The Price Tag

But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money.
(Acts 8:20)

person holding gold round coins

Having been there—and back, having the right words, but not having the right time, a person can deliver the message but the message sounds hollow to the one hearing.

Romans 13: 11 “And this, knowing the season, that already it is time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.”

12) “The night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

13) “Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy.”

“The tragedy of life is we grow old too early, and wise too late.” It is a real tragedy because in our youth we fail to recognize what is truly important in life, and in our old age what was important has long gone.

This morning has been quiet. We’ve been praying for rain, and the Lord has blessed us with several small showers in the last week or so. Reminds me of the song “Showers of Blessing.” We are at the “mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead” stage.

I did call them showers, but they are more like the mercy drops. We’ve had two ‘showers’ in two days that added up to half an inch.

Several years ago I heard the story of a thirty-year-old young man who had climbed the corporate ladder and was pulling in some big bucks. One day, he woke up to find his world falling apart. He was about to lose everything. Surely, he thought, with my expertise, I can quickly get another job.

As sometimes often happens in this world, days rolled into weeks, and then into a month and more. He now realizes he’s ruined, and he leaves behind some mountainous debts as well as his fancy lifestyle. No one wants to hire someone with his baggage.

Family—he does have a sister living in a two-bedroom trailer with her two kids who offers him a bed on the couch. Still, no one wants to hire him. He stops putting in resumes, and he gets a job flipping burgers. Well, it’s something. Then he gets another part-time job as a pooper scooper at the local zoo.

But he’s still sleeping on his sister’s couch. He comes across a small acreage with a small trailer house, but his credit is shot. He takes the chance to apply for a loan. The banker looks at him through narrowed lids, incredulous that he’s asking for money…

The banker decides to take the risk, and oh, glorious day, the young man can now get off of his sister’s couch and has his own place. Yes, it’s small, but it’s his. Slowly, slowly, his life begins to come back together. He purchases an older vehicle, begins to raise a garden, and learns to enjoy a much simpler life. And it’s his life.

All life comes with a price. Living the high-rolling lifestyle came with a very large price tag—not just in money.

The devil always hides his price tag… And the devil intends to keep life so fast and furious that people don’t realize the price. The young man found a more satisfactory life even if he didn’t have the big bucks he once brought in.

Earthly life isn’t as long as we tend to think. As the Bible says “three score and ten, or perhaps…” We know that is a generalization, a give or take. Still, the saying, “I knew I’d get old, I just thought it would take longer” is a funny summary of youth and old age.

The idea that yesterday I was young and fun, but today I find going to bed at 9 o’clock is the norm. Or, as I saw yesterday, “Yesterday I was young and fun, but today I’m taking pictures of my garden.”

“How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me: Ye are not ashamed that ye deal hardly with me. And be it indeed that I have erred, Mine error remaineth with myself.” (Job 19:2-4)

What price is paid when we err? Much is being written about our current social climate. At one time people proclaimed, that what they did in their homes was their own business. Yet, now, very little that we do is left to our own business.

In a 1984ish twist it seems as if everything that an individual does is recorded somewhere. Who would have thought this would become our way of life? And in another bizarre twist ungodly perverted people are allowed to strut—not in their closet, but down the public street in indecent attire doing unmentionable deeds in front of—as we used to say, in front of God and everyone. And if you’re shocked there is something wrong with you. Tsk, tsk, indeed.

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

Indeed what a topsy-turvy world we live in. Yet, there has been some solid pushback. Every day people have been told, “We’re coming for your children, and then we’re coming for you.” And that appears to be a doorknob too far. For all the people that warned of these things to come and were once called conspiracy loons, they are now shown to be spot on.

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:13-14)

There is a Ted Haggard quote that says, “Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to go, it will cost you more than you ever expected to pay, and it will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay.”

“Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His.” ~ John G. Lake

Sin isn’t merely to ‘miss the mark’. Sin is to miss God’s mark.

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14)

I’ll Take My Future

“for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

mirror fragments on gray surface with the reflection of a person s arm

“Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black.” (Matthew 5:36)

“Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

In a recent article that I read about Tina Turner, it said at their divorce she gave her ex-husband everything she had. She said, “I’ll take my future.”

Another recent poem I read was titled “Every Woman Should Know.” There were several lines of what the author thought every woman should know. Some of the items I agreed with and some were a “well, maybe.” Here are a couple of thoughts to ponder on.

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…

“That she can’t change the length of her calves,

The width of her hips,

or the nature of her parents..

That her childhood may not have been perfect…

But it’s over…”

And there you have it. There are some things every man should know as well, but I haven’t seen anyone expound on that field of expertise. And there are some things that every adult should know.

None of us can change our physical attributes by agonizing over them, or as the Bible calls it, ‘being anxious’ over them.

What are we anxious over? Today, outside my door the sun is beautiful, the birds are singing, and life looks pleasant. In my world, most things are going on as normal. I am blessed and I know and feel it.

I do wish that in the whole world, life was as beautiful. I wish there were no wars, nor rumors of wars. I wish there were no earthquakes, volcanoes, or crime… or the list of sins and sorrows is endless.

I wonder what most people would say the biggest sin is. There are many different sins in the world, however, like all diseases there is a root cause. And also like diseases in order to be cured the root cause needs to be addressed.

