goodness will go with you

“But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.” (James 1:25 CEB)

“… blessed in whatever they do.” That’s quite a promise. Note its goodness (“blessed”) and scope (“whatever”). Notice how it settles into your spirit and grabs a hold of your heart.

It’s important to remember:

  • This isn’t a promise that if you’re a person of genuine, practicing faith you’ll have plenty of tangible things.
  • This isn’t a promise that if you’re an obedient follower of Christ your life will be swept free of difficulties and troubles.
  • This isn’t a promise that if you put enough of God’s word into you and do all you can to allow your behavior be shaped by your belief that you’ll be “successful” by the world’s definition of “success.”

It’s equally vital to recall:

  • This is a promise that God himself will gift you as you serve him.
  • This is a promise that your doing God’s will is never in vain because his doing is right there with your doing.
  • This is a promise that there is nothing you do for God or go through with God that he doesn’t work good in, whether you ever even see it or realize it.

Trust God your Father, the one who gives you, his child, his word, this word, this reason to live for him.

“But those who study and practice the perfect law that brings freedom, those who aren’t about listening to it and then not recalling their responsibility to live by it, will find their way blessed at every turn.” (James 1:25 DSV)

My heavenly Father, you call me to live after your goodness and you promise your goodness to me as I do so. As you are faithful to your promises, father, may I be faithful in my promise always to serve you. May that be when your goodness is obvious and instant to my finite senses as well as when your goodness is obscured or even invisible to me completely. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Civil War & Stephens County, OK (19)

Reed, Bartley Hampton (1839-1913)

Far more men died in the Civil War from sickness than did from shot and shell. Falling ill enough to be left behind in a hospital was often a death sentence for a soldier during the Civil War, no matter which side on which they served. The experience of the USA, 29th Missouri Infantry Regiment serves as an example. During the war, three hundred and sixty nine men died in the service of the 29th. While 75 of that number were killed or mortally wounded, nearly four times that number (294) died due to the effects of disease.

Bartley Hampton Reed was one of those fortunate to emerge from a Civil War hospital alive and Bartley served as a Private in Company E of the USA, 29th Missouri Infantry. He enlisted on Aug. 18, 1862, mustered into service on Sept. 6, 1862, and served until he was mustered out of service on June 12, 1865, two months after what is generally recognized as the end of the Civil War. The scope of the experiences of his regiment stretched across much of the South and included their involvement in a number of the Civil War’s better known battles. Following is an excerpt from their regimental record:

“SERVICE … Sherman’s Yazoo Expedition December 22, 1862, to January 3, 1863. Chickasaw Bayou December 26-28. Chickasaw Bluff December 29. … Assault and capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, January 10-11, 1863. … Siege of Vicksburg May 18-July 4. Siege of Jackson July 10-17. … Moved to Memphis, thence march to Chattanooga, Tenn., September 27-November 21. … Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27. Lookout Mountain November 23-24. Missionary Ridge November 25. Ringgold Gap, Taylor’s Ridge, November 27. … Battle of Resaca May 13-15, 1864. … Battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5 … Assault on Kenesaw June 27. … Battle of Atlanta July 22. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. … Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. … Operations in North Georgia and North Alabama against Hood September 29-November 3. … Regiment led advance of the 15th Army Corps on march to the sea November 15-December 10 [aka: Savannah Campaign]. … Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. … Battle of Bentonville, N. C., March 20-21. … Occupation of Raleigh April 14 … Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D. C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20. Grand Review May 24. … Mustered out June 12, 1865.”

However, as trying as the experiences of combat must have been for the men of the 29th Missouri, perhaps the biggest test for Bartley is recorded in a brief entry in his personal record of service card that simply reads:

“Left sick at Memphis, Tenn, Sept. 21, 1863.”

Working in Bartley’s favor for his recovery was the fact that he was a young man (b. 1839 in Missouri) and that he was perhaps already a married man at the time (“Sarah Elizabeth;” b. 3/23/1843; d. 3/5/1904). Surviving his hospitalization in Memphis, Bartley would go on to become the father of at least two children, both sons, the first, Bartley Henderson Reed, being born one year and one week after his hospitalization (b. Sept. 23, 1864 in Madison County, Missouri; d. Sept. 18, 1891) and the second, Joseph L. Reed, being born four years and four months after he was discharged from military service (b. Nov. 29, 1869; d. Nov. 19, 1901).

