Thursday, October 31, 2013

496 Years is a Really Long Time

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.... -Isaiah 9:2a

The greatest thing about studying history is the sense of awe I get as I detect the hand of God directing the affairs of men.

October 31, 1517. Reformation Day. Through the actions of one German monk, God began the work of reclaiming His Church from the darkness of superstition and ignorance.

How many Bibles do you have in your house? Before Reformation Day, the Church taught that ordinary people should not have access to the Word of God.

How many times a day do you run to God in prayer? Before Reformation Day, it was taught that believers have access to God only through a priest.

Do you sit in worship every Sunday morning to hear God's word taught in a clear and understandable manner? Before Reformation Day, all services were conducted in Latin (which very few understood, including some of the priests who recited the rituals).

To see God's hand in all this is to recognize all the seemingly insignificant events that led up to this one moment in time when Martin Luther nailed his protest to the door of Wittenberg chapel.

Sadly, the significance of the Reformation has been lost to many Christians today. I was speaking with one person about Martin Luther and his work and teaching. It gradually dawned on me that he thought I was speaking of Martin Luther King!

Many do not know that what is taught in their churches is the product of the minds of men, invented within the last two hundred years.

Do you think that history is but a dry recitation of names and dates? Do you know that God has written every page of history before any of it ever happened (Isaiah 46:10)? History truly is His story.

I invite you to enjoy the fascinating story of Christ's Church. Of the men and women who died trying to preserve her Truth. Of her survival against all odds.

I think you will come to praise God for His work in history.

I think you will long to see His moving again among the sons of men.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Excellent Wife Who Can Find?

She is far more precious than jewels. -Proverbs 31:10

"Count your blessings," goes the old hymn from my childhood, "name them one by one." A remedy for my forgetful heart.

God's written Word describes some of these in great detail. Proverbs 31:10-31 is one of my favorite reminders of how I have been blessed.

"Who can find" such a wife? I wasn't even looking for her. Were you?

What I have desired and what I truly needed have quite often been two different things.

Did I desire a wife with a heart to serve others? Yet I see this heart at work constantly, not only in my own wife but all the beautiful ladies of GPC, as they labor behind the scenes at the 1001 mundane tasks that smooth the way for the more noticeable work of the Kingdom of Christ.

Did I desire a heart of mercy? Yet I have seen her nurturing, praying for and with her sisters in Christ and all the saints. I have felt this mercy in the forgiveness extended to me for my many careless words and deeds.

Did I desire a wife of deep faith and spirituality? The diligence and attendance toward the Word of God I have seen has at times shamed me. What service I have rendered to my Savior would have been more difficult (if not impossible) to accomplish without her loving encouragement and support.

I have been given much and much is required (Luke 12:48). In Ephesians 5:25-33, is a clear and succinct outline of the requirements. "Love" is the key word in this passage and Christ is the model set forth.

I have been blessed much, I will love much.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. -Proverbs 31:30

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Woman You Gave Me

She had been born with a face that would let her get her way. He saw that face and he lost all control. -Bob Seger

I love my wife.

The ancient Greeks, perhaps in a corruption of the story of Adam and Eve, viewed woman as a curse from the gods for forbidden knowledge (the theft of fire). Pandora was so enticingly beautiful that, though warned not to accept this gift, men could not resist.

 Solomon, seeking not only wisdom but also madness and folly,  desired more than one wife. And a number of concubines. He ended up with a sour view of the female of the species (Ecclesiastes 7:28).

I'll keep the one I've been given, thanks.

Previously, God gave me over to my wicked desires. Wickedness, I found, brings tears and heartache, not joy.

I love my wife. The beauty of her love for me is unfathomable at times. Unlike the Greeks (except Euripedes) and Adam I cannot  blame my woman for my own depravity.

Truth is, we marrieds tempt each other to sin. The enemy uses us like a club against one another. He seeks to destroy this most precious of human relationships and we have nothing but our own weakness to blame as we believe his lies.

This person does not really care for you or have your good at heart.
This person is selfish and seeks his/her own good only. You have to stand up for yourself and insist on your rights. You deserve better.

Hmmm. If this sounds at all familiar, we have only to turn to the third chapter of Genesis to find the origin of these statements and their originator.

To kill. To steal. To destroy. Doesn't sound like a mission statement I would want to embrace.

How about you?

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. -Proverbs 31:10

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When You Pray

Not "if" but "when."

Isn't prayer one of God's greatest blessings to His children?

In Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Marley's ghost laments his inability to intervene for the good in the affairs of men.

We have that ability, we believers, because Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

We have that duty, especially toward our brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 6:18).

More that this, we have the desire, our hearts being broken for the lost (Romans 9:1-3).

This burden to witness is part of Christ's commission to His Church (Matthew 28:19-20), each of us as individuals as well as the corporate community of believers.

We are called to the harvest, not only as workers, but to pray God to send more workers (Luke 10:2).

Spurgeon referred to the faithful prayer warriors of his congregation as the steam engine that powered his flock. They prayed every Sunday as he preached, calling down the power of the Holy Spirit and many were saved.

Do you have such a group in your church? Will you work to start one, no matter when it meets?

When you pray, pray for the saints of God, as they struggle to walk in holiness.

When you pray, lift up your pastor and the other leaders in your church that they may stand in the strength of God's Word.

When you pray, remember the sick, the afflicted and the spiritually burdened among you.

When you pray, thank the God of our salvation, for He hears and answers prayers.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Cause inside you're ugly, you're ugly like me. -Staind

A root of bitterness. A generational stronghold. I perceive it in myself. These are the sins of the fathers (and mothers) and my teeth are set on edge. Have I passed it on to my own children? I pray not.

This outpost of evil attitudes in my heart prompts me to return evil for evil. Coupled with a competitive nature (in itself a temptation to sin), it drives me to claim the last word in an argument.

But this is not who I am in Christ. Strengthened by the Spirit, I assault the works of the enemy and brick-by-brick demolish them.

May I turn my cheek to real slights and more importantly, refuse to project my feelings onto the words of another, turning them into imagined slights.

I have both known and seen the corrosive effects of anger and its afterbirth of bitterness. Soul destroying and life stealing are these twins.

I am blessed with a woman of the sweetest and most forgiving nature. I try both these attributes to the limit. Since I noted these qualities in both her parents, I think that goodness and mercy can be passed from generation to generation as well.

I pray for my girls that goodness and mercy flow from them as well as to them.

And I fight the good fight, falling back bloody some days, victorious on others.

God grant me strength to destroy the ugliness within me and forgive that of others, my own having been forgiven.

Be it so.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Come and Die

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. -Romans 12:1

I once heard a preacher say that instead of "Standing on the Promises," we Christians are many times found "sitting on the premises!"

In other words, our faith is not a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. Paul states this in a positive manner in Romans 12:1.

When I was saved, I joined the church where I attended. The pastor asked me several questions in which I promised faithfulness in all aspects of the faith and ended by instructing me to "make God a good hand."

A worthy sentiment, but as Jesus reminds us in Luke 17:1, we should not get cocky but regard ourselves as unworthy servants.

All of which is to say this: I owe Jesus; bigtime. To paraphrase several hymns: "drops of grief can ne'er repay the debt of love I owe" and I must "pour contempt on all my pride" as "I surrender all" to my Lord and master.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated it as clearly as I've seen outside scripture: "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

Die daily to my innate laziness, rebelliousness, and self-centeredness. If I can do this, physical death may be the easy part?