Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where Did He Meet With You?

furnace blastImage by Vilseskogen via Flickr
Some friends of mine have been walking through some fires lately.

For the past couple of days, the heat got turned up even hotter than usual.

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury,
and...he spoke and commanded
that they heat the furnace
seven times more than it was usually heated.
(Dan 3:19)

The Biblical account doesn't tell us if Daniel's three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, felt fear as they defied the king's order and stood true to their God. I imagine they did. Surely the superheated furnace made the three men sweatingly, painfully hot before they even got near it. Each step provided an opportunity to repent of their righteousness, to plead for their lives at the cost of their souls.

My friends felt fear too. They had to sweat some. They struggled with all sorts of emotions. They're only human, and wouldn't want to be placed on any pedestals. They're real, normal, good, sinful, wonderful, flawed people.

People who chose to remain stubbornly true, even when their feelings couldn't catch up with their good intentions.

And in their fire, they met with God.
"Did we not cast three men bound
into the midst of the fire?
Look! I see four men loose,
walking in the midst of the fire;
and they are not hurt,
and the form of the fourth
is like the Son of God."
(Dan 3:24-25)
I know how it feels to find life's inferno transformed by His Presence. So did my friends, before this newest trial. But still, when new crises loom, the fear comes back, and the uncertainty, and the anger, and the pain. And yet, when we stay true to Him, He meets us there, and we come away knowing Him a little more, trusting Him more deeply, loving Him more truly.

Where did He meet with you this year? If your life has been like mine (and many others'), there have been times when He's met you on the mountaintop. But there have also been times, precious times, when He has met you in the furnace.

And tell me, haven't subsequent mountaintop experiences been all the sweeter for the heat they came through? Haven't your joys been more thankful, less selfish, less prideful, more pure?

Where did He meet with you this year?
Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth
of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying,
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego,
servants of the Most High God,
come out, and come here."
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego
came from the midst of the fire.
(Dan 3:26)

Don't you wish you knew what God had said to them in that fire? Wouldn't you love to know how it felt to be with Him like that?

And can you imagine how sweet their freedom, their very lives, felt to them afterwards? Can you picture them going home and answering the question, "How was your day?"

Imagine as they grew old, how often they thought of that day, how often others would have asked them to tell the story. What do you suppose they focused on when they told the tale?
  • Their own bravery?
  • How mean and unfair Nebuchadnezzar was?
  • How hot the fire was?
  • How the men who cast them into the fire were burned up at the entrance?
  • How great it felt to get out, unhurt?
Sure, they probably thought about some of those things and talked about them (though I doubt they gave any prideful thoughts to their own courage. Something about meeting with the Almighty has a way of banishing such boasting.) But all those things would have come in at a very distant second place compared to the glory of meeting with The Holy One there. I imagine the old men stammering when they came to that part of the tale, perhaps falling silent as words failed them. But the glow in their eyes, the passion in their souls would have spoken for them. Their listeners would be left longing for such an experience of God themselves. And none would be foolish enough to ask if they had any regrets.

No one could doubt that God Himself was worth it.

Perhaps the reason why we aren't told of their flame-encircled conversation is that no words could suffice.

In fact, we know that even the most magnificent words cannot suffice. Look with me at the words which God Himself spoke in the last chapters of the book of Job (Chapters 38-41). Wonderful words that speak of God's incredible power and wisdom fill these pages. But as majestic as they are, you and I are still left wondering, "How could those words be enough? How could they satisfy a man who had lost everything?"

They couldn't. They didn't.

God could. He did.

Those words were precious, and I'm so glad they've been preserved for us from antiquity. But even Job himself said that it was not the words which made the difference for him.
"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
and repent in dust and ashes."
(Job 42:5-6)
(Now, if such an outcome doesn't sound appealing to you, it's because you haven't yet tasted the sweetness that comes from such repentance, or from the new intimacy with God that results.)

Whatever Job experienced in that conversation with God, even the sacred text cannot fully express it. There are some things that are too profound for words. To know them, one must meet with God.

Where has God met with you this year?

Where will He meet with you next year?

2009 has many dark shadows on its brow. Do you fear them? Probably, at least a little. The furnace's heat can be felt from a distance.

If God has chosen a furnace for you, step in. I can't tell you how long you'll have to stay in there, or how badly it might hurt in your case. Not everyone comes out unscathed.

I can tell you that He will be worth it, if you meet Him there. And when you come out, there will be a new glow in your eyes, a new passion in your souls that will leave others longing to know God for themselves.

Seek Him. Meet with Him, no matter where He is when He offers the invitation. Let Him be your legacy for 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where the Spirit of the Lord is...

Now the Lord is the Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.
(2Co 3:17)

The following quote is from George H. Morrison (1866-1928).
I hope it blesses you as it blesses me.
TS_RO2008_0602BHImage by RogelSM via Flickr

"It is not freedom to do just as we please
in defiance of all the laws that girdle us.
[T]he paradox of Christianity is this,
that [freedom] comes through obedience to Christ.

Think of the schoolgirl practicing her music.
Is not that the weariest of bondage?
Is this the happy face we saw so lately,
flushed with the eager merriment of play?

But set down the musical genius at the instrument,
and get him to interpret some great master,
and the thoughts which he utters are the master's thoughts,
and yet he is magnificently free.

The child is in bondage, the genius is at liberty.
The child is unnatural; the genius is himself.
The child is slaving under an outward law.
The genius has the spirit of the master.

And 'if any man have not the spirit of Christ,'
then, says the Scripture, 'he is none of His.'"

Vladimir HorowitzImage via Wikipedia

Friday, December 26, 2008

Strength Perfected in Meekness

Friday Fiction

His world pressed in hard, squeezing him in a strange tightness that ebbed and flowed, sometimes threatening to crush him. Discomfort contorted his face.

His mind, too young to understand, could do nothing but accept whatever happened to him.


Strange sounds filtered through, sounds that troubled him at an instinctive level. Something in his being agreed with it, longed to join in it, but couldn't.

