The 2nd Chapter of Acts

Christians around the world will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday this coming Sunday (May 28, 2023). Pentecost Sunday takes place every year 50 days after Easter Sunday, and 10 days after the Ascension of Jesus Christ. The account of what happened at Pentecost is recorded in 2nd Chapter of Acts in the New Testament. Here is that account from Acts 2 (NIV):

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Fellowship of the Believers

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

It is important that we have a clear understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today. Regarding who the Holy Spirit is, states:

There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others see the Holy Spirit as an impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In these verses Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Then in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, we see the characteristic of omniscience in the Holy Spirit. “These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

We can know that the Holy Spirit is indeed a divine person because He possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit thinks and knows (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:162615:26). (Quote source here.) provides the following information on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today:

Once we are saved and belong to God, the Spirit takes up residence in our hearts forever, sealing us with the confirming, certifying, and assuring pledge of our eternal state as His children. Jesus said He would send the Spirit to us to be our Helper, Comforter, and Guide. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Greek word translated here “Counselor” means “one who is called alongside” and has the idea of someone who encourages and exhorts. The Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the hearts of believers (Romans 8:91 Corinthians 6:19-2012:13). Jesus gave the Spirit as a “compensation” for His absence, to perform the functions toward us that He would have done if He had remained personally with us.

Among those functions is that of revealer of truth. The Spirit’s presence within us enables us to understand and interpret God’s Word. Jesus told His disciples that “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). He reveals to our minds the whole counsel of God as it relates to worship, doctrine, and Christian living. He is the ultimate guide, going before, leading the way, removing obstructions, opening the understanding, and making all things plain and clear. He leads in the way we should go in all spiritual things. Without such a guide, we would be apt to fall into error. A crucial part of the truth He reveals is that Jesus is who He said He is (John 15:261 Corinthians 12:3). The Spirit convinces us of Christ’s deity and incarnation, His being the Messiah, His suffering and death, His resurrection and ascension, His exaltation at the right hand of God, and His role as the judge of all. He gives glory to Christ in all things (John 16:14).

Another one of the Holy Spirit’s roles is that of gift-giver. First Corinthians 12 describes the spiritual gifts given to believers in order that we may function as the body of Christ on earth. All these gifts, both great and small, are given by the Spirit so that we may be His ambassadors to the world, showing forth His grace and glorifying Him.

The Spirit also functions as fruit-producer in our lives. When He indwells us, He begins the work of harvesting His fruit in our lives—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are not works of our flesh, which is incapable of producing such fruit, but they are products of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

The knowledge that the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in our lives, that He performs all these miraculous functions, that He dwells with us forever, and that He will never leave or forsake us is cause for great joy and comfort. Thank God for this precious gift—the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives! (Quote source here.)

There are several symbols in the Bible that are used to represent the Holy Spirit. In an article published on October 4, 2020, titled, The Symbols of the Holy Spirit,” by Dr. Princewill O. Ireoba, Director of Ecumenism and Interfaith at Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria, he writes:

A symbol is a material emblem portraying and unfolding a spiritual reality. The Holy Spirit is presented with some symbols in the Bible, which depict a reality of truth about the Holy Spirit and throw light on both his nature and mission. The symbols of the Holy Spirit are: Dove, Fire, Oil, Wind and Water.

The Dove: This can be seen in the description of the baptism of Christ (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:30-34). A dove symbolises peace (Psalms 55:6; Song of Songs 2:12); purity (Song of Songs 5:2; 6:9); innocence (Matt. 10:16); and beauty (Psalms 68:13; Song of Solomon 1:15; 2:14).

The dove is used to reveal the gentle, yet powerful, workings of the Holy Spirit. A dove is a gentle creature that is easily shooed away, no wonder Paul warns the church against grieving the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30). Where there is a rejection of His ministry, the Holy Spirit will not remain for long. Through the gentle workings of the Holy Spirit, God points out our failures and nudges us in the right direction.

Fire: Fire as symbol of the Holy Spirit is indicated in the statements about Holy Spirit’s baptism (Matt. 3:11) and the tongues of fire on the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3-4). Fire illuminates, warms, refines, purifies and can change material from one form to another. The fire of the Holy Spirit is not about burning as some project because the Bible never tells us that the Holy Spirit is given for our destruction but for our help.

Oil: In the Old Testament, priests were consecrated and ordained as oil was poured upon their heads (Exod. 29:7–see also Lev. 8). Kings were also anointed with oil as they took up office. Oil was also used to keep the lamps burning in the Holy Place, and it was vital that they should never run dry (Exod. 27:20). The Holy Spirit, thus, not only anoints and empowers for Divine service, but also enlightens and lubricates. The Holy Spirit both illuminates and eliminates friction in our lives. Oil is also used to anoint the sick (Mark 6:13; James 5:14).

Wind: Wind as a scriptural symbol signifies life and activity. It sets forth the power, invisibility, immaterial nature, and the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s work in regeneration is like the wind (John 3:8) and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost Day was described in terms of a sudden “sound like the blowing of a violent wind” (Acts 2:1-4).

Water: Jesus likened the Spirit, which the believer in him was to receive to “streams of living water” (John 7:37-39). The one who is filled with the Holy Spirit has this “living water” flowing from his innermost being. This analogy of the Spirit and water is also found in the Old Testament. (Isa. 44:3; Joel 2:28-29). The water’s functions of washing, cleansing and refreshing correspond to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Quote source here.)

There are other symbols that also represent the Holy Spirit, and you can read about them here, here, here, and here.

As we anticipate celebrating Pentecost Sunday this coming Sunday, I’ll end this post with the words of Jesus found in Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea…

And Samaria . . .

And to the ends . . .

Of the earth . . . .

YouTube Video: “Holy Spirit Come” by Patrick Mayberry:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Heavens Declare

Looking up at the sky on a clear, starry night can be awe inspiring. The vastness of the universe is beyond our comprehension, and what we see is only a tiny fraction of what is out there in the universe. It reminds me of the opening verse found in Psalm 19, a psalm that David composed, which states, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

We don’t know when David composed this psalm during his lifetime, and it could have been when he was still a young shepherd taking care of his father’s sheep out on the hills, which gave him ample opportunity to look up into the night skies and ponder the greatness of God. Or it could have been written towards the end of his life as indicated at this link. Regardless of when it was composed by David, it is a manifesto to the greatness of God.

The following information is taken from, and it provides us with the meaning of the opening verse in Psalm 19:

Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” This is one of the clearest biblical statements that nature itself is meant to show the greatness of God. These words are in the present tense. That is, the heavens “are declaring,” and the sky “is proclaiming” the creative work of God. It’s a continual display. What we see in nature is meant to constantly show us that God exists and tell us how amazing a Creator He truly is.

One of the strongest arguments in favor of the existence of God is the teleological argument, or the “argument from design.” This approach claims that observations of design in nature are best explained by a deliberate, intelligent act of creation rather than by randomness or luck. The conveyance of information is a key aspect of this. Information is always seen as the product of intelligence. Some patterns are complex but random. Others may be well-defined but carry no information. But whenever we see a specific, complex arrangement that displays information, we recognize that it was the work of a mind, not mere chance.

Psalm 19:1 connects this idea to Scripture. The more we learn about the universe, the more clearly we can see the work of God. A perfect example of this is modernBig Bangcosmology. Prior to this theory, scientists and atheists assumed that the universe was eternal. The combination of Einstein’s theories and advances in physics made it clear that, in fact, the universe did have a “beginning.” At first, this idea was rejected by scientists as being theology, not science. Over time, however, it became impossible to deny. The fact that the universe “began” is something we can see purely by observing the heavens and the sky—just as Psalm 19:1 says.

