Thursday, December 29, 2016

body and blood

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many."
Mark 14:22-23

In this way Jesus made sure we would never forget Him or the work He came to accomplish. We are not commanded anywhere in scripture to celebrate Christmas or Easter. But we are commanded by Him to remember Him regularly through this simple meal. The Lord's table was set up by Him at Passover for His disciples to focus on His redeeming work. This is the mission of Jesus in the gospels -- to seek and to save the lost. And this is what the bread and the wine are placed before us to remember, celebrate, and proclaim until Jesus comes again. Communion commerates His death atoning for our sins.

Having been in Christmas celebrations, I now pause to reflect on Christ's sacrifice. This is exactly why  we sing "the King of Kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him." Jesus was born to die for sins, taking our punishment upon Himself, so that by faith we might accept His work for us and be forever saved. And the bread and wine of communion are the physical reminders of His sacrifice.

The manger would lead to a cross, and the cross to an empty tomb. And these three are the vivid parts of the story of Jesus our Lord, showing our need for Him to come as our Savior and to give us the glorious new life that we can enjoy in Him! As as we meet together as His followers, we have in common the reality that His blood saved each of us. Remembering Him at His table -- the bread His body, the wine His blood -- we remember God with us, and for us, in Jesus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

stay awake!

Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.
Mark 13:35-27

These are Jesus' words to His disciples as He is headed toward the events that will lead to His crucifixion and resurrection. The main teaching He focuses on is the surprising imminence of His return again to earth. Jesus makes a big deal about His disciples being ready and "awake" at His return. It is even more poignant given that in just a few hours He would find His disciples sleeping at the moment of His betrayal (Mark 14:37-42).

I've always been intrigued by the fact that Jesus spent so much time explaining details of His second coming to the disciples as He prepared to go to the cross. It is as if He wants to bolster them doctrinally to withstand the shock, pain, and humiliation to come. And I have to say that Jesus emphasizing eschatology at a time like this in the gospel narrative has kept me a dispensationalist in the premillennial camp for all my life. I have good friends who aren't there, but I think the easiest hermeneutic taking the text at what it says leads me to conclude that Jesus is talking about a coming for His disciples, followed by the great tribulation, followed by Him coming to establish His kingdom and to rule and reign over all the earth. A simple reading of the texts, particularly these words from Jesus, convince me to reject covenant theology's cut and paste job with interpretation regarding eschatology.

So as I head into a New Year, it is good to "stay awake". The Master of the house may return. The voice that announced this truth to His disciples on the night He was betrayed is the same voice that predicted His own death and resurrection that accomplished salvation for all who believe. It is equally authorative on eschatology. And I will believe Jesus when He says He will return for His own and it will be a total surprise. I must stay awake with that thought. My obedience to Jesus must not grow slack.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

the hardest thing about prayer

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mark 11:25

God wants His grace to transform the way we relate to people. Grace isn't just about healing our lives with God's power. It's about healing hurts with other people right now. And it is to be as constant in our hearts as our prayers are to be. Jesus instructs His disciples to offer forgiveness to people who don't even ask for it! How hard is that to do? I find it really difficult. I have to stumble through all kinds of self-justifying sinfulness to repent of pride and do so. Yet Jesus links forgiveness before prayer with effectiveness in our own prayer lives, indicating that we cannot pray well if we harbor an unforgiving attitude toward any other person.

How many of us want God to answer our prayers? I'd think all of us do. So according to Jesus, we better first pray with an attitude of forgiveness toward anyone we may be harboring resentment toward or anyone with whom we have a current conflict. Gracious forgiveness must flow into our most difficult relationships if we expect to find God's answers to our prayers. And really, aren't a lot of those prayers about our relationships? It makes sense that when grace does this, our hearts change, our God works in us, and the answers come. To find grace we must also release God's grace to change our hearts as we pray forgivingly. Christians have to be forgiving people. We can't be bitter. We can't be fighters. We must be people whose relationships pour out grace. And that starts with the hardest kind of prayer: forgiving prayer.

