Saturday, May 18, 2019

Long before any of my contemporaries were born, there was a king who was known as the wisest man who ever lived.  His name was Solomon, and He lived in the hottest real-estate city in the universe, Jerusalem.  Unlike the pseudo-celebrities of today, who become overnight sensations by pushing the boundaries of decency through song, dress or conduct, Solomon had lasting star-power.  Even a cursory look at his resume reveals a man who changed the landscape of history by his accomplishments.  He built the temple of Jerusalem over a seven-year period, and over the next thirteen years he built the palace, the courthouse, and devised the building of pools that secured the city's water supply   His diplomatic craft enabled him to establish co-operations with the most well-known rulers of his time, thus establishing an era of unprecedented calm and affluence.  He amassed incredible wealth for him and for the people of Jerusalem. He established trade routes with other countries, imported horses from Egypt and made silver as plain as pebbles.  The Bible says that Solomon "surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom".  His wisdom, recorded in The Book of Proverbs among other writings, continues to nurture excellence in individuals, cultures and nations today.

One of the world-stage players who became obsessed with Solomon's fame was the queen of Sheba.  "Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she  came to test him with hard questions" (1 Kings 10:1).  Her pilgrimage was an incredibly challenging undertaking:  this was a journey of 1400 miles across the desserts of Arabia, on camels that could barely travel twenty miles a day.  The round trip would have taken her at least six months,  and could extend to several years.  Loaded with gifts and encumbered by great entourage, she arrived at Solomon's royal courts and unloaded the issues of her heart in the hearing of the great king.  The queen had an uninhibited audience with the king, where she could ask him the difficult matters of life, the questions of existence that erode at inner rest and nightly sleep.   "So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her" (1 Kings 10:5).   Yes, all she had heard was indeed true, and double the greatness that rumors told.  She saw all the splendor of Solomon's house, the excess of Solomon's feasts, the gold that dazzled his feasting tables, the glitter of the cloth the servants wore, and "there was no more spirit in her".

As great as Solomon was, there stands among us One who is greater.  He invites us to probe the riches of His wisdom, to ask the tough questions of life, to seek the meaning in the tales of our lives. We may need to travel long and difficult journeys from far countries where we have wasted our spiritual inheritance.  The road to the King may demand a sacrifice of time, a disturbing of our priorities, a surrender of preconceived notions.  The steps to the kingly courts will require a surrender of the intellectual garb that puts man as ultimate judge of good and evil, truth and falsehood.  The undisturbed audience with the King will require a sincere heart, a humble posture, a contrite spirit.  We come to Him knowing full well that He holds all wisdom, all knowledge, all truth-He is truth.  And as we behold Him in the mirror of His Word, we also testify that "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor.2:8).  

The King longs to speak to us in the cool of the day, as the dew falls on the grass and the sun crosses the threshold of day. He yearns to impart  to us the mysteries of His Word, to direct our steps, to give us the daily manna that sustains our joy.  He desires to pour in the cup of our hearts, strength to battle the day's Goliath,  hope to sustain our future.  He has hidden the answers in the pages of His Word, and "has revealed them to us through His Spirit".  Ablaze with the life of the Spirit, the Bible becomes alive, "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb.4:12).  As we gaze intently at Him in the Word and in prayer,we are changed and we become world changers:  "but we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor 3:18).  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

I have laid down my digital pen in slumber for far too long, choosing instead to convey my thoughts by such antiquated means as physical pen and paper.  The great "I AM" is calling me out of digital silence, and bids me to follow Him in laid-down word.  This exodus into the noise of the internet comes with a necessary but reluctant grace, as I have grown quite fond of the intimacy conferred by parallel lines of paper, where my soul can roam freely, unhindered by the fear of transparency and possible criticism.  However, this blog is not about me.  In fact, my opinions in themselves are really not that important.  There are mountains of words towering on the landscape of the internet, erupting their flow from thousands of blogs, news channels and other sources.  This blog was never meant to point to any perceived cleverness of mine, nor were my internal rumblings designed to stop the world in its tracks by any dust of wisdom my words my sprinkle on already saturated hearers.  This blog is ultimately for Him and about Him.  And He is inviting me to share that which He has graciously given to me, in the hope that at least one person may taste and see that God is good.

What has happened in my life since I last wrote here?  Nothing, and yet everything.  Thankfully, no major tsunami has done any significant rearranging in the physical aspects of our lives, mine and Michal's.  However, there are storms within my inner landscape, shaking long-seated apathy, disturbing minor and major trespasses, demolishing excuses and confronting denials.  I have been looking long and hard into the mirror of God's Word,  knowing full well that all the keys which open the doors to lasting change are hidden there.  I have found abundant provision for the grace needed each day to live beyond the confines of self and yet die to its demands.  I have found the peace  that gives sweet sleep in the midst of incredible chaos and turbulence rocking our world.  I know more than ever that the answer to the ills of our planet lies not in political solutions or social justice warriors, but in the love of God on full display at Calvary.  And more than ever, I earn for His return, for being face to face with Him without interruptions, without sorrow, without end.

