The Early Morning Chain Saw Incident 

So I am sitting here at 3:30am banging away as a one-fingered wonder on my iPhone tuning up a blog confession or profession of sorts, and I hear a chain saw in the distance. With concern I wonder what the heck Neighbor Chris is doing with a chain saw at this time of day, and ponder if perhaps a tree has fallen and injured his head. I then arise to look off his direction thinking, he is nuts. But I know Neighbor Chris is not nuts, so I am vexed with confusion, and a flash of concern enters my mind as to whether I am experiencing a personal Twilight Zone moment. Maybe an auditory delusion of sorts? Geez… and where is my coffee?

But the 3-digit code for “I Need Help” 911 still persistently flashes before my mind’s eye. 

My coffee has fortunately just finished percolating so I pause to pour a cup of java. And there I discover the chain saw sound buzzing in distant background, now drawn nearer. My percolator is moaning with fresh steaming hot nectar of the gods, #CommunityCoffee with #Chicory, a morning treat that growls and moans to revive my fainting body. And then I remember my accusation against my Old-Friend Coffee from a few days past of how coffee (in some unspoken manner) freely yields forth properties of a type of exorcism. Am I being punished? 

Yet I still anticipate my cup of groaning coffee with joy! And I thank God, Neighbor Chris has not gone and got himself all drunked-up or confused over the time of day, nor has a tree fallen on his house or head or worse.

And I have a day of this to anticipate as the sun still sleeps but my mind is awake and raging in predawn activity with fresh hot coffee in my hand, as roosters sound in unison just outside trying to convince their respective harems that the sun rises because of their virility in crowing. Life in the country! And the giant chain saw mystery is solved!

All is well. Peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased!

Careful. Better Re-Read the Entry Requirements. (This may be easier than you supposed.) But remember…there are no mulligans and no grading on the curve. 

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”Jesus

  
How paradoxical that you lose if you try more than believe. You lose if you work to the neglect of His work. The beauty of completeness of God in Creation as I see represented in George’s picture cannot be improved upon. It was all “very good.” In similar fashion the work of the new creation established by Christ by His labor for profit of His people is complete, “It is finished.” He entered into His rest. He sat down at the Father’s right hand “after He had made purification for sins.” Heaven and earth are one. Reconciled. All rebels are called to stack arms and sign terms of peace. We “have peace with God through Christ…” Herein we too find rest through and in Him. We bring nothing to the table but need and thirst that He alone can satisfy. “In Him we are made complete. And He is the Head over all things…” We enjoy peace; hostilities have ceased. “He has commanded all men everywhere to repent and believe.” Now how hard is that?



These principles of representation and substitution are at the heart of the gospel of peace, for therein is the imputed righteousness of Christ revealed. (That’s the one that counts!) The righteousness that sustains us in the coming Day is righteousness revealed to those who become as children in the Gospel, “from faith to faith, just as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1)

We who believe embrace the truth of Jesus’ words, “The flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.” Those who rest in Christ are beginning to understand the paradox that the harder we work to outdo the scribes and Pharisees the more of their likeness we embrace. Righteousness is not a badge of honor to be adorned and worn as we stand and primp in front of a mirror gazing upon our own beauty; it is a gift to be received as we gaze upon His beauty, His stunning and redemptive perfection. We are content to boast in the Lord. “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

I recently heard Doug Wilson say, “If you have never been accused of antinomianism you probably are not clearly preaching the gospel of free grace.” (I had basically just accused him of that, kinda-sorta, for liberty he took in some statements of “God not caring about a believer’s sin,” and he graciously gave helpful clarification at the recent 2016 Auburn Avenue Pastors’ Conference.) His defense of grace made an indelible impression upon me. I believe it true. Wilson pointed out that Paul spent an abundance of his time defending His gospel against this very charge. 

Why not close here?
Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

When God Looks at Us and Says to Others, “Hey you guys, watch this…”

“Some thoughts on the frequent impossibility of initially (or ever) reconciling our observations of God’s purpose and wisdom with the inconsistency of our life, faults, sins, righteousness and/or agendas.”

