Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Rightness of God's Judgment

In his second inaugural address to the nation, Abraham Lincoln had the following words for his fellow countrymen - who were just coming out of a bloody and fierce Civil War:

"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Pretty shocking stuff, coming from the President of the United States. In essence, Lincoln was assuming in his speech that the Civil War was a punishment to its people for treating one another as "less than" - or unequal.

Lincoln knew the ugliness and vileness inherent in keeping another man in forced subjection. And how it violated the very nature of goodwill and benevolence which should be attributed to all men and woman; black/white/yellow/brown. He knew too - that God would not stand for such evil. And, went as far as to proclaim the war which ensued over its "rightness" as a judgment handed down from God to redeem the wrong which had been done.

Lord, help us to see your judgments as "altogether true and righteous". That may times your judgments - which seem harsh on the onset - end up redeeming and making things new again. You are the Great Redeemer!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Only God is Big Enough

There is a story which originated from G.K. Chesterton that told of a father and his three children, ages 3, 6 and 9.

One night, as he was going room-to-room putting his kids to bed, he told each - the same story.

"...and then, I got up and walked to the door.." said the father, finishing up the tale to his 3-year-old.

The boy's eyes were large and his mouth wide open.

He finished up the story - and then walked into his 6-year-old daughter's room.

"...and then, I got up and walked to the door.."

The girls eyes were intently fixed on her father.

"..and opened it..."

"Oh no! Watch out!" the daughter exclaimed, terrified.

He finished the story, tucked his daughter in bed and shut off the lights.

Lastly, the father walked into his 9-year-olds bedroom and began to weave his tale.

"...and then, I got up and walked to the door...and opened it..."

The boy smiled.

"...and behind the door...was...a lion!"

The boy's eye lit up and his jaw dropped.

"Oh, wow!" he exclaimed.

Chesterton's aim of relaying this story was to make an important point: as we get older, our heart seems to need bigger and bigger things to fill it. No longer is it just fulfilled with the big blue ball rolling on the ground. It longs for something more profound.

Our hearts were made to be in awe. And the only thing big enough to fill them is God.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" May we find our joy in seeking Your endless depths and riches! Only You are big enough to fill our deepest longings, O God!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Freedom as a Covering for Evil

Peter writes in his first letter of the Bible, "Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil.."

Peter recognized that some free men would use their newfound freedom in Christ as a contriving tool for sin.

Paul too writes about freedom obtained through Christ. In Romans, he writes that many might use their freedom as a means to sin and obtain even more grace (but objected by saying, "let it not be so!")

Both Paul and Peter knew full well, of the endless appetite of the heart toward evil.

Freedom in Christ does not give the Christian a license to self-gratify - but to sacrifice self for the good of others.

Freedom in Christ does not give warrant to more self-love but to more radical love of others.

Freedom in Christ does not provide cover for secret sins - but pushes for the expulsion of evil in the heart and a drive for the pursuit of righteousness.

Let our lives echo Peter's words, "that by doing right, [we] may silence the ignorance of foolish men."

Lord, help us to live as free men. Free men who love and pursue righteousness. Who expose the evil that lies beneath - for the glory of your name - that none should stumble or be "lied to" by our lives lived out for you.

Friday, April 06, 2007

10 Years After

Yesterday, was the tenth anniversary of my father's death. It's amazing to think on, because it seemed like it was that - just yesterday.

When I think back about dad - I am filled with precious memories and things that I will take with me for as long as I have memory.

I find it odd, some of the things that come to mind when I think of him...

The way in which he would sit at the kitchen table, off to the side, legs crossed. How he'd wear his pants, hitched way up past his belly. The Hush Puppies. The towel around the neck in the summertime, collar flipped up. His teethy grin. The odd manner in which he would swing a golf club.

What I cherish most - and what I hold on to most is the way in which he lived his life. His was one of peace and diplomacy. His gentle, yet authoritative nature put me at ease. I thought, "if dad is here, everything will be okay."

He lived humbly. He didn't make a lot of money. Didn't seek fame or fortune.

He was devoted to two main things: Jesus first - and family second.

His was not an uncommon life lived amongst the daily grind. Yet there was a peace about him that was uncommon and unwordly.

And, even in his death, that peace endured. On the morning of April 5, 1997, he told my mother, "Jesus is going to take me home today." And so it was fitting that he went to be, where we all belong - back into the arms of our Savior.

Lord, I pray that you were honored in my father's life and death. And, I pray, that you might make all your children shine forth your love and that when we die - your name would be lifted up and not ours.