Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Joy of the Lord


Joy divine--
Faces shine,
Brightly glowing,
Cleanly showing
Purest light,
Saints' delight.

You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 WEB

Thursday, June 28, 2007

When My Worlds Collapse

When my worlds collapse
(Joy can't cross synapse)--
    If I've been a fool,
    Breaking every rule,
        Or am tossed aside
        Like a gnat that died,
    Or hope's run away,
    Leaving black, not gray,
This is what I do:
Come, my Lord, to you.

You have plans for me
Past what I can see.
You take brokenness
And then heal and bless,
Making all things new
As I feast on you.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

--Psalm 16:11, ESV

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
--Revelation 21:5, ESV

Note: In times of depression, I've found that the path to restoration may need to include all of the following:
exercise, repentance, a balanced diet, medicine, praise and thanks to the Lord, meditating on the word, praying in the Spirit and with my understanding, a balance of work and rest, and a balance of time with people and time alone.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Abraham's Sacrifice

When Abraham was very old,
A hundred years and more,
Rejoicing in his son, his heir,
The child of his old age,
The Lord demanded more of him
Than he had ever guessed.
He said to take that precious son
To mountains of Moriah,
There to be a sacrifice;
Just where, the Lord would show.

It must have snatched his breath away,
This faithful Abraham.
The Lord had been his faithful guide,
And now it came to this!
This son, this Isaac, was the one
The Lord said would be heir,
With countless heirs of Isaac
To inherit all the land.
In them the whole world would be blessed--
That's what the Lord had said.

If Isaac must be sacrificed,
How can it all be true?
Then Abraham saw in a flash
A glorious new truth:
If Isaac died a childless youth,
The Lord would raise him up.
The Lord, who'd given life again
To Sarah's ancient womb,
Could certainly raise up the dead
And give them children, too.
No matter how absurd they seemed,
The Lord's words all were true.
So Abraham, now full of faith,
Went out to give his son.

By faith, Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. Yes, he who had gladly received the promises was offering up his one and only son; even he to whom it was said, "In Isaac will your seed be called;" concluding that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Figuratively speaking, he also did receive him back from the dead.
--Hebrews 11:17-19, WEB

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jesus


Simple, plain teacher
    Measureless deity

Meekest of men
    Bold as a lion

Full of compassion
    Burning with fire

Glory concealed
    Glory revealed

When we've seen you
    We have seen God

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."

Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, "Show us the Father'?

--John 14:8-9, NKJV

Saturday, June 23, 2007

There's More Above



Here's a photo of a workman who is part-way through a ceiling. It's a reminder that whatever we see here, there's always more up above; more that is hidden; more than meets the eye. The builder had a reason to put in the ceiling, but we should not think that life stops at the ceiling that we see.

Is the Lord trying to open your eyes to something that's not yet visible?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
--Isaiah 55:9, ESV

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Greed vs. Contentment

Gred grabs, gets, and grabs some more.
    It never has enough.
Contentment thanks God for all good
    Instead of needing stuff.
Greed stoops to using God for self
    And says it's reaching high.
Contentment stoops for God's own use
    And says He's reaching low.
Greed grabs it all and loses all,
    Eternally bereft.
Contentment yields, but then wins all;
    Awakes, forever blessed.

...useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

--1 Timothy 6:5-6, NKJV

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lessons From My Father


Since this is Fathers’ Day in the USA, I’ll share some of what I learned from my Father.

  • Christianity is about Jesus. People need to know about him. Like Peter, they need to confess that he is “the Christ, the Son of God.” Dad preached the message of Jesus, year after year.
  • Racial prejudice is evil. The Lord “has made from one blood every nation of mankind.” Dad first took action concerning such things when he was still in high school, in the 1930’s.
  • Saving and giving are essential to sound stewardship of money.
  • People who are down-and-out are still people. Dad respected the basic personhood of everyone--the drug addict, the alcoholic, the person who was marginally or really insane, and even the politician.
  • Marriage should be for keeps. “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Dad and Mother stayed married for nearly 55 years, until she died.
  • Take care of your body. (Dad changed his lifestyle both radically and progressively after his first major heart attack at age 49. He lived into his 80’s.)
  • Don’t grieve what you can’t do. Celebrate what you can do. After my mother died, Dad remarried at age 82—this time, to an older woman. It was a wonderful wedding and a wonderful marriage. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
  • The Lord answers prayers, but not always the way we want. “Not my will, but what thou willest.”

