What I Learned this Week from Podcasts.

 I have written before about the podcasts I follow. I thought I would update the list since I have found quite a few more that help me in my walk with God. Then I will share a few things I have learned just this week from podcasts.

Your Daily Prayer Podcast

Jesus Over Everything

The Messy Table with Jenn Jewell

Go and Tell Gals

Everything Happens with Kate Bowler

Son of a Preacher Man

Passion City Church DC (Ben Stuart Pastor)

Prayers for Your Day

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

The Bible Binge

Jesus Calling Podcast

Behind the Scenes

From the list, it probably looks like I listen to podcasts all day, but most of these podcasts only post once or twice a week, sometimes less than that. I like to listen to a few every day.

So, what touched me this week? I won’t name the podcast or the speaker because when I made notes, I didn’t jot that down. And these are not verbatim quotes, just the general idea of what the person was saying.

Inner peace is a struggle, a daily battle. It won’t come without a fight. Peace and hope are essential.” I have found this true for me. The struggle has included more prayer and believing God will do it for you if you ask. Don’t get discouraged and don’t get tired of asking for peace and hope. When Jesus said, “Ask for anything in my name and I will give it to you,” he wasn’t talking about a new car, house or job. He was talking about spiritual gifts. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Do we believe that? I didn’t. Now, I do.

Someone said, “The fact is that we humans have never seen peace between all nations or all the hungry fed, yet some of us want this and work towards it. Where did these ideals come from since we have never seen it? God.” Sometimes I think this is the greatest argument for the existence of a God.

One man told a story of how he was working 7 days a week as a pastor, overloaded and stressed. His back was seriously injured and he had to lay face-down for at least a month. They were not sure if his back would heal and he couldn’t have surgery. So, he lay there day after day watching movies on his laptop, but naturally he grew bored. He turned the laptop off and just lay there. He heard God speak to his mind saying, “Are you ready to talk now?” Lol. (I find God so funny sometimes.)

Anyway, he said he and God talked and talked and God showed him how essential rest was to the human mind and body. Before the injury, this pastor had not delegated work to others; he had done it all himself. He found out he didn’t have to do that. He saw his life had been one of unmitigated stress.

The Lord showed him the wisdom of having a Sabbath day and why that was created along with everything else. If we don’t rest, we will eventually fall apart. My father told me once, “If it weren’t for the Sabbath, I think I’d be dead by now.” He was a workaholic. He hated holidays, because all the businesses were closed. And the pastor? He went to physio and gradually, slowly, his back healed.

I appreciate podcasts so much, because I have sight problems and can’t read on the computer for long. It is wonderful to lie in bed with my tablet and just listen. These Christians are doing a wonderful work for God and I thank him for that all the time.

Be A Servant.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, the topic of which was, “Leadership.”I almost skipped it to move on to the next topic, because I am not a leader, either in the world or in the church. But I’m glad I listened, because his interpretation on what “Leadership” is was very interesting.

He quoted scripture and then concluded that leadership is “serving.” He said those in leadership of the church are to be servants to the believers.

Luke 22:25-27: And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

So, how was Jesus a, “servant among us?”

When anyone asked Jesus to heal them, he healed them. When people were hungry, he fed them. He walked from town to town teaching the truth to crowds of people. He prayed for us. He turned no one away. He bore the cross, despising the shame of it. He washed our feet.

Matt. 20:27-28: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 Mark 10:44-45 “And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Jesus said these things about desiring to be first because quite often the disciples argued about this. They thought Jesus was going to establish an earthly kingdom; they wanted in on the power of that kingdom. They all desired to be first. James and John’s mother even petitioned Jesus to put her sons at his right and left hand in the new kingdom. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you are asking for.”

Desires can trip us up. Desires can make us discontented. Desires can lead to sin. My sister and I once studied the word, “lust” and how it is used in the Bible. It simply means wrong desires.

 Jesus is saying the desire to be first is wrong. It is wrong because it means others are below you and then, at the tail end, there is the person who is last. Like the guy/gal who was chosen last for the baseball team; that kind of “last.”

In God’s eyes, those who are looked down on, those who struggle through life, those who go quietly through life being a servant to others, will be first in the kingdom of God.

But what did Jesus mean when he told the story of the farmer who hired works for his vineyard? He kept hiring men all day and then paid them all the same wage at the end of the day. The workers who worked longer were angry. They thought they should be paid more. Jesus said they weren’t going to get more. The last shall be first and the first last again. But they were given the same amount of money. Eternal life will be given to all who believe in God. So those who will be in heaven will be equal in living forever.

I think Jesus is warning Christians, “Don’t think so much of yourself and your work for God. Don’t think you are better than regular Christians who work at gas stations, stores or are full-time moms. I think Jesus is saying God looks at the ordinary person as someone equal to Billy Graham or Elijah.

