Thursday, November 14, 2013


We all have them…giants I mean…things in our lives. Some of us have small ones, others have BIG ones…and some of us have both! It takes a longggggg time to rid our lives of those things that are there we don’t want to be there. At times, we do not even realize we have issues that need purging, we have to grow some or God has to put a piece of sandpaper in our lives to show us by pressure, a point He wants changed. I remember years ago, I think I was about eight or ten years old in the Lord, still growing and learning. There were a couple of people in my life that had personality traits that drove me up the wall and under the paper (you may be too young to remember wall paper). Really irritated the living daylights out of me. The primary issue was negativity…no matter what I said, no matter what Scripture or illustration I gave, nothing would stop the “yea buts…” really made me nash my teeth. It took a lot of prayer and deliberately asking God to change me, not them…and that is what He was driving at with me…He wanted me to stop looking to change them, but to ask Him to change me. I remember even saying to Him, “yea but…” but there was no changing the cure, the change had to be in me, not them at least not them for now. That sandpaper of God is perfectly suited for whatever He was trying to remove…this time with me it was an attitude…and it changes with the individual and the issue. The sandpaper stays pretty much the same…a person or persons you have a lot of contact with!

Not all giants are internal, many are external and visible to others such as addictions, greed, anger, pride…any and all of these are fairly visible to others. Addictions are treatable, if the person wants to be healed. I have know inmates that have told me they were miraculously cured of drug addiction immediately as they accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. Others, more actually, have told me how they struggled for long periods of time to get rid of the addiction. The same with drinking…some can stop immediately, others take months or years. The more internal issues, even those visible on the outside, take commitment and time and often that sandpaper. None of them are easy…here are a few hints that could help if you are looking to conquer a giant in your life.

1. You are not unique…I Cor 10:13 says “no temptation/test has taken you but those that are common to men…” Goliath was not always a giant, he was fed and nurtured just as you have probably fed and nurtured your goliath by continually doing “it.” And many others have been through the same process of dealing with things in their life that they want to be rid of. So stop feeding it and lean on the Lord to be there for you when you call on Him for help.

2. You can’t do it alone…I Sam 17:47 TM say ‘the battle is the Lord’s’ and you need to keep that in mind. Try doing it in your own strength and you’ll loose! You need divine help to overcome old habits and establish new behaviors.

3. You have to confront the giant head-on…I Sam 17:48 TM says “As the Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran…to meet him.” don’t run away, don’t try to negotiate, don’t compromise and don’t excuse. Force the giant out into the light and do not let him back into your life. Establish boundaries and make yourself accountable. And stay away from the wrong company.

                                                One last thing…don’t look at God in the light of your giant, but look at your giant in the light God!!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I believe all of us have been through storms of one sort or another. Some more than others…and some have felt very alone in those storms. Most of us that know the

scripture know the verse: “I will never leave you nor forsake you…” we know it in our heads but do not always know it in our hearts. Recently, I think I understood that in a new way, and it was definitely a learning experience for me. Many of you that know me well know this has been a particularly difficult year for me personally…two major moves in six months, a heart attack, a gastric bleed, ( the worst of all) gastric surgery on my stomach and loosing my “baby brother” Paul. All in a little more than six months. I do not relate this list to complain but to set the stage. I knew what the Scripture says about “I will never leave you not forsake you…” I knew He wouldn’t move, He was right there within me, I knew it in my head and heart but still, I felt alone…maybe more, I felt disconnected!  I had not experienced that feeling since I cannot remember when…just plain disconnected and alone. I was trying desperately to get comfortable, those of you that have been in a hospital bed for awhile know the feeling. I turned to my left side, looked UP…and there attached to the IV hook up was a card with the FOOTPRINTS piece on it! Of course I started to cry because all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with the sense of His presence…and the more of the verse I struggled to read (no glasses), the more I cried! To this day, I do not know where that card came from, I was and am just grateful!!!! As I pondered the incident, I remembered reading a little about someone else learning what I was sensing that day so I will share the thoughts with you here. I) when we feel alone, He wants to remind us that He is there with us no matter where we are, and He is always in “teaching” mode. 2) He doesn’t show up early…He comes in the midst of the worst (yep)…and always on time. 3) As He takes us through different storms, He reveals more of Himself each time. Otherwise there are aspects of His character and workings with us we could never understand.  4) His presence alone in each situation is enough. That moment when He does, and says “it is I…”Mark 6:50…should be enough to calm our fears…it was for me and I thank and praise Him for that time and the blessing HIs outworking was.

