The Unknown God

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Photo:  Joe Walsh Tours

“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…” – Acts 17:22, 23

One of my favorite sermons of the apostle Paul’s was the one he made at the Areopagus.  When he was in Athens and he saw the idols, he was provoked.  He wasted no time talking to the people, both Jews and Gentiles about Jesus and His resurrection.  That got the attention of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and they were curious about what he was talking about.  Some called him a “babbler” while others perceived that he was preaching about foreign gods.  So, they took him to the Areopagus and asked him, “what this new doctrine is of which you speak?  For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.”  That’s how they spent their time–standing around and telling about or listening to new things.

This was a perfect opportunity for Paul to talk to them about the true God whom they called, “the unknown God”.  So, he stood in their midst and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said would “teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12).  Paul starts out by acknowledging that the people were very religious and that he was considering the objects of their worship.  He mentioned the altar with the inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  He then proceeded to tell them about the God whom they were worshipping in ignorance.

God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything—seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else.” 

Unlike the other gods, we shouldn’t imagine God as being like gold, silver, or stone, or is an image carved by humans using their own imagination and skill. Idols cannot see, hear, talk or move.  They have to be taken up and carried around.  Why would anyone worship gods made by people when they could worship the true, living God? 

Paul informed his audience that “God tolerated man’s past ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone to put away idols and worship only him.  For he has set a day for justly judging the world by the man he has appointed, and has pointed him out by bringing him back to life again” (Acts 17:22:31). 

When he mentioned the resurrection, some of the people laughed but others wanted to hear more.  A few, however, joined him and became believers, among them was Dionysius, a member of the court of Areopagus and a woman named Damaris

When it comes to sharing our faith with others, we will encounter the skeptics and opposition but we will also find those who will believe and accept the message.  What Paul did that day was worth the ones who wanted to hear more and the few who believed.  God will present us with opportunities to tell others about Him.  We just have to be open and willing like Paul.

Sources:  Bible Gateway; Blue Letter Bible

Dream Man

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You’re a figment of my imagination and yet I can’t stop thinking about you.  You’re my dream man.  You with your long, flowing hair as black as a raven, your strong handsome features with the square jaw and incredible eyes that make my knees go weak everything you look at me.

I stare at the artist’s depiction of you on the cover of my latest novel.  The image came to me in a dream.  And it seemed so real.  You were alone, as usual, gazing up at the sky, your amazing dark brown eyes bright as the light hits your face.  Your expression is serene as if you’re communing with God.  Behind you are the clouds unfurling like thick mist above the mountains and blotting out the sky.  Everything pales in comparison with you.  Sometimes, I imagine you transforming into a hawk or eagle, stretch your wings and take to the sky because you don’t want to be confined to the pages of a book–correction, books.

Am I fool for falling in love with my own creation–a figment of my imagination?  You exist in my mind but how I wish you were real.  I find myself getting jealous of the women I have as your love interests.  I want to be them.  I want to be Josie, the wife you lost or Alicia, the one night stand or Lisa, the one you love to hate.  I envy them.  I wish I could trade places with them.  Maybe I will write myself into the next novel.  On paper, I will be free to articulate at length, the thoughts and fantasies I have been having about you.  No holds barred.

I’m being foolish, aren’t I?  I can’t help it.  You are my greatest creation.  Women adore you.  They want their boyfriends and husbands to be you.  I don’t have a man and if I did, I wouldn’t be faithful to him–at least not in my thoughts.  And I would unfairly compare him to you.  I’m single.  And it’s better that way.

“A penny for your thoughts,” my friend Jackie’s amused voice interrupts my musings and I look up.

My eyes widen and my heart begins to pound like crazy while my mouth turns dry.  Standing behind her is…you.  I try to rise to my feet.  Shock, excitement overwhelm me and I feel faint.  You move forward like lightning and steady me.  Your eyes meet mine and your warm breath brushes against my forehead.  I feel as if I’m drowning in your eyes.  You ask me something but I can’t make it out.  I could only sit there and stare at you.  If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.

“Are you all right?” Jackie asked.  I look up at her.  I’d forgotten she was even there.

I nodded.  A glass of water is handed to me and I sip it.  You’re still holding my shoulders.  The deep concern on your face warms my heart.  I manage a smile.  “I’m fine, now.”

“That’s a relief,” Jackie said.  “You look like you were ready to pass out.”

“I guess it’s because I haven’t eaten since this morning,” I lied.

“Before we order, I’d like you to meet Jolon.”

