Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“External Influences, Internal Choices”

    Human beings bear complete responsibility for the sins we commit.

    “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

    We can blame no one but ourselves for unbelief and disobedience.  However, it is true that outside influences have a role in our sins.  As in the Garden of Eden, malevolent spiritual entities, utilizing worldly and fleshly means, participate in the temptations we face.

     “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).
     “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

    I find this truth particularly helpful when considering people who fall into particularly heinous lifestyles and activities.  Again, before God, no excuses for sins will hold water.  The wicked are wicked because they have freely chosen to respond to devilish, worldly and fleshly stimulations.  Nevertheless, their wrongdoing (like my own) is strongly influenced by entities from without that seek to promote evil within.  Remembering this frequently and plainly declared Biblical truth helps us to focus our attention on the source of sin rather than its vehicles of expression.  Thereby we find ourselves far more enabled to obey the Bible’s  command to bear a merciful attitude toward all, and to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

     Failure to accept complete responsibility for sin leads to catastrophic spiritual and moral consequences in the sinner.  Moreover, failure to understand Scriptural truth concerning the role of devilish, worldly and fleshly influences results in a less than adequate identification of humanity’s problem with sin.  We thus do well to remember that the sins of both saints and sinners result not only from wayward internal choices, but from wicked external enemies.  Such remembrance will help to keep us on guard in the personal sense, and promote the perspective toward others that sees our Father’s sun rising on the evil and the good, and His rain falling on the just and the unjust.

“The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:24-26)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
(I Peter 5:8)

Monday, April 29, 2013

“A Moment of Love”

(We’ve had a number of inquiries about the origin of Saturday’s poem, “Sometimes.”  I thought some of you might be interested in the story.  Thanks, Glen).

    The poem we sent out this past Saturday, “Sometimes,” resulted from one of those rare and unplanned experiences when the sky seems to open a bit, releasing a ray of light that happens to catch our eye (or capture our heart).

    During a walk late Friday afternoon, I prayed about and for someone going through a particularly difficult time.  I thought of a devotional I wrote many years ago entitled, “Tears As Prayers.”  The words seemed to fit the current experience of the person for whom I prayed, and I remembered the first line of the essay, “Sometimes tears are prayers.”  For the next fifteen minutes the thoughts that became the poem seemed as if they were being typed onto the pages of my heart and mind.  I do not actually believe this to have been the case in either the literal or figurative sense.  My mind was active, and I was thinking (and trying to remember the words as I walked!).  However, it was one of those times that seemed out of the ordinary, and the resulting lines accurately expressed my sense of those prayers that originate from so deeply within the depths of our soul that tears, or sighs, or even silence seem to best express faith and worship.

    Much of our lives are planned, as they should be.  God Himself is a planner, as guided by His “eternal purpose in Christ” (Ephesians 1:11).  Nevertheless, some experiences, and particularly, some blessings, come to us in a serendipitous way beyond anything we might expect, or for which we could plan.  It can happen in so many ways, and God has personal means of such blessedness particularly designed for each of us.  As someone who often speaks and writes, it is not surprising that words would for me be the Lord’s way of bestowing those aforementioned rays of light.  For you, it may be something else in a completely different form, but which no less bears beautiful witness to your heart of the Lord’s presence and loving involvement.  You likely already know what that is, and could tell your own stories in your own way of the sky unexpectedly opening and shining God’s light into your surprised and glad eyes.

        As a father, I can recall the joy of exposing my children to things they had never seen, and that I knew would thrill them (I’m presently enjoying the blessing again as a grandfather).  I have no doubt that such joy expresses the sensibility in our Lord’s heart when His purposes cause Him to part the sky so that a bit of heaven spills out upon us in holy and thrilling light.  I was amazed and blessed this past Friday afternoon by such a moment of love, and I will never forget it (and, of course, I’m most grateful I could share it with you). However, I have no doubt that Somebody else enjoyed the moment far more that I did.  Indeed, as much as God’s good gifts bless us in the receiving, they bless Him even more in the giving.   He’s that kind of Father, and He’s that kind a Father.

“It is your  Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
(Luke 12:32)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”
(James 1:17)

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Sometimes, tears are prayers,
expressing the yearnings of our heart
far more eloquently than words could ever
tell our cares.
Sometimes, tears are prayers.

Sometimes, sighs are cries
unto our Father above,
seeking the grace and mercy that dwells
in His heart of surpassing love.
Yes, sometimes, sighs are cries unto our Father above.

Sometimes, silence sings
hymns of sacrificial offerings,
 praises and thanksgivings graced with melodies and harmonies
no ear can divine, but the Divine.
Sometimes… sometimes, silence sings.

