Tell Me Who Your Friends Are

by Maggie's Mindful Mother | Mar 26, 2017 | A Mother's Love |

Proverbs 1:10 and v. 15

  1. 10 “My son, if sinners would take you out of the right way, do not go with them.”

  2. 15 “My son, do not go with them; keep your feet from their ways”

 My grandparents used to recite the adage “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you what you’re like”.  It didn’t mean much to me at the time, but I heard it often enough that it stuck with me. Over the years, my circle of friends has changed drastically.

I have very few close friends now, and I like it that way. I used to have a lot of “friends”. My high school yearbook is full of signatures and well-wishes. We had over 200 guests at our wedding. I have boxes of pictures of family and friends that I never see anymore. (Yes…I am THAT old. We used to pay to have rolls and rolls of film developed only to discover that half of the pictures were of very poor quality, but we treasured them anyway!) We signed the back of those paper prints and exchanged them in hand-written letters that we sent via Canada Post for $0.32.

When God called me, and I answered that call, some things naturally changed. It was no longer appropriate for me to behave the way that I did before conversion, so some friends and family just lost interest and fell away.  I was no longer “fun” anymore and they found other people who were willing to stoop to their level of amusement. That hurt at first, but then God replaced them with godly “family” and the void was filled.

Then there were the people that I needed to purge from my life. Letting people go is never easy. It hurts everyone involved. The important thing to remember is that following God is more important than anything. If my “friends” change me in a negative way, then we shouldn’t be friends.

When I made the decision to surrender my life to God, I had to make sacrifices. My choices could no longer be based on what I wanted to do, but on what was pleasing to God.  I would love to tell you that I immediately changed my ways and walked a straight path. Let’s be real. I did not simply because In the beginning, I failed to understand that some people who seem harmless can actually lead you down a perilous path by encouraging you to compromise your beliefs in small ways. I did, unfortunately, allow myself to be misled sometimes because I didn’t have the courage to just walk away.  Even though I was not engaging in very big sins, I was still falling short of God’s expectations of me.  It doesn’t matter how big or small a sin is. If I know what is right and choose not to do it, I have chosen poorly.  As I grow in faith and maturity, it becomes so much easier to firmly stand my ground, knowing that God will richly bless me for those good choices.

Always remember whose child you are and that He loves you. When others despise or desert you, He will not.  So, choose Him every time. A true friend will encourage you on the path to righteousness and it will be a blessing to have that kind of friend to share your journey. Please download our FREE booklet How to Build Godly Character, to help you on your journey.

Love, Mom xox

From Covenant to Covenant

By Murray Palmatier November 3, 2018

From Covenant to Covenant

 Welcome back! Last time, we built upon our first blog by following the story from The Garden of Eden through to the covenant God made with Noah. The history of Man played out here showed our sinful nature since Adam’s rejection of God back in Paradise. The idyllic home in Eden and the peaceful relationship with God, while a distant memory, was recaptured for a brief moment when Noah and his family stepped off the ark and back onto dry land.

 It is here that we are now introduced to the concept of “covenant” - something that will play a centerpiece, in various forms, throughout the rest of The Bible. To be sure we understand exactly what this important word means, let’s go to Strong’s Concordance. The Hebrew word for “covenant” is “bĕriyth” (H1285) and means promise, alliance or pledge and is translated as “covenant” 264 times in the Old Testament - so it is a pretty important word!

 When it was safe to get off the ark, the very first thing Noah did was to build an altar so that he and his family could worship their God (and Savior). Worship at that time included the offering of clean animals. We will see later that offering animals teaches us many lessons, including the need to give from our finances as a measure of our gratitude for God’s presence in our lives. These offerings also teach us that covenants matter, oftentimes because they have been made with the shedding of blood. In this case, what followed Noah’s worship was a covenant from God, where He promised unconditionally never to bring a flood to destroy Man again. The sign of His promise in this case was the rainbow.

 As we start to learn about the importance of these promises, it is important to pause and consider that there are two types of covenants. You will see examples of both when you read The Bible. God’s promise to Noah was an unconditional one. Noah did not need to do anything for God to keep His promise. Noah, and everyone since him, can be assured that there will never be an all-consuming flood again, because of this unconditional covenant God made. You will also see examples of conditional covenants. These are agreements between two parties, where each side promises with conditions that both agree to fulfill. Success or failure to comply from either side yields results that both have agreed to accept. Bottom line - you should get familiar with the concept of covenants because they play an integral role in the story of The Bible.

 After Noah received the Promise of the Rainbow, it did not take long for his descendants to pick right back up where their forefathers left off before their watery demise. The history of Man as recounted in Scripture soon becomes the history of Shem and his descendants, eventually focusing in on a man named Abram. But before we get there, Moses recounts for us the evil that came back into the world through the descendants of Noah’s son, Ham. After introducing us to Ham and his son, Canaan, the story goes further downhill in the subsequent generations of Cush and Nimrod.

