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The Hebrews and the Pillar of Cloud by Phillip De Vere/Wikimedia Commons

The Bible is the greatest book ever written, thousands of years old, yet fresh and alive as the morning news. Indeed some of it is the morning news right now. The land of the Hebrews (Israel) is always a hot topic any day. When God called Abraham he made him a promise that his offspring would be innumerable, and that all nations through him would be blessed. Well, what is that blessing that God promised? Jesus, God in the flesh, and the things that pertain to Jesus. The innumerable offspring: the Jews. And in the future? Food – Israel is right now producing some of the best citrus to be had anywhere. Oil – a deposit of oil estimated at seven million barrels near the Dead Sea and within the boundaries of Israel was in the news in 2016. There is also oil in the Golan Heights. Who knows what may yet be discovered. God said it was a good land, flowing with milk and honey was the way it was described. His word is true, right down to the last jot and tittle.

Nowadays almost everyone believes in the supernatural – spirits, ghosts, extra-terrestrials, bigfoot, angels, demons, fairies – the list could get to be quite long. But those same people have difficulty believing that the father of Jesus was not Joseph, but God himself. And that Mary was a virgin until she gave birth to the son of God. The Gospel of Matthew gives two geneaologies for Jesus. One comes down to Joseph, who was the legal father; the other comes down to Mary, the mother. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham. He is the redeemer promised to fallen man, exiles from the garden of Eden, and to their posterity. Jesus is/was a Jew, a Hebrew.

When God announced the tenth plague – the death of the firstborn – the Hebrews were instructed to kill an unblemished lamb and to apply its blood to the doors of their houses. By so doing they were to be spared and none of their firstborn would die when God passed through the land on that fateful night. The lamb was to be eaten that evening and its remains burned in the fire. Here is the origin of the Jewish Passover. Here also is a picture of Christ, bleeding on the cross, the sinless lamb, sacrificed that we might live and not die.

But, like the Hebrews, we must eat the lamb. People get offended when they hear that. Some of Jesus’ disciples left him when he said they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Of course, he did not mean that literally. Just goes to show you how shallow their thinking was. Jesus meant they must commune with him, stay with him long enough to learn something, become educated in the ways of God. If you love him you will want to do that.

Moses was their leader, but it was God who led the Hebrews on their journey to the promised land. They followed a supernatural pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire by night. When these moved the people followed; and when they stayed, the people stayed. Their first camp was at Succoth. From there God led them through the wilderness to the Red Sea. Meanwhile, Pharoah had changed his mind again, and the Egyptians set out in pursuit of the Hebrews. They hemmed them in at the edge of the Red Sea, but then God moved the supernatural cloud between the Hebrews and their pursuers while he opened the Red Sea with a strong wind. Through a trough between the waters the Hebrews passed to the other side. And just in time, for the Egyptians followed close on them in the trough of dry ground. When the last of the Hebrews had crossed God quickly closed the waters and drowned the entire army of the Egyptians.

These posts would be way too long if we covered all the things that the Bible tells us about what happened to the Hebrews and what they did and how they lived. It is a fascinating story recorded in the first five books of the Bible. Basically, God paved the way for these his chosen people. He provided food for their journey which he spread upon the ground every day but the Sabbath for forty years. He provided water in the desert, first by cleansing the bitter waters at Marah and soon afterwards by bringing forth water from a rock at Horeb when there was no water for the people at their camp at Rephidim. When the Amalekites attacked them at Rephidim they were defeated with supernatural help from God. Moses stood on a mountain overlooking the battle and as long as he held up his hands the Hebrews prevailed, but when he let them down the Amalekites prevailed. When Moses grew too tired to hold up his hands, Aaron and Hur held them up and at the end of the day the Amalekites were defeated. The Biblical record shows that during the entirety of their journey their clothes and shoes did wear out. In short, God provided for their needs. Their wants got them into trouble with God, as we shall see.

Sinai

Three months into their journey, the Hebrews were encamped on the east side of Mt. Sinai, the place where the ten commandments were given. God told Moses to tell the people to keep away and to keep their cattle away from the mountain. Then God came down upon the top of Mt. Sinai in a fire and smoke, lightning and thunder. The sound of a trumpet was heard and the mountain shook and trembled. The people were very fearful and said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (Exodus 20:19) Moses calmed their fears, then he left them and went up on the mountain with God. The top of this mountain (Jabel el Laws in Saudi Arabia) is blackened from burning to this day.

