Friday, March 30, 2007

Palm Sunday

Suddenly, regally, here comes your king,
    Riding a donkey instead of a horse.
Make way before him! Praise him and sing,
    Waving palm fronds as you follow his course.

Praise be to Yah, who remembered our pain!
    Long live the king! Long live David's great son!
Break forth in dancing! Messiah will reign!
    After your trouble, your savior has come!


The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! 'The King of Israel!" Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt."
--John 12:12-15, NKJV

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Easter Ads

Our local newspaper included a supplement about Easter, with essays by pastors and ads for local churches. That sounds like a good idea, but I find some of it depressing. Many of the ads have little to do with the resurrection of Jesus. One nearby church, part of a Bible-believing, Evangelical denomination, advertises that for Easter, they will have demonstrations of physical strength, an Easter egg hunt and rides for the children. Now, there's nothing explicitly wrong with any of those, but I really doubt that they will help people focus on the resurrection. What do you think? Are you as bothered as I am when churches use the same marketing methods as a circus? What do you believe brings maximum glory to the Lord?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March Wind

It's March, and the wind is blowing.

Grasses bow in humble homage.
A water fountain waves a wild spray of rainbow.
Flags flap at attention.
One small bird careens from treetop to treetop as if drunk,
And my hair does calisthenics.

It's March, and the wind is blowing.

For He [God] looks to the ends of the earth,
And sees under the whole heavens,
To establish a weight for the wind,
And apportion the waters by measure.

--Job 28:24-25, NKJV

Note: This was written on March 1, which was very windy, then revised tonight. It's calm tonight, but this is our windy month, and it's not over yet. As a child, I lived in Kansas. There's lots of wind there, so I came to like the wind a lot. A windy day invigorates me, while it frustrate many people around me. When the wind blows, I think of freshness and a happy childhood and open spaces and riding my bicycle into the wind.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Religion at the Supermarket

The Announcer vs. the Apostle

Announcer: Today we're having a special on religion in aisle 6. Noted spiritual designer Crystal Self will be explaining how you can mix and match from her Spirit and Self collection to create your own unique religion that's perfect for your lifestyle. She'll be demonstrating everything from chants to channeling, from Ramadan to relics. You have nothing to lose but your soul, so come on over to aisle 6.

Apostle: This Jesus is The stone despised by you builders, who has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.
--Acts 4:11-12, HCSB

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Warned

Lord, you warn us of the dangers
That surround us every day.
There's salvation in the cross;
If we leave Christ, we are lost.

Use the warnings to preserve us
And to keep us in your service.
May we be among your sheep,
Those your warnings guide and keep.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
--Hebrews 3:11, ESV

Note: This week I heard presentations by Dr. Tom Schreiner, who made a convincing case that the warnings in the New Testament are meant for believers and that the warnings help assure that we persevere to the end.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Most Important Thing

What's the most important message of a Christian? What's your most important message? Think about it for a moment...

For the apostle Paul, it was clear. "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [that is, to Peter], then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time....Last of all...he appeared also to me." --1 Corinthians 15:3-8, ESV.

Is the message of Jesus's death, burial and resurrection primary for us? Let's be sure we have a truly Christian message.

Prayer:

Lord, don't let me forget that my only hope, my sure foundation, is what Jesus did for us.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Refined

Lord, you scourge the ones you love,
Breaking them with bitter blows,
Smashing them and sifting them,
Making them shine out like gold.

Lord, your scourging hurts a lot,
Makes us see our sin within,
Helps us grow in truth and grace
Into glory for your Name.

"My son, don't take lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him;
For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives."

--Hebrews 12:5,6, WEB

Friday, March 16, 2007

Some Principles on Love and Marriage

Someone recently asked my thoughts concerning marriage problems. I claim no expertise in marriage advice, but the following thoughts come to mind.