We want to think of a God who acts and accomplishes good “in spite of” man’s sin in His predictably safe role of “Heavenly Responder” to our calamities. (And He does this in some respects.) God fixes our mess-ups. In a sense what we really desire is a God who MUST ALWAYS act in a certain prescribed manner for then He is controlled, and we find comfort in the known. However scripture reveals an expanded view of God, a LARGER GOD who incorporates personal sins, failures and simple faults as a first cause in the advancement of His purpose and kingdom. The boundaries of God’s wisdom, ways and power always exceeds our greatest imagination and certainly our loftiest understanding. God has woven His plan eternally beforehand by decree as He acts “because of” His purpose and glory through normative human events including our sin, and not “in spite of” our deviation from or dereliction of revealed will. His secret will abides perpetually perfect; “it belongs to God.” Things revealed we own in imperfect experience which validates His perfection. Did God decree my sin? Or is it somewhere comfortably tucked away into that mysterious catch-all box labeled “The Permissive Will of God”?

Oh, BTW. This is not your meal ticket to sin uncontrollably and indiscriminately. “Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires,” not to embrace them as we are instructed to live par excellence to Another’s glory.  

A simple reading of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah in Matthew 1 indicates that this principle of God’s purpose in frail men and women is true. The “all things after the counsel of His will” really means “all things” without exception. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, Ruth, David, Bathsheba, Solomon, et.al. are all prominently listed and known for occasional terrible life choices. They also displayed remarkable repentance. You would think the Genealogy of Jesus would read like a “Who’s Who in the Faith” It doesn’t, and yet it does. And God embraces them (and such as these) as those people of faith of whom the world is not worthy. God uses the common and ordinary vessels of clay and bestows them with honor and favor. 


And I look in the mirror and bless God for sufficient grace to embrace my past and present frailty and failings as I look future and say, “He is able.”

And then yesterday in God’s unpredictable and initially most uncomfortable providence I attended the glorious birth of a terribly deformed baby with a condition incompatible with life, of which mom and dad were aware from the early stages of the pregnancy. They chose life and full-term delivery. Others would have likely made a bee-line toward the abortion option as an escape route. As an added bonus this mom weekly had to undergo terrible punctures with a ginormous needle to relieve excessive amniotic fluid buildup. And she still smiled. I was both fascinated and moved deeply as they loved the child before and after birth for those few moments she lived; and God was glorified and His purpose has begun to be satisfied. Was it their sin or the baby’s sin that ordered these events? No, it was for the glory of God in the first cause. That is what Jesus said and that is where I live, and that is what I will share all the days of my life. 
 
I still learn and really must try harder to minimize giving commentary and complaint on what God is up to when I witness or experience an interruption or implosion or explosion, or just normal life. It is often best to refrain from giving advice on what God is up to in the trendy aspects of life. I rather should focus on growing in grace and faith by training my ears and eyes to hear and see as God says, “Hey you guys, watch this…” I should encourage others to see the smiling face behind Life’s frequent frowning providences. It’s God’s way, thus it is God’s wisdom. “Hey guys, watch GOD in this as He brings glory to His name.” I recently learned this and daily need reminders. I am thankful He is patient with the stiff-necked… so very thankful. 

“He has done all things well.”

“He makes all things new.”

Thanks again to George Dobbs for another beautiful picture. Follow him on Facebook if you desire to see more. 

“He is Not a Tame Lion”

Abimelech had in an ignorant innocence of a sort taken Sarah, the wife of Abraham, into his harem and as such incurred swift judgment from God. Abraham and Sarah were each complicit in this potential disaster and threat to the godly seed. Abimelech repents as God comes to him in a dream for clarification of the danger he has placed he and his nation in since his enlistment of Sarah as a member of his Philistine entourage. Abimelech pleads ignorance and declares innocence since he has not touched Sarah, who at 90 is apparently still a gorgeous and desirable woman.

Here is the Scriptural content and then the end game with a thought toward present day application.

Genesis 20:6-7

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.

“Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

Genesis 20:17-18

Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children.

For the LORD had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Application:

When the prophets of God and the people cease to be all God has called them to be, and when the message of God is lost in transition because of fear or deception or other human frailty, the purposes of God are endangered. The judgment of God falls upon any and all in the vicinity in such cases. God “carpet bombs” on rare occasion. (Reference Egypt and God’s judgment upon the nation for Pharaoh’s sin. Also, ask yourself when you last ran into a card-carrying Philistine…)

The Lord God is a jealous God. He is not to be trifled with; His purposes will advance with or without our pursuit of His glory, but never apart from the zeal of the Lord Most High for His own name’s sake. The earth would cease if God submitted his purposes to the whims of men, yet He marvelously shares His glory and shows His lovingkindness to multitudes who do His will and heed His word as they advance His glory in humble steps of faithful repentance. 

“…who works all things after the counsel of His will.”


