Tuesday's slice of bread

A weekly post premised on this: Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord (Prov. 16:20)

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Location: Florence, Kentucky, United States

married to my best friend, writer, teacher, avid reader, occasional poet, volunteer

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Trinity and Prayer

For a long time, when I learned of a need someone had, I would say apologetically, "All I can do is pray." Let that sink in for a second. "All I can do is pray?!"

One day I realized what that was implying, and it wasn't godly. In essence, I was calling the Trinity's current work something less than it is. What do I mean?

We know from John 17:20-26 that Christ prayed for us when He was here the first time: "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, so that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, who you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

And in Hebrews 7:23-25 we learn: "The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he [Jesus Christ] holds his priesthood permanently, because he abides forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."

Since Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding, and the indwelling Holy Spirit intercedes also (see Romans 8:26-27), who am I to say, or even to think, "All I can do is pray"? When I pray, I have the honor of entering in with the Trinity into a work They continue in even now.

Thank you, God, for the privilege of sharing with You in Your work. May all I ask always be in accord with Your will and honor You. Amen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Favorites from Paul's Letter to the Philippians

I think everyone who reads the Bible finds they have favorite books to which they return often. One of mine is Paul's letter to the Philippians. What follows are some selections for you to meditate on, and some comments.

Several years ago when we lived in California, our then-Bible-study leader decided to teach from this book. I remember he stayed with this verse for some time: "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (1:27). Every time I have read this verse since, I have been struck by the phrase, "manner of life," and how other passages in the same letter seem to  reflect my "manner of life." For example: "Do nothing from rivalry 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" (2:3-4), verses which speak for themselves.

Later in the letter, Paul addresses an issue common to most of us: anxiety: "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brother, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (4:5b-8).

So if you struggle with anxiety, here is God's own "cure": recognize His presence, appeal to Him regarding whatever concerns you (prayer, supplication, not forgetting thanksgiving), and anticipate His peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Then use this grid through which to test your thoughts: Is it true? Is it honorable? Is it just? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it commendable? Is it excellent? Is it praiseworthy?

Any thoughts which do not pass these tests are not to be entertained.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Undeserved Mercies

Contemplating the undeserved mercies of
My Almighty Father,
I realize that is what mercies are:
Underserved.
Contemplating that,
What can I do but worship Him
With greater gratitude?

Contemplate the meeting of the Triune
Before time began to establish
Who would live,
When they would live,
Where they would live,
And all of the details of
Each life, concerning which we call
Here and now, or, time.

Contemplate the knowledge
Adam and Eve would sin as they did,
And that He would make a way for reconciliation--
Something God was not obligated to do--
The most costly way to God:
The Incarnation.

And all of those years Christ was subject
To temptation, yet
Never gave in, not
In thought nor in word nor in deed.
Yet He went to the cross as if
He were as guilty as those on
His right and His left.

He went, knowing what He would face.
He went, knowing for whom He would die.
He went, silent as a lamb before its shearers.
He went.
He suffered,
He died.
He died--verified.
Dead, He was buried.

Yet, mystery of all mysteries,
He was raised from the dead;
Raised--verified.
He was seen by twos and more--
500 at one time.

Ascended to the Father;
Ascended--verified.
Eyewitnesses to that would
Spread the word, would
Testify, would
Die once their testimonies were
Written.
Wrtten--verfied.
Ascended to the Father,
Christ the Intercessor.

Some day, determined before there was
One day, Christ will return.

Even so, come!
Receive the honor due
To You--
Worship in every language,
From every people,
For all eternity--
To the glory of the Father,
In the perfection of the Spirit.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Transition

We were in California for almost 19 years. Moving to Kentucky meant leaving many dear friends, not knowing as many where we were moving.  But what must have it been for the Lord to make the transition from heaven to earth? Philippians 2:5-11 tells us something about that:

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not consider 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."

Because of that, this is possible:

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself" (Philippians 3:20-21).


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

He Who Sits in the Heavens

He who sits in the heavens
Laughs at those who oppose His rule,
Leads those who submit to it,
Loves those who are called His own,
Listens to the prayers of His people.
He who sits in the heavens
Reigns in holiness,
Rules unchanging as Prophet, Priest, King,
Returns yet at a predetermined time.
He who sits in the heavens
Acts tirelessly for
His glory and the good of His people.
He who sits in the heavens
Ought to receive all praise and all glory
For His great goodness and mercy to the sons of men.

See Psalm 2, especially verses 10-12.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Epiphany

According to dictionary.com, this word is a noun having four meanings:
1. (Initial capital letter) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
2. An appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
3. A sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
4. A literary work or section of a work presenting, especially symbolically, such a moment of revelation or insight.

I had something similar to numbers 3 and 4 back in March 1986 while visiting in Valparaiso, IN, while contemplating my near death experience in Minneapolis, MN, in June 1971 and am posting this today.

EPIPHANY

Repetitive reflexes relax responsibly.
There is something to be said,
But who am I to say it?
Simpler to self-surround
With written sound.
And on the Thursday last,
Sitting at a blonde round table
Which was thoroughly engraved
With collegiate graffiti,
Sitting
Annotating THE DIVINE IMPERATIVE,
Merely being
There
Three months prior to
The fifteenth anniversary of my near death
In Minneapolis General Hospital,
Again the question,
Why do I live again?
But
This time, and from this time,
Answered: Because it is His good pleasure.

46 years on, it still amazes me that He would be so pleased and to Him be the glory, whether I live or I die.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Continuing after my near death experience 46 years ago

Last week I wrote that June 11, 1971, might well have been the last day I lived. Instead, God gave me another 46 years.

The accident took place on a Friday, early afternoon. Someone found my ID and left a note, which I never saw, for my roommates. Someone from the church I was going to at the time called my family, which took some doing given the time of day. Contact made, finally, my family drove prayerfully from their farm in west central Minnesota to the hospital in Minneapolis. Was I dead? If alive, how badly hurt was I? All sorts of questions. Meanwhile, I was out of it.

No one was sure what exactly happened.

I was fortunate, to say the least. I had a badly bruised left foot, but no bones were broken. I had an injury to my left temple. The doctors told my family that a bit more in one direction and I would have been blind in that eye; a little more in another direction, and I would have been dead. Even though my heart had stopped and been restarted, I have no exciting views of heaven to share. When I go finally, I don't expect to be back with a report. I expect to be fully engaged in worshiping my Lord and King, Jesus Christ.

I left the hospital on the Sunday of that same June weekend, on crutches, and went home to the farm to recover. I got to spend some of the summer at a Bible camp, even on crutches. By August I was well enough to go back to the city and resume my job search.

I was able to get employment proofreading microfiche (Does anyone remember those?) Two years after that, I moved on to another employer, where I tried my hand at computer programming, learning Basic and Fortran (Does anyone remember those?) Then a brief stint with another business, until it was downsizing and last hired, first fired. From there, I found employment with the state of Minnesota, taking a variety of positions. By the end of 1984, I was poised to move to Illinois, to enter graduate school.

I expected to complete my degree in 18 months, as that was the time frame my advisor and I had worked out, and then return to my home state.

But the Lord, who had preserved my life in 1971, had other plans.