Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Promise Of The Spirit.1

"It is the Spirit
 that has the power
 to give life."

Another Christmas season is upon us.  Do you suppose Jesus gets annoyed at all the people who won't celebrate the season properly?  Wait, what is the proper way to celebrate, it is His birthday after all?  
-Purge the urge to get caught up in the commercialism? (saw a young Amish-man at Walmart picking out a Nerf-gun, presumably for a child...are there no sanctuaries of simplicity left in this world?!). 
-Feel indignant at the insufferable secular infiltration into His important incursion? (Believe in Santa/Don't believe in Santa...)  
-Pout at the potency of pitiful popular sentiment? ("The Dog Who Saved Christmas"...seriously?)
-Antagonize atheists who attack our sacred symbols?  (Stop making me say "Happy Holidays!"...darn you!)

Or maybe its to quietly and thankfully remember that this season represents all that Jesus is about: attracting to himself all that makes life troublesome - our lack or want magnified by our inability to satisfy it!

My Christmas wish for you, follower of Jesus, is to be reminded of these wonderful truths, from friend George Mac:

  • that the soul [filled with] harmony has more life, a larger being, than the soul consumed of cares;
  • that the sage is a larger life than the clown;
  • that the poet is more alive than the man whose life flows out that money may come in;
  • that the man who loves his fellow is infinitely more alive than he whose chief effort is to exalt himself above him;
  • that the man who strives to be better, is better, than he who longs for the praise of the many;
  • And, best of all, that the man to whom God is all in all, who feels his life-roots hid with Christ in God, who knows himself the inheritor of all wealth and worlds and ages, yea, of power essential and in itself, that man has begun to be alive indeed.

Image Author Unknown
"Let us in all the troubles of life remember—that our one lack is life—that what we need is more life—more of the life-making presence in us making us more, and more largely, alive." 

--George MacDonald, Life, Unspoken Sermons II

May you, by the Power of the Spirit, experience more and more of the Life He came into this world to let us taste, and in our tasting create a greater longing for, the love that satisfies as it ever expands its own life-giving presence -- in us and through us! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Place For You.4

"A woman, when she is in childbirth, knows pain and agony; but as soon as the child is delivered, she forgets her suffering, rejoicing that her child is born into the world. For a moment you may experience sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will be able to take your joy from you."

A new Kuyper to bless the world;
photo by Mom
I met a man the other day who told me that he and his wife had decided years ago not to bring children into this corrupt world.  Some decisions we just can't take back...the regret on his face filled my heart with pity.  (Perhaps I shouldn't have told him about our Lyon's Pride of eight boys...)

The trauma of having children is not, in my humble opinion, limited to the physical pain of birthing them (no offense ladies, but how should a man ever understand this analogy if the Lord limited its meaning only to half the human equation), but also includes the day to day anxiety of providing for them, protecting them, disciplining and directing them in the way they should go!

Our Father wanted each of us and loves us into existence. 

That love begins at the intense pleasure of conceiving them followed by the suffering of childbirth, followed by the moment the child looks up into the eyes of love.  A lifetime cycle of love and suffering is birthed in that moment! 

But the great reward throughout the parenting process is:
JOY!  It may very well be the one analogy that we can truly understand about the very real love & suffering our Creator God feels toward us.  His stamp of approval and our confident hope is Jesus.  Take hope then, follower of Jesus, that the cycle will be broken when we see Jesus face to face - 
will never again 
be taken from us!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Place For You.3

"Do not marvel when I say: A little while, and you will not see me; and not long after that, you will see me again. You will weep and be sad; but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful; but your sorrow will be turned to joy."

My eleven year old granddaughter and I sat on the couch last night watching the Grammy Nominations program.  After Taylor Swift's sensually suggestive performance, we talked about the transformation of young ladies like Taylor and Miley from family-loving innocents of light to fame-following instruments of darkness.  

I asked her what she thought these girls would say if someone had shown them, at the age of eleven, the script
image from
of their life  and the kind of things they would be promoting in their twenties.  "I think they wouldn't believe they would be doing things like that, grandpa," Vanessa replied.

