He Is Not Here, He Is Risen!

“He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”~~A nameless angel
Matthew 28:6

Today’s word of the day is resurrection, “the act of rising from the dead.”

Today is Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday. It is what is known as a “movable feast,” because it does not fall on a fixed date. It always falls somewhere between March 22 and April 25, and has something to do with with the astronomical full moon after the vernal equinox. Or something like that. I confess I don’t get it . . . I just follow the calendar.

I had a fun time practicing with the worship band, yesterday afternoon. So much so that, before we knew it, we had been there three hours! We’ll meet up again at 8:00, this morning, as we prepare for our worship gathering on this Easter Sunday. In some ways, it’s just another Sunday, as we truly celebrate the resurrection of Jesus every Sunday. But Easter is one of the two Sundays (maybe three if you count Mother’s Day) that people who don’t normally attend church will do so. The other is Christmas. But I think that the number of people who do that is growing smaller.

Well, I have a shorter amount of time on Sunday, so I’d best get on with things.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah.
Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

Psalm 39:1-6

The man in this psalm is suffering, but chooses to not complain, even though that is his initial impulse. Most importantly, he chooses to remain silent in the presence of the wicked. How many of us wail and moan about our condition, regardless of who is around? The psalmist chose, instead, to remain silent and meditate on “the fleeting brevity of life and his hope in a constant God.”

“‘My grief is turned to gladness, to Thee my thanks I raise, who hast removed my sorrow and girded me with praise; and now, no longer silent, my heart Thy praise will sing; O Lord, my God, forever my thanks to Thee I bring.’ (‘O Lord by Thee Delivered,’ The Psalter, 1912). Amen.”

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10

I’m just going to leave this here, this morning, and ask you to meditate on one of the Biblical accounts of the resurrection. He is not here, he is risen. “What joy this blessed assurance gives! I know that my Redeemer lives!”

<i<Father, as we worship you today, may the power of the resurrection fill our souls and change our lives.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.


“. . . human desire with all its emotions cannot compare with the passionate yearning of Jesus Christ.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, July 12, 2014.

Today is Different Colored Eyes Day. If you are one of those rare people who have different colored eyes, this day is all yours! Mine are both green. We once had a cat that had different colored eyes.

Christi’s job seems to have taken a couple of steps backward. It seems they keep throwing more responsibility on her. She’s got a ton of work (not literally, but then who knows how much work weighs?) to do this weekend. I’m telling her she needs to get away from that place (along with the person who hired her). Bless her heart, she hates to give up. “I’m not a quitter,” she says. But I’m afraid the situation cannot be “won.” We shall see, though. I keep praying for God to intervene and bring some peace, calm, and sense into the situation. Perhaps that will happen before it’s all said and done. Or before “the end of the day.” Or any other relatively meaningless cliche I can think of. On top of everything else, she apparently tore a calf muscle while hurrying between meetings yesterday. So, once again, she is in great pain.

Stephanie came home from Megan’s last night. Without Megan. There was much rejoicing. At least between Christi and me. We’re a little weary of the sleepover that wouldn’t end.

The Red Sox won their third straight game last night, while the Rangers lost their sixth straight. The Rangers are currently the worst team in baseball by ten percentage points. The Red Sox are no longer in last place! The Tampa Bay Rays are in last place. There is no way to convey how happy that makes me. I am very close to a point where I dislike the Rays as much as or worse than I dislike the Evil Empire.

Today, we have a few chores that need to get done, then we have church this evening. I now lead the “Anchor” pray time before our service, so I need to do some preparation for that. Tomorrow will probably be the day when Christi tries to get all her work done that she needs to do.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

On this date in 1739, “As David Brainerd is walking through a dark grove to his secret place of prayer, God speaks to him and he has a glorious salvation experience. The twenty-one-year-old will live only eight more years but inspire many others through the diary he pens.” Indeed, his diary was so inspirational that Jonathan Edwards wrote a biography on his life. In fact, Brainerd died at Edwards’s house, after suffering for months from “incurable consumption” (Wikipedia).

