Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Return.1

"Watch therefore, 
for you know not the hour 
when your Lord will come."

When we were first married my wife and I lived in the college town of East Lansing, Michigan where Michigan State University is located.  There are tens of thousands of students who attend MSU.  Consequently, there are thousands of young attractive women among those students. 

As a newly married man and father I remember the challenge of keeping my mind, heart, and eyes focused on those responsibilities as I walked across campus from class to class.  What would it say of my devotion, integrity, promise to be faithful & true if I were distracted by an attractive coed as my wife and child were coming to meet me on my way home?  Imagine the insult if I walked right on pass them as my eyes gazed longingly at a prize I had no claim to or right to desire! An insult to the care & preparation my beautiful wife puts into making our home inviting and welcoming each day!

If happiness is wanting what we have, then surely the effort to stay focused on the return of the Son of God -in spite of the nearly limitless distractions this world offers- the One who went to prepare a place of unspeakable glory for us is well worth it!

How then shall we live?  In obedient love doing what He asks of us or not doing what He doesn't want us to do. Daily.

Here's to another day of un-distracted living!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The End Time.10

"Consider the fig tree, and learn from it. When its branches grow full of sap and produce new leaves, one knows that summer is drawing near.
Even so, no one knows the exact day, or the precise hour of Messiah's returning; not even the angels who are in heaven, but only my Father.
Yet seeing all of these events beginning to come to pass, know in your heart that the day of completion draws near."

The Giving Tree

Once there was a tree....
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
image from

and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree....
very much.
And the tree was happy..."

- Sal Sylverstein

There is much to be learned from trees, as Mr. Sylverstein observed in his famous poem.

But as followers of Jesus we often forget this vital lesson we learn from trees: 
we are the branches connected to Him.  
His life must flow out of us if we would be fruitful. 

Fruitfulness shapes our lives. Fruitful lives shape His Kingdom!

We grow full of Him through love & obedience. "Leaves" are produced through this process and let us know we are nearing maturity and fullness. Just as in nature, Jesus knew our maturing would play a vital role in his Kingdom building:

Image from
The chief job of leaves is to make food for plants. This food-making activity, called photosynthesis, occurs mostly in fully grown leaves. But young leaves also are important. They wrap tightly around the tips of growing stems. They thus keep the delicate tips moist and help protect them from insects, cold, and other dangers.
Leaves are also vital to animals. Animals cannot make their own food. They depend on plants for their basic supply of food. Many animals eat leaves. For example, antelope, sheep, and other grazing animals eat grass leaves. People also eat leaves, such as those of cabbage, lettuce, and spinach plants. But even when people and animals eat the fruits, roots, seeds, and stems of plants, they are obtaining food made by leaves. (from http://forestry-learning.blogspot.com)
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?" --Jesus (Matthew 24:45)

How many times do we see in movies depicting world-wide calamity, those poignant moments when someone discovers a little plant growing in the midst of the carnage?  Is that not a wonderful mind picture that as evil increases and causes more difficulties, followers of Jesus are still at work finding, serving and feeding those of his household?

image from
Let us not focus on trying to guess when His second coming will occur or debate the proper eschatology.  Rather, let us keep our eyes on Him, the Author-Perfecter-Completer of faithful & wise servants!  Humble men and women who say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’  But are, in fact, the means by which He will usher in His Kingdom! As well as those who give His Kingdom it's shape!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The End Times.9

"You will be betrayed, 
and condemned to death, 
and hated by all nations for my name's sake. 
Remain watchful, 
and pray always 
that you may be counted worthy 
to escape these things 
that are coming to pass, 
and to stand, 
before the Messiah, 
the Son of Man."

If I'm "praying always to be counted worthy" how will that impact the way I live?

Will it give me more or less confidence in what I believe?  
In what I do?  In how I love God and others? 

A rookie wide receiver for the Detroit Lions football team was
asked what he felt was the key to his continued improvement. He responded, "I just do whatever (All-Pro receiver) Calvin does.  If he runs extra sprints, I run extra sprints. If he spends more time catching balls, I spend more time catching balls!" Clearly the extra work is paying off as his quarterback and coaches have more confidence to throw him the ball.

