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I sincerely hope the ARCC can maintain the loyalty of past donors and volunteers and engage the help of new supporters to get through what must be an unbearably difficult situation for everyone involved, including Mr. It's natural to lash out in anger when you feel you've been betrayed, but attacking agency friends based on your limited knowledge of their role is counter productive.

I also hope all of this bad press will not cause the Junior League to hesitate in approving any grant request from the ARCC that may be pending. Their help is needed now more than ever. Editor: Ba Humbug! The reaction of ex-disgruntled employees is so predictable! I was not surprised to find their names and those of their cohorts sprawled all over your article. In thinking through a succinct response I find myself struggling between addressing the forest or the trees. The distortions in the details are so numerous that it would take a sequel to your article, thus I've opted for the forest.

Despite the recent budgetary cuts ARCC is presently operating at a level of maximum efficiency and professionalism. Our ratings, both from survivors and funders, has never been higher. The current staff is the most skilled we have ever had. We are all thankful to Ginger Eways ED for the "housecleaning" she's done which has allowed us to move on with the important mission of this agency. It is indeed unfortunate that programs like Outreach and Public Education were altered. But, contrary to the implications of your article, they have not been eradicated. The counseling program has been expanded because that is where the need has been assessed to be.

To ask survivors to wait six months for services, as has sometimes been true in the past, because we have "outreach" to do, would be unconscionable. Lacking the resources for dealing with all rape-related problems, focusing on the "aftermath" of rape, as the "exes" accuse us of doing, is exactly what we need to be doing. The "anti-multiculturalism" allegations are unfounded. We now serve more ethnic and racial populations than at any time since I have been at the agency.

Our statistics speak loudly to our ongoing commitment to serving all populations. This inability to distinguish between symbol and substance and to focus on those in greatest need is why the "exes" protest the difficult but sound changes at ARCC. Good riddance to them! With their departure we no longer have to battle distractions and concentrate on the "real" work to be done. Understanding this concern quite well, I thought I would respond and let these people and others know the reality of this issue.

There are items that are taken up before the City Council formally convenes for their session. The proclamations, live music, and the invocation are some of these items. Those who see the prayer session as part of the meeting and cite the separation of church and state as a valid basis to criticize the council are wrong to do so. You see, the Mayor does not formally call the meeting to order until after the invocation is presented.

Therefore, there is no law broken nor rules or regulations infringed upon since the ministerial invocation is not done as part of the actual meeting. If those who criticize the Council for this would bother to do their homework and pick up a City Council agenda, they would turn the cover page over and immediately see the "Order of the Meeting" listed. There, they would see that the invocation precedes the meeting which is called to order at 1pm.

I do hope this clears up the perception that the invocation is an integral part of the Council meeting. I'm sure members of more than a few of the bands you did mention would acknowledge their influence. The Flying Saucers were trafficking in the effects-heavy post-My Bloody Valentine thing as far back as Recommended are their two CDs, which are still floating around the record stores now.

Andy Schell Father Scott Dinger? The spirituality of art, music, and film cannot be left out. There are times when I get lethargic and dismal. Fear and inertia tempt me to explore darkness, to expand loneliness. Beyond the mild depression, beyond functional lethargy. Become immobile? It is too dangerous and I have too much responsibility. I suppose it is how death is tempting. The senses are overloaded with annoyances and the desire to make it all still and quiet is enormous. Back to the world of illusion; of care taking, of work, of comfort and pleasure.

The middle world of time and measured space. Go beyond that, to the other extreme: art. And the art and the darkness may meet: Sometimes art is the way to get into the darkness from other direction. Truly the better and more difficult way. It is simple to lie still and despair. To drift into madness. Simple and tempting. One can go there with pure self will. The other way requires the help of the muses or gods. Faith and risk must be explored. Either way, the middle world must be left from time to time. The world that nags at us like a needy child. I see the need to go to a church or temple from time to time.

Transcendence to another reality. I go to the theater often, a temple of sorts, to be included for those so disposed. The dark intimate space, thrown together in community with others of like mind. All desiring to transcend and receive inspiration, or escape. The joining of darkness and higher illusion.

The good filmmaker the priest. I'm driving home afterwards. The world seems somehow different. I turn on the car radio and an old world aria is playing. The space in the car is transformed. I watch the hands on the steering wheel and the forehead in the reverse mirror as if I were observing someone else. The illusion spreads or do I only realize that my life is the illusion? I want to grasp it, to watch each moment, to be here often.

Is there a religion that can put me there? I would gladly embrace it. But I only find it in the temple of the theatre, the private meditation of painting or being carried off by a lofty cello. It stated that an " Americana station in Dallas is scheduled to go on the air in January. Several months ago I wrote the Chronicle after a "Dancing About Architecture" column referred to Americana but failed to mention the station nominated for "Southwest Americana Station of the Year. Santa Fe? Try 75 miles west in Fredericksburg. Those lucky enough to be able to tune to KFAN is smart enough to mix their own idea of good music along with the format they were playing this stuff six years ago before it was a format , so we get to hear other music, and local artists that Austin radio plays rarely or totally ignores.

Even KUT rarely plays these guys. Many have dropped in for interviews and to plug their shows. It hurts to see Chronicle articles that mention the Americana Format but neglect to acknowledge this station. Austin area radio is the best in the U. Go west of town, and Americana is alive and well at I don't care what format they call it, their blend of truly likable music has me hooked. They had a wonderful, supportive presence at Kerrville Folk Festival.

I first spun my radio dial all the way to You'll get a chance to hear this Americana format that Jim Caliguri described in the last Chronicle , and hear Texas radio at its best. According to official Texas Department of Public Safety data, they are relatively unsafe compared to most other Texas urban areas and are rapidly becoming more so.

These are the latest DPS numbers available. Specifically, the per capita rate of traffic fatalities within Travis County is about 1. This compares unfavorably with the Houston area Harris County which still had a considerably lower fatality rate of just under one death per 10, residents, although Houston's fatalities are themselves increasing fairly rapidly.

If our roads were as safe as Houston area roads, there would be about 30 less fatalities per year in Travis County. This is roughly comparable to the 40 or so yearly total murders in Travis County. To solve these murders, 12 homicide investigators are assigned. In contrast, not one person nor any governmental budget has been assigned to study and identify the causes of the excess traffic fatalities in Travis County.

Nor are there any federal or state or local requirements to earmark any portion of Austin area transportation planning funds to study traffic safety. Unless we assume that there has been a most unlikely epidemic of drunken driving in Texas cities, about the only reasonable explanation for such an increase is to admit that we are overloading our urban roadways at the expense of safety. There is a tendency for agencies like TxDOT and DPS to focus public attention on individual drivers, and especially drunken drivers, as the main cause of traffic fatalities.

Drunk drivers are indeed involved in a high percentage of accidents, but the most likely explanation is that as the roads become more overloaded and unsafe and tricky to drive on, impaired drivers are likely to stand out in the safety statistics. The fact that our roads are becoming inherently unsafe gets overlooked when we focus on drivers as the primary factor.

