Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Under the Knife, Feeling the Hammer

 A poem for those under the knife of the Divine Surgeon:

When God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man
And skill a man,
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How he hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses
And with every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendour out-
God knows what He’s about!”
-Author Unknown

Hat Tip: The Blazing Center » God Knows What He’s About

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why We Need It

"Inside every evangelical Christian preacher is a legalist who wants to get out. Evangelical culture contains more than its fair share of legalism. Preaching the cross and the cross alone is never entirely comfortable for us. This is why we need the cross so much – because we are sinners like everyone else." — Bill Fleming

From the site masthead at the Boar's Head Tavern

Dug Down Rap

Okay, Joshua Harris' book Dug Down Deep is a good book (which I highly recommend) but someone has now written a rap song based on it. See Voice: “Whatever It Takes” – Justin Taylor


Guess it takes all kinds.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gospel Quote Saturday

Let's have a Gospel quotes Saturday:  
"If there is anything in life that we should be passionate about, it's the gospel.  And I don't mean passionate only about  sharing it with others.  I mean passionate in thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us.  And only the gospel ought to be."   - C.J. Mahanney, The Cross Centered Life, pages 20-21

"'What people don’t realise is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.' -- Flannery O'Connor"            HT: The Gospel-Driven Church

“How can we break our heart’s fixation on doing ’some great thing’ in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning? Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God’s salvation does not require us to do ’some great thing.’ We don’t have to do it, because Jesus has. . . . Jesus did it all for us, and he loves us — that is how we know our existence is justified. When we believe in what he accomplished for us with our minds, and when we are moved by what he did for us in our hearts, it begins to kill off the addiction, the need for success at all costs.”
- Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009), 93-94. HT:  Of First Importance

Real Christianity is never simply an addition to, or merely a cultivation of, something that has always been there.  Instead, it is, in some radical sense, an about-face.  And it's an about-face all Christians make, but only as a part of their relying on Christ's finished work on the cross."  -Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, page 42

Knowledge Before Obedience

"[Paul] deemed it necessary to teach first about Christ and the mystery of the incarnation. Only then did he point to things in their lives that needed to be corrected. He wanted them first to know the Lord and then to want to do what he told them. For if you don’t know the one who leads the people in observing God’s commands, you are not very likely to obey them."

- St. Athanasius

Hat Tip: Peter Kirk at Gentle Wisdom

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dwellers In the "Land of Inconsequence"

Parts of this story are mine too.

Saw this sad, but very familiar, story by Dan Edelen entitled In the Land of Inconsequence at Cerulean Sanctum. If you have ever had youthful dreams of serving God, giving your all for the Kingdom and doing great things for the Lord - dreams that later seemed to dissolve in the mists of time or lie broken in the dust- then you too may be familiar with the Land of Inconsequence. I've lived there, like Dan, for a long time.

After describing his life journey, Dan says:
"That’s my story. I believe it’s one that many other Christians share, though the details are different. I think that church pews around America are filled with middle-aged people wondering what happened to the mission they embraced years ago. Life became cubicles and rush hour gridlock and the smirk on the face that accompanies hearing the dream stories of youth who are poised to change the world. Those were our stories—once.
It feels like hell living a life of no consequence, counting time until we go to heaven and receive whatever meager reward we earned, based mostly on what we accomplished for the Kingdom when we were barely out of childhood. The Land of Inconsequence is a terrible place to dwell, yet the population grows daily.
God knows most of us who dwell in that land would prefer to be elsewhere. We’d like nothing more than to cast off the burden of a life buried in bureaucracy and striving. We don’t want to look at the mission of the Kingdom of God and think, Hey, nice fairy tale. We want to be more concerned with the fact that Christians in India and elsewhere  face persecution, but we’re stuck on the phone arguing with the electric company, trying to figure out why our electrical bill is twice as high this month.
All the while, what we once were eats at us. The old mission claws at our heart, but we don’t know how to get back to it. We don’t know if we could even perform that mission should it one day open up again. And the days keep falling from the calendar."
I don't have any answers to this condition (if I did I wouldn't be living in it too), but agree with Dan that we should not pretend this dismal land doesn't exist, and that so many people in the pews of our churches visit it or dwell there.

