“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ah, the simple life!

The world is being taken by storm. The fast paced existence is grabbing hold of men and women in their feverish race for wealth, ease, and prosperity. We aren’t content with the simple, uncomplicated life. The pastoral and quiet, where the messages that God placed upon the noble mountains and lofty trees and exquisite flowers call out to us, zips on past us, with those messages going almost always unnoticed. How can He reach us with the gift of faith if we don’t avail ourselves? Even rural areas and remote parts of the world find themselves becoming polluted with signs of approaching “progress.” The world careens toward a decision. “As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” Rom. 1:28.

Even the church is taken in this snare. The mundane existence lacking excitement is disdained by so many. Why? Because the Lifegiver is absent. They do not experience “the quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,” (1Tim. 2:2) the spiritual rest that remaineth to the people of God, (Heb. 4:9,10) ceasing from their own works to be good, as God did from His at creation. So the carnal heart must fill its anxious emptiness with tangible excitement, with some kind of stimulation.

Yet the Bible describes godliness as a quiet, uneventful life. It is true, some miraculous events stand out in its accounts. But by and large, it records mostly normal, everyday experiences. Jeremiah by the potter’s wheel catching a lesson from God. David with the burdens of leading military contigencies, pursued by the bigger army of his father-in-law. Abraham up in the lonely arid regions, watching out for strangers who might wander in through the shimmering heat. Ruth clinging to Naomi and speaking her heartfelt avowals of determined love to never leave her godly mother-in-law. Elisha, trained to lead people in his early years through patiently guiding oxen on the family farm. Amos, a simple shepherd, being blessed with the Spirit of Inspiration. John deserted on the little island, meditating upon the vast Mediterranean sea. The Bible personalities were regular people going through a regular life, learning how to learn to trust God. It was in their everyday mundane surroundings, that all were learning about heavenly things. Their simple experiences are what made up the Bible. They heard the prompt of the Spirit and followed it. Like Christ, they were willing to take up what lessons were immediately around them and the Holy Spirit illuminated their minds with eternal truth. It was as simple as that! And the grand lessons and exalted themes which resulted, God has protected from those who would destroy that divinely inspired Masterpiece of divine and human interplay that has passed down to us.

Much of the teachings and precedents set forth in the Bible come from unpremeditated, spontaneous judgment calls arrived out of the process of problem and resolution. Other times it came from men, transformed by God’s grace, which was freely offered and thankfully received by them, who from the depth of their soul breathed God’s sentiments of exasperation and love—words of encouragement and of warning and of burning jealousy—for a recalcitrant people who did not love them. Moses, in a desperate plea bargain to leverage God’s mercy for his people’s apparent unpardonable sin, volunteered up his eternal life for their continued acceptance by God—a lesson of grace in the very making, learned right before our wondering eyes—God using the droll life in the wilderness to develop grace and to purify the springs of love in His servant.

Evidence that Old Testament Israelites knew of the Plan of Redemption pops up in unconverted Joab (of all people), and his plan for David to reconcile with Absalom—evidence, not from a pulpit contexted in a diatribe of doctrines, but through an off-the-cuff conversation! Its in the small things mentioned that house the truth. This is why we must look carefully for gems in this most fascinating book, the Bible! The best synopsis on the Lamb of God ever given came, not from an apostle or prophet, but from an unsuspecting priest, wholly unwanting to preach Christ, when he blasphemously chided, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save!” It was a fluke, but it was heard; and it was recalled in its splendor, and logged...forever in the annals of sacred history—the stuff powerful sermons are made of! He saved others; Himself He cannot save.”

“The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common people.” SC 89. Why? Because common people reading it can readily identify with the common people brought to light in its pages. And these honest commoners find they can trust in the Book. Nothing authenticates it better than by learning how very typical and faulty people made up the characters of its history, people who could trust in correction, who craved the peace that comes only from reconciliation to God and His laws; and it was only average people who came away from that experience wiser than those around them who didn’t yearn for reconciliation. And all this came while among regular, run-of-the-mill surroundings; for God can call those things that don’t appear special as though they were, and then they are special! Through the work of God’s Spirit upon the mind, the glories of Eden can once again rest on all that we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

