A Poem for Men

Here’s a poem from the book “I kissed dating goodbye”.   Not to say anything about the book, but I really liked this poem he quoted…

A Woman’s Question

 By Lena Lathrop.

Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing

Ever made by the Hand above?

A woman’s heart, and a woman’s life-And a woman’s wonderful love.

 Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing

As a child might ask for a toy?

Demanding what others have died to win

With the reckless dash of a boy. 

You have written my lesson of duty out

Manlike you have questioned me

Now stand at the bars of my woman’s soul

Until I shall question thee

You require your mutton shall always be hot

Your socks and your shirt be whole

I require your heart be true as God’s stars

And as pure as his heaven your soul 

You require a cook for your mutton and beef

I require a far greater thing

A seamstress you’re wanting for socks and shirts

I look for a man and a king 

A king for the beautiful realm called home

And a man that his Maker God

Shall look upon as he did on the first

And say; “It is very good.” 

I am fair and young, but the rose may fade

From this soft young cheek one day

Will you love me then ‘mid the falling leaves

As you did ‘mong the blossoms of May? 

Is your heart an ocean so strong and true

I may launch my all on its tide?

A loving woman finds heaven and hell

On the day she is made a bride 

I require all things that are grand and true

All things that a man should be

If you give this all, I would stake my life

To be all you demand of me

If you cannot be this; a laundress and cook

You can hire and little to pay

But a woman’s heart and a woman’s life

Are not to be won this way.

Elijah

I don’t think any other song (save those written in the Bible) has ever affected me as much as this one has.  This song literally changed my life, by the God whom the songwriter serves.  I pray your heart’s true desire is Him, and that no desire for this world will bind to your heart.

Hard Life for the Hard Heart- John 12

Jesus did so much to prove who He was. 

Many people today say that if they could meet Him face to face then surely they’d believe.  I doubt most people who say that, that is those who continue to say such a thing,  have been honest with themselves.  Even people of His time, who saw (in person) real and undeniable MIRACLES, did not to believe in Him. 

Verse 39 says “for this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn- and I would heal them.””

This is not the easiest passage to understand.  It seems to have a lot in common with Pharaoh’sheart being hardened.  Some people try to explain it by saying that God pointed fingers at random and decided who would and would not be capable of believing.  We know that’s a fallacy however, for many reasons.  One reason being that God Himself said through Paul that He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

The quote in verse 40 of our text is from Isaiah 6:10.  Let’s go there.  God is sending Isaiah unto Israel with a message.  There’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to go back and read it carefully (noting in vs. 9-10 what Isaiah is told to “say” and what he’s told to “do”).  I’m still working on that one myself.  But in response Isaiah asks how long.  God says (to sum it up) until Israel’s cities are destroyed and the Israelites are sent far away.  All of this is because of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

Also quoted in our John text is another passage in Isaiah.  John says it’s a prophecy fulfilled by the people not believing in Jesus.  This quote is from Isaiah 53:1, and again you really should go to it and consider it in relation to our John 12 text.

While I have some ideas about what the entire meaning of this passage in John is, I won’t lay out my speculation here.  I’d hate to lead someone astray.  But what I can say is this…

Every person presented with Christ has a choice to make.  Choose Him and you will live.  You can ask your questions, but do not do so proudly.  You’ve been shown clearly enough that God exists and you have been shown that you have indeed sinned.  God does not expect you to say you believe in Him if you really don’t… He expects you to really believe in Him.  So leave no stone in your heart unturned and throw your all at His feet.  Consider everything with eyes wide open… He will answer you.  And the humble in heart will love His answer.

But a person could also choose to be proud and arrogant.  They could choose to close their ears, and turn their eyes, and harden their hearts.  This is not a correct answer to a math problem that they’re making, it’s a decision of what the answer is regardless of the equation.  It is not a whole hearted honest response, it’s a choice to reject the evidence before them because they want to believe something else.  Such a response may have results you didn’t plan on though.

