Follow by Email

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mental Illness And Personal Responsibility

When one reads the Bible it becomes evident that men are capable of unbelievable evil. It is difficult to admit because in some measure it is an indictment of our condition. If we can say this or that person was deranged, then they are set apart from the rest of us; we do not look so bad. We can continue to have good thoughts about ourselves, thinking I would never do something like that. Insanity comforts us because we can be consoled that few people are in sane. Evil troubles us because we all know we have done evil things and what is to say that our depravity could not carry us to the depths of any other evil person.

I will be the first to admit that human behaviour can tend to be complicated. Mostly it is complicated because it is hard to get to the bottom of issues. Nevertheless, it seems to me, that when it comes to human behaviour instead of turning to a Freudian based understanding we should turn to the Scriptures for understanding. This is our only safe haven. While many things happen in this world we will never fully understand, when one accepts the Bible the picture at least becomes a little more into focus.

I do not pretend to be able to answer all the questions and objections that can be raised. I do know that we are complex creatures. We are a mix of chemicals and reasoning. We are spiritual creatures. There are many aspects of our existence that science can study and draw conclusions about. There are other aspects of our existence that science cannot take into the laboratory and study. The soul of man. Why do men decide the way they do? Why do men act the way they do?

Mental Illness.

Problems of behaviour can be organic usually they are not. More often than not behaviour problems are problems of the heart, the spiritual part of man. They are not physical problems but soul problems. The trouble with the word “illness” is that it immediately brings to mind a medical problem, something that is not right with the human body. Unfortunately the term mental illness has come to be used to explain erratic behaviour that has no medical reason. By that I mean the following:

Every thing in our physical body is OK. Biologically we are functioning properly.
Hormones are at the right level.
No chemical imbalances.
No organic problems with the brain.

All of these are things that have the capacity to be detected through a series of scientific, medical test. When no physical problems are found the person is referred to the psychological community for help. The psychiatrist authority to prescribe drugs adds to the misnomer that there is an illness, when in fact what they are doing is not correcting an organic, biological problem they are using drugs to manipulate the personality. This is the practice of sorcery.

The use of drugs to correct physical abnormalities in the body is absolutely justifiable. The use of drugs to alter the personality of one who has no medically verifiable chemical or hormone imbalance is outrageous, and may in fact, because the drug places the person in an altered state of consciousness makes them especially vulnerable to tampering by devils.

If it is not a medical problem, it is a spiritual problem. It could in fact be both.

Behaviour problems are more often than not a problem of the heart. The following is a list of illness identified by the psychiatric community.

Adjustment Disorder
Agoraphobia
Alcohol/Substance Abuse
Anorexia Nervosa
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD)
Autistic Disorder
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Bulimia Nervosa
Conduct Disorder
Cyclothymia Disorder
Delusional Disorder
Dementia (Alcoholic, Alzheimer's type)
Dependent Personality Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dysthymic Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Oppositional-Defiant Disorder
Panic Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizophrenia
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Social Phobia
Specific Phobia
Tourette's Disorder

They are identifying more all the time. The sad reality is every one of us could have a label of some kind. We like these labels because they do not serve to hold us responsible. What is wrong with how the Bible labels us, sinners? That will never do, if it is sin then we are responsible. It must be an illness, something beyond our ability (and God’s I might add) to do anything about.

For an example of what I have been saying consider the following statement concerning bi-polar.

“Like other mental illnesses, bipolar disorder cannot yet be identified physiologically—for example, through a blood test or a brain scan. Therefore, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made on the basis of symptoms, course of illness, and, when available, family history.” The diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).3

When we turn to the scripture what we learn is that we are all a little off center.

Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Matthew 15:19 - For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Mark 7:21-23 - For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

In fact God deals not only with the behaviour of men but also with their thoughts.

Proverbs 24:9 - The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
Isaiah 55:7 - Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 59:7 - Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
Jeremiah 4:14 - O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
Acts 8:22 - Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Psalm 10:4 - The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Jeremiah 6:19 - Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.

The physical (organic/biological) and spiritual undoubtedly interact with each other. The physical can adversely affect the spiritual. The spiritual can adversely affect the physical. Consider the following verses.

Proverbs 15:13 - A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Proverbs 15:15 - All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
Proverbs 17:22 - A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Proverbs 12:25 - Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.
Proverbs 18:14 - The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
Nehemiah 2:2 - Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
John 14:1 - Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Psalms 42:11 - Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Proverbs 16:24 - Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Psalms 32:3,4 - When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

Depression is not a “mental illness.” Depression may in part be due to medical reasons. Depression is always linked to spiritual reasons. We need to quit placing the emphasis on mental well-being and start talking about spiritual well-being. The humanistic culture has taken problems of living from the spiritual realm and placed them in the psychological realm. The resulting conclusion is that man has the answer apart from God.

Psalm 77 is an interesting chapter concerning this issue of depression. Consider the following brief outline.

Vs: 1-9 – Clinical depression

Vs. 2 – Trouble and refusing to be comforted.
Vs: 3 – Complaining – problem oriented instead of God oriented.
Vs; 4 – Catatonic schizophrenia.
Vs: 5,6 – Withdrawal into self.
Vs: 7-9 – Sense of helplessness and impending doom

Vs: 10-20 – The remedy
Vs: 10 – This is my infirmity but……
Vs: 10-12 – He begins to talk about what he will do.
He was going to exercise his will.
He was going to choose differently.
He was going to take responsibility for his thoughts, attitude, and behaviour.
“I will” is spoken four times in those three verses.
Vs; 13-20 – The focus goes from self to God.

Depression is remedied (having ruled out any biological/organic issues) by changing one’s focus.

Consider Jonah.

Jonah 4:1-3 – God spared the city and Jonah was displeased exceedingly and very angry and even suicidal.
Jonah 4:6 – God caused a gourd to grow up and shadow Jonah and he was exceedingly glad.
Jonah 4:7,8 – God prepared a worm to eat the gourd and sent a hot east wind and Jonah was again suicidal and was angry.

If Jonah had been living today he would have been diagnosed as bi-polar (manic-depressive). He would have been prescribed ongoing therapy and personality altering drugs.

Jonah 4:9-11 – God felt the remedy for Jonah’s problem was a sever rebuke and laying the source of the problem where it really belonged, selfishness.

There are other examples. Consider Cain.

Genesis 4:5-7
Vs: 5 – Disobedience led to anger, which led to his countenance falling.
Vs: 6 – God not only deals with the depression but also the cause, anger.
Vs: 7 – Cain had a choice.
Do well and feel better.
Do wrong and be plunged deeper into the abyss of depression.
Cain was depressed because of his disobedience.

Consider Elijah.

1 Kings 19:1-18
Vs: 1,2 – A disadvantageous turn of events.
Vs: 3,4 – Depression, self-pity, and wishing for death.
Vs: 5-8 – The apathy that accompanies depression.
Which by the way makes it worse.
Vs: 9,10,13,14 – The Lord’s confrontation.
Vs: 15-18 – The Lord’s remedy for depression.

Consider David.

Ps. 32:3-5 – The cause of depression was unconfessed sin.
Ps. 51:1-12 – The remedy for depression was repentance and confession.

Personal Responsibility


All men will give account for their actions.

Matthew 12:36 - But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Re 20:12 - And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Re 22:12 - And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Proverbs 24:11,12 - If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Jeremiah 32:19 - Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:
Matthew 16:27 - For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall
reward every man according to his works.
Romans 2:6 - Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

There will be no excuses in the Day of Judgment. No genetic excuses. No mental-illness excuses. No excuses rooted in circumstances. No blame shifting.

I find it amazing that Christian people come to believe that there are problems of living that are bigger than God, that a truly saved person, who has the omnipotent God dwelling in them, does not have the power to overcome. This is exactly what happens when we are influenced by Freudian philosophy. Personally I believe that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Andrea Yates

THE ANDREA YATES CONTROVERSY

There is a place I go on the Internet and read and participate, I find it enjoyable and hope I make myself a blessing to others. Today the subject came up concerning Andrea Yates and her sentencing yesterday. Did justice prevail or was it one of those highly publicized miscarriages of justice.

In the context of this discussion a hosts of issues were raised. Where do you start? The husband was to blame, the doctors were to blame, CPS was to blame, her pastor was to blame, and she was to blame. She was sick, she suffered from depression, and it was a failure of the body of Christ. You don’t understand what she was going through, I do, and I’ve been there. If you believe that she should have received the death penalty then you are still living under the Old Covenant and do not embrace the spirit of love, grace, and forgiveness of the New Testament. If you believe she should have been put to death then you are a Pharisee and you really have no right to be casting stones. People a lot more educated than us determined that she was “insane.”??????? How can a soul ever hope to make “heads or tails” out of this?