If they were waiting for the Messiah, where did the religious leaders of Christ’s day go wrong? If they knew where and when He would arrive, how did they miss Him? Not content with God’s ability to turn their quiet, simple surroundings into an oasis of learning their duty to others, the Pharisees and priests busied themselves with remaking sacred personalities. They made Moses and the prophets into Gods...bigger than life. They said Moses fed Israel with Manna. Elijah did this and that great thing. If only David were alive, they would take on the Romans! They overdramatized the truth until it morphed into a big lie. They did the same for the Messiah. Thus they missed a beautiful opportunity when the Messiah came. And thus, had they lived in Moses’ day, they would have grumbled with their forefathers and threatened to kill him just like their fathers had. They would have been the enemies of David, who wounded his soul so often. Their religion was only imaginary; they lived in a dreamland. So, it was not the religious leaders who prided themselves in being ready and waiting for the Messiah who heard Jesus gladly, but it was the common people, because they were acquainted with the reality of survival in a real life. All the exaggerated hopes and dreams taught by the religious leaders were to the commoners simply fluff and chaff.

But now what about us? What do we do when we turn on the TV or DVD player? When we dive in to the land of fiction, not only do we miss all the golden opportunities from our God-given real life, maybe precious few opportunities for God to convert our sinful hearts, but, to add insult to injury, all the drama and glorification of man piped into our home taints our mind and trains it to entertain an imitation life, one that has no substance, but passes away. If we let the TV educate us to live the same life of luxury and pretense that modern Egypt espouses, it is by our own choice that we become unable to grasp the simple lessons from God. How rarely do the wealthy enter the kingdom of heaven.

As the Creator, Christ put lessons of His Father’s nature into creation. And every split second of His plain life as a man, Jesus saw lessons to live by and reminders of His Father’s love. Rather than waiting for some great truth to fall from the sky, He made use of that which was next to Him, then repeated those lessons to others. He found that the experiences of His daily life of toil accentuate the lessons of the Holy Scriptures. He received most of His parables from the life right around Him. To us they are nice stories from 2000 years ago. To the people of His day, His parables were so fresh and new and easily recognizable, some even front-page news, that His simple stories suprised even the deep thinkers, disarming any prejudices, and cheered the hearts of His listeners.

So let us graze freely on God’s books of infinite truth; let us be content with the plain, “boring” life we own and that old “boring” Bible, knowing that they will teach us the exciting wisdom of the Omniscient One if we will just give them a chance. Learn from the cow. It chews and swallows grass, which it coughs back up again, and then chews on it some more; and this it does multiple times. So when you study the Bible, don’t expect to comprehend it perfectly while you read. Allow the truth to sink in, now and again returning to the forefront of your thoughts to be affected by, and to affect, your everyday, plain life experiences. Then you will find its lessons to be deeply digested in the mind and to be truly a refreshing experience.

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” “The stones cry out.” “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.” Prov. 66; Lk. 19:40; Job 12:7, 8).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Not knowing whither he went."

“There came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts.” Mk. 1:11-13. “Then Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan…. And in those days He did eat nothing.” Lk. 4:1,2.

Just as Noah was baptized by the worldwide flood, and Israel was baptized in the Red Sea and the Jordan River at flood stage, (1Cor. 10:2; Rom. 6:4.) so Jesus was baptized, not because He needed cleansing, but because He chose to go through all of our experiences with us. “Suffer it to be so now,” He said to John the Baptist, “for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matt. 3:15.

Similarly, Christ was driven into the wilderness in order to experience all that His people have had to experience there. “By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many.” “He was numbered with the transgressors.” Is. 53:11,12. As Israel wandered for 40 years in the desert, so would He for 40 days. Just as they were tested there by Him, so would He be tested there by His Father. He was the God of the Old Testament: a God of fairness and humility. When He had the opportunity, He would submit to the same harsh realities His people had been burdened with. From the beginning, He was prepared to suffer worse than they ever had to suffer. In fact, at that very time His people were wandering in the heat, He was suffering because of them. He was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev. 13:8. If we only knew what He has gone through as our intercessor with our Father. But He did it all to show us the Father. In all His responses during the emergency of sin, He never failed to reveal His Father, our great God of love and care; not only for us, but for the rest of the intelligent universe.

