Monday, September 30, 2019

Radio Interview

 September Journaling

1.    We had a joint service with the Spanish and Mandarin sister churches that share our building. The preaching was in Mandarin, and translated into English and Spanish. Even the songs were sung in three languages. A foretaste of heaven. I wonder what language we’ll speak there? Finnish? Haha.

2.    Labour Day; it doesn’t mean much to me since I’ve been off work for almost five years. Tidying up and preparing for school.

3.    First day of JK for our grandson. They grow up so fast.

4.    First day of teaching my granddaughter nursery school featuring the letter Aa, the number 1, the colour green, circles, and the story of the creation of the world. She’s easily distracted and so we’ll probably be doing a lot more learning through play. Also my mom and aunt came for the afternoon.

5.    Chiro and massage.

6.    Errands. Dinner at a Greek restaurant. Ordered the tiles for our master bathroom renovation.

7.    My radio interview has aired. Here is the link. Benaiah: Mighty Man of God by P.H. Thompson. It doesn’t sound terrible. He made me feel at ease.

8.    Church. Our evening services started up again.

9.    Home alone today as my husband is starting his next seminary course. Mostly getting ready for teaching school, Bible study, and the writer’s retreat.

10. More prep.

11. School day brought to you by the letter Bb, the number 2, the colour red, squares, and the story of the fall.

12. Back to leading women’s Precepts Bible studies, beginning in the book of Acts. Then heading to Guelph for a Christian writers’ retreat called Refocus which actually gives lots of time for writing.

13. I sold a few books I brought with me.

14. Coming home. It was a profitable weekend. I started working on my new novel, which is always exciting. I was on a roll since I had outlined and all I had to do was flesh out my scene cards. I finished 4-1/2 chapters and wrote 6000 words. I also had good feedback on my novel’s concept and first chapter at the critique corner. I had a good roommate, the food and fellowship was good. Hearing excerpts from everyone’s writing showed me there is a lot of great talent in the Christian Canadian world.

15. Church. I invited a few more people to my book signing at Chapters next week.

16. We’re improving our curb appeal by having our steps covered in stamped concrete. My husband started another course at seminary. Our renters are moving out.

17. School prep. Getting the word out about next Saturday’s book signing.

18. School day brought to you by the letter Cc, the number 3, triangles, the story of Cain and Abel, caterpillars, canoes, and Canada.

19. Scandal now because they discovered pictures of the Prime Minister in blackface. First of all, he should’ve known better. He was 29, and a high school teacher, setting an example to impressionable teens. Second, he knew about it all this time, but never brought it up because he was hoping it wouldn’t be discovered. Third, they will forgive him because he’s their man, and the media will help him spin it. Fourth, if it was anyone else in his caucus, he would have gotten rid of them right away. He is being hypocritical, just as he was when he was accused of groping a woman. He had his people hush it up, while he fired another member for a comment. Fifth, the media are trying to say there are factors to consider, whereas we know if it was the conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, he’d be calling for his resignation, citing this as proof of his racism.

20. Getting my things together for my book signing at Chapters tomorrow.

21. I had the book signing at Chapters. I had eighteen people come to see me; most were already at my book launch, but came to support me. I got 15 new signups for my author email list by having a draw for a $25 Chapters gift card. I sold four books, two to unbelievers. One is a Hindu lady, my pharmacist. The other saw my ad on facebook and came to buy a gift for a Christian friend of hers. My husband was there all day for support.

22. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I just got an email invitation to be a guest on the 700 Club Canada to talk about my book! It will be recorded in November in St. Catherines. Of course I said yes, but I’m terrified. The radio interview was scary enough, but t.v? The daughter of a friend at church works for the person who decides who comes on the show. She had read my book and here we are!

23. Dental appointment.

24.Pain clinic.

25.School day brought to you by the letter Dd, the number four, the shape rectangle, and dragonflies. My granddaughter can hear a song once and remember it perfectly. On her first day of school, age 2-1/2 she already can recite the days of the week.

26. Bible study. Renovations starting on the master bathroom. Our renters have moved out and we rearranged the furniture that’s there.

