Sometimes the roles of master and slave are obvious and sometimes not. It is interesting to consider the "why" behind are choices and our actions. I think we'll often find that the "why" behind our choices and actions is the direct fallout of slavery. In our culture, many are slaves to money. Since money is their master they have decided to orient their careers and their ambitions to serve that master. But slavery isn't called slavery without purpose. I think that is why many people are unhappy with their lives. By making money the master we may make decisions, choose careers and take actions that put service to that master over personal happiness, fulfillment or relationships. It has been said that "money makes a good servant but a poor master". If we can set money aside as the master in our lives we may find great freedom to serve our true Master. He is interested not in slaves but in followers. In choosing to serve Him we finally find a solid basis for decisions, actions, career choices and we find the keys to unlock relationships and to find our identity.
Job 28: 1 "Surely there is a mine for silver,
And a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
And copper is smelted from ore.
12 "But where can wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its value,
Nor is it found in the land of the living.
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
And concealed from the birds of the air.
22 Destruction and Death say,
'We have heard a report about it with our ears.'
23 God understands its way,
And He knows its place.
28 And to man He said,
' Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding.'"
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
joy⋅ride1.a pleasure ride in an automobile, esp. when the vehicle is driven recklessly or used without the owner's permission.
There is another way to interpret, or apply, the term "joyride". It's interesting to me that the familiar meaning is not a positive one. The picture you get is of a teenager absconding with the family sedan late one night after his folks are asleep. He might pick up a few buddies and tear through some back roads at speeds that test the adhesion of tires and the limits of centrifugal force. But you and I can enjoy a joyride routinely. In the private bubble of our vehicle's cabin we can set our thoughts, our prayers, our praise on our Creator/Savior/Helper (The Lord Himself!) Rather than driving recklessly we can drive reverently and claim that time as holy time. Especially when we drive alone, there is a great opportunity to reflect on the events of the day or prepare for the upcoming activities before us. Without inhibition or fear of embarassment we can sing to the Lord. We can even pray out loud if we want to. I hope you enjoy many opportunities for joyrides with Jesus. Even the daily commute can be joyful.
2 Kings 10:15 Now when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab, coming to meet him; and he greeted him and said to him, "Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?"
And Jehonadab answered, "It is."
Jehu said, "If it is, give me your hand." So he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. 16 Then he said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD." So they had him ride in his chariot.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
7 Then I said, "Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart."
I don't think I had ever thought of obedience as a sacrifice before reading Psalm 40 this morning. But as I think about it, obedience is one of the "ultimate" sacrifices a human being can make. Our nature is to want to do it "our way". We are proud private people who want to "stand on our own two feet" and be masters of our own destiny. We may have even come to know the Lord in a personal way, but we often leave Him out of the picture. It seems that we must make a conscious choice to follow His lead...or else we will naturally follow our own way. It is odd that, given a choice between our limited and flawed ways and the "paths of righteousness" held out by the Lord, we often choose wrong. I suppose that, like David, the answer comes when obedience has become a delight and God's word and ways have found a home in our hearts. Laying down self and taking up the Savior is a sacrifice that leads to blessing.
Psalm 40:4 Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We need dimensions to picture places and objects that are described to us. We can appreciate a 100 yard kickoff return in football. We are amazed to consider folks who run 26.3 miles to complete marathons. We struggle to grasp the light years of distance to stars in space. We know that 100 years marks a very long lifespan. Dimensions help us picture our world of time and space. But what are the dimensions of Heaven? Sometimes I think that Heaven is difficult to conceive of because it seems to lie in a place beyond the dimensions of time or of place. We just have difficulty picturing how high, how long and what appearance a place like Heaven has. Dimensions are invaluable in a world with limits but we have never been to a place like Heaven, that is not constrained by time or space. Perhaps it is a good exercise to begin to condition our minds and our imaginations to comtemplate a "forever" place that lies beyond measure.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The past few days we have experienced glorious weather. Part of the beauty has come from deep blue skies painted with an infinite variety of clouds. There were thin, wispy cirrus clouds, billowing cumulus clouds and layered stratus clouds. There were times when all three types of cloud were visible at the same time. It struck me that clouds are made of nothing more than water. The reason that clouds appear white is due to the elevation of the clouds which causes the water to be frozen into ice crystals that reflect the sun's light in a fresh white that contrasts so strikingly against the azure sky. That 's the scientific reason that clouds are white and the sky is beautiful. But I think that the Lord uses the sky to give us a foretaste of heaven. He takes the vast expanse of the blackness of space, which is void of almost anything to reflect light and interposes a glorious cover of reflected light, decorated with clouds just as He has taken the blackness of our hearts and covered them with His grace that we might reflect His Son. Just as He has done with the simple water-formed clouds which stand in glorious relief against the sky, so He has done with the simple clay pots of our lives, which stand in glorious relief against the rest of His creation. The sky keeps us looking up!