I think we could all agree that sin complicates life dramatically. Sin presses us toward hard decisions and difficult dilemmas. In fact there are probably several things we could all agree on.

Murder is wrong.
Andrea Yates obviously was a troubled woman.
There were likely mistakes made by those who knew her.
Her children are the real victims in this terrible series of events.
God will ultimately deal with Andrea Yates and he will do so justly.
The government fulfilled its role in the jurisdiction of assessing guilt and penalty.

I think another thing we can agree on is that there is absolutely nothing pleasant about one thing in this whole drama. My guess is that no one feels good about what happened. The consequences will be far-reaching and no one is better off because it happened. It is a sad story that could not have a happy outcome. Whether Andrea Yates was executed for her actions or sentenced to life, or sentenced to an institution it is unfortunate. For her, the children, the father/husband, the grandparents, the church they attended, their pastor, the cps workers, the professionals who were addressing her problems, no one can be happy about the outcome.

Another thing to keep in mind, as someone else pointed out, is that we were not sitting in the courtroom listening to the evidence. This matters. Also what we know we know from news accounts. What we know about her, what we know about her husband, what we know about her pastor. As I pointed out in another place it should come as no surprise that the media, having found out that they were church going, home schoolers would attempt to place all the people and facts in the most negative light possible. It was an opportunity to impugn the “religious right” and those who home school. In all of their early reporting for sure you could just hear, “See what happens when you are a fanatical church going, home schooling family. The husband is an inattentive, abusive, selfish, tyrant and the woman goes stark raving mad, even to killing her kids. This is an inaccurate characterizations but one the media delighted in making.

So, my thoughts are going to be shared within the framework that she did knowingly kill her children and that she was diagnosed as being mentally ill, her husband and others knew that she was struggling.

Who gets the blame??? Well for sure we know no one wants the blame. They never do. Adam did not want the blame, Eve did not want the blame, and I don’t want the blame. Usually there is enough blame to go around. This is probably the case in this issue. Everyone had responsibilities and most if not all them failed at some level, her husband, her pastor, her church, her doctors, cps, her parents, her in-laws, etc…. Of course it is easy to see this now with five dead children. Maybe it should have been seen before, maybe there was some sinister person who knew it was going to happen and decided for whatever reason to let things proceed. While everyone had his or her area and level of culpability there was one person that committed murder. I do not think anyone else participated in that murder. I for one don’t think anyone ever believed that was going to happen. Even knowing it did happen it is still kind of hard to believe, isn’t it? There was a troubled woman that killed her children. Now while others may have some responsibilities for what they did or didn’t do, Andrea Yates has to take responsibility for the killing of her five children. To believe otherwise, it seems to me, you would have to believe that there was someone who knew she would do this and they allowed it to happen. This is a stretch I’m not prepared to make. While all of the people involved in her life are responsible for how they responded to her, I think it is a hard argument to make that they are responsible for the murder of the children. This seems to be a dangerous place to go. With that reasoning everyone who kills someone should have had someone that could have intervened, someone who saw the signs, the anger, the bitterness, the malice and done something to stop it. Because they didn’t see it they are equally responsible for the murder that was commited.

As for her husband, the one area where I can with confidence question his integrity is in that he divorced his wife. This is not in keeping with the vows he took. As difficult as it must have been, he should have played the part of a man and stood beside his wife to the end, realizing that as head of the home he bore the responsibility, while not the blame. His responsibilities to his wife did not end with the death of the children or the result of the first trial.

As for her pastor, when is the last time the media made a pastor out to be a hero? This poor man is probably still tormented about what happened under his watch. The media is notorious for taking things out of context. I for one, choose to give the pastor the benefit of the doubt. Being a pastor I know what it is to have your words isolated and taken out of context. We cannot be sure that this did not happen.

Now as to whether she should have received the death penalty. In light of my understanding of what took place I believe she should, she did not. Because I disagree with the decision that was rendered that does not mean that I am disobeying duly appointed authority. The fact is I accept the decision. That is the way it is. I don’t agree with it, but it is done. Now if I sought out Andrea Yates to execute what I thought was just punishment then maybe such an accusation could be reasonably made. But simply disagreeing with the decision is hardly the basis for saying that I do not submit to duly authorized authority.

There is a bigger issue here, the death penalty for the murderer. The Bible is not silent. It speaks directly to this issue.

Ge 9:6 - Whoso sheddeth man‘s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Ex 21:12 - He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
Ex 21:14 - But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.
Le 24:17 - And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
Ro 13:4 - For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

I don’t see how anything could be clearer. This is the word of God on the matter. If I take this as my position how can that be considered vicious and savage? When God said these things was he being vicious and savage. The problem here is that there are people who do not want to embrace the full range of God’s being. There are some things that God hates, murder happens to be one of them. And we know the degree to which God hates it by the judgment he attaches to the statute, death. Now if Andrea Yates killed her children according to God’s word she should be executed. She is not going to be. From my perspective I cannot agree with this decision. I accept it, I do not agree with it.

The fact that God allowed her to be spared does not mean that he desired her to be spared. To reason thusly is not to reason thoroughly, but emotionally. The fact is God allows a multitude of things with which he is not personally pleased. I believe it would be futile to provide examples for those who cannot think of them on their own.

Some seem to believe that the very nature of God in relation to sin was changed somewhere between the Testaments. What God was in the Old Testament, he is in the New. What God is in the New Testament, he is in the Old. If he is not the same then that necessarily means he changed. If he changed then that means one of two things are true. He either got better or worse, either way he is not the God of the Bible.

Heb 13:8 - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Heb 1:12 - And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
Ps 102:27 - But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
Mal 3:6 - For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

To attempt to reason that Andrea Yates is not a good candidate for the death penalty because her execution would not serve as a deterrent and that she would not be a danger to society is not true. All executions are to a degree a deterrent. When she came up for execution, people would remember why she was there and they would not help but be able to draw the connection between the behavior and the consequences. How can it be said she would not be a danger to society, she was a danger to her own children. What if the voices returned and told her someone else would be better off dead, the neighbor kids, her nephews, her parents. What we do know is that she has the potential to kill, she had done it, and plenty of people who struggle with depression for whatever reason have never killed anyone. This lady is clearly a danger.

Some would argue that people much more educated than us have determined certain things to be true about Andrea Yates, and because we are not equally educated we do not have the ability to make sound judgment on these matters. This is a false premise. Education, in and of itself does not make a person noteworthy. There is no education that does not take place in the context of a worldview. All education is in effect the transmitting of a worldview. Consider the following:

Two highly educated individuals look at the same fossil, the same rock, and the same layers in a canyon. The one says this indicates that the world is billions of years old and the evolution took place. The other says this indicates the world is about 6,000 years old, experienced a catastrophe and that there is a creator. How can this be? Both highly educated but differing opinions about the same evidence. The reason is because of worldview. The one was educated in the framework of a secular/humanist worldview; the other was educated in the framework of a Biblical worldview.

Again, Two highly educated individuals look at the same case of human behavior, same charts, same symptoms, and same person. The one says this indicates that this person has psychosis that needs to be treated by a wide range of therapy and drugs. The other says this indicates that this person is a sinner that needs to have the word of God and the power of Christ blood made real in their life. How can this be? Both highly educated but differing opinions about the same evidence. The reason is because of worldview. The one was educated in the framework of a secular/humanist/Freudian worldview; the other was educated in the framework of a Biblical worldview.

I would not give you two cents for the former but place great confidence in the latter. Many Christians give homage to the former while embracing the latter, especially when it comes to human behavior.

The church is not good at dealing with these issues because it has lost its confidence in the power of Christ and his Word to deliver and give victory in the life of the believer. I think the Bible is clear about the victory that is available in Christ. Many believers pay lip service to this but then immediately find excuses for the things they really struggle with in life. And consequently they end up in an endless cycle of therapy, and drug use, with no hope of deliverance.

The woman caught in adultery is often used to dismiss God’s view of how sin is to be addressed. There are a couple of things about this story that is worthy of note. Jesus never says she was not worthy of death. The men that brought her said that she was caught in the very act and if so then there was a man present and the law required that they both be stoned. They were not being judicious in the application of the law. Another thing is that the Jews did not have the power of capital punishment at this time. Being under Roman jurisdiction the Romans were the only ones who could sentence a person to death. They were seeking to operate outside their realm of authority. There were a number of problems with this scenario.