Jolon held out his large hand.  “Pleased to meet you, Thandi.”

I put my hand in his, thinking how tiny it looked.  “You look familiar.”

Of course, he looks familiar,” Jackie exclaimed.  “He’s the model I used for your sexy Cree character.  When you described him to me, it sounded exactly like Jolon so I got in touch with him and asked him if he would be willing to be the face that would grace the covers of your books.  He agreed.  He wanted to meet the writer who’s made him famous.  You wouldn’t believe how many women asked him for his autograph on our way over here.”

So, you are real.  I smile.  You’re no longer a figment of my imagination nor confined tot the pages of a book nor my mind.  I hope that this is the first of many meetings.  I don’t want you to be my dream man.  I just want you to be my man.  And the way you are looking at me now and how you’re holding my hand longer than is necessary, makes my heart dance with hope.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Monday’s prompt, fool, Tuesday’s prompt, stretch and today’s prompt, articulate. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

What Do You See?

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made – Psalm 139:14

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What do you see when you look into the mirror?  A tired face?  Eyes filled with sadness?  A furrowed brow caused by stress?  More wrinkles?  Frowns instead of smiles?  Faded beauty?  Diminishing youth?  Or do you see what God sees?  Someone created in His image?

Did you know that He formed your inward parts and covered you in your mother’s womb?  Before you were even formed, He saw your substance.  He saw the woman and man your were meant to be.  He knew the accomplishments you would make, the decisions you would weigh and the mistakes you would make.  Nothing you do can diminish His love for you.  David knew this and that’s why he concluded, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17).

God loves you with an everlasting love.  He said, Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3).  You are His masterpiece.  The apple of His eye.  When you see yourself the way He does, you will fully understand why He were are so precious to Him.

No Coincidence

We are not here by coincidence.

All around us is evidence that we

are here by design.

We were fearfully and wonderfully

made in the image of our Creator.

In tender love He fashioned us

and gave us the breath of life.

 

We are not here by chance

but for a purpose.  We were

created for God’s glory.

 

We were made a little lower

than the angels yet we are

crowned with glory and honor.

The Lord is mindful of us and

He cares for us.  His eye is on

us as it is on the sparrow.

He can number the very hairs

on our heads.

 

No, we are not here by

coincidence.  We are here

by choice–God’s choice.

Nature is not an accident.

It is intentional.

 

From the unsightly caterpillar

that transforms into a beautiful

and colorful butterfly to the

mighty eagle which soars across

the sky, all of nature reflect and

declare the glory of our Creator.

 

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An American Bald Eagle In Flight by Klaus Nigge

 

Source:  Blue Letter Bible

The Visit

She stood at the window watching

the snow fall in thick white sheets

on the streets below.  It had been

like this all morning.   What was

it going to end?

 

All night she had looked forward

to seeing Rupert.  When they had

last seen each other which was a

fortnight ago, he had promised to

visit her today.

 

When she woke up this morning

all cheerful, she was appalled at

the wintry scene outside her bedroom

window.  The snow fell relentlessly

with no promise of that it will taper

off any time soon.

 

Skipping breakfast, she came straight into

the library to occupy herself with a book

but it was no use.  She couldn’t concentrate

on anything.  She got up from the armchair

by the fire and walked over to the window.

She drew aside the curtain and watched

the snow which she now regarded as her

enemy.   It blanketed everything in its path.

The streets were deserted.  No one

dared to venture out in such blizzard-like

weather.  Why, of all days, did it have

to snow today?  There was no reason to

believe that Rupert would even attempt

to brave the weather just to see her.

 

Yet, an irrational part of her hoped

to see a carriage pull up in front

and a tall and slender figure alight.

She remembered how handsome he

looked in his officer coat when she

she first saw him.  It was at the ball

thrown by her Aunt in honor of her

husband, a retired officer.  Her eyes

scarcely left him and she urged her

aunt to introduce them.  Which she

did with relish.

 

Rupert was friendly and gracious and

she was immediately put at ease.

They spent most of the evening talking and

she was fortunate to have a couple of

dances with him.  It vexed her when she

saw him dance with other young women

but always, he returned to her side.

 

It was with deep regret that she bid him

farewell that night but her constitution

brightened considerably when he

promised that he would visit her in a

fortnight.

 

And here she was, watching her hopes

diminish with each falling snowflake.

Even if it were to taper off, the roads

were now impassable.   She might as

well face the inevitable.  She was not

going to see Rupert today.  And she

wasn’t even sure about tomorrow.