Monday, December 26, 2016

...the brightness of His rising

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Isaiah 60:1-3

Jesus certainly was an unexpected way in which these promises to Israel would be made known. He is the light of Israel and of the world. He is the glory of the LORD, revealed in humanity for all of us to know, worship, and love. God did "rise upon" Israel and the world, with the dawn of redeeming grace in Bethlehem so very long ago.

Jesus came to earth and His life has been a light to the world ever since. The beauty of God's love, sending His only Son, to die for sin and be raised to life, is known because that light that still shines in this dark world. God's light will be seen in the gospel. Jesus calls the world to know Him, to believe that the light is here, and to know the stunning brilliance of God's glory through forgiveness of sins, new life in Christ, and the worship of the Lord.

Dawn on every day since the birth of Jesus has been filled with a new light. It is radiant with the hope of the gospel and the love of God in Christ. And in the light of Jesus, all is as it should be, for He is coming again to rule this world in truth and grace... to make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Light

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5

Jesus came as the light of the world. Sin made this world a dark place. It was dark when Jesus arrived as that baby in the manger. It is still dark. But darkness never has overcome the light of Christ. The gospel shines brightly with the good news of eternal salvation and abundant life in Christ. That will never change. Since Jesus has come to us, darkness cannot win. That is what we celebrate when we light those Christmas lights!

There is darkness in the world but Jesus outshines it all. There is the darkness of human suffering by war: Jesus, Prince of Peace, outshines it. There is the darkness of sickness and physical pain: Jesus, our healing, outshines it. There is the darkness of pornographic lust and sex trafficking: Jesus, Lover of our Souls, outshines it. There is the darkness of human injustice, homelessness, and displaced refugees: Jesus, the Judge of all things, outshines it.

No darkness can overcome what Jesus has already done by His advent here. No darkness nor death can undo the saving work of Calvary or the glory of the resurrection. No darkness can undo that Jesus has already arrived, that He has died for us, or that He has risen from the dead. No darkness can stop what God has already done. Light has invaded the earth. No time of earthly pain or sorrow will be more intense than eternity with Jesus or His presence in His people right now! Jesus is the light of the world. Light the Christmas light by proclaiming His good news in the darkness! Our King is here! Don't fear the darkness! Our King is here!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

oppression, longing, & deliverance

And he burned the house of the Lord and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
2 Kings 25:9-10

With the trauma of the fall of Jerusalem the punishment of the Babylonian exile set in for the Jews in Judah. All the residents of Jerusalem that survived the siege were led away to Babylon, all weeping with the painful memories of dead loved ones, burned homes, a destroyed and ransacked temple, and broken down city walls. It was a painful time with little hope.

But we look back on the biblical account and realize that God cared for His people by the Exile. He kept them safe, and as the book of Daniel recounts, many Jews thrived in the captivity. In Babylon (and later Persia) they would rise to positions of prominence. Among them were Daniel, Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah. They would obey God and by kept until he was ready to return them to their land again. They would serve as priests, prophets, queens, and court officials. And the Jews would emerge from their captivity with a stronger commitment to God and His Law and with a real, new hope.

They'd come back with Messianic hope. Once back in their land, the Jews would create thriving cities again, but would stay politically weak, eventually to be dominated by Alexander the Great, and then by Rome. But even these events could not diminish the hope of a Messiah to come Who would lead them back to the glory of David's reign.

It was to this culture that God sent His Son. Jesus was born to a people under oppression. He was born to a nation aware that they were not truly free. And He would show them the first freedom and the best deliverance was from sin's tyranny. The oppressed and the oppressors would turn against Him, but only to ultimately fulfill God's plan. Jesus would deliver us by His death and resurrection, and God would use oppression and longing to bring about deliverance.

