Thursday, October 31, 2013

With the One


    The message that follows marks the end of our 15th year of writing and sending out the Orange Moon devotionals.   Wow, time flies when you're having fun! (or as Kermit the frog once said, "Time's fun when you're having flies!).

   Seriously, Frances and I are grateful for your friendship and fellowship over the years.  We're also thankful for the new friends who have joined us recently.  You're all a blessing to us, and I remain humbled and honored by your friendship and fellowship.

   Another bit of an anniversary will take place next Tuesday, Lord willing, when we send out the 4,000th Orange Moon devotional.  Now that really feels weird, and for those of you who have been with us from the beginning, I'm amazed by your endurance and patience!  :)

    When thinking about all of you, I know how the Apostle Paul felt.  "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3-5).  Thank you also, and we look forward, Lord willing, to many more years of fellowship in our wonderful Savior.  Blessings, Glen

"With the One"

         Ten received the healing touch of the Lord Jesus Christ.  One responded with heartfelt recognition and gratitude.

Ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." (Luke 17:12-18).

    "Where are the nine?"  I'd love to climb onto my personal high horse of criticism and judgmentalism to join the Lord in His rhetorical indictment of the healees' ingratitude.  Sadly, however, I have too much a personal history of failure to truly appreciate all the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me.  I've too often been among the nine rather than with the one.  "Where is Glen?"  Far too frequently, the Lord could have justifiably raised the question about me.  So, I'll leave the aforementioned pony in the corral, and seek rather a place of repentant acknowledgement and renewed expression of thanksgiving.

    Perhaps you join me in recognition of need for a greater appreciation concerning the Lord's abundant and gracious generosity.  We cannot change the past, of course, and none of us know how much longer our opportunity for thanksgiving in this present lifetime will continue.  So, we have this moment to join our hearts in gratitude:

    "Heavenly Father, eternity won't suffice for sufficient gratitude to You for all Your doings on our behalf.  We are way behind in our thanksgiving, and even as we attempt to catch up, You add more provision, protection, cleansing, and the gift of Your loving presence in our lives.  You overwhelm us in an abundance "exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think."  No eloquence can adequately express how grateful we should be.  No emotion can attain to the feeling warranted.  No awareness begins to comprehend how blessed we are in the Lord Jesus.  We have only this moment's realization of the hymnwriter's sublime affirmation, "Out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again."  In this moment, therefore, we would simply say and feel and acknowledge, "Thank You, Father.  Thank You so very much...

In the Name of He who purchased our redemption by His blood, along with every blessing of both this life and forevermore, our Lord Jesus,

"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving."
(Psalm 95:2)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"His Best"

(One of my alltime favorite illustrations.)

The woman's orientation at the textile mill concluded with her manager counseling, "The most important thing I must stress  as you begin to operate your loom tomorrow is that you not attempt to untangle any knots yourself.  If the threads tangle, even to the slightest degree, call me."

     The next day, things went well for the first few hours.  The loom almost seemed to run itself, and the woman found herself enjoying the beauty of seeing material appear, as if by magic.  Just before her lunch break, however, a small tangle caused the new employee's machine to automatically shut down.  She examined the problem, determining that a mere two threads seemed to cause the glitch.  Remembering her manager's admonition, she hesitated to attempt a fix.  The more she looked at the tangle, however, the more a simple solution seemed to present itself.  She hated the idea of seeking help for what seemed to be so minor a challenge.  "I want to do my best," the woman thought to herself.  Reaching into the spools, she therefore parted the tangled threads, only to be startled as the machine automatically restarted.  Advancing more thread into the spot where the problem had existed, a weave of wayward strands intertwined not magically as before, but disastrously.  Within seconds, the loom began to vibrate, making a terrible and almost shrieking noise.  This brought the manager onto the scene, appearing from what seemed like nowhere.  He quickly flipped several switches, shutting the machine down, and began to work on the knotted mess of threads.

