the way down is the way up

“…true humility in our church relationships will show itself in our being willing to undertake the very lowest offices for Christ…Genuine humility makes a man think it IMG_6437a great honor to be a doorkeeper in the house of God, or to be allowed to speak a word to a little child about Jesus, or even to wash the saints’ feet…Humility is a qualification for greatness. Do you know how to be little? You are learning to be great. Can you submit? You are learning to rule. My symbolic sketch of a perfect Christian would be a king keeping the door, or a prince feeding lambs, or, better still, the Master washing His disciples’ feet.” (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 1733: On Humbling Ourselves Before God)

“Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end…So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” (John 13:1, 4-5)

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high…

(The Valley of Vision)

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Look for the great surprises!

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“Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen. I am not sure but that this is not one of our greatest troubles today. We come to our services and they are orderly, they are nice ‒ we come, we go ‒ and sometimes they are timed almost to the minute, and there it is. But that is not Christianity, my friend. Where is the Lord of glory? Where is the one sitting by the well? Are we expecting him? Do we anticipate this? Are we open to it? Are we aware that we are ever facing this glorious possibility of having the greatest surprise of our life?

Or let me put it like this. You may feel and say ‒ as many do ‒ ‘I was converted and became a Christian. I’ve grown ‒ yes, I’ve grown in knowledge, I’ve been reading books, I’ve been listening to sermons, but I’ve arrived now at a sort of peak and all I do is maintain that. For the rest of my life I will just go on like this.’

Now, my friend, you must get rid of that attitude; you must get rid of it once and for ever. That is ‘religion’, it is not Christianity. This is Christianity: the Lord appears! Suddenly, in the midst of the drudgery and the routine and the sameness and the dullness and the drabness, unexpectedly, surprisingly, he meets with you and he says something to you that changes the whole of your life and your outlook and lifts you to a level that you had never conceived could be possible for you.”

Living Water: Studies in John 4 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Painting: Jesus Talks to the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well by Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

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no color in this world

colorful autumn leaves

“There is not one blade of grass,
there is no color in this world
that is not intended
to make us rejoice.”
(John Calvin, 1509-1564)

Lush, green blades of grass. Blaze-orange and apple-red autumn leaves. Colors. All colors. Given for you. Meant to draw you toward your Maker. Meant to awaken moments of happiness that lead to praise from within. Praise, bubbling up and full of rejoicing. Rejoicing that works good things — things you need — into your heart and soul.

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he is coming!

(Psalm 96:11-13)

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broken, or made strong, as it pleases Him

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“I beseech Christ for this one thing only, that He will enable me to endure all things courageously, and that He break me as a potter’s vessel or make me strong, as it pleases Him.” (Huldrych Zwingli, 1484-1531)

Able to honor the Lord when your times call for courage and endurance. Able to lay yourself in His arms, so that whether broken or made stronger, you want only what He knows is best. Zwingli wanted to live with God’s visual to Jeremiah at the forefront of his life:

“… I went down to the potter’s house,
and there he was working at his wheel.
And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand,
and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do…
‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand’…” (Jeremiah 18: 3-4,6)

On days when courage isn’t at the forefront of my emotions and my fragility screams at me and my broken cracks loom large, I don’t have to lose heart. I can remember that my burdens dull in comparison with the soon-coming eternal weight of glory. I can still (not in my own strength or hunkered-down self-will) radiate the light of the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ, shining as a tired little pot, yes, but shining as a fragile jar who gladly knows the cracks are necessary:

“…we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us…So we do not lose heart…For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:7, 16-18)

For in worn fragility we come to understand this wondrous truth: We’re not meant to shine in our own power, but Jesus’ light shines out through each purposefully-given crack. And, as our outer self wastes away one crack at a time, we’re able to proclaim this glorious reality:

Any surpassing worth belongs not to me, but to God alone: And that’s the grandest purpose any clay vessel could ask for.

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when cancer comes again

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When cancer came again I sensed a need for stillness. Stillness before my racing, jumbled thoughts. Stillness before I spoke or wrote too much. Stillness before God.