 While the story of Nimrod is limited to a few verses, his historical impact on the world is still felt until this day. Called “a mighty hunter”, historians link him as the king of the land of Shinar, where the tower of Babel was built. This tower was their attempt to show the world that God was not important; that man could rely solely on himself for all things. Rather than look to God as Provider of all things, the tower misled man to think there was nothing he couldn’t do all by himself. The Shinarians became the forerunners of the Babylonians, who would become a great empire and enemy of God’s people, Take some time to read about Nimrod and you will see his fingerprints all over the various religions of today...all leading people away from the God of The Bible who we worship.

 We now come to the major turning point in the Old Testament. What we have read so far has just been background to the history of Man since he was ejected from the Garden of Eden. The plan of God that we talked about back when we began this series would not be derailed by our disobedience. Just as God found a righteous man to rebuild with after the flood, he found another righteous man to kickstart the next phase of his plan. We now come to the story of Abram.

 Before we get to Abram, we find something very interesting about Noah and Abraham that points to the majesty and perfection of God. When you read the various records of Biblical genealogy, you can actually count that Noah was the tenth generation from creation and Abram was the tenth generation from Noah and the flood. As we read through The Bible, we see God’s greatness in even these smallest of details!

 I mentioned that the introduction of Abram brings with it a turning point in the story. The next phase of God’s plan begins with another unconditional covenant that God made with Abram. God looked down and again found a righteous man that He could work with and made a promise to him. In return for living a faithful and righteous life, in the midst of an evil world, God promised that He would make Abram and his future descendants into a great nation that would live in a great land of many blessings. It is this covenant with Abram that forms the basis for the rest of The Bible. From here, the story of Man narrows to focus on the story of Abram and his family. It is here that we will pick up the story next time. I hope you are beginning to see how exciting story of The Bible is...much more intriguing than any Hollywood script...and it’s true!!

From Paradise to Peril...and Back

By Murray Palmatier November 3, 2018

From Paradise to Peril…and Back

 Welcome back! When last we chatted, we introduced The Bible as the story about the destiny of Man. We were introduced to the characters of God (Father and Son), Adam, Eve and our Adversary, Satan the Devil.

 Man enjoyed a close personal relationship with God while they tended the Garden, named the animals, learned of His ways, and planned to populate the Earth, Then one day, the Adversary struck through a series of temptations that led to Eve, and then to Adam, partaking of the one forbidden tree in the Garden, forever changing the course of our history. The story of the fall of Adam and Eve is a great insight into the wiles of the Devil and how he twists the truth of God to achieve his goal of derailing Man’s journey into Eternity. It also shows us that God wants people to CHOOSE to follow Him, and we make that choice through obedience to His laws.

 After God tracked down an ashamed Adam and Eve, he pronounced a punishment on them that saw them forced to leave their beautiful home and from the safe protection of God. We also see our first glimpse into the Plan of Salvation when the pronouncement against Satan included a prophecy about the victory of Jesus over Satan, and sin...but we are getting ahead of ourselves here!

 After the First Family made a new home, on their own, outside of Eden, their first children arrived named Cain and Abel. They went on to have many more children, but not before another sad event ripped their family apart. Both young men prepared offerings to God with completely different results. After Cain’s offering was deemed unacceptable by God, he took out his anger and jealousy on his brother by killing him. We learn about attitude and giving the best we can, from the heart, to God, through this sad story. What a tragic turn in our story, after such a beautiful beginning in Paradise!

 After Eve was blessed with many other children, including a son named Seth, the story fast-forwards more than 1100 years to Noah, the 10th generation from Creation. We find the evil that was introduced by Satan in the beginning has taken over the world so much, that God was sorry He created us. Imagine that we made God regret that He made us. BUT, thankfully, He is a God of mercy and one that keeps His promises! The solution began first with Noah, a man who still followed God despite the many around him that didn’t. God revealed to him that He was going to start over with Noah’s family.

 This incredible development would involve not only Noah, but also his wife, his three sons and their wives. God revealed to Noah that He would start over by destroying all living things on Earth with a flood. While this seems extreme, we cannot forget that God’s reason for making Man was to share His eternal glory with us. That our ancestors chose NOT to follow Him would not deter God from His mission. A global flood, and re-building with Noah’s family, was just another part of the merciful process in meeting that goal.

 The Apostle Peter called Noah a “preacher of righteousness”. He does not go into any detail, but can you imagine spending over 100 years building a giant boat in a region that was not known for wet climates. When we consider the changes in life-spans that have taken place, that would be like us spending 8-10 years making the Ark. Imagine the interaction that would have taken place between Noah and his neighbors, those evil-minded folks that God was sorry He made. Imagine the ridicule and abuse he took - and yet he remained faithful to the task.