    The manager finished the repair quickly, but to the woman it seemed an eternity.  With the last thread untangled, he restarted the loom, which again began to hum smoothly and produce material magically.  Turning to the woman, he found her in tears.  "Everything's fine, my dear," said the kindly man.  "The loom is working again, and I'm sure you've learn a valuable lesson, haven't you?"  The woman looked at her supervisor through tears and quietly responded, "Yes sir.  And I'm so sorry.  I just... I just wanted to do my best!"  The manager paused for a moment before his reply, then looked the woman directly in the eyes.  "Doing your best, my dear, would have been calling me."

    "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    Amid the tangles of our lives, as it were, the Word of God and the Spirit of God unite to beckon our hearts.  "Call Me."  How tempted we are, however, to apply our own hands to knots beyond our capacity to unravel.  As a last resort rather than a first response, we finally approach our Heavenly Father when our own understanding and effort leads to no avail at best, and to tangled disaster at worst.  Thankfully, He is patient and longsuffering.  If we could hear Him audibly, He would likely remind us that our best always begins with an approach to the throne of grace.  "Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).  Indeed, we require His best rather than our own.

   One suspects the woman in our story never again attempted to unravel the knots of her loom.  Would that we might learn so quickly regarding the knots of our lives.  It doesn't work that way, however, as doubtless we would all acknowledge that many episodes of "our best" lead us at the end to seek "His best."  May we learn from them all, and may we more and more remember the blessed command and its inherent promise of wisdom, enabling, provision and solution... "Call Me."

"In the day of my trouble, I will call upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me."
(Psalm 86:7)


Tuesday, October 29, 2013


      Thirteen times in the book of Hebrews, the writer of the epistle declares the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work on our behalf to be "better."  

    "The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Hebrews 7:19).

     That which brings us close to God must always be viewed as superior to anything and everything else.  The Lord Jesus alone provides this "better hope," both now and forevermore.  The practical outworking of such grace involves ongoing determinations to believe in the surpassing excellency of Christ's presence, and of His way and His will in our lives.  Strong temptation to believe otherwise continually tempts us, however, and we must expect a "good fight of faith" if our Savior's superiority is to be realized and revealed in our heart and lives (I Timothy 6:12).  Our spiritual enemies offer to us thoughts, attitudes, words, actions, and inactions that challenge the truth of the Lord's "better," even as a young man I know and respect once said, "Satan makes good things seem bad, and bad things seem good."  Or, in terms of our present consideration, the devil tempts us to believe that lesser things are better, and the better thing is lesser.

    Let us suppose, for example, the temptation of discouragement confronts us.  Our flesh may respond with the feeling and inclination that a pity party, as it were, is in order.   The Bible, conversely, offers the joy of Christ as the alternative for our hearts, minds, and bodies.  "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again, I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).  Which is better, a morose descent into self-focused despair, or a gaze of praise and thanksgiving directed outward and away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus?  The answer is obvious in principle and doctrine.  The outworking practically, however, requires the determination of faith whereby we choose to believe and affirm that the realized presence and way of Christ is better.  It is - He is - but "the good fight" must often be waged if "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" is to be known joy infusing reality of the moment.  "Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy" (Psalm 43:4).

    The Lord Jesus is better than everything.  Thus, His person, way, and working in our lives offers to us "a more excellent way" of the love of God in all things (I Corinthians 12:31).  This we must believe because it is true, and because the superiority of Christ realized, affirmed, and followed leads to the glory of our transcendent Lord being revealed in and by us.  Yes, our Lord Jesus is better, and our Heavenly Father privileges us with many opportunities to serve as the shining light of "His excellent greatness" (Psalm 150:2).

"For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.  For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious."
(II Corinthians 3:9-11)

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Thou Knowest!"

     I recently mentioned in one of these messages a childhood friend who I haven't seen in over well over forty years (going on fifty years now, actually!).  Bruce and I had some great times together doing the usual little boy things, and he clearly left a lifelong impression on me.  Moreover, because our birthdays are close on the calendar, I especially remember him each year on October 28th, the anniversary of his entrance into the world.  I try to make the day one of prayer for Bruce, that wherever he may be, and whatever his needs, the Lord will work in his heart and life to strengthen a hopefully already existing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, or to establish a saving bond if he is not a believer.

