Not Ready

I sit at my Dad’s bedside, as he slowly progresses toward the end of his earthly life and beginning of his forever life with Jesus in eternity.

I contemplate the last 4 years.

I was not ready when Dad went through an event in which he lost a lot of his cognitive ability.

I was not ready when my parents began to lose control of their ability to live independently.

I was not ready when he and Mom needed to be moved to an assisted living facility.

I was not ready when Alzheimer’s became so prevalent for Mom, when she needed hospice care, and eventually when she went home to be with the Lord.

And I’m not ready now, when Dad has followed the same path as Mom, and is going home with Jesus.

Assuredly I should have been ready. I’ve lived long enough to know that life always changes. But in my heart I always wanted my parents to stay just as they were. I know it’s selfishness on my part.

And now I’m not ready for the grace that Jesus bestows, despite my weakness and failures. Assuredly I do not deserve it.

Psa 34:18 Jehovah is near to those of a broken heart, and saves such as are of a contrite spirit.

Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

The Nazareth Mentality

An out-of-wedlock birth in a backwater town. Never made the local paper. Then, an inconspicuous childhood in obscurity. In an even more infamous town.

John 1:43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.

45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

The apparent natural response of Nathanael, without pondering to think. How in the world can anything special, anything prophetic, anything supernatural come from a place like Nazareth? Yet He did.

Luke4:16 He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.15He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” f

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ ”

24“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And there were many in Israel with leprosy g in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.29They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

24“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.15He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” f

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ ”

24“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And there were many in Israel with leprosy g in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.29They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Hhh

Cling

It is a manifestation of our human condition that we cling to things.

Physically, spiritually, emotionally, symbolically. And the nature of the items to which we cling has a bearing on the outcomes we experience in the various spheres of our lives. If we cling vociferously to material things – wealth, possessions, and the like, this most often occurs at the expense of our emotional and spiritual well-being.

The Bible is clear about divided loyalties:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

Elsewhere, the Bible describes the love of money as the root of evil [1 Tim 6:10] (not money itself, but the unbridled love and desire to possess it).

Having to go through a lifetime of acquired possessions in my parents’ house after they went into long-term care was an eye-opening experience. I’m not judging my parents; both came from very humble poor roots and rose to professional careers and a wonderful family. I was and am blessed by them.

But after 60 years together, they accumulated many items. They were not obsessed with stuff; it just kinda piled up over time. Many of those items now have a new home, either in another house or the landfill.

God desires that we cling to Him and His Word in life and faith. I have been in Psalm 119 lately. The Psalmist declares:

30 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me.

31 I cling to Your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame.

Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Colossians (Chapter 3, Verse 2);

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

This verse is pretty clear to me, where I need to cling. I also like the word “Set” – an action verb. God enables the transformation of our minds toward Him; our act of will and volition based on His power and promises brings it into execution.

I pray that you will decide to cling to the King. #Jesus

Pay Now or Later

An oil filter manufacturer once made the following pitch in its advertisements; “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

The meaning of course was that in maintaining the engine of our car, we can pay a few bucks every now and then for a new filter, or pay a mechanic a large bill later if we fail to maintain the engine.

I know this is an imperfect analogy, but all such human attempts to describe Jesus will be thus.

We can ignore Christ, fail to maintain our soul, and go through life on borrowed time so to speak. But one day, either at the instant of our physical death or at the moment of the Lord’s return, we will be called to account for our soul.

Allow the Holy Spirit to filter out all the impurity of your soul. We will all bend our knees and pay homage to the Lord of Heaven. Much, much better to pay now by giving up our sins, receiving His forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life, than to pay later through eternal death in Hell.

Amen.

Poem:

Payday [Rom 6:23]

I want it
I need it
I love it!
It’s fantastic…
don’t blow a gasket!

Might I suggest you read the fine print?

Living your own way
does have it’s payday
The only problem?
It’s a deathly wage

05/30/14

The Dividing Line

This entry relates to a recent Twitter post:

Try to imagine the accumulation of all your sins through today. If we’re honest, the number is staggering. Now extend that thought to every person who has ever lived or will ever live until Christ returns. It’s a number beyond comprehension. Think of how any one individual sin grieves God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is the crushing weight of the rebellion of mankind that fell on the back of Jesus Christ.