He is counted worthy for more trust to be put in him!

Sometimes, I fear, we see no correspondence between the things of earth and the requirements of heaven.  Our trust is in the "works of Christ" rather than the Working Christ!

In his Revelation, John records an extraordinary encounter with the Living Savior, his Lord and close companion, the Son of Man, Jesus.  
"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as one dead.  And he laid His right hand on me, saying, 'Fear not; I am the first and the last and the Living One.'" 
The One for whom John had toiled, sacrificed, loved and devoted himself for so many years after walking faithfully as few others had during those earthly years, knew the Perfect Way to reveal himself anew to his faithful friend.  But the blinding light of his heavenly majesty produced terror in John.  Why?

There are, no doubt, many factors that can account for the way he responded to this glorious revealing of his Master: his age, his exile, a lapse of memory recalling a similar moment on the mount of transfiguration.

But perhaps more importantly,
he had not yet learned that glory itself is a part of our inheritance...a natural condition of our being made in the image of God, a glory of the most glorious heaven can show!*

Jesus laid his hand on his friend to remind him that the only way to overcome our fear of exposure to all that is not worthy in us is closest contact, Oneness, with Life.  For is it not true that we fearfully run away from suffering, the suffering & fear that exposes our lack:

  • of character
  • of love
  • of faith
  • of perseverance
  • of obedience
  • of self-denial
rather than running, confidently, to the Source of all that we desire to be?

For if it is not in our nature, at the first sign of fear, to draw closer to our source of strength and power -- for what is Strength & Power but what is Good? -- then how small is our strength, our faith, our endurance.  How much more training and perfecting in the suffering is necessary to make us worthy?

More importantly, how little can we be counted on to stand against Evil in all its forms?  The strength of Fearless Love in us is manifested and measured by betrayal and condemnation from a world system dominated by fearfulness.

Hold that thought...I have a few more laps to run!

*thoughts from MacDonald, The Fear of God, Unspoken Sermons II

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The End Times.8

"When you hear of wars and the turmoil of destruction;
do not let your hearts fill with fear:
for these things must first come to pass;
the end is not yet.

Nation will rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom.
Fearful sights and great signs will appear in the heavens.
There will be signs in the sun,
and in the moon,
and in the stars.
On the earth will be great adversity between the nations,
and perplexity,
roaring like the sea's mighty waves.
and earthquakes will increase.
All these are the beginnings of sorrow.

Because evil will abound, 
the love of many will turn cold."


On a visit to relatives the summer of my 15th year, I experienced a prophetic vision of sorts.  In the early evening I was talking to a cousin and the conversation took a decidedly spiritual turn. As the Spirit of Jesus began to convict her of sin, righteous and judgment, I felt like I was re-living each word and movement that passed between us!  Call it premonition, if you will, but I knew what was going to occur before it happened.  When she reached into a drawer to discard the object of her repentance, I nearly exploded with joy - not only for her salvation but for the special privilege of knowing the Lord had chosen beforehand to show me this special moment!

The prophet Jeremiah was chosen to bring to the
image source: flikr.com
nation Israel very unpopular messages regarding their future captivity and oppression.  He exposed generational sins in the people that God could no longer tolerate.  But much of his message regarded the future and even Jeremiah realized the ultimate test of a prophet is whether the predicted events come true.  

A small event occurred that, I think, gave Jeremiah a moment of joy and a certain validation that God concerned himself with and used even the most incidental events in a magnificent way.  It was revealed to Jeremiah that a relative was going to offer him some property in the occupied city of Jerusalem and that he should purchase it.  Shortly thereafter the cousin showed up precisely as the Lord had revealed it to Jeremiah and the transaction became symbolic of God's future blessing to the nation that they would once again return and live in the land of God's promised prosperity.

There is coming a day when the work of rebellion among the inhabitants of this planet will be consummated, called to account and a final refining of the race results in the rule of righteousness revealed in the Son of Righteousness.  