How would I counsel a man in my church whose wife was obviously struggling? Well, for one I hate hypotheticals. You can back yourself into a corner. It is easier to decide when you have set of real facts before you. But let me give just a couple of general thoughts. I would, as I often do from the pulpit, remind the man that he is responsible for the well being of his wife. He has a responsibility to lighten her load, lower her stress, bear her burdens and in general minister to her. I would also counsel the man that he has a responsibility to teach his wife. He is to teach her how to handle life and problems. He is to apply the Word of God to her life in a loving, patient fashion. He is to live a spiritual life before her showing her every day how it is done. I would proceed to give him some practical advice that would be determined by the particulars of their situation. Lastly I would offer hope. That no matter how bleak it may seem at the time God has answers. The Bible has direction. As it is faithfully applied things begin to look up. It may be slowly, but the important thing is that progress is being made.

I firmly believe that the Bible applied to the life of the believer has the potential to equip them for every eventuality in life. At least it says so, and I choose to believe it.

2Pe 1:3 - According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Because Andrea Yates is going to live it would be wonderful if she could know true deliverance through the power of Christ.

These are just a few thoughts, quickly addressed on the subject. It may give rise to a more detailed analysis at another point.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Foundation For Considering Modesty

THE HOLINESS OF GOD
Psalms 99:5 - Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.


I think the holiness of God is an area that is not fully considered or taken into account when issues of modesty, virtue, separation, nakedness and the like are discussed. At the same time I believe that if we do not start here then we will have trouble examining practical issues in the proper light. I also am persuaded that everyone’s conclusions in the practical areas of life are a reflection of their view of God. When we see how people live and the decisions they make we can gain some understanding of their conception of God.

The statement, “God is holy” is on the surface simple enough. But if we think it is a simple statement then we have not exercised ourselves to understand what those three words mean. As a statement of fact it is rather simple. As a practical reality it is as boundless as the universe around us. We can investigate, ponder, reflect, and muse and still feel inadequate in understanding the holiness of God.

Do we even really know what holiness is? I have come to doubt that we do. We can study the topic, which is the best we can do here but we cannot experience what God is, always has been, and always will be.

One of the challenging things about God is that he can never be fully comprehended by men. His immensity in every area is beyond our ability to grasp. This is why we cannot really understand holiness as it is manifested in God. As men we cannot break free from the necessity of making comparison and acknowledging degrees. Yet, when we speak of the holiness of God there is no comparison to be made and no degrees to be noted.

Our tendency is to see God as just much better then us, even perfect. While perfection seems to be an elusive quality I seriously doubt that it adequately expresses the reality of God’s holiness. Perfection itself is determined by degrees and comparison and contrasts. Even in precision work there is tolerances that are allowed. Where there is tolerance you do not have absolute perfection. With God there are no tolerance specifications.

God is infinite in holiness!

God’s holiness cannot be grasped by human intellect because it is lost in infinity. God is more holy than it is possible to fathom by the human mind. We simply cannot conceive of holiness without degrees. It is a place where our minds are not equipped to go. In seeking to stretch them to that point we may achieve a greater understanding. If we do the benefit will be ours. If it causes us to fall back in awe of a holiness that is beyond our ability to conceptualize then we have benefited.


As men we must have a reference point, in order for us to have any understanding of holiness we are obliged to start somewhere. The Bible provides that starting point for us.

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God . . .

What an awesome starting point. When God commenced to give us a written record of himself and his plan of redemption in Christ Jesus he started with the words, “In the beginning God.” It may not be much and it may leave many questions but at least we are started. But, it is simply a starting point. It is not a final declaration of God’s essence for such a thing cannot possibly be made. With God there are no final declarations concerning any of his attributes. Infinity has no finality.

Romans 11:33-36 - O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

From this passage in Romans we learn that all things begin, are sustained, and will culminate in Him. God encompasses all that there is. Because God is holy that necessitates that holiness encompasses all that is. This is the very reason why no final declaration can be made concerning God’s holiness. We are within looking out. We cannot move beyond God to see him from the outside!

The prophet Jeremiah expresses the immensity of God when he writes in

Jeremiah 23:24 - Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

If he fills heaven and earth then so does holiness, for God is holy. Consequently we can never witness the extremity of his holiness for it has no limit. We are rendered incapable of grasping either the end or beginning of God’s holiness. Both vanish into the vastness of infinity.

From the starting point all we can hope to do is expand our ability to see more of the holiness of God, to increase our ability to fathom. While granting we have limited capacity to fathom I feel certain that most of us can stretch our capacity beyond its present ability. The more we stretch our ability to conceive of God’s holiness the darker our world will seem. Why? The Scripture answers that.

1 John 1:5 - This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

The more we conceive of the light the darker the world will seem.

Let me just give you the facts concerning the word holy by defining it.

1. Webster’s Dictionary – 1. Set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed; sacred; as, the holy Sabbath; holy oil; holy vessels; a holy nation; the holy temple; a holy priesthood. 2. Worthy to be employed in the service of God; acceptable to God; commanded by God; hence, free from sinful affections; characterized by religious principle; pure; irreproachable; guiltless.

2. Webster’s Thesaurus
a. Synonyms – Blessed, consecrated, hallowed, sacred, sanctified, unprofaned, saintly, angelic, godly, devout, pietistic, pious, prayerful, religious.
b. Related words – Adored, glorified, revered, reverenced, venerated, worshipped, divine, religious, spiritual.
c. Antonyms – Unholy.

3. Dictionary of Word Origins, “Holy originated as a derivative of the prehistoric Germanic adjective which produced modern English “whole,” and so its etymological meaning is perhaps unimpaired, inviolate.

4. Old Testament – Three Hebrew words
a. qodesh, ko'-desh; A sacred place or thing; rarely abstract, sanctity: — consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary.
b. qadowsh, kaw-doshe'; sacred (ceremonially or morally); (as noun) God (by eminence), an angel, a saint, a sanctuary: — holy (One), saint.
c. qadash, kaw-dash'; a primitive root; to be (causatively, make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally): — appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy(- er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify(-ied one, self), X wholly.

5. New Testament – Five Greek words.
a. hagiasmos hag-ee-as-mos’; from 37; properly, purification, i.e. (the state) purity; a purifier: holiness, sanctification.
b. hagiazo hag-ee-ad’-zo; from 40; to make holy, i.e. (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: hallow, be holy, sanctify.
c. hagiotes hag-ee-ot’-ace; from 40; sanctity (i.e. properly, the state): holiness.
d. hagiosune hag-ee-o-soo’-nay; from 40; sacredness (i.e. properly, the quality): holiness.
e. hagios hag’-ee-os; from agov hagos (an awful thing) [compare 53, 2282]; sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated): (most) holy (one, thing), saint.

Armed with the above information I developed this working definition: Holiness is a state of purity in which the possessor is free from sin and thus exists in a consecrated state and found suitable for divine purposes and worthy of veneration.

Having established this let us consider in relation to a God who is infinite in holiness.

I think the first thing we must ponder is that God is without comparison in holiness. We labor under the difficulty of having only experienced holiness in degrees, and usually not a very high degree. To examine this consider the following: we have the following words in our English language, Holy (nominative), holier (comparative), holiest (superlative). Something or someone is said to be the holiest by comparison to the other two degrees. God knows no degrees in holiness. He is not more holy; he is not even the holiest. He is simply holy. Any other expression does this attribute as it is revealed in God a disservice.

To say that he is the holiest is to create a mental image of him simply being more holy than we are. I do not believe it is as simple as that. He is holy. We sully his holiness when we begin to make comparisons.

Psalms 89:6 - For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?
Isaiah 40:18 - To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

Our God, the great God of heaven has no likeness. No one, or anything is even worthy to be compared to him.

If you have followed me this far consider this. Holiness as it exists in God makes everything else unholy.

1 Samuel 2:2 - There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

The holiness of God causes all other expressions of holiness to be non-existent. What do I mean by that you may ask? Well, compared to God nothing is holy. We are all impure and defiled. God is the only thing in the entire universe of which it can be said in and of itself it is holy. Everything and everyone that has any holiness has derived that holiness from God. If I think I am holy then that is only as compared to someone else, compared to God I am not holy.

If we could take the smallest sub-atomic particle known to man and place it outside the expanse of the universe and compare the two it would be as though the sub-atomic particle did not exist. Such is the comparison between God being holy and our attempts at holiness. Yet even this illustration fails to paint the proper picture for the sub-atomic particle is still known.

If I seem to be laboring under a difficulty here, I am. My point is to get us to ponder God specifically in relation to his holiness. When you do that you will feel less and less significant and worthy. In turn you will be singing the praises of his grace and mercy to such a vile, worthless, undone sinner. There is a reason we are only made accepted in the beloved.

Isaiah 44:6 - Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. He is the first and last in holiness.

