apology was enough to get me off the hook, but I still carried the guilt.  Every time I heard the Seventh Commandment I was convinced that I was condemned to a life in hell.

An incident like that may seem like a childish prank and a life lesson from my dad, but for many this could be the first step to a life of crime.  I thought about my dad and the truth he was trying to give me and I wondered if he had ever stolen anything.  After all, he grew up without a father.  He was the responsible child, because he had suddenly become the head of the house.  In the early 1900s, a woman raising four children by herself would find it more than difficult to provide for her family.  Could desperation lead to stealing a loaf of bread?

In our world today, we hear evidence of corporate theft, where ideas are stolen from other companies to further their own success.  There are those who steal written material from other writers and we call them plagiarists.  There are those in the workplace who steal from their employers and we call them embezzlers. There are those who steal because they feel a certain rush by getting away with it.  They justify their crime and continue doing it.  We call them, addicted to crime.

As with all of our sins against God’s Commandments, this one is designed for us to lead a Godly life and treat others as we would want to be treated.  We also fall short on every one of the laws of God.  Being given too much change by a cashier and not saying anything – taking office supplies from the workplace and using them as your own – taking money out of your child’s piggy bank to pay a bill are all examples of stealing.  Even the very thought of committing such a crime convicts us.

The lesson I learned from my dad that day, was to admit what I had done and ask for forgiveness.  That’s what repentance and restoration are all about.  Then, if we follow God’s will for our lives, with His help, we will be forgiven.  Jesus bought us with His life.  We owe Him so much.  Knowing that He loves us unconditionally is reason enough to follow Him.  He will return again soon to judge the world.

Seventh Commandment
Thou shalt not steal.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business.

Luther’s Small Catechism

 

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WE WILL NEVER FORGET

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Hidden in the ashes, trampled by the steel
Lay the sons and daughters of that day.
In the years that follow, our hearts may never heal.
We mourn their loss – We try to deal – We turn to God and pray.

Freedom was taken, terror stole our soul,
But America was built for more than this
Strong hearts united, with a mutual goal,
Rebuilding, renewing, restoring the mess.

This day is not forgotten. It’s seared upon our souls.
We put our faith in God’s eternal care.
We trust in His salvation, we know he mends the holes
That come from the destruction in the air.

Our hearts must stay united, no matter how we feel.
We look beyond the prejudice and fears.
Our only hope is Jesus. He is the one who heals.
He erases all our sorrows and wipes away our tears.

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A SMALL DROP RAGES

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

A small mass of melting snow trickles gently over rocks and crevices,

Weeping as the tears of God,

Hemorrhaging from each pore within the granite,

Shards of glasslike ice,

Intertwining,

Mingling,

Coexisting,

Fraternizing,

Coming together,

Churning and percolating over each nook and cranny,

Until what once was an insignificant droplet,

Rages into an incomprehensible force.

 

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EVERYONE IS DOING IT

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We’re all in this world together.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The simple rules He established for His people, along with the many laws in the book of Leviticus, might seem like impossible demands, but they were designed for our benefit.

Not only are they to be a road map for living faithfully to our God, but also in our relationships with other people.  The Bible was inspired by God’s own voice.  Therefore, we need to take it seriously.  It is true!  We are bound to God’s law to being obedient, yet we have been set free – not by our own doing, but through Jesus perfect sacrifice.

The word “adultery” seems rather archaic in this time of history.  A little over a century ago, during the Victorian Age, it carried a lot more clout than it does today.  That is not to say that this sin did not happen at that time.  You just never heard about it.  It’s been around for a long time.

Unfortunately it seems to becoming common practice – one of those sins that has a million excuses.   Sexual desires, unfaithfulness, sex before marriage, outside of marriage or lust all fall into the category of feeling good – with no concern for the consequences.

The results of this particular sin are countless. Often families are broken apart and children are raised by single parents or multi-parents.  Even if the marriage is restored, there will always be a sense of distrust, shame, loss of self worth in the betrayed and a constant guilt in the mind of the betrayer.

There are many results that occur.  The obvious one of sexually transmitted disease doesn’t seem to mean much anymore.  Was the immediate pleasure worth it?  Those affected by this sin also include those who they interact with daily.  By committing adultery a negative example is being established – everyone is doing it, therefore it must be all right. Reputation is called into question.  If you claim to follow Christ, you have tarnished His name as well.