So this is why I write, to make Him known as He has made Himself known to me.  All that ever needed to be said has already been said in The Book of ancient but current wisdom, alive and teeming with the revelation of God.  My prayer is that my words will be a reflection of The Word, although a dim and lean one.  I pray that the humble citations of my soul will cause an irrevocable hunger for The Way, The Truth and The Life, and that, through Him, one more soul will find its way home.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A world in fog

Today I got new prescription glasses.  Having barely left my thirties, I wasn't expecting the revenge of the forties to overtake me so soon.  I have known I was in trouble for some time.  Determining how much acrylic a garment has was no easy task from a label where the letters have grown so small lately.  I had given up on finishing "A night to remember" and left the Titanic's passengers stranded in a fog of clouded letters that were too hard to member together.  Having my eyes run from me is a frightening thing... focusing so hard, yet seeing nothing.  Yes, the magnifying glass was in the kitchen, within easy grasp, but now I needed one in my bedroom, in the shower (which one's the shampoo and which is the conditioner?), in my car...  Things were easier at work.  The lit, magnifying orbits at each workstation make reading the petri plates a pleasure, and identifying each minute colony no small a victory.  But at home... this is where the war begins and stays.  This is where I have to admit that I am no longer twenty, the twenty where my eyes are free to roam the small print and rescue the aged from their prescription-bottle-label struggles.

I miss my twenty-year old eyes, when eyeglasses were practically unnecessary, except an optometrist thought it might prevent eye fatigue.  I often wonder, would my eyes be better off now had I ignored his prescription and let my eyes see free?  And why does this question even matter now, as if the undoing of twenty years of eyeglasses can be reversed, now that my eyes struggle through the nebulous, shrinking letters?

I miss my twenty-year old soul, too.  I miss the innocence of the world that was mostly white, even though I had survived the blackness of communism in my first twelve years.  There wasn't so much to sort through to get to the truth,  there was no ministry of truth except in Orwell's world.  There wasn't as much machinery fuelled by billions as if billions were pennies, to subtract the good and the sublime out of this world and to replace it with the unholy and the mediocre.

I miss my twenty-year old soul free from the distraction of the internet.  I had no World Wide Web, no super-highway  to expand my information bank with whatever morsel of knowledge I crave at any given time.  At times, the internet invades me like a slow, numbing poison that dulls my reality into bites of ones and zeros and leaves me smaller, smaller. Without the internet life was beautiful, and connected, and quiet.  Books-real books, not internet articles-were oasis of pleasure and rest, and lofty thought.

I would gladly renounce all this "progress" and go back to the era of my twenties, where birds were still flying and bees were not endangered.  But the done cannot be undone, except in God's kingdom.  Only at the Cross the stories of our lives can be done-over, as if a single letter had never been written.  Only by The Blood of the One whose beginnings were not in man-plus-woman union can we know the way, the truth and the life.  The ocean of His grace will heal us of regret, and rebellion will be intercepted by love in an ever-upward dance.

And thus I put on my God-lens and look at my barely-out-of-the-thirties self, knowing that nothing is really lost.  Though my eyes seem to be running away from me and my food sensitivities are extra baggage from my twenties, I still swim in the same ocean of God's grace.  His love still carries me through the currents of seismic change that move this earth toward apocalypse.  I am still redeemed and my destination unchanged. Sure, the road has gotten a lot bumpier and the minefields more unpredictable since my starry-eyed twenties, but the same Holy Spirit holds my hand and lights my path.  Together, we will make it out of this maze called life,  and finally I will be able to see-no eyeglasses required.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

As I look at the world around and feel the rumblings of a monster storm, the likes of which history has no comparison, I contemplate it with mixed emotions.  Just like the fabled king whole left eye was crying as the right one was laughing, so my heart holds both joy and sorrow.

If we had a giant time clock in the skies that counted down to the advent of Christ's second coming, its arms would probably be seconds away from midnight.  We can almost hear His steps descending on Heaven's stairway into the Now that rushed and ordered itself into waves of matter and light expelled by His breath.  We can sense Heaven getting ready to receive His bride, and a thousand times thousands wedding invitations are dispatched to fill the wedding halls with His image-bearers.  We hear the Angel set pen to paper and, in eternal books, another name is engraved with ink that cannot lie, the scarlet fountain of His blood.  Foundations are decorated in  jasper, emerald and sapphire, streets are paved with gold, clear and shimmering like crystal.  We see the party hats and the dazzling costumes and we hear the roar of hallelujahs as another prodigal has found the way home.  We see His bride shake the sleep from her soul and her eyes, dressed in garments of faith and works, scanning the horizon night and day for His arrival.  Looking upward, she girds herself for harvest, one last labor of love and suffering, even as the axe is set at the root of the tree for one last purging. 

