Friends, please do not feel offended if your name does not appear on this list. If I didn’t miss you today, surely I will miss you tomorrow! When I went outside several nights ago and saw a couple of stars, the first line below came to mind. Afterwards, I thought that I might just sit down and make a list on the blog. What follows is that list.
- The star-studded sky above the Mohave Desert.
- My Dad.
- Watching the first Cubs game every Spring with my Dad.
- Fishing for blue gill and crappies.
- The Grand Canyon.
- RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) chapels.
- Napkin theology with Scott.
- The ocean.
- Meatless spaghetti.
- My friends in Las Vegas.
- Hanging out with Jodi at Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando.
- Northern Japan.
- Teaching God’s Word on Sundays.
- Classes with Bill Brown and Gary Philips.
- Playing cards.
- Attending the Desiring God National Conferences in Minneapolis.
- Crusty and tender Grandpa Doug.
- First Baptist Church of Sweetwater with Bill and Rod–serving side-by-side.
- The Men’s Theology Class in Las Vegas.
- Single’s Night at the Hospitality House in Misawa, Japan.
- Walking around the Dayton walk track with my fiancee.
- The A&W in Plymouth, WI.
- Playing pool with Jeff Morrison at RTS-Orlando.
I guess I miss a lot–a lot of experiences, a lot of people, a lot of places. That must be an indicator of how greatly blessed I have been. Mind you–I would not trade my present for my past. Yet apart from my sins, and those times when I have been sinned against, I am grateful for my past. It was used by my sovereign God to create the present. And in the present, I am content. And that surprises me.
I guess being middle-aged isn’t near as bad as I expected it to be.
That’s for stopping by the blog.
“Good fences make good neighbors.” So do lawnmowers.
I was able check something off the list this weekend. My shed is in the best shape it has been in quite some time. It isn’t an eye-sore for those who happen to look inside. And that is a good thing.
As I returned from Georgia on Friday afternoon, I was listening to Chris Fabry Live! a daily radio show on the Chattanooga Moody station. Chris was interviewing a young man with great maturity–Noah Sanders from Rora Family Farms (for the interview, click the link below). Several answers Noah provided struck me as I listened. One point he made was particularly insightful, I thought. If God has given you a piece of land, you should take care of it. We ought to be good stewards of that which God has put under our care.
This concept of caring for my property was instilled in me as a child. My parents taught me the blessing it is to live in a clean house and the pride one feels when the yard is freshly mowed. To this day, I enjoy looking at my yard after it has been cut. My neighbors enjoy looking at it as well.
In contradistinction, I know what it is like to have neighbors who do not seem to care at all about their property. The lawn is rarely cut. Old cars litter the yard. A garage door hangs off the hinge. The porch leans to the left. You worry about your property value and wonder if you could sell your house if you ever had to put it on the market.
I do not want my neighbors ever to feel that way about me or my property.
Yes, as a Christian my citizenship is in heaven. I am to set my mind on things above, not upon things here on the earth. But it is also true that the cultural mandate remains in effect. I have been commanded to subdue. I am to rule over the grass and the weeds, the termites and the wasps. Taking these practical responsibilities seriously also allows me the opportunity to obey the “Golden Rule.”
Robert Frost was accurate amidst his irony. Good fences do make good neighbors. John Deere wholeheartedly agrees.
Click here to listen to the interview:
I was talking with someone recently who asked what college courses I taught to my degree-completion students. I answered, “Bible, Philosophy and Ethics.” To my amazement he replied, “I don’t know what good they are.” As you can imagine, that was not the response I was expecting from a self-professed theist (someone who believes in a god). When I pushed back and asked for some clarification, he informed me that he was only referring to the Bible and Ethics courses. He said that individuals in my classes had already made up their minds about these matters.
But not all of my students have.
And most of my students need to hear what I have to say about the Bible and about Ethics.
Because I still need to hear what I have to say about the Bible and about Ethics.
Being. Becoming. Plato and Aristotle were both correct (as I simplify their philosophy and apply a Judeo-Christian worldview grid on top of it).
I am what I am.
But I can (and should) change.
In other words, I have not yet arrived. And, I’ve never met someone who has.
The Apostle Paul clearly understood that he was still a work-in-progress.
“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 in order 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. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-24; NASB).