The fact is that new roads are designed to meet official standards only at the time they are designed and that even these designs may not always maximize safety. Unfortunately, roads can gradually turn into death traps due to increasing traffic volumes, as now seems to be happening to the central Austin portion of I There are no retroactive requirements to review or upgrade these roads to meet current standards.

It is incorrect to imply that many individual traffic engineers are not very concerned about safety. The problem is better described by saying that the politics of transportation does not put much emphasis on maximizing safety for motorists, to say nothing of bicyclists and pedestrians. The primary goal of Austin area transportation planners seems to be on trying to synchronize traffic lights or to build and widen new roads to squeeze more cars onto Austin roads.

This emphasis tends to satisfy suburban land developers who demand roadway capacity into Austin to help sell suburban houses, but the cumulative effect is that many lives, especially those of suburban residents who must drive the farthest, are being sacrificed. Thus the political establishment distracts public attention from the true cause of the deaths that actually result from a lack of emphasis on transportation alternatives and land use development policies that could optimize overall safety. The bottom line is that if you want to get away with negligent homicide in Travis County, the best way may be to become a transportation planner.

At least you'll have a lot of friends in high places willing to help out. My sweetie and I didn't expect anything special when we awoke on Christmas morning. We hadn't decorated a tree or wrapped gifts. It was just going to be another day off, biking to Town Lake to play around, then stuffing our faces at some eatery. But we had scarcely put our clothes on when we noticed a deep, awesome quiet. Where was that droning, relentless machine noise that always throbs along in Austin? I was amazed when I took the recumbent trike out to get the cat a can of food.

A no-cars Christmas magic had settled on the streets. It had blown away the acrid clouds of exhaust gases. A note of goodwill could be heard in the silent distances. A couple of cars appeared now and then, but they seemed less like a churning tidal force, bashing away at our doorsteps, and more like plain folks just trying to pilot a huge chunk of machinery through a public space. I felt so good that I got right on 45th Street and took the whole darn lane. It was great.

Riding our recumbent two-wheelers down to the lake was equally as grand. Even as we flew about searching for some food, we felt more wonder than hunger. The peace and serenity of that sublime no-cars Christmas was the best present I'd ever received. So thanks again, Austin, for that magical no-cars Christmas!

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From your human-powered pal, Mike Librik Clearing the Air Dear Editor, Thank you to Nelson England for continuing to reward Chronicle readers with informative articles on local transportation and environmentally related issues. His updates on the decisions made by the Austin Transportation Study Policy Advisory Committee fill a void in the community for this extremely important information on how federal transportation money is spent. The current ground level ozone standard is. For accuracy purposes the standard is not parts per billion ppb because of mathematical rounding.

For example, measurements in the range of ppb round to. This same rounding formula is applied to the longer measurement time proposed by the EPA of eight hours instead of the current one hour measurement time for ozone levels. If for three consecutive years the average specified daily eight-hour maximum ozone concentration exceeds. Whole numbers are more easily understood, i.

As stated, asthmatics and people with chronic lung diseases bronchitis, emphysema, etc. Over 3, studies have been published on the health and ecological effects of ozone since the late s and, according to the EPA, many of them show adverse health effects at lower levels than the current standard of. Improvement of our national health is reason enough to lower the ozone standard to. Ozone is only one of six criteria air pollutants that the EPA monitors. Particulate matter is another standard they are proposing to lower in order to better protect human health.

The health risks from exposure to particulate matter may be as great or greater than those of ozone. Please show your desire to have the ozone and particulate matter standards lowered to better protect human health by contacting your federal legislators. These individuals, being so engrossed in their own desires, are so self-centered that they should not be in a position of government.

Could it be that the ones at fault are the ones that empowered said individuals? In opposition to and regardless of my personal convictions and ideals, the Constitution states " One might also educate themselves with a dictionary and note that religion does not equate God; religion does not equate prayer. The problem was not the prayer, but the deliverer was a minister. I think he is being a cowardly hypocrite and a whore for doing this because I do not believe he has all of a sudden adopted the so-called family values.

But there is one sure-fire way to prove that you are now a true believer in the Christian morality: Stop selling lottery tickets, too. Gambling hurts families. Poor people spend money on lottery tickets and deny their kids food and clothing. And then you need to stop selling the evil alcohol which has caused countless thousands of tragedies. In fact, I wonder how many Christians on the way from home to church or back were killed by drunks who bought their alcohol at Diamond Shamrock and Stop 'N Go. In fact, I hereby demand that all Diamond Shamrock and Stop 'N Go stop selling lottery tickets and alcohol immediately.

I guess that shtick didn't work since they decided to establish themselves as "KLBJ Junior" as one morning show calls it. Chances for success: nil. First, I believe it is the first letter he has had printed that doesn't focus on his usual obsession, i. More significantly, I found to my horror that for the first time, I partially agreed with him, specifically in his praise for Michael Ventura's wonderful column entitled "An Off-Key Carol". Ventura is an impassioned writer with whom I frequently and passionately disagree.

But his Christmas ruminations fascinated me with his earnest attempt to reconcile two apparently contradictory interpretations of Christ's message: on the one hand, condemnation of sin, and on the other, teaching tolerance, love, and understanding. I have struggled with this apparent duality throughout much of my life, and was truly taken with the eloquence of Mr.

Ventura's writing. Apparently, so was Mr. The irony here is that Mr. Standiford's previous catalog of letters has always come down firmly on the side of condemnation, with withering sarcasm, virulent hatred, and self-righteousness as him main weaponry tools which are still in evidence in his third paragraph.

I wonder, did he really agree with Mr. Ventura or did he just miss the point? I anxiously await the day when Mr. Standiford writes anything which might demonstrate that he knows something about love. I suppose there is a first time for everything, and I hold out some hope that it's not too late for him. Reynolds disputed the numbers, pointing out that Green Pastures co-owner Ken Koock had said that the restaurant can only hold people.

But what Reynolds failed to mention was the huge overflow of hundreds of people onto the south and east lawns of Green Pastures. It was a festive occasion, a perfectly beautiful night, with the moon filtering through the tall oak trees. Parents played with their kids outdoors and visited with old and new friends.

As it happened, I grew up at Green Pastures in the s and s, before my aunt Mary Faulk Koock fancied it up and converted the house into a restaurant in In the last 50 years, I've attended many affairs at Green Pastures. This was the largest crowd I have ever seen there, bar none. The ample parking area was overflowing, and cars were parked for two and three blocks down all the side streets. What was even more impressive was the wide diversity of the people in attendance. Environmentalists and members of the business community, members of organized labor and CEOs; and Old Austin and newly arrived Austinites were represented.

