“The Dash Between the Dates”

Longevity and Living

Recently in the paper a man who had lived 101 years was asked to what he attributed his long life.  He answered pretty wisely: "God and green tea - one prayer and one cup every day." Some time ago I recall another old man being asked this question. He attributed his long life to his habit of drinking Sterno (a heating fuel). I suspect this man lived long only because he was so ornery.

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery


The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.


The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

Ephesians 5:15-16 Therefore be careful how you live -- not as the unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Sirach 44:9 While others have left no memory, and disappeared as though they had not existed. They are now as though they had never been, and so too, their children after them.

Psalms 90:10 The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength. (Moses)

This message based loosely on Marilyn Anderes:

  More: The Four Dimensions of Intimacy with God
By Marilyn N. Anderes / Baker

Do you long for something more? Are you discontented with the tameness of your relationship with God? Does your heart cry out, "There must be more than this"? With humility, vulnerability and a wealth of hard-earned insight, More shows you how to "taste and see that the Lord is good." A fulfilling intimacy with God can be yours if only you dare to jump into His presence and withhold nothing. If you allow God to expand your view of Him in every dimension - wider, longer, higher, deeper - He will prove Himself worth the risk, and then some! Each chapter includes "Searching for More" for further reflection.

What was true 3,000 years ago is still true now; we generally have 70 - 80 years of life on earth. You may go behind the church to the cemetery and prove this for yourself any time you wish.  Though there have been many schemes and programs meant to extend life beyond these limits, they always have very limited ability to do what they propose.  Scientists have found that human cells are preprogrammed by the Creator to divide a very limited number of times.  When their number is up, the cell dies.  When cells begin to die, then we begin to die.  Just as inexpensive cars are good for a hundred thousand miles no matter how well they’re maintained, human beings also have built-in obsolescence.  The question is: What do we do with the time symbolized by the dash between the dates of our birth and death? 

   A psychologist actually analyzed how people used time over a period of 75 years. The average person spends

·        24 years sleeping

·        24 years of working

·        6 years dressing

·        8 months on the telephone

·        6 months tying shoes

·        12 weeks signing paychecks

·        4 years just waiting. These are the longest years of all.  Why, just yesterday I waited four years at Wal-mart.

   With the limited time that we have and with the onset of a new year, we do well to ask ourselves again, "How am I going to live the rest of my life?"  And we can find the answer to this question in the wisdom of those who already have lived their 70 or 80 years and more.  Fortunately, we have many around us today in this age range representing a whole lot of wisdom and a whole lot of folly, too. 

   Recently in the paper a man who had lived 101 years was asked to what he attributed his long life.  He answered pretty wisely: "God and green tea - one prayer and one cup every day." Some time ago I recall another old man being asked this question. He attributed his long life to his habit of drinking Sterno (a heating fuel). I suspect this man lived long only because he was so ornery.  Aunt Myrtle, the missionary who gave her life to the orphans of China, lived 90 years, the last ten in our home.  Although she had plenty of green tea in China, she attributed her long life to good old alfalfa tea, which we picked for her right out of the back yard.  Of course, she gave the greater glory to her Master. 

   Once I knew a woman who was 112 years old.  Her name was Grandma Abernathy.  She was the oldest woman in Indiana.  She had a good mind even at her advanced age, though her body was failing daily.  I had several talks with her, but she wouldn’t reveal the secret of her longevity.  “Don’t want a lot of old people like me a runnin’ ‘round, do we?” That’s all she’d say about it.



   Moses, the friend of Yahweh, lived 120 years. Now here's a man whose advice about living we can trust. Moses was also the author of Psalm 90. He offers us a prescription of living long and being useful. He starts us out with four insights into the human condition:

·        Humankind is finite but Yahweh is infinite: {2} “You are from everlasting to everlasting.  You turn men back to dust....”

·        Humankind is time-bound but Yahweh is timeless: {4} “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.  People are like the new grass of the morning-- {6} by evening it is dry and withered."

·        Humankind is not concerned about wasted time but Yahweh is very concerned: {9} “All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan."

·        Humankind's lifespan is troubled: "Their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away."

When Mignon and I were missionaries, we came upon a wedding in a rural Haitian village.  The family was very poor, but still decorated their little hut and yard to a great degree, and the wedding attendants were all dressed in heavy suits, despite the stifling heat.  The whole thing seemed strangely out of place, since we were in a very primitive area of huts and outdoor kitchens.  One lady, a bystander, pointed to the bride and groom and said, “Everything is wonderful for them today, but trouble starts in the morning.”  To be human, whether one is a believer or not, means to encounter every kind of hardship.

      But Moses also tells us that our lifespan is a gift of the Creator. Time is a gift that we are to offer back to him. {12} “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." In the words of writer Marilyn Anderes, "There are only three things that we can do with the limited time that we have. We can waste it, spend it or invest it."  I think that’s a good analysis of what Moses is trying to teach us in Psalm 90.


Wasting time

   Let’s consider at how we waste time. We can think of a thousand ways.  Topping the list of time wasters are worry and anger.  How many years have we wasted in bitterness and resentment?   In busyness (business)?  Procrastination.  Indecision.  Complaining.  Self-pity.  We get focused on these things and “life as it was meant to be lived” passes us right on by.  Someone put this fact into a wonderful platitude that we can easily memorize:

The past is history, the future, mystery. Today is a gift; that's why it is called the present.


Spending Time

   Next, spending time is another way of saying that we just exist -- frittering away our gifts without any eternal purpose.  Every morning we spend time.  Get up. Get in the shower.  Brush teeth.  Comb hair. Get dressed. Eat cereal. Watch television.  It’s necessary to spend time on these things, but without spending it purposefully, in anticipation and preparation of serving G-d and man, the routine is littered with emptiness.  Spending time is very addictive and lends a certain false assurance to our lives, like the feeling of contentment when really there is not much accomplished to be contented in. 

