Thursday, November 24, 2005

I don't NEED to discuss theology with my Dad...

As you remember, I posted a few weeks ago about not being able to discuss theology with my Dad.

What I meant by that was that I enjoy discussing the “deeper” things of Scripture - the “why for’s” and the “where to’s;” the “jots and tittles”; and the “nuggets of wisdom” that God has reveled.

But now I am convinced that there is no deeper theology than “I know Jesus.” And I have learned this week that indeed, my Daddy does.

Oh, I never had any doubt of his beliefs and his faith in God. If he had died suddenly I would have had no doubt of his “destination.” But now I know, he knows Jesus.

I have watched an intense Spiritual battle this week. I have watched Satan wage war to keep a physical body in bondage, when he knows he has no claim on the soul. I guess he figures the longer he keeps the physical, the more chance he has of chipping away at the Spiritual. But GOD owns this soul!

It's a long story - and is still in process, but I just to share this much with you briefly.

Daddy has a “history” of talking in his sleep, and when he is sick, he always talks “out of his head.” We know this and pretty much just accept it. However this hospital stay was/is different.

Saturday night/Sunday morning he was more restless than normal. He kept crying and saying that he was tired of the hospital; that he wanted to go home. Then he began getting farther and farther “out of it” and talking more and more out of his head, when suddenly he began talking to my Mother! (Mother’s been dead since January 04) Then he began talking to my uncle - he’s been dead for about 10 years - then Mamaw and Papaw! He said, “Oh, it’s so pretty up here!”

There were moments he seemed so happy, then the very next moment he was crying and moaning "I want to go home! I want to go hoooome…" In a little while he needed to use the urinal and as I was helping him stand he (fully awake but still sorta “trance-like” and crying) said, Satan said he won’t let me go, but Jesus told me He’d open the door…”

All week has been a rollercoaster - up one minute and down the next. One minute we (the doctors and I) would be talking about “transitional care” for him and the next - “Hospice” but one thing was sure - he was losing ground. I had only briefly broached the subject of transitional care and not Hospice at all. In many respects Daddy doesn’t understand things, and so I didn’t want to upset him. But it became obvious that he was grasping enough to know…

Yesterday, he had been sitting on the side of the bed and around 4:00pm he wanted to lie down. Just as soon as he did, he began ‘talking” again. This time there was a jumble of words and phrases. He was talking sorta “child-like” and like he was talking to a child.

He talked non-stop about Jesus and God and “home” and how we were “dirty” and we couldn’t go in there dirty, but that Jesus would wash us. "Ooooh, yes He will..."

He said, “I want to go home, but I don’t know when.” He said, “Nobody knows when He is coming, but He’s coming - oh yeah, I know He is…”

He talked to little children about how much Jesus loved them and how He would take care of them - about how Jesus was a little boy himself and played just like they did. He said he was afraid, but that Jesus told him not to be afraid.

He said, “Jesus had a father and a mother and a little brother and a little sister. They all lived in a house, but Jesus lives in his Father’s house - do you want to go see?”

He told about the time they couldn’t find Jesus, and when they did they asked Him, “Where’ve you been? And He said, ‘I’ve been in the Tabernacle!’” (I had to laugh - he was so emphatic about the word “Tabernacle!”)

This man, who by "law" is my "step" Daddy, is the only Daddy I've ever known. I knew he believed in God, and was "saved" I just never knew of the depth of his faith, the depth of his belief.

Daddy is not an educated man. In many ways, he doesn't understand a lot of things - he can't write checks, or "see to" his own business affairs, but this man's faith has simply bowled me over! I am in total awe of the depth of God's communication with one man's spirit. It is truly "God's Spirit" His Holy Spirit that resides in my Daddy.

I just had to share this. I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for "all the kingdoms of the world!"

No, I don't need to discuss theology with my Dad, I need to listen...

I'll share more as the "adventure" continues!


Sunday, November 20, 2005

4 years in a row...

For the 4th straight year I have viewed the Christmas lights of Knoxville from a window in Baptist Hospital. I pray that I won't have to do it again...

2002 and 2003 were with my Mother, and 2004 and 2005 was/is with my Dad.