What they shared in common was a love and concern for the future of Austin. And they want to see Kirk Watson elected as Austin's new mayor. Sincerely yours, Anne C. The diversity was interesting and informative. I was raised a Catholic. Was Agnostic through college and most of my 20s. Started looking for answers down the psychic path in my early 30s that ultimately led me to a personal relationship with God, the Father and Mother, which I hold today. It is only through personal relationship that we can know God; but it is through church activity that we gain community in thanksgiving with others and find the way to love one another.

While it is true, there is much contamination in the world of religion and intolerance toward those who do not hold the same religious or spiritual belief we do; yet it is truer, that at the core of every international belief system, something greater than we, resides. In those systems, for the most part, are the same moral and ethical standards. After a 30 year absence, I returned to the Catholic Church not because I support their political policies, but I know no other place where I can be in the company of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the angels, and all the saints.

What a support system, and as far as I know of religious organizations, it's the only place that offers this. I love Mass and communion, too. I am also a fan of contemplative prayer and meditation. I've always felt a deep root connection with my brethren of color. My soul has ached for their plight. The people there were kind, friendly, helpful, and definitely feeling the spirit.

What a healing. I know that this kind of coming together happens all over and by people who are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, and those which I have not mentioned. It's not about dogma. It's about acceptance and loving one another.

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Maybe that sounds trite, but consider the alternative. Whether it is in a garden or in a church, we must quiet ourselves and feel the presence of that which is greater. Truly, we are one, and there is one, whatever you choose to call it, that is greater than we. Peace, tolerance, acceptance, justice, compassion, and love for Judy Richardson P. Thanks for your help to Casa Marianella and all the other worthwhile and otherwise overlooked non-profits. God bless you! And pleasurable. And transfiguring. And a whole complex array of burdens and satisfactions or better, of burdens which are also satisfactions, and vice-versa.

Here in Austin, however, in this most Jewishly enervated and Jewishly inert of cities, it's mostly just hard. And thus, was it conscious irony or not that led you to select a piece on "Jewish in Austin" by somebody who doesn't even live here? Worse yet, a stereotype-pleaser deluxe! Most egregiously of all in this formerly New York-but-now- Austin-Jew's book? Who needs Philip Roth? Or else, I turn the pages to see the counter-photos of Priest, Reverend, Methodist roofers, Judge, Pastor, Choir-director, and Buddhist practictioner, and I ask myself, "What's wrong with this picture?

And even here, the contrast is instructive: the photo is of her father, not of the self-involved self times two. All power to Gozonsky's current Jewish experience in Los Angeles which "involves gradually doing something," though he's not sure what. But can the Chronicle take tip from him? The next time it serves up a story about "Jewish in Austin," instead of some gefilte fish appetizer about " Feeling Jewish" the article head on page 2 can we get a heartier, more filling dare I say "exquisitely finer" main-course about doing Jewish , or better, living Jewish by someone who actually resides here?

Come on! It's not that hard to be a Jew here that you need a byline from someplace else. Jeroboam appointed his own priests and worshiped animal idols ; cf. Therefore, the priests and Levites headed south, and Jerusalem and the temple remained the spiritual heart of the divided nation. A wise application from today's devotional is to consider carefully from whom you seek advice.

Rather than heed the reasonable counsel of experienced men, Rehoboam chose to follow the advice of his peers. Inexperienced or immature? Proud or aggressive? We don't really know. But their advice was foolish and the results of following it proved disastrous. Are the counselors in your life more like them or more like the first set? Make sure you listen to the truth-tellers God has put into your life. This revolt must have seemed to be the result of an unfortunate mistake on the part of the ill-advised young king.

He and the young men that gathered around him thought that the best way of ruling people was by showing a strong hand, and adopting a policy of non-compliance; with their very natural requests. To detect this Divine purpose lying beneath the cross-currents of human affairs is the prerogative of the saints. In a recent book, the Duke of Argyll has argued from the purpose-iveness of nature.

With as much certainty we may apply that word to history, politics, the course of current events. All is under law. God doeth according to His will among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. Let us trust in this Almighty Providence, which underlies all events and catastrophes, and pursues its beneficent objects undeterred by our sins.

He makes the wrath of man to praise Him, and weaves the malignant work of Satan into His plans. All the tribes were represented in those great convocations around the Temple and Ark of God. The territory of the northern tribes was now under Jeroboam; the gulf between the two kingdoms was marked and distinct. Everything was done by the son of Nebat to make it difficult for his people to cross the frontier; but their spiritual affinities prevailed.

In spite of everything, those whose hearts were set on seeking the Lord God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord God of their fathers. Does not this foreshadow the unity of the Church of Christ? Territorial distinctions, the risk of incurring disfavor, the necessity of making a sacrifice, these things are as nothing compared with the attraction of our common Lord. Amid wide disunion and disparity of every kind, there is one mighty bond which draws believers of every nation, kindred, tribe, and people together.

Eating of one Bread, we know that we are one Loaf; drinking of one Cup, we profess our indebtedness to the same precious Blood for our hope and ground of acceptance 1 Corinthians , r. We must set our hearts, if we desire to execute any great purpose in our life: otherwise we shall be daunted and checkmated by the strong opposition of men and things.

Gerhard Brinkmann, 88, was visiting a friend's grave site in the town of Halberstadt, Germany. A young man approached him and demanded his money and watch. That's the way today's story ends as well—with an unlikely victory that upon investigation seemed bound to happen. Because Rehoboam had led the nation away from covenant obedience, God allowed Judah to be defeated in battle by Shishak, king of Egypt This event is corroborated in secular history, since Shishak had a relief carved on the wall of a temple in Thebes to memorialize his victory. The passage makes clear that the size of the armies and the number of mercenaries involved was irrelevant to the outcome.

The reason for the defeat was covenantal, not military. When Shemaiah the prophet arrived with a message from the Lord, the king repented and the nation was rescued, but not entirely. There were lessons to be learned , but this event was enough of a lesson for Rehoboam's lifetime. His son Abijah, though evaluated negatively on the whole, still had enough sense to appeal to the covenant to rebuke Jeroboam and his idolatry , ; cf. As a result, despite being the smaller country with the smaller army, he won a decisive military success.

The huge number killed clearly indicates divine intervention, again driving home the lesson that victory and defeat are in the hands of the Lord. This defeat broke the back of Jeroboam's power and prevented him from causing any further trouble. God taught Rehoboam a humbling lesson by allowing him to be defeated in battle and making him watch foreigners cart away some of the treasures from Solomon's temple.

Perhaps there has been a time in your life when God taught you a similar humbling lesson. In response to today's passage, reflect and write about this lesson in your spiritual journal or diary. What did God want to teach you through that painful experience? How do you look back on it now and see His goodness at work? In the margin of the A. The R. Before temptation comes we almost always have a warning of some kind. The barometer falls; the sea birds come in to the shore; the leaves of the trees are bent back.

The Spirit of God contrives to give the soul some signal that at any moment it may expect an assault.