Sharing a birthday on July 12 are Bill Cosby, George Washington Carver, Topher Grace, Richard Simmons, Cheryl Ladd, Kristi Yamaguchi, Christine Mcvie, John Petrucci, Henrey David Thoreau, Oscar Hammerstein II, Milton Berle, Andrew Wyeth, Van Cliburn, Kirsten Flagstad, and Curly Joe Derita.

Christine McVie is a singer, most famous for her time as one of the lead singers for Fleetwood Mac. She has returned to the band, and, at the age of 71, is actually touring with them this year. Here is their song, “You Make Loving Fun.”

Van Cliburn was known as one of the world’s greatest piano players for much of his life. He passed away in 2013, and would have been 80 years old today. Here is a clip of him playing some Rachmaninoff Preludes.


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD.
Psalm 135:1
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Psalm 71:2
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
Psalm 116:16
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:10-14

Glory be to God the Father,
God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
so it is now and so it shall ever be,
world without end.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Philippians 1:21-23
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Philippians 3:20-21
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13

Give thanks today for the hope and promise of the Resurrection!

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “A Consuming Fire.”

Most of us have been sexually aroused at many points in our lives. Otherwise, a lot of us wouldn’t be here, right? We know the intense passion of what this feels like. Well, “the Scripture and the liturgy of the Christian community say that human sexual arousal is but a pale imitation of God’s passion for his people.” Human love is the best image we have to illustrate the love of God, but it is still inadequate.

“. . . human desire with all its emotions cannot compare with the passionate yearning of Jesus Christ.” The saints “can only stutter and stammer about the reality;” Blaise Pascal had his famous “night of fire” on November 23, 1654, about which he could not speak, but wrote about it on a note, which was sewn into the lining of his clothes, and wasn’t discovered until after he died. Bede Griffiths wrote, “The love of Jesus Christ is not a mild benevolence: it is a consuming fire.”

“It is only the revelation that God is love that clarifies the happy irrationality of God’s conduct and his relentless pursuit.” Who among us has not experienced the irrationality of human love? Even in the face of infidelity, one who truly loves will continue to pursue. Even the anger of Jesus during the act of cleansing the Temple “reveals his keen interest, his frantic involvement in his brothers and sisters coming into right relationship with Abba God.”

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire,
a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24

Consuming Fire
Once again, I am drawn to the beautiful hymn, “The Love of God,” written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917. The last verse is especially powerful:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Father, may we know and acknowledge your passionate love for us, that love which can not be satisfactorily described by human words or emotions. Help us to know that which is unknowable. I pray for more and more of an understanding of your love, that I might grow closer to you, more intimate with you, as I grow older. I pray that I may know you as I am known by you.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi’s calf muscle to heal. I pray that you would relieve her pain. I pray that we can get the things done that need to be accomplished today. I also pray that this evening’s worship service would be exactly that. I pray that we would worship you and love you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give us grace, endurance, and power to serve you in the coming week.

Your grace is sufficient.

Consider the emotion that you feel for the person in your life whom you love the most. Then consider that that feeling doesn’t even come close to the passionate love God has for us.

Grace and peace, friends.

Relentlessness and Tenderness

“When we cry out with Jeremiah, ‘Enough already! Leave me
alone in my melancholy,’ the Shepherd replies, ‘I will not
leave you alone. You are mine.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Sunday, April 27, 2014. Only three days left in April.

Today is Tell A Story Day. I like that. The idea is for people to both tell and listen to each other’s stories. In our Huddle groups, our stories are very important. One of the first things we do is to tell our stories. What got us here? What has made us what we are? Where are we going? Of course, it would also be a good day to go down to Scarborough Renaissance Festival and see Zilch the Torysteller!

