Deuteronomy 22:13-30

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 22:13-30
13 “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip[a] him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels[b] of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin[c] of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

25 “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

30 [d] “A man shall not take his father’s wife, so that he does not uncover his father’s nakedness.[e]

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Consider Jesus and the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8:1-11?
In light of what I said in verse 22, why do you think they didn’t bring the man?
Do you take some parts of my commands seriously, and not others?
What do these commands about men and women tell you about me?

Monday Picks ~ 10-24-2016

Picks Monday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Your vote is your voice. Let it be heard!

The Power of the Wasted VoteD.M. Andre

“I’d rather vote for what I want and not get it, than vote for what I don’t want and get it.” — Eugene V. Debs

While each vote has statistical importance, there is more to a vote than simple mathematics. The election is not a horse race, it is not about picking the winners and the losers — it is about participating in democracy. That is why you do not simply vote for who you think will win, you vote for who you believe will do the best job based on the issues that are important to you. Your vote is your voice, if you are merely voting for the candidate most likely to win you are self-censoring.

Following Jesus is not “common sense”…

Let’s Keep Christianity WeirdElliot Clark, let’s be honest, no parent wants their kids to be weird. I certainly work hard so that my children are not socially inept. Yet all of us must prepare our children for life as outsiders. As much as we hate to say it, our children, should they choose to follow Christ, must be ready to suffer. The Christian home may be a safe place of sorts, a temporal sanctuary from the onslaught of the world’s common sense. We try to provide this shelter, but we are simultaneously training our children to push against the natural thought patterns of the world.

I hesitate to share this, but I think these are pretty accurate…

Six Reasons Congregational Singing Is Waning
Thom S. Rainer
Please be nice…

I know I am touching on several sensitive subjects in one post: the loudness of music; lighting in the worship center; music preferences; and performance versus participatory singing.

But here is the clear reality in many congregations: congregational singing is waning in many churches. In some churches it seems to have disappeared altogether…

Here are six reasons…

Are you in denial? Here’s how you can tell…
Wrong Hands

Deuteronomy 22:1-12

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 22:1-12
“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

“If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.

“When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.

“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited,[a] the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. 10 You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.

12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do these instructions tell you about me?
There’s that word “abomination” again. (v. 5)
How does that make you feel?
Do you think I’ve changed at all on this one?
Do you think it’s an “abomination”?
Who’s right, you or me?
Knowing that this an extremely unpopular thought these days, how will you interact with those who disagree with me?

Them Apples

Image result for honeycrisp applesYou know what
It is about TV?
You can turn it off,
“Click,” just like that!

You know what
It is about doors?
You can close them,
“Slam,” just like that!

You know what
It is about people?
You can leave them,
Turn and walk, just like that!

You know what
It is about books?
You can quit them,
Close the covers, just like that!

You know what
It is about God?
You can’t do anything about him,
He’s there, just like that!

How do you like them apples!


Number ninety-two in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney

(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)

Weekend Picks ~ 10-21-2016

Picks Weekend

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

This is how I learned to love the church…

How My Parents Taught Me To Love The Church
Ricky Alcantar you realize it or not, you’re teaching your kids a theology of the church with your time…

…part of imparting a love for Jesus to our kids means imparting a love for Jesus’ family, the church. If we tell our kids one thing about the church and undermine it with our time, they’re sharp enough to get the message.

So what are you preaching about the church to your kids? What is your time preaching to them?

I heard simple truths like this read as a kid: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10 ESV).

I couldn’t grasp how huge those words were–that once we were without a people but because of what Jesus has done we’ve become God’s people. But I knew this: we had a people and we saw our people on Sunday mornings and during the week at small group and sometimes unexpectedly when they showed up crying and sometimes in the hospital when they were sick.

They were our people. I heard that loud and clear.

This is written with leaders in mind, but I think there is value here for anyone…

5 Emotional Intelligence Hacks That Can Immediately Improve Your LeadershipCarey Nieuwhof
shutterstock_268007936Your emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) is already affecting far more than you think at work and at home. It explains:

Why you have conflict and when you have conflict.

Why people like working with you or don’t.

Why you never seem to get the promotion you’re hoping for—or why you do.

Why there’s so much drama in your life, or why things actually go quite smoothly.

So how emotionally savvy are you?

I don’t usually read a lot of Beth Moore stuff, but she really hits some nails on the head here…

The Scandal of Election 2016Beth Moore’s America, in all its honor and shame, is in ashes but, rather than exercise the faith and obedience and earnest prayer to see God raise some beauty from the heap, some gold from the fire, we keep trying to glue ashes back together. And they won’t stick. Yesterday’s America has become an idol to us. It has no more breath in it and the thing about idolaters is that, sooner or later, they become like their idols. (Psalm 135:18)

God could do something new but we’ve lost our hope. We want back what we’ve seen instead of believing Him for what we haven’t…

Poor, poor God. He’s down to His last two options. And poor, poor us for having such a poor, poor God.