Sometimes tears are prayers,
Sometimes sighs are cries,
Sometimes, silence sings.
Great is the mystery, but the trusting heart
hid deep with God in Christ somehow knows such things.

Yes, sometimes, tears are prayers.

“The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
(Romans 8:26)

“The Grace of His Heart”

Frances has tendonitis in her right arm, an ailment commonly referred to as “tennis elbow” (even though, as she says, “I don’t play tennis!). It is very painful, and a visit to the orthopedic doctor yesterday revealed to her a treatment for the problem that works in most cases. “Time,” said the doctor, “regardless of what you do or don’t do, you will likely get better in time.” One of our dearest friends, a physical therapist, has told us the same about a number of aches and pains, which reminds me of the old adage, “Time heals all wounds.”

Both the doctor and our P.T. friend would tell us that they do not literally credit the mere passage of moments as a healing factor. They rather mean that the restorative functions of our physical bodies, “fearfully and wonderfully made,” often bring repair and relief when given enough time (Psalm 139:14). God built into us this feature necessary for our survival, but in our present sin-damaged existence, the healing properties of our bodies are far from perfect. Time most surely does not heal all wounds. It just heals some of them.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:7-9).

We do not know for certain the nature of the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” We do know that it did what thorns always do. It hurt. More importantly, however, the lingering wound became an open portal for the entrance of God’s grace. Indeed, no thorn, no grace as particularly shaped and formed by Paul’s experience of pain. Three seasons of prayer led to a harvest not of healing, but of knowing God and His freely given favor in Christ that far surpassed the mere removal of a thorn. Lingering pain, be it physical or emotional, offers us such grace, namely, the experience of our Heavenly Father’s enabling heart and presence. “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

It is not inevitable that the wounds of thorns will become open windows for the entrance of grace. We must trust our Lord, submitting ourselves to His will when and as we move in such as way that our personal thorn yet again causes pain. Against all appearance, mental perplexity, and emotional inclination, we must give thanks rather than complain. We must praise rather than succumb to despair. And we must choose to expect that God will faithfully fulfill His role as “the strength of m heart, and my portion forever.” The life of faith is not for the passive, nor for those who forget the constant refrain of both Old Testament and New, namely, that the heart of God could never be fully known if His hand immediately and completely healed every wound. As Job declared, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee” (Job 42:5).

When time and the healing process do not heal a wound, God offers to us an even greater deliverance. He offers us Himself. “I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). Whether we experience such sublime grace depends on whether we believe it to be available. It is, and in this moment, our Lord’s still hand promises to us the grace of His heart.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Drain the Ponds!

     Difficulty in forgiving others lies primarily in the failure to realize the extent of our own reception of pardon from the Lord.

     Recall the parable in Matthew 18 of the servant whose king forgave him a debt equivalent to millions, if not billions of dollars according to modern monetary values. This same servant, however, would not forgive his own debtor the most negligible amount.  Torment resulted, not of the debtor, but of the forgiven servant who would not forgive.

     “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him” (Matthew 18:32-34).

     The realized joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot coexist in a spiritual and moral environment of bitterness and vengeance.  “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11).  If we have difficulty in experiencing the tranquility of heart so often promised in Scripture, we may well have allowed a place therein for the bitter waters of unforgiveness to collect and stagnate.  Ignorance and pride excavate such an unhappy reservoir of merciless hardness wherein pools of grace should exist as flowing fountains of Christ’s forgiving love.  We have forgotten, or perhaps have never known the extent of our own reception of pardon, thus keeping the sins of others against us paramount in our minds.  Inner torment rather than peace ensues, and we become a foul pond rather than a wellspring of joy.

     Wonderfully, forgiveness for being unforgiving is included in the atoning grace of the Lord Jesus.  His mercy paid our debt of mercilessness, and in this moment, we can know pardon for any failure to have given pardon. Peace awaits, and then the blessed path of grace wherein love received becomes love distributed.  Indeed, we shall never more know our Lord than in those times we respond to His heart of mercy as it leads us to freely forgive just as we have been freely forgiven.  Mercy is a blessed thing, both in the receiving, and far more, in the giving.  Torment flies when mercy arrives.  Yes, in this moment, foul ponds can be drained, their soil purified, and replaced by the fresh, clean, and life-giving Water of life.  Remembering how much for which we have been forgiven by God, and how relatively small are the offences of other against us, will go far in ensuring that the promise of our Lord becomes personally realized and then conveyed…

“He that believeth on Me, as the Scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
(John 7:38)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

“Smartphone. Dumb Guy. Brilliant Wife. Amazing Lord!”