    One of the most wondrous realities of prayer involves the time and distance spanning nature of intercession for others.  People like Bruce, whom we haven't seen in decades, whose whereabouts we don't know, and whose lives are a mystery to us, can nevertheless benefit from our communion with God.  Indeed, by Biblical definition, prayer involves not so much seeking the fulfillment of what we think needs to occur, but rather, that which God perfectly knows must happen. 

    "Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.  For we know not what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27). 

     The longer I seek to walk with the Lord in prayer, the more pared down my intercessions become as I increasingly realize the centrality of "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10).  I still pray about details as I perceive them, of course.  More and more, however, my requests include, "O Lord God, Thou knowest," coupled with, "O Lord God, I don't!" (Ezekial 37:3).  Thankfully, the Apostle Paul assures us that wondrous and inutterable communications wrought by the Holy Spirit in us accompany our attempts at intercession.  We may well arrive in Heaven to discover prayers answered during our earthly sojourn we never verbalized because our hearts were the scene of discourse between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit beyond our capacity for awareness.  Yes indeed, "we know not!"  And yes indeed, "O Lord God, thou knowest!"

    I'll be praying for Bruce today, and thereby still feel connected despite the many years and perhaps much distance that separates us.  What a gift our Heavenly Father gives to us in the wondrous mystery of prayer.  We bless Him thereby - "the prayer of the upright is His delight" - and we bless others by asking our Lord to do for them and in them that which He perfectly knows must happen - "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Proverbs 15:8; Matthew 6:8). 

"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers."
(I Thessalonians 1:2) 




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Potato Perpetuality (and the Recipe to Boot!)

     I've loved potatoes since I was myself a little spud (Ouch! I couldn't resist that! Should have!). Fried, baked, boiled, broiled, mashed, smashed, grilled, and any way but raw, I cherish the noble tuber (of course, I've never actually eaten them uncooked. Hmm...).

    Recently, we discovered a new recipe that I'll include at the end of this culinary consideration (this is a "cafe" of sorts, you know). It's for "Home Fries," and perhaps the best I can say about the concoction is that in the week we've known about the recipe, we've prepared it at least 5 times. Of course, in this day when carbohydrates are frowned upon, some of you may hesitate at the possibility of potato perpetuality. I understand, and if this is the case with you, ignore the recipe.  Hang with me, however, for the spiritual metaphor that follows (I will suggest that the recipe's call for red potatoes, a somewhat lower carb version of the root vegetable, mitigates at least a bit of the starch issue.  Moreover, I'd suggest moderate portions for all of us).

     Here's the analogy to matters spiritual. The sublime recipe is such a delight to us that it's made potatoes almost seem like a new product altogether. "Home Fries, where have you been all our lives?!" In similar manner, we should expect our Lord to grace us with a far greater newness and discovery throughout our earthly lifetime.

      "Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an household, which bringeth forth things new and old" (Matthew 13:52).

     "Behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).

     I love these assurances concerning fresh explorations of God and His truth, provided throughout both a lifetime and an eternity. We should expect such progressively displayed illumination, even as the Psalmist declared, "The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). Indeed, when first called to preach many years ago, I wondered how it would be possible to find adequate Biblical instruction and insight to prepare enough messages for whatever ministry God called me to fulfill. Now, I shudder as the clock races, and the realization of how little time remains to absorb and to communicate the Lord's infinite truth. Thank Him for eternity!

     We shall never reach the end of God, and of the holy light that reveals Him to be wonderful because He is so infinitely full of wonder. As the poet of old beautifully depicted, "Shoreless Ocean, who can sound Thee? Thine own eternity is round Thee. Majesty Divine!" "Things new and old" promised the Lord Jesus. Thinking rightly of Him inevitably sows within us the seed of expectation, the ongoing fulfillment of which nurtures joyful anticipation for a harvest of newness that will forever thrill, fill, and fulfill us...

