Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Living Picture

Every Sunday the scene is the same.  It is like clockwork.  This white-haired, humble couple walks up the center aisle and sits on the left hand pew.  It is always the same pew, the second one.  It is always the same spot, near the edge.  He leads her to their place, then takes her walker and places it where she can easily grasp it later.

Some Sundays she can stand up with the congregation, and other Sundays she cannot. He is always at her side, like a mirror.  Standing or remaining seated.  Holding hands. Encouraging. Never embarrassed by his bride.

Several Sundays, Pastor and the elders have had to come to them as they did not go forward for communion.  They could not.  She could barely lift her head.  He remained faithful by her side.  We all waited as they received from Jesus what we had already received, His Body and Blood.

Last Sunday, they were sitting in their pew, their place.  He placed her walker, as has become their custom, in an attainable place.  The time for communion came, and he helped her to her walker.  Together they approached the Lord's Table, together they received communion.  He helped her back to their pew, their place.  I watched with tears welling in my eyes.

What a beautiful picture of Jesus and His Bride is this couple.  They do not know how many people watch his tenderness to her, and see how she is so dependent upon him.  We, too, are dependent on our Savior, our true husband, for everything.

Thank you, Jesus, for this living picture of you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life Strains and Strangeness

Suffering is something common to every human being.  We all know it very well.  Rather than facing it we will try to make it go away in many fashions.  Busy-ness, mind altering drugs or alcohol, working too many hours, avoiding thinking about what pains us can be a costly ordeal.  Not just in finances, either.

In Christian circles, it is often not okay to suffer.  We don't want to hear of others' pain, and we don't want to reveal ours for fear of looking weak and needing help.  When I am too honest, I have experienced people shutting me out of groups, or just trying to shut me up by talking on top of me or giving me some kind of Christian cliche.  

Suffering comes to each of us in different ways.  It can become our undoing, as well as the beginning of new freedom.  Yes, freedom.  Suffering allows us to let go of all things and cling to Christ.  That is true freedom.

“God is not interested in what you think you should be or feel. He is not interested in the narrative you construct for yourself, or that others construct for you. Rather, He is interested in you, the you who suffers, the you who inflicts suffering on others, the you who hides, the you who has bad days (and good ones). And He meets you where you are.”    from "Glorious Ruin:  How Suffering Sets Us Free", Tullian Tchividjian

The Fear that Drives Franticness

Recently I was listening to a podcast by Dr. Robert Newton, Faith For Today, specifically "Scattered Like Seed."   He was discussing his first missionary experience in the Philippines.  It is very apropos for most of us today.

Dr. Newton had to find the sin that is common among the people he wanted to reach.  Today, I think our western culture suffers from a common sin.  You see it in the frantic pace we live.  We are told in commercials that we are never good enough, we fall short of the "American Dream" of having it all.  We see it in our church cultures:  "Our church isn't growing, lets do something!"  And we become program driven.

I see many families who forgo church attendance, thinking they are doing their children a favor by enrolling them in sports activities that compete for their Sunday mornings.  I see churches trying all kinds of different programs and activities, that can become overwhelming and very taxing on the servants in the church.

The fear that drives our frenetic pace in life is not believing our Heavenly Father will give us what we need, so we take things into our own hands.  Believe His promise to us.  He will provide.  

We are forgiven for our sin of not trusting our Father.  Rest in that and find peace.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

Monday, October 7, 2013


A friend of mine, whose theology is not the same as mine, asked me about Acts 10:44-47.  He was pointing out that these people had the Holy Spirit before they were baptized, so he didn't believe baptism is a means of grace.  Here are the verses:

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.  And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.  For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared,  “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 

I went to look up the passage and noted that verse 48 was very important to understanding what happened here.

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

I pointed out that the Holy Spirit FELL on them, it does not say the Holy Spirit indwelt them.  Then in verse 48 Peter says to baptize those people.   I did not change my mind that baptism in the name of God forgives sin and brings new life. I don't think he changed his mind either ... yet.