Using Your Eyes Correctly

 Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

The one who sees the circumstances and character of his neighbor as fodder for criticism, instead of prayer, lacks sense. To be wise is to see as Christ sees. To minimize the worth of your neighbor; to belittle them, is to say something profound about yourself, not something meaningful about your neighbor. Self-righteousness, arrogance and unwarranted spiritual pride are all tied up in the belittling of neighbors. 

A proper judgment of your neighbor – understanding that your neighbor is created in God’s image, is a being in the process of sanctification, is a blessing to be received, served, built up, thought well of – is true wisdom. Continue reading

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The Transposition of my Imagination

I was listening to an audio book of C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory when I blinked a few times in the striking light of his prose, realizing for the first time what it meant to look along the light and not merely at it.  I was stunned. Lewis argued logically in poetic prose. It was so rich and clear. Lewis conversed so long in the western cannon that he wrote with a Western-Christendom accent. He spoke like one who had walked with Truth in the cool of the day through the English countryside and could imitate the Poet’s cadence and tone.

I was overcome with the idea that I was listening to someone who didn’t think about God as much as He thought like God. I purchased a copy of The Weight of Glory before I was done with the audio book and devoured the print by night and audio by day. I was transported out of myself. I had been looking through borrowed contacts. The eyes of my faith were altered. Continue reading

Say the Same Thing

1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The word ‘confess’ literally means to “speak the same thing.” To confess your sin is to call your sin what God calls it. We so often like to add adjectives and qualifiers to our sins. We rationalize our sins. We cover our disobedience with leaves and hide from God behind trees of self-justification like Adam in the Garden.

But physically hiding from God in a well-manicured garden is as ineffective as hiding our sins behind well-manicured excuses. We convince ourselves that we only told a white lie or a half-truth. We convince ourselves that we’re OK so long as we look but don’t touch.

We have “respectable” or “character-flaw” sins. The “everybody does it,” sins. The “I just am the way I am,” sins. We tell ourselves that we don’t gossip, we just “share” our concerns with anyone who will listen. We don’t covet; we saddle ourselves with thousands of dollars of debt to acquire the stuff we want. We excuse our anger and belittle others, we brow beat our wives and lord over people calling it ‘tough’ love. We despise others and feel justified in despising them because of how terribly they have sinned or how foolishly they’ve acted. We convince ourselves that our jobs, hobbies and entertainments aren’t idols. And yet we’re too ‘busy’ to play with our kids, to pursue our wives or clean the house. We’re so busy we don’t have time to read our bibles, to pray, to sing, to fellowship or serve the community. Continue reading

Lamentation for the death of a friend

I have finished many things today

a book, a cup of coffee

but I have not

finished mourning you

I have completed the things I must

clocked out, gone home but yet

The things I’ve left unsaid, undone

in the presence of a tender friend

Are crowding all my thoughts

sowing grief

in memories of a man

whom the autumn of years had yet to set

on hair not yet fully gray

I have closed out the day

the door, my eyes

but I cannot close the casket

still open; still warm in feeling

still framed by flowers and weeping

You are free; moved on

but I cannot

only bare forward the measure of injustice

in worldly terms, pray for understanding

I picture you seated at a table full,

name card in front of you

Laughing where tears can not live

But where you will, forever more

You are gone

but memories are not

you have finished, here

but here I sit

remembering, mourning

believing the day will come

when we will take hands

with a hearty shake and a loud amen

Empty and Wide Open

Death and resurrection aren’t just events, they are a process. Jesus didn’t die so that you could live, he died so that you could die. To your sin, to death, to temptation, to worldly passions and desires. Jesus lives so that you can live.

Jesus went into the grave so that you would stop fearing the grave to live a life of hope. He rose so that you can rise. He died under sin so you could die to sin. He died under the curse to free you from the curse.

This is a process called sanctification. You are embroiled in something. Covetousness, lies, debauchery, drunkenness. You murder in your hearts. Back bite, gossip, slander and lust. You justify your sin and condemn others while your spiritual life is choked with self-reliance, envy and shame. Don’t fear that death. Put it to death. Continue reading

A Man of Sorrows and Acquainted with Grief

Verus Press

Introduction

Every child from Adam to the baby born in the middle of this sentence, has taken out a huge knife of iniquity and stabbed God in the heart with it. God has suffered at the hands of everyone who has ever sinned, which is every man and woman who has ever lived.

This all started at the dawn of time, in the paradise of the Garden, where God’s chief Creation and representative on earth bowed down and worshiped Satan before the very face of God. And just as Adam’s teeth tore into the forbidden fruit, our sins tear at the heart of God.

Our treachery separates us from the LORD. Adam’s rebellion unleashed a conflict directed at God’s throne which man has perpetuated throughout history down to the present day.

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Christ’s Example of Humility

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:1-11 ESV)

The table of Love proclaims the Gospel

A Series on Love, part 11

Jesus’ table here obviously proclaims the gospel. This is the body broken and the blood shed to make us sons and daughters of the living God. Our tables must likewise proclaim the gospel. But how? Our table fellowship has to reflect the reality of the Gospel and how it shapes all of our relationships, conversations, attitudes and actions. Jesus welcomed every tribe and tongue. He took away the dividing wall between Greek and Jew. In Christ all Christians are one body and the call to join is for everyone. Our tables therefor must reflect this unity and peace.

Our tables must be a place where everyone from dad to mom to the youngest walker are waiting for an opportunity to jump up and help with spills, getting more milk and passing the platters. No patriarchal lies are allowed where father sits at the head of the table while his dependents fetch everything.  The speech of the table must be edifying, building up the hearers and not full of backbiting or gossip. The Atmosphere must not be sullen, downcast or bleak. Christ’s table is a weekly feast of repentance, song, prayer, edification and rejoicing. Our tables must operate within the paradigm of this reality. At our tables the least shall be greatest. The last first. The master must be a servant.   Continue reading

Vessels Cleansed, Filled and Shattered

We were all captive to the power of Satan; in sin we walked and in death, we lived. We were captives in Adam and God appeared in the flesh, fighting our captors that enslaved us. As it says in Eph 4:8, Jesus led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

God so loved the world he gave. And when God gives, the vessel in which he pours his blessing is always overwhelmed. That is how we became the friends of God, believers. That is how we came to be here today, we were overwhelmed by God’s grace. It was stronger than our sin. God’s mercy was more potent and powerful than our selfishness. God’s compassion was stronger than our feeble shield of self-righteousness. Our resistance of empty darkness was no match for God’s infinite light. And with joy and loving-kindness we were overpowered, disarmed, ruined – remade.   Continue reading