Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Beauty of God

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

This morning I awoke early. It was still dark. As is customary, I made my coffee and sat before the Lord, journaling my heart, reading His word, and listening for His “still small voice.”

As light began to break, I could hear birds singing through closed windows. As I often do, I opened the window to unmuffle the avian choir as they welcomed the morning with their simple songs. Different birds warbled different melodies. I could hear some in the distance; others were near.

I thought, “How beautiful.” What a gift from God! Each morning He gently awakens creation with birdsong, calling out to mankind, “I love you.” Perhaps this is one reason not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without Him noticing.

Each evening, God paints glorious moving sunsets on the canvas of the skies. Every sunset is an original masterpiece. Each sunset is God reminding man, “There is more. Wait until you set eyes on the beauty of heaven’s skies.”

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it. And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (Psalm 19:1-6)

If eyes are “the window of the soul,” creation is the window to God’s soul and heaven’s beauty. There is endless beauty in God’s creation. And yet, creation in all its beauty is but a faint glimmer of the beauty of God and the age to come.

Everything God has created reflects some aspect of His beauty. Now we see imperfectly. One day we will see Him, the sum of all beauty, face-to-face. And, contrary to our sojourn in time, we will never tire of heaven’s beauty or grow accustomed to His face.


Let me see Your beauty. Open my eyes to see Your glory in creation.

© 2008 Seeds for Good Soil; 27 April 2008.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Groping for God

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:11-13)

Their planned appointment with Job began well enough, but the “Comforters of Job” ended up garnering that moniker by espousing prevailing wisdom du jour which held that suffering was attributable to moral failure and prosperity to blameless living. If assessing suffering were a game of Blackjack, Job’s friends could be credited with playing the percentages. By asserting that His affliction was God’s chastisement for some moral defect, however, Job’s friends, like tardy theatergoers who arrive after the prologue, were oblivious to the true theme of the epic drama that was playing out in Job’s life. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar didn’t enter the story until the end of chapter 2.

Eliphaz the TemaniteRemember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. (Job 4:1, 7-9)

Bildad the ShuhiteHow long wilt thou speak these things? And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? Doth God pervert judgment? Or doth the Almighty pervert justice? If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. (Job 8:1-6)

Zophar the NaamathiteShould not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies make men hold their peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou hast said, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.’ But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee and that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. (Job 11:1-6)

Common sense may serve one well in card counting. If we want to be more than “latecomers” to the epic drama of someone else’s life, however, we must resist the natural impulse to depend on our own understanding. Myopic pragmatism will only serve to deepen discouragement, or worse, divert someone from the work God is doing in their life. If we hope to bring the encouragement of Christ to someone who is suffering, we will need to come with a listening heart that is tuned to Heaven’s higher ways.

Instead of soothing Job’s pain, his friends’ counsel salted his wounds and aggravated his suffering. An enemy’s kiss is deceitful, and the wounds of a friend may be faithful, but misunderstanding from a trusted friend can finish off a bruised heart.

Nobody sees with perfect clarity. Even the most highly revelated perspective sees imperfectly.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (I Corinthians 13:12)

At some point, every man finds himself groping to understand his own suffering. God will often withhold the explanation, however, because understanding or alleviating his pain isn’t nearly as important as groping for and finding God Himself. Job’s groping eventually brought him face to face with God and his understanding of God reached high-definition clarity.

Then Job answered the LORD, and said, ‘I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’ (Job 42:1-6)

Job’s friends’ advice, on the other hand, incited God’s displeasure and He instructed them to ask Job to intercede for them.

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore … go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. (Job 42:7-8)

In the end, both Job and his friends were humbled and found the grace that ensues. It is interesting to note that each found mercy and healing in relationship to the other. And God’s perspective ended up being the only one that really mattered.


Lord Jesus, I look to You. Give me ears to hear you and an understanding heart. Tune my heart and spiritual ears to Your infinitely higher way.

© 2008 Seeds for Good Soil. April 23, 2008.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's the Dunamis, Stupid

"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence ... But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:4-8)

During the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, public anxiety ran high over the state of the economy. The mantra, “It’s the economy stupid,” coined by Democratic strategist James Carville, connected with the American electorate and helped put an Arkansas governor in the White House.

Much is argued in the Church today about what constitutes evidence of the infilling, baptism in, or baptism with the Holy Spirit. Some will say that “speaking in tongues” is the only reliable initial benchmark. Others will insist that love for others and the “fruit of the Spirit” provide ample proof. These “evidences” are essential, but before your autonomic theological response system kicks in, consider what Jesus said would characterize the Spirit’s coming,

“But you shall receive power [Greek, dunamis], after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

It’s the dunamis, stupid. It’s the power. It’s the dynamite. There is a lot of potential in a stick of dynamite. If we think we have everything God has for us, but the power of God is not clearly evident among us, then, like an undetonated stick of dynamite, we are merely living in unrealized potential. The Spirit’s presence in our lives implies great potential, but we need to let God ignite the "fuse" so the power of the Holy Spirit can be released in and through us.