So how does Christ’s experience as a man relate to us? The Spirit calls to us and we see the possibility of something better. We look at all the dead ends this sin-filled world has to offer and finally hate it all. At that point our only option for hope must come from something other than this world. We finally look to God and pour out our souls to Him and He immediately comes to help. Away go the desires for the addictive substances and practices, and suddenly we know God is real. Now we also want everyone else to know. “Hey everybody, you should see my friend, Jesus!” We have been baptized by the Spirit and know that we are God’s beloved child.

But then comes a dry period. Whether it is inevitable is not clear. But after the dramatic deliverance by God, we often lapse into a lonely separation from Him. He isn’t so near as before. Before, we were eating and drinking in the fellowship and assurances of His love and care. Now we are fasting. As Jesus said, “Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the Bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the Bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” Mk. 2:19,20.

In this instance, Jesus was literally with the apostles and later taken to heaven to be our heavenly High Priest. After He left them, they had to walk by faith in a different way than before, and life became tougher. So we see a hungry Peter praying on a rooftop, seeking that nearness to Christ; we hear of a Paul who keeps under his body for fear of being a castaway. We realize the thirst of John the revelator who basked in the vision of Jesus, after sixty years absent from His wonderful presence.

But how so in our personal experience? Does Jesus manifest His power in a special way to first gain our trust, and then leave us to live off of His word and our daily experiences? Is it all to toughen us up? If not, then why the long period of emptiness after first coming to Him?

In my experience, after knowing of Jesus’ love and acceptance, the thrill of all that slowly died away, much to my sadness and chagrin. I clung to that past experience until the very last vestige of it slipped from my desperate clutches. I felt like the unclean spirit in Christ’s parable, walking through dry places and seeking rest, but finding none. Jesus, however, had gone before me, undergoing every last bit of the trial, and victoriously pulling out of it with faith. How did He do it? Isaiah gives us a clue. “Butter and honey shall He eat; that He may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.” Is. 7:15. He didn’t make my mistake of living so heavily off of the good feelings of being born from above. He steadily maintained His relationship with His Father by faith through the written Word and prayer. But now He can advocate for me in my failure to hold onto God like He did. And evidently some small root of faith did remain in me, for I am still with Him. That thin, hair-like root of response to His grace was my only salvation. He did not let it go unnoticed and kept a good eye on my flounderings.

Finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel. I had trudged along, not knowing how I could ever find relief—just existing. But in the end, I came out of the “slough of despond” and eventually saw light again. It was like a baby after it is born, that must lay around awhile before he gets a mind of his own. Now I have a special confidence in God that I wouldn’t have had without that long, parched period. Now I can thank God for it, and I can likewise encourage others who are passing through it. Like the psalmist wrote, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” Ps. 40:1-3.

Now I know something of what Paul meant when he said, “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Rom. 5:3-5.

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Heb. 10:35-39.

“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Heb. 3:14.

“Because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be save.” Matt. 24:12,13.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Our Diaper

“We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Is. 64:6.

A newborn is so cute, so beautiful, so cuddly, so innocent. But then his face takes on a new expression, and the little person lets go and soils himself. Suddenly Baby has issues! The news wafts around and it gets everyone whispering! Yet Mother and Father are not surprised. Their attachment to Baby does not fade. Its just part of life. The things they deal with on a daily basis is a function of existence. They cannot force Baby to stop its horrible habit. The best they can do is to put a cloth, clean and white, on Baby to contain the mess before it happens. So long as Baby stays clothed in that clean white cloth and has the constant care of his parents, everyone is safe from the pungent matter that flows from the depths of his bosom. At some time later, the parents will potty-train him.

As they grow together, the parents become prepared for bigger issues with Junior. Because they nurture him, he develops into a normal adolescent and adult, happy to be alive, ready to fight the battles of life, and himself able to nurture another generation.

Baby’s cloth needs to be changed often; a single change won’t do. There is not a baby in the world who can keep from soiling his britches. Even so, if we’ve been keeping the same ripe Robe of Righteousness for a month, or a year, or 5 or 50 years, we have defied the odds. It reeks and is greatly in need of discard. We need to be born again and get a new cloth, which again, is only good for part of a day. We all need this constantly. Once in a lifetime is not good enough. So, lets discard that filthy rag! Everyone will thank us for it! If we’ve not known repentance and surrender to God’s goodness lately, let’s not deceive ourselves that no one knows our robe is not new. It screams!!!