Last time, our son had cancer. This time, my husband.

The shock, the confusion, the “why us again?” has now given way to “why not? Why not have cancer brought to us again?”

I believe cancer shouldn’t come again when I believe I deserve better than what God has allowed. And also, when I forget. When I forget that God only gives good gifts to His children. And if He only means good for me, then in thousands of ways I’ll not grasp this side of heaven, He’ll use this new season in our life, unexpected or not, to draw us (and others, hopefully) closer to Him.

For if He only gives good to His children, this season, no matter the outcome, is a gift. And for all the ways He plans good through this that I’ll probably never comprehend, there is one good already realized. It’s simply this: Cancer, upon its arrival, carries a poignant reminder of our mortality. Cancer reminds us that our years on this earth are short, few, fleeting. Through cancer we know that:

“We are mists that appear for a little time and then vanish.” (James 4:14)

Mists in the morning. Vapors, vanishing at sunrise. Yet. Exceedingly valuable vapors. Vapors meant to realize, for our good, our own brevity.

But how does being reminded of the briefness of life work for our good? When we’re faced with our own mortality, wakened to what was true all along, reminded of life’s brevity, we can begin to gain a wise heart:

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

In the realizing and remembering and numbering, we become more wise. More fully human. More worshipful of the One who is not. We bow. We humble ourselves under His mighty hand.

We humble ourselves by casting our cancer and its exhausting cares upon Him. He strips away our false sense of control, and at the same time reminds us that He cares for us — that not an atom goes astray but by His omnipotent decree.

So, as counterintuitive as it sounds, cancer comes, both the first time, and the second time, as a gift — meant to waken, remind and humble. We’re reminded we’re mists in the morning. Yet dearly loved mists. Mists meant to flee to the strength of the only arms strong enough to hold. We’ll find happiness nowhere but there.

“Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and in due time He will exalt you, casting your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7)

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a septillion stars

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God put us on this little planet with the night’s sparkling array spread above us. Rotating around the star we know as the sun, within the galaxy we call the Milky Way, He created our solar system within myriads upon myriads of vast galaxies.

Then: He gifted human beings with eyesight and with the ability to ponder.

Have you ever wondered why?

With our naked human eye, in completely dark skies, traveling to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, we’d be able to see and ponder almost 9,000 of our galaxy’s stars. With binoculars, we could count up to 200,000. With the most modern of telescopes, astrophysicists have now counted trillions upon trillions:

  • With those telescopes, we now realize our own Milky Way galaxy doesn’t contain 200,000 stars, but 400 billion!
  • And besides our own galaxy, there are 170 billion galaxies we can currently observe (yes, 170 billion!)
  • Some of those, the spiral galaxies, contain more than a trillion stars (yes, a trillion within one galaxy)
  • Some of them, the giant elliptical galaxies, have 100 trillion!
  • If we multiply the number of galaxies (the ones we know of) times the average number of stars in the different types of galaxies, we realize that the stars in our universe number roughly a septillion (I don’t think I’d ever even heard of the number septillion)
  • A septillion is a 1 with 24 zeros after it. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Why did God set up our night sky like that?

“…the universe is God’s best effort to say: That is how big I am. That is how strong I am. That is how glorious and magnificent. The galaxies are all about God, not man.” (John Piper)

King David added another question:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3)

David asks: How is it that He, who “upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3), bothers to care for us?

How can it be that He, upholding a universe of  a septillion stars (and the planets rotating around those stars) still cares for us so much that He’d — knowing we’re most joy-filled when we worship Him — plan for us to be wowed by a universe that shouts out how magnificent He is? He might uphold, sure. But care at the same time? And all for our good. How kind and compassionate He is!

Jesus upholds this universe — with 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars — by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).

Bow to Him. Worship and adore Him.

And as you bow, “ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend thee.” He upholds our world and her night sky’s blanket of a septillion stars. Yet He chooses to befriend you in love.