Romans 1 also ties into this idea. God has revealed enough of Himself in nature that nobody has an excuse for rejecting Him or for doing what is wrong. “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). The heavens declare the glory of God. (Quote source here.) further explains other verses found in Psalm 19:

Psalm 19, a psalm written by King David around 1000 BC, begins with a beautiful explanation of general revelation—that revealing result creation has due to how God created it—and ends with a request that the meditations of David’s heart would be pleasing to God. Creation reveals the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), declares the works of His hands (Psalm 19:1), and does all of this without words (Psalm 19:3). The biblical God has created the universe and all that it contains in such a way that it constantly glorifies Him through events such as the sun rising and setting. As Romans 1 states, “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

God’s creative role rightfully gives Him all authority, as all things are His (Job 38—41). With this authority, God gave laws and instructions to His people in the Mosaic Covenant, which David references in Psalm 19:7–11. David describes the laws as perfect or complete, the legal notices as sure, the Lord’s instructions as right, the Lord’s commandments as pure, and the judgments as true, righteous, and desirable. As David describes these various aspects of the law of God, notice the synonymous nature of his concepts. Each is working through an aspect of the relationship David has with the law and with God.

David then makes two requests of God: (1) that God would forgive him of hidden faults, and (2) that God would keep him from sins coming from arrogance and pride. He then concludes with the request that the meditations of his heart and words of his mouth would be pleasing to the Lord. David seems to be making a final request regarding his previous claims. Essentially, he’s saying, “Please let those things I have previously meditated upon and stated in this psalm be pleasing to you, Lord.”

The idea ofmeditatingin the Scriptures points to filling the mind with thoughts of something or someone. To empty the mind, as some might think of meditation, is not the biblical principle. For example, in Psalm 63, David parallels the idea of thinking and meditating (Psalm 63:6). What David presents in Psalm 19 is a desire for God to be pleased with David’s thinking and, in turn, his speaking.

Jesus also makes a connection between the words of the mouth and the meditation of the heart. He taught, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45; cf. Matthew 12:34). In the same way, David connects the mouth and the heart. Our words and our thinking are related. Both should be pleasing to the Lord.

Paul mentions the idea of pleasing God multiple times in his writing. In Romans 12:2, Paul shows that the renewal of the mind is critical for personal transformation and the understanding of God’s will, which is good, well-pleasing, and perfect. He reiterates this idea in Colossians 1:9–10 as he prays that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will so that they could then do that which is pleasing to God. He also tells Timothy that the Scriptures are God-breathed and profitable, making the man of God equipped to do every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17). These good works are what Christians were created anew in Christ to complete and are predestined by God (Ephesians 2:10). The mind must be filled with that which is pleasing to God so that the mouth, and other body parts required for action, can also do what is pleasing to God.

Like David states at the end of Psalm 19, we should desire for our thoughts or meditations to be pleasing to God. We can ensure pleasing thoughts by filling our minds with scriptural truth, and that will lead to words and actions that are also pleasing to Him. (Quote source here.)

Here is Psalm 19 (NIV) composed by David:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth
    and this meditation of my heart

    be pleasing in your sight,

Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

All of us have experienced how overwhelming life can be at times, and it is hard to take our eyes off of our own circumstances. Wars and rumors of wars, the economy and inflation, a pandemic that shut down our world for a long time, and the list goes on and on. It can seem like God is nowhere in sight, but He is everywhere–all we need to do is look up and beyond our circumstances to the vastness of the world and universe He has created and that He takes care of even in the worst of times. And we are His price possession as David composed in another psalm–Psalm 8. I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 8 (NIV):

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord . . .

How majestic is your name . . .

In all the earth . . . .

YouTube Video: “God of Wonders” by Third Day:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Peace I Leave With You

In a short devotion I read this morning titled, Turning to Scripture,” the author mentioned the negative effect watching TV and spending time on social media were having on her. She stated that everywhere she looked she seemed to find bad news concerning diseases, earthquakes, shootings, sudden deaths, just to name a few.

With each passing day she was sinking deeper into fear and worry, and she got to the point where she did not want to even leave her house. It was at this point that she realized her focus was all wrong and her “faith tank” was running low. She asked herself, “What should I be giving my attention to instead?” The answer she told herself is listening to God’s word and spending time studying scripture. The more she did this, the better she felt, and over time, the fear and heaviness left her, and her confidence increased. (Source here.)

Billy Graham once said, “The Bible is not an option; it’s a necessity.” Too often, it is not the first place we turn to when we are overcome by fear and anxiety regarding circumstances going on in the world all around us or in our own personal lives and circumstances. In one of Paul’s final exhortations to the Philippians found in Phil. 4:4-9, Paul shared with them (and now with us) where we should place our focus:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.


Do not be anxious about anything…

In every situation
by prayer and petition
with thanksgiving
present your requests to God.

And the peace of God
which transcends all understanding
will guard your heart and minds
in Christ Jesus.

In Matthew 6:25-34, which is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I’m also reminded of the Parable of the Persistent Widow recorded in Luke 18:1-8:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” provides us with the meaning of this parable:

The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8) is part of a series of illustrative lessons Jesus Christ used to teach His disciples about prayer. Luke introduces this lesson as a parable meant to show the disciples “that they should always pray and never give up” (verse 1, NLT)….

[As with the widow in the parable] we do not always get immediate results when we pray. Our definition of swift justice is not the same as the Lord’s definition. The parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that effective prayer requires tenacity and faithfulness. A genuine disciple must learn that prayer never gives up and is based on absolute trust and faith in God. We can fully count on the Lord to answer when, where, and how He chooses. God expects us to keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and praying until the answers come (Matthew 7:7–8). Disciples of Jesus are people of persistent faith.

The parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge is similar to the parable of the persistent neighbor (Luke 11:5–10), another lesson in Jesus’ teachings on prayer. While both parables teach the importance of persistence in prayer, the story of the widow and the judge adds the message of continued faithfulness in prayer.

Jesus presents a final quiz on the matter at the end of the parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge. He asks, “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT). Just as Paul stresses in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, continual devotion to prayer should be a way of life. The Lord wants to know if He will find any faithful prayer warriors left on the earth when He returns. Will we be among God’s people still praying at Christ’s second coming, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10)? (Quote source here.)

Often when I feel fear or anxiety about something rising up in me, I turn to the Book of Psalms. David wrote half of the 150 psalms found in the Book of Psalms: states:

David is specifically noted as the author of 73 psalms in the titles of the psalms. These include Psalms 3—911—3234—4151—6568—7086101103108—110122124131133; and 138—145.

In addition to these psalms, David is mentioned as the author of two psalms by writers in the New Testament. Psalm 2 is attributed to David in Acts 4:25: “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?’”

And Psalm 95 is attributed to David in Hebrews 4:7: “God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’” (Quote source here.)

One of my favorite psalms that David wrote is known throughout the world–Psalm 23. It is a psalm I memorized years ago, and hardly a day or night goes by that I don’t pray it, usually silently. I also published a blog post on May 11, 2019 titled, A Psalm That Calms the Soul,” which is on Psalm 23. Here is that psalm in NKJV:

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

There are many verses in both the Old Testament and New Testament that address the subject of fear and anxiety, and they always point us in the direction of God and Jesus. I did inquire on ChatGPT regarding the number of verses there are in the Bible regarding fear and anxiety, and ChatGPT gave me the following information:

There are numerous verses in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that address the issues of fear and anxiety. While it’s difficult to give an exact number, I can provide you with a few examples of some of the most prominent ones:

Old Testament:

    • “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
    • “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1
    • “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25

New Testament:

    • “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34
    • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
    • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

It’s worth noting that while these verses directly address fear and anxiety, there are many others that offer comfort, strength, and encouragement in difficult times. (Source: ChatGPT.)

And even if you don’t happen to have a Bible around (in any format) when you are feeling anxious or fearful or afraid, you can always pray, 24/7, even silently, as God is always available (see blog post published on June 20, 2020, titled, Pray Without Ceasing”).

I’ll end this post with the words of Jesus from John 14:27 (NIV): Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives….

Do not let your hearts . . .

Be troubled and . . .

Do not be afraid . . . .