As heaven is busy preparing for the marriage supper of the Lamb, hell is excessively diligent in  expanding its borders.  We see a flood of demons descending on portals of filth, bathing the earth in violence and bloodshed.  We hear the roar of hate masking itself as justice and good works, its cry hollow as "sounding brass or clinging cymbal".  We see confusion and its dominion in man and nature, and we see evil crowned as good and good desecrated as evil.  We hear man say, "let us make god in our image,  in our likeness; and let him bow to our lust, let him glorify in our laws; let him follow us in our corruption, let him bless our covetousness, and let him give us what is right in our own sight".  We see the young souls of the unborn sacrificed on the altar of self-gratification, and we see the lame and the maimed done away with  in the name of mercy.  We hear the growing darkness laboring the Antichrist into his kingdom, engaged in chasing Truth out of His universe.

My one eye is rejoicing because His coming is so, so close...  He is coming to take us home, a place so magnificent that Paul, a birther of words, was destitute of letters at its threshold.  I rejoice because our eyes will see The One our hearts have loved, and His eyes will brush the ashes from our souls.  The time is coming when faith will be sight, when face-to-face encounter will replace dim mirror reflections.

My other eye is weeping because of the coming kingdom of black embodied in a man of great persuasion, and eloquence, and unquestioning authority.   Under this man, "there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again."  (Matthew 24:21).  We are entering a time when " men’s hearts [will be] failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken". (Luke 21:26)  And the crowds are cheering, and ready, and waiting for this man to make his entrance. 

The time of history's greatest upheaval is at hand.  The Father is waiting for one more prodigal to come home, for one more guest to attend His wedding feast.  "Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts" but come and be born of water and of Spirit.  The stakes are too high for anything but that. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A few weeks ago I spoke with someone who considered himself an atheist.  In passionate tones, he told me his reason for denying the existence of God.  The Bible has a specific message to people like him: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" 

If you are part of the rising militant army of atheists or the "closet" unbeliever,  this is a gentle invitation to explore "the other side" of unbelief.  I mean, why do you clutch so tightly to a few intellectually dishonest arguments in the face of overwhelming evidence?  Have you saddled a chariot and traversed the breath of this limitless universe to find Him?  Have you galloped through our solar system, have you touched the edges of our Milky Way?  Have you hitched your wagon for the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 km journey it takes to explore your neighborhood galaxy?  Umm, no.  It takes about 100,000 light years to explore your cosmic backstreets, which, in our average eighty-year life span, pretty much spells immortality.  If you could achieve the speed of NASA's Voyager of 17.3 km/s, it would take you over 1,700,000,000 years to explore it from one end to the other [1]. Still feeling grand much? 

How about getting out of our comfortable little galaxy to explore other cosmic lands?  If you could spare a few billion light years (more like 212 billion)  in your pilgrimage, you could park for a while on the edge of NGC 6872, a galaxy five times the size of our Milky Way.  Have a hearty breakfast and saddle your light-year horse, because it will take you 522,000 light years to explore the backwoods of this spiral   And you haven't found Him yet!

Astronomers tell us that no one really knows how big the universe is,  or even if there are other universes like ours "out there".  We are talking about God-size measurements now, a God who grabs the universe between two fingers and scans it faster than your market's barcode reader.  Isaiah 40:12 describes the kind of measuring stick God uses:

Who has scooped up the ocean
in His two hands,
or measured the sky between His thumb and little finger,
Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets,
weighed each mountain and hill?

We are talking about a big, big God!  He is so big that this universe cannot contain Him, yet so "small" that He can fit inside the heart of a child. 

There is much more evidence for the existence of an infinite, all-powerful God who exhaled this universe into our existence, yet stooped down to stamp His image into you and me.  I know that, for some, even the raising of the dead wouldn't be "proof" enough for the existence of God.  Because, you know, He actually did arise from the grave!  Thirty seconds before you die, you will know.  The veil between the visible and the spirit realm will become transparent, and you will see the eternal abyss which you fought so hard to deny.  Ask Voltaire, or Robert Ingersoll, or Thomas Hobbs.  Thirty seconds before you die, your heart will be so hard from the unbelief you caressed over a lifetime, that all desire for repentance will be extinguished out of you. 

If you are still alive, if there is a flicker of "what if" breathing inside of you, I invite you to bow your knee and acknowledge Him.  Give Him your all-your sins, your failures, your disappointments.  Turn from your rebellion and acknowledge Him as your Lord and Savior.  He is waiting for you, ready to forgive, ready to embrace, ready to give you the best life on the other side of time.  If you need help meeting Jesus, write me.  It will be my great honor to introduce you to my Friend and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"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."