He could only endure as he was squeezed, pushed, rushed headlong into something new. Eyes opened, seeing dimly. Loud noises, once muffled, now roared in his ears. One such cry, filled with anguish, coincided with the final crushing pressure that pushed his whole body into this strange, cold, bright, confusing place.

Something entered his mouth, swept mucous away. Air rushed into his body, filled his chest. He'd never felt anything like it, but a moment later his own voice added to the cries that filled his ears.

The voices around him took on a different tone. His own wails, strident, seemed suddenly out of place. Warmth wrapped around him, comforting him. He quieted.
NewbornImage by juliecampbell via Flickr

And then, a new comfort. A delicious scent, a taste warm and perfect on his tongue. He had never needed to do anything before, but need drove him now. He drank eagerly until sleep overtook him.


Sweat dampened his robes. Sunlight poured in through the window, providing much-needed light for his workbench, but adding to the discomfort of the heat.

He drove the last nail into the box, a box like countless others he had built over the years, and yet so different. So very, very different...simply because he would never be able to show it to Dad.

Tears blurred his eyes.

His mother came into the workshop, her eyes red with grief. He opened his arms to her, unable to do more than just offer his embrace. Soon he held in his arms the one who once held him.

"I can't believe he's dead." She said it softly, and there was no accusation in her tone. But he knew her heart, knew the unspoken thought.

Yes, Mother, I am Who you think I am. You mustn't doubt, even though My presence did not keep Dad from dying.

"Zacharias' order is ready, mother."

Mother reached out a hand to touch the smoothly planed wood, and she managed a smile through her tears. "You always do such fine work. Your father would be pleased." Her voice broke.

"I always do the will of My Father," he murmured. Even when His will means withholding my power, withholding life, denying joy to those I love.

A neighbor's voice called. "Mary, I've brought you some food, dear."

Mother gave him a sad smile. "Rhoda is so kind." She turned and walked out of the workshop and back toward the house. Yeshua couldn't see her now, but he knew that she wept again.

He sat down. The bench felt hard, offering scant comfort for his tired bones. He hadn't slept well in the few hours since he'd watched his father take his final breaths. And the previous nights had seen him working late, keeping up with his Dad's work orders as well as his own.


It doesn't get any easier, even when you know it's coming.

He looked at his hands, black with dirt. A splinter pained his left thumb. It had gone in so deep that he would have had to cut himself worse to get it out.

When I was a little boy, Dad told me to ignore the hurts that I couldn't do anything about. He said it was easier to ignore that kind of pain...the kind that you're helpless against. He said it was harder to ignore the pains that you could eliminate, if you knew God wanted you to endure them. He said it was hard to endure the temptation to escape.

How little he understood! I have endured that temptation every moment of my life in this body. I could have changed everything!

I could have refused to feel the pain of labor...pain which all other babies mercifully forget. I could have made the manger softer for my tender new body. I could have commanded angels to hold me up when my wobbly legs were learning to walk, but I didn't. I fell and crashed into things when balance failed me, like any other child. I could have spoken a word and made all of these simple wooden things in a moment of time, the way I spoke the worlds into place. But instead I sawed, and I planed, and I sweated, and I wore myself out in flesh and blood in this carpentry shop. I got splinters, and hit my thumbs with hammers.

I could have spoken all human frailty away.
Instead I let everything come to me as the Father willed it. Just like everyone else.

He looked again at his Dad's workbench. I could have eased your suffering, Dad. You don't know how I pleaded for permission. I could have made you well. I could have turned mother's fear into elation.

"It's not yet your time," my True Father always said. "You may not show yourself yet."

He sighed. "Father, Your will is perfect. How wise are your ways! It has been hard, holding myself back all these years. But I trust You completely. I yield, as always.

He gathered up his meager tools to put them away. The saw handle touched his tender thumb.

Nineteen years. In all my nineteen years, I have never worked a single miracle. It would be so inconsequential, just speaking this annoying splinter away. What harm could such a tiny miracle do? No one would see. All it would take was a word...

But then I would not know what it is to be fully human. I would not be the High Priest who can sympathize with my people's weaknesses.

The word will not be spoken, because The Word will not remove Himself from the Father's mouth. When He speaks, I will speak. I will not yield to the flesh.

The splinter stays. I obey for the glory of God.

And Dad's body will go into the grave.


"Mordecai!" Yeshua hugged his friend. "How is your wife? Is she better?"

"Yes, thank God, she is well now, thank you. And how is your mother, and your brothers?"

"They're all fine. They're here, too." Yeshua looked around at the many happy guests. "This will be an especially joyous wedding, I think."

"Yes, they are very much in love. It will be a good day." Mordecai leaned closer. "I hear you've been doing well for yourself...teaching and even having your own disciples? That's admirable."

"Yes, my Father told me it was time." Yeshua knew that no one really felt comfortable with him saying such things. Sure enough, Mordecai lowered his eyes, then excused himself to go greet someone from out of town.

Yeshua accepted a glass of wine from a servant and greeted more friends. But something in his spirit burned hotter than usual today.

I'm thirty years old...surely I must show myself soon! Is that why there's this fire inside of me?

The guests all sat down, and Yeshua sat beside his mother.

The glory in his soul made it a little hard for his flesh to concentrate.

Oh, this weak flesh! It still wants to doubt. Still doesn't fully believe that I'm the Son of God, the Promised One. It tells me I'm crazy, and that I'd better not ever try to do any miracles, because the only result will be making a fool of myself. Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit! If it were not for Him, my flesh might convince me to succumb. But I cannot possibly give in to doubt, not with You igniting everything within me.

It's important for me to feel these doubts, isn't it, Father? My people feel them, too. And I can sympathize.

Loud, excited whispers pulled him out of his thoughts. Ah, the scandal has begun. They've realized there wasn't enough wine.

The familiar thought, "I can fix that," came and went almost unnoticed. Thirty years' worth of resisting that temptation had made such resistance almost automatic.


His mother leaned over and whispered to him, and it kind-of surprised him in his flesh. She doesn't usually ask me to intervene. Even when Dad was dying she didn't ask me for a miracle.