A warning to any such person is found in John 12:37-50.  Go down this path, just as Pharaoh foolishly did, and you run the danger of having your heart hardened.  This hardening may last until you come to your last breath, in which case you will have ruled out for yourself any possibilityof hearing the truth with your heart.  Or the hardening may last until the false kingdom in your heart is destroyed, and you experience a pain and suffering for which you only have yourself to blame.

Lamentations 3:31-33 says “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.  Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.  For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”  It is not God’s desire to make you suffer.  But He will do it to open your eyes and ears, to soften your heart.  The pain is your own doing, for it would not hurt to tear a thing from you unless you yourself stitched it into your own flesh.

Tear it off He will though, if you dare to let it go.  Better still, believe on Him when He comes to you, and save yourself the heartache of seeing your lie destroyed.  Believe on Him, that He might save you from the wrath to come.

Verse 41 brings up some more interesting thoughts, and again I can’t tell you I have it all figured out.  Likely it’s simply referring to the event described in the beginning of Isaiah 6.  Whether it is speaking of that event or something else, it’s clear that seeing the glory of Christ will change a person.  For better or worse, believe that you will be changed.  And know that you will have to answer for your response to Him.  Don’t chance eternal suffering for the sake of keeping your heart calloused.

Praise God!!!  Believe in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of man!!!

My Flesh, My Blood (John 6)

Jesus wasn’t a man chasing the status quo.  He sought God’s righteousness.  And some of the things He said didn’t sit very well with the fallen people around Him.

One crystal clear example of this is the second half of John 6, where Jesus makes a bold statement.  He says to the people that they must drink of His blood and eat of his flesh in order to receive life.

Now the Jews were a people who saw cannibalism as a sin.  And that’s certainly what it sounded like Jesus was teaching them.  But they should have known that He meant something else.  He left no question on whether He followed the Father’s will.

I don’t know what I would have thought had I lived back then and heard this for the first time.  I’m guessing it would have been hard.  But we see that his closest disciples at least understood that Jesus was the one they needed to cling to.  They knew Jesus would direct them in the path of God.

I like the way Rich Mullins talked about this in an article he wrote for Release Magazine back in ’96.  Here’s what he said…

The Communion of Saints

by Rich Mullins

Release Magazine September/October 1996 

 

 

In one of those especially poignant passages that so frequently and powerfully mark the gospels and charge them with the character of Christ, we encounter Jesus and His twelve in a moment of deep sorrow followed by a great flash of glory. (And does glory ever come except on the heels of sorrow?)

Jesus has just alienated many of His disciples by telling them that they must “eat (His) body” and “drink (His) blood.” This directive must have been even more startling to its original audience than to us. They did not hear it through the filter of some 1900 of systematizing theology contrived to intellectualize and cushion us against the blow of His outrageous command. They it head on and felt the full force of it and they were repulsed.

Here, Jesus, who was habitually pushing the margin of reason into the realms of faith, crossed the line. Here, He ventured too deeply into the uncharted territory of the kingdom of God, articulated too clearly the good, yet disturbing news of that kingdom, and called for an obedience too radically opposite the reasonable sensibilities of many disciples at that time. He called them to follow too far outside their well-defined comfort lines…and they ran away in disgust or stood paralyzed in terror as Jesus walked on – walked on into the blinding light of the liberating truth He had just spoken.

The twelve stayed with Him – maybe reluctantly, maybe for reasons that they didn’t know. But when Jesus asked that heartbreaking question, “Will you also leave Me?” it is Peter – the impetuous apostle – who gives us the secret to the hidden heart of discipleship:
“Where else can we go? You have the words of life!”
Peter may very well have been as perplexed over the point of Jesus’ teaching as those who abandoned Him, but he was not confused about the person Jesus. Peter might have misunderstood His methods and mission, but he was certain that Jesus was Messiah. He may have been in the dark about where he was going, but he knew that in Jesus there was light. He may have been scared nearly to death by the demands of discipleship, but he knew that in Jesus there was life. Just before this confession of his dependency on and the sufficiency of Jesus, he had sunk in the storm of intimidating waves and been rescued by the hand of a Master who knew his weakness and the shallowness of his faith (Matthew 14:22- 31).