YouTube Video: “Peace Be Still” by Hope Darst:

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Photo #2 credit here

The Power of Forgiveness

If you Google the phrase, the power of forgiveness,” as I just now did, Google will let you know that there are “about 115,000,000 results (0.76 seconds)” on the topic from both secular and religious viewpoints. That number is a bit overwhelming, but it does make a statement regarding the significance that forgiveness plays in our lives.

In the opening paragraph to an article titled, The Power of Forgiveness: A Quick Bible Study on Choosing to Forgive,” by Keri Wyatt Kent on, she writes:

Jesus often told people, “Your sins are forgiven.” What a stunning statement. Forgiveness is powerful. Unforgiveness can also be powerful: when we refuse to forgive those who have wronged us, we ironically and powerfully hurt ourselves. Lewis Smedes once said, “Forgiving is the only way to be fair to yourself. Would it be fair to you that the person who hurt you once goes on hurting you the rest of your life? When you refuse to forgive, you are giving the person who walloped you once the privilege of hurting you all over again—in your memory.” (Quote source here.)

Unfortunately, forgiveness is most often the least likely thought to cross our mind when we have been wronged by someone. Many popular movies produced in the past several decades glamourize the theme of “revenge” or “getting even” in some way with those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is viewed as “wimpy,” and it certainly doesn’t bring in the megabucks that revenge-type movies make for their producers. We have been saturated with images of violence and “getting even” from the time we were small. Is it any wonder why our culture has become what it is today with acts of violence being at least one of the main headline news stories on a daily basis?

In an article published on December 12, 2022, titled, What Too Little Forgiveness Does to Us,” by Dr. Timothy Keller, theologian, author, and founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, on (originally published in The New York Times), he states:

Virginia is reeling from two mass shootings in less than a month in Chesapeake and Charlottesville. From what we know, the races and politics of the two people accused of the shootings were quite different.

But there seem to be common threads: They both seemed to have bitter resentment and unresolved anger toward individuals, groups or even society as a whole. The Chesapeake shooter wrote that his former Walmart colleagues “gave me evil twisted grins, mocked me and celebrated my downfall.” The brother of the man accused of the University of Virginia shooting said he’d been picked on in school and then reached a “breaking point.”

The most common explanations for the root causes of mass shootings—a mental health crisis and overly lax gun laws—have merit. Another factor is the fading of forgiveness in our society. It is no longer valued or promoted as it was in the past. And a society that has lost the ability to extend and receive forgiveness risks being crushed by the weight of recriminations and score settling…. (Quote source here.) Dr. Keller’s latest book published in 2022 titled, “Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I?” from which this essay is adapted is available at this link and at other booksellers. A review of Dr. Keller’s book is available on The Gospel Coalition at this link.

In an essay published on September 16,2021 on by Dr. Keller titled, The Fading of Forgiveness,” he addresses four specific topics that have lead to the fading of forgiveness in our culture, and they are titled “Offended by Forgiveness”, “Our Therapeutic Culture”, “Religion without Grace”, and “No Future without Forgiveness” which can be read at this link.

In an article titled, Whatever Happened to Forgiveness?” by Peter Crumpler, a Church of England minister and author of “Responding to Post-truth,” he writes:

Western society struggles with forgiveness. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, the #Metoo movement or other victims of discrimination and abuse, it’s deeply controversial when people suggest that the perpetrator might merit any kind of forgiveness.

Quite rightly, many would say. It’s the victims that need our compassion and concern. Those committing the offences deserve nothing less than judgement and punishment.

But where does Jesus’s command to “forgive other people when they sin against you” (Matthew 6:14) and Christ’s teaching around forgiving others as a sign of our faithful discipleship, come into this?

Where does the Lord’s Prayer, when we pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” fit into this landscape?

Is Christ’s teaching on forgiveness really suited for our 21st century world and its widespread ‘blame culture’?

These are just some of the topical, urgent questions confronted by American pastor and author Timothy Keller in his latest book, “Forgive” published this month. Subtitled “Why should I and how can I?”, Keller sets out to explain how Jesus showed his followers how to live with a spirit of forgiveness and how that could apply in today’s world…. (Quote source here.) He continues in his article describing Keller’s book.

In an article published on January 16, 2023, in The Gospel Coalition–Australia Edition titled, What the World Needs Now–FORGIVENESS,” by Stephen Liggins, lawyer, author and pastor in Sydney, he writes:

…The problem, when it comes to seeking forgiveness from others, is that the world today is such an unforgiving place! The unforgiving nature of the contemporary Western world has been highlighted in recent books such as Glen Scrivener’sThe Air We Breathe,” and Tim Keller’sForgive: Why Should I and How Can I?”

Scrivener notes how Christianity changed the world by promoting values like equality, compassion, consent, freedom and forgiveness. These were not qualities that would have been valued in other ancient non-Judeo-Christian cultures. Today in the West, many have rejected God and the Christian faith, but still appreciate most of the ethical values just cited. There is, however, one value that is not widely promoted—that of forgiveness!

Scrivener quotes the prominent English author and political commentator Douglas Murray, who sees “forgiveness” as a lost art in modern life. Murray argues that in the West we have kept Christianity’s sense of sin but forgotten about salvation. We have kept the guilt and shame but forgotten about redemption.

In place of forgiveness today we have “cancel culture” (a new phenomenon) and “revenge culture” (a response as old as humanity), which says “don’t get mad, get even.” It is the instinctive human response, and the stuff of pretty much every second contemporary movie we will ever see. Our instinct when wronged is to get back at the other person.

Tim Keller quotes the view of New York Times correspondent Elizabeth Bruenig who once said: ‘I [see] in American culture how offended people seem to be by the very idea of forgiveness itself. They seem to find it immoral’…. (Quote source here.) There is much more to read in his article which you can read at this link.

Regarding the comment made by Elizabeth Bruenig in the last paragraph above when she stated, “I [see] in American culture how offended people seem to be by the very idea of forgiveness itself,” I had no idea that forgiveness had become so offensive to some as to be deemed immoral.

So, of course, I had to Google for more information on the idea that forgiveness could be thought of as being immoral, and I came across an article published on May 6, 2019 in Psychology Today titled, Can Forgiveness Ever Be Selfish or Even Immoral?” by Robert Enright, Ph.D., professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a licensed psychologist. In his article he states that “there are three major issues that we must scrutinize to accurately address these very interesting challenges (see his article) to forgiveness.” Since you can read his entire article at this link, I will only list below the three areas, and you can read more about each of them in his article: The three issues are:

  1. First, forgiveness is a moral virtue, as are justice, patience, kindness, love and other qualities centered on goodness. As Aristotle reminds us, all moral virtues concern goodness that is in the best interest of others (Aristotle, 1999). He further explains that none of us is perfect in our expression of any virtue and so we will not necessarily get the expression of any virtue 100% correct on any given attempt.
  2. Second, is it ever the case that true forgiving will enable the other’s inappropriate behavior to continue unchecked? The short answer is no. I say this, again because of Aristotelian wisdom in which he warns us never to practice the moral virtues in isolation. For example, the exercise of courage by itself could get a person killed, if for example, he is a non-swimmer and courageously dives into a raging river to save the life of a drowning dog. The courageous non-swimmer needs the virtue of wisdom to come alongside the act of courage so that, instead of jumping into the turbulent water, he instead picks up his cell phone and dials 911.
  3. Third, will true forgiving lead to the other scoffing at the forgiver? Yes, this can happen. The other could laugh and say something like this: “What?? I did nothing wrong. You are being overly sensitive!” In such a case, the forgiver has yet another forgiveness situation toward this person, this time for the scoffing. Also, if a forgiver suspects such behavior from the other, then the forgiver does not have to proclaim the forgiveness. Instead, the forgiver can show the forgiving by, for example, a smile, or a returned phone call, or some act of kindness. Scoffing by the other need not deter the decision to forgive.Is forgiveness ever selfish? No, it never is when truly practiced as a moral virtue. Is forgiveness ever immoral because it enables bad behavior? No, it never is immoral precisely because it is a moral virtue and all moral virtues are good in and of themselves. Forgiving does not enable bad behavior because forgiveness and justice need to be a team. (Quote source here.)

