Monday, September 25, 2017

"And they crossed on dry ground...

We know about Moses. We love him. We know of his his foibles, his sins, and his great faith. Moses is in the Hebrews Hall of Fame Faith and rightly so. He was used mightily by God.

Moses was the instrument God chose to use to display His salvific power when the Hebrews were pursued by Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea. Read from the word:

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22).

I remember the Indonesian Christmas Tsunami of 2004. I've watched news of other tsunamis since. I've seen the movie The Perfect Storm, with the boat climbing up that 100' tall wave. I saw a video of a Puerto Rican dam break in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. A rushing wall of water is destructive and definitely in the top pantheon of fear-inducing natural disasters.

The Hebrews had lived in Egypt for generations. The Nile floods annually. They were certainly familiar with the deadly properties of wayward water.

We read the Bible and we believe all that is within it. (At least, I hope you do). But let's take the time to really regard that moment. With the Egyptian Army in full pursuit, and with the vast Red Sea in front of them, the escaping Hebrews seemed trapped. Moses had prayed and received an answer. God would allow them to cross the Sea on dry ground. Moses walked down the incline and put his foot on the dry ground, and continued through the wall of water, across the Sea.

It was one thing for Moses to trust God in faith and to step out, but would the grumbling and skittish Hebrews follow?

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29).

EPrata photo
They did. But imagine that moment. Imagine it as if it were you. You pick your way down the incline, taking care to step carefully over wet vegetation and slippery rocks. You glance to the left and see a towering wall of water and you glance to the right and see an equally imposing wall of water. You look up. The water goes to the sky a long way. Perhaps you can even see fish swimming in the wall. Does your mind even comprehend what you are seeing? Can you process this? Do you dare walk in between the walls of water, trusting God to uphold them for as long as necessary?

You do.

The biblical record states that when the people of Israel finished walking through, and the Egyptian army went in, the Lord closed the wall of water and the Egyptians were thrown into the sea in the midst. It does not state that any of the people of Israel had turned back, lingered, or hesitated on the shore. It does not say that any of the Hebrews had decided to make camp and think it over first. They crossed. All of them.

We can laud them for their faith, and we should. They saw. It was an incredible moment, filled with tension and fear, both of the water and of the Lord. (Exodus 14:31). But as is said in the New Testament,

Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29).

Friend, you (and I) are blessed. We believe by faith. We step out in minor and major ways, every day. We trust the invisible Lord to lead us across the slippery ground, over the rocks, and onto the dry sand, and He gets the glory. (Exodus 14:17-18).

He leads. We follow. He gets glory, our faith increases, so we can follow Him more, so He gets more glory, and our faith grows...

Praise Him for the cycle of life eternal.



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jesus, bread of life (Chris Powers animation underway)

Chris Powers, artist, illustrator, and animator, is hard at work creating a new animation. Here, he
share with you a few screenshots from the sketching process for the next animation (the one based on “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”).

The one featured above presents Christ as the “heavenly food” given for the life of His people (essentially a visual representation of Jesus’ teaching in the second half of John 6). The other two pictures are of cherubim, both in the heavenly throne room and as represented on the “mercy seat” of the ark of the covenant.....the connection between the heavenly throne, the ark, and the cross will be central in this animation.


You can check out his work at https://www.patreon.com/fullofeyes or at his website fullofeyes.com . His work is free, and study guides have been developed to accompany the animations. They are also translated into Spanish and Portuguese.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Prata Potpourri: Hate watching, Loving our neighbor, Four reasons why, Bible books in 1 word, more

He said He will come, He said to look up when we see these things come to pass, and He IS coming soon. When the rapture happens, the unbelieving world will be left confused, injured, unhinged, and devastated. Now is the time to urge those who do not believe to seek truth. Truth resides in Jesus and in Him alone. And aren't we who know Him blessed with the most wonderful relationship we can possibly conceive of? Even if we do not have opportunity to witness in a particular moment, let us reflect Him in our demeanor and smile. We are rejoicing always!

