Saturday, June 24, 2017

Our Vast and Immense God

This morning, as I sat before God, his massive reality came over me: His power, His manifest regeneration of my life thus far, and his constant and never-failing presence that superintends every aspect of this material and immaterial world.

I found myself smiling, during this all too rare moment of 20/20 vision of just how robustly immense and multifaceted God is, of the very educated person who once said of faith in God,

“It’s a fairy tale, nothing but wishful thinking.”

I sat back in awe that there can even exist people on this globe who would portend to truly have worked that infantile idea out, and that there are others who prefer to accept a god of their own creation rather than the Biblical Christ—those who ordain to glorify man over God.

I smile out of incredulity, because these notions are nonsensical; a silly farce in the face of an obvious genuine. It is ludicrous.

But then, I was there once too: proud of my university attendance, bookish identity and feminist scruples through which I audaciously propped myself up as All-Knowing.

Which only confirms the state of awe in God that encircled me this morning as the sun, His sun, rose out my Eastern window.

God has taken me, and many others, from that scourge of a place, that terribly prideful, delusional, self-aggrandizing state of being to here, this place of peace and contentment brought about through Godly, not human, wisdom.

And rather than take Him solely as a personal God, I refuse such an insult.

God is boundless to any of us, yet it is true He knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7), our comings and goings (Psalm 121:8, Psalm 139) and our every thought (Psalm 139). He is at the same time immeasurable and vast, mighty and all-encompassing (Isaiah 40, 55; Psalm 147; Deuteronomy 10).

When I can’t go to sorrow, He can. When I am limited in my influence and what I can say, He is not. When I am ignorant of pain and suffering, He is aware of it. When He demands something of me, and He does, He tells me in His Word and through His Spirit’s conviction upon me. And when I have been haughty, He admonishes me by pointing out that I spoke of things too wonderful for me to know, or that I do not yet know (Job 42:3).

This morning, it all came home to me afresh: It is here, in the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that I reside: in the expansive, permanent, capacity of God to always and forever be God.

copyright Barb Harwood

“Then Job replied to the LORD:

I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
But now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:1-6

"O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:9

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

God Can Change Hearts

How do I know that God can overpower jealousy, animosity, anger and resentment? Because he is doing it in my own heart.

Recently, I was able to walk away from a visit with a person—with whom I have had a roller coaster time of it—with a sense of sincere connection.

It was just a glimmer, and I’m certainly not “there” yet in the way of full Christian love and maturity in relationship to this person. But God, through circumstances, life experience and his merciful acknowledgement of my endless prayers to have my heart transformed towards this person, is doing it. I felt something I haven’t toward this person in a very long time, and to be honest, this new feeling is amazing and startling all at once.

When we struggle within a turbulent ocean of animosity in a relationship, especially if the other person is semi or totally oblivious to that inward struggle, it truly borders on the miraculous to one day be in the presence of that person and sense something new, something good, something of God.

I’m not ready to label this a “new beginning.” I have learned to not get ahead of myself—or others—when it comes to relating to one another. 

But I do know my prayers, and I do know God. And I know that my sincere desire for the trajectory of this relationship and my role in it, are of Him, regardless of where the relationship ultimately and actually ends up.

copyright Barb Harwood

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

“Do not call to mind former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
‘Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.’” Isaiah 43:18-19

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Jesus' Anger

God acknowledges a full range of emotions in us. Even anger is addressed by Jesus when he says,

“In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26.

And Jesus, as recorded in Matthew, Mark and John,

“entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13

“When it was time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’” John 2:13-16

You can also read this in Mark 11:15-18 and find, in Mark 3, another reference to Jesus’ anger.

Got Questions? is a wonderful website on which to have many Biblical questions soundly discussed. The discourse this site provides on the topic of anger is of such Biblical integrity that I will quote a good portion of it here:

(As the website copyright graciously asks its users, please do not reprint the following material for monetary gain and without proper citation of the source,

"Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should eradicate from our lives altogether. However, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is amoral. This is borne out elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. We note the following facts about Jesus’ displays of anger: 

1) His anger had the proper motivation. In other words, He was angry for the right reasons. Jesus’ anger did not arise from petty arguments or personal slights against Him. There was no selfishness involved. 

2) His anger had the proper focus. He was not angry at God or at the “weaknesses” of others. His anger targeted sinful behavior and true injustice.

