One Plate in the Dishrack

parched ground, loneliness

One plate in the dishrack, one fork, one knife, no spoon. “I never have been a dessert-eater.

On special occasions I will have a chocolate ice-cream on a stick. There is little point making dessert for one.”

This is reality for many widows or widowers who only have themselves to cater for.

Some single people choose to live alone

Chocolate ice cream on a stick
one plate in the dishrack

The key – a matter of choice.

If a person chooses to live alone, either they are totally content with their own company, or have support networks outside the home environment.

For widows, widowers, or people who have been abandoned by their spouse/partner it is not necessarily a matter of choice. For them…

One plate in a dishrack is a reminder of their loneliness.

one plate blog, forgotten

I did a great deal of reading on this subject before starting this post… that, and personal experience as well as the experience of other folks in my position.

One person said, “I feel that I am the loneliest person in the world.”

Someone else might compete for that title.

There are many groups on Facebook, I belong to some writer groups where I can ‘meet’ with peers because there few authors where I live, and even fewer in my genre, so it is fun to be part of a group, even if it is online. But there are other groups, and occasionally something will appear from one of those other groups. The image beside this was from a group called Gramma’s Giggles and Fun.]

Feeling forgotten is the ‘killer’ of enthusiasm in so many people.

One plate on a table is a person alone.

It might only be for one meal. It might not be. If the one plate is all a person has day in day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, that the person would be correct in questioning if they have been forgotten.

A person living alone through no choice of their own is missing one incredibly important thing – encouragement. It’s true we all need it – the busy mother who feels taken for granted, the many workers or carers who rarely hear a word of thanks, or appreciation. A person living alone has no one to give encouragement. Perhaps there used to be a spouse who appreciated the other. Now, there is no one.

Statistics I read say that people who are lonely, particularly seniors, are more vulnerable to chronic illnesses, depression and conditions leading to early death. (It didn’t mention suicide, but I suppose that could be a possibility.)

Something else it did not mention but which I think is a danger… being ‘conned.’

Something else it did not mention but which I think is a danger… being ‘conned.’

Statistics graph

Frequently on the evening news or on current affairs programmes are reports of how many people have fallen for some ‘con’ (scam) and have lost thousands of dollars. One could wonder how the person was so easily fooled. Perhaps they were a ‘one plate in a dishrack’ person. As well as needing encouragement a person without emotional support, without visitors needs to feel useful. The ‘one plate person’ might have raised a family, might have had an important job – or at least a busy one, perhaps they now feel redundant and are thus more vulnerable to being scammed.

hook imageNearly all the scams I have seen reported as having victims  where I live involve someone saying they need help – for themselves or a family member. A huge carrot to someone who needs to feel needed, feel useful,  to help someone.. And they are hooked!

The suggestion is often given to join a club (a bit of a threat to an introvert), or to volunteer. Many older people do. But what if the ‘one plate person’ already has a chronic illness, no transport, or difficulty walking? Perhaps they are on the low government pension and have no money to go out to activities.

Worst case scenario – no longer a one plate person, but a recluse.

It does happen.

A few hints to help the one plate person

  • If visiting is not possible – send a card.
  • If they are on the Internet, and many seniors are these days – a short email saying you are thinking of them/ hope they are well.
  • Suggest they write down a memory to share with a grandchild, or to share with a class of young children. Who knows, it could end up being a memory a week or a day and help youngsters understand the past.

The popularity of TV shows like Downton Abbey, and Call the Midwife demonstrate there is an interest.

A phone call to someone living alone comes with a risk – if you are the only person he or she has had contact with that week be prepared to donate some time.

Wherever you meet a one plate person, listen. So many of us listen to give a reply but do not really listen to what is said. Listening is becoming a lost art… but that is another subject.

For now, please don’t judge the person who is alone, negatively. Consider, every positive thing you say to someone else becomes part of you, and might mean the world to them.

Please,

Tread softly – you might be the difference between despair and delight to someone who is lonely.

Susan

Polycarp or Bucolus?

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

Recently one of the readers of my book series and I had a discussion on Polycarp. (She had recently started re-reading the Apostle John Series) and in book 1 – Hold the Faith, Polycarp was ‘introduced.’

First bishop of Smyrna - Polycarp or Bucolus?

Polycarp was a fascinating person to research, and as it Polycarp of Smyrnaturned out, June. the reader I was talking with, had also studied into Polycarp, Bucolus and some of the other people mentioned in Hold the Faith.