I don’t know the percentage, but I believe it is a large percentage of the sin problem is ingratitude—being ungrateful.

Perspective—where do you see the world? As the scriptures and the poem says there are some things you can’t change and to worry over them is fruitless.

If we carry the baggage of the good and evil people have done to us, or we perceive they have done to us, going forward is slow if it takes place at all. There is a time to realize it’s over.

I was twenty-eight when I found out my mother was dying. I had a cousin who had a long-standing feud with my mother. She called me to remind me how awful my mom had been and raged against her.

In defense of the situation, my mother hadn’t been a stellar mom. On the other hand, we all stand at a judgment seat of sorts. I was caught at a bad time, and I had to sort through a lot of life quickly and at a young age.

I set up a timeline of sorts or two columns. I was a Christian, married with five children. I believed in God and the scriptures, and we were using them as our guide—and still, we struggled to know our way.

My mother could attract men, she had four marriages by the time I was five. But there was a bitterness that would show up and destroy those relationships… indeed it destroyed all of her relationships as time went on.

It was sufficient for me to realize my mother at one stage in life was a young woman (as I was at that time) whose world had been turned upside down with the advent of World War Two. She had no Biblical basis for her life or her morality and was forced to fall back on secular teachings, and that was her world.

If my husband and I were floundering, searching for the path and we had scriptures, how could I expect my mother to be any different? This isn’t a tell-all here, just how I came to find a semblance of peace in my relationship.

Bitterness and heart wound—those two things together are difficult to overcome. Social media today can be a source of either encouragement or discouragement. It is important to take good advice for encouragement.

I’ve heard more often than I care to remember the idea that “My parents weren’t perfect. They did thus and so, and I had a miserable childhood.” These adults, grown-up children supposedly, have saved up a litany of things their parents should have done for them.

I’m sure there are people who have had a perfect childhood, but I don’t know any of them.

There is an interesting tool in a writer’s box, a new theory that all people at a young age have adopted a lie. The child must be five years old or younger and they for some reason have taken to their heart a lie about themselves as truth and they cannot be taught out of the lie.

I don’t believe you can prove or disprove this theory. People do believe lies, and they often carry those lies with them and won’t let go of the lies. Yet, I’ve seen people who have held long-standing erroneous beliefs and still correct their ways.

No matter how it gets there, at some point, the bad garbage needs to be jettisoned. It needs to be let go. Like blinders lifted from the eyes, in order to allow the beautiful sunlight of goodness, joy, and peace into the heart and life. No one is to blame for a person’s bad attitude except for the person.

That is how some people pick up their life even after a cataclysmic event and go on. Going back and reliving it won’t make it better.

Looking for someone to blame—that’s not a new game. For research purposes, I look for pieces written for and about Appalachian living. One man has done several videos in which he interviews old-timer residents. I began watching some of them, but… his focus appears to be one of picking apart and looking for the repugnant, or unpleasant subjects.

“We worked hard all day, hardly had anything to eat, life was miserable,” and so forth. There are other stories from people who grew up in the backwoods and told a different tale.

They admit they didn’t have running water, couldn’t run to the store for food, their food was cooked on a wood stove, and they had to work for what they had, but… They also ran barefoot in the grass, played in the creek, were thankful for their family, and enjoyed what they did have.

“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12-13)

It has been summed up in the story of an alcoholic and his two sons. One son became an alcoholic and the other son became a successful businessman who never touched alcohol. When the sons were asked why, the first one replied, because of my father. The second one also replied, because of my father.

In both of the cases, it was personal choices that didn’t have much to do with the father, but it had a world to do with the individual.

Our modern-day world has as many flaws as it has had for centuries… we just know it faster. And communication has become worldwide. The populace, in general, can become knowledgeable in many ways for good or evil and very quickly.

The scriptures speak against believing a lie, but how do we know? Study the scriptures for Bible answers. Study life and make careful decisions according to scriptures.

Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.
(2 Timothy 2:15)

“Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:18-19)

Every Christian should know to study the scriptures to learn and know what is true and right. Every Christian should pray as they study.

A number of religious people talk about the “antichrist” that is supposed to come, but if they were reading their Bibles they would know there have been many antichrists since the beginning of the Church. They would also know these are the last days, that tomorrow may never come. And they would also know…

“At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, And in a day of salvation did I succor thee: behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation): giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our ministration be not blamed;” (2 Corinthians 6:2-3)

While the Storm Rages

“Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

clouds

…And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

“Never regret anything that has happened in your life. It cannot be changed, undone, or forgotten. Take it as a lesson learned, and move on.”

The straw that throws a glitch in my mind doesn’t need to be a huge mountain of a problem it can be just something unexpected. No matter what a day may bring when we have those moments time moves forward and so must we.

Twenty-five years ago the guys liked to watch a science-fiction show. It may have been Star Trek or some such show. Nevertheless, the story got to the pivotal point and the crew were all standing in shock and horror saying, “Oh, no, what will we do now.” I always knew it was coming, and after that discovery, I found it lost its charm for me.