If you are a Christian, that admission should greatly encourage you! Paul–the man entrusted with communicating much of the New Testament–someone who had a tangible experience with the Risen Christ–was reaching forward, pressing on!
Here’s how Eugene Peterson renders the passage from Philippians, chapter three:
“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant–dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ–God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward–to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Phil. 3:8-14; The Message).
Friends, we who know Christ must be on a mission to “go all the way with Him”! We’re not perfect either. We’re not experts in this subject quite yet. As a result, we need more Bible. We need to be reminded of how God wants us to act and react when faced with ethical dilemmas.
And it has been my pleasure to remind us both.
Here’s your list! Match them with the descriptions below. The answers appear on the Quick Takes page. Let me know if you get them all correct!
Madeleine Albright—–Elvis Presley—–Dolley Madison—–Abraham Lincoln
Jimi Hendrix—–Teddy Roosevelt—–Michael Jackson—–John Adams
Frank Sinatra—–Neil Armstrong—–Betsy Ross—-Ronald Reagan
Harriet Beecher Stowe–Joshua L. Chamberlain—–Rosa Parks—–Andrew Jackson
George W. Bush—–Martin Luther King, Jr.—–John F. Kennedy–George Washington
Refused to sit where she was told
His diplomacy and leadership helped to end the Cold War
First in the hearts of his countrymen
The first woman to serve as Secretary of State
Rich as well as heroic
Amazing electric guitar national anthem
He took a famous leap
Famous cemetery words
Refused to fight–using rhetoric to proclaim the right
Proclaimed that those responsible for the 9/11 attacks would “hear” from the USA
“That painting is not going to burn”
New Jersey boy with blue eyes and a great voice
A President with a plantation
Commanding Officer of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top
Thrilled us in the 80’s
He was one “Rough Rider”
Disdained the office of Vice President
Her book highlighted the abuses of slavery
Served in the Army in the 1950’s
God does not change. Consequently, it should not surprise us to find New Testament realities foreshadowed within the pages of the Old Testament or r–in some cases–crystal clear passages in both Testaments proclaiming the same truths. In our reading of Isaiah, Jodi and I came across such a passage today–Isaiah 45:20-23. Readers familiar with the words of Jesus and the writings of Paul will easily notice the connections. And all of us will see “A Standing Invitation” and “A Staggering Declaration.”
“Gather yourselves and come; Draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; They have no knowledge, Who carry about their wooden idol, And pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
A Standing Invitation
Jesus declared, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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 SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matthew 11:28-30; NASB). This particular invitation by Jesus is remarkable when considering the identity of Jesus. Who is Jesus? He provides the answer in a short, but amazing biography: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He truly is the Savior repeated mentioned throughout the book Isaiah–the most Christo-centric (Christ-centered) book of the Old Testament. Today I am thankful again that an ancient record challenged me to once again consider the person and works of Jesus Christ. And I rejoice that the admonition of James remains in full effect over all centuries: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8; NASB).
A Staggering Declaration
Did you notice what the LORD said in Isaiah 45 about what surely will transpire in the future? There is no question in His mind that “every knee will bow and every tongue will swear allegiance” (45:23). That concept was utilized by the Apostle Paul at the conclusion of one of the most recognized passages in the New Testament–Philippians 2:5-10
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (NASB).
Can I pry? Does the “shoe fit”?
Several years ago, my parents came to church to witness the dedication of one our children. The text for the sermon that particular Sunday led the pastor to call those in attendance to repent of theirs sins and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. At the conclusion of the service, we met my parents at a restaurant for lunch. When we arrived, my Mom revealed her conversation with my Dad on the way to lunch. He admitted to having an emotional response to the message. Mom said that Dad used the phrase, “I felt like he was speaking right at me.” Her reported reply to him was, “If the shoe fits, buddy.” In other words, “Do what you think you should do.” I am not aware of any change in his life after that experience. But let me ask this question: What about us?
Does the shoe fit us?
Have we willingly bowed our knee to Christ? One day every knee will bow. The clear exhortation of the Scriptures is that Jesus deserves our worship while we still have breath (Psalm 150:6). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star (Rev. 22:8-16). There simply isn’t anyone like Him.
The shoe fits all of us. We should all worship Jesus Christ!