Where did summer go?

After the driest May on record since 1925, we’ve had a very wet June. There’s been flood watches and advisories off and on the past few weeks. We get a nice day and things start to dry out, then more rain comes. First, we don’t have enough water, now there’s too much.

It’s been cool too. It never got above 60 this weekend. I actually had to turn on the furnace in our house Saturday afternoon. We went to our friend’s house Saturday evening for a marshmallow roast. Everyone was glad for the heat the little fire gave off. It was very foggy this morning with just 50 degrees. I made the kids oatmeal for breakfast and we wore our jackets when we went for our walk. It’s seemed more like the end of August than June recently.

My poor garden. First it was hot and dry. Now it’s cool and wet. No happy medium. We need a few warm, dry days then some wet ones but all we seem to get is one or the other. I did manage to get it weeded Saturday afternoon.

This is the second cool, wet summer. Last summer started hot and dry then turned cool and rainy in June too. After several below normal snowfall winters, this last winter had almost the normal amount. Are we starting a changing weather pattern again?

08-09 school is over

Yesterday Richard took his final 2 unit tests. That concludes his second grade year.

However, learning isn’t over for the summer. We didn’t manage to finish all the history so he will keep working on that through the summer. This week was Bible camp at church in the afternoons where he made a new best friend, Eric. In 2 weeks he will go to Camp Habitat, a week long nature day camp held at a local nature preserve. This will be his fourth year going to that.

Karen did 2 camps this past week, Camp Habitat in the morning and then church camp in the afternoon. She had a lot of fun with the other kindergarten kids. Camp Habitat ended at noon and church camp started at one so it made for a bit of a rush lunch. I’d pick both kids up at the church at 5. This made for a long day for Karen. She was pretty tired and ready for bed by late evening.

The last few weeks went remarkably well considering all the difficulties of the past few years getting work done at the end. I think Christian Light Education having variety in activities yet still structured lesson format made the difference. It also helped that his sister was away at camp this last week so he could concentrate. He decided that he wanted to do his work in the car. He found a new pencil and kept it in the car. He actually did good doing his work like that and usually finished at least one subject while dropping Karen off.

Karen is still working on the ABC series. I haven’t worked as much with her since I was trying to get Richard finished. I can now spend more time with her this summer. She’s been asking when she can learn to read so I may start her school earlier than his since it requires more of my time. She really enjoys looking at Dr. Seuss and other picture books.

The remainder of the Christian Light order came in. Now, I just need to wait until after the first when allotment funds are available to order their math and Richard’s history and science. We looked through the CLE books the day they came in. Both kids are excited about their new school books. Although, I admit to being nervous about teaching 2 kids different grades at once. Oh, well. It’ll work out somehow if I pray for guidance.

We haven’t decided on a start date this fall. It depends upon whether or not I need to go to Spokane to help my dad if he has his kidney operation. If not, then we’ll likely start in August again. Otherwise, who knows.

It’s a relief to have most of their books already for next year. I’m not worried about the math and science. Math-U-See and Rainbow Resource ship pretty quick. However, Winter Promise is another story. That order came in piece-meal over several months last fall so I couldn’t start history until we’d already been doing school almost 3 weeks in early September.

Now we’ll take next week totally off from school (unless they ask to do something).

Savior and Lord

I’ve been sick these past few days so I’ve had extra time to ponder spiritual matters. Today what is on my heart is Jesus as savior and lord of Christians. Jesus wants to be both our Savior and Lord.

I hope all who claim to be Christians understand and acknowledge Jesus as their savior. This is the easy part of being a Christian because it doesn’t require us to actually physically do anything other than acknowledge Him. Or does it? In order to need a savior, you need to have something to be saved from. In our case, it was sin. So, in order to acknowledge Jesus as your savior, you need to first acknowledge your sins. This is a personal introspection, not just general human sins. Hence everyone’s need for a savior. Romans 3:23

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [emphasis mine]

This understanding can be a stumbling block, but it shouldn’t be. All have done things wrong in God’s eyes. No sin is worse than another. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your sins are too great. Jesus understood this. He came for all sinners. After acknowledging your sins and a need for a savior, acknowledge Jesus as that savior.

