Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fool Me Once, Fool Me Always

A pastor this morning mentioned that Satan is not very creative. He keeps using the same tricks.

Of course he does. They seem to work with every generation. Satan uses the same lies to fool me - over and over again.

Here's the one that gets me most of the time: "You can do this one yourself." Quite often that means the same as "You don't need God for this one."

One of the big lies is that Jesus isn't God.

I get it. That Trinity thing is confusing. Like one Pastor said "Find someone who tells you they fully understand the Trinity and you can be sure he'll lie to you about other things, too."

Some religions even teach that Jesus isn't God, using Col 1:15 as the basis for that belief:
"Who [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:" (KJV)

The argument is that if Jesus is the firstborn, then he is the pre-eminent emanation of God, therefore he, like us, is a "god" with a small "g."

It just isn't true, which is clear if you read more of the Bible than simply one sentence clause. Or even continue that sentence in Colossians:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (KJV)
I'll grant this is confusing, so let's go to the NLT paraphrase:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.Everything was created through him and for him.He existed before anything else,and he holds all creation together.
I admit the New Living Translation is much more clear on this than the standard King James Version.

The bottom line is that Jesus is God, the one and only, in three Persons - The Holy Trinity.

And, no, I don't know how that works. I just know it does.

Satan uses the same lie over and over: that Jesus isn't fully God. You don't need to fall for it.

Just like I know I need God for everything I do in life.

If I think I don't, I'm just lying to myself - or am I believing another of Satan's simple lies?

Fool me once, and often again, Satan, but fool me no more.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 3

Sometime later they stood upon the top of the cliff, looking across a flat field of waving grasses and short trees, small mud dwellings dotting the landscape. Not far away, in the foggy distance, a mountain peak rose from the plateau. The weather here was significantly cooler than on the plains.

"Again," growled Vic, checking his map, "this is not on the map."

"Again," echoed BA, "this is in the book."

"Well, darn it." Vic snarled, looking down. He removed his pack and started rummaging through it.

"What's the problem, Vic?" BA looked around for danger.

"I have a grass stain on these pants. I really hate this color. Every bit of dirt shows. It's annoying."

BA rolled his eyes. "I don't remember you caring so much about stains. That's a little odd…"

Vic grimaced. "And the stain isn't coming out. He sat down on the ground and rubbed vigorously at his knee.

"Fastidious, perhaps. But this borders on psychotic." BA muttered with folded arms as he stared at his brother.

"It's neurotic. If I were psychotic I'd be hearing voices telling me things."

"Are you?"

"No, just that tiny voice that tells me you're not going to like why I am angry about the stains." Vic straightened, shouldered his pack and started walking. "We might as well walk as I tell you."

BA caught up to his brother and matched steps with him on his left, still not saying anything.
"You recall we made some decent money in the market rise a few months ago?"

BA grunted assent.

"Well, I took it and invested it in a small firm. A good idea, good business plan, nice concept…"


"Stain-proof clothing. I put almost all the money into stain-proof clothing. These pants were supposed to be stain-proof."

BA looked at his pants. "Well, they are holding up well. In the city or for casual wear they probably would be stain-resistant."

"Yes, and we'll get some return on the investment, but they aren't stain-PROOF."

"Well, thank goodness."

"You don't want to make a small fortune?"

"Have one. Love to make another, which is why we're here, as you might recall. But I'm just glad you aren't going bonkers on me. You're a bit too neat for my taste already, and this was putting you over the top."

"Oh." Vic smiled. "I still like clean socks."

BA laughed. "Everyone likes clean socks."

"Sorry about the investment."

"No worries." BA laughed again. "It's only money. We'll just do another adventure."

"Or get lucky on this one." Vic leaned down and picked up a palm-sized rock, squinting at it in the sunlight. The rock disappeared into one of his vest pockets.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 2

A few hours later they stared at the cliff face in front of them, covered with small trees and perilous handholds.

"That is certainly not on the maps." Vic frowned and adjusted his Serengeti™ sunglasses.

BA grinned and rolled his shoulders. "But it is in the book. So far, so good. Let's climb." He looked at his somewhat taller, but slightly thicker brother.

Vic grinned. "It would be nice to have the helicopter for this."

"Too far to get here. The logistics just didn't work out. We were lucky to be able to fly the Cessna to within fifteen miles of this place."

"You landed in the water."

BA grinned. "An ideal spot, as long as the hippos leave it alone. And the lake is on the map, as opposed to this cliff." BA shifted his pack and secured it on his shoulders, looking toward the top of the steep slope. "You up for this?"