    (Long title, huh?  The following is a true story, absurd as it may sound.  No names were changed to protect the innocent or the stupid, although I wish with all my heart I could!  But there’s that honesty thing…).

    Yesterday, as I placed 4 packages of vacuum wrapped fish in a pot of water to thaw out, I also dropped my Smartphone into the pot with them (unknowingly, of course).

     Yes, you read that correctly.  To save you having to go back and reread, I placed my Smartphone into a pot of cold water with 4 packages of vacuum wrapped fish. Neither the fish or the phone could swim (the former being deceased, and the latter being, well, being a Smartphone).  When I realized my phone was missing, I began a search that included house and car, to no avail. What made me think of looking at the bottom of the bowl of water, I cannot say, although I’d like to think it was the Holy Spirit’s prompting (I honestly don’t know if God ever chuckles as us, but if so, this was probably one of those times).  Sure enough, there it was, drowned and looking for all the world as if its number (ahem!) was up.

     Remembering, however, that in my house dwells a Brain, the likes of which few can compare, I pulled the phone from the lake and rushed it to Frances General Hospital.  “Get me the hair dryer and a towel, stat!” she said (well, she didn’t actually say “stat!”  But her voice had that “stat!” feel to it, if you know what I mean). After 30 minutes of emergency surgery, Frances (a.k.a. the Geek Squad; a.k.a. The Fixer;  a.k.a. “Thank You, Lord, for such a wife!) brought my phone to me resuscitated and alive.  And, another chapter was added to the ongoing saga of The Brute and the Brain (you wouldn’t believe how many chapters are already chronicled, I assure you).

     The phone required a full charging after its near-death experience.  I therefore left it at the house to charge when I went to work out.  This is where the “Amazing Lord!” part of the story enters the picture.  Tuesday night is an elliptical night for me at the fitness center where we work out (the elliptical, in case you don’t know, is one of those machines that simulates low impact running).  I normally listen to music or the Scriptures as I perform my time on the machine.  I didn’t have that opportunity tonight, however, and I’m pretty sure I know why. 

    Over the last few months, I’ve developed a friendship with a gentleman who cleans the facility each night.  Mr. Juan (I have to call him “Mr.” because he refuses to call me just “Glen.”) and I have had some really good and enjoyable conversations.  He does great work, and the first night I met him, I told him so.  We became fast friends, and usually talk to each other on the nights when I’m lifting weights and don’t always have my headphones on.  On this elliptical night, I would have had been wearing the headphones, had I not drowned my Smartphone.  And on this night, Mr. Juan needed to talk. He’s been going through some tough times in his family and just needed to vent, I think.  More importantly, he also shared with me his testimony of coming to know the Lord, and of how God saved him from some life-threatening behaviors.  Had I been wearing my headphones as usual, we wouldn’t have had the conversation, and I wouldn’t have been blessed by my brother’s testimony, and by yet another wondrous episode of how God weaves all things together for His glory and our good.

     I really don’t think the Lord led me to commit my Smartphone to a watery grave.  He did, however, know that I would do such an inexplicable thing.  He’s known it from everlasting, and determined to fit it into His good purposes in mine and Mr. Juan’s lives.  Moreover, I get to share the story with you as a reminder of our amazing Lord.  How good He is.  How great He is.  How wise He is.  How purposeful He is.  And how kind He is to take such good care of certain children who often do some of the strangest things.   Yes, Smartphone.  Dumb Guy. Brilliant Wife.  Amazing Lord!  That about says it, along with…

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
(I Timothy 1:17)
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, andobtaineth favor of the LORD.”
(Proverbs 18:22)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“The Little Things (God’s Things)”

     It’s the little things that make or break the day, and the lifetime.

     “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things (from the Greek “oligos,” meaning small in size or number), I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

     Relatively few “big” things happen to any of us in our lifetime, including to those possessed of great power, fame, and riches.  Most of life involves the everyday, the repetitious and the mundane.  This especially relates to our relationship with God.  He may move a mountain, stop the sun, or part the Red Sea when necessary.  Most often, however, He moves quietly and unobtrusively in our lives, so much so that we cannot perceive His doings with our human senses and understanding.  As Jacob declared at Bethel, “Surely the Lord is in this place!  And I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).   The Apostle Paul elaborates, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7).