[1] Numerical figures taken from NASA's website.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I have been absent from the world of words in the internet world for a long time.  I am becoming increasingly aware that my silence is no less than sin against my Father God.  No, there is no "thou shalt write" commandment hidden in the beautiful pages of my Bible.  What it is, instead,is an inner urging to use my voice, the voice He has given me, to lay down reflections of His heart lived out in me.  More than anything, I want this "pen" to bring glory to God, the One who has relentlessly loved me and kept me throughout my life.

Some of my reflections will seem incredibly "trifling", like my love for chocolate.  Yes, you read it right.  Yesterday I made a batch of raw chocolate fudge that looks deceptively healthy (no dairy, gluten-free, grain-free; I mean, it is practically a vegetable). "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good...", cried the psalmist, and every time I serve my favorites in the food department, my tastebuds throw a party.  The cocoa bean is His idea, and this small seed was designed for our pleasure!

At time, my reflections will read more like a journal. Today, Michal and I took a walk under the warm September sun, and my heart was filled with gratitude for autumn's day two that resembled summer's day one.  The air was warm, the sun was incredibly bright, and a gentle breeze was swaying the auburn leaves in a dance of light and shadows.  As evening drew near, He painted the skies with hues of orange, pink and gold-and He invited me to watch the dusk of today and the birth of tomorrow. 

What do chocolate, and sunsets, and warm autumn walks have to do with anything, you ask?  They are gifts that speak of a God who defines beauty, and joy, and pleasure.  He is everywhere... if we only stop long enough to see Him.  He fills our plates with the fat of the Earth, He colors our horizons with rainbow hues, He smiles in the glow of tepid September strolls. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands..."Sometimes we will explore the breath of rocks, and other times we will ponder the big questions of life.  Through it all, God will be our center, the Bible our teacher, and His goodness our anchor. 

Oh, that we would stop and explore the beauty of God in the small and great gifts of  life...  "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good" - I pray that this truth will be etched on the tablets of our hearts in colors of crimson. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I had the privilege these last few days to spend some time with my nephew, Joshua.  The little boy who used to laugh incessantly and wake up singing will be eight years old this summer.  The years gone by have not erased the joy that marked his toddler years, nor diminished his gentleness.  Joshua is a little gentleman: considerate of others' feelings, generous, politely-mannered.

One day he met me from school and enthusiastically showed me the prize he received.  A small rabbit decoration, a much-anticipated prize that marked his reading one hundred books this school year, clung tightly in his hand.  He was unbridled in his joy, his glance often resting on his prize.  A while later, unaware of the whereabouts of the rabbit, I flung the blanket from the couch and in the process decapitated Rabbit.  Joshua was devastated, and so was I.  Through tears he whispered "it's okay, auntie", but I knew his disappointment would take a little longer to dissipate.

Driving home that day with a heavy heart, I cried. "That is silly", someone might say, "it's such a small thing."  Sure, it may be a dollar store acquisition, but to Joshua it represented - even if he didn't quite verbalize that - the hard work he put in, the diligence of agonizing over new words and hard-to-grasp phrases.  It was the fulfilment of a long-awaited reward which he barely had time to own, to savour the victory it represented.

That night, on my drive home, I cried for all the disappointments he would later experience.  For the friends who would one day be indifferent.  For the words which would cause him to loose sleep.  For the sadness he would experience because of unmet expectations, and hurtful interactions, and for unanswerable question marks.

That night, I cried for the kids whose mothers didn't return from the hospital.  For the husbands whose wives never held their newborn babies.  And for the babies who never heard the soothing tones of their mothers' voice.  I thought about the kids who lay graveless at the hands of soulless men.  'What does God think of all of this?', I wondered.

And then I saw Him standing before Lazarus' tomb, weeping.  Jesus wept... John never tells us why.  Maybe He cried the pain which sin deposits on the world in layers of heartbreak, and anguish, and despair.  Jesus saw His friends drowned in grief -  grief so deep that only wordless tears could comfort.  He felt what they felt, and He didn't shy away from drinking the cup of sorrow.  A short while later, He would drink all of it - the ocean of suffering drowning humanity - and in His death atone for its sin.

That night, I tasted anew the joy that only He can bring amidst the tears.  As I pondered the suffering of the world - the small measure I knew of - I was feeling His heart.  He ached for it long before I ever did - and He wept.  He is not distant or disconnected from the hurting, but He walks among them.  How else could we visit Him when He is sick, or feed Him when hungry, or go to Him when in prison?

I don't have all my questions answered on this side of heaven, and that's okay. What I know for sure is that, "even though I walk through the darkest valley, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."    He loves me, He quiets my heart, He carries me when I cannot walk on my own. 

On this side of the resurrection, that is very good news.

" Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)