The events leading up to that moment, make no mistake, are terrible and terrifying.  Even now  we see the wicked attempting to manipulate what they intuitively sense about these impending cataclysmic events into an opportunity to profit and control the masses for their own benefit.

This scaremongering over issues like "man-made global climate change," ebola and radical Islam is a reflection of the nature of their Master.  Not surprising, since the devil knows more about the Bible and its prophecies than most believers!  But in keeping with his nature, rather than bow his will, he will continue to deceive and take down as much of humanity as he can until the final day.

Jesus, the source of all wisdom and knowledge, foresaw all these events, and painted with broad strokes the trials coming upon this rebellious world. Let us reflect for a moment that, in the midst of these horrifying troubles, the one thing that brings Him most sorrow is:

"the love of many will grow cold," 

then let us realize that every transaction between you and another person, however seemingly insignificant in your own eyes, is an opportunity to grow strong in fearless love and symbolize the blessings yet to come for those who put their hope and trust in the Lord of Light, Life, and Love!

We don't need special prophetic gifts to know how we ought now to live! Keep loving and living without fear, always growing in His perfecting love!  Then will we be able to stand strong in the day of judgment, blameless with great joy!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The End Times.7

"Do you see standing these temple walls? Truly I say to you, not one stone will be left upright! Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

The Michigan State University football team played the Oregon Ducks in a battle of top ten teams recently.  That is a fact.  Before the game was concieved in the minds of each school's athletic directors there was a chance, with the development of their programs, they'd be top ranked teams.  But no certainty. As game day approached, oddsmakers made the Ducks 12 point favorites.  I scoffed and predicted the mighty Spartans would win by two touchdowns!

I still have my day job.

The Spartans fell by a lopsided 46-27 score. Another fact.

Predicting the future is tricky business.  When emotions become a factor all kinds of crazy can happen.  Bets made, plans prepared, dizzying expectations launched and, most notably, facts ignored.

Much of life is spent trying to predict the future.  

  • If I take this job I can...
  • If I buy this house we will...
  • If I stick with this diet I'll have...
  • If I vote this candidate we will...
  • If I use this curriculum my kids will....
  • If I invest in this company it will....
  • This technology will...
  • If I marry this person we'll....
  • If I get my kids involved in this they'll...

How would you like to be the One Being in the Universe who can predict with absolute certainty the outcome of everything?!

Omniscience, by definition, means to hold all the facts of the entire universe and calculate in an instant of time the outcomes of every decision of every human being! 


Just think if I'd known --with certainty-- the final score of the Spartans/Ducks before the game was actually played how much emotional pain I could have saved myself.  Sad to know they'd lose but not emotionally crushed when they didn't live up to my expectations!

Although there were no Las Vegas oddsmakers around the time of 70 a.d., I'm quite sure the people of Israel, as tenuous as their position was with Rome, wouldn't have bet against themselves in keeping their nation together.  In fact, by handing the King of Truth over to Rome's quirky, malevolent judgment they bet on their own ability to escape condemnation!  

But God, himself, both warned and predicted that their collective decision to reject their King whose Kingdom is Love, would result in the very dispersion of their nation, scattered to the four winds of the world. Jerusalem has indeed been trampled under the foot of many nations for generations.  A historical certainty. 

All of this to say: our trust should not be in our ability to ascertain the future or understand all the predictions for this world.  Rather, our trust --and peace-- should be in the One who knows with certainty the final outcome of all that He's planned for every single person who is willing to know and love Him. 

You can bet on it!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The End Times.6

"The day will come when your enemies will lay a trench around your walls, and hem you in on every side. They will hurl you to the dust, and your children with you, and will not leave one stone standing upon another, all this because you failed to recognize the appointed time when God himself moved among you." 

"You can choose your behavior 
but you cannot choose your consequences." 
--The quiet admonition of a friend to her children.

