Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God is tolerant and intolerant.

Tolerate is a word used in every form of media today. Intolerant and intolerance are words used as accusations against, it seems to me, every thought and person we do not agree with. Christians are cast as the most intolerant members in the cast of the social life theater.  They are homophobic because they do not believe the homosexual lifestyle is in line with scripture. Because Christians believe in the work of Christ as the only avenue to to the throne of God they are Islamophobic. And we could go on  and on.

The Bible gives us a clear view that Almighty God is both tolerant and intolerant. God is  intolerant of actions that keep us from, or break, the intimate relationship mankind was created for. Adam and Eve's intolerant behavior towards the command of God in regards to the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil severed their relationship with God. They were cast out and the loving fellowship they enjoyed was lost.

The character of God is pure beyond our comprehension. His purity and holiness.abhors the actions of sinful mankind. His intolerant stand against sin will prevent sin and sinfulness from ever entering His kingdom. The Old Testament enlightens us in regards to His judgment upon flagrant disregards for His commands. To put it rather bluntly: God Almighty hates sin and sin will have no place in His kingdom.

In God's love and understanding of mankind we can discover His tolerance. We were created to have a relationship with God. His desire was, and still is, to share in every aspect of the human experience. He understands our condition as broken and marred vessels. Sin has broken and marred the original vessel that could contain His love and grace. Everyone has inherited that original broken nature.

If God is intolerant of sin and yet tolerant of mankind we might see a great inconsistency. There is no inconsistency with God. He will not tolerate sin in His presence. In order to be consistent and congruent His character must align with His actions. In Jesus Christ we find the perfect congruence of God. Jesus Christ took the penalty of an intolerant God in regards to Sin. In the death and resurrection of Christ sin is expiated, removed and made inconsequential. Sin is inconsequential only to those who embrace the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.

The intolerance of God is met on the battlefield of human salvation . Eternity for all of mankind will be determined in this battle. Should intolerance win the day only darkness and pain await. Jesus Christ, the Captain of the Lord of Hosts understands the consequences of the battle.He also understands the plan that was formed before the foundation of the world. The plan required His death in order to satisfy the purity and holiness of Almighty God.

The Captain on the battlefield faces the demands and yields His life. The Captain's sacrifice rips away the darkness that hung over the battlefield. The tolerant light of God broke through and illuminated His Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Godly Matriarch

Five generations together in a room, soon to experience a glimpse of eternity.
The saint of the family, the matriarch, is breathing her last air of confinement.
She has shared her heart, her life and her last words with each.
Her white hair is a simple reflection of her soul, pure and unspoiled.
Her body bears the evidence of her years, yet her spirit bears the richness of life lived.
Life filled with children and chores, wonderment and worry.
Life full of images etched on every soul in that room.
Life of berry picking and shortcake, jumping grasshoppers and wild raspberries.
Children laughing and playing in the bathtub on a Saturday night,
in Sunday school the next morning, singing Jesus Loves Me This I Know For The Bible Tells Me So. Words sung a thousand times by the gathered in the room,
witnessed so many countless times by the life and love and sacrifice of the saint
soon to meet her God.
It is easy to notice her skin, thin as tissue paper, causes a hesitation to hug as firmly as deserved.
The scars are evident on her knees, of a trait passed on.
All mortal signs of life's days and years soon to be replaced by immortal
glory filled instruments of praise.
God's saint has been ready for this day for a long time, even yearning for its arrival.
As the months became years and frailty became reality, her spirit looked past the stars more and more, seeing the unseen.
For some around her now life changed for a season.
A few short months of helping in the mundane requirements of everyday living.
Not work to be endured or a burden to bear, but an expression of love,
not ever to come close to filling up what was poured out for them.
Her breathing is very slow and shallow now, a sense of rest and contentment seems
to be filling the small room.
As she sleeps on her side, as she always did, her lungs are no longer filled
with the paltry air of the earth,
but with the celestial air of the heavens and her frail hand is held
by the One she so loved and longed to see.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Monuments are Important

The children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years for one reason. After being led from Egypt by the hand of God and the leadership of Moses the Jews did nothing but complain and cry. They forgot the miracles, the plagues and trekking on the dry Red Sea floor.

Under new leadership, Joshua led the Jewish people to the banks of the Jordan river and prepared them to gain their freedom in the land of promise. Joshua warned the people that it will be easy to forget the ways in which God saved them.

Across the river, in the land of freedom, Joshua prepared two monuments. One monument was constructed on the freedom side of the river. He instructed a leader from each of the twelve tribes to retrieve a stone from the riverbed. With the stones a monument of remembrance was built.