I always want to remind myself and others that we are temporarily living on this earth as it is. Our lives may seem long, but they are short, but a passing breath. So I always remind us that Jesus may return immediately, in the next few moments of time. Alternately, the breath may leave our nostrils at any moment, our days are numbered.

Therefore, we pray, Lord, Thy kingdom come...but until that moment, Your will be done.

Here are a few reading resources for you. Enjoy!

Musician Dallas Holm muses about God's Will in the hard as well as the easy.

Shane Pruitt at Already Am wonders if the statement 'believe in yourself' does more harm than good.

Jen Oshman discusses parenting when there are so many disasters and fear in the world in her article Fear, My News Feed, and Psalm 46

Samuel James has some thoughts on hate watching the Emmys...

Julia at Steak & A Bible has some suggestions about reading the rest of Romans 6

Nick at Reformation 21 shares deep truths about loving your neighbor as yourself with a reminder that it is the second greatest commandment.

From Zachary Bartels, "I've previously shared with you the best advice I ever got about preaching: my homiletics professor told us, "Gentlemen, when you’ve finished your sermon and think it’s just about ready to preach, read it over and ask yourself this . . . Could this message still be true and make sense if Jesus had not died and risen again for our salvation? If the answer is yes, then throw it out and start over, because it’s not a Christian sermon. It’s self-help or life-coaching or tips for family dynamics, but it’s not a cross-centered message, which is what we are called to proclaim." Read on for the context and the point in The Jets, the Sharks, and Jesus

Housewife Theologian Aimee Byrd explores Four Reasons Why Every Christian Should Study Psalm 110

Garrett Kell at All Things for Good lists Every Book of the Bible in One Word

World Magazine reviews the documentary Fallen
A dangerous duty: Fallen spotlights the risks police officers face—and the sacrifices they make


Enjoy the day! Let's remember this simple, profound timeless, wonderful truth:

EPrata painting


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Picture Mixture: Baby elephant, Maria, Old postcards, beauty

Photographer Finds Locations Of 1960s Postcards To See How They Look Today, And The Difference Is Unbelievable

Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer's desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.

I love how this series is displayed. The old postcard is shown and in that same spot the photo fades to the exact view of the scene today. It is a stark reminder to us that nothing on this earth is permanent, no matter how large, luxe, or solid it looks. The series is wistfully melancholy.

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This baby elephant runs around chasing birds. He slips and falls, and what he does next is so precious. Babies are cute, whether pachyderm or human! 25-second video.

Baby elephant chases birds

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The recent quakes and quake swarms, not to mention hurricanes, remind us that the earth is under a curse. only to be lifted by its Creator, Jesus, in His timing. Below, workers race to find survivors of the 7.1 quake at Mexico City which collapsed a school. Reuters photo




Scientists say recent quake swarm at Rainier is rare but not unprecedented



Rescue teams take to Puerto Rico streets in darkness amid warnings that power could be out for months following devastating hit from Hurricane Maria

Below, damage on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Our infrastructure, including electrical power, is so tenuous. Only God is power.



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And yet, amid the damage and heartache caused by a restless earth, beauty. Jesus created all the beauty we see in creation in under one week. Wow.



Throwback - Repentance brings blessing

This essay was first published on The End Time in December 2011

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EPrata photo

I listened to a very good sermon on Sunday afternoon. Don Green is [was] the pastor of the Grace Life section of the Grace Community Church of John MacArthur. Green's preaching Sunday on the "The Call to Repentance" was an eye opener. The verses were from the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5 and also Matthew 4:17.

His theme was not what you might expect. Repent, yes, but the call to repentance always has with it another part to the message, one that is often forgotten. When Jesus calls people to repent, there is always a blessing associated with it.