"Oh, I'll keep up." Vic rolled his shoulders, then stopped and stared at BA's left leg. "Are those the pants I gave you?"

BA looked at his brother from the corner of his eye. "Yeah. What's the deal?"

"Hold still." Vic was pulling a microfiber cloth from somewhere in his vest pockets. He poured water on it and started wiping the back of BA's left calf.

"Hey!" BA jumped back. "What is going on with you?"

"A stain. Your pants have a stain on the back of the calf."

BA just stared mutely.

Vic grimaced. "It's all right. I think it came out." He started to climb the cliff. "Let's go."

"Been too long in the jungle or something…" muttered BA, as he reached upward for a handhold.


Next part, next Wednesday.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Who was that man?

We visited the ruins of the Pool at Bethesda when we were in Israel. 

There was once water there, as well as five porticoes, which are steps with columns. How beautiful it must have been!
John says that a multitude surrounded the pool. We don't know how many, but there were probably hundreds of people seeking healing.

Occasionally, during a certain season, an angel would stir the water and the first one in the pool was healed. The Bible doesn’t contradict the tale of the angel stirring the waters. It does not trivialize it, but states the visitation as simple fact. 

Jesus is there. He doesn’t go down to the water and stir it and say “Everybody jump in!” 

Jesus doesn’t even announce that He’s there. He simply goes up to a man who has been sick for thirty-eight years and asks if he wants to be healed.

Jesus asks that question a lot in the Gospels. He asks it now.

The man misunderstands. He thinks Jesus is talking about the pool and says he hasn’t anyone to help him get there when the water is stirred. Maybe he thinks Jesus will give him a little push.

Jesus heals the man, then tells him to take up his bed and walk. In a lot of stories Jesus heals people and tells them to go home, but in this case He gives no destination.
Who was that man?

Conflict ensued. The man was carrying his bed – on the Sabbath! The Jews were all over that disobedience. They are not saying “Hey, that’s fantastic that you’re healed! Come to my house for dinner.” 

The Jews focused on the infraction of the law instead of looking for the lawgiver.

Intimidated, the man explains that it is an order from the man who healed him, but he doesn’t know his name. Jesus didn’t give him a business card.

The other people around the pool were watching the waters of the pool, awaiting an opportunity to be healed when the Healer himself walked by.

Not a single one said to Jesus, “Hey, could you spare some more of that?”

Nothing says that Jesus was mobbed with more requests for healing.

Jesus finds the healed man in the temple. The man goes off and tells the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. It must be the same Jews who asked earlier.

Was he ratting out the Messiah? Did he feel he needed to justify why he was carrying his pallet? I would like to think if it were me, I’d just thank Jesus and keep my mouth shut.

You don't need to await an angel to stir the waters.

Jesus is available to all. For more about salvation check the Sagemont site.

God bless you, and have a Happy Easter Sunday.

John 5:2-15 (NASB)
Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He *said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus *said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus *found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 1

A Von Crapp Brothers Tale

"You look done in. Let's rest here for a bit. I'm tired anyway." Vic moved under a twisted, leaf-covered tree by the small stream they were following.

The African sun reflected from the surface of the stream. In the distance shimmering waves of heat near the ground distorted the trees and mist obscured the view. Flies buzzed lazily in the shade. A barely perceptible breeze did nothing to cool them off, but lifted light sand from the ground and dusted the clothes of BA and Vic, the von Crapp brothers. They both wore light colored clothing and the requisite pants with sixteen pockets. BA's red hair, though short, was damp with sweat as he sat down. His reddish goatee was a little longer than the day-old whiskers on his cheeks.

BA moved to the water, reached down with one of his hands and splashed the tepid liquid onto his face. He looked at Vic, who was rummaging in his pack under the tree. "How do you do that?"

"Do what?" Vic pulled out a clear bag then reached for his canteen. The sun flickered through the leaves and glinted off his white hair. His goatee contrasted with his clean-shaven face.

"We've been walking through this God-forsaken land in hundred degree heat for two hours and you're not sweating." BA growled and stretched out in the shade.

Vic shrugged. "Oh, I hate to sweat."

"We're adventurers. On an adventure. We're supposed to sweat." BA crossed his feet at the ankles and put his hands behind his head, the pack beneath them. The muscles in his strong body relaxed, but his right hand shot out as he smashed a distracting fly. He wiped his fingers on the sparse, tough grass beneath him. The shimmering heat carried the smells of hundreds of flowers through the damp air beneath the jungle limbs.

"Hmmm. Well, I'm a Gentleman Adventurer. I do sweat. Just not much, if I can help it. I think cool thoughts." Vic carefully poured water from his canteen into the clear bag.

