The preacher said nothing, deep in thought.

Eve had a choice in the Garden of Eden.  She knew the commandment God gave, but chose to be disobedient and enticed her husband to do the same.  They both had a choice – obey or disobey – and both choices have consequences.  Do right and enjoy spiritual blessings.  Do wrong and pay the price for sin.

“And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?  Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”

“Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”     (Genesis 3:23-24)

Nadab and Abihu had a choice, but they decided “strange fire” would be better and disobeyed God.  Their disobedience cost them their lives.

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.”    (Leviticus 10:1-2)

Moses had a choice to either be called Pharaoh’s daughter’s son or suffer affliction with the people of God.

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;  Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt:  for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king:  for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.”            (Hebrews 11:24-27)

There is a remedy for sin and He died on the cross for that sin.  Christ was the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice.  Will we take advantage of what Jesus offers?

“A preacher and a soap maker were walking together.  The soap maker said, “What good is religion?  Look at all the misery in the world!  Still there, even after years – thousands of years of teaching about goodness and truth and peace; still there after all the prayers and sermons and teachings; if religion is supposed to be good and true, how can this be?”

The preacher said nothing, deep in thought.  They continued walking until the preacher noticed children playing.  Then the preacher said, “Look at those children.  You say that soap makes children clean, but see the dirt on those children?  Of what good is soap?  With all of the soap in the world, over all of these years, the children are filthy.  I wonder how effective soap is.”

The soap maker was quick to protest: “But preacher, soap cannot do any good unless it is used often.”

Exactly” replied the preacher.”     ~ Anonymous

“They that fear the Lord will not disobey His Word; and they that love Him will keep His ways.”    (Ecclesiastes 2:15)

“. . . Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”    (John 1:29)      (This verse was Jesus’ mission)  E. L.

Eileen Light


Border edging

Open ended

There is nothing that gives a garden a more polished and refined look than a nice edging around the flower beds. It serves the same purpose as a frame does as it defines the edges of a painting or picture, and draws attention to the beauty inside.

A good edge can be expensive. For many years, our little backyard oasis went without the finishing touch of border edging. When we began to formulate the idea of a patio over a barren patch of lawn, we started collecting flat stones for the project. As they were being slowly gathered from blasting sites, we began “temporarily” laying them along the edge of the curved flower beds in the backyard, awaiting the commencement of the patio project.

The difference it made was striking! How could we have gone so long without defining the edge of the garden? They simply HAD to stay there.

Six years later, those stones still line the beds, standing as a symbolic line of soldiers preventing the onslaught of the encroaching lawn. Of course, they do nothing to keep the lawn from growing underneath the loose stones. But when my gardening duties are done right, they appear to be doing their jobs as worthy sentinels.

Behind the scenes, these stones are actually moved more often than the casual garden visitor would guess. When the lawn is winning, they can retreat. When new plants are acquired or old plants have grown too large for the beds, the soldiers (with my help) advance.

As beautiful and sophisticated as a permanent concrete border would be, this strategic troop movement would not be possible.

I like to consider the borders as “open ended.” The garden certainly changes. Why shouldn’t the ends of it do so, too?

Open-endedness has a place in our lives and relationships, too.

A recent conversation with a very pleasant young man revolved around his salvation. The question was asked how he was saved spiritually. Not “if,” but “how.” As a good doctor listens, so should those who care about souls rather than physical bodies.

It turned out that this man didn’t have any confidence of the truth of the Bible, which was valuable to know before using the Bible to explain itself. The person with him was more interested in first impressions, so she ended up “coaching” him with what she thought would be acceptable responses.

The trouble was that it hampered an opportunity to listen to him. However, enough was said to know that he needed more information about fulfilled prophecies to fortify his inherited faith.

Questions that can be answered “yes” or “no” don’t garner much information, nor invite dialogue.

The “one another” verses in the Bible (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 10:24) are open-ended. In other words, they don’t stop at a simple hello or handshake. Among the many things we do for one another are honoring, exhorting, praying, greeting, accepting, forgiving, instructing, and of course, loving. One week may find us admonishing one another, and the next week encouraging one another.

Just as the stone soldiers of my garden border may move forward or retreat, we may have to deal with one another differently as the need arises.

But how will we know what is needed unless we spend time together? If I am not tending my garden, I will be unaware that the verbena has completely overtaken the border and has rooted in the grass on the other side.

An open-ended border is only useful if the gardener takes time to tend it. Open-ended conversations can take us to useful places spiritually, but it takes time, patience, and caring.

Christine (Tina) Berglund


Last week, one of my friends was in the drive-thru at Sonic. All she wanted was a milkshake. The guy in front of her ordered about eight drinks and kept her waiting for quite some time.