Isaiah 57:15 - For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Holy is one of the personal names of God. Just as his name is Jealous, it is also Holy. His is an exalted and eternal holiness. God does not simply possess holiness he is holiness.

Exodus 15:11 - Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Even before he has done any wonders he is worthy. Why? Because he is glorious in holiness. The more we learn to think about God, reflect on his person, stand in awe of his being we will find his holiness glorious. It will be an expanding holiness. Not because he is becoming more holy for that is an impossibility, but because we fathom more of his holiness. His is a holiness that demands an ever-expanding intellect and spiritual understanding.

Exodus 15:6 - Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

His power becomes glorious as it is manifested. In contrast holiness is his state and condition and thus in holiness he is glorious. He does not become glorious in holiness. Holiness is not what he is but who he is. Holiness is the hallmark of God’s nature. It is his defining attribute. If he had any imperfection nothing else would matter.

God’s holiness cannot be completely visualized.

1 Timothy 6:16 - Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

No man can approach unto God. No man hath seen, nor can see God and live.

Psalms 104:2 - Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: . . . .

Holiness is physically identified with light.

1 John 1:5 - This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

His is a holiness that has not the slightest hint of darkness. In all physical light there are shades of darkness. The sun has spots where it is darker than other places. The moon has dark spots. The light bulb over my desk has different shades of light. All of this indicates that all light has some degree of darkness except the light of God’s holiness. God is incomprehensibly bright. His brightness or glory is a physical manifestation of his holiness.

John 1:18 - No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 6:46 - Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

Exodus 33:18-23 - And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

When Moses asked to see God’s glory he was asking to see that which gave him weight, splendor. He wanted to see that which made him weighty. It is the holiness of God that gives him weight that makes him weighty. Remember Exodus 15:11 said God was glorious in holiness. To see the glory of God is to see the physical expression of his holiness.

What did God tell Moses in response to his inquiry? “I will make all my goodness to pass before thee.” Goodness is the practical expression of holiness. Holiness is the condition, goodness is the fruit. God is good because he his holy. The more holy we are the “gooder” we will be. God was basically telling Moses he was going to cause the fruit of his holiness to pass before him. You will notice in verse 20,23 the special precaution that had to be taken for Moses to have even a veiled glimpse of the glorious holiness of God as revealed in his goodness.

We are handicapped. Consider the following verses that explain the nature of that handicap.

Genesis 1:26,27 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Genesis 5:1 - This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Luke 3:38 - Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
Genesis 5:3 - And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

To summarize, we are informed that Adam was made in the image of God. Adam was referred to as the son of God. Adam, when he begin to begat children he begat them in his own image. Adam, through his sin, marred the image of God in all of us. It is through the second Adam that we have the potential to have that restored. Thus the Bibles says, when we see him we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. We have been rendered incapable of visualizing undiminished holiness. It is beyond our ability to grasp what unadulterated holiness looks like. The songwriter put it aptly when he wrote, “Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see.”

Because of our condition we can only see holiness in degrees.

Job 15:15 - Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.

When we have stretched our minds to conceive of the greatest degree of holiness possible we have not even moved off the starting mark in being able to identify the truth contained in the simple words, “God is Holy.” His holiness is so transcendent.

God is holy. As much as we believe we have seen God, there is so much more to see, most of which we will never lay eyes on in this life.

This whole discussion has a direct bearing on our view of modesty, and apparel, and for that matter our areas of entertainment, our speech, our attitudes, our choice of companions, our use of time and on and on it goes.

While there are times myself, and people like me are reproached for certain standards that we observe those standards are rooted in a preoccupation with the holiness of God. It really does not matter how holy I am in relation to anyone else. In relation to God I am unholy. I have vast areas of need in my life, some I know, and most I do not. My positions on dress, entertainment, and other areas of contention are simply a reflection of my view of God. I only bemoan the fact that I have not been able to more fully appreciate and fathom a holiness that is brighter than the sun and broader than the universe consequently I tend to languish in carnality and unholiness.

God help me to see more of you, and less of myself and those around me. To see you and only you is my ardent prayer.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Law: It's Purpose

Our lead verse for this chapter clearly sets forth the purpose of the law.

Galatians 3:24 - Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The word “to” denotes purpose. The first part of the verse describes the role the law plays in the hearts of men, in other words its function. It has a particular function in order to achieve a singular purpose. That purpose is “to” bring us to Christ.

This singular purpose reveals a number of things about men. They are not naturally in Christ. They need to be brought to Christ. It is in coming to Christ, according to the end of the verse, that we can be justified by faith. The word justified is a forensic term. It has specific reference to one’s standing before the law. Because we are not, based upon our own behavior, right with the law we must be brought to Christ. For in being brought to him we are afforded the opportunity to be justified by faith.

The law was never intended to be a means of salvation. It was intended to bring us before the one whose sacrifice provides a way of salvation.

Romans 8:3 - For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

There are certain things the law cannot do. One of the things the law could not do is excuse us. To excuse us would be to compromise its holy standard. To compromise its holy standard would have been to compromise the very nature of God himself. Because we had broken the law it could not excuse us it could only condemn us. It was weak to justify us. Not because there was something wrong with the standard but because there is something wrong with man. The verse tells us that it was weak through the flesh. The law requires things that the flesh cannot produce. It was weak in that it could not impart righteousness to the sinner.

Not being able to impart righteousness to the sinner it set its attention to bring us to the one who could impart righteousness. It did this through its statutes. The statutes were the aspects of the law that taught men there was a way of approach. While the Old Testament system of sacrifice could never make the comer thereunto perfect it could cause them to hope for and anticipate a redeemer. Thus the Old Testament system provided a way for the sins of the people to be pushed forward until he would come who would take away the sins of the world. The Old Testament saints were caused to look forward for a redeemer much like we are caused to look back on a redeemer. In both cases it is the law that brings us to Christ. Without the law we would never be brought to Christ.

Romans 10:4 - For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Once one has been brought to Christ and they believe, the law ceases to be relevant for righteousness. There is no longer any compulsion to keep the law. We now can rest in the reality that Christ kept it on our behalf. The law ends where faith in Christ begins, and what a glorious exchange that is.

It is the law that pushes us toward Christ, toward the sacrifice and the priest. The book of Hebrews is super-charged with references to Christ both fulfilling the office of priest and the system of sacrifice, so that there can be no doubt that the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The purpose of the law is to direct our attention away from ourselves and toward Christ. Let us consider some of the more prominent passages in Hebrews that bears out the purpose of the law in this regard.

In speaking of the insufficiency of the Old Testament priesthood the writer of Hebrews explains,

Hebrews 7:3 - And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

The priest of the Old Testament were subject to the wages of sin just like any other man because they were sinners like any other man. Nevertheless the office of priest in the Old Testament gave people an understanding of intercession and the role of a priest in reconciling sinful men to a holy God. Hebrews continues on in verse four explaining how Christ is superior to the Old Testament priesthood.

Hebrews 7:24,25 - But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Christ was a superior priest because he was not subject to death. Because he lives his priesthood is not passed to another but he continues to fill the office of priest and intercessor. Then in the following verses we learn why he continueth ever, why he was not subject to death in the same way the Old Testament priest were.

Hebrews 7:26 - For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

He was holy and undefiled. He had kept the law. In him was no sin. He was made higher than the heavens. As such he had power over death and death had no power over him. Verses twenty-seven and twenty eight proceed to inform us of the consequences of these truths.

Hebrews 7:27,28 - Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

He did not need to offer up sacrifice for his own sins as the Old Testament priest was required to do for he had no sin. He made one sacrifice for sin and that was himself. So that we see that Christ is both priest and sacrifice. The priest in fact offered himself up as the only sufficient sacrifice. The Old Testament made men priest who had infirmity but Christ is consecrated forever more. So both the office of priest and the system of sacrifice found its fulfillment in Christ and in that respect the law brings us to Christ. Christ the one who ever liveth to make intercession for us and whose one sacrifice was sufficient for time and eternity.

Hebrews chapter nine also goes to great lengths to draw the connection between the Old Testament law contained in ordinances and the fulfillment of those ordinances in Christ. Having been fulfilled they are deprived of their relevance. Verses one through seven of chapter nine of Hebrews we are given a brief overview of the tabernacle and the sanctuary and the ministry of the sanctuary. Verse eight through ten sets forth the purpose of all these Old Testament rituals.