27. My husband is going on a men’s retreat weekend, so I’m going to spend the night at my daughter’s so they can go see the Downton Abbey movie while I babysit.

28.Brunch with the family at Cannon, then driving home. Nap and salad from Freshii for dinner. I just discovered this restaurant and now I’m trying all their menu items.

29. I’m two weeks into a weight loss program called noom, which tracks calories and exercise. It is sustainable because its sensible. It doesn’t make sense to cut out an entire food group. So far I’ve lost seven pounds. Also, great news! A man was saved this morning at the mens' retreat.

30. Home day alone. I bought food, did laundry, went for a walk, napped, worked on my Bible study homework, and worked on my novel research, which is basically listening to sermons on the life of Joseph. Allistair Begg has about twenty sermons on it which I mostly listen to while I walk. Fascinating. I’m so excited for this project. Movie night at church, watching the movie Breakthrough with the women’s ministry group.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Renovations Begin

August Journaling

1.    Grandkids visiting.

2.    Busy day with the kids, sidewalk chalk, kiddie pool.

3.    A relative from Florida came for dinner.

4.    Church then dropping off the grandkids in Hamilton and eating dinner.

5.    Simcoe Day; our daughter headed back to Ottawa. She starts her job tomorrow.

6.    This is a prep week as the next two weeks will be busy with DVBS at church, then the Carey Conference. Also need to get ready for teaching my granddaughter nursery school one day a week.

7.    Got some bloodwork taken, paid the mortgage, picked up a prescription and some groceries. Then nap time and making an easy dinner. School prep. Relax.

8.    Helping a friend plan how much food to buy for the meals for DVBS next week.

9.    We had our hot tub and half our deck removed and a beautiful cedar deck built in its place and sod put down.

10. We also replaced the toilet and vanity in our powder room.

11. A friend is visiting from Alberta. We hadn’t seen each other in 30 years, but easily picked up where we left off.

12. The beginning of DVBS. I’m helping with the food. Hot dogs today.

13. Busy work in the kitchen. Today we made mac and cheese.

14. The kids seem to appreciate the food. Pancakes for lunch today.

15. Today we made grilled cheese.

16. Final day; we made mini taco bites for snack and mini pizzas for lunch. Exhausted doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. Every day I need at least a two hour nap to recover. There were 50 kids and 50 volunteers. Packing for the Carey conference tomorrow.

17. First day of our 27th Carey conference. We are in the same trailer. Catching up with friends.

18. I have a book table set up for my novel. Getting good feedback from people who can’t put it down.

19. Our daughter came for the day with the grandkids. We kept them busy.

20. Great preaching.

21. To Paris for lunch.

22. Last day of the conference because we’ll be visiting my aunt in London tomorrow on our way home. I sold 24 books. But word of mouth is working as some read it during the week and started telling others.

23. Breakfast in Paris, lunch in London, dinner in Toronto.

24. Today we took my husband’s sister to the Tartan House Bed and Breakfast for High Tea. She just moved back into her house a year after a house fire.

25. Church. Lamb burgers, Greek salad.

26. Haircut, nap, dinner. Not very productive.

27. Pain clinic, then an appointment with my hormone doctor. Lots of changes. For some reason, I was hit with my first fibro flare in years, and I can’t even figure out what the trigger was. Frustrating.

28. Still in pain, but we had to go to get ideas for improving our curb appeal. Our back yard is mostly done, as is our powder room. I’ll post before and after pictures of the powder room. Prepared for our first school day next week.

29. Spent the day with the grandkids.

30. Choosing new vanities for our other two bathrooms.

31. Errands.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Mediterranean Cruise

 July Journalling 2019

1.    Canada Day! The grandkids came over for a last visit before we leave.

2.    Last day to pack and prepare. Picked up some euros and all my blister packed pills. Rented and loaded the truck to move our daughter.

3.    Moving our youngest to Ottawa to work for a year for a federal judge. She will be living in a house with three others. I am driving my car there so she can use it for three weeks while we’re away. She will drive the CRV and my husband will drive the moving truck one way.