When she finally got to the window to pay, the girl said, “The guy in front of you paid for your milkshake. In fact, you ordered a medium; and he had us make you a large.”

My friend was astounded. Never before had a stranger paid for something for her. She didn’t quite know how to act.

I have had the same thing happen to me twice, once at Starbucks and once in a restaurant. The second time, I knew who paid, and I had an opportunity to thank the ones that paid.

In this time of my life, I see more selfishness than I care to see. People take; they typically don’t give. Giving without a reason is such a wonderful way to express appreciation, offer encouragement, or just be a nice person.

In the book of Ruth, we read about a man like this. Ruth had been widowed; she left her home to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to her home in Bethlehem.

They had no income, and Ruth took it upon herself to venture out into the fields to find food. She found more than food.

In the field that belonged to Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi, she found the opportunity and the safety she needed to provide for her mother-in-law and herself.

Boaz insisted that she stay only in his field, and he instructed his servants to leave extra grain for Ruth (Ruth 2:4-15). In fact, he even let her eat with his servants.

In I Kings 4, there is a story about a woman of the city of Shunem. Scripture says she was a wealthy woman.

One day Elisha the prophet passed through Shunem. The woman saw Elisha and invited him to her home. Each time Elisha visited this city, the woman invited him to eat with her and her husband.

Because of his frequent visits and a need for a place to stay, the woman suggested to her husband that they build a room onto their house, furnish it, and offer it to Elisha.

How many of us would build a room on our house and offer to let a stranger stay there on a regular basis? I suspect not many of us.

In the book of Acts, we read about Christians in the first century sharing what they had to help those in need. One such man was Barnabas. Scripture says that he, “Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37 KJV).

In verse 32 the writer says, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common” (ESV).

Luke 10 provides a familiar story, a parable told by Jesus, about the kindness of a stranger. A man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by robbers. He was beaten and left for dead.

Two men walked by the wounded man and offered no assistance. A Samaritan, considered to be of no more value than a dog, stopped to help the man.

He treated his wounds, put him on his own animal, and took him to an inn. There he continued to take care of him; and when he had to continue his travels, he left money with the innkeeper for his continued needs. He also promised to return to take care of any expense that was not covered.

In each of these examples there was a gift involved—food for a widow and her daughter-in-law, a place for a weary traveller, money for necessities, and care for a wounded man.

My friend didn’t “need” a milkshake; but a stranger inconvenienced her and wanted to show a kindness. Do it “just because.”

Look around you. Do you have opportunities to show a kindness? Whom do you see with a physical need? Do you have the resources to provide what they need?

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Sandra Oliver


One sister wrote asking about my studies in the book of Philemon.  She said, “Recently I am studying Philemon since an elder brother sent me a file taking about speech using this book. I find Philemon seems to contain a lot to ponder in talking to brethren.”


I responded by asking, “Which points seem to stand out the most for you?”

I have appreciated the book of Philemon for the kindness and love shown in it.  It could well be a model for any letter or email message to any other brother or sister in the church. If a letter is worth writing, it is worth planning and considering the possible impact it may have on the reader.

Paul began with these few sections:

Greeting and Encouragement–vss. 1-3

Philemon’s Love and Faith–vss. 4-7

Paul’s Plea for Onisimus–vss. 8-22

Final Greetings–vss. 23-25

Although there are many ideas to discuss, three things stand out for me.

  1. Paul clearly shows his love for Philemon and his admiration for all his good works.
  2. Then, still honoring Philemon as a beloved brother, he tells him how much Onisimus means to him.  I cannot imagine how much Onisimus has changed from being a runaway slave to being a new Christian, who is willing to go back to his master to serve in that same capacity, no matter what happens as a consequence of his flight.  This is truly the “new man” (2 Cor. 5:17).
  3. Finally, Paul is counting on Philemon to accept Onisimus back because he believes that Philemon also is a “new man.” He encourages him to accept Onisimus as a brother in Christ and not do to him what the law would allow him to do.

IF we dealt with each other in such a way, the church would be so much better.  Do we really love each other like Christ loves us?  See: John 13:34; John 13:35; John  15:12; John 15:17; Rom. 12:10; Rom. 13:8; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2; 1Thess. 3:12; 1Thess. 4:9; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 Pet. 3:8; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:11; 1 John 4:12; 2 John 1:5.

One strong point comes from Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 7:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:19; and Gal. 1:10.  New Christians in the first century often found themselves in this situation.  What was the right thing to do?  How were they to treat each other now that they had “freedom” in Christ?

Let me share the audio with five of my nineteen grandchildren singing a Bible verse that illustrates this point so well (We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 Jn. 3:16-18)).  This should be a hot link to listen to the song.

