Friday, September 22, 2017

Expressions of Faith. Hebrews 5. Learning Obedience

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
 Hebrews 5:7-9

Learning Obedience

When Jesus was on Earth, he
    1.   Offered prayer and petitions.
    2.   Cried loudly.
    3.   Shed tears.
    4.   Was heard in heaven because of His submission.
    5.   Learned obedience through suffering.

Most of us easily relate to 1-3 above.
Number 4 is more of a challenge—when it doesn’t seem like God’s listening.
It’s number 5 that we’d rather bypass or ignore.

Bet if Christ was made perfect through His suffering, should our attitude toward suffering be less whiney?

God, help me to see my suffering through your eyes and help me to use that suffering to learn to obey you.

Next Expression of Faith: Still, “Got milk”?

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Timeless Truths. The Way of God

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 
The devil said to him, 
“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ 
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 
And he said to him, 
“I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ 
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here
For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:1-13
Luke is a very skilled writer.
Luke's Gospel is written to the Gentiles [non-Jews] 

In Chapters 1-3, Jesus says nothing about Himself. There are several testimonies about Him.
  • Angels (Gabriel 1:26-35; at Bethlehem 2:10-11)
  • Simeon (2:25-35)
  • Anna (2:36-38)
  • Mary (1:46-55)
  • John the Baptist (3:16-17)
Jesus does no little public ministry in chapters 1 and 2.

As Jesus headed out of the Jordan River after His baptism, He must have wondered what His ministry was to be.

The Scripture for today is titled "The Temptation/Testing of Jesus" in most translations.
A question is common.
"Was Jesus, the Son of God, actually tempted?" 
"Is this 'event' figurative or metaphoric?"

The temptations were real!

Rocks to Bread
It was possible for Christ to feed all people for all time. Jesus' physical body had to be hungry after the time in the desert.
This is a frontal attack by Satan.

Offering the Nations
Jesus' purpose was to save the souls of men, not the governments.
Satan offers Him both.

Temple Pinnacle
Rabbi's in Jerusalem looked to the pinnacle every day.
They were searching for Messiah.
Angles sent by God to save Him would have cemented Jesus' as the Messiah in the minds of the Jews.

Luke continues after the temptations.
Chapters 1-8 describe activities.
Chapter 9 is the pivotal chapter. 
From Chapter 9 through His arrest in Gethsemane (22:65), Luke describes who Christ. 

Imagine Jesus standing in the wilderness with a rock in one hand and a towel in the other.
He is thinking about his choices
Rock: Worldly fame. Glory of Israel.
Towel: Servanthood. Glory of God.

God is more about more than getting us into heaven.
He is about living a lifestyle that shows a servant's heart.

How do you serve?
Is it with a servant's heart or for glory?

What does a church look like when it lives the towel choice?

Special thanks to Pastor John Parrish for the primary teachings used in this post. You can read more of his teachings in his blog:

Next Timeless Truth: "Don't Touch"
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thoughts on Hebrews Study Questions from 9/17


My Sunday School Life Group is studying Hebrews. Every Monday, I post questions that were discussed the day before in Sunday School. I invite you to ponder/think about them and jot down your thoughts.

On Wednesdays, I post some of the ideas that came up in the Life Group's discussion for you to consider and compare with your thoughts.  

These questions were discussed in my Life Group yesterday. Take time to reflect on them. I'll post thoughts from the class discussion on We

Chapter 6
Vv 1-12

What are some “things that accompany salvation?”

In addition to the photo
  • Live in expectation of the fulfillment of God's promises.
  • Reminder to those that are saved Jews (the Hebrews audience).
  • Not trying to condemn.
  • Jesus/Holy Spirit as our Guide.

What is v11 talking about?
Assurance of hope.
Our full reward: Heaven

Who are some of those we are instructed not to imitate?
Lazy people.
Those who lead others astray by "taking your eyes off your duty."
The self-absorbed.

Chapter 6
Vv 13-20

a) How did Abraham wait? b) For how long?
 a) Patiently, but not the whole time - Hagar and Ishmael. 
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. 
Gen 16:1-4 (See also through the end of Chapter 16)

But God blessed Abraham anyway.
b) 25 years.