According to the Levitical law, leprous garments were to be burnt. (Lev. 13:52.) So let's burn them! Or throw them out with a vengeance! (Matt. 5:13.) And hope that the ground has passed the perc test! In those old rotten, smelling-like-a-homeless-person rags, any righteousness of Christ is all used up and gone. They have lost any usefulness and are good for nothing. Let s throw them out and go get some new. This was the message in Christ’s parable of the wine bottles. (Lk. 5:36) If my wine is old and dead, and the wineskin is dried and brittle, what I need is new wine and a new wineskin to go with it.

But warning: “No one having drunk old wine immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” Lk. 5:39. The new taste for a tonic rather than the intoxicating beverage will not come immediately. So, here’s hope: Jesus didn’t say the spiritual alcoholic would never desire the tonic, but that it will require time and patience and determination. Jesus is the Prince of patience, and if He can be patient with us, as we daily partake of the tonic, we can be patient with ourselves and with His work in changing our tastes for the tartness of truth. Old, dead, imaginary religion makes spiritual winos out of everyone who imbibes it. Christ’s religion of loving reproof and conviction perks us up. It makes our brain cells snap to attention and say, “Yes, Sir!” Old wine makes us say, “Doh!” New wine makes us say, “Whoa!!!!!!!”

So, lets get with Jesus, and find that surrender to Him. He’s more than happy to dispense the rich blessing of His righteousness to the helpless human agent. And this time He wants us to continue to come back, repeatedly─and that’s an order from Christ, and a wonderful privilege. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Lk. 9:23.

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

Friday, March 17, 2006


“By faith [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” Heb. 11:27.

When a soul surrenders to God, it is quickened and new life takes possession of the new mind; the eyes are opened to acknowledge what they feign could even squint to see before. Acknowledgment of the goodness of God leads to surrender to His love. Nothing like love, especially divine love, can awaken the natural mind bound up by its selfishness. The new man is like the young boy, alive again by the acceptance of his friend from the female persuasion─he thinks quicker, stands taller, and has a whole new capacity for energy. “Thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by Thee I have run through a troop, and by my God have I leaped over a wall….He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon high places….Thou hast given me the shield of Thy salvation: and Thy hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Ps. 18:28-35.

An alertness, an awareness is born that only the Holy Spirit can give, as we are restored into the image of God, body, heart, and mind. “The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” 1Jn. 2:27. The work of God gives the newborn in Christ a new insight into the motives of others. He can see through the façades of men, and the misbehavior of many that are deemed a mystery by others he easily understands because of the supernatural ability to admit to his own weaknesses and inherent wickedness. He has mercy on those who are condemned and castigated, because he sees that their present behavior or past life are not hopeless if they can come to see God’s love and be convicted by Him like he has been. Contrariwise, the best-behaved are also seen in their true lost condition if all their splendid moral performance is destitute of love, humility, and mercy. He can recognize those who are “not far from the kingdom of God” and those who are distant, and works to bring all of them all the way in.

There is more to this life and this world than just what the unregenerate multitudes see, and this includes the unregenerate religious multitudes. Possession by the Holy Spirit provides a different reality in which to live and breathe. This other reality is salvation, without which no man shall see the Lord. In the regenerated soul, new light shines upon God’s creation; the glory of Eden, once again, dances upon the works of His hands; everything becomes new. The lessons declaring God’s character, shrouded by sin, are again open to the understanding. It is not an altered state of mind; the head is not in the clouds or “stuck in the Bible.” It is THE FAITH OF JESUS, the condition that we must have, spoken of in Romans 3:22, Galatians 2:20, and Revelation 14:12─a surrender accessible to everyone. (Romans 10:8.) Due to this surrender, whatever is done in the life all works together to bring about prosperity, because the soul is reconciled to God and is living in one accord with His will. (Ps. 1:1-3.)

The world is persuasively pretentious, imitating the Egyptian Empire of the Old Testament. It represents happiness without God, advertising the successful life, the elite life, the life of money, all empty promises. Yes, Egyptian idolatry is alive and well. All this, however, is seen to be a dead end street. When the renewed heart and mind find a new appreciation for goodness and righteousness, all the rewards offered by the world appear in their true utter foolishness. At conversion, the character of Christ becomes a real prospect. Righteousness is possible, and the Heaven to be won isn’t a cunningly devised fable, after all.