I hope the correlation between this Biblical example and the failure of leadership in the church today and in the nation at large is clear enough. God’s purpose and God’s kingdom will advance and come; our participation is optional from eternity’s perspective. God will raise up a faithful people. He always has. 


“He is not a tame Lion.”

Lewis

  

Spittle and Dust, Light from Darkness

“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.”John 9:1

  

So here is a blind man. He has never seen the faintest flicker of light in the totality of his life. Not even a shadow. Not one ray of sunshine though he stared straight into the full noonday sun. No twinkling stars, no bright and full moon. Nothing. Blackness. Darkness is his dungeon and he has ever been swallowed and imprisoned therein. He is lost as any man apart from the illumination of divine Light. 

Unbeknownst to him in his blindness the Light of the world passes by in resplendent display of eternal glory, seen by some, yet missed by most. The Glory pauses to make clay of spittle and dust. The paste is applied to flawed eyes which were purposefully created imperfectly for this most perfect moment of the glory of God revealed. Something unseen happens, but not yet. Amazed wonder must sweep the crowd as the Ancient of Days advances His purpose. This feeble, fundamental obstacle of blindness becomes the vehicle of the works of God declaring Immanuel is with us. 

Do you see how this expands? Isn’t it absolutely stunning how visible hope, light and life are freely imparted to the hopeless, to the blind, to the dead? Help Personified comes to the helpless as a great Light dawns in the midst of our fading darkness… a Light of revelation, a light of hope. 

 “What causes you to differ?” Aren’t you formed of the same stuff? The same clay? What flaws and imperfections has God built into you that scream for His touch, His power, His glory in repair? Has He purposed to pause before you, to touch you, to heal you that your imperfections might manifest His glory through your weakness as He makes you strong in the strength of His might? His power is perfected not in your strength nor by your strength but through your exposed weakened frailty. If God scooped up a handful of dirt “in the Beginning” and created Man, then isn’t it reasonable that the Lord of life may be pleased in this case to take another handful of dust turned to mud and heal sightless eyes? Or heal whatever? He is not doing something new here. His act is not without precedence. “The works that the Father does, these I do.” The process of light from darkness is His way. “Let there be light.” Need He say more, for what He says is. His word is our command. 

When we look in the mirror each morning we see reflected flaws and little imperfect irritations of our creation. Did God err? Cry to Jesus! More significantly when we stop and listen to the voice that speaks to us from the Word of God, we hear God speak of our true need and our brokenness calls for His healing touch. Fly to Jesus! I think our right response ought move toward imitation of the Centurion who said, “Lord, I am not worthy of You to come to me. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” I like that. The clay and spittle are optional, thank you very much… His mercy and grace and glory in His word and touch are non-optional; they are essentials. “He was born blind not for his sin, nor for his parents sin, but for the glory of God.” That’s a principle I suppose I need claim every day. What of you?

This blind man in obedient, unseeing but trusting faith responded to the command of Christ and went submissively to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. He returned seeing. After his subsequent rejection by the suspicious, hypocritical, unbelieving, religious professionals of the day, Jesus comes to him again. Jesus seeks him out. We need to learn something there. God seeks man, man in blindness cannot seek nor find that which is hidden from our eyes. “Christ is hidden too far in God for man to see Him unless the Father reveals Him.” (Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress)

Prayer: God reveal my life purpose then to me as that which is hidden with Christ in God. Show me the Son that the Son might show me the Father. Lord I come. (Col 3, Matt 11)

For the first time ever the blind man who now sees gazes upon the Light of the world, who further discloses His identity as the Son of Man. He who was blind now truly sees, he believes and he worships the King of glory. 

Our imperfections and struggles in this life call to the Light of the world. We need his touch now more than ever. We need light to see our way through this dark world as sin and stumbling stones abound and hinder. Thank God for our High Priest who understands, sympathizes, then heals and helps the downcast broken-hearted. Lord, you need not make the clay of spittle and dust, but that’s okay too. I really need you to just say the word and make me whole.


As the leper made request, “Lord, if You are willing, please heal me.”

“I am willing” and He stretched forth His hand and touched him. And he was made well. 


Photo courtesy of the modern adventurer and friend George Dobbs.  

Do I Worship an Icon or God?

The ever-present danger of intellectual formalism is its capacity to woo me to comfortably tolerate a cold reductionism of saving religion to signs and symbols. In an icon-driven society we can stealthily become “icon-worshipers” rather than a people who are preeminently relational in our religion. We can discover the value of form and practice as paramount to and the equivalent of walking with God as His imitators. We imitate a practice rather than God. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh can become a mission of dealing out retribution to those who disagree with me over my icon. (An icon sure sounds similar to an idol.) Jesus said it simply and concisely to the Formalists of His day, “You search the Scriptures, and it is these that testify of Me, but you will not come to Me that you may have life.” My Bible can be my idol or icon I substitute for my God. 