____________________________________________ "The wicked strut about freely when what is vile is honored among men." -Psalm 12:8
____________________________________________ I pray that my granddaughter will continue to grow in her moral convictions and be a light to her generation who are easily duped by a wicked world system bent on violence and self-rule. A world that will not honor the King of Light, Love and Life.  A world that exalts death, destruction and disease while giving lip-service to compassion.  A world that demands tolerance to open mockery & disdain for all things sacred.

There is a sorrow that mourns for those caught in the web of deceit and the destructive power of sin.  There is a deeper sorrow that yields to fear when hope is overwhelmed by helplessness.  Imagine spending three years of your life in intimate contact with the Power that convincingly overcame the world.  Imagine the hope ignited in your heart for a world ruled by righteousness. Imagine the deep sorrow when hope was dashed at the cross by this rebellious world.  

Imagine the joy when Hope was resurrected!

Do not marvel, then, follower of Jesus, that darkness grows deeper as the vile strut freely about, making it harder to see the Lord.  While the world rejoices in less accountability and conviction, let us not lose hope knowing the joy we will see when Righteousness finally rules this world!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Place For You.2

"Know this: 
if I go and prepare a place for you, 
I will come again, 
and take you to be there with me; 
so that where I am, 
there you may be also. 

Let not your heart be troubled: 
you 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 must go away, 
but I will come again to you. 
If you truly loved me, 
you would rejoice, 
because I return to the Father."

I met a dad with a heartbreaking story. Seven years ago he took custody of his five year old grandson after the police found him outside his mother's house -in winter- without a coat. He soon discovered that his daughter, a pharmacy tech student, was hooked on meth. He hasn't seen or heard from her in the last four years. A son needs his mom; a dad wants his daughter...

Affection effects our lives in incalculable ways!

The story is told of a young college student completing a summer internship on a Navajo reservation. The respect for and tender devotion to them made such an impact that as he was preparing to leave an elderly woman approached him and, taking his face in her wrinkled hands, said, "I like me better when I'm with you!"


Jesus, while walking this earth, lived his life on a much higher plane, a spiritual Himalayas, which we still view from our sandy heaps of manifest dullness.  He ever held in view our spiritual perfection, the perfecting of a love so complete and joy-filled, that we cannot now understand, but as we walk with the Master find a growing hunger for its effect.  Call it a heavenly addiction...

"Nothing is inexorable but love. Love which will yield to prayer is imperfect and poor. Nor is it then the love that yields, but its alloy. For if at the voice of entreaty love conquers displeasure, it is love asserting itself, not love yielding its claims. It is not love that grants a boon [request] unwillingly; still less is it love that answers a prayer to the wrong and hurt of him who prays.
Love is one, and love is changeless.
For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected—not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves and can be loved, and love is ever climbing towards the consummation when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine."
--George MacDonald,The Consuming Fire, Unspoken Sermons I [emphasis added]
Although the Perfecting, addictive Love of Jesus was to be taken away, the Master infuses his men with hope, a hope that, in time, changed not only them but the entire world. "No one has ever seen God;" wrote the beloved friend of Jesus, "if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."  The love that radiates in and through us so that we can, like Jesus, leave others saying, 
"I like me better when I'm with you!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Place For You.1

"I go to prepare a place for you."

In the beginning God created all things...good.  The idea of mankind was good...more or less.  A being capable of will, like God, that could remain independent and yet need Him, choose Him and demonstrate loving obedience to the Perfect Will reflecting His nature by acts of goodness, love and devotion to all his creation.  

In practice?  Not so much.  Second thoughts.  Within a short time "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
-Genesis 6:5,6

Dr. Frankenstein, meet your monster.  But even monsters need a place near their father's heart.  The creature pleads with the creator: 
[Creature:] "Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."
[Creator]: "Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies. Begone, or let us try our strength in a fight, in which one must fall."

 [Creature:] "How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me, Dr. Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow creatures, who owe me nothing? They spurn and hate me."
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, (p. 52).  
Suppose we could see clearly how monstrous our attitudes and actions make us, cut off from the purposes and meaning of our Creator.  

Suppose we had no recourse but with futility plead our case for His love and devotion, knowing full well His abhorrence to evil.  

Suppose Jesus had not come to walk among the monstrous and plead His father's Truth: that He daily gives Himself for us to know and understand Him, and in knowing be like Him.