Job 35:5 Look to the heavens and see;
And behold the clouds—
They are higher than you.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I wonder if you have had the same experience I have of separating life into two large pieces. One piece is the natural life I live in a natural world. In this piece of life I do a job, drive a car, eat food, enjoy friends and family and discuss the weather. The other piece is the spiritual life that is represented by faith in the Lord. It seems centered more around Sunday morning, small group gatherings for Bible study and prayer and turning to God out of personal need. This way of living has a tendency to make me think I live in the natural world and turn to the spiritual world on an "as-needed" basis. It also causes me to think of the natural world as the one that is most important right now...while someday the spiritual world will be more relevant and meaningful. This morning it hit me that the real challenge and the real blessing come when we successfully integrate these two pieces into one. When we live in the natural world and see the Lord in it. When we do our jobs and wait on Him in the midst of the day. When we appreciate frequent opportunities to talk with the Lord and to thank Him. When we see His hand in the blessing of marriage, children and friends. There is a great peace knowing that we walk with Him now and we will walk with Him forever. Yes, seeing Heaven painted on the canvas of our natural experience makes our knowledge of the Lord all the richer.
Luke 17:20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!'[a] For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
Friday, May 22, 2009
My sister-in-law is a skilled seamstress with extensive creative and technical skills. She has a sophisticated, computerized machine to make fabrics and clothing of all kinds. Recently she surprised us with a beautiful quilt, made of pieces of fabric that perfectly match all the colors in our living room in stunning patterns of different geometric shapes. I thought about how the quilt took small pieces of many different fabrics that didn't match individually and pulled them together to make something beautiful in color and design. Of course the original quilts in America were mostly focused on making something useful out of useless scraps of cloth in an unforgiving environment of harsh winters and meager supply. It made me consider how the Lord has taken us all, so different and so incomplete, and stitched us together to make a heavenly quilt that is both useful and beautiful.
Mark 6:39-44(The Message Version)Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It seems that, with all our technology today, we have become dependent on hardware, software, motors, engines and electronic windows on the world. For the most part these devices work well and help us navigate efficiently through the day. Occasionally, however, something jams, freezes or stalls. I have discovered that many of these products have a "reset" button or switch, or sometimes you have to "power down", wait and then "power up" to restore function. It occurs to me that we have a "reset" button with every morning in our lives. The accumulated tension, frustration and weariness of each day can be left (or set on "pause") with each day's end. We are refreshed and recharged by sleep and we step into a new morning. And there is something fresh about morning. As the sun breaks the horizon it is as if each day is the first day. The sky seems to awaken, as we do, from sleep. There is a quietness all about, broken only by a few birds hailing the dawn. We emerge from the fog of sleep with a renewed mind and a fresh perspective to reengage the world. It is as if the Lord gives us a fresh start with each day. Spring mornings are especially beautiful here in Virginia and the beauty of the land and sky make it almost impossible not to start the new day with a hopeful heart!