3) His anger had the proper supplement. 
Mark 3:5 says that His anger was attended by grief over the Pharisees’ lack of faith. Jesus’ anger stemmed from love for the Pharisees and concern for their spiritual condition. It had nothing to do with hatred or ill will.

4) His anger had the proper control. Jesus was never out of control, even in His wrath. The temple leaders did not like His cleansing of the temple (
Luke 19:47), but He had done nothing sinful. He controlled His emotions; His emotions did not control Him. 

5) His anger had the proper duration. He did not allow His anger to turn into bitterness; He did not hold grudges. He dealt with each situation properly, and He handled anger in good time.

6) His anger had the proper result. Jesus’ anger had the inevitable consequence of godly action. Jesus’ anger, as with all His emotions, was held in check by the Word of God; thus, Jesus’ response was always to accomplish God’s will.

When we get angry, too often we have improper control or an improper focus. We fail in one or more of the above points. This is the wrath of man, of which we are told “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (
James 1:19-20)."

 The above quote is from

Friday, June 2, 2017

Christ Equips, Not Us

Christ Himself equips believers for living every aspect of life in His grace and peace, but we often don’t realize it. Instead, we attempt to work out our own Christian maturity, yes, along the lines of Christ, but not in Christ Himself. We don’t study, learn, accept and then live out His equipping.

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6

“Therefore as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-7

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

We struggle because we focus on the struggle and pray our hearts out that God would help us. To do what? Act like Christ in our own power? Transform the world around us while we ignore Christ?

Or, we can pray that Christ, whose Spirit is within us, is lived out through us so He can transform the world around us:

“His divine power has given (notice the past tense) us everything (notice it is in full, not part), we need (not what we want, but what we need), for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4, words in parenthesis mine.

The next paragraph continues,

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

I believe verses five through eight do not take us back to our own striving, based on verses three and four.

Our “every effort” is in submitting to the Godly qualities attached to faith. It is the discipline and decision of obedience in Christ Jesus. In this way, Christ’s equipping bears His fruit through us. And this not of ourselves:

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:4-9

copyright Barb Harwood

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Did Early Christianity Agree on the Death of Christ?

The "new thinking" on Christ, based on later materials, often likes to debunk the Bible. One theory its promoters try to posit as fact is that there was no cohesion in early Christianity; that there was more division and confusion than unity. Therefore, traditional Christianity is not to be trusted. 

This, however, is untrue, something the advocates of the new materials would know if they actually studied the original sources that predate the new. 

Darrell Bock thoroughly discusses this in his book, The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities. One of the points of contention in the discussion surrounds the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Bock makes it clear, through the citing of the oldest original sources, and comparing when they were written with those of the new, that there was indeed cohesive agreement in the early church that Jesus died for sin:

"One of the core elements is that Jesus Christ came and died for sin--to acquire humanity's salvation through the forgiveness only He could now offer. This is part of the core knowledge of faith. Every major traditional source of the first two centuries notes this teaching." Darrell L. Bock

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ," Ephesians 4:14-15

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Reason So Many People Miss Out on the Reality of Christ

Darrell L. Bock, writing in his wonderfully fair, measured and scholarly work, "The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities:

"Part of becoming spiritual for Paul is recognizing how unspiritual we are when we seek God through our own strength and means. Thus, what we need, God completely supplies. Jesus does not point out the way for us to find ourselves; He provides that way as a gift we did not previously possess." 
Darrell L. Bock

(and, I might add, that "finding ourselves" is the gift of Christ to discover, more and more over time lived in Him, not who "I" am, but who Christ is and who I am in Christ. That is often the struggle: giving up my sense of self-righteousness to own "who I am," and relinquishing my opinion of the world, for Christ Himself).

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

"But by his doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.'" 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Politicization of a Nation

Excellent and much-needed wisdom from National Review Senior Writer David French:

"Over the long term, the politicization of everything is a greater threat to American national life than any single politician--including Donald Trump or any candidate the Democrats nominate to challenge him in 2020. If there is no place for common engagement or common enjoyment, then we face more polarization. And make no mistake, polarization can't continue to worsen indefinitely without placing dangerous strains on the union itself." 
Attorney David French, in the May 17, 2017, National Review

Read the entire article here: