Doubly Secure

My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).

My wife laughed uncontrollably as she watched the video of the grandson taking his first steps. Isaac stood on his own like a pro and then wobbled and hobbled a few steps before jerking and teetering like the toy tin robot I had as a child. Unable to control his speed, he finally fell.

Spiritually, I feel strong, but I know how truly weak and feeble I really am. I know the sin that so easily sits under the surface of every moment, ready to knock me to the ground and bloody my lip. I’m aware of the pride and self-sufficiency that follows me through my day, and the lusts and doubts that haunt my nights.

Jesus promised to give His sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:28). He holds me securely in His hand, and if that isn’t enough, as if His strength could ever fail or falter, I’m also held in the hand of the Father. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:29). I’m kept doubly secure.

My faith, my hope, and my eternal soul are not secure because of any strength in me. I have none. But I do trust and rejoice that I am kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).

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The Perfect Man

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself … holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27c).

I’ve got the best wife in the world, at least the best for me. She is supportive when I lack faith, encourages me with hope in disappointments, listens when I need a friend, goes along with my spontaneous road trips to Wyoming, laughs even when I’m not trying to be funny, is my partner in ministry I can always count on, and loves me despite my every fault.

I admit that I’m not a perfect husband. Not. Even. Close. I continually pray that God provides in Himself what I lack toward my wife, and that He grows in me in the ways I need to be a better husband.

God never expects us to be perfect husbands, but He does expect us to love our wives. That means that I give up myself and my dreams and wants for what is best for her. It means that my highest priority in our marriage is not to make her happy, but to encourage her in holiness and godliness.

Husband, love your wife as Christ loves the Church.

We Wait for His Son

Photograph of the solar eclipse seen in Oregon, USA August 21, 2017

We wait for His Son from Heaven, who He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

I live within the path of the recent solar eclipse of the sun. Some Americans believed this passing of the moon between the sun and the earth was a sign of the end of the world. They were sure it would announce the return of Jesus or the advent of the Antichrist. They twisted together speculation and Scripture taken out of context for their strange doctrine. In doing so they created fear and raised money while maligning Jesus Christ and His holy Word.

As Christians, we eagerly await the return of Jesus from Heaven. We look for Him – who died for the Church and was raised from the dead for the Church – to return in the clouds and gather His Church unto Himself to forever be with Him. We anticipate Jesus Christ, not the Antichrist.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 11). We have comfort, joy, hope, and demonstrate lives of godliness in Jesus, we don’t live in despair and fear over the future.

The Two Philosophies of Life

There are two simple, but opposite, philosophies of life.

The first explains that every person is conceived as morally perverted and sinful. No amount of nurturing, training, or money improves the thoughts, motives, or intentions of the person. That moral corruption alienates everyone from God and makes all pursuits selfish. A person’s only hope is to be reborn by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

The second philosophy teaches that everyone is born as a blank slate. Environment, nurture, and social and economic structures influence and improve the thoughts, motives, and intentions of the person. Morality is dictated by the social structure and support of family, friends, and government. Basically, humanity is good, and personal destiny is ultimately up to the individual.

The first is Christianity; the second is humanistic atheism.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. There is none righteous, no, not one … there is none who does good, no, not one. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:10, 12; Jeremiah 17:9).

Where does your philosophy of life come from? The Bible or humanism?

The Rock of My Salvation

dsc01260The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation! (2 Samuel 22:47).

The older we grow, the more we look back at where we’ve been instead of forward to new adventures. Our weakened vision is offered as realistic wisdom and we effectively become discouragers of others following God’s path as they walk with Him in grace and by faith.

As David looked back upon his life, he knew God as his defender and help. It’s not that he wasn’t an able warrior or king, but that God was great. He had learned to trust Him in every victory and gave Him all glory.

A man told me that God had never tested him; that man didn’t know God. It’s the tests of life which reveal the genuineness of our faith and glorify God for His faithful and steadfast character. To say God is a rock, is a world of difference from saying that God is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer.

David’s description of God as his rock doesn’t picture a stone or a boulder. The word refers to an entire mountainside; something immovable and unchanging with the winds of time or the moods of men. Jesus is the believer’s Rock and our Hope of eternal salvation. He is the firm foundation upon which we rest when weary, stand in times of uncertainty, and discover shelter in every stormy blast.

Auf Wiedersehen

auf-weidersehenMy great-grandfather Rudolph Losli died when I was 14 years old. One of the things I remember about him was that he never said “good-bye” at the end of a conversation. When he was finished talking on the phone, for example, he’d abruptly hang up.

His son (my grandfather) asked once why he didn’t end a conversation like everyone else by saying “good-bye.” He replied, “Why should I say good-bye when I know I’m going to see you later?

As Christians, the Bible says that we don’t sorrow at death as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Ephesians 2:12 describes those who are not born again as having no hope and without God in the world. For the unsaved, there is a terrible hopelessness when a loved one dies. It’s why they cling unmercifully to the memory of those who have died. They sorrow without thought or assurance of eternity.