Regarding Mt. Sinai, the traditional site at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Egyptian peninsula (also named Sinai)  looses all credibility, when compared to recent historic and archaelogical findings at Jabel el laws in Saudi Arabia.

The Hebrew people were slow learners, so much so that today we just shake our heads at the things they did and wonder how they could be so dumb, and how they underestimated God. This is still happening today, and not just among the Jews. While Moses was up on the mountain with God he left Aaron, his brother and second in command, in charge of things. Days drew into weeks, and the Hebrews got restless. They decided Moses wasn’t coming back and they could do as they pleased. In short order they had enlisted Aaron’s help in making unto themselves a golden calf which they worshipped and frolicked around naked. The Bible doesn’t say what else they did, as they addressed the golden calf saying, These be the gods that brought us up from Egypt. (Exodus 32: 8 paraphrased)  They picked the wrong time for their party, because as they were singing and dancing around the image of the calf, Moses returned from 40 days of communing with God. Uh oh!

In his great anger Moses cast down and broke two stone tablets he was carrying whereon God had written the ten commandments. His people had already broken the first commandment worshiping an image! When Moses confronted Aaron about it, Aaron gave the lamest excuse possible saying, Now, don’t get mad. You know these people are always into mischief. You were gone so long they didn’t think you were ever coming back so they asked me to make gods to lead them. They gave me their gold jewelry and I threw it into the fire and out came this calf. (Exodus 32:22-24 paraphrased) At Moses’ commandment, more than 3,000 men were killed that day for the sin of idol worship. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Aaron’s punishment was, or if he was punished separately at that time, or at all. Moses said later on that he prayed for Aaron at that time. So, lest we presume to read the Almighty’s thoughts and to know his motives let us forebear to criticize him. For he is just to the nth degree. He simply doesn’t tell us everything. The Bible says the Lord plagued the people for this sin. He threatened to “consume” them, but Moses interceded for them and God relented in his judgement.

Model of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness in Timna Valley Park, Israel/Wikipedia

The Hebrews camped in Sinai about a year before continuing on to the promised land. At Sinai God gave Moses laws and regulations covering almost every aspect of living, right down to cleanliness and food preparation. He also gave him detailed plans for a portable temple, including all the furnishings and instruments for sacrifice and worship, including the ark of the covenant, which was a large box overlaid and decorated with gold. This portable temple is spoken of today as the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. This was not a simple tent; it was a work of art and craftsmanship, as anyone who has read the book of Exodus can tell you. When it was completed and set up the pillar of cloud and fire came and rested upon it thereafter.

Eventually the pillar of cloud lifted and the Hebrews continued their journey toward the promised land. One might wonder why it was taking so long for this trip. Going the short way one could get from Egypt to Canaan in about eleven days. God gave one of his reasons: he didn’t want the Hebrews to travel the short route because it led through the land of the Philistines. He believed they would become discouraged and return to Egypt since they would have to fight the Philistines. (Exodus 13:17) Well, many times, especially at the first when they were hungry or thirsty, they murmured and complained and wished out loud that they were back in Egypt. So, God was right in his assessment of them.

Next time we will travel to Kadesh, on the border of the promised land and find out what happened after that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Excavated ruins at Ur (in modern Iraq) believed to be the birthplace of Abraham

Moses is given credit for authoring the first five books of the Old Testament. These books cover the history of the Hebrew people, spanning from their earliest ancestor Adam, down through their experiences as slaves in Egypt, their exodus from Goshen, and their wanderings during the 40 years before they entered Canaan, the promised land. In actuality, the Hebrews as a people originate with Abraham. God called Abraham who was living in Ur of the Chaldees and told him to leave his home and to go where he (God) would send him. Abraham obeyed, taking his household and leaving his father and relatives behind. God led him from place to place, and during his wanderings Abraham received the promise from God that his posterity would become a great nation, and that through him all families of the earth would be blessed.

Abraham and his wife had no children and the wife was past the age of childbearing, so this was surely hard to believe, but Abraham had faith. He trusted God implicitly. His wife lacked the faith that her husband had. She knew she couldn’t have a child at her age, so she thought, “Well, I’ll just give my servant woman to my husband to have a son, and I’ll take her son for my own, and that way the plan of God can proceed.” This type of polygamous arrangement was common in those times; Abraham agreed; the servant woman did indeed bear a child, a son named Ishmael. The Muslims are descendants of Abraham and this servant woman. If that is shocking to you, look it up. It is a fact that Muslims claim descent from Abraham through Ishmael.

