Archive for September, 2018

They See

Ryan and Leah see things most of us can’t or won’t. They remind me of so much that is biblical and central to pleasing Christ.

Ryan, Leah, and their young child are on their way to a mission field that is difficult and, at times, hostile to the good news of salvation from sin and everlasting life through trust in Jesus Christ alone. It is a message that is increasingly, contentiously rejected in our own culture and which is sometimes met with persecution in Ryan and Leah’s new destination. They have been tested in a state-side, difficult mission field for five years. In visiting other mission fields they each have developed some health issues, so I wonder about their physical strength. I am their adoring, proud, humbled uncle, and someone who has experienced the joy of Ryan’s growing, passionate faith in Christ all his life and the riches of Leah’s heart in recent days. I want them to do everything to avoid danger and protect their health. In my mind, I have a better plan…
But is safety and comfort the way and will of God for them or for us?
They have the unclouded vision of Hebrews 10-11. They see needy souls and have accepted the cost to reach them (10:32-34). They see the futility of accumulation and the joyful life of sacrifice to others (10:34). They have seen the joy of heavenly reward in living for the will of God (10:35-36; 11:8). They have seen God’s preservation of their souls (10:39). They see the ultimate value in living lives to please God and not themselves (11:5). They see the call to a city that is better than any place on earth (11:13-16). They have seen the joy, struggle, value, and call of surrendered hearts as opposed to controlled, subdued ones that keep the heart of God at a distance (chapters 10-11).

“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (11:16).

Sending them—releasing them to go—is so hard. Thankfully, they don’t go alone. Jesus Himself promised to be with them wherever they go (Matthew 28:19-20). Angels accompany them (Psalm 91:11-12). Followers of Christ are praying for and supporting them. They will have some assistance from their parent missionary organization. There are some believers where they are going. Truly, God has ordained both the means to do His work and the ends for His glory and their good.

Their call is ours. We live out our salvation right where we live, work, and play every day. Hebrews 10-11 shows up (or is absent), e.g., in the way we spend money, in our pursuits and passions, in the way we use media instead of it using us, in who we go to for joy, in what we feed our minds and souls with. Time will tell. Time tells.

Whew! With a trembling, immeasurably jubilant, nervous heart my spirit flies out with them on October 25th.

Father, help me to see what Ryan and Leah see.

The Inescapable Subject

You would love Avery. Only three, she has the biggest smile, can chatter faster than a race car, and, of course, is cute as can be. Did I mention she is my youngest grandkid?

Avery’s parents do a fine job yet, as you know, things still happen. She recently had her first visit to the emergency room because—are you ready?—a blue bead became stuck in her nose. That ER visit and a follow-up to a specialist were unsuccessful in removing the blue invader from an unknown galaxy. Surgery was next. Thankfully, she wasn’t in pain; she just kept on smiling and playing and enjoying life.

On the day of surgery her mother posted pictures of Avery, still smiling from ear to ear and, again, cute as can be in her surgical gown. I have to say, Mom looked a little bleary-eyed from her four in the morning wake-up. Avery was fine with it all until…they started to separate her from Mom to go to surgery.

All ended well, and well, they still don’t know where the bead came from.

We are not in heaven yet, are we? Even if we hide in a cave, following Christ includes tests of faith that are purposed to shape us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). What are your tests today?

Psalm 91 can bring hope (certainty) while being loved by God in unexpected, unsought circumstances. Do you remember these much loved words from God, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’” (91:1)? They are such words of promise that plummet deep, deeper than the colossal Tennessee River!

Verse one has an inescapable subject: God. He is “the Most High…Almighty…the LORD…my fortress…my God.” We instantly see in His name (s) He is so powerful, so much above, so much wiser than the impotent idols we create to bring help, comfort, and meaning to our circumstances. And, He is “my” God. “Men,” an older commentator said, “generally seek out a great variety of hiding-places…according [to] the calamities…which threaten to overtake them; but here we are taught that the only safe and impregnable fortress to which we can flee is the protection of God.”

There is an astounding reality-joy in verse one. We are accustomed to the call to “abide” from John 15 (stay connected; to “sit down in the High God’s presence”), but the Psalmist shatters our small views of an impersonal, distant God by declaring when we trust in Him we travel—“abide”—in His presence.

What wrangles your nerves and sets you to wondering what God is up to? If you are in Christ, nothing can separate you from the “love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:29).

Not even the hunt for a blue bead in the lovely nose of Avery.

The Herald News

August 29, 2018

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