"It's not natural."

"You're one to talk. Give me a few minutes." He reached in his thin off-white vest and pulled out a small rectangle of aluminum, which he carefully unfolded.

"What is that?" BA squinted at the pinch of dark material Vic put into the plastic bag, hanging it on a branch in the sun.

"Nothing yet. Sun tea in about fifteen minutes; should be quite nice." The small square of aluminum foil disappeared back into Vic's vest. Two cups appeared in his hands and he placed them on a flat rock.

"Earl Grey?"

"Of course. What did you think? Chamomile?"

They laughed at that.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jesus, A Man of Sorrows

Garden Tomb

This is HOLY WEEK for Christians, the week leading up to Easter - or Resurrection Sunday, as some Pastors now call it. (I have a rant on that, but I'll leave it.)

A guy I worked with years ago told me that he didn't celebrate Christmas or Easter (or birthdays or anniversaries - and didn't even wear a wedding ring). I told him that was okay, but confusing. I can see why you might not celebrate Christmas (I LOVE Christmas) because everyone is born.

But EASTER? Not everybody rose from the dead, buddy.

And though Jesus rising from the dead was the end-game to provide the gift of salvation, we tend to forget that Jesus is with us all the time.

Some people think Jesus cannot understand the pain they suffer, the hardships, the temptations...

We sometimes think that Jesus knows of sin only distantly, perhaps a Godly abstraction to ponder while He watches us from above.

Yet Jesus became fully man, and knew all the same temptations we do.

Hebrews 2:17-18 (NIV)
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jesus knows the troubles you've seen, the pain you endure.

As a matter of fact, He suffered pain I cannot imagine and the Romans beat him beyond recognition.

Is 52:14 (GNV) 
Many people were shocked when they saw him; he was so disfigured that he hardly looked human.
Jesus gave up Heaven to come to Earth. You'd think He would at least retain some of the glory of Heaven in His earthly form. He could have, but instead he had "no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him." (Is 53:2b NASB)

In fact, it wasn't only the twelve people closest to him that rejected him at the end.

Is 53:3 (NASB)
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The rest of the fulfilled prophecy doesn't read any better (posted below).

Here's the point. If you're hurting, you are not alone. If you despair, you are not alone. If darkness surrounds you, and you feel there is no place to escape, you are not alone.

You need never be alone, but can always have the Living God standing with you.

For He is Risen, and that is the Hope of us all.
God bless you all.

The rest of the fulfilled prophecy, written about 700 years before the birth of Jesus. The complete book was found in the caves of the Dead Sea (the Dead Sea Scrolls).

Is 53:4-9 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Von Crapp Brothers - The Tale Begins

As I said last week, I'll start posting a new chapter every week. This week, however, I'm cheating a bit, since the following story is the first tale written of the soon-to-be-famous von Crapp brothers, Vic and BA. I published this as a short story, The Duel.

Smashwords has the book for free.

Here's one published review:
Review by: wesley58 on June 10, 2014 :
A good introduction to the Von Crapp brothers. The second book, Safari in the Mist, is a must read.

The Duel

A Von Crapp Brothers Tale
A Short Short Story

“You kissed his wife,” Vic, the Gentleman Adventurer said quietly, cutting his poached eggs on toast with a silver knife and fork. The sun was just rising over the Italian bay and both men sat on their balcony eating breakfast.

“She wanted to be kissed,” replied BA, stabbing a piece of bacon with a spoon and shoving it in his mouth.

Vic stared at his brother for a moment, shaking his head. “I still don’t know how you do that. Spoons are not stabbing instruments.”

“Everything is a stabbing instrument, Brother.”Chewing his bacon, he cradled a hot mug of coffee in his thick hands and blew on it, steam swirling in the cool morning air that wafted from the quiet bay.

The von Crapp Brothers, sometimes referred to as the Brothers von Crapp, spent much of their leisure time in contemplation of the world around them. Here, in this small Italian town, locals moved along the street beneath their balcony and small ships sailed on bright blue water, while soft white clouds skittered across the early morning sky.

BA sat in his chair drinking his coffee, black with two sugars, a thick mixture that he swallowed in measured gulps. His blue eyes sparkled as he watched the people, and he propped one large, bare foot up on the balcony rail. His short-sleeved shirt was unbuttoned, except for the bottom button, which kept the shirt together at his waist. The button was in the wrong hole. BA didn’t deign to notice.