Three of the key verses regarding forgiveness found in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray (known as The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-15) are in verses 12, 14-15 (in bold)–NKJV:

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I’ll end this post with Paul’s words on forgiveness found in Romans 12:17-21 (NIV):

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil . . .

But overcome evil . . .

With good . . . .

YouTube Video: “Forgiveness” by TobyMac ft. Lacrae:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Growing in Gratitude

Back on November 1, 2022, I published a blog post on this blog titled, A Month of Gratitude.” Since that time, I made a list of all the things I’m grateful for, and I have tried to remember every morning when I first wake up and often before I get out of bed to thank God for each and every item on that list. Some of the items on that list include thanking God for his grace, mercy, forgiveness, protection, guidance, friendship, peace, salvation, unfailing love; for his help, his patience, his kindness, his healing, his presence, his joy, his Word (the Bible). I thank him for always being available 24/7 through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, and for being my Savior and Lord through Jesus Christ. Sometimes the list is longer, sometimes shorter–like on Sunday mornings when I rush around getting ready for church as I hate being late for anything.

Last week I had the opportunity to take a look back at the past 14 years of my life. I wrote about it in a post on, founded in 2017, and a new writing venue for me that I decided to try out, in a post titled, What’s It All About, Alfie?” Sometimes I can get very somber looking back on the past couple of decades of my life that turned out to be nothing like I ever thought they would turn out to be at this later time in my life. To say I was clueless back then about the “inner workings” of life on Planet Earth is an understatement. I have discovered more about life during these past 14 years then, quite frankly, I ever wanted to know regarding how life actually operates at the unspoken and hidden levels all around us, yet it has been instrumental in my understanding of how the world operates including in my own set of circumstances.

Sometimes I find myself wallowing in self-pity which is one of the most unlovely of human traits. I ask questions of God like why didn’t I ever marry? Why didn’t I ever have children? Why didn’t I have what looks to be a “normal American life” as we (e.g., young women in my generation) were told to expect as in “that’s just the way life is” back then. Well, as I have gone through life, I never “fell in love” and that is the biggest reason I never married. My parents divorced (and it was an ugly divorce) when I was 12 back in 1964, so that no doubt has something to do with it. I was terrified of ending up like my mom (whom I loved very much–see this post published on July 25, 2012) who had a hard life after the divorce, and she died when she was 54.

During the years when I dated, I kept waiting for a “Prince Charming” type to show up, but he never did (that’s because “Prince Charming” only exists in fairy tales). And for me, without marriage, there wasn’t going to be any children, either, as it was drummed into me from the time I was a teenager that sex outside of marriage would bring down the wrath of God. I was more scare of the wrath of God than anything else, even though people can be very mean, too. However, God is, well, he’s God; and my fear of God was far greater then disappointing some guy (actually, a bunch) who I refused to sleep with during the years I dated (and at times I was beginning to wonder if guys ever thought of anything else). I hated dating, and I gave up on it in my early 50’s.

It’s funny the images we conjure up when we think about God and who he is. I remember a really good small book that was first published in 1953 and it is still in print today titled, Your God Is Too Small: A Guide for Believers and Skeptics Alike,” by J.B. Phillips (1906-1982), English Bible translator, author and Anglican clergyman. He is most noted for his New Testament translation, The New Testament in Modern English.” As of this writing, a 92-page PDF of Your God Is Too Small is available at this link.

The book is broken up into two parts: Part One: Destructive (Unreal Gods), and Part Two: Constructive (An Adequate God). There is a long list in the “Destructive” section that I’m sure many of us can relate to–here are some of the chapter titles: “Resident Policeman,” “Parental Hangover,” “Grand Old Man,” “Meek-and-Mild,” “Absolute Perfection,” “Heavenly Bosom,” “God-in-a-Box,” “Managing Director,” “Second-hand God,” “Perennial Grievance,” “Pale Galilean,” and “Projected Image.” Today we could add even more names to the “unreal Gods” list that we find posing as God in our lives.

From my earliest memories as a small child, I have always believed in God and Jesus Christ, and it has always been as natural as breathing. I have never doubted God’s existence, although at times many of the descriptions we come up with for God as described in the book above obscured my vision of who God really is. It has been through my most recent life experiences since the beginning of the 21st Century that I began to understand who God really is aside from our false perceptions of him. Words are mostly inadequate to explain what I have learned over this time period, but God has seen me through some very difficult situations, and I have come to understand that what the New Testament writers describe about the Christian life back then is still very much a part of what it means to be and live as a Christian today. It’s not all about glitz and glamour, or promises of materialism and wealth, educational attainment, social status and accolades, a perfect marriage (at least on the outside) and (hopefully great) kids, a cushy retirement, or a successful life as “success” is defined by society–read the findings in a 2019 Gallup poll titled Americans’ Perception of Success in the U.S. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with any of those things, but that’s not God’s definition of success. That is strictly outward trappings, and God is far more concerned with our heart attitude.

So what does our “heart attitude” entail? Joyce Meyer states that following in the opening to her article titled Heart Attitudes”:

When God asks for our heart, He is asking for our entire life, which includes our personality, character, body, mind, emotions. The heart is the real person, not the person everybody sees. (Quote source here.)

A devotional reading I read this morning referenced some verses written by Paul found in Ephesians 4:17-32 & 5:1-20. In the NIV the subtitle for that portion of Ephesians is Instructions for Christian Living:

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A “hardening of the heart” is one of first signs that there is something wrong in our lives (and it’s the easiest for us to dismiss in ourselves). In an article published on July 1, 2021, titled, What Does the Bible Say Are the Signs of a Hardened Heart?” by Pam Morrison Ministries, the article mentions these seven signs of a hardened heart:

A hardened heart is basically a heart that is unmoved by things others would be compassionate about. It is a heart that is rebelling against God. But, there’s more. Here is a list of 7 strong warning signs that a heart has hardened and needs repair:

    • Lack of ability to perceive, remember, or grasp events or ideas coming from God.
    • Insensitivity to sin, sinfulness.
    • Failure to follow God’s commands, the way of Jesus, the voice of the Holy Spirit.
    • Arrogance and pride.
    • One is easily offended, resentful, lacks ability to forgive.
    • Indifference to the Word of God.
    • Unbelief, drawing away from God. (Quote source here.)

We could add to that list how we treat others (as in all others) including those we don’t like or we gossip about. Do we have a hidden agenda regarding others who we don’t think quite “fit in”? And how does that relate to how we treat them behind their back (but not to their face)? Are we unmoved by how we treat others we don’t like even if we do it deceptively?

Other ways that our hearts can be hardened that are brought out in the article above are complaining and ingratitude, disappointment, and a lack of forgiveness. Nobody is perfect, but to let these things fester in our lives are deadly to us and our relationship with God.

Regardless of the circumstances I have found myself in over the past couple of decades, and in spite of what I have learned about life in general that I had no clue about back then, the message I have been receiving from God over and over and over again is to not let any of it turn into bitterness towards anyone or any situation, and to be open as to what God is doing in the world in every circumstance with a heart of gratitude.

Is it easy to do? No, it is not, and don’t let anyone make you think that it is. But it is so necessary especially in keeping an open communication with God. God is not a “meanie” looking down from heaven with a frown on his face when we fall short (as we tend to do on a regular basis); but he wants us to see him as he really is and as David knew him to be in the many psalms that David wrote including Psalm 23 that opens with, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” 

I’ll end this post with the words of David from another psalm he wrote after one of his biggest failures. It is found in Psalm 51:10-17:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit…

A broken and contrite heart…

You, God…

Will not despise….