Eventually an entourage from heaven visited Abraham and Sara, and told them God’s promise was about to be fulfilled; they were going to have the son God had promised long ago. Sara, ever the skeptic, laughed at the idea. However, within a year Sara herself bore Isaac. Fast forward, and Isaac has two sons, twins: Esau, the firstborn and Jacob, the usurper.

Though Esau, being first, would normally have inherited at his father’s death the best of his father’s goods and his deathbed blessings, which carried tremendous import for good, Esau obtained neither. This was partly his fault, for in a rash moment he had earlier granted his birthright to his brother Jacob. It was partly Jacob’s doing since shortly before his father’s death, he disguised himself as Esau and tricked his blind and aged father into pronouncing upon him the blessing reserved for the firstborn.

Jacob eventually got it right, and God prospered him. He had twelve sons. One of these was Joseph whose eleven brothers for jealousy sold into slavery and then led their father to believe a wild animal had killed him. Joseph rose from slavery to become prime minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. During a time of famine, when there was no food in the land, Jacob sent some of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. There to their surprise they found Joseph and were reunited with him, who had already forgiven them. Due to the famine, Jacob and his entire household, flocks, goods, and everything relocated to the land of Goshen in Egypt. Because of Joseph’s high position they were treated very well by the Egyptians.

For four hundred years the sons of Jacob lived in Egypt. The favor they had known gradually eroded away as new rulers took their places. Time came when Joseph was forgotten, and the Hebrews began to be hated. They eventually became slaves and were treated very harshly by the Egyptians who apparently believed subjugation was the preventive for insurrection. The Egyptians felt threatened by the Hebrews, for they had multiplied to be a vast horde of individuals.

Moses and the Burning Bush–by Gebhard Fugel

 

The plight of the Hebrews did not go unnoticed by God. He brought up one of their own, Moses, to be their deliverer. Moses had been adopted by the Egyptians as an infant and raised in Pharaoh’s palace.  But he knew who he was, and eventually he took the side of his people. He killed an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew, and for that was forced to flee Egypt. He ended up in the land of Midian where he lived until he was eighty years old. He was out on the mountain tending sheep when God appeared to him by fire, in a bush that blazed but was not consumed.  There God commissioned the aging Moses to go down to Egypt and to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”

Moses and his brother Aaron went to Egypt as God directed and petitioned Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go free, but Pharaoh was not of a mind to do so. Over a period of time Moses continued to press Pharaoh for his people’s freedom, but repeatedly Pharaoh stubbornly rejected his pleas. In retaliation God struck the Egyptians with plagues ten times. The afflictions, increasing in intensity from first to tenth,  began when God had Aaron to raise his staff over the Nile River, turning it to blood for a week. The next was a plague of frogs which came up out of the river and overran the country. The women even found them in their bread bowls! Pharaoh was so distressed by the frogs that he begged Moses to send them away and promised to let the Hebrews go. The frogs had no sooner gone than Pharaoh changed his mind, as he was to do in several succeeding instances.

Lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, all were endured by the Egyptians while their Hebrew neighbors in Goshen were not affected. After the ninth plague, which consisted of three days of intense darkness in Egypt Pharaoh told Moses that if the Hebrews left behind their cattle, they could go. Moses refused to negotiate. It was now that God purposed to deal with the Egyptians with a heavy hand. The tenth and final plague would be the death of the firstborn of both people and cattle. This time the Hebrews had to do something to prevent the Lord from killing the firstborn in their households. An unblemished lamb was to be killed and its blood applied to the doorpost and lintel of each house, its flesh roasted and eaten and its bones and any uneaten portions burned in the fire. The blood on the doorposts was the sign for the Lord to pass over that house so the firstborn within would be spared. Here is the origin of the Jewish Passover.

The night of the tenth plague a great wailing was heard in Egypt as the firstborn in every Egyptian family had died. It has been suggested that perhaps some of the Egyptians escaped the tenth and final plague by following the instructions God had given the Hebrews. They certainly had seen the hand of God move nine times already and had noticed the Hebrews had not suffered from the plagues. Just a thought, someone else’s, that I am repeating.

During the night of the Lord’s pass over Pharaoh sent for Moses and told him to take his people and “Go!” This time he meant it, for the Egyptians now feared for their lives. Before the Hebrews departed the Egyptians gave them valuable articles of silver, gold, and clothing.

