Tag Archives: Word of God

I’d Rather Be the Moon

Many people desire fame. They want to shine brightly like a star and they will do almost anything to chase the lure of fame. Just look at “reality TV” and you will see the ridiculous things some people will do for fame. Movie stars, sports figures, politicians, scientists, and novelists all seek fame and the fortune that sometimes accompanies it.

But it takes a lot of energy for a star to shine brightly and eventually every star will use up its available fuel and die out. For human “stars” the length they will shine varies. For some fame lasts a lifetime, but it is a lifetime of stress and misery being hounded by paparazzi and fans. For others it amounts to only the proverbial “15 minutes of fame” before they fade into oblivion.

Last weekend on our drive down the Columbia River Gorge to visit family for a belated Christmas celebration, the full moon shone brightly in front of us in the night sky. Occasionally it would go behind a dark cloud but would always emerge on the other side still shining brightly and beautifully. I realized as I gazed up at it that I’d rather be the moon than a star, even a star as bright as our sun. The moon doesn’t use energy to generate light, but rather reflects the light generated by the sun. This is most evident during a full moon, but even during a new moon when we cannot see it, the moon is reflecting the light of the sun on the opposite side.

Rather than have fame of my own, I’d rather reflect the glory and light of the Son of God. If my name be known, I want it to be known as one devoted to Christ, one who reflects His love and mercy into this dark world. His is a light source that will never die and I will be able to reflect that light for much longer than 15 minutes—I can reflect His light for an eternity.

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent a man, John the Baptist,to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:4-9 (NLT).

This is my goal for 2013—to reflect the Light of the Son of God into the world, believing that the darkness can never extinguish it.

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Pray for Knowledge of Christ’s Love

Earlier this week during my morning prayer time I read a wonderful passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This passage is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV).

At the time I thought about how this passage would be a great basis for a blog post reminding people how much God loves them, but the week got away from me and the post didn’t get written. Today, following the tragedies in Portland, Oregon (so close to my home) and in Connecticut, I realize that God’s timing is perfect because this passage holds the answer so many are looking for as to how someone could do such an evil thing as shoot strangers in a mall or kindergarteners in a school, not to mention their own mother.

Throughout scripture we are told that the heart of mankind is evil. The reason we are told God flooded the earth and saved only Noah and his family is because “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 (NIV). Of one of the kings of Israel it is said, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 12:14 (NIV). As Jesus explained to His disciples, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” Mark 7:22-23 (NIV).

But the heart that grasps the love of Christ is filled with the fullness of God. In such a heart evil thoughts are driven out by love and compassion. In this world we live in, and especially in the United States, people think they can live without God. Many don’t teach their children that God loves them, perhaps because they don’t know this wonderful truth themselves, and then we are surprised when children grow up to be murderers.

The problem that leads to such tragedies as we have seen this week is not that people have guns, it is that they do not have Christ. I realize that there are plenty of people who do not believe in or know God who do not go out and murder others, but I also know that those who commit such unspeakable acts cannot possibly know God’s love for them.

The love of Christ is kind of like a vaccine. We give vaccines to all our kids to prevent them from getting terrible diseases, even though not every kid would get the disease if the vaccine was not given. We need to vaccinate all our children against the evil that has the potential to take over their hearts, and that vaccine is the heart knowledge of the love of God that surpasses human knowledge.

As Christians, we need to pray not only for those who have suffered a great tragedy, but we need to pray every day—as Paul did for the Ephesians—for our children to have the power “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

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I Will Praise You – A Psalm

I was reading Psalm 111 this morning which says, “I will praise You with my whole heart.” I was inspired to write this psalm of praise.

I Will Praise You

I will praise You with my broken heart
In Your goodness and mercy You heal me
I will praise You in the raging storm
Your mighty right hand will calm the winds

I will praise You when the flowers bloom
Their beauty a witness of Your glory
I will praise You while the sun shines bright
Pointing to You as my eternal Light

The works of Your creation testify
You alone are worthy of praise

Created in Your image we have the power
to create, but only from what You
have already made

Guide us, O Lord, to use our creative power
for good and not for evil
that the whole earth would glorify You in praise

I will praise You
Praise the Lord

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We Were Gone Astray

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was never one of my favorite Christmas songs, until a couple of years ago when Mercy Me came out with The Christmas Sessions album. Their rendition of this old classic is much more energetic than any I had ever heard before. I also love the back-up vocals that sound almost like a choir in the background.