Hebrews 9:8-10 - The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

The first five words of the above passage clearly state the purpose of these carnal ordinances. The Holy Ghost was signifying something. The word “signifying” means to make plain, declare, and show. So the Holy Ghost was seeking to make something plain, He was seeking to declare or show something. In other words there was more to it than met the eye. What was it the Holy Ghost was seeking to make plain. That the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest. It was the “way” that was not manifested. God had yet to unveil his ultimate sacrifice whereby sinful man could have unfettered access to God. The Old Testament system was not the way it simply signified the way. In fact the passage explains that the Old Testament sacrifice and all it’s attendant ministry was “a figure for the time then present.” The system was faulty in that it could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience. The Old Testament system could not purify the conscience but what it signified could. The fact that the Old Testament system is said to “stand “only” in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances,” indicates the inability of the system. It was only what it was and nothing more. It could not save; it could not purify the conscience. The way it signified could, because the way it signified was Christ. You may protest that Christ is not a way he is a person. But I would remind you that according to his own testimony in John 14:6 he claimed to be “the way.” It was that way that the Old Testament tabernacle, priesthood, and system of sacrifice signified in a figure. In fact the passage closes with the admonition that this whole system was only intended to be in place unto the “time of reformation.” So what was the purpose of these carnal ordinances? It was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

Lest you think that I am surmising a good deal here one only need reference the rest of the context in Hebrews nine.

Hebrews 9:11-14 - But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

It is right here in these verses where we find Christ being presented as “the way” of which the Old Testament system signified. The words “but Christ” are not insignificant. A contrast is forth coming. The Old Testament signified and was a figure, but Christ was the fulfillment. Christ did not use the blood of goats and calves. The blood of the sacrificial animals only signified the atoning blood that was to be offered by Christ himself. Christ took of his own blood. With his own blood he entered into the Holy place. So we see that Christ also fulfilled the office of priest. All of this was signified in a figure in the Old Testament. In offering his own blood he obtained eternal redemption for us. In this passage also we see the superiority of the blood of Christ over that of goats, calves, and heifers. His sacrifice is able to purge the conscience. As we have already seen the Old Testament system could never purify the conscience.

Hebrews chapter ten brings the whole thing together for us.

Hebrews 10:1-4,9-12 - For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. . . . . Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; . . . .

The law is a shadow. The law is not the very image. Christ is the image that cast the shadow even back over the pages of the Old Testament. The shadow could not make the comers thereunto perfect. If they could have they would have ceased to be offered. Having their conscience purged there would have been no continuing need to observe the sacrifice. The system could not affect such an outcome in the hearts of those who participated to the contrary there was a remembrance of sins made at every sacrifice. Why was this true? The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. While these sacrifices could not take away sin they could certainly serve as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ by whose offering of himself sin could be taken away. The offering of Christ once for all sanctifies us. There is no compelling reason to continue to offer sacrifice. His sacrifice was sufficient and it was the “very image” of that which the Old Testament simply bore a shadow. The shadow was designed to point us to the ultimate sacrifice.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Discerning Modesty

NAKEDNESS IN THE BIBLE

Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

I should have begun this little project some time ago. I have thought about it on numerous occasions and have failed to act upon it. From now on when I read my Bible I intend to make note of every verse that has anything remotely to do with modesty/nakedness/apparel. I believe this is the only way to achieve some real understanding as to what the Bible’s message is regarding this relevant and controversial issue.

Here is the beginning of that effort. These are simply some verse that I was already familiar with so I start my list with these. As the years go buy I will add to the list they may not all be posted here but I will keep them for my personal reference and edification.

Ex 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

Nakedness is apparently anything from the loins to the thigh; the thigh ends at the knee.

Le 18:7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Le 18:8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
Le 18:9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
Le 18:10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
Le 18:11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Le 18:12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.
Le 18:13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.
Le 18:14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
Le 18:15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Le 18:16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.

The nakedness is making reference to the “reproductive areas of the body.” It is not to be uncovered, or exposed.

Na 3:5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

When the skirts are discovered upon thy face one’s nakedness is showing.

Ro 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
2Co 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

Nakedness even means to not be properly dressed.

Re 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

One can be naked and not know it.

Gen. 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 ¶ And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
21 ¶ Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

They saw they were without clothes and sewed aprons of fig leaves together, apparently believing that was sufficient until God came on the scene. When God arrived and found Adam hiding Adam then saw himself as still naked. The Bible says the God clothed Adam and Eve indicating he did not consider them properly clothed. He made them coats they made themselves aprons. He used skin, they used fig leaves.

Isa 47:2 Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.
3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

Making bare the leg and uncovering the thigh are not placed in a very good light here. It is used in the context of nakedness. It was part of the humiliation of being carried away captive.

2Sa 10:4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.

The garments were cut off at the buttocks and this was considered a shameful thing, and this is with men.

Isa 20:4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

The buttocks uncovered is nakedness. In fact he says that they were led away naked, “even” with their buttocks uncovered. Their buttocks did not have to be uncovered to be considered naked.

Ex 20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

What would be seen going up stairs to an alter would be consider the exposing of nakedness.

Is. 3:16 ¶ Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,
19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
21 The rings, and nose jewels,
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.
24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.


Here is a description of women who were out of place and not dressing modestly. It could be that they were fully covered but they remained immodest. Their attitudes were reflected in their clothes.

2Ki 9:30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.

Jezebel painted her face and fixed her hair.


Pr 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

A harlot dresses in a certain way.

Jer 4:30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.

This is the kind of attire that is meant to attract lovers.

1Ti 2:9 ¶ In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

A woman’s apparel is to be modest. It is to reflect shamefacedness and sobriety. There is to be discretion in the exploiting of the hair and jewelry, and extravagant clothing.
Modest – Well, arranged, orderly
Shamefacedness - through the idea of downcast eyes); bashfulness, i.e. (towards men), modesty or (towards God); regard for others.
Sobriety – Soundness of mind, self control

A woman is to dress and present herself in such a way that she is exhibiting a bashful regard for others and soundness of mind. In doing so she will be wearing modest apparel. What makes a woman’s apparel modest is that it reflects a bashfulness and a presence of self-control.


THE IMPACT OF THE CULTURE ON OUR VIEW OF MODESTY


We all labor under a great difficulty here. It is difficult to define modesty by the Bible alone for we go to the Bible with the cultural realities pressing upon us. We have grown accustomed to some things. Thus, when we read what the Bible says about modesty we naturally embrace the term in the context of our experience and what we have grown accustomed to. This is the very reason why there is such a wide variety of opinion on what is modest and what is not, because the Bible is not defining it for us but our culture is. There are different cultures in different parts of the country, in different denominations, in different churches, in different families. Our greatest challenge when we go to the Bible for any reason is to read it with an “empty head.” By that I mean without all of our cultural biases. To the degree that we are able to do this we will be more successful in determining the Bible’s view of modesty.

Even in the midst of all the different views whose range is probably beyond what any of us can fathom my guess is that there is not a single soul who is exactly what they ought to be. One thing that I always try to keep in mind is that I am quite certain I am in absolutely no danger of becoming too holy, too modest, too separated. I know that there are those who probably think that I am, that I, my family, my church has gone off the deep end. I think when I stand before a God in whom is no darkness at all I will only then realize how imperfect and immodest I am. Fact is we are blind to our own faults and shortcomings and the very recognition of that reality should scare us to death.

I know that people who take views similar to mine are often characterized as legalist. I suppose I understand why but it is wrong. I do believe I am right and consequently I believe everyone should agree with me. But I also know something else that keeps me in “check.” I am not near as holy as I ought to be.

I don’t think any fair-minded person would look at the way many people dress today without admitting that 60, 70 years ago, a generation ago, that it would have been considered immodest. Now having said that just because it was considered immodest a generation ago does not mean that it was. That is not the standard the Bible is. Likewise the fact that it is accepted today does not mean that it is modest. A lack of condemnation in the culture at large or even among church going people is not the standard that determines modesty. The Bible must be allowed to determine that standard. I believe it does. I believe we have a hard time extracting it.

Just because there are men that do not think anything about seeing a woman in shorts, or sleeveless shirts, or pants, or revealing dresses, or anything else for that matter does not mean that it is OK. What you must keep in mind is that we have a generation of men who have grown up looking at women’s legs, breasts, bellies, their form through pants, tight dresses/skirts etc….. I for one believe that these things to one degree or another impact men. But even if no one were impacted by it, do they still match the standard of modestly and holiness laid down in Scripture. This is really what matters. While much of this kind of dress has become commonplace and no longer bears the brunt of public scorn and shock that does not mean that it is appropriate. The acceptance of these levels of immodesty does not, in my estimation, serve as a means of justifying this kind of dress. It simply means that now it takes a greater degree of nudity to achieve the same level of stimulation. Would anyone argue that this is a good thing???? I for one think it is a perilous path fraught with danger of which the women in our society will bear the brunt. Men will demand more and more and there will always be a woman somewhere who is willing to provide it, whether it is on the movie screen, magazine etc. Surely it is not coincidental that there is increasing nudity at the movie house, the pornography industry continues to be a booming business, and each successive generation is drifting a little further away from the port of modesty, morality, and virtue. The 60’s generation loosed some restraints that have set us adrift. The consequences are all around us.

