Monday, November 29, 2010

A Righteous Death

“And coming to a place called Golgotha, which is called, Place of a Skull, they gave Him vinegar mixed with gall to drink. And when He had tasted, He would not drink.” Matthew 27:33-34

As was the custom, Jesus was offered vinegar mixed with gall, a bitter poison, to ease His unthinkable suffering. He stood exhausted, spat upon, profusely bleeding after being beaten nearly to death, thorns piercing his head, and facing a barbaric death. And yet He refused the cup.

He refused to have his suffering eased and his senses dulled by the narcotic.

He refused to take in the bitterness of spirit, the deep resentment that can come, if allowed, when one has faced suffering.

He loved His Father and He loved us. To Him, obedience and the salvation of our souls was infinitely more important to Him than His own momentary comfort.

We, too, are called to die to ourselves. Just a few chapters before, in Matthew 10:38, Jesus said, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”

We cannot follow Christ unless we daily nail our own sins and yes, even our dreams, our worries and our own agendas to our own personal, figurative cross. How can we follow Him if we are busy following ourselves? How can we allow Christ to fulfill the unimaginable dreams and plans He has for our lives if we are busy following our own small, finite dreams? How can we live in righteousness if we are busy following worldliness?

And even the death of our old man, our carnality, the selfishness and pride that manifests itself in our mortal flesh, is painful. Sometimes that death has to come through suffering—an illness, a financial blow, a strained relationship. If we allow resentment to take hold of our hearts in a season of suffering, it will cause a root of bitterness to grow that is not easily removed. And that bitterness will dull our spiritual senses to the point that God will seem afar off.

And some will look to the poison of sin to ease their suffering. And when I say “sin,” don’t be tempted to think only of something obvious, like adultery or drug or alcohol abuse. Whatever we put before God in our lives, whatever we depend on more than Him, whatever we go to for comfort when we are in the middle of a painful trial instead of going to Christ, that is sin.

The comfort of sin is a façade, and when it has reached its end will swallow us in bitterness of soul.

Like Christ, we must refuse the cup of bitterness in whatever form it presents itself. Our suffering is for righteousness’ sake, for our own spiritual growth, to work into us the image of Christ our Lord. Suffering in the Name of Christ is a good and noble thing and will produce much fruit in the loving and skillful hands of the Father—fruit that will remain pure and unspoiled as we refuse the poison of bitterness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eternally Thankful

To all my American friends:  Happy Thanksgiving to you!

To all my international friends:  Happy Thursday or Friday, whichever the case may be!

And to my God:

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. 
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever." 
(Psalm 30:11-12)

Monday, November 22, 2010

You Are The One

"When Jesus had said this, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, 'Truly, truly, I say to you that one of you shall betray Me.' Then the disciples looked upon one another, wondering of whom He spoke. But there was one of His disciples leaning upon Jesus' bosom, the one whom Jesus loved."  (John 13:21-23)

"Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."  (John 20:2)

"Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following (the one who also leaned on His breast at supper, and said, 'Lord, who is he who betrays You?'  Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, and what of this one?'" (John 21:20-21)

I love that the apostle John refers to himself over and over in his account of Christ as "the one whom Jesus loved."  Not that Jesus loved any of the other apostles less, but John saw himself first and foremost as one who was loved greatly by his Lord.  It would seem there was never a doubt in his mind of Jesus' love for him.

John was confident of Jesus' love at the last Passover meal when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him.

He was confident of His love in the dark hours of confusion that followed Jesus' crucifixion and death.

He was confident of the love that Christ had for him even when a brother tried to point a critical finger at him. 

In all circumstances he knew he was loved by the only One Who really mattered.

I hope you know, too, that you are the one whom Jesus loves.  No matter what hardship you face now or in the future, no matter what you've tackled in the past, you are loved by the Lord.  There is no one He loves more than you.  If you had been the only inhabitant of earth, He would have come and died for your sins just the same. 

If you are a disciple of Christ, I hope you'll walk in faith and pure confidence at all times that you are the one whom Jesus loves. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Awaited Blessings

The following is a devotion I had the blessing of contributing for the November newsletter for the Christian website, Halas & Phos, Salt & Light, run my dear friends, Tim and Cindy Mrva.  Hop on over and take a look around. 

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There are so many things I’d like to teach my children to do: how to cook a meal other than hot dogs or pizza, how to clip a dog’s hair, how to plant a garden according to season and light, how to better prioritize their lives to reap the best benefits, how to save money and how to give it, how to study God’s Word. But they’re so busy running here and there and their vision for the future doesn’t see much past tomorrow.