I guess being humble is the gist of it all. It would be hard to stay humble if you are a pastor of a church and everyone is praising you about your sermons. It would be hard to be humble if you run a successful business. It must be hard for popular singers to be humble. Actually, it is hard for anyone to be humble! All of us have the temptation to look down on certain other people. But if we can look at ourselves as slaves or servants to these people, then this would help us to be humble.

I Got The Message Bible.

I was reading something, can’t remember what, and the writer quoted from, The Message Bible. The words were so wonderful and alive that I kept reading those verses for days.

So, I looked up The Message Bible online and found out it was written by pastor Eugene Peterson, a scholar, theologian, poet and author, who reads Hebrew and Greek. This is what he said of his reason for writing The Message.

“While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.’”  Eugene Peterson.

Vitality and directness,” that is what I have found in reading The Message.

“For more than two years, Eugene Peterson devoted all his efforts to The Message® New Testament. His primary goal was to capture the tone of the text and the original conversational feel of the Greek, in contemporary English.” : https://www.biblestudytools.com/msg/

I had read his translation was idiomatic. I looked for descriptions of that and found this at:

https://examples.yourdictionary.com/idiom.html

Idioms exist in every language. They are words or phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, if you say someone has “cold feet,” it doesn’t mean their toes are actually cold. Rather, it means they’re nervous about something.

Idioms can’t be deduced merely by studying the words in the phrase. If taken literally, you would think that someone with cold feet has… cold feet. But, after living with a certain group of people for a period of time, you’ll start to pick up their expressions. Let’s explore some idiom examples in American everyday language, international language, and the language of the arts.

The examples below demonstrate how you can’t really deduce the meaning of these expressions without knowing what they mean. The next time someone says they’re feeling “under the weather,” you’ll know it has nothing to do with weather patterns, but rather that they’re feeling quite ill.”

  • Getting fired turned out to be a blessing in disguise. – Getting fired (normally a negative event) turned out to be a good thing.
  • These red poppies are a dime a dozen. – These red poppies are very common.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. – Just say what you really mean.

I guess this is going to be a long post.

 I’ve been walking with God for 50 years. Of course, my walk looks like this:

 –__–__**–__==–__***####++___—***–

God’s walk looks like this: ********************

 Still, that’s okay. He’s beside me all the way. When I read The Message’s story of creation I thought, “This is the God I know!”

I’ll share some of the verses from The Message and you can see what you think.

Genesis 1:2-15

God spoke: “Light!”
        And light appeared.
    God saw that light was good
        and separated light from dark.
    God named the light Day,
        he named the dark Night.
    It was evening, it was morning—
    Day One
.

6-8 God spoke: “Sky! In the middle of the waters;
        separate water from water!”
    God made sky.
    He separated the water under sky
        from the water above sky.
    And there it was:
        he named sky the Heavens;
    It was evening, it was morning—
    Day Two.

9-10 God spoke: “Separate!
        Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
    Land, appear!”
        And there it was.
    God named the land Earth.
        He named the pooled water Ocean.
    God saw that it was good.

11-13 God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
        of seed-bearing plants,
    Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
        And there it was.
    Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
        all varieties,
    And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
        God saw that it was good.
    It was evening, it was morning—
    Day Three.

14-15 God spoke: “Lights! Come out!
        Shine in Heaven’s sky!
    Separate Day from Night.
        Mark seasons and days and years,
    Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth.”
        And there it was.

The creation verses go on longer, but I’m just showing an example. For me, this translation shows God’s strength. I don’t know why, but the regular translations of, “And God said, “Let there be light,” seem passive.

I’ll show you the beginning of the Beatitudes from, The Message. Matthew 1:3-16

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Salt and Light

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

What Did Jesus Say About the So-Called Little Things?

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne…

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’”   Matthew 25:31-40

The other day, I was reading these verses and then went to see what Bible commentators had to say about them. I was disappointed to see a couple of them said something like this:

“If God will reward us for doing these small things, what will he give those who did the harder things and those who preached the word.”

Hmm, well I disagree with them. I think Jesus did mention the hard things. What is easier, to preach or share your last meal? What is easier, to give out pamphlets about Jesus or drive a distance to visit someone in jail? What is easier, to be a pastor or look after people who are sick and even take them into your house to care for them?

I think, that as usual, God’s thoughts are high above our thoughts and his ways above our ways. And I also think that this has been the problem with the Christian religion through the ages.

If the Christian churches had put suffering people first, the gospel would have been preached first in actions, and then in preaching. If a person is loved and helped by someone, with no other agenda than to help and love them, they would them be open to the good news of Jesus, for that is what he did and the common people loved him.

Yes, the common people loved him, but the church leaders hated him. They were jealous of his popularity and afraid of losing their power. I see church leaders like this today.

