Online Bible Study

Online Bible Study

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Post by Debbie Taylor Williams

Is Everything Alright, Jake?

“Is everything alright, Jake?”

“Everything’s alright, Marge. Go to sleep.”

Recently, I watched part of an old movie in which a couple’s daughter did something behind their back. She borrowed money from her daddy to loan to a friend who wanted an abortion. The abortion was done by a back alley doctor, the friend became dangerously ill, and once again the daughter went to her father, who was a doctor, for help. In the middle of the night, the daughter confessed what she had used his money for and the complications that had arisen. Incensed, he went to the girl’s aid. After treating her, he returned to his room and climbed in bed. As he did, his wife roused, asking, “Is everything alright, Jake?” His response, “Everything’s alright, Marge. Go to sleep.”

The next day Jake didn’t discuss with Marge what had happened. Nor did he the next day or the next. However, his relationship was strained with his daughter. It affected more than just the two of them.

Today, we often refer to such situations as “an elephant in the room.” Perhaps you’re in a relationship, church, or office where such is the case. Something’s wrong, but instead of discussing it, you or someone else has Jake’s philosophy: don’t discuss it. Instead, say, “everything’s alright.”

Why don’t we discuss things? I’m not sure. Perhaps fear. We’re concerned about the person’s reaction. Perhaps we don’t because we have a sense of futility; that even if we did, it wouldn’t do any good. Perhaps we’ve tried to discuss issues and concerns before, all to no avail. Perhaps the results of prior attempts were worse than tiptoeing around the elephant.

Although I don’t have the answers, God does. In a world of imperfect people, Jesus puts the responsibility for righting relationships on us, whether we were wronged or a person has something against us. That’s pretty revolutionary, if you think about it.

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus tells us that if a fellow Christian sins, “go and show him his fault in private.” Think about the grace and honor Jesus bestows on the one who is sinning. Rather than shout out the other person’s sin to the world, He says to privately address the concern with the person. What if the adulterer, liar, gossip, thief, drunkard, badly behaved husband/wife, arrogant person, or rebellious child doesn’t listen? “If he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” Again, if we pause to study Jesus’ words, we can’t help but marvel. False accusations and wrong perceptions are avoided when people take time to address “every fact” with a person. What is the purpose of this kind of relationship? The objective is stated in Matthew 18:15, “if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” In other words, the objective in discussing a person’s sin with them is love and restoration.

How many times are we to forgive? Again, Jesus addresses this important subject in Matthew 18:21-22. When Peter approached Jesus and asked if after the seventh time his brother sinned against him, he could call it quits with the person and no longer forgive him, Jesus answered Peter with a big, “No.” Then, he told Peter a story about God’s immeasurable forgiveness toward us, warning that if we don’t extend the same forgiveness to others, we’d be tormented. If you’ve ever clung to resentment toward someone, you know how true Jesus’ words are. Unforgiveness is mentally and emotionally tormenting.

What if we aren’t upset with someone, but we find out someone is upset with us? Again, we’re the one responsible for righting the relationship. (This is obviously not the world’s philosophy.) In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus teaches us, as imperfect beings, that if we are presenting our offering at church and remember someone has something against us, we are to leave and go and first be reconciled to the person. What if the person refuses to be reconciled? Paul addresses this in Romans 12:18, where he acknowledges that we can only be responsible for our part of the reconciliation. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men,” Romans 12:18.

“Is everything alright, Jake?”

“Everything’s alright, Marge. Go to sleep.”

Thumbing Through Thoreau A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau

A little over two months ago, I requested the opportunity to review this book, Thumbing through Thoreau. I have always wanted to read poetry, but have always been afraid I wouldn’t understand the true value of the work. In some ways, poetry reminds me of modern art – I don’t like it because I don’t understand it. It is easy for me to look at a painting by Albert Bierstadt and recognize the talent and beauty (not to mention, respect for the creator as I do not have the talent to recreate it), but modern art looks “easy”. I have myself convinced I could throw paint on a canvas and call it modern art too! I am, however, intelligent enough to know that I must be missing something; probably a LOT! I guess I’ll have to request a book review on a study of modern art to discipline myself to conduct the necessary research to “get it”. This book on Thoreau accomplished just that for poetry.