Investing Time

   Your Father's given you the choice as to how to use your time. The best of the three ways is investing it. "An investment is a present expenditure for a future dividend."  Investing our time in the things of God -- things like prayer, study and ministry to others – hard work -- make our days count by building structures that will outlast us. And it's never too late to start investing!

   By the way, many people don’t believe prayer, study and ministry are “hard work” or even worthwhile.  Some become ministers in order to be as independent and do as little as possible.  But I want you to know that prayer, study and ministry is hard work.  I know this, because so few people invest their time in these endeavors.  Try praying one hour for others and see for yourself just how hard it is to pray.

   I met a 40-year old man who earns a very good salary. He is married and he and his wife have raised several children, some of whom are grown and gone.  When I asked him about his investments, he said he never had a savings account, a dime's worth of life insurance or any plan for retirement or disability. We think it's foolish for a man of means to neglect such important temporal investments.

   Yet we admire the man who is successful in investing money but who never invests anything in eternity. That’s because our society values temporary things but puts little value on the permanent. Our educational system not only neglects to teach us how to make spiritual investments but now actually prohibits such matters from even being mentioned in the context of preparation for the future.  We need a professional Sunday School every bit as much as we need the professional elementary school right down the road.  I didn’t learn about Jesus in church, but in the public school system, in the religious education program, funded by tax dollars.  There is no such thing as religious education for children now.  There is no moral guidance, and what kids listen to their elders these days?  Well, a few do!  But how can our children apply truth they have never been taught?  And how will they learn without a teacher? 

How to Invest in Eternity

   Fortunately, though they’ve seriously corrupted them, they haven’t taken away our Bibles as yet.  We still have old Moses to turn to.  In Psalm 90:13-17, he gives us seven clues as to how we might invest our time wisely and profitably, morally and righteously.

·        {13} "Relent, O Yahweh! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants."  Moses is saying that you must spend time working to connect with the Almighty. Cry out to him. Even a complaint is a high enough form of praise to be recorded over and over in the holy book; even a complaint is an investment that can bring dividends in the future and answers yet in this life.  If complaining to your Father is a good investment, think of what kind of return an investment in praise might bring!

·        {14} “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love…”  Receive the spiritual blessings of your Recreator and be satisfied with them. Be content in his love and providence.

·        {14b} “That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. {15} Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble."   Be joyful in the days you have. Will yourself to joy.  Force yourself to gladness, whether you feel like it or not.  Expect your days of trouble and affliction to be matched with days of blessing and good health, and rejoice in the hope of eternity.  You are here today; now isn’t that a blessing?

·        {16} “May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children." Watch for your G-d and watch with G-d!  Make an effort to see what Yahweh is doing in your world and invest your time in his doings.

   These four suggestions help us to make ready for their practical application. They teach us how we should feel and what kind of attitude we should take. But the final three suggestion on investing our time are very practical, and teach us what to do.

·        Verse sixteen calls us to watch, but also to do. Old folks, we are to become a transforming generation.  The only way our children, that is, any younger people around us, will see Yahweh’s splendor and Yahshua’s grace is through us, as we teach and live exemplary lives for them.  The Jesus you can be is the Jesus they will see.

·        {17} “May the favor of Yahweh rest upon us and establish the work of our hands."  Live each day for Him; everything you do in each day, do for him. This is intentional living -- we intend to do everything for the sake of the Almighty time-giver, and we make every effort to live out our intentions.  Brother Lawrence was one of the greatest devotional writers of all time, yet no one knew about him until he was gone.  You see, this great man of prayer worked in the monastery kitchen for fifty years.  But his writings have lasted five hundred years!

As I make my little omelet, I make it as unto Him.  And as I eat it, I am strengthened to do his will.  And as I wash the plate, I do it as he bids me.  And if I spill it, I scrub the floor to his glory. O, how blessed I am to spend all my time for love of Him.

Now that’s intentional living!

·        {17b} “Establish the work of our hands."  Some translators render this as "confirm our work."  In other words, as we live intentionally each day, following the Spirit of Yahweh, following his Commandments, and witnessing to the Christ-life, we look for signs of favor following our handiwork. We expect the Holy Spirit to move through what we do and make what we accomplish much greater than it actually appears.  He makes a bulwark of our work.

The Living Dead

   Values and motivations such as these are mostly lost on modern, driven humanity of the twenty-first century.  Some of the affluent of our generation believe that they can extend their lives by having their heads severed when they die, insulated in plastic and frozen in liquid nitrogen until a means of reviving them and supplying a new body is discovered.  They should have their heads examined now rather than later.  People with this attitude have more money than sense.  But they constitute only a small minority of people, rich and poor, who are of the living dead – those whom Sirach spoke of.   They are alive but they might as well be dead, as little time as they invest in things that last, like praise and people.  Only time invested in eternal purposes will last past the lifespan.  Only deeds of godliness will count toward the final reward.  I’ve got news for you young people.  You’re not guaranteed seventy years or eighty years.  2002 might be your year to account for your life.  Are you ready to cash in?  Redeem the time you have remaining.  Make the dash between the dates golden.  It’s never too late to start living the good life, the golden life, the right life, and there’s never a better time to start again than on the edge of a new year.  So “be careful how you live -- not as the unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Eph 5:15-16).    If you dare to take care of time in the now, Father Time will take care of you in the then.

   And his Spirit is calling you now; will you answer his call?  {Music - I Answer the Call, Steve Greene}

Jackson Snyder, 1953-2035
Written January, 1998

based on Marilyn Anderes, 1944-2038