We are called to be people of faith in a God who never needed a man-paved road to get anywhere. A dead end means nothing to a God of resurrection.

Good communion meditation here…

Judas at the Table -Ronald G. Davis
Judas cared so little for Jesus’ well being, he saw only money signs—“What is he worth?” Well, that is the question that is answered here at this table. “What is he worth?” Is he worthy of devotion? Worthy of obedience? Worthy of repentance? Will we sit quietly, repentantly, or are we in a hurry to “get out and get on with life”? Do we make the Judas choice? He repented . . . but too late. Jesus died because of Judas’s sin, and he died for Judas’s sin. Then, sadly, Judas died unnecessarily for his own sin, at his own hand.

Those are the choices: die for one’s own sin or allow Christ’s death to be a personal atonement for one’s sin…

When Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me” (Mark 14:18), the only question I can ask, the only one you can ask: “Is it I?”

It’s all in your head…


Deuteronomy 21:1-23

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 21:1-23
If someone is found slain, lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who the killer was, your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance from the body to the neighboring towns. Then the elders of the town nearest the body shall take a heifer that has never been worked and has never worn a yoke and lead it down to a valley that has not been plowed or planted and where there is a flowing stream. There in the valley they are to break the heifer’s neck. The Levitical priests shall step forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the name of the Lord and to decide all cases of dispute and assault. Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, and they shall declare: “Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, Lord, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent person.” Then the bloodshed will be atoned for, and you will have purged from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood, since you have done what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

10 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.

15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, 16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
You should probably try to keep the culture of that time and place in mind when you read this stuff.
Do you find any common thread in all these instructions?
One seems different than the others, doesn’t it?
Do you know if any parents ever did what I instructed in vs. 18-21?
Why? Why not?
Could you?
You know they had to use it as a threat, though!


I just got in from one of my sporadic 3 mile “slogs” and I’m still sweaty, but I wanted to get this down while it was still fresh in my mind.

Image result for man with walker with tennis ballsAs I was making my way up the hill on Jessup road, I saw an old gentleman up ahead coming toward me. He was moving very slowly. I mean Tim Conway slowly (only with fewer steps), and using a walker with tennis balls on the legs. As we passed and exchanged a cheery “hello” I realized that I recognized him. Oh, I don’t know the man, we’ve never actually met, but I’ve seen him before, many times.

Not long after we moved into our current house nearly 25 years ago, Kathie and I noticed an older couple out walking. It seems we would see them almost every day. They walked slowly with their very overweight, black dog. I don’t know for sure what kind of dog he was, but he had short legs, short black hair, and weighed way too much. He was on a leash, but he wasn’t going anywhere.

We saw them so often, it felt like we did know them. We liked them. We enjoyed seeing them. Occasionally we would wave.

Then one day we saw them walking without their dog. I don’t honestly know for sure, but they looked sad to me.

Then after a while, I’m not sure when, we realized that we didn’t see them anymore.

That is, until today.

This was the man. Alone. No dog. No wife. With his walker. And a cheery, “hello.”

I considered him an old man 20 years ago!

After we passed I began thinking how life goes by in stages, and we don’t really notice it happening at the time.

One of the things I enjoyed doing with my dad when I was in my 20’s was going into the woods with him to cut firewood. I loved to split wood. It felt good to swing a maul and load up the trailer with wood for the winter. The thing is, I couldn’t keep up with my dad. The man could go forever.

I think about this sometimes when I visit him in the nursing home. It’s hard to realize that the man I see before me, who gets dizzy moving from his chair to his scooter, was the same guy who blew me away splitting wood.

He told me not long ago that he was thinking about the days when he was an elder in one of the area churches. He remembered bringing communion and visiting with some of the residents at this very same facility. He said he never once thought he might live here one day.


We recognize them after they’ve already passed.

I’m a very happy and healthy (ask my doctor) 63 year old man. I try not to take this for granted. Sometimes I’m successful. Usually I’m not. I’m just who I am, doing what I do. I recognize that I’m not in the stage of life I was, but, what stage this is? I don’t really know.

Since I don’t even know what stage I’m in, I sure don’t know what stage you’re in.

Now, I’m going to say something here, and I don’t mean it to be alarming. I mean it to be an encouragement. An exhortation, maybe. It’s not really that deep or original, but it is true. And we often don’t believe it. Here it is:

Whatever stage we find ourselves in, it’s later than we realize.

That’s it.