I must admit, my first read through the book left me feeling pretty clueless! I could appreciate a few “quotes”, but not very many. It wasn’t until I read Wikipedia’s review of Henry David Thoreau’s life that the numerous quotes began to make perfect sense! I have noticed, probably because of my mother, that an understanding of a person makes EVERYTHING they say and do more clearly. I have clung to this philosophy for many, many years; which provides an ability to review the events of their past and easily assess the role it played in their behavior (whether for good or bad). This understanding of a person also allows me to forgive them, where I would not have otherwise.

There are too many favorites for me to quote, but I will say that I easily relate to Thoreau’s view of nature from ‘Walden’. Several years ago, while attending a Religious retreat at a secluded camp, I became “one” with God in nature! As I sat reading my Bible in the early morning hours – before anyone else had risen, FEELING His presence in the woods, He reminded me that my own backyard was filled with the peaceful breeze and sky-scraping trees I was enjoying at this life-retreat. My day-to-day life has never been the same. I welcome each new day alone, on my glass-enclosed porch, listening to a CD of ocean waves (another mode of reality I easily see His workmanship), praising my Creator for the beauty so easily forgotten in our culture. Which reminds me, I just have to write it, of the quote on page 23 from Walden: “I am convinced that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown.” HOW TRUE! If our world would learn to appreciate the simple, inexpensive pleasures of life, greed would not be as rampant.

I would encourage you to conduct a study of this amazing man from the 19th Century and purchase a copy of this book! I have truly enjoyed the beauty and writing on every page!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NEXT Book Review

It is soooo hard for me to choose which book I will review next....especially when there are several to choose from! I was able to make this choice for my of God's GREAT creation through the "eyes" of the Hubble Telescope! Oh my gosh - I can't wait to see these photos!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Review for Storm Warning

I received my copy of Storm Warning in mid-May of this year. The reason I requested this book was two-fold: First, I have the utmost respect for the author and Pastor-Billy Graham. I was given the opportunity to listen to an audio book on his life a few years ago. Although I am not a youngster, I never really listened to him preach when his events were aired on television. When I listened to the book on his life, I was incredibly amazed to hear how his vision to spread the Gospel made such a huge impact on the world at large. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet an amazing Christian speaker who was present at one such event! She made the decision to give her life to Christ that very night in Japan, many years ago. Second, I know very little of the Apocalypse foretold by the Apostle John and have a difficult time dissecting the book of Revelation. I was hopeful that reading this book would provide an understanding I struggle obtaining elsewhere. Honestly, it did.

You may not know much about storms, but I can say from first-hand experience-living on the east coast of Virginia-when a hurricane is expected to hit, individuals are provided with advance warnings for days prior to estimated arrival on land. I see the established warning system as a way for families to review options available for safety and determine how they will respond – to protect their family in the most appropriate way. I see this book in a similar light-providing a guide for everyone on salvation and a life with Christ. A few years ago we were hit by a severe hurricane, my husband and I decided to leave town and attend a Virginia Tech football game we already had tickets to see (GO HOKIES!). We figured if a tree was going to fall on our house, it could fall without us IN it! We were very blessed-only a large tree limb crushed the shed in our backyard. We remained in Blacksburg for a few days after, which turned out to be another blessing as our electricity was not restored for 14 days!

I enjoyed this book, as a Christian, being reminded of the hope I have in Christ-as He WILL return to save all of His children! Pastor Graham updated this previously published book (1992) to highlight the recent events he believes confirm the prophecy of this Biblical book. I would encourage everyone to take the time to read this book and consider you’re the warning! Your own destiny is at stake!

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”