Two Kinds of Treasure (2/2) - Bayless Conley

The question always is at such a time, Is the heart set on seeking and doing the will of God? All day the thunder of its artillery may boom around, but from every side the foe will be repelled, until presently the storm will roll far down the wind. If, on the other hand, there is any vacillation; if, whilst ostensibly avowing our determination to do the right thing, we secretly whisper in our deepest consciousness that we intend to go as far as we can in self-indulgence, and would be almost thankful if circumstances compelled us to yield— we are almost certain to fall.

The will must be whole in its resolves; the heart must be consecrated in its most secret determinations; no traitor may be harbored, who may open the postern gate. But this steadfastness is one of those preparations of the heart which can only be obtained through the gracious indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The point for us to remember is that our enemies may shut us in on all sides, preventing reinforcements from north, south, east, and west; but no earthly power can ever shut off God from above us.

The way upward is always kept clear; the ladder which links the beleaguered soul with God and heaven can never be blocked, except by transgression and sin. The Priest is always with thee, child of God. His help is always at hand. The battle is often before and behind. From behind come memories of past failure, the consequences of mistakes, the misunderstandings which have alienated us from others, and made it difficult for us to live as we would; on the other hand perplexities and anxieties seem to bar our future path.

But when the battle is before and behind, remember that God besets His people behind and before, and covers them with His hand. The invisible film of His protection makes the soul invulnerable. The life that is hid with Christ in God is beyond the reach of harm. In the early s, he used colloquial language, applied modern business methods to organizing evangelistic crusades, and won an estimated , converts. As Billy Sunday brought revival to many American towns and cities, so in today's reading King Asa brought revival to Judah. We're not told how he became a true believer, but it seems that there were still God-worshipers in leadership positions who influenced him toward obedience.

From the very start of his reign, Asa battled idolatry, tried to remove the high places used for idolatry, and led the nation in seeking the Lord. God gave him a decade of peace to carry out these reforms, then enabled him to face a military threat from Egypt. Zerah, the Egyptian general, worked for Osorkon I, son of Shishak, who invaded Judah in order to recreate his father's victories and win glory for himself.

But this time the results were quite different. Asa prayed for God's help and asked that His glory would win the victory Though the king tried to remove the high places, it appears he was unsuccessful. He could tear down altars, but he couldn't root out faithlessness from people's hearts. Against what might have been very natural discouragement, God sent a prophet named Azariah about whom nothing else is known to encourage and exhort the king to redouble his efforts In response, Asa called a national assembly during the Feast of Weeks Pentecost , during which the covenant was renewed.

He also showed his uncompromising commitment to the Lord by punishing his own grandmother for her idolatry One king leads a revival, the next strays back into idolatry. What general truths can. Remind God of His entire responsibility. There was a million of men in arms against him, beside three hundred chariots. It seemed impossible to hold his own against that vast multitude. There were no allies who would come to his help: his only hope therefore was in God. There was none beside to help. It may be that your difficulties have been allowed to come to so alarming a pitch, that you may be compelled to renounce all creature aid, to which in lesser trials you have had recourse, and cast yourself back on your Almighty Friend.

Put God between yourself and the foe. Nor was he mistaken.

Our God is Jehovah of Hosts, who can summon unexpected reinforcements at any moment to the aid of His people. Believe that He is there between you and your difficulty, and what baffles you will flee before Him, as clouds before the gale. Identify your cause with His. Let not man prevail against Thee.

There is this difference between it and the covenants which we make with God. That is permanent, these evanescent. That is founded upon the oath and promise of God; these on the resolutions and endeavors of man. That is full of promises of what God will be and do; these recount what we are prepared to sacrifice and suffer. And though we sign them with blood drawn from our veins, they will disappoint and fail.

Do not think too much of entering into and keeping a covenant with God; but remember that the Lord Jesus, on our behalf, has entered into covenant relation with the Father, and the Father with us in Him. This is the new covenant. It is drawn out at length in Hebrews 8. Nothing is said of our fidelity to our obligations, because man has been too often weighed in the balances and found wanting; and because the Lord Jesus Christ, as our representative, has already fulfilled all the conditions of obedience and devotion on which its provisions depend.

He has also graciously undertaken to realize those conditions by the Holy Spirit in us. Every time we put to our lips the cup of the new covenant, we humbly remind God of all He has promised, and ask Him to do as He has said. And what He did for our fathers, who were naturally just such as we are, He will certainly do for us. Were not the Libyans a mighty army? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. The border between Canada and Alaska is another 1, miles. It is known as the longest, undefended border in the world, and is rather a historical anomaly.

Typically countries have resorted to elaborate fortifications to keep their neighbors out—examples include the Maginot Line constructed by France along their border with Germany and the Great Wall in China; in the case of the former East Germany, a country built a notorious wall to keep their citizens from fleeing. King Baasha of the northern kingdom of Israel also tried to solve his border problem with fences and fortifications. Because Jerusalem had been the capital city of Israel, and the temple the nation's spiritual center, a steady stream of northern defectors had been crossing south to Judah.

Baasha aimed to put a stop to that. In response, Asa, instead of calling on the Lord as he had done when faced with the Egyptian threat, hired Syrian troops to invade Israel from the north. He assumed Baasha couldn't fight a two-front war and would have to withdraw.

And he was right—he was even able to take the fortification materials and use them to build up his own defenses. Smart move, right? There's no indication Asa sought the Lord or took counsel from any prophet or priest. Asa made a bad situation worse by lashing out in pride and anger, imprisoning Hanani and oppressing the people. His stubborn rebelliousness persisted through a later personal health crisis, and he died unrepentant.

It is clearly but sadly recorded that Asa put his trust in Ben-Hadad's troops rather than in the Lord. What had happened to his earlier faith and boldness? We don't know exactly, but first love growing cold is a trap that can spring on anyone cf. Perhaps it already has you in its grip. The emphasis is clearly on the word perfect. That was the point between Hanani the seer, and Asa the king. Evidently he did not perfectly trust the delivering power of God; and in this failure of his faith, he forfeited the all-sufficient help which would have more than availed.

What a mistake to send to Syria! Now, dear reader, this is very pertinent for your life and mine. We often complain that we are. And all the while the eyes of the Lord are looking pitifully and longingly at us. Nothing would give Him greater pleasure than to show Himself strong on our behalf. This, however, He cannot do until renouncing all other confidants and helpers, our heart is perfect in the simplicity and frankness of its faith.

What an exquisite thought is suggested by the allusion to the eyes of the Lord running to and fro throughout the whole earth. At a glance He takes in our position; not a sorrow, trial, or temptation visits us without exciting His notice and loving sympathy. In all the whole wide earth there is not one spot so lonely, one heart so darkened, as to escape those eyes.

The Creeping Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education

Oh for the perfect confidence which will allow Him to act! It is for lack of this that we remain unhelped, and spend our days in the midst of wars and tumults. You know what happens when weeds start growing in your yard, don't you? They spread slowly, and eventually you eliminate them all on the first try with an inexpensive weedkiller from the local Wal-Mart, right?