Route of the Exodus

The route of the exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt has been a controversial subject in the past because the route suggested by many scholars just did not match up with the Biblical narrative. Today, more than ever before, we are finding that the Biblical narrative, not just in the case of the exodus, but in every case, is accurate, and it is our perception that needs to be adjusted. We need just a bit more information, a little archaeological discovery, and the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. For an accurate description of the route the Hebrews took to the Red Sea crossing check out the fairly recent discoveries of Ron Wyatt. The evidence uncovered by Mr. Wyatt is astonishing and proves the Biblical narrative beyond doubt. Here is a map from the website: arkdiscovery.com where you can get additional information. This is Part One of what I expect will be a two part article.

 

Nowadays we are hearing about “fake” news, and some of the fakers are expecting rational people to believe their nonsense. If we didn’t have reliable sources of real, true information we might believe it, but we are not left without resources.

Lots of folks might not know that the Holy Spirit will lead a believer into the truth. I know this because I have experienced it. Once I was a sucker for whatever lie was perpetrated upon me. I believed it all. No wonder I was confused. I had no anchor, no base, no starting point. St. Paul said to Timothy I know whom I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12).  When I began to know Jesus I began to develop an ability to separate fact from fiction. Not that I have arrived. Of myself I know nothing, but what the Holy Spirit shows me I know.

There is a lie of enormous proportions being foisted upon people the world over now. This is not anything new either, but the lie is gaining adherents and strength at this time. This untruth is not blatant or people would recognize it. Rather, it is very subtle, a barely recognizable undertone. It is a maxim that tells us that we are not able to make sense of what we see around us, that we are not educated enough to comprehend what is being said to us in our own language. We are being told that we are stupid, and we need to let someone else do our thinking for us. So we focus our attention on the screen, push the button, and voila, in living color our truth streams in, and all we have to do is lap it up! (And if we have a modern Samsung TV our truth streams out, even if we think we are hiding it!) God help us!

Like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the lie is disguised, painted over so it looks good, or at least reasonable. Why is it then, that we have this silly internal aversion to something so harmless? Better pay attention to the bleeping of that little radar. It is trying to tell you something. What?

I was doing some research on the Ten Commandments recently. These commandments were originally written by God himself on tablets of stone that Moses his servant carried down the mountain to the Hebrew people. In the Bible there is later recorded concerning the same people (the Hebrews, now called Israel) In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  (Judges 21:25) There was a system of Judges in place that had been instituted by Moses; but there was widespread idol worship at the same time. Today, as in the days of the Israelite judges, many of us choose to disregard the parts of the law we do not like and to do what is right in our own eyes. We have mixed the profane with the sacred, and it looks almost the same, it sounds almost the same, but there is death in it. If we are listening we can hear that little radar bleeping. Bleep! bleep! something’s not right.

Georgia Guidestones, Wikipedia

While certain people were in process of dumping the unappealing parts of the ten commandments, others were writing their own. It was inevitable we would eventually get a modern set of ten commandments. You can see them down in the state of Georgia, carved in granite, and in eight languages. The monument is called the Georgia Guidestones. The first “guide” says: “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.” Well, that sounds reasonable, until one realizes that roughly 90 percent of the earth’s population would have to die to reduce the population to 500,000,000. The next one reads: “Guide reproduction wisely–improving fitness and diversity.” At first reading that one sounds good also, except if you leave out the word diversity, you come up with Hitler’s plan. Item 3: “Unite humanity with a living new language.” Did we not have that one time before, at the tower of Babel? The last “Guide” ends with the words “leave room for nature–leave room for nature.”  Atop the monument is a capstone bearing the inscription “Let these be guidestones for an age of reason.”  The Georgia Guidestones are impressive, but they are stone, and nothing more. They compare to many other monuments including those created by the people in the Old Testatment, images carved by man from the stock of a tree and overlaid with gold, to whom their creators gave obeisance.

In my looking I found another man created monument, in Dartmoor, in the United Kingdom. High up on a place called the Mount of Buckland are two large stones, inscribed with the ten commandments that Moses recorded, plus the eleventh commandment spoken by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament . Be sure to click on the photo for a larger view. If you enlarge it to maximum size you (with good eyes) will be able to read the inscriptions.

