Reverence

“…out of reverence for God I did not act like that.” (Nehemiah 5:15b) 

Hypocrites, phonies, and “fronters” are all words used in the pejorative to describe despicable behavior. Here in our Bible verse Nehemiah chooses to act differently than his predecessors. Evangelicals long besmirched a “religious” approach to God. However, now that we live in a post-Christian culture acting out of a “reverence for God” may be a good step forward. After all who among us is perfect? Perhaps God would be better served if we all just “acted” like we thought God wanted us to act, not out of pride, but a sincere, “reverence for God.”

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Published in: on August 10, 2015 at 7:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Bursts of God

“…I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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 3:17-19) 
Knowing without knowing, is the understanding that knowledge cannot inform. Yesterday, I realized I may not be able to ride for a few days. So, I jumped on my bike and headed east. I took a side road (Union Blvd) that quickly becomes someplace else. This elusive “someplace else” terminates at a “T” that is the beautiful, Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park. Without hesitation I choose to go left. Partway though the turn, just as I’m accelerating in the lean, I’m hit with a burst of smell, a fragrance so powerful that it seems as if I lost all my senses except of smell. To describe that it was like that of a sudden broken flask of expensive perfume, would not come close, because it, “surpasses knowledge.” —Paul, here in his letter to the Ephesians, is praying that we would experience God like that. To completely experience “this love,” His love, and be “filled” to a measure that is beyond comprehension. 

Published in: on July 7, 2015 at 6:38 am  Leave a Comment  

A Living Witness

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5) 

I have been an adult student of the Bible for over 40-years and I will confess that this verse is one of the more difficult to see possible. But last night on the various news broadcasts that I watched, which included a different network and cable providers, nine families gave a unified witness of the viability of God’s Word. There was every reason to emote base human emotion, but what was lived out, on national TV, was the choice that was being studied that Wednesday evening. It came from those who had studied God’s Word for themselves, lived through all the negativity that life has to offer and chose to follow Jesus’ teaching and example. Thank you bothers and sisters of Charleston for giving us all a Witness of the Truth of God’s Word. 

Published in: on June 20, 2015 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  

We Are The Intentional

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. (John 17:11) 

We are right where we need to be, for the time being. We are not lost, trying to find our way home. Nor are we abandoned. We are not just citizens, not just consumers, not here waiting for our “number” to be up. 

We are the intentional. Here for a purpose. Fully protected, all the while seeking His Kingdom, participating in its advancement, enjoying His Will, His Presence.  

We have His Word to encourage us and here His Intercessory Prayer (17:1-26) to remind us that we are not subject to the seemly arbitrariness of life, not unless we allow ourselves to be unfaithful. So today, right now, we celebrate being the intentional. 

Published in: on May 30, 2015 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Choose to Fear

Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” ( Proverbs 1:29-33) 

There is much here in these few verses, all sandwiched between, fear. The challenge is the comprehension of the simple fact that by choosing to fear we may live without fear. Note that there is a warning that goes with this challenge. The warning is to watch out for those that hate His knowledge and refuse the Lord’s advice. Heeding the warning gives one the opportunity to see the beautiful secret revealed, that we can enjoy ease that is not complacency when it is fear that is not fear. 

Published in: on May 21, 2015 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Greater

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4) 

Our verse here typifies John’s language in this his most powerful letter. Such sweet words carefully chosen to reveal the terrible truth of antichrists and the pervasive evil that dominates this present age.  

This past Sunday, right after the service, a six-year old girl ran across the church right in front of the platform where our worship team leads us into God’s presence. Later, her grandmother said that she loves coming to church. —And I love seeing the children enjoying church.  

Last week, Edna and I went to the Central Park Zoo in NYC. I’m sure that many who work for the zoo love seeing the many children that come and enjoy the exotic animals that are on display. The main purpose of the zoo is not for entertainment but to teach animal conservation. The zoo administration and benefactors hope that each visitor will understand that the animals need our protection and we should fight to keep their ecosystems intact. 

The church has an even higher calling. We would like every child, every visitor to come to the knowledge that, yes the world is filled with evil, but that God loves them, and has made a way for them, and that if we continue to trust in Him, nothing, absolutely nothing can prevent our victory in Christ. 

Published in: on May 20, 2015 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Power of Testimony

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony… (Revelation 12:11

NOTE: It’s been almost six-weeks since my last post to this blog. This has been the longest void in devotional writing in more than five-years. Why start back up? Well, suffice it to say that many have asked but the final proverbial straw came when Edna’s cousin Carole said that she missed the “professor’s” voice. 
Very likely, in just a few short months, I will no longer pastor Abundant Life Christian Fellowship. 33-years of an identity formed by a street address and a 20th-21st century ecclesiology wrapped in American culture. What will I do? Who shall I be? Retired? Waiting on The LORD? 
The book of Revelation explains many things and provides answers to questions too terrible to ask. The careful reader should realize that Revelation is ultimately about hope. What chance does one have against the terror of voices, thunder and lightning, earthquakes, dragons, beasts, and vials of plagues? Well, our “chance” is what we believe in, “the blood of the Lamb” and added to that, the word of our “testimony.” The sheer power of this claim should result in how our verse ends, “they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
If death itself is defeated, what do we have to fear? What do I have to fear?

Published in: on May 19, 2015 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Mind Craft

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, (Ephesians 1:9) Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) 

Last night our youngest, of eight, grandchildren went to sleep with our “the kids” iPad playing “Minecraft” already having make plans for playing it when she woke up. —Now, how do you design an app with that kind of grip? And what is the next “Minecraft”? More importantly how do you reach that kind individual with the Gospel? But there is hope! My own story is that from grammar school I was an avid reader, everything, and a lot of SF&F. But at 28yrs old I accepted Christ. Now 40yrs later, I have found that nothing, absolutely nothing can compare with the need of the Gospel nor its efficacy. “Poppa, can you show me how this works?” Sure, but are we talking “Minecraft” or “mind craft”?

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Certain Uncertainty

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

Jesus has a natural brother, James, also Mary’s son, and here at the Cross she gains another, John, but there is no celebration, her grief overshadows any possibility of joy. The Cross has begun to make its changes. The certainty of Jesus’ death begins to reveal the uncertainty of the future. Change will have its way even with the mother of Jesus. 

This scene at the foot of the Cross reveals two important overlapping characteristics of God’s Kingdom, responsibility and provision. 

If “the disciple whom he [Jesus] loved” nor Jesus’ own mother could prevent change, then certainly we have little hope to avoid it ourselves. The key here is to discover our responsibility and provision. 

Jesus in His “Farewell Discourse” (the very last things Jesus spoke about) began with “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2)

Jesus adds, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last…” (John 15:16)

Responsibility and Provision overcomes change.

Published in: on April 4, 2015 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Good Friday

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. …Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (…Golgotha). Here they crucified him… (John 19:16-18)

This morning during my prayer/devotional time I found myself praying through our lists of missionaries all of whom we know personally. For some of them their lives are in danger, but all of them have already laid down their lives to serve the One who laid down His life for them. Over the years I have occasionally been asked, “Why is Good Friday good?” Well, look at all the life that has come from The One Life that defeated death. So powerful this one Life that it compels so many others to sacrifice their own lives which is not a sacrifice at all, but a living and giving which is blessed in the giving. Yes, Good Friday makes sense, but only to those that Love has compelled to take up their own cross and follow Him who is Alive.

Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 7:35 am  Leave a Comment