1. Dedicate your life to Christ
He pointedly said the way to Heaven is through Him alone so take it allegorically too. The way to marital Heaven is through Christ.
His mentality of others first inspires and infuses selflessness
A peace from God passing understanding reaches us through Him as we pray.
Philippians 4:5, 6
Even financial security is realized through Him
And so it goes, and as we’ll see, everywhere you turn in a Bible He is spoken of making provision for believers. Couples that work out their relationship with Christ as their master and center of their home life are statistically heavily favored to thrive.
2. Don’t blow it before you start (or restarted)
Your unspoken permission for divorce as an option, to be allowed anyplace at all in the conversation, is like a proverbial foot in the door. Once the foot is in the door it’s only a matter of time before the door opens wider.
We don’t even joke about it.
Your sexual passions will ruin you if you don’t reign them in. Keep yourself for your spouse. Don’t conjugate before you consummate; don’t couple before you’re coupled. The love and respect you demonstrate to your husband or wife to be, by restraint, gifting yourself, makes a difference that reverberates throughout the years. It’s a treasure. The same goes for porn and titular novels.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
Give your folks a say in the process of choosing your mate. If they are not available find a pastoral leader in your fellowship to meet your girl or boyfriend. It makes a difference how much you want something to succeed as to what you are willing to do to assure it will.
3. Learn the art of sacrifice, submission and service
Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself as a sacrifice for her. A wife is to submit to her husband as unto Christ. Husbands must learn the art of submission too since we are to submit to one another, and wives will learn to sacrifice. To sacrifice means it all goes in the fire, but not as a loss, as an offering, an investment, a statement of worth.
“Where your treasure is there will your heat be also.”
To submit is to get under which demands humility and is the key to the other person’s ability to release their secrets and specially to release them to you as a spouse.
And to your sacrifice and submission add service: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for pleasing yourself (flesh), but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13, 14
4. Focus on understanding
I Peter 3:7
Peter says “live with your spouse in an understanding or considerate way.” Understanding is translated from a word for intimacy or ‘deeper knowing’ that is usually the result of learning.
Solomon wrote, “in all your knowledge get understanding (insight).”
• The primary skill in acquiring understanding is listening – listen, listen, listen! Find out what the burdens are and carry them. Think sacks of groceries but fill in lifting loads from the workday or sharing the burden of care for whatever your thoughtful questions draw out. “Love bears all things.”
• A second skill is sharing, sharing verbally, asking good questions that stimulate conversation.
• A third is to participate and promote each other’s interests.
5. Never go to bed angry
It will mean keeping short accounts of things that bother us about each other. One day to Stu on it is the most I should allow. “Let all malice and such be put away and be tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God, for Christ sake has forgiven you.”
6. Compliment and work to enhance public opinion
Speak healthful words that create in your spouse an architecture of beauty. Take responsibility for how the public thinks of them. Speak into them the true features of their personality and skills.
“Do not speak unhealthy words. Rather speak words that build up (edify).”
Ephesians 4:29, 30
“Her husband praises her”
7. Practice traditions and rituals that include challenges and give room for crisis
Camping as an annual or semi-annual tradition is one great way you can learn to organize and work together and discover what makes each other comfortable. The challenge of problems that inevitably arise is good for conditioning for common life. Birthday trips, date nights, family reunions all play a part.
Remember that your marriage is the life you live with reward in view. I want to say in the end of it, "I have fought a good fight, finished my course, kept the faith, henceforth there is a crown awaiting..."
Grace today y’all!
My brother-in-law Bill Perry had the grace of a chance favor from a Christian couple that passed by at the very moment that he lost control of his little car on a stretch of highway in southern Georgia. He had gone off the road in lousy weather and slammed into a tree. Of course, they didn't know if he was alive, or if he was under the influence of some contributing substance, or what sort of status he had in the world. They didn't know if he was returning from a great Christian mission or a tryst with a person other than his wife. They knew nothing about him and they apparently didn't think they needed to. Rather than continuing on their way they went to the next exit and turned around to see if they could help.