What’s the difference between a promise and an oath?

God's Word is enough. He cannot lie. But, when God worked with humans, the oath was to show humans His intent. 
A promise might be changed.

V18. What are the two unchangeable things?
Promise and Oath of God. 

Fled/Flee. Where? Why?
 Flee to God: refuge, comfort, salvation, protection.
Hebrews fled persecution among them.

Vv19-20. How is hope described here?
We are in the Holy of Holies because Jesus tore the veil.
This connects us with God Himself. 

We stopped here this week.

If you'd like a PDF of the pages of questions in table form with room for you to write answers, email me at 

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Authors: ADverbs often SUBTRACT from your writing- numbers 11-14

Consider the following four sentences. Adverbs are highlighted in yellow.

11.     The prisoner’s hands were clamped tightly to the bars of his cell.
       12.    The bicyclist pedaled carefully across the slightly bumpy road.
       13.    The teacher looked sharply at her students.
       14.    He laughed cheerily and looked at his watch.
There are only four sentences in this group.
Nevertheless, thanks to sentence #12, I've cleverly managed to end up with 15 adverbs in total to critique in the three posts on this topic.

Sentences like those above are common in the works of novice writers. 

Unfortunately, they are common in the works of writers who edit less [vigorously] than they should.

Why is that? Does the sentence above need [vigorously] to convey the thought?

I do often insert adverbs—intentionally and unintentionally—in my first drafts. When I do my first edit, I re-write scenes where the only way a reader might know that something was said “excitedly” is through the use of that term. Your story should draw your readers into the minds and moods of your characters.

From time to time during the next two months, I’ll revisit this topic. More than one book I’ve been asked to review has been mired in the pit of excessive adverbs. I lost interest in the stories because there were

  • many times when I was told what I already knew or felt.
  • other times when the adverb didn’t match what I felt about that scene in the story.

The five sentences above are reprised below. Following each sentence is an explanation of why the highlighted adverb isn’t needed. I've added a feature to these four: a Possible rewrite. 


The prisoner’s hands were clamped tightly to the bars of his cell.
By definition, clamp--hold (something) tightly against or in another thing (Google)--is to apply pressure on something to hold it in place. Hold it tight. Clamping tightly is like swimming wetly. It's hard to know how to rewrite this quote without knowing the setting. Did the prisoner just learn of his/her execution date? Was the inmate in the next cell part of the reason this prisoner was incarcerated? 

Possible rewrite: The prisoner's hands gripped the bars with such force that the guard was certain the inmate's fingerprints were imprinted in the metal.

The bicyclist pedaled carefully across the slightly bumpy road.
Double whammy here--two adverbs in the same sentence. I've had some trauma on bicycles. Once the front wheel came off and I was launched over the handle bars as the front fork stabbed the ground. I do know that pedaling is an up-and-down motion. A rider might need to be careful about getting trousers caught in the chain while pedaling. 
Is slightly bumpy more or less bumpy than rough? or uneven? Is it more bumpy than rutted

Possible rewriteThe bicyclist jerked the handlebars first left, then right to avoid potholes and rocks as he pedaled across the empty field.

The teacher looked sharply at her students
I taught high school for 31 years and university classes for 13 more. I've looked at students in many ways. I've spoken sharply. I've looked "sharp"--as in dress--on occasion. 
I don't recall daggers or arrows shooting from my eyes at any time.

Possible rewrite: Tired of all the time wasting by her class, the teacher gave each of the biggest offenders her best "teacher look."

He laughed cheerily and looked at his watch.
It was not my intention to end this series with this example. It is, however, a good one to close the adverb loop. Of all the adverbs criticized in this series, this case is the easiest to justify leaving in the sentence. Maybe.
Cynical laughter and hollow laughter are never cheerful. I contend that if the reader doesn't know that the laughing character is cheery, the author needs to re-write the scene. 

Possible rewriteWhen his dinner partner finished telling her joke, he laughed before looking at his watch. 

Give yourself a shot at rewriting one or more of these. 
  • First, think of the situation.
  • Then write without an adverb. 

If your stories don’t draw your readers in, adding adverbs subtracts from even more from those stories.

Next Author’s Blog: R

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