Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ann Maree’s Paintings

Ann Maree BeamanAfter my wife, Ann Maree, died I stopped selling her oil paintings for a time of grieving and distributing favorite paintings to the family, etc.  But now, in response to several inquiries I have selected some of her work to offer for sale.  If you would like more information, or would like to simply view the paintings, you can do so by clicking HERE.

I realize this post is not on topic, but since I announced her death to my followers here, I decided to provide this follow-up as well.

Grace and Peace,

Tom

You See?

Insanity, it is said, is doing the wrong thing again and again, expecting better results each time.  That is also what God calls blindness and deafness.  In effect, God told His people, Israel, “Here’s how life is supposed to be lived.  Do it this way and you will be amazed at how wonderful are the results.  But, make up your own way to live, and you will eventually be in agony, stumbling about in your blindness and deafness.”  Sadly, the people didn’t listen and they couldn’t see.  Time after time they rebelled, God rescued them, restored them and gave them the same message.  Each time the improvements were short lived as the people decided they knew better.

Through Isaiah, God appealed:

18Hear, you deaf;
look, you blind, and see!

20 You have seen many things, but you pay no attention;
your ears are open, but you do not listen.”   (Isaiah 42:18&20)

Remember that choice of words as you see how God described the Messiah Who would come to fix things:

6 “I, the Lord, have called you [i.e. Jesus the Messiah] in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6-7)

So Jesus, when asked by John the Baptist if He was the Messiah, sent back this word:

4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  (Matthew 11:4-5)

Jesus wasn’t simply referring to the physically impaired. See the connection?  God hopes so.  He continued speaking to His people through Isaiah with this important question for all of us:

23 Which of you will listen to this
or pay close attention in time to come?  (Isaiah 42:23)

You see?

Forever

Geoffrey Wilkinson, George Henderson and Mark Frankel.  Do you know thesse names or what they have in common?  Geoffrey was a world renowned chemist.  George, a priest and politician.  Mark was an actor who played “Leon the Pig Farmer.”  They all died 20 years ago today, September 26, 1996.  How did you do?  Me neither.  Twenty years after you die, maybe your family will remember who you were but the chances of much more of a lingering impact are slim.

Isaiah wrote:

6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass. (Isaiah 40:6-7)

But he wrote those words 2700 years ago in a country about the size of Rhode Island that was on the verge of being conquered and exiled!  And you know his name and can almost certainly quote or paraphrase some of what he wrote.  Try it; fill in the blank:  “The people walking in darkness have _____________.”   Or, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given and the government will be on __________.”    See what I mean?  What are the odds?

Of course, the reason Isaiah’s work has been preserved and is widely known is because it is in the Bible.  That’s because, over the centuries, it has stood the test.  He accurately prophesied the rise and fall of kingdoms in the Middle East (try that today!) and the exile and eventual release of the Jewish people, well over 100 years before it happened.  Most significantly, he foretold the coming of Jesus with amazing accuracy and clarity.  The only explanation is that Isaiah was writing God’s words.

Including these next lines from the quote above:

8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”   (Isaiah 40:8)

Yes, it does.

The Rest of the Story

Violently persecuted in his home land, he joined a group who fled by boat, hoping for safety on some different shore.  But, what they found was terror – from pirates, from storms at sea and even from one another.  In desperation, he jumped overboard.  Soon, he was exhausted from his futile attempts to swim, surrounded by sharks and coughing up sea water with every breath.  A ship drew near and a life ring was thrown.  Should he take it?  Nothing to lose, he thought, and grabbed it.  The next thing he was aware of was waking up in a comfortable bed, washed, rested and fed.  He made his way up on deck, found a place to hide and watched intently for any kind of danger.  When the men working on deck noticed him, he raced away to the rail, preparing himself to fight or jump.