There is much that we are intimidated by in our walk: doctrines that run counter to our cultures and egos, tasks that seem nearly insurmountable, the weakness of our wills and the seeming severity of God’s. We can get lost in the endless debates over the mechanics of Christianity and sink in the despondency of our powerlessness to grasp the mystery of grace, but in the midst of that, we must do what the writer to the Hebrews advised and what Peter did, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” It is He who calls us and He who enables. His body is our bread; His blood our drink. He has the words of life.

Loyalty of Authority (John 5)

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have told them by someone you think is trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning there the must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority — because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

There are good reasons to accept many of the things we believe.  But none of them are as good as the reasons we have to accept Jesus.  How can we expect to know and believe truth if we don’t consider where authority truly comes from? 

A Scientists come to us and says we should believe him because he personally studied a thing out.  Scholars, politicians, judges, presidents, neighbors, loved ones, everyone does it.  But who are they?  They are only men, susceptible to the same sins of compromise that all men fall to. 

And even if a person is right on a thing, the very thing they’re right about would itself testify for Christ.   And if a man is against Christ then that thing in which he put his hope will betray him and side, as it always has, with Christ.  Creation makes no allegiance to that which opposes the Creator, nor does it pretend to.  It will oppose us if we are against the Living God.

As we examined in the previous post, Jesus’ witness have rightful claim to authority.  We would do good to listen to them… and to listen to God.

Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

 

Can I get a witness?! (John 5)

I’m still amazed at how much I’m learning by doing these blogs.  I’ve traveled the landscape of His word many times, yet I’ve dashed right past so many wonderful views.  Views that reach into my heart, my mind, my soul; views that cry the Name of the One who loves me, the name of the one on whom I call.   How can one miss so much testimony?

How can one not hear the overpowering voices of the witnesses?

I don’t know how… but I know its possible.  Both my own life and the Scriptures guarantee to me that it’s possible.  From verse 31 on to the end of the chapter, John 5 tells us about witnesses for Jesus.  Not just one witness, and none of them small or insignificant…

Jesus- He testified about Himself (though He states that this is not His only testimony).  If a man does not state the truth about himself, it may be hard for another to understand who the man is.

John- The people were willing to listen to John, and he was a man like them.  Jesus was a man like them too, but His testimony as a man would not be valid by itself.  Jesus uses this lesser (only a man’s) testimony of John to help convince the people.  He uses one of their own, a man and a kin, to reach them.

Jesus’ Works- One can look to the things that Jesus did (which were all given to Him to do) to see the truth of who He is.  And He did these works in a manner that greatly benefited the people. The works declared that the Father sent Jesus.

The Father- Jesus was declared to all by the Father Himself.  People didn’t hear because they didn’t embrace the Father’s Word as they ought to have, but He was declared to them by the Father none the less.  Jesus calls to the authority that they claim to submit to.

Scripture- The Old Testament (and now also the New) testifies about Jesus.  The words told that life is in Christ, and the words were the hope of the people.

All around them the greatest of witnesses poured fourth speech.  The rocks would have cried out too had none of people heard these witnesses. 

The voices are overwhelming.  And each one has it’s own unique way of reaching people. 