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Father, I’m wowed. I’m awed at your strength and power. And I wonder; why do you care? How can it be? Yet you do! You even, with your love, befriend me. Oh Lord, please show yourself glorious by using my life, here on this earth surrounded by a septillion stars and upheld by the word of your power, as you grow your kingdom!

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Why does change in my child (for good) happen so slowly?

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Lots of days I’ve felt lost as a parent. You’ve probably felt the same. Even on days when we feel confident that the guidance we’ve given our child is the kind that leads to healthy heart-change, we can still toss and turn, disheartened at day’s end, discouraged, questions whirring, our tired thoughts confused:

  • Why does God-honoring change in my child seem so excruciatingly slow? I tried my hardest today, praying my way through each conversation, but we were still dealing with thoughts and behavior we’ve dealt with for years. I feel defeated. I must be doing something wrong.
  • Is it my fault? If I were a better, wiser parent, would my child already have beaten this plaguing behavior?
  • Have I missed some magic formula that, if followed, would result in the end of the three-steps-forward and two-steps-back kind of growth my child seems to take?
  • Why don’t heart-change and Spirit-empowered transformation happen more quickly?
  • What hope do I cling to as I parent the children God has put into my care?

Let’s cover that last question first. What is our hope when our children change so slowly? For we do want quicker change. We want a formula. We want to deal with a certain behavior and then be able to forever check “that one” off the list. We want to guide and discipline a certain day’s certain circumstances and then rejoice with our children when they quickly change from deep within, transformed and empowered (permanently) in God-honoring ways. This is what’s true:

“We want parenting to be a series of events rather than a lifelong process…[Instead, we must] be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event.”

That’s freeing. Change is slow. The same message God gives us when He expects us to obey from heart-felt change toward Him, and yet knows we’ll sometimes fail, is the message He gives us as we parent. He confronts us with our sin, we confess our failure, and He incrementally changes us as we admit our failures and go to Him for help. The same applies as we parent:

“Parenting is not a series of dramatic confrontation-confession events, but rather a life-long process of incremental awareness and progressive change…the good news is that the message of the Bible isn’t that God puts an undoable standard before us and then sits by and judges us for our failure. No, the message is that God puts an uncompromising standard before us, then sends his Son to perfectly meet that standard on our behalf, so that we can be free to admit our failures and go to God for help. The cross of Jesus Christ means I don’t have to deny my struggle as a parent. I don’t have to act as if I’m something that I’m not, and I surely don’t have to hide from the only One who is able to help me.”

So, we’re being transformed as He parents us with patient mercy. We’re being equipped, incrementally, as we parent children who are also being changed incrementally. Here’s the hope:

“…all of your failures have already been forgiven, so you can humbly admit them, confess them, and seek God’s help … you are not trapped in your cycle of failure because a God of abundant grace is at work changing, maturing, and growing you so that progressively you are more often part of what he wants to do in your children and less often in the way of it … you aren’t left to parent yourself because God daily blesses you with his presence and grace, so that you can pass that same grace on to your children.”

 The hope I crave from scripture comes from Paul in I Timothy 1:15-16:

“…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

IMG_6235Our children, who so desperately need to trust God the Father, will not change overnight. Our children need to know that they can come to us — us, like Paul, the worst-of-all sinners — and that what has been given to us, patience for the long haul, will be given to them. They need to know that our wrong goal of quickly and once-for-all keeping them from sinning has been replaced by the goal of helping them to know what to do and Who to turn to when they do sin. The “heavenly Father’s life-long and heart-changing agenda of mercy” is for them, as it is for us.

(All quotes from Parenting: Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp)

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He changes times and seasons

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“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.”

(Daniel 2:20-22)

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she stands in a corner

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In the corner, she stands. Back to me, head  down, she refuses to listen; she refuses assurance. Her face pressed against the wall, she’s sure I don’t care. Or that I do, but that the caring doesn’t suit her needs. She’s sure she knows best.

But she doesn’t.

She’s young. I’m old.
She’s lacking and near-sighted. I’m omnipotent and wise.

She just thinks she knows.

But I do.

So I’ll pursue her. Over and over. Initially and subsequently, all the days of her life.

