Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for November, 2013

Peace for our time?

The headline today says “Peace for Our Time.”  When have we heard that before?  Here’s a headline from 75 years ago:

1938: ‘Peace for our time’ – Chamberlain

The British Prime Minister has been hailed as bringing “peace to Europe” after signing a non-aggression pact with Germany.

Look at the date and remember what happened shortly after this optimistic pronouncement.  Think about the trustworthiness of the other party in the agreement.

I’ve been reading the writings of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, in which God says this about the leaders of His people:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the LORD.  (Jeremiah 6:14-15)

And within a few years that nation was indeed wiped out by a powerful enemy.

So today do we actually believe that world leaders will bring us real peace?  Only the Prince of Peace can do that—Jesus Christ.  He has come once to capture our hearts, and He will return again soon to capture all nations and set up the only kind of peaceful kingdom this world will ever know.

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When Gloom and Doom Loom

Two books of “gloom and doom” are found in the Old Testament:  Job and Lamentations.  The main body of both of these is a series of laments over tragedy.  For Job, it was personal tragedy—rather, a whole series of them.  For Jeremiah, who wrote Lamentations, it was national tragedy as he toured the ruins of what had been his beloved Jerusalem.

But in the middle of each book shines an outstanding expression of hope. 

Job, after expressing a lot of complaint and despair, bursts out with a statement of faith that on which Handel based a beautiful air in his Messiah:

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!  (Job 19:25-17 NLT)

And Jeremiah—right smack dab in the middle of his anguish, he exclaims:

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”  (Lamentations 3:22-24)

When gloom and doom loom on my horizon,  Lord, let me see that silver lining and hope in You!

Who’s Watching You?

Black boxes, white boxes, this and that government agency spying on everyone… It’s quite disturbing really.  But you know what?  There’s Someone who knows my thoughts and my words even before they exist!—and who sees everything I do and has even planned out my life!  And do I think that’s scary?  No!  I am happily secure in the confidence that the all-wise, all-powerful and everywhere-present God loves me enough to care for me in that way. 

He knows my weaknesses–my pride, laziness, rebellious attitudes, fear, cynicism—and yet He loves me unconditionally.  What’s more, He assures me that He’s working on my character so that by the time I finally get to see His face, I’ll be exactly what I’ve always wanted to be:  perfect in His sight.  This is what keeps me going through ho-hum and challenging days when the news reads like a horror movie.  I’ve read the end of the story (Revelation chapters 21-22) and it’s good!

So go with me, Lord, into this day. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Two Tragedies

We’ve all been hearing about the terrible typhoon that hit the Philippines a few days ago and praying for the victims who have lost everything as well as those who are trying to help them.

But another lesser-publicized tragedy occurred on November 3 in North Korea that tears my heart just as much.  Eighty citizens were publicly executed, many of them for the “crime” of possessing Bibles or Christian videos—or even watching the videos.  And their “accomplices” were shipped off to prison camps.  You can read the heart-wrenching story at this link: http://misguidedchildren.com/foreign-affairs/2013/11/80-people-executed-in-north-korea/6530

North Korea had 80 people executed on Nov 3

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them.  (Revelation 6:9-11 NLT)

Elijah’s Caterers

The prophet Elijah had some interesting meal arrangements.  Arranged by God, of course:

Ravens delivered bread and meat to him as he hid out (from King Ahab) along a stream.  (1 Kings 17:2-6)  (I wonder what kind of meat it was…)

A poor widow facing starvation made bread every day for Elijah, herself and her son, using a tiny bit of flour and oil that miraculously kept appearing in her kitchen!  (1 Kings 17:16)

An angel fed him twice (angel food!) during a very long journey as he fled again from Ahab and Jezebel..  (1 Kings 19:3-8)

Amazing, isn’t it, how God took care of this man who risked his life to challenge a king who rebelled flagrantly against God and took the nation with him.  Are there any Elijahs among us today? 

Seeking God

Four-year-old Corin loved our game of hide-and-seek and loved to be found.  The first few rounds, his smiling face was sure to be found under his sister’s bed.  Another time when I approached the living room to look for him, he popped out of  his hiding place jumping up and down in excitement.

“Seeking the Lord” is a phrase that occurs repeatedly in the Old Testament. Each king of Judah is evaluated on the basis of whether or not he “sought the Lord.” So what does it mean to “seek the Lord”?  Is God hiding?  Does He want to be found?

I checked the Internet to find out what people are “seeking” these days.  The list includes shelter, financial assistance, donors, suspects, election, a mate, truth, a more intense than to merely look for something that’s lost or someone who’s hiding.  People who “seek” the things listed above have a strong desire and are pro-active about getting what they want or need. 

So if I seek God, I will be pro-active in thinking about Him, doing what He wants, enjoying His greatness, beauty, and worth.  John Piper says it’s “a conscious…focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.”  (Here’s his very good article on seeking God:  http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/what-does-it-mean-to-seek-the-lord  

And it’s the opposite of mental coasting. We know which direction coasting will take us, don’t we?

One of the Saints

In the country where I live, November 1 is a big day at the cemeteries.  People arrived all day with flowers, tables and chairs and food.  Some even stayed overnight next to the graves of their loved ones.  It’s All Saints’ Day, and the next day (so no one will be left out) is All Souls Day.

Ken Anderson & wife, Christian film maker

But to me, November 1 is the day for remembering one of those saints in particular:  my dad.  That is the day on which he entered his heavenly home thirteen years ago.  He was a saint, not because he was perfect, but because that’s what God calls those who become His children through by receiving the forgiveness and new life He offers through Jesus.  (See John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2.)

I honor my dad for many things that he taught me, whether intentionally or just by example.  Here are some of them:

–To love his spouse and honor her.  (I never heard them argue but I often caught them smooching Red heart.)

–To love the Bible.  I would often find him reading it in the morning in his favorite chair.  And he knew how to simply share the message with others, both in church and around the supper table.

–To have fun and enjoy life Smile.  We went camping and enjoyed spontaneous picnics and drives in the country.  We had Family Nights with games, silliness, and snacks. I remember so well his contagious smile.  We even had our “secret” family recipe for candy that he would supervise on special occasions—Yum!

–To put God first in financial affairs. I remember the chart on which he kept track of the family’s giving to several missionaries and other ministries, even on a meager salary.  He and Mom taught me from an early age to give generously to the Lord and also to save for the future.

–To do what is right no matter what.  There were times when this was painful and unpopular, but he wouldn’t back down.  And he was respected for it.  By his example, I learned courage and sisu*.

–To love reading.  To always be truthful.  To honor family and friendships.

–To do one’s best. He made some beautiful things out of wood. He expressed confidence in me and pride in my efforts and accomplishments.  I especially appreciated his help with studying the night before a test. 

–To accept one’s limitations and make the most of them.  He joined in the joking about his lack of musical ability and his short stature.  But to me, he was a great man.  I look up to him and am pleased when someone remarks how like him I am.

 

* Sisu (pronounced – see’-soo) is a unique Finnish concept. It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.  (finlandia.edu/sisu-our-finnish-identity.html)

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