Mark 2:17

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Finally, let Jesus be Lord of your life. A lord watches over his subjects and tells them what to do. He protects them and expects obedience in exchange. This can be the hard part since it is often contrary to how our culture says we should live.

Jesus as savior and lord go hand in hand. A radio program recently said the Christian life should be one of simple obedience. Nothing more but nothing less. It’s wonderful to know Jesus as a savior. I don’t think it’s asking too much to be obedient to him as Lord over my life in exchange.

How do we know what he wants of us as our savior and Lord? Read the Bible. Read it in depth, not just in short passages from devotionals or commentaries. Everything we need to know is there, especially the New Testament. It’s full of instructions as well as inspiration.

2 Timothy 3:16

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

Yes, some of it doesn’t fit well with popular culture and today’s consumerist lifestyle. Still, what is culture when dealing with things eternal? 1 John 2:15-17 tells believers

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

We need to teach Jesus as both savior and lord to our children. We need to lead them by example. They need to see us living a life set apart for Christ as Lord. Children should see their parents worshiping God and praying daily, not just on Sunday morning in church. Parents teach children about sin and it’s consequences, about Jesus as savior.

Unfortunately, I ‘m seeing a lot of church’s Sunday children’s programs are more like a Bible themed day care with little Biblical instruction. I’m not saying they can’t have some games, but the real focus should be on learning about God and Jesus through studying the Bible. They need a solid foundation with Jesus as their savior and Lord, not just a friend for having fun.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it

So is Jesus your personal savior and lord? Are you an obedient servant?

Led by peace

I don’t know the exact legal definition of a conscientious objector but basically it is someone who refuses to do military service for moral or religious reasons. I grew up in a military home. My dad served in the Air Force for 21 years. Mostly he was in legal or accounting. He was the man who was called when a base got into trouble to straighten the mess out. He was also a plane crash investigator, although, I don’t remember him doing this much.

However, before he was in legal he was in special services when my brother was young and I was a baby. These were the Air Force version of comandoes. They went on secret combat missions. The more I learn of these, the less I like it. Still, dislike isn’t enough to justify being a conscientious objector. What is justifying are all the references to peace I am finding in the New Testament.

The word peace is mentioned over 420 times in the KJV Bible. (I did a search on BibleGateway.com) Many in the New Testament are salutations to live in peace or reference to the God of peace. Peace has two applications in the Bible. It talks about the peace of the Spirit. This is a calmness in yourself; a tranquility of emotion.

There is also physical peace. This is the peace which is at variance with military service. I’d like to share a few of the verses which I find relevant and pursuasive to living a peaceful life in Jesus.

Galations 5:26

Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

1 Peter 3:9

Not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

Romans 2:10

But glory honour and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile

Romans 14:19

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Hebrews 12:14

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Galations 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith

Similarly, 2 Timothy 2:22

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

The gospel of peace is listed as being part of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:15

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace

I am coming to question military service after reading several passages. Not just in the Old Testmant, but in the New Testament as well. This may seem unpatriotic, but we are to serve God before man. How can we live peacefully if we participate in war? How can we love our enemies by killing them? How are we not to be judgmental of others if we kill our “enemies”, no matter how justifiable governments say this is?

1 Peter 3:8-15

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eshew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; Butg sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Why should we suffer evil against us? Again 1 Peter explains in verses 16-18

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit

John the Baptist instructed soldiers in Luke 3:14

And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Out of curiosity, I searched the word “love” also and found it is mentioned over 440 times. The word kill 208 times, hate 179, harm just 19 times, and revenge 15 times.

The most relevant to a study of peace is known the Golden Rule, which is first introduced in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:18 and mentioned 6 times in the New Testament including being quoted by Jesus himself (Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8).

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself

What about revenge against those who attack us or are a threat to us? Do we still live in peace toward them? Yes! Romans 12:19-21

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Some say if you aren’t a combat soldier, you can still serve in the military. I don’t think so. My dad in legal didn’t see combat. We weren’t stationed outside the US. He was in an office or courtroom. Still, he wore the uniform and was a trained soldier. His actions directly supported the Air Force and it’s military causes. With so many references to peaceful living, how can a Christian not be a conscientious objector if they are to live a Biblical life? No, there is no duty a Christian conscientious objector can preform in the military.

