Faith in God

July 11, 2018 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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In Christian ministry we try to balance correction with encouragement. We definitely want to make sure that, as Christians, we are not provoking God to anger by the hardness of our hearts, which is Bible terminology for a willful and obstinate refusal to obey Him. On the flip side, we should be jumping at opportunities to please God in any way we can, after all He has done for us. Well, if you are someone has trouble with the concept of faith, there is no real nice way to say this: If we want to please God, there is absolutely no way to do it without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Mark 11:22

It is one thing to believe that God exists. It’s a whole other thing to believe that He will do what He says He will do. Christians must believe that He is real; that He can do what He says; and that He will keep the promises He gives to those who obey Him.

In everyday English, if I say, “I really believe in my wife,” you would not take me to mean only that I believe that there is an existential entity named Laura Hampton. No, you would take me to mean that I have faith in her character. I believe she is going to do what she ought to do in a given situation.

Jesus knew God better than anyone knows God. When He told the Disciples, “Have faith in God,” He was telling them that God can and will do what He has said He will do. Vance Havner used to talk about the seemingly contradictory, but actually miraculous, power of faith, by saying that real faith believes the incredible, sees the invisible, and does the impossible. The miraculous is only the miraculous from our point of view. From God’s point of view there is no “miraculous,” because He can do all things (Mark 10:27). From God’s point of view nothing is invisible, because He sees everything (Matthew 6:4). From God’s point of view nothing that He says is “incredible,” because, as the only One Who can not lie, He is completely credible (Hebrews 6:18). As Christians, we must learn to “believe in God.”

Jeremiah and the Blackhearts

May 30, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It is almost as if the Lord turns introspective in Jeremiah Chapter 8. He was clearly both angry and sad (grieved) by the people’s refusal to understand (or accept) the basic concepts of being blessed for loyalty, and being punished for treason.

Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

Jeremiah 8:5

Some backsliding was to be expected, perhaps, for fallen sinners, but they had become “perpetual” – permanent, continual, unrepentant – backsliders who WOULD NOT turn. They had let go of the Lord so easily, but they held onto to obvious lies like drowning men clinging to a floating log. Such nimble “turners-away” seemed to be so dead-set against “turning back.”

As Christians, we must be careful of that same problem. We may assume that we can always come back to the Lord, or come back to church, or come back to what we once knew was right, but self-deceit has a way of sinking its hooks into us and brainwashing us.

It’s much easier to get out of church than to get back in, but it’s easier to STAY in church than to get back in, too. Set your anchor in God’s Word and in His body. Don’t experiment with the world. Don’t try to prove your will power or your false maturity by “proving” that you can handle what God says you can’t.

I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Jeremiah 8:6

It’s an uphill battle to get back on the right track, obeying God, but our sin nature will charge into sin and evil like a horse charging into battle.

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:7

Even birds follow their instincts to go where their Creator programmed them to go. How could God’s “greatest,” “wisest” creatures defy the law He has given to them?

How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

Jeremiah 8:8

This is the first mention of “scribes” in the Bible. These were men who should have been faithfully recording and teaching God’s law, but instead were adding silly legalistic rules to it, in order to cover up its true spirit.

The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?

Jeremiah 8:9

The canon of Scripture wasn’t closed in those days. God was still speaking through prophets like Jeremiah and Hosea and Malachi, but the priests and scribes and kings and false prophets were too “wise” to listen to God’s Word. They used the Law as a covering for their sin instead of using it as a mirror to point them straight to the Law-Giver and His Savior.

Jeremiah’s feelings mirrored God’s feelings:

When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

Jeremiah 8:18

Every time he considered the people’s hearts it affected his own heart. Their behavior should have been hurting their own hearts, but it was hurting Jeremiah’s instead.

Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Jeremiah 8:19-20

This was a proverb for the years when the wheat harvest would fail, only to have the fig, olive, and grape harvests fail, too. It meant that there would be no food that winter, and that people would starve.