Monday, November 11, 2013


State Department

Washington D.C.

November 8, 2013

Dear Secretary Kerry,


US. Secretary of State John Kerry in Tel Aviv (Matty Stern/Flash90)

After listening to you declare repeatedly over the past weeks that “Israel’s settlements are illegitimate”, I respectfully wish to state, unequivocally, that you are mistaken and ill advised, both in law and in fact.

Pursuant to the “Oslo Accords”, and specifically the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement (1995), the “issue of settlements” is one of subjects to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. President Bill Clinton on behalf of the US, is signatory as witness to that agreement, together with the leaders of the EU, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and Norway.

Your statements serve to not only to prejudge this negotiating issue, but also to undermine the integrity of that agreement, as well as the very negotiations that you so enthusiastically advocate.

Your determination that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate cannot be legally substantiated. The oft-quoted prohibition on transferring population into occupied territory (Art. 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention) was, according to the International Committee Red Cross’s own official commentary of that convention, drafted in 1949 to prevent the forced, mass transfer of populations carried out by the Nazis in the Second World War. It was never intended to apply to Israel’s settlement activity. Attempts by the international community to attribute this article to Israel emanate from clear partisan motives, with which you, and the US are now identifying.

The formal applicability of that convention to the disputed territories cannot be claimed since they were not occupied from a prior, legitimate sovereign power.

The territories cannot be defined as “Palestinian territories” or, as you yourself frequently state, as “Palestine”. No such entity exists, and the whole purpose of the permanent status negotiation is to determine, by agreement, the status of the territory, to which Israel has a legitimate claim, backed by international legal and historic rights. How can you presume to undermine this negotiation?

There is no requirement in any of the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians that Israel cease, or freeze settlement activity. The opposite is in fact the case. The above-noted 1995 interim agreement enables each party to plan, zone and build in the areas under its respective control.

Israel’s settlement policy neither prejudices the outcome of the negotiations nor does it involve displacement of local Palestinian residents from their private property. Israel is indeed duly committed to negotiate the issue of settlements, and thus there is no room for any predetermination by you intended to prejudge the outcome of that negotiation.

By your repeating this ill-advised determination that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate, and by your threatening Israel with a “third Palestinian intifada” and international isolation and delegitimization, you are in fact buying into, and even fueling the Palestinian propaganda narrative, and exerting unfair pressure on Israel. This is equally the case with your insistence on a false and unrealistic time limit to the negotiation.

As such you are taking sides, thereby prejudicing your own personal credibility, as well as that of the US.

With a view to restoring your own and the US’s credibility, and to come with clean hands to the negotiation, you are respectfully requested to publicly and formally retract your determination as to the illegitimate nature of Israel’s settlements and to cease your pressure on Israel.


Alan Baker, Attorney, Ambassador (ret’),
Former legal counsel of Israel’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
Former ambassador of Israel to Canada,
Director, Institute for Contemporary Affairs, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,
Director, International Action Division