"But as it is written, Eye hath not see, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
(I Corinthians 2:9-10)

The Recipe - Home Fries

1 pound or so red potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 TLB butter (real butter, not the stuff whose chemical composition is but an atom or two from making it a form of plastic!)
1 TLB extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
3/4 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a boiler, cover potato cubes with cold water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.

Remove potatoes from pan into colander. Rinse with cold water.

In a nonstick saute pan (12 inch preferably, 10 will do), melt butter and oil on medium high heat. Add potatoes in a single layer. Toss or stir for 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Add seasonings, garlic, and green onions. Lower heat to medium, and cook for 2-3 minutes. If you'd like, you can finish the recipe with a tablespoon or two of melted butter. Go ahead, do it!

Give thanks.

Take the first bite.

Give thanks again.

Enjoy! "God... giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Timothy 6:17).


Friday, October 25, 2013


                                                                                           (Friends: if you read yesterday's devotional about Sparrow, this will sound very familar to you.  I wrote this on February 15, 2003 about another beloved beagle, Grunt (named after Marine Corps infantrymen).  I thought about it as I wrote this morning's message about Sparrow, and I must be honest in telling you that it was very painful to open and read this again.  Grunt was killed about six months after this was written, and the loss still hurts.  Indeed, if Sparrow is a beagle princess, which she is, Grunt was the king.   Thanks, Glen)

    Often in the early morning our beagle Grunt comes up to me while I'm sitting at the computer working on these devotionals.  He sits down in front of me and simply looks me right in the eyes.

    I figure he's trying to say one of several possible things:


1. Whatcha writin' about today, Pops?

1.  Would you give me something to eat?

2.  Would you let me outside?

3.  Would you scratch my back?

4.  I love you.


     Admittedly, the first and last possibility are unlikely, although it's fun to imagine them.  It's much more likely that Grunt is seeking to have his needs met by somebody he figures loves to do just that.  And I do, so Grunt gets his back scratched, he gets let out, and then he comes in to have the breakfast I provide for him.

    Somehow I can't help but think of God in all of this, and of my need to do each morning exactly that which Grunt does.  Yes, I need to sit in front of our Lord, or better yet kneel, and look Him right in the eyes, as it were.  An open Bible is the place to begin, and then I should respond with prayers of devotion, request and the affirmation of the Lordship of Jesus for the day.  Hopefully, I can be even more attentive unto our Heavenly Father than Grunt is to me, and as consistent in the practice of beginning the day by looking unto my Master.

     Thankfully, those two possibilities about which I'm unsure with regard to Grunt are not unlikely at all for me.  Indeed, I can and should ask our Lord about His writing, that is, I can request that the Spirit of God might illuminate the Word of God in order that I might know Him and understand His truth in a greater way.  And I can express my love to the Lord, recognizing that it exists in me because He first loved me and has declared in Scripture that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  What a wonderful gift our Lord has given in this possibility of communion with Him at the outset of our days, and thank you, Grunt, for reminding me.

"O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips."

(Psalm 63:1-5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For by Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
(II Samuel 22:30)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


      As I sat down to write this morning, our beagle Sparrow had other plans for me, such as letting her out, providing for her breakfast, and then scratching her back.

     Having been well trained by Sparrow, I accommodated her on all three accounts.  Moreover, I did it joyfully because she brings such unmitigated pleasure to me and to our family.  Sparrow is completely loving and sweet-natured, she's a one-beagle greeting party when we arrive home, and snuggle, thy name is Sparrow!  Oh yes, she's also a great singer (although some refer to her serenade as "howling").  Owning, or perhaps more accurately, being owned by Sparrow provides a mutuality of love and devotion that brings much joy to our family.

