Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cross View


Looking toward the cross,
I see an innocent man crucified.

Looking at the cross,

I see God's Son dying for sinners--for me.

Looking from the cross,

I see myself crucified with Christ:
dead to sin, alive to God.

Looking beyond the cross,

I see a great redeemed multitude
from every tribe and tongue and nation,
praising God.

For I determined to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
--1 Corinthians 2:2, NASB

Old Testament Wives and Husbands

Hosea's wife was immoral. Ezekiel's wife died, and he was not permitted to mourn her publicly. Job's wife urged him to curse God and die. Isaac's wife was conniving. She urged their son Jacob to trick him. Yet Hosea and Ezekiel and Job and Isaac had the blessing of marriage.

Sarah's husband was a liar, willing to sacrifice her purity for his safety. Abigail's first husband was a fool, endangering the whole household by his churlish greed. Bathsheba's second husband was the man who sent her first husband to his death. Yet Sarah and Abigail and Bathsheba had the blessing of marriage.

What makes a marriage is not fairy-tale, happily-ever-after circumstances, nor perfect people, nor following the customs of society. What makes a marriage is a determination, under God and by his grace, to commit yourself to your husband or to your wife. When the hard times come, marriage is a bulwark and a safety net and a refuge. The married person who sees things biblically can say, "Whatever other decisions must be made in life, this one has now been made."


"For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."


--Malachi 2:16, NASB

Committed Marriage

Not two, but one,
And sometimes fun,
But always one,
'Til this life's done.


Note: The New Living Translation has an interesting rendering of this verse. It says divorce is "as cruel as putting on a victim's bloodstained coat." I'm not sure that's what's meant by "covering his garment with violence," as other translations have it. What do you think the prophet meant?


Prayer: Lord, forgive us for taking divorce lightly. Make us agents of purity.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Don't Wait

Last night I watched a baptism on closed-circuit TV from the next room. I wondered why it took the person so long to appear in the baptistery. Once she appeared, I understood. Dorothy is 88 years old. During the past few months, she heard and understood the message of Jesus for the first time.

As Pastor Mark pointed out to us, maybe you think you're too old to change. Maybe you've given up on expecting God to do something new in your life. Or maybe you think you have lots of time to get things straightened out with God and with people. Either way, don't wait. The Bible says, "Behold, now is 'the acceptable time,' behold, today is 'the day of salvation.'" (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Now's the moment. Don't delay.
Trust your Lord and King today,
Washing all your sins away.

As you come and plead for grace,
Fall before him on your face,
You will find a welcome place.

Why should you delay and wait?
"In awhile" may be too late.
Trust him now. Don't hesitate.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Knowing Whether You’re Really Alive in Jesus

The Bible gives lots of ways to know whether you’re really alive in Jesus. Here’s a list. (There are probably others that I accidentally omitted.) If you have really been reborn spiritually, the Lord will be producing certain results in you.

Have you come to Jesus?
  - John 6:37

Do you believe in Jesus, the same Jesus of the Bible? Do you believe he’s the Son of God, come in the flesh, crucified for us, dead, buried, resurrected, ascended and coming again in glory?
  - John 4:15, 5:1, 5:13

Do you love God and love God’s people?
  - 1 John 4:7-12 and 5:1

Have you been baptized?
  - Romans 6:3

Have you turned from sin to God?
  - 1 John 5:4

Do you have the Holy Spirit of Jesus?
  - Romans 8:9

Is the pattern of your life obedience to God?
  - 1 John 2:3-6

Have you admitted to others that Jesus is Lord?
  - Romans 10:9

Does God discipline you?
  - Hebrews 12:6

Does God’s Spirit testify with your spirit that you’re God’s child?
  - Romans 8:16

