Monday, January 30, 2012

the association association

I headed out over the weekend to the Blue Ridge Parkway to see if the perspective from a higher elevation might be refreshing.  Oddly enough, I found myself thinking about people and people groups in a place that was more about getting away from people.  I had been listening to a teaching on the early church from the Book of Acts and the characteristics of the church.  It struck me that we get a great deal of "validation" from the associations we are part of.  The college we attend, the military service we were attached to, the civic association we join, our place of work and our profession...these all provide a sense of identity and purpose.  In a way, we find ourselves in the associations that we find ourselves in.  But two associations, or organizations, are especially important in this regard: the family and the church.  The family is the smallest and most intimate organization that every person is intended to get a start within and find security, safety and a sense of self worth and identity within.  And when a person becomes saved; that is, places their trust in the work of Jesus on the Cross rather than in themselves; they become a member of the Church and hopefully find an extension of that body to associate with locally.  We don't find our identity from being in the church, but once our eternal identity has truly been "found" in Christ...we express our identity and we mature in our identity in the context of that body.  As has been said eloquently by others, the church is not an is an organism.  As our identity finds fulfillment in the church, it finds expression through the church and every other organization that we are joined to, as well.

Hebrews 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect

Friday, January 27, 2012

each one

Acts 2:Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

I was thinking about our our natural bodies have come from a process that was initiated thousands of years ago with the first couple, Adam and Eve.  We really do have a lot in common with every other person who lives.  Our DNA ultimately is traced to this original man and woman.  And yet, we are each very much unique, singular, individual.  Of course that became apparent as early as Cain and Abel.  Despite our common biology and virtually identical design, by gender, we are more known by our particular personalities than by our sameness.  Our worth...our value shines in our unique and individual identity.  We are aware of this from our earliest days, when our personal wants and interests give us a sense of self worth and our abilities and talents affirm that value.  What we need is a restored relationship to the One who placed our unique identity within the framework of our bodies.  God is looking for a personal and one-of-a-kind relationship with many, many people.  When the disciples were experiencing the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, He came upon "each of them" with divided tongues of fire.  It is God who gives power to each of us to know Him and to make Him known.  He has made an "each of them" world of people and every one of them has a unique identity and worth.  When it comes to manufacturing, there is efficiency in "sameness", but when it comes to life, there is beauty in differences and variation and we each bear the mark of the Master's artistry and craftsmanship, wrapped in our personalities.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You shall.

Acts 1: 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
In the whirlwind of events, as Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven, the disciples were full of questions and overwhelmed by unknowns.  And they were still trying to deal with the colossal failure of one of their own: Judas, who was actually responsible for betraying the Lord.  They had been saturated in a close daily relationship with Jesus for three years.  They had sat under His divine teaching, been inspired by His holy living, moved by His inexhaustible compassion and miraculous acts of healing.  Now it was almost as if the leading actor of a long running Broadway play was about to step off the stage in the middle of a performance with the other actors  looking at each other and wondering how the story could go on.   Jesus answers their questions with two promises.   They would receive power and they would be witnesses.  When He makes these statements He doesn't elaborate on the details of "how" they would receive power.  He said it would "come upon them" like a baptism but I'm sure they wondered about that.  He also said that they would be witnesses to the end of the earth.  I wonder how they responded to that promise. 
I believe that we still come to Jesus with questions and are overwhelmed with unknowns.  We have trusted in Him as Savior when we realized our absolute need for Him.  And that led to an assurance of eternal life and forgiveness for our shortcomings.  But in the midst of our questions and uncertainties He comes to us with the same two promises: "You shall receive power and you shall be my witnesses."  Like the disciples, we don't know exactly how the experience will play out but we can rest assured that it will.   For the great Actor has not left the greatest stage, He has lifted us up to join Him on the heavenly one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