Pastor Green's point was that we of course should call people to repent, yes, but do not forget to tell them they are blessed if they do! Matthew 4:17 says, "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is the summary statement of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon, He is explaining what repentance means. The verse from Matthew 4 is the summation, but the Sermon is Jesus explicitly teaching what He meant regarding repentance. Matthew 5:3-9, for example, is linked to the Matthew 4:17 verse in that Jesus now gets specific about what happens to a person on the inside when they repent.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Look how many blessings come when a person repents and allows the Holy Spirit to change them on the inside! Jesus ended His sermon with reminding us that it IS an internal change. He said in verse 20:

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 23:13). The scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day, but they were only righteous on the outside, with what they wore and what they said and how they acted. Their internal state was not one of humble repentance, and as a result they were cursed, not blessed.

The call to repentance is to:
--turn away from sin toward biblical righteousness
--in order to give irrevocable allegiance to Jesus
--and to receive divine blessing

Pastor Green's sermon focused on understanding the third point, that with repentance comes blessing, and this shapes the way we explain the Gospel to people.

We call for repentance and warn of the justice from the Highest Court in the universe, from the most perfect Judge. Punishment for sins is real and must be declared to the unbeliever. This is our duty. But don't leave it there, Pastor Green urged. Because love is part of the equation, too. Jesus blesses His children. He bought us with His blood as pardon from the justice they would likewise receive but instead blesses them when they do repent.

Nine times in Matthew 5 (NASB) Jesus used the word "blessed". Nine blessings are pronounced! Also in Matthew 11, Matthew 13, Matthew 24, more blessedness is offered to those who do not take offense at Jesus, to those upon those who see and hear the message, and on those slaves who are doing the Father's will. The change brought about at repentance comes with is blessings that start there and continue on the growing believer.

When you share the Gospel, love them enough to tell them of the justice for the sins, but also love them enough to tell them of the Lord's blessings waiting upon them if they do repent. This is a good lesson for me, too.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

17 minutes of continual sin

We need a savior. We are evil, evil continually rising from a corrupted heart. Our human nature is depraved, polluted, and thoroughly iniquitous. Don't believe me? Think that Genesis 6:5 is only historical? You imagine I'm being unnecessarily pessimistic? "I haven't murdered anyone," you protest. "I'm not, like, a Nazi war criminal," your mind challenges. Hrm. Read on.

This piece is pretty well-known. It has been floating around the internet ever since it was published in World Magazine in 2005. Our pastor read it to us on a recent Sunday and then it became known to me. Boy, did it ever. I urge you to read it. Better still, read it out loud. Best of all, read it aloud to your spouse or friend, together, with someone. The relentlessness of it picks up steam, and the commensurate heart conviction rate increases also. Or it should. The article deftly illustrates why "good" folks "like us" need a savior. We. Need. A. Savior.

Postscript at the end.

Seventeen minutes
It's the thoughts-ordinary, daily thoughts-that count
By Andree Seu Peterson

These are the thoughts of a woman driving home from the Stop 'N Shop on an ordinary day.

She conjures three comebacks she could've hurled at Ellen if she had not been caught off guard.

She spots the baby shower invitation on the dashboard and schemes a way to be out of town that weekend-then thinks better of it because she has a favor to ask the sender at a later date.

She sizes up a woman standing at the bus stop-and judges her.

She stews over a comment her brother made behind her back, and crafts a letter telling him off-and sounding righteous in the process.

She reviews the morning's argument with her husband, and plans the evening installment.

She imagines how life would have been if she had married X (a well-worn furrow, this).

She magnanimously lets a car merge into traffic, and then is ticked off when she doesn't get her wave.

She resolves to eat less chocolate starting today-well, tomorrow.

She replays memory tapes going back to the '60s, trying to change the endings.

Somebody rides up the road shoulder and budges to the head of a traffic jam, and she hates the driver with a perfect hatred.

She passes the house of the contractor who defrauded her and fantasizes blowing it to smithereens.

