Monday, June 23, 2008


The bills come in the mail every month, asking to be paid on time. (Somebody who used to have my telephone number owes somebody something -- the collections companies keep calling me, looking for him. Sorry, wrong number!)

But there's one debt you'll never have to worry about. It's been paid in full, before you were ever born. In fact, it was paid in full before the stars began burning or this Earth was set spinning in the blackness of space.

That's the debt of your sins. It's already been paid. Before you were born, before the universe was created out of exactly nothing, God had a plan in place to unite the whole universe to himself by one selfless act. The eternal Son of God was made flesh, and in his flesh reconciled all of us -- united the physical creation with its Maker, through and including the resolution of all sin for all time. See Revelation 13:8, John 10:11, John 12:32, Eph 1:3-8, and many other scriptures.

One more: John 19:30 says: 'After Jesus drank the wine, he said, "Everything is done!" He bowed his head and died.' The Greek word for "everything is done" is 'tetelestai' which is a term found on business documents of that time period, to note that a debt was paid or a transaction completed.

It's all done. You can't do anything to pay for your sins or to present yourself clean before God, because he arranged it all, even before you had sinned once. Your repentence doesn't change the truth -- it simply means you've turned around and recognized what is already true. So when the Accuser calls you to hound you about your guilt, you can just hang up. It's already been handled!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's in your hand?

Christians know that Jesus called us to 'make disciples' (Matthew 28:18-20 and other references). But isn't that kind of a tall order? We look at today's Western society, which appears to be more resistant to the Gospel than ever, and begin to doubt we could possibly reach everyone. And what about all the billions overseas? It's easy to get overwhelmed!

Plus, some of us aren't as young as we used to be. Come to think of it, didn't Jesus call a bunch of young, energetic guys? Maybe we need to hand this over to the young, energetic types.

Well, God has called us to a task that's bigger than we are, so we have to rely on him. And he has a unique way of providing resources. He asked Moses, back at the burning bush: "What's in your hand?" (Exodus 4:1-2) Moses doubted, but God put into use something Moses was already holding.

You may be 'only' a grandparent, or 'only' a schoolteacher, or 'only' a contractor or street sweeper or cafeteria worker. Moses was 'only' a sheepherder. Well, none of us can serve except where we are right now. And God, who is all-powerful, can work with any person, and can make anything into a tool to accomplish his will.

Maybe it's time for a new prayer for insight -- for God to show you the people in your life that he wants to reach through you. For the insight to hear the cry of the lonely, feel the pain of the desolate, see the need in someone else's eyes; and the insight to know how you can respond.

What's in your hand today?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Our office printer decided, the other day, not to cooperate. I wrestled with it for hours and finally realized that it was my fault after all. I'd started replacing a cable by pulling the old one off, but had gotten distracted and not put the new one on; that meant the printer was no longer connected to the computer. About thirty seconds after I put the new cable in, the printer started cooperating.

As often happens, that got me started thinking about spiritual things. It's a central part of my thinking that God has saved us from spiritual death through the free gift of life given us by Jesus Christ ("while we were still sinners, Christ died for us", Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ says that we are 'in him' (John 14:20) and that means we are secure. Nobody can take us out of his hands (John 10:28-29).

The next human thought can sometimes be, "Okay, now all I do is coast and enjoy life!" Well, not quite. If we want to enjoy life, we need to stay 'plugged into' the source of life -- kind of like the printer has to stay connected to the computer to be of any use. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:30, "Don't grieve God's Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption." He says also in Romans 8:15, "...but you received the spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out 'Abba, Father'." And in verse 26, "In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings."

The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, is the one who actually initiates our prayers and our contact with God. He's the one who reminds us that we are the children of the Father. He makes up for our human inability to see God's perfect will in our prayers, by communicating perfectly with the Father for us; and in turn, reminds us of the Father's perfect will for our moment-by-moment actions and words. (For you computer geeks, think 'bi-directional printer communication' as a loose analogy.)

So as we continue on in this new life in Christ -- whether it's six weeks new or sixty years new -- we are at our best when we stay fully plugged into the mind of the Spirit at every step. Have you felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to pray, or to stop and talk with someone, or send a card or a phone call of encouragement, or do something generous? That's being 'plugged in' with God. Do you sometimes ignore that tug due to being 'busy'? That's when the cable falls out, and when it's time to plug it back in.

Stay connected, my brothers and sisters!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


While trying to improve our physical condition, The Amazing Joanne and I collided on our bicycles. She injured her shoulder and couldn’t sleep well. As things go, I ended up sleeping the wrong way one night, ended up with a pinched nerve, so my shoulder is stiff and my wrist is tender. (All in the pursuit of becoming stronger!)

All this reminds me of my own mortality, which is very embarrassing. I prefer to think of myself as being immortal, or at least free from weaknesses. Yeah, right.

God knows better. He made us out of mud, and he’s never forgotten that. Psalm 103:14 says “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are but dust.”

Not that I like to be reminded I’m made out of mud, and that I’m fragile -- but to compensate, God himself remembers how fragile I am, and treats me tenderly because of it.

God also knows that we aren’t able to provide our own salvation. He tells us through Paul in Ephesians:

2:4 -- But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

So God doesn’t expect us to achieve some level of perfection in order to qualify for his forgiveness or for life itself. He knows we can’t, anyway.

That’s a good thing, because just as in physical life, when I try to live a spiritual life, I keep colliding with obstacles and other people. I will never get it right, but that’s OK because Jesus Christ himself has gotten it right for me, and by grace the Father has given me the gift of life through Jesus. And he still treats me – and you – tenderly.