Archive for August, 2020


August 30, 2020

We sent a young man from our beloved church family out into the world this weekend with a passage rite befitting royalty. It was held in a spacious poolside gazebo in the back yard of his parent’s lovely estate, and the feast was prepared by two amateur gourmet chefs who missed their calling who just happened to be his mom and dad. As the evening of gaiety and lively discourse drew to a close the young man’s mother arose to give him some godly motherly advice in his new venture—a gap year college program in the north woods of Wisconsin that sounded really exciting. She then asked anyone else who felt so moved to share with him whatever was on their heart with words of encouragement and advice. Several older folks, all of whom had known him from childhood, now spoke to him as a man in a profoundly moving farewell, offering God’s blessing in their own words. It was like he had a dozen parents in the room who all loved him dearly. Lord, grant that that moment might be indelibly engraved in his grey matter as he ventures into this fallen world. It surely is in mine, and I pray that by God’s amazing grace he will always be able to proclaim with me: I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

See you in church.


August 23, 2020

I installed a reverse osmosis water filtration system in my house recently. I was pushing the envelope of my plumbing skills, but with the most delightful results.  The water tastes addictively good! It reminds me of the water I drank from a dug well growing up on the farm—no fluoride, no chloride, just pure natural water. In those days we did not have indoor plumbing and had to draw water with a hand pump and carry it into the house in a bucket, or drink from a rusty tin cup hanging from a wire hook on the pump. The pump leathers were worn and sometimes dried out between uses and it would not bring forth water no matter how hard and fast I pumped. The only solution was to go into the house and get a glass of water and prime the pump by pouring it down through the top.

So it is with the love of God. Thomas Manton said, “Love must be paid in kind. As water is put into a pump, when the springs lie low, to bring up more water—so God sheds abroad His love into our hearts, that our love may rise up to Him again by way of gratitude and thanksgiving.”

Friend, are you an unproductive pump? Remember what Jesus did to the unproductive fig tree? It doesn’t have to be that way. Ask the Holy Spirit to prime your dry pump with the Lord’s living water and watch rivers of affection flow forth from your heart, a veritable fountain of love for God. Unless He primes your pump it will never happen.

“We love because he first loved us (1John 4:19).  

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38).

See you in church.


August 16, 2020

Have you noticed how much happier the birds are on a blue sky dawn than on a gray dawn? Their happiness seems magnified if you’ve been cursed with the need for hearing aids—it sounds like they’re perched on your shoulders as they sing their hearts out. Those frustrating but essential devices are my thorn in the flesh (among others in this aging body). Like Paul’s thorn, the same device that gathers all the voices in a crowded room to overpower the voice of the nearest one with whom I’m trying to converse, also gathers and magnifies the voices of God’s winged creatures as they sing His praises. Avian hymns in the worshipful serenity of sunrise are a special grace. His glory is enhanced in my weakness. The park becomes hallowed ground, a place of perfect peace. I feel born-again with the dawn, and His glory is my great joy!

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:7-9).



August 9, 2020

It was a sunny Saturday morning in the autumn of 2013 and I was visiting a country cemetery full of familiar family names, standing in front of my grandparents’ graves, near the village of Raritan, Illinois, population 123—my agrarian roots. My wife and I were in the midst of our 6.5 year Isaiah 6:3 Tour of America in an RV and were “home” for a few days to love on friends and family who still lived there. We had parked our home on wheels at Uncle Jim’s farm on the very spot where grandfather’s house used to be, the site of many happy memories. It was near this cemetery, as was the farm where I grew up. It was a milestone moment. Here I was, now an old man come full circle, who left the farm at 18 and went away to college and had traveled the world and done things my grandparents never dreamed of and saw things they’d never imagined. But the same Sovereign God who guided my grandfather back and forth in the fields of his farm all the growing seasons of his life guided me in a warplane in the unfriendly skies of Southeast Asia, in the frenetic financial centers of the USA and Europe, and in our wondrous RV wanderings. Our joy in the Lord and destiny are the same. Dust we are and to dust we shall return. But that is not the end for the children of God. In due time He will reunite their moldering bones with their eternal souls now in heaven, in a body that will be perfected in a new earth beyond what the mind can conceive. I sensed the nearness of God in the morning stillness, as I stood there meditating on His amazing grace. Then I looked up at the tree-shrouded skyline of Raritan just across the creek to the north, with the Reformed Church steeple rising majestically above the grandeur of the fall foliage (in the masthead above). It was pointing to the One True God in whom we have our being, and in whose Son we have our salvation, the realized hope for my grandparents and my eagerly anticipated hope. God was communicating through my eyes to my heart a deeper reality! Gospel hope is assured hope—while their bodies rest assured in the grave I rest assured in His grace, without which my soul is a dungeon of darkness. In that most moving moment on the hallowed ground of the dead I was reassured, not for the last time, of my abundant life in the LORD, the securest peace in my passage through paths of mercy to everlasting joy. Our God reigns!

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth,
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me!  (Job 19:25-27)

See you in church.


August 2, 2020

“What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?” (Martin Luther)

Early one morning this week I had finished my devotions and was lying on the living room floor doing my exercises when I spied a fly walking across the ceiling. A question I’d never thought about before popped into my mind, “How does a fly land on the ceiling?” I know a thing or two about flying and aerobatics and landing and I tried to envision the aerobatic maneuver or combination that would enable him to plant his sticky feet on the ceiling. I was pretty sure he didn’t fly final approach inverted. When you’re retired you have the leisure to go wherever your curiosity takes you, so I got online, skipped all the depressing news of the day and went straight to my research.

i learned a fly has a variety of landing approaches. Sometimes he does a half-roll, sometimes a half-loop and sometimes a complex cartwheel to land—quite an impressive aerobatic repertoire. I used to fancy myself a pretty hot stick in my flying days, but the fact is I can’t hold a candle to a fly! What a humbling thought. The same God who guided me to hundreds of safe landings, and saw to it that they equaled my takeoffs, guides that fly in his landings…and the stars in their orbits. “… in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). His mind is further above mine than mine is above that fly. Infinitely further. Humbling indeed, and humble is good, required even, if I would one day land in a new and wondrous world with no pests, no war planes, no gloomy news and perfect peace and love forever.

“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

See you in church.

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