Mt. Buckland Ten Commandments Stones
Dartmoor, by Nilfanion, Wikimedia Commons

These stones were carved in the 20th century by W.A. Clement, who was commissioned by William Whitely. Mr. Whitely had the stones carved as a personal victory celebration when Parliament rejected the adoption of the proposed new Book of Common Prayer in 1926. Whitely, a Protestant, had been against the proposal, which at the time was seen as “popish.”

Clement added at the bottom one of Mr. Whitely’s favorite quotations, “But there’s a power,  which man can wield when mortal aid is vain. That eye, that arm, that love to reach, the listening ear to gain. That power is prayer.”

He also added at the bottom of one of the slabs the third stanza of the well known hymn “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past,” That verse reads, “Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, through endless years the same.”  You can read more about the Dartmoor stones at the web site entitled Ten Commandments Stones – Legendary Dartmoor.

The Georgia Guidestones and the Dartmoor Ten Commandments Stones present contrasting world views. There is a powerful undercurrent, undertow might be a better description, in force now, seeking to take control of the minds of the people of this planet. This is not new; the ruling classes since the dawn of history have had this as their objective. Today it is becoming easier for them to implement their plan of world domination by a few families. The Bible gives us a glimpse of this group and their leaders in various prophecies in the Old and New Testaments. It is this group and other like minded people who are behind not only the Guidestones, but numerous other God defying displays, including that of the demonic Kali, the Indian goddess of death, whose image was projected in light on the Empire State Building in 2015. Rivaling Kali, is a 26 foot statue of Anubis the Egyptian god of the underworld. This statue was placed on a barge and sailed right past the Statue of Liberty in 2010 on his way to the Denver airport where he took up permanent residence. Talk about an illegal immigrant! Anubis found a welcome at Denver. Wonder why?

Christians today are often considered a sub-race, people who are not quite with it, folks whose elevator doesn’t go all the way up. There are Christians, and there are those who think they are, and those who hope they are. A Christian has had a heart encounter with Christ that changed him. If you are still sinning and living like you used to, you need to do it again, and mean it this time. We are a “peculiar” people, as the Bible says. But we are not stupid. Because of the leadership of the Holy Spirit we can have more insight naturally than a lot of sinners who are trying to be wise. But we do have to work at it.

We can no longer believe everything we are told. We have to open our eyes. The Bible warns us. The prophet Hosea said My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  (Hosea 4:6) Ask God to show you the truth. He will not fail you. Much of what you hear on television is as least partially false. Nowadays it’s not just the factory worker who is told what to do. The big media companies, including newspapers, are all owned by somebody you don’t know. Do you just automatically trust someone you don’t know?

One of the duties of the Levites who served in the temple was to teach the people. Here is the scripture: they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to my ordinances. They shall also keep my laws and my statutes.  (Eziekiel 44: 23-24)

You are able to determine what is really good for you in the long run, and what is not. You can have that kind of wisdom. Indeed you must have it. The future is not going to be a joy ride. Pray.

 

 

Western North Carolina is apple country. Henderson County, which is next door to us, produces more than the rest of us, and many varieties. Some of the newer ones are honeycrisp and ginger gold. These have their appeal. Honeycrisp was almost impossible to get year before last due to the demand for it. These newer apples are crossbreeds.

rome appleBut who wants a crossbreed when you can have a real thoroughbred apple. Not me.

One of my favorites is the Rome beauty. This apple, which hails from Ohio, is of unknown origin, one plant having been shipped from a nursery in the early 1800’s in a group of some other variety. The tree survived and from it we have these beautiful deep red apples, flecked with tiny white spots, that often are just as beautiful inside as they are outside, their white flesh streaked and mottled with a deep pink color. Gorgeous! And when you bake them, they retain a lot of that beautiful color. Not all Rome apples have these pretty pink streaky insides, but a fair number of them do.

White and pink interior

White and pink interior

I open the top and dig out the seeds with a little knife, being careful not to cut all the way through the apple if I can help it. In it I put first about a teaspoon of butter and on top of that somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of sugar, and then another teaspoon of butter, topped off with a little shake of cinnamon. Put the apple(s) in a dish or pan just large enough to hold it(them); add a little water in the bottom; and bake in a preheated oven at about 350 degrees until as done as you like. I use a toaster oven for one or two, and it doesn’t take long. The water will make a nice juice that you can pour on top of the apples when they are done.

baked apples

baked apples

Rome apples will remain firm longer than most varieties. Just keep them a a cool place. They don’t have a really distinctive flavor, nor are they especially crunchy or juicy. They are just good utilitarian apples, but they’ve got a lot of class. Baking brings out the best in them.