Yesterday was a pretty good day. After finishing up the blog entry, Christi and I went and got the groceries. Then Stephanie and I went to Anytime Fitness, while Christi went to Jamba Juice (I can barely say the name of this place, because it always comes out “Giambi Juice.” Extra points if you know why.) to meet up with an old work friend, Margaret. She had a great time! I’m glad she got to do that. She said the “juice” wasn’t bad, either. Then, of course, we had our church service, in which Jacob, our pastor preached a most magnificent sermon from 1 Corinthians 15:35-49. In the spirit of my blog, I will refrain from writing about it until I get below the “devotional line.”

After church, we had steak and baked potatoes at home. Everything was pretty good. But the marinade that we got at the store was a little sweet for our tastes. The steak itself was tasty and tender. We got it in the “manager’s special” bin at Kroger. You know. . . the place where they put all the meat they are going to have to throw out tomorrow. The prices are usually significantly reduced. Anyway, the marinade was the Jack Daniels Smoky Mesquite bag. You just put the steaks in the bag, shake them up, and refrigerate them for a little while. Great concept, but I think we might try a different kind next time.

Today, Rachel and Justin are coming over. We’ll do lunch and whatever. Good times.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

“Pope Pius V issues a bull against Queen Elizabeth of England, excommunicating her as “a heretic and favorer of heretics,” depriving her of her title to the crown, and forbidding all her subjects to obey her on threat of excommunication themselves. Elizabeth, however, will retain her throne and triumph over an attempted invasion by Catholic Spain, going down in history as one of England’s greatest monarchs.”

Yeah. Ol’ Queen Liz was a tough cookie! 😀

Today is the birthday of the inventor of Morse Code, as well as a U.S. Civil War General. But it is also the birthday of one of the great bowlers of all time, Earl Anthony. Yes, I said “bowler.” I’m a big fan, and used to watch the PBA tournaments every Saturday afternoon. I remember when Earl Anthony was on there, and could be seen in the top five bowlers of most tournaments. He was born on this date in 1938. He passed away in 2001, “succumbing to head injuries suffered after falling down a flight of stairs at his friend Ed Baur’s home in New Berlin, Wisconsin.” The actual cause of death, however, according to multiple sources, is uncertain. He had had a recent heart attack, it is stated, and it is possible that he had a heart attack, which caused him to fall. His friend found him at the foot of the stairs at 8am on the day of his death.

Here is a match from the 1979 Showboat Invitational, in which Anthony defeats Mark Roth in the second match of the tournament. Earl went on to lose to Emmett Shutes, who bowled a 266 in the next game. Shutes won the tournament for his first ever PBA title.


Before I get into selections from today’s Divine Hours, I want to share a little bit of what Jacob preached yesterday evening, because I feel that this is important stuff. He has been preaching from 1 Corinthians 15, focus being the future resurrection of all believers. We tend, as he has stated, to skip this part of the Gospel, always focusing on Christ dying for our sins, on the cross. However, the resurrection is every bit as important, if not more important, than the crucifixion. And we have the promise that we shall be resurrected in the same way that Jesus was, him being the “firstfruits” as the rest follow when he returns.

Last night’s sermon was from verse 35-49. After he read the passage, he gave a couple of definitions of terms he would be using during the sermon. For the purposes of this sermon, “earth” would mean this life that we experience now, before we die, while “heaven” would refer to our life after the resurrection. He said that we have three possible response to the idea of the resurrection.

First, we completely deny the resurrection or the idea of heaven and hold on as tightly as we can to earth. We can’t really fathom eternity, can’t wrap our brains around it, so we ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and hold on to the things of this earth. He asked a sobering question, “Do you prefer this life?” There is a movement in Christianity that says we have everything we need in this life. Joel Osteen has a book called Your Best Life Now. Jacob asks us, “If I have everything I need in Christ right now, why do I need him to come back?” What a great question!! C.S. Lewis has famously said, “We are far too easily pleased.” The context of that quote, from his book The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses is this:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition
when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on
making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the
offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Instead of hanging on so tightly to this earth, we should be longing for the place where all the beauty comes from.