Does she also sense the Spirit straining to burst forth in me?

"Dear woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

Mother, with her usual piercing perception, seemed to see what happened in Yeshua's soul as soon as he felt it himself.

"Do whatever he tells you to do," she said to the servants.

Yeshua felt as if the very glory of Heaven broke loose inside of him.
Really, Father? Really? Is this how you want me to start?

The affirmative came back with a warmth that filled every inch of his being. "Fill the water pots with water," he told the servants. They complied, and Yeshua's Spirit shouted with joy at the sight of the water turning wine-red. "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast," he commanded.

Joy overflowed as they hurried away. Glory to You, Father! Glory to You! And yet even with the joy came a new heaviness.

I know where this road leads.

The wisdom of his Father's plan, of his austere preparatory years, shone more clearly than ever now. Every denied desire of my flesh, every refusal to misuse my power for selfish purposes, has given me the strength that will keep me on that road, and will keep me on that cross.

You have trained me well, Father. Bless You!

Grapes photo from Stock.xchng by Hapekla
Wood photo from Stock.xchng by Durdge39

Friday Fiction is being hosted today by Patty over at Patterings. (The actual assignment for the day was just to pick your favorite fictional posting for the year and "re-run" it. But since the Lord gave me something new, I decided to share that instead.) Please drop by Patterings for links to more fiction.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Nostalgia For What We've Never Known

Last night was another one of those times.

I knew He wanted to meet with me.

Last-minute chores done late at night. Excited children finally tucked into bed, dreaming of Christmas morning.

Eagerness to be with Him.

I turned off all of the lights except for the ones on the Christmas tree. The beauty of their twinkling brought tears, and the blurring only made the twinkling more beautiful.

I took off my glasses to keep the effect.Currier & IvesImage by prettywar-stl via Flickr

Oh Father, will there ever be another one like this?

It's not that the tree is particularly beautiful. It's an ordinary plastic tree. It's just that 2009 seems likely to be the year when everything will change. I don't know how drastically altered our lives might be when next Christmas rolls around.

Then again, do we ever really know? We expect things to go on unchanged, but they often don't. So many turns in the road that we never saw coming.

Nostalgia glitters. It reflects off of every familiar ornament, especially the ones that speak of childhood. Romanticized childhood in Victorian garb.

I want to believe that children are innocent and pure, but they aren't. Why are we so eager to overlook reality, to paint children as angelic when we see their sinful natures every day?

Elsewhere on the tree other ornaments catch my eye. Real childhood in the shape of my children's hands, cut out of foam and covered with glitter and inscribed with dates from years gone by.

My children's hands were much smaller then. My heart wants to sigh, "Those were the days."

Except of course they weren't. Reality has no glitter. Why do we convince ourselves that yesterday was better than today, even when we know it isn't true? Even when yesterday came draped in sorrow and grief and pain?
Do not say,
"Why were the former days better than these?"
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
(Ecc 7:10)
No, the former days were not better than these, and yet nearly every heart comes equipped with the capacity to take off its glasses and enjoy the beauty that comes with blurring.

Comes equipped...that speaks of design. Why did God design us to be nostalgic? Is there a purpose for this longing for what used to be?

Our Father does not waste His creative efforts. He created us to be nostalgic...not for the good old days of our youth, but for the youth that we never knew. Hard-wired into our DNA is the knowledge that there was a better time...a time when man and woman walked with Him in a garden. A time when they were naked and not ashamed. The childhood of humanity, when all really was innocent.

The blueprint written in our souls tells us what children ought to be, even though we've never met one untouched by sin.

We remember. Our minds have no imprints from Eden, but our souls do.

Sin distorts the memory. It shortens the span of time, attaching the feelings of Eden to the events of our mortal lives, intentionally turning the lens of our hindsight until all goes out of focus. Those were the good old days. They were!

If we deny Eden, we can deny The Fall. If we deny The Fall, we can deny the depth of our pain, deny the chasm between us and Joy, deny the God who would restore us if we would come to Him in His His Son.

No, if the good old days happened in my lifetime, then I can get them back in my lifetime. Paradise comes to those who pretend it. This is the promise of short-sighted nostalgia.

Like so many of sin's distortions, this one is hard to let go of, because we fear we will lose beauty if we do. But no, the true beauty awaits those who let go of illusion and face the stark reality that our hearts' truest longing is for what we have never known, what we can never grasp with mortal hands...if we then bring those longings to the One whose glory wrapped itself in infant skin so long ago.

God grant us the courage to long for what we were meant to long for! To crave innocence...not the kind falsely attributed to some bygone era, but the kind bought for us with the precious blood of the Son of God. To crave intimacy with our Creator, long walks in the garden with Omnipotent Perfection...not mere solitary strolls down memory lane.

It hurts to long for what we do not have, for what we cannot give ourselves. But it's a sweet hurt for those who know the Lord. Because while we do not have all of Him, we have a foretaste, and it is delectable. And we have His promises, promises which cannot fail.

He will give us what we cannot give ourselves. And when He does, we will not need to squint our eyes, or take off our glasses, or pretend anything away. We will, in fact, see more clearly than ever before.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part,
but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1Co 13:12
By all means, look at the beauty of the glittering tree, of the children, of the stars, of a smile, of the past. Enjoy them. Thank God for them. But be sure to look beyond them. Look for that which nostalgia, despite its joys, must always lack.

Nostalgia can promise nothing, give nothing. But it can point its finger to the One who is comforting bread for our hungry spirits, and a fountain of water for our parched souls.

Look again at the infant in the manger, the one who grew to walk Calvary's road, to die Calvary's death, to write death's epitaph.

He does not give the promise we yearn for.

He is the promise we yearn for.

All our nostalgia is but the echo of Adam and Eve's cry as the gates of Eden slammed shut behind them.

Jesus is the door.

He is the Alpha and Omega, who was, and is, and is to come. In Him we own all things, even the past which otherwise would have slipped irrevocably out of our grasp.