–Beth Johnson

Women’s Studies

Muliebral Viewpoint

Articles and Books by Beth Johnson


The blossom cannot tell what becomes of its fragrance; and no man can tell what becomes of his influence

Our lives preach a lesson every day.  Where we go, our associates, our speech, our dress, our reading material, how we treat others, the music we listen too, what we approve, what we don’t approve, if we pray before our meals, if we are polite, kind, generous, giving, loving, joyful, helpful, etc.  Our lives are an autograph and our deeds should match up to our speech.  We are either a “light” or we are not.  Put another way.  If we are going to talk the talk, we better walk the walk.  People of the world watch Christians closely and more closely than we believe.

“Ye are the light of the world, A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and giveth light unto 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 5:13-16

“Influence is one of the most powerful, far-reaching forces in all the world.  Sometimes it is so subtle people hardly know they are being affected.  All of us have at least some influence, good or bad.  Having this far-reaching power, it behooves us to exercise the wholesome influence.  In this manner, little by little, we make the world better.  ”

The sermons we live have more impact than the ones we preach.  In leaving our footprints on the sands of time, we can either leave the marks of a heel that will make us a heel or the marks of a sole that will save a soul.”       ~ Leroy Brownlow

“You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel
According to you?”        ~ Paul Gilbert

“The blossom cannot tell what becomes of its fragrance; and no man can tell what becomes of his influence.”      ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Eileen Light


She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails

Have you ever been in conflict with yourself?  Unable to make a decision?  Unable to choose?  I am sure most of us have at one time or the other.  Each day we make choices.  It may be the choice and color of a vehicle, the house we built, the school we attend etc.  Life comes with many choices and not all of them are of equal consequence.  However, when it comes to our choices of a spiritual nature, these are serious.

While researching this article I came across numerous passages about a divided heart.  God does not want our hearts to be divided; He wants us totally committed to Him.  A divided heart is not a peaceful heart.  Peace is only found in a total commitment to Him.

“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:  and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”      Jeremiah 29:13-14

“I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me.”   Proverbs 8:17

“With my whole heart have I sought Thee:  O let me not wander from Thy commandments.”
Psalms 119:10

“Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart.”    Psalms 119:2

When our hearts are divided, there is no peace.  Peace can only be found in Him.  A heart that wavers is unstable.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”     James 1:8

“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.”
Proverbs 25:19

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  if the Lord be God, follow Him:  but if Baal, then follow him.  And the people answered him not a word.”
I Kings 18:21

“He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.”  Matthew 12:30

“And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.”       Mark 3:25-26

“No man can serve two masters:  for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”     Matthew 6:24

“I know thy works, that thou art neither old nor hot:  I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot.  I will spew thee out of My mouth.”   Revelation 3:15

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”    ~ Edwards

Eileen Light


When the eye is bad

Any reader of this column will know by now that I just love the daylilies with the dark “eye zones,” or centers.

“Moonlit Masquerade,” “Raspberry Candy,” and “Carpetbagger” are some of my favorites, with their dark eye zone giving the blooms a stark contrast. They have a certain appeal, and they also remind us of a basic Bible truth about our spiritual sight.

This week I had a procedure done on only one of my eyes, and it has rendered me pretty much useless for a couple of days with the use of only one eye. With that eye being “sympathetic” to the affected eye, it made anything requiring sight to be quite painful, and I kept bumping into things. I even walked into a branch of Althea out in the garden, poking my good eye! This verse kept coming to mind.

“The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34, NASB).

Well, daylilies with lighter eyes are just as good as the more strikingly contrasted ones, but it’s not true with humans, who actually have to see with our eyes.

This is the same chapter that tells us “Seek, and you will find” (Luke 11:9), and “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). This chapter also contains a sharp rebuke to the Pharisees who put their own rules and regulations above a love for God’s revealed word and pure obedience to him.

There is an odd phrasing after this verse, telling us to be sure the light we experience is the right kind. “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35).

How many of us have hurriedly read verse 35 and didn’t see the implicit warning about the light in us? How can the light in us be darkness? Well, if we don’t really think of it, we just figure that if we feel illuminated in any way, it must be the right kind.

The Bible is really very concise and doesn’t give the kinds of details as most biographies would. Every word and phrase is inspired, “God-breathed.” There is a purpose to every word. So what could this warning possibly mean?

The verse implies that there is an enlightenment that is not true light. We can feel enlightened when we follow Christian principles, even while we might reject the authority of the Christ who gave those principles. We can proclaim that we follow the Bible; but when it conflicts with a previously held belief, we might reject those teachings because we already feel enlightened.

The true light that will allow us to see clearly is found in God’s word, not in the philosophy of mankind, and not in our own feelings. We must open our eyes to allow ourselves to see clearly. We must never stop learning, no matter how far we feel we have come in our spiritual enlightenment.

“The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

Christine (Tina) Berglund



There is nothing in our lives that gives us more peace than knowing we are doing the right thing. Nothing gives us more of a feeling of uneasiness than knowing we are doing the wrong thing.

Paul said, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). In order to follow Paul’s command, he gives us three lists of things to do to set us on the right road to finding the peace we all desire.

In verse 5 of this chapter, Paul tells us to “put to death” these things:

• Sexual immorality
• Impurity
• Passion
• Evil desire
• Covetousness

In verse 8 he tells us to put these all away:

• Anger
• Wrath
• Malice
• Slander
• Obscene talk

Verse 9 says, “Do not lie to one another.”

The third list is found in verses 12-14. Paul says to put on:

• Holy and beloved, compassionate hearts
• Kindness
• Humility
• Meekness
• Patience
• Bearing with one another
• Forgiving each other
• Love

The heading in my Bible for these verses is “Put On The New Self.” Paul is talking about “setting our minds on things above and not on things that are on the earth.”

These people, the people of Colossae, had become Christians. They had received the teaching of the gospel and been obedient to it, but there were false teachings among them that had deceived them. Paul is writing to them to correct these false teachings and encourage them in doing God’s will.

In the first list, Paul addresses specifically moral issues. Paul is very clear about these sexual sins and tells them to “put them to death.” These are things that are earthly, things that belong to the flesh. They belonged to the people of Colossae before they put on Christ.

In the second list, Paul tells the Colossians to “put these away.” When you look at the list, you see that this is a list of things for which we must constantly be on guard. In this list, Paul begins with anger. Anger is at the core of the others. Where anger exists, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk will follow. Even lying will grow out of an angry heart.

When we put on Christ, our daily lives must change. We then are to live in the image of Christ, and none of these things can be part of the new man.

Finally, Paul gives us a list of those things we must “put on.” This list starts with a compassionate heart. When we have a compassionate heart, everything else will follow. When our hearts are right, the things in those first two lists will not be a part of who we are.

Paul told the Philippians, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these thing. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Sandra Oliver


The context of Job 7:6-10 appears to be Job’s conclusion that he is going to die (see red below).

Job 7:6-10—My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,

and are spent without hope.  7 O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.  8 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.  9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.  10 He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.

If Job dies, his eye won’t see any more good on earth, but of course he could see good in heaven.  That strongly indicates the Job’s intent on this earth was always to see good—fear of the Lord.

The reader might not think about why, but Job’s expectation of death was likely the motivation for these verses.  I believe Job wanted to know the fear of the Lord.  The phrase is seldom used any other way that I can tell.

I often prayed fervently that the Lord will leave us here as long as we can be used.  And of course we want to stay here as long as we can “see good.”

Psa 34:11—Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Psa 34:12—What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

Psa 34:13—Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Psa 34:14—Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Psa 34:15—The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

Psa 34:16—The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

Psa 34:17—The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

Psa 34:18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

–Beth Johnson

This entry was posted on March 8, 2018. 1 Comment

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with

I once read a story about a man who was an alcoholic.  He asked forgiveness and then proceeded to park his car outside the bar.  You guessed it.  He was involved once more with drinking.

If we choose to be a companion to evil and running with those who love the world, it won’t be long before we are involved with the world as well.  Like begets like, and we gravitate toward those of like mind.

“Our friends and associates write their names in our guest books, but they do more – they make imprints on our heart.

Many a tearful parent has said, ‘Oh, if my children had not gotten with the wrong crowd!’”        ~ Brownlow

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”  (I Corinthians 15:33)

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient:  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”    (Romans 1: 28-32

When our son was a little boy, he had some special friends.  One of them lived on a little acreage where happy children could play in the great outdoors.  Another special attraction this friend had was some goats and a little wagon for the goats to pull.

There were times when the goats chose to be unruly and butted them down, but each time those boys got back up.  What a lesson!  Life has its blows, jolts and kicks that flatten us; but as long as we can get back up, we’re still in the struggle and still in reach of victory.

One day our son came home smelling like a goat – and that’s not a savory odor.  I jokingly said, “Son, if you run with the goats you’ll smell like a goat.”  He was too young then to comprehend the full import of those words.  Later he learned and heeded the message.  Now, with two sons of his own, he understands even more fully the power of association and influence.

Jesus truly wants us to learn this lesson on influence.  I know He does.  For He told us what a little leaven could do to three measures of meal.

“Another parable spake He unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and id in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
(Matthew 13:33)

“Since we are all creatures of influence, there is protection and elevation in associating with righteous, honorable people.  Furthermore, in most instances the very company in which you are apt to improve the most will be the least expensive.”      ~ Leroy Brownlow

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”     ~ Rohn

Eileen Light