For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Jeremiah 8:21

Jeremiah had worse than a case of the “blues.” He had a case of the “blacks!”

The Real Emancipation Proclamation

March 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Proverbs 20:6

We have a strong tendency to promote ourselves. The Hebrew word translated as “proclaim” in Proverbs 20:6 is qara. It is from a root word meaning to stop someone and accost them. Most of us are willing to go out of our way – to insert ourselves into someone else’s path if necessary, to stop them in their tracks, to grab hold of them – and in some way try to cause them to think well of us as individuals. We are like traveling salesmen or street-corner preachers, distributing a good opinion of ourselves and seeking our own glory.

This category, “most men,” is contrasted with the “faithful man.” The rhetorical question, “Who can find one?” emphasizes the scarcity of faithful people, but it also draws a sharp distinction between the self-promoter – the one who accosts people to tell them of his own goodness – and the faithful person who is literally hard to find. Why is he hard to find? Because he’s not trying to be found. He’s too busy serving other people.

In the Book of Exodus God spoke with Moses face to face, in a sense. He spoke to him as a friend, and assured him that He had favor with God. This prompted Moses to ask for a huge request. Knowing that ordinarily no man could see God with His glory unveiled and live, Moses asked for a special dispensation: “Lord, show me your glory.

God agreed to a partial granting of this request:

And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Exodus 33:19 (emphasis added)

God, like the boastful men of Proverbs 20:6, proclaims, too, but this is a different type of proclaiming. This is an announcement not tinged with a desperate need for acceptance. This is a bold, straightforward, official proclamation of Who God is – according to God Himself! And he told Moses flat-out: “I will decide on my own – without anyone else’s help or input – who will receive grace and who will receive mercy.”

As Christians, we are commanded to serve. Part of our service is to proclaim the truth about God, and part of that truth is that the results are up to Him, not us. Our part is to be faithful – to walk humbly with God, and to obey His Word. Our accosting of other people on God’s behalf may be successful or unsuccessful according to our estimation, but we should find comfort and hope and the resolve not to quit in knowing that the distribution of God’s grace and mercy to those to whom we minister is in His hands.

To My Wife: Thank You

December 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, I am so thankful for a wife that has been faithful to pray for me over the years. I am convinced that her prayers have been one of the chief means through which God has seen fit to deliver me from many sins, to grant me great blessings, and to protect me from much danger and evil.

I also want her to know how grateful I am for her influence on our daughters. With each passing year I recognize how much they become more and more like her – which is a very good thing! By God’s grace, I desperately want the children that He has entrusted into my care to be faithful, kind, compassionate, joyful, teachable, and to have a desire to know Christ in deeper and more mature ways. God has certainly used my wife to accomplish this in their lives.

My wife and I serve in a local assembly of believers (a “church”). We believe that this is God’s plan and will for nearly every believer. My wife has a strong commitment and love for our church family. There is no doubt that my own ministry there would be much weaker and less effective without her help and partnership.

After 26 years of marriage, my wife and I have certainly had our share of arguments. As someone who grew up playing competitive sports, and who now “argues” for a living, I have a real aversion to losing an argument. I am thankful that when I lose an argument with my wife (which is often, simply because she is usually objectively right while I am objectively wrong), she doesn’t think of it as “winning.” She thinks of it as graciously dealing with a problem, “working things out,” or having a disagreement. I love her for this.

When my wife and I said our wedding vows we promised to love each other for better and for worse. The vast majority of these last 26 years have been “for better” moments (at least for me!), but we have had some “for worse” moments, too. We’ve come through these “for worse” moments by the grace of God, but His grace at these times has shown brightly in and through the faithfulness, strength, wisdom, humility, and perseverance of my beautiful and brilliant wife. I love her very much and thank the Lord for her – and for the gift of 26 years of marriage.