When Paul wrote about the church leaders who are around at the time of the end, this is what he said about them:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.   2Timothy 3:1-5

There are people like this leading churches today. It is easy to spot them because their actions and words betray their hearts. Jesus told us to be careful of whom we listen to. He said we will know them by the fruits of their lives. May God open our eyes and hearts to know the truth and follow it.

(You might wonder who I think I am by writing this stuff. Me too. I am nobody. I just write what my heart is full of.)

It is Finished. The Seven Last Plagues.

I noticed, when I was reading Revelation Chapter 16, that these same words are spoken in heaven. This time it means the probation of the world is over. There is no more time, no more governments, no more pleading from God to man or man to God. The work of God for the world is finished.

“Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple saying, “It is finished.” Then the thunder crashed and rolled and the lightning flashed. A great earthquake struck – the worst since people were placed on the earth.” Rev.16:17,18

It goes on to say that people cursed God because of the terrible plagues that were falling on the earth. But I believe it isn’t God who sends these plagues, it is us. We are killing the planet now and one day will destroy it completely.

The first plague is sores on mankind. Probably chemical warfare, some of which produce sores.

The second plague is the sea became like the blood of a dead man. Everything in the sea dies. We don’t know what ocean or sea the Bible refers to; but we do know what we have done to them. It doesn’t surprise me the creatures of the oceans will die.

The third plague is the rivers and springs become like blood. We have certainly polluted those also.

The fourth plague is the sun scorching the earth and man dying from the heat. Global warming at its worst.

The fifth plague is darkness. Perhaps large electrical grids going out in the cities.

The sixth plague is the drying up of the Euphrates River and the armies coming together for war. A war over water? Yes, very likely. Right now, Turkey wants to dam the Tigris River because they need more water. Iraq and other countries say this will take their water, and they are right.

The seventh plague is the great earthquake and huge hailstones. We are already experiencing very large hailstones. I read in the news that recently hailstones that weighed 50 lbs. fell upon a city.

These events are coming and some have already started. God will not have to send them. We have created them all by ourselves.

Jesus said,

There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among the nations, bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the surging of the waves.  Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

…But watch yourselves, or your hearts will be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life—and that day will spring upon you suddenly like a snare.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  So, keep watch at all times, and pray that you may have the strength to escape all that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke Chapter 21.

Wrestling with God.

My grandson died almost 8 years ago. When someone you love dies it can be a terrible shock or you may be prepared for it after a long illness, or be prepared because they were very old.

My grandson was 21 when he died and it was a terrible shock to everyone in the family. He died because he drank heavily and then fell asleep on a soft sofa with his face down. He never woke up. The coroner said he had seen this happen to young men quite often.

His mother and I poured out our hearts to God. We talked about it with him for a long time. When the pain seemed too much we reached up to God and he healed us. He was a great comfort, and I don’t know how we would have made it through without his help.

But my grandson’s brother and my other daughter did not do this. My daughter would not speak about what happened and didn’t want us to either. She bottled up her sadness and rage until she had a mental breakdown about 4 years later. She went to counseling and got better.

My other grandson is still suffering. He and his brother were extremely close. He found the pain to be too much to handle and a few years after the death he started taking drugs to dull the pain. Eventually he became addicted to heroin. I know I have told this story before, but this time I wanted to share how important it is to talk to God or a counselor about the loss of someone you love.

He was in such bad shape after a few years of heroin that he knew he had to get off it. Also, he was tempted to start stealing in order to buy it. His mother did everything she could to help him. She wanted him to go into a rehab center and paid $5,000. He went for one day and half a night. He doesn’t feel comfortable being around people.

I didn’t know that when you quit heroin your legs hurt so much you want to cut them off. The pain is awful. My daughter lived with him for three months helping him through withdrawal. He went to the government program where they give you methadone. Oh, how that helped him! How grateful we are to the government and what they had done for him. He is still on methadone and doing very well physically.

But he has never dealt with the heavy grief in his heart. The worst month for him is August because that is when his brother died. It isn’t quite August and he is in a bad place right now. My daughter is going to see him tonight. He lives in the next town.

I texted him last night and told him to pray to God for peace of mind and don’t stop asking until he gets it. I have done that when I was depressed and God always came through.

I remember saying to God, “I’m not leaving this bed until I feel better.” And I kept praying. And then I felt better; I could face the day.

Now, when I pray, I also ask for joy and happiness in my day. I know God wants me to have peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that, and what God has said, he will do. Sometimes we just have to keep asking.

This makes me think of Jacob, when he was wrestling with God. He said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” You would think that was pretty pushy of Jacob, but apparently, God didn’t. He praised Jacob and gave him a new name: Israel.

Jacob’s story can inspire us to do the same. Don’t let go of God until he blesses you. The Bible says, “pursue peace,” so ask for it every time your heart is troubled, and keep asking.

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