My sister will be forever grateful to God for the courage of that Good Samaritan couple with Jesus like compassion, driven by a worldview based on the universal rule of law that we love our neighbors as ourselves, or as Jesus put it in another place:
"Do for others what we would have them do for us"
Grace today y'all!
Jordan Spieth fell back from leading the pack on Saturday, February 7th at the Waste Management PGA Golf Tournament to a tie for fourth place. "Spieth opened with a pair of 67s and then blitzed TPC Scottsdale on Saturday to the tune of 10-under 61."(1) His score of 61 was 10 below par for Saturday, but surprisingly on Sunday he was barely able to escape with a one over 72. "One day after…a bogey-free 61 to validate the hard work to resurrect his game, he showed there is still work to be done in order to return to the winner’s circle." [ibid]
“Felt like I hit good putts, and as much as the lid was open other days, it was closed today.”
One day mastery, the next day misery
Failing to score so well down the stretch left him with an admirable total and but also left him wondering at what happened to make Sunday so different from Saturday. The analyst might say Jordan needs a winner’s mental toughness – a mind to win that overcomes fears and distractions, or more discipline in his physical preparations for greater muscle memory so his shots are consistent - probably all true.
Sometimes life is like that. There does seem to be a mystery to the experience of bringing your good game one day and showing up flat the next. Who can completely control that?
It happens to me too
In my vocation I face off largely against myself, standing on trial before my own stat line. I can't let discouragement affect my game. Getting back into the necessary rigor of preparation with the help of any lessons learned from the time before is a requirement of my job. One reason I follow sports like golf, which I have rarely ever played, is the common experiences of competition against one's self and the spirit of champions who overcome obstacles, mental, physical or otherwise, in order to win.
All of us face some days we are fluid and others when we're flat. Maybe we can swing out of it, but sometimes we just take it and hope for a better day, while putting in all the work necessary to ensure success as much as it depends on us.
I agree with Mr. Spieth when he says:
"Stats are important to me, especially the ones related to scoring. You're going to miss fairways and greens out here, so how you play from the sand really matters." [Jordan Spieth - Wikipedia quotes]
Coming back from a bad experience on one fairway and green to play the next with fewer mistakes, or to play the same course the following day and not be intimidated by the sand traps and water hazards you swung into the day before, or to face your next tournament with confidence takes a champion's heart, and the mentality of an overcomer.
Saints need confidence too
For the saint of God coach Paul has said:
"We glory in tough experience, (games good and bad, sand traps and water hazards) knowing that such tribulation produces endurance, and endurance experience, and experience hope. Hope as saints won't leave us ashamed because the love of God that showed itself when we were without strength and still failing, was demonstrated when Christ died for us."
Romans 5:3-8 [paraphrasing mine]
As believers, if our hope is built only on a consistent sense of success in all our endeavors we will despair, but if we swing with the knowledge that God has loved us, and that Christ would demonstrate it for us while we were without strength and still failures, our confidence to face another day of traps and hazards will be greatly enhanced.
His love gets us on our feet in the morning, puts a fresh ball on the tee and cheers us on in our game despite the mystery of fluid days and flat.
Grace today y'all
1. Adam Schupak [Golf Week, 2/7/2021]
"Jacob I loved, Esau I hated” is an idiom, a figure of speech that means a choice has been made between two. It could be, but is not always, a statement of actual hate as we think of hate speech or scowling rejection. Before they were born Yahweh made a choice - as we would think of it – through which of the boys the ancestry of the Christ would develop. No equal treatment, though those God “hates” often get their own separate, special and generous provisos, especially if they do not succumb to idiocy. They would need to overcome resentments and remain steadfast in their devotion toward Yahweh.
