ETERNAL INK +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The articles within this publication remain the copyrights of the authors. Any permission to reproduce any article, in any format, must be granted by the author. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Editor-in-Chief of Eternal Ink - Mary-Ellen Grisham - meggy88@... Administrative Editor - David Davis - fishercaster@... Devotions Editor - Annettee Budzban - ahrtwrites2u@... Features Editor - Carl Phillips - CarlPhil10@... Special Materials Editor - Ivie Bozeman - ivie@... Poetry Editor - Elizabeth (Betty) Pearson - roybet630@... Eternal Ink Web Site - www.eternal-ink.com ISSN#: 1528-9605 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Table of Contents 1) Mary-Ellen's Note 2) Devotional Poems for the New Year 3) Devotion 4) Humor 5) Prayer Request 6) Inspiration for the New Year 7) Bible Study Feature 8) Meditation of the Heart 9) Seasonal Feature 10) Memorable Words/ Closing Words ISSN#: l528-9605 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1) Mary-Ellen's Note Many churches have a candle light Christmas Eve service that ends with passing the light. Small white candles are given to each person upon entering the sanctuary, and ushers begin the lighting of the candles for each aisle at the appropriate time. Receiving and passing the light is very meaningful to me because it represents the light of faith and the love of Jesus for each of us. We share our faith and love with our fellow worshipers and symbolically pass the Christmas light of Jesus to each other. After singing several hymns, we extinguish our candles at the end of the service. Before I blow out my candle, I like to think that I am taking the light inside, illuminating myself with Jesus' love to share with others. The Holy Spirit will shine forth from my life throughout the new year with the help of Jesus. We know that Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) Even in the darkest season or the greatest difficulty, we can count on that light to be with us. In joy or sorrow, Jesus is an abiding Presence with us. As we face a new year in the after-glow of Christmas, we can be confident that the Lord himself is walking with us every step of the way. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 2) Devotional Poems for the New Year I SEEK MY MASTER By Gary J. Smith I seek my Master early at awakening of each day My heart breaks forth in praise of Him The Truth, the Life, the Way In presence by His Spirit, I know that preciousness I treasure such that time alone, and care for nothing less Clothed then in His righteousness I begin to do my tasks And wait upon my Lord to bid And do such as He asks Peace such peace the world can't know But only Jesus' friends Peace not only here below but peace that never ends Worship in its truest sense, just my God and I My spirit leaves this world below And soars to yonder sky What joy in the believer, deeper than tongue can sing But that He gives us pleasure of, He is our Everything! In eventide when sun is down and darkness fills the land I still enjoy the presence of my blessed Lord within I thank Him then with soul refreshed, its duty for Him done And close my eyes in prayerfulness, trusting He'll say Well-done! That peacefulness of heart and mind When resting in my Lord Can be the same for everyone, who trusteth in His Word Sure Creator of the world and born the Son to die Has reconciled man to God Come now and draw nigh (c) Gary James Smith Nov 21/2004 garyjamessmith2005@... ++++ A TIME OF NEW BEGINNINGS by Elizabeth Pearson A time of new beginnings, with a slate that's clean and white! A chance to avoid pitfalls of the past and reach to glorious height! Did I learn from mistakes I made, the disappointments I went through? Do I have the desire to change my ways, to challenge myself anew? Do I have the courage to tread new paths, to venture into the unknown? To reach out in untried ways and latent talents hone? Will I spend more time with family and friends and especially with the Lord? Will I fill my thoughts with heavenly goals as I daily feed on His word? Will I reach out to the poor and needy, to provide some financial relief? Or comfort bring to a friend...or foe! as they seek to cope with their grief? Will I pray for others fervently, being faithful to the task? Will I expect my Father's answers as within His will I ask? Will I guard my wayward tongue and cease from idle talk? Will I keep my life free from guile so none can criticize my walk? Will I be able to praise my God for whatever He sends my way? To rest in His sure promise that He'll watch over me ev'ry day? Lord, I know that in all of this I must count on your mighty pow'r -- Then in this new year, my life will be what it should be -- ev'ry hour! (c)2004 Elizabeth Pearson roybet630@... ++++ MORNING WATCH by Ruth J. Blair When I got up this morning, before I went my way, I had a visit with the King and handed Him my day. I did not have to wait in line, had no appointment filed, But went right in before the Throne because I am His child. I told Him of my daily needs, He did not think them small, He told me when I needed Him all I must do is call. So when I left to start my day, I did not feel a care, For when I left the Throne of God, I left my burdens there. TIME OUT by Ruth J. Blair It's impossible to meet with God and be the same again; The time spent in His presence will never be in vain. The little