We are born, the first time, spiritual invalids, and communion with God well nigh amputated. But the Spirit of truth works to convict the conscience. And when He has finished His work, a sudden realization of the true condition of the sinful heart alarms the consciousness. Like a flash of lightning, the soul is laid bare of all its self-made security. “Woe is me!” is the cry of the quickened heart. That flash leaves the intellect never the same again. Through the magnificently orchestrated providences of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, the walls of our self-preservation are enabled to fall down, and love and humility welcome a new Master. We have a new capacity to trust God. We stop blaming Him for all of life’s troubles. We blame ourselves now, and see God’s wisdom by permitting the consequences of our sinful practices. We also view the world’s attractions differently. None of its supposed friendliness compares with the jealous love of a heavenly Parent, who has asserted Himself for our redemption and protection. When we see ourselves as we really are, we immediately see God as He really is, and we can see the world as it truly is.

This change is completely the work of God. In it is not a single thread of human devising. You don’t have to work it up—you can’t even produce it. A baby is just born—the mother does all the work. Though the experience is traumatic for the infant, the mother endures the great majority of the trauma. Nobody ever asked to be born; we are completely helpless even in the planning of that great event. We may not know how we were born from above, but we will know that it took place. And from that point onward, we are anxious to know that experience day after day, and for others to have the same. No sooner does one come to Christ, than there is born within him a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus. The saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in the heart.

This new capacity to love and know God is the bread by which man must live, for which physical food can never substitute. It is the hidden wisdom (1Cor. 2:7), the hidden manna experience (Rev. 2:17), and in a powerful manifestation it will comprise the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit before Jesus returns. The power to overcome sin will be the noted evidence of its work.

This heaven-sent transaction, the King Saul’s new man experience (1Sam. 10:6), has been missing in the churches. Their minds are blinded; their veil is untaken away until they come to Christ. (2Cor. 3:14.) Many will say in that day, “You ate at our tables, and You taught in our streets! Open up the gates of the city!” In their unconverted condition, the sentence will fall upon their ears, “I never knew you. Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity!” They kept somewhat near Him, but never needed an intimate friendship. They kept the Prince of heaven on hold, at arms length. To be almost saved, but not wholly, is to be not almost, but wholly lost.

Faith—more than a theory, more than intellectual assent—as an experience, has become hidden from religion, and from many professed Christians. Beyond the profession, that nothing will ever really change is the only conclusion that the unregenerated heart can come to. There is no hope in the dead, professed Christian. Nothing spiritual is worth striving for; for the quickening of the Holy Spirit has not happened.

But if we consent, this conviction can be our experience. And if we keep coming to Jesus, on our knees before His written word, He will continue to flash His glittering sword in our hearts and minds, clearing away our misunderstandings of His love, converting and cleansing us. Our heavenly High Priest will never stop working to prepare us for the day of His coming, when that final, piercing brightness, in the fullness of His physical presence lays our corruption bare one last time. All His waiting children will cry, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings?” “Who shall stand in His holy place?”

But that last, horrific and shuddering experience of the fiery conviction of His true righteousness, brought by His personal approaching in power, will forever destroy the deepest roots of rebellion. Our change will be permanent; sin will never harass us again. And everyone caught without repentance in His presence will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming.

“Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Mal. 3:2,3.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” 1Jn. 3:2.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Grace and Suffering

For there to have been grace, suffering must have happened. Without pain and suffering on Gods part, there can be no grace toward us. Without grace we can have no trust. Without trust there is no learning. Without learning there is no development.

The human race is to grow by grace. (2 Pet. 3:18.) But there is no short cut to dispensing grace that can evade hurt and sorrow. It must all come in the same package. Thus our redemption and the wiping away of the stain of our rebellion against God must come through the ultimate pain, the pangs of death. No other representation could suffice for the death borne by our heavenly Father because of us. The harsh reality of the Law states, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” “Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:23-25. It’s only fair. We damaged God. We brought the equivalent of death to the Ancient of Days, the Infinite One. The rebellious creatures deserve to die.