Have you been born again?
  - John 3:3
________________________________________

Wow - that's quite a list, right? There are two ways of looking at it. You could look at that list as a checklist of things YOU need to accomplish, and be nervous about each one of them. Or you could look at that list as a set of things the Lord can and will do in you, and can take courage as you see them starting to occur increasingly in your life (unless you fail the test). I believe the more sound way is the second way. These are not a new set of laws. They are a list of what the Lord produces in those who are truly his children.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Song of the Meadow

Every flower, every bee,
Every drop of dew I see
Sings a wordless song to me:
God is loving. God is light;
Always perfect, always right.
Praise him now with all your might.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Devotional: Only One Way

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6)

Most people in our society aren't offended if you speak of being spiritual, or of believing in God. They become more nervous when you speak of trusting Jesus, but even then are not as upset as if you say he is the only way to God, the only way to eternal life. Yet that's what Jesus himself claimed. Are you willing to bear the shame that society heaps on those who are so narrow-minded as to believe what he said? Or will you be lukewarm, like those (in Revelation 3:16) whom Jesus spits out of his mouth?

Jesus does not offer one of many ways to God. He offers himself, the only way to God.

Prayer: Father, open our eyes to the uniqueness of Jesus.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

There's a Horror in My Head

There's a horror in my head,
An unexpected dread.
There's a shadow in my soul,
An unprotected hole.
It can shape the things I see;
Supplant the better "me."

Yet there's also joy inside--
A bubbling thing that I'd
Try to tell you all about,
But words can't flesh it out.
It's a wondrous, holy thing
That makes my tired heart sing.

Thank God for joy and peace!
Through him, may they increase.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

--1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV

Note: I wrote this in one of my depressed moments. Lately, the depression's gone again. It's wonderful to have the peace that comes from knowing that my ultimate well-being does not depend on my mood.

Since I don't want any potential employers to get the wrong idea years from now, I'll also mention that my depressive moments rarely interfere with my daily work. I suppose for the past decade I've missed an average of an hour or two of work a year due to depression.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Devotional: Broken and Spilled Out

Jesus was the wheat, crushed by the mill.
He was the grapes, crushed by the press.
He was the wineskin, pierced that the wine might pour out.

Now we eat the holy bread and drink the holy wine,
Cleansed and refreshed by what he did...
Because he was broken for us and spilled for us.

It seems so barbaric, so unfair,
Until we see ourselves there,
Deserving the sentence he bore.

Thank you, Lord, for this unfair exchange:
For becoming a curse for us,
That we might become a blessing.

...who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
                  --1 Peter 2:24

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
                  --1 Corinthians 11:23-25

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Economics and Religion

I heard the following one-liner on the CBS Evening [TV] News.
It was a story about the stock market going down. They were talking about whether the government should rescue mortgage companies that made bad loans.

Allen Meltzer, an economic adviser to presidents Kennedy and Reagan, says the Federal Reserve should not intervene to prop up companies that made bad loans.

"I like to say capitalism without pain is like religion without sin. It doesn't work," Meltzer told
[CBS News correspondent Anthony] Mason.

I believe Meltzer is right...especially about religion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Devotional: Myths of Heaven

Heaven is real, not a myth, but people often believe myths about heaven and the future life. Here are some.

"We'll become angels." No, we won't become angels. We'll become something better than the angels. The Bible says the angels "have been sent to serve those who will inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). That is, they serve us.

"I can go to the grave to speak to my dead loved one." You can go there, but you might as well stay home. Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross, "This day you will be with me in paradise." Do you think paradise means being trapped in a dead body in a tomb? Certainly not!

"I'll be reincarnated in a new, different body." No, you won't. Those who truly trust Jesus are resurrected, re-united with their same bodies, and those bodies are transformed to be like the resurrected body of Jesus. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

"Everybody goes to heaven." Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).


Prayer:
Lord, create in me true faith in your Son. Prepare me for the real heaven.

