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Waiting Two Thousand Years and Never Wrong

Waiting Two Thousand Years and Never Wrong
Being diagnosed with a serious illness has been the occasion for me to reflect back on my life and to see God‘s hand at work long ago. I wrote a poem almost 45 years ago. At the time the poem “came” to me with a musical tune. As a young man I had been traveling in Pakistan and India, often staying in the homes of people I knew or met. On more than one occasion, someone had asked me to “sing them a poem.”
Once in Kanpur India, staying with the Muslim father of a good friend from Pakistan (Abul Khair Kashfi), his elderly father asked me to “sing a poem.” I knew his was a pious family, and the songs I chose to sing were really hymns—“Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Amazing Grace.” He liked both hymns but especially liked the last verse of Amazing Grace, “when we’ve been there 10,000 years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” Later, as I was leaving Pakistan to go back to the west, I wrote my…

Six Things It Means to be a Christians, Part 2

Six Things It Means to be a Christians, Part 2
In 2001 I wrote a piece called, “Six Things It Means to be a Christian.” Last week I published the first four with supporting scriptures. Here are the last two:
5. To be a Christian means that I know God through Jesus.I come to Godthrough Jesus. I have peace with God and all people through Jesus. God’slove is revealed in Jesus,and in Jesus thisLove lives in me and overflows from me to those around me.
John 14: 6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.‘”
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:14-16: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one…

Six Things It Means to Be a Christian, Part I

Six Things It Means to Be a Christian, Part I
I found something I wrote in 2001, “Six Things It Means to Be a Christian.” It includes some supporting scriptures. I will publish it in two parts: the first, containing the first four things, this week, and the remainder next week.
1. To be a Christian means that I know that there is a restlessness in me that only God can calm, a hunger in me that only God can fill, a thirst in me that only God can satisfy, an ache and an emptiness in me that only God can take away, and a guilt (often felt, but sometimes not felt) that only God can remove. Matthew 11:27-28: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Isaiah 55:1: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
2. To be a Christian m…

Prayer as Revolt

Prayer as Revolt
This week I read a quote from a favorite theologian, Karl Barth. He said: “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” I would like to unpack what he said, and to refer to some words of Jesus which I think are behind what Dr. Barth wrote. Let me begin with two questions about Professor Barth’s quote. First of all why would he say there is disorder in the world? And secondly, if there is disorder, mustn’t it be God’s will?
Why say there is disorder in the world? God created a perfect and orderly world, but because of human sin and because (as a result) we live in a fallen creation, the world God created is clearly no longer the world we live in. We live in a world where children die, where wars kill, where famine rages, and where some people are still literally enslaved while others live in bondage to fear, hatred, and addiction. In so many other ways the fallenness of the creation and of our lives is evident. Without …

All I Need to Know About God, I See in Jesus

All I Need to Know About God, I See in Jesus
OK, I’ll admit there is a problem here. I could easily have written “All I need to know about God I find in the Bible (the Old and New Testaments.)” I could have written it, because it is also true.
However, at the end of the day, God is more than a truth revealed in the pages of a book. God is a Person, fully revealed (Yes, through the Bible!)in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Bible, as God’s Word, is clear that God is fully revealed in Jesus. In other words, the Book does not tell me that God is revealed in a book. The Book tells me that God is most fully and finally revealed in a Person, in Jesus, as we know Him in this book.
OK then why do I read the Old Testament? (I read from the Psalms almost every day.) Because in the Psalms and the rest of the Old Testament God is revealed, but in a way that leaves me hungering for more. In the Old Testament, God is revealed incompletely, in bits and pieces. He is revealed like flowers strewn along th…
Two Views of Healing,  Part Two
For last  week’s newspaper column, I wrote “Two Views of Healing, Part One.” The next day I got results from a CT scan which show that the virulent kind of lymphoma that I was in remission from after chemotherapy has returned. We will learn more next week. Even though I knew these test results were upcoming when I wrote the article, having gotten the results makes what I write about healing this week even more, as they say, “existential.”
Since last week I have had conversations with friends and dear family, and I have some new insights. First of all as someone who has an illness, I am delighted when people pray for me, whether they are praying “Lord heal him if it be thy will,” or just “Lord heal him!” If my earlier article said anything that would dishearten or discourage anyone praying for me or for anyone else, I apologize! The prayers of the saints matter, and they don’t have to follow a formula or a law! “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is lib…

Two Views of Healing, Part I

Two Views of Healing, Part I
As I write this (for the newspaper) I am going today and tomorrow for my 6 months checkup to see if a serious form of cancer has returned. I should get results tomorrow. {The next day, before I post this to my blog, I have initial results and it looks like my lymphoma has returned. Ironically, my negative diagnosis of today does not really affect what I will write this week or next week!}
Divine healing is always on my mind, but that is so more than usual today. I think there are basically two approaches to divine healing that I want to talk about today and next time. Actually there are three but the first one I want to dismiss outright: that approach is that either there is no God and therefore God does not heal or that there is a God but He is just uninvolved in the world and in our lives, (a view called Deism), and therefore that “god” doesn’t heal. To me this theory is completely incongruent with the Bible, where God is very involved in His creation, a…