Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zerubbabel: The Mark of the “Z”

The Mark of the “Z”

When I was a boy one of my favorite heroes was Zorro, the legendary nobleman with black mask and flashing sword who eased the oppression of the alcalde on the peasants in old California.  He came out of nowhere and left behind only thankful people and the mark of the “Z.”

Name: “Offspring of Babylon”

Date: 6th Century BC

Identification:  Son of Shealtiel, he led the return to Jerusalem; built Second Temple

Story Line:  Zerubbabel work was not spectacular, not appreciated

Read in the Bible:  Ezra 3:1-12; Haggai 2:1-23

The Bible has its own Zorro who came out of nowhere and left his mark on thankful people.  His name also begins with a “Z”—Zerubbabel.  Born the son of Shealtiel in Babylonian Captivity, he was the grandson of Jehoiachin, the captive king of Judah (1 Chronicles 3:17-19).  That means Zerubbabel was a descendant of David and ancestor of Jesus.  But in Babylon, his stature was diminished to captive.  Diminished, that is, until Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple.

Suddenly the people needed a leader, a hero, someone who could leave the mark of the “Z”, if you will. 

Zerubbabel rose to the challenge.  He led the first group of captives back to Jerusalem and began rebuilding the temple on the site of Solomon’s temple.  When the work was finally finished.  Zerubbabel’s temple was dedicated with a great celebration that climaxed with the observance of the Passover (Ezra 6:19).

Zerubbabel came out of nowhere, but served tirelessly and faithfully.  God had a special “well done” for Zerubbabel.  He said, I will “make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you” (Haggai 2:23).  If you are living in “nowhere,” be encouraged.  God may call you out of nowhere to do more than you could ever dream.  So be ready.   It could happen today.

By Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Confident Living Magazine
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Youth And Young Adult: Vacation Not Vaccum

For Youth And Young Adult: Vacation Not Vaccum

Credit: A to Z Blog Challenge
“What are you going to do after your exams?”
“I’m going to sleep and sleep, then go to a camp, visit friends and just laze around.  I’m going to forget that such things as books exist.  Later I’ll probably look for a job.”

Vacation—balm to weary minds and tired bodies.  Lazy days.  No hounding deadlines for assignments or that all-important exam.

There come days to all of us when we wish life was one whole long vacation.  Yet we all know that there is more to life than leisure.  Sooner or later, we have to get a job and make a living.  How gorgeous, sighs the office worker as she thinks of the student who has the summer off.  But many a young person is not so sure.  It’s OK, replies a student nonchalantly, but it sure can get boring.  How will you use this vacation?  Play?  Daydream?  Do a bit of every-thing?

A Time to Develop 

Time management is not easy.  During the school year, your life is quite predictable.  Your schedule is marked out for you—classes, assignments, exams, and extracurricular activities.  Students groan about the monotony of routine, but there is a certain amount of security in regimented living.  That is why most colleges have a few “perennials”—students who stay around as long as they can, instead of graduating and facing the world.

So during this vacation, plan for self-development.  Several areas come to mind—emotional, spiritual, intellectual, vocational and social.  Experience has shown that the life-style you practice during vacations will become a pattern for your life in the future.  So plan carefully.

Emotional Development

Most people strive for wholesome emotional development.  Encompassed within this are feelings of security and fulfillment, acceptance by others and self-confidence.  When you cultivate healthy relationships with people around you, you are contributing to your emotional health.  They may be your family members (You’ll have more time for them during vacation), your neighbors and your friends.  Going to youth groups and church camps will give you excellent opportunities to meet and make friends.  Improving on old skills or learning new ones can also provide you with a sense of fulfillment and give you confidence in yourself and your abilities.  You may want to take guitar lessons, learn to sew or bake or improve in some sport.  You will be surprised at what can be done with just a little time and effort.

Spiritual Things

While in school, you probably have to get up early, you have a packed timetable, and it is difficult to fit in a time for the Lord.  With vacation at hand, have you set aside a time to meet with God daily?  It might seem easy with more time available but it is often more difficult to maintain devotions after school is out.  The go-slow pattern has a way of creeping into a person’s habits regarding spiritual things.  So plan and discipline.

Plan for character studies, theme studies and book studies.  The time you spend on these will be time worth spending.  Get together with a prayer partner and meet regularly during the holidays.  How about coming together to discuss good books, do a Bible study, visit some church members?  The Possibilities are endless.

