Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shadows of Glory

Last night I saw something I've probably seen a few times before, but never paid any attention to.  You see, I was driving home from a meeting after the sun had gone below the horizon.  A low fog was hanging about the area and every ones headlights were glowing.  What I noticed was beautiful, in a quirky way.

I live several miles outside of town and there are a couple of rural roads between town and home, that means no shortage of short curves to traverse.  Seeing as it was foggy and dark on narrow country roads with known  populations of deer I was driving a little below speed limit and paying close attention to my surroundings like any safe driver would, right?  Well, inside one of these said curves I saw it, shadows.  Not just shadows, but shadow images of trees, mailboxes, cars parked in driveways, dogs, you get the picture.  The headlights from oncoming traffic was shining through the fog and against the various objects between them and me.  This cast the shadows into the fog, which, to my surprise, held the shape of the object casting them.  I could see the clusters of leaves from the trees through the shadow in the fog.  I could see clearly the shape of mailboxes, one with the flag still up.  I thought, "Wow, how neat!"  Most of these shadows were a little misshapen because of the angles between the oncoming vehicle and myself, but occasionally things lined up perfectly to see a very clear straightforward image. 

You've no doubt seen this yourself, or at least photographs of this phenomenon in the form of the sun behind a stand of trees with fog and the resulting shadows.  Now, think of your life.  You are the trees, the mail boxes, the parked cars, the random pets.  You live your life in this world full of darkness, just like me.  This darkness is the sin and pain and general lostness, the curse, of this world.  The people can find their way around this world about as effectively as a person could find his way around a strange dark place with a hanging fog to look through.  The problem is, no one has a light to shine on their path to aid them in finding their way, including you.  Sounds a little desperate doesn't it, it's a lot desperate.  Here is the great thing to consider.  Jesus is the light, He desires to shine through the darkness and fog, and when you trust Him with yourself, He shines right on you everywhere you go.  This has another effect besides illuminating your way to Him, It casts a shadow in the dark fog.  Sometimes, when we are focused and living in line with His word, this shadow is clear and easy to determine.  Sometimes, when our focus is a little off, when we aren't in line with Him, our shadows tend to get a little distorted, a little less easy to pick out the life casting it.  Regardless, this shadow is what draws the lost world to us, causes them to ask about the light shining about us that could shine on their path.

Question, what kind of shadow are you casting into the dark fog?  Can people look at you and see the truth, the presence of God, or is your shadow distorted and they have to study you for a while or even ask who you are?  Ponder on this.  To answer this question for myself, I fear too often my shadow is unclear, and I look back and remember the times when people could walk up and tell me why I was different, accusingly say I was a Christian, instead of just saying "your different, what gives?"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Losing My Head

Ok, so I'm listening to a podcast from the T4G conference and pastor Eric Bancroft is there speaking about marriage and how it is a picture of the gospel.

Early in his address he shares about a pastor from the 1600's, Christopher Love. This guy was a Presbyterian (Puritain) pastor in England. If you are aware of your world history at all you know that the Church of England was the official state church at the time.

Through a series of events, Love is arrested and condemned to death by beheading. A letter campaign is launched on his behalf that pushes his expected execution back over a month. Finally, the leadership in England under Charles II granted him his life for the commitment of good behavior. A letter is sent by courier to this effect and the courier arrived in the province to deliver the good news. Upon inspection of the letter, two officers who were particularly put out by a sermon once delivered by Christopher Love. They seized the letter and destroyed it, destroying any hope for Love's life to be spared. He was beheaded, not knowing of the opportunity for freedom that had been offered him.

The amazing part of this story is not that he missed an opportunity to live, or that he was beheaded even. The true lesson is the faith he and his wife shared. Look at this correspondence between he and his wife. The day before his death, Love comforted his wife with these words:

"Be not troubled to think what shall become of thee and thine after my death, for be assured that my God, and the God of the widows and the fatherless, will not forsake thee, but will wonderfully provide for those and be comforted in this, that tho’ men take thy husband from thee, they cannot take thy God from thee; and so, do not think that thou hast lost thy husband, but only parted with him for awhile, and in the meantime thy Savour will be a husband unto thee and a father unto thy children."

His wife, Mary, responded with this letter:

"July 14, 1651

Before I write a word further, I beseech thee to think not that it is thy wife but a friend now that writes to thee. I hope thou hast freely given up thy wife and children to God, who hath said in Jeremiah 49:11, “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widow trust in me.” Thy Maker will be my husband, and a Father to thy children. O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ.

I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory. Thou leavest but children, brothers, and sisters to go to the Lord Jesus, thy eldest Brother. Thou leavest friends on earth to go to the enjoyment of saints and angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect in glory. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

My dear, I know God hath not only prepared glory for thee, and thee for it, but I am persuaded that He will sweeten the way for thee to come to the enjoyment of it. When thou art putting thy clothes on that morning, O think, “I am now putting on my wedding garments to go to be married to my everlasting Redeemer.”

