Archive for June 11, 2012


After the 2010 premier of TLC’s reality show, “Sister Wives,” which peeks inside the lives of a polygamous family, Joanna Brooks, a senior correspondent for religiousdispatches.org and a Mormon, had some questions.

“Why am I being taken on a tour of computer-generated graphic rendition of the Brown’s three-level suburban home?

Why am I peeking into these windowless bedrooms at middle-aged, middle-class blondes in fuzzy slippers and sweats?

Why am I spending an hour of my life watching a middle-aged advertising salesman in suburban Utah standing there in the predawn hours in his sweats explaining where he keeps his clothes?”

 

The answer is simple. TLC wants you to know that polygamists are just like you and me. They wear slippers and sweat pants, love their families, and live in houses. So stop acting like they’re weirdoes. That’s the message of “Sister Wives.”

But, no matter how hard TLC may try, polygamy is not normal. And a 2011 Gallup poll proves it. According to Gallup, only  11% of Americans find polygamy to be morally acceptable. On top of that, it’s also illegal.

As we discussed last week, the families of Sister Wives were, in fact, under investigation by the county because their bigamy is a crime. However, it is the policy of the state not to prosecute unless there is abuse in the criminal homes.

Child abuse and sexual abuse is not uncommon in polygamous (often Fundamentalist Mormon) homes. In fact, Warren Jeffs, the leader of one of the largest polygamous organizations in the country, was charged just last year with 2 counts of sexual assault of a child and sentenced to life in prison.

Before his arrest and conviction he had been convicted by the state of Utah with 8 other sex crimes against children and was accused of arranging marriages between adult men and minor girls.  That conviction was overturned because of problems with the jury.

The seemingly innocuous Brown Family does not represent all polygamists. Although Kody seems to be a nice guy who is good to his children, pedophilia and sexual abuse are deeply intertwined in the polygamist lifestyle.

Although TLC certainly will not draw attention to this, it is important that people are aware.

Let these veteran advertisers and a few new sponsors know that you are not pleased with their support for the lifestyle.

Click here to send a message to the sponsors of “Sister Wives.”

http://www.americandecency.org/archives/polygamy-and-pedophiles/#more-6741

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What’s Heaven Telling You?

Posted: June 11, 2012 in Max Lucado

What’s Heaven Telling You?.


“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8

Have you ever taken an “open-book” test? At first blush they seem like a piece of cake. You can actually have the book open during the test! No late-night cramming. No last-minute frenzy to memorize facts and figures. Count me in!

But astute students quickly learn that open-book tests are not always as simple as one might think. An open-book test has a much higher standard of accountability. If you have the answers right there in front of you, then there’s no excuse for a wrong answer—it was right there in your open book!

As I look through Scripture, I’m struck by the fact that the tests God brings into our lives are always “open-book.” We don’t need to cram or study for them, we simply need to open God’s Book and apply it to each situation. The prophet Micah says it plainly: “He has showed you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6:8). God’s instructions for our lives are clearly and lovingly outlined in His Word, and each test is an opportunity to put our faith and allegiance into action.

When we consider our allegiance to the Lord, let me suggest a few questions that might appear on His open-book exam for our lives:

1. Would you still love and serve God, even if He hadn’t made promises to bless and reward you? In other words, is your love and loyalty to Him based on what He does for you, or is it based on your love for Him whether He ever does anything for you or not? If you open the Book, you’ll see that Job passed the test because he knew that his God was worthy of his worship regardless. As he so boldly announced, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Reading about the absolute worthiness of our God in the open Book will help you pass the test.

2. If God required your prized possessions, would you place them on the altar for Him? Think about it. What’s more important to you, the gifts that God has given you, or the Giver of the gifts? I can’t consider this question without my mind racing to the “open-book” picture of Abraham on top of a mountain with his son, Isaac, ready to offer up what was most precious to him—his son—a gut-wrenching demonstration of God’s absolute supremacy in his life (Hebrews 11:17-19).

3. If He required what brings you pleasure, would you give it up for Him? I’m not speaking here of illicit pleasures that are outside the boundaries of God’s righteous rules. I mean legitimate pleasures like peace, affluence, and significant friendships. Can you open the Book and say with Paul that you count the best things in your life as rubbish compared to the joy of Jesus in your life?