YouTube Video: “Heart of the Father” by Ryan Ellis:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Christ’s Atoning Power

Holy Week/Passion Week started yesterday, April 2, 2023, with Palm Sunday and culminates on Easter Sunday. Three years ago on April 12, 2019, I published a blog post titled, Between Palm Sunday and Good Friday,” which describes what occurred between those two days, and on April 10, 2017, I published a blog post titled, Thirty Pieces of Silver,” regarding the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot that occurred on Holy Wednesday/Spy Wednesday during Holy Week. Two days after publishing that second post I published a post on April 12, 2017, titled, The Significance of the Last Supper,” regarding Maundy Thursday when Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples sharing a meal (the last supper) just hours before his arrest and crucifixion.

On April 15, 2019, I published a follow-up blog post to my April 12, 2019 (Between Palm Sunday and Good Friday”) titled, From Good Friday to Easter Sunday,” that completes the last three days of Holy Week culminating in Easter. There are also several posts on Easter Sunday which are listed at this link, and a post published on March 25, 2016 titled, It Is Finished.” And I’ve published several posts on what happened on the Road to Emmaus after Jesus’s resurrection on Easter Sunday (listed at this link).

After realizing how many posts I’ve published over the past dozen years on this topic (more then just the posts listed above), I decided to focus this post on the central theme of Easter which is about Jesus’ death on the cross as an atonement for our sins, and his resurrection from the dead bringing us new life now and eternal life later. states: “The substitutionary atonement refers to Jesus Christ dying as a substitute for sinners. The Scriptures teach that all men are sinners (Romans 3:9-1823). The penalty for our sinfulness is death. Romans 6:23 reads, “’For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’” (Quote source here.) And Romans 4:25 states: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

In an article titled, Redemption and Atonement,” published on by R. Venting, he states:

Theology has frequently confused redemption and the atonement. The atonement for sin offered by Christ on Calvary was universal, but redemption is limited to those that accept the conditions as specified in the Scriptures. Christ died for all, but, as a fact, only they that believe are saved. The atonement is God’s provision for the salvation of the world, redemption of the sinner is the object God has in view. There could be no redemption without the atonement, but if redemption is not appropriated the atonement still remains. The work of atonement was the act of one person, but redemption involves several agencies. Christ, by suffering the death of the cross, made the atonement; in effecting redemption, the subject works, the teacher works in presenting God’s truth, the Holy Spirit works and applies the Gospel with power to the heart. By this threefold agency redemption is effected. The atonement came without the world’s request; but redemption never comes without the earnest seeking of the individual. The atonement was an event that took place “once for all,” at one period, on Calvary, two thousand years ago; redemption is constantly taking place in all parts of the world, and in all periods of human history. This is the correct Biblical distinction between the two theological terms as used in the Scriptures. (Quote source here.)

So why did Jesus have to shed his blood on the cross as atonement? provides the following information:

The whole of the Old Testament, every book, points toward the Great Sacrifice that was to come—that of Jesus’ sacrificial giving of His own life on our behalf. Leviticus 17:11 is the Old Testament’s central statement about the significance of blood in the sacrificial system. God, speaking to Moses, declares: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

A “sacrifice” is defined as the offering up of something precious for a cause or a reason. Making atonement is satisfying someone or something for an offense committed. The Leviticus verse can be read more clearly now: God said, “I have given it to you (the creature’s life, which is in its blood) to make atonement for yourselves (covering the offense you have committed against Me).” In other words, those who are covered by the blood sacrifice are set free from the consequences of sin.

Of course, the Israelites did not know of Jesus per se, or how He would die on their behalf and then rise again, but they did believe God would be sending them a Savior. All of the many, many blood sacrifices seen throughout the Old Testament were foreshadowing the true, once-for-all-time sacrifice to come so that the Israelites would never forget that, without the blood, there is no forgiveness. This shedding of blood is a substitutionary act. Therefore, the last clause of Leviticus 17:11 could be read either “the blood ‘makes atonement’ at the cost of the life” (i.e., the animal’s life) or “makes atonement in the place of the life” (i.e., the sinner’s life, with Jesus Christ being the One giving life through His shed blood).

Hebrews 9:11-18 confirms the symbolism of blood as life and applies Leviticus 17:11 to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 12 states clearly that the Old Testament blood sacrifices were temporary and only atoned for sin partially and for a short time, hence the need to repeat the sacrifices yearly. But when Christ entered the Most Holy Place, He did so to offer His own blood once for all time, making future sacrifices unnecessary. This is what Jesus meant by His dying words on the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Never again would the blood of bulls and goats cleanse men from their sin. Only by accepting Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross for the remission of sins, can we stand before God covered in the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). (Quote source here.)

The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament is an excellent source to read in understanding who Jesus Christ is “for in Hebrews we find a magnificently rendered portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ—the Author and Finisher of our great salvation.” (Quote source here.) Also, “The theme of Hebrews is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as revealer and as mediator of God’s grace.” (Quote source here.) provides this brief overview of the Book of Hebrews:

The Book of Hebrews addresses three separate groups: believers in Christ, unbelievers who had knowledge of and an intellectual acceptance of the facts of Christ, and unbelievers who were attracted to Christ, but who rejected Him ultimately. It’s important to understand which group is being addressed in which passage. To fail to do so can cause us to draw conclusions inconsistent with the rest of Scripture.

The writer of Hebrews continually makes mention of the superiority of Christ in both His personage and in His ministering work. In the writings of the Old Testament, we understand the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism symbolically pointed to the coming of Messiah. In other words, the rites of Judaism were but shadows of things to come. Hebrews tells us that Christ Jesus is better than anything mere religion has to offer. All the pomp and circumstance of religion pales in comparison to the person, work, and ministry of Christ Jesus. It is the superiority of our Lord Jesus, then, that remains the theme of this eloquently written letter.

Connections: Perhaps nowhere in the New Testament does the Old Testament come into focus more than in the Book of Hebrews, which has as its foundation the Levitical priesthood. The writer to the Hebrews constantly compares the inadequacies of the Old Testament sacrificial system to the perfection and completion in Christ. Where the Old Covenant required continual sacrifices and a once-a-year atonement for sin offered by a human priest, the New Covenant provides a once-for-all sacrifice through Christ (Hebrews 10:10) and direct access to the throne of God for all who are in Him.

Practical Application: Rich in foundational Christian doctrine, the Epistle to the Hebrews also gives us encouraging examples of God’s “faith heroes” who persevered in spite of great difficulties and adverse circumstances (Hebrews 11). These members of God’s Hall of Faith provide overwhelming evidence as to the unconditional surety and absolute reliability of God. Likewise, we can maintain perfect confidence in God’s rich promises, regardless of our circumstances, by meditating upon the rock-solid faithfulness of God’s workings in the lives of His Old Testament saints.

The writer of Hebrews gives ample encouragement to believers, but there are five solemn warnings we must heed. There is the danger of neglect (Hebrews 2:1-4), the danger of unbelief (Hebrews 3:7–4:13), the danger of spiritual immaturity (Hebrews 5:11–6:20), the danger of failing to endure (Hebrews 10:26-39), and the inherent danger of refusing God (Hebrews 12:25-29). And so we find in this crowning masterpiece a great wealth of doctrine, a refreshing spring of encouragement, and a source of sound, practical warnings against slothfulness in our Christian walk. But there is still more, for in Hebrews we find a magnificently rendered portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ—the Author and Finisher of our great salvation (Hebrews 12:2). Quote source here.)

I think I’m going to read through the book of Hebrews this week! And as we progress through Holy Week to Easter Sunday, let us remember these words from Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [read Hebrews 11], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down…

At the right hand . . .

Of the throne . . .

Of God . . . .

YouTube Video: “Atonement” by Michael W. Smith:

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Hope and Renewal

Today is the first day of Spring 2023, and we are now past the midpoint of the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday on April 9, 2023. Lent is a time of reflection, repentance, and fasting; and “the first day of spring is often associated with the renewal of nature, as the winter frost melts away and new life begins to sprout. Similarly, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is a symbol of new life and spiritual rebirth” (quote source here).

