MORE TRANSITORY BLESSINGS

August 13, 2022

Last Sunday I posted about the transitory blessings of all things beautiful in this world … and this week this picture showed up on social media. Three of these ravishing beauties (#1,2,5) comprised some of the most wondrously beautiful things in my sojourn–Mach 1+ transitory blessings, though not in these way cool USAF Thunderbird paint schemes. (The paint matters not when you’re in the saddle.) In due time, if they don’t crash and burn, all of them end up in the “Boneyard” in the desert near Tucson and I’ll be flying with the angels.

Try as I might I have never found words that better convey the blessings of those airborne moments than WW II Canadian fighter pilot John Gillespie McGee Jr., who wrote this poem shortly before he was killed.

HIGH FLIGHT

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds,—and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air ….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

In these latter days this unworthy, a dream chaser all my life, still dreams– grateful dreams of dreams come true, of God’s amazing grace. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good … in all circumstances, from the windswept heights to sandy sea level, from the idyllic tranquility of a heartland farm to the chaos and carnage of Southeast Asia, from supersonic youth to sedentary codgerhood. And I delight in anticipatory dreams of an infinitely better life, a level of happiness this wonderful life has only hinted at, promised by our Sovereign God. What a day, glorious day that will be!

“… there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

See you in church.

GRACE THAT IS AMAZING

August 7, 2022

I doubt that I shall ever see
Artwork pretty as a tree.
But the tree will die and then a man
Creates wood art with tools in hand.
Although the art outlasts the man,
Likewise dust is its sure end.
All the beauty in this old world
Is transitory blessing.
It makes my sojourn glory-filled.
It’s Grace that is Amazing.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” — Isaiah 6:3

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” — Psalm 23:6

See you in church.

A LAKESIDE PRAYER

August 4, 2022

Lakeside at the break of day,
A tall grey skeleton blesses blue sky.
On a bench nearby,
Hunched gnarly and grey,
An old man bows his head to pray:
Thank you Lord for another day
And new eyes to see such beauty.
The Earth is full of your glory. (Isa. 6:3)

REJOICE

July 31, 2022

“… no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22). What a promise by the Son of God to those in Christ! It’s an immense blessing to be able to say, in the latter days of a long and abundant life, “Yes and amen!” There are the quiet joys in these summer months like a walk in the park at the dawn of a new day, savoring the blessings of the moment and memories of other dawns in a richly blessed life. There are also grace-drenched memories of intense moments when God made his Sovereign hand so obvious, when the ax head floated in my life, when the seas parted and permitted safe passage, when the broken airplane continued to fly, when tracers in the face appearing too thick to fly through MISSED–ecstatic joy! When the darkness of despair over this increasingly unrecognizable world threatens to overwhelm, remembering past providences brings the dawn of reassurance of the hope divinely implanted in my soul. Like the communion table commemorating the Sovereign act in which my joy is anchored, the hinge of human history that assures my salvation, they are remembered with joy and thanksgiving until he comes again. “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Can you even begin to wrap your mind around love so amazing, so divine that could endure the cross in your stead and call it joy? Does it not demand your soul, your life, your all? And wouldn’t you joyfully give it?

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” The Holy Spirit instilled confidence that God is sovereign, omnipotent, loving and working all things for the good of his chosen is the joy that gives you the power to live for Christ in a fallen world.

Let us rejoice in gathered worship this Holy Sabbath. See you in church.

NEW EYES TO SEE

July 28, 2022

Jesus fixed a man’s eyes with dirt and spit at no charge (John 9:6). Jesus Is God and Cincinnati Eye Institute is not. CEI’s procedure was just a few minutes longer and a lot more complex and considerably more expensive, but they are doing the Lord’s work. The sky is brighter and bluer now. Blue skies are one of my favorite things. In an earlier time I shared God’s majestic view of this smoldering planet from high in those blessed blue skies–his nearness was palpable. The heavens declare God’s glory, whatever the altitude of the observer, whether the star-studded dark of the night or the dazzling blue of the day. “Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” Their testimony is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19): The Son of God became man, that men might become the sons of God (C.S. Lewis).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

THE WHOLE EARTH IS FULL OF HIS GLORY

July 24, 2022

In our fulltime RV years one of the slide-outs on our fifth wheel had floor to ceiling windows on all three sides in which two swiveling pedestal rocker/recliners we’re situated. Our priority when choosing a campsite was the best possible view, and dawn always found me in one of those recliners facing a majestic scene somewhere in America. After six and a half years on the road my memory files overflow with spectacular snapshots of God’s grandeur. The angels that Isaiah saw in the throne room of God speak loudly for me–” … the whole earth is full of his glory” (6:3). Some of you might recall reading my travel blog entitled “The Isaiah 6:3 Tour.”