Vic, dressed casually in black slacks and a starched, long-sleeved white shirt, sleeves rolled up exactly two turns and shirt open at the collar, carefully sipped black tea from a china cup. Taller than his brother, he was also thicker at the waist, though not by much. Vic looked at BA’s cropped red hair and ran his left hand through his own grey hair, pushing it back from his forehead.

Vic growled. “Nevertheless, you did kiss his wife. In front of him. At a party.”

BA stopped for a moment, gulped from his mug, looking over the edge at his brother, eyebrows raised.

Vic sighed and ate another bite of egg and toast, washing it down with a deep drink of freshly squeezed orange juice. “He is a friend of a friend of the family.”

“So is she!”

“Not that good a friend.”

“All I did was kiss her. Once.”

“Well, he had no choice but to challenge you to a duel. Illegal here in Italy of course, but we have to show up or lose face.”

“What a load of …”

“Please don’t say it. I am still eating.”

“You know I’ll have to kill him.”

Vic rolled his eyes. “Well, I know we can’t let him kill you!”

BA snorted as he speared a piece of bacon with his napkin and tossed it in his mouth. “As if he could,” he muttered.

Vic finished his tea, carefully wiping the remainder of his egg from his plate with the remaining toast. BA looked for something else to spear more bacon. He finally just grabbed a piece with his fingers.

“Well, I do have a plan, Brother, but I’m afraid it is going to be distasteful.” Vic stood up. “And we need to change clothes.”

Their carriage rolled onto the grass under the trees in the park at the edge of town.

“Lovely day for a duel, gentlemen.” The carriage footman opened the door and helped them out. “Shall I announce you?”

“Please do,” Vic replied, stepping down and brushing non-existent lint from his immaculate black trousers.

“I feel ridiculous,” muttered BA, tugging at his waistcoat.

“The von Crapp Brothers, Signore BA and his second, Vic, arriving for the duel with the Count of Gillarme, at precisely one o’clock, as agreed.”

“Not the best of introductions,” whispered Vic, sotto voce, to his brother as they walked toward the two men under the olive tree. The eyes of everyone there ogled them as they walked forward, but both Vic and BA refused to notice.

A well-dressed servant standing off to one side stepped forward and cleared his throat. “I present the Count of Gillarme, Signore Patrizio, with his brother Damiano as second.”

“You should not have kissed my wife, Signore!” Patrizio looked pale, but stood straight. “Offer an immediate apology or face the consequences!”

BA tugged again at his coat, drawing everyone’s attention. “I never apologize. As for kissing your wife, no doubt I should not have done so, but I must point out that I had a few drinks in me at that point, and she seemed to want to be kissed.”

“My wife, Signore!” The Count's hands shot up, expansively.

BA waved his hand dismissively. “Yes, yes, but I didn’t know that, did I? Well, I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time. And,” he grinned widely, “she didn’t indicate her relationship with you, either.”

Vic stepped forward with his hands held out to his sides and smiled broadly. “My dear Count. My brother meant no offense, and no real harm done. In fact, unless I am a poor judge of the feminine nature, I suspect her response to your defense of her honor was quite, perhaps we’ll say, grateful.”

The Count Patrizio Gillarme blushed and his brother laughed loudly.

Vic waved his arms wide. “On a beautiful day such as this, it seems a waste of time to be here in a duel with my brother. He is, by the way, the most deadly man I’ve ever known and will no doubt kill you. He might, at that point, even decide to use a weapon, perhaps one of these swords, and kill your brother. He has a temper, you see.” Both Italian brothers went pale.

“I have no choice, Signore! It is a matter of honor!”

Vic stroked his white goatee and smiled. “I do understand. Honor is important in these matters, and I’ve spent some time studying some of the most famous of duels here in your fair city.”

A fly buzzed near BA’s face and he snatched it from the air between his finger and thumb and crushed it, then pulled a garish yellow handkerchief from his spotless dress coat and cleaned his fingers. The Count and his brother stared.

“I am afraid, my dear Count, that we cannot duel you and the duel must be cancelled.”

The Count’s eyebrows rose. “And why is that, Signore?”

“We clash, you see.” Vic waved his right hand in a dismissive gesture at the two men opposite, indicating the fine evening dress both gentlemen were wearing.


“Indeed. You and your brother, though most impeccably dressed, clash with what we are currently wearing. There is no way that I can sanction a duel under these circumstances. It would be uncivilized.” Vic bowed, the bright green of his shirt sleeves showing briefly at the cuffs of his purple coat.

“We … clash?” The Count and his brother both eyed the bright purple and green clothes of the von Crapp Brothers. BA used his handkerchief and snapped it at a passing fly, neatly slicing it in two.