A video clip I saw some years ago said he had been born in 70 AD. 

Other sources put him being born in 80 AD
(I had found 69 AD the most preferred option.) The clip says that legend has it that he was anointed bishop of Smyrna by the Apostle John. I had read that too, but further research led me to the first bishop of Smyrna being a dedicated man by the name of Bucolus.

So, as can be seen, Polycarp is someone about whom there is much contradiction in writings.

Now, as to whether the Apostle John was the one who ordained him as the first bishop of Smyrna – bishop meaning overseer, let’s examine what else is recorded…

Legend has it that the Apostle John was taken captive to Rome, and, because he persisted in his refusal to acknowledge Emperor Domitian as lord and god, was plunged into a vat of boiling oil.

When he survived, he was sent to the Isle of Patmos, where he is generally considered to have written the book of Revelation. (He was released from Patmos, most likely after the murder of Emperor Domitian, in 96 AD)

I needed to check who was overseer at that time. Whilst it is not impossible for Polycarp to have been anointed as bishop by John, I considered it unlikely, given the Bible’s guidelines about not appointing young men to the office of an elder… a bishop is an elder. Then, as mentioned at the start, I discovered another source that stated that the first bishop of Smyrna was a well-loved and respected man named Bucolus. According to some sources, he was the one who passed the fellowship in Smyrna into the care of Polycarp. I will put some links in at the end of this post so you can read it up for yourself if you want.

Polycarp had ‘humble’ beginnings, some of which he ‘discussed’ with Benjamin in Hold the Faith.

Some 'figurings' about Polycarp

Polycarp          born 69 or 70 AD

John                taken to Rome 94 or 95 AD

Polycarp          would have been 24 – 26 years old then

Had Polycarp been born in 80 AD he would have been 14 or 15 years old when John was taken to Rome.

I favor the opinion that Bucolus was the first bishop/overseer of Smyrna.

Nevertheless, both men have interesting ‘histories.’

An overview of Bucolus – https://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/02/06/100441-st-bucolus-the-bishop-of-smyrna

And of Polycarp… 
http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/st-polycarp-hieromartyr-of-smyrna-and.html

Well, that’s the wondering for this week. Hope you enjoyed them.

Susan

Why People Love to Hate Women in the Bible

To answer the question in the title…  When it came to women in general – most women in the Bible, who were not slaves, were content with their lot. It was not wrong to be content.
There was no ‘welfare system.’ The family was the welfare support.

Marriage was important, as was raising children. Remember, they had no TVs, no computers, no video games or ‘smart’ phones to distract. Mothers mothered. That was their career.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. NKJV
Proverbs 22: 6

In the home – a mother was a child’s first teacher. Not only by instruction, but also by example.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

There were times, when writing the Apostle John Series, I would have loved to have a modern cooker if not a microwave.
Or…
A telephone for Samuel to warn his wife he was bringing brethren to join them for a meal…
Or
A freezer with spare meals for such an occasion. But no, none of those ‘essentials’ were available to the women of the Bible.

Women in the Bible

women's work, grinding grain
women's work, hand sewing

The women walked to the market, chose the produce they required. Unless they had servants or slaves, they carried their shopping home. They ground grain, washed clothes by hand, drew water from a well – sometimes grew their own vegetables, and cooked the ‘long way.’ (In a pot on an open flame.) Floors had to be scrubbed, and if they needed new clothes? Buy or weave the cloth, then cut and hand sew them.

Of course if they lived on a farm all of the former had to be done, plus looking after the smaller animals.

I guess they did not have time to be bored, and they probably appreciated the twenty-four hour Sabbath.
Even in that they had to be excellent planners and prepare all they and their families would need in the twenty-four hours.

Few women would have time to lead a church (fellowship) group. Yet, there are some notable women in the Bible, women who were disciples (followers) and who taught in informal ways.

The culture of the times

The cultural setting also has to be considered. The time and place where the Apostle John Series is set, was in the midst of pagan worshippers of a multitude of gods. Temple prostitution was not only practiced, but in many cases encouraged.

Godly women

By contrast to the times – in both Testaments of the Bible, women were honoured by their husbands and families.

Proverbs 31 women

Women have always held an important role in society – they still do. 

This post is in response to the idea expressed by some that women who stay at home and raise their families are somehow ‘letting other women down.’ 

No. They are simply choosing a different path and raising children.