Now, I need to take a shower and go visit my dad.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:14


Thursday Picks ~ 10-20-2016

Picks Thursday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I hate abortion, but this explains well why the SCOTUS argument for POTUS doesn’t persuade me. Many of my fellow “pro-lifers” will have a hard time with this opinion piece, and, as usual, I don’t necessarily agree with every point,  but I ask that you do your best to read with open hearts…

I’m Pro-Life, And I Don’t Care About the Supreme CourtMatthew Tyson
Image result for 2016 supreme courtThe biggest myth sold to the pro-life movement is that Republican presidents appointing Conservative justices are crucial in the fight against abortion. And yet, both Roe vs. Wade AND Planned Parenthood vs. Casey were decided with a conservative majority. Not only that, but over the last 45 years, we’ve had 9 Republican House majorities, 10 Senate majorities, and 5 Republican Presidents, none of which have been successful in ending abortion. Furthermore, time, after time, after time,after time, after time, after time, after time,after time, legislation restricting abortion was either found unconstitutional or failed to make it to law.

Yet, major Pro-Life organizations such as Priests for Life, National Right to Life, and the Susan B. Anthony List continue to push the narrative that we must elect Trump, because he will put pro-life Justices on the bench, which will give us the upper hand in the fight against abortion.

But here is the truth of the matter that all of us in the pro-life movement need to accept: fighting abortion in the courts will never play out in our favor

If we want to effectively end abortion, we need to stop focusing on where and how, and start focusing on why. What drives a woman to abort her child in the first place and what can we do to alleviate it?

Where is your line?

DifferencesSeth Godin
If you’re sharing a cab to the airport with a stranger, what happens if he’s two inches taller than you? Probably nothing. There’s nothing to distract, or to cause discomfort. You make small talk.

What if he’s a little shorter than you? Or left handed?

Perhaps he’s not from your town, but from Depew, about twenty miles away. Probably nothing to consider…

What if he has shoulder-length red hair?

At some point, most people reach a moment of discomfort…

Are we willing to pay for quality?

You Get What You Pay ForSamuel D. James
computer-1583432_640Netflix determines what’s watchable and what’s not, and there’s no other Netflix “location” you can visit to see if it has what you’re looking for. What Netflix offers is cheapness and convenience, and in exchange it squelches on availability, selection, and, if we’re being honest, often quality. This relationship isn’t incidental. The ease of Netflix exists because of its flaws, not in spite of it. You get what you pay for…

Our national politics seems to have fallen squarely in the Netflix trap. We are often drawn to candidates, on either side, who embody identity politics and confirm our worst suspicions about the “other side.” As long as a politician can make us feel correct and victimized, we somehow find ways to ignore serious faults in character, honesty, and personal morality. We want the politics of the easy and the convenient, and are willing to get less quality leadership in return.

This is why it’s important to remember that wanting a better national politic entails a better electorate…

Ours is a culture of cheap, low-quality entertainment; cheap, low-quality politics; cheap, low-quality religion; cheap, low-quality education. We are so adapted to the tradeoff between inexpensive and mediocre that we hardly notice it anymore–until, of course, we have nothing else to choose from except the vulgar, the dishonest, and the middlebrow.

They thought they had it figured out. They were wrong. We think we have it figured out. We’re nowhere close…

The Cosmos Is Vaster than the Ancients Imagined
Chad Meeks
The Cosmos Is Vaster than the Ancients ImaginedTwo thousand years ago, no one fathomed the vastness of the universe. The stellar parallax was easily explained when we realized the immense distance of these stars from Earth. But to the ancient world, the universe was much smaller. We didn’t even know that there were billions of galaxies until Edwin Hubble made his famous discovery in the early 20th century…

I’m humbled by these ancient ideas: so astute and justified, yet ultimately false. This sobers my view of reality. God’s creation is so complex that it takes centuries—and will take centuries more—to understand what is all around us…

If we understand the starry hosts above better than the ancients did, it isn’t because of our intellectual superiority; we simply benefit from their misunderstandings. Sometimes things seem right—even logical—until we discover that our perspective is off. The picture we thought we were looking at is actually much vaster than we imagined…

While this provides plenty of reasons for humility, it’s even more humbling to realize that the Creator is so much more complex than his creation…

Our idea of God, though grand, is limited. He is more beautiful than we can comprehend. He is more powerful than we understand. And if we should distrust how great he truly is, we merely need look to our limited knowledge of his work. If his work blows our minds, imagine how much greater he must be; thus the difficulty of finite creatures struggling to know the infinite. We hear faintly as creation harkens to his splendor, but what a sound!

Debate Prep…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.

Deuteronomy 20:1-20

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 20:1-20
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. And is there any man who has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. And is there any man who has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.’ And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.’ And when the officers have finished speaking to the people, then commanders shall be appointed at the head of the people.

10 “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. 11 And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. 12 But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, 14 but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. 16 But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction,[a] the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.

19 “When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? 20 Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you think I approve of war?
Under what circumstances?
What do these principles of war tell you about me?