Friday Catblogging: How Cute Am I?

Filed in PersonalTags: Cats, Pets, Photos

My human does most of his blogging from this recliner:

millie 047

How cute am I? My cuteness demands your attention!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

OYB February 24

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 15, Leviticus 16:1-28
NT: Mark 7:1-23;
Ps: Psalm 40:11-17
Pr: Proverbs 10:13-14

Today´s notable verse:

20 "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.

Leviticus 16:20-22 (NIV)

And here we have the root of the "scapegoat." This imagery reminds me of others: Cain being sent into the desert/wilderness after God confronts him for murdering Abel; Ishmael being sent into the desert after he begins to despise and persecute Isaac. Related? I have no idea - but it's an interesting thought.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - Back to my reflections above on Jesus' "once for all" sacrifice in the OT section above. Do you believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was “once for all”? Do you believe that Jesus is your High Priest who has made Atonement for your sins? Do you believe that Jesus as your High Priest sits at the right hand of God? If so, how might fully realizing this change how you live? How you pray?

Isn't this belief rather fundamental to Christianity? If Christ's death and sacrifice was not "once for all", then it was completely meaningless. The Scriptures and Christ himself leave no room for ambiguity or compromise. The power of the atoning sacrifice on the cross is the very life by which we live who identify with Christ in His death and resurrection.

This understanding of Christ's atonement implores us not to become callous or cavalier toward sin in our lives. We are responsible for Christ on the cross, because of our past, present, and future sin. Thus, when we knowingly continue in our sin, we knowingly take advantage of the sacrifice that was made "once for all".

Christian Carnival CX

Filed in ReligionTags: Carnivals, Christianity

The Christian Carnival CX is up, this week hosted by Jordan's View. This week's theme: The Education of the Soul.

OYB February 23

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 14
NT: Mark 6:30-56
Ps: Psalm 40:1-10
Pr: Proverbs 10:11-12

Today´s notable verses:

But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"

Mark 6:37 (NIV)

To my reading of this account, the disciples make this statement with the implication that they do have the monetary means to provide for the multitude of people Jesus has just commanded them to feed. However, had they done so, then they would have missed out on Jesus' miraculous provision using the loaves and fish. Is this situation true in our lives today? God may give us the means to fulfill some need of our own accord, yet when we rely on and trust Him to provide, then we enable him to perform the miraculous through us because of our faith.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
12 Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:11-12 (NIV)

So far, Proverbs 10 has been the most power-packed of all we've read. Maybe I'm at a place or season in my life where this chapter is speaking to me particularly, but every verse has been powerful and impactful.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - Per Proverbs 10:11 above, are your words typically a fountain of life to others? Will you seek to improve in love what you say and how you say it to others around you so that your words truly will become a fountain of life to others?

What a great question - and a great reminder of the power of the spoken word, for life or for death. I try to control my tongue - and the key for me is first to control my thoughts. If I center my heart on Christ, then my thoughts and my words are likewise focused. If, however, my heart strays, then my thoughts and my words are sure to follow.

OYB February 22

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 13
NT: Mark 6:1-29
Ps: Psalm 39
Pr: Proverbs 10:10

Today´s notable verses:

When a man has lost his hair and is bald, he is clean.

Leviticus 13:40 (NIV)

Woohoo! Now that's a motto I can live with: Bald is clean.

The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.

Mark 6:26 (NIV)

How sad; Herod recognized John the Baptist as a righteous and holy man, yet in his pride, he could not do what was right. Rather than admit publicly that righteousness and holiness are greater than himself, and refuse to give the order to behead John the Baptist, Herod acquiesced and allowed the heinous request to be fulfilled. Herod promised with an oath to give Herodias' daughter up to half his kingdom; however, righteousness and holiness surpass Herod's kingdom. I can't help but to think that Herod's sin with Herodias somehow led him into this situation, and facilitated the pride that precipitated his wrong decision. (Aside from the obvious, that had he not been sinning with Herodias, she would not have had reason to begrudge John the Baptist for pointing out their sin.)

Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.

