Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Voices


Voices. so many voices... They are assailing our souls through the incessant stream of carefully-crafted news reports; through the billboards that tempt us to ignore the tenth commandment; through the violent invasion of media platforms that seek to mold us into the likeness of this age, to absorb us into the stream of this world until we act no longer as the image bearers of God. Voices savage in their call, sirens that lead to death of reason and ultimately eternal separation from God.

Most of the voices that seek to impose their authority on us have their origin in nefarious lords, kings of the underworld who walk among us in human form.  They beguile to destroy, to separate, to confuse. Sure, they may fly their message with the silver wings of a dove, but their inner bellies are vultures of darkness and deceit.  They are citizens of Babylon, and once again are uniting in their pursuit to reach a heaven without God, a salvation without the cross. 

To everyone whose heart is yearning for a higher tune, a small and gentle voice still speaks, still seeks.  This Voice is a call to love, a call to God, for God is love.  Love that still walks the paths of a long-ago tainted garden, Love that replicates itself in sons and daughters of that firstly-blessed couple, Love whose hands and feet are The church.  Jesus the Christ is The Word we are feverishly seeking for, the living water our burning souls thirst for.  There is no clarity apart from His message, no unity outside His banner, no peace away from His rule.  In Him there is no darkness-His robes are not the murky garb of deceit, but the brilliant vestment of truth.  "I am the way, the truth and the life", He said-and to anyone willing to listen, His cross speaks a message of freedom and eternal life.  To anyone willing to know  things as they are, go to the first stream, the first word, the first cause.  Seek Him in the Book that speaks salvation, the Book that unveils the plan of God, the Book that instructs in the paths of life.  The gate is very narrow,  and the road is difficult, but it is the only path to life.  Draw away from the maddening throng, away from the noise, and you will hear that still, small voice, you will hear life -maybe for the first time.


"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." (John 17:17)


"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Spring

This evening Michal and I took our usual walk through the neighborhood, with no deviation from our usual route encouraged.  Across our complex, pink cherry blossoms with their delicate pastel flowers and liquid scent delight our eyes and fill our pleasure-chest.  Along the way, dark pink magnolias strutting their bold flowers frolic with gentle wind and light.  Red and white tulips with their cup-like flowers line the edges of white fences, intermingled with  blue bell-shaped blooms.   Lush green trees, some shyly revealing their infant flowers while others boldly flaunting large, white fingers of velvet and perfume, decorate gardens and alleys.

I have always loved summer with an unswerving commitment, but lately spring is the color of my soul.  This winter seemed especially dreary with interminable days of rain, chilling atmosphere and flesh with a dampness that seems impossible to shake off.  Months of grey skies have stirred a longing for sunshine, and warmth, and new life.  Our tree was a melancholic tangle of barren branches, sighing along with me for the anthem of spring-the call to flower and bloom again.  And now, after six months of charcoal clouds and liquid chill, the mantle of spring has cast its green breath on plants and people alike.

Probably the greatest symbol of spring is new life.  After months of bareness, nature is bursting forth with an explosion of color and scent, filling the earth with pulse and rhythm once dormant under the deadness of winter.  The occasional bird is warbling its happy melody under the spell of vibrant buds, and cotton-candy clouds are softly treading clear blue skies.  Everything sings and dances its thanksgiving to God, the giver of spring miracles, the Seed of life bursting in every living thing.

To every child of God stopped in their spiritual ascent by the frigid winter of long trials, this is your season of new life.  After every winter spring comes without fail-and as is in the natural, so is in the spiritual.   "Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning", and our endurance will be richly rewarded with God's promise of favor. For every trial of fire God has a promise of turnaround for good, even if sometimes its fulfillment takes place once this life has played its final act.  God gathers all our tears in a bottle and perfumes heaven with the scent of our unspoken cries and vociferous prayers.  One morning, the dark will give way to the light of His presence and we will walk out of our former prison.  No demon in hell will bar our exit, and no flood of opposition will drown our lapse to freedom's shore.  So stand, my brother, knowing that your Savior is king over every seen and unseen realm, and He is descending in your pit with freedom in His wings.  Stand, my sister, trusting that His promise to give you a future and a hope has been sealed with His blood.   Soon-yes, very soon-our faith will finally be sight, and our eyes will behold The One our souls have adored and our affections  embraced.  As a hymn of the last century affectingly declares, "it will be worth it all when we see Jesus"...