Monday, December 19, 2016

from Bethlehem

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Luke 2:4-5

From Bethlehem came forth
The Ancient of Days
newborn child
cradled in manger hay
Messiah mild
in that little town
of Bethlehem

In Judea's countryside
arrived a Savior
Jesus was born
God's righteous favor
that Christmas morn
in tiny village
of Bethlehem

The city of David
gave a new Prince
the world's King
Who'd go from hence
making the nations sing
born in the town
of Bethlehem

From Bethlehem
was born Jesus
victorious Lord
come to save us
as God's Word
predicted He'd come
from Bethlehem

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Micah 5:2

Friday, December 16, 2016


He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 40:11
Look upon that manger scene and see the shepherds adoring their Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. God intended for simple peasant shepherds to be the first to know about the Lamb of God come to save His people from their sins. He too would shepherd His people. Jesus is both Lamb of God and the Great Shepherd Who gives His life for the sheep.

Hundreds of years before angels spoke from the stars telling shepherds where to find an infant Savior, Isaiah foretold the tender care of the Great Shepherd. Jesus tends His flock. He cares for us. He gathers lambs up to hold them close, and He gently leads His people. Jesus loves us in this way because the Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not be in want. Jesus came to care for us like no one has. He came to lead us like no one could. He came to give His life for us so that we might be saved in Him, by Him, to Him as His flock. Jesus is our Shepherd and we shall not want.

O Lamb of God and Shepherd of my soul,
By Your blood I am forgiven and by Your life I am given life. But I must be led by my Great Shepherd. I must know how You gather me close and gently lead me, though I am prone to wander. Your rod and staff comfort me. The voice of Your Word calls me and I know You in that voice and follow You. Each manger scene that I see this Christmas reminds me of Your Shepherding love for my sheepish, wandering soul. Thank You, Lord!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

light shined

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
Isaiah 9:2

Jesus is the light of the world. His light is the life of mankind. By the light of Jesus we see our great need, we find salvation in Him, and we find hope and peace as He clearly shows us the way to a joy-filled relationship with the Father. Jesus is the only light in our darkness. Only He can bring hope and healing over our sin.

How fitting it is to think through Isaiah's poetic prophecy on a dark winter's morning. The season is in full control now. It is dark. Days are short, and gray... cold, with very little sunshine. A numbing cold and darkness settles in and even creeps into my soul ever so slightly. And that is just a physical manifestation of the winter season that will lift in another 60 days or so. We shall see light again by God's good design.

This is just a picture of what is always true for our souls. Sin is a great darkness (really the worst darkness) and it grows unfathomably deep as it is multiplied by billions of sinners in cultures and a world that is far from God. It feels as oppressive as a sub-zero December ice-storm frozen morning. But the light of Jesus breaks through to shatter this deep darkness with a great light. And the warmth of the incredible good news of the gospel warms us so that sin's winter has no more frozen death grip on our hearts. A universe frozen in darkness is thawed and reborn by the warm light of God's grace.

At Christmas we celebrate that the light has shined. Jesus has come. And the gospel is a roaring flame that warms hearts and melts the cold darkness of sin and death around us. Live now, warmly, in the light of the Son!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

the greatest gift is yours

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

And that, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is all about. It is easy to get caught up in the holiday wrappings as we labor to decorate around the celebration of the arrival of our Savior. But do we really worship Jesus with lights, trees, eggnog and parties? Sometimes it is good to take a long look at the gospel story again at Christmas time. And this Philippians passage leads us to do that today.

Jesus humbled and emptied Himself in the manner of a slave to become that wondrous baby in the manger scene. God came down. The invasion of grace occurred at an unlikely entry point of Bethlehem, and in the humble home of a carpenter's wife, a child would grow to bring a revolution to the world... a revolution of peace and reconciliation that would come by His life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus in life teaches us how to truly live. In His death, He took the worst of our dying away, and in His resurrection guaranteed our own lives beyond hell and the grave. In His humility He became Lord of all. And He calls us to arm ourselves not with power or strength or weapons, but with His same humble obedience so that we might be born again to new life.

