Category Archives: Bible Thoughts

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Maker of All

I had fun writing this poem this week, and thought it worked well sandwiched between these verses. Enjoy!

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Colossians 1:16 “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through Him and for Him.

Maker of All

Satin ribbon,
starch and dye,
I could try
to replicate a rose;
But imitation only tends
to flatter the real thing.

Could I stitch
even a simple wing?
Making first the hollow frame,
criss-cross the trusses,
lend it strength for the stress
of taking flight?

Could I composite
fabrics that feel so soft,
yet shed water off,
and shape them neat
into feathers?

Could I give the wing skin,
sticking those feathers in
and angling them for flight?

We dress up in camo
but chameleon’s camouflage within.
We graft green broken branches back
but the tree accepts them in.
We propel impressive ships,
but none jump like a humpback
whale with its’ weight;
And everything we make
borrows and imitates.

My feeble hands
point to the sky,
knowing who to glorify.
An eagle soars,
seeking his pray
and knows, like I do now,
his Maker.

Job 39:26-29

“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
and spreads his wings toward the south?
Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
and makes his nest on high?
 On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
on the rocky crag and stronghold.
 From there he spies out the prey;
his eyes behold it from far away.”

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Being Conquered, We Conquer

I was reading Psalm 44 this week, and at verse 22 I noticed the familiar words from Romans 8:36, “Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

In Romans 8, I knew the context was that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that through Christ we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” It is a section that stands out as victorious and triumphant. It is the kind of text that evokes praise and brings comfort.

So it really stood out to me, to find these words here in Psalm 44. You should read the Psalm, but to give you the basic content I will break it down in sections. I’m not quoting the text here, just doing summaries.

Verse 1-3 “We have seen your faithfulness of old, and how our people conquered through You.”

Verse 4-8 “We also trust God alone to give us victory over our enemies.”

Verse 9-16 “We are slaughtered, disgraced, and ashamed before our enemies.”

Verse 17-22 “We have not turned away from God or forgotten Him, yet we are still killed.”

Verse 23-25 “God please wake up and help us.”

So the context of Psalm 44 is basically being conquered, while innocent, and in addition to that, not understanding why it is happening, or where God has gone off to.

The context of Romans 8 and Psalm 44 are not as different as I thought at first. Paul asks “Shall tribulation, distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword,” be able to separate us from the love of God? That question and context sounds very familiar to Psalm 44, so no wonder it came to Paul quoted it here.

As I read these texts, a phrase came to my mind: “Being conquered, we conquer.” I started to think about how this could be possible. I asked, “So even if I’m killed for my faith, or debt sinks, cancer spreads, natural disaster strikes, or armies attack- the bible says I conquer? We conquer, even when it looks like something, or someone else overtook us and won? How does that work? Continue reading

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Worrying About Your Future

As I am going through some tests in hospital this month, you could say I have some cause for worry, but I am happy to say that God is helping me cast my cares upon Him, and it is so freeing. There are so many scriptures that help point us towards God in the midst of anxiety, but I wanted to consider some that talk about the future, and particularly the following from James:

James 4:13-16 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

These may not seem like verses you would turn to in a crisis, or in the midst of worry, but read them over again and you will realize that they deal with what is often the content of our worry- the future.

The people addressed in this verse however are not worried about the future; They are confident. They have plans for today, tomorrow, and for the following year, and forecast that time spent will bring them profit. It seems odd in our day that this confidence should spark any spiritual concern, doesn’t it? And generally, people who use the term “if the Lord wills” when they talk about the future, are seen as being either hyper-spiritual, or perhaps not spiritual enough. They are too spiritual, for honestly considering the rule of God as supreme over every detail of life, or, they are not spiritual enough since they obviously don’t trust that God is going to bless their plans and aid their success. Maybe which viewpoint  depends what Christian circle you run in. Regardless, this posture that plans stand or fall whether or not the Lord wills, isn’t the norm.

But James hits us hard with a few short words “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” That verse applies to everyone. It is the same for the super successful as it is for those barely getting by. Tomorrow could change everything, couldn’t it? No one has tomorrow pinned down and secured, no matter how pristine or haphazard their plans. Continue reading

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Job’s Dark Response

It’s been awhile since I wrote one of my lengthier poems, Job: A Champion of Faith by Grace. I read it again recently and found myself turning back to this great book of the bible. Once again, I was amazed by Job’s response in chapter three. It is so dark, so utterly sorrowful and desperate. Why am I amazed? I don’t think it is because his response is strange. It isn’t strange. In fact, it is kind of what you might expect from a man whose property, herds, servants, and children were just lost and destroyed to two sets of violent raiders, fire from heaven, and wind strong enough to collapse a house.