Not so with Louis L’Amour. Even when I would goad my boys with “You know the storyline. The main character rides into town, shoots twenty bad guys, rescues the town from the local big bully, and rides out with the girl.” And we would laugh but we continued reading his books. At least the names of the characters and of the towns changed.

Why does it seem as if life is more about the struggle than the victory? Stories spend two-thirds of their production building toward the crisis. Once the climax is reached the story has a quick resolution and it’s over.

Why doesn’t the story spend more time sitting on the porch? The porch could be interesting—Quite a few years ago I was teaching my children writing. One of the first lessons in writing is you need to begin with action. In order to emphasize this fact I began a story with no action. At least I tried.

“It was a hot summer’s day on Priney’s Mountain. It was so hot even Rufus, the golden retriever, just lay in the corner too overcome with heat to even pant. Jack Scott, the president of the Priney Mountain Exclusive Boys Club called the group to order and read off the roster of all seven members, including Rufus who barely whined when his name was called. It was just too hot…”

The problem was as a writer I couldn’t not put in action. The members of the club decided to steal one of “Old Grandpa MacDonald’s watermelons and of course, it went awry. Old man MacDonald was sitting on the porch, waiting for the miscreants. When they appeared he fired a load of rock salt as the scoundrels made off with a prize watermelon. The seven shysters crossed the creek with Fatty McBride bringing up the rear. All the activity raised the ire of Treacle, the notorious old snapping turtle, who caught Fatty by the back pocket, and took a ride hanging on the backside of Fatty’s britches…

So much for sitting on the porch. Even Grandpa MacDonald got in the action. And as a Christian writer, there has to be a moral learned and glory given to God… but I never finished that story and life is sometimes like that as well.

Life is not a straight line. On the headstone in the cemetery, there is a dash between the dates, but that isn’t the way it works in reality. Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. If a person practices wrong they will not come out perfect. And perhaps that’s why our line in life is so wavy.

Our communities and families are only as good as the principles of morality that the members live. We read about churches losing members. This isn’t good. It signifies a moral decay in our society.

Through the ages church attendance has waxed and waned. The society in which I was raised had enough religious training left that most people still believed in “following the ten commandments.” As children we were taught to be good and do good, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” and many other of Jesus’ teachings.

Years ago one of our children told of an offhand comment he made to some young people he had just met about his “Needing the patience of Job.” Since he came from a Bible background he didn’t realize not everyone would understand the reference, but they didn’t and that was twenty-five years ago. Since then the number of people who understand Biblical phrases has diminished. Future generations will fall much shorter at this rate. If current church attendance and worshipping God is any indication that is.

The winds are blowing both ways. Even those who aren’t strong in the Christian faith don’t like where countries—not just America—are going. However, much of the problem is people want to be secular moral. The term secular means “without God” and what those people miss is that without God there is no foundation for principled morality.

Two years ago my Adorable cousin’s husband forbade her to go to a school board meeting. One must remember we live in a sleepy, small-town, Midwest community. Adorable and I are well past sixty years old. Why would her hubby be adamantly against such a harmless activity?

That was the year the FBI was harassing people at school board meetings. Even old women who on occasion made public comments were targeted. And of all things it is in our family a major trait to speak up and speak out… A trait that Adorable and I share. We are not the only family members known for not always going along with the crowd.

And apparently, her hubby—who served with distinction in Viet Nam didn’t want the FBI breaking down their door in an early morning raid.

Yet, we must not lose sight of several things. The two most important points are, every century, every decade, indeed, every year has its storm. There will always be enough challenges for everyone to go around. I would like to believe it helps weed out the tares from the wheat, but it doesn’t. Being sincere is important, but like perfect practice not only should we be sincere we need to be right. It isn’t only worshipping God in Spirit, but also in Truth.

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

And, again, as the saying goes, “We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.”

“And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.” (Exodus 29:45-46)

What Tomorrow May Bring

“What man is he that desireth life, And loveth many days, that he may see good?”
(Psalms 34:12)

view of ocean during golden hour

There is a hymn that starts with the words: “I care not today what tomorrow may bring…” Yet no matter what our lips say, most of us really do care. We are hoping and praying for favor and grace from God.

“And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow! And God granted him that which he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

At their high school graduation, one of our children received a small book, I believe the name of it was, “Prayer of Jabez”. It was a very popular book that year. I don’t remember how the book was set up but…

In scripture, we find the very short succinct “Prayer of Jabez” in I Chronicles 4:9-10. As far as I know, the name Jabez only occurs in I Chronicles 4:9-10 (and I Chronicles 2:55) in the scriptures.

Jabez bore the remembrance in scripture of being more honorable than his brethren. The next thing we are told is his mother named him Jabez, not because he was more honorable but because she bare him with sorrow. I don’t know what direction that sorrow took. It could have been a difficult labor and delivery, or it could have been something else, we are not enlightened on the circumstances.

We are told that he was more honorable, and he was also wise. He “called on the God of Israel” and he asked for God’s blessing: “keep me from evil and it be not to my sorrow.”

We don’t know who Jabez was, where he came from or where things went from there… Except, God granted him his request.

The point in my mind is to make your choices count.