Our second response, really no better than the first, is that we avoid “earth.” This is where the sermon gets really deep. Verse 46 says, But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. We are human, or natural, first, then we are spiritual. We tend to be motivated by fear in the things that we do. We are afraid of sin, become motivated by this fear, which results in us attempting to avoid anything that appears worldly. We all know people like this, I’ve been this way, myself! A perfect example is the “Christian” conversation about homosexuality. It is purely motivated out of fear! It has been accurately stated that people fear what they do not understand. Our hearts need to be changed. We should pursue goodness and righteousness, yes. But we should NOT pursue goodness and righteousness because we are afraid of sin! We should pursue them because we love righteousness!

Lest we feel singled out, unbelievers do this, too. Consider the modern health craze. People are obsessed with health. Running, exercising, health drinks, health foods, avoiding this, avoiding that . . . why? Because they are afraid of death! But all of the running, exercising, and health foods will not help. To quote a dead comedian, “We’re all gonna die!!!” But being healthy is not bad, is it? We should be healthy, but not because we fear death. We should be healthy because we love life!

Fear makes us do crazy things. And the fear of sin is irrational. Why? Because it makes us think that, if we can keep from sinning, God will love us more, and we will have a better shot at heaven. This is an ignorant belief. First of all, there nothing that I can do that can make God love me any more than he already does. Can I get a “hallelujah?” There is, equally, nothing I can do that will cause him to love me less. Second, the wrath of God has been completely satisfied in the crucifixion of Christ. All of the sin of all believers everywhere has been atoned for by the cross.

The best response is the third one. We should embrace both heaven and earth and figure out how to bring heaven to earth. We see the first “Adam,” in verse 45, which is the Genesis Adam. Paul refers to Jesus as the “second Adam,” a “life-giving spirit.” The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. (v. 47) Adam is the man of dust, Jesus is the man of heaven. Through Christ, we will be rebuilt, reformed, to bear the image of the man of heaven. This is our destiny. This life is “dress rehearsal.”

Part of the “Model Prayer” says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Therefore, we should live this life as though the kingdom of heaven is already here, attempting to bring that kingdom to this earth. We know there will be no poor in heaven. Therefore, we should do what we can to help those who are poor on this earth. Not because we fear sin, but because we love life and righteousness. Not because we are trying to earn God’s favor, but because we are trying to display his kingdom. We know there will be no loneliness in heaven, so we should try to reduce loneliness on earth. How hard is it to have a short conversation with someone who just needs someone to talk to? We don’t have to even bring up Jesus or the Gospel! Just the act of listening to someone can bring a little bit of the Kingdom of heaven into this earth!

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:2-4
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
Psalm 65:5

“O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that I,
who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice
in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, to whom,
with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.”

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 Corinthians 12:9
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Psalm 62:6-7

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Lion and Lamb.”

I don’t usually do this. But I cannot paraphrase today’s reading. I am compelled to quote it in its entirety. Brennan Manning’s way with words is unmatched.

“This is not pious piffle. The risen Jesus is not The Man
Upstairs (as some macho males like to say), a celestial
gas, or the invisible honorary president of outer space.
His resurrection was not an escape into the Great Beyond
while the band played, ‘Up, Up, and Away.’ His breakthrough
into new life on Easter morning unfettered him from the space-
time limitations of existence in the flesh and empowered him
to touch not only Nepal but also New Orleans, not only
Matthew and Magdalene but also me. The Lion of Judah in his
present risenness pursues, tracks, and stalks us here and now.
When we cry out with Jeremiah, ‘Enough already! Leave me
alone in my melancholy,’ the Shepherd replies, ‘I will not
leave you alone. You are mine. I know each of my sheep by
name. You belong to me. If you think I am finished with you, if
you think I am a small god that you can keep at a safe distance,
I will pounce upon you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip
you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will
mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly.’ . . .

“The Lion who will kill all that separates us from him;
the Lamb who was killed to mend that separation–both are
symbols and synonyms for Jesus. Relentlessness and tenderness;
indivisible aspects of the Divine Reality.”