I think one thing that will help us, at least it has helped me, to draw right conclusions about modesty when we read our Bibles is to remember a couple of things. 1. I have been corrupted by the culture in which I live. 2. That God is holy. He is not simply more holy than us he is infinitely holy. His holiness is without limits, it has no bounds, and it reaches beyond our comprehension. We know no one like God when it comes to holiness. We must embrace everything the Bible says about modesty and dress and apparel, and baring the leg, buttocks, etc… from the perspective of a God in whom is no darkness at all.

1 Peter 1:3-16 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

My opinion, my fullypersuaded opinion

Judgement Is Coming

JUDGMENT!
(William S. Plumer, "The Rock of Our Salvation" 1867)

"For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14

God has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world. Respecting this day several things are noticeable. All shall be judged.
Saints and sinners,
great and small,
living and dead,
the servant and his master,
the prisoner at the bar and the judge who sat on his trial,
the assassin and the assassinated,
the seducer and his victim,
the invader and the invaded,
the hireling and his oppressor,
the king and his subjects,
the fool and the wise man,
the persecutor and the persecuted,
the apostate,
the hypocrite,
the child of God and the child of the devil, shall all be there!

No one shall be so mighty, and no one shall be so lowly--as to elude the eye or the sentence of Him who shall sit upon the throne of judgment! What a massive multitude will this be--when

prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, saints of all ages;

when sinners, liars, infidels, blasphemers, moralists, and murderers--shall all be there;

when the sea and the dry land shall give up their dead;
when death and hell shall deliver up the dead who are in them;
when all who lived before the flood, all who have lived since the flood, and all who shall have lived to the end of time shall stand before God!

This will be the first and the last assembly--in which are found every person whom God ever made. To God, it is a certain and fixed day. He has appointed it. Acts 17:31. Nothing can hasten it; nothing can retard it. The purpose of God concerning it is fixed, unalterable. To all creatures, it is an unknown day. "Of that day and hour knows no man; no, not the angels of heaven." The day of judgment will be THE great day. It will be the greatest day in the annals of the universe! It is the day for which all other days were made. This day is so well known to inspired men, that they call it the day, that day--as preeminent over all others.

It will be the LAST day. After it, time will be no more--time will cease to exist. Duration will no more be measured by seconds, minutes, days, months, years, centuries, cycles; but all will be boundless, shoreless, fathomless, unmeasured eternity!

It will be a day of astounding exposures. Villainy will be covered up no more. Every disguise will be taken away. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known.

It will be a day of intense excitement. There will be no listless spectators of those scenes. Every faculty of the intellect and of emotion will be aroused to the highest possible exercise. Men may sleep under sermons concerning the judgment, but they will not be dull when they go to judgment!

It will also be a day of final separation. The precious and the vile; the wheat and the tares; the sheep and the goats; saints and sinners--shall no longer mingle together. The separations of this day will be final. The righteous and the wicked shall part that day to meet no more.

It shall be a day of despair to all the unregenerate. Everywhere sinners will be crying to the rocks and the mountains: "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Was ever despair more dreadful than this? This will be a day full of surprise. Not only will it come unexpectedly, but its awards will fill both saints and sinners with astonishment. So Christ teaches at length in Matthew 25. The wicked will be amazed that they are lost. They will be especially surprised that God sets no value on their self-righteousness. The sons of God will receive more honor than they ever asked or thought of. The sons of Belial will receive more wrath than they ever feared. Christians will marvel why they are saved. Sinners will wonder why they are not saved. Many will be lost--contrary to the opinions formed of them by their neighbors. Many will be lost--contrary to the opinions they had formed of themselves!

The judgment is coming!

The Judge stands at the door!

The time is short!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

With This Ring I Thee Wed

Mine is likely gone forever!! It was lost on the first morning of our recent camping trip. The kids and I rose up early in the morning to play in the water and on the way back my wedding ring of over 24 years had gone missing. It was at the bottom of the lake somewhere and with the currents and all who knows where????? Where O where has my little ring gone, where O where could it be. I only have a general idea but it was really no help to find it. I told the park ranger if per chance someone finds the ring and if per chance they turn it in would you please send it to this address. What's the chances of that happening???? 1 in 1,000,000,000 to the 20th power, well maybe not that bad but pretty unlikely.

Now I am in a dilemma. I should not bemoan the loss of temporal goods. Yes, I know but there is more here than temporal value, so I bemoan its loss and probably always will. This ring has been my constant companion for over 24 years going on 25 years of married life. I did not take it off except on occasion when I was working on the car or something like that. Otherwise it did not come off.

Now granted if I had to choose between losing my ring of 24 years and my wife of 24 years I would hands down choose the ring. Problem is I don't want to lose either one. The ring reminds me of the wife. It tells everyone else I am connected, what it does not tell them is how strongly I'm connected, that is unless they looked at the ring closely then they might be able to tell. It was not perfectly round, in fact on one occasion it had gotten so thin on the back that it broke and I had to have it repaired. It was a simple golden band that originally had a simple design etched into the top, it had worn away. Why had it worn away, because I am connected till death do you part.

Are men supposed to cry when they lose a ring???? I haven't but I have wanted to!! I know I shouldn't bemoan its loss, it is an opportunity to get a brand new one. I probably will, but the problem is I don't want a brand new one, I want the old valued one. I will be 67 when another ring means to me what this one did. Well, in fact another ring can never mean to me what this one did.

Why you ask could a new ring never mean as much?? Well because that ring had seen things that a new one probably never will. That old ring laying at the bottom of the lake has seen the birth of six children and three grandchildren. It has seen apartment dwelling and travel trailer living. It has seen financial straits and amazing provision. It has seen a relationship that has matured into one that would be the envy of the world if the world only knew about it. It has seen years of sacrifice by a precious wife. It has held and nurtured six children. It has wielded a rod to correct six children. It has embraced the sorrows of six children. It has set two children free. It has seen every page of the Bible, several Bibles. It has been on the hand that has proclaimed the Word of God faithfully for 16 years to a small congregation of special people. It was on the hand that extracted the proverbial knife in the back on several occasions.

On and on I could go. This was no ordinary ring. It was not from the beginning. It was from my love, the young lady to whom I was committing the rest of my life. And since that time it has only become more special. It is now laying at the bottom of Lake Mineral Wells.

This is a ring that I was anxious to pass on to one of my children with a lengthy note about its significance. Instead the ring has been committed to the sand.

I am sure at some point I will get another one but it will be hard to put it on. I don't think I will ever be able to look at it without thinking of the one that is laying at the bottom of the lake.

Then again, maybe in some respect it is appropriate. Here we are, my wife and I, at the zenith of our long life together. Almost 25 years behind us and hopefully about 25 more to go. We have been riding the crest for 25 years now. Life is full and we are beginning to see the fruit of our relationship. Now we begin the long, slow descent. The wave subsides. Our children assume their place in the world. Our grandchildren will be born and grow to maturity. Age and fatigue will begin to take its toll in just a few more years. Life will slow and responsibilities will be transitioned to others more youthful and vigorous. An old man and old woman will hold hands walking into the the sunset and winter of life. Not bemoaning the lateness of the hour but rejoicing in the splendor of the sunset and the sharpness of the cold. They will walk hand in hand rejoicing in the good life they have had and on the hand of the man will be a ring that is only about 25 years old, but it brings to mind a ring that is buried in the sands of a west Texas lake.

Take good care of that ring dear lake, for it is a treasure that few can appreciate and it has been committed to your watchful care!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ten Day Excursion

Day One - Thursday, July 6

We were up about 5:00 AM. It was starting to rain and the van needed to be loaded. Thought I'd wait a minute to see if it would stop. After a few minutes it came a torrential downpour. Waited about 10 more minutes with no let up in the number of rain drops that were falling from the heavens. I tend to get impatient in these kind of situations. OK, Daniel and I will change clothes, don some rain gear and pack the van in the torrents that were coming down, and that we did. Fun, fun!!

Left the house about 6:30. About an hour and a half later stopped a Cracker Barrel and had Breakfast. Then about 30 minutes later stopped for a bathroom break. I use to not be too happy about those kinds of stops either but I have mellowed just a tad over the years. Then I started getting sleepy with three eggs, a chicken fried steak, grits, bacon, and a biscuit in my stomach. Only one remedy for sleepy eye syndrome, Starbucks. A banana/coconut frapaccino did the trick.