In Gibeon Jehovah appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. (1 Kings 3:5)

…And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern justice; behold, I have done according to thy word: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there hath been none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. (1 Kings 3:10-12)

Solomon’s request had been:  Give thy servant therefore an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this thy great people? (1 Kings 3:9)

Give me an understanding heart… and just as the prayer of Jabez pleased the Lord, Solomon’s request pleased the Lord as well.

In a video I watched recently the speaker told how he enjoyed the preaching but the counseling wasn’t pleasant to him. He had developed one question that he always asked first in his counseling sessions.

His question was, “Do you read your Bible daily?” I lost the thread so I’m not sure where he went with the idea, but asking counsel of the Lord is always a good place to start.

However, no matter how often I read my Bible I still have questions, and I still need answers. The difficult part is when, after floundering and searching for “the answer” I make a decision and sometimes immediately or sometimes later down the stream of time, I see there was a better option that I should have taken, but I just didn’t see it.

I have called this the phenomenon of “Spending the same dollar twice.” It is a situation where I have two different options, maybe to buy one thing or maybe some other thing, and forgetting that I only have a limited amount of money I try to put it in both places. At least until I realize… “You can only spend that dollar once.” And most decisions once made can’t be unmade.

I have developed a card game which as of yet is unnamed. I thought about “Cowboy Solitaire” but I’m thinking of running a contest for the naming of the game. At one time my grandmother would play solitaire, and around the holidays I developed the habit of doing the same as a remembrance.

The thing I found about Solitaire was that it goes against my nature. There was a questionnaire years ago attempting to find what slot to peg people in. One question was… if you have the option would you choose as your partner in a card game, 1) your spouse 2) a woman friend, or 3) a man friend?

My choice is whichever partner guarantees that we win. Like Blackbeard in Disney’s “Blackbeard’s Ghost” (Peter Ustinov), “Win! I taught my men to win.” That’s my motto.

However, with Solitaire sometimes you win, sometimes the cat gets the game. With the game I developed the point is to win. I’ve tried to get my family to help me refine the game and get it saleable. I see it as a tool to help people gauge in their own lives decisions and how to evaluate choices.

I have been told that I have a unique way of looking at things. When people share that information with me they usually do so as they are putting some distance between themself and me, so I’m not thinking it’s a real compliment.

When evaluating information most of us have a set way we handle incoming facts and analysis. A few years ago, in our haywire world, I heard someone proposing that “men could get pregnant.”

As my granny used to say, “I’m a little old woman, just trying to get along.” Indeed, I’m not a spring chick anymore, and I must say this new information was shocking. As I ruminated on this idea, running the “what I knew to be physiology and what they were proposing” through my mind, I came to the natural conclusion…

Naw, that ain’t happening. And my “What universe do they live in?” kicked in. It isn’t quite fair to reach an age where the obvious truth is being pushed out and stupidity is replacing it.

This morning I’m sitting with my door open, listening to the birds and enjoying the fresh air. People can say all sorts of stupid things. They can believe all sorts of lies, but God is in heaven. The birds still build their nests and lay their eggs. Their babies hatch and they raise them. And the sun still rises and sets in the morning and the evening…

“Oh taste and see that Jehovah is good: Blessed is the man that taketh refuge in him.” (Psalms 34:8)

A Song of Ascents; of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, That ran down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard; That came down upon the skirt of his garments; Like the dew of Hermon, That cometh down upon the mountains of Zion: For there Jehovah commanded the blessing, Even life for evermore. (Psalms 133:1-3)

Going Easy…

Losing sight of land. Some days I feel like an ancient sailor on an ancient ship as you leave the shore behind…

light sea dawn landscape

“…God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas;” (Psalms 46:1-2)

Today has arrived in all its glory. The sunshine fills the sky, the breeze is brisk—which translates to a forty mile per hour, put a rock in your pocket and pin your wig on tight, wind.

Losing sight of land. Some days I feel like an ancient sailor on an ancient ship as you leave the shore behind, the harbor and anything that was recognizable disappears. All that surrounds you is the air and sea for miles, and hopefully, there is someone who knows not just where you are going, but how to get there.

There is a mission. I’ve watched small children that have a mission in mind. The mission isn’t discernable maybe other than they are intent on doing it. In my young life, I would on occasion walk in my sleep. One night in particular it was raining and storming loudly outside with thunder and lightning.

I remember waking up as I stood at the front door, unlatching the lock to go outside. At this time my cousin, Kathy, and her baby were visiting my grandparents. She had gotten up to prepare a bottle for her little one, and as I stood there she asked me, “What are you doing?”

I had walked downstairs in my sleep and just woke up. I had no idea what I was doing and answered accordingly. “I don’t know.”

“Well, get back upstairs,” she said as she took the bottle out of the water. I dutifully turned around and walked back toward the stairs as she turned off the light and she began walking back toward the bedroom, but…

Somewhere during that time I fell asleep again and turned back toward the front door. I collided with her before I could get to the front door, and she snapped at me, “What are you doing? Get back to bed.” I must have made it that time.

Life can be like that. We arrive on this earth with a mission, but somewhere we forget what it is. Worse, we lose sight of the steersman to keep us going in the right direction.

“Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods: but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again?”  (Galatians 4:8-9)

Of course, the bad part about this is when you don’t know where you are going, you don’t know when you have arrived. And the next question is am I where I’m supposed to be?