Yet the human race continues to exist. We keep living while our Father keeps dying. At the cross, all the Father’s horror and pain Christ took upon Himself. No one else but Christ could comprehend it all, and no one else could endure it to sufficiently reveal the Father’s true hatred of sin. The Father needed His Son. The Son saved the Father, who had felt the full weight of sin’s results. The Son was the Samaritan who came to the aid of His wounded Father. They cooperated in our redemption. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” “He hath put Him to grief.” “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” 2Cor. 5:19; Is. 53:10; 2Cor. 5:21. Wonder, O heavens! Be astonished, O earth! Behold the Godhead suffering together for the rebellious race They loved!

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also.” Rom. 5:1-3. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Phil. 3:10. If we would train and develop others around us, we must suffer at their hand, and then show grace. We must do no less than God has done. Charity suffereth long, and then is kind. (1Cor. 13:4.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Chance or Choice

Twins struggled in Rebecca.

Out popped a cute little red ball of joy and hair. Next to enter the center of attraction was a plain, not-so-cute troublemaker. The very first act on his debut was to grab onto his brother’s tiny heel in a late attempt to be the first to come out of the womb! Was it by chance or choice that the infant Jacob did it like that?

The boys grew up, always at each other’s throat, and that in a Christian home setting forth the character of the true God to the neighbors and community. Esau inherited his father’s stature, physical strength, confidence, and virility. Jacob inherited the traits of his mother’s family, their shrewdness and ambition.

Esau was a homeboy, and faithfully prepared to run the family farm. He loved his father and sought any occasion to work together with him, recreating together. He wanted to please Isaac in every way he could. In the light of his father’s acceptance he exploded with energy. With such a warm environment in which to develop, was it chance that Esau ended up with all the energy he had?

Jacob perceived life differently than did his brother. There was a world out there, bigger than what Esau conceived, all for the taking. Jacob’s natural ability led him away from the outdoor chase, to managerial types of career. He loved to earn a penny. He loved to save and count his money. His dream was not to be comfortable in life, but RICH! And it didn’t matter that Esau might inherit the majority of the family wealth, he planned to build his own empire. His father would never again view him lesser than Esau when he saw his younger son exceeding the elder in prosperity. It appears the siblings were each dealt a different hand and it would be impossible for the boys to remain together for very long.

A storm cloud arose over that Hebrew household, as Esau was seen running around with his machete, throwing back tent curtains, hunting for the carcass of his brother. “Is not his name ‘Cheat?!’ I’m going to kill that worthless low-down worm, that conniving, yellow-bellied, sneaky coward, that lying thief!” Jacob literally laid low and a little later ran for his life. A crisis revealed the true condition of the family. The state of counter attitudes and natures were sure to collide. Every human effort was made by the parents to prevent this, or at least to make it an easy transition. Their unbridled natures, untamed by grace, however, the boys only dealt with on the surface and the confrontation was inevitable. Was it beyond the parents’ control? What more could they have done? What could the sons have done? Is it just chance that we are given the character flaws that we get? Is it fair what we get? Why do some folks naturally possess more favorable abilities than others? In light of the power of God’s grace, does it matter what we get?

Every morning and evening, Abraham and Isaac brought together the family to the altar. Daily they rehearsed the sad stories of Eden, the wickedness of the old world and building of the huge boat that survived the eradication of all life on earth. The boys heard the stories of Enoch and Methuselah and Shem, and of their father Eber, who lived during the building of the big tower at Babel, from whom their Hebrew roots sprang. They heard of the more recent destruction of the awful cities of the plain, where now lay the deep crater of the salty sea. But a notion began to lodge in the mind of Jacob, that the great God of his beloved grandfather Abraham, who could cleanse the world of wickedness, could also remove the impurity of his wicked nature. And a seed of hope came to life. Esau, on the other hand, too distracted by the butterflies and birds and the excitement of the next chase, never gave opportunity for the spiritual principles woven into his father’s and grandfather’s stories to take root. Esau was handsome and talented and strong and popular, anyway. He had no time for spiritual things. Was it by chance that the seed of conviction eventually lodged in Jacob and not in Esau? Or was it by choice?

The Earth Shall Be Full of the Knowledge of the Lord

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy Mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Is. 11:9.

As full of knowing Jesus as the waters that cover the sea.... That’s a lot of getting acquainted with Jesus and the Father.

