Friday, November 30, 2018

The Budding Fig Tree

"Now when these things begin to occur, look up
and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
And he told them a parable:  "Look at the fig tree and all the trees;
When they put forth their buds and come out in leaf, you see for
yourselves and perceive and know that summer is already near.
Even so, when you see these things taking place, understand
and know that the kingdom of God is at hand."
Luke 21:28-31

It is quite generally agreed that the fig tree in Scripture 
stands for Israel. Thus when Christ speaks of the budding of the 
fig tree, He refers to the renaissance of the national life of the Jews.
Surely no one with eyes to see and ears to hear can deny that
the Jewish nation is being revived in a marvelous and miraculous
manner, not to some new location, but in the land that God gave
to Abraham and to his seed by an everlasting covenant.

The people that have been scattered to the ends of the earth
for nearly nineteen centuries, and have been without a home
and a temple and a sacrifice, and have endured untold 
persecutions precisely as predicted by Moses more
than 3,000 years ago-that same people have been given
back their ancient homeland, and are returning to it by scores
of thousands annually, and the land that has lain waste and desolate
for centuries is once more blossoming as the rose.

"And I will bring back the exile of My people Israel, and they
shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant
vineyards and drink the wine from them; they shall also make
gardens and eat the fruit of them."
Amos 9:14

In light of these things can anyone honestly say that the fig tree
of the Jewish national life is not budding and putting forth leaves?

Another interesting fact showing the budding of the fig tree lies
in the renaissance of the Hebrew language. A number of years ago
a well known Jewish leader, E. Ben Yehuda, started a movement in
*Palestine to revive the Hebrew language in the daily speech of the people.
The campaign spread rapidly and today pure Hebrew is the 
national language of the Jews throughout the length and breadth of
Palestine.  This is all the more remarkable because of the fact that
during the long centuries of their dispersion the Jews spoke the
languages of the lands where they were living. 
But now at last when they have returned to the homeland they are
once again conversing in the speech their forefathers used in
the heyday of their national life.

Many books in the classical language of the Old Testament are
being published in Palestine.  The results of the agricultural researches
are being put out in circulars, leaflets, and books, in pure Hebrew.
The language that has been for centuries estranged from the soil is
once more becoming, "redolent of the fields and vineyards."

Of the most interesting and remarkable things connected with the
growth of the Jewish national life in Palestine is their observance of
the Sabbath Day.  The entire history of the Jewish people in the pages of
the Old Testament is bound up with their observance of the Sabbath.
Next to their worship of the one true God, this was perhaps the
chief distinguishing feature that set them apart from 
the surrounding nations.

But during the long dispersion of the chosen people among the
Gentile nations, the institution has fallen more and more into decay.
Today, in America and other lands, the Jew is compelled by necessity
to keep open his place of business on Saturday.
But in Palestine at the present time the Sabbath is being observed
by the Jews with much of its old time strictness.

The Shofar or Ram's horn is blown at sunset on Friday.
It is a call to observe the Sabbath for the twenty-four hours following.
In Jerusalem some ten of these rams' horns sound out the signal
as the sun sinks below the horizon.  And the Jews with one accord
heed the call whether they are orthodox or liberal or free-thinkers.

The Sabbath in Jerusalem is certainly a day of rest.
Not even milk is delivered, by the Jewish dairies, until after
sunset on Saturday.  All Jewish bus lines stop. If we wanted to go
to the downtown district on Saturday, it was necessary to walk or hire
a carriage from one of the few Arab cabbies that were in the district.

On the Jewish Sabbath the synagogues are thronged with worshipers.
Who can witness this striking manifestation of the revival of the religious 
 life of the Jewish nation and fail to realize that the fig tree is now
putting forth an abundance of leaves?

The Jews are going back to the land of their forefathers in unbelief,
precisely as foretold.  The veil still rests upon their hearts and minds as
it did in the days of the Apostle Paul.  But the budding of the fig tree
indicates that the time of the Lord's return in glory is not far distant.
Then Zechariah's prophecy will be fulfilled with the same precision
that the predictions of Isaiah. Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are being
brought to pass in Palestine today.