It is not an easy thing to do. But I pray, that God in His mercy will grant me the privilege of being at Daddy's side when he goes home, as I was with my Mother - although Mother being "Mother" waited until I went into the next room for no more than 5 minutes to draw her last breath.

That was so like her - doing things her way, and wanting to "spare" me... (If you knew my Mother, you'd definitely smile at the truth of that - and many people tell me that I am just like her...!)

Carl is not my "biological" father, but he is the only "Daddy" I've ever known since I was 4 years old. It's been said that "any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy!" and that is so true.

I love this man, and he was dedicated to my Mother!May God grant him peace and ease, and grant us strength...May His name be glorified!


A Country Thanksgiving

A country Thanksgiving’s
the most glorious kind.
For we saw the food raised,
from the stalk and the vine.

We are no stranger
to the hoe and the plow.
We’ve each known hard labor,
and sweat on our brow.

But that labor’s behind us
the crops are all in.
Let’s humble ourselves
and be thankful again.

For the food on the table
a result of our task.
And for strength for the labor
a labor now past.

Father, a blessing,
we know we’ve received here.
You’ve shown us Your mercy
throughout the past year.

And on through the future
please show us the way.
As we strive more to serve You
with each passing day.

Betty J. Newman ©1976

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Modern-Day Pilgrim

(Preparing for Thanksgiving week...)

The Modern-Day Pilgrim

To the Modern-Day Pilgrim
the feast isn’t hard.
Forget the musket
“Where’s my MasterCard?”

Things are better
than they used to be.
For the Modern-Day Pilgrim
in this land of the free.

There’s no need to call in
his Indian friends.
“I gave at the office!”
He loudly contends.

He feels that all
he has, he deserves.
No need to be humble
“It’s hard work,” he concurs,
“That got me where I am today.
“Let others work
and make their own way.”

But Modern-Day Pilgrim
where is your prayer?
I get the feeling
that it’s lost somewhere
between the Thanksgiving Dinner
and the football game,
Somehow dear pilgrim
it’s just not the same…

Betty J. Newman ©1976

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I was so mad...

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was so mad. It wasn’t like it was anything specific - I was just mad in general. I was mad over everything. I was mad all the time.

“Why do people have to be so stupid?” “Why do people have to be so mean?” “Why does money have to rule their lives?” “Why do “possessions” possess them?” “Why do they drive too fast?” “Why do they drive too slowly?” And “why on earth do they wait until the clerk tells them the price to even begin looking for their checkbook???”

Now, I will admit, it was the late 60s - early 70s, “people” were mad all over. It was a common thing to be mad, and particularly if you were a young adult - which I was.

But, there was this one day - I can remember it like it was yesterday…

On my route home from work, there was a steep hill with a traffic light at the bottom. Vehicles were “supposed” to stop about a car length from the bottom of the hill to allow for traffic to turn up the hill. Most folks didn’t. And that made me mad.

On this one particular day, I was behind a car that had stopped at the very bottom of the hill, making it difficult, if not near impossible for oncoming traffic to make the turn. And I was mad.

Suddenly I “heard” in my spirit, “Why are you so mad? What difference does it really make? Does your being mad change anything at all? Reserve your anger for the time when it will do some good and is justified…”

Then a peace washed over me and I knew - I didn’t have to be mad any more. Now, I still get angry at times, but I’m not an angry person - there is a difference…

Oh Father, why in Your mercy did You speak to me?
Why in Your grace did You allow me to hear?
Father I pray for those in our society who are angry at life in general. I pray Lord, that in Your mercy, You will speak to their hearts. And I plead Father, that in Your grace You will allow them to hear…

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Now THAT'S Praise Music!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

If you've never heard the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - you are in for a REAL treat!

We drove to Chattanooga, TN yesterday afternoon to see them in concert last night - and as I expected, I needed a hankie!

Oh man, what a story, what a performance, what a message! They have a Christmas story "trilogy" - my favorite (which they performed last night) is "Christmas Eve and other stories."

THIS is how I suspect the angels will be praising God!

Read the story, read the lyrics, and listen to the sound clips. My favorite here in this link, is Christmas Eve in Sarajevo.

By the way - it is a "Rock-Opera" - so fasten your seatbelts!