My love will draw her from the corner of fear; from the self-pity; from the lonely tantrum. My love will draw her out from her sulking, out from her corner.

Only My love will.

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”(
Zeph. 3:17)

Only His love will draw you from your lonely corners.

Only His love.

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When right, but treated like you’re wrong

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Devalued. Wronged. Sure you’re right but made to endure treatment as if you’re not. Trampled over, presumed upon. Penalized or bullied. When have you, in a large and life-changingly painful way (or in a smaller, yet still hurtful way), been picked on? And what do you do with the left-over wounds?

When you suffer through insulting moments, whether small or large, your scars heal only as you think on Jesus. Only then. Only as you think on His strength, His power, His love-filled otherness, all poured out for you. 

When I need to remember Jesus’ love as the transforming balm in devaluing situations, my mind often goes to a past, unexpected experience:

With a car full of kids and lots of laughter from the backseat, it suddenly dawned on me that I’d not seen a speed limit sign for some time. Highway signs had been reading 65 mph, with four lanes stretching as far as we could see, and only the occasional passing truck headed to some rural destination. So I confidently stayed at 65 and settled in to enjoy the laughter. But as I rounded a curve, his car was there (waiting?), lights flashing instantly, swerving around in the median to pull me over.

IMG_6118I didn’t see the new speed limit sign — until I’d stopped and fumbled for my license. Then I looked in my rear-view mirror. There it was — right at the point where I’d rounded the curve — clear as day — 45.

I felt had.

Later, I heard from others who travel that route, that yes, I was had. Everyone (but me) seemed to know that the area was a speed trap. I felt offended. I felt abused by the system. I was mad at Siri that she hadn’t sent me a different route. I felt wrongly accused. I felt set up! The injustice! How dare they lay a trap for me.

No mercy decisions

The officer was kind and gentlemanly, almost rehearsed in his expectation that I would be defensive and belligerent. I wasn’t. I was just shocked. I was honestly confused and startled. Why had he pulled me over? I actually felt sorry for him — he seemed nervous when, with teary eyes, I asked for mercy. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said. He wasn’t allowed to make road-side mercy-decisions.

I know the sermon illustration about my still owing the debt for my penalty, even if I didn’t know the correct speed. I know I was caught super-speeding and I owe that municipality money, even if I assert that I didn’t have time to see their new speed limit sign. I understand all that. But I’m still trying to give a name to the anger I felt at the injustice of being set up.

I don’t like their their speed trap. I somehow deserved better.

With the blink of an eye

And then I think of Jesus, who truly was wrongly accused, and set up, and abused. Jesus, who not only taught His disciples to turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:38-39), but also offered Himself to be spit upon and struck by vengeful creatures He Himself had created (Mk. 14:65, 15:16-20). Jesus, who could have obliterated them all with a word — who not only taught His disciples the ways of His kingdom, but then demonstrated in ways I read of with astonishment. He stood silent before His accusers, offering Himself as a lamb led to slaughter (Is. 53:7).

He didn’t say “do as I say” and then not do as He said.

Hear this correctly

We know when Jesus teaches about turning the other cheek (in Matthew 5) that He is not banning self-defense against a serious personal assault, or banning the use of force by government, or even saying we shouldn’t flee to avoid harm. He speaks, rather, of our heart’s desire for personal revenge when we’re insulted (as in the insult of the back-handed slap against the cheek in the Matthew 5 teaching). He speaks of our need to trust God when we’re unjustly treated. We’re to trust that He makes all things right for us, in the end (Rom. 12:19).

Jesus allowed the Sanhedrin to spit on Him, and the guards to beat Him, and the soldiers to mock and strike Him, when with the blink of an eye He could have destroyed them all. He had done no wrong, yet He allowed them to set Him up, to “trap” Him, so that he could pay for those who had done wrong. He endured the mocking and then death on the cross, scorning the shame of it all, that His bride might be cleansed and presented in glory as perfect and pure and spotless (Heb. 12:2, Eph. 5:25-27).