. . . a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;

Matthew 12:20

My Father, there is so much to be thankful for here. I praise you that you are relentless and tender! I praise you that you will NOT leave me alone in my brokenness, my loneliness, my sin! I exalt you because you know me by name. I praise you because you are not finished with me yet! I don’t know what is in store for me in the days ahead, the years ahead, but I am ready and waiting for you to work in my life. My spiritual side has been turned upside-down in the past year. While there has been much growth since Christi and I joined The Exchange church, the things you have done in my life in just the last year alone have been truly astounding. And now, through this time of focusing on the resurrection and during our Huddle meetings . . . I have so much to meditate on, to chew on . . . I need you to help me focus on these things. I need your grace to help me to bring kingdom moments to this earth. I have been so selfish through the years, focusing on me, or even just on my family. I believe that, as a family, we have been rather selfish, keeping to ourselves more than we should. I pray that you help us to reach out more, to be more focused on others than on ourselves. I pray for the fellowship of our church and huddle group to grow in intensity, that you would create a bond between us that is unbreakable. Teach us to be and to make disciples. Teach us to look for opportunities to bring your kingdom to earth. In addition, I pray that your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that you will use me to make that happen, whenever possible.

I pray for this day. Keep Rachel and Justin safe as they travel from Denton. I pray that we will have a good time together this afternoon. I also pray your blessings on them as they continue their school activities. Draw them closer to you, Lord, and protect them.

I pray for Christi and my parents as they go to Dallas tomorrow afternoon. I pray for the testing that my Dad will go through, that it will not be too much for him, and that this experimental procedure will be helpful for him and not have any harmful side effects. As always, I pray for healing and restoration of muscle strength that he might once again “run and not be weary; walk and not faint.” Continue to give my Mom the supernatural strength and courage that you have provided her. Keep them safe as they travel on Monday and Tuesday.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we not fear the things that we do not understand. Rather, let us embrace the life that Christ has given us and allow it to bring us to a place where we can help usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. And may we joyfully thank him for his relentlessness and tenderness.

Grace and peace, friends.

Jars of Clay

It’s going to be a busy Saturday, I think. The first thing we have to do this morning is go look at the proofs from Stephanie’s senior pictures that were taken a couple weeks ago. It could be expensive. Or not, because if she keeps acting the way she woke up this morning, I’m not going to buy ANY of them.

Yesterday was a tiring day, but we got through it. Christi worked more at her mother’s new place, along with Stephanie and Jennifer (Jennifer is Christi’s niece). Christi got home a little earlier then previous nights, but she could hardly walk, so we just had food delivered to us, and watched both of this week’s episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

In baseball yesterday, it was another pretty good day. The Red Sox pounded the O’s again, both in the score and on the field. It seems that O’s pitcher, Gregg, said something rude to Big Papi, which caused him to charge the mound, as he did the obligatory trot to first base, after hitting a pop fly. Gregg had already been ejected from the game before Papi got to him. A bench-clearing brawl ensued. My initial opinion is that Gregg is an idiot. The O’s are a horrible team this year, and they just need to get over it. Gregg had already thrown three straight pitches that almost hit Ortiz. Sox won 10-3. The Rangers also won, beating the A’s 8-5. The Grumpy Old Men got rained out in New York, so the Sox gained another half game on them, to be a full game in first place. Kevin Youkillis did not hit a home run yesterday. Today, I’ll try Adrian Beltre. Beltre, of course, hit a home run yesterday. Which counts as a hit, so my hit streak is now up to five! I’ll just go ahead and keep him for today, too.

Today’s album that I’m ripping to digital is:

More eighties Christian pop. Not surprisingly, I don’t remember a single track off of this one.

