Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Know Fear

The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Media sells to us based, in large part, on fear. Commercials sell us things by trying to convince us that we will not be able to keep up without this, or we will fall behind our neighbors without that, even something you may want or need will be sold with the threat that "this price won't last!" Fear and anxiety have effects traversing the spiritual, psychological and physical realms of life. The negative effects of fear had been seen by medical science. The world can come up with solution after solution about this, but we find the Psalmist has found a solution outside of himself.

The Psalmist fears no one and no thing because he trusts in the character and nature of God. For light, salvation and protection, David chose to look to the Lord and trust in Him. Notice that there is a resolve throughout this psalm. While David's faith is based on the facts of God's Word and built by God's faithfulness to him in the past each instance is a new opportunity to trust the Lord, and be without fear. When David was again surrounded by His enemies the choice to trust the Lord and not fear had to be made again. That trust is a forceful act of will, choosing faith over fear. Trusting that God really is who He says He is, and loves as the Bible tells us He does. There is a dogged determination to this courage that is rooted in the character of God, making the last verse of this psalm poignant and appropriate:

Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Identification and Train T's

Finn is just plain crazy for cars and trains. Nobody told him to be crazy for them, he just loves them. Most every outfit he wears has either a car or a train on it, including pajamas. One of the most difficult things I have to do in a week is to convince him to take off one train outfit for another. He just loves being identified with trains. It is so strange! He is too young to think about advertising for Thomas the Tank engine, and isn't really old enough to think about any desire to be professionally involved with them. He just loves trains. He can't even communicate why he loves them (as he is only 2 years old!).

So aside from cuteness why do I mention it? As humans we do long to be associated with what we truly love. Band T-shirts, bumper-stickers, hobby clubs and interest meetings, sports jerseys regularly turn big profits, and even posters for rooms and fences. We like people to know what interests we define ourselves by. As I write this I am wearing a t-shirt with my kids screened onto the front! (Thank you, April!) So what is the point?

I am not suggesting we all get more magnets, bumper-stickers and t-shirts with Christian messages on them (I'll let you make your own decision about those). I AM suggesting that we remember our close identification with Jesus every day. Finn can't wait to put on a new train shirt, what a great example for us. How thrilling that each day we are found in Christ! This wonderful garment of love, peace, hope and joy. We are to abide in Him, rest in His care, and believe that we are loved beyond our wildest imagination. Are you excited to wake every morning because you are identified, by His grace, with Jesus Christ, the source of love, joy and life? I hope you is wonderful!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wonderful Words of Life

There is power in the written word. Certain documents have influenced history, and continue to do so long after they were penned. The Iliad and The Odyssey continue to inspire even the modern imagination. The Republic, The Prince, Les Miserables, Hamlet, and the list goes on and on. These amazing works have a sense of universality. They portray something deeply human, their characters, struggles and themes. However, all of these great books can only go so deep.

Only the Word of God is: " and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, ad able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12). There is no other book that has that property. The Holy Spirit carried men along as they wrote it, leading them to choose the exact words He wanted. God sovereignly protected the Bible through generations of persecution and difficulty. The Holy Spirit then illumines the believer so that the word may be understood. From start to finish the Bible is miraculous.

Psalm 19:7-10 tells us that God's word is perfect, that it is God's tool for restoring our souls. It is something we can count on and it will make us wise in our foolishness. It causes our hearts to rejoice and enlightens our eyes, the word of God is more valuable than gold, and sweeter than honey to us. The Bible is all of this and more, what an amazing privilege to have this miracle of the Lord at our fingertips each day!

Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty
teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Philip P. Bliss

Saturday, September 18, 2010


"...and all the children thought - and I agree with them - that there's nothing to beat good freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and it has come out of the pan half a minute ago." C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

I've had a day so nice I must share it. After a productive morning I raced my way up the River to put a line in the water. I don't usually catch many fish and it is mostly and exercise in patience and the enjoyment of nature. This time, however, five beautiful trout chose to grace the end of my line. I will spare you all of the gory details of the fight, and which were caught on dry flies and which on subsurface flies. However, I did decide to keep two of the five. One because it was a nice fish and greedily grabbed at my fly as it floated on the surface. It was a planned attack, and a great moment of victory. The other I kept because he didn't allow me to get the hook from his mouth in time for him to have a chance at survival. That's okay...more fish for me. There are no pictures of the glory moments. However, the memories are strong. There are some pictures, however:

The catching was a riot. It was a bit overcast and gloomy with a mist in the air that almost seems to stand still as you walk through it. The river provides the most fantastic listening experience, it is amazing how you can hear so much and still feel like the words "peace" and "silence" some how apply perfectly. Then came the cooking.
I fished until 7:00 which means I didn't get home until 10 till 8, I really didn't each much today (besides a few donuts in the morning ). So I was ready to eat. Not long after I arrived April got home with the kids who had been spending the day with their grandparents who love them very much. The kids ooh'ed and ahh'ed at my catch (loved every second of that), and then let me put them to sleep without a fight. After they went down the cooking began! Salt, garlic powder, lemon juice and pepper all went into the tin foil pack and the pack went on the grill for 15 min. while the taters simmered. The results were delicious!
My mother was a bit concerned that I didn't "clean" the fish before cooking them. Well they aren't very big, and I don't mind eating around the fish innards nearly so much as I mind blemishing my fresh caught fishes with knife strokes. The fish was perfect. Soft, flaky, moist, and delicious. I am so thankful that our creator gave us fish to catch and eat. They really are a wonder. The taters were boiled and tasted remarkably like boiled potatoes. They were special in that they were grown by a brother in the Lord at our church body. That made them taste even better!