4.    We ended up driving back home last night after my husband put together her bed and hung her curtains up. There is a problem with our furnace again that we have to deal with before we go. A few months ago they replaced the motor at great cost to us, and said it was pumping out carbon monoxide but venting it outside. Last minute packing. Going to miss the grandkids.

5.    Off to Europe for a Mediterranean cruise. The flight will be the hardest part because I can’t stretch out.

6.    Arrived in Rome, Italy. The flight was agony, as I expected. Although we’ve been here before, I wish we had more time. It’s one of my favourite places and there’s so much more to see. Hard to adjust to the time change. Rested then went out for dinner. Brought along my book to take a picture of it in many world landmarks, we went to Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon again.

7.    Setting sail on our ship, Koningsdam (Holland America Cruise Line) for our 12 day cruise of Ancient Empires.

8.    Sea day.

9.    Olympia, Greece. We missed our excursion and lost the money we paid for it as they wouldn’t give us a refund. We ended up going to Ancient Olympia on our own with a cab.

10. Athens, Greece: Seeing the Acropolis and spending time in the Plaka. Did you know that real Greek salad doesn’t include lettuce?

11. Second day in Athens: we did a half day tour of Ancient Corinth and paid extra for a stop at Mars Hill, where the Apostle Paul preached Acts 17. While there we met some Christians from Australia. We also saw the Corinth canal.

12. A beach day at Mykonos, Greece. They didn’t tell us in advance that the sunbeds where not included in the price.

13. Ephesus, Turkey. We had an interactive tour of ancient Ephesus. Very impressive ruins. So great to stand in the places where Paul worked and preached. Then we were taken to a Turkish rug company. Very beautiful but out of our price range. I’ll post a picture of the library.

14. Rhodes Island, Greece, where there was the Colossus, until God knocked him over by kneecapping him. Beach day. Very nice beach. Spent the day with some Canadians we met on our excursion to Ephesus.

15. Santorini, Greece, which is the most beautiful island in Greece, which the white buildings against blue waters.

16. Crete, Greece, and another beach day.

17. Sea day. Pedicure.

18. Naples, Italy with a tour along the Amalfi Coast. Our bus broke down for an hour. We sat on the wrong side of the bus so we had no view and the roads are so narrow they can’t even pull over till we get to the bottom.

19. Returning to Rome, then flying to Barcelona, Spain. Dinner out. Delicious food.

20. In Barcelona, Spain. We did a bus tour and a tour of La Sagrada Familia. We had dinner out at Barceloneta.

21. Second day in Barcelona, did a second bus tour since all stores and museums are closed. Also went to the same restaurant for lunch and dinner tapas and sangria. Love Spanish food.

22. Travelling home to Toronto from Barcelona. Our transfer didn’t arrive and they were closed on the weekend so we couldn’t confirm our pickup time.

23. Nice to travel, but nice to be home, too. Exhausted from the flight and the time change. Unfortunately, I got used to having someone else cook for me, and wondered why the food didn’t appear in front of me when I sat down at the table. Also, no one made my bed and cleaned my bathroom. But happy to get back to regular food. Went to see the grandkids and bring them some gifts.

24. Our daughter brought my car back from Ottawa where she had it while we were away.

25. Pain clinic, then nap and celebrating a friend’s birthday.

26. It’s our 33rd anniversary. We went out for breakfast, then downtown to Barsa Taberna for Spanish tapas, which we learned to love in Barcelona.

27. Visiting out of town relatives at my mother-in-law’s. Bringing blueberry pie for dessert.

28. Prepping for a radio interview tomorrow. A little nervous.

29. Did a radio interview about my novel on a St. Catherine’s based Christian radio station called Hope Stream Radio. It will air within 5 weeks. It’s about fifteen minutes long. He made me feel at ease.

30. Ugh. Mammogram. So painful.

31. Chiro and massage, then the grandkids are coming for the weekend so my daughter and her husband can paint their house.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Book Launch Party!