That is when he heard the voice of the captain, saying, “You are safe here and we will not hurt you.  You do not need to hide, or dash back and forth, watching and worrying about who is coming.  If you trust me, you can rest from all that.  Of course, if you are too frightened to trust me, too used to scheming and fighting to protect yourself, you can keep doing so.  I cannot force you to rest, but rather, I invite you to do so.  How about it?  Don’t you want to leave all this stress behind and rest?”

Could this be real?  Could it be true?  He had to decide: either listen to his old fears, try to protect himself and jump overboard or trust the captain and rest.

Hebrews 4, an extended warning about failing to trust God and missing out, also contains these lines about His promise of rest for those who trust:

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”   (Hebrews 4:1)

“Now we who have believed enter that rest, …”  (Hebrews 4:3a)

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  (Hebrews 4:7b)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest,…”  (Hebrews 4:9-11a)

Firm in What?

Wars and rumours of war aren’t indicators of Jesus’ return.  Neither are famines and earthquakes.  Jesus called those things “the beginning of birth pains.”  First labor pains ordinarily indicate the start of an unstoppable progression of events but not the imminent conclusion of them.  So what indicators did Jesus say would tip us off the time was drawing close?   Among other signs, Jesus included this troubling thought:

 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  (Matthew 24:12)

The more we encounter wickedness, the more  tempted we are to respond in kind.  The recent sniping murder of Dallas policemen is a sad case in point.  Somebody thought, “Enough is enough; I’m going to make someone pay.”  That’s an extreme example.  Maybe you would never go that far.  But Jesus taught us to actually respond in the opposite way:

27 “…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  (Luke 6:27b-28)

When most people find it too tough to respond to wickedness with love, that is a sign the end times are drawing to a close, that Jesus is coming soon.  What do you think?  Are we there yet?  Has the love of most grown cold?  If you had to make the call, based on your own attitudes, what would you say?  For me, that is a sobering question.

But don’t give up!  No matter what, don’t abandon love.  That first quote above is only the beginning of Jesus’ sentence.  Here’s the whole thing:

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

Stands firm in love.

Clean Hands, Dirty Heart

Where was this Bible verse when I was growing up?

“to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”  (Matthew 15:20b)

If I had only known.  Jesus said it; it must be true.  Gospel truth, no less.  I could have had that verse memorized and ready to quote at opportune moments.  Alas…   Of course, now I know better.  Jesus wasn’t giving hygiene instructions for little boys.  He was challenging hypocritical religious leaders, the ones who wanted to control others with nit-picky rules.  Jesus’ point was that righteousness (or the lack thereof) is determined by what is in our hearts and not by what may be smudging our hands.

“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:17-20)

Wash all you want and you cannot cleanse corruption of the heart.  Only the Holy Spirit, living within can pull that off.  Happily, that is exactly what God promises to do.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

(Isaiah 1:18)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 (1 John 1:9)

For Roger, Too

Maybe you’ve seen the quotes from the Baptist pastor, Roger Jimenez, who seemed glad about the shootings in Orlando.  He claims to represent Jesus and preaches in a church named “Verity” that claims to stand for truth.  Neither claim is in line with Jesus’ teachings.  It is true the Bible teaches homosexual practice is out of sync with God’s design.  But so is heterosexual lust for someone not your spouse.  And greed, gossip, and coveting something not your own.  Jesus taught the inclination of our hearts in the wrong direction is just as serious as the worst act of that inclination.  For example, anger against your brother is akin to murder, He said, and just as bad.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

Every one  of us is equally guilty in the eyes of God when it comes to doing, or even thinking about doing, things out of sync with His design.  To point fingers with a judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude is as serious before God as pulling the trigger.  Roger Jimenez should have known that.  He also should know Jesus did not come for those who considered themselves to be morally pure.  He came for those who know they are not.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  (Matthew 9:11-13)

Fact is, God loves the Orlando victims and sent His Son, Jesus to save them.  He came for Roger, too, if he can get over himself and see it…

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3:17)