     While challenging, this truth of “the little things” actually offers to us the most thrilling possibility of our lives.  If God calls us to attend ourselves to the seemingly inconsequential, He must involve Himself in the aforementioned everyday, repetitious and mundane.  He must be present and active, even if to our limited vision and awareness, He may seem to be unaccounted for.  I fully expect when we get to Heaven that if the Lord allows us to look back at His working in our earthly lives, we will see that He accomplished the greatest and most significant things in our lives when it seemed as if He was a million miles away.  Indeed, He raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead in a lonely tomb where no human eyes witnessed the greatest event in history.  How many other time and eternity-shaking accomplishments of the heart and hand of God cannot be seen, but which fill the world and our lives?

     God’s involvement in the moments of our lives, coupled with our conviction that such Truth is true, provides enabling grace in all things and at all times.  I may not know what He is doing.  I can be sure, however,that He is doing.  This leads to the determination to faithfully devote ourselves to live “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).  Indeed, the more convinced we become of God’s dynamic presence and activity in the few things, the little things, the more we respond in the passion to think, speak, act and relate accordingly. Because the truth of the matter is that our Heavenly Father’s presence and working means that there really are no little things.  There are simply God’s things, most of which presently happen in such quiet and unassuming ways that only those who walk by faith rather than sight can see, rejoice, and live in the glory that “Surely the Lord is in this place!”

“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
(Romans 11:36)

Monday, April 22, 2013

“Yesterday’s Thorns”

    We might expect that if we could erase the memories of painful experiences like we delete computer files, our lives would be far more peaceful.  We might with King David feel that if we might just escape the difficult realities of the both the past and the present, we could find tranquility:

     “Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away, and be at rest!” (Psalm 55:6).

     This will be true in Heaven, where our hearts will have been glorified and thus completely devoted to faith in God.  Presently, however, we require not only blessedness in order to remember our need for the Lord Jesus Christ, but also challenge and difficulty.  God therefore allows some pains of the past to linger in our memories for the purpose of leading us to more fully trust and submit ourselves to Him.  “Before I was afflicted, I went astray.  But now I have kept Thy word” (Psalm 119:67). 

    Such recollection may simply drive us to the Lord for the comfort only He can provide.  Or it may help us to avoid sins and mistakes that led to some of the pain we have known in our lifetime.  It may also prepare us for ministry to others, even as the Apostle Paul taught that the comfort of God we receive becomes the comfort of God we are able to minister unto others (II Corinthians 1:4).  Whatever the reasons for lingering memories, all provide opportunity to “lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” (Psalm 121:1).

     The time will come when our Heavenly Father will wipe away all tears from our eyes and “there shall be no more… sorrow” (Revelation 21:4).  This is not that time. Presently, sorrow and tears, including the pains of memories allowed to linger, are sometimes necessary if we are to walk with God and minister to others.  May our Heavenly Father lead us to Himself when yesterday’s thorns yet again prick our souls.  He is with us to comfort and secure our hearts today as He was then, and also to lead us to others for whom the comfort we receive becomes the comfort we distribute.

    “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?   And why art Thou disquieted in me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5).

Friday, April 19, 2013

“In… Unto”

      Our memory verse this week speaks of believers being “created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” referencing the Divine order of godliness that must be kept even in heart and mind if we are to consistently trust and obey God.

     First “Christ Jesus.”  Then, “good works.”  Our Lord is ever and always the root; our doings are ever and always the fruit of His presence and working in our lives.

     “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

     We “work out” that which God “works in.”  When we believed in the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit inhabited our innermost being for the purpose of revealing in us the character, nature and way of the Savior.  This is the factof how closely united we are to our Lord (note  that it is a “living God” who binds Himself to us, that is, a God who actively lives and works in us).  “I will dwell in them and walk in them” (II Corinthians 6:16)  Our experience of such truth depends on continuing growth in the knowledge, remembrance, and application of this gift of the utmost grace.  Indeed, we cannot work out that of which we are unaware that God is working in.  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16).

     Few themes more occupy my consideration of Biblical truth, and the attempt to personally experience and communicate to others.  Nevertheless, I find no Biblical truth more challenging to keep near in heart and mind. Thus, we must often encourage each other in the awareness of how near the Lord has drawn to us, and how actively engaged He is in enabling a life of faith and faithfulness.  Such remembrance will go far in our apprehension of God’s dynamic presence, along with the subsequent application to a life that begins and continues with His Life.  This moment provides opportunity for the affirmation of faith that the living God does not merely sit on a throne in our hearts.  He rather dynamically works in us and walks in us to empower the faith and obedience of “in Christ Jesus unto good works.”

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”
(I John 4:9)

“His Purpose, Our Purpose” Part 2

 – A Challenge, An Opportunity

     After writing the message yesterday morning about God’s purpose and our purpose being the exaltation and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, I experienced a personal challenge concerning the matter.