“I’m afraid so. There is a precedent. In 1514, early on a Wednesday morning in May, a duel between two Counts was declared void because neither party could dress appropriately for the occasion. So, Gentlemen, my brother and I bid you buona sera, and hope that the rest of your day is pleasant.”

Vic and BA, the von Crapp Brothers, turned and left the speechless Count and his brother standing under the tree and climbed back into the carriage.

“I could have taken them, even wearing this ridiculous outfit.” BA tugged at his shirt as he sat down in the carriage. “And I wouldn’t have bothered with the sword.” He was twirling the kerchief between his fingers.

“No doubt, but then we’d have such a mess on our hands.”

“You mean…”

“Quite. A load of Crapp.”


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Predestination and Free Will - First thoughts

Predestination and Free Will
Tough topics - and not for the faint of heart. I grabbed a post I did August 14,  2014 and I'll repost it now, but I will certainly need to delve into the subject again. Repeatedly, no doubt. That's probably predestined.

August 14, 2014
Last Sunday, Pastor Dr. Denny Autrey (our interim Pastor at First Baptist Church Pearland) preached a familiar sermon on Romans 8:28 and a bit more.

It was almost familiar, but it got me thinking. You'll see what I mean.

First of all, Romans 8:28 is a verse a lot of Christians hold on to during bad times, that God will knit all these bad times into something good. I have no doubt that God does this, but it is good according to His purpose, and sometimes I just don't see it.

If you're like me, you know what I mean. You've known people who got hurt, died, suffered horribly in their lives and you have to wonder. Maybe you ARE that person. My heart goes out to you. Most of us have seasons in our lives when there is more pain than we think we can endure. Christians grab 8:28 like a life preserver. (There were also many times I cried out because life was too hard, and it was, but those are different stories.)

Romans 8:28-39 (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I don't normally keep the verse numbers when I quote, but since Pastor Dr. Denny referenced them, I have to this time. (I tried to do color coding, too.)

Verse 30 is often called The Golden Chain of Salvation. Look at the order of the words: Predestined to Called to Justified to Glorified. Dr. Denny mentioned that we don't see Sanctified in the list because the people God Justifies will be Sanctified - in other words, the sanctification is implied. I notice that verse 29 says God Foreknew us before the Predestined bit. I guess that goes without saying. Accepting God is God means you have to accept that God foreknew us all, I suppose. That seems trivial, doesn't it. I'm sure I'm not thinking deeply enough for that one.

Just from this verse, I think that the entire question of predestination is now answered. How sad that seems to me, and I have a hard time with it. Not for myself. I know where I stand. I'm ignorant and (though not proud of it) I can accept that state of being and work to better myself.

Dr. D also said that Salvation cannot be taken from us. His logic is remarkably simple (which suits me). If you did nothing to earn your Salvation, since it is a gift from God/Jesus, then you can do nothing to lose it. I have to ponder that one. Most Baptist preachers will point at a person who once acted "saved" but now doesn't as someone who never really accepted Jesus in the first place, rather than as one who has fallen away.

In 1 COR 5:11 Paul says that "if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat...Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." That sounds like "kick them out because they don't really belong."

Just a few verses earlier though (v 5:5) Paul says to take the immoral person and "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." That sounds like "once accepted, always accepted." It's all a bit confusing, so deserves further thought.

I like the idea that I can't give back a gift that was freely given - sort of like when Arwen in LotR doesn't let Aragorn give her back her ring. Yeah, that's a nice visual.

In verses 38-39 Paul makes it personal, saying I am persuaded. It certainly sounds like Arwen (sort of).

Verse 31 is famous, too. If God is for us, who can be against us? That's the same argument Gamaliel used with the Synagogue.

Martin Luther died in 1546 and his lifetime friend and co-worker Melanchthon preached his funeral using Romans 8:31. Philipp Melanchthon died in 1560 with Romans 8:31 on his lips.

Dr. D said that 100 years later, in 1660, a young man named John Bunyan was rescued by the same text. (Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress.)

I guess that makes it a pretty good verse.

So what is my summary of the sermon?

I know where I stand with Jesus; it's a personal relationship, not a religion. As one brother tells me, if Jesus were here on Earth today, we'd go out for a beer. Well, I don't drink beer. I'd order water and ask Jesus to remove the fluorides.

I haven't really changed my mind about anything. God is God. Check. He died for me (even though I don't deserve it.) Check. I don't understand most of what He does. Check. Someday (and soon in geological concepts) I'll be in Heaven and see a lot of people. Maybe I'll see some I didn't expect. That would be nice.