How about you?

FAQ on Abortion and Health Care

Does the just passed health care bill cover abortions? Did the executive order solve the problem? Follow this link for a helpful FAQ from Matthew Anderson on what just happened.

Here are the questions he answers:
  • Did the Senate health care bill, which was the bill under consideration, cover abortions initially?
  • But isn’t this bill covered by the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortions?
  • So Stupak solved this with the Executive Order, right?
  • Why did Stupak cave, then?
  • Did Stupak get anything for it?
  • And pro-lifers?
  • Can we be done talking about this now?

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Monday, March 22, 2010

If You Want Big Brother....

Some sobering words from Eric Hoffer (Hat Tip: The Anchoress) in light of the actions yesterday in Congress:
“Scratch an intellectual and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound, and the smell of common folk.”

“Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden. Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual? We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, ‘to be free from freedom.’”

“To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility.”

“Absolute power corrupts even when exercised for humane purposes. The benevolent despot who sees himself as a shepherd of the people still demands from others the submissiveness of sheep.”

“To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility.”

“The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.”

“The aspiration toward freedom is the most essentially human of all human manifestations.”

“If you want a Big Brother, you’ll get all that comes with it.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

No Accidents

"You can look at providence through the lens of human autonomy and our idolatrous notions of freedom and see a mean God moving tsunamis and kings like chess pieces in some kind of perverse divine playtime.
Or you can look at providence through the lens of Scripture and see a loving God counting the hairs on our heads and directing the sparrows in the sky so that we might live life unafraid. “What else can we wish for ourselves,” Calvin wrote, ” if not even one hair can fall from our head without his will?”
There are no accidents in your life. Every economic downturn, every phone call in the middle of the night, every oncology report has been sent to us from the God who sees all things, plans all things, and loves us more than we know.
Whether it means the end of suffering or the extension of suffering, God in his providence is for us and not against us."
- Kevin DeYoung, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism
BTW, I recommend Kevin DeYoung's books, and his blog.

Hat Tip: Trevin Wax: Kingdom People

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Mini-Guide to Living Wise

I've been reading Proverbs as part of this year's Bible reading plan.  Therefore, I was pleased when I saw this article from Tim Keller at the Gospel Coalition website discussing Proverbs chapter three as a summary of the whole book and  A Mini-Guide to Life ( The Gospel Coalition Blog).  He notes five points in that chapter as a summary of wisdom and guide to living a wise life. 
1. Put your heart’s deepest trust in God and his grace. Every day remind yourself of his unconditioned, covenantal love for you. Do not instead put your hopes in idols or in your own performance.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Prov 3:3-5a)

2. Submit your whole mind to the Scripture. Don’t think you know better than God’s word. Bring it to bear on every area of life. Become a person under authority.
Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5b-6)

3. Be humble and teachable toward others. Be forgiving and understanding when you want to be critical of them; be ready to learn from others when they come to be critical of you.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Prov 3:7-8)

4. Be generous with all your possessions, and passionate about justice. Share your time, talent, and treasure with those who have less.
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Prov 3:9-10)

5. Accept and learn from difficulties and suffering. Through the gospel, recognize them as not punishment, but a way of refining you.
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Prov 3:11-12)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Super Bowl Commercial Update

Did the Tim Tebow pro-life advertisement during the Super Bowl accomplish anything?

Answer - Yep! See Super Bowl Commercial Update | Boundless Line

St Patrick's Breastplate: A Prayer for Today

"St. Patrick's Breastplate"  A Prayer of Patrick of Ireland:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
 arise today ....

Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Following, Though Bewildered

"What marks Jesus' disciples from His enemies is not theological acumen; His enemies often had the edge there. It's this: Disciples follow Him, bewildered as they often are, while enemies oppose Him, clear minded though they be."
- Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God, page 29
The above quote comes after a discussion as to how the demon-oppressed people that Jesus healed always seemed to know who He was (Luke 4:34, 8:28), while the disciples had a hard time figuring that out. So, in other words, to know who Jesus is (however accurately) without loving Him and following Him just brings you or me up to the level of the demon-possessed!

He goes on to say:
"I want to make disciples. So I want the knowledge of God to increase. But I also want the love of god to grow stronger, to enrich our theology but, even more, our worship. To sharpen our talk about God, but precisely so that we talk more to God. To enlarge our understanding of His ways, but solely so that we walk in them, steady, unswerving, not growing weary."
Amen! (BTW, every book by Mark Buchanan is excellent!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

What is Your Counterfeit Gospel?

I've been thinking today about this list of  seven counterfeit gospels—-”religious” ways we try and “justify” or “save” ourselves apart from Christ's gospel of grace.  (The list is from Paul Tripp, How People Change,quoted by Tullian Tchividjian at On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.”
Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.”
Mysticism. “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discouragement when I don’t feel that way. I may change churches often, too, looking for one that will give me what I’m looking for.”
Activism. “I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more of a defense of what’s right than a joyful pursuit of Christ.”
Biblicism. “I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge.”
Therapism. “I talk a lot about the hurting people in our congregation, and how Christ is the only answer for their hurt. Yet even without realizing it, I have made Christ more Therapist than Savior. I view hurt as a greater problem than sin—and I subtly shift my greatest need from my moral failure to my unmet needs.”
Social-ism. “The deep fellowship and friendships I find at church have become their own idol. The body of Christ has replaced Christ himself, and the gospel is reduced to a network of fulfilling Christian relationships.”
I think my weakness and greatest temptation is in the area of "biblicism."  Many people in my church are probably tempted by "mysticism" or "therapism."  How about you and your church family?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The One Thing to Want

Love this prayer by Pastor Scotty Smith, based on Psalm 27:4.

"Dear Lord Jesus, if you would say “Yes!” to just one of my prayers… if you would fulfill a single desire and intense longing of my heart, how could I possibly choose wiser than King David? Though I were to assemble a catalogue of commendable requests and redemptive petitions, there is nothing more to be desired than to gaze upon your unmitigated, unfiltered, unabridged beauty.

For on that Day all will be made right. Indeed, Lord Jesus, when you are finally and fully in sight, everything will be made right. Every prayer I’ve ever offered in concert with the heartbeat of heaven will be answered. Every quest and question will either be dissolved or resolved. All wrestling with providence and interceding over circumstance will be done with.

I will shout on that Day what I sometimes only half-heartedly whisper in this day, “My God has done all things well!” There will be no more praying in part… no more knowing in part… no more hoping in part. We shall see you as you are, Jesus, and we shall be like you. (1 John 3:2)

Until that Day, Jesus, please show us… show me, more and more of your beauty. Reveal as much of your beauty to me as I can entertain. For by the light of your beauty my sin becomes much more reprehensible… the gospel becomes much more commendable… your kingdom becomes much more visible… but above all, you become so much more desirable.

Jesus, no matter what I oftentimes think, feel, pout, demand or say… it is you I want more than anything or anyone else. Keep me restless until my heart more fully rests in you. So very Amen, I pray, in the beauty and bounty of your great name."
And the Journeyman says Amen!

Hat Tip: The One Thing to Want | Challies Dot Com

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Love and Truth - Together Forever

"Love without truth is like doing heart surgery with a wet fish.
But truth without love is like doing heart surgery with a hammer."
-Tim Chester,You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, p. 158."

HT: Justin Taylor

Friday, March 12, 2010

After the Poker Game

We've all seen the "pop culture" picture of dogs playing poker. Apparently after the game attention turned to more positive pursuits.