A Psalm For Mr. Trump

trumpMany years ago when I was having difficulty with someone a lady referred me to Psalm 35. I had never read it before, and was amazed that someone in the Bible would be so passionate in his  denunciation of his enemies, to the point of asking God to destroy them. I found out the Bible is not all sweetness and light. But it is all truth.

The person in the Bible pleading with God for the annihilation of his enemies was King David. We don’t know exactly what experience prompted David to write this Psalm, but we do know that a number of years passed between the time Samuel the priest anointed David to be king until he actually took the throne. During those years Saul was king over Israel. Initially Saul accepted David. Saul even gave David his daughter to be his wife.

Eventually Saul developed a deep hatred of David, and tried to kill him many times. David was on the run for his life for a season. He had the opportunity more than once to kill Saul, but he wouldn’t do it. You can read about it in the Old Testament. Start in the book of First Samuel.

I suspect that it was during this time in his life that David wrote Psalm 35. I was reading it yesterday and couldn’t help thinking of Mr. Trump and his enemies. Here it is:

Psalm 35

1 Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.

3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

5 Let them be as chaff  before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.

6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.

8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.

9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee,  which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor  and the needy from him that spoileth him?

11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:

16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.

22 This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.

24 Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.

25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.

26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.

27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

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Seems that I saw the Magnificent Seven in a movie many years ago. Don’t even remember what it was all about, but the title was obviously unforgettable. So are these pet turkeys.

Here they are: all seven of them.

Here they are: all seven of them.

With the state of our Union being what it is, and with the things happening everywhere, my attention has been on things important, such as being ready to die at any time. We see that it can happen, and without warning. I don’t want to leave this world unprepared for eternity.

But, Jesus said for us to “occupy” until he comes. And that means to be about the business of living. Sometimes I get so caught up in living that I forget him and that I am his, and just loose my composure, not to mention my temper. Then, Oh Lord, I am sorry. But after the words are said, or yelled, as is sometimes the case, they are loose to do their damage. Shame, shame.

I didn’t want to get involved with turkeys. No one does. But I had to. Jack doesn’t have a lot to get interested in or to take joy in these days, but he does love his birds. Last fall, he insisted Tony take him way over beyond Asheville to buy three female turkeys. These young females did nothing all winter but eat, no eggs, no nothing. But come spring they began to lay.

Jack said I had to save all the turkey eggs. I sneaked and ate a few (they are very good, better than chicken’s eggs) but there were still plenty.  We got one of the incubators out and set it up in the living room on a table where Jack could see it and piddle with it. I think there were eighteen or twenty eggs in it but only six hatched. I put the little turkeys in an open plastic box on the little table where the incubator had been. I couldn’t resist reaching in and grabbing one up as I passed by. They squealed, but I just held and rubbed their beautiful fur. In a few days they began to feather out. Four were yellow with brown markings when they hatched; later they began to be spotted; one was all yellow and one almost black. The yellow one turned out to be gray colored and the black one has a little white on his tailfeathers now. His name is Big Peep.

Here are five little turkeys.

Here are five little turkeys.

Well I petted my baby turkeys until I had to move them to a diddle cage in a room at the end of the chicken house. Jack made the diddle cage several years ago of wood framing with rat wire for the floor and poultry netting for the sides. The top is plywood, hinged to open and shut. By the time the little turkeys moved to the diddle cage Jack had hatched another setting of eggs, but unfortunately, only one little turkey made it. I called him Little Peep. He was black all over. I spoiled him of course, since he was the only one in the house.

The little ones in the diddle cage were growing and so beautiful. Turkeys ARE beautiful, IF you don’t look them in the face. Just notice their marvelous shape and their pretty feathers. All spring my therapy consisted of going down to the chicken house and spending time petting my little turkeys. In a few weeks I let them out of the diddle cage to run free in the little room where the cage was, and I moved Little Peep from the living room to the diddle cage. I let him stay there a week or two while he and the older little turkeys got acquainted.

This is Little Peep. Well, I did tell you about looking them in the face!

This is Little Peep. Well, I did tell you about looking them in the face!

They would look in at him as if to say “What are you doing in there?” I was afraid that when I took him out of the diddle cage the others, being a few weeks older and bigger than him, would terrorize him, but they did not, probably because they already knew him.

By late July or August I turned all seven of them out to the chicken yard. They had no sooner hit the ground than the males began to fight each other. As far as I know there had been no feuding in the chicken house, but they really had it out that day. And then they settled down.

