October 25, 2019

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years."

I live in a world of Millennial and Medicare people. My kids are the former and I the latter. This divergence of ages brings a variety of perspectives and perceptions. I have been privileged and honored to know many "older" people who have taught me many life lessons through the life they lived and some through the death they have died.

Perhaps there is no more archetypical and seminal issue than the reality of death. I must admit, I do not believe I have fully dealt with the impact of the reality of death in my life. However, I do believe that there are three foundational facts I need to keep in the forefront of my mind. First is the Problem of Fear. Second the Prerequisite of Faith. Third, the Promise of Future.

The sacred Scriptures inform and enlighten us and provide a perspective; to live today in light of tomorrow. (Read Hebrews 11 for an expression and exposition of these three perennial perspectives.)

As we invest our lives in this world we are to look to the world of the future. Moses, as he penned the oldest Psalm, reminds us in Psalm 90:12: 
"So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom."

And so we must seize the day....Carpe Deim.

Count the days and make the days count!
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

October 18, 2019

Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference
between what is right and wrong;
Rather it is the difference between right and almost right.
~ Charles Spurgeon ~

We are living in a sociological and political time of upheaval. We have been experiencing dysfunctional symptoms, exacerbated by our therapeutic society. All of this is encased in a variety of religious expressions and experiences.

The idea that religion is on the verge of disappearing is an old one. The French radicals of the 18th century predicted and promised the demise of the church. In the 19th century Karl Marx declared the impending death of the church and all religion. As Nietzsche said, "God is dead and we killed him." In the 20th century, in both Europe and America, many such as H.G. Wells and other Fabians believed reason replaced revelation and therefore man replaced god. Today in the 21st century the "New Atheists," the "Brights" as they are called, declare that all religion has been a disaster to mankind and that the idea of any god or gods is dangerous to mankind.

Is religion on the decline? To ask the question is to answer it. A resounding, NO! As Mark Twain said, "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." Man is incurably religious. If he does not worship the true GOD he will worship something or someone else. The Apostle Paul told us in Romans 1 that when we turn from the Creator we turn to creation to give our loyalty and confidence and our worship.

The world of humanity is turning to many traditional world religions as well as non-traditional explorations seeking ultimate reality. What these philosophical and religious encounters have in common is that they are counterfeits and originate from the father of lies. The devil was a liar from the beginning. That is his method of operation and his scheme to scam people away from the truth.

I invite you to read Acts 17:17-34 and see and hear Paul as he gives a reason for the hope that is in him. See him provide an apologetic of faith in Jesus and the resurrection in the midst of a variety of religious belief systems. See how people respond to Jesus and the resurrection; some sneer, some say "let's talk more later" and some believe!  Not much has changed....except--- We are the ones who are to go and make the case for Christianity.

Frederic Nietzsche was right; "When the world discovers that God is dead there will be universal madness." But our privilege is to provide this mad world with the good news that God is not dead. In fact, He would like to offer them a new relationship of eternal life with Himself so that they can enjoy eternal fellowship with Him forever.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

October 11, 2019

Who Are the Nine Most Powerful People in the Land?
This past week I got to watch my son and son-in-law be sworn-in to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC. It was a very formal and ceremonial event in the Supreme Court's chambers in front of the nine Supreme Court Justices and the audience that had gathered for that day's oral arguments. It was very exciting. They also had the privilege of a private audience with Chief Justice John Roberts in his chambers before the swearing-in. A proud day for us all.
An added bonus was that I was allowed to remain in the gallery to listen to the oral arguments for cases involving the issues of employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. You might have seen it on the news this week. I was there with the press corps and other interested parties who filled the gallery and we were front and center to arguments of legal and historical significance.
As we approached the Supreme Court building, we were detoured due to the massive group of protesters outside, which included many who were transgender. After entering the building through two security check-points, it was fascinating to watch the lawyers make their oral arguments or try as the Justices frequently interrupted them and asked probing legal and morally laced questions while citing a variety of legal case precedents.
The building itself is magnificent; to get to the front doors of the building, you must climb dozens of large stairs that are only interspersed with large marble platforms. Once to the top, numerous large pillars serve as the gateway to the door. This design and architecture were purposefully done so that the Supreme Court appeared above and set back from the rest of the political landscape that surrounds it (both metaphorically and physically, as the Capitol Building is directly across from it). The Justices were equally impressive and intimidating as they sat behind their elevated bench in their pristine black robes with their aides scurrying around servicing them while the police and secret service were conspicuously placing themselves throughout the gallery ready for any event.
The occasion was very momentous and memorable. But it caused me to take pause and realize that as impressive and important as the Supreme Court of the United States of America is and as influential are the Capitol and White House; nothing compares to the most exalted Judge and the coming judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:9-10; Rom. 14:10) where each of us will give an oral defense of the life we have lived and how we invested it for Jesus. He will adjudicate our case and He will render a perfectly fair and accurate judgment.
The Judgment Seat of Christ, the Bema Seat, has nothing to do with getting into Heaven. Eternal life is free for all who ask to receive the free gift of eternal life. (John 3:15-16, 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9)
The gift of eternal life is based on His giving His life for us. The Bema Seat is an evaluation of our life's work, the giving of our life for Him. (Eph. 2:10) This event marks the difference between our eternal security and our eternal significance.
It is easy to be, and we should be, impressed by our Supreme Court. But never forget that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the coming King who shall judge the world and who shall rule and reign forever. If this is true, we should hear the words of scripture and heed the instruction of the Apostle Peter:
         And if you address as Father, the One who impartially judges according to each 
         man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth.
         1 Peter 1:17

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
October 4, 2019

Suffering is not only a problem to be solved
it is a mystery to be endured.
~Flannery O'Connor~

Last week I wrote about suffering. Immediately I received a note from my ninety year-old "Mother" telling me of the tragic and sudden death of her 58 year old son a day later. I then received a note from a good friend who has endured years of Lupus and the multiple complications entailed in that disease as she faced her next surgery. This was followed by a note from another who is in his 11th year of battling Leukemia and the side effects not only of the disease but of the treatments. Suffering is the universal malady. No one is exempt.

For 40 years I have been a pastor in the church as well as a seminary professor of Theology. As a pastor I serve as a shepherd and minister to people in times of tremendous turmoil and the tumultuous circumstances called "life."  I have made many hospital visits and prayed for those with intractable pain and anguish. I have consoled the dying and comforted the living. I have officiated at too many funerals to count, but every face is etched in my mind. I have counseled many parents regarding their children. I have talked people back from the edge of suicide and have sought to encourage those who feel their own faith slipping through their fingers as life circumstances have tightened their grip. They find the words of Blaise Pascal fitting for life: "I see too much to doubt and too little to be sure. I am of all men most to be pitied."

I have faced the ever present questions vocalized in a thousand ways - "Why is this happening to me?" "Is God really there?" "I do not know what to do anymore." "I'm not sure I can go on."

My personal life and professional ministry has not been immune from times of trial and testing. I have personally experienced the hurts of life in the extreme. I have felt the sting of betrayal from family and friends. I have experienced personally the consequences of the pollution of politics found even in "the ministry world." I am personally acquainted with the perplexing questions and ever present problems that life prompts this side of heaven.

And that is the key. We live on this side of heaven but there is another side of heaven. This reality is expressed by Joseph as he declared after bitter treatment by his brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." (Genesis 50)
F.B. Myer reminds us; "It is in proportion as we seek God's will in the various events of life and surrender ourselves either to bear or do it, that we shall find earth's bitter circumstances becoming sweet and its hard things easy."

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,