Susan

Susan M B Preston is the author of the multi-award winning books in Apostle John series. Christian fiction set in the 1st century AD

They are set primarily in the Roman province of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). There are five books in the series. Find them on Smashwords or Amazon. Book 1 is linked below.

Hold the Faith on Amazon      Hold the Faith on Smashwords 

The Oddest Things Can and Do, Bring Comfort

featured for crucifixion blog, breathless

Whether or not you are a Christian, you have probably heard of crucifixion.

At this time of year, many Christians are thinking of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while many others think of Easter eggs and bunny rabbits. I will not go into the origin of the latter two here. Instead, I want to share with you how reading the details of what crucifixion was like helped me when my husband was dying over four years ago.

I will explain.

When my husband was told he was in end-stage pulmonary fibroses, it was neither a surprise, nor was it a pleasant diagnosis. This disease is always fatal. The ‘not a surprise’ was because he had been struggling to breathe for many years, while the hospital consultant at the time did not tell us the disease had a name. The ‘not a pleasant diagnosis’ was until then, with a new consultant did we know there was an ‘end-stage.’

High doze humidified oxygen

It was hard to see my husband struggle for each breath, even when he was in hospital receiving 25+ litres per minute oxygen. Then reason I put the + there is because sometimes it needed to go much higher.

The respiratory consultant explained that, in effect, his lungs were smothering him.

A trial at home, with a pair of linked oxygen concentrators, was unsuccessful and he ended up in a hospice, where he died three weeks later.

oxygen concentrators at home

The connection with the crucifixion.

Let me first assure you that my husband was not crucified, nor did I think what he went through was the same as Christ suffered.

No, the connection was when I read an article that described what happened in a crucifixion.

Quoting from the article –

“Once the victim was fastened to the cross, all his weight was supported by three nails, which would cause pain to shoot throughout the body. The victim’s arms were stretched out in such a way as to cause cramping and paralysis in the chest muscles, making it impossible to breathe unless some of the weight was borne by the feet. In order to take a breath, the victim had to push up with his feet. In addition to enduring excruciating pain caused by the nail in his feet, the victim’s raw back would rub against the rough upright beam of the cross.

After taking a breath and in order to relieve some of the pain in his feet, the victim would begin to slump down again.”

There is a lot more, but it is not ‘easy’ reading. You can find the full article here…
https://www.gotquestions.org/crucifixion.html

I did not pray for my husband to be healed. I prayed for God to help him. He had endured years of the nightmare of this condition. (He was a great ‘study’ for the respiratory registrars, but never a ‘name’ for the condition given.)

When I read that article – yes, it was emotional – but finally I knew how to pray for my husband.

Crucifiction of Jesus, the Christ

In that costly death of Jesus Christ, one of the many agonies He went through was not being able to breath. Until that time I had never thought of the crucifixion in this way. But it showed me that Christ knew what my husband was going through, He had been through it. This gave me comfort and helped me pray.

I have blogged before about Pulmonary Fibrosis. There is no cure, but there is a lot more support now than there was then.

I also put together a spiral-bound book on Geoff’s Last Journeyings, it was for family and close friends. Actually, I don’t have a copy.

after death from Pulmonary Fibrosis

Recently, I attended the bi-monthly club I belong to, and, because of the time of year, talked about the immense price Christ paid for us.

One other lady had lost her husband to breathing problems, and we talked about the comfort it was to know Christ knew what our husbands had gone through.

The oddest things can, and do, bring comfort.

PS If you want to read more about Pulmonary Fibrosis here is a link…
https://www.medicinenet.com/pulmonary_fibrosis/article.htm#what_is_idiopathic_pulmonary_fibrosis
I see that with current treatments life-expectancy after diagnosis has increased. It is now 3 – 5 years. When my husband was dying it was 2 – 3 years, although he was blessed with longer. (And so was I in having that extra time with him.)

God bless 🙂

PPS
This is the last, honestly. Just wanted to mention that if you notice the header section looking odd – that’s because it is.

After a terminal error I had to ask the web-host to reinstall the last backup made by them. This backup was out of date.

Currently I am working in the ‘back-end’ changing things… some of those changes are filtering through and look strange. All will be revealed when everything is connected up.

Susan

What was the Significance of a Betrothal?

Sunrise, Princeton Circle, WA

A long time ago when I was young, in school I read the story in the Bible of Mary and Joseph going off to be counted in the census. I puzzled over “…to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”

Betrothed I understood to mean ‘engaged’ to be married. The teacher did not care to explain it. Since then, well, comparatively recently, I discovered the significance of what this meant.