I'm no angel. I'm a man
Who's been rescued, by God's plan.
In God's image I was made,
For God's grace to be displayed.
I'm ashamed of things I've done,
But forgiven through God's Son.
Some day in eternal light
I'll rejoice with all my might.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Seeker

We seek the Lord and find
That we'd been in His mind;
That He the Seeker drew
The ones whom He fore-knew.

We seek the Lord and find
--And find! And find! And find!
When seeking not with part
But with our entire heart.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
--Jeremiah 29:13, HCSB

For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
--Romans 8:29-30, HCSB

THEOLOGICAL NOTE: How does God's foreknowledge work? How do we reconcile predestination with human responsibility? I don't know. I just know that the Bible teaches predestination, and that it teaches human responsibility, and that it teaches that God is just. We get hints of the answer with Pharaoh: Pharaoh hardened his heart, and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart. We get further hints with Judas Iscariot, the "son of perdition," who was still responsible for his actions.

If we are saved, we must credit the Lord. If we are lost, we must blame ourselves. Is that fair? Yes, because the Lord has not forced anyone to be evil.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Worldly Possessions



What's ours today
May melt away
Like frost in morning sun.
The things may rust
Or turn to dust
Before the day is done.


The goods we choose
We may well lose
Before another breath.
Our fragile health,
Our so-brief wealth,
Will not escape our death.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
--Matthew 6:19-21

Note: On Tuesday evening, my wife and I were in the white car when it was damaged. That night, I wrote this poem. On Wednesday afternoon, we were in the green car when the cruise control broke, coming on and staying on. We're thankful to be alive. Life is fragile. Our hold on things is fragile. My grandmother had a couplet on her wall:
Only one life; 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Peace

There is no peace without the Prince of Peace,
and yet this world chases peace but detests him.

It sends peace envoys who are in rebellion against his peace.

It holds peace talks where even the mention of his name is banned.

It builds fences at national borders while defending its right to blaspheme him.

It tries extreme makeovers while denying the fountain of life, the one who gives the oil of gladness in place of mourning.

It takes pills for anxiety, but laughs at the one who said, "Don't let your hearts be troubled, nor let them be afraid. I give you peace.

There is peace available--a peace that means total well-being.
It is found only in Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
--Isaiah 9:6, NASB

To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
--Isaiah 61:3, NASB

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
--John 14:27, NASB

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Simple Things

Thank you, Lord, for simple things--
For ballpoint pens and bluebirds' wings,
For wiggly worms and wooden chairs,
For dogs and frogs and well-worn stairs.
I hear your voice in every sound.
Your glory's shining all around.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

--Psalm 104:33, NASB

Saturday, August 04, 2007

War on the Darkness

The proud city wages all-out war on the darkness--
One nightlight,
    two headlights,
        a hundred street lights at a time.
Electric glows
    calm a frightened child,
        turn a leafless tree into a work of art,
            illumine a welcoming doorway
                and keep thieves at bay.
Yet they also flash from signs that sell a hundred sins
And dance on screens with lurid scenes.
"Inevitable," the city says,
And proudly lifts its head,
Proclaiming its own wonders.

The city wages war on the darkness,
Denying the gift of the night,
Forgetting the voice of the truth--
That the dangers of darkness
Aren't solved electrically.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son...
Colossians 1:13, NASB

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
--2 Corinthians 4:6, NASB

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}
--Ephesians 6:12, NASB

Friday, August 03, 2007

Spiritual Surgery

Great Father, You know my temptations,
My innermost rebel sensations.
Although I have worked to conceal them,
I'm asking You now to reveal them.
Slice open my soul and my spirit
And heal me within, though I fear it.
Please touch me each place where I'm broken
And grant me the pure life you've spoken.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.
--Hebrews 4:12, ISV

So let us keep on coming with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
--Hebrews 4:16, ISV

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dragonflies


Three dragonflies
With compound eyes
And checkered wings
--Amazing things--
Were flitting in my path.

They'd pause to sit
For one quick bit
And then they'd fly
--Not very high--
On further down the path.


Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.

--Proverbs 4:26, ESV