things we lay aside to join Him for an hour, Will certainly be better done, when done within His power. The joys of Heaven will increase, while earthly things grow dim, And those around will surely know that we have been with Him. (c)2004 both poems by Ruth J. Blair +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 3) Devotion God Helps Us Exchange Old Habits for a New Life By Annettee Budzban ". . . What would a man give in exchange for his own soul." Matthew 16:26 (NIV) The holiday shopping frustration has ended. The gifts have all been given. However, there are still some unsettled issues. What about the wrong size of pants, shoes, sweater or ring? Then there are the duplicates of articles; who wants two, three or four of the same kind? You really had a variety of items in mind. So the search for the perfect gift continues. It is time for the exchanges to begin. As we close this year by exchanging our imperfect presents, we go into the new year making resolutions to exchange our old habits for a new way of life. We've heard the list before. It may be left over from last year when we were unsuccessful at making the exchange. We were looking to obtain a perfect weight, quit smoking, stop swearing and be self-controlled, instead of losing our temper so quickly. God understands our need for exchange. To help us He made the greatest exchange known to mankind. He exchanged His own Son, on the cross for our sin and eternal death. Jesus Christ was crucified and our sins have been forgiven for the asking. We must crucify those desires that destroy our soul (our mind, will, and emotions). It's time to tackle that resolution list seriously. When we accept Jesus, we receive the supernatural power of God in us, to help us overcome life's obstacles. We can be strengthened as we keep our eyes on Him, and not our self. By using His principles of diligence, self-control, patience, and prayer, and vowing to ourselves to learn a new way, little by little, we can exchange our old habits for a new life. But, it takes time and painstaking effort. For the acceptance of His Son, God gives us the great exchange to freedom: Jesus came to restore us. The perfect gift, at last, has been found. (c)2004 Annettee Budzban ahrtwrites2u@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 4) Humor SENIORS A college student challenged a senior citizen, saying it was impossible for their generation to understand his. "You grew up in a different world," the student said. "Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers.." Taking advantage of a pause in the student's litany, the geezer said, "You're right. We didn't have those things when we were young; so we invented them! What are you planning on doing for the next generation??" Author Unknown Shared by Ivie Bozeman and Friends +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 5) Prayer Requests Many of you remember Teresa Bateman, the dedicated lady with the prison ministry, who added so many "selected shorts" to Eternal Ink during previous years. We appreciated the light moments and humor she shared with us, and we appreciated the work that she and her husband Mark do with prison inmates. They send many of these prisoners gospel tracts and Christian materials, and they help the inmates submit their own poems and articles for publication. What you may not know is that Mark was laid off his engineering job just before Christmas four years ago, and he and Teresa have had to take whatever work they can get. Because they both suffer from arthritis and Teresa has problems with asthma and high blood pressure, they are trying to sell their home to move to Texas or some place with a warm climate. Through all these personal trials, they have maintained their prison ministry and watched it grow. Please keep this dedicated couple in your prayers, and if you would like to do so, you could contact me (Mary-Ellen Grisham, email in masthead) for information about assisting their ministry. They seek help with postage and ink cartridges for their prison outreach. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 6) Inspiration for the New Year A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her some chips. She gratefully accepted his offer and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!" Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?" She replied! "I ate potato chips in the park with God." However, before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected." Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime! Embrace all equally! Have lunch with God...... bring chips. Author unknown Shared by Ivie Bozeman and her friends ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 7) Bible Study Feature ABRAHAM LAUGHS AT GOD'S JOKE (Names and naming, traditions and covenants) By CARL F. PHILLIPS When God renamed Abram to Abraham and changed Sarai's name to Sara, He revealed not only his authority over them by act of naming them. He also indicated their destiny by the names He assigned to them. Other Biblical characters had significant names, and one even wanted to know God's name. THE I AM THAT AM revealed His identity only at His desire. Genesis 32:29 - (BEGIN ITAL) Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. (END ITAL) Such a request to God is both unworthy and impossible to fulfill. A New Testament instance of re-naming: Mark 3:16 - (BEGIN ITAL) These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter).... (END