Lamentations 3:22 Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I have visited a few cathedrals, here in the U.S. and overseas. They are awesome buildings. Massive structures formed of enough stone to deplete an entire quarry, they rise heavenward as great "pointers" to our mighty God. They took generations of men working entire lifetimes to build and spawned hundreds of craftsmen to work in stone, glass and metal. It is hard not to have thoughts centered on the Lord as you visit these monuments. Unfortunately they have a major drawback. They are absolutely anchored to one place. For those who feel the cathedral is where they meet God, they must go there and that isn't always convenient. It strikes me that part of our design, as His new creation in Christ, is that we are "traveling cathedrals" ourselves. I would submit that our design is every bit as awe inspiring as the stone edifices just described. We are smaller but we were crafted in great complexity and reflect the hand of the Artisan who fashioned us. It is not necessary to go to a certain location to be in the Lord's presence because He has promised to dwell within the tent of our human frame. I don't want to minimize the exalted experience of worship in a beautiful cathedral, but I am grateful that the Lord has chosen to dwell in this humble tabernacle of flesh with all its troubles.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
I was considering "hope" this morning and reflected on the fact that it is a word that has a future and a present quality. One of the great spiritual gifts God gives us in salvation is a confidence that we will be with Him forever. We wade through swamps of difficulty, discouragement and disillusionment here on a daily basis, but we do not lose that hope which has been placed within our hearts. That hope quietly resides within us like a precious family heirloom that sits in a corner of your home and that reminds you that you are part of a larger family. You cannot work up hope...you cannot manufacture it, and you cannot alter the hope of heaven that we do not understand but that we do begin to appreciate from a distance. I suppose the truth is that hope is more about the present than the future, because, in the future we will see the fulfillment of hope. That is our assurance and He has placed it, in absolute security, in a safe place in our hearts, as we have allowed Him entrance to those hearts.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The word friend comes from an old English word, freogan which was a verb meaning "to love, to favor". This morning I was considering the mystery of friendship. We are aware of the wonder of marriage and the mystery of two becoming one, but it occurred to me that true friendship is also a special relationship. Although we may be kind (or 'friendly') to many people and although we may be neighbors to folks around us and although we may rub shoulders with people that we are comfortable with on a daily basis, there is a special relationship with some that we call friends. I think that a true friend is a gift. There seems to be a need to have a deeper kind of relationship (apart from marriage) where we can be vulnerable, share needs and problems, and explore truth. I believe that this should generally be a same-gender relationship that doesn't conflict with marriage. Men need to help men with life from a male perspective and women need to help women with life from a female perspective. In my life, at different ages, there have been a few people that I believe the Lord has brought into my path who have become my friend. I located my best friend when I was 7 years old over the internet recently. Although we moved away from that neighborhood and I didn't have a relationship with him I still cherish the memory of our friendship and I believe that if we have a chance to visit, the friendship will be rekindled. I'm especially touched that the Lord called His disciples friends and I believe that we all have access to this special dimension of relationship with Him, as well.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The moon fascinates me. In the solar system our moon is almost like a little orphan that can't quite make it home. The phases of the moon are such a remarkable timepiece that helps us trace our way through the weeks, months and seasons each year. I think it's so intriguing that we always see the same side of the moon. This is despite the fact that the moon revolves around the earth each month. The only way it is possible for us to see the same side of the moon is for the moon to rotate on its own axis once monthly also. The strong pull of earth's gravity has caused the moon's rotation to fall into synch with its monthly trip around the world. Of course, as a result, we never see the far side (the dark side) of the moon. The gravitational force of the earth on the moon might be compared to the strong pull of the Lord on one who seeks to "stay in the Lord's orbit". When we first come to know Him we may be spinning on our own terms, but as we face Him over time that rate will be brought into synch with His and we will face Him continually, even as we move through our personal "orbit". (And we can keep our "dark side" pointed out to space, where it belongs!)
Isaiah 7:10-11God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, "Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!"
Saturday, May 16, 2009
As I strolled this morning I considered how there is always a "bottom line" to things. Of course in business the bottom line is generally about making profits (though recently that has become more rare). In medical research there is a search for the trigger or initiator of an ailment. When it comes to behavioral problems, there is generally something underlying that behavior from the past. I thought about daily living and considered the "bottom line" of our day-by-day. Two words stood out in my mind: "necessary" and "essential". The root meaning of necessary goes back to words that mean "no backing away". The root meaning of essential means "the basic element of being". It originally meant "the substance of the Trinity". In our everyday use we probably use these as synonyms but there is an important difference. The unavoidable things of life tend to be thrust into our faces and we must deal with them. The stuff of life...the essence of what it means to really live...we must purpose to recognize, appreciate and claim. Of course we know Who is behind "the basic element of being" and "the substance of the Trinity". I think the bottom line of life is finding what is essential about life and discovering that the Lord, Himself, is the essence.
Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Genesis 1:11 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
This morning, as I strolled, I looked deep into the woods off to the side of my path. I caught a glimpse of a gorgeous clump of mountain laurel. It stood out like like a shiny dime on a church carpet. I thought to myself. "Isn't that interesting. God put some beautiful flowers in a place where hardly anyone would see them." Then I realized that He actually has put most flowers in places where people don't normally see them. In fact He came up with the whole idea of flowers. And then I remembered that there were a whole lot of things that were "good" before God made man. It struck me that God is a nature lover...that He actually made this world for His own appreciation. He allows us to also live in this lovely garden to share the beauty, as well. I think that the presence of mountain laurel in remote woods is clearly more proof that God exists. (Why else would it be there?)
Thursday, May 14, 2009
As I strolled outside this gorgeous morning it occurred to me that there is a lot of "invisible energy" all around and through me all the time. There's the whole electromagnetic spectrum and beyond visible light there is infrared and ultraviolet energy. There is radio energy pulsating all about, carrying music, news, opinions and the Gospel message too. Television is carrying actual pictures and sound through the air and, between the broadcast source and the receiver, it is impossible to see or hear this information as it passes through the sky. As I gazed at the tall loblolly pines behind my home, at breakfast, and watched them gently sway I realized that they were being pushed by another invisible force, the wind. Some of the invisible energy travels through the air and some is carried by it, but it is very possible to go through the day unaware of the message content that is swirling all about us all the time. It struck me that if so much energy is continually moving through the natural world invisibly it is not hard to believe that the Lord's spiritual energy, though invisible also, surrounds and permeates us too. Radio stations broadcast on AM and FM. Perhaps the Lord is on SM (Spiritual Modulation).
Job 28:20 "From where then does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
And concealed from the birds of the air.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
We got one of those large plasma tv's when we moved to our new house a few years ago. I discovered the beauty of the high definition picture and really enjoyed watching natural scenes like volcanoes from Hawaii, views of earth from space and travel shows from around the world. Several of the shows focused on mountain climbing. I realized that we have a fascination with mountain climbing. It's a test of our human strength against the challenges and dangers of extremes...extreme cold, extremely thin air, extremely difficult movement up sheer rock. We do it to show our ability to conquer and the rewards are awesome views of the world below. But this morning I was thinking about the wonders of "valley walking". Most of the folks I know spend more time in the valley than on the mountain. Of course I'm referring primarily to valley experiences of difficulty, problems, consequences and discouragement. I thought about how the valley is a good place to experience God. Of course David reminded us in the 23rd Psalm that the Lord is with us even when we walk through these valleys. We do tend to reach up for the Lord when there is no where else we can go on the downside. It is in the valley that we find the river and it is in the valley that the soil is richest. Valley walks are where we realize that we need help and we tend to be open to accepting it. It occurred to me that while the view from a mountain top is downward, the view from the valley leads up! (I remember one tv show that described mountain climbers who became stranded by an avalanche and experienced the valley on top of the mountain!)
Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the LORD is near
in the valley of decision.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
What if you had been born blind and remained so throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. Your world was a shrouded one filled with sound and smell. Voices came from all around, distances beyond your touch had no measure, nature came to you in smells, temperature and sensations of touch. Your world consisted of a great deal of inner thought and your remaining senses became heightened to detect even subtle change. Your imagination was highly developed as you had spent years trying to picture the world you were shadowed from. Suppose, one May day, your vision was miraculously restored. Can you imagine the overwhelming sense of wonder you would have just walking through a spring morning? The sky would spread out like an iridescent picture of heaven, itself. Sunlight would wash over you and you would smile as you finally identified the source of warmth you'd felt all your life. Color would amaze you in its brilliance. Birds in flight would hold your attention and cause you to stop and stare. Motion would intrigue you..people walking...dogs trotting...cars speeding. The beauty of it all would be stunning. Of course we, who see, are somewhat dulled to the beauty because it is our daily experience. I think we can also become dulled to the wonder of our Lord, who is also our daily experience. Perhaps that is why those who have been in spiritual darkness all their lives are so thrilled when their spiritual eyes are opened and they finally see Jesus correctly and clearly.
Luke 18:40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
He said, "Lord, that I may receive my sight."