Zechariah pictures the poignant grief that will come upon the
people of Israel as they realize that Jesus of Nazareth Who was
crucified on Calvary,  Whose blood cleanses all from sin, was none
other than their long-promised Messiah.

In Zechariah Chapter 12: 10 we read:
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants
of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look
upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him,
as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him,
as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."

As we see the Jews returning to Palestine by hundreds of thousands;
as we behold the land beginning to blossom as the rose; as we witness
the reviving of the Hebrew language as the daily speech of the people;
as we examine the money of the country and find it stamped with an
olive branch and declaring that Palestine is the "land of Israel";
as we mark the strict observing of the old Jewish Sabbath-as we
see all these things coming to pass before our eyes today-
we cannot fail to realize in the light of Luke 21:31 that
"the kingdom of God is nigh at hand."

Yeshua's Divine Presence
Yongsung Kim
Korean artist

"The Budding Fig Tree"
Excerpt from the book,
"Rebuilding Palestine According To Prophecy"
By George T.B. Davis

*Palestine is a regional area in the Near East which encompasses the
biblical lands of Judea and Samaria.  After being away for almost
2,000 years, the Jews were given a national homeland there
by the Balfour Declaration in November, 1917.
In 1922, the League of Nations gave Great Britain the mandate over
Palestine.  Only three years after the end of WWII,  Great Britain relinquished
her mandate and on May 14, 1948 the nation of Israel was born, thus
fulfilling the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
"Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a
land be born in a day? Or shall a nation be brought in a moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor, she brought forth her children."
(Isaiah 66:8)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

My November Guest

It has only been one week since Thanksgiving and already this
year's celebration has been long forgotten in the wake of extended
Black Friday sales and the crass commercialism that has come to define
the approach of Christmas in America today.  The last days of
 November seem to be passing by unnoticed too.  It makes me 
 a little sad that the beautiful season of autumn is nearly gone
now, and yet, I am reminded that it is important to find
something beautiful to appreciate in every day of the year.
I think Robert Frost might have been feeling the same way
when he wrote the following poem.

November Freshet
John Ottis Adams
American Impressionist
Member of the Hoosier Group

My sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are as beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away.
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Andrew Newell Wyeth
American artist and realist painter

"My November Guest"
Robert Lee Frost
American poet
Poet laureate of Vermont

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Modern Telling Of Noah And The Ark

"And the Lord spoke to Noah and said,
"In six months I'm going to make it rain until the whole earth
is covered with water and all the evil people are destroyed.
But I want to save a few good people, and two of every kind
of living thing on the planet.  I am commanding you to build an ark."

Noah's Ark
Zac Kinkade

And in a flash of lightning, He delivered the specifications for an ark.
"Okay," said Noah, trembling with fear and fumbling with the blueprints.

"Six months and it starts to rain," thundered the Lord.  "You'd better have
the ark completed, or learn to swim for a very long time."

Six months passed, the skies clouded up and rain began to fall. The Lord
saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping. And there was no ark.
"Noah," shouted the Lord, "where is the ark?"

"Lord, please forgive me!" begged Noah.  "I did my best. But there were
big problems. First, I had to get a building permit for the ark construction project
and your plan didn't meet the code. I had to hire an engineer to redraw the plans.
Then I got into a big fight over whether or not the ark needed a fire sprinkler system.

"Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning by building the ark
in my front yard. I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.
Then I had problems getting enough wood for the ark, because there was a ban
on cutting trees to save the Spotted Owl.  I had to convince the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife that I needed wood to save the owls, but they wouldn't let me catch any owls.
So, no owls.  

"The carpenters formed a union and went on strike.  I had to negotiate a
settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would
pick up a saw or hammer. Now we have 16 carpenters going on the boat
and still no owls. Then I started gathering up the animals and got sued by
the animals rights group. They objected to me taking only two of each kind.
Just when I got the suit dismissed, EPA notified me that I couldn't complete
the ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood.

"They didn't take kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the
conduct of a Supreme Being. Then the Army Corp of Engineers wanted a map
of the proposed new flood plain.  So I sent them a globe. Right now, I'm still
trying to resolve a complaint from the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission over how many Croatians I'm suppose to hire.