June Journaling

1.    Baby shower for my niece. She only wanted diapers.

2.    My husband is preaching this morning. Then we’re going to Niagara Falls for two nights because my husband is presenting at a water conference and accepting an award on behalf of the city. We have a room overlooking the Falls, and we also ate dinner at the Keg overlooking the Falls. Very nice.

3.    Most of my day will be spent in the hotel room as my husband is at the conference. I don’t mind as I haven’t had a proper nap the past two days and need to rest so I don’t crash. It’s all about pacing with this illness. Also today, the 3rd of June is the 21st anniversary of my husband’s cancer surgery which is how they date his recovery. So glad he’s still with me.

4.    Stopping at my daughter’s in Hamilton on our way home, so my husband can do some plumbing repairs. My novel copies arrived today; 18 boxes worth.
5.   School day, brought to you by; addition and subtraction, word families and sight words, don’t worry, waterfalls and hair.
6.    Went to my dentist’s office to bring him the six copies of my novel he requested. Only charged for five. They were so excited. Also, two of my husband’s co-workers bought books.

7.    My book launch is just over a week away. Writing my speech and gathering up the things I need to take, making lists, getting nervous. I’ve got to think positive: This is my 15 minutes of fame. Enjoy it. Got some news today, still trying to process it. Will share later.

8.    We dropped our daughter off at the airport for her trip to Peru for two weeks. I’ll have to live vicariously through her, as Machu Picchu was always a bucket list item for me. Then we had a joint men’s and women’s breakfast meeting. Good message.

9.    Church.

10. Haircut and dollar store for last minute launch items. Nap, dinner, and school prep.

11. School day, brought to you by: sight words, word families (at, et, and an). I tried the word family ‘at’ last week, and he was able to read all the words by sounding them out.

12. Errands, getting things for the launch. Getting real.

13. Picked up launch promotional materials from the UPS store.

14. Grandkids came to be here for my book launch tomorrow. Setting up at church tonight. My website is live now:

15. Book Launch! Benaiah: Mighty Man of God by P. H. Thompson is now out there, on my website, and on amazon and chapters/indigo, kindle, kobo, etc. and in some Christian bookstores across Canada. I was surprisingly calm, people must have been praying for me. Also, we set up most of it the night before. I’ll post pictures. Good turnout and sales. Most bought two books each. I'll post pictures.

16. Church. Worn out from yesterday.

17. Dentist. Someone bought another book. Shopping for the trip.

18. Pain clinic. Heard some sad news today. Our daughter was pregnant with her third. It was a surprise pregnancy and about a month ago we learned there was a genetic problem they could see on ultrasound. An amniocentesis confirmed it was Turner’s Syndrome. It was a little girl. The risk of miscarriage is around 99% for the first trimester. She made it to her 16th week so we thought she’d make it. At the midwife appointment, they couldn’t find a heartbeat. They confirmed it with an ultrasound. Then I went over to watch the kids because she had to be induced and delivered it that night. So sad. Her name was Emilia Rose and she was loved and we were prepared for whatever challenges she would have had. I don’t usually take any stock in verses that jump out at you from the Bible, especially if you open it at random, but today, the same day that my daughter lost the baby, this was in my daily Bible reading:

The children you will have,
After you have lost the others,
Will say again in your ears,
‘The place is too small for me;
Give me a place where I may dwell.’”
Isa. 49:20

The fact that I’m a month ahead in my reading, and yet it sovereignly was the reading today meant a lot to me, and to them as I shared it, after they told me they want to have a third child. I don’t know if the rest of the verse means their third child will tell them they need a bigger house…

Another verse that was helpful for understanding why it may have happened was this:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”          2 Cor. 1:3-5

While it seems like Paul needs a good thesaurus, his point is that there is a correlation between the comfort we receive from God in our trials is related to the comfort we can offer others who are going through similar trials.

A further reason could be that even though they were happy with two children, now they desire a third.

The kids were told recently through pink cupcakes that they had a sister. My grandson told me, “The baby isn’t in mommy’s tummy anymore because she’s in heaven. It’s very sad, isn’t it?”