If my good habits, my disciplined duties and even zealous religious practices are not enhancing my entry into the close proximity of His actual light and presence, to the end of a required and desired change of my heart and essence, then I need to abandon the form that hinders and simply start over. I must come to Christ for life. I must do that every day. That is not once-for-all… “I die daily.”

My religion when functioning near the Biblical norm is intensely personal and obligatory to a supremely worthy and intrusive God who demands my good through His nonnegotiable Lordship of even the most insignificant details of my life. (If the hairs of my head are numbered… what can possibly be insignificant to this God?) Furthermore, His dominion of my life is perfectly reasonable to me and my supreme desire lived our in response to His call to be His disciple. Discipleship requires a ransack of the old to know true life as a new creation. We don’t buy nor sell “cheap grace.” (Bonhoeffer)

The Lord Jesus Christ is not an icon. He is my Friend by faith who loved me and actually gave Himself up for me, and He bids me do the same for Him. There is and must be a mystical aspect of my walk with God as He, the unseen God, governs my all by His Spirit, and I see Him do it as He speaks to me in the Way. That sounds pretty mystical to me yet I perceive it to be more real and enduring than all I see, for it touches eternity. 

“Knowledge makes arrogant; love edifies.”

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

So God offers His shadow as my shelter. That’s beyond an icon to a Biblical theophany I pursue as worthy.  

 
Photo by George Dobbs. A friend and adventurer who is a hybrid form of Jeremiah Johnson and Ansel Adams.

Guilt & Shame Misapplied

Our Folly of Fooling with Flimsy Robes of Guilt and Shame

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  

Guilt and shame in situ are non-redemptive works of the flesh or nonproductive byproducts of works the flesh. Some seek to sanctify them as enshrined works of grace, and as such they may give a sense of justified comfort to the embittered soul or solace to the perpetually hard-working pharisee.

Guilt and shame are not redemptive in their first cause as they drive one from the Light of the presence of God. Redemption is only by Light and through Light, not away from its warmth and hope and glow. Guilt must be distinguished from the nature of true conviction of sin. Conscience may scream but the Spirit alone brings sorrow as a redemptive product of the grace-process calculated to drive one to Christ, our solitary hope. Guilt and shame provide the staircase to descend into deeper darkness and despair. Though active shame may force change or departure, and even modification of behavior, it is not to be construed as Biblical sorrow leading to repentance. Such shame returns inward or other-ward to the source and not from the sin. Shame forces one into a strange relationship of satisfaction and authentication of blame and excuse.

Fortunately for we guilty shameful sinners there is a redeeming Father who tenderly delights to pardon the wayward child overtaken in a fault. Guilt and shame in the hands of this lovingly redemptive God are His tools to awaken need as He takes these products of the flesh and outfits them as vehicles to drive one toward good, redemptive purposes in glory. One may find himself overcome by despair at the strong arm of the Enemy but such is the Spirit’s pleasure to reveal Christ as the Remedy to deliver and satisfy. 

Guilt and shame flee the light and presence of faith in Christ. There will be no guilty sinners in heaven, only saved ones who know no condemnation, ideally on earth as in heaven. There will be no shame in heaven, but only joy of sins covered in robes of righteousness. 

One of the most mind-boggling considerations of our walk with God this day in this world is the freeness of no guilt and no shame and no condemnation He grants us to partake of before the journey is complete. He freely gives the “No Condemnation Contract” to guilty sinners today, and as such, we draw near Him to listen to Him. 

Avoiding an Arrow to the Liver: A How-To Schematic


Naivety is No Excuse…Sin crouches ever, always after you. But you must master it.



“With her many persuasions she entices him;

With her flattering lips she seduces him.

Suddenly he follows her

As an ox goes to the slaughter,

Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool,

Until an arrow pierces through his liver;

As a bird hastens to the snare,

So he does not know that it will cost him his life.”

Proverbs 7:21-23

As a healthcare professional I always cringe as I visualize this word picture. The liver is highly vascular demanding up to 25% of the heart’s blood volume or cardiac output. Our liver is required for life and it has multiple life-preserving functions. One of these functions is the breakdown, preparation and packaging of food products for the provision of energy to the trillions of individual cells which comprise our body. Another sustaining and necessary action of the liver is the continual filtration of our blood by the breakdown of byproducts of metabolism either for further use or as refuse to be removed. 