As I listened to it this morning getting ready for work, I thought of one of my favorite verses from Isaiah:

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way
;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV).

We all were gone astray and Satan had power over us. But then into the world came the Son of God, and the angels brought us tidings of comfort and joy. Now we are free from Satan’s power and can live instead in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a Merry Christmas, indeed!

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Advent Thankfulness – A Poem

Last year I wrote an acrostic poem titled Advent, and I have been astounded in the past 4 weeks how many times it has been viewed. The search terms stats on my blog show that a lot of people have been searching for Advent acrostic poems. Since it is a topic of great interest, I decided to write another one. It is quite different from the first but carries the same Great News of hope found in a manger.

ADVENT THANKFULNESS

Angels to the shepherds sing
Divine arrival of the King
Victory is now in sight
Emmanuel comes this night
Need of all mankind is met
Thankful hearts, He paid our debt

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What Is Christmas All About?

My favorite Christmas show ever is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I remember watching it every year on TV when I was a kid, and now I own it on DVD and watch it every year still. My favorite part is when Charlie Brown asks, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?” And Linus walks into the spotlight and tells Charlie Brown what he wants to know; what we all need to know.

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Advent and the Second Coming

The season of Advent is about anticipating our celebration of the coming of Christ into the world. But it is also about anticipating His second coming into the world at the end of time. For that reason, our pastor gave a sermon yesterday titled “End Times – A Lutheran Perspective.”

It was a very interesting and informative sermon. He talked about the many attempts of mankind and the church to predict the exact time when the end will come, even though Jesus clearly said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32.

He also talked about the various perspectives on the end times and the thousand-year reign of Jesus written about in Revelation. There is the pre-millennial view that the thousand-year reign hasn’t yet started. There is the post-millennial view that the thousand-year reign has already passed. And there is the amillennial view that the thousand years is a figurative timeframe instead of a literal one.

But the most important thing our pastor said during the whole sermon took up only six little words: “This is not a salvation issue.

Whether you believe the rapture and tribulation are still to come, that the church is experiencing the tribulation now, or something else does not affect whether you have salvation in Christ. What matters is if you believe God came to this earth as Emmanuel and then died on a cross to pay for your sins.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

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The Things People Will Believe

I am always amazed at the things people will believe and repost on Facebook. Here are just a few examples:

  • Once again the “fact” that the coming month has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, and that this won’t happen again for 823 years, has been going around. The shared post usually says that if you pass it on you will have good luck or come into some money. It’s fairly easy to debunk this claim by looking an online perpetual calendar, which will reveal that any 31 day month that starts on a Friday will have this 5 Friday, 5 Saturday, and 5 Sunday pattern. And yet people keep falling for this.
  • A well-meaning warning has been circulating again of a new “trick” of car-jackers. The story is that the car-jackers put a piece of paper on the back window of a car in a mall parking lot and then lay in wait for the owner. When the owner gets in and starts the car, they notice the piece of paper in their back window, and jump out with the car running to see what it is. The would-be car-jacker then jumps in the car and drives off. There are apparently no reported cases of this actually happening in all the years it has been circulating via email and now on Facebook.
  • During the recent election season a post about how members of Congress do not pay into Social Security and all draw salaries equal to their salaries in office for the rest of their lives regardless of how long they were in Congress. A simple search on www.snopes.com will reveal the truth about the retirement options of members of Congress. And yet people continue to repost this, calling for change.
  • Since it is the Christmas season, the post attributing a long monologue to Ben Stein has been going around. The first few paragraphs are part of a commentary Stein gave on TV several years ago. But then tacked on the end are some blurbs about Madeleine O’Hare, prayer in schools, and several other topics about how our government is anti-Christian, all of which have been circulating in some form or another for years, and are not in any way attributable to Stein. The mere fact that these things have circulated forever should be enough to make anyone be skeptical. And yet people keep reposting it.

