Thursday, August 20, 2015

Not Looking Down

Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. -Isaiah 33:17

There is something comforting about a gravestone. Solid and substantial, engraving cut deep into the granite.

An assurance, if you will, that no matter how long the Lord tarries, these remains will patiently await his return, guarded by this stone, and the day when body and soul will be reunited in one glorious whole.

Some comfort themselves in imagining that their loved one, like Rossetti's blessed damozel, leans out "from the gold bar of heaven" to look down upon and watch over them.

I would not imagine, as Rossetti did, her weeping, but instead rest assured that no tears exist in that place, having been all wiped away by the beautiful presence of our Savior.

And so I know that my beloved is not looking down at all, burdened by the weight that we who remain must bear. That time is over for her and the countless number of saints who stand around the throne.

Now is a time of unimaginable joy for them and a looking forward to the day of restoration and reunion. The day when all things will be made new.

How could they look down when in the presence of Him who draws the gaze of all eyes to Himself?

They look up.

She looks up.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Two Things

...for those who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28b

A motorcycle accident. Two young people are scratched and bruised, but otherwise unharmed.

The family offers praises, "We have been kissed by God."

A Facebook post. An attempt is made to answer the rantings of those who would question God's goodness, or even His existence, because of evil in the world.

God is merciful, it says, in explanation of why the wicked are not immediately consumed. 

But does God have no control over these things other than to sometimes mercifully intervene?

Does evil simply exist, out from under His sovereign rule?

If that is true, how is He able at all to work for the good?

And so, the doctrine of the "Gentleman God" has been proposed.

God is such a nice God, to put it simply, that he is willing to relinquish control so that sinners may agree to be saved and the wicked proceed on their merry way to hell (or something to that effect).

Does this sound contradictory? Does this make sense? Or does this fly in the face of what we read in scripture (God's revealing of Himself to us)?

"I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create disaster, I am the LORD who does all these things (Isaiah 45:7).

"...he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?' (Daniel 4:35)."

It comes down to this: how big is your God?

Is He big enough that we may trust Him even in the worst of circumstances?

Big enough that we will bow in faith, even in the midst of sorrow?

Big enough that we acknowledge His sovereignty without understanding His sovereign purpose in the things He decrees and ordains?

This must be so, this all-ruling (omnipotent) God.

How else could we believe the promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you?"

Or grasp the statement, " meant evil against me, but God meant it for good?"

We must believe in a sovereign God who has all things in His hand and works all events to His eternal, glorious purpose.

Like Job, I may not always get it.

Like Job, I may sometimes complain (and then repent and beg forgiveness).

But there is this:

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)"

Friday, August 7, 2015

I Need a Hug

I can't feel my toes! -Donkey

This post is inspired by the picture of a couple of young friends sharing a hug.

Thanks for the reminder, guys, of how precious hugs are and how we should not only enjoy them, but appreciate the blessing of a hug.

We are a hugging church, I am glad to report. Nothing wrong with hugging a brother in Christ, accompanied by the obligatory back pat, letting each other know, "I love you man, in  a strictly brotherly manner, of course."

I think a more gingerly hug is in order for the ladies, if at all. An arm around the shoulder rather than around the neck, perhaps. And their prerogative, always, to initiate the hug.

My favorite, of course, is for wives and girlfriends (or husbands and boyfriends, as the case may be).

I guess that's really more an embrace than a hug, don't you suppose.

I read somewhere that infants grow ill and die if deprived of human contact and affection. So we should hug our children often.

Adults also need hugs, I believe.

A short confession here: I have kissed two men in my life; My dad and my brother-in-law Paul; both on the cheek, whenever I would see them, which was not that often. I expect that I will both hug and kiss them (on the cheek naturally) when I see them again.

So we are agreed, then, that hugs are good and one of God's great blessings in our lives.

Have you hugged a loved one today?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Question

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. -Philippians 4:6

How's your prayer life?

Have you noticed that one of the shortest commands in Scripture, "Pray without ceasing," is preceded by an even shorter one: "Rejoice evermore?"

Does the state of one's prayer life have anything to do, do you suppose, with one's view of God? In other words, who is this God, really, and what is He like?

I am blessed to live where there are many great places to walk. And on these walks, in the cool of the morning, I (like Tiny Tim in church) think of the strangest things.

This morning, for example, as my mind meditated on a particular prayer request made by a friend and I felt the need to pray, I was stopped at once by a very strange thought.

Being outside is a wonderful way to meditate on the greatness of God. Man-made sounds seem faint and far away and the beauty and variety of what has been made; the sights, the sounds, the smells, the very touch of the breeze and the sun's rays upon the skin; all these things bring us to a contemplation of the One who made them.

You've been there, right? But my thoughts began to take me to a place where I (to my shame) seldom ever go and I began to contemplate the vastness of God.

I mean, He's huge and His presence fills all His creation.

And here I was, about to presume to speak to Him, to actually make requests of Him and to actually expect to receive a reply; whether "yes," "no," or "we'll see."

It would be the most ridiculous and outlandish thing imaginable.

Except that God, in his Word, has commanded us to do this very thing: this unlikely, unimaginable thing. What's more, He has opened a way for us. Given us a Spirit to aid us and a Mediator to plead for us.


So how can I ever feel as though I don't want to pray or desire to put off prayer til later?