Easter Sunday is the day Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and without the Resurrection, there would be no Christianity. As stated in an article published on March 19, 2021, titled What is the Proof and Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?” by Justin Holcomb, Ph.D., Episcopal priest, professor, and author, he states the following in his opening paragraph in his article:

Of all the teachings of Christianity, no doctrine is more central than the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The truth of the resurrection has been attacked from every angle. New books and television media regularly appear questioning the resurrection, re-hashing old theories about what happened to Jesus’ body. Since the resurrection is crucial to Christianity, Christians ought to be able to give answers to these inevitable questions with proof and evidence. (Quote source and his complete article are at this link.)

In an article published on April 17, 2017, titled, Why is the Resurrection So Important?” by David Turner, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Cornerstone University, he states:

The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the Christian message. How unfortunate that church services may stress the empty tomb only on Easter Sunday, or even just through the Eastertide season. Another concern is the common way Christians summarize the gospel by mentioning only Jesus’ death. Without the resurrection, Jesus’ ministry ends in defeat and disillusionment (Luke 24:21). But everything changes if “He is not here! He has risen from the dead, just as he said” (Matthew 28:6).

The resurrection culminates the passion narrative in all four Gospels because it is at the center of redemption itself. Without it, one can only pity Jesus as a dead martyr whose lofty ideals were sadly misunderstood. With it, one must stand in awe of the exalted Messiah, the Son of the living God, who gave His life as a ransom for many, who presently reigns at God’s right hand, and who will one day return in glory to fix this broken world.

Paul bluntly stated that apart from the resurrection our faith and message are in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Thinking about how absolutely bleak and pointless any so-called “Christian” life would be without the resurrection should spur us to ponder it all the more: (click here for quote source and to read his five points concerning the resurrection, and the rest of his article).

In our culture at this time of the year, our stores are filled with Easter bunnies and baskets and candy and decorated Easter eggs, so what does the Easter bunny have to do with Jesus? In an article titled, The Easter Bunny and Jesus,” by David Capps, Ph.D., staff writer at, he writes:

Walk into almost any retail store right after Valentine’s Day and you’ll be greeted by a wall of pastel-colored baskets, plastic eggs, jelly beans, and—perhaps most famous of all—chocolate bunnies. You know Easter is coming.

Since the 1840s, the Christian holiday of Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, has gained secular acceptance in America. There are parades, parties, and elaborate egg hunts—even the White House gets in on the action with its own annual egg hunt on the lawn.

While Easter traditions vary, one account says that the Easter bunny brings lucky children treats before dawn on Easter morning. So for children in the West—particularly in the United States—the Easter bunny has become one of the most recognized symbols of this Christian holiday.

How did this happen? What in the world does the Easter bunny have to do with Jesus?

Easter is a Christian festival or holy-day that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. Taken together, the crucifixion and resurrection form the central events of the Christian faith. It is not too far-fetched to say that without the resurrection there is no Christianity, so it’s no wonder that Christ-followers began to celebrate the event early on.

As with all things human, there were debates about the best way and the best time to celebrate Easter. Some wanted to continue to associate it with the Jewish Passover on Nisan 14 of the Hebrew calendar. But that date could fall on any day of the week, whereas Jesus’ resurrection took place on Sunday. As such, Western Christians decided to make sure that the holiday occurred on a Sunday.

So church leaders came up with a specific formula: Easter is observed on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox—that is, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Consequently, Easter in the West can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.

The significance of Easter in the Christian calendar grew with the addition of other days of great importance. Good Friday marks the day Jesus was crucified. Holy Week commemorates the events in Jesus’ life leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection. The season of Lent establishes a forty-day preparation period of prayer, fasting, and reflection prior to the Easter celebration.

Because of Easter, Christians believe that death is not the final word. Ultimately, all who belong to Jesus will one day break the shackles of death and live again in glory.

So if Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and its significance, how did the Easter bunny become associated with it? (Click here to find out the answer to that question and to read the rest of the article.)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides hope and renewal for all who seek him. In a blog post published on April 22, 2017, titled, Embrace New Life at Easter with a New Mindset (author’s name not mentioned), at Geneva College, the author writes:

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could just start over? Have you wished for a restart button that would let you put aside all of your anxiety, fear, painful memories and concern for the future and start anew? Easter is a great time to reflect on what Jesus did for you on the cross to redeem you. God made a way for you to restart by freeing you of the burdens that weigh you down. This transformation happens by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).

Easter reminds us that we have a living Savior who can heal your brokenness and despair and replace it with hope. This new life starts with the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter. After embracing that grace, you should allow the Holy Spirit to begin transforming you from the inside– renewing your mind. Here are some strategies you can use for self-reflection and prayer during this Lenten and Easter season that will allow you to move forward with hope, forgiveness and happiness.

Pinpoint the Change Needed

First, figure out what you need to change, specifically. Are you stuck in a fixed mindset or as scripture says “conformed to the pattern of this world?” Psychology Central warns that a fixed mindset seriously limits your growth and focuses on your shortcomings or failure. Think about what you can do to fuel your growth instead. Do you have a negative attitude because you’re feeling lonely? Use your energy to make some friends. Find the source of the problem, the underlying attitude or issue, and start praying that God will guide you to wise counsel and a solution to the problem. Keep an open mind about what the source might be – it is often a “heart problem” rather than a behavior problem or situation.

Learn to Laugh

Sometimes, all it takes to change from a negative mindset to a positive one is a little bit of laughter. Grab your favorite comedy movie, or look up some funny videos on YouTube. Spend some time laughing, and you will see your mindset grow from negative to positive.

Grab a New Perspective

Sometimes we face a problem with a negative mindset because we only think about it one way. Looking at the problem from a new point of view can greatly change our mindset.

For instance, if you are dealing with work and school deadlines that feel impossible to attain, you may be tempted to complain and wish it would all just go away. Instead, view the deadlines as a challenge, and imagine the rewarding feeling of finishing the deadline on time. That simple change in perspective may be all you need to do to get yourself back on track.

Count Your Blessings

Everyone has challenges, but everyone has blessings too. Take time now to count those blessings. Your life is pretty amazing if you are able to find those things to be grateful for. Make a list of those blessings, and you will find yourself in a more positive mindset.

Change Your Way of Talking

Is your speech negative? Is it focused on your failures instead of your accomplishments? Is it filled with “can’ts” rather than on “cans?” Start changing the way you speak and you can be rewarded with greater joy and be an encouragement (salt and light) to others. Speak of hope, certainty and accomplishments rather than fear, worry and failure. To paraphrase the lyrics of the popular song by Christian musician TobyMac, “Speak hope–speak love–speak life!” Your words have a huge impact on your attitude and emotions, so this is a great way to change your mindset as you focus on a new life this Easter.

Easter is the time remember that our God is a God of second chances. Even if things look bleak and you’ve been knocked down, God can renew your hope and transform you through the renewing of your mind. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from 1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV): Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation…

That is ready . . .

To be revealed . . .

In the last time . . . .

YouTube Video: “Easter Medley : Living Hope/Because He Lives/O Praise the Name/Forever” by The Movement Worship:

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Record Number of Americans Have Never Married and Never Will

How’s that for an attention grabbing headline? As I was looking around on the internet this afternoon, I ran across this article published in Psychology Today on September 15, 2020, titled Record Number of Americans Have Never Married and Never Will,” by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., a social psychologist and the author of “Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After,” and “How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century,” and other books.

So how about that for news! I no longer have to feel like an anomaly–not that I ever did–but there are others like some married couples (young and old) or those with a “significant other” who like to make you feel like you are the “odd duck” among the general population. However, this article states (as of 2019 statistics):

There Are Now 130.6 Million Unmarried Americans and 85.4 Million Have Never Been Married

So much for being an “odd duck,” right?