    Frances and I stopped at a fast food restaurant for breakfast, planning on making our purchase in the drive thru. The line of cars was long, however, so I decided to go into the restaurant.  There were few customers inside, but only one young lady worked the counter.  She busied herself with previous orders without seeming to be in a hurry, and I stood for what seemed like quite a while before she asked for my order.

    During my wait, I began to feel irritated, first by the restaurant for what appeared to be inadequate staffing, and then by the young lady, who did not seem to understand how valuable my time is! I felt my jaw tense, and I came very close to crossing my arms and adopting a posture that would clearly indicate my displeasure to anyone who might want to know how I felt.

     Then it hit me.  I remembered what I had written less than an hour earlier.  More importantly, I remembered the many Scriptural passages that concern the centrality of Christ and our representation of Him.  “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). Some questions came to mind.  “Is my purpose in being here simply to buy food in what I believe to be a proper amount of time?  Or am I here first and foremost as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus, and as a participant in God’s eternal purpose in Christ?

    By the grace and enabling of the Holy Spirit, I unclenched my jaw, kept my arms unfolded, and determined adopt a calm and happy demeanor.  I also decided to be pleasant to the young lady behind the counter, who as it turns out, treated me also with a gracious attitude.  I made my purchase, and walked out of the restaurant with a grateful heart, along with the memory of both God’s faithfulness and a nice exchange with the young lady.  I was quite aware that had the Lord not brought to mind His Word and my own words, the experience would likely have been far different.

    Life is too long, eternally too long to waste opportunities to join our Heavenly Father in His eternal purposes related to the glory of the Lord Jesus.  A good friend often reminds me that every person we meet is an immortal whom we influence either positively or negatively concerning their eternal place and condition. God privileges us to represent Him, and then He works in us in order to enable our fulfillment of His high calling in Christ Jesus.  We have the freedom and responsibility to respond to His leadership, and then the joy of joining Him in honoring His Son.  I’m grateful for the reminder this morning, and for a challenge that become yet another opportunity to experience God’s purpose that He graciously makes our purpose…

“He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.”
(Colossians 1:18)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

“His Purpose, Our Purpose”

God’s governing purpose
involves the preeminence and centrality of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

Conversely, humanity’s governing purpose involves any and everything but the exaltation of Christ.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

When we trust in the Lord Jesus, our Heavenly Father establishes His purpose as our purpose. He initiates a work in us whereby the preeminence of Christ becomes the default position, as it were, of our newly enlivened spiritual being. We become a new and different person within, “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). The Spirit of Christ dwells within us, and works in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Savior matters to us, and deep within our redeemed being, our Heavenly Father’s Christ-centered intention becomes the guiding purpose of our own existence. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22).

Alas, however, the default position of our flesh remains inclined toward “gone astray” and “everyone to his own way.” “The flesh lusteth against the spirit” (Galatians 5:17). God allows our imperfect faculties and members, as inherited from fallen Adam, to remain with us. Thus, we remain strongly susceptible to forgetting, ignoring, and even rejecting the centrality of the Lord Jesus. We can live as if life is about us rather than Him. In such times, we swim against the tide of our redeemed and Christ-inhabited being, experiencing the consequences of our unbelief in joylessness, lack of peace, and the sense of being untethered from the central hub of our life and being. “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop” (Psalm 102:7).

This is written as a simple reminder of God’s purpose, and our purpose. The glory and revelation of the Lord Jesus guides His intentions and doings. To the degree this same purpose guides us also will be directly proportional to our sense of rightness, peace, and joy. We will not be perfect as is our Heavenly Father, but we can seek to grow in remembrance that “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). May the Lord grant much grace in keeping, as a good friend often says, “the main thing, the main thing, and the first thing, the first thing” (Thanks, Larry!). The preeminence of Christ in all things – this is God’s intention, and His gift of sublime grace to our hearts makes it ours as well.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Contrast. . .Change

In his dying hour, David asked his son Solomon to execute vengeance upon men who had opposed the king and his purposes (I Kings 2:1-9).

In His dying hour, the Lord Jesus Christ asked His Father to bestow mercy upon those who had nailed Him to His cross –“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:46).

This observation is not intended as criticism toward David, an imperfect but godly man declared by the Lord to be “a man after Mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). We rather intend to illustrate the contrast between the Lord Jesus and all others. Indeed, the best and brightest among the human race fall far, far short of the person our Savior was and is. If we have trusted in Him, the process of being conformed to His image proceeds as God works all things together for this holy purpose (Romans 8:28-29). Nevertheless, a long journey of spiritual and moral change awaits all of us because the summit to which we ascend reaches far beyond our best thoughts and highest imaginings. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55:9).