The Mind

You may want to throw away your notes and put aside your books, but don’t let your mind rust.  You can and should continue your education out of school.  Think of new areas you have never investigated before, visit the libraries, and read books.  Stretch your mind.  Realms of knowledge wait for you to tap.

For a start, you could read the daily newspaper.  Seek someone out with whom you can discuss what you have read.


You will perhaps take a job.  Our job environments are laboratories which God will use to develop and mould our Christian character.  So in contents of our vocation we need to learn the meaning of working “heartily, as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23).

What are you like at work?  Are you punctual, polite, interested and honest?

Do your colleagues learn something about Christian ethics from your life at work?  Don’t be in a hurry for spectacular conversions; instead, stop complaining about the person who sits next to you.  Try seeing him as someone whom God has placed there to help you develop the patience and love you so readily accepted in last night’s Bible study as a Christian characteristic.


Vacation time can be lonely.  You probably think that you will have all the time in the world to talk and laugh with friends, but friends do go separate ways once school is over.  You might find yourself moping for your best pal.  Or your gang will be working day and night, spending the evening alone and dreaming of the good old school days when you had all your friends around you.

You may want to put away your books, but don’t let your mind rust.

Let’s face it. It’s going to take more initiative to develop and maintain friendship.  But it will not be realistic to recall the old days.  As we move into life, we are put together with all types of people.  In most cases they are not there by our choice, but as the Lord was open to all, we need to be open to the people whom God has sovereignly placed to be around us.

Initiate friendships.  Build bridges of communication.  Rejoice in the new friends whom God has given you.

God’s desire for us is that we develop ourselves at all times—vacation included—in all areas of our lives.  So before this vacation, why not take time to plan for growth in each of these different areas?  Make your vacation—your whole life—count for Him. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is For Xerxes: King Xerxes - Clear Thinking


Clear Thinking

by  Dr. Woodrow Kroll

By the time Apostle Paul counseled Timothy to “use a little while for your stomach's sake”
(1 Timothy 5:23).  

King Xerxes Had a long since destroyed himself with too much "medicine."

Name: “Prince” or “Chief”

Date:  5th Century BC

Identification:  King of Persia: husband of Esther; also called Ahasuerus

Story Line:  Ahasuerus ruled vast empire; drunkenness destroyed him
Read it in the Bible:  Esther 1:1-2: 17

Xerxes   succeeded his father, Darius his Hystaspis, in 485 BC.  In the Bible we no him Ahasuerus, the husband of Queen Esther.  From the Book of Esther we gain some insight into just how powerful and rich this king was.  His empire was vast, stretching from India to Ethiopia.  It took one hundred eighty days to show his officials the extent of his net work.  He built the capital cities of Susa and Persepolis.  Little wonder he was known as Xerxes the great. 

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, in the third year of his reign Xerxes held a convocation of his leaders to plan an invasion of Greece.   The book of Esther begins with a banquet scene that probably reflects that convocation.  There Xerxes, in a drunken stupor, called for his first wife, Vashti, to display her beauty before his drunken friends.  Vashti refused and Xerxes had her banished, replacing her with Esther. 

The Bible says that there is something better than wine for determining future plans.  “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the spirit,” Eph. 5:17-18.

Excess wine leads to unclear thinking (Proverbs 20:1).  Being filled with God’s spirit leads to joyful thinking (Acts. 13:52).  Xerxe’s rule ended in 465 BC when he was assassinated in his bedchamber by a courtier. 

Be filled with the Holy Spirit instead of wine, you will have a much brighter future.

Confident Living Magazine
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vashti: A Challenge to Modesty

V  is for Vashti: A Challenge to Modesty

                                                         —Dr. Woodrow Kroll 

Super Bowl XXXVIII was one of the most exciting post-season NFL games ever.  But the antics at the MTV- produced half time show overshadowed a great game.  Many believe that exposing Janet Jackson’s breast on international television brought the plummeting morality of the industry to a new low.

Name: “Thread”
Date:  5th Century BC
Identification:  Persian queen refused to exhibit herself during drunken feast
Story Line:  Vashti proved to be a pagan with some backbone
Read it in the Bible:  Esther 1:1-22

Throughout history women have had to make difficult choices between modesty and popularity.  No one displayed more courage in making that choice than did Queen Vashti.  She was the beautiful queen of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes 1) who reigned over one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. 