It seems that just because something is posted in a nicely formatted box or comes with a picture of a celebrity people are willing to believe and repost without checking the source of the information. People can be so gullible about the stupidest things.

And yet these same people will often refuse to believe the miracles of God. Even though we have eye-witness accounts of many of these miracles—from the shepherds telling of the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the post-crucifixion appearance of the resurrected Christ to over 500—people refuse to believe. It is unfathomable that the One who created the world and all that is in it would come to us as the child of a virgin, would live His relatively short life mostly in obscurity, then would die a horrible and brutal death, and be raised from the dead to walk again among the living. It is unfathomable—unless one is willing to believe in the miracle of love and grace.

The apostle John summed up the eye-witness accounts of the authors of the New Testament when he wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

Some argue that the eye-witness testimony of the New Testament is not reliable because we can’t really know if the Bible as we currently know it is an accurate representation of what was originally written. However, both the quantity and quality of available early manuscripts of the New Testament books, as well as the short time span between the available manuscripts and the events they cover, all point to the reliability of the New Testament. As compared to other accepted writings of ancient philosophers, the New Testament is unparalleled in its reliability. Here is part of a chart from I’m Glad You Asked by Ken Boa and Larry Moody, pg. 93, comparing the New Testament to other writings:

Author Date Written Earliest Copy Time Span Number of Copies Accuracy
Homer ca. 850 B.C. —— —— 643 95%
Plato ca. 380 B.C. ca. A.D. 900 1,300 years 7 Not enough copies to reconstruct original
Aristotle ca. 350 B.C. ca. A.D. 1100 1,400 years 5
Caesar ca. 60 B.C. ca. A.D. 900 950 years 10
Tacitus ca. A.D. 100 ca. A.D. 1100 1,000 years 20
New Testament ca. A.D. 60 ca. A.D. 130 100 years 14,000 99.5%

The Bible makes some incredible claims about Jesus and the means of salvation. But when you check the source of this information, the reliability of its eye-witness accounts, and the internal consistency of the promises of God contained in this wonderful book, it doesn’t require gullibility to believe. It only requires an open mind to believe in miracles.

If you are interested in exploring the reliability of this Good News further, I highly recommend Boa and Moody’s book.

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Election Rhetoric Is Ungodly

The election is finally over! My hope is now that the insulting posts on Facebook will cease just as the political ads will. I don’t think I posted a single political cartoon or joke on Facebook during this election season, and I was very disheartened by how many of my friends did, on both sides of the aisle. Here are just two representative posts shared by some of my Facebook friends yesterday:

As I was reading my Bible this morning before my prayer time, I came across this verse in which Paul is instructing the church in Ephesus how they should conduct themselves: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4 (NIV). Unfortunately, this has not been heeded this election season (and it’s been a long season!).

The type of coarse joking and foolish talk represented by these two posts is not Godly and it is not helpful for those who post or those who read. This type of rhetoric serves only to divide and belittle. It reduces serious issues to often inaccurate sound bites. Republicans, as a general rule, are not in favor of rape because they are pro-life; Democrats, as a general rule, are not unemployed freeloaders. But those are the messages these posts send and I personally find them incredibly insulting.

My hope and prayer is that going forward we can set aside the extreme rhetoric and work towards the common goals of freedom and justice that this country was founded on. My saving grace is that in spite of it all Jesus is still my King.

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The Wonders of God’s Grace

As this contentious election season draws to a close and I have my ballot filled out and ready to drop off today, I thought I would share a song that I heard this morning while I was getting ready for work because it reminded me of what is truly important. The wonder of God’s grace will never cease, no matter who wins this election. Both presidential candidates offer hope, but true hope is found in Jesus.

Third Day’s new album Miracle comes out tomorrow, and I will likely be sharing some songs from that album in the coming weeks. But today I want to share one of my old Third Day favorites, May Your Wonders Never Cease.

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