Thursday, November 7, 2013


When Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, the angel asked him his name…he of course replied Jacob…then the angel told him he would no longer be called Jacob which means “deceiver” but Israel, which means “a prince with God…” how did that come to be??? the angel said it was “because you have struggled and have overcome…”Gen 32:27-28. Up to this point, Jacob had been living up to his old name, but slowly and surely changing in character. God was busy teaching him important things as he lived with four women and at least 13 children. That would be enough to teach anybody something!!!! God was using him in his training years to teach his sons and one daughter, what life was all about. He apparently he zeroed in on Joseph and Benjamin who seem to be the best of the bunch. How many times in our lives, especially after we come to the Lord, do others try and put us down or reduce us in our view of ourselves or in what we are trying to accomplish. Many times…and we frequently listen to our own detriment. God has plenty to say about us to us in His Word…we need to read it, ponder it, and apply it. We are part of a royal priesthood, I Pet 2:9, an overcomer, I Jn 2:13-14, and lots of other things He tells us in His Word. Of course, if we don’t read it, we’ll never know. I remember many years ago when I was a fairly new Christian and had recently come to “know” God had called me to an unusual kind of ministry. I kept it to myself for awhile, began to exercise it hands-on…and got lots of unsolicited criticism…not a job for a woman, no schooling, no training, how would I live financially…and many more criticisms. A few friends that knew me well, believed in me and encouraged me FROM THE WORD to move forward. I did, and have never been sorry I listened to God instead of those around me. If we do not listen to the voice and Word of God, we will never live up to our potential because the only one who truly knows what that God! And, He is anxious to tell you what that is by leading you through trials, and many deep waters…usually the best places for Him to teach us things there are no other ways of us learning. We get into situations and wonder what in the world is this all about…we know God is with us in it, and if we know the Word well, we can at some point look back and see what He was driving at! After all these years, I can now look back, ponder and sit amazed at the first hand teaching God does when your heart is open to what He has to teach. Experience is indeed a very good teacher…and a heart yielded to Him will “sop” up every little bit He has to teach. Stop listening to others, and listen to God in HIs Word, learn of His character so you can emulate it and move forward toward your potential. He’ll never lead you astray, never. And it won’t take any longer than what time you need to move into the place of service He has designed especially for you. Go for it!!!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

even more on the matter of sin.

when you read the lists in Galatian 5 pertaining to the sins of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit, you cannot help but be caught up in the contrast. The sins of th4e flesh are so “us.” The real us…We may not have committed every one of them but I’ll bet we each can claim a few. One of the ones that jump out at me for this generation (s) is idolatry. We always think of idolatry as what the word seems…idol…and that’s true but, the true Biblical definition of idolatry is ANYTHING that holds first place in our hearts! I suspect not may of us can honestly say God has always held first place. And, from time to time, looses out to something else. We can look around us at many people we know, and we see those that have all their time invested in their children. Others it is a husband…and he is very important but not first if you are a believer. How about work? Many, male and female work so many hours a day there is no time for anything let alone for God. Then there are hobbies…some put an inordinate amount of time in a hobby, even a hobby that may be time spent in front of the TV watching sports to the exclusion of family. We could go on and on couldn’t we? But no need, you get the picture. For me, my worst fleshy idol was worry. It took God YEARS to break me of fretting and worrying…and I still have times when I fall into that old trap. I found myself recently fretting about a few things, things having to do with moving. I realized what I was doing after a little while and had to go to the Lord for forgiveness and go back to my “resource,” memorizing or really, going back over the verses I had memorized and had not reviewed in awhile. Being ill for a prolonged time got me off of my usual timetable and all that I had incorporated into the morning hours. Memorization and review was one of those things, and the reality was I gave the enemy an edge. Of course he grabbed it and I fell for it. I do not offer that as an excuse but a reason, and I am old enough in the Lord to know better. These are the times we realize how gracious God is, and how vast His mercy. Sorcery is another one that we do not realize is present today. We think of the Salem witch trials, seances and such. Not so, the root is “pharmakia.” Our word pharmacy comes from that root. Have you ever abused a prescription? Idol. How about out bursts of wrath? Do you run on a short fuse? Idol. Contentions and dissensions? Enjoying an argument for the sake of the argument? Idol. Envy…personally, I think there is a little bit of envy in all of us, but we need to recognize it and stop. It’s an idol. Now contrast that list with the fruit of the Spirit, or the character of Christ. There is an old saying I really like, “love covers a multitude of sins.” That is a glorious quality to think about. Love can enable you to keep your mouth shut when you want to jump all over someone for various things. We all have times like that, when we have to REALLY lean into the Lord for the grace to exercise restraint and stay silent…especially if you are right! Love can keep us from saying with that haughty attitude, “I TOLD you so!” Something the Lord stopped me from doing was speak with sarcasm dripping from my tongue. There were many times years ago when my husband and I would engage in sarcasm during a “discussion,” and it became very easy for me to sink into that mindset. But someplace along the line, God literally said “stop that!” And I just as immediately realized what I was doing and what a poor testimony it was. I cannot say I stopped immediately, but from that time on I worked on it and finally, it was no longer a part of my speech. And, when I hear it now, I have to smile to myself, what was sin to me is not necessarily sin to someone else. I think it is the enjoyment of getting the best of someone that makes us enjoy speech like that…and that is ungodly. Gentleness is another good quality to think about…speaking or acting in a gentle way especially to someone who is hurting or obviously in some kind of pain. Speaking to them in a kind and gentle way can go a along way for their healing. And I’ll end with self control. I was a very young Christian, had a problem with something my husband said to me. I reached for the phone to call my pastor to talk with him about it, and clear as day I heard, “and I immediately conferred not with flesh and blood.” I did not even remember reading that verse but I must have, because it was clear to me the Lord wanted me to talk to HIM not anyone else. And, I did and He showed me something important about ME! He is a great  teacher when we give Him the chance. A very important lesson(s) for me had to do with my speech…not what I said so much as the way I said it. He knew long before I did that the inmates I would be working with would be sensitive to my speech and my way of carrying myself. He did not want me to stand in the way of the message but being a poor messenger. I may think of some more to add to this matter of our sin, will do more in a day or so. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Some thoughts on a teaching about sin…