Recently, a Canadian friend posted a comment about her favorable opinion of Barack Obama after listening to his audio version of "The Audacity of Hope." This sparked an animated discussion on whether a "good" person can author bad public policy.  One comment-er tried to make the case for his moral leadership by stating Obama's bad policy decisions are less bad than George W. Bush's. 

Social media allows us to air our opinions with more frequency and to a greater audience than at any time in the world's history.  But is the human race any more capable of discerning goodness than at any time in human history?  Can we see the "God-ness" in a particular event or person any more clearly than when God himself moved among us?

from obamamessiah.blogspot.ca/

For some reason nearly every U.S. President is scrutinized by the public to determine their qualifications as saint or satan.  For instance, because Ronald Wilson Reagan had six letters in each of his names --666-- some were convinced it made him the Anti-Christ.  On the other hand Barbara Walters, venerated journalist, has referred to Barack Obama as Messiah. She's not alone in her adoration...

"Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. . . . He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh . . . Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves."
-- Ezra Klein

Had the Jewish nation embraced Jesus as their King how would the world be different today? The obvious answer is we Gentiles would not be here to consider the question! Their egregious rejection of God himself became our opportunity to be born...and born again! It also helps us understand God's willingness to allow his Will to be thwarted, at least temporarily, if not tragically, to sub-serve his greater purposes! 

If the challenge to first century humanity was to recognize God moving among men -- and the reaction to his birth indicates that centuries old prophecies had accomplished at the very least (for some) an awareness of the possibility of a heavenly visitation and (for others) an earnest anticipation -- is the challenge any less for modern mankind to avoid the same tragic mistake?  

If we don't have a certainty about Jesus the Man we have come to believe in and those qualities that make him the great I Am, how will we withstand the onslaught of false Messiah's with their promises of hope or threats of change for a world on fire? 

If you are putting your trust in doctrinal positions or theology, you will be swept up in the delusion that Jesus warned would impact even the elect.  

Will He find faith in Him on earth?  What is faith in Him? 
 "The leaving of your way, your objects, your self, and the taking of His and Him; the leaving of your trust in men, in money, in opinion, in character, in atonement itself, and doing as He tells you! To do His words is to enter into vital relation with Him, to obey Him is the only way to be One with Him! The relation between Him and us is an absolute one; it can nohow begin to live but in obedience: it is obedience!" -MacDonald
The Day is coming, and perhaps is closer than we think, when we must choose our allegiance between Jesus and this world order.  However, we make that choice daily by choosing to obey Him.  If you cannot think of one thing this day you have done because Jesus said do this or one thing you have not done because He said don't do this, you have good reason to fear you won't make the correct choice when it may cost you all!

Triumph or Tragedy.  Its all in a choice.  Choose today whom you will serve...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feedback Request

"Lord purify my heart 
so that I care little
 for any judgment but yours." --  George MacDonald

I love to write.  But it can be a lonely vigil.  A writer who writes for a living gets a substantial sense of his impact by the books or articles he sells.  Online bloggers/tweeters get feedback through comments, retweets, pageviews, etc.  

For those of you who read this blog you can see I don't get a
lot of feedback.  I write to encourage and build up not create controversy. So perhaps that's why there isn't much in the way of comment.  But I would appreciate an honest critique of this blog if you have a moment.  I'd like to see it expand and grow to a greater viewership but not sure if it is something that appeals to anyone but a narrow tract of friends who either are genuinely encouraged by the insight offered or are just being polite.

Any thoughts, questions, criticism on: 

  • the goal of combing Jesus' words, insights from George MacDonald, and my experiences to encourage followers of Jesus in their journey.
  • Writing style: predictable, unique, easy/difficult to read, insufficient crediting for quotes, images, etc
  • Use of Illustrations, photos, etc
  • Theological perspective
  • Impact it has on your understanding of discipleship, God, Jesus, obedience, etc.
  • Anything else that comes to mind.
If you have any experience in blogging or growing social media that would help me expand this outreach, if you think it has a wider readership potential, would very much appreciated.

Thanks for your help!