Suppose we had no promise of the place He joyfully prepares for us...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This Generation.8

"Those who have chosen to follow me in this generation will one day sit upon thrones, and judge kingdoms and kings who have hardened their hearts and turned away from these righteous words."

Game of Thrones

Throughout my journey I've read, pondered, endured and practiced a variety of approaches to understanding Jesus' words.  It is not unusual to find "bible" teachers who conveniently exempt themselves from obedience to Jesus' words by impressive terminology like "dispensation", "hermenuetics", "systematic theology", and so forth.  But the only way to truly understand His words and His way is to practice them!

How does this quote from Jesus lend itself to obedience?  Doesn't it apply to the twelve apostles some time in the future judgement of the world?  Think that if you will, but I believe the "one day" pointed to a time when individuals, those who put into practice the righteousness the Righteous One came to teach us, would have the moral authority to "judge" kings.  We do this regularly here in the United States through our election cycles.  

The founders of America understood how critical this kind of discernment was to our survival as a free people:

   "But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man." -- Samuel Adams, (Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap (Kindle Edition Locations 739-742).

Have the leaders in our country "hardened their hearts" and "turned away from these righteous words?"  You be the judge!  Frederic Bastiat, an 1800's French economist, wrote:  "Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources.  This process is the origin of property.  But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others.  This process is the origin of plunder. will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work.  History shows this quite clearly.  
...It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.  ...The consequence of this perversion is "erasing from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.  No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree.  The safest way to make the laws respected is to make them respectable.  When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law." --Bastiat, The Law

When today's American lawmakers both refuse to even read the laws beforehand and live under those they pass, they must be held accountable by those who  fearlessly live by Jesus' righteousness, and possess in themselves the moral authority to judge the actions of elected officials!

Rise up
O men of God, 

have done with lesser things.
Give heart and, soul and mind and strength 

to serve the King of Kings.

Don't think for a moment that we are not serving the King of Kings by living according to His righteous words and insisting the same for those who direct the affairs of our country!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Generation.7

"Come unto me, 
all who are tired, 
and sick of life, 
and I will give you wonderful rest! 

Receive my words,
and let me teach you, 
for I am gentle and kind. 
You will find rest for your souls. 

That which I ask of you, 
is for your benefit, 
and that which I demand of you, 
is light." 
-- Jesus

Do you believe Jesus because of His promises, 
Or do you believe the promises because of Jesus?

It is a vital distinction.
"What should I think of my child, if I found that he limited his faith in me and
hope from me to the few promises he had heard me utter! The faith that limits itself to the promises of God, seems to me to partake of the paltry character of such a faith in my child—good enough for a Pagan, but for a Christian a miserable and wretched faith. Those who rest in such a faith would feel yet more comfortable if they had God's bond instead of his word, which they regard not as the outcome of his character, but as a pledge of his honour. They try to believe in the truth of his word, but the truth of his Being, they understand not. In his oath they persuade themselves that they put confidence: in himself they do not believe, for they know him not.  
It is a dull-hearted, unchildlike people that will be always putting God in mind of his promises. Those promises are good to reveal what God is; if they think them good as binding God, let them have it so for the hardness of their hearts. They prefer the Word to the Spirit: it is theirs." --George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons I, The Higher Faith
 But what if, in our own childhood experiences, the promise maker was not a promise keeper?  What if we learn early in life that people say what they think we want to hear, or what they may intend to keep but can't or won't?  Gradually your childlike heart turns a little darker and you adult!

As a school bus driver, it was painful to watch this grievous transformation: the merriment and curiosity of the childlike kindergartners to the wounded, dark-eyed, heart-hardened high-schooler.

Promises, then, are only as good as the one making them.  Broken promises produce broken people, while promises kept bring healing, strengthen faith and deepen our love for the PromiseKeeper!

Friday, October 18, 2013

This Generation.6

When it is evening, you say: "It will be fair weather, for the sky is red."
In the morning you say: "It will be foul weather today, for the sky is threatening."
With accuracy you forecast a change in the weather. How is it, that you have failed to discern the signs of the times? 

You've probably heard the one about the two pastors having a heated debate over the correct "eschatology" of the end times, when a third declares "I'm a pan-millienialist!"  The other two stop in mid-sentence to ask, "What is a pan-millienialist?"  "Everything will "pan" out in the end!", he chortles.


