Brody loves snow

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Heavy winter snowfall creates unique challenges for a small short-legged dog.  This does not dampen his enthusiasm however.  After donning his favorite sweater, Brody begs to venture out.  My snowblower creates a path, allowing him to happily bound along scooping up the icy moisture with his tongue.

The List

44200771._SY475_The List, by Buck Storm and Bill Perkins is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  The novel falls into the Christian fiction genre and captures the essence of what life must have been like in Israel under Roman occupation at the time of Christ.  

The storyline follows the lives of Joseph of Arimathea (a Saducee) and Nicodemus (a Pharisee), both of whom were part of the Jewish religious council called the Sanhedrin. The unlikely pair become friends and secretly set out to prove/disprove that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah.  They accomplish this by creating a list of prophecies Messiah must fulfill.  

My favorite part of the book was how the authors  managed to capture the tension between the people’s love for Jesus and the religious leader’s loathing of him.   A must read for people of faith. I was excited to learn there will be a sequel.

Joshua 16-19: Possess your inheritance

photoshop-2845779_960_720Joshua chapters 16-19 go into great detail of how the tribes of Israel received their inheritance beginning with Caleb (from the tribe of Judah) and ending with Joshua (from the tribe of Ephraim). Lots were cast before God’s presence in the tabernacle in Shiloh (Joshua 18:6). Casting lots for land distribution involved God in the process. Today’s equivalent would be casting dice or picking a slip of paper out of a hat with a choice written on it. How many of us today would attribute the casting of lots to divine providence?

Joshua 16

Ephraim is given land before Manasseh even though the latter was the oldest child. This follows the order of Jacob’s blessing pronounced on Joseph two sons is found in Genesis 48. Jacob (old in years and blind) knowingly reverses his hands placed on the heads of his grandsons by Joseph and blesses Ephraim first. Jacob said, “his younger bother will become greater than he.”

Joshua 17

This chapter chronicles the land given to Manasseh, which includes the daughters of Zelophehad. Back in Numbers 27:1-11, the inheritance of Zelophehad is in jeopardy because he has no sons, only daughters. Zelophehad appealed to Moses to grant his daughters their father’s inheritance. God instructed Moses to honor their request.

“Do we as Christians lack the boldness, assurance and confidence to lay hold of God’s provisions?” D.R. Davis

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

The opposite of bold faith is complacency.  We find complacency clearly demonstrated by Israelites when they fail to completely possess the land, allowing the Canaanites to remain.  The Canaanites worship of Baal would become a cancer to the Israelites and eventually cost them their inherited land.

Should Christians be complainers if, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Joshua 18

A fair amount of grumbling and complaining occurred as the land was being distributed by the casting of lots. It became necessary to have the lots cast before God’s presence in the tabernacle.  Joshua exhorts the remaining seven tribes to stop procrastinating and possess their inheritance.

Joshua 19

The last allotment taken was for Joshua. He received the town, Timnath Serah, which is what he asked for.

Judges 2:4, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua…”

The territory dispersed began with Caleb and ended with Joshua, two of the twelve spies who gave a good report when the Israelites spied out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). The remaining spies gave bad reports.  The same pattern continued after the Israelites entered the promised land and possessed it.

Christians are not perfect and need to go about the business of giving a positive report to the dying world around them. True believers will one day receive their inheritance. In the meantime they should not see themselves as the “elite,” rather, humbly live out their lives in a manner pleasing to God.

Joy

say-yes-to-the-live-2121044_960_720I’ve been carrying around this scrap of paper in my shirt pocket for more than six months.  Scribbled on it are some random thoughts on the subject of joy.  Here they are.

Perhaps you know someone who possesses an ever-present, unforced smile or kind demeanor.  These attributes in our increasingly self-centered and angry society make these persons stand out in a crowd.  They seem to have such an optimistic outlook on life, suggesting they know something we don’t, or possess something we don’t have.  So what is it they do have?

You might just have to call it “joy.”  Defining joy can be a tricky proposition.  I’ve seen joy on display independent of a person’s happiness or circumstances.  Joy seems to be the opposite of regret and feeds on “blessings” (those things most of us take for granted).   That being said, contentment and joy appear together often.  Those possessing joy seem intent on sharing it, and don’t shrink away from helping or serving others. 

Where does joy come from?  Some would say an inner peace creates an environment where joy can be discovered.  Others say joy comes from hope placed in something, or someone.  Who wouldn’t benefit from a peaceful life relieved of some stress.

Consider making 2020 a year to discover and embrace joy.  Remember to encourage and support those who already possess it.

 

Crimson Snow

51GNSVES0ZL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_I must admit I wasn’t expecting much when I picked up a copy of Crimson Snow by William Kritlow.  He’s an author I’ve never heard of.  I confess it was the novel’s setting, the Lake Champlain region of New England, that lured me to check out this book.

In the opening pages a murder has been committed at a community church in the small town of Sugar Steeple, Vermont.  The body lying in the snow is that of the assistant pastor.  The police detectives have precious little information to go on and suspect it could be someone connected to the church.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, Georgia, we are introduced to a socially immature seminary graduate named “Win”  Brady who still resides at the seminary three and a half years after his graduation.  A Dean at the seminary is pressured by Brady’s wealthy father to force Win’s exit from the safe confines of the seminary, wanting him to do something “productive” with his life.  The Dean just so happens to have ties to New England, and you guessed it, the town of Sugar Steeple.

From this point on the book sprouts wings and soars as I watched Win Brady clumsily navigate his first ever assistant pastorate.  He becomes enamored with a woman police officer who somehow convinces him to work undercover for a hard-nosed detective.  As the book progresses, a spiritual battle unfolds pitting good against evil.

Kritlow has succeeded in creating well-developed characters and an engaging plot that keeps you guessing as to who the real killer is.  I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the Lake Champlain Mystery series.

On the fourth day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds.  An old English version of the song refers to them as “colly” birds.  Colly, refers to something covered with coal dust, something completely black.  After taking a quick tour of the internet I gathered the following information on colly birds:

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They are most likely blackbirds.  Wikipedia states blackbirds unlike many other black creatures, are not normally seen as a symbol of bad luck.  They have the ability to sleep effectively with half their brain while the other half maintains a degree of alertness.  Unlike migratory fowl, blackbirds remain during the winter if food is available.

In the theological version of Twelve Days of Christmas, four colly birds represent the four Gospels found in the Bible.  To this Wikipedia adds: “The symbolic meaning of blackbirds is eternally linked to the “dark vs light” phases of the moon. I’m talking nocturnal awareness. … The bird is symbolic of life in the heavens (higher ideals, higher path of knowing) and the color black is symbolic of pure potential.”

The gift my true love gave symbolizes her faithfulness and commitment to our relationship, ever watchful to protect it no matter the season of life.  Together we will prosper with the wisdom and blessings from heaven.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Proverbs 31:25-27

On the third day of Christmas

chicken-3662513_960_720.jpgThe lyrics of the song continue…”On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens.” Some suggest this is a theological reference to three virtues of the Christian faith: Faith, Hope and Charity.

From an animal husbandry prospective, a French breed of chicken, or Faverolles, are well adapted both to captivity.  And were the egg-producing poultry of choice centuries ago.  Today these docile creatures they serve more as an ornamental and exhibition breed.  Children love the French hens because they make excellent pets.

I consider the gift of 3 French hens a generous gift, symbolizing both a practical and prosperous future.  Like love, the gift can multiply and sustain itself.