 Once the ark was ready, God helped Noah round-up pairs of animals to preserve the species once it was time to renew the Earth. We also get a glimpse into another aspect of God’s law - that of clean and unclean meat. Noah was to preserve 7 pairs of clean and 1 pair of unclean animals. This helps us understand that God’s Law has been in effect since Creation and was not just given to Israel through Moses...but we’ll get to that in future writings!

 So, for 40 days and 40 nights, Noah and his family were kept safe in the ark and waited for the rains to stop. It took more than three months for the water to subside enough that the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. Once it was safe, Noah departed the ark and, with his family, made an altar and worshipped God by offering one of every clean bird and animal on the ark. After centuries of evil, this worship was a “sweet savor” to God! It was then that God made an unconditional covenant with Noah. He promised never to destroy the earth with a flood again.

 But peaceful obedience would not last long...more on that, next time!

In The Beginning

By Murray Palmatier November 3, 2018

In The Beginning...

 Written by forty different people, hailing from three different continents, spanning a period of about 1600 years, the Holy Bible is a book that is most unique. Having been translated into 670 different languages and into several different versions of each dialect, you would think nearly everyone would have read it by now. Despite its status as the number one bestseller of all time, comparatively few have read it in full, and even fewer really understand it. It is, perhaps, the world’s greatest dust collector!

 One of the favourite sayings of Lloyd Cary, one of the editors of our publications is “Read the Book!” For many, especially our young people, reading the Bible can be a daunting task. It is a such a thick book, compromising varying styles - including historical, prophetic, poetic, and instructional. Often written in Old English, it can be very easy to get frustrated, bogged down in language and put away. I would like to begin a series of articles, aimed at our Infuse and Ignite groups (Young Adult and Teens, respectively) to show that the Bible is one beautiful story about the destiny of Man - specially created by God to live forever as part of His family!

 Let’s first start with selecting the book that you will read. As we noted earlier, there are a vast array of versions of the Bible. There are generally three types of translations - Word for Word; Thought for Thought; and Paraphrase. For the purposes of getting started, I would suggest that you pick up a more modern version (Thought for Thought or Paraphrase) that will allow you to become comfortable with the characters, language and story flow of the text. As you become more mature in your studies, transitioning over to Word for Word versions will help guide you towards a truer study of Biblical doctrine. If you do an online search of Bible Translation Comparison Charts, you’ll be able to search through the various translation choices.

 Once you’ve made your selection, find a comfortable place to read and prepare to become engrossed in the story about your destiny! It begins where most stories the beginning! We’re going to hit the high points here to get you started and keep you going, but to get the full picture of this great story, you’ll need to “read the book!”

The first character we are introduced to is God! As you make your way through the opening chapter, we come to see that “God” really is comprised (currently) of two beings. They had this great plan that began with making a place to live, called Earth. Earth was to be the centerpiece of a seemingly endless array of planets, stars and galaxies we know as The Universe! Once the sun, moon, stars and planets were made, God furnished Earth with animals and vegetation to make it a nice place to live. Once everything was ready, God made Man!

 The “meaning of life” is a question that everyone grapples with. As you begin to read about your destiny, this is one of the very first questions that get answered. In Genesis 1:26, God tells us that the plan was to make a species of beings we know as mankind, or humanity, in the image and likeness of God! How cool is that! While all other living things are made unique according to their kind, Man was made in the image and likeness of God!

With that destiny came responsibility. As Creator, God designed life to be lived by certain rules. These rules were drawn up to help us learn how to live in the happiest, most peaceful way, so that we could reach our destiny of living fully in God’s image and likeness, forever! As part of his plan to populate this jewel called Earth, God made for Man a partner that Man called Woman. It was through this partnership that God wanted Man to learn how to live, to make their own family, and look after His creation. As we learned to do these things, we would learn what it means to be part of the family of God.

 It seems that nearly every story has a villain, and the Bible story is no different. We are quickly introduced to a dark character known as Satan, the Devil. He goes by many names including the Serpent, the Adversary, the Prince of the Power of the Air, and the Father of Lies, just to name a few. The sad part of his story, as you’ll come to read later in Isaiah, is that he was initially made as one of God’s most beautiful angels, named Lucifer. Angels were a type of being made of spirit that were designed to serve God and help Man. But Lucifer wanted more and broke away from the plan of God, taking many angels with him. He then developed his own plan that centered on preventing us from attaining our destiny. He got started right away, in the Garden of Eden with the first Man and first Woman, Adam and Eve.

 We’ll pick up the story here, next time.

 Until then, read the book!!