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There is no "End"

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Somehow it seemed appropriate to end 2018 with this verse:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

As we enter a new year we are reminded that we are just a little closer to the time when Revelation 21:4 will be the reality for those of us who know the Lord.

Perhaps that reminder is a little more forceful for me today. Early in December, we got news of a cousin on my mother's side who had passed away. Just before Christmas, a FACEBOOK post announced the passing of a missionary colleague and friend. Last night came the news of the death of a cousin on my father's side. For friends and family far and wide 2018 has had its sorrows.

But the promises of Scripture inevitably bring us the reassurance that, for the believer, the "end" is no end at all—it simply signals the beginning of the new order.

No death.

No mourning.

No crying.

No pain.

Obl…

The Ouch Factor

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In recent days a friend on FACEBOOK started a discussion on whether or not physical punishment, i.e. the “strap” applied to children produced violent adults. I responded by saying that I still had the strap that my parents (usually) my Dad used occasionally on my brother and myself. You can see the photo. It is part of a belt off a piece of farm machinery and is about 12 inches long. Believe me, it stings! I have kept it all these years as a reminder that my parents cared enough about us to use it when all else failed to drive home a point they felt we needed to understand.

Because I happen to be reading in Hebrews these days where the Lord’s discipline is discussed, my friend’s post and the instruction from the Word of God made an interesting study.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes e…

In the Name of Jesus

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I have my pastor to thank for this one. He is working through the Book of Acts on Sunday mornings. Today's message was from Acts 3, the story of the lame man who had an encounter with Peter and John at the entrance to the Temple. His life was dismally the same every day—sitting at the entrance begging people to drop a few coins into his hand. It was all he had, all he expected, all he thought he would ever know in life.

Until...

"When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, 'Look at us!'"

As my pastor remarked, with that statement the man anticipated a big payday!

"So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have...'"

Disappointment. And his attention, so focused on these two men and what he might gain from their generosity, probably began to shift away to the next people in the line waiting …

No Light, No Tunnel, No End

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I linger in the blackness, seemingly invisible to passersby. My night is cold and lonely, devoid of the warmth of human touch. There is only God, and though He speaks, I do not hear from Him what I desperately want to hear. He begs me to trust His will, but that will lies heavily upon me, like a shroud. His will is solitary. His will is hard. He bids me be patient, but the fruitless, empty, years pass me by, heaping their rewards on others.

Shared laughter mocks me, as groups of two, three, and four, walk by. Their eyes seem to meet mine but then slide past unseeing. I follow them, heading toward the open doors ahead that they are passing through. I long to cry out after them: “Look at me. See me. Hear me.” I don’t. They are busy with better, more productive, things. I bless the Lord for all their successes even as I envy them those blessings. Like a swift running current, they flow past my stagnant pool. It seems pointless to call out to them. Even if they saw and heard, there is no…

That Sinking Feeling

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I ran across this brief devotional while sifting through some articles I had written on the FAITHWRITERS website. I wrote it in 2005 but its truth still remains current for today.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28 NIV)

You have to admire the audacity of Peter. As for me, I don’t like small boats. I prefer my water in a glass or at least in a form that comes with a tap. If I had been Peter, I probably wouldn’t have even been in the boat, much less trying to walk on water. But sometimes the events of life don’t give us a choice. Unlike Peter, we don’t even get the opportunity to ask permission to take a walk on the wet side—we get tossed out of the boat and seemingly left to sink or swim. A serious illness, a financial setback, a ministry turned misery, a relationship that fails, a past that haunts us, a present that overwhelms us and a future that defies us—who would ask to walk on these turbulent waters?

For Peter, there was a l…

The Sense Behind Suffering

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Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Reading these verses reminded me of a life experience that a missionary colleague shared with me some years ago. She and her husband were serving overseas. They were expecting their first child—actually children plural. She was carrying triplets. The babies, all boys, were perfect when they were born. But none of them survived. She was RH negative, and the medical personnel were unaware, or unprepared, for the implications of that reality during her pregnancy or when the babies were born.

I asked her what that terrible tragedy meant to her as she looked back on it years later. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 were what…

What I Don't Know

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There are lots of things I don't know. Included among those is the hour of my passing into eternity. I was reminded of that this morning when an SUV making a left hand turn while I was in the crosswalk came to a screeching halt just inches from me. That wasn't my place, or time, to go. The driver didn't see me—but God had!

That's a pretty major "I don't know." But there are lots of other things—major and minor—that I don't know—but God does!

My verse for today reminded me that "No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

If the "worst" had happened this morning, it would actually turn out to be the best—I'd be face-to-face with the Lord and that's a very good thing.

The semi-worst would be broken bones and ruptured stuff! And many would wonder why God would allow such a thing.

It's the famous "Why me?" or "Why her?" or …