When the king sponsored a weeklong feast at his citadel place at Shushan, he commanded his queen be brought before him wearing the royal crown.  But the king and his friends were drunk and Vashti refused.  The reason for her refusal is not   given in the text, but the Persian historian Herodotus notes that she feared her dignity amidst the drunken men.  The Jewish Talmud also suggests that modesty was the issue.  Apparently Vashti refused the king’s invitation because she would not stoop to exposing herself in front of these drunken men.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned and discovered the nakedness, God has been putting clothes on people, and satan has been tempting people to take them off.  But the Bible says, Women are to adorn themselves in modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9), and there seems to be a direct correlation between spiritual maturity and modesty.

It takes moral courage to dress in an appropriate way, but that courage never escapes the notice of God.  Plan your wardrobe today as you would plan your life, knowing that you have a loving Father to please. 

Confident Living Magazine

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Use: The American President Who Made Greater Use of the Bible

Abraham Lincoln:

 The American President Who Made Greater Use of the Bible

Of all the United States Presidents, none has made greater Use of the Bible Than Abraham Lincoln.

Pic. Credit. history.com

In the summer of 1864, a friend named Speed went to a soldier’s home in Washington where President Lincoln was spending the night.  Later, in a lecture, Speed reminisced:  “As I entered the room… he was sitting near the window intently reading his Bible.

“Approaching him, I said, ‘I am glad to see you so profitably engaged.’

“Yes, ‘he said, ‘I am profitably engaged.’

“‘Well,’ said I, ‘if you have recovered from your skepticism, I am sorry to say I have not.’

“Looking at me earnestly in the face and placing his hand on my shoulder, he said, ‘You are wrong, Speed.  Take all of this Book on reason you can, and the balance on faith and you will live and die a happier and better man.’ “

From early childhood, Abraham Lincoln had a fantastic memory.  He could tell “the boys” what the minister had said at the Church days after the event.  In moments of merriment, he mimicked the preachers  for the gang; often he quoted in fun; but he owed a heavy debt to the wilderness preachers  who impressed God’s Word into his personal fiber.  His favorite was the fiery preacher Peter Cartwright, and it was with him that Lincoln was to contest for his only term in Congress.

 Of course, it was a politic in that day to be acquainted with and to quote the Bible.  People understood the references, for the Bible was one of the books most often found in frontier cabins; and if frontier preachers were not seminary-trained, they knew God’s Word and told its stories over and over again while they drilled home the Commandments.

It was a hot day in August 1858, when the first Lincoln-Douglas debate was held in Ottawa County, Illinois.  When Abe rose to answer the ‘Little Giant” Stephen Douglas, the audience knew the reference as Lincoln shucked his duster (outer coat) and commenced, “Hold my coat while I stone Stephen” (see Acts 7:59).  It brought a chuckle from hundreds, and few were puzzled about Lincoln’s meaning.

Of all the United States Presidents, none has made greater use of the Bible than Abraham Lincoln.  His own prose echoes scriptural cadences.

The recorded utterances and writings of Lincoln contain 77 quotations and references from the Bible.  His speeches led the way, with conversation following closely.  The Gospels and words of Jesus were favored, Genesis being second, and Exodus and Psalms in third place.  One-third of the 66 books are referred to, 16 of them in the Old Testament.

How, actually did Lincoln gain this almost fabulous knowledge?  Some of his contemporaries deride the idea that Lincoln spend much time with Holy Writ, while another says that he was a great talker on the Scriptures”  and read them often.  A relative says Abe’s father bought a Bible about 1818 or 1819.  At Washington, John C Nicolay, one of his secretaries, says he was “a constant reader of the Bible and (had) great faith in it.”

In his prairie years, Lawyer Lincoln was called upon to draw up a last will and testament for a dying lady.  When he finished legal formalities, his client requested he read the Bible.  To the surprise of all, Lincoln quoted the Twenty third Psalm and the beautiful words of Jesus in John 14:1,2,  “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”

Then, it is not strange that the “Great Commoner’s” daily speech was salty with Bible quotations.

One day when General McClellan was complaining about endless rain and mud that hindered troop movements, Lincoln told his secretary, John Hay, that the General forgot that rain fell “on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).

The Civil War President was continually subjected to criticism.  After the great preacher, Dr. Henry Ward Beecher, had taken deft aim in his publication, “Independent,” Lincoln threw the paper down and cried, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?” (II Kings 8:13).

At the time the cabinet was discussing the possible inclusions of a motto on the Civil War greenbacks, President Lincoln slyly remarked that “silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee” (Acts 3:6) might be more appropriate than “In God we trust.”  END

Confident Living Magazine,
Courtesy: Sword of the Lord. 
(Used by permission)