Those who follow and love Him are His bride. He wanted to pay our eternal debt.

Something so very different

Though I know I was technically wrong, it’s still hard for me to shake the angry feeling that I was set up. I want that municipality to come clean. I want them to admit that I was set up at their speed trap because they wanted to gain from my bank account. I want them to relent and say I was right. And because I recognize within myself the desire for, not necessarily vengeance, but certainly vindication, I love Jesus more.

Jesus didn’t require the Sanhedrin or Pilate to admit that they were setting Him up for their own gain. He didn’t call down His legions of angels to do any vengeful bidding. He didn’t even ask for vindication. He did something quite different. He freely gave His life. For me. For you.

I love Jesus more because He didn’t smash His false accusers. Instead, He allowed Himself to be led to slaughter for a reason I cannot comprehend — to pay with His life the debt He did not owe to free me from the debt I do.

Oh wondrous love! Love that could smash, but instead saves. Love I bow before, and yearn to see face to face. Love that salves my soul and quietens my heart.

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(Parts of this post originally appeared in January, 2015, as 45 in the rear-view mirror.)

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the deeper mystery

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Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”…Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15:24-38)

“Savior of the world, what have you done to deserve this? And what have we done to deserve you? Strung up between criminals, cursed and spat upon, you wait for death, and look for us, for us whose sin has crucified you.

To the mystery of undeserved suffering you bring the deeper mystery of unmerited love. Forgive us for not knowing what we have done; open our eyes to see what you are doing now, as through wood and nails, you disempower our depravity and transform us by your grace.”  (A prayer from the Book of Common Order, The Church of Scotland)

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teaching children grace, not morals

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Have you ever wondered how to explain a section of scripture to a child? Maybe the verses are full of the amazing details of God’s might or mercy in a person’s life, but you’re left wondering what He’d want you to focus on as the story’s application?

Take the recorded account of David and Goliath: Do we tell children that they’re to be brave like David? Or that God will always knock down life’s scary things for them if they’ll only trust Him like David did? Do we tell them to “be like David”?

We inherently know there’s something deeper and better and more God-glorifying than telling children to shine up on the outside. We know we don’t just want moralism. We don’t  want moralistic applications that set children on trajectories toward white-washed-tomb, behavior-modification-only “Christianity.” But how do we, with each Bible story — in both the Old and the New Testament — point them to Jesus? How do we unfold the beauty of Scripture, from Genesis’s first verse to Revelation’s last, explaining each section and story as part of the one Big Story — the stunning story of God’s plan to redeem a people for Himself?

Back to the battle between David and Goliath, as recorded in I Samuel 17:

“Let’s take a minute and consider how one of the most well-known Bible stories is often taught and applied…Many of us were taught  that David was brave because he trusted in God, and God blessed his faith with a victory over Goliath. We were also told that there are giants in our lives and we need to be like David and be brave as we trust God for victory. There’s a problem with that application, though. Where’s Jesus? And who can actually live up to that application? … When we teach the Bible like this, we rob it of its power and we set our kids up for failure and frustration…The essence of the story is that an unlikely hero defeats a seemingly unbeatable enemy…This is the picture of the gospel. Jesus is the greater David…Jesus was resolute in facing sin and death and traveled to Jerusalem to go to battle on a cross…He struck down sin and death on the cross…This is what God wants us to see in this story, and that is what we need to teach our kids. As we teach this Bible story, our kids need to understand that David and Goliath were real and part of redemptive history. We need to honor this story in its immediate context. However, we cannot teach it in isolation of the big story of Jesus…When we show kids how David is the precursor to Jesus, we give them an opportunity to see more of the beauty and power behind the gospel. The story of David defeating a giant won’t stir our affections like the story of Jesus defeating sin and death will…There is nothing wrong with encouraging kids to be brave in light of David and Goliath–if we do it the right way. We don’t tell them to emulate David and be brave in life as they face giants. That’s teaching moralism. Instead, we tell kids they can be brave in life no matter what because Jesus has already defeated their greatest enemies: sin and death! …When we force immediate application out of a passage at the expense of understanding its place in the gospel narrative, we end up with moralism….We focus on what we are to do instead of what Jesus has already done. We find our worth in our actions for God instead of our identity in Christ. None of that brings life. None of that brings joy. None of that brings God glory…Our target is a transformed heart, not changed behavior…We want our kids to love Jesus so deeply that they desire to obey God’s commands as a byproduct of that love. They obey out of gratitude, not obligation. They obey with joy, not resentment. They obey out of an overflowing appreciation of the gospel…” (excerpt from Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry, Brian Dembowczyk)

Related: What do I want for my child?