Sadly, we rarely do
A choice between two had been made the generation before in the case of Isaac over Ishmael, and would be made again in the following generation concerning Joseph, Jacob’s son by his favorite of two wives. Of Jacob it had been foretold he would, as the younger of twins, be treated as if firstborn. His line would carry the “seed of the woman” forward in anticipation of Messiah (Christ). This is why so much is made of it. The line of Christ was not according to natural selection, but one of divine choice.
On our end of it, dealing with such a choice - even if we are fully aware of the purpose of God - can be tough, but we don’t need to be idiotic in out reactions.
Think of Saul when he heard the happy crowds lining the streets of the capital cheering as David, the young whippersnapper and up-and-coming warrior leader walked toward the king’s residence to make his report. The ladies called out their compliments as they acknowledged their benefit of having such great men as their protectors, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten-thousands!” Their cheer was not a slight against Saul, but an idiom of high regard for not just one great warrior, but a generous benefit of two. They were probably thinking something along the line of, “With two great men like Saul and David, how can we lose?”
Too often we behave like idiots
Saul took it personally as an affront and became immediately, and irrepressibly jealous. He had begun to lose his mind and occasionally suffered fits of madness. With the episodes came extreme reactions to David’s presence and the eventual chase of David in wasted effort to eliminate him as contender for the throne for the sake of a dynasty through his favored son Jonathan.
According to a report in Hebrews 12, Esau became bitter upon realization the choice of his brother Jacob was irrevocable. His further recorded history in Genesis reveals his reaction as defiant of his parents and more importantly of God – idiotic. Another familiar case is found in Luke 15 where we discover a father’s favorable dealing with his younger prodigal son upon his return home. The special treatment and celebration over the prodigal’s return caused his older, seemingly more faithful brother, no small angst – also idiotic.
We could be idiots
We won’t always get what we want. Occasionally others may be chosen instead of us, or for the moment, shown more favor. We also won’t always know the reasons why. Saul was told why David was chosen over him, but it isn’t always so. Even if we were to be told, in that moment it might not make sense to us anyway. What we have to work with is our baseline personal devotion toward the will of God and the knowledge that He has good reason for things working as they do when it comes to real or felt rejection.
Peter was taken to school on this very point. Note that in his case, as recorded in John 21, Peter began to realize the different path marked out for his companion John, and when he questioned the Lord, Jesus flatly said,
“What concern is that to you, you follow Me.”
Precisely what I need to hear. “Stu, don’t be an idiot. Whether it is due to mistakes you’ve made that you have been passed over or not, at least as far as you can see it, your response to it will make the difference in your future.”
“Crucified,” is a modern idiom for being dealt with unjustly. It harkens back to the injustice shown Jesus Christ in His execution for crimes that were hung on Him without merit. A criminal was released by the will of the mob and Jesus was instead led off to a cross. Despite the injustices His response throughout was “Father, I remain committed to Your faithfulness toward Me (I Peter 2:23),” and “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).”
Paul seems to have settled such matters in his personal life and work by rehearsing,
“I am crucified with Christ, never-the-less I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
His testimony is loaded. On the one hand, and most importantly, he says that Christ is His substitute in death for offences against God he knew he was guilty of. In that Christ had died for him he was counted as having died and was therefore released from his guilt and set free. Notice he lives by faith in the Son of God what he has done and not in his own merits. But he alludes to a second reality, because in that Christ was crucified unjustly, and suffered in ways He never deserved, those like Paul that identify with Christ also realize they may be ‘crucified’ by an unwitting world that simply wants rid of us. Paul considered himself so and so should we.
Enough for now,
Grace today y’all
About one month ago I had the fun of caring for some young ones while their parents were busy. They were using a wheeled cart for rides and I was soon employed as the motor, transmission and exhaust noise.
At some point, as we were getting to know each other a bit better and tooling around, one of the passengers dragged their foot and out of my mouth slipped one of those terms I grew up with that I hadn't used in years. I said, and believe me, entirely in jest, in my usual jocularity, big smile on my face, "Get your cotton-pickin' foot in the cart!"
I can't put into words the context of fun those words were couched in, and as you know, context can make all the difference. But this time I would not be able to fall back on context to disinfect me.
