Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, June 24, 2016

Verse of the Day -- Friday, June 24, 2016

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And, If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.  -- 1 Peter 4:17-19

It's not the end of time, just the end of the week.  It applies daily, to each of us.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Verse of the Day -- Thursday, June 23, 2016

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. -- Ecclesiastes 2:26

I'm out today and tomorrow, so I thought I'd leave a couple of verses for those who are inclined to meditate upon them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Christian Nation Building

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. -- John 15:10

It is almost like a tautology, because the vital commandment of Christ is to abide in love, to love God and to love our neighbors.  As we are told elsewhere in Scripture:  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).

Love does what is right by others.  Love also confronts, protects, and defends.  Love sacrifices for the good of those we love.  Sometimes that means not defending ourselves against slander.  Sometimes it means letting air and light into evil.  There is no way to keep the commandments of Christ or abide in His love apart from the Holy Spirit. 

Lewis says somewhere that a truly Christian society would be “right wing” in its moral behavior but very nearly communistic in its social structure.  In other words, it would not be vastly different from the rural community where I grew up.  Though we were far from perfect, people cared what their neighbors thought – for the most part, and we could count on family, friends and neighbors giving aid to those in need.  Everyone I knew was a cultural Christian if not an actual church-goer. 

Culture, without the salt of practicing Christians, becomes corrupt over time.  Communism and socialism attempt to impose the acts of love through force.  In a different context, this is known as rape.  The socialists never seem to learn.  The instant they have control of the power of the state we are all going to live in their imagined utopia – whether we like it or not.

The reason the communist is so hostile to Christianity is because Christians take care of one another without the coercive power of the state.  The state can’t be god in that case.  The priests of the state cannot gain power over people who don’t need to be forced to do the right thing.  This is not to mention how the “right thing” as defined by the state is what is good for the state and its ministers rather than what is good for one’s neighbor. 

I don’t want a government that is Christian.  Christians do not need much government.  We don’t need “faith-based” initiatives.  Take away all the federal regulations, all the programs and bureaucracies – and leave the money it takes to run a massive and equally inefficient government in our pockets.  Stop being hostile to Christians and the country will become a better place.  Get rid of welfare.  The Church will take care of the homeless, the orphan, and the unwed mothers.  Christians will build hospitals and clinics that anyone can walk into if there is no Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.  There will be more St. Jude’s.  We will fund the medical research.  We don’t need government schools.  We can build our own and educate our children as we see fit with Christian values. 

Of course, none of that can happen until we kill all the lawyers.*

*Just kidding

Monday, June 20, 2016

And the Weary Are At Rest

He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. -- 1 Corinthians 3:8

I have never been bothered much about what kind of reward I will receive.   It always seemed to me that not going to hell, not collecting the “wages of sin” had me ahead of the game.  The rest is gravy.  I don’t think I will have any envious or ill feelings toward some person who sacrificed and served the Lord in some extreme way should that person receive some great accolade or superior position in heaven.  It’s heaven.  How bad can it be? 

You know what does worry me about heaven?  Will I have to hang out in town all the time?  Can I go fishing?  Will there be horses to ride and hounds to follow?  I’m not even going to ask about guns, knives and motorcycles.  Everything we know about heaven is, I think, by analogy.  The joys of the spiritual body are not those of the physical.  Still, I wonder what carries over, what ecstasies in this life reflect, however feebly and imperfectly, the bliss of heaven.

We didn’t have air conditioning when I was a kid, so in the evening with a little breeze, just as the sun set, when the light is so – I don’t know – heavenly, that was my favorite time of day.  It meant the work was over.  I could rest for a while.  There was good food and something cold to drink waiting in the kitchen.  In the summertime when there was no school, the cows were milked, the hogs and chickens were fed, and all the hay that was down has been baled and put in the barn, that’s about how I always imagined heaven might be. 

I suppose other people are different and want crowns and streets of gold, and lots of singing.  I hope those missionaries and saints and others all get the rewards they deserve and desire and even more.  I have friends who have given up everything in this life to serve their Lord and Savior.  They have humbled themselves, and the Lord will lift them up.  They have earned acclaim and exaltation.  Scorned, ridiculed, and humiliated by the world, they have stood firm against everything the world, the flesh, and the devil could throw at them.   Those folks have earned the highest and grandest delights that the Father can shower upon His children.

