Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jesus and Me

Jesus walked on water.
I walked on land.
Jesus healed the sick.
I held their hand.

Jesus fed the thousands.
I fed just one.
Jesus never sinned.
I sinned for fun.

Jesus brought redemption.
I brought the blame.
Yet Jesus loves me.
I praise his name.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.

--1 Timothy 1:15, ESV


Note: I've concluded that it's difficult to overestimate how bad I am in my flesh, apart from Jesus, and that it's difficult to overestimate how good Jesus is in me. For more on this topic, see Romans, chapters 6-8.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Funerals

My Dad was a pastor. He spoke at hundreds of funerals. Maybe that's part of the reason why I've thought more about them a lot. Here are some of my conclusions:
• Planning makes it easier for those left behind. Pre-paying usually doesn't.
• Funerals are for the living, not the dead. The living should be free to change my funeral plan, if circumstances or wisdom demand it.
• A Christian's funeral should provide opportunity for grieving and for celebration. We grieve, but "not as others, who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
• A non-Christian's funeral, if planned by or officiated by a Christian, should not be done from a viewpoint of secularism, nor from a viewpoint of universalism. We can speak to the living, offering them assurance that the Lord cares about their grief and offers them comfort--and eternal life in Jesus, if they will trust him.
• We should respect the dead body and treat it with dignity.
• The hope of the resurrection is expressed more fully by burial than by cremation. Thus, I don't think cremation should be the standard for Christians. However, the Lord isn't limited by cremation. He will still be able to raise the body.
• There's no value in pretending. We don't need to use embalming to try to make the body prettier. (It's OK to embalm, but not to pretend.) We don't need to say, "He's not dead; he's just away." We don't need to pretend that the dead person was perfect.
• People grieve in different ways. Some are quieter than others; some are more demonstrative. All need to grieve, but they don't need other people judging them for not doing it well enough.
• Keeping peace in a family is often more important than how much money is or isn't spent, and more important than such things as where the body is buried or which day the funeral is held.
• Funerals can be a wonderful time to proclaim the truths of the gospel.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Baptized

I’ve put on the Savior’s sign.
I am His, and He is mine.
All my sin’s been washed away
By the One I trust this day.

Buried with Him, dead to sin,
I’ve been raised, now to begin
A life of growing in His grace
’Til the day I see His face.

Written for the baptism
of Stephen Wilkins
February 25, 2007



And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
--Acts 22:16, ESV

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
--Romans 6:4, ESV

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Using the Lord

Someone once wrote that the Romans kept their gods around just so they could use them. A lot of people these days seem to do the same with the Lord. A friend's web site speaks of "working the Lord's system." I think that's scandalous. The Lord isn't for using. He isn't for manipulating. Yes, there are huge blessings when we are wise in following his ways, but we should never forget that he is God, and he is in control.

The Lord said, "For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."
--Isaiah 48:11 ESV

Why do I have this web site? For my glory, or for his? Too often, I've wanted my own glory. Why do you serve him?

What does your church, or your favorite Christian teacher, think about the Lord? Does he/she teach you about the Lord's majesty and glory, or does he/she teach you about a God that you can own?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

If the Lord Rained Down a Blessing


If the Lord rained down a blessing,
Would you even notice it?
Would you love the sight, the smell, or
Would you be quite bored by it?

Would it be the culmination
Of so much for which you pray,
Or a messy interruption
To your self-made, scheduled day?

He is working, daily blessing
Those who trust and follow him,
But the others are not seeing.
They are blinded in their sin.

And there was much muttering about him [Jesus] among the people. While some said, "He is a good man," others said, "No, he is leading the people astray."
--John 7:17, ESV

The officers answered, "No one ever spoke like this man!"
The Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived?

--John 7:46-47

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Building a Perfect World

We build our perfect worlds
And often build them well.
We fabricate and decorate
So there's no dirt, no smell.
We live within those worlds,
All sterile, neat and pure,
But Jesus loved the weak, the lost,
The ones we can't endure.

For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
--James 2:2-4, NRSV

From Blog


Note: I'm not saying that it's wrong to aim at beauty, excellence and cleanliness, whether at home or at work or at church or elsewhere. I'm thankful for beautiful places and for good people, but we must see the world's outcasts with his love.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Sun Rises

The sun rises and sets
And rises and sets.
Ten thousand times and more it rises,
And a man's life's half done,
And he fails to see the daily grace,
The steady pace,
Of rising
And setting
And rising again
Precisely
So nicely
Is given to men
By their maker.
Partaker of regular beauty,
The man cannot see it's his duty
To start the day
By praising;
By raising
His heart to the Lord.

--© 2007, Jim Swindle
Non-profit reproduction of up to 100 copies along with this notice IS permitted.


Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
--Psalm 107:1, ESV

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

--Lamentations 3:21-23

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wisdom

Years ago, I memorized Proverbs 9:10--
      The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
      and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Somehow, until yesterday I'd not really seen the second half of the verse. I suddenly realized that we begin on the path to wisdom when we fear the Lord, and that full wisdom is the same as knowing the Lord well.

Do you want wisdom? Begin by fearing the Lord.
Do you want wisdom? Continue by pursuing the knowledge of the Lord.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What Do We Own?

What do we own?
        Not a thing.
        The Father owns it all.

What do we own?
        Everything.
        The Father's given all.

He asks of us our everything
        And gives us vastly more.
He says we'll reign with Christ the King.
        And how could we ask more?

In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to all his possessions cannot be My disciple.
--Jesus, in Luke 14:33, HCSB

He did not even spare His own Son,
but offered Him up for us all;
how will He not also with Him grant us everything?

--Romans 8:32, HCSB

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Consuming Fire

Lord, you're a consuming fire,
And those who truly know you tremble at your word.
You are thrice holy, perfect in wisdom,
More majestic than an army with banners.

Forgive us for trying to use you,
For trying to domesticate you and package you.
Use us; use us up. It's your choice.

"For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." --Isaiah 66:2, NASB