An Historical Analogy

Let's say, for illustration's sake, that the majority party in Washington DC represents the evil monopolizing of political & police power to control the lives of millions of people.  In historical allegory, they would be the Roman Empire of Jesus' time, a brutal occupying power that used a country's own traditions and governing structures to impose their will, punish dissidents and confiscate treasure from the conquered.  

The Republicans represent the political minority that must bide their time for a chance to regain controlling influence of public affairs.  But they, however, are divided in their response represented by the "Establisment" and the "Tea Party" wings whose leaders grow more hostile to each other with each passing day, certain that their view of things is the proper tack to take in dealing with a formidable foe.  In a sense, this is the place the Pharisees and Sadducees held in the tense relationship between the nation of Israel and their foreign occupiers.  

(And for illustration's sake, the current administration represents the puppet government of "King" Herod who loved the title, lifestyle and notoriety of presumed power bequeathed by Rome and used it to bully his own people into submission...)

Undercurrents of rebellion filled the streets of Jerusalem led by various groups most notably the "Zealots" out of which Bar Abbas was born.  The Pharisee and Sadducee sects tried deliberately to keep a semblance of order in the midst of this turmoil and did not cotton much that would threaten the fragile "peace" the Romans offered.

Into this political house of cards Jesus was born.  Preaching strength through obedient love of the Father's Will and active love to one's neighbor AND enemies while demonstrating amazing command of nature, disease and language, He appealed to the hearts of individuals in ways over which the Pharisees and Sadducees could only languish. As the self-proclaimed Light of the World, he was not only a Beacon of Hope illuminating the way in dark times, he was (and is) a spotlight to expose the dark places in the heart; especially in those with a special calling to be light themselves but falter in times of trouble allowing their faith to flicker and their behavior to bruise.

Not unlike elected officials at every level of our own government, business and religious leaders as well, who read the "signs of the times" not as an opportunity to hold the line on principle, allowing adversity to strengthen faith and character, but as a chance through expediency to "get theirs" while they can!  And like every generation before us, we allow our debates to be reduced to doctrines, or ideologies, or which "leader" can promise the most "stuff", or worse yet, whether we should even get involved at all
! Rather than discerning what God is up to --as Abraham Lincoln entreated--and positioning ourselves on His side, we pine and wring our hands in despondency!  

Jesus warned: adversity tends to make us fearful and fickle, great adversity more so -- driving love out of our hearts.  As His followers, what ought our response be? It is our duty to be resolved to stand firm in faith as we recognize the warning signs of impending difficulty; willingly, like Jesus, to lay down our lives for our friends in resolute pledge to life, liberty and the preservation of principle.

While the Pharisees and Sadducees were looking for credentials, Jesus was demonstrating God's Perfecting Will. The same Will that is at work today: making us as individuals fit for his kingdom of love, light, and righteousness – who by eternal choice of good are overcomers.

If you don't like what our country, this world is becoming, read the signs…and respond wisely!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Generation.5

"Oh generation, who live your lives based on lies: how can you, being without truth, say anything worth hearing? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

A favorite Veggie Tales story is Larry-Boy! and the Fib From Outer Space. An alien life-form invades the sleepy town of Bumblyberg in the form of a creature that looks like a bouncing ball with a face. It convinces Junior Asparagus to hide the truth of his dad’s shattered collector’s plate in an innocent “fib”. Before long the little “fib” has grown into a gigantic monster -with arms and legs- that threatens the lives of the entire community smashing through the town square with reckless impunity.

This children’s story serves, of course, as an allegory, because as adults we know that “fibs” don’t really grow into gigantic monsters that ruthlessly destroy people’s lives. Nor that there are super-heroes whom we can call with high-powered spotlights shining into the sky to save us from our folly. Nor that we should have defense mechanisms in place to warn at the approach of alien invasions…

A popular political joke goes something like this: How do you know if a politician is lying? When his lips are moving.

Followers of Jesus have debated -for centuries- the proper place we ought to have in public discourse. Jesus, of course, was not interested in political power structures and clearly dismissed attempts by the masses to make him king. Yet, a King he is, the King of Hearts, and never did he avoid the call to righteousness in individuals...kings and peasants alike. Nor did he avoid calling out the superficial and self-righteous for their hypocrisy.