My little friend looked up at me suddenly and said, "You said a cuss word!"
Stunned, I stopped all motor noise, shifted into neutral and replied quizzically, "I did?"
Lazarus had just moved from off the cold stone bed of his grave and from behind its doorway into the sunlight. He was newly aware of being alive, born again from four days in the dark. Now, if he could only shed the graveclothes.
Hard to say what that was like for him; also hard to say what it was like for those that were looking on. Jesus turned his attention to the folks watching and said, "Loose him, and let him go (John 11:44)."
Now, if you had any Jewish sensibility you might balk at touching a corpse and burial garb. Contact with such things rendered a person unclean and there was a ritual to be performed making dealing with the dead, particularly the stinky dead, troublesome. By-the-way, I'm also like that, tending to hesitate getting my hands dirty when it comes to helping folks with the issues that bind them. It can be messy. Children are less inhibited. Maybe it was one of them that broke free of their parents hand and boldly went to up to Lazarus to take off the first piece - or the last.
I still have some strips of cloth that stick to me. I was called out from my grave too, like Lazarus, as we all must be. It takes a while to get shed of our graveclothes. Every-so-often someone helps me remove another stinky piece. Like my young friend in the cart. She brought attention to something smelly I was unaware of and helped me remove it.
If y'all see something, or smell something on me like a remnant of graveclothes, please help me...
Grace today y'all
W. T. P. Wolston was a very famous Bible teacher amongst groups like ours in Scotland some years ago. He was an Englishman, born down near Dartmouth, about four miles away. He sometimes told the story of a noted infidel and landowner in his small community who had given testimony as to how he had eventually come to know the Lord.
The man had members of his family who were Christians and Sunday in those days was always a rather dismal day for him as an unbeliever.
So one of those Sundays he took an extended walk.
That particular afternoon, while wandering the fields he meandered toward his own property where he had a few cattle and leaned up against the fence. As he was standing there thinking, one of his cows came up to him and licked his hand. As the fella related his story, he told how when he was young his mother had taught him the Bible. He said that as that old cow licked his hand a text of Scripture she had taught him came back to him:
“The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” Isaiah 1:3 [KJV]
He said he looked down and thought, the Scripture is true. It is true of me, my cow knows me as its master but I don’t know God.
With that the formerly obstinate infidel turned to the Lord and was converted.
You just never know what the Lord will use to speak to us!
"The wind blows where it wills and we hear the sound it makes, but no one knows where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit."
A couple years ago I connected on social media with a relative that is a generation older but on the younger side of it, who was a child sitter for me on occasions prior to my ninth birthday. I say ninth because that would be when we moved as a family from the area where they lived. Parents hire sitters to watch over us while they are away or otherwise occupied and unable to provide us their direct care and watchful eye. As kids we need some oversight if for no other reason than as young ones we are still too stupid to know when to say no and without sufficient strength to help ourselves if we get hurt.
Children must be trained to become habitually well-behaved in a similar way we think of training our pets. I watched a former K9 cop that was a fellow employee at an appliance repair shop where I got my first job work a little with an unruly German Shepherd that belonged to the office secretary. He was trying to teach the handsome dog to heel in response to his voice command. Obedience that includes immediate response has to be learned and it is better that we learn it from a parent or in the case of this Shepherd through a skilled trainer. My co-worker took the dog up and down the parking area along the street and patiently gave the agreed upon command and then used the leash to enforce it. When the dog attempted to resist or lose focus and wander there came a severe yank to the tether to bring the animal back into submission. You may be taken back by the parallel I am drawing between your child and the training of a pet dog but you shouldn't be.