I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25)

When all is said and done, it is not the former things of our lives that we long for the most. It is Life that we long for the most.

Jesus said, "I am...the Life!"

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Him! After all, isn't that why his Father arranged for His newborn promise to be swaddled in a feeding trough?

Feast on Him today.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sent As He Was Sent

How did God send Jesus?

I don't mean, "In what form?" or "What were the circumstances?" Those details get plenty of press this time of year.

I mean, "What was the nature of His assignment?"

It's important for us to know this, because of one often-overlooked statement of our Lord.
"As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
(John 20:21)
How did the Father send Him? How does the Son send us?

It would be hard to say it any better than it was said in this wonderful hymn by E. Margaret Clarkson (1954). (On an interesting note, the first three verses don't appear in some hymn books.)

So Send I You

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing-
So send I you to toil for Me alone.

So send I you to leave your life's ambition,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you-
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, though it be blood, to spend and spare not-
So send I you to taste of Calvary.

So send I you, by grace made strong to triumph
O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death and sin
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer,
So send I you, my victory to win.

So send I you, to take to souls in bondage
The word of truth that sets the captive free
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters
So send I you, to bring the lost to Me.

So send I you, my strength to know in weakness
My joy in grief, my perfect peace in pain
To prove my pow'r, my grace, my promised presence
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

So send I you, to bear my cross with patience
And then one day with joy to lay it down
To hear my voice, "Well done, my faithful servant
Come share my throne, my kingdom and my crown!"

As the Father hath sent me, so send I you.

When you and I look at the manger scene today, when we contemplate the miracles, the angelic singing, the wonder, the joy...
2nd quarter of 17th centuryImage via Wikipedia

May we also remember the rest of the "how" of His coming...the purpose which He has graciously allowed us to make our own.
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), Antonio Ciseri, 1...Image via Wikipedia
Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (Heb 13:13)

Crucifixion IImage by Remara Photography via Flickr
...we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom 8:17)

This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
(2Ti 2:11)

As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you...

Garden Tomb photo taken by Betsy Markman at "The Holy Land Experience," Orlando, FL

Monday, December 22, 2008

Whose Pen Is It, Betsy?

Somebody is very angry with me.

This particular person believes that it is wrong for me to use my writing gift as I do. They believe I have my focus wrong. Because I have chosen to write the sorts of things that I write, and have not written a "Keep Christ in Christmas" letter to my city officials, this individual has made it clear that they want nothing more to do with me, except to send me the occasional angry email expressing their belief that people like me are to blame for everything that's wrong with our country. So far, my attempts at reconciliation have been ignored or rebuffed.

I confess, the situation threw me for a while. Fear of man crept into my soul...the desire to be liked, or at least to be vindicated. Prideful anger simmered and stewed and sometimes boiled over. And I couldn't seem to feel the Spirit's guidance anymore. Inspiration for writing dried up.

In other words, it's been a very helpful experience.

I've had a wonderful opportunity to see sin in my heart, and to deal with it before God. Repeatedly. And as of this morning I've been given fresh clarity about God's desire for the gifts He has given me.

You see, I've been very conflicted. I didn't want to seem to be an uncaring, irresponsible American. I felt I ought to write something to my city officials, to "fight for our rights" as I was urged to do, but I had no idea what to write. The city had included Christian themes in its holiday display, but rumor had it that there were some officials who didn't want them there.

I couldn't in good conscience write a letter based on second or third hand information. "I've heard that there are some people who don't want Christian symbols used during the holidays! Well, let me tell you..."


And as for the whole issue of Christmas...well...I haven't studied the issue in depth, but I'm somewhat aware of its pagan roots. My family celebrates Christmas, but I certainly can't be dogmatic about how right that is.

Also, inevitably, my conflicted mind would always crash into this one simple fact:
If I write any letter at all, regardless of what it says, it will have been written because of and for the person who is angry with me...and to satisfy my desire to be liked.
At that point, I just mentally "threw up my hands" and thought about something else. I didn't know where to go. Pride didn't want me to yield my pen to anyone else, especially to someone who was angry with me. And when I saw the sin in my pride, it left me confounded. I just didn't know what to do.

Well, that's not entirely true. There was one thing I knew to do. I kept confessing the sin that constantly welled to the surface, confessing my confusion, confessing how desperately I needed Him, even though I couldn't seem to feel Him, and it seemed that He was "hiding His face."
I will wait on the LORD,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
and I will hope in Him.
Isa 8:17
God is so good!

This morning I had barely awakened when I felt His answer. It came with a feeling of peace and cleansing that I recognize as His handiwork.

It's a joy. I've missed Him.

Right when I woke up He spoke to me of Moses.

When I gave Moses an audience with Pharaoh, did he proceed to tell Pharaoh to celebrate any holidays, or did he say what I told him to let My people go so that THEY could worship me? Did I want Pharaoh to celebrate any holidays with his godless heart?

When I gave Paul an audience before King Agrippa, did he demand the right to do anything? Or did he, led by My Spirit, give his salvation testimony and express his hope that those who had arrested him would be saved?

Oh, how sweetly and purely those words fell on my heart! But He wasn't finished with His gentle reproof yet.

You want the joy of writing with My guidance, don't you?

Oh yes, Lord, I've missed You terribly!

Then why are you even thinking of writing independently of Me? Did you even ask Me if you should write anything to the city officials?

(Gulp.) No. I never did ask. I sometimes asked for generic "wisdom," but never actually asked if I should write to them at all. My desire to save face by doing what the angry person wanted...or to feed my pride by refusing what the angry person wanted...those opposing desires were what I consulted. And they kept leading me around in circles.

You were right to ask for wisdom. And you were right not to want to yield your pen to any human. But aren't YOU a human? Why did you want to keep your pen in your own human hands, instead of yielding it to Me?

Yes, Lord, you are so right! Thank You!

You wanted to write by My Spirit, but not for Me!

How foolish of me, Lord!

Have I asked you to write to the city?

No, You haven't.

So will you write to them?

No, not unless You tell me to.

I may, you know, at a different time.