The truth is you procrastinate a bit, and before you know it they've taken over the back half of the yard. You try a weedkiller, but it seems to have no effect. Then a new kind of weed springs up in a different part of the yard. You go buy more serious chemicals after consultations at the hardware store. And so the battle continues.

Idolatry was like that in Judah. The more a king tried to stamp it out, the more it seemed to spring up or spread anew. Like his father Asa, King Jehoshaphat started strong, following the ways of the Lord and fighting idolatry v. God rewarded him with peace and prosperity.

Obedience doesn't guarantee positive outcomes, but they would have reminded the nation that covenant obedience brought blessings while disobedience brought judgment. In addition, this time of peace would have been a direct contrast with the later years of Asa, during which God punished Judah with war. In effect, He used the events of history, which illustrates His unending sovereignty, to call the nation back to Himself.

Jehoshaphat understood that one key to spiritual thriving is God's Word. Knowledge of it can be the first step towards revival. So he also sent out priests, Levites and government officials to teach or re-teach people the Scriptures and to remind them about God's covenant with His people and His care for them through history. The king's census was a bit puzzling, as the numbers seem high.

It might be a count of available men, not active duty soldiers. Thanks to modern technology, that same opportunity exists today! Moody, for example, has a far-reaching program that provides Bible courses in a variety of formats. To learn about the options, visit www. Sursum corda! Lift up your hearts! It is possible, and it is meet and right, to lift up our hearts from the sordid cases and pressing responsibilities of daily life, into the calm, serene presence of God our Father.

Lift up your heart to God, as a child its face to be kissed. Lift it up free from mistrust and sinful stain, and unkind feeling toward any. Lift it up in holy joy and inspiration. Lift it up as a censer filled with the hot coals, from which sweet fragrance exhales. And God will bend down to lift it higher, and fill it with His peace and joy and purity. In hours of depression look up, be lifted.

When the foe is pressing you most severely, look up, your redemption draweth nigh. When the river has to be crossed, when the last farewell must be said, when the flesh fails, let your mind and heart thither ascend, and there continually dwell where Jesus has entered as your Forerunner. If you would lift up your heart, you must be in the ways of the Lord, as the good Jehoshaphat.

You must seek the Lord God, and walk in His commandments. You must take away the high places and groves of idolatry and impurity. Shake yourself from the bands and bonds that would detain you. Oh, heart of mine, why is thy flight so low? Lift thyself up and sit down with Christ in the heavenly places! Let not mine enemies triumph over me! Near the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in J. Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frodo the hobbit faced a difficult choice.

He stood at a crossroads. He had been traveling with his companions toward an evil land to destroy a powerful ring. This second option was actually the correct one, and Frodo made the right choice and went on alone. In a similar way, Jehoshaphat stood at a crossroads in today's reading. Would he continue following the Lord or would he go down the road of his neighbor Ahab?

He had married a son to one of Ahab's daughters, thereby forming an alliance When Ahab proposed to make it a military alliance, he honored and flattered Jehoshaphat by throwing him a banquet. False versus true prophecy is serious business, as even Ahab knew though apparently Zedekiah did not. He reluctantly sent for Micaiah. Ahab moved forward anyway and God's words came true.

God was sending Jehoshaphat the equivalent of a billboard with flashing lights! Micaiah's truth was mostly wasted on Ahab, but Jehoshaphat could have listened and responded. He unwisely joined in the battle with Ahab anyway, but eventually took the prophetic words to heart. Jehu's godly rebuke further showed him his error and helped keep him from heading down the wrong road In today's reading, Jehoshaphat came to a crossroads—a defining experience, his response to which would set the course for the rest of his life. No doubt you've been faced with several such crossroads times in your life as well.

As we did several days ago, we encourage you today to reflect on and write about one such experience in your spiritual journal or diary. Consider the choice, its implications, God's guidance, the motivation for your eventual decision, and the results as you can see them so far. Fake goods do serious damage to world economies.

Drugs and medicines, shoes, toys, cosmetics, electronics, and auto parts are just some of the items being ripped off and sold as the genuine article. Fake goods hurt legitimate businesses, and false prophets undercut true religion. But Jehoshaphat was not satisfied, and even Ahab saw right through their shameless flattery. So a real prophet of God, Micaiah, was sent for. Micaiah arrived to find two kings in their royal robes in a public setting near the city gate, and a gaggle of false prophets, including the dramatic and creative Zedekiah, foretelling victory. Even the messenger tried to hint which way the wind was blowing.

But Micaiah, as a man of integrity and purity of purpose, could speak only what God said v. He prophesied that the battle would be lost and Ahab killed. He even laid bare the spiritual dynamics of the situation, labeling the false prophets as demonic agents permitted by God to entice Ahab to his doom v. That was his calling and his purpose. Of course, Micaiah could not speak good of Ahab, whose life was diametrically opposed to all that was God-like and holy.

Micaiah had no animosity toward the king of Israel; it was not a personal matter with him. It was as absurd to hate him because he read such dark lessons from the inevitable future, as for a householder to shoot his dog, that bays all night, to warn his master against the burglar engaged in rifling his home. The Bible, the pastor, the whole Church of God, are hated by worldlings for the same reason, because they cannot speak hopefully of their future.

It is as though a card-playing crew were to hate the watchman who told them that the course of their vessel was straight for the surf and rocks of the shore.

1. You think about feelings.

However, their hatred against those who warn them is really directed toward God. They are indignant that they cannot have their way; their proud spirit would like to overturn the very order of the universe rather than that it should be thwarted. Do not be surprised if the world hate you. It shows that you are no more of the world than your Master was. This looks back to 2 Chronicles , where we learn that Jehoshaphat, though he had riches and honor in abundance, joined affinity with Ahab.

Riches and abundance are dangerous things. They usually weaken our character, and incline us to worldly alliances; and it was to their subtle and pernicious influences that Jehoshaphat fell a victim.

How ‘My Struggle’ Transformed Karl Ove Knausgaard - The Atlantic

But let us seriously question whether, though there are good things found in us, we may not be falling into the same mistake, and sin. There is a great tendency in the present day to boast in the closeness with which we can approach the world without injury. We join in the social life, read the same books, go to the same amusements, talk of the same themes; and it is almost impossible in a drawing-room to tell the difference between the Jehoshaphats and the Ahabs.

So also, in our methods of doing good. The real difficulty lies away back in our want of engagedness with Christ. It is of little use to find fault with the outward, as long as the heart is wayward. Love to the Lord Jesus is our only safeguard. The love of Christ must constrain us. Personal attachment to Christ will wean us away from this close identification with the world. He walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Dave McGillivray of Boston loves to run. By his fiftieth birthday several years ago, he had already run marathons and eight Iron Man triathlons.