I’ve heard people say such things as, “I’m right where I need to be.” And I’ve thought, “Well, that isn’t where I’d like to be, but if they’re happy I guess there’s that.” Or as my Grandmother used to say, “Each to their notion said the little old lady that kissed the cow.”

We do need to be content to be where God has called us to be, and where God has put us. Old Fuzzy and I were planning to do mission work overseas with a group of students from the School of Preaching after he graduated.

The first part of the team had their funding and were making their final plans when a political happening happened and they couldn’t get into the target country. They ended up in Hong Kong, I believe.

We found a congregation looking to work with a more local, in the United States work, so we remained state-side in our home state working in the Northeastern part of the state. We later moved back to our home territory and have stayed in this state ever since.

What has happened in this area for quite some time is, for instance with our small congregation, we find preachers who have support (for their work and their family) in an area. These, usually young, families move in and begin their work, but…

The supporting congregation wants to see results. They want to see numbers growing. They want to see baptisms and Bible studies happening and often their goal is to “wean the preacher and the congregation off of their support.” They want to see the congregation become self-supporting most often in a few years.

When that scenario doesn’t happen along their time frame the supporting congregation looks for a new spot for their preacher and his family to work with, or a different congregation and preacher to work with.

A few years back in speaking to a fellow worker in this area I told her what this state and this congregation needed was not the ‘missionary’ type workers who come in and are employed with a congregation for a few years or to fulfill someone’s goals

I told her that what we needed in this work was someone who would live and work here in this area. Someone who would have children, raise those children here, live here, and become part of this culture.

There was a catchy line a few years ago, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I don’t espouse that belief, but people will know how sincere you are by where you put your life.

I recall an article written about missionaries working in a country where the groups they attempted to minister to didn’t have time for the missionaries. The local people had become used to the ministers being there only for a short time then they would be gone. They were used to missionaries that weren’t really invested in the lives of the people.

The reality is that sometimes it takes a lifetime. The reality is that sometimes we don’t get more bang for our buck by doing things fast. Keep in mind the joke about if we are what we eat, we are either fast, cheap, or easy—but that doesn’t work in this work. No matter where our mission work may be we need to make the commitment to stick with it.

“Then Mordecai bade them return answer unto Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish: and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

Such a time as this… Apparently, there is a chance that Old Fuzzy and I are where we are supposed to be at the time we are supposed to be. God’s people never should doubt who is in control and the ability to place people where they are supposed to be at the right time.

“Come, behold the works of Jehovah, What desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalms 46:8-11)

Until It Finally Was

“Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.” Victor Hugo

red and black bird on red flowers

“We gain a new definition of freedom when we also remember and consider the roles of ordinary people who did extraordinary things at this moment.”

Taken from the book “An Army of Amateurs” written by Philippe De Vomecourt, about his work with the Résistance during World War II.

Extraordinary versus ordinary, and who are those people? On occasion, we see articles about ordinary people, some of them young and some of them old, who are thrown into a situation and without thinking they do the impossible, such as they lift a car off of another person to save their life. And we all marvel at such an occurrence since under normal circumstances they wouldn’t be able to do such a feat.

Mr. De Vomecourt, the author of the above quote, was an interesting subject. He came from a wealthy maybe even considered an aristocratic family and had seen his share of life and adventure when World War Two came around. He had two brothers, and I believe he was the middle child. They three came together and divided France up and each took an area to work and lead in the Resistance.

He saw firsthand the events the ordinary people did throughout France under very difficult times with an ever-present enemy and everywhere present enemy. For five long years, the people of the Resistance suffered without the guarantee that they would ever be free from their enemy.

Our lives are in a sense a piecemeal of works. A hodge-podge if you will of happenings. There is a birthday, then a one-year birthday, and so forth. Maybe there is schooling, graduation. A first job, a first love, marriage a family, and all through the years there are happenings, some notable as family members are added and some subtracted.

And we gain a new definition of living through it all, during the times we were heroes and during the times we weren’t. By heroes, we don’t mean necessarily lifting the car off someone, or rescuing people from burning buildings although that would certainly qualify. But heroes mostly come in simple clothing such as being there at the right time in the right way.

Heroes are more often disguised as common people doing everyday chores. They give encouragement through a smile, a pat on the back, or by offering that boost to help others move over an obstacle.

“Let love of the brethren continue. Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Do not ask your children

to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable,

but it is the way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder

and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting

tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry

when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure

in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself. ~William Martin

“Show me thy ways, O Jehovah; Teach me thy paths. Guide me in thy truth, and teach me; For thou art the God of my salvation; For thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O Jehovah, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindness; For they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: According to thy lovingkindness remember thou me, For thy goodness’ sake, O Jehovah.”  (Psalms 25:4-7)

What is Your Life?

James 4:14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

man with beard wearing brown headscarf

In art, it is said that what remains of a piece of art is the important element of the piece. Many times I find ideas from a snippet of someone else. It may be a long article, or just the thumbnail that catches my attention. And the final product of my idea isn’t always what the original article was about.