However the act of adultery is not limited to marriage.  It extends to sins of the heart and mind, just like the fifth commandment.  Maybe the physical act is never committed, but it’s been thought about it.  In a world filled with pornography, X-rated movies, instant gratification, immediate connection to lust and all the other evils that infest, it’s bound to affect everyone at some time or another.  As with any sin of the mind, there will always be the desire for more, which leads to even greater issues.

Alone we cannot possibly keep the law perfectly, because of our sinful nature.  With the crushing of our sins through Jesus’ crucifixion, we have been brought back into favor with God.  With that in mind, all sin has been forgiven, but that doesn’t give us the freedom to remain in our sin.  It’s a daily battle, but God has already won the victory.

Galations 5:24 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

 

 

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THOU SHALT NOT KILL

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
You shall not kill.

When I learned this commandment at an young age I thought –  here’s one I can keep. A lot of folks think that way.  The average Joe doesn’t go around slaying people.  What I didn’t think about was that we sin against this command every time we have hatred or malice towards one another.  When the thought enters our brain and seeps into the depths of our hearts, we are actually committing murder in the first degree.

I watched an old movie last night called, “A Place in the Sun,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Shelly Winters and Montgomery Clift. The story unfolds as a young man is faced with the dilemma of what to do about a girl he’s impregnated now that he’s fallen for another who will further his career.  As the story proceeds, we almost feel sorry for the guy, because he’s accused of killing the pregnant girlfriend without any real proof that he did.  I found the story interesting, because as he spoke with a visiting clergyman, he was asked to examine his heart and see if his intentions were to kill her.  The movie ended with him dramatically walking towards the electric chair and his ultimate punishment.  We don’t see movies like that today.  Thesimple thought of killing another is, in God’s eyes, enough to convict us, but we rarely hear about that anymore.

In our world today, we hear about homicides on a daily basis.  The numbers seem to be increasing.  The shattered mind of someone who thinks that killing people will solve his own insecurities – the catatonic thinking of those who have been numbed by the evil one – the drastic attempts taken by one desperate to change the outcome of his mistakes- all have one thing in common.  They have not learned the value of every life that has been created by God.

If this commandment was enforced, we wouldn’t stand a chance of seeing heaven.  I thought I was free and clear until my then 4 year old grandson condemned me of killing a living thing when I stomped on an ant.

The truth is, we disobey this commandment many times each day without even thinking about it.  When we have negative thoughts about another person – when we say things like, “I wish he were dead,” – when we seek revenge or speak badly about someone who has hurt us in some way.  Whenever there is a lack of respect of life or a need to retaliate, we fall short of this commandment.

Abortion or euthanasia are obvious ways of snuffing out the breath of another, but when the value of life is regarded as unimportant, it seems to take no thought at all to take a life. We really need to instill the respect for all living things into our children’s thinking from little on.  Teach them to love – not hate.  Teach them to be patient and understanding with others even when they’ve been hurt by them.  Teach them to pray for those things. Be an example by showing respect for the lives of others yourself.  When they begin school they will be filled with  new ways of thinking.  Prepare them to stand against the world, because Jesus has already conquered it.

As with every one of God’s commandments, we should take them seriously.  It’s obvious that we are incapable of keeping them because we’re all sinful.  We fall short on every one.  Thankfully our God has provided a Savior for us.

 

 

 

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SIGNS OF AUTUMN

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ART & INSPIRATION FROM PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Sunlight rises through skeletal remnants of trees that once were lush with a canopy of green.

The sunshade turns from hues of chartreuse and emerald to rust, gold and crimson.

The demise of summer is right around the corner.

When the heat soars, so do our tempers. Our level of patience seems to wither along with the flowers. When fall approaches Minnesota, we know that winter isn’t far off and we want to hang on to every precious bit of sunshine and fresh, crisp air.

Soon enough we’ll have to hibernate along with the bears for at least 4 or 5 months of bone chilling cold.

Along with the decreasing temperatures, we have a shortage of sunshine and depression can easily set in. Spring brings a treasure of sun into our lives again.

When the sun shines, we thrive. When Jesus is in our lives we also shine and no amount of difficult weather or circumstances can take that “Son” light away.

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HAPPY GRANDPARENT’S DAY

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I don’t know why this day always seems to sneak up on us.  I’m not sure when it originated, but I know it wasn’t around when I was a kid.  I think it’s a good idea to honor our golden generation.  In fact I wrote a post about the fourth commandment just a couple days ago.

