“And Jesus … asked his disciples, saying unto them,
Whom do men say that I am?
And they answered,
John the Baptist:
but some say, Elias, and others, One of the prophets.”
Mark 8:27, KJV
At our teen camp this week, this question wasn’t addressed to prove the identity of Jesus any more than when Jesus asked it of his disciples. He didn’t need people’s validation but desired to open a conversation with his followers to make them consider in their minds and confirm in their hearts who they believed him to be.
believed Jesus to be John the Baptist risen from the dead because of his good works. These had little knowledge of either man or they would have know they both lived at the same time. They had heard of both but had not investigated their lives personally.
Most these days:
don’t even go so far as to believe Jesus is the author of mighty works. But some do believe Jesus’s followers use these stories as a reason to have hope when life seems hopeless. These tend to rely only on what they’ve heard and don’t seek to find truth for themselves.
Some in that day:
believed Jesus to be Elijah calling people to repentance before the day of God’s judgment.
the majority don’t believe in a God of judgment or wrath, but only love. They have failed to look at the cross of Jesus and see he is all three of those things.
Then the people:
accepted the possibility that Jesus was the Prophet or at least one of the prophets who spoke the word of God. Yet, they chose not to believe the word he spoke.
many are no different, believing the scriptures are not the true inerrant word of God.
Then and now:
many will call Jesus a good teacher like the rich young ruler of Mark 10:17. But Jesus didn’t accept that title then without understanding nor will he today.
“And Jesus said unto him,
Why callest thou me good?
There is none good but one
Mark 10:18, KJV
Jesus doesn’t accept it now anymore than he did then. If we call him good, we confess he is God. If we confess he is God, then we understand he has the right to reign in our lives.
“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive;
and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee …
The LORD is good to all:
and his tender mercies are over all his works …
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed,
The LORD, The LORD God,
merciful and gracious, longsuffering,
and abundant in goodness and truth …
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is not variableness, neither shadow of turning …
FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD
In the last “Writer’s Heart” post, readers received the first look at the cover of my novel, The Nazarene’s Price, and were introduced to the main character. A couple readers, offered name suggestions.
Anneta Pinto-Young, annetapintoyoung.wordpress.com, named the rich young ruler, Pontius—“it seems fitting.” Stop by her site and enjoy a short, thoughtful devotion.
RJ Dawson, rjdawson.com, offered a background suggesting my main character to be from the tribe of Judah—he wasn’t quite ready to offer a name but had logical thoughts concerning his choice of ancestry. You will find more deep thinking if you visit his site.
Gary Fultz, at garyfultz.wordpress.com, went a different direction saying, “In today’s world I would call him, Joe.” Visit his site for some interesting adventures with life lessons.
for your suggestions,
Lily at, sometimestbl.wordpress.com, and Tonya, at tonyalalonde.wordpress.com who linked to my post,
To my faithful readers and occasional drop ins.
Now it’s time to introduce you to my main character by my chosen name for him—Matthias.
His name identifies his person but not who he is.
Who he is becomes evident through character development by—
giving him a past showing why Matthias is the way he is in the present;
giving him a present pointing to a future that brings him to his defeat or victory.
To discover who my Matthias is you will need to read, The Nazarene’s Price, and follow his uncertain journey.
The question Jesus asked at the beginning of my post, “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” is the essence of the question Jesus asks of Matthias when Matthias addresses Jesus as, “Good Master.”
“And Jesus said unto him,
Why callest thou me good?
There is none good but one, that is, God.”
Mark 10:18, KJV
You see it doesn’t really matter who the rich young ruler was but who he believed Jesus to be. In this, Matthias’ story becomes our story, as it was Peter’s story when posed with Jesus’ question. We know the end of Peter’s story.
“And Simon Peter answered and said,
Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:16, KJV
Scripture doesn’t give us the end of the rich young ruler’s story. We are simply told the end of this encounter with Jesus, where we learn,
“Jesus beholding him loved him …”
And the young man,
“went away grieved …”
This is where a writer is given a good prompt. There has to be more to Matthias than a few verses. I hope you will join me in the journey I’ve created for Matthias in The Nazarene’s Price. But my greatest hope is for your story to end with Peter’s confession as you answer Jesus’ question.