And then, as if his pain wasn’t great enough, he was smote with “sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7).”

I mean, this scenario is insane. I would write more about it, but since I already have in the poem and here I will let that suffice. I just wanted to zero in on chapter three.

After seven days and seven nights of silence, and pain which made him unrecognizable to his friends, he finally opens his mouth and starts by cursing the day of his birth. He wishes he had died as a stillborn child, or been miscarried and discarded. The imagery here is graphic and disturbing. He believes that to have died and been at rest would have been better for him than to have lived and suffered this excessive loss.

Then he asks “Why?” as most people who find themselves in suffering do. “Why is light given to him who suffers (Job 3:20)?”

But it was the last three verses of the chapter that stood out to me the most recently.

Job 3:24-26 “For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my cries pour out like water. For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.”

Try that out as a Facebook status.

I’m being cheeky of course, but how comfortable are you with those verses? How would you respond if a friend said this to you? Picture a person too grieved to eat their food, too distraught to sleep, who cannot be quiet, but cries out loud about their woe? Someone who says “there is no rest in me. I have no peace. I am undone.” Continue reading

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Evil Suspicions

Context

1Timonthy 6:1-10 gives us incredible insight into the sinful motivations and hang-ups of false teachers and I welcome you to read it before continuing. We see first that they teach different or “new” doctrines, and do not agree with the words of Jesus. Jesus’ teaching leads to godliness, while their teaching and nature is conceited and puffed up, producing things opposing to godliness. Verses 4-5 says about the false teacher:

“He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

The false teacher has chosen a controversial and likely “special” revelation which he thinks he has had, and narrows in on it. Likely, he obsesses with one, or a few select topics, which do not point people to Jesus Christ for salvation. He chooses scriptural phrases which suit his message, and twists them, or gives them a whole new meaning, and if he is corrected he fights back. The products of his pride and error are envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction.

The false teacher is motivated by money, plain and simple. He is “imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” He is looking to Jesus for financial wealth, because money is his first love. He (or she in more recent times) will point their hearers to Jesus for the same thing.

The Christian, on the other hand knows that “there is great gain in godliness with contentment,” and should bear fruit consistent with sound doctrine and right motivations, primarily love for God. 1 Timothy goes on in fact, to tell us how the “man of God” must “Flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (verse 11).” A Christian should not bear fruit similar to that of the arrogant false teacher. Continue reading

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To Know Him

To know the inscrutable
Eternal God,
This is where my heart
Must trod.
To know Him near and wholly mine
This piece of clay the great Divine.

An awesome task with shudder
To with miry
Hands raise diamonds to
Fiery
Sun, while mucking there the glassy
Cuts might make such brilliance brassy.

It is with trepidation
Lowly, trembling
Men find station with
Their King.
Before His word they groping ask
“Who is sufficient for such task?” Continue reading

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5 God-granted Realities for War

I said here that I would share more on God-granted realities for waging war against sin, stating that “You can’t begin to war against your flesh today without remembering and walking in the new realities that have been granted to you in salvation.” So here we go. If you are in Christ these spiritual realities (among others) have been made true of you:

1. Your sins are forgiven.

Here’s the one truth that is at the very core of gospel application for believers: You have been forgiven. It is such a basic truth of Christianity, but I wonder if sometimes we neglect to think about it because of that. “As far as the east is from the west so far does He remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).” “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God… ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’ Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin (Hebrews 10:12,17,18).”

There’s simply nothing left to do to atone for your sins. Jesus Christ’s perfect offering was complete. He paid your penalty in full. If you neglect to remember, glory in, and appropriate that forgiveness to yourself in continuing with repentance and faith, then you are going nowhere spiritually. Here, at the cross, is your foundation, your core, your wellspring – Never trade Christ’s offering in for works-righteousness or faithless, ongoing penitence that forgets to find a cleansing flood in Jesus. If we are saved “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace… Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 5:16, 10:22).”

2. Your old self has died with Christ, and slavery to sin is over.

Romans 6:6 “We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

This is to say that sin’s reign and rule in you and over you is dead. You are no longer bound to defeat. Sin is still at war within you (Romans 7:23), but Christ has freed you from its’ dominion and supplied you the means to continually put it to death. What He has done for you in bearing your sins and dying your death has robbed sin of its’ power (Roman 8:2, 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). His faithful work to sanctify you will continue through to glorification (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

3. You have been made a new, living creation.

2Corinthians 5:7 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Ephesians 2:1-7: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

The old person was spiritually dead and unable to discern spiritual things. He had no appetite or love for God, but rather hated Him. He conformed after the world, followed Satan, and acted according to sinful passions that ruled him.