About forty miles from our destination we began to hear a thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. Thought to myself this road sure is loud. If you have ever driven on I10 between Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana you will know why I believed this to be the case, same basic sound. My wife started giving me that look. I told her I thought it was the road, she was surprisingly satisfied with that explanation. We saw a change in pavement coming and thought this would remedy our problem. It didn't. In fact it was getting worse by the second. Stopped and checked the tires visually, all looked well. Started back down the road but it was worse, now even I was convinced something was wrong. It will probably take $10,000,000 and eight weeks to fix it. Then it happened. Bang, poof, twump, twump, twump, twump......... Blow out at 7:00 O'clock, left rear tire. Fortunately we were only going about 40 miles an hour down from a cruising speed of 110mph (just kidding). Pulled over once again and sure enough blow out confirmed. Fortunately we were only less than a quarter mile from a bridge over the interstate with a widened place in the shoulder where we could pull over and change the tire relatively safely from the traffic on I20 that was moving at least 70 miles an hour, very intimidating. We all unloaded, extracted the spare from the fully loaded van, Daniel and I did our man thing while our four damsels in distress waited patiently on the side of the road admiring their knights in shinning armor. OK maybe just a bit of overkill.

20 minutes we were back on our way without a spare.

About an hour later we had turned onto Park Rd. 71 I believe it was and cruising to the headquarters of the Lake Mineral Wells State Park. Arrived about nine hours after leaving the Texas Gulf Coast, and yes we were still in Texas. Spent the afternoon unpacking at our screened shelter for the week. It was about 30 feet from the water and had a nice view over the lake that I enjoyed all week long, in the morning, the afternoon, evening, and night. It was beautiful. Hilly, rocky country. Quite a change of scenery from those who are accustomed to the coastal plains. The humidity had dropped considerably over the 360 miles we had traveled to the north. It was for this very reason that we had traveled north.

We drove around the park and familiarized ourselves with our new surroundings. Grilled pork steaks, and sausage. Sat on the lake and watched the water, went to bed on a cot in a screened shelter, except for Olivia and Daniel who opted for the tent.

Day Two - Friday, July 7

Got up at 6:00 AM and went to play in the water at the designated swimming hole. Didn't want to be there when everyone else was, had no desire to be exposed to the nakedness of others. I have never figured out why people have to strip to their underwear to play in water. Oh, well, that's another issue all together. Needless to say at 6:15 in the morning we had the place to ourselves. Left the swimming hole at 7:20.

On the way back to our home for the week, my wife asked where is your wedding ring????? Well, it was in Lake Mineral Wells. Ouch that hurts!! Hurts bad!! A symbol of over 24 years of memory laying at the bottom of the lake somewhere. The memories are still very much with me but the symbol of those memories is likely gone forever. I have tried not to think about it too much. Probably write more about that ring in another post. We'll see.

The kids rented a paddle boat for an hour and I watched from the pier. There was only room for four. Of course the first one they picked out had no rudder. One thing worse that being up a creek with out a paddle is being in a lake without a rudder. They managed to get away from the dock, but would they ever manage to get back to the dock, or would they float away over the horizon never to be seen again, poor, poor kids. It was actually quite funny for me. They did make their way back through a series of large circles and going through a regiment of forwards and reverses. Changed out that defunct paddle boat for one with a rudder. Now they could control their destiny and the seven seas were their limits. OK maybe it was just about 200 yards from the dock. Oh, well they had fun. They came back to the dock once and asked if I wanted to ride. No thanks, I've been on a paddle boat a couple of times and I always had a sneaking suspicion that my "pardner" on the other side was simply going through the motions, of course they always said, "I am paddling, I am!" Yea, right. That's also the reason I would never want a bicycle built for two???

Back at our home for the week, I did some reading, some napping, some relaxing, some reading, etc...

Went to Braums that night for ice cream.

Day 3 - Saturday, July 8

Back to the swimming hole at 6:45 till 7:45. Once again no one showed up that early. Surprise, surprise.

Had a leisurely breakfast. While trying to convince my wife to go on a short walk, my sister-in-law and her husband came by for a visit. We were expecting them, but just were not real sure when they would be there. Good thing I did not convince her to go on that walk five minutes earlier or they would have showed up while we were gone. They actually live in Kansas but were in Denton visiting their oldest daughter and her family and so were only a couple of hours from where we were camping so they graciously drove down to see us. My wife enjoyed spending some time with her sister. Her husband, Daniel and I climbed in their vehicle to go exploring in the park. Went around to the store for something to drink and came out and their vehicle would not start. What could it be, what could it be??? I am certainly very little help in these kind of situations. I am not very skilled in diagnosing these kinds of problems, have no desire to diagnose these kind of problems and in general do not like these kind of problems. We concluded that it was probably the battery or the alternator. We tried to jump the vehicle off with our van with some borrowed jumper cables. This battery was double dead. No deal, no go!! It was not going to start. No one had any tools. I did not bring any, although I usually do. By brother-in-law did not have any. So we went and made our acquaintance with the local parts store. He bought a battery and a little cresent wrench. Got back to the park and removed the battery. It was no easy chore with just a cresent wrench, at least not compared to how easy we know it would have been with a socket and a short extention. Got the other battery on and vrooooomm, started right up. Well by that time it was approaching their departure time. They left, I believe around 4:00 PM. We had a good visit.

Back to Braums for ice cream.

Day 4 - Sunday, July 9

Today was church day. Vacation is never a vacation from God. On the Lord's Day the responsibility is to be in His house celebrating His resurrection. The evening before I had looked in the phone book and found the one church in Mineral Wells that was listed under Baptist, Independent/Fundamental. We showed up there about 9:35 believing we would be on time and we were, Sunday School did not start until 10:00. It was a small church.

That afternoon we drove to Weatherford about 15 miles away and had lunch at Golden Corral. We all left full. The food was good, and of course there was plenty of it. Went back to the screened shelter to rest for the afternoon. Seemed to be really hot, but it was probably because we were dressed for church, although a bit more causal than what we would normally dress considering our circumstances.

That evening we drove back to Weatherford to visit a church there that we had been referred to by a lady that attends our church in Freeport. It was a large church. The pastor preached a very good, although short message. They baptized six people which was a blessing to see.

We went by Dominos and bought a large pepperoni.

Day 5 - Monday, July 10

After breakfast the whole family went on a five mile hike through the back country of the park. Solid trails but parts of it were semi-rugged. Up hill and down hill with rocky terrain and sand depending on where you were. It was hot. A good part of the walk was out in the sun. The sun was hot. Now that was profound, of course the sun was hot. The shade was not too bad, because of the lower humidity than what we are accustomed to. We walked all the way to the dried up creek bed that fed the lake we were on. Looked like it had been dried up for sometime, but kind of hard to tell for sure. Especially for someone who is not accustomed to judging that kind of thing.

When we returned to the camp Daniel and I decided to try the same trip plus some on our bikes. So, in the heat of the day we started out. Some of the trail was not too bad, other parts of it were a little more difficult to negotiate for us, who are mostly accustomed to riding our bikes on pavement. I generally ride mine a little over six miles in the morning. At one point going over a little bridge that had sand on it several inches thick I came within a few inches of riding right off the edge. That would have been nasty. Daniel would have had to carry my 205 pound carcass back to civilization. On second thought that would have been kind of interesting. I guess he could have made a little cot out of the resources readily at hand and tied me to the back of his bike and drug me back to the trailhead. You know the kind of cot the cowboys use to make to drag their sick and wounded over hundreds of miles. Now that is fun stuff. Well nine miles and a hour and half later Daniel and I were back at the screened shelter collapsed in our lawn chairs. I have on several occasion rode my bike ten miles but that was a tough nine.

That afternoon I napped, and read, and napped, and napped.

That evening we had received an invitation for some home made ice cream at that house of some friends we have from a parenting board on the internet. They were most hospitable. It is hard to be inhospitable when you serve home made ice cream. These folks live in Mineral Wells and in fact it was the wife that suggested the park we were staying in. They lived in an old house that in fact use to be a duplex and they had remodeled the inside. It was very nice. They had a large yard, that we envied just for a short time, and then we got right. We enjoyed our visit with these folks.

Stopped by Dominos and got a large half pepperoni, half hamburger.

Day 6 - Tuesday, July 11

Michele and the girls took laundry into town. Michele's internet friend met her there and they spent the time visiting while they were doing laundry. Daniel and I on the other hand made use of the van to do a little exploring around town. There was an old high school that we snooped around for a bit, on the outside, you couldn't get in. It was built in 1912. Then behind that building was the first public school in Mineral Wells. It almost looked like a building that doubled for a school/church, but there was nothing said on the historical marker about a church meeting there. The building was built in 1886, just a little over 20 years after the War Between the States. I guess before 1886 all the children in Mineral Wells were educated at home, shame, shame. How did they ever make it.......