"The IRS has seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to avoid paying
taxes by leaving the country. And I just got a notice from the state about
owing them some kind of tax. I really don't think I can finish the ark
for at least another five years," Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear.  The sun began to shine.
 A rainbow arched across the sky.
 Noah looked up and smiled.

  "You mean you're not going to destroy the earth? Noah asked hopefully.
"No," said the Lord sadly. "The government already has!"

This story, which appeared in Blum's Farmer's And Planter's Almanac 2001 edition,
was sent in by Geneva Setzer from Hickory, North Carolina. It appeared in a 
newspaper, the News-Topic in a column by Benjie Watts.
The original author is unknown.

Thoughts from the Bluestocking Redneck...

Although this story clearly resonates in the mind of the
modern reader, the real Noah, who was laughed at and ridiculed
for building the ark, was not only a man of remarkable faith,
but, he never let the words of his critics prevent him from
carrying out God's plan for his life.

Furthermore, no government entity or law of mankind, no matter
how well-intended, will ever usurp or prevent the will of God from coming forth.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

In Memoriam

To-night the winds begin to rise
And roar from yonder dropping day
The last red leaf is whirl'd away
The rooks are blown about the skies

 Autumn's Fading Beauty
North East Lincolnshire, England

The forest crack'd the waters curl'd,
The cattle huddled on the lea,
And wildly dash'd on tower and tree
The sunbeam strikes along the world.

And but for fancies which aver
That all thy motions gently pass
Athwart a plane of molten glass,
I scarce could brook the strain and stir

That makes the barren branches loud
And but for fear it is not so,
The wild unrest that lives in woe
Would dote and pour on yonder cloud

That rises upward always higher,
And onward drags a labouring breast,
And topples round the dreary west,
A looming bastion fringed with fire.

Alfred Tennyson
First Baron Tennyson
George Frederic Watts
English Victorian painter

"In Memoriam"
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
English poet
Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland
during much of the reign of Queen Victoria,
who was a great admirer of his poetry.

Fourth Sunday Meditation: A Heart Of Gratitude



I will praise and give thanks to the Lord with my
whole heart in the council of the upright and in the congregation.
The works of the Lord are great, sought out by all those who delight in them.

The Angelus
Jean Francois Millet
French painter

His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever.

He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious,
merciful, and full of loving compassion.

He has given food and provision to those who reverently and worshipfully
fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever and imprint it on His mind.

He has declared and shown to His people the power of His works in
giving them the heritage of the nations of Canaan.

The works of His hands are absolute truth and justice, faithful and right;
and all His decrees and precepts are sure, fixed, established, and trustworthy.

They stand fast and are established forever and ever
 and done in absolute truth and uprightness. 

He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant
to be forever; holy is His name, inspiring awe, reverence, and godly fear.

The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom,
and skill, the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the
alphabet; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who
do the will of the Lord.  Their praise of Him endures forever.

"The Angelus"

The painting above depicts two humble peasants bowing
their heads in the dusk of the evening and giving thanks to God
for His Son, Jesus Christ, and paying homage to Mary, 
  the chosen vessel of the Lord and the mother of the Messiah. 
Mary's story is one of remarkable faith and has inspired
many generations of people to rise up and call her blessed.
In her humble obedience to the will of God for her life, this
young Jewish maiden of Nazareth changed the course of
human history and mankind's relationship with God forever.

"And Mary said, "My soul magnifies and extols the Lord. And my
spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked upon the low
station and humiliation of His handmaiden. For behold, from now
on all generations will call me blessed and declare me happy and to be 
envied. For He Who is almighty has done great things for me-
and holy is His name, to be venerated in His purity, majesty, and glory!"
Luke 1:47-49

Breath of Heaven
(Mary's Song)
Amy Grant

Saturday, November 24, 2018

On My Mind: The Thoughts Of A Liberty-Minded Woman


Newly-elected  House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (left)
 who is a card-carrying member of the Democrat Socialists of America, and,
  former Alaska governor and  Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (right). 
 The personal mindsets of these two women clearly reflects the political turmoil 
and social upheaval which has come to define America in the 21st century.

Former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin,
who like me, came of age under the presidency of Ronald Reagan,
 strongly believes in and promotes the ideals of Capitalism, or
 America as a  free market society and Constitutional Republic.