Certainly, we do well to respect and admire those Biblical figures such as David who in many ways trusted and obeyed their Lord. The same is true for those in our lives who exemplify Christ’s love and faithfulness. However, we seek maintain rapt attention and focus solely on the Lord Jesus as we remember and respond to God’s holy purpose in our lives. The perspective drives us to our knees in awed worship and wonder, and then raises us up to walk the power of our Savior to enable genuine godliness by His indwelling presence – “I will dwell in them and walk in them” (II Corinthans 6:16). In Heaven and earth, there is no one like our Savior. If we have believed, however, we are involved in a process of change into His spiritual and moral likeness, as effected by the saving grace of God that justifies, sanctifies, and will ultimately glorify us…

“Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”’ (II Corinthians 3:18) “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as He is.” (I John 3:2)

Saturday, April 13, 2013


This is a new song Frances and I just recorded entitled, “Homeward.”  The song addresses the Psalmist’s assurance, as expressed in the 23rd Psalm: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me.”

     The words may sound familiar to some of you because I originally wrote them as a poem that was included in an Orange Moon devotional from several months ago.  The message and the song address the comfort we can have regarding our believing loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord, and the comfort we ourselves can have regarding our own homegoing. 

     This is actually the first version of the song we are planning to record, which includes just Frances, me, and my guitar (it’s always possible you might hear our beagle Sparrow in the background!).  We are already working on another version that will include more instruments and orchestration.  I hope to finish it in the next week or so, and it will be on our website if you’d like to hear this version.

      Thanks, and we hope the music will be a blessing to you.  Here are the lyrics.  If the music doesn't play, you can hear the song on the homepage of our website at
www.orangemooncafe.com.                                       Thanks, Glen.


Homeward, My child, it is time to go. 
I am with you, just as promised, you’ll journey not alone.
I have been this way we travel, oh see the path I’ve traced.
Those sparkles all along the way are glimmers of My grace… Homeward, My child.

Angels travel with us, they marvel at the scene of yet another spirit,
My mercy has redeemed.
And Someone waits to greet you, a Father all sublime.
Oh, I have no words to tell you
of the wonder you’ll soon find… Homeward, My child.

So, homeward, child, we venture, united in My love.
I have waited for this moment, when yonder up above,
you’ll see things unimagined, you’ll look upon your God.
We’ll forever be together, because this path we’ve trod…
Yes, Homeward, My child, homeward, My child,
homeward,My child, homeward, My child.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

“Opportunities of Humility”

“God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

The only perfectly innocent person who ever lived nevertheless gave Himself to a cross whereupon He appeared to die as a common criminal. Exaltation by God followed, and the Lord Jesus Christ will forever reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus as our Savior, a similar pathway awaits us on a daily basis. Many opportunities to humble ourselves await us along the path of righteousness, most of them involving quiet, internal challenges that no one other than ourselves ever see. Words that we choose not to say, reactions we restrain by the Holy Spirit’s keeping, good deeds done in a manner that do not draw attention, acts and attitudes of retribution avoided, chosen pathways of anonymity – our Lord leads us to follow retrace His footsteps in order that the Psalmist’s prayer might be fulfilled in our lives as it was in His’: “Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory!” (Psalm 115:1).

I have often shared in these messages that for me, the most shocking truth of Scripture involves the fact that when the Lord Jesus began His ministry, His own brothers did not know not who He was (John 7:5). Our Savior lived in such a quiet and unobtrusive humility during His first thirty years that no overt display of His Divinity shone forth. Doubtless, many temptations confronted Him to reveal His true nature, as in the wilderness challenge when Satan prompted the Lord to act as the God He is (Matthew 4:1-11). The Lord Jesus overcame them all, praise His Name, and as He walks in us, He purposes to do the same. Let us therefore expect the opportunities of humility whereby the character and nature of Christ leads us to “walk, even as He walked” (I John 2:6). An immediate exaltation results, namely, the Holy Spirit’s inward affirmation of peace that confirms we have chosen the path of lowliness whereupon our Savior’s footsteps still shine in the sublime glory of His humility.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Plan B

    After conducting a service last night, Frances and I went to a local coffeeshop we frequent.  We sat alone in the back of the establishment until a young man and lady came to a table not too far from us.  They appeared to be teenagers, and also looked and sounded (although we weren’t intentionally trying to eavesdrop) as if they were on a first time out together.