An Acceptable Performance

November 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There came a point in the Apostle Paul’s ministry (and, who knows? it may have been there from the time he met Christ and received the forgiveness of sins) when his fear of death was overshadowed – or at least challenged and deeply ameliorated – by his longing to leave this world behind and go to be with his Lord.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

Philippians 1:22–23

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:6-9

It would not be unreasonable to say that, even as Paul cherished his opportunities to minister in the name of Jesus in this world, his heart was still occupied with Heavenly thoughts more than earthly thoughts. In II Corinthians 5:9 he did not attempt to hide the fact that what he was doing was “labor” – the type of physical work that could be easily observed by other human beings. However, even as he labored before, and among, men, he seemed only to be conscious of the eyes of His Master upon him.

I spent my childhood in an environment where baseball was a form of religion. From the earliest levels of little league almost everyone in my hometown was cognizant of which kids performed well on the diamond, and which ones didn’t. And, while it seems likely to me all these years later that us boys had an inflated sense of the importance of winning or losing, striking out or getting a base hit, blocking a grounder with our chest (or chin!) or letting it go through our legs, I can also tell you that many a dad was evicted from the park for yelling at, or fighting with, umpires, coaches, and other dads. Plenty of boys who had escaped corporal discipline for bad grades, ditching school, stealing, and vandalizing would find themselves on the business end of a belt or an open-hand whack to the head out behind the concession stand after an 0 for 4 evening or a couple of inexcusable errors. Some of us played the game for fun, and some of us played it for survival.

not impressed by your performance

The result of this kind of pressure to perform is a laser-sharp focus. Despite whatever flaws were instilled into us concerning sportsmanship and fair play, we did learn the sort of concentration that allows you to block out everything else in your surroundings and zero in on the spin of the ball, the tendency of the runner leaning off first as if he might try for second, and where you would throw the ball if it happened to carom off a bat and head in your direction on any given pitch. The roar of the crowd after a good play – or the boos and jeers after an overthrow – became something to tune out and ignore. For several of us, the approval of the crowd did not matter one iota, but the approval of our fathers did. They were who we wanted to please, and there is no doubt we played harder because of our desire for their praise, and because of a fear of their disappointment.

The Apostle Paul did not play baseball, and his Heavenly Father was interested in far greater glories than a small-town sporting event. And, of course, God’s interest in Paul’s performance was not motivated by a petty desire to live vicariously through his exploits. However, Paul wanted very badly for his efforts to be “accepted” by the Lord, and you and I would probably do well to adopt this same motivation today.

Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.

Oswald Chambers, March 17 devotion on II Corinthians 5:9 from My Utmost for His Highest

The Assurance of Trouble

November 3, 2017 at 8:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:35

Paul, although writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could speak from experience. He had experienced all these things: persecution, hunger, extreme poverty, life-threatening danger. Yet he remained convinced of the assurance of Christ’s love, not just IN SPITE of these things, but partly BECAUSE of these things.

In fact, the perseverance of his faith and the knowledge of Christ’s presence through trials, tribulations, hardship, and imminent death, utterly convinced him that nothing whatsoever in all of existence could ever separate him from the love of God in Christ.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Sadly, we are often backward in our thinking, looking at trials and temptations and difficulties as signs that God has forgotten or neglected us. What we should do, when God graciously gives us opportunities to strengthen our faith by turning to Him in times of trouble, is to rejoice that He loves us enough to give us such experiential assurances.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4

Tribulations come to us to strengthen our hope or assurance. They are not random occurrences that have somehow broken out of God’s corral, set loose to stampede and trample our lives. They are controlled tests and gifts of grace, teaching us to patiently consider our Savior and the justification He has won for us, not so that we could be left to our own devices, but so that we could be continually drawing closer to Him.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:1-4

Obedience Matters

November 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:

I Samuel 12:14

God in His holy disposition was not disposed to give His people an earthly king. God was their true King, but they wanted a human king very badly, because the other nations had human kings. God allowed them to have their wish, although He knew that having a human king would cause many problems and much heartache and suffering, because a human king would be a sinful king.