The apostle Paul seemed to have a good handle on this. For him, walking with Jesus wasn’t about scoring points toward receiving heavenly promises. Life was not about the accumulation of possessions or the pursuit of pleasure. It was about Jesus, and Him alone. Writing to the Philippians, he gave an open-book assessment of his life—a long list of worldly accolades and successes followed by the right answer: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Now it’s our turn. Regardless of the test you face, open the Book and let Jesus help you ace it!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What has motivated your obedience to Jesus? Has it been the character of Christ and gratitude for His grace, or has it been a desire to receive the blessings He has promised?
  • Have any possessions (whether you own them or simply long for them) begun to hinder your pursuit of Jesus as your first priority? How can you put those possessions in their rightful place?
  • How much of your life is spent in pursuing pleasure? What would it look like if you truly considered “everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus”?

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/open-book-test/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GetMoreStrength+%28Strength+For+The+Journey%29


Come to Me . . . —Matthew 11:28

Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words— “Come to Me.” Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” but— “Come to me.” If I will simply come to Jesus, my real life will be brought into harmony with my real desires. I will actually cease from sin, and will find the song of the Lord beginning in my life.

Have you ever come to Jesus? Look at the stubbornness of your heart. You would rather do anything than this one simple childlike thing— “Come to Me.” If you really want to experience ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus.

Jesus Christ makes Himself the test to determine your genuineness. Look how He used the word come. At the most unexpected moments in your life there is this whisper of the Lord— “Come to Me,” and you are immediately drawn to Him. Personal contact with Jesus changes everything. Be “foolish” enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him.

“. . . and I will give you rest”— that is, “I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.” He is not saying, “I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.” But, in essence, He is saying, “I will get you out of bed— out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.” Yet we become so weak and pitiful and talk about “suffering” the will of the Lord! Where is the majestic vitality and the power of the Son of God in that?

http://utmost.org/getting-there-1/


”In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”Job 1:1

Israel’s Moran Samuel made her country proud when she won the gold medal at the international rowing competition in Italy earlier this spring. She made us even prouder when she sang Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikva, on her own.

Apparently, the Italians did not have a copy of the right recording. When Moran realized that there would be no anthem played as she received her award, she asked for the microphone and simply began singing it herself, completely cool and collected.

When Moran was interviewed by the news shortly afterwards, she had this to say:  “If you look at an obstacle as an obstacle, there’s a good chance it will knock you down. If you look at an obstacle as a challenge, then you’ll do the maximum to overcome it. There can be small challenges, like the anthem and me taking the mic and singing, and there can be bigger challenges.” She should know. She’s been paralyzed from the chest down since she was 24.

Life comes with plenty of challenges and how we see them is critical. In the book of Job, Job and his friends spent all of their time and energy asking the question, “Why?” Why was Job being punished?

The reader already knows – and Job himself insisted – that Job did nothing wrong at all! “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

Job was not being punished; he was being tested. Job and his friends had the wrong perspective and it cost Job dearly. He could have experienced his trying time cool, collected, and empowered. Instead he felt helpless, hopeless, and abandoned.

This is why Jewish tradition teaches that the correct response to challenging times is to ask, “what?” not “why.” What can I do to be a better person? What can I do to overcome this challenge? What does God want from me now? These questions are empowering and helpful. They lead a person out of their darkness and back into the light.

Asking “why” leads down a dead-end road. Can anyone really ever know why God sends them a particular circumstance? Are we arrogant enough to think that we can understand God’s ways? While difficult times are certainly worthy of introspection, they are not helped by dwelling on guilt.

Asking “why” traps us in our sorrow and self-pity. Asking “what” helps us move on.

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/overcoming-obstacles


After the work of Elijah was over and God had taken him up to heaven, there was another prophet in Israel whose name was Elisha. Now it happened that one day the prophet Elisha, sitting upon his ass, with his rough cloak cast about him, came riding towards a little village named Shunem. He rode steadily onward up the steep and stony path in the afternoon heat, with his servant walking behind him.

He had come all the way from his home on the wooded hill of Carmel. He was tired and hungry, and, as was his custom, he stopped at the house of a certain Shunammite woman. Then alighting from his ass, he went up the outside stair to a little chamber on the wall, which was always ready to receive him, and there he and his servant Gehazi lay down to rest.

When morning came the prophet and his servant rose and breakfasted on bread and goat’s milk, and were about to go on their way; but before leaving, Elisha told Gehazi to bring up the Shunammite woman, and the man called to her from the wall. Coming up the stone stair, she stood at the door of the little chamber, hiding her face, her dark hair covered by a white kerchief that fell over a tunic of bright colours which reached down to her slippered feet.