In Jesus' love and service,

Monday, August 11, 2014

The End Times.5

"When the end times comes, and you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the sacred place, then it is time for those that dwell in the cities to flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetops turn to save anything that is in the house; neither let those working in the field go back to fetch their belongings.

Sorrow, to those who bear children in those days! May their flight not be in winter, nor on the Sabbath: for there will be great distress, unequaled since time began. Except such days be shortened, few would endure: and yet those days shall indeed be shortened, for the sake of God's chosen."

Rush Limbaugh has stated
 to his vast radio audience, on not a few occasions, that he will assuredly let them know when it is time to panic!

I wonder if Rush is listened to in Iraq?

A note Franklin Graham posted on social media recently:

"Up to 40,000 Iraqis, many of them Christians, are trapped right now on a mountaintop in northern Iraq surrounded by Islamic terrorists. Children are dying of thirst, and if the people come down they will be slaughtered. "Genocide is taking place today in northern Iraq, where Christian and Yezidi populations are being exterminated," Congressman Frank Wolf said in a letter to President Obama. They desperately need our prayers and immediate international intervention. Why is the world standing by and doing nothing?"

Genocide and inhumanity are as much a part of the world's history as invention and progress. Throughout history the Jews, especially, have been targeted for annihilation; seven times to be specific. Jesus's warning regarding the end times adds a new twist to an age old plot: his followers would also be targeted for termination! 

Knowing the premium Jesus has on righteous character, the number of times He's commanded His followers to not fear, and the revelation that cowards will not occupy his Kingdom, does it strike anyone else as odd that He'd instruct his followers to flee?

Pinning His prophetic words to actual events can be an exercise in futility...ask the believers in Mosul whose houses were
Arabic letter "N" for Nasrani symbolizing
followers of the Nazarene - Jesus
identified with the Arabic letter "N" for Nasrani, followers of
the Nazarene, who, out of necessity, abandoned their homes, but not their faith, if this is the Great Tribulation! Rather, look how their faith is being broadcast to the whole world while exposing the wretchedness and brutality of a false, man-made religion bent on domination not salvation.

Certainly what ISIL is doing -- identifying Christians, forcing them from their homes, brutalizing men, women and children -- is abominable and leads to desolation; it is a cryptic demonstration of the power source behind it: diabolical, demonic, satanic. And for these dear brothers and sisters in Christ, matters little that it fulfills this or that eschatological perspective.

But it may give the rest of us a little perspective on Jesus' words on fleeing at the trigger point of massive, worldwide persecution of both Jews and Christians alike that precedes His Divine intervention into the affairs of mankind. If we see the world falling apart, He knows it is falling into place right where He intends: the final confrontation between good & evil.  The wrath of satan vs the wrath of God.  The eradication of death and the glorious triumph of Life!

Our part, as always, is to obey His divine directives. Flee, not out of panic, but with resolve to minister along the way prepared and purposeful in our understanding that all these things must happen to fulfill all righteousness!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The End Times.4

"The powers of the heavens will be shaken, and people's hearts will fail them for fear, anticipating the calamities that are destined for this world."

By nature I am a timid man.  That is a polite way of saying I'm a coward.  There are vivid memories -- still painful -- of moments when, in front of family and friends, I exhibited paralyzing fear.

I am not proud of those moments; in fact, you could say I 
loathe them...

There are, however, other moments in my journey through time when I demonstrated a degree of courage.

Clearly I like Richard the LyonHeart much more than Charlie the Cowardly Lyon.

If there were one single attribute for which followers of Jesus are persecuted, I believe it is courage, or at least our potential to be courageous when it counts most.  Fear makes people vulnerable and easily manipulated. Those who would control the masses know that fear factors powerfully in managing behavior. But believers, trained in truth and trust, are not easily manipulated by hysterical cries of impending doom.  "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able..."

To say "We have no King but Jesus!" is not only a declaration of allegiance but a beacon of hope to those whose hearts would fail them in calamity.

Jesus' most dire warning to his followers is that during times of great difficulty, when evil increases, the love of people grows cold. The cords of Love & Courage are inextricably woven into the fabric of Jesus' life and it's tensile strength in the hearts of His followers is tested most severely in times of trial.