When the messenger of death comes to thee, let him not seem dreadful to thee, but look on him as a messenger that brings thee tidings of eternal life. When thou goest up the scaffold, think (as thou saidst to me) that it is but thy fiery chariot to carry thee up to thy Father’s house.

And when thy layest thy precious head down to recieve thy Father’s stroke, remember what thou saidst to me: Though thy head was severed from thy body, yet in a moment thy soul should be united to thy Head, the Lord Jesus, in heaven. And though it may seem something bitter, that by the hands of men we are parted a little sooner than otherwise we might have been, yet let us consider that it is the decree and will of our Father, and it will not be long ere we shall enjoy one another in heaven again.

Let us comfort one another with these sayings. Be comforted, my dear heart. It is but a little stroke and thou shalt be there where the weary shall be at rest and the wicked shall cease from troubling. Remember that thou mayest eat thy dinner with bitter herbs, yet thou shalt have a sweet supper with Christ that night. My dear, by what I write unto thee, I do not hereby undertake to teach thee; for these comforts I have received from the Lord by thee. I will write no more, nor trouble thee any further, but commit thee into the arms of God with whom ere long thee and I shall be.

Farewell, my dear. I shall never see thy face more till we both behold the face of the Lord Jesus at that great day.

~Mary Love"

They lived a 1 Peter 4:19 life!
"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."(ESV).

Dare I mention this? That Mary had already lost two children to death, had two more at home under the age of two, and was 8 months pregnant. Should we consider that as her husband approached the scaffolding, while singing praises to God, to have his head severed from his body, Mary was standing by applauding, a witness to the moment when he met his bridegroom face to face? What faith is this! 2 Timothy 3:12 says, "indeed, all who desire to live q godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (ESV). Could we face our persecution with such grace?

(sources: )

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Don't fail me now!

Let me start by saying "UGH!!!!"

OK, do you remember the events of Luke 22:32? Here's the deal. Jesus is prepping His disciples for His death. Ole Saint Pete was sitting there at the dinner table with the guys and Jesus talks to them about their being servants and receiving an kingdom just as He had received one from His Father. Then Jesus looks at Pete and tells him that Satan wanted to sift him like wheat!

Have you ever been sifted? That word "sifted" is the root in the word "UGH!!!!" Its in there, trust me. Its one of those understandings that come from the Holy Spirit leading you into all truth.

Back to the discussion at hand. Jesus, ever merciful, gracious, and compassionate, tells Pete that He has prayed for him that his faith not fail! Wow! Jesus prayed for Pete like that! Guess what, He'll pray it for you too, and He has for me more times than I want to remember. Don't get me wrong here, I'm ecstatic that God the Son would care enough and think enough of me to mediate for me in such a manner, but if He's praying like that over me then its because there is an "UGH!!!!" to deal with.

I'll spare you the details, but about four years ago while reflecting on a sermon I had listened to by John Piper ( I heard those words echo in my heart! "I pray for you that your faith not fail." I was, at that point, naive enough to not understand the implications of it but rather basked in the understanding that Jesus was praying for me. Needless to say, the need I had for the prayer surfaced that very next Wednesday evening. UGH!!!! Reflecting back, I realize it took about eight months to begin to recover, and by the time normal settled back in, it was about the tenth month, forty weeks (that number means something to God, I wonder if it was planned that way from the beginning?).

Fast forward to a few months ago when I heard an echo in my heart again, " I pray that your faith not fail." This time I trembled. I shared this with two people that week, my wife and her mentor. We had a brief but serious talk about what was coming. It took a couple of weeks but we began to see how it was manifesting. It seems that we may be in for another forty weeks. Am I so thick headed that I didn't learn my lesson the first time? So here I am (we are) trying to make sense of the events of the past several weeks and waiting.

And it pass... It did come, and it will pass, but for now here is what I have to remember, Jesus, after breaking this news to Pete, told him that when he returned to Him, strengthen the brethren. I have endeavored before and I will again, to strengthen the brethren.

So let me ask you again, have you ever been sifted like wheat? Have you been rolled around and pressed on to knock the chaff off of you, and then tossed about in the wind to have that chaff cleansed away to leave the pure wheat? Have you then been put into the mill to be ground down into flour? Flour, for the people of Jesus day, was to be mixed with water or oil and kneaded, stretched and twisted until the gluten formed into an elastic lump of dough that could then be pulled and shaped by the baker to make loaves of bread that had been put through the fire of the oven making it into a delicious and life giving food that would be used to strengthen the body?

I dare say if you have seriously and sincerely pursued God and His holiness, then you know exactly what I'm describing here. It can take shape in so many different circumstances that you won't see it coming until its here and sometimes gone, but it is a refining fire that tests, purifies, and proves your faith. God's purpose is His glory and holiness through your life. Just like He did for Ole Pete, Jesus is praying that your faith not fail, and when you return to Him, strengthen the brethren.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Hello World! I'm back to the blogosphere after a long absence. All of you wonderful readers out (which number exactly one, including myself of course) are about to be confounded by the incoherent ramblings of my head, and hopefully some blessed insights into the Christian life, if the Lord wills. I look forward to our time together, however long that may be and I pray God's love and salvation for you all! See you soon!


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