    "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).
    "At Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

    Mutuality of loving pleasure between God and ourselves can be a hard concept to grasp intellectually, and even harder to assimilate into the living of our lives.  Certainly, we understand to some degree the pleasing of our hearts by our Lord.  It's not hard to imagine that an infinite Being can elicit rejoicing in the spiritual being of those whom He made.  However, the possibility of our bringing joy to God involves a far greater challenge of understanding and application.  Both our finite nature and our waywardness would seem to disqualify our hearts as worthy companions of the vast and perfect Heart of our Maker.  What does He find in us so appealing that He "taketh pleasure" in our company and fellowship?

    A long eternity won't fully provide answers for this matter of love.  We do know, however, that we require the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's beloved Son, if relationship with God is to be established and enjoyed by both Him and ourselves.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).  Our Savior made atonement for the sin that separates us from God.  He then sent forth the Holy Spirit to indwell the innermost sanctum of our being, where spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father most deeply occurs.  "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).  Thus, we look to the Lord Jesus as the bond and enabling of all relationship with God.  Indeed, the more we "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," the more mutuality of love between God and ourselves will flourish in affection, devotion, and commitment (II Peter 3:18).

    Sparrow is a gift to our family, as hopefully, we are to her.  She loves us in her beagle way (which is a mighty fine way of love!), and we love her by providing a home, food, a yard, and frequent backscratches.  The feeling is mutual, and most importantly, it speaks to the mutuality of our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus.  He brings infinitely much to our hearts, and in our "fearfully and wonderfully made" nature as the dwellingplace of Christ, we bring much to His (Psalm 139:14).  Indeed, it may be that our Lord's greatest gift of love to us involves the capacity He formed in us to love Him in holy response...

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
(Romans 5:5)
"We love Him because He first loved us."
(I John 4:19)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Be Content"

      "The soldiers likewise demanded of Him, saying, And what shall we do? And He said unto them... be content with your wages" (Luke 3:14).

    Unto conscripted Roman soldiers who had no say or latitude in the matter, the Lord Jesus Christ commanded the men to receive their remuneration without dissatisfaction or complaint.

    The basis of such a challenge to contentment involves God's involvement and provision, and our confidence therein.  Do we trust that He is the essence of our provision in all things, including the material aspects of our lives?  Promises for such supply fill the pages of Scripture, including the Apostle Paul's bold assurance that "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  Upon this foundation of confidence in our Lord's provision, wages must be viewed in terms of His personal administration and will concerning our personal experience.  "
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7).

    Of course, unlike Roman soldiers, many people in modern times have the freedom to negotiate with employers in matters of reward for work done.  Christians can certainly do this, and can also determine to seek employment elsewhere if greater wages are desired or needed.  This may not always lead to the desired result, however.  Employers frequently balk at salary increases, and no other opportunities for work may present themselves.  Thus, we find ourselves in a tacit "conscription" wherein, like the soldiers of old, we seem to have no choice in the matter.  In such times, the Lord Jesus' challenging command meets us where we are.  Again, "be content with thy wages."

    Herein lies a far deeper matter than money, namely, God's relationship to us, and our response to Him.  He promises His presence, His loving involvement, and His provision in all things according to His wisdom and personal purpose in our lives. Sometimes, however, He administers these assurances in ways mysterious and challenging to our understanding, allowing unpleasant conditions to remain with us rather than change them (or enabling us to change them).  Perhaps even more challenging, He commands that we experience contentment in the midst of the difficulty.  "Be content with such things as ye have" mandates the writer of Hebrews, who proceeds to provide the basis of such tranquility of heart - "For He hath promised, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  Herein we discover that contentment lies not in emotionally, mentally, or physically pleasing circumstance, but again, in relationship and response.  Is there a place deep in our hearts where we have joined the Lord in building an altar whereupon we sacrifice devilish and carnal notions regarding where our true contentment originates and continues?  How we answer this question determines our capacity to know and experience the only true satisfaction available to our hearts...

"He is thy life."
(Deuteronomy 30:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For by Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
(II Samuel 22:30)