We then went over to explore a few minutes at the Brazos River. Of interest to us because the Brazos River flows about 1/2 a mile from our house. We could have climbed in a boat and let it drift with the current and in a few days been home. That would be fun and adventurous.

Then went to investigate a used bookstore in town, but she was charging too much for the few things she had that might have interested me.

That evening we had an invite from the mother of a lady that attends our church. She lives in Weatherford and wanted us to come for dinner. We had a nice time visiting with her, her mother, and her son. She grilled steaks for us. Mine was a ribeye that was about an inch and half thick. It was grilled to perfection, medium rare. Pink on the inside. Looked like a roast. I did my duty and devoured almost the whole thing, left just a couple of bites. But my excuse is that there was a good sized baked potato with all the fixings, salad, bread, and cheesecake for dessert. All things considered the fact that I left just a couple of bites is pretty good. I mean a guy can only eat so much. But it was delicious. We had a very nice time with them and they were most hospitable.

Day 7 - Wednesday, July 12

Michele dropped me and Daniel at the trailhead in the State Park for the Mineral Wells Trailways. It is basically an unused railroad. They had taken up all the rails and ties and have used the bed, which was packed hard as a bike/hike/horse trail. It runs from Mineral Wells to the northwest side of Weatherford. There is also a trail head in the State Park. This is where Daniel and I began our trip riding toward Weatherford 15 miles away. I thought we would ride about 10 miles out and then turn around and come back. There were restroom facilities at about the ten mile mark. Well, when we got there I could tell Daniel was up to the challenge of going all the way to Weatherford, another five miles (it would add 10 miles to the total length of the trip) and I was feeling pretty good my self so I said lets go for it. So we did. All the way to Weatherford fifteen miles away. I was hoping when we got to the trailhead in Weatherford there would be a convenient store to buy some gatorade/poweraid. We had taken water, I think three bottles a piece. When we arrived at the trailhead a park ranger told us the closest convienience store was about two miles away, four miles round trip. Neither of us wanted gatorade that bad. So we just filled our water bottles there. They had two hand pumps going down to a well. That was kind of neat. Filled our bottles rinsed off and we were back on our way. On the way to Weatherford we had noticed a sign eleven miles into the trip that noted the highest point on the trail. So we knew the first four miles back would be mostly uphill and the last eleven would be mostly down hill. The first four were kind of tough. But then the last eleven were mostly down hill on a slight grade. There were about three places that were uphill, and uphill they were. But we made it all the way back to the campsite. It took us about 4 hours and 15 minutes, three hours of riding time to cover 31 miles. Strangely enough we did not feel as fatigued after that 31 miles as we did after the nine miles on the back country trail. The 31 miles did not require negotiating any rocks, or sand. Just up hill. Either Daniel or I or both of us saw about four rabbits, a turkey, some vultures up close, a three foot long snake and about 10 gillion grasshoppers, one of which smacked me right in the face.

That afternoon it was more reading, napping, and reading.

We were invited back to our friend's mother's house that evening to shower and dress for church. We took her up on the offer. We went back to the church in Weatherford. After church we ate at Taco Bell, that's gross. We had to go by the store for some drinks and ice. About fifteen minutes from the park I realized that it was 10:15 and that the gate closed at 10:00 and you had to have a combination to get in. No problem they give you the combination when you check in for your stay. But one of the girls had cleaned out the van, and they did an exceptionally thorough job. The paper with the combination had been thrown away. Maybe they would lock it late tonight. They did not, apparently they are very punctual locking the gate. Well now what?? Daniel and I walked up to the headquarters to see if we could find a number to call. I didn't want to call a number but I was quickly running out of options. The last thing I wanted to do was drag a park ranger out of bed to unlock the gate for which they had given us a combination. But it was either him get out of bed or us sleep in the van, or walk to the campsite and leave the van on the side of the road all night. He was going to have to get out of bed, sorry guy???...... He had nothing to worry about though I could not find a number to call. That's handy. (as we were leaving the park we saw an emergency number posted over the pay phone) Just as I was about to sink in despair and give up all for lost a guy pulling a boat came from the lake and to the locked gate. He got out of his truck and unlocked the gate. Daniel and I made sure we got to him before he was finished and I very politely, and humbly asked if he minded if we came in while he had the gate open. Lucky for him he answered in the affirmative, otherwise I would have had to take him hostage, leave him bound and gagged in order to gain entrance to our beloved State Park. I did not want to have to do it, but...........

Thank you Lord for sending this old fisherman to the rescue. Watched the full moon come up over the lake. It was a glorious event.

Day 8 - Thursday, July 13

Leisurely morning. The kids and I rented a row boat for an hour. It was a lot of fun. We rowed over to the campsite and then out to the middle of the lake. We all took turns at the oars. We usually had one man on each oar. Even Lydia, our nine year old, did a great job manning the oar. On one occasion Daniel was rowing aggressively and the next thing I knew he had thrown the oar overboard and was rolling around in the fetal position in the bottom of the boat at my feet. What in the world is going on here I thought. He literally flipped over backwards and one of our oars was floating away from us. Oh, great Daniel, your demoted! He claims he did not throw the oar overboard but that is sure what it looked like from my position. Any way a lady in a one man kayak glided over, retrieved our oar and brought it to us. Thanks lady, but I could have done it???....... I was going to do it........ Oh, well I didn't have to do it. I mean right when I was about to show my bravery and coolness under pressure a lady comes along and saves the day.....How humiliating.

At 2:30 we met our internet friends at DQ for lunch. Once again had a nice time visiting with them. We were there a couple of hours. We drove around Mineral Wells looking at the old houses. We really like old houses. Some of them had been fixed up really nice. We attempted to check the internet at the local library, what an ordeal. You had to go through a complete Homeland Security background check, name, aliases, mother's maiden name, any felonies ( yea I once assaulted a librarian for asking too many questions), Hey all we want to do is check a couple of websites????? We have no intentions of blowing up the library or anything like that. Well, it probably wasn't that bad???....... After the screening the stupid thing didn't even work....... Oh well.......... we are on vacation anyway, shouldn't be checking the internet on your vacation.

Then we went to The Scoop. An ice cream parlor in Mineral Wells that serves BlueBell. I know, your thinking, what did you eat ice cream every day? Well, no not every day, but most days. Your supposed to eat ice cream on you vacation, right? Right! That's what I thought, so quit interrupting. Everyone else got one scoop on a cake cone. I got two scoops on a waffle cone. I felt guilty....... for about 5 seconds.

Watched the full moon come up over the lake again. That's nice.

Day 9 - Friday, July 14

It is my wife's birthday today. She is four years older then me! Hee hee hee!!

Because it was her birthday that necessitated that the day start with donuts, so it did. We bought donuts in Weatherford because we were on our way to Grandbury. We had been told that there was some good, quaint shopping there. And there was on the town square. Well, so Michele could enjoy her shopping experience we went separate ways. It is not that she does not like shopping with me, she love to shop with me. She took Olivia and I took Daniel, Kimberly, and Lydia with me expecting a nightmare experience. Some of these quaint shops have stuff so precariously perched I scare myself sometimes. You know they have a $325.00 trinket sitting half way off the edge of a shelf with a sign behind it that says, "If you break it, you buy it." But I don't want to buy it. But as it turns out we all had a great experience. I know this is going to come as a surprise to all of you, but we finished about an hour before they did. So, in order to let the birthday girl finish her shopping spree my group drove out to Lake Granbury to look around, got gas and then it was time to pick the girls up.

We then drove back to Weatherford where we ate at Catfish O'harlies. It was a fun place. Their catfish was more bread than fish, that seems to usually be the case. Daniel had frog legs. I had always thought about trying frogs legs, but when confronted with the opportunity I couldn't. Daniel ate them. Afterward when he began to think about it he was a little queasy. That is why you should think before you eat. He said it tasted like fishy chicken. That's gross.

It was back to the campsite for our last evening to enjoy the lake. We did till about 10:30 PM.

Day 10 - Saturday, July 15

We had set a leave time of 11:00 AM. We managed to get away about 9:00AM.

Stopped for coffee in Weatherford. Kind of lost track of where we were, so we came home a different way. The scenic route as I like to call it. My family has other names for it, but what do they know. It was scenic. Stopped at Pizza Hut for lunch buffet. Got home about 5:00 PM. This time we covered the 360 in 8 hours. No blowouts!!

It was fun, and I am glad to be home!