A List of Names.

Vietnam Memorial, photo by Noel Sheffer.

I was listening to a podcast this morning called, “Pray the Word with David Platt.”  He spoke on this verse of the Bible:

Nehemiah 11:12

“…and their brothers who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah…”

The house spoken of in the verse is the House of the Lord, the temple. It needed to be repaired or rebuilt. The Babylonians had destroyed it.

Mr. Platt said it seems like this is a Bible verse that could not help anyone – a list of names – but this is what he said he got out of it.

We count. Our names mean something to God. What we do means something to God.

I remember Jesus saying to his disciples, “Don’t rejoice the evil spirits obey you; but rejoice your name is written in heaven.”

It’s a pretty big deal our names are written in the Book of Life. It is much more important than if we can cast out demons like Jesus did.

I loved what Mr. Platt said about us and our names, he said, “You are part of a great picture that spans centuries.” Yes, as each generation comes and goes, those who believe are a part of those who build up the kingdom of God.

Learning to Play Elder Scrolls at 69.

It’s 10:00 pm and after months of binge watching, Father Brown, Midsomer Murders, Call the Midwife, and Sherlock, I’ve had to find a new series for my mother to watch. She has short-term memory problems so I had the Father Brown series on about 10 times until it moved into her long-term memory. She finally said the words, “I remember this one.” I should probably tell a researcher on the elderly about that.

While she watches I, clean, cook, paint, do some woodwork, listen to podcasts, and play Elder Scrolls. I’m 69 years old and I just learned the joy of this kind of game. I don’t even know the right name for this kind of game. Multi-player is part of it. Maybe role-playing.

My sister from Washington State introduced me to games. She wanted to do something with me since we live far apart. We started with Portal Knights, moved on to Minecraft and then landed on Elder Scrolls Online.

We played the first two games for awhile, but my sister’s wi-fi at her trailer park is quite weak. She got a booster, but still got thrown out of the game time after time, or she would appear with a head and no body, so we had to stop playing those. She said she tried for hours to find us another game but couldn’t find one the two of us could play together. She prayed and God told her, “Elder Scrolls.” She said, “Really!? Okay.” So that’s how we began. ( She’s not crazy; we both think God talks to us.)

It quickly became clear I was very bad at this game. Elder Scrolls loves to keep players in the dark about their rules and how to play the game. Or, if you look at it another way, they have so many pages of tiny writing your eyes start aching and your brain hurting. I can’t read much on the computer anyway, and I’m glad the game doesn’t seem to bother my eyes after we eliminated the blue light. My sister tried to help me, but it was painful for both of us. Her wi-fi also hated Elder Scrolls, so we gave up.
We gave up trying to play together, but I was determined to keep playing myself. There was this one thing I loved about the game: travel and scenery.

I’ve always loved to travel and in Elder Scrolls there are all these islands you can go to. The scenery and architecture of the buildings is different in each place. My favorite part of the game is walking through the woods finding stuff I need in order to make things like weapons, clothing and food. It is lovely and soothing until a white tiger sneaks up from behind, swipes your back and calls all his friends to finish you off.

I’m a wood elf. My sister said that is the best person to be because she likes to stand back and shoot people. But that wasn’t the weapon they gave me at the beginning. They gave her a bow and arrow but gave me a staff that shoots out fire! Oh yeah, I fell in love with it. It worked very well in a fight. Then I saw a different player with a fire staff who banged hers on the ground and the ground became electric, zapping people. Wow! How could I get that!? I got it now, baby.

Honestly, I never thought I would like a game like this, but I think I know why I do. After you finish a quest, after you save some lives, after you kill the bad guys, you feel great. You feel like you have really accomplished something good. After I saved the Queen’s life, people in the different cities said, “Are you the one who saved the Queen?” “Why yes I am.”

You know, I’m glad I can take care of my 92-year-old mom. But do I feel excited, elated and proud of myself like I do in Elder Scrolls? No! That thought does give me pause. I’m not sure what to make of it. What I do know is that I have something exciting to do again and that makes me happy.