Psalm 39:4 (NIV)

David is asking here for a "glimpse of eternity" - something for which we should all pray. How beneficial is this eternal perspective: if the entirety of my life is fleeting, as but a breath, then surely my trials and hardships are even more momentary and meaningless. Likewise, any glory I seek in this life fades in comparison to my coming glory in Christ at the last day - and seeking such vaporous vain glory only serves to rob myself of the eternal glory God would otherwise have for me. Instead, I should commit my fleeting life to God - the good and the bad, the glorious and the humiliating - and trust Him to work out all things for my good and for His glory.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - Back to Psalm 39 verse 5 above - how does this verse speak to you? Do you feel like life moves fast sometimes? If so, how are you spending your time? Are you being intentional about how you invest your time? Are you being intentional about your work? Your friends? Your finances? Volunteering? Serving others? Loving others? Watching TV – or not watching TV? ...Do you think life really is “but a breath”? Are you spending your breath wisely? With your breath are you constantly loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself?

We really must be careful how we live, not as unwise but as wise, and making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16). I don't so much look at this verse with respect to the speed of life, but rather with respect to the relative insignificance of life. From the eternal perspective, God's plan will be accomplished, according to His Will; I can choose either to allow God to use me for His Will, and so take part in that plan, or else I can choose to let God's plan happen without me - and render my life absolutely meaningless. I can choose to glorify God in everything, and receive my praise from Him alone, or else I can seek to usurp His praise from men, which will lead to God reclaiming His rightful glory at the expense of my eventual disgrace.

Crown FS Week 2, Days 1-6

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, Financial Stewardship

Crown Financial Ministries Small Group Biblical Financial Study, Week Two: God's Part/Our Part

Scripture to memorize:

Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind; Your hand controls power and might, and at your discretion men are made great and given strength.

I Chronicles 29:11-12 (TLB)

Day One:

Read the Introduction Notes on pages 10 and 11 and answer.

1. What information especially interested you?

The notes in general, in light of Jim's message this past weekend regarding worshipping God with our money.

2. comment on any personal challenges you felt after learning the three reasons the Bible says so much about money.

The three reasons given:

  1. How we handle our money influences our fellowship with the Lord
  2. Possessions compete with the Lord for first place in our lives
  3. Much of life revolves around the use of money

A good question to ask myself always is: "am I being faithful with the small things?" I think I am, generally. But the small things are also the ones easiest to overlook. I find that I get in the most trouble whenever I start overlooking the small things. I don't think I have a problem letting money or materialism compete with God for first place in my life. I'd be perfectly happy living in a hut up in the mountains in Mexico - in fact, I look forward to the day when I can do just that.

Day Two:

Read Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 24:1, and I Corinthians 10:26 and answer.

1. What do these passages teach about the ownership of your possessions?

I don't own anything - everything belongs to God.

  1. God makes us stewards - we are given responsibility for the use and care - of thigns, but He retains ownership.
  2. I belong to God. I am a steward of my faculties and abilities, but God is responsible for my survival and well-being.

Read Leviticus 25:23, Psalm 50:10-12, and Haggai 2:8.

2. What are some of the specific items that the Lord owns?

Leviticus 25:23

The land (we are but aliens and tennants)

Psalm 50:10-12

  • Every animal of the forest
  • The cattle on a thousand hills
  • ("I know...") Every bird in the mountains
  • The creatures of the field
  • The world, and all that is in it

Haggai 2:8

The silver, the gold

3. Prayerfully evaluate your attitude of ownership toward your possessions. Do you consistently recognize the true owner of those possessions? Give two practical suggestions to help recognize God's ownership.

  • Praying I Chronicles 29:11-12 and other Scripture emphasizing God's ownership and our stewardship
  • Be even more giving

Day Three:

Read I Chronicles 29:11-12 and Psalm 125:6.

1. What do these verses say about the Lord's control of circumstances?

God is in control of everything. All things happen at His discretion. We exist in His kingdom. God has the power, ability, and wisdom to do whatever He pleases.

Read Proverbs 21:1, Isaiah 40:21-24, and Acts 17:26.

2. What do these passages tell you about the Lord's control of people?

Proverbs 21:1

God controls the hearts of the leaders He puts in place. He directs their hearts as He pleases.

Isaiah 40:21-24

God controls eternally that which exists temporally

Acts 17:26

God made all nations from one man. God determined the times set for every nation of men. God determined the exact places where every nation would live.

3. Do you normally recognize the Lord's control of all events? If not, how can you become more consistent in recognizing His control?

Normally, I do recognize - or, more correctly, acknowledge - God's control of all events. We can't always recognize the means or evidence of God's control, since His ways are higher than our ways, but acknowledgement of His control is a matter of choice. To be more consistent, I can meditate more on such Scriptures as Romans 8:28.