On his birthday, he runs one mile for every year of his life. He frequently runs or does other athletic feats to raise money for charity, including a run across America 3, miles in 80 days , a hour run, a hour swim, a hour bike ride, and starting his own nonprofit foundation. He calculates that in his life he's run a total of about , miles. Here's a guy who could say a thing or two about finishing a race well! The lesson God taught him through his alliance with Ahab must have made an impression and sent him back in the right direction.

He probably also learned what not to do by reflecting on how his father Asa had failed to repent after Hanani's rebuke and been punished by the Lord. God further got Jehoshaphat's attention by sinking several ships he sent on a trading venture in partnership with another wicked king of Israel, Ahaziah Jehoshaphat responded humbly to these warnings, and God again blessed him with a time of peace and military victory.

Unfortunately, many of the people still worshiped idols Nonetheless, one of the king's most important reforms was to set up a court system for civil and religious cases The foundation of such ideal justice was to be the fear of the Lord: remembering that all leaders are accountable to an all-knowing, perfectly holy God. Though the term justice may bring to mind courts and prisons, it's a term with biblical roots that run far richer and deeper than that. The brief account of Ahab's last battle that we read about yesterday leaves us with a few questions about the involvement and survival of King Jehoshaphat.

Today's reading makes no further mention of the ill-fated battle. It notes only some of the positive accomplishments of Jehoshaphat's reign. We noted earlier that this man was one of the good kings of Judah, and these verses confirm that. Jehoshaphat enjoyed God's favor for the steps he took to rid Judah of perversion and idolatry. But the questions linger.

If Ahab was wrong in defying the prophet Micaiah's warning from God and going into battle, wasn't Jehoshaphat guilty of disobeying God too? And what was this good king doing linking up with Ahab in the first place? We find some answers in 2 Chronicles, where more details of Jehoshaphat's reign are recorded. He had allied himself with Ahab through marriage 2 Chron. So the occasion at which Ahab persuaded Jehoshaphat to help him take back Ramoth was a visit to the ""in-laws"" But God was not pleased with this alliance, and Jehoshaphat was rebuked by a prophet when he returned to Jerusalem after barely escaping from the battle with his life 2 Chron.

But aside from this piece of bad judgment, Jehoshaphat was a religious reformer and a king who wanted his people to know and obey the Scriptures. He sent teachers with God's Law in their hands to the various towns of Judah 2 Chron. And much like Joshua before him, Jehoshaphat once won a great battle without ever firing an arrow 2 Chron. An invasion by the Moabites and Ammonites, two traditional enemies of God's people, may have been part of the discipline God brought on Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab.

But the king and people of Judah humbly sought the Lord. God promised that the battle would be His, and the people were told to take their positions and watch what God would do.

Contradictions Exposed

As they sang and praised, God Himself wiped out their enemies. Jehoshaphat's reign was largely a time of revival and peace 2 Chron. Is that a word you need to hear today? If you are facing something that seems overwhelming right now, give it to the Lord. Praise Him for His care, and watch Him work.

If you know someone else who is going through a hard time, take time to share this encouraging verse with that person. Dost thou praise the beauty of holiness? Is holiness beautiful to thee? Art thou in love with it as it is presented in the glorious Lord? It is a rare accomplishment, acquired only through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

In each of us there should be the priest-side of character as well as the warrior: the love for what is beautiful in holiness as well as for the strong and active in service. But the special characteristics of this battle was that the good king put the singers in the forefront of the army, and praised for a victory which was only assured to him by faith. Yet so sure was he of it, that he could praise before he entered into the battle.

There is much to help us here in our daily combat for God and truth. Let us fill the morning hour with holy song, in the heart, if not with the voice; let a psalm or hymn be part of the daily reading; let there be the confidence that God is going to bless, which cannot restrain its jubilant expression. So in all prayer, wait on God till you feel that you can praise Him for what you have asked Him to bestow. When they began to praise, the Lord did all the rest. Before the onset of His Divine reinforcements the enemy fled. His people bad but to gather spoil, and then the praise which had anticipated the battle was consummated as they returned, in the valley of blessing.

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. Forty million American adults, 77 percent of them men, regularly visit pornographic Web sites. Even more troubling, according to a Barna Research Group survey, 38 percent of adults believe there is nothing wrong with using pornography. These kind of statistics call us to be salt and light in the area of sexual morality. Today's reading shows people in dire need of spiritual renewal. To consolidate his hold on the throne, Jehoram murdered his own brothers!

Second, follow other gods. Jehoram and Ahaziah worshiped idols and led the nation astray, flagrantly breaking their covenant responsibilities. And third, imitate bad examples. Jehoram and Ahaziah walked in the ways of the wicked northern kings and listened to bad advisers. As today's verse shows, such men were bound to reap what they sowed. The passage also communicates three positive lessons. First, God keeps His promises no matter what. Because of His covenant with David, God preserved the kingly line and didn't allow the fruit of destruction to ripen completely , though Judah did suffer several military setbacks.

Second, God communicates His Word in all situations. Even someone as far gone as Jehoram received a warning letter from Elijah late in his career before his translation to heaven. And third, be sure your sins will find you out. Have you lately found yourself, like the two kings in today's reading, backsliding away from the Lord?

Then praise God that you've picked up His Word today. It's no accident—He's calling you back to Himself! As long as the kings of Judah remained true to their allegiance to God they were able to keep in subjection the surrounding nations; but just so soon as they revolted from God these peoples revolted from them. It was as though power descended into them from the source of all power; and when the link between themselves and God was broken, that between them and their subordinates was broken also.

This applies very widely: To our passions. To our families. Their authority will be recognized and honored. Revolt in the home indicates very often some lapse in obedience and loyalty to God. To our influence over men. Give yourself entirely to Jesus. Obey Him absolutely; receive by faith from Him living power and grace; be a channel through which He may pour Himself; and you will find that men and things will fall into line at your bidding, and you shall receive power.

Our Libnahs will not revolt, unless we forsake the Lord God of our fathers. Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him! Anthusa is a name that may not be very familiar to you. A Christian widow living in Antioch in the fourth century, she feared secular influences would corrupt the mind and soul of her only son, John. So she herself taught him as a child in both classical and Christian learning, and only after this foundation was laid did she send him out to study with a scholar.

Anthusa is one of many women of faith in the history of the church. Though she stood behind the scenes, her influence was incalculable. The same can be said of Jehosheba in today's reading. Though she was Jehoram's daughter and Ahaziah's sister, she did not walk in their sinful ways but was instead obedient to the Lord.

When the ruthless Athaliah murdered the royal family and seized the throne of Judah, Jehosheba rescued baby Joash and his nurse, no doubt at tremendous personal risk. Then she and her husband, Jehoiada the priest, hid the boy in the temple for six years—an exciting narrative reminiscent of the story of baby Moses. God used the two of them to preserve the Davidic kingly line and to help turn the nation back to Him.