In these more sedentary years  of codgerhood, alone with nature and nature’s God is still one of my very favorite venues at dawn. My sense of our Omnipresent God is so much stronger then. Pictured is one of those places at the halfway point of my dawn walk. I succumb to it’s invitation to rest more and more with the passing years, and I did again this day. It’s a great place to be inspired by great thoughts about our great God. He makes himself known through his creation. All that my eye beholds from that park bench points to our Creator. Amid all that divine general revelation, I called up God’s special revelation with a few taps on my smartphone and read his Word and meditated until, from behind the trees across the lake, the sun of righteousness rose with healing in its wings (Malachi 4:2) and soothed my arthritic old bones. I arose, anointed for another day the Lord has made, and ambled on home to my beloved. I am one blessed man.

See you in church.

THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF CODGERHOOD

July 17, 2022

Recently I paid a visit to the Cincinnati Eye Institute, domiciled in a large architecturally elegant building. From the looks of things the business pays pretty well. In keeping with their upscale motif there was a coffee bar off the lobby where I discovered the most wonderful coffee. It said Seven Hills Roasters on the coffee maker. I’m not a coffee fanatic, but I really enjoy good coffee. The problem is it’s very hard to find. Searching out good coffee is a relatively harmless activity that a late-innings septuagenarion can do, and it’s considerably cheaper than searching out good single malt spirits as I did in my Wall Street days.

When I paid for my coffee I inquired as to the location of Seven Hills Roasters. As luck would have it (as no good Calvinist ever said) they were 2 miles away and just off my 15 minute route home. I easily found their modest warehouse in a massive suburban industrial park. There was no storefront so I came in through the overhead door on the side where all the finished product moves out and entered a world of heavenly aromas. A good old boy came out the back door of the office, and cordially greeted me. I have read that fresh roasted coffee is the best, so I asked what he was roasting today. He said. “Follow me” and led me through a labyrinth of tables stacked with freshly packed boxes of coffee and around some impressive looking Sivetz Roasters to a long table with over a dozen white plastic 6-gallon buckets with lids. He asked my preference–light, medium or dark roast–and consulted a handwritten list on a legal pad with the names of the coffees they had roasted that morning. Then he said, “Get your nose down here near the lid. I’m going to raise it a bit and you take a whiff and you tell me what you like.” I called a halt at the second bucket–Kenya AB Swara. Glenfiddich never smelled so good. This coffee gets its name from the Swahili word for Gazelle–Swara–“because of its elegance and grace like the Gazelle. With a silky mouthfeel and notes of lavender and tropical fruit…” Man, this ain’t cowboy coffee. In short order he bagged a pound of beans, sealed it and handed it to me with a smile and instructions to give it 24 hours to “let the gases escape. Pay the young lady up front in the office.” What a delightful way to buy coffee!

I awoke the next morning with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas Day. I carefully measured the beans, ground them, filled the reusable K-Cup, popped it in the machine and waited. Elegance and gazelle-like grace tasted really great! I would even go so far as to say that the unimpaired satisfaction of inbibing the brewed essence of Kenya’s roasted coffee beans beats the intoxicating smoky notes of Scotland’s malted barley. O the joy of another life hack learned–you’re never too old! Thank you, Lord, for the simple pleasures of codgerhood.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), even in the smallest blessings in the mundane latter days of faithfulness.

See you in church

THE BIRTH OF AN UNFADING SMILE

July 10, 2022

The bride of my youth has a birthday today.

Happy birthday, dearest one. God blessed me bigtime when you walked through that door to be interviewed by a half-dozen pompous University of Illinois AFROTC cadets in the fall semester of ’64. I still have to catch my breath when you walk into the room.