So, my mom and I are growing old together, happy as if in our right mind. And one thing is really handy about this time of our lives. In the last five years I’ve become agoraphobic and rarely leave the apartment. My mom is weak and tired and doesn’t want to go anywhere. I mean, how great is that? God works in mysterious ways. But I guess it wasn’t a mystery to him that I would love Elder Scrolls.

He Knows Our Name.

I was reading Jeremiah when I came across this verse:

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.  Jeremiah 7:13

I didn’t remember reading it before, but the thought came, “That is like the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus bend down and wrote something in the dirt. What he wrote convicted the men who wanted to stone her and they walked away from doing so.” John 8.

Many think Jesus wrote the men’s names down and also the sins they committed. I think that is right because these men were the hypocrites of Jerusalem who were always trying to trip Jesus up so they could kill him. They were self-righteous men and yet men who did great evil. I think when Jesus wrote, the men saw how evil they were and also did not want their sins to be made public.

If our names are written on the earth it means earth is the place we consider our home. We belong to the world and want to belong here. All our thoughts are on this world and our role in it.

Jesus talked about people who consider this earth their home. He said they are like good seed planted by the thorns. He said, “The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.”

We can have our name written in heaven, in the Book of Life, if we so choose. It means heaven is our true home. Instead of constantly thinking about jobs, houses, movies, family, romantic love, sex etc. we will choose to make time to talk with God, ask him to be in us each day and study about him in the Bible.

There is a verse in Revelation that always makes me smile. It is about a new name that God will give us. That name will only be known between us and God,

“To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’  Revelation 2:17

Here are some verses about the Book of Life:

Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:20

And all who dwell on earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  Revelation 13:8

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.  Revelation 20:12

And of course, there is the Name Above All Names: Jesus Christ.

Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place

and gave Him the name above all names,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Philippeans 2:9-11

The Path of Wisdom.

I often listen to, “The Bible Study Podcast,” by Chris Christensen. I enjoy having someone read the Bible to me and he gives very interesting commentaries.

His program has been on for a few years, so I go back and listen to those older ones too. The one I am listening to now is the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs’ main theme is getting wisdom from God. God calls out wisdom to the world. He shouts to the world what is right and what is wrong. Many times, he says that if you choose the wrong path, you will pay for it in your life. Your own foolishness will bring disaster upon yourself.

It is so easy to see that happening in the world and in our families. Perhaps someone we are close to makes a terrible decision; everyone around them can see what they are doing is bound to end in heartache. Yet they won’t listen to advice; they are determined to do what their emotions tell them to do.

But the wonderful thing about God is that he gives us the freedom to do that. We can choose the wrong path, and sometimes we will learn from our mistakes that God was right all along. We can look back at our bad decisions and realize we need God’s help. And he is so quick to receive and forgive us.

Mr. Christensen said, “It is wise to learn from our own mistakes; but it is even better to learn from the mistakes of others.”

I like what he said. I remember when I was a teenager in the 1960s and drugs were flooding California. I was curious about these drugs. I smoked pot and liked it a lot. I liked it far better than even beer. It didn’t make you sick, angry or stupid – it was just fun.

Then LSD and Speed came to our school. Lots of people I knew were doing these drugs, but I was leery. My parents used to buy Time and Newsweek and I read the articles on what Speed did to people and how some had died. I had a dear friend from school who got hooked on Speed and his life was ruined. When Art Linkletter’s daughter jumped from the window of a high building when she was on LSD, it horrified me. I learned from these people’s mistakes.

My high school did a wonderful thing; they had us all watch a movie about a man who was hooked on heroin. His life was so awful that I was never tempted to try heroin either. I learned from his life.

It is good to pray for wisdom. In my life, I have let my emotions rule me far too much. I can see how much I needed wisdom then and need it now. Maybe if we look carefully at ourselves and realize we are making a decision based on our emotions, then that could be a warning signal for us.