The ringing wouldn’t stop. Finally, it breaks through my sound sleep with a start. I don’t want my babies awakened by the racket. I push my husband awake. “If this is another one of those prank calls …” No. I hope it is.
Tom races to answer the phone. I can barely hear his voice. Dread chokes my heart. My lips grow dry as I walk into the kitchen. Tom’s face is ashen as he replaces the receiver. “They think Randy’s been killed in an accident.”
Tragedy bursts into our lives like an unexpected explosion. We are told in God’s word to expect it. Yet, when it comes we are taken by surprise. Job, in the Bible, faced several tragedies in one day with the loss of livestock, servants, and his children. What was his response and what can we learn from him?
‘“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head,
and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”
Job 1:20-22, NASB
Job’s response shows
complete trust in his God’s fairness and authority over all that came into his life.
He remembered who blessed him with all he had
and must have given it all back to God before this day of mourning came to him.
Job’s possessions did not own him. They were given by God’s hand and his to take.
He even saw his children as a gift from God, loaned to him for a time.
Job didn’t rail on the Lord but worshipped him.
Tom’s younger brother was killed that night by a drunk driver. The family mourned the loss of one so young, one we loved. Some accused God because they didn’t know the Lord. Some worshipped. Tom’s mom worshipped in her mourning.
Another mother received a call that night. She mourned. My mother-in-law comforted her. We had a hope that gave us peace and comfort.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the father of mercies and God of all comfort;
who comforts us in all our affliction
so that we may be able to comfort
those who are in any affliction with the comfort
with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3,4, NASB
Jesus told us trouble would come in this life, but He is our comfort and our peace.
“Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives, do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful …
The things you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me,
practice these things;
and the God of peace shall be with you.”
(John 14:27; Philippians 4:9, NASB)
Stay near to the Lord before tragedy or trials come and he will meet you in your place of mourning with his peace and comfort.
The sun shines happy smiles over the land where thousands of livestock graze lazily. Adult children meet together and fill the air with laughter as they enjoy food aplenty. God is good. Life is good.
Then time stops.
Tragedy strikes not once but four times. Livestock is stolen, some destroyed, servants killed, and the children die from what we call, a freak event. The sun still shines but the clouds of mourning reign in the soul. “There was a man …”
Job was that man, but he could be any one of us. We might ask, “Why Job?” What kind of person was he? What do we know about him?
He was blameless, upright, feared God and avoided evil. Not many in scripture received this accolade from the Lord. It wasn’t Job’s sin that brought his troubles. Job stood before the Lord blameless. The Lord commands his people to be blameless.
“You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.”
Deuteronomy 18:13, NASB
Blameless, complete, perfect, having integrity. This is not found only in the Old Testament.
“Therefore you are to be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:48, NASB
Job lived in a different age. Is it possible for us to have this declared over our lives? Three men including Job did.
“even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst,
as I live,’ declares the Lord GOD,
‘they could not deliver their son or their daughter.
They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.’”
Ezekiel 14:20, NASB
Their righteousness could not save their children or others, nor themselves from the trials and troubles of this world. In fact—
for Job, it was his blamelessness that brought him trials.
Noah was mocked as he obeyed God.
Daniel was thrown to the lions for praying.
But each was delivered from evil because the Lord found them righteous. And our heavenly Father promises us, who are righteous, the same deliverance.
“No temptation has overtaken you
but such as is common to man;
and God is faithful,
who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able ,
but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also,
that you may be able to endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB
Noah endured the trial and found deliverance in the ark. Daniel endured a night with the lions and was delivered without a scratch. Job endured his trials and in the end was blessed more than in his beginning. The Lord knows how to deliver the righteous.
The Lord God would not give us a commandment if it was impossible to fulfill it. We are to be blameless before him, complete, holy.