a fresh look

We live with familiar things that have been handed down to us and when we look into them we can be surprised.  I woke up thinking about the name of this day of the week: "Wednesday".  What a funny word.  It's hard to pronounce.  We actually say "Wensday".   It turns out that the days of the week came down to us through our Anglo-Saxon heritage from the names of the sun, moon and five known planets of the ancient world.  Some false gods got pulled into the picture because they were used to name the planets too and that's how we got some strange names like Wednesday (from Woden's Day...which is actually based on the planet French Wednesday is called Mercredi).  So I was curious if the Hebrew people had colorful names for the days of the week, that might be more closely linked with the one true God!  It turns out that the Hebrew names for days of the week are "1st Day", "2nd Day", "3rd Day", "4th Day", "5th Day", "6th Day", and "Sabbath (or Day of Rest)".  I suppose it isn't surprising that the natural, or pagan, world tried to give colorful names to honor their false gods.  They had a full time job trying to please so many myths.  But the simplicity of the Hebrew system is that it points every week to Creation in the most direct of ways.  Each day remembers a stage in the origin of the universe and the week's end reminds us of the rest that God took, upon completing the project.

Here's what really happened on the Third Day that we know as Wednesday:

Genesis 1:9 Then God said, "Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear." And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground "land" and the waters "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came." And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
 13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.
I hope to carry a clearer picture of this third day of the week from now on.  This is the day when dry land appeared out of the sea and when life, in the form of all kinds of trees and plants and fruit trees began.  Trees make wood, so maybe I can think of this as "Woods Day"!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

two kinds of skeleton

I remember doing a report on spiders a long time ago in junior high school.  One of the things that fascinated me most was the "external skeleton" that spiders have.  It seemed so strange that spiders would wear their bones on the outside!  As I walked this morning and considered the ways that we build structure in our lives it occurred that some of us wear our spiritual bones on the inside and some wear them on the outside.  It can be appealing to have the structure of our spiritual walk on the outside...rules, laws, interpretations all provided by external authority.  This reduces our need to figure out what to do...we just need to do what we need to do.  The people of Israel tried to live with an external skeleton of the Law in Old Testament days but were unable to faithfully obey and precisely follow the structure.  Then the Lord came in the form of Jesus and provided a way for us to have the structure within, in the form of His indwelling presence.  Now, as we walk through our days we no longer rely on outside authority to govern our lives.  We rely on the resident presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort, interpret, and correct.  For we have taken the most trustworthy structure of all time within.  One problem with the external skeleton of the spider or crab or grasshopper is that the growth of the animal is limited by the skeleton and it must be shed to allow continued growth.  Our internal skeleton of God's Spirit permits us to continually grow in a spiritual sense, with no need to shed our structure.

Romans 8:11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

rocks that ripple

It's a moist and misty morning and the local pond is blurred in the early morning light.  It's almost as if the new day is sleepy and reluctant to fully open its eyes.  But the glassy surface of the water has inspired a thought.  When a pebble is tossed into the pond there is a momentary sound as the rock breaks the water but then ripples of energy flow outward for some time.  If a number of stones were tossed into the pond from all directions, the circles of energy would touch every corner of the pond.  In a sense, each of us, as believers in Jesus Christ...recipients of His saving touch, are pebbles that He is tossing into the pond.  Taken by themselves, each pebble has a small, local influence as Christ's energy and Holy Spirit ripple through and outward.  Collectively, even a large pond of people, is touched.  We are keenly aware of our smallness and our weakness and we wonder how we can make a difference in this overwhelming pond that we look across each day.  But the Hand that tosses us into the pond is not our own and the outwardly radiating energy is not from passes through us and touches a circle that surrounds our lives.

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.20 So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ruggedly fragile

A good friend is currently in the intensive care section of a hospital.   Symptoms led to a serious diagnosis of cancer and surgery followed.  Then, more symptoms cropped up after surgery suggesting infection and a second surgery took place to ensure the first operation had not left something unfinished.  Our friend came through all of this turbulence within his body and is now sedated and his body is rallying in the recovery stage.  We paid a brief visit, despite his inability to communicate, and I was amazed at the number of tubes leading in...tubes leading out and electronic boxes with digital lights and displays that surrounded him.  He has a dedicated nurse watching and adjusting and tending all of these inputs and outputs and measurements and his condition is certainly serious but improving.  The thought I have is how complex and rugged our bodies are by design and function...but how fragile they can become when they are not whole and when one important part is not well.  All of the body systems that normally interact like a well conducted orchestra begin to sound more like the tune-up of the separate instruments and instead of providing a balance and synergy of function the failure of one area can lead to failure of other areas and the eventual shutdown of the entire body.  We are rugged, but we are also fragile.  That is true of our individual lives and it is true of our spiritual lives and our spiritual family, the church.  As a healthy church organism, we need to be interacting something like the nervous system and the digestive system and the respiratory system do in such a seamless way.  And when one part of our church body becomes ill we need intensive care to provide the care that permits a restoration of health.  The body of Christ is amazingly rugged, but it is also amazingly fragile and in need of every part working in a healthy way with the other parts.  Like the full time nurse caring for my friend, we are grateful for the full time presence of the Lord to tend and care for us and to restore us to healthy function.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ....26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