I am a proud grandparent of three of the most amazing kids on the planet.  They’re no longer babies – 24, 21 and almost 17.  I’ve watched as they grew from little babies to toddlers, elementary aged, middle school, high school and two college men.  I often wonder if I’ll be around for the time they get married and have children.  What a blessing that would be.

The other day I was with the Executive Director of the theatre I’m involved in (Northern Starz Theatre Company) to make a presentation regarding a senior theatre program we are trying to establish.  It was an independent living residence.  I noticed most of the people were quite mobile except for a few with walkers and wheel chairs.  As I looked at them, I thought to myself, this is me.  I’m probably the same age as most of these people and if all goes well I’ll be teaching some of these classes.

I wonder how I was so blessed to watch two generations grow up into really neat people in one lifetime.  As most of us are living longer than our parents did, we most likely will have the opportunity to be great grandparents.

In honor of this day that may be unknown to many, I’m posting some cartoons that will show you why grandparents should be revered.  Wishing all my grandparents a few chuckles to brighten your day.

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SUNDAY PRAYER

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ART BY KATHY BOECHER

Dear, Heavenly Father,

You have safely brought me through another week. You’ve walked with me each second of every day, even though I tend to go my own way.  You love me with an unconditional love that I cannot begin to understand, but know I would be overcome with depression, feelings of loss, grief and every day living if you were not with me.  You lift me up when I am faint. You determine my comings and goings.  You give me courage when I think I can’t muster even an ounce of it.

Thank you for all the wonderful blessings you have given to me. Thank you for the lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes.   I feel your presence all the time – even when the aches and pains of my body make me more and more aware of my mortality.  You are there to support when I am faint.  You give me breath when I feel there is none.  You watch over me with love and the parental concern of a loving Father.  I am not worthy of such great love, yet through your Son, I know that you have freely given it.

I praise you for caring for each member of my family – for the sunshine and the rain – for the constant reassurance of your voice through the Bible – for the change of seasons – for friends who face life’s challenges and pain.  I pray for our country – for a revival towards you once more – a change of hardened hearts – a willingness to love instead of hate.

I beg you to be with us as we prepare for another week and no matter what comes our way, give us the strength to handle it, for you have a plan for all of us.

AMEN!

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WHAT’S NEXT?

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As dear friends are falling asleep in our heavenly Father’s arms – as those of us who remain, struggle with various physical ailments – as we age and become helpless where we used to be strong – as our worldly expenses exceed our meager income – what’s next?

All through our lives, we place death on the back burner praying that it eludes us.  When we’re young we never think about it.  We feel invincible – as though we can do anything, conquer the world, live forever.  As we mature into our middle age, we’re almost too busy to think about it.  Our lives are now full of responsibility and demands which require our constant attention.  When the nest is empty we turn our thoughts to retirement and the bounty of time we’ll have on our hands to travel or enjoy life to the max.  Death rarely enters our mind at this point either.

Then reality sets in.  The years begin to take their toll.  Your body has lost its elasticity.  Your bones are becoming brittle.  Your mind is playing nasty tricks on you and memory is slowly shrinking.  Every ache and pain is a reminder of your mortality.

So what’s next?  My God has sustained me through this life. He has walked with me through trials, loss, pain and fear.  He has carved out the perfect plan for me even though I often thought it was the wrong one.  His promise of eternal life is not just empty words.  Eternity, without pain, no fears, no tears, only perfection – paradise – a place where sin doesn’t exist.

Still the thought of leaving those we love behind crushes the spirit.  There is so much we want to teach them – so much wisdom we can share – so much of ourselves yet to be passed on, but when we leave this earth we leave a great legacy if we’ve shared our Savior with those who remain.  They will carry on your love.  You’ve planted the seeds within them and even though the memory of you will fade, they will never forget what God has given them through you.

Every day God gives us on this planet is a time of God’s mercy – a time to live for Him – a time to share His love with others – a span of years which will live on through others.

What is the world to me
With all its vaunted pleasure
When You, and You alone,
Lord Jesus, are my Treasure!
You only, dearest Lord,
My soul’s delight shalt be;
You are my peace, my rest.
What is the world to me!

Author: G. M. Pferfferkorn

 

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WHERE LIES YOUR COMFORT?