“but like the Holy One who called you,
be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;”
1 Peter 1:15, NASB
The Lord himself, in Jesus Christ, has fulfilled this commandment for us in that—
“He made Him who knew no sin
to be sin on our behalf,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB
As those made righteous in Christ, we can know—whether our trial or trials are for a night, years, or unnumbered days—God will not forsake his righteous ones.
“I have been young, and now I am old;
Yet, I have not seen the righteous forsaken …
Depart from evil, and do good,
So you will abide forever.
For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever;
but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off …
Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;
For the man of peace will have a posterity …
the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
And the LORD helps them, and delivers them …”
Psalm 37:25a,37,39, 40a; NASB
And when the trial ends and deliverance comes—
“Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN
in the kingdom of their Father.
He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:43, NASB
The Lord God did not leave Job in his trial but brought him through it and gave increase to his life both physically and spiritually. Endurance builds strength of body, mind, and spirit. Endure and shine. You are not alone, and the morning is coming.
What questions do you ask the Lord when trials come? How do you endure?
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17, KJV
He is found in three gospel accounts but without a name.
He owns the title of a ruler.
He was rich and young at the time of his introduction into the events of Jesus’ earthly life.
He is the protagonist and the antagonist of his own story as it unfolds in my soon-to-be-released novel, The Nazarene’s Price. Today, thanks to the dedication and talent of Derinda Babcock and Kelly, I have the cover to show you.
A few verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke sum up the rich young ruler’s brief encounter with Jesus. But we can learn much about fleshing out a character in our stories through what is told.
By his actions—He ran and kneeled before Jesus—we see he held a burning question in his heart,
“what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
If pride hid in his spirit, it wasn’t revealed then, but later by his words, when he declared his own righteousness.
The young ruler’s response to Jesus’ answer showed his emotions and his priorities.
“And he was sad at that saying,
and went away grieved:
for he had great possessions.”
Mark 10:22, KJV
The Bible shows us the heart, mind, and spirit of this young man through his actions, his emotions, and his interchange with others. The scripture gives us the building blocks for creating an actual person with a past, present, and future—not just someone on a page.
We begin by asking questions. What was his past? What brought him to this present moment? How did his life unfold? What is his name?
The first rule in answering these questions and developing a character in our stories is—show don’t tell.
With action, we make our characters three dimensional. Without action they are boring.
Through conversation, we learn what is in a person’s heart and much of what he is thinking.
Without emotion, our characters lacks the depth readers need to relate.
As we develop our characters through actions, words, emotions, let’s remember to examine our personal character by the same standards, and be—
“doers of the word, and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves.”
James 1:22, KJV
When our character consistently bears the image of Christ, as revealed by what we write, readers come to trust our prose.
For fun: What would you name the rich young ruler?
This past week the Lord blessed our Day Camp with his presence and answered prayers.
Here’s what the Lord did among us: Salvation came to one camper(my great-grandchild), Three other youths were baptized, fifteen volunteers gave of themselves throughout the week to teach bible stories, memory verses, and show the love of God to twenty-eight children. This love turned into fun with a huge water slide, hamster wheel races, dragging “sea weed” from the lake for a free soda, and making crafts. Add the beautiful weather and sweet Spirit, what more could we ask for.
Of course this kind of camp doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many sacrificing hours before the camp ever begins. All this so we can offer camp to the children without charge. For forty-five years, the Lord has built and blessed us with this facility.
Ain’t God Good!
Hope this gives you a reason to rejoice in His goodness today. And to pray for the teen camp coming up. Your prayers and rejoicing make you a part of the work. God bless!
Being true to his character, Jesus gave the scribe more than he asked for when he asked Jesus,
“What is the first commandment of all?”
The Lord gave him two—two which would lead the scribe, and any who live by them, to a victorious life.
“The first of all commandments is,
“HEAR O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORED” AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND, AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH: this is the first commandment.
“And the second is like, namely this,
“THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF.
There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:29-31, KJV
Following these two commandments, as stated in my previous post, would change our world. It happens one by one. Personally, it means each of us can have victory over this world. We, who are born of God by faith, are strengthened to live free from sin’s power and choose righteousness over unrighteousness, choose love over hate.
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ
is born of God:
and every one that loveth him that begat
loveth him also that is begotten of him.
