Archive for November, 2022

56 YEARS AS ONE

November 27, 2022

56 YEARS AS ONE

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12). “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). For 56 years, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have walked as one flesh in the light of the world, and the darkness has not overcome us. What a wonderful life it has been! He has shed his bountiful grace on us and guided our steps, even when we could not see beyond one step ahead. We have been so richly blessed. The 56th year was better than the first, and the best is yet to come.

“How beautiful is your love my sister, my bride!” (Song of Solomon 4:10) I strive to love you as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

We’ll see you all in church.

INVICTUS CORRECTUS

November 20, 2022

The 19th century English poet, William Earnest Henley, wrote a classic poem about the human spirit, entitled Invictus—Latin for “unconquered”—but absent credit to a Sovereign God it is a beautiful tune whistled past the graveyard. It should surprise no one who reads my sometimes rhyming musings that I have the temerity to try to correct that popular poetic paean to the pagan god “I”.  Parody without the comedy is still praise of the poet’s gift.

“Out of the night that covers me, 
Black as the pit from pole to pole,”
I thank my Sovereign God that He
Owns my unconquerable soul.

When beset by foul happenstance
I can trust in my Sovereign Lord!
It’s all His gracious will, not chance,
That keeps me from the hell-bound hoard.               

Beyond this life of trials and tears,
Heaven or hell awaits us all.
But through the menace of the years
God holds me up, I will not fall.

It matters not how strait the gait,
How charged with chastisements the scroll.
God is the master of my fate,
God is the Captain of my soul.

“…my friend, you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:9-10).

See you in church.

EXHORTATION

November 13, 2022

My awe and admiration for church pastors who write two sermons every week was renewed this past week. The ability to consistently do that and deliver them with passion and plain English may be the best evidence there is that God has called a man to the gospel ministry. My friend, Pastor Jason Waeber, has been serving as a volunteer interim pastor for a few months now in a little country church just over an hour east of Cincinnati–Wheat Ridge Evangelical Presbyterian Church– while also pastoring our church plant here in the suburbs. Last Sunday I substituted for him over there. A long time ago my beloved Sunday School teacher, a seminary professor, Morton Smith, told me that laymen exhort and ordained preachers preach. I’m okay with that—“sermon” sounds pretentious for anything I could say. In preparation for my exhortation, the first in years, I relearned that it’s one thing to post your random thoughts in a few paragraphs on social media once a week and quite another to thoroughly prepare to stand on the holy ground of a pulpit and expound on a few verses of God’s Word for thirty minutes. I was very aware of James admonition in 3:1-2: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” I cringed as I reviewed my performance later on their Facebook page. It was apparent to me that I am not the orator I used to be (or thought I was) but, God willing, the  stumbling witness of a ninth-inning septuagenarian with heart aflame for God touched another heart or two in that congregation. They were a warm, welcoming, and appreciative salt-of-the-earth church family—all 25 of them—who have kept their church going without a full-time pastor for a few years now, to the glory of God. I felt like I had returned to my roots in a similar church in western Illinois near the farm where I grew up, which also is still hanging on by God’s grace. I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I can feel at home wherever in the world I am when two or more are gathered in His name. Our God reigns.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).  

See you in church.

ELECTION DAY 2022

November 8, 2022

Today is not the first day of the rest of your life, no matter your political party. We are not choosing today between two competing apocalyptic visions of what happens if the other side wins … more
like we are choosing which poison to take in our devil assisted national suicide. 21st century America needs an unshorn, bug-eating, cave dwelling John the Baptist to come forth and say Repent, God-mocking America! But take comfort in this, Christian: Our Sovereign God reigns and his remnant is ever secure.

THE HOUND OF HEAVEN

November 6, 2022

Fifty-five years ago I learned to be a fighter pilot wearing this patch on my flight suit as a member of the USAF 524th Tactical Fighter Squadron “Hounds of Heaven.” Over a half-century later, I just recently discovered the classic poem by an English poet named Francis Thompson that was the source of that famous term. The Hound of Heaven is the poetic telling of the Holy Spirit pursuing the prodigal soul until the soul realizes there is refuge nowhere else, gives up and turns to God alone.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears…

I never heard reference to the poem in the squadron. Twenty gungho young jocks who had just earned their wings were living their dreams and bustin’ their backsides to be the best fighter pilot that ever was, while a dozen courageous instructor pilots were just trying to stay alive teaching us how to fly at fifty feet AGL and a few hundred knots and skip a practice bomb into a target. No one found time to talk about ultimate things in poetic terms. The business made God-fearers out of most of us, when we were out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas, but at happy hour you’d be hard-pressed to find evidence there was a born-again Christian in the place.  I went off to war with an angry Donald Duck wielding a lightning bolt and a club charging through the starry skies sewed to my flight suit, but the Hound of Heaven pursued in close trail. He stuck closer than a wingman on the darkest night. I can only guess at the bullets he absorbed on my behalf. A few times it was like he even reached his hand into my cockpit and took the stick when I was too paralyzed with fear to save myself.

To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;

Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.

But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,

The long savannahs of the blue;

Or whether, Thunder-driven,

They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,

Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their

feet:—

Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue…

These days I fight a different war—the most important one of all. I’ve turned from my prodigal ways and joined the ranks of the Hound’s pack, joyfully and earnestly baying at his heels as he relentlessly leads the pursuit of lost souls. Unlike my previous, this is a winning war.

After 180 haunting soaring lines of a rebel on the run, the poet/prey, exhausted after trying every other refuge, gives up, stops and hears the Hound of Heaven say,

‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,

I am He Whom thou seekest!’  

This upcoming Veterans Day I’m available for hugs, and in the clinch I will tell you I have learned this much: The Hound of Heaven can love even the unloveliest soul, and he always catches his prey. He caught me.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7-8)

See you in church.

FOUR SCORE LESS ONE

November 2, 2022
Life is but a bubble blown,
No sooner formed but burst and gone.
One more lap will make four score.
Lord, might I have at least one more?

It's a decade more than Dad
Or his brothers, mine and Granddad.
Every morn it dawns on me.
I don't deserve longevity.

Heav'n can wait if it's your will.
To stay is not a bitter pill.
Heav'n is better, that I know,
But work's not done down here below.

Of time--never quite enough.
There're souls to win 'mongst those I love,
Abiding sins yet to kill,
But kill I shall if by thy will.

O Sovereign God, you I Trust.
Tis you that made this rebel just.
It's by your grace I still stand--
My times are in your loving hand.

“… I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 3:14


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