Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recognizing the handcrafted nature of every day.

The idea of a perfect, planned, and controlled day is an illusion. Instead of trying to control our days, we should embrace the uniqueness of each new day and lose control. The Psalmist says, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Ps 118:24) We must recognize the handcrafted nature of each new day. All of God's creations are unique but beautiful, and a day is no exception. He is the master-weaver, and each new day he crafts with skill and purpose, bringing to light the glorious tapestry of human life as a whole, through individual days. We must live in remembrance of the uncontrollable nature of each day. We must recognize that a day is a completed gift, not given to be controlled, but embraced and enjoyed. The Psalmist goes on to list the natural response to a recognition of the handcrafted nature of each day; rejoicing, and being glad in it. Perhaps the reason there are so few joyful christians, is because there are so few content christians. By embracing each and every day as a gift from God crafted with purpose, our hearts may be led to joy and gladness. Joy and gladness never come without surrender and the recognition of God's control. Our view of the day should be no different. Let us recognize his creating work, and stand in awe of the grace he gives us by crafting a day specifically for this time and place; and from that recognition, may we burst with joy and gladness at the thought of his handiwork.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

St. John Chrysostom on fasting.

Here in this lenten season, I believe it would be healthy for us to have a reminder of what true fasting means. Meditate on these words of St. John Chrysostom.

Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.

If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.
Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eye fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from fowl and fishes, but bite and devour one another?

- St. John Chrysostom (347-407)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The overlooked value of the fullness of God in Christ

For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the Cross. -Colossians 1:19-20
God's fullness dwells in Christ, and through the cross, Christ gives me access to God's fullness! What an often overlooked gem. We wallow in our emptiness complaining of thirst, while the ocean of God is spread freely before us. We are a thirsty people. We realize that we have a need, we realize our unhappiness, but the hostility of our flesh glosses over our solution. We greedily heap up to ourselves the parasitic leech of fleshly gratification, while shutting our ears to the cry of Christ to rest in Him. Even as His own sheep, we strive to find our own grazing grounds, instead of listening to our shepherd. If only we would stop our incessant pursuit of happiness, we would see the glorious depths of God's presence that is laid freely before us. It is a difficult thing to embrace the fullness of Christ. It requires daily mortification, and hungry longing for God's self. It is only after the longing of Psalm 63:1 that we come to the satisfaction of Psalm 63:5

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Today, while Emily and I were at a friends apartment, our friends roommate directed several doctrinal questions at me. It felt good to be able to give answers. Sometimes, as a minister, and someone with a heart to teach, I ache to be asked questions. Many times, people don't get deep enough into their Bibles to ask questions. Other times, people just don't care. I don't mean any of this to sound arrogant, or selfish; but as someone who studies the Bible in hopes of teaching others, it sometimes just feels good to find someone who cares enough to be taught. I believe God has great things in store. I believe God has a wonderful future ahead. Right now is the hardest part of ministry, having a heart to teach, but feeling inadequate and unable to do so. These glimmers are the sparks of something greater. One day, if God allows, I will be able to teach and preach the Word of God. For now, it is the waiting on his directive that is the hardest. Through it all, his constant care and assistance are what gets me through the day. Oh well, enough rambling for tonight. Grace and Peace!

Finding Desolate Places.

Many times in the Gospels, Jesus would retire to desolate places. He would go to a mountain, or wilderness, or garden, and commune with His Father. Jesus recognized that these moments of silent withdrawal were necessary for fostering quiet resignation to God. The climax of the Gospel story begins in one of these desolate places; in a garden called Gethsemane. It was in this moment of solitude that Jesus sweat blood while wrestling with the sheer magnitude of the weight He was about to willingly embrace. If Jesus, the Son of God, needed these desolate places, how much more do I? I have realized that I need more desolate places in my life. I need more times of quiet and silence. I need more times of solitude. It is in these quiet moments that God speaks the softest, and the dearest. Jacob needed Penuel, Moses needed to tend the flock of Jethro, Elijah needed the time under the broom brush tree. The Bible is packed full of references of willful solitude for the purpose of communing with God. I guess the question for all of us to ponder is, do I have a desolate place?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Herein is wonder of wonders:
   he came below to raise me above,
   was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love;
   when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace,
   to raise me to himself.
Herein is power;
   when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
   he united them in indissoluble unity,
      the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
   when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
   and no intellect to divise recovery,
   he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
   as man to die my death,
   to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
   to work out a perfect righteousness for me."

-From Valley of Vision; A collection of Puritan prayers.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Continually, and at all times.

"I will bless the LORD at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth."
      -Psalm 34:1

This canticle strikes a chord that is foreign to the natural heart. It goes against our grains. The canticle of our natural heart sings, "I will complain at all times, discontent shall continually be in my mouth." But this song boasts a different rhythm, one that will change our whole life if we let it. The language of discontent resonates so easily with us, because we see nothing around us to be content. The world as we see it is one that does not satisfy. The language of David can only be embraced by shifting our focus, away from the discontent with this world, to complete satisfaction in the finished work of Christ. As we live our life with Cross-focused eyes, the chords of Psalm 34 start to reverberate in our souls. This business of blessing Him at all times, becomes something that we pursue instead of something we flee from. The evangel message, the life changing message of the Cross, proclaims not only forgiveness of sins, but also the ability to be content. The gospel gives us the ability to embrace a life of praise, continually and at all times.