She embraces the timeless principles of self-reliance and discipline,
fair competition, and especially, the ability to pull your own weight
in regards to working hard to achieve one's goals in life, all without
 hindrance from a repressive and demanding government system
breathing down your back.

This is the hallmark, not only of happy and
prosperous living, but of a truly free and independent society,
the one envisioned by our Founding Fathers for the people when they
wrote the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

 "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are:
  "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
-President Ronald Reagan

On the other hand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 
like many of her generation, shamelessly promotes the
 the self-centered ideology of "entitlement without reciprocity"
or taking advantage, with intrusive help from government, of
 those who believe in personal responsibility, and the re-distribution of
 their money in order to create a more "just and equal" society for all.  

 In reality, it  is more like an unfair and contentious "free-for-all".

Here is a rudimentary example of the principles of Socialism:
You have two cows.  The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. 
After all, why should you, a hard-working and reliable citizen, deprive
someone who is lazy and irresponsible, of their "right" or "entitlement"
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while reaping the benefits of
your labor, compliments of  tax payer-funded government subsidy programs?

Meanwhile, the fawning mainstream media are fanning the flames of
 the ardent Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as the "voice of the poor and needy",
and the "savior" of the "poor huddled masses" of immigrants
teeming at our southern borders whom she thinks should be
allowed to cross over without impunity.  In fact, she believes
that America should no longer be defined by natural borders.

 The media touts Ocasio-Cortez as this century's incarnation of  Eva Peron.
 She does indeed seem to emulate the revered, "First Lady of the Pampas"
while prancing about wearing designer outfits and dripping with
 expensive jewelry as she addresses crowds of adoring followers,
  many of whom could never in their lifetime afford such extravagance.

Unlike the proud and patriotic Sarah Palin, who is 
 well-schooled in regards to America's unique and exceptional
national history, especially that we were founded by people who
were not only devoted to daily Bible reading, but knew, that
true and lasting freedom can only come, first and foremost,
through honoring Almighty God in our lives, as well as
being accountable before Him and our peers for our actions,
 Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her eager band of mostly youthful
 followers are already sold out to Socialism as the answer to
the problems facing America today.  However, as our pilgrim
ancestors discovered,  Socialism  just does not work.

The early settlement at Plymouth in 1620 was
basically what would be called today a socialist commune.
The residents received their clothing, food, and other
supplies from the colony's "common stock" and all the 
farmland was collectively owned, with each family 
receiving provisions according to their needs,
the profits from the labor divided equally rather than
by what was earned individually through hard work.

The system gradually led to much discontent within the colony,
with the healthy and able-bodied settlers who toiled for
long hours in the fields and at other labors beginning
to resent those who claimed that they could not work
due to illness or some other reason,  and yet, would receive
the same amount of food and supplies as those who
performed zero labor, like the elderly residents, and young
  mothers with little children and nursing babies to care for.
As a result, nearly half of the people died, unable to be
sustained through the colony's decreasing harvests.

After two years of experiencing famine and the subsequent
loss of lives due to malnutrition and starvation, the pilgrims
decided to abandon the socialist system they lived under
and required that each family was responsible to take 
care of themselves.  Colonists were encouraged to grow 
their own food as there was no more "common stock" to
provide for them.  The end result was a far more happy,
healthy, and prosperous society.  Those who claimed to be
ill now took to the fields, eager to plant, grow, and harvest,
reaping the benefits of their own labor and taking pride
in themselves and in their accomplished work.

According to some historical accounts, the settlers at 
Jamestown colony in Virginia also went through a trial
period of "communal living".  
However, as in Plymouth, it did not work.
In fact, inspired by the words of the apostle, Paul, 
 the general rule of thumb in Jamestown became: 
"If you don't work, you don't eat." 

The Bible's Answer To Socialism....

"If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.
Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly,
that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful
of duty, being busy with other peoples' affairs instead
of their own and doing no work.
Now we charge and exhort such persons, as ministers
in Him exhorting those in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah,
that they work in quietness and earn their own food
and other necessities."
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Jamestown Colony in the 1630's
A painting by Keith Rocco