19. Still at my daughter’s place. My mom, husband and mother-in-law came over too.

20. Last day at my daughter’s. My son-in-law took three days off for bereavement. We went to IKEA.

21. My other pain clinic. Errands. Time to start getting ready for our trip. Today is the first day of summer and also the midsummer celebrations in Finland. They have full sun at midnight.

22. Beautiful summer weekend. Ran some errands with my husband, then had a nap. Then pulled some weeds.

23. Wow, that little physical activity yesterday has made me so sore. Our daughter returned from her trip to Peru. She had a great time and called it the trip of a lifetime. She climbed mountains, saw Machu Picchu during the winter solstice, went to a women’s weaving cooperative and an alpaca farm, went for a dune buggy ride over sand dunes, went sand surfing, did a home stay with a local family, travelled through different cities and climates in Peru, and ate great food. There was a group of 14 people from all over the world, and she was the only Canadian. They got along well.

24. Errands. Getting down to crunch time to prepare for the trip.

25. Final day of school. Of course, my grandson graduated from pre-school. I wrote a report card for him. Our granddaughter plays the four-monica for her four-paca.

26. Chiro and massage. My masseur bought my book. Bank appointment. We got approved for more money on our line of credit based on our home’s equity. We need to update our bathrooms.

27. Meeting with our travel agent, who is our friend. Getting all the paperwork together. I also applied to be a guest author on two Christian t.v. programs and one Christian radio program. I am terrified they’ll say yes, and saddened they’ll say no, but Benaiah’s story needs to get out there.

28. More shopping for clothes.

29. Dinner party at a friend’s house.

30. Church bbq. Submitting my income statements to the insurance companies, for the passive income received from my book sales. So far, sold about 85 books.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Character Studies: Boaz in the Book of Ruth

Boaz was wealthy businessman in Bethlehem; he was powerful and important in society. He was older than Ruth by at least twenty years. His ancestors were Salmon and Rahab, the harlot. There were a few hundred years between them and Boaz.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Boaz rules his “kingdom” from a position of virtue and servant leadership. He doesn’t selfishly abuse his workers (Ruth 2:4) but gently provided for their needs (Ruth 2:8-9, 14-16).He is impressed by Ruth as she works in the field, hearing a good report of her by his foreman. He has heard of her actions in following Naomi to a strange country.

Every time Ruth encounters Boaz she comes to him empty and leaves full (Ruth 2:14, 17, 3:17, 4:13). Although he is impressed by her and may even be attracted to her, he doesn’t pursue her as he probably feels their age difference is too great. We see this in the fact that three times when he speaks to her, he refers to her as, “my daughter.”

If it were not for Naomi’s meddling and Ruth’s willingness to do as Naomi instructed her, Boaz may never have made a move. On the advice of her mother-in-law she prepares for their “date.” She then approaches him the night on the threshing floor. When she basically proposes to him, he is very humble, not even acknowledging that he is quite an eligible bachelor.  Instead, he commends her for not running after the young men. 

He guards her reputation that night on the threshing floor by telling his employees not to gossip about her presence there, and sending her away while it is still dark, lest someone assume something happened between them. Then he gives her grain to take with her in case someone was to inquire where she was at that hour.

He remembers that there is another relative who is closer than he.  This is the conflict, or complicating factor you see in all great romances.  How will they overcome it?  Will our hero and heroine find true love? He also tells her he’ll approach the other relative, so she doesn’t have to humble herself by proposing to a second man in the same day. He also indirectly promises to care for Naomi as well through his generous gift of grain and his willingness to buy back her property. 

He may have worried that the other relative would be greedy for the land, but was pleased that the man did not want to have a wife whose son would bear another man’s name.  He would also have to share his inheritance, which is probably the main reason he refused her.  Similar idea to the story of Tamar, where Onan did not want to father a son for another man or share the inheritance. Yet for all his insistence that he could not lose his inheritance, it’s not the other “close relative” who is remembered, as he remains unnamed, but Boaz.