parking a boat

Parking a boat is very different than parking a car.  There are several problems with parking a boat: (1) Not only is the boat moving, but the water is moving (up, down and sideways), (2) the boat slips through the water rather than grabbing the road with wheels, (3) the things that mark the boundaries of your parking space are not lines on pavement...they are poles or beams made of wood, steel or concrete.  When you park a car the biggest challenge is often finding a convenient parking space.   Parking a boat is often the most difficult thing about making a trip and takes time, patience and considerable skill.  Everything about moving about on the water is humbling because you have much less control than with a land-based vehicle.  Large ships actually rely on harbor pilots to come aboard and guide them into the parking spaces alongside piers.  They not only have the skill, they also have the local knowledge of currents, shoals and harbor traffic conditions.   Each day we look for a parking space where we can put into harbor and find purpose.  We may think it is as easy as pulling into a blacktop lot at a large store, but it is much more like guiding a boat into a dockside slip.  We need help to find the right location and more help to judge currents, wind and distances.  We need a fine control on the throttle and we need to know when to apply and take off power.  We need to know how much rudder to use and when to take off the steering angle.  We help because it is a very difficult to land and tie up the boat alone.  We need to secure the boat with lines while preventing the pilings from impacting the sides of the craft.  But we are grateful for all the help when we finally stand atop the dock and walk on land that doesn't shift.  

Luke 8:22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

library of memories

My daughters are grown now and I often find myself going to the library shelf of my memories to pull out a picture of them as children.  When they were growing up life was full of their presence and now they have moved up and out and on, just as they are supposed to and just as we hoped they would.  But I miss the bustle and the activity and the delight and the challenges of living with little people.  So I go to the library shelf of my memories and pull out pictures of the the bedroom...studying in the living room...playing on the school grounds.  And now I have grandchildren and I get a chance to watch my daughter, as an adult, wonderfully care for her own children.  I'm starting to add more books to the library of my memories...

Job 21:11 They send forth their little ones like a flock,
      And their children dance. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

wait lifting

Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Just before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told the disciples that they needed to wait for a special event.  He told them that, something like the baptism that folks experienced with John the Baptist was going to happen...but it would be a baptism with the Holy Spirit rather than water.  He said that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and bring power.  The result of this experience and of this power would lead to a prophecy: "You shall be witnesses..."  to the whole earth.  The disciples had been through a whirlwind of events, from the powerful experience and teaching of the Last Supper, to the betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the abuse and crucifixion of the Lord, to the miracle of the resurrection and renewed fellowship with Jesus.  They needed a time to reflect, renew and be restored...for their spiritual lives to "catch up" and be settled and quieted within before they would be ready to move out to reach the world.  There was a right time for them to wait and there came a right time to move.  In a bigger sense, the disciples had invested three years walking with Jesus and now they were about to take the inspiration and motivation of that investment and reinvest in others.  As we are invested in our personal walk with Jesus we also will be inspired and motivated to reinvest the reality of Jesus in our lives in the lives of others.  As we wait on Him, He comes upon us in power through the Holy Spirit and reaches through our lives to others.  Two kinds of power: power that activates us and power that reveals Him to others.  We have His word on it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