Joshua told the people that the monument would be a point of instruction and remembrance. It would be a point of instruction for those who pass by and did not know the story of how God saved the Jews and led them to their new land. It stood as a point of remembrance because an object that they could look upon would reinforce their memory and understanding.

The second monument Joshua constructed in the center of the riverbed . He placed twelve stones as a monument, a memorial, that signified the unseen. Many Jews perished in their wanderings. There were heartaches and perils in gaining their new freedom. Many dark times were encountered and survived. The unseen monument was just as important, in different ways, as the visible monument.

The visible monument was intended to remind the Jews of the great freedom they enjoyed and the failures that demanded the forty years of wandering. There is a powerful connection between the eyes and the mind. A vivid example is the American flag. A passing American flag leading a parade brings sincere people to their feet.

Our flag represents this land. Only a fool would believe that all of our history has been honorable and just. We understand the atrocities and crimes that were a real part of our history. Knowing our struggles and the opportunities of freedom and person liberty brings a sense of hope, pride, and appreciation.

Our land is a beacon of hope in the world of oppression and deprivation. Let us keep it that way.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Charlie- A Disgusting man loved by God

Everybody knew that old Charlie was a homeless vagabond. He trudged up and down the streets, at times in the middle, in his gray wool coat and blue stocking cap pulled down on his head. His gray hair was as short as the stubble on his face. It didn't matter what time of the year it was old Charlie dressed the same. All of Charlie's earthly belongs were kept in his red wagon, a Radio Flyer, that was given to him by some kind person.

We hadn't been in our ministry very long when we first met Charlie. We heard about and saw Charlie long before our first meeting. He came around the church on a pretty regular basis. There was always some food in the kitchen or fast food burgers in the freezer. Charlie knew he could eat at least once a day at our church. Well, when we met Charlie for the first time it was late August and still pretty warm. Charlie looked, and smelled, pretty bad, he was living up to his reputation.

Donna, being the kind heart that she was, looked at Charlie with compassion and love. Looking at him she was able to see past the coat, the smell, the dirt and the reputation. She saw a man loved by God, but only by a few people. After finding Charlie something to eat she asked him if he would like a shave and a haircut. He told her that he would really appreciate it if a pretty lady like her was to cut his hair. She led Charlie to the basement bathroom and I found a kit that contained a comb, shave cream and razor.

Donna trimmed Charlies hair and then his eyebrows, which looked more like bramble bushes than eyebrows. When she finished his eyebrows she asked if he would like her to trim his mustache. He told her that it would be nice because he hadn't been able to for a while. Well, what Charlie didn't tell Donna was that he chewed Red Man (tobacco) and it had been years since his mustache had been trimmed. You can just imagine what it was like when Donna ran the comb through Charlie's mustache and about two inches of it came out of his mouth. I had to find her two other combs to complete the task of the mustache trim.

There are unlovable people all around us. Contemporary lepers cross our paths and some of us turn our self-righteous faces away from them. The people that I shun might not be the same people that you would shun and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is quite simple and plain: That is wrong and we are to love the Charlies of the world as much as we love our self. Jesus did not really give us a lot of options about who we should care about and who should be thrown aside.

God help me to see all people the way I should.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Stars in every parents eyes.

As I watched Ana turn the corner in the 400m relay I couldn't believe what I was a witness to. Here, before a couple of hundred people, a young lady who was not supposed to live and when she did survive could hardly walk, was gaining on her opponent. She was well behind when the baton was handed off to her, about 30m, due to a difficult hand off at the second leg. Ana was the last runner, the runner who would have to catch up, if they were behind. Well, behind they were, as I watched her turn the corner she was gaining fast on the other runner. Each leg is 100m so the other runner had a clear advantage.

Within 50m of the string Ana pulled up even. The crowd of people were in an absolute uproar. Every person was up on their feet watching this incredible display of determination. I was at the the finish line and looking over the fence, staring straight ahead at Ana. I was yelling at the top of my lungs, "Dig Ana dig, Dig Ana dig." Well, did she ever dig. At the finish she won by a stride and a bit. When I came back down to earth, wiping a lot of tears from my eyes, my eyes met Donna's and we smiled.

Our smile was only a small indication of the joy and thankfulness we had in our hearts and spirits. Our Zambian Speedster was a testament to the Love and Mercy of God. He was the One who gave her strength and determination. He was next to her those many nights when she was so close to the door of death. He was the One that broke the power of the seizures that racked her little body that rainy night in the bush of Zambia. He was the One that gave her the will and the determination to prove every death prediction wrong.

That afternoon, as the crowds cheered and the team-mates hugged and laughed, I was a father with stars in my eyes. I knew that in the darkest night the stars were always there. Even during the storms the stars are still there, and so is the One who hung the stars in space. The stars in my eyes remind me of the Lord, who by His spoken Word cast the universe into place.