Thursday, April 30, 2009
Even though you walk through dark, terrifying places, you have no reason to fear that any evil will befall you; for he walks with you and he will never leave you alone. His rod and his staff are designed to prod you in the direction you need to walk and to pull you back from the cliff when you stray too close to the edge. But in addition to that, they are perfectly formed to fend off attacks from predators and enemies, those who would steal your peace and your joy.
In fact, he sits you down to an amazing meal that he has prepared for you, right in front of your enemies, as if to rub in their faces how powerless they are to harm you. Then, after feeding you, he anoints you with oil, his own spirit, to take you even further into the depths of his freedom, grace and glory. In his presence, your wine cup is filled beyond capacity, overflowing and spilling onto the floor. You cannot contain all that he has for you.
Throughout all the days of your life, his goodness and his mercy will pursue you, hunting you to the ends of the earth and running rampant over you. They will await you at every turn. Even if you tried to avoid them, there is nowhere that you will not encounter them. His goodness and his mercy will be as close as brothers to you, right up until your final breaths. And then, when that last wind has passed your lips, there is only joy remaining. At that point, you will live forever in the palace of the king, reveling endlessly in his magnificent presence.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Tonight I took a brief step over the line into the territory of "Okay, God. I've waited patiently for a month. Now it's time for you to grant me the desires of my heart according to Psalm 37."
It's good that he loves me. So very, very good. It's also gracious that his patience is vastly superior to mine. He chuckled and sighed and ever so gently instructed me to read Psalm 13. After David finishes bemoaning his situation to the Lord of his hosts, he remembers himself and concludes with, "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me."
And with that the Creator of my soul reminds me that a month is not too short a time for him to remain God.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord's wrath,
until he pleads my case and establishes my right.
He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
Then my enemy will see it and will be covered in shame,
she who said to me, "Where is the Lord your God?"
My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets."
So these things usually tend to be somewhat instructive, or (hopefully) encouraging. This one gets a little personal, but I'm okay with that, because... well... it's my blog, and I can do what I want with it.
I've been on night shifts now for about 3 months - reeeeeally can't stand it. Of just about any frustrating circumstance or situation I've had in my life, this is quite possibly my least favorite. I live in such an extended state of exhaustion that I sometimes feel like I don't even know myself anymore. The rub of it is, this may be an act of God to help me understand some things better (whether or not it was his doing, the situation certainly arose out of my disobedience to his precepts). Or it may simply be the situation I find myself in.
Regardless, whether it was by his plan or simply my own stupidity, the way out doesn't lie in my own scheming and manipulations. I will put my trust in the Lord my God, because he carries titles (born from his actions) like Redeemer, Savior, Shelter, Provider, Protector, Advocate, Warrior, Healer. And he is infinitely more capable of seeing after both my needs and desires than I am.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Petra had a few recurring themes weaving through their music over the years. One of the most prominent of these was spiritual warfare. It seemed that every album had at least one album talking about the devil and our ongoing struggle against him, culminating in This Means War, a glorious arena rock song dedicated to the notion that, although the struggle continues, "the Victor is sure and the victory secure." The war is won. Jesus Christ has achieved his success. But the next line went on to say, "But 'til judgment we all must endure. This means war."
In my younger days, my Christian walk was marked by the knowledge that I was at war. I had an enemy, I knew his name, and I was aware of his tactics. In recent months, I have become numb to this. I have rested in the assurance that the war is won, and ignored the fact that the battles still wages. In The Usual Suspects (one of the most well-written movies of all time), Roger "Verbal" Kint muses that "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." I let him do that. I stood and took punches like the invisible man was in the room.
