Archive for April, 2018

Glowing

When I walked one morning last week the rising sun was sandwiched between two layers of dark clouds. Only a few feet above the horizon, it was blinding even through thick sun glasses. Behind me at the walking track was a normally sleepy mountain range. It frames our valley on one side and begins a plateau that goes for many miles toward the center of Tennessee. The mountain was glowing in a bright yellow I have never seen in twenty years of daily observation. Until the clouds took over and rain began, light and color surrounded me.

The weatherman promises this week will be stunning in its own way, with blue skies and warm spring temperatures. Now, maybe, we can get ahead of the weeds…

Truly, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Noting verses two through four, we watch and worship God and listen as creation and the sky continue to speak of God’s invisible attributes: “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Scripture affirms our senses are physical and spiritual instruments to energize our appreciation for creation’s glories and God’s gesturing offer of relationship.

“Glory” can be an elusive term. God’s glory is “The visible appearance of his beauty and perfection reduced to a blazing light.” It is His essence. Like His ways, it is inscrutable—unfathomable, mysterious, impenetrable, indecipherable. “Oh,” says Paul, “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways…for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:11, 36).

Do we love Jesus or do we love His gifts such as creation?

Romans 1:19-20a comments about God’s glory and creation, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” The context of Romans 1 sadly reminds us many, many have historically and now continue to reject God’s wooing invitation in the sky and have turned to themselves as the authority for what to worship and how to live.

Have you entrusted yourself for life and godliness to the One who made the feast in the sky?

Because of God’s grace, each follower of Christ is privileged to be like the yellow morning mountain—bright shining—glowing—with a glimpse of the One who made the sun and us. We are, “predestined to be conformed into His image” (Romans 8:29). “Amen,” as Romans 11:36 shouts!

Amen means “may it be.”

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Tonight

Friends and Foes,

A transparent moment…

Tonight I am participating in a webinar called Author School. It’s sort of like a writer’s conference from home for the next two months. It’s an attempt to pursue clarity and get help. It is led by a well-known agent with a terrific track record of helping and publishing.

Why? A hundred years ago I said to my mentor and friend that I wanted to write a book and he quickly said, “What would you write about?” The implication was I didn’t have much to say at that time. We’re still friends and he still impacts my life! There are miracles.

I may still not know much. But I’ve experienced the grace and mercy and love of God for a long time now. And, I can’t get this writing idea out of my head. Writing a weekly newspaper column has keep fuel on the fire.

So, this near geezer wants to settle the question and give it a try.

Thanks for your prayers.

-john

P.S. If you’d like to receive an email of the weekly column please FB message your email to me.

 

Wrestling With Tatoos

The five-hour return drive last week won’t soon be forgotten. No, it wasn’t because of an accident. In fact, it was no accident at all.

I slipped out-of-town for a couple days last week to see my oldest daughter and to surprise the grandkids. (Their husband/dad was out-of-town on business). Miracles do exist—I drove through Atlanta without having to stop and, for a change, I didn’t miss the ever-changing signs to stay on the highway I needed.

The visit was great, including a winning soccer game by my oldest grandson, the excitement of the grandkids when they got off the school bus and saw me, a discussion with the almost fourteen old granddaughter about boys she won’t date someday (smokers and tattooed), breakfast alone with my daughter (rare and delightful), and the school tour by our pre-school four-year old grandson. Smile, he was very excited and animated.

We seldom know when God will visit and I need to be watching and listening more attentively.

On the way home, I scanned the dial for one of the million Georgia radio preachers and was struck by one who asked: “Do you ever wrestle in prayer?” He read from Ephesians 6 about the armor of God and its strength in our real world of spiritual battles in and around us. Listen in:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:11-18, ESV

I often pray “for” many things. I don’t often wrestle in prayer “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.” Do you?

Prematurely or intentionally secluded from the world, “the spiritual forces of evil” seem far, far away. But they aren’t, and sometimes they are active in us who struggle to be followers of Christ. I do not suggest bold demon possession of God’s family is normal; I do affirm Satan’s regular, subtle, and slow influence in and around us (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Being devoted to wrestling prayer (Colossians 4:2) has taken on a new urgency for me.

Especially about those possible boyfriends…

​John Fields
Rhea Herald News
April 25, 2018

Sparkles and Glitter

Your eyes will have a feast when you meet my granddaughter Hailie. Nine years old, cute, bright, and sweet to the core, she loves clothes. Clothes with colors! And, colors all mixed together in ways that beg for sunglasses. Did I mention sparkles and glitter?

“Clothes make the man,” we say. They project an image; they tell a story. They give us confidence when we walk into a room. To be without clothes in public is unacceptable—or it used to be so. The Apostle Paul, ever illustrating spiritual truth in vivid word pictures, mixes his metaphors and joins together garments and buildings and tents, “For we know that if the tent (our bodies) that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building (resurrection body) from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked” (2 Corinthians 5:1-3, ESV).

We spend a lot of money and time to hide our groaning.

Consider a tent and the time Doug and I went hiking for two days and one night in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Spectacular mountain vistas were our delight all day long on the first day. But that one night lasted forever. It was scary. Dark and cold, we couldn’t see or feel our hands in front of us. Bears anyone? It rained all night—all night. And speaking of scary, in the middle of the night King Kong walked right by our tent. There is no doubt in my mind the guy outside was eight feet tall and carried an axe. He never stopped. Our tent, already cold and dark, felt very unprotected and vulnerable.

I am at a season of life where, with Paul, I do a fair amount of groaning (v. 3). But my new body is coming! Frailties cast aside, I long for the promised, everlasting body that will be permanent. Tents are temporary; buildings endure. Our resurrection bodies will be buildings from God that will be like Jesus’ and, joyfully, will never groan.

Please don’t misunderstand: Our earthly bodies are important. We bring glory to God in our bodies. They are not evil. Note to those who struggle with how God made them: You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)! And, as the Spirit of God will say later in the context of 2 Corinthians 5, we serve God and others with our bodies, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Clothes, tents, and buildings are accommodations by God to help illustrate our unimaginable, impenetrable resurrection bodies. Our groaning will be turned into praises and our tents with made brand new!

I’m not sure our resurrection bodies will have sparkles and glitter. Hailie hopes so.

Maybe she is on to something…


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