The subject of the Holy Spirit often triggers a reflexive “fight-or-flight” response when raised in conversation among believers. How sad. The net effect is that the person of the Holy Spirit, the “promise of the Father,” received by the Son from the Father and given as His most audacious gift to His bride, is left largely ignored, marginalized and uncelebrated. How can the subject of the Comforter create so much anxiety and animosity among God’s people?

What will it take to win our lost world to Jesus Christ? Have we not tried every technique known to man? Seeker-sensitive services, friendship evangelism, Servant Evangelism, Four Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosion; the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. No doubt these programs, techniques, and tools have had some success. But deep in our hearts we know that the Church is not living up to her potential. We have not “turned our world upside down” because we are not fully preaching the gospel. Paul said,

“… by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19)

Dunamis power was the rule in Jesus ministry and assumed by the apostles and early Church. Jesus commanded his disciples to delay launch until they had received “power from on high.” Dunamis power defined Paul’s ministry.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

An absence of dunamis power would have been cause for great alarm. Paul wrote,

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall … Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Why aren’t the “unchurched” more attracted to the Church? Maybe it is because we don’t have much to give them. When Peter turned his attention to the crippled-from-birth beggar at the temple gate he said, “such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) If we don’t have it, we can’t give it.

There is good news. Let’s not be stupid about dunamis! We can fake a lot of things, but we can’t fake power. Jesus has given the Holy Spirit to His bride as he promised He would. But we must ask. We must believe. We must receive. We must not settle for anything less or adjust our theology to accommodate our impotence.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13)

And we must keep asking, seeking and knocking until we know we have received everything He has for us.


Father, I ask, believe and receive Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for hearing me and filling me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet!

© 2008, Seeds for Good Soil, 13 April 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Deception: The Path to Insanity

My incredulity toward people’s espoused beliefs has been increasing in frequency and intensity. Someone will assert an absurdity I think can’t be topped; before the day is over, I hear something even more preposterous. I find myself squinting, “What are they looking at? What do they see?” Someone will insist that the blackboard is white, that two plus two equals eight, that water isn’t wet, that evil is good or that good is evil.

A cursory review of current mental health statistics in the United States indicates an alarming epidemic. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorder, a common form of mental illness, affects 40 million adults in the US age 18 and older. If mental illness were a contagious disease, we would be facing an apocalyptic pestilence. The numbers continue to skyrocket.

If you think “people have gone crazy,” be encouraged; at least you aren’t oblivious. A society’s mental state will decay as people grow more hostile toward the truth. As a society grows more hostile toward the truth, it will become more hostile toward the Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:15) Jesus said, “… the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2)

Professing believers who tolerate untruths are not immune to mental disequilibrium. Paul said,

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1:7)

Paul also said,

“ … and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what [is] the will of God -- the good, and acceptable, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

If soundness of mind is dependent on consecration to the God of truth, what will be the eventual state of any psyche that abandons the God of truth? The human mind was not designed to believe lies. Churches that ignore biblical prescriptions for the things that ail members dispense placebo remedies. In his sobering charge to Timothy to persevere in preaching the entire counsel of God, Paul spoke of the days we live in:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

When a nation abandons love for the truth, it will spiral into cultural insanity and eventual cultural demise. Insanity indicates late-stage deception. Cultural death always follows metastatic deception.

How is it that pre-World War II Germany, a nation possessing enough scientific and technological genius to field some of the most sophisticated military technology in history could follow Adolph Hitler into national ruin? Deception eventually left Germany in a heap of rubble. History is replete with similar examples of megalomaniacs who rose to power on a throne of lies, out of a citizenry left defenseless by ambivalence toward the truth.

If Jesus is the Truth and His word the truth; if He upholds “all things by the word of His power,” (Hebrews 1:3) then where does this leave societies and individuals who abandon the truth? Over the years, I have had many opportunities to pray with and minister to people who would be considered mentally ill. Not one of them possessed a healthy grasp of the truth. If there is no place in heaven for liars, then hell will be the repose of the insane.

It is interesting to note that Antichrist, the incarnation of megalomania, will be buoyed to power on a sea of apostasy and ambivalence toward the truth.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God … For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed … Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)

Only those whose hearts burn white hot with love for the truth will survive the tsunami of deception that is already overflowing the shores of all nations. Cultivate your love for the truth! Do not relax your grip. Do not yield. Those who endure to the end will be saved. The way that leads to destruction is broad. The way that leads to life is narrow; few find it.


Lord, cultivate in me a love for the truth.