42 Then Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."
Monday, May 11, 2009
It's another Monday, the start of a work week. Soon I'll be heading in to the job. Thoughts of action items and tasks began to enter my thoughts as I headed out for a walk with the Lord this morning. But the peacefulness of the mild new day and the loveliness of spring soon drew my focus upward. "Why is it", I thought, "that I compartmentalize my relationship with you, Lord"? "I have concentrated times of listening to you and worshiping you and then I have concentrated periods of time where I'm listening almost exclusively to myself and there is little worship in my attitude." And then, as I strolled, an exciting thought came. What if God were to show up even in the details of my day...in the specific tasks and worries that were going to pop up? Of course he'll show up, if I let Him. I reflected on David as a young shepherd. He had awesome responsibilities because he was guarding the family fortune. As he tended the sheep he faced unpredictable challenges from within and without the flock. Sheep could wander off and lions could attack. He had found the Lord would show up as he was on the job and give him strength, courage and ability to cope even with very scary problems like these. The exciting aspect of this thought was that, as I face the daily challenges of my work day, I can expect the Lord to show up in thoughts, energy and real solutions. Really, I can team up with Him and as the day progresses my relationship with the Lord can be integrated with my life, in very practical ways. Now I'm eager to head in and see how He'll come alongside this morning!
1 Samuel 17: 34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
The Lady's PGA golf tournament is in town this week. Yesterday afternoon my boss and I headed over to watch the ladies play for a few hours. The experience was fascinating, whether you are a golfer, like my boss, or a pure spectator (like me). Many interesting observations came. There is very little talking around a golf event. As you watch from the greens or from the tee locations there is light conversation from the crowd...but that quickly ceases as the players step up to make their shots. Even the golfers don't seem to be talking a great deal. They're obviously concentrating most of the time, standing over a ball or contemplating their next shot. It seems such a serene sport, compared to football or ice hockey. But of course it is a sport and these gals are making their living through it. Only half of the players on Friday would "make the cut" to finish the tournament and share any prize money. It certainly must be a difficult life, with the travel, separation from family and pressures of competition. I watched how each player interacted with their caddy. Of course the caddy's most obvious job is to carry the bulky golf bag from hole to hole. But the caddies have other important jobs: they help their golfer "read" the greens, judge the wind, and select appropriate clubs. Golfer and caddy know each other well, of course, and have a relationship that carries over from week to week. As they proceed from shot to shot and hole to hole the caddy is available for casual conversation, and this probably helps reduce the stress of the game. He is on their side when everyone else on the field is their competitor. The golfer is watched by thousands of people around the course and, of course, they are paying for that experience...but the golfer really has no relationship with the spectators directly. I think it would be a much more difficult and lonely game for the pro golfer, without the caddy. In many respects, the caddy seems an apt picture of the Holy Spirit. He provides constant companionship, helps us line up our "shots" in life, is available to speak to our hearts truth and correction and is on our side, no matter what we face.
John 14:15-17 "If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!"
Friday, May 8, 2009
It occurred to me, as I have started reading the prophet Jeremiah, that our lives have a great deal to do with making the heart of God sad or glad. The Lord clearly experiences anger, love, joy and distress....many emotions, just as we do. We often think about the consequences to our own lives of obedience and disobedience. We think about deliverance from problems, needs being met, purpose being realized in our own lives...We are almost continually aware of our needs and we can have a "need driven" relationship with our Heavenly Father. But do we consider how we can cause the heart of God to rejoice...to be glad in His handiwork...to reflect evidence of His presence back to Him? We were made in His image, are called His children and we have the privilege of delighting the heart of our Father. He doesn't impose any needs on us...yet He longs for our affection and companionship. This puts a fresh light on obedience to me..to think that we have the potential of making the heart of God happy.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Are you doing relatively well? "Absolutely," you might say.
We often look around at others to judge how we are doing personally. It isn't hard to feel that we fall short because there are plenty of folks who are higher on one of the ladders we climb in life. We climb ladders of career, property ownership, acceptance and acclaim. We can easily be dismayed because there are always plenty of folks above us on the ladders and we may not be very interested to note the many who are on lower rungs of the same ladders. It has been said by others that people can spend a lifetime climbing a ladder, only to realize too late that the ladder they've been climbing is leaning against the wrong building. I suppose that we make a mistake when we look around on the human level to determine if we are moving in the vertical dimension. Just like a car tailgating at 75 miles per hour, we may feel that we can't get ahead despite the fact that we're moving faster than a mile a minute toward our destination. We need an absolute reference to gauge progress. We can only know if we are doing relatively well when our focus is locked in on the One who is absolutely true.
Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.
Last Sunday, as I enjoyed the choir's beautiful anthem, I scanned the faces of the choir members and thought about the diversity and unity of their sound. There was a wide range of ages among the singers, from late teens to late in life. From youngest to oldest there probably was an age range of over 50 years. I thought about the blessing our voice is and how one who is young can sing alongside a senior saint and match the qualities of pitch and volume. Singing is a "total" experience. It calls for an exercise of mind, body, heart and soul for the choir to produce the integrated sound that leads us in worship. In that respect, I think, music can be a direct reflection of the Lord's instruction from Mark, chapter 12, verse 30: And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'This is the first commandment. I also thought about the distinctiveness of our voices. A college roommate called, whom I hadn't talked to in years. Before he could identify himself, and after he'd spoken only two or three words, I instantly recognized him. His voice hasn't changed substantially in 35 years. I thought about how our voice represents the uniqueness of our individual lives. As we have come to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord we have also come to recognize His voice, as well: John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. Regardless of our age, our unique identity is secure in Him and our capacity to join in praise of Him is only enhanced as our voices are blended in sincere worship.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Swine flu seems to be on the wane. It seemed to be a disease that truly was on the verge of an epidemic disease that could spread across a broad area (the definition of a "pandemic"). The World Health Organization (WHO) is still giving the disease a great deal of respect with a Phase 5 danger rating (out of 6). While the disease seems to have started in Mexico, it has spread to a number of countries around the world and there have been about a score of fatalities. It struck me that a physical disease, like this, poses a danger to human life that doesn't respect borders and that doesn't have a political or ideological origin. It's interesting to see how governments that might normally find little to agree about can band together to face a common threat. I thought about another "disease" that crosses borders and that comes from an source beyond the politics and ideology of men. This disease is the greatest pandemic mankind has ever faced and it resurfaces with every new generation. No inoculation, diet or quarantine has ever stalled it and, for some reason, the obvious cure has only been embraced by a fraction of those who are suffering. The disease of sin is often denied as a malady but, undeniably, it is the crisis most discussed in the Bible with a solution clearly identified in the person of Jesus (the real WHO...Wonderful Holy One).
Psalm 41: 4 I said, "LORD, be merciful to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You."
Monday, May 4, 2009
One of the favorite games my grandson, Peter, and I play is "Superheroes". Peter likes to be Spider Man and he allows me to be Bat Man. We swoop through Peter's house catching imaginary bad guys and using super powers to fly, cast webs and overpower our enemies. There's something satisfying about having an advantage over our foes and our Super Heroes always prevail. It occurs to me that we have the ultimate in super powers available to us as believers and trusters in the Lord. We have prayer, promises and presence to provide access to the Living God and His strength. He gives us x-ray vision to discern danger and apply wisdom, words straight from His mind that give us insight into ourselves, His Spirit to show us when we are veering off course and we can soar in praise, almost as if flying. We may not carry names like Bat Man, Spider Man or Superman.....maybe we can be known as Super Sheep!
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
One of the great hopes of the Christian is that Jesus is coming again! We don't know when, but we are confident of the future reality that He will return. Who knows, this could take place very soon...perhaps before spring turns to summer. I suppose there is much controversy about the events that must occur before He comes back. Certainly every major (and minor) news service would provide saturation coverage if they knew just when that great event were imminent. But I thought of another kind of return that each of us can relate to on an every day basis. "Jesus, I'm coming again", can be our plea. As eagerly as we await His return, I believe He awaits ours just as much. Such is our framework that it is necessary for us to come to Him once in absolute and earnest repentance and this is marks the birth of faith in our hearts. But such, also, is the nature of our frames that we must come again for restoration, for health, for life, for a plumb line of perspective that only His presence can establish. We may not know when Jesus is coming again to walk in our midst physically, but we need not wait to come again to Him to enjoy that sublime company that He extends to us all.
John 14:2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.