A simple preacher from an obscure part of the Roman Empire in a time far far away, Jesus made statements that shook, not only that empire, but the power structures of every earthly kingdom since then. What if, as Jesus pointed out and we can only dream now, public officials actually told the truth, made principled decisions, refused to obfuscate facts for their own political ambition, lived by that truth and, God have mercy, actually said things worth hearing? More importantly, what if we actually had the wisdom to discern the warning signals when an alien invasion of Fibs are bouncing around the public square and the courage to say 

we will not live our lives based on lies!

Follower of Jesus: If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

This Generation.4

"How can I describe this generation? 

They are like children sitting in the market place, 
        calling to their friends: 
"We have played merrily on our flutes; 
but you would not dance, or sing. 
We have played a dirge; 
but you have refused to be sad."

John, the forerunner, came and lived among you in great austerity. Everyone said: 
"He must be possessed of a demon."

Now the Son of Man has come to you, enjoying life, and you say: 
"He is a drunkard and a glutton, 
and the friend of sinners!"

With such brilliance you justify your own inconsistency." 

A pastor friend once observed, "This is a great job...if it weren't for people!" I often wonder if Jesus ever felt that way.

  1. 1.
    changing frequently, esp. as regards one's loyalties, interests, or affection.
    "Web patrons are a notoriously fickle lot, bouncing from one site to another on a whim"

My pastor friend recently resigned after twenty-five years at the same church.

About a year after closing down and selling our church building in 2007, I asked my wife if there was anything she missed about "church life."  "Not that I can think of," was her heartfelt reply.  While in ministry we had endured much criticism, divisiveness, slander and pain.  No amount of bible teaching on unity, love, service, "one-anothering", or walking in the Spirit can take the place of simple obedience!

One of the most consistent areas of disobedience I find in the church is the refusal to confront an offender and thus resolve conflict.  Instead, the wounded goes to others to salve their hurt by justifying their cowardice in a crowd.

Jesus gave a simple formula for resolving conflict:
  1. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you

    and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
  2. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
  3. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Which is the greater sin: the momentary hurt -whether intentional or inadvertent - incurred at the hand of another human or our refusal to "win our brother or sister?"  Which is more like Jesus: to lay down our hesitation for a chance to strengthen the bonds of love or to rationalize our fears at the altar of self-will?

Choose wisely.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Generation.3

"There will come a day when the inhabitants of Nineveh, called the City of Thieves, will stand and pass judgment on this generation, and condemn it. For they repented because of the preaching of Jonah, and now a greater than Jonah stands before you.

The Queen of Sheba will also rise to pass judgment on this generation, and condemn it; for she travelled a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, a greater than Solomon has come."

By the tens of thousands people across the world travel great distances to sporting events, rock concerts, religious and political pilgrimages.  The question is as relevant today as it was the day it passed the lips of the Universal Treasure Fount of Wisdom & Knowledge: what value do we give to wisdom?

Apparently not much, especially in today's America.  We'd rather wallow in shallow self delusion than attend to the self discipline required to learn wisdom.  

Some would say that judgment has begun in the USA, for we are getting the culture and government we deserve: profound debt, lack of personal responsibility, splintered families, tribal factions, erosion of liberty and Miley Cyrus.

Let me suggest that judgment starts the moment we begin the argument against self-will.  The argument begins in earnest when we take the first tottering steps to obedience.  If not repentance, like the Ninevites, why not, at the least, start on the journey to know wisdom?   Horse trainers and ship captains alike know that progress only comes through movement.

What father is not pleased with the first unsteady attempt of his little one to walk?  What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly steps of the full-grown son?  For what did the Son of God come but to teach us to become full-grown Sons and Daughters of Eternal Goodness?

Too much of modern Christianity focuses on the "work" of Jesus in saving us, rather than the working Christ who alone knows what each of us
needs to take the next step in our development to Oneness with Life Eternal.  The beginning of obedience to the commandments leads to greater hunger for the righteousness that Jesus only can make us capable.  Repentance opens the door of our heart to be rid of the things that hinder our growth.  Opens the door to the Living Savior and His attendant power to purify and perfect His Life in us!  A life of goodness & grace, moving nearer and nearer to the place where He is, next to the heart of God our Father.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This Generation.2

"Still unbelieving, this obstinate generation clamours for a sign; but no sign will be granted other than the sign that was given to the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the great deep for three days and nights, so the Son of Man will be three days and nights entombed in the earth."