1. We don't have a right to be happy. We have a right to be holy.
2. The Lord can do wonders.
3. The Book of Proverbs tells much about the basics of getting along with people.
4. Love is more something you do (unselfish commitment to another person) than something you feel.
5. The Lord uses one partner's very rough edges to smooth off some of the other partner's very rough edges.
6. The longer you've been married to someone, the more you realize that there will never be anyone else who will share as much of your life experience as that person does.
7. One of the secrets of peace in marriage is realizing that you can't reform your spouse. Another is realizing that even if the Lord doesn't change the person, you can still love the person--partly because there's so much that you still see needs changing in yourself.
8. It's not a good idea to tell the details of your marriage problems to another person of the opposite sex. Talk to a godly older person of your own sex, or to a godly couple.
9. Pray for your partner; ask the Lord to continue and to expand what's good in your spouse.
10. Talk honestly.
11. There is NO excuse for having an affair with someone.
12. You can help protect your marriage by avoiding ever being alone with anyone else of the opposite sex.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stable and Surprising


Heavenly Father,
      God of stability,
      God of surprises,
      All of your works declare your excellence.

I trust in your mercies,
      Ever the same,
      Ever new.
      I never reach the end of you.

Make me like you,
      Steady, dependable,
      Outlandishly creative,
      So I'll reflect glory back to you.

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 3:22, 23 ESV

Monday, March 12, 2007

He Feeds the Birds

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

--Psalm 37:25-26, ESV

Devotional:

When I was an infant, my Dad was pastor of a church in a tiny town in western Oklahoma. He was somewhat concerned about one of the church members, Mrs. Cuberly, because she was so generous to us and to others. She and her husband opened a flower shop, but she gave away so many flowers that they didn't make enough money to stay open. We left that town when I was not yet two, but about 14 or 15 years later we went back through that area. Dad found Mrs. Cuberly, now a widow, working as the live-in caretaker of another woman. She insisted on giving some money to me and to each of my two brothers. Dad said, "Now, Mrs. Cuberly, you really can't afford to do that."

She replied, "Oh, yes, I can. I came into a little oil."

After all of those years, she was still giving, but her supply of funds had not totally run out.

Do you ever worry about whether you or your friends will survive financially? If so, take to heart the words of King David. In a normal lifetime, you won't see the children of the righteous having to beg for bread. Why not? Because the Lord designed this universe in such a way that the righteous tend to have enough and to have something left over. The Lord provides for his people.

Prayer:

Lord, you're the source of every truly good thing. Forgive me for worrying. Deepen my faith in you. Thank you that you've already figured out how to provide for me and for my family, all the days of our lives.

The Lord who feeds each little bird
Will very surely keep his word.
He's promised that he will provide,
And I can trust him as my guide.
He'll never, never, ever fail.
His people surely will prevail
And live their lives to praise the Name
Of Him who'll always be the same.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Eternal Life

I can't earn it nor deserve it.
I can't keep it nor preserve it.
Jesus died and rose to save me.
He's the one who'll keep and raise me.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
--Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
--Galatians 3:1-3 ESV

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Unbelieving World Judged

Fire and brimstone raining down,
People dying all around,
Bitter cursing, growing gloom,
Stubborn mankind meets its doom.

Dying seas and rotting fish,
Can't escape it; only wish
An ending or a morning star
But hope has fled to somewhere far.

Note: Why do I think about such things and write about such negative things? Because they are in the Bible. There are wonderful promises in Jesus, but also serious warnings for those who reject him.

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

--Revelation 8:7-9 ESV

Monday, March 05, 2007

Song of the Lamb

Jesus is the Shepherd,
And I'm his simple lamb,
And I know I'm with him
Ev'rywhere I am.

Jesus is the Shepherd,
And I'm his little sheep.
I know he is with me
Even when I sleep.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
--Jesus, in John 10

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall lack nothing.
--Psalm 23:1

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spring


The winter's gone.
The spring has come
With daffodils
And blackbird trills.

I've also seen
A fresher green
Out on the hills,
And my heart thrills.

My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
--Song of Solomon 2:10-12, ESV



Note: This year, I've seen that fresher green, but not yet on the hills, since we don't have any in Houston. But the hills made for a better poem. :-)