Bill has been teaching in Sunday School about sin. The church here in Valley Forge is a small one, however just about everyone involved are very well versed in the Word, so some good discussions come about during this hour. One of the things I love about adult Sunday School classes! I have spent a good bit of time pondering the lessons, and pondering the matter of sin and it’s outworkings. Possibly, this is due to my years of teaching in a prison setting, where the “fruit” of sins (with an s) is only too evident. In that setting, the question always becomes what do we do about it! We cannot just say “don’t do it”…it doesn’t work that way. So, where does that leave us?

Interesting question and once again, worth pondering and/or thinking about. We all should…we have to first give thought to it’s origins which is with Satan and his revolt against God in defiance of God’s authority over him and all the other angels, all created beings and responsible to God for everything. We know Lucifer didn’t like that and wanted to be independent of God’s authority over him, so he rebelled and we are told many, many of the angelic host rebelled with him and they were expelled from the presence of God as a regular thing. Following that rebellion, Lucifer watched God create, and when he saw Adam and Eve, he saw his opportunity to ruin what God was doing. He took an opportunity to talk with Eve, nice words we can read in Genesis…and she listened to his idea of being “like God” and followed Satan’s counsel with the fruit of the tree, she ate a piece of it. Sin had now come into God’s new creation.

The outworking of this seemingly  “small” infraction  were of course monumental…the first created human and her partner now had a whole new set of things to think about…and because of the curse God had to put on the rebellious pair, what we call “ORIGINAL SIN” was now a fact. God would not create any more humans, instead Adam and Eve would procreate, but in doing so would pass sin on to the next generation in their genes. And worse yet, as generations passed, the genes were more and more twisted and sin grew even worse. Original sin…do we really understand what that means? In general, I think not…I have been teaching in a prison setting for 30+  years now, and have watched “the church” for 40, and I truly do not think most people get it! What do I mean? Just this: what does original sin mess up? Well, how about everything…if original sin is present from conception on, we are rebellious from the same point. Rebellious against whom? Ultimately God Himself but early on it is rebellion against everyone we come in contact with starting with our parents. And here is where the trouble begins. If and when God’s Word is not used as the standard for human behavior, it is impossible to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. “  Why? Because if God’s instruction is not followed, we use our own judgment and that is faulty unless we have been brought up under God’s law and rule by godly parents…and on and on it goes from generation after generation.

