Thursday, January 29, 2009


"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.." Ephesians 4:31-32

This verse always makes me think of my late wife, because we used it as the basis for the vows we said to one another when we were married, so very many years ago now. It was that last part we used, about being kind to one another and tenderheartedly forgiving each other, and it made for some pretty decent vows indeed, now that I think about it. For such a young couple (I had been 21 for 11 whole days on our wedding day) it seems rather profound.

The first part is good, too, but doesn't make particularly good wedding fodder, if you know what I mean. A little negative, I guess, although if we could actually put away with all anger and bitterness it certainly would make for a better marriage.

Don't you think it's interesting that this verse says "Let put away from you..." rather than "Put all...away from you..," as if I can't do it myself, but it has to be done for me? And it's true, too. Bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander and malice are all typical human experiences - things into which we all fall occasionally, to one extent or another. And try as I might, it seems like I can never be rid of it altogether. I'm actually pretty good at it, too, but I just can't always control it though my own effort, no matter how hard I try.

Thank God I don't have to. I don't have to try harder, I just need to "let" more - to trust God more and to give myself to him more. More and more every day. That's my prayer.

More and more every day, Lord. I want to give myself to you more. Moment by moment, more. Today, right now, right this very moment, more. I am yours. Take all my bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander and malice. I lay it down at the foot of the cross and trust you to fill me with kindness and to make me the most tenderhearted guy I know. I accept your forgiveness. I really do. And as a result I want to forgive. More.

Oh, and thank you, Lord, for a wonderful marriage...two of them! I have been doubly blest.


"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:42

Stay awake, I think, means to be alert to God's presence and walk with him rather than dozing off into living life as if there were no God at all.

To not be awake would be like the man in the story Jesus told who spent his life growing abundant crops and then building bigger barns so he could eat, drink and be merry. He was building up his treasures here on earth and living as if there was nothing else - he was asleep to God's presence in his life and failed to recognize what is truly important. He didn't know that the Lord was coming for him that night.

Or it's like David Niven in The Bishop's Wife who thought he was supposed to build a bigger cathedral - thought he was doing what God wanted him to do. But in the process he was sleeping through the very things that were the most important; his wife and family and friends. It took an angel to wake him up to the fact that God cares more about his relationships than he does about cathedrals. Much, much more!

Lord, help me today to wake up and to be alert to your presence moment by moment. Fill me with your spiritual caffeine. Help me to recognize you in everything I do and to remember what is really important - my relationship with you and with those you love. I want to give my life for you every moment of every day, in everything I do, and in doing so to give my life to those I love...and those I ought to love. I want to be constantly and intimately aware of you and your inexplicable, overwhelming love for me and to allow that love to overflow and to consume my entire life. I want to worship you with everything I do, every thought I have, every breath I take. I am yours. Help me to wake up. I love you, Lord.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." Proverbs 3:1-2

The thing I appreciate the most about this verse is that middle part. I am supposed to let my heart keep God's commandments. This is where the Pharisees got it wrong - they thought they were supposed to keep the commandments on the outside, and in so doing would sanctify their hearts. But the way it is supposed to work is the other way around - if we remember God's teachings and let our heart keep his commandments (i.e., love the Lord your God with all your heart...and love your neighbor as yourself) it will ooze out and become who we really are on the outside as well. God will take care of the sanctification part via his grace.

And so a word here about politics. I'm all for voting our conscience based on our (in my case Christian) moral perspective, but we need to realize that we as Christians will really never change the world through political action and the enforcement of moral-based laws. What I mean is that even if we were able to pass laws that forced everyone in our country to act like Christians are supposed to act, to "keep God's commandments," in other words, it might possibly make it a more pleasant place to live, but it won't truly achieve God's will for this country, will it? It won't actually bring about anyone's salvation.

For example, the bible teaches that homosexual behavior is sin, right? Most Christians would agree. Let's say that we could all get together and write an initiative to put on the ballot that makes all homosexual behavior it used to be. Then, just for the sake of argument, let's say that the law passes and works so well that all homosexual behavior ceases to exist. Good, huh? Well, maybe so, but let me ask you this: are any of those formerly homosexual folks now going to spend eternity with God simply because they're now either celibate or are engaging in acceptable heterosexual behavior in a married relationship? The answer is no. Unless they accept God's grace they are doomed along with the rest of the non-believing world. The only way homosexuals can be saved is by God's grace, just like me and you, and the only way homosexual behavior will ever end is if homosexuals learn to keep God's commandments in their heart. Changing them on the outside doesn't work. God's grace working on their insides will work.

And that was only an example, remember, because the same truth applies for all types of behavior that do nothing but keep us separated from God - including things like hatred and bitterness and fear. These things can't be cured by changing the way we are on the outside, only by letting our hearts keep God's commandments.

But then there's that whole thing about the length of days and years of life and peace that will be added to me, according to the verse. I think maybe it's telling me that if I remember and keep God's commandments in my heart, my days and years will be full of that abundant life that Jesus was talking about - not necessarily longer as a measurement of time, but longer in the sense of our experience of life; we'll experience life more abundantly if our hearts are in the right place with God, and peace will be the centerpiece, so to speak.

Lord, I want to internalize your commands. Help me to truly love - to love the way you do. Keep my focus on the things that are important to you - things of the heart. Help me to always remember your teachings and to keep them in my heart forever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


[Note: Sorry for the absence. Busy life, you know. I'm sure yours is, too, so I assume all my readers will understand...both of you.]

"And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."" Acts 16:31

Ah, an oft misunderstood me, that is, in my young and dumb days of youth. I always wondered how on earth my "household" could be saved if I'm the one doing the believing - I mean, doesn't each person have to believe in order to be saved? Well, to answer myself, yes; and actually that's what the verse is saying. I will be saved if I believe in (have faith in, put my trust in) the Lord Jesus, and my household (my family) will be saved if they also believe.

Of course, the fact is that my household stands a much better chance of having their own faith if I keep mine. They say that a person has a difficult time thinking more of God than they think of their own father; if they have (or had, as the case may be) a bad relationship with their dad, they might have a harder time relating to God. Of course anyone can overcome that stumbling block and I have good friends who had terrible fathers but who now love God with all their heart. But still, it's an awesome responsibility to be a father when you look at it that way - to be, in a sense, God's representative to your family.

I really love my kids. Oh, they're fully grown now, adultish in every way and on their own with families of their own - as I've mentioned before, my own beloved first-born son and equally beloved daughter-in-law are expecting my first grandchild sometime next month. And I am blessed in the extreme to know that both of my offspring are believers in their own right and that I am fully confident of their salvation. Don't get me wrong, I take no credit for it at all, but I am please with the idea that I was able to demonstrate God's grace to them in my own small way while the kids were my be God's representative to them. I was far from ideal as a father, but I think I did okay.

You might say that I believed in the Lord Jesus, and my household was saved.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your salvation and for blessing me beyond anything I ever deserve. Walk with my kids, Lord, and keep them in your care, especially now that they aren't my responsibility anymore. Walk with them and help them be your representatives to their own families so that their kids will be saved...especially that little one still hiding inside his mom's womb right now, but also for all those to follow (and let there be many!).