I was reading an article that began with this story, as they called it a ‘parable’ that went like this:

“In elementary school my parents told me it didn’t matter what I did when I grew up, so long as it made me happy. ‘Happiness is the whole point of life,’ my father said. ‘But it doesn’t always come easy. Your mother loves to help people in need, so she became a psychiatric nurse. I love reading, writing and poetry, so I became an English teacher. We both find happiness in the hard work we do each day.’

A few years later when I was in junior high, my sixth-grade homeroom teacher put me in detention for ‘being difficult.’ She went around the classroom and asked each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. When she got to me, I told her I wanted to be happy. She told me I was missing the whole point of the question. I told her she was missing the whole point of life.”

That came from a longer article by Marc and Angel /HackLife written by Marc Chernoff

The article is one of encouragement on finding our passion but… it didn’t exactly follow the standard procedure of pursuing what makes you happy. Which, as the above parable suggests, we can find our passion as a reflection in something outside of ourselves.

What is wrong with that view? Many people don’t know what their passion is and they continually wait, looking around for their passion to show up and inspire them. And they wait and wait, and wait some more. Then they reach the end of their life and wonder what happened.

I remember when I was in middle school wondering what I wanted to do when I grew up or at least got out of school. I thought about being a farmer, but back at that time, single women weren’t considered eligible to be farmers. They could be farmer’s wives, but it wasn’t until the seventies that women began to break into the leadership role in farming.

My mother at the end of her life was a waitress, and I thought that might be a possibility. I enjoyed painting and artwork, but what could an untrained person do in a career as an artist? In retrospect, I probably would have ended up in medicine of some sort, but then it isn’t what might have been that matters.

It’s a scientific fact that water takes the path of least resistance. In training a horse we were told the rule was to make it harder for the animal to do anything except for what you want them to do. Humans are often much the same as water and training a horse. The path of least resistance is very often where we go. If we have a fork in our road we take it, as Yogi Berra would say.

Therefore, as we go wending our way through life, we aren’t really thinking we will find happiness just around the bend by pursuing our passion. We are attempting to find the easiest and best solution in our lives. A new step so to speak. Maybe we are looking for ‘where the Lord is leading’, or the path of least resistance.

Lately, I feel as if I’m on a quest reading and looking for something. I do find many items, some of which are worth passing on. I “borrowed” these last lines from a much longer poem from a FaceBook share from a poet, Mário Raul de Morais Andrade. The first line reads, “I counted my years and found that I have less time to live from here on than I have lived up to now.” (In case someone wants to look up and read the entire poem…) The last lines read:

“My goal is to reach the end satisfied   (the end of life, of course)

and at peace with my loved ones

and my conscience.

We have two lives.

And the second begins when you realize you only have one.” (the second life begins when…)

~Mário Raul de Morais Andrade (Oct 9, 1893 – Feb 25, 1945)

Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, photographer

The whole poem, which is a thoughtful good poem, is on how little we value the first part of our life, until we realize—as the first part of the poem says—we have less life left to live. At that point, if we are smart we slow down and begin to savor the important things in our lives. And yes, many times our vision changes. We desire peace with our loved ones, and within ourselves, but we should desire especially peace with God.

“(27) And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; (28) for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. (29) But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (30) And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. (31) And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.  (Luke 16:27-31)

Always and Forever

For what doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? For what should a man give in exchange for his life?
(Mark 8:36-37)

close up photo of a hand holding three white kittens

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his days, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that fear before him:” (Ecclesiastes 8:11-12)

I enjoy watching videos on healthy eating, healthy living and all-around wellbeing, or being well. Oddly enough, I’ve noticed the trend in the last twenty years that more people are becoming exceedingly invested in doing healthy things.

Indeed we’ve thrown out the cigarettes as bad for us and we work at diets, sometimes several diets, always looking for something perfect. Something perfect that will give us the perfect—the perfect look, the perfect feel, the perfect body, we may not know exactly what the perfect thing is we’re looking for but we know it’s perfect.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. We did at one time, but all that we have left of that world are the words “In the beginning God… and God saw it was good.” We can see hints, small reminders scattered here and there like jewels or beautiful roses guarded by thorns.

Calendars often use the most beautiful pictures of our present world. Pictures of sunrises and sunsets, of mountains, oceans, seas, houses or the list goes on of the beauties of this world used to decorate our walls and show us the passage of time.

As I’ve pointed out in numerous examples, time can change quickly making that which we believe will always be into something that once was. A few years back I had Old Fuzzy take some pictures of our local fat squirrel out in our grove of trees.

Squirrely wasn’t real worried about getting his picture taken. Since our faithful pooch passed on, Squirrely would frisk around at his own leisure, in the grass looking for the walnuts he had planted last fall.

That’s the way that went until one year Miss Kitty decided there wasn’t any cat competition here and she made her home under one of our outside buildings. And she had a litter of kittens. That litter didn’t survive, but she got an upgrade with a bit of kitty feed and some homegrown fresh milk.

One or two of the next litter of her kittens survived, and so it went. Some kittens survived here and there, and our stray cat population blossomed. Our Squirrely had to be careful, no longer could he (or she) spend leisurely moments hopping through the yard.

