Friday, July 29, 2005

 

Is God faithful?

I think sometimes that I have believed a lie. Yes, I think sometimes that I have bought into something that isn’t true. For example, the idea that somehow my sin is too great for God to forgive, or that he may forgive me but never help me get beyond it. Or how about this one—habitual sin causes God to leave me.

In Leviticus 26, God is describing to the Jews how he will discipline them if they disobey his law, and the punishments listed there are hard and terrible to me. Yet, at the end of all this discussion of exile and desolation, God says, “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.”

Note the faithfulness and love of God in these verses. He will not forsake his people, no matter how horrible their disobedience or failure or sin. He will keep his covenant because it is what he does. He is the LORD, he is Yahweh, and it is his essential nature to keep his covenant. He will “remember” the promises, the covenant, he has made with us, and more importantly, he will not break that covenant. As Romans 10 says, “The kingdom and word of God is near you, even in your heart.” We know in our hearts that God will not abandon us, yet we cover over our sins as though somehow we may be that one exception to the rule. Proverbs 28:13 warns us against concealing our transgression, and yet that is exactly what we all try to do when conviction first hits our hearts.

Why do we do that?

Thank God he is faithful and merciful! As 2 Timothy 2 reminds us--even when we are faithless, he is faithful. As Paul records elsewhere--God is faithful to complete the work he has begun.

Thank God today for how he has been faithful to you.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

 

Desire

Desire is inherent in the human species. Think of it, we all desire something, whether it is a sinful or evil thing or a blessed and heavenly thing. We are lonely, so we desire companions. We are sad, so we desire encouragement. We are happy, so we desire to continue in it. When tired we desire rest. When satisfied we desire more. Desire is part of who we are. Even spiritual desire is a part of each of us—we all hope to “leave our mark” or have some kind of legacy. Even the most committed atheist or agnostic hopes to leave some evidence behind that he or she lived and breathed and did something worthy of note. That is a spiritual desire. We need to cultivate it, to encourage it, to nurture it.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

 

Some interesting quotes for you . . .

“A theological thought can breathe only in the atmosphere of dialogue with God.” Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians

“There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.” Thomas Edison

“Truth is always a quarry hard to hunt, and therefore we must look everywhere for its tracks.” (From On the Spirit 1.1)--Basil the Great.

“Preach always. If necessary, use words.”--St. Francis

“The more seriously I take (God), the more completely I shatter myself against him.” Helmut Thielicke, I Believe! The Christian's Creed

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

 

God is There

Here's a little something I wrote while I was managing a Christian bookstore. Enjoy!

I like to think of myself as some kind of writer, a scholar or academic of sorts, yet I never seem to have the words to say what is really in my heart. Of course, God is in my heart, and that is enough. Even if words fail me and my ability to explain clearly the thoughts and intents of my heart disappears, nonetheless Christ remains faithful and stalwart. Will God fail? More likely the sun will cease to shine, the stars will blink out, the universe will cave in, and the earth will stop rotating on its axis! Will God be there? How silly we can be! How can God not be there? For God not to be there amounts to nothing short of hell! That is the only place where God is not. Oh, we try to exclude him, to push him out of our lives as though we somehow have power or authority over the one who holds the cosmos in the palm of his hand!

Sure, we try to rid ourselves of God, but it never works. He is there, still loving us, still caring, still taking care of us, still pouring grace into our graceless lives. Oh, we may not acknowledge him, we may not “notice” the subtle coincidences as the hand of God, but they are there. Everyday, in hundreds of ways, God is watching out for us. Amazing thought, huh? The Psalmist said that “such knowledge is to wonderful for me,” and I think he was right.

Consider this—God was in that little hole with Saddam Hussein, loving him, trying to get him on the right track. That same merciful God is with you, in whatever rabbit hole you find yourself, he is there to comfort, to help, and most importantly, to love on you like nobody’s business. Do you think God doesn’t care? Look around you. Do the trees worry about their next drink of water? Do the flowers worry about the sun? Do the birds worry about food? God doesn’t care? How utterly foolish we can be! If God didn’t care, none of life would be good, none of this would matter, none of us would be alive.