Jesus is the Christmas gift. He is the Giver of life and love to all who will only believe the amazing good news as they repent of sin and trust Him for eternal salvation. This also is "yours in Christ Jesus".

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

present and future Messiah

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
Isaiah 11:10

Isaiah foretells of Jesus in this passage. And as I look back at the prophecy fulfilled, I am in awe of what God has done in sending His Son. So long ago, centuries before Jesus was born, God spoke through Isaiah of a branch sprouting forth from a broken stump of Jesse. A Messiah would come from David's line. He would be known by the Spirit of God clearly at work in His wisdom, words, and rule.

The Branch out of Jesse would bring justice. He will judge the wicked of the earth and bring justice to the weak, poor, and oppressed among all the nations. He is adorned and strengthened by faithfulness to God's Law and wears righteousness like a warrior's sash around His waist.

The rule of this Messiah restores the world to Eden's gentle and beautiful perfection. There are no more predators to fear. Children romp and play with lions as lambs frolic with wolves. Cobras become baby toys. It is a world where the curse has been lifted and evil no longer imperils human life. Jesus shall reign in such a new earth, and because I know Him as Savior, I shall know Him as the Prince of Peace in a world totally made right again. 

I'm on the back half of my life as I have reached the age where mortality is a daily reminder. That's OK. That is how life works now. And I find myself longing for Eden's perfection to come not just to my body (as I am reminded every morning of it's slow demise... limping into the kitchen to make coffee, working arthritic fingers so that I can grab a Bible and turn the pages), but to all of Creation. We groan together, this world and I. We want to know that Jesus rules over this all and I know that with my own eyes (and without the aid of trifocals) in a resurrected new life, I shall see and experience that Jesus' resting place is glorious. I long to breath the invigorating air of that land!

Monday, December 12, 2016

complete repentance

Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.
2 Kings 23:25

This is God's assessment of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in Jerusalem at just eight years of age, but who ruled with an unrivaled passion for God and obedience to God's Law. There are four times that the word "all" is used in this one verse to describe Josiah. They are worth pondering.

He turned to the Lord, first, with all his heart. God had the king's heart. He loved the LORD and His Word and thus serving God came first from his affection for God. We serve what we love, and there was no doubt, Josiah loved the Lord, and as a leader, modeled that love for all the people as his heart compelled him to lead Judah in loving repentance back to the worship of Yahweh in His temple.

The young king turned to God with all his soul. This was not a political move or a shift of emphasis to gain power. This was a deep, spiritual work in king Josiah. And it brought spiritual change to the souls of those who lived in Judah.

Josiah turned to God with all his might. The king used all power at his disposal to personally repent and worship the LORD. He led the nation to do so as his reforms became national revival. He used his power to worship and glorify God and it staved off judgment and saved his generation in Judah.

Finally, Josiah was thorough in his understanding of scripture to keep all the law of Moses. Here is the real power behind Judah's revival. They turned back to God's Word. It all began with the discovery of the Law in the back of the temple. God's Word convicted Josiah who led the nation to obey scripture and glorify God.

O God,
May Your Word draw me with all Your power to worship You with all my heart, all my soul, and all my might. May you draw me so close to You in Your Word that nothing else is nearly as important. And may I be used to help others see Your greatness so that my generation might know You are the Lord.

Friday, December 9, 2016

always completely forgiven

He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:10

God's mercy and grace extend to sinners in His deep love for us. He provides a way for sins to be atoned and for our relationship with Him to prosper. In David's day, God would forgive through the act of obedience whereby a sinner in faith offered a sacrifice as an intervening priest took the life of an animal and offered its blood so that sin could be atoned. Today, God now sees us atoned by the blood of His Son.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Psalm 103:11

What motivates God to be so merciful to us as to provide costly atonement for our sin? It is His faithful love. God saves us because He loves us. It is about His love and not our value. And it was that love that led Jesus to arrive in a stable in Bethlehem to die on a cross outside Jerusalem so that He could empty a grave and have us forever with Him.

as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

We never have to doubt the extent of God's love and forgiveness. When He forgives a sin, He removes it from the record. Just as east and west never meet, so our transgressions once forgiven in Christ, are not to be held against us ever again. That is why God is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins to Jesus! That is so liberating. What joy is mine forgiven in Christ!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

child in Bethlehem

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

There He lays, newborn with His family, come to save us from our sins.