That's Your right. If You do, I will write with joy. I know how it feels when Your Spirit fills and overflows through my fingers. There's no mistaking You, and writing for You is pure joy.

Whose pen is it, Betsy?

Yours. I'm so glad it's Yours!

Oh, what fresh air breathes into my soul when God takes all confusion away!

Please, brothers and sisters in Christ, let's remember that the Lord has a path for each of His children to walk in. And none of us can pour our energies into every possible cause, or burn with every possible passion. Contrary to what some may think, it would have been sinful of me to take up someone else's favorite cause, their favorite passion, when it was not God's direction for me.
Peter...said to Jesus,
"But Lord, what about this man?"
Jesus said to him, "...what is that to you?
You follow Me."
(John 21:21-22)
And in the same way, we cannot judge anyone else's calling. God has called them to work in one way, and He has called us to work in others.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." (1Co 12:17-21)
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Co. 3:17). Each one is free as long as they walk in obedience to the Spirit. It is not for anyone to put another in bondage, trying to force others into the path that the Spirit has laid out for themselves.

May I suggest that we cannot even attend to the Spirit's still, small voice in our own hearts, if we're stridently arguing with other believers about the paths we want them to walk if we, not the Spirit, should command them? (Yes, we are to deal with sin in other believers, but sin is not the issue in this case.)
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Rom 14:4)
May we all enjoy a new joy, and peace, and liberty, and love for the Lord and for our brethren this Christmas season, and all year round!

As always, I welcome comments. I must ask, though, that we not use this blog as a place to debate the rightness or wrongness of Christmas. I will moderate comments in the spirit of Romans 14.

Photo from Stock.xchng by DontBblu.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tips for Memorizing God's Word

I was extremely moved and blessed by this blog entry from Please, please read it for wonderful tips on Scripture memory, but also be sure to watch the video clip of the man psalm 22Image by celeste343 via Flickrreciting Psalm 22. It helped me so much to hear that Psalm spoken with meaning and passion, not just read like a dry piece of fiction.

After being blessed by that blog, I felt drawn to act on an idea that's been floating around in my mind for a while. I couldn't follow through on it while I was being so deeply moved to write the series on false assurance, the false gospel, etc, that I've been focused on. Maybe that's why the inspiration for that series seems to have dried up for the moment. Perhaps it's time for this entry to be written at last.

Memorize the Word!

We don't know how much longer we'll be free to read or quote from the Bible openly, or even how much longer it will be legal to own the Scriptures at all. Canada, our "democratic" neighbor to the North, has outlawed the preaching of certain portions of Scripture, and has persecuted pastors for preaching truth (hate crimes against homosexuals, you know). So it's not melodramatic to think that our religious freedoms are threatened here.
Memorize the Word!
How does one do that? How do we commit the Word to memory? Once again, I recommend the entry from that I referenced above, but of course there are many different methods that help different people. Today I'd like to tell you what has helped me, in the hopes that it may help some of you as well.

First, pray for help with memorizing.
After my heart attack my brain turned into sludge. I couldn't remember anything anymore, it seemed, and I don't know why. It's been four years now, and I know that my memory is much better than it was, but it's still not great. So I frequently ask the Lord, especially before beginning a practice session:

Please help me to memorize beyond my ability.

If you have problems with your memory, or doubt that you can memorize, pray for help. Then step out in faith, setting memorization goals that have no restrictions based on what you are able to do. If we are doing what He wants us to do, then our abilities don't matter. His do. And His are limitless.
Second, make a master "Want to Memorize" list
This is a list of all passages that strike your heart, your conscience, or your mind in any way, but which you aren't able to work on now. Keep this list handy whenever you study the Word, so that you can write down references as you find them. If the list gets too long to be manageable, wonderful! You're treasuring the Word!

I use the software program "Memorize" from Laridian on my Palm OS device. It's the best memorization software I've found to date. It works in conjunction with the wonderful "My Bible" program, and easily imports verses in whatever version(s) you own. It allows you to keep various lists of verses, and you'll see as we go along just how I use this feature. If you don't use this software, use anything that works for you. For many people, that may just be a spiral notebook.
Third, make a "Review Daily" list
This is for passages that you're actively memorizing. You don't know them at all yet, or not well enough that you feel confident you could retain them without daily review. I would recommend that you have more than one passage on your "daily" list at a time. That's because sometimes you'll find that a particular passage is harder than others. If you only work on that passage, it will become a cork in the bottleneck of your memorization plan. If you have several passages to work on at any given time, the tough one may stay on your "daily" list for quite a while, but in the meantime you will be mastering easier ones and continuing to accomplish your goals. Currently, my "Daily Review" list has 22 passages on it, for a total of 48 verses. Remember, it has nothing to do with how many I am able to memorize, but simply with how many I feel led to work on now. The Lord provides the ability. Some will require a lot of time, and others will be easier to master. It's all good. Don't try to set a specific number for yourself, unless that sort of thing helps you.

I think it's important to note here that nothing could be worse than stressing out over your memorization. Don't let Satan get you into that trap! This is a pleasure. A joy. A glorious privilege. Enjoy the Word as you receive it with meekness and the Spirit implants it in your soul (Jas. 1:21). Besides, you'll memorize more easily if you're relaxed with it.

The genius of the "Memorize" program lies in its memory game. When you're ready to work on a passage, you click on "Test." The program gives you a blank screen and asks you to type just the first letter of every word. If you hit the right first letter, the whole word will appear on the screen. If you need help, you hit "Help," and the next word will appear for you. It's simple, but very powerful.

You can do similar things for yourself without software. Copy your passages on a white board or chalkboard and then erase one word at a time, repeating the entire passage and mentally filling in the blanks everywhere you've made an erasure. Or copy the verse on paper and scribble out words one at a time. Use your imagination. It all helps.

When you feel confident that you know a passage well enough to be able to review it only once per week, then move it to a specific day of the week list.
Make Review Lists for Each Day of the Week
Actually, I don't have a review list for Sundays, and I often use Sundays to catch up if I've gotten behind during the week. But each of my lists for Monday through Saturday is populated with verses that started in the "Want to Memorize" list, were memorized on the "Review Daily" list, and have now graduated to being, say, a Monday verse, or a Tuesday verse.