At one point we had fourteen big healthy stray cats hopefully catching mice, eating kitty feed, drinking milk and even on occasion following Old Fuzzy— the cat whisperer—around. Old Fuzzy made a live trap and began feeding the cats in the trap with the door open, and you can see what the goal was.

The first catch was only three cats. They became rehomed to a nice big barn at a neighbor’s farmstead. The next haul was nine cats to be rehomed as well. Today, as best as we can tell we have one Tom cat left and maybe one other kitty, but they are still strays who like to come up to eat, then they are off to wander.

And Squirrely? He is back to his ways of leisure, but he’s got an air of joie de vivre—joy of life—about him these days. The day he discovered there wasn’t a herd of cats stalking him he was doing cartwheels in the lawn.

One of the big differences between humans and animals is that we humans look into the future. We make plans, sometimes only transitory plans, and sometimes we think in terms of years.

Squirrely is thankful for his reprieve and maybe it will be long or short. However, we didn’t have plans to populate our farm with a large number of cats in the first place. So we can make all sorts of plans but only God knows what is in store.

And life always moves on… until it doesn’t and then it moves into forever. Forever is what comes after life on this earth. We also call it “eternity”. Which is more important than what we have here, but we become wrapped up in our todays here and too often don’t prepare for the forever or eternity.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

I know of people who look around at the beauties and wonders of this world and get wrapped up in believing that this is all there is. Or on the other hand, people get tied in knots because of the trials and sorrows that beset them.

The uncertainties of this life should remind us that this isn’t our permanent home and we have the promise of something much better. There isn’t an always on this earth, but there is a forever.

Always with a qualifier, like “I’ll always love you, until… the oceans run dry, or the sun no longer shines or… because life happens and we don’t have an all-seeing vision. Likewise, forever needs preparation as someone has said: “People tell you, life is short, you need to enjoy it. I tell you, eternity is long, you need to prepare for it.”

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12)

One Thing or Another

“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27

old woman sitting on chair near girl while reading a book

Question, is it better to have something to say, but not to be able to say it; or have nothing to say and say it often, loud and proud?

My son was recounting to me the other week that he’d been listening to a speaker who happened to be of Italian heritage. The man was relating how Italian mothers /grandmothers would tell their offspring, “You never come to visit me. You don’t listen to me. You don’t…” Well, you get the point, we’ve seen those Italian mothers before.

As my son is telling me of the Italian speaker who was sharing his story about his Italian mother, my son said he stopped the video and asked his brother sitting in the room, “When did mom become an Italian mother?”

Young Fuzzy and I both laughed because as he came to the punchline, I was already hitting the words “When did I become…” And the part of ‘you never listen to me’ line is painfully true.

I’ve told Young Fuzzy, “I think my name should have been Cassandra.” We both know that sad story.

So, where are we today? I spent a whole bunch of time on my last post. For those who don’t write, writing is a Spector. Depending on who is writing, it could be a demon, I suppose. But writing has a voice and sometimes the author might be trying to say something but it isn’t coming out right.

And there was my difficulty because, and I don’t know what the because was but it doesn’t need a because, it just would not behave until it did. Much prayer goes into saying a thing for me. Today is better. The sun is shining, and spring is waving at me through my big sliding door/window. I have garden plants growing, and sadly, dirt in my house. Or maybe just rebelliously I have dirt in my house—sigh.

I do have things to say and should say them late today, or early tomorrow, and more plants to start. I have gleaned a few ideas from an article I began reading last week by Donna Ashworth (From To The Women: words to Live by). She had ten points but I’m just partly sharing some of her points in bold print with my comments thereafter.   

10 THINGS TIME HAS TAUGHT ME.

1. Most of our life is spent chasing false goals and worshipping false ideals.

And we don’t usually catch on. Many people never understand this, they just spend their lives chasing these things, these other gods as it were. The first commandment of the ten commandments is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

2. You really, truly cannot please all of the people all of the time…

If we have put God first and we are truly pleasing him first—not ourselves and not others, we will have a greater chance of finding happiness. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)

3. Fighting the aging process is like trying to catch the wind.

4. Nobody is perfect and nobody is truly happy with their lot.

I put those together because I think they have much in common. When we are young our bodies are changing and growing. When we reach a certain age the same body is still changing but it is growing older and we notice that not usually in a good way. If we’ve been wise in our youth and taken anywhere close to good choices the aging process should be more kind. Even so, we often have reality checks and our “check engine” lights come on. Perhaps we need to slow down, eat a bit more healthy, and choose our path more carefully. Realizing and receiving our blessings with grateful hearts makes us healthier. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

5. No one really sees what you do right, everyone sees what you do wrong. When that becomes clear to you, you will start doing things for the right reason and you will start having so much more fun.

I copied all of point number five not because I agree with it as written, but… That first part isn’t always correct—the challenge should be to surround ourselves with better friends who will encourage us to do the right things. However, the focus should be on the last part of that statement. “Start doing things for the right reason.” When we start doing things for the right reason most everything else falls into the right place. When we stop trying to impress others, or please others before doing the right thing we are no longer trying to force a square peg into a round hole. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you.” (James 4:10)

6. You will regret the years you spent berating your looks, the sooner you can make peace with the vessel your soul lives in, the better. Your body is amazing and important but it does not define you.