We think of sin as the biggies…drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, murder, etc. Not so, those are sins, with an s. They are the outworkings of the original sin in us when it is uncorrected and let to grow and fester. Understand here that I am talking “in general.” There are certainly exceptions. However, I have carefully looked at some of these exceptions and they really are not…back up far enough in the family life and you will find the flaw…the sin…that was uncorrected, and what appears to be an exception is not. In the Old Testament there is a rule, called the rule of the unrepentant/unruly son…a child who has come of age, and is out of control from his parents perspective goes before the elders, case presented and ruled on. If the elders agree with the parents, the son is stoned to death, and God says “and so shall you keep sin from Israel.” I will put the reference for that portion at the end. What that does is exactly what it says, children know that law is valid, and I dare say it is a determining factor in better behavior. And, there are fewer adults that rebel. Truth is, it is rebellion that is the problem all along. Rebellion against family, later friends and employers, but ultimately against God Himself and that is what He is fighting…and why He immediately in Genesis provides a solution, in chapter 3, He would send a savior to deal with the sin issue once and for all. Next time we will breakdown just what the sins coming out of original sin are…


reference to unruly son: Deut 21:18

More on the matter of sin…

We were talking about  original sin…that which we inherit from our first parents, Adam and Eve. The everyday sins we commit are because of original sin, it is our very nature. That is until we come to Christ, and He gives us a new nature…HIs. However, we still continue to commit sins. Why you ask???  Good question and the answer is not simple. Think first of all just how many generations there possibly are from Adam and Eve to our generation. Too many to even think about, but there are plenty. And down through those generations, the “sin gene” has multiplied and multiplied and warped and warped…you get the picture, right?  For most of us the question becomes what do these warped genes do? In reality, they “are us.” All of the character qualities, good and bad, proceed from those genes and are made better or worse by our family life, all of the influences around us, particularly mom and dad, sometimes grands if they were an integral part of our upbringing, school teachers, Sunday school teachers, scout leaders, etc., etc. All of these people, their places and things influence who we become. And…most of this “becoming” happens during the first four years of our lives. Now if that influence is negative you can just imagine how warped our character and the outworkings of our lives can become on into adulthood. The biggest and best influence in our young lives of course is Christ, and godly parents and grands. God ordained marriage and instituted the home, primarily to be the place of nurturing, the place of comfort and peace, the place where God is the head of the household and Dad and Mom administer His rule for your best good. Most, unfortunately not all, children that grow up in this kind of environment grow into well-rounded, God trusting individuals. When parents “train up a child in the way it should go” as the Scripture says, there is far less chance of them going of into sin. But…some do and I have seen more than my share in my years as a chaplain, interacting with inmates. One of the most interesting statements I heard way too many times was this one: “my father was a preacher (or deacon, ss teacher, elder, etc) and on Sunday he preached one thing but at home, the rest of the week, he was someone else, and I hated him! Why does this happen??? Well one reason is that we tend to hide those qualities we know are not right…hide them at times from ourselves but mostly from those around us. Or at least we think we hide them. Not always true. When this hideous distortion happens, generation after generation, the young “loose” themselves and their very attitude becomes a distortion, they “act as if…” one of the key statements of those in prison I talk with. Acting as if is pretending to be someone you are not…and unfortunately the actor sometimes gets lost in the pretend person. Yes, it is complicated but when thought through, it is very realistic. Let me give you one you will recognize and you will get a better understanding of what I mean: the person who comes to Sunday School and Church, Bible under their arm, ready to give a testimony, act as usher, take up the offering…that person is acting as he/she thinks a Christian should act…but then goes home with the family, and acts and talks like anything BUT a Christian, mistreats their partner, is unkind to the children, and on and on. If you take a good look at Galatians chapter five, you will find two lists…one is the fruit of the flesh…the list of ungodly character qualities that mark a person not controlled by the Spirit of God but allowing his/her flesh to do the controlling. The other list is the fruit of the Spirit…the result of yielding to the Holy Spirit of God, as we are suppose to do, and letting Him lead us into a godly lifestyle. This list is sometimes referred to as the very character of Christ and of course, we are told over and over in the Scripture that we are to be “like Christ.” And so we are…next time we will talk about the fruit of the Spirit, and I will give you some personal experiences to show how God the Spirit dealt with me in my younger Christian life to “grow me up.”