A Matter of Perspective

When you are too close to a painting, you may not appreciate it. Often you have to step far back to appreciate the painting. The same is true when you live at the foot of a mountain. Only when you take the long view do you see the beauty and majesty of a great mountain. Problems can seem insurmountable up close. Only when we step back and look at problems with regard to all of life do we see how small they really are. They may seem like mountains up close but they are really just mole hills. Where we stand and look at scenery makes all the difference in the world. It is the same with our lives of faith. From the perspective of the Word of God we see far more than a problem. We see an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to be a witness, an opportunity to express our faith. From the perspective of the church we know that the head of the church, Jesus Christ. will not fail. As children our perspective is rather limited. Our perspective changes as young people and even more so as young adults. In middle age we see things that we may never have thought about in youth. As senior adults the change in perspective is even more drastic. Whether at the sunrise of our lives or at the sunset of our lives, we need to look through the eyes of faith. As someone has wisely said, “Believing is Seeing and not Seeing is Believing.” The Bible says, “We walk by faith and not by...

Love that Surpasses

Valentine’s Day causes people to think of people they love. Sometimes it is love between good friends. Sometimes it is love in a family. It is also a good time for us to think about God’s love. People send Valentine’s Cards to express friendship and love. God sends us His word to tell us about his love. God’s love is so great that He tells us about it in many different ways. The prophets told us about his love. For instance, in the Book of Jeremiah it says that God love is “from everlasting to everlasting.” In the Book of Psalms it says over and over that “His love endures forever.” Most clearly do we see God’s love at the cross. God could not speak more loudly than He did at the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” In the New Testament much is said about God’s love. It says this about the nature of God. “God is love.” Paul wrote that nothing can separate us from God’s love. He lists many things that might trouble us greatly but he says that none of these things such as tribulation, or distress can separate us. Nothing present or future, nothing seen or unseen can separate us. What should be our response to this kind of love? We should receive the One who loves us unconditionally, eternally, personally. We should rejoice in the One who floods us with such love. We should follow faithfully the One whose love has no end. We should share the good news about the One whose love is...

God is on His Throne!

At the beginning of the year it is wise to remember that God is on his throne. There are many uncertainties around us. The future may seem quite threatening. We do not know what may happen this year in our country or in our personal lives. But, we can be certain about this. God knows the future. And there are no uncertainties with him. Man made catastrophes on earth will not change his purpose or plans for us. On the throne is a wise ruler, a King who does not change with the times. He is working out his purpose in our lives and nothing will detour him. On the throne is One who loves us. He invites us to come boldly to his throne to find grace and mercy. On the throne is One who understands us fully, who wants us completely. He knows where we are, regardless of any distance that we feel from him. We may feel down and out but He invites us to his throne. All we need to do is to come clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. We come in the name of Christ, at the invitation of Christ, and through the worthiness of Christ. It is a throne of grace. God has not abdicated his throne. He never will. Throughout the endless ages He is the ever-living One. Men may fight against Him but they only harm themselves. Whatever may happen during 2019, you can be sure that a wise, loving God is upon the Throne! This is very comforting to me. Here is an anchor for the new year....

The Gift of Gifts

Many people will spend much time trying to find the perfect gift for someone they love. Some people will buy an expensive gift in order to impress someone. Christmas is a time for giving. But the best human gift pales into insignificance compared to God’s gift to us. He gave us his best. He gave us Himself. That baby in a manger was his gift to us. That boy in the temple was his gift to us. That man teaching on the mountain was his gift to us. That man of Galilee touching and healing the leper was his gift to us. That man on the cross between two thieves was his gift to us. That man who came out of the grave conquering death was his gift to us. In giving Jesus to us, He gave us salvation, abundant life, eternal life. The Bible says, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And Paul broke into praise when he wrote, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” And through the ages men and women of faith have been talking about this amazing gift. It is a gift so precious that many have died martyrs deaths because of it. It is a gift so life-changing that many endure imprisonment and ridicule to tell others about it. We have just finished observing “Thanksgiving Day.” But, Christmas is certainly a time for thanksgiving. It is a time to thank God for the gift of eternal life, abundant life. We can spell that gift in one word, Jesus. No wonder that we celebrate Christmas every year....

Looking Right Side Up

I have a bookmark which is woven like a Persian rug. Looking at the back side you see no pattern. In fact, it is ugly. But, right side up it is beautiful. Those who fly have had the experience of taking off in cloudy, rainy weather. But once, you get above the clouds, the sun is shining and everywhere you see clear blue skies. How we look at things determines much of how we feel and enjoy life. We can look around us and see much to frighten and discourage us. That is why we need to look up. “Looking unto Jesus” we see things as they really are. We see the bigger picture. When we live a mole-like existence, it is easy to fall into depression. Around us may be much darkness. When we look up, we see that the light is shining. The disciples were with Jesus when a storm came up. They were fishermen and had seen many storms. This one must have been especially bad because it frightened them greatly. They awoke Jesus who was sleeping and asked, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” It was life-threatening to them. Jesus calmed the storm and simply asked, “where is your faith?” All around us are storms of varying intensity. Like the disciples have we fastened our eyes on the storm or are we looking to the Ruler of the storms? Perspective changes everything. We need to look right side up. The Bible gives us that perspective on life. Let’s look at the world, the problems, and all our needs through the eyes of faith. God...