greenhouse Earth

You can't get to Heaven unless you start here on Earth.  When we look back at our Earthly time from the vantage point of Heaven we will see that Earth was the perfect greenhouse for our seedlings to germinate and start their growth.  In a sense Earth is like a big greenhouse.  The atmosphere traps the sun and provides the moisture, light and oxygen for our "seed" lives to sprout and grow to a certain point.  But the construction of our natural world is not conducive for eternal life and we must be transplanted at some point to a different place, where our growth can fully mature and flourish in a lasting way.  This hothouse of Earth is the perfect place for generation after generation of Heaven-bound seedlings to get their start so that Heaven will be populated with many many eternal beings.  But this greenhouse of Earth is not the perfect place for generations to live's just too limited in space and constrained by physical dimensions and properties.   Heaven isn't a pipe dream or make- believe ethereal is the logical location for eternal living.  Earth isn't the final destination for is only intended as the place for sprouts like you and me to poke our heads through the soil and weather some storms and discover the wonder of the great Gardener, who has planted us and is tending us and one day will gather us and transplant us to His personal be with Him forever.

Genesis 2:8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

beyond the sun

Revelation 21:23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

Our sun is the nearest star, as we know.  It has a finite life and will eventually cool, or possibly explode into a supernova.  Obviously human life will not be here at that point (now we're talking several billion years from now according to scientists).  The sun had a beginning too and, really, it's like a giant battery driven light source up in the sky.  We also have a finite life on the planet.  Each of us was born...has a life...and will die when our personal "battery" runs out of juice.  So the "end of the world" is definitely going to come...whether by some rogue asteroid that knocks us out of orbit, or some man-made conflict that contaminates the atmosphere, or by the end of our natural days, or by the cooling of the sun.  Clearly, the natural world runs its course.  But we have come to know that there is life beyond the sun when the Son rises in our hearts and we are restored to the One who fashioned sun, earth and all of life.  And as difficult as it is to picture a universe without a is even more amazing to realize that the light of Heaven will come from a source that has no end.  The glory of God is the light we will experience for eternity and we will always be touched by the rays of that illumination.  I suppose the key for us now is to realize that His illumination already provides the true light...

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Monday, January 16, 2012

the success of failure

I was reflecting this morning on how some things didn't work out the way I thought they would...but they worked out better, in a different way.  I had some early success in school that made me think I would be successful in college and generally successful in whatever I did.  But I ran into some failures in college and then I ran into some failures professionally (despite working hard and doing my best) and I was brought low.  But the result of those failures was a realization that I needed help and I became open to the reality of the Lord.  In a sense, those failures were necessary to bring me to the end of self and to the beginning of the Savior.  As I thought about it, I became grateful that the Lord had not permitted me too much success, too early.  Probably the biggest lesson to learn was that I needed Him and that finding Him defines success.  You may be facing some overwhelming challenges personally, or at work, or in relationships.  Perhaps there is a hidden blessing for you as you acknowledge that you can't handle the challenge, solve the problem or make the relationship work.  Perhaps, as you come to the end of self, you will also find the Savior waiting with His hand outstretched to hold and to shape your steps.  Sometimes we are brought low, that we might look up.

Psalm 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
         He will beautify the humble with salvation. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

design for warmth

I was fascinated yesterday to watch flocks of ducks and geese swim easily across the reservoir, despite the coldness of the water.  They seemed perfectly comfortable paddling their way and I was curious about how they stay warm.  I found three things that help them: their webbed feet have plenty of blood for warmth and circulation, but no nerves to feel the cold.  One type of feather (down) is especially effective at retaining body warmth and another type of feather (powder down) is especially effective at waterproofing the other feathers to keep the "inner duck" dry.  God has fashioned a design for life that makes it possible for an animal to function very comfortably and effectively in an inhospitable set of conditions.  He has done the same for us humans...not with down to permit us to swim through near freezing water, but with qualities we need to cope with living.  He gives us wisdom and judgement to deal with danger and apply His guidance to problems and trials that surround us like icy water.  He insulates us from hasty action and hateful responses when we are plunged into a world that doesn't warm up to Him.  He waterproofs our sense of self worth and purpose when other forces seek to saturate us with doubt and failure.  With the Lord's presence we swim, like the geese, over frigid waters and enjoy the company of others...despite an environment that can be very foreboding.

Psalm 91:10 no evil will conquer you; 
      no plague will come near your home. 
 11 For he will order his angels 
      to protect you wherever you go. 
 12 They will hold you up with their hands 
      so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

I will find you...

"I will find you...No matter how long it takes...No matter how far..."