The new creation has been made alive to God, with a new capacity to love God, obey Him, and please Him. He has been set free from Satan’s dominion, and enabled to follow after Christ instead of the world’s system. The new creation no longer has to obey sinful desires, but has been freed to live righteously.

4. You have obtained a new position before God.

This point naturally flows out of the last. As a new, born again creation, you are no longer “by nature children of wrath.” Rather, you have been adopted as sons and daughters of God.

Ephesians 1:4-6 “…In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Romans 9:25-26 “As indeed he says in Hosea, ‘Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”

I should note here what should be obvious- the new position you have been granted before God is one that brings you into an intimate relationship. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'(Romans 8:16)”

5. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit none of these other spiritual realities would be possible. Without the Spirit’s work and power you certainly would not have been born again (John 3:7-8, John 6:63), nor could you wage war against your flesh and gain victory over sin (Romans 8:13). This is something I want to give more thought and study to, and hopefully address this spiritual reality more thoroughly soon.

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One Body, Many Members

You never know how much you need a part of your body until it stops functioning as it should. I bruised my ribs a month ago. I thought for sure they were cracked or broken since they hurt so much, but it turns out they were “only” bruised or strained.

Somehow the ribs are involved every time you bend down and stand up, lie down and get back up, lift, carry, twist, or when you happen to need to breathe. All these things became unusually obvious to me because they became painful.

I noticed a term recently while reading my bible I hadn’t given much thought to before. In fact I wasn’t really sure what it meant.

Ephesians 4:25 says “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

“Members one of another.” The term puzzled me. I discovered that the same term is found in Romans 12:4-5: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

It occurred to me that I wasn’t thinking of the term “members” properly. I was thinking about membership in the way that we think of members of a club or gym. But that isn’t the kind of membership God has in mind. God is talking about members as body parts. Specifically, many individual parts, joined as one, and making up “one body in Christ.”

There is another important section in Ephesians 4 about this. Ephesians 4:15-16 says “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

The picture here is fascinating. God has equipped the body, which 1 Corinthians 12, makes clear is His church, with different people, or parts, who have different gifts “for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:6)” of the entire body. This body is joined and held together by “every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly” in order to grow up into the likeness of Christ and “build itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).”

Colossians 2:16-19 makes it clear that you shouldn’t allow anyone to “pass judgment” or “disqualify” you who is “insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head… ” That is, not holding fast to Christ “from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God “(that’s the rest of verse 19).
God has described the church as His body, and the head being Christ. He speaks of its people as beings joints and ligaments (as seen above), as well as feet, hands, eyes, and ears (1 Corinthians 12:14-21).

1Corinthians 12:19-21 says “If all were a single member where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'”

Wouldn’t that be the height of lunacy- to look at one of your body parts and say, “What’s the point of this one? I don’t need it!” Or “As long as I’ve got my eye sight I’m good. Who needs hands?” You would either be an insane human, or in this case, a really arrogant eye ball. Continue reading

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Revisiting “Name it and Claim it”- For an Evening.

A year into my salvation I started to recognize the falsehood of the prosperity gospel, or more specifically the Word of Faith Movement. Since rejecting it, I have held it in contempt, regarding it as dangerously deceptive. For several years I’ve cast it away, not really feeling its lure.

Since that time (over 6 years ago), I have battled with many forms of chronic pain, one form brought on by pregnancy and still part of my daily experience even as I chase my now two year old daughter. I’ve tried many therapies, spent plenty of money, and had little success. The treatment I am trying now is the most expensive and the most painful.

After so much pain, limitation, and failed efforts, I found myself desperately wishing for a guarantee. Searching the scripture for hope I came across Psalm 27:13: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” This verse convicted me and challenged my thinking. I had, after all, become somewhat of a pessimist. I went into treatment expecting it to fail, simply because there are few feelings in life worse than disappointment after high hopes. Then again, I’d tried giving up, and that felt even worse. I thought “I can only bear to hope again if there’s a guaranteed outcome.” For the first time, a thought came to me: What if I’m missing something? What if there is some promise of health and success that I’ve passed over? What if God could guarantee my healing based on the certainty of my own faith?

So I entertained the possibility- for an evening. Continue reading

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Without God, Without Hope

I’m going to share three stories with you from my pre-conversion high school days.

I was at a local punk rock show, throwing my fists aimlessly and thrashing in a blur of spiked bracelets and colored mohawks. It was circulating that someone I didn’t know wanted to fight me because they heard I had a black belt in karate. I found that to be enormously entertaining, so at the break I wandered outside to find this person. When someone pointed me her direction I approached her asking “So I hear you want to fight me?” I didn’t know that she was drunk. Within seconds her and her two friends were on me, dragging me around the parking lot by my hair and kicking me. There was nothing I could do, and I was laughing.
Continue reading