The Moral Abyss

No doubt most sensible people would recognize the moral abyss that our country has fallen into.  When you think things could not get worse, they do.  Things you would never talk about in public a few years ago are now spoken of without shame.  Hate speech is common.  Political enemies are treated worse than many animals.  What has happened to our country? I believe there is a way out of the destructive path that our country is heading.  It is a spiritual solution.  We need God.  We need to know Him and trust Him.  When man shuts out God, life goes down.  Relationships deteriorate.  Rightly related to God, we respect one another.  We become servants who think about other people and want the best for them. The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins.  Biblical love is so foreign to much of modern society. We talk about “selfies.”  Problems always arise when selfish people are each trying to have their own way.  Whether it is a divided country or divided families we cannot make it by ourselves.  We need God’s love.  Love is the way out of the abyss.  Only God’s kind of love will do.  There is an old song which says it well,  “I Need Thee Every Hour.”  How we need God during this hour!      ...

The Value of Christ

These remarks come from my latest book, “The Focus of Faith.”  Christ surpasses everything and everyone.  He is the Pearl of Great Price.  He is the Treasure of all Treasures.  Others may hold their matches of light but He is the light of the world.  Others may talk about truth, but he is the living truth.  Others may talk about beauty, but He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys.  Solomon was known for his wisdom.  However, the wisdom of Christ surpasses anything that Solomon knew. Paul’s values changed greatly when he met Christ.  He counted his old way of living as nothing but trash.  It did not compare to what he gained in Christ.  Whatever he lost, he gained far more in Christ.  In fact, he uses that expression several times, “much more.”  And he says that the grace of Christ “super-abounded.”  There is no balancing the scale.  The riches of Christ surpass everything.  The weight is all on the side of Christ. What would we compare to Christ?  The created world?  He made this world.  He existed before the earth and the universe.  It was all made through his power and holds together through his power.  Would we compare some great act of love to Him?  His love is before all other loves.  His love is from “everlasting to everlasting.”  Would we compare modern technology to Him?  Machines are helpful but they are dependent upon their makers.  Would we compare him to some of the great heroes of history?  We would soon realize that He surpasses any hero that we would mention. One...

Joy in Mozambique

Monday I returned from a trip to Mozambique with Reaching Souls International.  205 pastor,  church leaders, and 46 women registered for the Leadership Development Institute.  For 4 days there was intense study in classes such as “How to Study the Bible,”  “Basic Christian Doctrine,”  “Marriage,”  “Forgiveness,”  “The Preeminence of Christ,”  various classes on evangelism, and many others.  The four days of study were followed by 3 days of outdoor evangelism.  Thousands of people came to Christ as the men and women went out into the market places and villages to share the Gospel. For the outdoor evangelism there were 4 teams of about 70 members each,  going to different villages.  After one hour or longer doing personal evangelism, there were outdoor meetings in four different places in the mornings and afternoons.  It was the first time for some of the Christians to do this type of evangelism and they got a new vision for reaching out.  Pastors in the different areas were given decision slips so they could do follow-up.  Already one pastor sent word that there were several new members at his church last Sunday. If you are looking for a good place that emphasizes evangelism and discipleship, that believes national Christians are the ones who will reach their own people, that provides tools and training for national Christians, you might want to check out the website of Reaching Souls International.  Because there are many orphans from the Aids epidemic in Africa, Reaching Souls provides financial help for Christian families who care for orphans in their homes. Yes, there is great joy in Mozambique today.  Joy in the hearts of Christians who shared...

The Best Place to Be

There are many places we might like to be. Some would be exciting. Some would be restful. Some would be beautiful. Some would be pleasant to the eyes as well as enchanting to the ears. There are places where we would like to camp out. The thought comes that we would just like to stay there and not leave for any reason. I believe that the best place to be is in the will of God. It may not be the easiest place to be but it will be the most fulfilling place. It will be the safest place. There may be danger all around us but if God has brought us there, it will be the best place. This does not mean that we always understand the reason for God’s will. But, we can trust Him. He is good and He always does good. If we are in His will, we can relax. There is nothing to fear. Worry is useless. We are in His hands, hands that will never let us go, hands that no power in Heaven or earth can defeat. There is no greater security than in His will. A home security system may fail but He will not. In Romans 12 we read that “His will is good, perfect, and acceptable.” This is surely the best place to...

The Message of the Flowers

This is the time of year when you can see many flowers in bloom. There are all kinds of flowers. Some grow in the desert. Others do well in the tropics. There are thousands of varieties even within one type of many flowers. Sometimes you find flowers in unexpected places such as high in the mountains or in the sand near the ocean. One of my favorite flowers is the rose. A private citizen in Tomakomai, Japan had an amazing rose garden. He was a postal employee and not a horticulturist. But, you would not know it from looking at his garden. No doubt he spent countless hours caring for the roses. There were all kinds of roses and colors in his garden. The flowers have a message for us. They point to a wise, artistic Creator. It is hard to duplicate the beauty and fragrance of a flower. But, like the stars in the sky, they proclaim the existence and beauty of our Creator. If the Lord made all the beautiful things we see in nature, how beautiful He must be. Just as a painting is a message from an artist, so the flowers are a message from the Supreme Artist. Let us hear the message of the flowers! Jesus is called the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys. Wherever He goes, there is beauty and there is the fragrance of love. Flowers are used in times of sorrow such as funerals. They are also used in times of celebration such as weddings. The Lily of the Valleys and The Rose of Sharon never fail...