But not just a child... He is a king.
We think Him tender and mild yet He is our Creator.

Infant hands sleeping curled, will raise the dead, calm stormy seas.
The voice that with words created the world is quieted as His mother sings.

A prophet of old called this child great things with titles so bold they could not fit earthly kings.

A Wonderful Counselor now held close in mothers arms would calm our souls secure in the Father's forgiving love.

The Mighty God, our Creator majesty would be considered odd by those He came to free.

Everlasting Father from eternity past teaches us what will matter for eternity yet ahead.

Prince of Peace sleeping peacefully would bring release from sin's tyranny.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

store it up

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

The Word of God is my provision for life and my protection against sin. Knowing God's truth by reading His Word and committing it to my memory provides the best hope for me to make holy decisions in my life. I must be serious about daily exposure to God's Word and the intake of biblical truth and wisdom. It is my source of life as much as food and drink sustain my body.

I like the way the ESV translates this verse, because we store up things for two reasons: value and need. Treasuries exist to save money and resources to drive economies. Silos hold grain for future food. Banks keep money for when it is needed. In the same way I must "store up" God's Word because it is a precious commodity that will never spoil. And in the vault of my heart the Word of God can be ready to comfort and compel me in obedience. It can be the resource of strength when sin comes calling. It can be the armory from which I draw out the Sword of the Spirit to fight against my temptation. But I must treasure it. I must take action to "store it up" through things like journaling, extended reading, and serious meditation upon it through scripture memory.

I thank You for Your Word. And I thank You that more than four decades ago You saw fit to save me, and though I was yet a young boy, You gave me parents who saw that I filled my life with scripture, who took me to church, who encouraged me to participate in scripture memory while my then young mind could soak a lot of it in. I have so much truth in my heart that I've drawn on for a lifetime! Thank You Lord for the treasure and sustaining goodness of Your Word!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

the promise to the dreamer

Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 28:14

This Messianic promise came to a young Jacob as he lay dreaming, head upon a stone, in Bethel. There God gave Him the details of the Abrahamic covenant that had sustained the faith of his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. He offered this conniving young man a unique role in God's unfolding drama of redemption. From Jacob's children would come blessing to all the earth as his descendents spread across the Promised Land.

Of course, this promise points to the ultimate blessing of all the people of the earth. That blessing arrived with Jesus. In Him all the world finds peace with God. In Him, all the wisdom and knowledge of God is found. In Jesus, God is known. Through Jesus and only through Him we have sins forgiven, peace with God, true blessing, and eternal life. As Jacob lay asleep with this fantastic dream of God's promise in his head, God was revealing His unfolding purpose of salvation.

And I sit here so many millennia later, hot coffee at my kitchen table, on a dark cold December morning, half a globe away from Bethel, looking back on how Jacob's wildest dream came true in Bethlehem. Preparing this Christmas to again celebrate Messiah's birth just a short 19 days from now, I pause to marvel at the revelation of Jesus in the faint stirrings of Messiah melody as I look up the rungs of Jacob's ladder with him.

Like the conniver Jacob, my own mess of a life is blessed by God in Jesus. He is my hope, my present joy, and my future blessing. I live my life with the dream of Jacob, longing for all the families of this earth to be blessed in and by Jesus.