It is kind of scary when we want to do something to say to God, “I’m giving this to you. If you don’t want me to do it, then let me know. I know you only do what is best for my life.” It is hard to give control over our lives to someone else, even if that someone is God. But I know from experience that his path leads to great peace and happiness.

God Surrounds Us.

I haven’t written lately. My mother had a few minor heart attacks and was in the hospital overnight. They sent us home with some pills and nitroglycerine spray, which is working very well. I’m glad she is still with us at 92 years old.

 In the third chapter of Joshua, the people of Israel are prepared to go into the promised land and take it. The Jordan River flows between them and Jericho. God tells Joshua to have the priests take the Ark of the Covenant to the river. They were to go ahead of the people with the ark and stop in the middle. Then the people could pass over. The river stopped flowing the moment the priest’s feet hit the water.

I thought about how God promises to go before us. “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

My granddaughter just finished taking a college course on office work. She has been doing very well and is now in her practicum at the college itself. She loves the people there along with her desk space which has a lovely view out the windows. She would like to get a job there but there are no openings right now. She is concerned about getting a job. One reason I love God is that he says, “Don’t worry about anything.” I’m not worried for her because I know God has gone before her and she will get a job.

A job is a need, and he promises to supply all our needs. Many times he doesn’t do this swiftly. Many times he does. However long he takes, we can ask him to make us patient and to learn how to trust him in the waiting.

In Isaiah chapter 58, God tells us that if we are good to our neighbors and help the poor he will be our rearguard. The rearguard is a detachment of soldiers protecting the army as it marches ahead into battle. Yes, that is God. Isaiah 58:8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

God also promises to be beside us. “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:18

Finally, God promises to surround us. Psalm 3:3 But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

Treasury of David: Bible Hub. “Here David avows his confidence in God. “Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me.” The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh, what a shield is God for his people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast.”

It is good to meditate on these words. We can picture Jesus in front of us, beside us, behind us and then realize he is all around us. When I think hard about the fact that the God of the universe, a being that powerful and amazing, walks with me through life, I stand in awe and I am filled with gratitude.

“I Will Never Leave You.”

I’m 69 and I take care of my mother who is 91. She has short-term memory loss. She can still play games; we just have to explain them each time. She can read and talk about politics, but she usually forgets that Trump is president and what we have said about him. She remembers the past very well and talks about her childhood.

Her favorite show is “Father Brown.” It is a British show about a priest who solves murders. He is also a kind and spiritual priest who says wonderful things about God. The thing is, she doesn’t remember the shows after she watches them. At first, I found different shows after we had watched all of “Father Brown”, but she would see a picture of him on Netflix and say, “I love “Father Brown”. I’d like to watch that.” So now, I just have that show on all the time for her when it is just the two of us up and about. My husband and her watch other things.

What I found really interesting is that we also watch Joyce Meyer, the preacher, every day. But there is a big difference. She remembers the shows! If there are two of them to watch and I choose the one we watched before she will say, “We’ve seen this one.”

When my husband was in the hospital for a procedure that went all wrong, he became very sick. I went in his room one morning and he looked at me and said, “Who are you?” I left the room and started bawling in the hallway. A nurse ran up and asked me why I was crying and I said, “My husband doesn’t even know who I am.”

All hell broke loose; doctors came running from everywhere. It turned out that during the procedure the doctor had cut open his liver and didn’t know it. They did save him and he was okay. He got his memory back.

He told me later that when he had woken up, he had remembered God and Jesus, but that was all. He hadn’t even known who he was or why he was in a hospital. He said remembering Jesus gave him peace of mind. He wasn’t worried.

When my nephew became very sick with schizophrenia, the only time he talked sanely was when he talked with me about whether there was a God and what he was like. We talked on and off for about 6 months. The last time I saw him he told me he believed in God and given his life to him. A few days later he was dead by suicide.

I find all this beautiful and encouraging, how God can speak to and live in our minds no matter how sick we are, no matter how our minds are affected.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38,39

Words We Say to Those in Pain.