When exactly Bartley moved to Oklahoma I don’t know, but he does show up in the 1910 Census, living as a widower in Pontotoc County, OK (1st Ward of Ada, Oklahoma [#13-13]).

Bartley died on Wed., Mar. 19, 1913. His body is buried in the Marlow cemetery (section 12, block 69, lot 4) in Marlow [Stephens County], Oklahoma. While there is no indication of his military service engraved on his gravestone, his name is listed on the veterans monument in that cemetery. His service as a Union soldier is also documented (under the name “B.H. Reed”) in N. Dale Talkington’s work The Long Blue Line: Civil War Union Soldiers and Sailors Buried in Oklahoma (p. 524).

don’t be a bed head

“Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like.” (James 1:23-24 CEB)

Over the course of a lifetime, a great many American women will spend one full year looking in a mirror. They are careful students of themselves. Why? They have a singular purpose in mind: to make whatever “adjustments” they deem necessary to their appearance. This is of tremendous importance to them. Of such value even, it could be argued that for many, their life revolves around this activity.

Now picture this. A woman gets up in the morning, bathes, puts on her makeup, dresses, and then proceeds to head out the door to go to work – never touching her hair all day long. She washes, dries, and cuts it as needed, but otherwise does nothing with her hair. Imagine her appearance. Imagine the looks and comments she receives. Now imagine her doing this every day for all of her days. She’s a lifelong walking, talking case of “bed head.”

Ludicrous to consider? “Never would happen,” you say?

James says a great many of us, men and women alike, do just that. We carefully listen to, read, or think about the word of God, the “mirror,” and then do nothing about changing our way of living to bring it in line with what we experienced in the word. Bam!

Think I’ll brush up a bit today.

“Listening to the word and then not living it is like studying your face in a mirror and walking off from it while forgetting to do anything about what you saw.” (James 1:23-24 DSV)

Father, in the name of Jesus, help me to connect my brain with my behavior today. Amen.


“You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.” (James 1:22 CEB)

You ought to do it. It’s a rather humbling exercise. I’m talking about reading, deeply hearing all of the sentences in Scripture that speak directly to us as followers of God that make use of the word “must.” Here’s a small sampling from the New Testament. I will warn you first: you might be tempted to skim through them. Don’t. Read each one carefully, letting them soak deep into your mind. As you do so, ask yourself over the reading of each of them, “Am I living like this is a necessity of life, like the air that I breathe or the food that I eat?”

“… you must not oppose those who want to hurt you.” (Matthew 5:39)

“… humans must not pull apart what God has put together.” (Matthew 19:6)

“… you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

“All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

“Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person.” (Luke 17:4)

“… the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)

“Whoever serves me must follow me.” (John 12:26)

“Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” (John 13:34)

“Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)

“If we are to enter God’s kingdom, we must pass through many troubles.” (Acts 14:22)

“… we must help the weak.” (Acts 20:35)

“You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9)

“All these things must be done to build up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:26)

“… you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always …” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor …” (Ephesians 4:25)

“The peace of Christ must control your hearts …” (Colossians 3:15)

“The word of Christ must live in you richly.” (Colossians 3:16)

“Everyone who confesses the Lord’s name must avoid wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

“… you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances.” (2 Timothy 4:5)

“… the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“Marriage must be honored in every respect …” (Hebrews 13:4)

“… you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy.” (1 Peter 1:15)

“… you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith …” (2 Peter 1:5)

“You must live holy and godly lives …” (2 Peter 3:11)

I told you it would be challenging. But there’s one more to consider. All of those statements hinge on this one:

“Don’t be deceived. Listening to the word isn’t enough; you must live it.” (James 1:22 DPS)

Father in heaven, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. In me. Today. No matter what. Amen.

this went thru my mind

Capital punishment: * Capital Punishment: Dying a Slow Death? by Scot McKnight and * Death Interrupted by Shane Claiborne.

Economy: 28% – Recession Takes Its Toll on Household Wealth (Pew Research Center).

Marriage: 5 Ways to Kill Your Marriage by Jim Martin.

Poverty: Five Misconceptions About Poverty in America by David Beckmann.

Sexuality: What’s A Christian Response To Chaz Bono? by Tim Spivey.

Time: 5 Ways to Redeem Your Ride to Work by Trevin Wax.

Worship: “Our Children Don’t Get Anything Out of the Service”: Worship as Training for Life by David Fitch.