The USGS states that there is 321,000,000 (million) cubic miles (total water in oceans, seas and bays).

If I wanted to bale it all out, I’d need to remember there are 1,101,117,147,429 (about 1 quadrillion) five-gallon buckets in a cubic mile.

That would take 353,458,604,324,709,000,000 (353.5 septillion) five-gallon buckets to bale out Earth’s oceans, seas, and bays.

At one bucket-full per minute, if I did my math right, it would take almost 177 trillion years.

Of course, that’s not eternity, so if I put my mind to it, I might be able to get ’er done.

NOT!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to spend that time with Jesus.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chester, Oh Chester!

We have a large Colley, German Shepherd mix, named Chester, nicknamed Woogie. Now there are smart dogs and there are less than smart dogs. Good ol’ Chester is in the latter bunch! But we love him. He tears up the back yard, leaving a mess in his wake, digging deep holes, constantly eating the other two dog’s food, and worst of all…leaving land mines indiscriminately everywhere! Chester, Oh Chester! What am I going to do with you, poor guy?

He was abused by his previous owner before my daughter brought him home. He winces at any loud command, like, “Get out of the house!” So instead of running for dear life, he drops to the floor and squints his eyes. I have no thought of striking him, but that’s his reaction. I just want him out of the house, so I pick him up (no easy task) or drag him out by the collar, while he puts on all four brakes.

I know I sound mean. But the reason I panic is because we tried to house train him when we first got him. What a disaster! He doesn’t even make the slightest attempt to find an out-of-the-way place to leave his stinking present or even to urinate. It’s just: stop in your tracks, and relieve yourself. No warning. No nothing. He’s about as wild as you can get, I suppose.

But he has something going for him. He is super-affectionate. Whenever I’m walking the dogs, while the other two are out on their search and destroy mission to find all the places to mark, Chester comes up to me and leans against my leg, wanting to be caressed. He doesn’t have mischievous eyes; they are forlorn for a friend. When I work in the back yard, if I’m down on my knees, he positions himself directly between my face and the object I’m working on. I can try to push his big cumbersome body out of the way to see what I’m doing, but he won’t budge. He just longs for my attention. He’s not joking; he’s as serious and determined as he can be in his own doggy way.

Obviously, if I’m down on his level, it must be because I want to converse with him. Makes perfect sense! Isn’t that why people crowded Jesus so much that He had no time so much as to eat? If God comes down to our level, it must mean He wants us to crowd Him, right?! God has given us the animals to teach us about ourselves, and about Himself and the relationship He wants with His intelligent creatures.

Back to Chester. As much as I love Woogie, I can’t allow him to live in the house with us. That is completely out of the question. If the day ever comes that he gets house-trained and then goes on lengthy probation, then he will be trusted to come inside, but never before that.

Likewise, God wants to give us heaven and all of its warmth and wonder. He longs to welcome us back into paradise. But sin has ruined that prospect. He can’t let us back into His kingdom, because we would indiscriminately drop filth and irreverence all over the place. He will not risk the purity of His Home and the safety of others who live at His Home, even though He loves us undisciplined sinners with all His heart. Sin has put God into a real quandary. It has really bound Him down, though we don’t realize it. And that’s the problem with allowing us back into heaven without going through a lengthy and painful training program─we don’t realize how much filth we leave in our path, how much trash leaves our mouths, how hard our hearts are, how hard it is for us to love, and trust, and praise Him for all of His kindness toward us. But He loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how we’ve been abused by our previous master and the almost permanent damage it has caused, which is why He despises His enemy so much. He judges us by all of that.

So until our training is over and we pass the final, until we’ve learned to carry the cross, to die to self, to walk with Jesus, trusting Him implicitly and obeying all of His commands (not just the big ten), we are refused God’s home─FLAT REFUSED!! Period, no arguments! And can you blame Him?? When He had to punish them by preventing them from entering the earthly land of promise, Christ proclaimed in infinite determination toward His stubbornly intractable Israel, “As truly as I live, All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord!” Num. 14:21. Yet, He loves us, nonetheless, just like I overlook all of Chester’s faults, and love his dogginess and warm heart. Something tells me that as long as he and I keep our relationship, he will slowly learn where I stand on house rules and he will learn all that goes into living with his master. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

“And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them…They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Is. 11:6,9.