In my opinion, this is the greatest line from one of my favorite movies: "The Last of the Mohicans".  The hero of the story, Nathaniel (or Hawkeye), is forced to leave his sweetheart, Cora Munro, behind for marauding Indians to capture because his gunpowder is wet and there is a better chance of rescuing her later.  So he tells Cora that she will be captured and she must submit to whatever the Indians require of her...but she must remain strong and alive and then he delivers the line above and jumps, with his adopted Mohican father and brother, into a waterfall.  Nathaniel is skilled in fighting, expert in the ways of the woods, and committed to honoring his word and loyal to those he loves.  I couldn't help but think, as I watched the film last night, of the parallels with Christ.  And when he tells the love of his life that he will find her, you are absolutely confident that he fill follow through with that promise.  And that is just what our Lord has done.  Through the ages He has promised that, though the chains of sin have bound us and tripped us and frustrated us, He will find us...He will come for matter how long it matter how far.  And He has come for us and paid the ransom for our rescue and we have trusted in that rescue and now we are confident that He will come again and take us to Heaven to live face to face with Him.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

silent company

The background doesn't get enough appreciation sometimes.  On my morning walk today I enjoyed the clear sky and full moon (casting sharp shadows and illuminating the road ahead) but I didn't have a dominant inspirational thought.  The light breeze and a few minutes standing beside a peaceful creek provided a perfect setting for reflection and prayer.   The walk allowed a chance to consider the day ahead and to ask for the Lord's help in known and unknown activities expected to surface today.  As I approached my truck to come home it occurred to me that the tall pine trees that line the unpaved road stand like silent witnesses and encouragers.  They have a presence as they tower over head that suggests strength and protection and I suppose that they help convey the presence of the Lord, even as they are part of the background of the walk.   I was reminded that the Lord stands ever present in the background of my day.  As I walk through this day I will feel His presence, even when I don't hear a specific message.  It is enough that He is near.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
         Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


As a tinge of orange and rust peaked over the eastern horizon this morning I thought about the atmosphere that surrounds us.  I thought about how the air holds enough of the heat from the previous day that we can bear to be without sunlight through the night.  I thought about the many things our atmosphere does.  It holds the air we need to breathe.  It forms the weather we need for rain.  It provides the wind to carry seeds to new locations.  It bounces the sun's light to give us a blue sky.  Most of the atmosphere is within 10 miles over head, so it is a relatively thin band.  As we move through the air we generally take it for granted because breathing is so automatic and essential and generally we don't even notice the air because, apart from the clouds and the wind, we don't really see it (of course hurricanes can be a rude reminder of the power of the atmosphere).  Like our Lord, the atmosphere is all around and within.  He also provides our spiritual breath and colors our light.  He forms the weather and climate of our lives and we must take this atmosphere into our spiritual lungs if we are to truly live.  We don't often think of the atmosphere, though it affects so much of our lives and we may not think often enough of the presence of the Lord, which surrounds and fills us in a similar way.

Acts 17:27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

think for yourself

During my walk yesterday I thought about the history that surrounded me, as the thick woods that also surrounded me.  Indians, colonists, early pioneers, battles from the American Revolution and later the Civil War...these all are part of the thick woods of Virginia.  I thought about how awesome and overwhelming a war is and how it takes hundreds of thousands of young people and pits them against each other.  I thought about the Civil War and how those young people were from the same country but had polar opposite views that led to conflict and bloody loss of so many lives.  I thought about the forces that cause individuals to form convictions and be willing to join up with others of like mind to fight.  And then it occurred to very important it is to think for allow the truest and greatest force of all...the living pour wisdom and insight into my personality.   We need to test the sources of the forces that drive us into action.  For our time on earth is brief and our purpose must have its origin in the One who has placed us in this place, with these other people, in this time.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; 
      Therefore get wisdom. 
      And in all your getting, get understanding. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