Of course a cup of decaf English breakfast tea had to be drunk with careful appreciation.

And all moves from better to best as my beautiful wife and I chatted about the events of the day over my late supper. She tolerated the fish smells without complaint and worked on the Sunday school lesson for tomorrow. Truly an amazing woman who I am so blessed to have and to hold, to love and to cherish.

Sometimes a day contains so much good that you may just think it will burst and leave even the other days overflowing. This was a day like that.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pooh-line Theology

If I had to choose a favorite literary character it would undoubtedly be Winnie-the-Pooh. I have loved A.A. Milne's children's tales my whole life and have continually enjoyed them. And I think there is a very good reason why. Remember the time that Pooh and Piglet were tracking a woozle? As they walked around the spinney in the snow they continued to rediscover their own tracks thinking that they were chasing a whole pack of "woozles" and "wizzles". Finally, Piglet runs home and Christopher Robin comes down out of the tree, having watched the whole thing. After Christopher Robin explains things to Pooh we read:

He sat down and though, in the most thoughtful way he could think. Then he fitted his paw into one of the Tracks...and then he scratched his nose twice, and stood up.
"Yes," said Winnie-the-Pooh.
"I have been Foolish and Deluded," said he, "and I am a Bear of No Brain at All."
"You're the Best Bear in All the World," Said Christopher Robin soothingly.
"Am I?" said Pooh hopefully. And then he brightened up suddenly.
"Anyhow," he said, "it is nearly Luncheon Time." So he went home for it.

This is one instance of what happens in nearly every chapter of Milne's masterpiece. Pooh finds his entire identity, value and importance in Christopher Robin. Though he has been proven "Foolish and Deluded" he wastes no time with his own embarrassment. All self-centered thoughts are wiped away Christopher Robin's evaluation of him. Isn't that grand?

Brothers and Sisters, have you been back to find how your caring Lord sees you? Read John 10; Ephesians 1:3-14; Romans 8; and 1 John 4:9-19. Then answer the tough question. Do I believe it? Do I trust in His power, His ability, His character, to love me like the Bible says?

Jesus Loves Me this I know...For the Bible tells me so.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jesus is your...

I have a Bible promise book that I treasure. Of course there are countless little volumes like this that aspire to give the reader a quick "at a glance" view of some applicable verses in any given situation. I have several volumes like this that I have received or collected over the years, but this one especially I appreciate. Most of the promise books I have seen jump right into the situations, verse prescriptions for every problem presented in a: "take two of these and call me in the morning" fashion. This promise book (God's Promises for Your Every Need, Word Publishing) starts with 16 chapters entitled "Jesus is your..." These are the 16 chapters that contain only Bible verses filled with Christ's character and care for us, along with a few of the verses referenced in each section:

Titus 3:5-6; 1 John 4:14; Ephesians 2:4-5

Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 12:1-2; Romans 14:8

Romans 5:8; John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-12

Isaiah 26:3; Ephesians 2:13-14; Romans 5:1; John 14:27

Ephesians 1:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1

2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9

Isaiah 61:1; John 8:32, 36; Romans 8:2; Romans 6:22

1 John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Revelation 3:20

1 Peter 2:21, 1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:1-2

John 15:15-16; 1 John 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:9

Matthew 12:50; Hebrews 2:11; Romans 8:29

Psalm 3:3; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Peter 3:12-13

1 Peter 1:3-5; John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39

2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:5

John 6:35; John 4:13-14; Romans 8:32

Romans 8:37; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 1:21

This is only a small sampling of the verses. After reading these chapters (the first 50 or so pages of this little volume) I wondered what the need for the rest of the book could possibly be? Jesus Christ IS the answer. If I am struggling in life it is because I have taken my eyes off of Him. If I remain Christ centered there is nothing that I cannot endure. If I can be convinced to become self centered I am destined for a tumble. I would encourage you this week to roll these terms around in your mind. Look up the verses. Notice these statements are sure, not contingent. "Jesus IS your..." not "could be", "might be" or "will be". This is His grace gift to you as part and parcel to the Saving relationship that you entered into with Him when you placed faith in Christ for Salvation. Roll over these qualities and trust Christ to be all of these things to you, as you are in Him.

I never was terribly handy. In our first home I had to adhere one piece of wood to another. Having no drill I had to drive the screws in by hand. It took a great deal of time and sweat to get the screws in place. The saddest part of the story is that very soon after the job had to be redone...with a powerdrill. How often do we sweat, work, and exert ourselves to get some thing done while Jesus stands over us saying, "You know I am going to have to undo all that you are doing before I can fix it." Even our best intentions result only in loss. We need Jesus.