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18)

"To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.  In their righteousness, they be will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for His own glory" (Isaiah 61:3).

Easter

This weekend much of the world celebrated Easter.   Although many people did not necessarily celebrate it, most of the world was at least confronted with it by reason of it being a statutory holiday in nations with Christian roots.  In a world unspoiled by COVID19,  little hands would have eagerly hunted for the brightly-labelled chocolate eggs strewn across lawns, dropped down by helicopter (yes, this actually happened), or hidden and revealed by tightly-sealed clues by parents.  Churches all across the world would welcome men and women, the young and the old, for a time of reflection and thanksgiving for the supernatural gift of Passover.  Families would gather around the Passover meal with grateful hearts, experiencing anew the anguish of Good Friday, the victory of Resurrection Sunday, the contemplation of God's display of wrath and mercy through the means of a cross.

Easter is about a love story.  A redemption story.  It is not a clean, sterilized story that sparkles with the pastel colors we associate with Easter.  It is messy, because it involves us, and we are messy, and broken, and utterly incapable of fixing ourselves.  We are all infected with something far worse than COVID19.  It is the virus of sin, and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.  From the moment we are born, we exert a propensity toward rebellion, toward destruction.  The human heart is the wellspring of great evil and suffering, as testified by two world wars, genocides of nations, and countless injustices performed daily by "good" people upon their fellow human beings.  The human heart is anything but good, in spite of what our "enlightened" centers of learning would like us to believe.  This sin-problem is so great that it separates us from our Creator God, a God whose eyes are so pure that He cannot behold evil.  It is just that our sins be punished, and the punishment is nothing short of death-death physical and separation eternal.  God cannot close His eyes and dismiss our lies, our blasphemy, our idolatry, and roll the red carpet into His house we know as heaven.

Why would God allow His Son to be humiliated, tortured, blasphemed and ultimately given over to die the death of a criminal?  It begins with who God is.  God IS love, and love gives, and forgives, and transforms.  God loves every single one of us with a love that is independent of our stature  or life journey, and in His love He yearns to commune with us now and forever.  God's heart holds the perfect balance of justice and mercy and He can administer one without cancelling the other.  When Jesus died, He died the death that you and I deserved for those sins that we so easily dismiss: our theft, our "white" lies, our hate, our lust... He was separated from God upon that tree so that we would not be eternally separated from Him.  He endured God's wrath so we wouldn't have to.  Before He gave up His breath, He cried "It is finished."  We no longer have to build a stairway to heaven (not that we ever could).  We no longer have to torture our bodies and souls in an effort to bridge the  gulf between us and God.  All our work to reach God, all our efforts to atone for our wrongs is finished.  All that remains is faith -faith pure and unadulterated by human intervention.

God's Word says:  "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9). It takes faith that Jesus Christ is God's final and only provision for our sins.  It takes a spoken confession to make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives.  He is not willing to share the throne of our hearts with other gods, such as materialism or new age philosophies.  It takes humility and repentance to recognize that we are deeply polluted by sin and in need of rescuing, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  

There is no better news in all the world than the message of Easter.  That we can be forgiven, restored and have peace with God is the greatest gift.  It cost God His precious Son to give, and it costs us nothing to receive.  It will cost us everything to ignore: eternal separation from God in a place called Hell-a place of torment, darkness and unending sorrow.   Look to Calvary, and behold Love wounded and bruised for us.  Look to the empty tomb, and see Love crowned with victory and majesty.  Listen within, and you will hear Love calling, seeking, wooing. 




Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Daily Word

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 18)

The world as a whole seems to be marinated in fear.  Fear of a microscopic virus, namely COVID19, to which much power of destruction has been imputed.  Fear of economic collapse as life has been forced to a standstill.  Fear of loneliness, as small and large gatherings are prohibited.  The fear of death seems heightened as this invisible enemy, this front-stage virus, attacks and infects without predictable pattern or thought-out reason.  This fear has been greatly heightened by continuous news feeds that will not allow us to forget, to rest, to ponder the greater meaning of this season.  And in this murky water of confusion, a clear call emerges.  A call to remember that God loves His children, that He holds us in the palm of His hands, that nothing happens without His knowledge or permissive will.  When we know that God loves us, our hearts can be steadied and pacified, knowing that for every evil there is a Romans 8:28 solution, even if this ultimate good is only materialized in eternity.  God still clothes the lilies and  He still feeds the sparrows.  His eyes are continually upon us, administering His good and perfect gifts, renewing His mercies every morning.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Grandparents Day


Last year, Michal and I were invited to participate in Grandparents' day organized by Joshua's school, as stand-ins for his far-away grandparents.  Being assured twice by one of Joshua's classmates that we looked too young to be grandparents, we mingled freely with our beloved, honored to catch a glimpse of his scholastic world.  Joshua was happy to immerse us in his newest projects, to explore with us the meaning behind drawings, posters and painted treasure chests.  I sat at his desk and peered into his world through the objects hidden inside,  awed at how far he has climbed mentally and emotionally since our baby-sitting days.

One of my earliest memories of Joshua is the first time I saw him step outside, on a summer day .  He bent down, grabbed some blades of grass, and throwing them in the air, he exclaimed "wow!".  I was bedazzled by his awe, for I never looked at grass with wonder,  never swelled with marvel at its vibrant color.  A few years down the road, when we would walk the sidewalk, me holding his hand and talking about the flowers, he would stop and exclaim again "wow"!.  There were many things that wowed him in those days:  birds dancing overhead, bees pollinating flowers, butterflies gliding beside us, large noisy vehicles... and the ice cream truck, of course.  In fact, one time he was so fascinated and disturbed by the advent of ice cream from this box on wheels that it arrested his monologue for the entire afternoon.

One of his great pleasures was to open and close our shower door for as long as the supervising adult-me-could  contain the absence of danger.  Or emptying all our bathroom cupboards and examining with glee the mundane objects of grooming.  Or pressing the button-in fact, any button-in the elevator, or the phone, or the dishwasher.  There is something truly riveting about those buttons that I haven't apprehended yet, with all the knowledge that adulthood was supposed to grant me...   Or taking the escalator as many times as the observing adult-me again-would deem respectable.  Joshua's world was so small, yet so adventurous, so exciting...

Michal and I often talk about snippets of his childhood with a nostalgia that seeks to keep alive the first decade of his life.  I was often convicted by how small my joy is at the pleasures of life:  the smell of a rose, the aroma of freshly-cut papaya, the first snowfall...  Every day,  something in God's book of nature is a call for a burning-bush encounter, a call to remove my shoes of indifference and experience the awe of a great God painting my world with great things... Who else but God could move my heart with the warm, flaming colors of  sunset, alive with wonder every evening?  And just like Joshua crying "push the button again, auntie", I whisper "show me another sunset, Lord"...  Who else but a great, good God could trigger my pleasure again and again with the rich taste of dark chocolate, or the roar of the waves pummeling the beach, or the velvety touch of spring blooms?

As Joshua advanced in age and maturity, he noticed less the life of the flowers or the waterfall elevator.  However, as his understanding expanded, so did his capacity to taste and see the goodness of God, his pleasure quotient directly proportional to the magnitude of discovery.  At the ripe age of almost preteen, he is mesmerized by beautifully-crafted words, the order of planets,  his mini Schnauzer Coco.

God is big enough to sustain our wonder at any age, any stage of life.  I  can never exhaust the pleasure of morning promenades on the beach, or the warm evenings under the breath of the moon.  He whispers His love through these and a thousand more gifts, inviting me to mingle my soul with the beauty revealed in the book of nature.  I may not be wowed by the moist soil shielding the virgin blade of grass, or the trail of a plane in the translucent skies, like Joshua used to be;  however, I am endlessly wowed by the gifts each new day brings - the kiss of Majesty upon a soul thirsty for the sacred beauty of life.

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22.23)



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.