Picture from The Sacred Sandwich

Young Leaders Arise

Here's a good reminder from Tiffany Smith at Missional Mayhem that young people can be Christian leaders too!

Did you know…

  • Perpetua (the courageous early martyr) was only 22.
  • Athanasius of Alexandria was 29 when he argued successfully for the divinity of Christ at the historic Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
  • Martin Luther was in his early 30’s when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.
  • John Calvin was just 26 when he penned his landmark tome, Institutes of the Christian Religion.
  • Charles Spurgeon was only 19 when he was called to take the pastorate of London’s famed New Park Street Chapel, the largest Baptist congregation in all of England at the time.
  • Missionary Jim Elliot and musician Keith Green both died before 30.
  • So go for it, youngsters! Show us old folks what you can do.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    The Complete Realist

    "Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to talk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ , because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means - the only complete realist."

    -C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity Book 3 - "Christian Behaviour, Ch. 11 - Faith)

    Hat Tip: The Thinklings

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Only One Place To Look

    “If it is I who say where God will be, I will always find there a God who… corresponds to me, is agreeable to me…. But if it is God who says where he will be,… the place is the cross of Christ.”

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word, p. 45.

    Hat Tip: Where Will We Find God? – Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

    Son of Hamas Turns to Christ

    Did you see the article in the Wall Street Journal about the author of the new book Son of Hamas? The article can be found here - Weekend Interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef.

    Mosab Yousef is the son of one of the founders of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, who has turned to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, rejecting both Islam and terror.

    The researcher and co-author of the book, Ron Brakin, is an old friend and ex-neighbor of mine. We used to live on the same cul-de-sac in Maryland back in the 80's, and were part of the same church. I'm sure this is a great read and inspiring story, and I look forward to reading it.

    Blessings and more professional success to you, Ron! And peace, protection and safety for Mosab.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Pray for the IMonk

    Denise Spencer has posted a health update on her husband, Michael Spencer (aka "the Internet Monk" or "IMonk"), and the news is not good. Michael has colon cancer and per his doctor has less than a year to live, absent a miracle. Details can be found at Michael Spencer Update, 3/9/2010

    I have benefited greatly from Michael's transparency, openness and wise observations as I have read his blog over the past few years. A quick search for his name on the pages of this blog will confirm that. Thank the Lord that he completed work on his book before the illness struck, because I really want to read it.

    This one is hitting me hard, in part because he is the same age as I am.

    I ask all my readers to join in prayer for Michael and Denise Spencer. Pray for that miracle. And pray also, that if the Lord does not choose to heal him, that Michael's desire to testify to his Lord in the way that he faces death will be fulfilled.

    So Deep I Need A Snorkel


    Hat Tip: Go Deep – Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    "Batter My Heart Three-Person’d God"

    I like the poetry of John Donne. This one is particularly good.

    Batter My Heart Three-Person’d God

    Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
    As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
    That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
    Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
    I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
    Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
    Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
    But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
    Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
    But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
    Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
    Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
    Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

    Hat Tip: Pastoralia – Tales from the future of Christendom

    No Breath in Which You are Not Involved.

    Today is our 30th wedding anniversary. God bless you, Colleen, for keeping me around all of these years. In today's society it seems like long lasting marriages like ours are an endangered species. But some of us are still here.

    The following quote comes via Tim Keller, in the acknowledgements to his book Counterfeit Gods, quoting the hymn writer John Newton who said this about Newton's wife, Polly.

    "It is no wonder if so many years, so many endearments, so many obligations have produced such an uncommon effect, that by long habit, it is almost impossible for me to draw a breath, in which you are not involved."
    Amen! That is what a good long lasting marriage becomes. Thank you again, honey, and thank you Lord. Here's to 30 more years.

    Hat Tip for quote reference: The 9Marks Blog

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Graphing the Bible Translations Continuum

    Check out this good presentation and chart by Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen on Bible Translations in a Nutshell?

    I recommend it.