He had his prophet Samuel appoint a man named Saul to be the first human king of Israel. I Samuel 12 is Samuel’s farewell address to the people, after he had anointed Saul as their king. What Samuel knew – and what you and I must know and believe ourselves – is that what really matters to God is not so much the strength of our earthly leaders, but our own obedience to God’s will as revealed in His Word.

Here are four brief thoughts on the matter of obedience, under the acrostic O.B.E.Y.

O.wnership

Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Jeremiah 10:6-7

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Jeremiah 10:10

We do not like to think of ourselves as property, and especially not someone else’s property. If, like me, you are an American, you probably believe that our leaders are supposed to serve us, not rule over us. We think we are free and independent. Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution even say that we are. But we are not. We are the subjects of a sovereign and mighty King, Whose rule is everlasting. We belong to Him. He owns us, lock, stock, and barrel from the moment of our conception, and He will do with us as He pleases. And we have nothing about us that is threatening or mysterious to Him.

If we believe this – truly believe – then obedience is not an optional thing. It is a logical and rational and inescapable fact of life. To disobey our Owner and King is foolish treason without any hope of working out well for us, and it subjects us to His anger and wrath and punishment or chastisement. Only such attributes as His grace, mercy, and love make even the beginning of a way to exist in His universe, and to therein know any joy whatsoever.

O.bey
B.iblical revelation

God – our Owner and King – has not left it up to us to try to figure out on our own what we must do – or refrain from doing – in order to obey Him. He has revealed His will to us in a written Word.

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26

It is our responsibility as God’s image-bearing creatures to know what He wants us to do – and HOW He wants us to do it. This knowledge does not come to us in dreams or visions, or by feelings or hunches. We do not get it by convening a council and reaching a consensus, or through trial-and-error experimentation. We get it by studying His holy Word – studying it to show ourselves approved – workers that won’t be ashamed when we stand before Him, saying, “But I didn’t know that was wrong,” or, “I didn’t know that’s what You wanted me to be doing with my life.” As my old Sunday School teacher used to say, “If you stand before God one day embarrassed by what you’ve done, then you will be standing there embarrassed on purpose,” because He has made it abundantly plain and clear in His book!

O.wnership
B.iblical revelation
E.arnestness

By earnestness I mean that our obedience to God must not be outward obedience only. It must come from the heart – from a true desire to please Him and an inward conviction that His commands and prohibitions for us are RIGHT.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

In order to obey God truly from the heart, our hearts must be cleaned and renewed. They must be “sprinkled” (splashed with the blood of Christ) and washed with the water of the Word. This is work of the Holy Spirit. We can fake obedience to certain extent, and fool other people, but God Himself is never fooled. To obey is better than outward shows of sacrifice, meaning that the inward faith of a desire to truly please God is better than external rituals. Earnestness is not really something we can achieve on our own, but it is the natural product of a true love for Christ and what He has done for us. However, and this is of tremendous importance, such earnestness WILL manifest itself in outward and visible acts of obedience.

O.wnership
B.iblical revelation
E.arnestness
Y.ield

The Holy Spirit wants you to obey God. He wants you to understand and obey His Word. He wants you to learn it and to live it. The office of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. If we will yield to the Spirit, we will honor Christ by our obedience.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

Obedience is not only the way to show our love for Jesus; it is the best evidence of our love for Jesus. It is not only the will of God that we obey; it is the way that we demonstrate that His will is perfect.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

“Present” yourself to God. Yield to Him and His Spirit. This is your reasonable “service:” the way you serve your King and Owner. This will “prove” or “demonstrate” that His will is perfect.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

At the very end of his farewell speech, Samuel said this:

Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

I Samuel 12:24-25

There is no question that obedience is not only the right thing to do, but the objectively best thing for us. Much disobedience in this world escapes the notice and the justice of the earthly authorities, but none of it escapes God’s notice or His justice. His justice WILL be satisfied – either on you, or in Christ.