After a while, as my "day of the week" lists got longer, I realized that it was important to keep them fairly even in length, so that I wouldn't have one really simple day and another one that gave me a mental tsunami. Of course, if your schedule is such that you logically need some days to be lighter than others, then adjust your lists to meet your needs.

As you move items from your "daily" list into a "day of the week" list, you'll want to re-stock your daily list with new things to memorize. That's where your "Want to Memorize" list will come in handy. I find it very helpful to try to replace outgoing passages with ones of a similar size. So if I just mastered a passage with three verses, I might want to bring on roughly three new verses to take their place.

Oh, and I think it's important to mention here that you might not want the verse references (or "addresses") to be a major issue. I am horrible at remembering addresses, and if I refused to graduate a verse off of my daily list until the address was perfectly mastered, I'd have far less of the Word in my heart right now. I do my best with them, but I don't let them hold me back.

I always feel excited when I get to bring new verses onto my "review daily" list. It's like a mini-Christmas, looking back through my big "Want to Memorize" list and choosing what to work on next. God's Word is so precious!

Currently, each of my "day of the week" lists has between 70 and 76 verses. God is answering prayer and faithfully enabling me to memorize beyond my ability! Praise Him! However, the length of the lists is beginning to be a problem, and there are days when I don't get to do the whole thing. So my next logical step will be the use of "Monthly Review" lists. (I don't mean a list for January and a list for February, etc. That would mean that those passages would be reviewed only once per year!) But I need to establish a list for passages that I know well enough to take off of a "day of the week" list and move to a "once a month" list. And then I need to set aside time in my months to work on that list.

Do you have a plan for memorizing Scripture? Any tips to help others do the same? Please let us know in a comment below, whether by putting the details right in the comment or linking to your own blog. And if you have an encouraging word about how memorization has helped you in your walk with the Lord, please let us know as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

There's No Place Like (This) Home!

This entry is way off-topic, but I hope you'll enjoy it. It offers a glimpse...a "tour" if you will...of our zany home. Why am I posting this?

Partly it's because I'm having the spiritual version of "Writer's Block." I simply haven't been able to write anything that felt like the Spirit was involved. And our current theme, tackling such weighty subjects as false assurance, the modern (distorted) gospel, and the problems of the modern church, is simply not something I should attempt without His help. I promise, I'll get back into the series as soon as the Spirit touches my soul and my fingers again. (Your prayers are appreciated!)

Secondly, I just read a delightful entry from Lynette Kraft, called "The Blessings of an Ugly Kitchen." It inspired me to post this little "tour," which I originally wrote as an entry in the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge. So without further ado, here's:

There's No Place Like (This) Home!

Come on in! Don't take off your shoes. We're not fastidious around here.

The rest of the family isn't home right now. If they were, you'd soon discover that one of the main features of our home is NOISE!

My oldest son has Asperger's Syndrome, and he's sometimes hyperactive. He's also unable to monitor and control the loudness of his voice, so everything comes out at deafening volumes. And my second son, who's autistic, can imitate an amazing array of phone sounds. He'll do that endlessly. He's also bipolar, so if he's on either of his extremes, he'll be extra loud. He'll either laugh hysterically about everything while bouncing up and down and trilling with his tongue and flapping his hands, OR he'll scream about everything. We never know how he'll be. We just take him as he comes. Our third son has learned to be loud just to make himself heard above the din. But since they're not here, let's start our tour.

This is my Living Room.

The recliners used to be white. Can you believe we let the sales lady convince us that this fabric was easy to clean? Let me at least throw this blanket over the chair. Yes, I crocheted that myself, thanks.

Ah, you're curious about the writing on the La-Z-Boy. Well, my autistic son is not so much into writing on things now, but years ago no surface was safe. Don't ask me why he decided to write "Shoot Gun" in bright orange marker right next to the lever that makes the chair recline. We've quit trying to figure him out. The writing's been there for years. The stain on the footrest is from some goo-filled toy that the kids threw years ago. It exploded its orange guts everywhere. Did I mention we used to have white carpeting?

Here's the hall and bath.

Don't mind the gazillion scratches on every door frame. The cat likes to jump up as high as he can and then slide down.

Ignore the written cleaning instructions taped to the bathroom wall. The kids certainly do.

This door leads to the basement. I'll open it and show you just one quick view. See the wall at the bottom of the stairs? The huge letters that say "Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free?" Guess who wrote that. Yep. But we're NOT going down there. You don't want to see the rest.

Here's the Family Room.

We could kick our way through all the toys on the floor, move the junk off of the furniture, and sit down to chat. But why don't we finish the tour first?

In case you're wondering about all the telephones you see around here, well...they're for my autistic son. People sometimes give him their old phones, and he knows every intimate detail of each one. He uses their intercoms to make them ring a lot. It's noisy, but at least they're not hooked to the phone lines.

Here's the kitchen.

I haven't had time to wash the dishes yet, but dinner's in the slow cooker. Bread's in the bread machine, too. Who needs fancy sprays to make the house smell good?

On to the Dining Room.

The china cabinet holds my wedding china and the kids' ceramic creations. Let's see...there's a penguin, a green gnome with his pet rat, an elephant, and a huge blue face.

Now we've come back to the Living Room, so let's go upstairs.

This is the master bedroom and bath.

Nothing of interest here, except for the stamp marks on the wall. Don't be shy...go ahead and read them. They say, "Deposit Only." My husband used to be the treasurer for the Gideons Camp, and our son got a hold of this stamp and decorated our bedroom. That ink doesn't come off of walls very well. Fortunately it came off of the cat after only a couple of days. We weren't sure how the bank would have responded if we'd tried to deposit him.

The only other rooms up here are the kids' bedrooms and bathroom. I'll spare you that part of the tour.

You're right. We don't have a decorating scheme, or a color scheme. On a few exceptionally good days I've actually thought about having schemes. Does that count?