ITAL) Old Testament precedents and covenants: The Priestly Document's author designates the covenant as "eternal." This recalls the "eternal covenant" with Noah, recorded by the same writer in Genesis 9:1-17. This testifies to the covenant's everlasting character, and to its permanent validity for all time. Furthermore, the requirement of circumcision as a sign of the covenant for Abraham reminds us of the divine institution of the Sabbath at the end of the creation story. Genesis 2:3 - (BEGIN ITAL) And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (END ITAL) True, the word "Sabbath" is not used here, but the Hebrew verb we translate as "rested" is the origin of the Sabbath. In Exodus the first half of this verse is used, except that instead of the word "seventh" the writer says "Sabbath," clearly linking the two. The first Biblical record of a mandatory Sabbath for Israel is during her wanderings in the wilderness. According to Nehemiah, the Sabbath was not a covenant obligation until the law was given at Mount Sinai. The circumcision requirement also reminds us of God prohibiting Noah to eat meat with the blood still in it. Genesis 9:4 - (BEGIN ITAL) "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it." (END ITAL) Twice God underscored the intimate relationship of blood to life when he told Noah "the life of every creature is in its blood." Life is a gift from God, and Noah was forbidden to try to increase his own life force by eating the "life" that is "in the blood". Many pagan people up to that point in time had believed they could increase the power and length of their own lives by eating or drinking blood. Circumcision was to be the sign of the covenant for Abraham and his descendants in the same way the rainbow was the sign of the covenant with Noah. Genesis 9:12-16 - (BEGIN ITAL) And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you; a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth, and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (END ITAL) The same sort of connection exists between the circumcision rite and the revelation of the Sabbath to Moses. Exodus 31:12-17 - Then the Lord said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested." (END ITAL) And the beginning of the covenant with Abraham was as follows: Ishmael would be the father of a great people. Genesis 16:10 - (BEGIN ITAL) The angel added (END ITAL) (to Hagar), (BEGIN ITAL) "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." (END ITAL) Genesis 17:20 - God to Hagar: (BEGIN ITAL) "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation." (END ITAL) But in addition God went on to declare that the child of promise for Abraham would be born of Sarah. And Abraham laughed at this, because Sarah was so old. Genesis 17:17 - (BEGIN ITAL) Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" (END ITAL) And that's how the name "Isaac" came about. It means, literally, "he laughs." Genesis 17:21 - (BEGIN ITAL) "But my covenant I will establish with Isaac; whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." (END ITAL) When God makes a promise that seems impossible, we should do all in our power to suspend our disbelief. God never makes a promise He does not keep. Abraham laughed - but it was God who had the last laugh. Carl Phillips -- Port Isabel, Texas Journalist/Columnist/Speaker Author, THE WESLEYAN WAY -- a weekly Church Page column Features Editor, ETERNAL INK -- http://www.eternal-ink.com/ Note: Carl's use of italic designations helps to eliminate quote mark confusion. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 8) Meditation of the Heart TRANSMITTING THE MESSAGE (an excerpt) By Inez B. Norwood I know of a congregation in a nearby city who was asked by a cell phone company to install a steeple on their church building. Though there were no plans in the near future for a steeple, such an addition to their building opened up some possibilities for needed expansion. Not only would that company install the steeple, they would pay some rental sum to the church for that chance for their transmitter. In reading of this "favor," I thought that there might be a likelihood of cell phone conversations breaking through the speaker systems. Now this might not always be desirable! It is likely that an unwanted message will be heard. In thinking of the above arrangement, it occurs to me that every sermon and lesson taught in that building must continue to always be true to God's Word. The leaders were careful to make sure no transmission of phone messages would be added via the public address system. There are those who are careful to know that the message going out is only from God's Word. That is not true everywhere. I often hear messages by religious leaders on television that do not meet that criteria. One popular doctrine has to do with "the Rapture". The term is not to be found in the Scriptures. In fact the teachings are in direct opposition to God's Word. The many facets of that modern "doctrine" have glaring errors as they are carefully examined! If you are worshiping with a group of people teaching "foreign" doctrines, you should seek another place to worship where God's word is respected. We are exhorted to search out truth and abide by it! The early Christians were careful in this regard: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."