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Get Free At Last

Get Free At Last
I am going to be writing in the coming weeks about a path all of us walk down—the path between life and death. Today I want to focus on the free gift of not being afraid of death, a gift which Jesus Christ freely offers to all those who will receive it. In Hebrews 2: 14-15 we read, “Therefore, since the children have flesh and blood, He (Jesus) too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
This passage says that the Eternal Word of God, God’s Son Jesus, took on a human nature, including death, 1. To destroy the one who holds the power of death (the devil) and 2. To free those enslaved to the fear of death! Contrary to what some people may think, death is not a part of God’s good creation.God made a world without death. Hebrews says the devil “holds the power of death.” Death is an enemy.In fact Paul writes in scriptu…
For All The Saints
On some Sundays when one of us is not feeling well or I am starting a new medicine, my wife Vicky and I worship at home instead of at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church. This past Sunday, as my doctor had just put me on something new, we did just that. When we worship at home, one of the things we like the most is singing hymns together. We sang many hymns, but only one of them brought tears to both our eyes. It is the hymn, “For All the Saints.”
The hymn was written by an Anglican priest and was first printed in 1864.It was a processional hymn, meaning it was the first hymn that would be sung at a Sunday worship as the choir and pastors marched in. The song was in a collection of hymns which could be used on All Saints Day, the Day when many Christians remember all “the dead in Christ,” those who have died united to Christ and are now in His blessed presence. I believe the letter to the Hebrews speaks of those faithful departed when it says we are “surrounded by a great…

Life and Living…

Life and Living…
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In John 5:24 he says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” The Apostle John expands on this idea in I John 3:14 when he writes: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers and the sisters.” Finally in John 17:3 Jesus says, “this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” All of this means, as I have written before, that believers in Christ have eternal life now. It will never end. Death cannot cause it to end!
Many people in our culture are very afraid of death. I talked recently to a Christian healthcare professional who shared that even when all the medical options have been exhausted, some patients want to stay in the hospital and keep attacking the disease—rather than to …

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 …