Anyway, this is our home! I'm so glad you could drop by. We've been working hard lately, and the house looks so much better than it used to!


(Yes, it's all true, except that my husband has painted over the "Diet Pepsi" on the wall...)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Insulting God: Why Today's Organized Church Has No Power

Eighth in a Series
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

Back in Part 1 I introduced the three premises on which this series would be based. The third one was this:

We insult God when we cheapen His grace
into an excuse for sinning,
pampering our own favorite iniquities
while yelling at our society for committing sins
that are on our lists of pet peeves.

Abortion. Homosexuality. Two huge hot-button issues. And rightly they should be.

Do you ever wonder why the church doesn't have more impact on these issues than it does? After all, these things are sins with a capital "S," right? And isn't that something the church is supposed to have an influence on?

Perhaps it's because we've put the biggest capital "S" in the wrong places.

Please don't misunderstand me here. Abortion and homosexual activity are abominations that must be met head-on. The problem is that we're standing at the bottom of a mountain, Avalanche on Mt.Image via Wikipediawatching an avalanche of evil hurtling towards us. The only thing that many of us know to do is to protest against those two evils, pray about them, and hope to avoid being crushed by the rubble of our society's moral collapse.

Like all avalanches, this one had a cause. And if we had dealt with the cause before things got this far out of hand, we would not now find ourselves in this perilous position.

Sometimes the beginning of a problem seems so small. Someone on a mountainside slips a bit, but catches his footing. His companion laughs at his concern and says, "I've slipped worse than that!" And they shrug and go on...until the dislodged rocks hit other rocks, which hit more rocks, which start a landslide that buries some people below.

But like all analogies, this one fails. For one thing, the "slip" that led us to where we are now was not small. It was monumental. And yet happened so gradually, and it appeared so trivial in many people's eyes that they never saw it at all. In fact, most believed it to be a very good thing.

Most still do.

The slip? It was the shift from God-centeredness to man-centeredness. The church once understood its obligation to grow God-centered people. But today's "church" (by and large) imagines a man-centered universe ruled by an obsequious God who doesn't mind having His throne usurped, and knows no higher good than indulging our selfish whims. That is the true "Sin with a capital 'S,'" because all sin comes from rejection of the one true God and enthronement of self (otherwise known as pride). It happened first in Eden, and man-centeredness has been at the core of every human soul ever born. But true Christians throughout history have had glorious times of standing firm, of proclaiming the truth of God's centrality and supremacy. And marvelous reawakenings have often followed.

We're overdue for one. Just look at how many of the "Christian" bestsellers, popular "Christian" songs, and even how many churches focus on the supposedly holy trinity of "Me, myself, and I."

Come on, God...feed my flesh. Please my flesh. Pamper my flesh. Thrill my flesh. Tickle my ears. Stroke my self-esteem. Make me always healthy, always wealthy, always good-looking. Let your church preach only messages that leave me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Otherwise, I'll go elsewhere.

In order to fill the pews, far too many churches play right along. And if the organized church makes man's desires supreme, how can we expect the culture to do otherwise?

And so the cultural wars degenerate into shouting matches with no spiritual power. The church says, "Don't be self-centered your way. Come be self-centered our way!" And the world replies, "Hey, if you think your God serves you best, go for it. Personally, I serve myself best."

Since both are committed to being served, is there really a difference between the "church" and the world? And if not, why would the "church" expect to have any impact on the culture?

With human desires and pleasures enshrined, everything becomes a battle between the forms of self-indulgence which I accept versus the forms that you accept. All claims of moral authority disappear not only under the weight of relativism, but also under the hypocrisy of one group's self-centeredness daring to preach against another group's self-centeredness.

It's as if two oxen were yoked together, both pulling due West while arguing with each other over their direction. One says, "We're going the right way, because we're supposed to head West, and this is West." And the other one, pulling right along with him, replies, "No, we're supposed to head East. Can't you see I'm heading East? Why aren't you?" And the first ox, who knows they're both heading West, isn't about to change his direction. Why should he listen to the opposing words of a confused creature who is pulling West just as hard as he is, and doesn't even realize it?

The farmer certainly doesn't care about the bickering between his two oxen. He wouldn't even care if one convinced the other to change his point of view. The results are the same. They're still pulling together in the direction he's driving them.

In the same way the modern "church," pursuing self-centeredness with all its might, cannot influence a self-centered world for Christ. And all of its protests and all of its moralizing can only earn pity at best ("those poor, confused idiots"), or scorn, hatred, and malice at worst.

Worse, the godless church's converts often become, in Christ's words, " twice as much a son of hell" as themselves (Mat 23:15), because they're convinced they're headed Heavenward while they're still pulling away from God with all of their self-centered strength.

And the Evil One at the plow couldn't care less about the bickering. He doesn't even care if the "church" convinces someone to join its ranks and embrace its creed, or even to give up the sins that irritate that church most. The results are the same. They're still pulling together, lockstep in pursuit of the flesh, whether they admit it or not.

Irreligious atheism and godless religiosity both serve the same master, and both their journeys have the same ending point.

To set the mind on the flesh is death (Rom 8:6 ESV)

Even if a church fills its days with good works, feeling driven entirely by man-centered purposes, it will not ultimately impact the culture spiritually for good. It will just be one more do-good organization that helps in the "here and now" but offers nothing for eternity. Without God Himself as top priority, "loving your neighbor as yourself" devolves into something far less than God intended. It is the one who loves God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength who is able to love his neighbor in a way that benefits his immortal soul as well as meeting physical needs. (Of course you won't be able to believe that if your concept of "loving God" means simply "loving religion." That's NOT what I'm talking about.)

The only way out of this morass and to have a genuine impact on our culture is to become a God-centered people, boldly proclaiming His supremacy and centrality regardless of whether or not humanity thinks it needs Him. When the church truly worships the Holy God, treasuring Him more than the pleasures of the flesh, God will have the opportunity to shine through us. His Holy Spirit will use our testimony to prick the consciences of those around us. As a result many will hate us, but for those on whom the Holy Spirit is pouring out grace, our witness to God's worth will be a beacon lighting the way to Him.