Chickens will go back into their house at night without any encouragement. Turkeys, not necessarily. Our big turkeys always go back in at night. But these – for some reason they wanted to roost outside. They still do. Mostly they roost in a cedar tree at the back of the house, but sometimes they choose a limb of a walnut, or a fence post. When daylight comes they fly down and the whole bunch goes rambling, sometimes far away. One morning I thought a coyote had gotten them, but about 9:00 o’clock all seven of them came traipsing out of the woods.

Even though they are nearly grown now, they are very tame and friendly. If I (or anyone else for that matter) sit at the picnic table they will come up to talk; the dominant males strut around so I can see how lovely they are, even consenting to let me pet them if I rub their feathers in the right direction. Little Peep comes and sits at my side. He is a male also, but he is not letting anyone but me know. He was strutting when he was little, but now he has quit. He is biding his time.

You think I’m kidding?  No. Some males do not develop as early as others. Our black and white male was sold to us as a female, and it was a long time before we found that he was a tom. Also, I think some turkeys, such as Little Peep, have sense enough not to let their testosterone get out of control. They don’t want to pick a fight until they are sure they can win.

That surely applies to the gray one.  He was always more aloof than the other six. I had to run him down to stroke his feathers and it never seemed to please him very much that I did. I noticed he didn’t join in the fight that occurred the first day I turned them out.  I thought he was a duplicate of Madam Gray, an older female we have. I named him Miss Gray.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking on the road behind the shed all by myself when I came upon Miss Gray, who happened to be there alone, digging up bugs. What a show that turkey put on for me! It was as if Miss Gray knew I thought he was a girl and he was glad for this private audience with me so he could set the record straight. I watched in amazement at the transformation. When he saw me he tucked his head up against his neck, and fanned his tailfeathers in a perfect arc. He fluffed all the small feathers on his back and sides straight out. He spread his wing feathers apart and dropped them to the ground, scraping the dust with them as he thumped and puffed at me, strutting up and down as if he were the king of the hill. I would not have believed it if I had not seen it. I had no idea. I had to apologize.

When he was satisfied that I had gotten the message he went back to being a shy and mild mannered fowl, just picking bugs. I have seen no further evidence from him that he is a male. But he is! I would not have known it but for that private encounter.

We have five younger turkeys that have just been turned out. They did not get the petting and attention that I gave these seven and they are wild and no fun at all.

But these seven have been friends. And not just my friends. They cull no one. Give them a little attention and they’ll follow you to the jumping off place. They are a nuisance sometimes, especially when they get on the porch and look through the windows. They wouldn’t do it if they were not crazy about me and they know I’m in there somewhere. The other turkeys never notice the porch.

Earlier this evening I brought Little Peep in for Jack to see how he had grown.  Jack grinned, not at Little Peep, but at me, and he said “You love them turkeys, don’t you?”

I have to admit that I do.

Update: Feb. 2017.  Well, I am going to have to eat crow (turkey). You can not always tell a turkey’s sex by whether they strut or not. I will spare you the details, but to make a long story a little longer you need to know that a more accurate way to determine whether a turkey is male or female is by the wattles (the flap of skin under the beak)  and the bumps or caruncles in the throat region. These are far more predominant in the male at maturity. Before then I guess you just have to wait and see.  Sorry. I learn something new about every day.

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I hope I didn’t make any enemies with my post concerning the developments arising out of the new road construction at Toxaway. I meant no harm. I am a writer, and I just gave in to the temptation presented by the blank page before me.

methodistThis post addresses a much more serious concern. A hundred years from now, will it really matter if the little store was a historic structure or simply a shack as Jack has so often referred to it? And if the rocks on the hillside continue in their place will that be significant or no? But a hundred years from now you and I will likely have entered into our eternal reward. What will that be? No matter your age, you need to ask yourself that question. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and you know that.

It is really true that God came in the person of Jesus two thousand years ago to offer the inhabitants of this fallen planet eternal life and salvation from hell. I am not a preacher so I am not going to explain that. It is not very complicated if you are willing to believe. God will send you someone or something to expand your understanding of Christ’s payment for sin if you need that.