It was our intent to train our boys – we eventually accumulated four – in such a way as to expect their immediate response. At the first it was imperative for safety sake. We set out in our family adventure living in a lovely two bedroom apartment that was located fairly close to a street that led back into a growing neighborhood. We were close to the head of it so everyone that lived in the 'hood had to pass by our apartment units to get to their homes. Most seemed to want to do so quickly. If I turned my back on little Ben, our firstborn, he might wander out to the street where a danger he as yet did not understand was imminent. My commands were clear and sharp and we expected him to respond immediately if not sooner. Failure to come when he was called brought swift response from us in the form of a whack on his thighs. The thighs because his little backside was too well padded with a diaper for him to get the full impact of his education.
Each personality and temperament will offer a challenge to the methods we choose for training them but developing a basic consistent set of verbal commands and as well as a consistent follow-up as consequence to disobedience is critically important for a sense of fair play. Sugar is more effective than vinegar to draw flies, and to draw our children into compliance something positive might at times work well, but whatever augmentation is called for the very bottom line is we must "train up our children in the way they should go so that when they are older they will not depart from it."
An additional factor
Good parental discipline that leads to self-control is basic to human civility. It must be taught and taught early. If we are left to ourselves with no internal conscience for a moral compass or oversight to corral our passions and wanderlust we will run as if wild and behave badly. A well trained German Shepherd can eventually learn to walk beside its owner without a leash and only run from their side when given permission, but even then if off leash and separated from the owner they can become unpredictable.
On the avenue where we lived during my teen years there was a special family that lived a few doors down on the opposite side. They had a cute little grand-daughter that would occasionally visit while her parents were away. When she came over to stay with them she sometimes brought with her the family dog. It was also a handsome German Shepherd that was highly trained for show. By chance one day she was out walking the dog on a leash along the sidewalk across from our house when I stepped out to take a walk on my side of the street toward my friend Tim's house passing them as I went. All at once that well trained, normally well-behaved animal pulled free from the little girl's grip and bolted across to bite me in the knee! Even a well-trained dog when away from its owner can behave unpredictably and bite. Now, honestly and to be fair, the dog may have behaved instinctively to protect the little one from potential harm. What was it thinking? Perhaps you should turn your ear toward what I am about to write. Even behaving according to the impulse of our instincts may be at times be correctly regarded as bad behavior.
"People are not to live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
We need a divine implant
From the beginning it has been the intent of our Creator to walk with us. In our rebellion, choosing to explore our options we fell away from that lofty ideal and have suffered the fallout ever since. We all have inherited the ingrained nature that fuels our tendency to break free from our restraints. We need a supervising factor that can be implanted, that remains a part of us and positively affects our behavior and attitude. James uses the term "implanted word (James 1:21)." Paul uses the term "filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:17, 18)."
"But if you bite and devour one another…" Galatians 5:15
They agree, Paul and James, Paul's Spirit of God is the author of James' implanted word which when He comes in to us through our call out to God for His salvation He brings with Him His message for our hearts to reeducate us and transform our attitudes. This, if we are obedient to it, will alter our behavior.
Paul goes on to point out in Galatians 5:19-22 that, "if left to ourselves (what he means by living according to the flesh), sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (here we could truthfully include racism) will show up." To the list could be added entries from other lists of unrestrained bad behavior such as those found in Romans 1:28-32. But, in stark contrast, "the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit," permitted to have His way, transforming as He does our inner persons, "is love" - love that expresses itself in joy, peace, patience…and even self-control." All of which most of us agree is the best way to live. Without His inner shepherding and oversight we are not much better than a well-trained German Shepherd.
Sometimes they bite.
Grace today y'all
The M/V Golden Ray turned on its side in the midst of the Brunswick River near St. Simons Island, not far from the Atlantic coast of the state of Georgia in 2019. Apparently it has been determined the cargo was not properly balanced by sufficient ballast and before the normally stable cargo vessel traveled from its mooring more than a short distance it lost its balance and turned on its side.
Nothing has been reported about sea worthiness of the design. The fault lay in the loading and counter measures for balance that are necessary to keep a vessel upright especially in poor weather conditions and high seas.
What of the Ark?