How do we get to show the world that we value our Lord above worldly pleasures and treasures? There's only one gladly relinquishing them for His Name's sake, whether voluntarily in generous giving, or involuntarily (but still gladly) under persecution.

For you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. (Heb 10:34)

We're likely to get our chance soon. The days of free and easy Christianity in America seem to be winding down. Are we praying for more God-centeredness? Are we seeking His face, and not just His gifts? Are we seeking to lead others...not simply away from the sins that offend us most, but TO GOD?

Or are we content to see our neighbor go to Hell, as long as he does so as a pro-lifer or a heterosexual?

God is the heart of the matter, so godlessness is the heart of the problem.


Here's a thought-provoking article dated 12/20/08 from Carl Trueman that dovetails well with this topic. "Goodbye Larry King, Hello Jerry Springer!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Insulting God: In God We Trust?

Seventh in a Series

Photo from Stock.xchng by 13dede

Back in Part 1 I made the following assertion which we are finally ready to address:
We insult God when we insist that our nation must officially talk the Christian talk even though it doesn't walk the Christian walk.
Periodically I get emails forwarded to me, pleading with me to "defend our nation's Christian identity" by fighting to keep "Under God" in our pledge; or worrying about whether "In God We Trust" is going to be taken off of our coins.

I shake my head and hit "delete."

God takes His Name very seriously. His Name is holy, never to be used lightly, never to be profaned.
And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. (Lev 19:12)
To misuse His Name is to insult Him, and that's a deadly serious matter.
"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exo 20:7)

God is not interested in lip service. Nor is He interested in the kind of "honor" he receives only by human customs and conventions. He wants those who name His Name to give him their hearts.
Therefore the Lord said: "...these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men" (Isa 29:13)

In fact, he says that those who pretend to worship Him are actually profaning his Name as much with their insincere gifts as with their idols. Do you think He is any more pleased with our insincere national pledge, or the claiming of His Name on our coins?
"As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD: "Go, serve every one of you his idols—now and hereafter—if you will not obey Me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols. (Eze 20:39)

As I pointed out in Part 1, the world looks at what this "Christian nation" does, and judges our God accordingly. The same thing happened when the nation of Israel was scattered because of their sin. Their love for sin had outweighed their love for God and for His Holy Land, and thus they insulted Him before the world.
When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD, and yet they have gone out of His land.' (Eze 36:20)
Today the nations also say, "These are the people of the LORD, and yet they..." You can fill in the blank with any abomination you like.

Some Christians may believe that God's Name on our money and in our Pledge will act as some sort of talisman, protecting us from harm and guaranteeing God's blessing. But nothing could be further from the truth. Claiming allegiance to the Name of God brings any nation under stricter judgment. It's no different in the secular world. Those who guard our nation's gold reserves at Fort Knox; those who are entrusted with our health; those who care for our children...all of these are scrutinized, and are held to a high standard because of the preciousness of what they deal with. And the Name of God is truly precious. He guards it jealously, and for His Name's sake He will severely judge those who profane it.
But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, 'I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.' But I acted for My name's sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were [dwelling] (Eze 20:8-9)
Think soberly, my friends, and with wise judgment. Would it be an insult to God to revoke this nation's claim to be His people? Or is it not far more of an insult to Him when His Holy Name is sullied by association with a godless country which celebrates perversion of every kind, chafes against Him, mocks Him, defies Him, and hates His people?

Ask yourselves this...has God ever wanted the unregenerate to carry His Name? Would that not be as much of an abomination as an unclean, unqualified person carrying the Ark of the Covenant? When God gave His Name to the children of Israel, didn't He command them to walk worthy of it? And doesn't His commandment apply to us as well?
that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you (2Th 1:12)
Is His Name glorified when it's chanted by unbelievers in a memorized patriotic verse? Is His Name glorified when it is written on idols? What is the biggest idol in our nation, if not the almighty Dollar?

Is His Name glorified when people, not even noticing the phrase "In God We Trust" on their money, fork it over by the billions to pay for their vile entertainment, their drug habits, their abortions?

Did God ever ask us to force unbelievers to recite His Name? Did He ask us to put it on our coins? Does He care about formalities performed by those who neither know nor love Him?
"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them." (Isa 1:11-14)
There's nothing wrong with sincere, worshipful hearts desiring to put a proclamation of faith on coins or in pledges, or anywhere else. But when we demand proclamations of faith from those who are apathetic or downright hostile to God, we are demanding an abomination.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
but the prayer of the upright is His delight. (Pro 15:8)

If our nation does not want His Name on it coins or in its pledge, then our nation is not worthy of that Name!

Yes, I would love to see America as a Christian nation. If it ever happens, I will sing and weep for joy as strongly as anyone. But for the sake of the precious Name of the God I love, I will not fight for the preservation of national hypocrisy. I cannot wish to see The Name Above All Names sullied.

If we want our nation to keep the Name of God in our pledge and on our coins, then we must work, and pray, and sacrifice, and love, and serve, and be used by God to help our nation see His beauty and desire Him for themselves. But we are, in many cases, more concerned with seeing our neighbor recite the words "under God" than seeing him saved! We are more worried about what words are imprinted on his money than we are about the fact that his lost soul worships money instead of the Living God.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Joh 4:23-24)

But there is one place where God does want to see His Name written.
And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. (Rev 22:3-4)
Let us never forget that our nation is made up of individuals. A godless nation is made up of godless individuals. Let us be far more concerned with seeing our neighbor saved, and with someday seeing God's Name on his forehead, than we are with any form of false worship.

Let us stop pretending we live in a Christian nation, and stop demanding that they play along with our pretense. Let us try to make this a truly Christian nation by truly winning souls.

And finally, let us make sure that we ourselves are walking worthy of that Holy Name!


This week's "In Other Words" is being hosted over at Shortybear's place. Please drop by there for links to other entries on "Love Weighs More Than Gold."
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