Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Struggle of Power

What is true power? Is there a difference between the way God views power and how humanity in general understands it? Considering that Isaiah 55:8 says that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways his ways, I would think oh my yes!

Our natural way of understanding power is the old “might makes right” adage.  We use force to impose our will on someone else, unless that someone else has more power than we do and then it is their will imposed upon us.  This is typically our approach whether it’s the school yard bully, climbing the corporate ladder, or sports and all the way up to military strength and political power.

But that’s not God’s power.

Some might object pointing to the Old Testament where God uses force to drive out the nations from the Promised Land. But I can’t think of a single instance when pure military power or even strategy could be attributed for the defeat of the enemies of the Israelites, can you?

The objections may continue in New Testament passages like Revelation 19:16 that talk about striking down the nations and ruling with an iron scepter.

Notice that this and many other passages about the final defeat of the enemies of God use the imagery of a sword coming from the mouth of Christ. That imagery gives us an insight into what Divine power is really like.  Here’s another passage that gives us a clue, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”  There is a power there that goes way beyond brute strength.

Let me illustrate.  Suppose I was presented with an ice cube that I wanted to destroy.  I might take a hammer and crush it into oblivion. That’s human perspective on power.  But suppose that ice cube was the size of a glacier, or even an ocean?  I couldn’t make a hammer big enough to crush that let alone wield it!

But the sun is a completely different kind of power that can overcome an entire ice age.  That comes much closer to understanding how Jesus will destroy by the splendor of his coming.

Two things to take from this.  First, the same splendor of Jesus’ coming that brings destruction to those adamant to be his enemies brings glory and joy for those who have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord.

And second, that power has been given to those who follow Jesus.  The next time adversity approaches ask God for wisdom to show you how to let him use his power through you to overcome it.


Repentance, Rest, Quietness, Trust

thoughtsfromasmalltown

REPENT!  We hear that word and we get visions of the old-timey, hell-fire-and-brimstone preacher shouting and pointing a long, bony finger with one hand while pounding on the pulpit with his other.  That picture does not give us a full understanding of what scripture means when it call us to repent.

The word from the Bible we translate as repent doesn’t simply mean to feel sorry or remorse, though those feelings may accompany repentance. It more literally means to change your mind.   It includes changing the minds perceptions, purposes, and dispositions.

In previous articles I have stated in that the basis of our sinfulness is a declaration that we don’t need God, that we can be our own god or at least choose our own god.  When someone like Peter in Acts 3:19 calls us to repent and turn to God what he is saying is to let God change…

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Bucket List (re-post)

A couple of weeks ago I had a special request from a fellow to reprint an article I wrote a year and a half back about bucket lists. So with your indulgence, here it is:
I got to swim with sharks!
We went to visit our son and daughter (in-law) who were serving at a church in Hope Town, Bahamas. While Andrew and I were snorkeling we came across four black tip sharks, the biggest of which was about 5 feet long. I suppose saying swim “with” isn’t exactly accurate. They were swimming away from us and we were trying to keep up to them. We did manage to follow them around for a few of minutes and get a few pictures, but what a thrill. If I believed in bucket lists this definitely would have been on it.
I can hear some of you say “what do you mean if you believed in bucket lists? Isn’t a bucket list a positive thing?” There is certainly nothing sinful about having a bucket list and actually there are many, many things that someday I would like to do. However I don’t expect and neither is it important to me that I do all or even any of them before I “kick the bucket”. (Hence the name “bucket list” for those who didn’t know.)
You see, I know that in heaven I’ll be able to actually swim with sharks and all those other things that would be on my list if I had one. Many of us have bought into a flawed picture of heaven that has us playing harps and sitting in robes for all eternity. But as much as the Garden of Eden was a place of activity and exploration, so too will the renewed Eden be. So I’ll have more than all the time in the world to complete my list and even to keep coming up with new items.
But there’s another reason I don’t have a list that is even more important; my life isn’t my own for me to determine what I do with it. I am a servant of Jesus Christ and as such my whole life is at his disposal. Because he died for me and I, by faith, have accepted his death in place of the one I deserved, he now lives his life through me. That means he makes the list.
But in case you think this is a huge sacrifice, don’t worry, his list is far more exciting and fulfilling than anything I would come up with, and living out his list for me results in praise and glory to God. That is the greatest thing I can do.
So go ahead and have a list, but if you let Jesus make it for you it won’t be over when you kick the bucket.