     My first reaction involved relief.  “Thank You, Lord, that I’m past that part of life and don’t have to relive it!” I can recall few experiences of life that seemed more awkward and nerve-wracking.  However, I then thought of the early days of mine and Frances’s relationship, which was more than thirty years ago.  It seems like yesterday, however, especially in how easy it is to remember so many of the emotions and thoughts of our early days together.  In that regard, I said in my heart another “Thank You, Lord.”

    As we prepared to leave the coffeeshop, the thought came to me that we should send two cups of ice cream back to the young people’s table (anonymously).  I mentioned this to Frances, who smiled and said, “I was thinking the exact same thing!” (after all these years, our minds tend to travel on the same track!).  We both had the thought that if the Lord meant for these two people to be together for a lifetime, it might be a nice memory (and mystery) for them to recall through the years. We got in line to buy the ice cream, but then glanced back to see the young couple also leaving.  Alas, our romantic gesture didn’t come to pass! 

    As we walked to our car, we both expressed disappointment that we weren’t able to fulfill our plans. However, we also trusted that it wasn’t the Lord’s will, and I commented to Frances that since we couldn’t send the ice cream, we would have to resort to Plan B, as it were.  “We can pray for them,” I said, and yet again, Frances had already turned to the same page.  I’m certain that our visits to the coffeeshop will now include many remembrances of the young couple, and many quiet requests that the Lord will work in their lives, whether they are meant to be together, or not.

    The Lord’s “Plan B” is a wonderful thing.  What our hands often cannot do for others because we lack opportunity, our hearts can accomplish because our Lord beckons that we offer “supplications, prayers,intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men” (I Timothy 2:1).  Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are walking temples of prayer wherein the work of God begins as He works in our hearts to make intercession, and then as we respond with simple and trusting requests that He will touch people just as they need to be touched.  “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!” (Jeremiah 33:3).

    Ice cream received anonymously would have been nice, and intriguing.  Better still will be God’s working in the lives of two young people who will never know that two older (not old!) people will enjoy the memory of a sweet moment, and the ongoing blessedness of praying.  Our Heavenly Father is kind to provide such opportunity, both for the pray-ees and the pray-ers.

“Watch unto prayer.”
(I Peter 4:7)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

“The Delight of Mercy”

(Thanks to Bill Shakespeare and Barnard Fife for inspiration on this one.)

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

(From “The Merchant of Venice” – William Shakespeake,
quoted by Barney Fife)
“He delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18).

    We never have to drag forgiveness from God’s heart, so long as we come by the way of mercy He made for us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

     Mercy is foreign to the flesh of man.  “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8).  Were it not for the influence of the Holy Spirit in the world, the tooth and the claw would govern every relationship between people.  The very concept of forgiveness would be unknown and the practice thereof completely absent from our dealings with each other.  Indeed, the initial response of vengeance we all feel when hurt or offended would be universally carried out to the extreme if God’s tempering presence were removed from humanity’s interactions with each other.

     Conversely, and sublimely wonderfully, our Heavenly Father’s heart flows with the current of mercy. 

    “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow toanger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8).

    Few verses in Scripture should drive us to our knees and faces more than the Psalmist’s affirmation of God’s abundantly forgiving nature, or of the prophet’s affirmation that to the degree humanity innately despises mercy, the Lord “delighteth in mercy.”  God loves to forgive, so much so that He gave His beloved Son to a cross of shame, torture, forsakenness and death in order to make possible the gift of pardon.  Indeed, every act of Divine mercy ever bestowed flows from Calvary’s bloody fount of freely given grace.  Theshadow of the cross, as it were, made possible forgiveness before the Lord’s death to those who trusted in a coming Deliverer.  The substance of the cross now provides for all who look back to the dying Lamb whose offering of Himself was so perfect in atoning for sin that the writer of Hebrews exults, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).

     Shakespeare’s poetry speaks to our Lord’s propensity.  He does not strain in heart to offer forgiveness.  It is His nature, His character, His way.  Moreover, His bestowal is “twice blessed” because we can be certain that God loves to forgive as much, or more, than we love to be forgiven.  Calvary ever sings its hymn of mercy to us with a joyful Voice of willingness and even more, of delight in mercy.  May we ever hear, responding with a bowed head of gratitude, and a submitted heart of seeking to serve as a tributary to others of the River of mercy that graces us in Christ.

“For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.”
(Psalm 117:2)

Monday, April 8, 2013

“The Question of the Moment”

     The question of this and of every moment – “Am I trusting the Lord and doing His will right now? – is often not easily answered.  Our Heavenly Father does not audibly confirm faithfulness, nor does He hire a skywriter to grace the sky with a vaporous checkmark of affirmation.  Moreover, our own evaluation of faithfulness does not always result in an accurate answer.  “There is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). 