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink... Part 4 of 4

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink… - Part four of four

I once heard a story of a man who took a class of first graders and told them, “I’m going to give each of you a ‘title.’” He said, “You’re a rock star, you’re an NFL player, you’re an astronaut, you’re a teacher, you’re the president, you’re a doctor…” and on and on. He told one little boy, “you’re a janitor.” And then he said, “Line up in order of the importance of your title.

They all began to argue as to which was more important. The rock star and the NFL player argued over who entertained people the most. The astronaut said he was more important because of the science he knew. Of course the president and the doctor thought they were, and the teacher said none of them could do anything without her.

However, the little boy who was the janitor automatically went to the end of the line and waited. He thought his title was the least important.

But then the man, instead of having them stand in a straight line, had them stand in a circle and said, “Not one of you is more important than any other…”

Sometimes, we feel like our job, or the things we “have” to do is not all that important. But God, has given each of you a gift, and He has a job, just for you! You were created for a reason. You were born for a reason. And you must serve with perseverance!


Read the words of 1 Chronicles 25: 1-31. Verses 1-8 tell of David and the commanders of the army setting men apart for service. Then verses 9-31 go on to tell the order in which they were to serve. Chapter 26: 1-19 names the people who were the gatekeepers. Verses 20-32 speak of the ones who had charge of the treasury - and on and on.

Now, let me ask you this, besides David, and maybe Asaph who is mentioned frequently in the Psalms, are there any names that you recognized? Why then, knowing that everything is in the Bible for a reason - nothing is there “just because”, why did God in His wisdom, through the Holy Spirit inspire Ezra, the priest (or most people believe it was Ezra) to record all these names that no one knows?

There are probably profound theological reasons for it, but I think a basic reason is - God knew who they were, and they were important to Him.


I dare say, 100 years from today, none of us will be here. And unless we’ve been listed in some document that is preserved, no one will know we were here, either. But God will know. And He will know what job we did - whether we used the gift He gave us, and our attitude toward using that gift.

God knows who you are, and you are important to Him. Jesus gave His Life for you - now you live your life for Him. Don’t divide up your life into the Sacred and the secular, Paul said, “therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do - do all for the Glory of God!”

Let us pray.

Father, when You sent Your Son, it was for our salvation, but we recognize that it was for our identification as well. He walked as we walk. He talked as we talk, He was hungry, He was thirsty, He got tired, He was angry and He was tempted as we are tempted. And everything He did, whether He was eating or drinking or whatever He was doing, it was pleasing to You.

Father, help us to recognize that whatever we are doing, must be for Your Glory as well

In Jesus’ holy name we pray, amen.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink... Part 3 of 4

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink… - Part three of four

During Paul’s second missionary journey, he spent 18 months in Corinth establishing a church. (You can read about that in Acts 18.) Then during his third missionary journey, while he is in Ephesus, he is visited by a delegation from Corinth informing him of the strife and struggle that is taking place in that church. And thus the letter that we call 1st Corinthians is written.

The book is actually like 13 different letters as it deals with 13 distinct topics. Chapters 1-6 deals with 7 types of corruptions that are taking place within the church. Chapters 7-16 then answers 6 questions that the church has posed to Paul. One of those questions is “What about spiritual gifts?” Chapters 12-14 answer this question.

Within this section is the famous “love” chapter - 1st Corinthians 13, but what we know as the “love” chapter is essentially an admonition to the Corinthian Church for their erroneous use of their Spiritual gifts.

The scripture that we read this morning (1Corinthians 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 31-33) came within the part of the report that they were fragmenting or causing strife within the body of Christ, and in Paul’s answer to the question of “What about Christian Liberty?” And he culminates it all with verse 31 in chapter 10 which says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the Glory of God.” And that’s our “key.” That’s how we are to use our spiritual gifts.

We all have jobs - whether they’re public jobs, or private jobs, self-employed, unemployed, student or retired - we still have jobs or things that we do on a daily basis, but in A.W. Tozer’s book, “The Pursuit of God” he says “One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas, the sacred and the secular.”

Have you ever felt like you had “church” over here, and “life” or “work” over here? Have you ever felt like the “sacred acts” such as praying, reading your Bible, or going to church were over here, and “life acts” like doing laundry, washing dishes, or mowing the yard, were over here? Have you ever felt like it was a battle between what you’d like to do, and what is required of you?