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rise Up (A song for men)


Rise up, O men of God,
Forgiven by God's grace
Through Jesus Christ the Risen One.
Trust Him and run life's race.

Rise up, O men of God,
In strength that He will give.
Be bold and strong to share the word
So other men may live.

Rise up, O men of God,
And never be afraid
Of manly strength made holy when
His purpose is obeyed.

Rise up, O men of God!
It's high time to begin
To stand up for all godly things,
To stand against all sin.

Rise up, O men of God,
For time is running fast.
Come, seize this day with all your might
Before the chance is past.

Rise up, O men of God,
And work for your reward:
Great triumph now, and then, some day,
A "Well-done!" from your Lord.


Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Act like men! Be strong.
--1 Corinthians 16:13

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Godly Father and Father God

Job, the godly father,
Took the daily burden
Of praying for his many children,
Lest they curse the Lord.

The LORD, our Father God,
Takes the daily burden
Of waiting for his errant children:
Wayward one, come home!

We, once rebel children,
Have the daily blessing
Of coming to our wondrous Father:
Blessed, not cursed, now home.

His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.
--Job 1:4,5

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pigs and Lambs

My pastor reported that Charles Spurgeon put out a book of proverbs (not the Bible's Book of Proverbs). One of them was this:

Pigs grow fat where lambs would starve.


We prove what we are by where we most happily feed.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.

--Psalm 23

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lights


Every light,
Dim or bright,
Has a right
To shine at night.
But the dark,
Grimly stark,
Hates the spark.

Still, each light,
Dim or bright,
Has a right
To shine at night
With all its might
To give us sight.

"You are the light of the world."


Friday, June 08, 2007

Devotional: When Plans Don't Work

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.


--Psalm 37:23, 24

Meagan, a teenager in my church, was scheduled to leave on a mission trip to Guatemala this past weekend. She kept waiting and waiting for her passport to arrive. It never arrived, so she was unable to make the trip. On Tuesday she had surgery for appendicitis. She and her family are very glad that she was not in Guatemala when the appendicitis hit. Our church is praising the Lord for NOT giving her the passport that she and others so much wanted her to have.

Are you frustrated because your plans didn't work? Can you trust the Lord that he may have a good reason--a reason that you can't yet see?

Prayer: Father, thank you that you know the end from the beginning; that nothing surprises you, and that my times are in your hands. Help me trust you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unite My Heart

Unite my heart to fear your name,
To love you ev'ry day the same.
    Root out the rot,
    Each stubborn spot.
        Fill all my soul
        And make me whole.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.

--Psalm 86:11, ESV

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tomatoes and Cucumbers


A couple of tomatoes,
A couple of cukes,
And I'm back in Nebraska
With Grandpa and Grandma
And aunts and uncles and cousins
Decades ago.
The garden's so abundant
That there are cucumbers to eat
And cucumbers to pickle
And cucumbers to take home.
The love's abundant, too,
And I'm content...

Thankful today for memories from
A couple of tomatoes
And a couple of cukes.

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They are filled from the abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your refreshing stream,
for with You is life's fountain. In Your light we will see light.
Spread Your faithful love over those who know You, and Your righteousness over the upright in heart.

--Psalm 36:7-10, HCSB

Friday, June 01, 2007

Those who leave the church

Our pastor preached a couple of sermons this spring about those who abandon the church and the faith; he pointed out that the reason they leave is not that we have done something wrong, but that they were never really a part of the Lord's people to begin with. This isn't to say that everyone who leaves a particular church for another isn't a real Christian, but that those who abandon God's people and who abandon the truth are not his people. Today, many churches have the idea that it's the church's duty to hang on to everyone who may come through the doors. As I see it, our duty is to love everyone and to be faithful to the Lord.

Many years ago, a pastor confided to me, "We've just had a mini-revival in our church: two of our charter members left." That pastor was not bitter, just wise. He'd been called to that church nearly a decade earlier, shortly after its founding. In describing the leaders who had just left, he said, "I've finally concluded that the reasons for founding this church were sinful." Again, he was not bitter nor defeated. The church was moving forward, growing, being a blessing. He was just realistic.

Have some people left your church lately? If so, have they abandoned the church so that they can have more time for such things as boating or selling or sleeping? Pray for them; check up on them, but don't blame the church. Real Christians have a hunger for the Lord's people. As 1 John 3:14 says, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death."