Joseph, with his betrothed wife, Mary
Hold the Faith cover
Covers of books in the Apostle John series with awards

When I was researching for Hold the Faith, which I thought would be one book but turned into five, I needed to find out what betrothal entails.

One of the people in the book was about to become betrothed. What I found out explained such a lot, and even more about commitment to Christ. (The account of the full betrothal was moved, but the understanding helped in the five books in the series and in the free 1st novella.)

Betrothal in the Bible

Probably the most common way is for the fathers – the groom’s and the bride’s fathers agree when their children are young. Well, more accurately when the girl is young, because men did not seem to be considered ‘ready’ for the responsibility of marriage until they were older.

The agreement between the fathers could have been as soon as the girl was born. Some betrothals were part of business ‘deals’ between fathers.
The ‘formal’ betrothal was not held until the girl ‘showed signs’ i.e. started menstruating. Heirs were necessary.

Contrary to the beliefs of some ‘women’s rights’ groups, a girl was not generally forced into marriage. (Although in one instance in one of the books, pressure was exerted on the girl to agree.) It was necessary for the woman to agree in my story.

The Betrothal Ceremony

Several variations of this ceremony were researched, but the simplest one was what I used.

In front of the father (or the mother if the father was dead) and/or in front of witnesses, the groom offered a cup of wine to the bride. He asked her if she would drink of his cup. In this way he was asking her to share his life.

Sometimes I added the words, for clarity. If she drank from his cup, she was accepting the offer to share his life, marriage to him.

pottery cup, betrothal cup

Betrothal was binding. It was considered a marriage. (Which is why Mary was sometimes referred to as Joseph’s wife.)

The only way to end a betrothal, other than by marriage was divorce.

Matthew 1:19 (NIV) Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Barnes notes says…
The law of Moses gave the husband the power of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1. It was customary in a bill of divorce to specify the causes for which the divorce was made, and witnesses were also present to testify to the divorce. But in this case, it seems, Joseph resolved to put her away without specifying the cause; for he was not willing to make her a public example.

Although the betrothal was as binding as marriage it was not consummated.

The bridegroom went to ‘prepare a place’ – it may have been an extension to his parents’ home, or he may have wanted to build a home.

The bride ‘made herself ready.’

There were no stores where she could buy a dress for her wedding, or the linen for the household she would be forming. She had to sew everything.

She purchased the material – probably at a market stall.

sewing by hand

She brought it home and sewed it, – by hand. There were no sewing machines.

For that matter… no electricity either.

When the bridegroom had prepared a home for his wife, he returned to claim his wife and take her to her home with him.

This is a significantly ‘potted’ version of  a betrothal, but if you are a Bible believer, perhaps you have noticed the significance.

Christ said – And since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am. John 14: 3 (ISV)

His bride was making herself ready while waiting…

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Rev 19: 7 (NIV)

So the entire betrothal analogy has great significance for Christians, but for many the meaning is lost.

In the ‘throw-away’ society of the world we live in, not even marriage is binding, so – sadly, much of the significance is lost.

Perhaps though, this will help you understand something that is not often talked about in our time.

I hope so,

Susan

Gentle Jesus

Other than in the children’s hymn does the Bible mention anything about Jesus being gentle?

Isaiah prophesied of him –

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
Isa 42:3 (ESV)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
Ps 34: 18 (ESV)

These suggest someone considerate of those who are hurt, damaged, and/or ‘broken.’

Gentle

According to dictionary.com an obsolete meaning of ‘meek’ is gentle, kind. Nowadays it is sometimes seen as synonymous with ‘weak’.

Strong’s 4239 says the Greek word from which the English translation is derived is ‘praus’

HELPS Word-studies says this… “This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.

[The English term “meek” often lacks this blend – i.e. of gentleness (reserveand strength.]”

I remember when in Bible college this subject was discussed the lecturer explaining it was ‘power under control’ – that was a long time ago and I might not have quoted it as he did, but that is the general idea. Jesus had the power, He chose not to exercise it.

One of the synonyms of meek is ‘docile’ – which means ‘easily managed or tractable – easily shaped.’

Perhaps that is why some encourage us to see the helpless Babe in a manager.

You will not find Him there.

Nor will you find Him in the Christmas tree. (That is pagan anyway.)