The naive sinner enters into an encounter with the harlot who masterfully entices by full-court press of visual, auditory and sensual pictures calculated to turn a man’s head and grip his heart with the promise of pleasure as never before experienced. This seduction always continues for a season in its hunger for success until suddenly lust is conceived, born of wearisome temptation that had chipped away at rational defenses. And he follows and falls. Sin offers a sweet but deadly kiss as the arrow pierces the liver exacting required toll for its lie against truth. (Judas committed the Crime of Humanity by a not-so-innocent kiss upon the cheek.)

The arrow enters the vital organ as sin accomplishes its hideous and designed end: DEATH. Imagine now the slow and agonizing death suffered as the toxins cease to be packaged for removal but now build as secret poisons, self-induced by ceasing to follow clear rules for maintenance of purity of life. Blood supply diminishes from insidious loss as weakness dulls the senses with clouded brain that starves for lack of oxygen and required food stuffs to fuel clear thinking and necessary bodily functions. Confusion increases and lethargy advances as dangerous metabolites destroy by consequential necessity as the liver fails. And the sinner perishes by his naivety of believing a lie of the passing pleasure of sin rather than choosing to believe and wait upon the Lord who promises true treasure and lasting pleasure in His presence and Right Hand. You remember Who sits at His right hand, don’t you?

Considerations of a novice armchair theologian but professional sinner:

1. Sin always entices at your point of perceived need and desire, or it develops new desires by adventurous promises of greener pastures. 

2. Sin is deceptively accurate in the promise of immediate pleasure. This is true. Sinning is fun but at the expense of true joy and life. The perceived sanity of sin once unmasked is always insanity. 

3. Sin attacks you on every front in relentless rational promises designed to disguise the lie. The ruthlessness of temptation can never be underestimated and at the moment of its victory sin seems perfectly reasonable and legitimate. We don’t sin to do wrong; we sin because we have justified its rightness as vision is clouded by insatiable lust after what we think we have a RIGHT to enjoy.

4. Sin always and only ends in death, most often agonizingly slow with ample time to reflect upon the consequences of despising the warning signs by skillful neglect of the escape route that the Father ALWAYS builds into any life situation. 

5. The door of escape I personally have discovered with ready access is located adjacent to the entry of the path of temptation. Once you enter into the door of temptation by deliberate choice or naive action of indifferent experimentation, conscience becomes dull and a genuine desire to escape via the once clearly defined route is now cloaked from your vision. When the dominoes of temptation and lust and sin and death initiate a tip and fall, escape is IMPOSSIBLE. Repentance then becomes the goal for recovery. 

Several concluding thoughts…

1. “There is a way that seems right to a man but it ends in the way of death.” The label on any particular sin you currently ponder always has fine print that is difficult to read and a hidden skull and crossbones that signifies its lethal destructive lie. Choose wisely. Consequences can be hell. 

2. “No temptation has overtaken you but that which is common to man, but God is faithful and won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, and with the temptation will provide the way of escape.” Thank God! Tinker with sin and forget this promise. Sin and it tempting power is consistently defeated in bud-form when first conceived as a thought. When it enters the mind’s eye or hearing ear, destroy it by gospel power. Tear down the thought. Cast down vain sinful speculations. Keep gospel armor on with the helmet of salvation securely covering your thoughts and desires. As a believer you have the very mind of Christ. Be renewed in your mind. Present yourself as a living sacrifice to God as conformity to the world is unmasked in all its temporal folly.

3. Any man who approaches any temptation to resist sin by natural strength or moral fortitude will fail. I guarantee it. Even if he is successful in resisting the temptation by native disposition and personal will power, he ultimately fails. You see, then the destructive blight of pride and a filthy robe of self-righteous deception is adorned as this one begins to despise others who fail to overcome as he. Christ and His glory is minimized as prideful self is exalted at the expense of grace and glory to God alone. 

4. The hope and reality of the promise of forgiving grace is imparted to all repentant sinners. God restores the fallen. God releases the captive of sin. God acts not based on merit nor personal performance but by the provision of our impossible needs in the sufficiency and possibility of Christ. We enter into life as God heals the wounds of sin’s arrows and death blows by the very blows the Father inflicted on the Son of His delight. Justice pierced Him and He died not in defeat but for designed purpose of defeating the cause and consequence of the man’s transgressions. Through one act of righteousness, (the work of the Lamb upon the Tree), we the many, receive the promise and gift of life. “But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe upon His name.” And that dear friend is why we “Go tell it on the mountain!” We a story to tell to the nations. 