This transaction, done at the “city gates” where all business was transacted before witnesses, was done properly, so there would be no question as to the legitimacy of Boaz’s claim to Ruth and the inheritance of Elimelech. Although it sounds like Ruth is ‘purchased’ in a business transaction, you see from the interaction between them, that Ruth and Boaz do really love each other.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Pool day with Family

May Journaling

1.    Chiro and massage, long nap.

2.    Bible study, nap, dinner, Spanish homework.

3.    Home day, except for Spanish class. My book is on the chapters/indigo  website for pre-order. Seeing it there makes it real.

4.    Our daughters are running in a fund-raising run. Ordered a card reader for book sales.

5.    Church flanking a long nap.

6.    Home day.

7.    School day; field trip to the local Reptile Zoo, again. Back by popular demand. The kids held a snake, a turtle, a chinchilla, a gecko and an armadillo.

8.    Home day, homework, and attempting intermittent fasting, starting with 12 hours. Desperate to lose weight, I gained 40 pounds since I got sick six years ago. Nothing has worked for me. I’d try some plans, but most assume you overeat, and I barely eat my three meals a day, and only because I need food to swallow all my pills. Also, because of my M.E. I can’t exercise.

9.    Bible study, errands, and nap. Dropped our daughter off to take the train to Ottawa for a conference. Also had to buy a replacement fridge for downstairs. Ordered some things for my book launch party.

10. Homework morning, nap, dinner and Spanish classes.

11. Final planning meeting for my book launch party.

12. Church.

13. Homework and school prep. Then driving to Hamilton to watch the kids two days while my daughter does an intensive course at university this week.

14. Childcare. Exhausting. This is for the young and healthy.

15. School day: brought to you by ordinal numbers, simple addition and subtraction, sight word matching, and the story of the lost sheep. My mom and aunt came by.

16. Bible study, then we’re taking our moms and my aunt from Finland out for high tea for Mother’s Day at The Tartan House Bed and Breakfast. I’ll post pictures. It was delicious. I made a facebook event page for my book launch, which is in a month.

17. Pain clinic, then my daughter took my car for a camping trip this long weekend. Fish and chips for dinner, then Spanish class.

18. The new fridge is coming for the basement apartment.

19. Church. Beautiful day, 25 C. Barbecued sausages.

20. Victoria Day.

21. My stand up banner is ready.

22.Just heard bad news today, related to our earlier good news.

23. Final Bible study regular lesson. Next week we do the summary and lunch. At least I am done, since I did it as I went along.

24. No Spanish this week.

25. Headed to London today, to have a pool day with family since my aunt is here from Finland. Great food. I’ll post some pics.

26. The grandkids were living their best life: going from sauna to pool to hot tub, to trampoline, and repeat.

27. Chiro appointment. I missed my massage because I marked the wrong time.

28. Spent the day with the grandkids. No school today, because my daughter has a long appointment. More on that later.

29. Bank appointment. I hate bank appointments. Eating smelts my cousin brought from up north. My aunt is going back to Finland tomorrow.

30. Watching the Raptors in their first game of the finals.

31. Spanish class. I’ll soon be quitting. I only took it to get a little bit of conversational knowledge. Not a fan of conjugating verbs. Also bought a copy of my book on kindle to hear how it sounds. Makes it real to see it there and on amazon. Benaiah: Mighty Man of God by P.H. Thompson 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Bible Character Studies: Luke

           Luke is the author of the gospel of Luke, and the book of Acts, which is the history of the early church from Jesus' ascension to Paul's house arrest. The gospel of Luke is one of the four gospels (good news) of Jesus Christ, his book is named for its author. Because of their similarities, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the synoptic gospels. This comes from the word, synopsis, which means, “seeing together”, because they report Jesus’ life in the same pattern. John’s gospel is completely different.