I think we all have. We all have times when we feel like what we “have” to do is taking up so much of our time that we can’t “serve God” like we’d like to. And then, we feel like what we have to offer isn’t that important anyway. After all, I’m not the piano player, or the teacher, or the preacher…

To be continued tomorrow…

Monday, November 07, 2005

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink... Part 2 of 4

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink… - Part two of four

As we began the study of Spiritual Gifts, I began to wonder why Paul gave the list of gifts in 3 different letters. And since everything in the Bible is there for a reason - nothing is there “just because”; I wanted to know why…

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks of “a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit; a variety of ministries, but the same Lord; and a variety of effects, but the same God.” Then he says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

These nine gifts listed in v. 7-12 of 1 Corinthians 12, are known as Spiritual or “manifestation” gifts. Paul defined these as supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work through the believer. These are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

Then in Ephesians 4, when Paul uses the word “gift” in verse 8, it means more of a “present” than something “bestowed upon” like a talent or an endowment would be.(When you give someone a present, it’s a “gift.” When someone does something exceptionally well, it’s also known as having a “gift.”) These gifts are known as “ministry” gifts - they’re “jobs” they are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These are also known as “equipping” gifts, as we are “equipped” to do the work of the Lord.

And in Romans 12:6-8 the gifts are called the “motivational” gifts as they provide the motivating force for our lives. These are the gifts that we “possess” that are sometimes called “talents.” These are the gifts that are given to us through grace, that I believe, God “hardwired” into each of us as we were being formed in our mothers’ wombs. They are built into us to be used for the benefit of others and for God’s Glory. They are the gifts that define our personalities. But, because we have free will, we can choose to use our motivational gifts, we can choose to neglect them, or we can even choose to deny that we even have them.

But the good news is: Everybody has one, or more than one! Nobody has been left out. In fact, I personally believe that we all, have them all, but only in varying degrees - Paul calls it “in proportion” in his letter to the Romans... 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “as each one has received a special gift, use it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:14 “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you…” And then again in 2 Timothy 1:6 “I remind you again to rekindle the gift of God which is within you…” We are commanded to use our gifts.

But now comes the real crux of the issue - how do we do that? And that’s where one of these “nuggets” comes into play.

To be continued tomorrow...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Whether Therefore Ye Eat or Drink...

Sermon series

“Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink…” - Part One of Four

1Corinthians 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 31-33

If you’ve heard me speak or teach very often, then you’ve no doubt heard me say things like, “This is one of my favorite books in the Bible” or “This is one of my favorite scriptures”, or “one of my favorite stories…” I’m sure my Sunday School class has wondered what isn’t “one of my favorites…”

And it’s true, I do love these scriptures, but there are 2 books of the Bible that I’ve struggled with - that, for some reason, I just haven’t seemed to be able to get a “handle” on. Those are Isaiah in the Old Testament, and Corinthians in the New Testament; well, actually First and Second Corinthians in the New Testament. I guess that makes 3 books, doesn’t it?

So, with that in mind, and with our Wednesday night studies of the Spiritual Gifts, part of which are found in 1st Corinthians, I decided to make a concerted effort to study 1st Corinthians. So, for the past several weeks, I’ve been reading and studying this book. I’ve been reading the scriptures themselves, commentaries, and references just to find out what Corinthians is all about.

What I’ve found has both excited me and frustrated me. I’ve found some great “nuggets of wisdom” - far too many to cover in one sermon. In fact, there are nuggets for several sermons! But, that too, is what frustrated me. As I began to study this book, I found, what you might call, “the why and wherefore” of some of these great nuggets. And we’re just not taught this very often.

We are sorely lacking in our knowledge of the Scriptures in our churches today. It’s not completely the pastor’s fault. Fifteen, or even a stretch of 20 minutes, once a week on Sunday morning just won’t cut it. We’ve got to do some studying for ourselves. We’ve got to turn off the tv, lay down the novel, or get off the web - whatever it takes and pick up the Bible… Both Isaiah and Hosea taught that the people would perish for lack of knowledge - and we will as well…

But, that’s a whole other sermon. What I want to teach this morning is one of those nuggets, but in order to grasp the nugget, you’ve got to know the background, or context in which Paul taught it.