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
A peaceful mist hangs over the stillness of a chilly mountain lake,

Covered as with fairy dust, the beclouded vapor permeates,

The cool blue water reflects an autumn morning,

Light bounces off of trees and causes them to dance in the breeze,

Soon all that will remain is the shadows of winter,

Snow will fill the valleys,

Ice will hang in branches where leaves once lived,

The scent of pine fills the air,

Wildlife will search for food,

Those with full bellies will hibernate,

Others will die,

Such is the circle of life,

And with death comes eternal peace.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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Poor old Rodney Dangerfield never got any of it.  Aretha Franklin sang about it, but what is it about respect that we seem to have forgotten over the years?  When I was a youngster, this particular commandment was particularly tough for me.  I mean, I was the center of attention for almost five years until my sister came along.  Everyone doted over me – the first grandchild – the first baby in my immediate family – that cutie pie that everyone fussed over.  The whole concept of showing respect to anyone other that me was impossible.

The fourth commandment, according to Luther’s Commandment, wasn’t known by me then, but it soon became apparent that I didn’t rule the roost. My mom and dad were much bigger than me.  They were the ones who provided food and shelter, clothing and love.  My mother was a pushover, but all my dad needed to do was give me “the look” and I knew I better respect him.

The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.


What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not despise our parents and superiors, nor provoke them to anger, but honor, serve, obey, love and esteem them.

If we’re taught at an early age to respect those in authority (not only our parents) we are given a promise directly from God, our heavenly Father.  He tell us that we will have a long life on the earth if we follow this law of His.

The rebellious years of adolescence made me think twice about that commandment. There were others who also deserved my respect – my teachers, my pastor, other kids’ parents, the police and firemen who protected our neighborhood and country.  I was taught to respect my president, those in political office, my country, my beliefs, my friends and those I didn’t always agree with.

When I became an adult myself, I saw injustice and wondered how I could respect those who continued to take advantage of the system, those who were intolerant of certain races and social classes and those who didn’t deserve respect of any kind.

Time seems to iron out some of those wrinkles, but as we get older in our walk, we seem to obtain more and more disrespect for those younger than us.  We wonder why we don’t get the respect we deserve.  We question our politicians.  We blame the system.  We complain. We grumble and groan because things aren’t the way they used to be. No wonder older folks don’t get any respect.

It seems to me, that if we follow the first three commandments of God, we should naturally respect those we interact with each day.  We may not always agree, but a lack of respect for any other human life is not acceptable.  When we lose that, we are opening the door to hatred, anger, negativity, violence and placing ourselves on a level much higher than others.  The problem with that is we’re also setting ourselves up for a giant fall.

 

 

 

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WALLY’S FRIDAY FRYDADDY FUNNY

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JULIE’S FRIDAY FUNNY

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THROW BACK THURSDAY

Original post from 8/21/2014 

One of the many photo ops on social media is to post a picture from your past on Thursdays. Maybe the photo is from a time before you knew them and you wouldn’t recognize that person in a million years. Other times you can see a definite resemblance. We all like to remember the pleasant things from our past.

I think every generation believes that the “good old days” were the times they were growing up and young adults. George Washington undoubtedly preferred recalling cutting down cherry trees more than his time leading a fledgling country out of a revolution and building what is now America. On the other hand, he would probably be rolling over in his grave if he knew what has happened to the country since it’s beginnings.

The older we get, the more we seem to dwell on the past. We reminisce about how much better things were when we were kids. We believe that particular juncture in time was perfect, but not so. For example when I was growing up in the 40s and 50s, we had no clue about global warming or the internet. Our lives were simpler then. Kids played in the street – we didn’t lock our doors – we ate dirt – we recycled before it was popular, BUT it also was a time right after a world war and during the Korean War .

The atomic bomb was a real threat. Air raid drills were held in our schools. Many were building bomb shelters in their backyards. The economy was still in a state of recovery. We wore second hand clothes and shoes. Our food was home made and consisted of starchy things like pasta to fill us up. We never knew about the ill effects of gluten. We never thought of paying $50 bucks for a pair of old, torn blue jeans and we were lucky if we got a pair of new shoes when school started – but. I digress.

The truth is, every decade has its good and bad memories. One of the blessings God has given me is the ability to forget the bad things that have happened in my life. I’ve been able to tuck the icky stuff into the back of my brain. Maybe that’s why I have such weird dreams, but I digress again.