Tonight at dinner a friend of mine kicked me in the tuchas and reminded me that I needed to fight. So here I go. I've started before and stopped, but it's time to start again. The only time I get knocked down that really matters is the time I don't get back up. So Satan, go on and bring it. Just be warned that I'm not fighting alone.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
But while Grandpa Wilbur had people seeking him out to discuss spiritual matters, others had to take a more active approach. Take my dad's brother Bob, for example. As a teenager, Uncle Bob used to set up folding chairs in the front lawn and invite all the neighborhood kids over. After asking them to have a seat, he would pace back and forth in front of them, brandishing a baseball bat over his shoulder. Beating the bat against his hand to punctuate his arguments, he would extol the virtues of Christian conversion. His subtle message was not lost on them: "Get saved, or else."
Though Uncle Bob's methods were probably less orthodox than Grandpa Wilbur's, he had the right idea. Except in rare cases like Jesus and Grandpa Wilbur, people aren't going to seek you out to ask you to help them grow in their spiritual walks. We've got to go get them.
Right before he returned to Heaven, Jesus said things like "Go into all the world..." and "...you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." And that's exactly what the apostles did. The book of Acts chronicles their goings. They went and went and went.
Do we have to go far? No. Some people will go to other countries, some will leave the state, but going can be as simple as picking up the phone or sending an email. Just reach out to someone. Call someone up and ask them how you can pray for them. Invite someone over for dinner and tell them what God's been doing in your life. When you've met someone new, ask them who they think Jesus is. Just go.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
We read how there is a sinful nature within us that keeps us doing what we don't want and keeps us from doing what we want. We read how God gave us his law to expose that sin nature, and to show us that we can't live up to his standard. We read how that nature leads us to death.
But then we read how he created new life within us, giving new birth to a spiritual person who is not bound to that law of sin and death. We were reminded that Jesus, the Son of God, took on the form of sinful man, and met the standard of righteousness that God required. We read how that standard has now been met in us; how we are now alive in the Spirit of Jesus. Just as he took on the form of sinful man, we now get to take on the form of righteous Christ. We read how, because of the Christ-ness that is now on us, his Spirit will not only guide and control our living spirit, but will also redeem our bodies, "corrupting" that old man within us from the inside out. We get to remain in Jesus, and have him likewise remain in us. While we may not be able to refrain from doing what we don't want to or not doing what we do want to, the Spirit of Christ that lives within us can.
Many years ago, I wrote a poem for a friend who was struggling with her self-worth and her walk with God. It's a little Seuss-ish, but I want to share it anyway.
As God looks down from his heavenly throne,
he sees his children – flesh, blood and bone.
He watches their struggles, their trials, and their fears.
And in his compassion, his eyes fill with tears.
“My children, they don’t,” he says with a sigh,
“know the love of their father, who dwells upon high.
Reparations are needed, a remedy real;
I’ll show my dear children how they make me feel.”
Designing his course, completing his notion,
God sets his wonderful plan into motion.
Taking on flesh and becoming a man,
He sets out to change things, as only God can.
“Redemption’s my goal,” he says with a smile.
“I’ll clean up their hearts, erasing all guile.
I’ll wash them white as the new fallen snow;
binding their sin, I’ll take it below.
“I’ll show them exactly how much they’re worth.
Of knowledge of my love, there shall be no dearth.
I want them to see how sufficient’s my grace;
though imperfect, they’ll dwell in the light of my face.”
So steadfast he goes to the cross and the tomb,
and rises again, like a child from the womb.
His mission’s accomplished, his victory complete;
sin, death and blame are crushed ‘neath his feet.
“Awash in his blood, all I see is my Son,”
he says with a grin about those he has won.
“Although to themselves they seem unfulfilled,
their redemption is finished, just as I’ve willed.
As God looks down from Heaven above,
he sees his own children and smiles, full of love.
“There’s no condemnation, no price still to pay.
I dwell within them, and within them I’ll stay.”
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." - Romans 8:17
Sunday, November 23, 2008
"You either have to write or you shouldn't be writing."
I've moved to Evansville twice to work on writing projects and have not completed either of them. It's time to find out if I simply want to be a writer or if I "have to write". Is it in my blood or is it a passing fancy. For the time being, I have a little extra time on my hands. So I'm going to write. If it's just to do a little blog, I'm going to write. It starts now.