    Frequent consideration and directing the inquiry Heavenward provides perhaps our best hope of a consistently positive answer.  “Heavenly Father, am I trusting You and doing Your will right now?”  The very fact of seriously and frequently asking the question indicates a heart malleable in the Lord’s hands, and capable of being directed along the path of righteousness. God promises His guidance to those who trust and acknowledge Him, and to those who “lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Thus, we do well to establish the question of the moment as a guiding principle, expecting it to result in a spiritual and moral environment of the heart whereby faithful obedience becomes the natural overflow of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

    The past is gone.  The future of our earthly existence is not guaranteed.  Thus, the faith and obedience of this moment beckons us to raise the question of this moment. “Lord, am I trusting You and doing Your will, right now?”  Again, while we expect no audible or visible answer from our Lord, consistently asking the question will make possible and even likely the doing of God’s will, as empowered by the Spirit of Christ.  Such performance comes with its own affirmation that increasingly provides a strong sense of confirmation that we are responding to our Lord’s will in this, the only moment we actually possess in which to trust and obey God.

“Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”
(Psalm 143:10)   

Friday, April 5, 2013

“The Good Fight of Faith”

    Satan’s greatest ploys regarding the believer’s understanding of him involve overemphasis and under-emphasis.

    We can make more of him than the Bible teaches, causing either a grotesque fixation as suggested by literary and entertainment vehicles (and even certain spiritual teachings and teachers).  Overemphasis may also tempt us to excuse ourselves for our own failings as we assign a power to the devil that he doesn’t have (namely, to forcesin rather than to tempt us to sin).  Both errors lead to fear, and ultimately, to irresponsibility as we chase ghosts or escape the reality of personal accountability.  “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

    Conversely, minimizing the devil and his host of spiritual minions leads to failure to recognize the truth that we “wrestle not again flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  Our spiritual enemies possess the capability and potential, as allowed by God, to tempt, deceive, distract, and hinder our experience of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They cannot force the believer to fall into such traps, but they can certainly set them for us. Indeed, the Christian life in our present existence involves not only God and ourselves, but also a host of spiritual enemies who seek our utmost harm no less than the Lord seeks our utmost benefit.  “There are many adversaries” (I Corinthians 16:9). 

    To this point in my life, I find myself to be far more susceptible to failure regarding the latter challenge than the former.  I too easily forget that we awaken every morning on a spiritual battlefield.  I tend to view many human problems and pathologies only in terms of God and the response of people to Him, forgetting that the father of lies bears responsibility for much of the spiritual and moral deficit we confront in our own lives and the lives of others.  Satan and his forces seek to foist untruths and halftruths on believers, suggesting notions, attitudes, opinions, perspectives, and ways that lead to ruin of every type.   Having done so, they lie yet again about how to deal with the problems they have caused.  Deceive, distract, discourage - born again believers in the Lord Jesus must realize and face the fact that somebody (many somebodys, actually) seek to cloud and enshroud our walk with God.  It’s not just Him and us as we presently journey along the path of righteousness.  I too often forget this plainly declared Biblical truth, always to my spiritual detriment.  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).

     We fight from victory rather than for it as we remember the cross, the empty tomb, and the occupied heavenly throne of the Lord Jesus.  We fight nevertheless, “the good fight of faith,” as Paul termed our privilege and responsibility to engage ourselves in the conflict of Light and darkness (I Timothy 6:12).  May the Lord grant much wisdom and grace so that we do not make too much or too little of the spiritual enemies whom He presently allows to confront us in battles that primarily concern truth, God’s Truth.  The liars lie, subtly and too often effectively about themselves and about everything else.  Let us then engage, as equipped and enabled by the Captain of our salvation…

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
(Ephesians 6:14-18)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

“Jesus Died”

(The lyrics of one of our older songs we plan to record and add to the website soon.)

“Jesus Died”
I don’t think that we think
enough about the day when
Jesus died for us.

Of the suffering and pain,
the loneliness and shame when
Jesus died for us.

So let us find a place,
and time to contemplate the grace of perfect love,
Jesus died for us.

Oh, the nails, they must have burned,
His spirit must have yearned to see
His Father’s face.

But the fires had to rage,
until the darkness came and took
all hope for grace.

And then upon His cross,
With every comfort lost, He finally bowed His head.
Jesus died for us.

I don’t think that I think,
Enough about the day when
Jesus died for me.

So I bow my head to pray,
“Oh Father, make a way for these
blind eyes to see”

The One I love the most,
lost and all alone upon
His cruel tree.

Jesus died for me,
Jesus died for me.

He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”
(John 19:30)