What I’m trying to say is this – Looking back is a good thing, but looking forward is even better. We, as Christians, have been promised a perfect life in eternity after our death. How great is that? We will some day be in the paradise that God originally planned for us. We will have all our teeth – healthy bodies – no sorrows or tears – our joy will be overflowing. So without hesitation we can say “Throw every day forward!”

Hebrews 10:17 “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

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NO WORK ON THE SABBATH

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I remember when my now 24 year old grandson was just a child and already a Bible scholar. He carried his Bible almost everywhere he went. He knew all the commandments and when Sunday came, he knew he’d be going to church to praise God for all His blessings. He also interpreted  the part about no work on Sunday as truth. We had a discussion about that part of the commandment one Sunday when we had our family over to help with some raking and other chores that were difficult for us to do alone.

I explained that we definitely should be obedient to the commandments, but if he was doing something that was of help to his dear, old grandparents, he was also serving God. After that conversation, he became a little more willing to help on those special days.

Jesus talked about the Sabbath day on a few occasions. Once, while traveling through a field of grain, His disciples grew hungry and plucked a few heads of grain to nibble on.  Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about working on the Sabbath.  I don’t exactly understand why snatching a piece of grain would be considered work, but apparently these guys were sticklers for the law.

From there, Jesus went on to the synagogue where He found a man with a withered hand.  In His mercy, He healed the man and was again questioned about working on the Sabbath.  These guys were ready to pin anything they could think of to make Jesus look bad.

In the books of the Gospel we read of these events and wonder.  Looking back at the Old Testament, the law is clear.  The Sabbath is a day of rest, as on the seventh day of creation, God Himself rested.  The day was intended to be a time of relaxation for a week of hard work, but the truth of this commandment lies in the action we often forget about, which is to set it aside as a day of thanksgiving, worship and praise for the One who created it all.

The time of rest doesn’t give us an excuse to forget about helping others or doing what is good in God’s name.  The Sabbath day is still to be considered holy and  devoted to our Creator.  Corporate worship is not commanded, but it is certainly something to look forward to.  We’re allowing the Word to rest on our souls.  We’re giving the Holy Spirit deserved time to work in broken hearts and bodies. We can sing His praises through hymns and Psalms.  We are called as a unified body to pray for our country, our families, our friends and even those we don’t know.  By giving our time to God, we’re honoring His name.  Don’t let the things that often consume our free time, interfere with our worship.

Our church family is an important factor.  When we fellowship with other believers, we have a chance to witness, to offer advice, encourage, to share the good news of God and to pray together.  We’re all in the same boat.  We go to church, because we need the encouragement of God’s Word to sustain us through the coming week.  We’re b3dlessed by the Sacraments.  We confess our sins together and we’re forgiven.

God deserves our praise, thanks and honor every day, but one day and a couple hours of being together with fellow believers isn’t asking for much. God loves us with an unconditional love. He shed His blood for our salvation.  He not only commands us to set one day aside for Him, He deserves it.

 

 

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SIGNS OF AUTUMN

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ART & INSPIRATION FROM PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Signs of autumn are in the air. Leaves are slowly losing their grip and soon will be ready to tumble. Acorns are piling up and seeds of all kinds are nestling into the earth to start the regeneration of life to come.

The air is fresher, the colors brilliant, the crops are ready for harvest and the smell of apple pies works its way into our nostrils. It can also be looked at this way. No more warm days of summer; no more lazy days on the beach; birds escaping in hoards to warmer climates; and tons of yard work and/or shoveling to do. The way we look at things in life can have a great effect on how we live it. A negative observation often leads to negative behavior and attitude.

Lord, help me to look at things the way you intended them to be – as a gift from you, with no strings attached. May I find beauty in all of your creation.  AMEN!

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I’LL BE BACK!!

I just got my computer out of the repair shop.  I should be back tomorrow with the third commandment and other assorted things to think about.  I never realized how much I could get done without a computer.  Maybe I should just take a permanent hiatus.

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COMPUTER WOES

I am having computer problems and will need to take a break for a while. Unfortunately my series on the Ten Commandments will have to resume when my computer does.

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WHAT’S IN A NAME

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God is very clear about His name.  Not only are we to honor it, but we should never use it in a negative way. In describing Himself through the words of the Bible, He has used words like Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.  He is referred to as Creator, Holy – without sin, our Refuge, Jehovah, El Shaddai, Father and many names which speak not only of His character, but also hold a place of reverence.