Painting: David and Goliath by Robert Temple Ayres, 1954

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across the world, spread by ordinary people

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“King Jesus was born in Bethlehem while His people suffered under the hands of occupiers…Bethlehem in Hebrew means “house of bread,” providing a fitting place for the Bread from heaven to become incarnate (John 7:22-59)…

Bethlehem was tiny and seemingly insignificant (Micah 5:2). Yet, the Lord chose to reveal His glory and salvation in this village, not a mighty city (Luke 2:1-20). Needless to say, this is right in line with His character. He loves to fulfill His purposes through those things man has forsaken (I Cor. 1:18-31).

God often uses what the world deems insignificant or unlovely. Across the world, His kingdom is spread by ordinary people who will probably themselves never be famous or remembered in the history books of men. Yet, those who know Christ are remembered by God and are the most significant people of all in His eyes, the only eyes that really matter. Each of us, famous or not, can be used by the Lord in mighty ways.” (R.C. Sproul)

Painting: Bethlehem by Vasily Polenov, 1882

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stumbling through life blindfolded

IMG_5933You don’t have to stumble along in darkness. You really don’t.

God, by His word, gives light: He wants to guide your steps. His teaching, enabled by His Spirit, is understandable to us even when we’re at our simplest. He means that we’d not be overcome by evil desires, and that we’d not feel alone in darkness. He means that we’d understand His ways — His best for us — and that we’d be prepared to meditate on His care.

God looks upon you with love: He saved more than 800,000 words for you! Words meant to explain your surroundings and the God who created and runs your world; words that speak of Jesus, from the first to the last.

We choose to stumble along in darkness — like someone blindfolded — when we ignore His words, when we ignore His commandments and guidance and teaching. We choose directionlessness.

We’re actually cruel to ourselves:

“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God who created it and runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God…When we disregard the study of God, we sentence ourselves to stumble through life blindfolded, with no sense of direction and no understanding of our surroundings…if you believe you can secure a knowledge of God without the Bible, you’re making a very grievous mistake. God doesn’t mean for you to. God does mean for you to focus on the Scriptures and learn from Him through the Scriptures. That’s His appointed way.” (J. I. Packer)

The teaching of your word gives light,
so even the simple can understand…

Guide my steps by your word,
so I will not be overcome by evil…

Look upon me with love;
teach me your decrees.

Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your  wonderful deeds.

(Psalm 119:130-135, 127)

Choose life, dear friends. Choose His word. Ask Him to look upon you with love, then open your Bible and read. Read to know. Read to meditate. Read to learn and obey.

Read to fall in love.

With Jesus. The lover of your soul.

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Related: How to turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God.

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stand close

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“Once more heed the exhortation — stand close to the cross of Jesus! It is the most accessible and precious spot this side of heaven — the most solemn and awesome on this side of eternity. It is the focus of divine love, sympathy, and power. Stand by it in suffering, in persecution, in temptation. Stand by it in the brightness of prosperity and in the gloom of adversity. Shrink not from its offence, humiliation, and woe. Defend it when scorned, despised, and denied. Stand up for Jesus and the gospel of Jesus. Oh, whatever you do, or whatever you endure, be loyal to Christ’s cross. Go to it in trouble, repair to it in weakness, cling to it in danger, hide beneath it when the wintry storm rushes fiercely over you. Near to the cross, you are near a Father’s heart, a Savior’s side.” Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

Painting: What Our Lord Saw from the Cross by James Tissot (1836-1902)

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