Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mother's Day

Has it really been three years since she passed away? Seems as if so much has happened, doesn't it?

This is not about that, though. This is for the living. This is for Deb, and Rod and me and also for all our babies and their babies and so on through the generations. The extended Tolar clan, I guess you might say.

Have you often longed, these past few years, to enjoy her company again? To sit in conversation in her living room or at her table? You may have imagined what that conversation would be like and the things you both would say.

Imagine this. I know (for she told me many times, especially when I was still an infidel) that she lifted me up in prayer. Daily. It is not hard to realize (as if you didn't already) that she did the same for you. Each of you. Or to understand that she prayed for God to preserve you. Body and soul.

So I imagine that if you could talk to her, she might ask, "Do you know Jesus?" "Are you serving Him with all your heart, soul and mind?"

Today is our Mother's day. Will we honor the day (and her) by honoring the God she loved and served?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

For He Spoke and It Came to Be

Even when I was an infidel, I had a sense of God.

I would drive the ten or fifteen miles to Bear Creek Lake every Sunday morning in the summer, look out on the sparkling water and let the sights, sounds and smells fill my senses. A lot like Emily Dickinson worshipping in her garden, I suppose.

In the winter, I would shoulder my .410 and take off across the fields. The exertion of walking across the rough ground, made uneven by the fall's harvest machines, would quickly dispel the chill of the winter air, and I would contemplate the bleakness all around me and understand the beauty and necessity of rest, in that even the very earth must have her season of quiet.

Paul says that since what may be known about God is plain to all men, their foolish hearts are darkened by their denial of Him and their refusal to worship Him. What a blind and foolish heart was mine!

Yet, Isaiah speaks of God pouring out his Spirit, like water on dry and thirsty ground , upon his people. And Jesus told Nicodemus that that same Spirit must effect rebirth before one can even see, much less enter into, the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 33 says that God spoke, and it came to be. My eyes give evidence of this. How much more so this reclaimed and regenerate heart.

Praise be to God!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

It was with surprise and a little dismay that I learned, awhile back, that there are those in the Reformed community who have not seen The Passion of the Christ. And would not see it.

Their reasoning runs like this: no visual representation  of the crucifixion could portray what actually happened on the cross. Jesus took my sins upon himself. He literally suffered the agonies of hell.
Read Spurgeon's commentary on the 22nd Psalm:

I'm sure that all Christians understand this as a "psalm of the cross." But Spurgeon does us the great service of rendering a phrase-by-phrase examination of this vivid description of the horrors of hell.
Most truly does the Apostles' Creed speak of Christ as having "descended into hell." 

Having seen The Passion several times, I can understand this view. What I saw, however, impressed upon me an idea (however incomplete) of the suffering that was done on my behalf. Those of you who have seen the film will recall the utter shock with which you left the movie theater. And the events shown were only the prelude to the cross. I can say that I needed to have these things forcefully impressed upon my heart.

So I would say, view the film, if you haven't. Then get "the rest of the story (the most important part)." Read Psalm 22 and meditate on its description of Christ's suffering. I recommend reading Spurgeon's in-depth comments on the psalm.

He also said this, in his introduction to the 23rd Psalm: "It is only after we have read, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!' that we come to 'The Lord is my Shepherd.'"

Only when I can comprehend the wrath of a Holy God against sin, that was poured out on the Suffering Servant, can I be truly grateful for the salvation that has been mercifully, graciously given to me.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Take It Down? No, Not Yet

I remember one year we left the Christmas tree up till the middle of March!

I think that, after Christmas Eve communion at GPC, putting up the tree is my favorite part of the holiday experience. And I think this year's tree is my favorite yet.

Same tree, but we have loaded every bit of decoration we own onto its limbs. We put it up a mere week before Christmas this year, so all the more excuse not to hurry about putting it away.

Actually, I have a theory (as usual) about why some folks will keep their Christmas tree up way into January. Think about it. For two whole solid months now, we are faced with mostly dreary and typically miserable cold, messy, windy days. The warmth and bright sunshine of spring seem eons away. Truly did Shakespeare refer to "the winter of our discontent."

Now, I understand that we are to be thankful in all things. But, yall, I really struggle with that in the dead of winter, when my very bones seem to ache with the cold!!

How great it is, then, to step into the living room from outside and behold this big old overdecorated Christmas tree twinkling merrily away. Or to stumble up the hallway early in the morning to find it glowing in the darkened room. It's almost like thinking about the promise of heaven as we make our way through this often dark and dreary world.

So I may leave the tree up a while longer this year.

Who knows, you may come to visit me in March and find a tree full of all different-colored lights, red and silver garlands, and other assorted goodies taking up one wall of our house.

And the paper-plate angel on the very tip-top.