"There is no fear in love," fearlessly declares the beloved disciple.  "Perfect Love casts out fear."  Let us give ourselves to His perfecting love every minute of every day that we may share in the company of the courageous, confident we can withstand the worst the world has to try to scare us into submission.

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, 
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, 
and having done all, to stand."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The End Times.3

"If you had only known, in this your day of salvation, the eternal peace so near at hand! 

But now it is hidden from your eyes.

-- Jesus

When our boys were small 3-D stereoscopic pictures were all the rage.  One son, Danny, could never see the 3-D effect of the pictures.  The trouble was that he could not
Image from Imgur.com
cross his eyes to get the effect.  We never really considered this much of a problem save for his not enjoying the sensation of the interesting images seemingly floating in space.  However, after attending a vision seminar and having Dan's vision tested we learned that inflexibility of the muscles in his eyes had a direct correlation to his difficulty in comprehending and retaining information when he read. A few recommended eye exercises resolved the problem we didn't even know he had!

Not seeing special effects may be disappointing; not comprehending can be downright debilitating. But never acknowledging the problem and finding restoration? Most tragic of all.

Is there anything more tragic for an individual or the race than to be oblivious both to our condition and the cure?

To the best of my knowledge, there is not yet an app for peace.  All the technology in the world will never repair the wrongness in us that disrupts what should be an adventure-filled, collaborative care-taking and awe-inspired harmony with the Creator and His world.

 The real cause of human-kind's trouble is a something many have not recognized even exists, not yet acquainted with its true nature. However absurd the statement may seem to one who has not yet discovered the fact for himself, 
the cause of every man's discomfort, 
his lack of peace, 
is evil

First of all, 

  • evil in himself, 
  • his own sin, 
  • his own wrongness, 
  • his own unrightness

and then, evil in those he loves...

Eternal peace can never be achieved by something outside of ourselves: 

  • changing our address or social status
  • changing jobs
  • changing roommates
  • changing wardrobes
  • changing spouses
  • changing diets
  • changing doctors
  • changing channels
  • changing teams
  • changing political parties
  • changing names
  • changing the world
How ever many ways we promote world-change, even if it were possible, we still fail to grasp that we would be out of tune with the thing we've created when we fail to grasp the truth of our own disharmony with our Maker & Master.

To free a man from suffering, his lack of peace, he must be set right, put in health ; and the health at the root of man's being, his rightness, is to be free from wrongness, that is, from sin. A man is right when there is no wrong in him. The wrong, the evil is in him.

He must be set free from it. 

To this end, the Perfect Son of the Perfect Father was born to our eyes.  To be sure, the suffering is causative of the cure for how else can our eyes be opened to the remedy?  The cure is to be made free from the evil in us.  Only the Eternal Prince of Peace paid the price for our freedom.

It is the indwelling badness, ready to produce bad actions, that we need to be delivered from. Against this badness if a man will not strive, he is left to commit evil and reap the consequences. To be saved from these consequences, would be no deliverance ; it would be an immediate, ever deepening damnation. It is the evil in our being — no essential part of it, thank God ! — the miserable fact that the very child of God does not care for his father and will not obey him, causing us to desire wrongly, act wrongly, or, where we try not to act wrongly, yet making it impossible for us not to feel wrongly — this is what he came to deliver us from ; — not the things we have done, but the possibility of doing such things anymore.
For as long as a man continues on loving the darkness in him will he continue to have his eyes hidden to the Eternal Peace ever close at hand.  Open our eyes to see that cure in one man is the beginning of the cure for the whole race!

(adapted from Hope Of The Gospel, Salvation From Sin, by George MacDonald.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The End Times.2

"My people, my people, you who have killed the prophets, and spurned those sent to you, how often would I have gathered you, even as a hen shelters her chicks beneath her wings, and yet you would not! Behold, your house is left desolate; and you will not see me again until the time when all will say: 
'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Chasing chickens is not for the faint of heart!  NFL defenses
image from anewscafe.com
used to prepare to face the elusive, Hall of Fame running back, Barry Sanders by letting chickens out onto the practice field!  Watching Barry dart around frustrated grown men as easily as these speedy birds was almost as entertaining as watching our grandkids try to gather chicks let loose in the yard!