Likewise, this reasoning can also be applied to not serve as a police officer since they also have occasion to use violence against others. Still, this doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for those who do choose to serve in the military or as police officers. It is through their sacrifice that I have the freedom to become a conscientious objector.

There are books and studies which give more Biblical reasons for conscientious objection. However, for me, doing a simple study of just one word “peace” was enough.

Out of curiosity, I searched the word “love” also and found it is mentioned over 440 times.

Actions speak louder than words

Many people profess to be Christians in America. Yet few of them live a separated, Biblical life. Many (perhaps most) can’t be distinguished from non-Christians in dress, lifestyle, and actions. They look, talk, and act just like the rest of the world.

Paul explains in Galations 6:8

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth of the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Why should we be different? Ephesians 5:6-12

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

There are several places in the new testament where actions are very implicitly mentioned. Specifically certain actions and behaviors which should be refrained from if you want to inherit the kingdom of God. What does this mean? Simply, if you claim to be a Christian and expect to go to heaven, you need to not do some things.

2 Corinthians 6:17- 7:1

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will recieve you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

What are these things? Let’s examine them. Starting in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of god? Be not decieved: neither fornicators, idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

This is further expanded in Galatians 5: 19-21

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells them in Ephesians 5:3-5

But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, and let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, not foolish talking nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather with thanks. For this you know, that no unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolatoer, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 15, 18

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess but be filled with the Spirit.

What do these terms mean? Many of them are very common today, as likewise in ancient times.

Adultery and fornication deal with lusts of the body. If you’ve had an affair, a “one night stand”, or “played around” you’re guilty of this.

Lasciviousness is loose living. It’s doing what you want, how you want, and when you want without a care for others or consequences. This is common among many young adults today. Sadly, many of them claim to be Christians.

Idolatry is worshiping of idols. This need not be limited to religious idols or icons, but can also be anything which takes you away from worshiping God. Following of sports, music, and entertainment stars can become idolatry if excessive. Indeed, one popular TV talent show is called American Idol.

Witchcraft is fairly self explanatory but also includes many New Age practices like Tarot cards, horoscopes, fortune telling in all forms.

Hatred is self explanatory.

Wrath is acting upon extreme anger.

Envy is wanting something which isn’t ours, jealousy.

Drunkenness is spoken of several times as being wrong. Excessive alcohol leads to many problems. How much is too much? This is different for everyone. Some may be drunk after just one drink. It is best just to not drink at all.

Thieves take things that don’t belong to them. It doesn’t differentiate between petty thieves and felons, but just says thieves.

Reveling is excessive partying. If you neighbor calls the police because your party is disturbing them, you are reveling. Likewise, city wide street celebrations may be considered reveling.

Covetousness is wanting something that belongs to someone else. Advertising takes advantage of covetousness to make you want to buy the product.

Extortioners use force or the threat of force to get what they want.

Some would say we have freedom in Christ. Yes, but not absolute to do anything we please so long as we believe based upon Galtions 5:18 . Freedom in Christ is freedom from ancient Jewish law. Freedom from animal sacrifices to try to appease our sins to God. However, we are to behave righteously, not indulging in lusts of the flesh. Taken in context, Galations 5:16-18 explains the relationship between lusts of the flesh, Spirit and the law. It does not give us freedom to act anyway we want. Doing so is fulfilling the lust of the flesh which are defined and I’ve listed above.

This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh, For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

What shall we do if we are guilty of any of these things? Are we damned forever? No. However, we are to stop doing whatever sin we are indulging in and repent to Christ. Hebrews 6:6

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

How shall we act then instead? Galations 5:22-25

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galations 6:12

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

These are just a few of the many instances where behavior and actions are mentioned. Don’t be deceived. Ephesians 5:17

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

1 John 2:15-17 cautions believers

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Finally for those who say this is legalism Proverbs 3:5-7

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the  Lord, and depart from evil.