Day Four:

Read Genesis 45:4-8, Genesis 50:19-20, and Romans 8:28.

1. Why is it important to realize that God controls and uses even difficult circumstances for good in the life of a godly person?

Perspective: we rarely can see the "big picture" of God's eternal perspective. If we allow ourselves to become mired in the tyranny of momentary circumstances, we risk losing hope, and so act out of fear rather than out of faith.

2. How does this perspective impact you today?

"This too shall pass." "Do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear." "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

3. Share a difficult circumstance you have experienced and how the Lord ultimately used it for good in your life.

Being engaged, having the greatest desires of my heart - a wife and family - and then having the relationship end. I don't yet know fully how the Lord will ultimately use it for good in my life, but these things I do know:

  • I know what it means to love to the point of dying to self for the sake of another
  • I know the true meaning of sacrifice
  • I have learned utter reliance upon and faith in God to sustain me in every circumstance

    Day Five:

    Read Psalm 34:9-10, Matthew 6:31-33, and Philippians 4:19.

    1. What has the Lord promised about meeting your needs?

    Those who fear the Lord will lack nothing. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing. We are responsible for seeking God and His kingdom, and He will provide for our needs. God will (and is able to) meet all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus

    2. From the Bible, give an example of the Lord providing for someone's needs in a supernatural way.

    Elijah fed by ravens (I Kings 17:1-5). Elijah and the widow at Zarephath (I Kings 17:6-15). The feeding of the 4,000/5,000 (Matthew 14-15). All Jesus' healing miracles.

    3. How does this apply to you today?

    I have never gone hungry (to the point of starvation), thirsty (to the point of dehydration), naked or homeless

    Day Six:

    Read I Corinthians 4:2.

    1. According to this verse what is your requirement as a steward?

    We must prove faithful. We must demonstrate our worthiness both to receive the trust, and to handle that trust properly. We are entrusted with something as an investment, and must prove faithful to provide a return on that investment.

    2. How would you define a steward?

    One entrusted with authority over and responsibility for - but not ownership of - something.

    Read Luke 16:1-2.

    3. Why did the master remove the steward from his position?

    For wasting the master's possessions. For being unable to give a worthy account of his management.

    Read Luke 16:10

    4. Describe the principle found in this verse.

    Trustworthiness is a matter of character. It is an intensive characteristic of a person. That is, it does not change according to the size of the trust.

    5. How does this apply in your situation?

    Reality check! How faithful am I with the "little things"? Where do I need to grow or change my character to be more trustworthy?

    I will take the following action as a result of this week's study:

    I will become more conscientious about the "small things", and develop the discipline to remain faithful with those small things. I will begin tracking and recording everything I spend.

    OYB February 21

    Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

    Today´s reading:
    OT: Leviticus 11, Leviticus 12
    NT: Mark 5:21-43
    Ps: Psalm 38
    Pr: Proverbs 10:8-9

    Today´s notable verse:

    44 I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. 45 I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

    Leviticus 11:44-45 (NIV)

    I think this whole section on clean versus unclean animals (food) comes down to this point: consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Remember, the Mosaic Law was an imperfect type, shadow, and symbol of God's Perfect Law. Now, certainly, several practical reasons for avoiding those animals regarded as unclean existed: the science of the day knew nothing of pathogens. However, I think the primary reason for the differentiation between clean and unclean was simply to demonstrate to the Israelites the principle of consecration - setting themselves apart from the uncleanliness of sin in order to pursue the cleanliness of holiness and to approach the Holy God. Christ sums up this concept:

    10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' " ...17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

    Matthew 15:10-20 (NIV)

    Thus, for the Israelites, the physical act of separating clean and unclean animals was intended to direct their hearts to separate between holy and sinful thoughts and attitudes.

    The One Year Bible Blog asks:

    Comments from You & Question of the Day - Related to this Proverb above, I read an article recently about how "small talk" is getting more and more prevalent in our world today... Do you think that some of our small talk is simply babbling?

    Sure it is. Aside from the obvious voyeuristic appeal of "reality television" is its utter lack of anything meaningful or significant. I don't really get into much discussion about such things. Apparently, the winter Olympics are going on, but I've not watched a single minute of coverage. I think there's a time and place for diversion solely for its own sake, but it should be much more limited than it is in our culture today. I am reminded of two principles:

    1) we are to be wise with the use of our time:

    15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

    Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)

    2) our words indicate our thoughts, and our thoughts have a higher calling:

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

    Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

    Quite simply, we really just don't have time for idle chatter!