Instead of signs, Jesus gives stories. Sometimes the stories include signs. Stories give life to the signs. The meaning of the signs is buried in the stories and needs to be mined for its significance.

In an increasingly visual and technological world, the impact
 of stories takes on greater significance...and danger. In print media reason, logic and imagination are powerful tools in deciphering meaning. In graphic media individual reason, logic and imagination are subverted with carefully crafted imagery created by people with potent powers of persuasion. The imagery serves nearly as a sign itself and demonstrates the inherent problem: signs can distract from gleaning the Truth in the stories.

For what is Truth but the meaning of events in our life and their relation to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? On our Facebook prayer page we are asked to pray for people who have met with very tragic problems in their lives. Usually we are asked to pray for healing, strength, resources and such. Very rarely are we asked to pray for the Truth of the event. In our asking we very much reveal the value we place on Signs vs Truth. Rather than placing our trust in a living Savior and the perfect will of God, we rely on our theological/doctrinal positions to make sense of something that, in human terms, seems so senseless.

But what do we need for good but God? And more and more of God's goodness to rule over the storm tossed events in life. If I stake out a position in scripture like "No harm befalls the righteous," what am I to do when harm befalls the righteous? Conclude they weren't righteous? Or that the paralyzing fall leaving a family in ruins wasn't harmful? To the humble in heart crying out to the One who can make clarity out of confusion, good out of bad, and power out of weakness, the meaning becomes clearer with each painful passing moment. Love and trust in God is the only Truth we really need and the value of learning them is in direct proportion to the difficulties we endure and the tender help the Son of God provides in leading us to the heart of His Father.

To the obstinate and self-willed; the judgmental finger-pointers and arrogant know nothings let them continue to clamor for justification to not humble themselves...and become poorer for it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This Generation.1

"Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in these days of sin and unbelief, of that person will the Son of Man be ashamed when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."


One of the best pieces of parental advice I ever received came from a fellow father who urged me to pay better attention to the things my kids were involved in.  Not long afterwards I was sitting at a wrestling practice while my son, Paul, was working on a particular "move".  Sorely tempted to reach in my coat pocket for some mental distraction from the endless repetition of the practices, I looked up in time to see Paul catch my eye to see if I'd seen his perfect execution of a move he'd worked on for a long time.  

Thanks to that bit of wisdom, I went on to become the father of a three time high school state wrestling champion!

Just kidding. Of course, it was Paul's undistracted devotion to excellence that drove him to the highest level of accomplishment in his sport!  To reach the pinnacle of the medals platform is great reward for the hours of practice needed to enjoy the honor of being the best!  As the ribbon, upon which the champion's medal hangs, is placed around the victor's neck, the audience rises in appreciation of the dedication and character it took to win this moment!

Not unlike, I'm sure, Jesus' vision for those who would put in the practice necessary to learn to live His words.  'Well done, good & faithful!' is the pinnacle of our effort to reach the highest level of Christ-like obedience. 

Consider the rich young ruler who came to Jesus looking for some deeper level of spirituality to validate his desire for eternal life.  Rather than criticize the man's own assessment of his keeping of the commandments, Jesus challenged him to a remarkable new level of commitment: rid yourself of the corrupting distractions of this dying world and take on the "patent of peerage" with Life itself!

And, unlike a distracted dad, Jesus, our Master, is also our coach, teacher, disciplinarian, cheerleader, affirmer, enabler, conditioner, validator, and example. Always leading us in the way of righteousness, i.e., doing the right thing in the right way at the right time, so that when we stand before Him, not only will we not be ashamed, we will be honored to know we were like Him.