When reading about what to say to people when they are suffering, I would say the most common advice given is to just listen. Don’t give advice, don’t quote scripture and don’t say it was God’s will.

I agree with this, up to a point. The day after a loved one dies is not the time to do a lot of talking. It is best to listen and say how sorry you are this happened and you are sorry for their pain. Later on, if the person asks you for help you could tell them how God helped you in a similar situation or perhaps give them a book that helped you.

Some people are even offended if a person says to them, “I am praying for you.” I think they are being too touchy if this offends them. It is a great privilege to be prayed over by a believer. It opens heaven’s doors to do more and more for you. (In my opinion.) It is so easy to offend people when it is the last thing you ever want to do. (I have hurt people’s feelings on Instagram and I didn’t want to do that at all.)

But I have learned a lot from other Christians giving me advice and quoting scripture. Joyce Meyer gives tons of solid advice on what to do with sad and negative feelings. Praying, reading the Bible (especially the Psalms) and listening to Joyce’s advice has finally helped me see I can fight depression and win. I didn’t think it was possible before I watched her program.

I’ve written about this in other posts, so I won’t go into detail on what Joyce says; but I was thinking about what God has said to those going through a hard time. I don’t think people would necessarily agree with God.

Job suffered the loss of all he owned and all of his 10 children. When his friends came to visit him, they said nothing for 7 days. They just sat with him. I’m sure this was comforting to Job, but silence can’t last forever.

Now when they did finally speak, they said all the wrong things. In fact, they blamed Job himself for his troubles. They said he must have some secret sin and God was punishing him. My advice is to never say this to anyone. Let the Holy Spirit do the job of convicting of sin.

So finally, God shows up. Did he say comforting words? No! He basically said that Job had no right to question why God did what he did. He was the creator and God of the whole universe. He was wise and knew what he was doing.

When Jeremiah was crying and complaining to God about his miserable life (and it was very miserable), God said, “If you can’t keep up with the foot soldiers; how can you run with the horsemen?” In other words, things were going to get worse so you better man-up!

What did Jesus say to people who were sad? He said, “Don’t cry,” to a woman who lost her son and then raised him from the dead. He said, “Don’t be afraid,” quite a few times. When the disciples were terrified of drowning in a storm on a lake he said, “Why were you afraid; where is your faith?

When the disciples were sad about Jesus saying he was going away, he said, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me.” Then he told them he would prepare homes for them in heaven and would return.

When Martha and Mary told Jesus their brother would not have died if he had been there, Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” I think people today would not like what God and Jesus said to people when they were suffering.

A few years ago, I was suicidal and took some pills. I survived, but wasn’t too happy about it. The next day I lay in bed and said to God, “Please get me out of here!” God spoke to my heart and said, “I could do that. But what if I told you that if you, live you will be a help to people.” I thought about it and said, “Okay, although I don’t see who I could ever help anyone.” Then he said, “You have need of endurance,” which is somewhere in the Bible. “Endurance!” I said. Who cares about endurance?”

But I kept that word in my heart, even though I didn’t care about it myself. I figured if God cared about it then I should care. Eventually, I began praying for endurance. Now that word pops off the page when I see it in the Bible. Yes, I can see I don’t have endurance. I want everything to be done and over and be in heaven with Jesus. I don’t want to suffer again as long as I live. I don’t want to go to one more funeral.

But I also remember how God was my comfort at those funerals. His grace was ample. His comfort overwhelmed me each time. Knowing this helps me to endure; and praying about endurance gives me hope he will give it to me when the time comes that I need it.

I do think we should be careful what we say to people. All the time. But we all make mistakes; none of us is perfect. I think we need to be forgiving of others if we think they said the wrong thing to us. We should not be touchy and quick to judge. We shouldn’t never go around telling people what so-and-so said. I’ve been guilty of that. My mother used to tell me, “It is hard for me to take offense. I always think they didn’t really mean what they said.” She gave grace to the person and I like that.