My purpose here is to issue a strong warning. Jesus is returning soon to end the present regime and to usher in the Kingdom of God. Before that there are going to wars and bloodshed, famine, disease and every kind of sorrow and destruction. Your life could be snuffed out in a moment in the chaos that is coming. You need to be ready. When your life ends the opportunity to choose your eternal destination will be gone. If you do not choose Christ ahead of time you will automatically go to hell. That’s blunt, but it is fact. (He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already….John 3:18)

Nobody wants to go to hell. Like the rich young ruler in the Bible we ask “What must I do to be saved?”  The rich young ruler made his choice. He could not be saved because he wanted his wealth more than he wanted Jesus. (See Matthew 19)

Jesus’ gift of salvation and eternal life is free and offered to everyone.You need to know beyond any doubt that no one has been left out of the circle of his love. There is no person born some place outside of God’s grace. The Bible tells us that salvation has come to all men  The opportunity to be saved comes to everyone. (See Titus 2:11)

The opportunity to be saved makes its way over the face of the whole earth. Christians have been commissioned to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus throughout the world and millions of Christians have obeyed that directive. You don’t need to be a missionary to spread the gospel. But when Christians can not or do not reach the unsaved, then Christ himself seeks out his own. He is able to go where no feet fall; he can go into the wildest jungle, or into the rudest desert hovel to speak to a heart, to give a dream, to urge a savage soul toward redemption.  Numbers of persons who never heard the gospel have been saved by a personal encounter with Jesus. He knows where you are, and seeks out those who have a heart for him.

I am not going to try to tell you how God does that beyond what I have already said. It is plain that not everyone gets saved; some do not want to be saved. Some want to be saved and at the same time live like sinners. They make their choice. You can’t have it both ways. God made us, but we make our choices. God is just and fair and righteous beyond our comprehension. He holds the planets in their places by his sovereign power; he knows the name of every star. We all come from different places and circumstances, and some of us seem to be more fortunate than the rest of us by this fallen world’s standards. But we are little and God is big. He knows more than we do. We do not see from God’s perspective. He measures by a different rule. There is no meanness, partiality, or favoritism in him. If he were not just to the nth degree, the entire universe would fly apart. Jesus offers to every person the exact same salvation that he offered his twelve disciples. He might not give us things that we think we should have or deserve, but it is not his nature to short change us, withhold from us, or deny us anything that is of eternal consequence. His purpose for each individual is different. He gives us what we need to fulfill his design for us. Your neighbor has a different purpose. His situation and abilities will be different from yours. We are all equal in God’s eyes, but we are not all the same.

The rich young ruler had a yearning in his heart for eternal life, for cleanness of heart and soul. That’s why he was talking to Jesus in the first place. He wanted the thing that Jesus offered, but when he considered the price, he was unwilling to pay it.

Which brings us around to the point of this writing. Salvation is a free gift. It is an impartation to us from God of his spirit. It is not a promise for the future although it carries one. It is not a will of the wisp, here today and gone tomorrow. It is an unforgettable personal encounter with Jesus, King of Kings. It will change your life. If your life has not changed, if you have not grown, if you have not put away sin, it could be you are not really saved. You need to go further, dig deeper, seek more . He responds to those who genuinely seek him.

If this is you, please know I am not saying this to hurt your feelings. Nor am I saying you are not saved. Only you and Jesus know if you are saved or not. But if you are struggling, I have been where you are. It was not a one time easy trip for me to become reconciled to God. But I kept seeking and knocking, and he eventually gave me a wonderful revelation of himself that sustains me to this day.

What I want for you is encouragement and true direction. You need the truth, for nothing else will save you in the end. No amount of reform, behavior modification, or wishful thinking will substitute for a heart encounter with Jesus. Nothing but his blood sacrifice can cleanse your soul and give you eternal life. Everything else is false no matter how good and reasonable it sounds. Ignoring the facts, putting your head in the sand, taking the easy way out with a half hearted commitment will not work in the long run.Do not even consider  a temporary fix for an eternal problem. Heaven or hell; both are forever.

If you want Jesus, if you want to be saved it is not hard. The sinner’s prayer is only a few sentences, and millions perhaps have entered into salvation by saying the sinner’s prayer, from their heart. An equal number perhaps have said the words, with no results. The Bible says with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

There are people around  who say “Well, Bless God, if you didn’t get saved the way I got saved, then you didn’t get it.” That’s like saying it’s my way or the highway. Don’t listen to people like that. You don’t need that person’s stamp of approval on your salvation experience. What you need is a relationship with Jesus. Do not stop until you find Him, in person. He said himself, I am the way…and no man cometh to the father but by me. John 14:6

More to come…..