I wonder how much the Lord wants to teach us, too--how to cook a meal for an ill neighbor, how to care for God’s creation, how to plant seeds of the gospel and how to water them, how to better prioritize our lives to reap godliness, how to give generously, how to love Him and how to better receive His love. But we’re so busy.

God’s creation begins to slow down in autumn and it calls to us to contemplate with it. Leaves gently change color and invite us to stand and look at their beauty. The crisp air slows our bustling to enjoy its fresh aroma. Even Thanksgiving beckons us to sit a while with loved ones and happily chatter all at once about the previous year’s events and reminisce about days gone by.

Yes, it’s been a difficult year, but we still have much to be thankful for. And if we will only slow down our mad running from this to that to the other and be still, we will be able to look around and see again all the ways God has blessed us and give Him thanks.

And as we’re still, giving thanks for blessings already bestowed, God invites us to call to Him that we might discover the blessed mysteries we have yet to know that He so longs to reveal to us.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Our Father’s love for us is terrifyingly wonderful. He desires to teach us all things crucial for a blessed and fruitful life and they are ours if we will only linger at His table, and listen, and be inspired with awe at our Father’s goodness.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Pop-In

So I thought I'd pop in today just to say hi. 


Last week proved to be interesting in the "being poisoned" department, first by an innocent-looking banana, and then apparantly by a spider who took advantage of the fact that I was sleeping.  But it's a new week, and hopefully one that doesn't include any vomiting or prophylactic use of Benadryl. 

It is November, and probably the umpteenth one I have sworn to get all my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving.  To date this year...I've done none.  Oh, I've thought about it, but you know, it's hard to figure out what to get your kids when they're no longer kids, let alone know what to get family members.  I'm gonna give it my best shot to get the shopping done in the next couple of weeks, though.  Come on, we can do it! 

I really just want to enjoy my Christmas season this year without the stress of last minute shopping and crowds and traffic and then by Christmas morning I'm worn out and realize I haven't given much thought to the real meaning of Christmas.  I hate that. 

Well, time to go brush the dog. 

Have a great week, everybody.  And don't forget, my email's always open for prayer requests, comments or questions. 

God bless,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

Can you believe it's November already?  Before you know it'll be Thanksgiving and then Christmas is right around the corner.  Maybe you're thinking about how you can help others who are far less fortunate than we are during this season of giving. 

Samaritan's Purse is a 40-plus year old, non-denominational Christian, philanthropical organization whose President and CEO is Franklin Graham, the son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham.  Samaritan's Purse works tirelessly throughout the year to bring aid to the poor, sick and suffering around the world. 

At Christmastime every year, Samaritan's Purse launches Operation Christmas Child, an outreach where they take in shoe boxes filled with gifts and send them to children in need all over the world. This is where you come in.  It's simple: 

1. Pack a Shoe Box
Just grab a shoe box or a small plastic container, fill it with simple toys, school supplies, hygiene items, certain types of candy and even a personal note, if you wish.  Include a check for $7 to cover the cost of shipping.  Or use the EZGIVE option below. 

2. Download a Label
Download a label that shows whether your box is for a boy or a girl and the age range the gifts are appropriate for. 

3. Drop It Off
Enter your zip code on the website and it'll show you your nearest drop-off location. 

4. Follow Your Box
If you pay for shipping online using EZGIVE, you can follow your box online. 

And that's it!  Last year Operation Christmas Child fulfilled Christmas dreams for 8 million underprivileged children. I don't know of a more worthy organization and better way to bless others as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and all the ways He's blessed us.

Collection week for the shoe boxes is coming up quickly, November 15-22.

Take a look at just how easy it is:

Monday, November 1, 2010


Truth is unyielding to the whims and opinions of man. It is unbending to the changing world around it. It is immovable and unshakeable. It is enduringly constant; it is uncompromising, unrelenting and unwavering in its steadfastness. It is laid open and bare and invites the light to reveal its purity and beauty. It is what it is.

Truth will not compromise its frame to fit our character; we must bend and stretch and twist and turn and yield to mold to the shape of truth, or else be broken.

But the Master Carpenter will see that only our will is broken. With His tender and loving hand He heats and hammers and shapes and forms. He removes only the rough edges of darkened character that do not fit the shape of truth. He prepares us as a thing of beauty and when we stand before Him--a masterpiece.