Our sins put Him there. The nails held his physical body there. But it boggles my mind how Jesus and the cross could keep from plowing through the earth to physically cut it in half, loaded as He was with all our sins.

It’s a mental picture to be sure, of the impact and weight of sin, but in fact Jesus & the cross does divide the earth. Jesus himself said:

 
Luke 12:51-53

Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.  For from now on, there will be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

I also thought of the three men who professed to follow Jesus, but gave excuses for not doing so.

 

Luke 9:57-62

As they went on the way, a certain man said to him, “I want to follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  He said to another, “Follow me.”  But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce the kingdom of God.”  Another also said, “I want to follow you, Lord, but first allow me to bid farewell to those who are at my house.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

On the surface these are not unreasonable requests. But Jesus knows the heart of these men. And He is certainly making point, an emphasis, on the radical nature of being a fully devoted follower and disciple.

So what about us?

I profess freely that I have not loved Jesus with my whole heart. I have fallen short of His standard and His love. And what’s worse, sometimes it’s as if I try to keep one foot on each side of the dividing line. One foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom. It’s like trying to straddle a fissure line during an earthquake; in the end you just get swallowed up whole.

Our collective sin, grievous & voluminous as it is, did not break the back of Jesus. His triumph is our redemption.

 

~~~ . ~~~

 

Poem:

World-Breaker

He came to bring a message the world had no taste to hear

To build a bridge to Heaven, He first buried death and fear

The world was broken on His back, His hands, His feet

Our Lord Jesus, Messiah broke the back of sin

and the world became complete

01/26/15

The great Imposter

*Quick Post*

Just a quick reminder to all of us. Satan is not only our enemy; he has no substance whatsoever. His entire existence is based on pretending to be something he is not, and never will be.

  • Satan aspired to be God himself ( Isaiah 14:12-14)
  • Satan masquerades as an angel of light, when in reality he emanates nothing but darkness and emptiness (2Cor 11:14)
  • Satan could never be the Warrior- Protector Lion that Jesus Christ is, so he became a destroyer lion instead. (1Pet 5:8)

Yes, he is powerful and persuasive, but we can put Satan and his evil machinations under our feet, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Poem:

God Boots

Savage dark fool
what’ll it take to get
rid of you?
Stubborn as a stunted mule
Forensically ice blue
Incident to
the slaughter house
that rules
the hearts of men
to their eternal doom

You’re the one I eschew
Drive the stake of the flag
clear through
the banner of the Most High God
as here I take a stand
with your puny dominion
under my shoe
the Lord of Heaven
my armored boots

11/29/2012

Rom 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Merry Christmas! Happy Resurrection!

It may seem odd talking about Christmas just a few months into the new year, but I was thinking about attempts in recent years to banish Christ from Christmas. Whether it be governments limiting or outlawing nativity scenes, or the push to change “Merry Christmas” to simply “happy holidays.”

Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t noticed as much of an outcry about using the phrase “Happy Easter.” Perhaps it’s the name of Christ that is offensive to so many?

But why would you want to banish someOne who has been throughout human history the greatest Force for good?

Now before you begin take exception to this statement, I acknowledge that Christians (as well as others purporting to know Him) have made mistakes at times and done more harm than good. Because they are flawed human beings. That’s not my point.

I’m just wondering why you want to banish someone who has contributed so much to our civil society, even if you do not believe in him as the Son of God? Why do we have a law against murder; because it is written “Thou shalt not kill.” Even if you are an atheist, why would you not want a neighbor who believes in serving others over himself?

I will always say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Easter”, “Happy Resurrection Day”, “Happy day that Christ rose again and conquered death so that my sins, although grievous, could be forgiven and I might enjoy fellowship with my savior forever!”

And I pray that you can say this also. I pray that you have peace in your heart now and forever more. In need of a God like this? Almighty then!