Gentle Jesus, a manger setting

Where will you find Jesus?

In the Bible. Bilble, open

Some of His comments were far from gentle

Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
(Matt 10:34).

Some of His actions were far from gentle

Two times He ‘cleansed’ the Temple

Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:11–12 as having occurred just after Jesus’ first miracle, the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. John makes it clear that it was “after this” that He went to Capernaum, where He “stayed for a few days.” Then in the next verse (verse 13), John tells us that the “Passover of the Jews was at hand” (NKJV). These verses trace Jesus’ movements over a short period of time from Cana in Galilee to Capernaum and eventually to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is the first of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple.

The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the last week of His life. This second cleansing is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but not in John. There are differences in the two events, aside from their being nearly three years apart. In the first cleansing, temple officials confronted Jesus immediately (John 2:18), whereas in the second cleansing, the chief priests and scribes confronted Him the following day (Matthew 21:17–23). In the first event, Jesus made a whip of cords with which to drive out the sellers, but there is no mention of a whip in the second cleansing. So there are two recorded occasions when Jesus cleansed the temple—the first time at the beginning of His public ministry, and the second time just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before He was crucified.
https://www.gotquestions.org/temple-cleanse.html

Hold the Faith, cover

This is not the only place these instances are mentioned, but it is much simpler than the sources I used some years back when researching for Hold the Faith.

Jesus in the Gospels is the Jesus of Revelation

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Revelation 5: 5

And with the opening of the scroll comes the ‘plagues’ (bowls), then the trumpets, and ultimately the woes.

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the One who unleashes all these things on the world.

Jesus is straight, true and faithful. Yes, he punishes… those who have had many ‘chances’ and not chosen His way. But Jesus is also the One who said…

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me…
Matt 19: 14 (ESV)

Jesus knew when to be firm, and He knew when to be gentle. But He is not a helpless Babe in a manger. He grew up, lived a life that we are to imitate (as best we can) and see Him as the multi-faceted Man He was.

Just thinking

Will Memories Ever Die

Memories of a peaceful sunset

This is a ‘remember when’ memories post.

(Date on the computer folder is Feb, 2015 – hard to believe that is almost three years ago, and I am still plodding on.)

Memories post…

Almost three years ago, after a difficult few weeks, I made my life more difficult when I took a ‘flying tumble’ in a shopping centre. I went flat out on the floor, having tripped over the almost unnoticeable base of a standing advertisement, which extended well beyond the advert… to balance it no doubt. But it was almost the same colour as the floor.

Embarrassed, yes. Shocked, definitely. Especially since I was unable to rise. Seems that both my knees and my wrists had taken the brunt of the fall. I could not push myself up using either.

Two incredibly kind men came to help me up, one giving me instructions, as they lifted me. They stood there to make sure that I could stand. Then the shopping centre security staff arrived to check that I was okay.

I went with some ladies to have a coffee, and we sat for a while so I could get over the shock.

My car

When I felt my arm start to stiffen up, I knew it was time to go. If I waited any longer, I would not be able to drive home. (My car has gears, no power steering or power-assisted brakes.)

As people without a family, or anyone living at home will already know, these are the times when that little bit of practical help is most missed. My wrists and knees were very sore, and my left-arm (gear shift arm) was becoming more painful by the minute. So, at home, since I was already in such pain, I decided to get undressed and into my nightdress while I still could.

That was a wise move. By the evening, I could not lift my left arm as far as shoulder height. Even then the pain was… well, very painful. Tears to the eyes kind of pain. And TOTAL frustration at being unable to tie my hair back, as well as extreme pain.

The quickest way to get prayer support was to put a message on my Facebook page. (And I honestly believe it was answered prayer that is the reason why the shoulder socket that the doctor believes might have been pushed out, healed quickly.) The pain of the torn muscles in my arm still limits me, as does the pain in my wrists and those swollen and bruised knees. These are the times it is hard living alone.

alone, daisy

The comfort I found, in those  painful days, was in the video I recently found when trying to sort out the many folders on various hard drives attached to my computer.

I found an ‘early’ practice… of my late husband singing. One of the most difficult things as time goes by after losing someone significant, is the loss of the little mannerisms, the expressions.  Photos do show that. The quirky smile, the mannerisms that were only his.

But this video reminds me of his personality.

(Since he detested having videos taken of him – when I bought the camera many years ago, I drove the poor man demented, trying to capture videos of him, especially when he was singing. Little did I know at the time but they would be all I have left of him.)