If only I could have rounded up a marching band with 76 trombone players for today…

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine… (Song of Solomon 4:7, 9–10).

We’ll see you in church.

BUT GOD…

July 3, 2022

In 1702 Cotton Mather quoted a Latin proverb to describe the spiritual condition of the American colonies. Translated, it said, “Religion begat prosperity and the daughter devoured the mother. 39 years later The Great Awakening swept the colonies.

In 1975, Mother Teresa said, ” You Americans are spiritually the poorest of the poor … A  nation that kills its children in the womb has lost its soul.”

But God, 49 years later, in the fullness of time …

In June, 2022, America held a federally sanctioned month-long celebration of “…the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…” (Romans 1:24). They called such shame “Pride Month,” yet another sin. In the midst of all the rebellious revelry, a lightning bolt of Divine Providence struck. The most egregious of those sins–a half-century of federally legalized genocide based on a court decision, the keystone for all the rest–was rightfully reversed by our Supreme Court.

This Fourth of July the economy is hurting, inflation is near 40-year highs, the stock market has suffered the worst half year since 1872, and government bonds have had the worst year since 1865. In spite of that Christian Americans have great reason to celebrate life in one nation under God. Stocks and bonds and inflation will fluctuate, but our omnipotent God will never waiver in his eternal plan to redeem a people for himself. Millions of prayers over the past 49 years have been answered in this court decision. God has demonstrated once again that all things are possible by his omnipotent power. The devil has not been defeated yet, but his leash has been dramatically shortened by our Sovereign God. We give him joyful thanks as we sing his praises in chorus with 63 million aborted souls.

America, America, God has shed a special measure of his grace on thee. Now by his grace may we crown this great good by striving for brotherhood from sea to shining sea and redouble our efforts to support women in crisis. And we must do a much better job instilling biblical morality in our children. 86% of abortions are performed on unwed mothers (CDC, 2O19). The sanctity of life includes the sanctity of behavior that miraculously brings life into existence, and both are engraved by the finger of God in the Ten Commandments (#6 & 7). Dear friends, teach these statutes diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Lord, may this spark a gospel resurgence in America, another Great Awakening on our 246th birthday as a nation. Inspire us to renewed vigor as we strive to live out our chief end–to glorify your name as human beings made in your image. All praise and glory to you, Mighty God. In Christ’s name, amen.

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High” (Psalm 7:17).

See you in church.

FROM AGE TO AGE TO ALL ETERNITY

June 26, 2022

In the Summer of ’69, as I was flying across the Pacific in an F-100, eastbound for home after a massive dose of the darkest side of humanity, The Fifth Dimension was announcing the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and taking the youth of the world by storm. It was to be an age “when peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars … with golden living dreams of visions.” While a few hundred thousand of their patriotic peers continued to fight and die in the Asian jungle, freeloading flower children, branding us warriors as baby killers, were gathering in a pasture near Woodstock, New York, celebrating the new age by frolicking, fornicating, and frying their brains on exotic substances, trying to “let the sunshine in” on their golden visions.

Of course it did not end well. A lifetime later it’s eventide in an Age of Absurdity and lost souls are still trying to let the sunshine in without the Son, wandering further and further from reality and ultimately into eternal darkness.

As the shadows lengthen on my brief day, our Sovereign God has used the Supreme Court to provide a divine bright flash of light, a powerful reminder that he still reigns. With one lightning bolt he has destroyed the federal legal cover for the baby killers of this age–the accusers of the previous age.

I am so looking forward to the dawning of the Age of Everlasting Ecstasy, in perfect peace and love in the glorious presence of our Sovereign God. It will not be an hallucination, but the ultimate reality, rejoicing with a joy unspeakable and never a morning after. By God’s grace I am assured of finding what the flower children in their Luciferian logic have been looking for in all the wrong places. The reality is the Son reigns from age to age to all eternity.

“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity.  I said of laughter, ‘It is mad,’ and of pleasure, ‘What use is it?’ I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine… I kept my heart from no pleasure…Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:1–3,10,11). 

But, by his grace, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” (Psalm 16:8–9).

See you in church.


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