    Trends in the Vineyard Movement

    For my Vineyard friends- Jason Clark at Deep Church has been saying some interesting things about our movement and current trends within the Vineyard family. He speaks from within the movement (with a UK perspective).

    10 Vineyard Church distinctives to theologically re-imagine? at Deep Church

    Vineyard Churches Re-imagined

    Is there any "move" left in the vineyard church movement?

    Vineyard Churches: 4 factors we need to face?

    Society of Vineyard Scholars

    4 things the Society of Vineyard Scholars is not

    Healthcare Reform & Abortion: An Update

    The following info on the features of the Senate health care bill (that the Democrats want to "reconcile") that touch on abortion comes from Denny Burk (with reference to an article by Charmaine Yoest article in the Wall Street Journal):
    She argues that the Senate’s healthcare reform bill would be the greatest expansion of abortion since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. It would mandate tax-payers to fund abortions and would establish abortion as a fundamental health-care service for the following reasons:

    • It would change existing law by allowing federally subsidized health-care plans to pay for abortions and could require private health-insurance plans to cover abortion.

    • It would impose a first-ever abortion tax—a separate premium payment that will be used to pay for elective abortions—on enrollees in insurance plans that covers abortions through newly created government health-care exchanges.

    • And it would fail to protect the rights of health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions.ee:

    Keep Praying!

    See Abortion and Healthcare Reform | Denny Burk

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Christian Growth By Rediscovering The Gospel

    "I used to think that when the Bible tells us to work out our salvation, it meant go out and get what you don’t have-get more patience, get more strength, get more joy, get more love, and so on. But after reading the Bible more carefully I now understand that real gospel fruit happens, not as we “work harder” but only as we continually rediscover the gospel. You could put it this way: rediscovering the gospel is the hard work we’re called to.

    You see, the secret of the gospel is that we become more spiritually mature when we focus less on what we need to do for God and focus more on all that God has already done for us. The irony of the gospel is that we actually perform better as we grow in our understanding that our relationship with God is based on Christ’s performance for us, not our performance for him."

    -Tullian Tchividjian, Growth by Remembering
    (Quoted at : Buzzard Blog)

    The quote above harmonizes with what I have been reading in Michael Horton's Gospel Driven Life. It truly is good news, all the way around and on all sides!

    Changed Eyes

    Here's a quote to expand your thinking:

    “Most probably we are in Eden still. It is only our eyes that have changed.”

    –G.K. Chesterton, Introduction to The Defendant
    Hat tip: The Anchoress

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Failed Script Writers

    "The salvation that God promises in Christ requires my death.... I no longer can see God as existing to make me happy, to satisfy my felt needs, even to give me a sense of well being and add a few suggestions to improve my life. He comes to kill me and to make me alive. Repentance means I give up my script; I stop pretending that I can write the story of my life. Through faith in Christ, I become a character in God's story, part of the new creation."

    -Michael Horton, The Gospel Driven Life, pages 116-117

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Someday Roses Will Have No Thorns

    I attended another family funeral today. This time it was for my first cousin George, son of Dad's sister Elsie. George, four years younger than me, died from multiple health problems exacerbated by infections from a burst appendix.

    As I watched his 3 year old grand niece, grand-daughter of his sister Zelphia, happily chattering away at everyone she met at the funeral parlor, with her security blanket wrapped around her neck, I decided that children should be mandatory at funerals. We all need the reminder that life goes on, even in the face of death. Perhaps funeral homes should offer to rent a kid for families that can't provide their own. Yes, I'm joking, but you could probably make money doing it!

    I did not know George well, and had not seen him in years, but, based on a poem he had written that was read at the service, he had a vibrant Christian faith. The poem expressed hope in eternal resurrection, using a metaphor of a rose that whithers in winter but blossoms again in spring. Only one day, said the poem, the roses will have no thorns, thanks to the work of the Lord of Roses. Good Job, George! I look forward to discussing that thought with you someday.

    "When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (I Cor 15:54-55 ESV)