There is a reason we associate extreme fearfulness with these fleet fowl: it is extremely hard to even get near them before they take flight! Comparing people to chickens, however, is a pretty accurate way of describing our extreme reluctance to draw near to our Maker who would be our Master.  Because our hearts are so far removed and our eyes so focused on our own security, little can we see the devotion in the face behind the hand extended to save us from our own folly.

But there is a price to pay for morbid devotion to our own self-preservation...

1.(of a place) deserted of people and in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness. e.g., "a desolate moor"
Desolation In the USA

"It is hard on God, when His children will not let him give; when they carry themselves so that he must withhold His hand, lest he harm them. To take no care that they acknowledge whence their help comes, would be to leave them worshippers of idols, trusters in that which is not.”

Lord Jesus, we do not understand thee, because we do not trust thy Father – whole-hearted to us, as never yet was mother to her first-born! Full of care, as if he had none, we think this and that escapes his notice, for this and that he does not think! While we who are evil would die to give our children bread to eat, we are not certain the only Good will give us anything of what we desire!
The things of thy world so crowd our hearts, that there is no room in them for the things of thy heart, which would raise ours above all fear, and make us merry children in our Father’s house!" 
(quote from The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity, George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons II)
Lord Jesus, keep gathering until we realize:
"Lo, here comes One who will increase our loves!"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Invitation To Life.6

"This good news of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world as a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come." 

Is the World becoming a better place to live?

According to Matt Ridley, in his book The Rational Optimist, there is incontrovertible evidence that it is.

He was taught to think the future was bleak. 

“The population explosion was unstoppable. Famine was inevitable. Pesticides were going to shorten our lives. The Ice Age was coming back. Acid rain was killing forests … All these things were going to go wrong.” 

Yet time and again, humanity survived doomsday. Not just survived, but flourished. Population increases, yet famine becomes rarer. More energy is used, yet the environment gets cleaner. Innovation and trade keep improving our lives.

“People are much more interested in hearing about something that’s gone wrong. It sounds wiser to talk about what might go wrong than to talk about what might go right.” 

Or what already went right. Over the past 40 years, murder dropped by 40 percent, rape by 80 percent, and, outside of war zones, Islamic terrorism claims fewer than 400 lives a year. The last decade saw the fewest lives claimed in war since record keeping began...the big picture is good news."

In the news business fear sells. To insiders it is affectionately called "pessimism porn" .  Unfortunately, I believe, it is much too prevalent in the Christian community as well. Books, like the Left Behind series, that paint a bleak picture of the end of the world are wildly popular in the church.  

But what if the "end" to which Jesus is referring is a series of endings: to slavery, to disease, to tyranny, to oppression leading to the ultimate end: the end of death.

Freedom unleashed by the Truth lived out by His Kingdom kind, unleashing human potential collaborating with the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit that is always working to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, a work that sets free and improves the human condition.

Case in point: Harriet Beecher Stowe's blockbuster book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, described with poignant precision the
wretchedness of slavery in America and the hypocrisy rampant in both the north & south, especially among the religious. A book, that many view, as the catalyst for the widening rift in American society that led to the Civil War.

But her greatest impact was in describing the quiet effects of true Christianity working in the hearts of men - black & white alike.  "Uncle Tom" was not a picture of a compromising black man insulting the condition of his race, but a type of the Ultimate Man who lays down his life for his friends.  