beside you

As I walked down the dirt road this morning that hunters use to find special spots they use to wait for deer and turkeys I was grateful not to see any of the trucks that would indicate hunters were in the area.  I didn't want to be mistaken for a deer or a turkey (at least not the feathered kind of turkey).  My sense of hearing seemed to be on "extra alert" and I stopped a few times when I heard rustling in the bushes.  A sense of fear tried to creep in and I pictured the steps I might have to take if a rabid squirrel bit me...boy how the mind leaps to conclusions!  But after praying for peace and protection I remembered that Jesus was with me and I wouldn't have to go through anything without Him.  Then I thought about the fact that Jesus is always right there...beside me and within me.  I pictured the men walking with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, after He'd been resurrected.  He didn't reveal His identity but patiently explained the scriptures to them during the walk (which our pastor explained was about 1 1/2 - 2 hours long).  I thought about the way that Jesus doesn't race ahead or lag behind and He doesn't just ride above at a great distance looking down, as from a space satellite.  He is walking right beside me all day, all the time.  I can actually turn to Him and talk with Him, and smile or cry or laugh.  Better than any computerized search engine, or "Help" screen...Jesus is almighty God and my constant companion.  I am never alone because Jesus came from Heaven to find me when I was lost...and He will never leave.  I hope you are also walking with Jesus right there next to you (and within) as well.

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I meant "pondering"!!

sorry about the typing error!


I don't know what draws me so often to the local pond (Richardson's Mill Pond).  It is an unremarkable little squiggle of water.  But it is nestled in a forest and surrounded by ravines and hills and when you come upon the pond you find three things: perfect reflections, perfect levels and perfect peace.  These three qualities serve in contrast to the rugged surroundings and with the turmoil within the heart.  The mirror-like surface is perfectly smooth and shows the sky even when looking down.  The pond is one place where a true level horizon is found and there are few trustworthy measures in nature like that.  The open area of the pond is an amphitheater for bird calls, turtle heads and flying heron and forms a sanctuary of peace for all living things.  And so, when I go to the pond, I am in a place that is conducive to consider the perfection and peace of knowing God...and in that place I see His reflection, feel His trustworthy truths and express an open heart of worship.   Reflections that realign and restore...something to!

Mark 2:13 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


My apologies to my friends.  My email address was hacked and you may have gotten a very inappropriate email that I had no involvement in.  I am taking a few steps to try to prevent this from happening again.  Please bear with me! 


2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
One died for all that all might live,
We died with Him, new life to win.

And now we live not for ourselves
but for the One who rose again.

No longer dead, we are re-made
All things are new...

And He's our friend.

Friday, January 6, 2012

the preview

I like to go to the movies.  I like the big screen, the smell of popcorn in the lobby, the experience of being drawn into the story with the dark theater blocking out distractions.  But before the actual movie begins you have to endure several advertisements and previews of coming attractions.  These days, with computer graphics and advanced sound the previews try to overwhelm you with impact to impress you enough to come back and buy a ticket.  They have a challenge of communicating enough of the essence of the film to entice you and plant the seed of interest in a short time frame.  As I read through 2 Corinthians 5 this morning I realized that I am living in the Preview now and will not be at the show itself until I reach Heaven.  Listen to this "coming attraction": (verse 1)  1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  The "earthly house" is all we've known so far so how do we "know" there is an eternal house awaiting us?  God has given us a "personal preview".  Verse 5: 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
As a result, we begin to realize that we have been living here in the Preview...but the show, itself, is yet to fully begin.  Previews can be exciting but they don't tell the whole story.  The reassurance of the Spirit, through illuminating scripture, guiding our walk, correcting our steps and providing gifts allows us to have a confidence that the Preview can be relied on as a sure indication that the eternal show is truly coming.  Verses 6-7: 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
 With such a great Preview we begin to store up an excitement about that day when the main show comes to our theater and, without distraction, eternity unrolls.

Verse 8: 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

clay pots

I don't know if you have ever made anything from clay.  I did a few basic bowls in school or scouts a long time ago and enjoyed the process of forming the shape, adding the glaze, and firing the piece in a kiln.  An interesting thing about clay is that it is most flexible before it is given a shape, but it is most useful for service after it has a shape.  Unfortunately, once it has been finished it is most fragile and susceptible to breaking if dropped.  So we have a wonderful thing happen when Jesus comes to live in our clay pot.  Although we, the clay pots, are still fragile, He brings a remarkable resilience and when our pots are dropped, or kicked, or shaken they are not broken.  

Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Forged for service and filled with Christ for durability, the world can see the reality of God in each of our clay pots.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

all things New

It's the New Year so I looked a little through scripture to find references to the word "New".  It turns out that God has a lot to say and do when it comes to "New".  His mercy and compassion is new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  He gives us a new song to sing (Psalm 33:3).  He places a new heart and a new spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:26).  He makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  He gives us a new name (Revelation 2:17).  He gave us a new covenant of salvation by faith through grace (Hebrews 12:24).  He makes it possible for us to walk in a new life (Romans 6:4).  One day there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth (2 Peter 3:13).  

He is the one to make the old new and we can daily experience the freshness of this touch.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

seeing the invisible

2 Corinthians 4:18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Here is a New Year's resolution...actually a New Life resolution that seems hard to comprehend: to look at the invisible things!  Paul has been teaching the Corinthians about the quality of faith that comes from living for God, trusting in God and experiencing a new "spiritual" that lifts a veil from our eyes and causes us to see life in a new way...almost like going to one of the new 3D movies and realizing the difference it makes to put the special glasses on to add depth to the picture.  Earlier in this chapter he explains the Old Testament finally makes sense when people have trusted in Christ and, looking back through the ancient writings and prophecies, Christ is seen for the first time woven through the scriptures.  And our lives, which can seem without purpose and continuity at times, also take on new meaning as we see Christ woven through the fabric of our design and our days...when we have the light of Christ shining within.  No wonder Paul is so committed to laying down his life day after day to get this message out to every city and nation he can.  This visible life finally comes together in comprehensive meaning when the invisible fabric of faith has come to clothe our hearts.  It is something like the laser surgery I had done on one eye.  Within hours after the surgery I saw everything more vision had changed permanently.  Spiritual life calls for spiritual vision!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, Old Ways

With each New Year we have a sense of starting fresh...pulling out an unmarked page to write on...improving our lives...renewing positive commitments and separating from negative behaviors and habits.  But one problem we have is that we are made of the same old stuff that we were in the Old Year.  And people are made of the same old stuff these days that they were made of when Christ walked the earth and when Adam hid in the garden and when David  looked on Bathsheba.  We need to be ruthlessly honest as we evaluate ourselves.  After all, why do we need to make New Year's resolutions if we don't have some tendency to veer off course?  

How would we respond in this New Year if Jesus made an appearance today in our town, on our street, at our workplace?  Would we run to him, run from him or run Him over?  Why was it and why is it that the One who actually fashioned all of Creation might be rejected when He shows up in the midst of His handiwork?   I think that the attitudes of those around Jesus 2000 years ago are very much like the attitudes we hold today toward Him.  To some He is a reminder of our flawed, self-centered nature and must be destroyed in an attempt to preserve the illusion of delusion.  To others He is the confirmation that the One who made us knows everything about us and still longs to be with us.  And yet, there are many that seek to kill Him over and over again.  But He rises to live in each generation because He doesn't need a New Year's resolution to amend His ways.  Perhaps our wisest resolution is to acknowledge our inability to stay on course and simply bow before His resolution to revive and rescue us.

2 Corinthians 1:10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


It seemed a great way to launch into a New Year this morning.  I drove over to Diascund Reservoir and opened my Bible by the shoreline under a fresh blue sky.  On the way I passed an unusual sight; a score or more of vultures perched overhead in a dead tree by the roadside...wouldn't budge even when I hit my car horn.  At the reservoir I was entertained by two other waterbirds scooting low over the surface.  They took turns chasing each other and occasionally dipping into the water.  Clearly they were playing games and enjoying themselves.  I thought about the life of joy that God has made for us.  I think we were intended to be more like the water birds, but sometimes we hang around dead trees like the vultures.  With the Lord, it's all about life.  Sometimes with us, it's all about death...or delaying death...or avoiding death.  We need to embrace life and living and reflecting the life of the living Lord within.  Paul shared some of these thoughts with the Corinthians in the second letter when he taught them about the Spirit in chapters 2-4.  He said, in verse 14 of chapter 2, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."  And in chapter 3, verses 17-18, "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

We know the God of Life, who has conquered death and is breathing life into our lives.  As we launch into a New Year today it is good to be reminded that there is joy in living and, like the water fowl, we were intended to soar and play and reflect the light of the Lord and the fragrance of his presence.