Monthly Archives: February 2013

First Grade Bibles

Sunday I have the honor of presenting new Bibles to our class of first graders in our Sunday School. I wish you could have seen the look of amazement and joy as each little boy and girl took the Word of God into their hands. Little did they understand what a powerful moment this was in their lives—a cross roads placing before them the path of light and life.

The Psalmist in Psalm 119:105 wrote:

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.”

In an ancient world where darkness ruled the night, and glow of the modern city awaited centuries away. The Psalmist aptly compared the Scriptures to a lamp carried by a wanderer on a dark moonless night. He noted its impact to be like the light that illuminated his path with each step into the impending darkness.

Those who have grown and matured to the point of knowing and loving the Word of God know exactly what the Psalmist so powerfully put into verse. The Bible unlike any other book penned by human hands pulls backs the mystery of life and reveals the wonders of God’s grace and goodness blended into the story of the struggles, sin, and desperation of the human race.

This week a friend of mine passed on these insightful observations by David Jeremiah who said about the Bible:

“In the Bible we have the mind of God revealed; the state of man disclosed; the problems of life described; and the mysteries of Eternity explained.”

I must confess my journey of sanctification and life change began in earnest when I began to read and study the Word of God with a hunger and thirst for righteousness—with a longing for more. I grew up in a pastor’s home so my life found its rhythms in the life of the church—Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night I did my duty, but my heart though saved remained seemingly unchanged.

I vividly remember looking into the mirror one night saying to the myself—“there has to be more.” Though outwardly I played the part of Christian young man with the skill of an Oscar nominated actor; inwardly in my heart of hearts I knew I was doing nothing more than going through the motions. Something had to give. Something had to change, or I would be destined for a life of “quiet desperation” and my “song would die within me” as Henry David Thoreau noted of so many in days gone by.

I can remember it as yesterday, when I determined in my heart to give God one last chance and to open my heart daily to the mysterious power of the Word of God. The journey I began that night was far from simply a commitment to a “daily quiet time”—I came to the Bible desperate and hungry. I needed help.

Decades later as I look back, I realize I too did not understand the mysterious power I held in my hand when I took up the Word of God. Even to this day, I cannot fully articulate how God uses His Word to speak into my life and to drive back the darkness.

I hope and pray sometime today you too will open the Good Book and listen closely for the voice of God calling to you to follow—He will lead you on a journey you will never regret.

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Restless

Over the centuries reflective thinkers and philosophers have struggled with deep urgings and longings of the heart and soul.

Great American thinker and writer from New England Henry David Thoreau born nearly 200 years ago observed:

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

 Even with all of our advancements in knowledge and technology, Thoreau’s insights still ring true today. I am still deeply moved by his final note about dying with one’s “song still in them.” Can you imagine a world where our songs—our new songs as the Psalmist put it—filled the earth with the glory of its music.

Long before Thoreau, God spoke through a young man who captured for many the very essence of this mystery when he wrote in his confessions.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

The great Church theologian and thinker Augustine rightly observed that the “restless” soul and lack of a song trace their origin to one’s search for meaning and purpose in life. To sing with all one’s heart—one must know and believe life has true meaning and significant purpose.

Augustine discovered this “rest” for the soul in His relationship with God and in God alone. God created us for Himself. He shaped us to know Him, to adore Him, to love Him, and to live in union with Him.

Most who wander this life in quiet desperation stumble along looking for “love in all the wrong places” as observed by song composer Wanda Mallette, who came to this conviction by studying the lives of a group of second grade children trying to find their way in life at such an early age.

The “restlessness” that haunts so many in our day could come to a quiet end at the feet of Jesus if one would only turn to Him.

One day, Jesus called to those closest to Him saying:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV)

 Jesus understood the nature of life. He knew the struggles and longings of the human heart. He knew the mad futile efforts of so many looking for rest, so He called one and all to the true source of rest and a song.

As we begin a New Year, and jot the first few lines of the next chapter of our lives, I would strongly encourage you to begin and end this year with Jesus. He offers to you not just the rest found through a Sunday afternoon nap, or a vacation to the mountain. No, Jesus offers you “rest for your souls”—a deep abiding rest that calms the spirit and eases the nerves. A rest that will slow the heart beat, and send your worries into exile.

May this be your prayer: “Lord, may my heart find its rest in you and in you alone.”

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Enjoy Him Forever

For centuries the training and education of the next generation of children and young adults has been at the heart of the mission of the church. Back in the 1640’s a handful of Scottish and English theologians, pastors, and church leaders collaborated together to find ways to challenge the next generation to be all it was meant to be.

 

Their painstaking work led to has come to be known as the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) published and put into practice in 1648. The word “catechism” for most Baptists is a foreign word with little meaning, but it simply means “a book written to give the principles of the Christian faith” or “a manual written to give basic instruction in a question and answer format.”

 

In WSC, the instructors trained young people to learn and to understand their faith by heart by asking them as series of questions and having them memorize their answers. Without doubt one of the most memorable and significant of the questions posed was the opening question, which states:

 

“What is the chief end of man?”

 

In other words, why did God create us and for what purpose do we live our lives day in and day out? I must confess I am deeply moved and impressed by their answer. The answer memorized and recited through the centuries is:

 

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

 

Wow, what an amazing and insightful glimpse into the mystery and majesty of life as God intended it to be. Without doubt God created each and every one of us for His glory. You can see His majesty and grandeur in the faces of the children playing on the play ground, or in the weathered face and calloused hands of one of our senior saints.

 

King David in his 86th Psalm exclaimed:

Teach me your way, O Lord,  and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.   I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me;  you have delivered me from the depths of the grave… (Psalm 86:11-13 NIV)

 

David reveals to us that bring glory and honor to the name of the LORD finds its roots in learning to walk with Him, and coming to the realization of the wonder of His grace in our lives.

 

On a personal note, I am deeply moved and caught off guard by the closing line: “to enjoy Him forever.”

 

Could it be many of us fail in our desire to glorify God because we have lost the splendor and awe of our “first love?” Enjoying our relationship with God forever casts our vision to a much higher plane than simply trying to be happy and successful.

 

God calls us to a spirituality that fills our hearts and souls with joy unspeakable. Jesus declared: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11 NIV)

 

Imagine the joy of Jesus welling up inside of your heart and soul. It’s my prayer that each of us will truly “glorify God” with all our hearts and “enjoy” Him now and forever!

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