Friday, January 19, 2018

Expressions of Faith. Hebrews Ch 10. Lasting Possessions

Verses 19-39 are a call to persevere.
VV22-25 – Spur Others
VV32-36 – Lasting Possessions
VV26-31 – Dire Straits
VV37-39 – Don’t Shrink Back

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 

For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
 Hebrews 10:19-39

Lasting Possessions

This section starts with the word remember.
I find that my memory is less reliable as I age.

We are admonished to
1) Think back on both times of suffering and mistreatment when you took a stand,
2) Sympathize with those imprisoned unjustly, and
3) Joyfully accept confiscation of “our” property.

Those aren’t the kind of memories most people cherish.
Christians can do this, though.

Because of our assurance of better and lasting possessions in the life to come.

That’s in the last blog of this series. It's the . . .

Next Expression of Faith: Don’t Shrink Back

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Timeless Truths. How to Make Your Life a Masterpiece. #2. Where to Begin When You Don't Know Where to Begin!

 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.
“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Isaiah 43:1-7

#2. Where to Begin When You Don't Know Where to Begin! 
“There are no mistakes in painting, only happy accidents.” Bob Ross, Artist

What happens when accidents occur in your life?
Your attitude is one of the most powerful assets you have for living a victorious life. There may be times when your attitude is the only resource you have, but it can get you through anything life sends your way.

The Book of Isaiah gives us three promises that will strengthen your attitude when circumstances overwhelm you.

We were created, formed, and redeemed by God.
He calls you by name!
Mistake! Thinking that God wants to be only as close as we want to be!

  • Verse two begins with “whennot if!”
  • God is with you in spite of your circumstances.
  • God isn’t the source of your problems, He is the solution to your problems.

if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

  • When you choose to believe Scripture, problems are viewed from a different perspective.
  • One thing that cannot be taken away is your ability to choose your attitude in every situation.

“The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5:45
  • But, remember this: Some of your problems are the result of your bad decisions.

God is not the SOURCE of your problems,
He’s the SOLUTION to your problems.

You should live in such a way that those around you see God’s glory.

To glorify God means to live the kind of life that shines a positive light on Jesus Christ for the world to see.

Regardless of what you go through, NOTHING can stop you from reaching your true, God-given potential . . . 

Bottom Line. Repeat as needed.
No matter what happens, I belong to God.
He will see me through,
so that through me,
the world may see His glory!

Special thanks to Pastor Larry Pitcher for providing the central teachings in this series.

Next Timeless Truth: How to Make Your Life a Masterpiece #3. Life in the Spirit

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thoughts on Hebrews Questions Ch 10 - From 1/14


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 Monday. This post presents thoughts from the class discussion.

While we were round-robin reading the 10:1-18, I was struck by verse 3.
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.
How fortunate are we to be living under the New Covenant? We can know that God forgives and forgets our sins if we accept Jesus as Savior. When Satan reminds us of our sin, we can say with confidence, "Get behind me! I've been forgiven of that, and God has chosen to forget it ever happened!"

Chapter 10
Vv 1-18
Why could a priest’s life be frustrating?
The redundancy of the sacrificial system.
Working with non-listeners.
The sacrifices they performed could not take away sin--it was a futile effort.
They knew that they were not perfect and had the same death sentence as the member of the other tribes.

What is Christ waiting for?
To make a footstool of his enemies. 1 Kings 5:3 refers to a similar situation.
The time of eternal peace.

How do vv15-18 relate to v 14?
Cleansing of our conscience is what happens. Accepting that as the truth is up to us.
Only if we accept the Laws in our mind and heart, can we take appropriate action.
God' choice of forgetting our sins is arguably the greatest part of salvation through Christ by faith.

What does v18 mean?
Only one sacrifice was perfect because it was a voluntary act by Jesus. 
Salvation is a provision for all. Each person must accept the offer individually to make the salvation personal.
Chapter 10
Vv 19-39
What is our “doorway” to the Holy of Holies?
For the Hebrews, the doorway was the veil in the between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
The temple veil was torn from top to bottom by Jesus at the time of the death of His human body. Christ now acts at the door.

Because we have that doorway and the priest, what are we to do?
We are to enter the Holy of Holies--that is to enter God's presence!

We Got This Far This Week

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Authors. You can’t tell a book by its cover, but . . . UPDATED

When you walk through a bookstore (You remember those, don’t your? Physical buildings with shelves of books made of paper organized by genre and author.), how do you decide what book to pick up?
Or, if you’re browsing Amazon or Barnes and Noble, once your search for genre brings up a page of books, what makes you choose to click on a given book?