I don’t have much coming, and I don’t expect much.  For my part, I think I would be willing to walk through hell barefoot if I knew there was that never-ending summer evening around a table with those I love waiting on the other side.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Humble Pie

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! --Psalm 145:10

The world that has rejected God spends most of its time condemning Him.  The news focuses on senseless acts of violence, accidents, and disasters of one kind or another.  The unbeliever asks constantly why evil exists.  Every utopian scheme from communes to eugenics to fascism and socialism attack God as less than good and His order as something flawed that can be fixed by the limited, largely ignorant, yet endless arrogant creature called man.

There is much encouraging humility and meekness, especially, in the words of Jesus, because humility helps us to cope with all that we do not understand in the world.  People seem quick to suggest that we should not judge one another, yet we are often guilty of judging God, of thinking that somehow we know more than He does.  We think we know what He is trying to do.  People that can’t balance their own checkbooks or control their appetites and actions in light of easily foreseeable consequences are, nonetheless, certain that God is “doing it wrong”. 

This is something with which every saint has struggled.  What makes God’s holy ones different is not that they know so much more, rather they’ve given up what they know must be wrong. 

God is Good.  In the end, His works always testify of His goodness, His faithfulness, and of His enduring, overwhelming love. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Walk This Way

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. -- Ephesians 5:15-16

Evil times are not new.  Our ancestors endured hardships, persecution, sectarian and ethnic wars and violence, epidemics, famine, droughts, floods, heat and cold.  They did it without modern medicine, without the knowledge of bacteria and viruses, without central heat and air conditioning, electricity, refrigeration, or Walmart.  That we are here is the evidence that they survived long enough to reproduce.  That we enjoy the benefits of western civilization validates their faith in Christ and His Church.    

The Bible does not teach us to live; it teaches us to live meaningfully, to trust our destiny to the Lord, to live wisely.  Pagans lived.  Atheists, agnostics, apes, and Democrats live without knowing, for the most part, the reason for life. 

Imagine someone who is an expert mechanic, who can take apart the engine of a car or a motorcycle and put it all back together, diagnose and fix any mechanical or electrical problem that might arise with that engine.  Then imagine that person doesn’t understand that the purpose of the engine is to allow people to travel about freely.  He is simply fascinated by the mechanics of the device itself.  We would not begrudge him his fascination or the enjoyment he derived from his work.  We would rather appreciate and possibly benefit from his knowledge and expertise.  But we would know he was missing the higher purpose of his own efforts.    

To live wisely, to make the most of the life we have and the time we are given, comes from knowing Christ Jesus as Savior, as the Giver and Sustainer of life and all that is, and from walking in the Way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

God of Thunder

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him!  But the thunder of his power who can understand? — Job 26:14

We are sometimes amused by the diatribes of unbelievers as they rail against the god of their imagination, but you can always tell when even those who claim to be believers turn out to be idol-worshippers.  The idol is a puny thing.  It is carried around by the ones who believe in it like the dead man in “Weekend at Bernie’s”.  It is animated by and has power over only the one who has been deceived by it, or who deceives himself with it. 

A god that can be fully explained and fully understood is not God.  Most often we hear only the faintest whispers and glimpse the Lord in shadows moving at the edge of vision.

When God speaks in full voice, we are overwhelmed.  In John 12, the Father speaks audibly to the Son.  Though the voice is overheard by those around Jesus, it is incomprehensible to them. The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, An angel has spoken to him (John 12:29).

We may all hear the thundering voice of God in the storms of life, in our tragedies and catastrophes, but, too often, it is sealed to us.  And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down (Revelation of John 10:4).

The truth can create fear in us.  We cower and stop our ears, passing it off as a “natural” phenomenon.  We have decided beforehand that God does not speak; therefore, this terrifying thing cannot be His voice.  He can’t be telling us that we are reaping what we have sown.  He can’t be calling us to repentance.  God only speaks through the soft, soothing, comforting voices of His priests and His ministers. 

Beware of those who explain away the thunder.