  • A true man who won't be broken to accept the dictates of evil.  
  • A gentle man who refuses to be reduced to the beastly impulses of those who temporarily control the reins of power.  
  • A great man who sacrificially serves the most pitiable around him raising their hopes and calming their fears. 
  • A powerful man who quietly subjects himself to the insatiable rage of violent evil.  
  • A dying man who's unshakable faith in the freedom of heaven inspires courage and conviction leading to the freedom of his fellows.
The "Utopianists" of all ages hope in a better world, just like true believers.  But for those, like Ridley, Ray Kurzweil, Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, and many others, hoping in a humanistic, technology driven "New World Order", their faith in the DNA of evolutionary processes will always shape (and justify) the outcome: the stronger will always out "fit" -- and control -- the weaker.

The DNA of the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus.  He is the Good News that must be preached to the entire world.  For it is his influence - righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit- continually working through His followers, that makes the world a better place to live by making each individual a better person to be. 

His Kingdom come. 
His Will be done. 
On Earth. 
As it is in Heaven.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Invitation To Life.5

"For God so loved the world, that he offered his only Son a living sacrifice, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but be redeemed and have everlasting life." 

Caring little who was listening, the elderly man runs through his inventory of body part replacements.  With a chortle he concludes, "$288,000 to keep me going!"
image borrowed from security faqs.com

We all are perishable.  Our body parts wear out.  Our eyes & mind grow dim.  Our soul feels feeble.

Technology can replace bodily tissue but can it replenish vigor? Does Medicare cover the eternal effervescence of Faith, Hope and Love?  What pharmacist can fill the prescription for more life? Is not More Life! the heart cry of humanity and the antidote for all its ills?

We all are creatures possessed by death.  It is death that we want relief from: 

  • the death of homelessness and hunger and cold; 
  • the death of failure, disappointment, and distraction; 
  • the death of passion; 
  • the death of madness—
    • a being we cannot manage
    • a world we cannot rule
    • needs we cannot meet
    • words we cannot retract 
    • actions we cannot undo
  • the death of crime and fear of discovery

"God is life, and the will-source of life. In the outflowing of that life, I know him; and when I am told that he is love, I see that if he were not love he would not, could not create. I know nothing deeper in him than love, nor believe there is in him anything deeper than love— nay, that there can be anything deeper than love. The being of God is love, therefore creation. 

I imagine that from all eternity he has been creating. As he saw it was not good for man to be alone, so has he never been alone himself;—from all eternity the Father has had the Son, and the never-begun existence of that Son I imagine an easy outgoing of the Father's nature; while to make other beings—beings like us, I imagine the labor of a God, an eternal labor.

I imagine that God has never been contented to be alone even with the Son of his love, the prime and perfect idea of humanity, but that he has from the first willed and labored to give existence to other creatures who should be blessed with his blessedness—creatures whom he is now and always has been developing into likeness with that Son—a likeness for long to be distant and small, but a likeness to be for ever growing: perhaps never one of them yet, though unspeakably blessed, has had even an approximate idea of the blessedness in store for him.

...Sore [labor and] suffering such as we cannot imagine, and could only be God's, in the bringing out, call it birth or development, of the God-life in the individual soul—a suffering still renewed, a labor thwarted ever by that soul itself, compelling him to take, still at the cost of suffering...the best possible means left him by the resistance of his creature. 

Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because he would give the best, and man will not take it. 

What Jesus did, was what the Father is always doing; the suffering he endured was that of the Father from the foundation of the world, reaching its climax in the person of his Son. God provides the sacrifice; the sacrifice is himself. He is always, and has ever been, sacrificing himself to and for his creatures. It lies in the very essence of his creation of them.

Jesus did nothing but what the Father did and does. 

If Jesus suffered for men, it was because his Father suffers for men; only he came close to men through his body and their senses, that he might bring their spirits close to his Father and their Father, so giving them life, and losing what could be lost of his own. 

He is God our Savior: it is because God is our Savior that Jesus is our Savior. The God and Father of Jesus Christ could never possibly be satisfied with less than giving himself to his own! 

The unbeliever may easily imagine a better God than the common theology of the country offers him; but not the lovingest heart that ever beat can even reflect the length and breadth and depth and height of that love of God which shows itself in his Son—one, and of one mind, with himself. "
(adapted from Life, George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons II, emphasis added)

Follower of Jesus, know Whom you believe!