I don’t know how to say it—we are caught up in God moments everyday. We may not recognize them, but there they are! Jesus shows up at work as the odd person who can’t pronounce Jean Guyon’s name, or as the young preacher looking for encouragement concerning something “disturbing” he has found in Scripture, or as the mother with three young Veggie Tales fans who is taking great pleasure in her latte and in browsing for books. He shows up as the person who tips or compliments you, as the person who “accidentally” gives you a word of encouragement. He smiles, he says, “well done.” He is There with YOU! In the flood, in the fire, in the sweet times, in the good times, he stands with you and applauds you. He kisses your face and thinks to himself, “What a delightful child! How proud I am to be here!” Thank you, Father, that you are here, and you will be there. Create moments for us that remind us of your subtle and eternal watch of care for us. Energize us by that knowledge and create the character of your Son Jesus in us. For Christ’s sake, do these things we pray.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

Please Excuse our Mess . . .

Just wanted to stop by to let you all know that my blogging may be a bit interrupted this summer. My office at the seminary is under construction, so I am working from home a lot. Also, my wife and I recently purchased a home and just moved our stuff into our new place. Add to that the fact that I have had some problems with internet connections, that I have several projects to finish up as well, and you will understand why my blogging will be sparse this summer. I will try to be here at least once a week, but I just wanted to update everyone.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 04, 2005

 

July 4, 2005--Independence Day

Hello all:

I have been having a few thoughts lately about Independence Day and what independence means to me, so please forgive me a few moments of "stream of consciousness" thought.

I was watching the ending of "Saving Private Ryan" the other night. As Capt. Miller is dying (Tom Hanks' character), he says to Ryan (who I believe is Matt Damon!), "Earn this!" In other words, he wants Ryan to show his worthiness to have other men die on his behalf to get him safely home. At the end of the movie, a much older Ryan says to Miller's tombstone, "Everyday I've remembered what you've said, and I've tried to live a life worthy of the sacrifice." Ryan then turns to his wife and begs her, "Tell me I've had a good life. Tell me I've been a good husband, a good father." The amount of pressure that fellow felt was due to the fact that other men had literally laid down their lives so that he could continue living his life of freedom. What a weight to carry! What pressure!

I watched "The Longest Day" today, and as I saw the many depictions of soldiers giving their all on the beaches and battlefields of France, I felt a bit of Ryan's pressure. I mean, my uncles and other relatives fought in that and other wars. Some of them lost body parts, some lost their lives. I can almost hear them whispering through history to me, "Earn this! Be worthy of our sacrifice."

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Hancock and a host of other heroes gave their possessions and in many cases their lives or their children's lives to give birth to a free nation.

I don't know if I can be worthy. You see, freedom comes at a heavy price. Not only that, it bears a heavy responsibility. I cannot rightfully expect liberty and freedom for myself that I do not wish for others. Nor can I expect to keep whatever liberty I have without some struggle and responsibility on my part to "earn it" by my own personal sacrifice and struggle.

Freedom isn't easy, it doesn't come cheap.

Those of us blessed to be born in this democratic republic called the United States of America sometimes forget the heavy price paid by lots of people for us to have our "freedoms" and our "rights." Martin Luther King, Jr., Sgt. York, the Founding Fathers, the men and women of our armed services since 1776--these and countless others have bled and died for me to have the "right" to be free. It is humbling, it is heavy. I'm not worthy.

Freedom isn't free. Yes, it is trite and a cliche, but that doesn't change the truth value of the statement. We owe a debt to those who died to secure our freedoms. We owe a debt to those who serve to keep our freedoms. We must "earn this" glorious right to freedom and liberty. Will we? Like Private Ryan, will we look back and ask, "Did I do good? Did I earn it?"

I hope I can. I know I want to be worthy. God help us to secure liberty on this earth. God help us to do it with dignity, nobility, honor, and integrity. God help us to be worthy.

Go today and read the Declaration of Independence at http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/declaration_transcript.html. Watch an old movie about the fight for freedom. Remind yourself of the debt of gratitude you owe.

Happy Independence Day!

Thanks for reading!

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