Fresh cucumber salad

Today I picked our first cucumbers from the garden. Rather than using them as garnish for lettuce salad or in a sandwich, I decided to make them into a salad. The internet has lots of cucumber salad recipes.  I wanted something simple and light. I found one that sounded good and modified it a bit to use what we had. Here’s what I finally came up with. My family really enjoyed it so I thought I’d share the recipe since it’s garden season.

2 medium cucumbers sliced then cut in halves

1/2 large tomato chopped

1/4 onion chopped

3/4 cup sour cream

1 Tbs  lemon juice

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp salt

fresh dill

Slice cucumbers then cut slices in half. Add vinegar and salt. Toss to mix. Set in fridge half hour.

Chop 2 Tbs fresh dill. Mix lemon juice with sour cream. Add dill and a dash of black pepper.  After half hour remove cucumbers from fridge. Drain and discard liquid. Stir cucumber, tomato, and onion into sauce. That’s it. Easy and yummy.

Romans commentary

I finished reading the book of Romans in the KJV Bible last night. I’ve said before that I’m not a Bible scholar, however, there are a few points that stood out in my mind which I’d like to discuss. If I can remember the exact verses I’ll mention, otherwise it’s generalization or perhaps someone else can remind me of the specifics.

I’ve always been a bit reluctant when I hear “The good news” in reference to the Gospel. I didn’t understand exactly what it meant until I read Romans through and thought about it. Perhaps this is because I’ve never read it all the way through before but rather just in bits and pieces (see below). In Romans, we are told that the Gospel isn’t just for the Jews, but for everyone. Christ didn’t just die for those around Him or who knew of Him, but everyone. Those who didn’t know him can also be saved if after hearing they believe. This is the Good News and is the basis for our faith. Everything else, the commandments and ordinances as to how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians would be nothing without the Good News of Jesus. However, that doesn’t make them any less important either.

The idea of “once saved, always saved”. This does have some merit. However, it also has limits. Peter talks about this in some length using a grafted olive tree as an example. He likens the Jews to the original tree branches and the Gentiles/Romans as the grafts. Jesus is the trunk and God the root. He says some of the original branches have fallen away thus leaving room for grafts. He talks about getting nourishment to both the original branches and grafts. He also warns those who have fallen away they aren’t in God’s grace anymore. This shows that people who were once saved can loose their salvation. However, he also says that those who have fallen can be grafted back in again. This is wonderful news! You aren’t lost forever if you fall away. But that doesn’t change the fact that you can fall away and be lost after you are originally saved.

This fits in with the idea that it doesn’t matter how we act because God/Jesus looks at our hearts. Yes he does know our hearts. Still, it does matter how we act. In Romans, there is plenty of instruction for how a Christian should act to remain saved. Many of the 10 Commandments from the Old Testament are again given along with much more, especially toward the end of the book. Sadly, other than the Commandments or easy things that don’t interfere with our popular lifestyle, a lot of this instruction isn’t taught in most churches today. Not only that but violations aren’t enforced. I’m not legalistic but if we’re told in the Bible to do or not do something, we shouldn’t just do it if convenient. We shouldn’t make excuses. This is hypocritical even to idea that what we do doesn’t matter because He examines our hearts. If He examines our hearts, He knows it is an excuse. This is how false belief shows itself. It’s when Biblical obedience is inconvenient that true faith bears fruit.

Throughout reading Romans, and the prior Bible books, I’m reminded of the importance of reading in context. Anyone can take individual verses and twist them to meet their needs. However, when read in context, false teachings should easily be spotted. Reading the Bible through in order helps with this because often references are made to previous events. It is also interesting seeing the Bible unfold, especially the New Testament.

I’m saddened when professing Christians rely only on commentaries, daily devotional booklets, and other people’s ideas for their Biblical interpretation. These are important, but just as important is reading the Bible through for yourself. I’m amazed how many people have never read the Bible through. They can be missing a lot. How can you live a Biblical life if you’ve never really read the Bible? Especially in the US where we have such freedom and access to Bibles. Many people own a Bible, but few really read it. It’s not just a reference book, but a guidebook to daily life.