For the unsaved, death is a permanent separation of relationship, but as Christians we do not despair at death. We will grieve, but we never truly say “farewell” to our family in Christ, but merely like the German phrase auf wiedersehen, “until we meet again.”

The resurrected Jesus has made our partings as believers temporary (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18). For those with faith in Christ Jesus as Saviour, death is but the blink of an eye in this world and immediate entrance into a hope-filled eternal bliss in the next as we see Jesus face-to-face in His glory and are made like Him (1 John 3:2-3).

The Sting of Death

coffinPeople seldom have interest in the hereafter until they feel the sting of eternity through a loved one in a coffin.

They hate Christianity, yet say they love God, but you cannot love Him and despise His people.

They reject the Bible, but it alone contains the words of life which feed and satisfy the hunger of the empty soul.

When a loved one dies, we are faced with one of two realities: he is gone forever except in the fleeting memories of grief, or there is the hope of eternal life.

If there is a life beyond the grave, what is the way to that life?

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).

A Man Walks Into a Barn … Stop Me if You’ve Heard this One Before

a-man-walks-into-a-barnJust because a man walks into a barn, it doesn’t make him a cow. Nor does going to church make you a Christian!

For many people, going to church or having grandparents who go to church, makes them Christians. Christianity is a tagline inherited from our family or through participating in a ritual. The Bible says that salvation is a gift of God, given by Him apart from anything in or from us (Ephesians 2:8-9). We don’t accept Him; He accepts us on the basis of His gift of faith.

An early cult that attached itself to Christianity taught that salvation was achieved and kept by following the Commandments in the Old Testament, especially the commandment for men to be circumcised. It was a salvation by works, favor with God by doing good things.

In his letter to the believers in the Greek city of Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote otherwise. We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). Paul claimed plenty of religious works but counted them all as rubbish or dung, to gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).

First, Christian worship is primarily a spiritual act and not an outward ritual. Second, the Christian’s joy and pride is not in himself or his good deeds but in the Person of Jesus Christ. Third, a Christian has no confidence in any religious act he has done; his confidence is only in what Jesus finished at the cross.

For those whom Christianity is only a religion, their confidence is in themselves based upon what they’ve done for God. The genuine Christian has his complete faith in the finished work of Jesus alone. That faith shows itself in the way the Christian talks, the way he lives, the choices he makes, and his hope for the future.

A Hope in God

hideAre there are mornings you’d rather stay in the safe and warm comfort of your bed? From your cozy little nest you can hide from disappointments, from the storm in your world and the storm blowing in your mind.

The Old Testament prophet Elijah saw the power and glory of God displayed before the Jewish nation. He knew beyond all doubt that the God of Abraham was not only living, but was his God! Yet as you read his story in First Kings 18 and 19, you find that Elijah was taken low to the point of despair by one word (1 Kings 19:1-2).

Elijah’s self-pity became so overwhelming that he ran into the wilderness, rolled himself under a bush, and there prayed, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life!”  (1 Kings 19:4). We despair when wepay attention to the stormy circumstances and forget the God who never leaves us nor forsakes us.

After 40 days, God led Elijah into a cave where God demanded an answer. What are you doing here, Elijah?  (1 Kings 19:9). God knew why Elijah was there … why he had fallen into fear and despair.

In the mouth of the cave, God revealed His great power and glory again. The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces … but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind and earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. 

The God who had answered by fire on Mount Carmel had not changed; Elijah had changed. He’d forgotten to keep his eyes on God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God (Psalm 43:5).

As Citizens of Heaven

kenya-us-flagAccording to the Bible, people have gathered themselves together based on language since the time of the defunct Tower of Babel just before the worldwide Flood (Genesis 11:1-9). From that time we have segregated ourselves on the outward appearances of skin color, ethnicity and language. Nationalism is an infection of the human heart.

Whether British, Babylonian or Bolivian, we get angry and even go to war when someone doesn’t respect our national anthem or flag as we feel it ought to be.

If you’re a Christian, you are a citizen of Heaven and have a closer connection to other Christians in Liberia and Lithuania than you do to any unbelievers among your family, friends, or fellow-patriots. Even Jesus claimed more in common with believers than with His own mother (Matthew 12:46-50)!

Never, in any place, have I been made to feel more welcome than among Kenyan believers. As a mzungu (white man) in Kenya, I am the extreme minority. For some Kenyans, I’m the first white man ever seen in person. My white skin has scared babies and I’ve seen Kenyans drive their bicycles into bushes at seeing me. Yet, I have never once felt out of place or looked upon as different in Kenya. Among believers, I’m judged in the exact same way that I judge them: as a child of God.

 

Yes, as citizens of Heaven we are also citizens of earthly nations, but these have never determined how God looks at us. Outward appearances should never decide how we receive or treat others (2 Corinthians 5:12). We should assess by whether the heart is transformed by personal faith in Christ Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we don’t see differences, but that differences don’t determine how we feel, think, or act toward others.

Every time our nationalism, political views, skin color, culture, language, or any other outward difference becomes the basis of how we size-up others, we fail to live up to the heart of God.

He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27-28).