Answers to those questions vary. For some, it’s the author. For others, it’s the title. But, for a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE, it’s the BOOK COVER.

What makes a good cover? 
How about a GREAT cover? 
Or, if all the ducks line up in a row, A MEMORABLE COVER?

Browse the covers of books in your personal collection. 
Is there a theme? If not, what still draws you to those covers?

While I don’t have the ultimate answers to my own questions, I do have ideas to consider if you are publishing your own book.

Design by Publisher’s Service
All self-publishing entities with which I am familiar offer cover design for a fee. Fees start at $200 and range upwards of $500. Some companies offer templates where you use their layout (and their art if you wish) and drop in the title, the author's name, and other text. CreateSpace has several levels of cover design options from generic to full-service.

There are dozens to hundreds of artists willing to design a cover for you… for a price. Do a web search, then check a site and ask for some names to contact.

But, what if you have your own idea?

Self Design
CreateSpace offers a blank template in PDF and .png formats for covers of books published through them. The template is customized for the thickness of the spine. It’s easy to work with, IF, AND IT’S A BIG IF, you have either Photoshop or Adobe Acrobat Pro. I use these templates, and I have both Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat Pro. I would not consider trying to fit my idea/art/text into their template without one of those programs. CreateSpace also offers templates you drop photos into the front and back cover and add your title for free.

During the course of my high school and university teaching, I’ve had several fine artists as students. For Traveler’s HOT L, I was VERY fortunate to have Reed Steiner, now a Graphic Arts teacher, who was willing to work with Koehler Books on a cover design.
The photo that follows is one set of pencil sketches Reed submitted.
From that group, the publisher, with input from me, selected the lower right option to enhance. The next photo shows the intermediate design, also a pencil sketch.
If you compare this to the final cover, you will see how someone who knows what he/she’s doing can make what I think is a memorable cover.

INSECTICIDE'S cover has a similar path from a different origin. This artist is one of my students from Great Oak High. I’d seen her work when she was in my class, and I asked if she was interested in helping. She graciously accepted.

The story begins with a planet being split by a meteorite. Here’s her first idea.

Very cool, but it’s not true to the story. So I sent her the following.
Once we settled on the art for the cover, I added the title, my name, and the name of the character she represents to the front. I used Photoshop and added more of her art to the back cover. Check out the final cover on Amazon to see, once again, what an artist can do with minimal inspiration! I consider this my tribute cover to the sci-fi author’s and illustrators from the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1940s-1960s)—my favorite time for that genre!

I've done some covers from scratch by myself. I have two former students whose eye for covers are quite good. Here are photos of the evolution of two covers with which they have assisted.

First. The 5th Page is now Betrayal in Blue
Clockwise from top left. The original cover--since the story is set in the 1980's, I thought the cover was cool. Others not so much. My first favorite cover for the 5th page version, but I was talked out of it. Clown face with steel balls--too literal and clowns are scary. Two bad ideas. Left is my version, right is a sample done by a cover designer based on my input. Both are too busy and too literal. My last favorite 5th Page cover. An appropriate mix of mystery and a critical site in the story. My current concept for Betrayal in Blue. It needs tweaking and I may end up using a professional cover designer. The tweaked version of the police cars. Now to figure out how to adjust the sizes to fit better in the 6.5 x9.5 inch area and make sure that the important parts don't get cropped.

Second. Patterns on Pages.
I uncharacteristically deleted most the covers with the original name, Secrets of the Sequenced Symbols. Here are three of the "early editions." 
Left. An example of "it seemed like a good idea at the time." The book begins with a cataclysmic event, but...
Middle. Main characters in the book search for meaning in the sequences of symbols inside books. Look carefully and you'll see seismic terms highlighted in kind of a mauve color.
Right. Just too much. The Traveler's HOT L sign is a hint of some of the next Author blog post.

After the name change to Patterns on Pages, there were fewer candidates. The full cover on the bottom is the cover as printed in CreastSpace and Kindle.
Upper left were the two finalists for the front cover.  It was close, but the majority of the critique group liked the burned pages better than the lib'ry shelves. Although both are predictors of plot points, the consensus was that the burned pages were more mysterious. Upper right is the original burned pages photo.
We'll revisit this cover in the final blog of this pair of posts.

Next: AuthorsClosing the Cover
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