When the time was right, Jehoiada set up a combination of coup and coronation. Athaliah was a brutal, unpopular queen, so he was able to enlist widespread support from the people, the government leaders, and the army. The seven-year-old Joash's coronation featured a crown and a scroll Scriptures , representing both his authority and his covenant responsibilities. When Athaliah investigated all the commotion at the temple, she stepped into a well-planned trap and was captured and executed.

Her temple of Baal was destroyed and the false god's priests killed. In the name of the young king, Jehoiada again set up national worship as the Law instructed, including sacrifices, music, and rituals of purification. Athaliah and Jehosheba provide vivid, contrasting models for contemporary women.

Make a two-column list of their personal qualities, both those that can be seen directly and others that you can infer. At home or in the workplace, what situations might be analogous to the one in today's reading? How can you follow the bold example of Jehosheba, who acted to save life and promote godliness?

How can you avoid the example of Athaliah, whose decisiveness and dynamism were used so sinfully? Safe from Athaliah, who would have ruthlessly destroyed him if she had had an inkling of his existence, the young Joash was reared beneath the care of Jehoiada and his wife within the precincts of the house of God. He was hidden in the secret place of the Most High, and abode under the shadow of the Almighty. There let us also live. Let us know what it is to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life, and all this day.

Let us cultivate the life which is hid with Christ in God. It is well often to remind ourselves that we are in God, and that the film of His environing presence is about us like a wall of thick-ribbed steel. We are in Him as the jewel in the casket; as the chick under the feathers of the hen; as the child in the warm embrace of its mother. And so long as we stay there we are invulnerable. Therefore our great enemy is continually endeavoring to allure us into the open; he knows he can do as he likes with us, if only he can induce us to venture beyond our hiding-place.

The rarest visions, the fairest fellowship, the most entrancing joys, the most confident outlook on life and the hereafter, are the accompaniments of such a residence. The altar of incense, the laver of daily cleansing, the light of the Shekinah, the holy psalm and song, the great altar of sacrifice, are familiar objects to the hidden soul.

This was a great revolution, admirably planned and carried into effect. It was intolerable that such a woman as Athaliah should desecrate the throne and temple. Jehoiada, by his prudence and courage, deserved well of the entire nation in ridding the world of her presence. No half measures would have availed to meet the case. There are times in every life when strong and strenuous action is inevitable if the cause of God is to be promoted and saved.

In many of us there is a willingness to tolerate evil, rather than arouse ourselves to grasp it with a firm hand, and, if needs be, drag it up by its roots. Be strong, yea, be strong, is an injunction that has to be emphasized even to men who are greatly beloved. The easiest thing for Jehoiada would have been to shut himself up in the temple, and leave things to take their course.

The noblest thing was to come forth, and boldly confront the rampant evil of his time. Its notes penetrate into the retirement of Christian homes, to noble women and devoted men, demanding that they should come forth to resist impurity, the love of strong drink, the strong tendency toward extravagance, luxury, and waste. The children of God are citizens of the New Jerusalem, but they are also certainly citizens here; and they must not stand aside from great public issues, allowing them to be decided by ungodly and wicked men.

He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple. If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends. Whatever treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive. The same spirit driving our giving today motivated the Israelites' giving in the days of Joash.

He launched a project to restore the temple, which had fallen into disrepair. Athaliah had actually taken articles from it and used them for Baal worship. Though Jehoiada and the Levites were slow to act, the people themselves were ripe to return to the Lord. They demonstrated their changed hearts by filling the box at the temple door with their gifts again and again. Workers were immediately hired to do the construction and refurbishing—they were men of integrity, since they honestly reported a financial surplus after the work was finished.

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Unfortunately, Joash's godliness was explicitly linked to the influence of Jehoiada. When his mentor died, the king was unable to stand for righteousness by himself. Did he depend too much on the priest? Or did Jehoiada keep him on too short a leash, never really developing his leadership skills? What was going on behind the scenes at the start of the temple restoration? We're left with many unanswered questions. One thing we know is that Joash succumbed to pride v. He then fell into idolatry, ignored a warning from God, and experienced judgments, a pattern we've seen before.

Worst of all, he arranged for the murder of Jehoiada's son, Zechariah—this event triggered Joash's assassination, showing that God's justice cannot be forestalled. Tellingly, Jehoiada was buried with the kings; Joash was not. When Joash issued a royal proclamation and put a box by the temple doors, the people responded with generous giving.

More than just money, this showed their renewed love and faith in the Lord. Giving serves the same purpose today, so we urge you to get out your checkbook and examine the register. Do you do so with a cheerful heart 2 Cor. In attitudes or actions, are any changes needed? Make them without delay! The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Joash failed to remember even the most recent history in his life, let alone that of his nation.

As a result, his reign came to a swift and shameful end. Joash forgot the faith and kindness of Jehoiada, his foremost advisor. He had already rejected the covenant to remain faithful to God, but he didn't even have the decency to pay respect to Jehoiada's son, Zechariah. When Zechariah chastised him for his wickedness, he had him stoned in the courtyard of the temple, desecrating what should have been a holy place. Ironically, Zechariah's father had spared Athaliah Joash's childhood attacker the same indignity when he was ushering Joash to the throne 2 Chron. It didn't take long for Joash to experience the penalty for his wickedness, and the form of retribution was reminiscent of the stories we've studied so far.

The Aramean army resembled the army of Gideon, but this time it was the large army of Judah that was overtaken by a much smaller one. Just as Joash had conspired against Zechariah, his own officials turned to conspire against him. But the identity of the conspirators reminds us of yet another grievous deed: they were the sons of a Moabite woman and an Ammonite woman, descendants of the daughters of Lot. The consequences of the sins of God's people had a way of revisiting generation after generation of Israelites.

The quantity and quality of faith appeared to be dwindling, and the magnitude of their sins grew exponentially. Clearly, Israel needed a better plan, a better ruler, and a better way to preserve their faith in the one true God. Tomorrow we will examine that coming hope in the King of Kings.

The more we study the effects of sin, the more reasons we have to stay pure and true in obedience to God. Sin multiplies the more we engage in it, and time alone never heals the wounds it causes. On the contrary, the punishment for sin grows in severity and scope the longer we wait to confess and repent. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any sin abiding in your heart. Don't wait another day to turn your heart toward Him.

We have seen how merciful God is. Sin, however, is relentless. As we put on a cloak or dress, so does the Spirit of God, as it were, hide Himself in those who surrender themselves to Him, so that it is not they who speak and act, but He within them. Have you at any time been conscious of having the clothing of the Holy Spirit?

Remember that cloth or leather must yield itself easily to the movements of its wearer, and not less pliable and supple must we be to the Spirit of God. When the Spirit of God is thus within us, and speaks or acts for us, we may expect, as Zechariah found it, to come into collision with the entire drift and current of society around us, and to incur odium and hatred.