We need to ponder this today. God’s caution to Cain, the first offspring of Adam and Eve, was not heeded as God warned Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must overcome it.” God says that to every human walking the earth today with every temptation we encounter. He speaks in conscience and circumstance and Natural Law until we silence His voice and reject His light by sinning away grace and hardening the heart. Sin is after you… but Jesus alone knows its true power as He ONLY resisted it to perfection and mastered it as He put it away by His holy life and perfect redemption in death.

Flee to Christ. “Awake sleeper, arise and Christ will shine on you!”

 “We have no other confidence,

We have no other plea.

It is enough that Jesus died,

And that He died for me.”

Brevity has apparently died or was hopelessly misplaced in 2015. Matters not… we have been entrusted with Truth and Life.

The Blessing of Adversity that Rises to Meet Us in 2016

The word adversary in some form occurs around 100 times in my NASB. In many cases it seems God is saying, “ Don’t worry, I’ve got this one… I have your back.” Other times we see God clearly raises up specific adversaries to advance His purpose. (I’m thankful He, and not I, controls the “Adversary Button.” I might tend to be vindictive now and again… And from that perspective I am thankful you don’t have an adversary machine either.)

However… adversaries are calculated to be either obstacles or enhancements to our walk before God. As we encounter them clothed in our Gospel armor it is a Biblical norm to expect that someone is be redeemed by the engagement turned skirmish. Believers are ideally perpetually redeemed in and through daily conflict by the Spirit with the Word as guidance, as nonbelievers or nominal believers NEED to be redeemed. Today.

Consider Paul’s worthy perspective: “…for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” Paul was not a super-saint. We sometimes forget he was a sinner saved only by marvelous grace. Sure he was a chosen vessel. So are you. So am I. What we are chosen to do is God’s call. Our response is to be lost in wonder, love and praise. We are called to be a person as David of “one thing I have asked of the Lord…” (Psalm 27) Paul viewed adversaries as evidence that God was on the move, not asleep at the Heavenly Wheel. This is a reasonable goal in perspective and application that I must shoot for in 2016. 

The #NewYear #2016 contains near infinite unknowns to all of us, yet God holds each of us as children in the palm of His hand, and grants REAL tangible joy and peace to His followers in the midst of life and struggles. He is God. That’s what He does for members of the Covenant. We bring the expectation of trust in God who is wise and good and powerful as daily providences unfold. Always remember God does not do random. He is right on schedule. Never early and never late. 

The year 2015 for a number of traditionalists and Christ-followers was very distasteful in many social, national, moral, political and corporate ways. Even so it was a spiritual feast of abundance for me personally as I still hear His voice daily as I discipline myself to seek Him in secret. What does life consist of but to “know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent?” I know full well that #2016 will likely reveal appalling and heart wrenching challenges as our nation continues its fall into pagan pluralism and rank godlessness by departure from the revelation and light “once delivered to the saints.” The principle of sowing and reaping always touches the present, tomorrow and propels one into eternity, for either good or ill. God is just. He will by no means clear the guilty. May I quickly add that Christ is sufficient and His blood takes away our sin. It is past time for us to cease from sin and seek the Lord. God separates light from darkness. He has from The Beginning. 

So I close in saying that God has calculated in perfection what we as His people need that we might be awakened to love and good deeds as we stand firm in the Lord to graciously but emphatically resist the evil of the day and do His will. The ending of the story says we overcome and God’s Kingdom comes. Understand though the battle is not for the faint of heart and between now and the end the potential to depart and quit because of adversity will be daily pressed upon us. That is why we are called to “Take heed to yourself and to your teaching, for as you do so, you will ensure salvation not only for yourself but also for those who hear you.”

I believe in the perpetuity of the Law and Grace as I believe in the perpetuity of application of the Year of Jubilee in Christ. He makes all things new. He equips us to forgive as we have been forgiven. He shows the folly of anger and bitterness. We have become and are becoming new creatures in Christ. May He grant us to overcome and be swept up into His presence to see His face and rejoice. May it be said of us as it was of Peter and John, “They recognized them as having been with Jesus.” Do you have specific plans to hang out with the King the next 365? I promise you that this and this alone will change your life. He bids you come and drink freely and daily of the water of life as we journey into 2016.

The confetti is still falling and I am #AlreadyOutOfControl