Reading a recent news spot on the progress of cleanup from the shipwreck, thoughts of the Ark of Noah's construct with its unstable cargo began to bob to the surface of my early morning, coffee invigorated mind. Questions like how the limited numbers of animals – which meant they couldn't spare any - and the small eight person crew - also non to spare - manage to survive the tumultuous waters of the primeval flood? The heaving seas and opposing forces surely tested the design and likely caused growing anxiety over whether the ship would capsize in a manner not unlike the modern design tested Golden Ray.
We usually assume there was no other such vessel anything like the Ark built up to that time in our young history. Mathematics, useful in ship design, were apparently in use, but some inspiration of original nature must have attended the genius mind of the patriarch.
By the time of Noah's commission to build we are told the human state of affairs had reached a level of perversion that called for judicious response. Humanity had capsized and gone belly up. Too often the God of the Bible has been criticized for not managing His creation more closely. How could he possibly allow evil into the world, and having done so, whatever His reasoning, what is His current thinking on the pervasive nature of it we experience today?
The Golden Ray had a great design, not unlike many other ships just like it currently in production and use. The problem was not in the design. The boat was made for use in a variety of applications and outfitted to be put into service according to the will of the owners. Perhaps we should back off the accusations of flawed design a bit and focus more on uses and abuses. The flood in Noah's day was an effective eraser to wipe clean the slate of human corruption and start over. This time it would be by way of a family man carrying the library of human achievement and divine revelation in the hold of his rescue ship. Whatever evil's intent, it cannot win. The Ark's job was to convey the truth that had been nearly lost in the confusion of human mythology to the other side of the flood waters.
"For the proper attitude and response of God has been revealed against those that suppressed the truth in injustice…"
Romans 1:18 [paraphrase mine]
How did Noah's family manage to outlast the year-plus long high seas adventure, stopping leaks and rearranging loads, closed in with little exposure to the fresh air and the constant noise of the animals - suicide anyone?
Does it sound at all like your life this year?
The answer is Divine providence and supervision. He kept them safe for the sake of His larger purpose to fulfill in good time the promise to Adam and Eve, of a champion from a human family with the ability to crush the exasperator of evil and provide a new creation for us. Noah could not have done it without Him. The miracles of His interventions and providence made the passage of the Ark and its precious cargo possible. Noah knew it. He is recorded as paying immediate tribute to the Lord's oversight bringing them to safe lodging on the Ararat range.
"When the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the [supervision of divine] law…redeemed us"
"For when we were yet impotent to help ourselves it was then Christ died for the ungodly…demonstrating His love for us in that while humanity remained in its perversions Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6, 8
The purposes of God are in play
Untying from its berth at the Port of Brunswick, the Golden Ray embarked taking into account that every trip is a risk on many levels, but worth taking if the factors are all weighed. How many of us have travelled miles and miles over wet roads or icy conditions, with blurred vison and wear compromised tires. Even our success rising from the moorings of our beds each new morning should not be taken for granted. The purposes of God are in play. The best of designs can fail due to innumerable factors, so it is on us to implement them with care. The Golden Ray capsized due to an unbalanced load, and human error that is under investigation. The Ark, by the miracles of divine providence, made it to the safety of its new mooring. All passengers and cargo safely disembarked. One might say, with more than they left with given gestation and a fair amount of recyclables, perhaps useful in planting new vineyards.
We can make it too
The new heavens and new earth with the glories of eternity are a promised destination. Whatever happens that may make it seem like life has turned on its side the Lord by way of His careful attention will see you through to His prepared place. The Lord works all things in life together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. If you are not yet one of those enfolded in His special purpose make your break with self-determination and place the full weight of your trust in Him. He that "works all things according to the counsel of His own will" will give us buoyance.
Grace today y'all
I was invited, but I did not go.
It was bad timing, at least I thought it so.
Business at hand and things to do,
I turned down the invite and perhaps you would too.
Funny thing happened just now,
A crowd of folks that I knew from town,
Passed by my home with that man from our doors,
Enthused as if they'd been offered the store!
I grind my teeth at people like them,
Offered a chance that was mine.