To be continued tomorrow…

Friday, November 04, 2005

And it moved me to tears...

I read in Entrepreneur Magazine, "When you begin to understand something at a deeper level, your passion for it begins to brew." Of course this was speaking of business - But I saw it as an "answer" to something else.

I saw it true in all areas of our lives.

But how do we begin to understand without study?
And how do we study without desire?
And how do we desire without seeing a need?
And how do we see a need without beginning to understand that we need to study?

It is God's calling.

One morning as I was reading about "calling", something began to stir in my soul and I kept hearing a song that said, "...calling Him, calling me..." "I was calling Him, calling me..." Over and over I heard that phrase. I got out the Hymnal and began looking for that phrase. I could barely discern a "feel" for the tempo of the song, but not the tune. I searched through the "Topical Index" and the "Hymns by Classification" - but nothing. I couldn't spot it. But I kept hearing "...calling Him, calling me..."Then suddenly it hit me!

"I Sought the Lord"

"I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew,
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Saviour true;
No, I was found of thee...."

How many hundreds of times have I heard that song, but now the veil was lifted, the "curtain was torn in two" and I began to cry. HE moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.

And now the question becomes - "Why?"

Why did He do this? It can't just be for me.

There has to be more to it than that...

Think on that a while...

Betty Newman

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dressed for the Battle

When praying the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It might be clearer if we pray “deliver us from the evil one.” And the best way to be delivered is by being prepared.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18 that we must put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We wrestle not with “flesh and blood, but against principalities…against spiritual wickedness.” The faithful Christian life is a battle, it is warfare on a grand scale - because when we begin to serve God, and He begins to bless and use us, Satan begins to attack.

This is not a suggestion. Paul tells us twice to put on the whole armor of God and he tells us 4 times to STAND. This is not something we are to put on and take off. We are to be continually putting it on.

God will deliver us, but He does expect us to take on part of the responsibility by being prepared. But note - there’s no armor for the backside - so don’t even think about running away!

So, how do we do this? I like to do it during my prayer time in the mornings and it is easier to remember if we put it on from the top to bottom. We can actually say,
“Lord, in Jesus’ name, I put on your whole Armor.”

As I put on my helmet of Salvation -
“Lord, protect my mind and my thinking today. May my logic be Your logic.”
As I put on my breastplate of Righteousness -
“Lord, protect my heart, and my emotions, lest I respond emotionally.”
As I put on my belt of Truth -
“I thank you Lord. I know who I am and whose I am in Christ.”
As I put on my shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
“Lord, may I always walk in the will of God, being prepared and able to stand against anything Satan may throw at me.”
As I pick up my Sword of the Spirit -
“Lord arm me with the Sword which is the defensive and offensive word of God, and is needed internally as well as externally. Lord, please cut away anything that doesn’t need to be in my life. And Lord, help me to sharpen and polish my Sword every day, because if I do not know the Word, then I have a dull and dirty Sword.
Thank You for this Armor.
In Jesus name, Amen.

As we wear the Armor of God, we are to be “praying always…with all perseverance.”
And having done all, to …STAND!

Biblical References for the Armor of God

Knowing that Paul was imprisoned at the time of this writing, most people naturally presume that he drew his imagery from the Roman soldier to whom he was chained. And while that may have sparked his memory, there are numerous Old Testament passages of scripture that describe the “spiritual armor” and Paul himself uses several examples of spiritual warfare. A few are listed here.

References to Spiritual Warfare
I Timothy 1:18
II Thessalonians 2:9
II Corinthians 6:7
II Corinthians 10:3-4
I Peter 5:8
Revelation 12:17

Spiritual Armor - Romans 13:12

1) Helmet of Salvation: Isaiah 59:17; I Thessalonians 5:8
2) Breast Plate of Righteousness: Isaiah 59:17; I Thessalonians 5:8;
II Corinthians 6:7
3) Belt of Truth: Isaiah 11:5
4) Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace: Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:5
5) Shield of Faith: Genesis 15:1; II Samuel 22:3; Proverbs 30:5; Deu. 33:29; Psalms 3:3; 5:12; 28:7; 84:9; 91:4; 115:9-11;
6) Sword of the Spirit: Isaiah 49:2; Hebrews 4:12

May God bless you in the study of His word!