Actually, I did not intentionally choose to be single my entire life, but as life unfolded day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-by-year, it just happened. I dated men, single and divorced, mostly from a few years older then me to almost 20 years older then me, but I never fell in love, and, quite frankly, I was very cautious when it came to marriage. My own parents divorced in 1964 when I was 12. I did almost marry in 1983, but I backed out of the wedding five weeks before it was to take place. I have never regretted that choice, either.

Here’s a few more surprising stats from this article mentioned above:

In 1956, just about everyone got married. Half of the men were younger than 22.5 when they married, and half of the women were younger than 20.1. Now we are looking at a cohort of 50-year-olds in which one out of four will have been single their whole life.

The most recent statistics are consistent with the 2014 prediction. Every year, Unmarried and Single Americans Week is celebrated during the third full week of September…. To mark the occasion, the Census Bureau releases charts and links to the latest survey results. Their reports are less extensive than they used to be, so I needed to dig into the data myself.

The number of adults in the U.S., 18 and older, who have never been married, is continuing to increase:

    • 2018: 84.6 million
    • 2019: 85.4 million

Of all adults who are unmarried (including the divorced, separated, and widowed), the largest group by far is comprised of those who have been single all their life:

    • 2018: 61.0%
    • 2019: 61.7%

The number of lifelong single people has also grown as a percentage of the total population of people 18 and older (married and unmarried):

    • 2018: 28.8%
    • 2019: 29.0%

The article also mentions the following regarding adults who have married:

In the U.S. in 2019, among adults between the ages of 25 and 29, fewer than 1 in 3 were married. That jumps to just over half for adults between 30 and 34, then to just over 60% for people between 35 and 39. The marriage rate peaks at nearly two-thirds after that. The next big change comes between 75 and 84, when the rate drops back down to just over half. By 85 and older, the rate is down to what it was for adults between 25 and 29, fewer than 1 in 3.

Percent of adults in the U.S. who are married, by age group (2019 data):

    • Ages 18-19: 1.7
    • Ages 20-24: 10.3
    • Ages 25-29: 31.5
    • Ages 30-34: 53.0
    • Ages 35-39: 62.5
    • Ages 40-44: 66.1
    • Ages 45-49: 65.6
    • Ages 50-54: 65.8
    • Ages 55-64: 65.9
    • Ages 65-74: 64.9
    • Ages 75-84: 55.9
    • Ages 85 and older: 31.6

Surprised? There are far more single people in our society and far fewer married people in our society then we generally believe is the case regarding both groups.

Until I came across this article this afternoon, I have to confess that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as National Singles Day (which falls on September 23, 2023 this year) or National Singles Week which is held the third full week in September.

Dr. Bella DePaulo also published an article in Psychology Today on September 16, 2018, titled, National Singles Week: 20 Reasons Why We Need It.” Her article starts off with this paragraph:

If you’ve never heard of National Singles Week, you’ve been missing out on something that has been celebrated since the 1980s. The Census Bureau only caught up with this week—created “to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society”—in 2006. That’s when they began issuing an annual press release, “Facts for Features: Unmarried and Single Americans Week,” chock full of fascinating statistics about single people—who they are, how many there are, how they are living, how many have children, how many vote, and much more. (Quote source here.)

Further down in the article she states:

Here are 20 of the reasons why we need Unmarried and Single Americans Week:

1. We need it, because living single is how we spend the better part of our adult lives. Americans now spend more years unmarried than married. But even if we spent only a sliver of our lives single, we should be able to use that sliver to pick any door or puncture any myth.

2. We need it, because what it means to live single has changed dramatically over the past half-century, but our perceptions have not caught up. Bogus stereotypes rule, and they need to be dethroned.

3. We need it, because fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you . . . if you are a plastic Barbie or Ken doll, or you play one on TV. If you are a real person, you are no more likely to live happily ever after if you get married than you were when you were single. We need to acknowledge that.

4. We need Singles Week to underscore another message: Single life is not just a “good-enough” life. In more than 20 scientifically established ways, single life can be even better than married life.

5. We need it, because the media has grabbed onto the Marriage Myth Express and taken it for a long and silly ride. I don’t just mean dopey shows, like “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.” The press does us wrong even in reporting the news. As I’ve been documenting for more than a decade, media descriptions of the latest scientific studies consistently add a little glitter to any results that look good for married people, while batting away any promising findings about single people. (Check out “Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong.”)

6. We need it, because our educational institutions—those colleges and universities that should be at the leading edge of scholarship and critical thinking—have been just as smitten by the marital mythology as the rest of society. Those bastions of higher learning are filled with courses, degree programs, textbooks, journals, endowed chairs, research funding and all the other components of the intellectual industry that is the study of marriage. As for the other 45 percent of the adult population, we’re still waiting for the scholarly spotlight to shine as brightly on us.

7. We need it, because we are shorted on the 1,136 federal benefits, protections, and privileges that are available only to people who are legally married. We need it, because there is housing discrimination, and there are tax penalties, pay disparities, and other high and discriminatory costs to living single.

8. We need it not just for the privileges and protections, but also for the opportunities to give and to care. Because I am single and don’t have any children, no one can take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for me if I fall ill. That’s a missing protection. I also can’t take time off under the same Act to care for a person who is important to me, such as a sibling, a nephew, or a close friend.

9. We need it, because there are now 110 million of us, and even without any of the opportunities offered to married people by policies such as FMLA, we are doing more than our share. In some significant ways, more of the work of holding together our networks, families, and communities, sustaining intergenerational ties, and caring for people who cannot care for themselves is done by single people than by married people.

10. We need it, because we have untapped political potential. For too many years, single people have been voting at lower rates than married people. If that changed, so would some of the most regressive policies in the nation.

11. We need it, because if single life were taken more seriously, then the relationship life of all people, single and married and everyone in between or on the side or undecided, would be expanded and enriched. Follow the finger of married people as they point to an important person in their life, and you will end up staring at a spouse. Follow the finger of a single person, and you may find yourself gazing at a close friend or a sibling or cousin or a mentor or a neighbor. Look more closely at that person, and maybe you will newly appreciate the importance of the entire category that person represents. Friendship, not marriage, is the key relationship of the 21st century.

12. We need it, because single people who live solo can show us that living alone is not the same as feeling alone. They remind us of something that is too seldom acknowledged in a society that so celebrates the buzz of social life, something that people of all marital statuses can appreciate—that solitude can be sweet.

13. We need it, because the de-stigmatizing of single life does not undermine marriage, it strengthens it. When single people can live their lives with all of the same respect, benefits, protections, and opportunities as people who are married, then those who want to marry are free. They can pursue marriage for the right reasons—not to run away from the stigma of being single, but to embrace the attractions of being married.

14. We need it, because when it comes to kids, love is the answer. As I show in Single Parents and Their Children: The Good News No One Ever Tells You, single parents can give quite a lot of that. Add all the other important people in the lives of single parents and their kids, and then you truly have a whole lot of love.

15. We need National Singles Week to change the default setting for the meaning of the word “single,” so that the next time you type it into your search engine, the first result to appear on your screen is not “Top 10 Dating Sites.”

16. We need Singles Week to urge people not to use “alone” and “unattached” as synonyms for single—those words are demeaning and untrue.

17. We need National Singles Week to spread the word that living single is no longer a default status or a way of marking time until the right one comes along. For some people, especially those who are single-at-heart, it is the way they live their best, most meaningful, and most authentic lives. (See, for example, “The Best of Single Life.”)

18. We need this week of celebration of living single as a counterpoint to all the celebrations of marriage and weddings and romantic coupling. Matrimania is not innocuous. Research shows that young women who are shown romantic images instead of images of learning (such as books and libraries) express less interest in science and technology. The same thing happens when they overhear conversations about dates instead of courses. A national study of more than 8,000 adolescents showed that those who became romantically involved became more depressed—even if they were still with the same romantic partner a year after the study started.

19. We need it, because the rise of single people, and of people living alone, is an unprecedented demographic revolution that is changing the way we live, the way we love, the way we vote, the way we do business, the way we age, and the way we think about what constitutes a meaningful life. A week for taking these trends seriously hardly seems like enough.