On to the Bible readings…

Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible:
2 Corinthians 4
1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This is interesting. Verse 2 is sobering. I find it very disturbing that many of our modern churches have gone directly against this verse by practicing “cunning” or tampering with God’s word. Instead of using “the open statement of the truth,” they have devised clever, man-made schemes to get people to attend their churches. Not, mind you, to bring them to salvation. Rather, to get their numbers up! Call my cynical if you want, but I have observed so many marketing schemes put on by churches that I am sickened by them. Paul has told us in Romans that the GOSPEL is the power of God for salvation. You want to see people saved? All you have to do is preach the plain and simple GOSPEL! You don’t have to use cunning. You don’t have to use trickery. And you certainly don’t need to try to look just like the world!
Note the reason for the gospel not being understood. In verse four, Paul says that the “god of this world” has blinded the eyes of those who already don’t believe, so that they cannot see the truth of the gospel. Now, if Satan (that’s who the “god of this world” is) has blinded your eyes, the only one who can “unblind” them is God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why did those of us who believe become believers? Verse 6 tells us. Because God “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” That is the only reason! Hallelujah!!

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

This passage is full of hope, though it might not seem so at first. Paul begins by telling us that we have this “treasure” (what is the treasure? It is the gospel..the light of Jesus Christ) in “jars of clay.” That means that this light we hold, this truth of Jesus Christ, is housed in frail flesh that is slowly decaying over time. My body is a “jar of clay.” The reason for this is so that we can clearly see that the glory belongs to God and not to us! In the next few verses, Paul describes some afflictions, but declares that they do not have ultimate power over us! We have hope, because we know that, even though this body is decaying, and will die, the Lord, who raised Jesus from the dead, will also raise us! Our flesh is dying, but our spirit is being renewed, daily. More Hallelujahs!

Hosea 1-3
Well, that’s a jump…from 2 Chronicles 24 to Hosea…

In chapter 1, God tells Hosea to “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” (v. 2) I think it’s hilarious when people like Addington try to rationalize this and say that “Although several possibilities can explain this relationship, the most likely is that Gomer was not adulterous when they were married.” Really, Gordon??? Because that’s NOT what the Bible says! It disgusts me when people try to re-write the Scriptures because God’s commands don’t fit into their nice, neat little boxes. Once again I will quote Joel Engle, who said multiple times in a message, “DON’T PUT GOD IN A BOX!!” God was trying to prove a point here. To illustrate the extreme unfaithfulness of Israel, he had Hosea go marry a prostitute. She didn’t become a prostitute LATER! Bottom line…plain and simple…God told Hosea to marry a WHORE! What we have to remember is something that was stated in one of the Psalms I read a couple days ago. God does whatever he pleases. We stupid humans have to accept that. When we get all “high and mighty” and decide for ourselves what God can and can’t do, or what God will and won’t do, we come dangerously close to committing heresy.
Chapter 2 is filled with prophecy about Israel and her unfaithfulness. One greatly abused verse is verse 6, which says, Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. Time and time again, I have heard Christians pray a “hedge of protection” around a loved one. That’s all well and good, but there are some implications there that aren’t pretty. This “hedge” was placed by God to keep Israel from prostituting herself. It’s very dangerous to take a verse out of context, so before you go praying a “hedge of protection” around someone…are they getting ready to start playing the whore?
God’s redemption of Israel (and of us, for that matter) is beautifully illustrated in this book. In chapter 3, Hosea actually has to go BUY his wife. He pays for her. Is that not what God has done for us? I truly believe that to try to explain away the ugliness of this story cheapens the work that God did in our lives.

Psalm 137
1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

Yes, this Psalm is rather depressing. The only true hope in this one is the determination to remember Jerusalem, no matter how bad the circumstances got.

Lord, may I never forget you, even if I am someday taken captive and drug off to a foreign land. Even in the most adverse circumstances, may I not forget you or my home land, which is not here, but heaven.

Lord, I have not allowed myself sufficient time this morning to pray enough. Forgive me this, as I have to go do things now. I pray that this day will get better than it started. Let us have a good day today, without stress, and let us get things accomplished that need doing.

Remember the hope. These bodies are perishing, but our spirits will live!

Grace and peace, friends!