(1 John 4:1) A group of people commended for doing this was the church at Berea: "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:1) The foreign doctrine mentioned above - the Rapture - teaches that the Lord will come secretly and take the saints away. What can we do with the verses which plainly teach that at the second coming of Jesus, every eye will behold Him? "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Rev. 1:7) After the resurrection of Jesus, He had gathered with his apostles in Jerusalem and was taken away to Heaven. The men were astounded and they gazed into heaven as He went away: "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) (c)2004 Inez B. Norwood vibn@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 9) Seasonal Feature THE GIFT OF TIME By Ivie Bozeman Endings are often regarded as sad. There is a reluctance to part with the known and venture into the unknown. However, a New Year is usually viewed differently. After taking inventory of the Old Year with its joys and sorrows, the New Year is seen as an opportunity. It is an anticipated happy adventure, another chance to move forward and make improvements. Stretching ahead is a new road, just waiting for the new dreams and ideas to pave the way to a better tomorrow. Will we enter the New Year alert and expectant in the present moment, seeking what it brings of new life and challenge? Will we see the new beginning as a gift given by our loving Creator? In our time-conscious world, going through the transition period between years, we inevitably reflect on how quickly time passes. However, this outlook is not a new development of the computer age. Job expressed his concerns in Verse 7:6: "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle." In our busy age, we tend to let this rapid procession of days become our enemy rather than a friend. Time is viewed today as a limited commodity. In each day we have twenty-four hours, each week 168 hours and each year 8,736 hours. How we use these hours depends on each individual. The ticking clock of the days and years is a reminder of what is past, never to be relived. It is also a reminder of what lies ahead. It is not surprising that often people feel exhausted as if they are racing against the clock to fill every moment with what seems important. What would it mean in our lives if we viewed each day and each moment as if it were enough in itself? What if one saw each moment and each hour filled with God's loving presence? This would turn time into an opportunity, a privilege and a fulfillment. Time viewed from the perspective of our relationship with God is a different approach. Each moment is God's gift to us. What we do with this moment is our gift to God. When time is viewed in this manner, one does not run unthinkingly from one experience to another. To do so, would be to miss what God is offering in the present. God is offering hope, determination, grit, awareness, vigilance and love. When we accept God's gifts to us, we can meet the New Year with purpose. We need to cultivate the gift of LOVE--love of God, family, job, country, neighbors and world. Then, we need to respond to these gifts with gratitude--gratitude for the freedoms we have, the friendships we enjoy, the promise that each new day holds. Thankfulness is the oil that lubricates the joints of life and keeps them moving. Gratitude is best expressed through a simple "Thank you." God has blessed each of us with an abundance of creativity. During the year, if boredom sets in or obstacles arise, we can dip into the imagination and find a way around the problems that face us. Using our gifts creates respect from others, which enriches life throughout the year. We are not to draw a circle around our part of the world, but to reach out and help others, extend our horizons by being unselfish and stretching ourselves in new directions toward new ideas, new viewpoints and new goals. We are to realize that time does not control our destiny. God does. He is the ruler of our days. He helps to structure each moment, redeem each hour, and extend the days, weeks and months into worthwhile opportunities that move us forward. Once we let God take control, we find that time becomes richer and more productive. The apostle John's promise is that "Perfect love drives out fear." Jesus spoke to his storm-tossed disciples with the reassuring words, "Fear not, I am." We need not fear the passing of time if our days are rich with God's purposes. Our new years will become old years with a growing sense of accomplishment, and before we can ponder or worry, we'll be anticipating another New Year with the joy of new possibilities and opportunities. (c)2004 Ivie Bozeman ivie@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 10) Memorable Words/Closing Words "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick: and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5: 14-16) If you have found joy or inspiration, light or truth in this issue of Eternal Ink, we hope that you will share a copy with a friend or neighbor. To subscribe to Eternal Ink, send a blank email to eternal_ink-subscribe@... To unsubscribe, send a blank email to eternal_ink-unsubscribe@... Until our next issue, may the light of God's love dwell in you richly, Mary-Ellen. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ WE ARE PROUD TO BE PARTNERS WITH TEENS4JESUS AND LIVING2SERVE. -- To unsubscribe, send ANY message to: eternal_ink-unsubscribe@... A proud member of the ArkWebs<http://www.arkwebs>ministry team.