            According to tradition, Luke was a Gentile (non-Jew) (Col. 4:11,14) Very little is known about him, as he includes very few details about himself. We know nothing of his background or his conversion, or whether he was a Jewish proselyte first. Early church fathers believe he was from Antioch, since so much of the book of Acts is centred there. 
            Luke was a physician (Col. 4:14) which explains his evident interest in Jesus’ healing ministry. He later joined the Apostle Paul on his missionary journey (2 Tim. 4:11, Philemon 1:24) and recorded those events and other things that happened beginning at the ascension of Jesus. Those are recorded in the book of The Acts. Parts of the book where he joined Paul are written in first person, using the pronoun, we. Those two books are the only two books of sixty-six in the Bible written by a Gentile.
He was not one of Jesus’ apostles, but used sources and research to write his “orderly account”. However, it is not necessarily in strict chronological order. Since he states his knowledge of the events he records came from eyewitnesses, it strongly implies that he himself was not an eyewitness (Acts 1:1.2). It is believed Mary, Jesus’ mother was one of his sources for His birth narrative and the details about John the Baptist. 

Both Luke and Acts were written about the same time, with Luke being written first (Acts 1:1) This two-volume work was addressed to Theophilus. The name “Theophilus” literally means “loved by God” or “friend of God, so that has led some to believe it is just a generic title that applies to all Christians. However, it seems more likely that Luke is writing to a specific individual, even though it has application to all believers. Others think Theophilus was a wealthy relative of Caesar, an influential government official (based on the honorific term, most excellent, which is used elsewhere of Roman officials), a wealthy benefactor who supported Paul’s missionary journeys, or even Paul’s lawyer. We cannot know for sure, since Scripture doesn’t tell us.

The dedications at the beginning of both books are much like formal dedications in modern books, suggesting he intended them for a larger audience. The books of Luke and Acts together are a sweeping history from the birth of Christ to Paul’s imprisonment under house arrest in Rome (Acts 21:20-24).
Luke’s writing style is that of a scholarly, well-read author. He is a meticulous historian, often giving details to help identify the historical context of the events he described (1:5, 2:1.2, 3:1.2, 13:1-4). Of all the gospels, his has the fullest account of the nativity. He also includes the praise psalms. He is the only gospel writer to include the unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, the annunciation of Mary, the manger, the shepherds, and Simeon and Anna. His gospel has the most parables recorded (28) and he includes the famous parables of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son and the rich fool.
A theme of Luke’s gospel is Jesus’ compassion for Gentiles, Samaritans, women, children, tax collectors, and sinners, who were often regarded as outcasts and pariahs in Israel. Every mention of a tax collector is in a positive sense. i.e. Zacchaeus. By telling about Mary, Elizabeth, Anna, to the women at the tomb on resurrection morning, Luke emphasized the central role of women in Jesus’ ministry.
By use of a travelogue of Jesus, we see the theme Luke stressed throughout his gospel: Jesus’ relentless progress toward the cross. This was the very reason Jesus came to earth. Luke also highlights the universal scope of the gospel invitation more than the other gospel writers. He portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, rejected by Israel and then offered to the world. It is not surprising, since he was a close companion to Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles.
Like the other three gospels, Luke’s focus is on the final week of Jesus’ life. This was the climax of the Old Testament types and shadows. Even though it was based on fabricated charges, false witnesses, a kangaroo court, and many miscarriages of justice along the way, it’s important to remember the cross didn’t “happen” to Jesus. It was the plan of God the Father, and Jesus was in control of the timeline all along. But that doesn’t absolve those involved of their responsibility or guilt.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Bible Character Studies: King Artaxerxes

Artaxerxes was the fifth king of Persia and reigned from 464-423 B.C. (41 years). He died in Susa in 424 B.C. He was the third son of Xerxes. His queen was Damaspia. They had five children. His son Xerxes 2nd succeeded him.

From the book of Nehemiah, we see that the man is perceptive, noticing his cupbearer’s sad demeanor; he is caring, asking the reason for his servant’s sadness; and he is intuitive, recognizing that behind Nehemiah’s assessment of the situation, is a request. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the length of time Nehemiah will be away; the trip would take 3-5 months, and even with a return to Susa between terms, he will be gone over 12 years. He is generous. He also not only grants Nehemiah’s further bold request for letters of safe passage, but goes further and sends an armed guard with him, and supplies of timber (a precious commodity) from the royal forest for building.