“Thou hast been careful for us with all this care,” the prophet said. “What is to be done for thee? Shall I ask a favour of the king for thee, or from the captain of his fighting-men?”

Elisha wished to make her some return for her kindness, and thought that she might like to see her husband raised from the life of a village farmer to be an officer in the king’s army.

“I wish to dwell among mine own people,” she replied simply, meaning that she would rather live where her tribe lived; and she turned away and left them.

When she was gone Elisha asked his servant if there was nothing he could do for her; and the man answered that she had no son. Gehazi knew it was the dearest wish of every Syrian woman to have a son, and that the Shunammite’s heart longed for one.

“Call her,” said Elisha again; and the woman in her bright tunic, bound about her waist with a silken scarf, again stood outside the door hiding her face. And Elisha told her that the time would surely come when she would hold a little son in her arms. The woman replied in a low voice,-

“Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not mock me.”

But Elisha said it would be so; and saddling his ass he rode away, with Gehazi following after him.

But the prophet’s word came true, and the Shunammite’s heart leaped with joy as she nursed her little babe. Years passed, and the courtyard echoed with the shouts of the merry child, whose bare feet pattered all day about the sunny square, scaring the gray doves up to the housetop. Holding by his mother’s hand, he went up the stairs to the little chamber on the wall, where the vine spread its broad leaves; and there he saw the table and the little bed, the red jar of water and the cakes of bread waiting for the prophet of God. And when he was five years old, with ruddy cheeks and soft hair, he was beautiful as an angel of God.

Now one day, in the hot harvest weather, the little fellow ran away from the house down to the field where his father and the reapers were at work; and he ran to and fro in the hot morning sun, sometimes chasing the bright butterflies, sometimes following the men as they cut down the grain with their sharp sickles.

But after a while he came to his father, calling, “O my head, my head!” for he had got sunstroke with the great heat. At once the old farmer bade one of his men carry the boy to his mother; and he lay on her knee in a darkened room, crying out in an agony of pain and thirst, while she tried as best she could to relieve his suffering. But by noon all was still, and the stricken mother carried his body up to the little chamber and laid it on the prophet’s bed, and going out gently closed the door. Her heart was like lead as she went down the steps to her own room, for all the light seemed to have gone out of her world, and now what was she to do?

Calling her husband up from the fields, the Shunammite woman asked him to send a servant to her with an ass, that she might ride to Elisha at Carmel and return again. The father did not know what had happened to his boy, and asked why she wished to go that day, as it was neither new moon nor Sabbath, her usual times for taking such a journey.

“It is well!” was all her reply, for her heart was crushed, and she had no words to utter. So the ass was saddled, and she said to her servant,-

“Go forward; and do not slacken the riding unless I tell thee.”

Then they went out of the village at a quick pace, and along the plain, among yellow harvest-fields, and through the little streams, and over the Kishon River, and up into the wooded gorge leading to the prophet’s home on the green mount of Carmel.

“Yonder is the Shunammite woman; run and meet her,” exclaimed Elisha to his servant, shading his eyes from the sun with his hand, as he looked and saw her yet afar off, riding in haste. Gehazi ran as he was told, and when they met he asked her in an anxious voice,-

“Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child?”

“It is well,” she answered, for a mother’s heart is strange at such a time; and she rode forward in silence until she came to Elisha standing at his house door. Getting off the ass, she threw herself down before the prophet, and holding his feet, lay there with her face to the ground, saying nothing.             Gehazi came forward to raise her.

“Let her alone,” Elisha said, looking at the grief-stricken figure at his feet. “Her soul is vexed within her, and God hath hid the matter from me, and hath not told me.”

When she heard these words she found her voice, and murmured, with her face to the ground,-

“Did I ask a son of my lord? and did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” Then her tears fell fast. Elisha understood her at once.

“Gird up thy tunic with thy belt,” he said, speaking to Gehazi, “and take my staff, and go. Greet no man by the way, and answer no man’s greeting; but lay it on the face of the child,” handing him his staff as he spoke. And the man started at once to run down the path from the village.

“As God liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee,” the mother murmured at the prophet’s feet.

She would not be content with a servant; she must have the prophet himself. And when she rode away Elisha was with her, going back again on the long ride of sixteen miles which she had scarcely noticed, so loving was her mother’s heart.