The Relationship between Sin and Disease

October 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Sin has real consequences, including danger, disaster, and death. One of simplest, but most insightful, sermon-poems I know goes:

Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay
It will cost you more than you wanted to pay
It will teach you more than you wanted to know
And it will take you farther than you ever wanted to go

However, there is another consequence of sin that we don’t always hear as much about, because of the danger of turning it into an abusive, rather than a constructive, warning: disease.

The Bible makes it clear that disease CAN BE the result of sin.

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:14-16

And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

John 5:13-14

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

I Corinthians 11:27-30

All illness is a general result of the curse of sin brought into the world by the fall of Adam, but, of course, not every single disease, infirmity, or health problem is directly caused by the sick person’s specific sin, as is shown in the case of Job and the man born blind, to name just two examples. This means that, while it is probably unwise for us to make judgments about whether someone else’s disease is a consequence of his or her specific sin, it is probably VERY wise to consider our own lives with an eye toward identifying, confessing, repenting of, and forsaking sin as a possible remedy for, or deterrent to, physical disease.

Designer Disaster and Divine Destruction

September 29, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Chapter 6 the prophecy that the Lord gave to Jeremiah is in the form of poetry, but it is a dark poem, containing gloomy and frightening imagery. It describes God’s use of a terrible invading army which He allows and even directs against His own people because of their idolatry, wickedness, hypocrisy, and rebellion against Him.

O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction. I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman. The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place. Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.

Jeremiah 6:1-5

This ominous threat from “out of the north” would bring both evil and destruction. The “evil” is not necessarily a reference to moral evil, but rather a conveyance of the idea of a catastrophic (although designed rather than random) experience of destruction from the point of view of the nation of Judah. While the Hebrew ra is sometimes translated as “disaster” (from the original meaning of a bad event brought about by a bad alignment of the stars or planets: astro), it is clear that God’s people were about (absent some severe and urgent repentance) to be overwhelmed by God’s specifically and forewarned justice.

On the other hand, while “disaster” would convey the wrong sense of this attack, the parallel description of “destruction” is spot-on, for, just as “construction” means “a building up,” “destruction” means a “tearing-down,” and that is exactly what the invaders would do to the walls, homes, Temple, and buildings in Jerusalem.

Christians today who are in a state of backsliding or rebellion against God, need to heed these prophetic warnings. Whether reprieve or destruction befalls us is ultimately up to God. He is not subject to any circumstances, accidents, or astrological omens. He could have a very well-thought-out and serious plan of chastening on the verge of landing in our land, luxuries, or laps, and if it catches us unaware or unrepentant, we would only have ourselves to blame. Likewise, He is more than capable of tearing down any materialistic idols that we have built up in our lives should He choose to discipline to us and bring us back to Himself in love.

The Big Five-Oh!

September 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Because I am joyfully married, and because of the exalted view of marriage given to us by God in the Bible – and because I have been blessed with such a wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent wifeI love marriage. And because I love marriage, I love wedding anniversaries. This weekend my wife’s parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! What an accomplishment, and what a glorious testimony to the grace of God in a day and age where marriage is so rapidly becoming devalued, desecrated, and even demonized.

It is truly humbling for me to consider all that my father-in-law and mother-in-law have been through in their marriage – from health issues, to financial pressures, to weather catastrophes, to relocations, to family crises – not to mention the challenges and stress of rearing four successful children (with my wife being just one example of the awesome parenting job they have done – and are still doing!)

Words like “congratulations” and “thank you” just don’t seem big enough or profound enough to express the gratitude and esteem I feel for a couple who, knowing that I was bringing far more detriment than benefit into their family when I married their daughter, still accepted me, loved me, and made me welcome. I will never be able to repay the debt I owe them for that, or for their continued love toward me and my family over the years. I could not have asked for better in-laws or for better grandparents for my children. They have set an example of faithfulness, grace, mercy, longsuffering, perseverance, kindness, generosity, and wisdom that I can only scratch the surface of describing. I thank God for them, and ask Him to bless the rest of their lives with joy, fulfillment, and peace.

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