Run the way of His commandments, cultivate faithfulness, put His words into practice. And keep looking up, you know you'll see he has His eye on you!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Christ's Prayer For His Disciples.8

"Father of goodness and truth, the world has not known you; but I have known you, and these who believe in me know that it is you who sent me. I have revealed you to them, and will continue to reveal you to them, so that I, and the love you have given me, may fully dwell in their hearts.
So be it."
-- Jesus

"In this, then, is God like the child: that he is simply and altogether our friend, our father—our more than friend, father, and mother—our infinite love-perfect God

Grand and strong
beyond all that human imagination can conceive of poet-thinking and kingly action, he is delicate beyond all that human tenderness can conceive of husband or wife, homely beyond all that human heart can conceive of father or mother. He has not two thoughts about us. With him all is simplicity of purpose and meaning and effort and end—namely, that we should be as he is, think the same thoughts, mean the same things, possess the same blessedness. 

It is so plain that any one may see it, every one ought to see it, every one shall see it. It must be so. He is utterly true and good to us, nor shall anything withstand his will.

How terribly, then, have the theologians misrepresented God in the measures of the low and showy, not the lofty and simple humanities! Nearly all of them represent him as a great King on a grand throne, thinking how grand he is, and making it the business of his being and the end of his universe to keep up his glory, wielding the bolts of a Jupiter against them that take his name in vain. They would not allow this, but follow out what they say, and it comes much to this.

Brothers, have you found our king? There he is,
kissing little children and saying they are like God. There he is at table with the head of a fisherman lying on his bosom, and somewhat heavy at heart that even he, the beloved disciple, cannot yet understand him well. The simplest peasant who loves his children and his sheep were—no, not a truer, for the other is false, but—a true type of our God beside that monstrosity of a monarch.

The God who is ever uttering himself in the changeful profusions of nature; who takes millions of years to form a soul that shall understand him and be blessed; who never needs to be, and never is, in haste; who welcomes the simplest thought of truth or beauty as the return for seed he has sown upon the old fallows of eternity, who rejoices in the response of a faltering moment

to the age-long cry of his wisdom in the streets; the God of music, of painting, of building, the Lord of Hosts, the God of mountains and oceans; whose laws go forth from one unseen point of wisdom, and thither return without an atom of loss; the God of history working in time unto Christianity; this God is the God of little children, and he alone can be perfectly, abandonedly simple and devoted. 

The deepest, purest love of a woman has its well-spring in him. Our longing desires can no more exhaust the fullness of the treasures of the Godhead, than our imagination can touch their measure. Of him not a thought, not a joy, not a hope of one of his creatures can pass unseen; and while one of them remains unsatisfied, he is not Lord over all.

Therefore, with angels and with archangels, with the spirits of the just made perfect, with the little children of the kingdom, yea, with the Lord himself, and for all them that know him not, we praise and magnify and laud his name in itself, saying Our Father. We do not draw back for that we are unworthy, nor even for that we are hard-hearted and care not for the good. 

For it is his childlikeness that makes him our God and Father. The perfection of his relation to us swallows up all our imperfections, all our defects, all our evils; for our childhood is born of his fatherhood. That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and his desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to him,

“Thou art my refuge, because thou art my home.”

George MacDonald, 
The Child In The Midst, Unspoken Sermons I

It is never too late nor early to remember that Jesus is and always has been His Father's Son -- perfectly Divine, Divinely submissive -- above all, devoted to the Eternal Love of God he brought into this world! The love he will continue to reveal to all those with open child-like His.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Christ's Prayer For His Disciples.7

"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, being perfected into one. Because of this, the world will fully understand that you have sent me, and have loved them as much as you have loved me. May they one day be with me where I am, beholding my glory, which you have lovingly given me since the foundation of the world." 

Whenever I get to spend time with my grandkids I look to see what -- in their nature --reflects the qualities of their parents (my sons.)  Nolan has his dad's cheery nature; Vanessa her dad's ability to absorb things quickly and produce excellent results; like dad, everything is black & white for Ayden; Van seems to have his dad's loving tenderness; Malachi his dad's creative instincts.

But those qualities are passed on, primarily, through genetics and imitation.  What I will really be interested in seeing is, in the years to come, what will they choose, as a matter of will, the ways they wish to be like their parents.

The apostle Paul, reflecting on this truth, observed, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."  

MacDonald digs a little deeper into the meaning of "beholding as in a mirror":

"Paul never thought of the mirror as reflecting, as throwing back the rays of light from its surface; he thought of it as receiving, taking into itself, the things presented to it-here, as filling its bosom with the glory it looks upon.