By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God,
and keep his commandments.
For this is the love of God,
that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:
and this is the victory that overcometh the world,
even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
1 John 5:1-5
If we want world peace, we need to fill our personal world with love for God that overflows our hearts into love for others.
How will you show God’s love to others today?
My hope and prayer is that our heavenly Father has used these last couple weeks’ posts to instill, renew, and grow our love for him and one another. If ever in doubt of God’s love for you—look at the cross of Jesus and you will know.
We don’t need to look long or far to know this world falls short of the Lord God’s original creation. School shootings, skyrocketing crime rates, wars, broken families, suicide—all that’s wrong strangles hope with a rope of fear and anxiety. Two simple commandments, if followed, would change the downward spiral of the world into all God created it to be.
“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND, AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this,
THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF.
There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:29,30, KJV
We discussed, in previous posts, the need to love God before tackling the second commandment. But I believe you will agree when we plant these two commandments in our hearts and minds, a new world results. For—
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour:
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Loving another doesn’t allow for—
giving yourself to one who is not your spouse,
or longing for anything with such passion as to gain it at the expense of another—
and this is a brief list of what obeying the second commandment would eliminate from this world. We are warned—
“If ye bite and devour one another,
take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
Galatians 5:14, KJV
When we act like animals toward one another, we all lose. We’ve come to this point because we love others like we love ourselves, which is not love at all.
We place our worth in our—
success as seen by others,
accumulation of riches,
and the world’s accolades—
instead of in the worth God gives us through the love he shows in sacrificing his Son.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God:
therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
1 John 3:1, KJV
Realizing the depth of our heavenly Father’s love gives reason to love ourselves with all our flaws—for God does. Knowing his love, empowers us to transfer his love to ourselves and enables us to love others as God loves us. As Jesus came to show the practical love of the Father, choosing not to please himself but his Father and serve life to those who believe in him, we now can love others in the same way. We are admonished to—
“Let every one of us please his neighbour
for his good to edification.”
Romans 15:2, KJV
My paraphrase: Let us do that which serves the good of our neighbor.
Yes, obeying these two commandments would change the world. Let’s start with our little corner, and see whose world the Lord will change through our loving others as he has loved us.
We have heard it said, the older we get the faster time slips by. Truth is, time is time and moves at the constant pace God ordained it to travel. I’ve concluded, if time hasn’t sped up, then I must be moving slower and find it harder to keep up. Whichever the case, our time on this earth is brief—even if we live to be as old as Methuselah who lived nine hundred sixty-nine years. In light of eternity that is fleeting.
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it:
surely the people is grass.”
The short definition of time found in my Open Study Bible is, “the period between two eternities.” One person pointed out time is the dash on a tombstone—the period between birth and death we call life.
In light of the brevity of life we are instructed to live—
“Redeeming the time,
because the days are evil.
Wherefore be not unwise,
but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
Ephesians 5:16,17, KJV
One major complaint among writers and authors is, “I don’t have time.” No matter when we carve out a plan in our busy schedules to write, the result is the same—interruptions, loss of focus, too much waiting to be done, and feel free to add your own reasons.
We actually believe a lie when we feed our minds those thoughts. There are twenty-four hours in a day, and we choose how we want to spend it, even when the unexpected happens. Yesterday evening I spent close to two hours watching a show that wasn’t profitable. I could have been writing. How do we overcome wasting precious time?
Learn discipline—I’m preaching to myself here.
Set our priorities(What can we say, “no” to in order to say, “yes” to writing.)
Decide how we handle and lessen interruptions based on our priorities.
Recognize when to lay down writing and when to pick it up.
Learn to make time a friend and not an enemy.
Seize the opportunities before you.
Add your own helps to my short list and share them with us. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, says,
“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted …”
Adding to his list of times, there is a time to write and a time lay it down—but don’t lay it down too long—when time is gone, it’s gone. What is your biggest hindrance to actual writing?
This week writing takes a back seat to our Day Camp for children. Please, be understanding if I don’t answer your comments or visit your blogs in a timely manner. Thank you.