Monday, December 5, 2016

manger to cross to tomb

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 Peter 1:17-19

Jesus is my perfect sacrificial lamb Whose blood ransomed me. I was bought away from sin and from sinfully futile "self-salvation" attempts by His great sacrifice. I can sing at Christmas because He died on the cross and rose again for the salvation of His people. It is true that Jesus is the reason for the season. Yet it is His redeeming sacrifice that is the reason for His incarnation in the first place. His precious blood paid the price for my sin. I must see the destiny of the cross and empty tomb as I gaze in wonder at the child in the manger.

At Christmas if I only see the shepherds bringing lambs to the manger, I miss the point. It is about the Lamb of God IN the manger... God sending His only Son in the flesh of humanity to live and die and live again, something God the Father pictured on Mount Moriah centuries before with Abraham and Isaac. That humble manger trough is filled with the precious little Lamb of God Who would take away the sin of the world. Jesus would fill not just a manger, but the world with truth. From the ridiculous, miraculous cradle at the manger He would be raised to make a tortuous, humiliating cross a brilliant symbol of God's love for humanity and then be raised from the dead so that an empty rock tomb became an arena of ultimate victory. 

By the precious blood of the spotless Lamb I am saved. And like the grateful worshippers around God's throne I sing, "Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive glory and honor and dominion and power." The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world (yes... even my sin), and on Mount Calvary the Lord has provided my sacrifice. I believe and I am saved! Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sin's affects: not much has changed

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

Sin destroys relationships. It damages our capacity for intimacy and companionship. It makes us aware of our differences and forces us into relational hiding. This is clearly shown in the sin of Adam and Eve at the Fall of humanity. Immediately upon giving in to the serpent's lying temptation and eating the forbidden fruit the consequences of sinful guilt come storming upon them. They were uncomfortable with themselves and hid their differences from one another with fig leaf underwear. It didn't help their sudden loss of intimacy but only made things worse as they hid from each other first.

And then guilt led them to try to hide from God behind the cover of garden trees and bushes. Of course, both efforts at relational hiding failed spectacularly. Sin is a cruel failure experience at all levels. It promises so much. It leaves us so crippled. It damages the human heart from the inside while taking extreme external measures of personal protection that briefly fool us into thinking we've got sin covered.

As sin did in Adam, so it also works in me. The Puritans used to teach their children: "In Adam's fall, we sinned all." And unconfessed sin is a guilt-inducing, soul-debilitating personal obsession that keeps me from knowing the joy of relationships with God and with people. When I "remake" myself, driven by guilt, and try to hide my sin from God or others, I hurt God and other people just as Adam and Eve did in the very first sin. They only had trees and fig leaves as hiding tools. I have a much more sophisticated toolbox of choices to utilize for hiding my sin, given thousands of years of help from sin's history as it has warped humanity! But in the end I'm just strapping on another fig leaf. The first step in dealing with sin is coming out from the bushes and letting God confront me in confession.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

wise dominion over the earth

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26

Humanity was directly created by God to rule this planet. We have dominion over fish, birds, animals, insects, and the entire earth. This was the first command given to us about us. We were told to fill the earth and to rule over every living thing (Genesis 1:28). That is our mandate to creation from our Creator. 

Balancing dominion with wise stewardship honors our Creator. We rule the planet for the glory of God. Destroying the planet in the process is not part of wise rulership. But we also need not fear utilizing resources God has given to us. We must keep them in good form and balance. And we should not exploit people for the sake of the resources.

We were made to be holy stewards. But sin corrupts the way we command our planet. And to not acknowledge that is sin. I am no raging environmentalist, but I do firmly believe in managed conservation of forests, minerals, water, resources and wildlife. I this it is wise, even at the expense of big business. Without such management, humanity is just stupidly sinful enough to wipe out what God gave us to use.

Why do we have dominion over the earth? Because we are made in the image of our ruling Creator. God rules and wants us to rule as well. How do we exercise this rule best? Only through wise stewardship that can only be rightly understood and practiced in the redemptive work of Christ Who gives us the capacity to live in the image of our Creator once again.