Today, the word “god” is flung around like just another word, with no regard to the way we are verbally attacking God each time it used in a negative or impersonal way.  The second commandment is very clear about God’s name

“YOU SHOULD NOT MISUSE THE NAME OF THE LORD, YOUR GOD.”

Our first thoughts on that command are that we should place God’s name in a category of its own.  It should be above all others – revered and honored – sacred – divine – holy – a name like no other.  However there is so much more to this law than we see in the obvious

Every time God’s name is used flippantly we are slapping our Creator in the face.  When we use it to swear an oath, but don’t really mean it – when we use it in connection with superstition – when we curse – when we lie – any time we use God’s name without the honor it is due, we’re disobeying this important commandment.

Simple things like breaking it down into text form – OMG or simply saying “oh, God,” may not seem like a big deal, but it is.

He is supreme.  He deserves our complete honor and respect.  He already demanded that in the first commandment.  It wasn’t a suggestion, but a law, which has seemingly had its day and been replaced by self-love, love of material things and love of anything but the One who knit us together before our birth – who had a plan all mapped out for our lives before we came into the world.

When we use God’s name in vain, swear by it, curse and do things that show disrespect, we’re dishonoring God.  By the same token if we refuse to honor Him, we are denying Him as much as Peter did when he denied Jesus in the courtyard at His trial.  every time we disobey God’s commandments, we are pounding the nails into His cross.

Our society today has no problem using the name of God in every which way but the right way.  We need to be more conscious of whose name we’re throwing around.  Like many other signs of devolution, we’re seeing blatant disrespect for God on a daily basis.  It can be blamed on a number of things like peers, family, media, etc., but it can be resolved by placing it in our children’s hearts from the beginning.  Let them know who God is.  Teach them that He is our Creator, our Father, our help in time of trouble.  He’s not just another word we throw around to make a point.

Besides all that, it’s the law.

 

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IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD

ten-commandments-first-commandment-grade-8-6-638

When God gave those first Ten Commandments, He did so in a most dramatic way.  Perhaps not as spectacularly as the rendering in the Charlton Heston version, but we certainly knew that the hand of God was involved.  Since we weren’t on hand at the original giving, we can only speculate what was going through Moses’ mind.  He had seen the fickle ways of these “chosen” people.  Not only were they witness to a mass exodus from their life of bondage, but the parting of the sea so they could cross safely get across.  They spent time in search of the promised land being led by God, in the form of a pillar of fire during the night and a pillar of cloud.  His very presence was physically with them and still they complained and groveled for most of the journey.

We sit here today wondering how they could’ve been so blind, yet over the past few thousand years, haven’t we pretty much done the same?  We can’t see God in the way these people did, but we do have written evidence of his presence every single day in the Bible.

The laws He inscribed on those tablets of stone are relevant today, but hardly ever referred to or used in our society anymore. The very first one is the key to the rest of them.

“YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS”

What does this mean?  We should fear and love God above all things.

When I first learned this in my confirmation class, it made me wonder if there were other gods than mine.  Of course by then I’d heard about the ancient gods of Egypt, Greece and Rome.  Still I wondered why we needed a command to fear and love God above all things.  He was the only God.  There was no question in my mind that He created heaven and earth – that He was the ruler of the universe – that His love surpassed human comprehension – that he deserved not only my love, but my honor.

As life progressed, I began to see what “fear” meant.  It wasn’t the kind of fear we experience when we’re in danger (although that’s part of it too.)  It meant standing in awe of Him.  There was no one on earth that could love me so unconditionally that His life would be sacrificed for me.  There was no one who could defeat the devil and all his minions like Him.  There was no one who would lift me out of the pit of despair or guide me through the difficulties of life.  His presence wasn’t seen, but I knew He was there.

If we view God in this way, there is no possibility of disrespecting Him.  Still we do so every day, when we place our own needs before those of others – when we lash out at our government (established by God) – when we feel we can figure things out for ourselves without any intervention from God – when we rely on things of this world rather than the free gifts He gives us.

The first four commands from God pertain to our relationship with Him.  The rest are designed to help us in our dealings with others.  Of course, we’re commanded to obey all of them, but the first one sets the tone for all the rest.  If we fear and love God above all other things, the rest of those law become easy to keep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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