He is favourable to the Jews, possibly because of the influence of his step-mother, Esther, as he was growing up. His kind letter addressed to Ezra in Ezra chapter 7 demonstrates his generosity to the rebuilding project.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Bible Character Studies: Mary, the mother of Jesus


Contrary to Roman Catholic teaching, Mary doesn’t have a prominent place in the ministry of Jesus. She plays an important role in bearing the Messiah, and she is definitely blessed, but she is not in every scene in Jesus’ life, like the movie, The Passion seemed to portray. But then it was made by Roman Catholics. It’s hard not to talk about her without drawing attention to some of the errors of Rome and contrasting them with the Protestant view throughout history as we look at this interesting woman.

It’s noteworthy that since Jesus hands the care of His mother over to John (John 19:26-28) Mary has likely told John much about Jesus’ early life. Yet he chooses to leave that out of his gospel. For one who knew the most about Mary, compared to the other gospel writers, he mentions her the least. That is significant. For all we know, she even asked him to make it so.

Also, any time John mentions her, he doesn’t even use her name, but just calls her the mother of Jesus, or His mother. (John 2:1,3,5,12,19:25,26)

Her last recorded comment in this gospel is, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5) Then she fades from the scene until the crucifixion. We would do well to heed her words and focus on obedience to Jesus.

Also, contrary to Roman Catholic teaching that Jesus was her only child, in order to bolster their teaching on the perpetual virginity of Mary, she and Joseph had children together after Jesus was born. He is called her “firstborn Son” in Matthew 1:25 and Luke 2:7). It also says that Joseph did not “know her” as in sexually, UNTIL she brought forth her firstborn Son. (Matt. 1:25) This implies that they had a normal marital relationship after Jesus’ birth.

The term firstborn can be in reference to birth order or rank (importance). Either way it would imply He is not Mary’s only child. For birth order; He’s the firstborn, if rank; He would have to be compared with another. For further proof, John 2:12 mentions “His brothers” distinct from “His disciples”. Acts 1:14 also mentions His brothers in a sentence separate from the disciples and in connection with His mother.

Mark 3:31-35 tells of a time when His mother and His brothers came to see Him. He distanced Himself from them because they had no special favours as His family; unlike the Roman Catholic idea that Mary is somehow able to influence Him because she’s His mother, as justification to pray to her. As if He needed any prodding to be compassionate! Consider His compassion to the thief on the cross, even with no encouragement from Mary, although she was standing there.

Both Mark and Matthew name Jesus’ brothers (four of them) and also mention “sisters”, so that implies at least two. So at least seven children in the family, seven to Mary, six to Joseph.

“Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” Matt. 13:55,56

This James is the one believed to have written the book of James, so he did eventually come to faith. Yet in his book he just refers to Jesus as his Lord and doesn’t claim any special status because of the familial connection. In fact, in his book, he condemns favouritism very harshly. Another brother of note is Jude (called Judas in the gospels, he no doubt shortened it because of Judas Iscariot). He wrote the epistle that bears his name.

Even during Jesus’ own intense suffering on the cross, He is concerned for others. As Joseph is no doubt dead by the time of Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus as the eldest son, looks to plan for the future care of His mother. His own half-brothers were at this point unbelievers, so He put her in the care of His beloved disciple John, whom He knew would be living the longest. It shows us we are to care for our elderly parents.

Mary is not sinless, but refers to “God, my Savior” (Luke 1:47). She wouldn’t need a Savior if she was sinless. Finally, she is mentioned among the worshippers in the Upper Room after the Resurrection. (Jesus’ brothers are also there. Perhaps at that point they were all believers.) She is not being worshipped or prayed to, but is just one of the followers of Christ awaiting the promised Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:14)

But Mary had a difficult life, in spite of the great blessing of being the mother of the Messiah. She went through the scandal of a pregnancy that many thought was the result of an illicit affair. She knew what it was like to have unbelieving children, to be a widow, and to have a Son cruelly treated and killed in front of her. The words of Simeon to her when Jesus was an infant were true; “…a sword will pierce through your own soul also…” (Luke 2:35)

As with most things, we need to have balance and not make too much of her, like the Roman Catholics, or too little of her as a backlash against their errors, as many Protestants do. When someone in a crowd shouted to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” Jesus answered, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27,28)