When I see the face of my friend in a mirror, the mirror seems to hold it in itself, to surround the visage with its liquid embrace. The countenance is there -- down there in the depth of the mirror. True, it shines radiant out of it, but it is not the shining out of it that Paul has in his thought; it is the fact-the visual fact, ...of the mirror holding in it the face.

The prophet-apostle seems to me, then, to say, 'We all, with clear vision of the Lord, mirroring in our hearts his glory, even as a mirror would take into itself his face, are thereby changed into his likeness, his glory working our glory, by the present power, in our inmost being, of the Lord, the spirit.'

Our mirroring of Christ, then, is one with the presence of his spirit in us. The idea, you see, is not the reflection, the radiating of the light of Christ on others, though that were a figure lawful enough; but the taking into, and having in us, him working to the changing of us.

Paul's idea is that when we take into our understanding, our heart, our conscience, our being, the glory of God, namely Jesus Christ as he shows himself to our eyes, our hearts, our consciences, he works upon us, and will keep working, till we are changed to the very likeness we have thus mirrored in us; for with his likeness he comes himself, and dwells in us. 

He will work until the same likeness is wrought out and perfected in us, the image, namely, of the humanity of God, in which image we were made at first, but which could never be developed in us except by the indwelling of the perfect likeness. By the power of Christ thus received and at home in us, we are changed-the glory in him becoming glory in us, his glory changing us to glory.

The Lord Jesus, by free, potent communion with their inmost being, will change his obedient brethren till in every thought and impulse they are good like him, unselfish, neighbourly, brotherly like him, loving the Father perfectly like him, ready to die for the truth like him, caring like him for nothing in the universe but the will of God, which is love, harmony, liberty, beauty, and joy."(George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons III, The Mirror of the Lord, emphasis added)

Perhaps a more modern metaphor: the data captured in an IPad tablet creates an image on the screen by controlling the internal computing processes!  So the image is not a reflection, it is the creative glory of internal changes wrought by a greater authority cooperating with an obedient host.

Christ In Me The Hope of Glory! 
When by His grace I shall look on His face, 
that will be Glory for me!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christ's Prayer For His Disciples.6

"As you have sent me into the world, so I send them. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they may be made holy, and grow in truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will come to believe in me because of the testimony that they give. Let them all be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are one: that as you are in me, and I in you, they will be together in us; and the world will know that you have sent me."



Made In China ...these three words conjure up many things to many people.  But one thing is for certain, these three words have impacted the globe!

If followers of Jesus had a label sewn on them that said, "Made In Holiness", what images would be conjured up in the minds and hearts of the world?
Question: "What did Jesus come into the world to do?
Answer: The will of God in saving his people from their sins

  •  -not from the punishment of their sins, (that blessed aid to repentance)

    • but from their sins themselves, 
    • the paltry as well as the heinous, the venial as well as the loathsome.

  • His whole work was and is to send away sin
to banish it from the earth,
to cast it into the abyss
of non-existence behind the back of God.
His was the holy war;
he came carrying it into our world;
he resisted unto blood;
the soldiers that followed him he taught and trained to resist also unto blood,
striving against sin;
so he became the captain of their salvation,
and they, freed themselves,
fought and suffered for others.
This was the task to which he was baptized;
this is yet his enduring labour.
'This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many unto the sending away of sins.'"
(adapted from George MacDonald's Hope of the Gospel, Salvation From Sin, emphasis added)

A friend of mine is in prison.  He has recently renewed his pledge to follow Jesus.  He is reading Neil Anderson's book Victory Over Darkness.  He wrote to tell me that he was struck by a story of a young lady who had all that life could offer on the outside but was a mess on the inside.  He compared life in prison, where men are stripped of external trappings, and yet can still hide behind the deception of the lies they believe about themselves and the world around them.  The difference between those who know Truth and those who don't is in the way they act.  Oneness with our Maker who is Truth, is the only way to experience the Truth of who we are and live in peace with the results.

Do you recognize the Captain of your Salvation's work in training you to strive against sin?
 When you see the truth of it, the root evil at work in you, in others, in your community, do you strive against it, or waiver in doubt, fondness, fear, insecurity, cowardice, awkwardness, indifference, or apathy?  Be Made Holy and Grow in Truth follower of Jesus...or stop posing.