Either a lot of them were deleted at his request, or in the hard drive crash at the beginning of last year, I did not manage to find them all when I copied them off.

His voice deteriorated over those eleven and a half years as the pulmonary fibrosing increasingly robbed him of lung function.

It is amazing he could sing at all.

But, I often wondered if it was his singing  that helped his lung capacity to last so long.

Looking at the videos of him singing, I can see now, the extra muscles it took for him to take a deep breath in the hymn he was singing.

When he was dying in the hospice the consultant said the lifespan after diagnosis of this dreadful disease was two to three years. After he died and I was clearing out the medical records in the filing cabinet I found the report that said the fibrosing was spreading… eleven and a half years ago.

Silhouette man proposing

He loved to sing. Although was frustrated often with his difficulty with his ‘breathing’ in songs he sung. But I loved hearing him sing. When he proposed to me, he went down on one knee and sang ‘Let Me Be Your Shelter’ from Phantom of the Opera to me.

Yes, I loved hearing him sing. And I still can. I look at one of the videos, and see his expressions, and just want to hug him.

One day I will again.

Till then, when loneliness, and the need to see a human face and hear a voice overwhelm me, I can turn on the speakers and play a video of Geoff singing.

If you choose to watch it, I hope it gives you pleasure.

http://youtu.be/HzFtWf0fnJI

(Apologies for the camera shake in some places.)

So, to answer the question posed in the title of this blog…will memories ever die? I hope not. Some are painful at the time but bring great comfort further down the track.

Enjoy your memories,

Susan

Sitting on a Cactus

Have you ever felt as if you are sitting on a cactus?

Sometimes there is little, or perhaps no, alternative. But there comes a time when a decision must be made. Is whatever the cactus represents worth the discomfort of sitting on it?

Sometimes it requires risking something we might be afraid we will lose. (But if the cactus is so uncomfortable, then do we really have what we are trying so desperately to hold on to?)

quote; difference between giving up and knowing when you've had enough

As we walk our way through this life there are many difficult times.

Sometimes it might be difficult to believe that…

  1. God is with us,
  2. He knows what is happening
  3. He cares.
quote 'yes'

I will never leave you nor forsake you…
Hebrews 13:5

(Variations of this promise are in ten other scriptures.)

That being the case, what about ‘knows what is happening’ or ‘cares’

Well, I have several translations of the Bible. In none of them did the people written of sail through their lives without problems.

Choosing a Cactus to sit on...

Starting at the beginning…
Eve made a wrong choice, to believe a serpent.
Adam made a wrong choice too.

coloring in page of Adam, Eve and serpent

Many a ‘cactus’ in my life has been the result of a wrong choice…

It has not always been immediate either. Sometimes, like fruit on a tree, it takes time to grow.

God knows about the cactus we are sitting on...

cactus imageHow else would He have known that Job would have withstood the tests that He allowed Satan to put on him?

What about the Apostle Paul? After he was blinded on the way to Damascus, God told Ananias to go to him.

 

Ananias protested…
And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Acts 9: 14 – 16

So, my thinking is… Some of the cacti in my life, are things I have sown. Others might have been sown by an ‘enemy’, or was it by a Friend?

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12: 7 – 11

Yes, God knows. Yes, God cares. Yes, He is with us.

So if a cactus is in your life – 

Pray. 

That is my first aid.

Taking the prickles out, well, that might take time, and more prayer.

Ultimately there will be a good result, and it is not always what we think it will be.

But it is our choice to get off the cactus and walk.

Walk away

It might be dark, it might be scary – but we do not walk alone!

This week’s post is late.

First – wireless keyboards only work when the batteries work – and they take 12 hour to charge.

Second – when I did have charged batteries I had business mail to catch up with, and finishing the Esther novella – which now has a name.

Happy dance

Have a look. (It’s not for sale so you won’t be asked to buy LOL

Esther Novella

An Evaluation of Christians

The trouble with you Christians

“The trouble with you Christians…”

This was how my friend began the attempt to help me see a problem in a different light.

The problem took a backseat in the light of the ‘accusation.’

‘Evaluation’ of Christians

As I listened I was saddened by my friend’s evaluation of Christians.  More especially because I probably fitted some of the categories listed at some time in the past.

One of the charges laid was that we ‘Christians’ believe that only we will go to heaven (the saved) and all the rest will go to hell.

I don’t.