    On Smoking

    Filed in Social IssuesTags: Indiana

    Chris Phillips comments on the proposed smoking ban in Greenwood, IN.

    I don't know who I need to tell this to, but this is a start. Smokers, I believe you should be allowed to smoke in bars and areas of restaurants. But please, do us all a favor, please don't throw your butts on OUR streets and roads.

    Agree, disagree? Link to this post, get people to think about this!

    I'm a non-smoker, but I'm all for the right of people to smoke. I'm also all for the right of private establishments to set their own rules regarding smoking. The government has no business telling bars, restaurants, or any other private establishment what those rules must be. If I don't like the experience in an establishment that allows smoking, then I will exercise my right to express myself with both my feet and my pocketbook, and take my patronage elsewhere.

    However, non-smokers have equal right to expect clean air in *public* places. I can't stand the "smokers' gauntlet" getting into or out of a building on a cold day. Y'all know what I'm talking about. Thus, I have no problem with - and even support - laws prohibiting smoking within a reasonable distance from building entrances.

    Finally, as much as I support smokers' right to light up, it disturbs me to no end how often I observe smokers to be among some of the most inconsiderate people anywhere. If you want to smoke, it is your responsibility to clean up after yourself, and to dispose properly of your cigarette butts. And your right to smoke does not supercede MY right to breathe air free of smoke. Try standing farther away from the door that smokers and non-smokers alike must use. Keep your ash to yourself, don't let your smoke waft directly in my face, and don't exhale your smoke in my direction when at all possible. I'd prefer not to have either the first- or second-hand experience, thanks.

    OYB February 20

    Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

    Today´s reading:
    OT: Leviticus 9:7-24, Leviticus 10
    NT: Mark 4:26-41, Mark 5:1-20
    Ps: Psalm 37:30-40
    Pr: Proverbs 10:6-7

    Today´s notable verse:

    30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
    and his tongue speaks what is just.
    31 The law of his God is in his heart;
    his feet do not slip.

    Psalm 37:30-31 (NIV)

    Wow, what a testament that would be - that everything I utter with my tongue would be wise and just! I am also reminded of Ephesians 4:29: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. The key to applying this principle in our lives is found in the second verse: "The law of his God is in his heart, and also James 1:19: ...Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry... I think, in light of these verses, I will be more cognizant of what I think to say, and weigh it more carefully before I actually say it.

    The One Year Bible Blog asks:

    Comments from You & Question of the Day - What do you think of my farming analogies in the NT reflections above? Has our modern world forgotten about some of the ways of farming the land? Have we forgotten that we reap what we sow? Have we lost our patience, to the point where we will not even wait for the harvest to come in at its appointed time? Are we trying to control things in our modern day life that aren't controllable? Such as the "pace" at which a seed grows into a plant and a plant into a full harvest? In losing some of our knowledge of farming and growing, are we at risk of losing ourselves?

    I have never been a farmer, but I grew up in a farming community, my house was surrounded by corn and soy fields, and I had family members who were farmers. Farming really applies many of God's principles in very practical ways: reaping what we sow, patience, the concept of seasons, storing up in times of plenty to be ready for lean times, "if a man will not work he should not eat", the harvest concept, etc.

    Farmers are some of the best people I know; they epitomize "salt of the earth." The American farmer represents "rugged individualism", yet with an absolute dependence upon and acknowledgement of God's grace providence in everything.

    We all too often have left behind the farming mindset, and in so doing we retain the "rugged individualism" yet lose its context. Self-reliance replaces dependence upon God's grace, and self-recognition and pride replace our acknowledgement of God's providence. Devoid of our understanding that life progresses in seasons and that everything has a time and place appointed, we lose our virtue of patience and the discipline of waiting on God - instead worshipping the gods of convenience and instant gratification.

    In many ways I've gotten soft since leaving home for college. It used to be nothing to get up at 5:00 AM - actually, it was my favorite time of the day. Now, 6:15 is a struggle.

    Carnival of the Cats: Century Edition

    Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Carnivals, Cats, Pets

    Carnival of the Cats #100 has been posted, and I am linked with this post.