 

She turned away in distress.  Just then

the door opened and Rupert stood in

its opening.  I must be dreaming, she

thought.  I want to see him so desperately

that I am conjuring his image now.  Perhaps,

I need to go and lie down.  She felt a bit faint.

Perhaps not having a morsel to eat for

breakfast was taking its toll on her now.

 

As she started forward, the image

moved towards her.  Her eyes widened

in shock.  It was Rupert.  He was there–

but how?  He came forward, smiling and

took her hands in his.  His dark brown eyes

steady on her upturned face.  “I came by

very early this morning,” he explained.

“When the snow was just starting to fall.”

 

She still couldn’t believe that this was

real.  He was here.  “But, no one told me

that you were here.”

 

“When I arrived you were still in bed.  I asked

her aunt not to disturb you.  Your Uncle invited

me to join him in the drawing-room where I

was quite content to bide my time until you

were available.  Your Aunt had been to your

room to check on you but found that you had

vacated it.  On her way to the drawing-room,

she popped her head in the library and saw

you standing at the window.   She came and

informed me.  And, so without further delay,

I quit your Uncle’s company and came straightaway

here.”

 

“I thought—with the weather being so bad

that I wouldn’t see you today.”

 

“Hannah, you will soon learn that I am a

man of my word.  I promised that I would

visit you and here I am.  Besides, I have been

thinking of little else.   Come, let us go

and sit by the fire.  Your hands are cold.”

 

She glanced back at the falling snow.  A

smile touched her lips.  She no longer

felt resentment toward it but was thankful.

It meant that Rupert was going to be here

for a while.  Yes, it was to be an extended

visit after all.

 

Victorian woman looking out window

Source:  Military Heritage

God’s Plans

Your eyes saw my body.  In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them – Psalm 139:16
 

Your Creator saw you
Before you were born
And planned your days
Even before they existed.

He who fashioned you
In His own image
Wrote down every plan
He had for your life in
His book.

His plans are for your good
And not for your harm
Plans for your peace and
a future with hope.

He has your life in His hands.
And He will protect you all
your days.

 

Baby girl

Love Hangs On

There is an image that will forever be imprinted on Cindy’s mind.  It is what keeps her going when she wants to give up.  Recently, her son had been acting up at school and she was struggling to deal with why he was taking what didn’t belong to him and lying about it.  She had been crushed by such despair that she just wanted to throw in the towel and resign herself to the idea that it was no use trying to fix this problem.  She and her husband had talked to him many times about the consequences of wrongdoing. They read Bible stories to him stories to illustrate how important it was to do what was right.  But it seemed to be a waste of time.  She cried when she read the teacher’s note, wondering what had happened to her precious little boy who would never have thought of taking other people’s things and telling lies.

She had prayed to God about it but the discouragement and disappointment were overwhelming.  During her morning worship one day, she was frank with the Lord, telling him that she didn’t know what else to do.  Talking to Joey, reading verses from the book of Proverbs which urged children to listen to their parents and even spanking him didn’t seem to be working.  She had run out of options.  Then, the image which she always held dear to her heart, filled her mind.  She saw her son in the hospital, wrapped in a blanket, his head covered and only his tiny face  was exposed.  She would never forget looking into those big, beautiful eyes as they stared up at her.  This was her child.  The son she and her husband had prayed for.  This was God’s precious gift to them.

As the image lingered, she heard the Lord say, “Do it for him.”  God was encouraging her not to give up on that little baby who was looking up at her with such trust.  He was seven now but somewhere in there was that sweet child that had filled her heart such love.  It was this love that she was to tap into to help him.  God doesn’t give up on His children, no matter how long it takes or how hard, so she couldn’t give up on Joey.  Joey was a loving, kind and thoughtful child but he was doing bad things. She and his Dad had to find out why and then deal with it with God’s help.  God told her to talk to Joey, not at him and then listen to him.

She realized that lately she had been lecturing Joey and talking while he was trying to say something.  And it had been a while since she had spent any time with him.  Was it her fault that Joey was acting up?  Then, she pushed that thought away.  The enemy would love for her to blame herself but she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.  She knew that she and her husband were raising Joey the best they knew how, in a Godly home.  They would do whatever was necessary to help him but the choice, decision to stop doing what was wrong was his.  She was not going to give up without a fight, though.  Armed with hope and a mother’s fierce love, she was going to hang on to her child and not let go until it was safe to do so.   And one day he was going to thank her for not letting go of the child he used to be so that he could become the exceptional man God knew he could be.

Love suffers long and is kind; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails – 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, 8

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