Again, beginning with the last sentence in the point, the body God has created is one of amazing capabilities. The first part of the point is also true. I know of very few people who have the “perfect vessel”, and of those few, I know of no one who was ever completely satisfied with that vessel.

Cosmetic doctors make fabulous money working with people striving after the god of perfection. That person should not be us. Much of our lives is cosmetic. The world in which we live is very visual and we base much of our lives on what we see and feel.

It is just the way it is—we begin a year and almost immediately find ourselves at the end of the year. Although I don’t feel like we are doing anything, I look up and no matter what I’m doing it is almost done.

The feed on my social media is a conglomeration of log homes, vintage cars, scriptural memes, and historical happenings. The share section on my social media is a hodge podge of facts and information that at some point I want to read, and possibly share… but maybe not, but I don’t want to lose it in case it’s important.

Being caught, and suspended in time until I can peruse information, at that time it becomes part of my information that FaceBook will judge me as a person on. Sigh.

“And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the grain, and will multiply it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye may receive no more the reproach of famine among the nations.” (Ezekiel 36:25-30)

Time and Swift Transition

Here in the state I live in the wind is a challenge and it’s a presence…

brown book page

*“Always, always, drink the good champagne and use the things you keep for ‘best’. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. Today is a gift that’s why we call it the present. Eat, Drink & Be Merry.” Taken from: Donna Ashworth From To The Women: words to live by

Well, I don’t drink champagne, so there’s that. But the idea is that we often save things we think are special to be used at special times then when all is said and done we don’t use it at all. The special things get broken, or they aren’t special to the one that inherits them, they get sold or worse they are thrown out…

The idea of “eat, drink, and be merry” is found in the scriptures. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says: “If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32)

Some people were saying that the dead were not raised again and the Apostle Paul’s response was, “What? If we have hope in this life only, our reaction should be let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” And if this earthly life is all there is he would be right. However what evidence do we have that there is more than this life?

“—and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. And yet He left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17)

We have proof of a higher being, a God, who left his evidence around us everywhere, and even left us his written word. Indeed, even a child can see the beauties of this earth and realize in order for these things to exist there must be a creator. A systematic, orderly, creation demands that there be a creator, a higher power as it were. God has revealed his higher power through the natural world, its beauty, and its order. God has also used his written word as contained in the Bible. Anyone who denies there is a God must play a convoluted game to arrive at that verdict.

*“We are not here for long but if you are living against the wind it can feel like a life-sentence. Life should not feel like a chore, it should feel like an adventure.” (Also from Donna Ashworth From To The Women: words to live by)

—Living against the wind… Here in the state I live in the wind is a challenge and it’s a presence. I’ve used a clothesline to dry our laundry most of my life. After a few years of living in a different state and then returning, I was hanging clothes on the line. Or at least I was pinning them on the line, but as fast as I would pin them up, the wind was blowing them off. Living against the wind can get real out here.

During the 1930s times were desperate for many people exacerbated by what is known as the Dust Bowl. AP reporter, Robert Geiger coined the phrase Dust Bowl as a huge wall of black dust enveloped the world. It blocked out the sun, at times from Texas to the East Coast killing people and animals. That would have been an adventure I wouldn’t want to have. That would have been living against the wind in real-time.

Just as those people, some who paid for their mistakes with their lives, we must be careful we don’t forge our own chains. No one has found a better basis for living a good life than following the Bible’s instructions. The idea is to weigh our decisions and measure them against the Bible, instead of making them with little to no thought. We should live each day we are given and be thankful, to be grateful.

Time moves at its own pace, steadily day by day. Our lives are like a vapor on the face of this earth. We are told in James, “…whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

History books and historians record the large-scale events that shape what is remembered on the pages of history books. But seldom do we ever view the small everyday happenings that are important to everyday people. The small things are just as important as the large ones. As the saying goes, “To the world, you may be one person, but to one person you are the world.” Bill Wilson

A true story came across my feed about a wealthy young man of 29, in the prime of his life. He was preparing to go on a skiing vacation when he received a call from a friend who was living in Prague. The young man, Winton, was urged to join his friend for what was a momentous event.

When Winton arrived in Prague he found refugee camps—the year was December 1938—Prague was full of people who had fled from Sunderland, and not just refugees, but hundreds of children, whose needs were not addressed. This became Nicholas Winton’s purpose, to take care of as many Jewish children as he could with the time clock ticking. He was able by the grace of God to get six hundred sixty-nine children safely into England before the border shut down.

Mr. Winton went on with his life, never telling his children or grandchildren, he didn’t even tell his wife about this segment of his life. It wasn’t until 1988, when his wife discovered his journal with names, addresses, and pictures of the children and their adoptive families that his activities in these events came to light.

As can be imagined, as his story became public many things came about in his last years . He received awards and recognition from not just “Winton’s children” as the children he had rescued became known but from heads of countries across the world. He was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, before his death in 2015 at one hundred and six years old.

*“Who will remember you and for what, become important factors as you age. Your love and your wisdom will live on far longer than any material thing you can pass down. Tell your stories, they can travel farther than you can imagine.” (Donna Ashworth From To The Women: words to live by)

“Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that. But now ye glory in your vauntings: all such glorying is evil. To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17)