Men do not like to be told that they cannot prosper because they have forsaken God; but we have no alternative than to witness against their sins. Does the Spirit clothe Himself with you, my friend, as you anticipate the work of to-day? Are you using Him, or is He to use you? Are you seeking to clothe yourself with His power for some personal ambition, or are you desirous that He should array Himself in you, so that the glory may evidently be His? In the agony of battle; when great deeds are to be done, no one stops to think of the uniform of the soldier, but only of the might beneath it.

But for this you must be prepared to pay the cost, and be willing to cross the cherished purposes of men, as the Spirit of God by your voice or deed witnesses against them. They stoned Zechariah at the command of the king; but years after the Lord Jesus referred to it, for no faithful martyr seals his witness with his blood without some quick glance of recognition from the Master, and some record on the imperishable tablets of his heart. The wholehearted faith of Caleb was one of his most remarkable attributes. When that generation died off and the next entered the land, Caleb at age 85 was still there, as strong and vigorous and wholehearted as ever.

He was given the city of Hebron, though he had to drive out the Anakites to take it Josh. His faith never faltered! By contrast with Caleb, Amaziah in today's reading is an anemic example of halfhearted faith. On the negative side, his military ambitions showed pride.

When he hired northern Israelite mercenaries, he may have hoped God would judge his actions differently from those of previous kings who had formed alliances with pagan nations. But through an unnamed prophet, the Lord let him know that putting one's confidence in human strength was a bad move in any case. To this rebuke, Amaziah responded with some faith—he sent the hired soldiers home and even gave up their wages as a lost investment.

The king's mixed actions led to mixed results. God gave Judah a victory over Edom. Meanwhile, the mercenaries, furious that their lust for violence and booty had gone unsatisfied, took out their aggressions by plundering towns on the way home. This led Amaziah to another foolish decision—challenging Israel to a war. God engineered his defeat as a judgment on his idolatry, and like his father he ended up a victim of assassination. For instance, you might draw a comic strip version of the episode in which the twelve spies reported back to Joshua. Or you could write a children's story with two contrasting protagonists.

Another idea is to take a familiar hymn tune and write new lyrics on this theme. Amaziah had many good qualities, but he did not clearly see how impossible it was for Israel to be allied with Judah without invalidating the special Divine protection and care on which Judah had been taught to rely. We must understand that God cannot be in fellowship with us if we tolerate fellowship with the ungodly. We must choose between the two.

If we can renounce all creature aid, and trust simply in the eternal God, there is no limit to the victories He will secure; but if, turning from Him, we hold out our hand toward the world, we forfeit His aid. O child of God, let not the army of Israel go with thee! Do not adopt worldly policy, methods, or partnership.

However strong you make yourself for the battle in alliance with these, you will fail. Indeed, God Himself will make you fall before the enemy, that you may be driven back to Himself. But you say that you have already entered into so close an alliance that you cannot draw back. You have invested your capital, you have gone to great expenditure. Yet it will be better to forfeit these than Him.

Without these aids, and with only God beside you, you will be able to rout Edom, and smite ten thousand men. Would that men knew the absolute deliverance which God will effect for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him! The soldiers of Israel committed depredations on their way back. We may be forgiven, and delivered, and yet there will be after-consequences which will follow us from some ill-considered act. Sin may be forgiven, but its secondary results are sometimes very bitter. We must expect to reap as we sow.

Long before Israel had kings, God through the Law provided guidelines and warnings for them. Kings should not acquire large numbers of horses, that is, they should not put their confidence in military strength. They should also not take many wives—though that was a common form of diplomacy in that day—because these women would arrive with foreign idols and could distract or corrupt the king's spiritual devotion.

Another warning was against accumulating riches, for similar reasons. Perhaps the most important instruction was for the king to study the Scriptures as an antidote to pride Deut. Pride comes before a fall, as we've seen time and time again in 2 Chronicles.

In the exceptionally long 52 years reign of Uzziah, we see the same pattern we've seen before: good beginnings, followed by backsliding fueled mainly by pride. Uzziah began well. He sought the Lord and did what was right. He had a godly adviser, Zechariah. As a result, Judah experienced military successes and a time of peace. It appears Uzziah was a highly skilled military leader—his army was well-trained and he himself designed several new weapons.

In addition to being a warrior, the king was also a builder and a farmer who embarked on many construction and agricultural projects to benefit his people. Uzziah had many reasons to be proud—and pride was his downfall v. The turning point was an incident in which he entered the temple to burn incense, though the Law said only priests should do so. The group of priests who confronted him was courageous indeed, given what a powerful and popular king Uzziah was.

He didn't accept their rebuke, and for his blasphemy the Lord immediately struck him with leprosy. He never entered the temple again and had to let his son take over the day-to-day ruling of the kingdom. Sadly, though he had years to think things over, we have no indication he ever repented of his sin.

Scripture memorization is an excellent way to arm yourself against temptation. Great and marvellous are Thy works, O God; that our soul knoweth quite well. Thou hast showed marvellous loving-kindness. We must sing to Thee; for Thou hast done marvellous things. It is marvellous that Thou shouldst have set Thy love upon us; that Thou shouldst have watched over our interests with unwearied care; that our sins, or unbelief, or declensions, have never diverted Thy love from us.

But it is most marvellous of all that Thou hast made us children, heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ. To think that we shall shine as the sun of Thy kingdom, that we are to sit upon His throne, and be included in that circle of love and life of which the throne of God and the Lamb is the center! Surely the marvels of Thy grace will only seem the greater when eternity with its boundless ages gives us time to explore them. The danger, however, is that we should become strong in our own conceit, and credit ourselves with the position which is due to the grace of God alone.

Oh for the truly humble spirit of the little child, that we may never vaunt our selves! The laden ship sinks in the water; the fruit-burdened bough stoops to the ground; the truest scientist is the humblest disciple. Oh to be submerged and abashed for the marvellous help of God! God cannot trust some of us with prosperity and success, because our nature could not stand them. We must tug at the oar, instead of spreading the sail, because we have not enough ballast.

Writing history for the former exiles who had returned home, Ezra the priest had several key purposes for the books known today as Chronicles. He wanted the people to remember and recommit themselves to their identity as God's people. He wanted them to understand clearly the requirements and implications of God's covenant. He wanted them to feel the glory of their history, including the golden days under Solomon. He wanted them to see the centrality of true worship in the life of the nation, as symbolized primarily in Solomon's temple.

And at a more everyday level, he wanted them to learn from the mistakes of those who had gone before them. In today's narrative, learning from the mistakes of those who had gone before him seems to be Jotham's main virtue. This was the main way in which he gained wisdom and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Specifically, he learned from the stubborn pride of his father, Uzziah, and didn't follow his example of blasphemously offering incense in the temple v. He would have seen that pride in action throughout his youth, including a decade of co-regency with his leprous and unrepentant father.

As a result of his steadfast obedience v. He started building projects. He won a victory over the Ammonites. In terms of peace and prosperity, he regained some but not all of the ground lost in Uzziah's later years. This brought judgment and disaster, which in turn brought on repentance and revival.