20. We need to value single people, because that’s what progressive nations do. They look for the people who have been marginalized and diminished, and invite them into the center of society. That way, we can all live happily ever after. (Quote source here.)

As one last reminder for this post regarding unmarried singles, the Apostle Paul was unmarried his entire life, and he wrote an entire chapter in 1 Corinthians 7 specific to the subject of marriage and singleness, and I’ll end this post with what he stated in verses 6-8 (NIV) regarding his own singleness: I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say…

It is good for them . . .

To stay unmarried . . .

As I do . . .

YouTube Video: “Ain’t Nobody” by Cody Carnes:

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Psalm 139

During this season of Lent between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24 is a great psalm to meditate on during our quiet time or, actually, any time. Here is Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24 (NIV):

Psalm 139–A Psalm of David

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you….

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,

And lead me . . .

In the way . . .

Everlasting . . . .


YouTube Video: “Psalm 139–Far Too Wonderful” by Shane and Shane:

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Ash Wednesday and Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday (2023) which is the first day of Lent. It is a day of prayer and fasting in many Christian denominations including “Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Oriental Orthodox, Persian, United Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. Some Anabaptist, Baptist, Reformed (including certain Continental Reformed, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches), and nondenominational Christian churches also observe Lent, although many churches in these traditions do not.” (Quote source here.)

Lent is described in an article titled What is Lent and why does it last 40 days?” produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. This article states:

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, meaning “lengthen” and refers to the lengthening days of spring. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by new converts and then became a time of penance by all Christians. Today, Christians focus on relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending ourselves, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of ourselves for others.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter.” This is why you will see the designation “Sunday in Lent” rather than “Sunday of Lent” in the naming of these Sundays. On each Lord’s Day in Lent, while Lenten fasts continue, the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. (Quote source here.)

A 2023 Guide for Christians celebrating Ash Wednesday and Lent is available on at this link. Here is a timetable of key events during Lent from this guide (chart source here):

Important Dates of Lent   Brief Overview of Significance 2023 Date
Ash Wednesday The beginning of Lent, a day of reflection and repentance from sin February 22, 2023
Palm Sunday Celebrates Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem April 2, 2023
Holy Week The week leading up to Easter April 2 – April 8, 2023
Maundy Thursday Commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles April 6, 2023
Good Friday Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary April 7, 2023
Easter Sunday Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and His victory over sin and death   April 9, 2023

As to why ashes are placed on the forehead during Ash Wednesday services, Creighton University Online Ministries provides the answer in an article titled, Why Do We Use Ashes on Ash Wednesday”:

Ashes are placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, in one of the most counter-cultural acts of our faith. It is done for two reasons: a personal act of remembrance and as a sign or a witness for others.

The ashes come from the burnt Palms from last year’s Passion Sunday celebration, which begins Holy Week. So, these ashes bring us back to our last celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus for us. On this first day of Lent, we begin a journey of renewal – from death to life. This is a joyful season. We will make sacrifices, in order to try to let God reform our desiring, but this is a time for God to be generous to us.

When the ashes are placed on our foreheads, the minister says one of two formulas to help us remember who we are and the mission to which we are sent:

“Remember, man/woman, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

We are reminded that we are creatures and that our lives were given to us. But, we are also reminded that our lasting home is in eternity, with God. This is not our lasting home.

We are reminded that our call is to turn away from sin and to believe the Good News of our salvation in Jesus. This is a joyful reminder. It challenges us, for sure, but reminds us of why we want to turn from sin.

Finally, we wear our ashes as a sign. It is not a boastful sign through which I say, “Look at me and see how holy I am.” No, it is much more like, “I’m willing to wear this sign in the world and say that I’ve been reminded of where I come from and where I am going. And, I’ve heard the call to turn away from a life of sin and to give my life to living the Gospel of Jesus.” And, occasionally, in this world which is too often caught up in the denial of death, I might be required to answer the question, “What’s with the smudge on your forehead?”

“Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” – Joel 2:12-13 (Quote source here.)

There are three main areas of focus during Lent, and they are prayer, fasting and giving/charity. In an article titled What is Lent about and why is it important?” published on, the article provides the following information on these three areas of focus:

The three main things people focus on during Lent are prayer, fasting (abstaining from something to reduce distractions and focus more on God) and giving, or charity.

Prayer during Lent focuses on our need for God’s forgiveness. It’s also about repenting (turning away from our sins) and receiving God’s mercy and love.

Fasting, or giving something up, is a very common practice during Lent. The idea is that giving up something that’s a regular part of life, like eating dessert or scrolling through Facebook, can be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice. That time can also be replaced with more time connecting with God.

Giving money or doing something good for others is a way to respond to God’s grace, generosity and love. For example, some people spend time volunteering or donate money they would normally use to buy something, like their morning coffee.

It’s important to note that doing these things can never make us earn or deserve Jesus’ sacrifice or a relationship with God. People are flawed and will never be good enough for a perfect God. Only Jesus has the power to rescue us from ourselves.

Jesus sacrificed Himself on Good Friday to bear the punishment for all our wrongdoings and offer us forgiveness. He was raised from the dead on Easter Sunday to give us an opportunity to have a relationship with God for eternity.

Spending time during Lent praying, fasting and giving can make Jesus’ sacrifice on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter even more meaningful. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on March 22, 2017, titled, Why is Lent so Important to Christians,” by Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, and columnist at the Suffolk News Herald, he shares his thoughts on the importance of Lent:

As an important religious observance in the Christian world, Lent is the season to observe and commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.

It is an opportune time to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Christ. Likewise, it’s an opportunity to repent for our misdeeds and misgivings and to increase the intensity of our prayer, fasting, almsgiving, practice of our faith and welcoming others as our brothers and sisters in our faith community.

Moreover, Lent is a time to grow in and strengthen our faith, which binds us together and makes all things possible because of our love and devotion to Jesus.

What does it mean to be a Christian? As sinners, we have the ability and capability to be holy only if we allow Christ into our lives.

If we follow his teachings, we become responsible, law-abiding citizens and peace-loving people. We become selfless, mindful of others, who benefit from our good deeds, kindness, charity and generosity. We become more aware of and concerned about others, especially the underrepresented, underserved, marginalized, disabled, elderly, helpless and hopeless in our midst.

Practicing our faith, we are able to see Christ in them. We try our best to love and care for them the way we want to be loved and cared for.

And let’s not underestimate the power of prayer in our lives. Prayer is the greatest thing we’ve got to save us from a lot of troubles.  As our personal conversation with our God, who knows what’s inside of us, prayer is a powerful tool to create a miracle, to make things right or better in our lives. In the end, prayer leads us to a life of holiness towards God.

I believe in the power of prayer, because I have witnessed its fruits. There have been instances where I saw the results of my praying for others—like when they get better after a surgery or disease or a tragedy—that no rocket science or scientist can explain.

Call it a miracle, if you will, but I believe that, when we pray together, when we pray for others who need our prayers, things and people change for the better. We become interconnected, and we get closer to God.

Followers of Christ also practice almsgiving and fasting. We give of ourselves and of our time, talents and treasures. We love to share what we have, because we believe that giving is caring.  

We give up something or deprive ourselves of something so that others can have it. That’s a sacrifice for others, for God. We just let others have it, instead of ourselves. That’s giving; that’s fasting, caring and loving. That’s an act of love for others and for God because we see Christ in them.

We believe in giving, because it is in giving that we receive more blessings and graces from our Almighty God. To share is to give, and to give is to love, and to let others experience our faith.  

Doing these things can help us grow in faith, especially this Lenten season. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from 1 John 1:9 (NIV): If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…

And purify us . . .

From all . . .

Unrighteousness . . . .

YouTube Video: “Ashes” by Tom Conry, Hymn for Ash Wednesday & Lent, Choir with Lyrics:

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