Sunday, December 23, 2012

Changes. Endings. Beginnings!

Change is a constant earthly reality.  Beginnings and endings, hellos and good-byes dot the landscape of every life.  The essence of every promise of God stands in stark contrast.  His promises blossom from the root of eternal, unchanging goodness!
Every act of good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is no change or shadow of turning.

(James 1:17)

As the printing of the Baptist Voice ceases, our hearts can rejoice that the work done through it over the years continues.  That same truth echoes from every life lived in the will of God…in lives redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  Earthly transitions are shadows cast from eternal realities.  Just as the Tabernacle in the desert offered deep spiritual revelation of the Lord Himself, lives lived in the design of God portray divine beauty.  Neither earthly error nor sin eradicates the work of the Eternal One.
Paul, in First Corinthians, quoted the prophet Isaiah.  “No eye has seen, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  The promise of good from our perfect, loving Father gives unceasing hope to those enduring change.  Loved ones whose earthly journeys end, treasured relationships marred by distance and works of service concluded are shadows created as the Lord moves throughout world.  Like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea or the Jordan at flood stage, Christians must march boldly on toward the eternal reality of Christ’s completed work.
For this final column, I invite you to join with in prayerful, thankful rejoicing as we march into a new year. 

Heavenly Father, Giver of all good and perfect gifts, we humbly praise you.  Our hearts grieve over the losses change brings but not with the grief of those who have no hope.  Though we are tempted to fear change and hold tight to what is seen, we choose to trust in Your perfect will.  Fill our minds with understanding of the power, perfection and passionate love You continually pour into our lives.  Grow our faith in You that our lives will ever proclaim the victory of Christ.  May every change that casts a shadow in our life be pushed aside by the Holy Spirit to reveal more of Your Glory.  We praise you that change and loss simply allow our hearts to have more room for You.  May thy will and thy kingdom come.  We wait in praise-filled joy for the final change that ushers in Your unending Kingdom. 

In Christ’s Holy name we pray, Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Advent:  the arrival of something important.  Last week we contemplated the challenge of waiting well.  As we continue through Advent, considering what we are waiting for will fill us with joy!  Christmas marks the coming of the Savior, the arrival of God Himself.  He did not look like the King most expected.  He was overlooked by the very ones who should have known Him best.  That which we ‘know’ sometimes deceives us—we need, like Zachariah, a time of silence that will lead us to praise! 
Zachariah was a devout believer and servant of God, yet when given the glorious news of John’s impending arrival, earthly reality dimmed his joy with doubt.  His period of silence ended as he reiterated the angel’s message and began rejoicing in God’s inimitable ways.  Finding quiet to contemplate the joy we are waiting for is vital to truly appreciate the arrival of the King!
In Romans 8, Paul speaks of waiting for the hope we not see.  Biblical hope, confident assurance of God’s good plans, can be waited for with eagerness when patience has developed in our hearts.

Rom 8:25  But if we hope for what we do not see, through patience we wait eagerly.
Patience is even more difficult for us than waiting!  There are some beautiful truths to unpack in contemplating patience though.  It is a fruit of the spirit we cannot produce by trying harder.  Just as a farmer cannot make seeds sprout by pacing along the edge of the field, we cannot produce patience by stressing over its absence.  Patience is best seen in contrast to what it is not.  Cowardice and despondency stand in stark contrast to the beauty of patience.  Courage to press on past fear and discouragement shines forth in patience.  Wrath and revenge lash out while patience presses humbly forward.  Christian character is brought to completion by patience, but patience is delivered only by Christ.  That is the advent we are to eagerly wait for—the advent we are to point others toward:  Jesus Christ!

Patience (quiet, joyful waiting) testifies to the arrival of what we have been waiting for:  the unseen hope.   Receiving the strength of Jesus, allowing Him room in our hearts, will dispel doubt and discouragement. It will allow us to wait with joyful eagerness. Rather than rely on what we already ‘know’ and ‘do’, let us quietly consider the coming King.  Humbleness that recognizes our need for more than what we have makes room for His arrival.  Prepare room for Jesus in your days…not just in the Advent season but all year long.  His desire is for daily communion, moment by moment appreciation for His arrival!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Waiting Well

What are you waiting for:  the healing of a body or a relationship?  a loved one to call—or better yet, to call on the Lord?  Maybe you are waiting for the birth of a child or a new direction to move.  Waiting is a common – and usually unappreciated – experience.  We fuss over the unknowns, allowing our perceived lack to consume our minds.  While we wait, time passes unnoticed.  That is not true for God.  Every moment of time is a thread in His eternal plan.  Today is a vibrant piece of His story.  Like a page in a classic novel, the richness has no empty spaces but builds to the perfect conclusion.  The victory of Christ concludes our stories, so how do we learn to resist letting time slip away while we ‘wait’ in faith?  The season of Advent helps us grasp the concept!
Choosing to use the days before Christmas to focus our hearts and minds on the loving plan of God revealed at Christmas is the key to ‘waiting’ well.  Waiting is not wasted when the coming of the King is our confident hope.  Waiting becomes worship when we have the right perspective.  Remembering that before God spoke the first word of Creation, He knew the joy of Bethlehem, the suffering of Calvary and the glory of the resurrection boggles our minds.   The Masterpiece designed from and for eternity is complete in Him; today is but one vibrant scene in the weaving.  Looking at the Artist, seeing His perfection assures us of the outcome.  A sweet hymn sings what our hearts cry, “What a strange way to save the world.”  Yet we rejoice that His ways are not ours for His ways are perfect.  His timing is not ours, and again, we trust His perfection.  With our eyes focused on His presence, the tyranny of time cannot disrupt us.  Christmas centers our hearts on the love of God, the promise of His presence.  Christmas must not be confined to December 25th.

In Acts chapter 9, Paul’s encounter with the Lord offers us another aspect of waiting that inspires me.  After the blinding encounter on the road to Damascus, Saul was instructed to “Arise and go…” until further instructions were given.  In the city Saul was to go was another man—a disciple of the Lord who also was told “Arise and go.”  Ananias, with normal fear, questioned the Lord.  Ananias knew this man named Saul, knew he hated the followers of Christ.  Yet God knew more than Ananias.  In God’s masterpiece, Saul needed to become Paul.  Ananias needed to reach out and share the Spirit with him; Saul waited till the Lord’s disciple obeyed.  Perhaps there is a Saul in our lives, waiting for the touch of the Spirit through us.  Let’s not waste time questioning the Lord.  Let us stay focused on looking  to the King and pointing others in the same direction.