I ran to the venue but found the door locked,
I, and the others like me, started to chime -
"Why them and not us? We're better you'll see!"
But the guard at the gate said,
"Complain as you please,
The host and His guests have no ear for your pleas."
Don't think this a fable.
If an invitation arrives;
There's a knock and you're able - Go!
Though generous grace in the Host you'll find,
Should you balk and fail to make it in time,
He will label your place reassigned.
I was recently reminded of the great respect the Islamic faith shows their holy book the Koran as I watched a character on a popular television show wrap and bury a personal copy that had been desecrated having been torn and dropped on the ground.
From very early on in my Christian sensitivities toward the Bible as the Holy Scriptures, to be revered as the word of God, I was eager to mark mine up with a pen to provide lasting annotation from my studies for the sake of teaching others. That later proved to be less than efficient for my taste, but I thought nothing of defacing the printed page with pencil and ink to connect ideas and words for my future meditation.
At some point in my scouting years, probably closer to the beginning at age 12 or 13, the manuals included U.S. flag and Holy Bible etiquette for care when disposing of them. As I recall, if a flag touched the ground or had worn to become threadbare or tattered, and if a Bible had been ruined by use or abuse they were to be burned. We have several flags that are aged but in pristine shape and I can't say we have had occasion to dispose of one, at least not that I can remember. Of Bibles however there have been many that I have used and most have in some way been abused by dropping especially. One of my favorites that I still have in my library has several pages stained with grape jelly that somehow spilled in the back of my VW Beetle while on one of my cross-state runs to girlfriends, youth rallies or camp events. I kept a Bible tucked among my change of clothes, English Leather cologne (which also leaked) and other assorted accessories for my semi-frequent weekend jaunts. I wiped it from the pages of Isaiah and began using those stains as reference markers in sword drills (contests to see who can find a Scripture reference the fastest). It never occurred to me to burn it.
Perhaps from an outside view one might think my use and care hasn't improved that much. I use what I call my "Bible on tape" even today. Bible on tape is a play on the former way, prior to compact disks (c/ds), when we may have listened to the Bible being read on cassette tape recordings. I have repaired the binding with duct tape more than once. And yes, I still read from a hard copy, black and white inked, paper page book form of the Bible. I am less inclined to write in current use versions since I want categorized retrievable notes for future use and I carry the one of choice for the day in my man purse, an attaché of sorts, but it will still be put away with other things of use and usually can be found with my latest scribblings for notes and folded messages from recent assemblies stuffed in its pages.
The primary difference in use and respect between a passionate Muslim and a devoted and particularly western bred Christian is the focus of our devotion. The western Christian is likely to be more absorbed with the content rather than the material book itself and wishes to avoid idolizing the material over the divine author. We are rather blessed to be so affluent as to possibly own several copies of the Bible in a variety of versions and even languages. The typical view in Islam is that there is only one version and one holy language for it to be read in for the fullest truth of it. The Christian will likely be of the mind to find all the versions they can and get them into the hands of as many as they can. We don't tend to throw away or burn used or abused copies (do we?), we give them away to those who may not have one to read because it is the message and not the material book itself that is vital to enlightenment.
This is all complicated so much the more with so many of us turning to the convenience of an electronic device for nearly unlimited access to versions of the Bible and everything else. Growing numbers in our assembly audiences no longer carry their hard copy Bibles.
"He said to me, 'Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.' So I ate it, and it was sweet like honey in my mouth." Ezekiel 3:3
No one should be other than respectful of other books even of opposing faiths. It does nothing for our witness to them of the supremacy of the Scriptures to disrespect them. Admire the reverence given to their holy things and maybe let some of that rub off, particularly in how we handle things in public, but remember to save your reverence and your love for the Lord Himself and His precious words of instruction to us.
"All Scripture is breathed out [in words] by God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in what's right so the person of God can be well furnished and equipped for every good work." II Timothy 3:16, 17 [brackets mine]
Grace today y'all!