She passes Audrey working in her garden and waves-but thinks, "If Audrey has chronic fatigue syndrome, I'm a flying Wallenda."

She glares at a driver who runs a red light in front of her, forgetting that she did the same about a mile ago.

She checks her slightly crooked nose compulsively in the rearview mirror, and reassures herself it isn't too bad.

An inner voice tells her to turn off the radio and pray, but she decides that's the voice of legalism.

She brainstorms talking points for her upcoming woman's Bible study lecture on "Ephesians" and considers how she can improve it-and make it better than Alice's talk of last week.

She is angry at God because here she is a Christian and broke, while her good-for-nothing heathen of a brother is rolling in dough.

She thinks how much better her life would be if she were beautiful, and fantasizes all the bungee-jumping, maggot pizza-eating "fear factor" stunts she'd be willing to subject herself to to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.

She wonders how her parents will divvy up the inheritance-and how long she has to wait.

She rehearses two good reasons why her sister and not she should take care of the folks when they're too old. She thinks about her childhood and counts the ways her parents have screwed up her life.

The Johnsons drive by, and she recalls all the meals she made for them 10 years ago when Lydia had toxemia during pregnancy, and bets they don't even remember. Hmm, did they even send a thank-you card?

The word treachery flashes through her mind (Mr. Beaver's succinct epithet for Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) but leaves no footprints.

An SUV cuts her off, and she decides to punish it by tailgating.

Her heart smites her for this. So she determines to try harder to live righteously from now on. Who knows, God may reward her in some amazing way: Her husband may give her grounds for divorce, and God will lead her to the arms of Mr. Right.

She tries to pray but doesn't get past "Our Father."

There are lots of other people that the woman does not think of while driving home with groceries, people who are not important to her social status, or just not interesting.

She doesn't think about AIDS-ravaged Africa, she doesn't think about the death sentence dangling over millions in Sudan, she doesn't think about missionaries, she doesn't think about martyrs in Kim Jong-il's prisons, she doesn't think about ways she could encourage her children.

She pulls into her driveway. Total driving time: 17 minutes.

And if you were to ask the lady, as she rustles parcels from the car, what she has been thinking about on the drive from town, she would say, "Oh, nothing in particular." And she would not be lying.

Imagine believing that we don't need a Savior.

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Jesus brought light and cleansing to our blackened hearts.


Hurricane Irma was approaching Georgia on that Sunday. It was due to hit on Monday. Our church service runs from 3:00-4:30. After church, I stopped at the nearby grocery store to pick up a few last minute items. It was packed. Jammed. And a sheen of tension overlay the store. People were in more of a hurry than usual, pumped up from the weather forecasters' predictions of downed trees, lost power, and other dire unknown things that were sure to happen. I got into the self-checkout line, which was not any shorter but I was hoping that I might gain a slight time advantage.

I didn't, and I waited in line without moving, for a long while. As I stood and waited, and my stress levels increased, so did my thoughts. I began having a stream of consciousness, nothing-in-particular thoughts about everyone else in line. I judged their clothes. I judged their slowness of movement. I even judged their purchases. Shocked, I realized that I was the same as the woman in the article, thinking evil thoughts continually. Here, ten minutes after the service ended, still in my church clothes.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Thank you Jesus that You covered us with your blood, cleansed from our sin in Your eyes. Our sin has been erased from our record to be thrown into the vast outer places, as far as the east is from the west. Seeing my sin record before me, I stagger under the weight of carrying it, never mind a lifetime. I would have justly been penalized for it, had You not submitted to the Father's plan of the cross.

You bore the weight of eternity's sin of all the people You have chosen since before the foundation of the world, and their/my punishment. Thank You.


"And they crossed on dry ground...

We know about Moses. We love him. We know of his his foibles, his sins, and his great faith. Moses is in the Hebrews Hall of Fame Faith and...