When they drew near the village of Shunem, Gehazi came out to meet them.

“The child is not awake,” he said; but he got no answer.

Elisha went up alone to the little chamber, and there lay the beautiful child, still and quiet upon the bed. And the old man shut the door and prayed to God for him, and stretched himself upon the child, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to mouth, until the child grew warm, and showing signs of life, opened his eyes. Then the prophet called to his servant to bring the Shunammite woman. She needed no calling. Her foot was on the stair while he yet spoke, so quick is a mother’s heart, and she stood at the door of the little room, as she had often stood before, gazing, but afraid to enter.

“Take up thy son,” the prophet said.

A glance was enough. One step and she fell half fainting at Elisha’s feet, pouring out her soul in thanks to God and to the man of God. Turning to her boy, she gathered him up tenderly in her arms and bore him down the stairs to her own room in the house below. And thus was her boy restored to her alive.

http://kids.ochristian.com/Children-in-the-Bible/The-Shunammite-Boy.shtml

 


“He giveth quietness.” (Job 34:29).

Quietness amid the dash of the storm. We sail the lake with Him still; and as we reach its middle waters, far from land, under midnight skies, suddenly a great storm sweeps down. Earth and hell seem arrayed against us, and each billow threatens to overwhelm. Then He arises from His sleep, and rebukes the winds and the waves; His hand waves benediction and repose over the rage of the tempestuous elements. His voice is heard above the scream of the wind in the cordage and the conflict of the billows, “Peace, be still!” Can you not hear it? And there is instantly a great calm. “He giveth quietness.” Quietness amid the loss of inward consolations. He sometimes withdraws these, because we make too much of them. We are tempted to look at our joy, our ecstasies, our transports, or our visions, with too great complacency. Then love for love’s sake, withdraws them. But, by His grace, He leads us to distinguish between them and Himself. He draws nigh, and whispers the assurance of His presence. Thus an infinite calm comes to keep our heart and mind. “He giveth quietness.”

“He giveth quietness.” O Elder Brother,

Whose homeless feet have pressed our path of pain,

Whose hands have borne the burden of our sorrow,

That in our losses we might find our gain.

“Of all Thy gifts and infinite consolings,

I ask but this: in every troubled hour

To hear Thy voice through all the tumults stealing,

And rest serene beneath its tranquil power.

“Cares cannot fret me if my soul be dwelling

In the still air of faith’s untroubled day;

Grief cannot shake me if I walk beside thee,

My hand in Thine along the darkening way.

“Content to know there comes a radiant morning

When from all shadows I shall find release,

Serene to wait the rapture of its dawning–

Who can make trouble when Thou sendest peace?”

Lessons in the Shadow

“In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft: in his quiver hath he hid me” (Isa. 49:2).

“In the shadow.” We must all go there sometimes. The glare of the daylight is too brilliant; our eyes become injured, and unable to discern the delicate shades of color, or appreciate neutral tints–the shadowed chamber of sickness, the shadowed house of mourning, the shadowed life from which the sunlight has gone.

But fear not! It is the shadow of God‘s hand. He is leading thee. There are lessons that can be learned only there.

The photograph of His face can only be fixed in the dark chamber. But do not suppose that He has cast thee aside. Thou art still in His quiver; He has not flung thee away as a worthless thing.

He is only keeping thee close till the moment comes when He can send thee most swiftly and surely on some errand in which He will be glorified. Oh, shadowed, solitary ones, remember how closely the quiver is bound to the warrior, within easy reach of the hand, and guarded jealously. –Christ in Isaiah, Meyer

In some spheres the shadow condition is the condition of greatest growth. The beautiful Indian corn never grows more rapidly than in the shadow of a warm summer night. The sun curls the leaves in the sultry noon light, but they quickly unfold, if a cloud slips over the sky. There is a service in the shadow that is not in the shine. The world of stellar beauty is never seen at its best till the shadows of night slip over the sky. There are beauties that bloom in the shade that will not bloom in the sun. There is much greenery in lands of fog and clouds and shadow. The florist has “evening glories” now, as well as “morning glories.” The “evening glory” will not shine in the noon’s splendor, but comes to its best as the shadows of evening deepen.

If all of life were sunshine,

Our faces would be fain

To feel once more upon them

The cooling plash of rain.

Henry Van Dyke

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/mrs-charles-cowman-streams-in-the-desert-devotional.shtml