Some Christians do believe they will go to heaven immediately on their death. Some are not sure. But I do not believe I will go to heaven when I die.

I believe that I will ‘sleep’ awaiting the resurrection. And that is why I had that line put on my husband’s plaque… we both believe/d that.)

(I am satisfied with the many scriptures that back it up – but do not have the space here to list them, and it would take this off-topic anyway.)

Another charge against Christians

The other ‘charge’ was about Christians being judgemental. Some examples were given, and they had merit.
As mentioned, some Christians to believe in the first.
Unfortunately, the other ‘beliefs’ are not only a personal belief for those who hold to this, but an accusation that turns many people off rather than attracting them.

Judging? Jesus had something to say on that.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matthew 7:1

And the reason…

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7: 2 NIV

And… look to yourself…

And why do you look at the splinter in your brother's eye, but not notice the beam in your own eye? Matthew 7: 3 Berean Literal Bible

I think it is ‘human nature’ to pass judgement, but Christians are supposed to ‘be putting on Christ’ and there are many admonitions about ‘putting off the old man’. That includes the ‘old nature.’

In summary, I know my learned friend (and I mean that in a sincere manner) will be able to ‘blow holes’ in what I have said.
However, I judge – my own behaviour.
I am answerable for what I do.
I am not called to ‘pick holes’ in what others do.

So what is a Christian like?

This is not something I can answer, I can only say what/Who they are supposed to be like… the One they name themselves for, Christ.

Christ served

God first

Then His fellow man

That is what I aim for.

And before those of you who know me burst out laughing, or I face a forest of fingers pointing at me… I said it is what I aim for. I have a long way to go.

Just thinking…

Susan

Hate Your Enemies – Really?

What did Jesus mean when he said, “You have heard it said ‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  I have always thought of this as Jesus correcting an Old Testament ‘law.’ Not so!

I was astounded when I heard a preacher say that Jesus was correcting a ‘tradition’ not a law.

Hate your enemies - or love them

So, I checked it out.

I ‘ran a search’ of the whole Bible seeking another instance when ‘hate your enemy’ was mentioned. There was none. The closest ‘match’ was a scripture in Leviticus 19: 18 – the command to love your neighbor as yourself.

‘Hate your enemy’ … a tradition?

One site mentioned that Jesus might have been correcting a saying among the zealots that had become a tradition.

Checking out Zealots, I found the following in Wikipedia –

“The Zealots objected to Roman rule and violently sought to eradicate it by generally targeting Romans and Greeks. Another group, likely related, were the Sicarii, who raided Jewish habitations and killed Jews they considered apostate and collaborators, while also urging Jews to fight Romans and other Jews for the cause.”

Hate your enemy could fit their practices, but let’s look at traditions.

How come traditions become so entrenched we see them as laws?

I guess it is the ‘old saying’ that if something is repeated often enough we end up believing it.

Keys to understanding the Bible

In 2017 for the subscribers to my Reader’s Circle (now VIP Readers’ group) I produced a PDF series called Keys to Understanding the Bible in which I had included a great many Pharisaic traditions.

From Part 4 this might further clarify ‘traditions’ and their acceptance…

“It has been said that in an effort to prevent this [captivity] happening again, the sect of the Pharisees ‘arose’. Their original purpose was to prevent people from breaking God’s laws, including the Sabbath.

It developed into Judaism. Judaism is not the ‘religion of Moses’ as is generally assumed.

From ‘A history of the Jews’ by Paul Johnson – Judaism dates from the time just after the Babylonian exile.

American Rabbinical scholar Stephen S Wise stated, ‘The return from Babylon… marked the end of Hebrew-ism and the beginning of Judaism.”

Over the centuries for the most part, the traditions became accepted and incorporated into the Code of Jewish Law.

Jesus said...

“They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’ You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the commandment of God to maintain your own tradition.…”
Mark 7: 7 – 9

traditions of men

He would know!

Traditions were very important to the rulers of the Temple in Jesus’ time.

One small section in the gospel of Matthew…

Then some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to Jesus and said “Why do Your disciples violate the tradition (religious laws) handed down by the [Jewish] elders? For Your disciples do not [ceremonially] wash their hands before they eat.” He replied to them, “Why also do you violate the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition [handed down by the elders]?
Matthew 15: 1-3 (Amp)

These traditions and attitudes were very much alive and practiced in the late 1st Century and contributed to the hatred of the Jews for the Christians.