Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The other day, I made a left turn through a yellow-into-red turn arrow, only to find myself staring down the shiny chrome grill of an oncoming navy blue Dodge Ram/Ford F-150/Chevy Silverado….didn’t catch the make other than that it was BIG and headed straight for me.

It happened in an instant, and thank the Lord I was able to complete my illegal turn unscathed. Feeling a bit sheepish, the first thought that entered my mind was “yeah, it was stupid of me to turn on yellow-red, but hey, the reason I’m on the road in the first place is because I’m taking some household stuff to the donation center at Goodwill. Surely my good deed is the only thing that matters.” Then another voice popped into my head and said, “Are you serious? You think donating stuff to Goodwill allows you to drive like a maniac getting there?”

That second thought made sense, and I was convicted. I mean, if a cop had pulled me over for my infraction, he wouldn’t have cared one wit where I was headed or how many babies I’d saved from burning buildings or how many little ladies I’d helped across the street. He’d ticket me for this one act of disobedience, and rightly so.

I’ve been thinking about how this translates to a Christian walk. There’s a reason God wants us to obey. He has lots of signals: the yellow to warn us we are getting close to sinning; the red to let us know we’ve already stepped over the line, and the green to call us to His purpose. Ignoring any one of those signals from God could leave us face to face with something that was never God’s intent. And obeying God in one area doesn’t give us license to disobey Him in another!

We live in a country where we are blessed with the freedom to obey the laws. It’s our choice. Granted, my choice to turn against a yellow/red was a spontaneous one, but it was my choice nonetheless. It’s the same with God. We have the choice to first of all read His Word so we know the right choices to make, and then we have the freedom to make those choices. It’s completely up to us.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:15-21

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:3-4

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mozart, Gardens and God

Two days ago, as part of our homeschooling, my son Nicholas and I listened to Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” As the music filled the air around us, and as Nicholas looked incredulous when the soprano playing the part of Princess Pamina flawlessly hit the staccato high notes, the issues of the day melted away. God in His purity alone emerged from the cloud of everyday isms, debates, problems, aches, distractions, conflicts, passions, rights, to-dos and obsessions.

Hearing this symphony took me back to being in my garden, one of the first places where God revealed Himself to me as the True Creator. As I watched a Monarch pull its crumpled self out of its golden chrysalis, and studied the mathematic-like patterns of flowers and learned how beans and peas take nitrogen from the air and hold it in the soil and Spotted Knapweed chemically changes the soil to discourage other plants--giving its own seedlings an advantage, I understood with my mind and heart Creation by True Intent. This was all way too sophisticated to be random.

The music of Mozart is also Creation by True Intent. None of it is random and all of it is meant for days like yesterday, when, through the orchestral genius God worked through a man named Mozart, I was reminded that it isn’t selfish to just enjoy God. In fact, it’s essential.

If someone came to me asking how to begin to see God, I would pair God’s Special Supernatural Revelation in His Word with His Natural Revelation, and plunk the person down in a garden of flowers with a Bible opened to the Book of John and earphones tuned to Mozart. Only a hardened heart would come away still believing in a random, self-centered and joyless world.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." Isaiah 12:6

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with
joy in your presence." Acts 2:28

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Social Justice in Biblical Terms

Social Justice is a term we’re hearing a lot of lately. Glenn Beck made some comment about it on his show, which I don’t watch, so I’m not sure what the brouhaha is about there—I only saw the headlines. USA Today ran an April 5 piece on social justice, and liberal theology has founded itself on this term for years. I don’t know why the words are suddenly mainstream, as if it’s something new. I do think it’s one of those constructs that people have to be careful with because it is interpreted in many different ways.

So I did some research, and found what for me as a born again Christian is the perfect and right definition of social justice. You can read it here: (well worth the time)

To me, there is no social justice if the hope, love and eternal life available through Jesus Christ is not shared right along with the clothes, shoes, water, shelter and food. Like I always say, relief workers and volunteers eventually leave and the people they have helped must continue on, many in the same oppressive circumstances they’ve always lived in. However, when we share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ, they won’t have to go forward alone and without hope. They can know that Jesus died for them and understands what they’re going through. They can hear Him in His own words say,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Come to Me, Jesus says, to each and every person on the face of the globe. That is social justice at its truest and purest, promised and freely given by the author of social justice Himself, Jesus Christ.

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
John 4:13-14

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise

I just read an awesome commentary on Luke 23:43 written by a man named Charles R. Erdman (1866-1960; pastor and professor of theology).

To provide context, here is Luke 23:39-43:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

The following excerpt by Erdman comes from The Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald:

“This story reveals the truth to us that salvation is conditioned upon repentance and faith. However, it contains other important messages also. It declares that salvation is independent of sacraments. The thief had never been baptized, nor had he partaken of the Lord’s Supper…He did in fact boldly profess his faith in the presence of a hostile crowd and amid the taunts and jeers of rulers and soldiers, yet he was saved without any formal rites. It is further evident that salvation is independent of good works…It is also seen that there is no ‘sleep of the soul.’ The body may sleep, but consciousness exists after death. Again it is evident that there is no ‘purgatory.’ Out of a life of sin and shame, the penitent robber passed immediately into a state of blessedness. Again it may be remarked that salvation is not universal. There were two robbers; only one was saved. Last of all it may be noted that the very essence of the joy which lies beyond death consists in personal communion with Christ. The heart of the promise to the dying thief was this: ‘Thou shalt be with me.’ This is our blessed assurance, that to depart is ‘to be with Christ’ which is ‘very far better.’” Charles R. Erdman

“Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.” Matthew 27:38

“They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.” Mark 15:27

“Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” John 19:18