Jesus, John, Jesus’ Works, The Father and the Scriptures all cry out who Jesus is.  If we listen, then we can hear the Holy One they cry out about… we hear Him in our humanity, and in our desire for good works in the world.  We hear Him from He whom we ought to submit to, and we hear Him in that which the people of God hope will bring them salvation.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear…

He who has eyes to see, let him see…

 

Daily Bread (John 4)

One of my favorite passages is here in John 4.  Verses 31-34:

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

We often make it a point to eat at least three meals a day.  We constantly think about what we’re going to do for fun either when we get off of work, or over the weekend.  We save money to buy things that we think we’ll enjoy.  With 168 hours in a week, we think mostly of self fulfillment.  It seems God gets the leftovers, maybe 8 hours if we’re feeling generous.

Leftovers are such humble things,

We would not serve to a guest,

And yet we serve them to our Lord

Who deserves the very best.

We give to Him leftover time,

Stray minutes here and there.

Leftover cash we give to Him,

Such few coins as we can spare.

We give our youth unto the world,

To hatred, lust and strife;

Then in declining years we give

To him the remnant of our life.

-Author Unknown.

Jesus smacked this idea in the face with His life here on earth.  He was sustained by doing the Lord’s work.  We must change our minds and our hearts so that we are sustained by doing His will.

Don’t be fooled by the devil’s schemes.  He wants us to try to get bread out of stones, but we must remember… man lives by every word that proceeds from the Father’s mouth.  True life can only be found in Christ.  We live in Christ by doing the will of the Lord.  It’s how Jesus found His nourishment.

God said in 1 Timothy 5:6 that those who live for pleasure are dead even while they live.  They constantly go to the earthly wells, just like the Samaritan woman did in our John 4 text.  But Jesus pointed out that those wells cannot satisfy.  He said we must drink of the eternal well.  Ever notice how He gave this message twice in this passage?  Both to the Samaritan woman and to the disciples.  It’s the same idea. 

Self service leads to death.  Doing God’s will brings life.

Job 23:12 says I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.  

I’ve mentioned food a few times in this post.  

Is your mouth watering and your belly rumbling from hunger? 

Are you full to the brim from your last meal? 

Are you devouring a gourmet meal right now?

 

feast1

 

I’m speaking of spiritual food.  What portion of His will are you putting on your plate?.

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Get Personal 2 (John 4)

I’d like to reiterate a point I made in this post a while back.  We need to reach out to people’s hearts, not waste their time with the things that don’t really matter.  Rich Mullins said in a song…

Well you can talk about fashion
You can talk about the weather
It’s all just stuff and it all goes up in flames
Just in case somebody comes askin’
Why don’t you do ’em one better
If you got to talk why don’t you tell ’em
‘Bout the things that remain the same

Please, don’t be scared to talk to people right where they are, however it comes up in the conversation.  And show the world that you truly believe Romans 11:36 by relating their life directly to Jesus…

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

If we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. 

And always, speak to people with truth and with love.  Just like Jesus did…

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, `I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Taken too lightly (John 3)

Reading over John 3, where Nicodemus speaks with Jesus, it’s almost comical to see the lack of understanding that Nicodemus had.  Jesus said a man must be born again and Nicodemus, a teacher, responds with “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born again!”  And then after Jesus explains it, he again asks “How?”

This idea, as well as many many others in Scripture, seem so easy to interpret.  But we also have a couple thousand years of study to work with.  Nicodemus was hearing this concept for the first time.  He had nothing to work with.

But I wonder, are we as impacted by this as Nicodemus was?  We understand the basic principle, but have we taken it to heart?  I fear we haven’t.  I fear we’ve instead written it off as just another thing we understand, without giving it much thought.

Being born again.

It’s not some cheap cliche.  Jesus didn’t use those.  And it’s not some empty philosophy, Jesus didn’t use that either.  No, what we have here is something of great significance.  Something more significant than whatever you’re likely going to do when you finish reading this post.  More significant by far than this post could hope to be.  This was Jesus saying that a man must no longer be who he is.  And not only that, the man must now be someone new.  And at the same time, he will still be himself.  Now it doesn’t sound so cliche, does it?  Wording it that way makes us think, at least a bit more.

A man by the name of Rich Mullins once cried out to God from the depths of his heart…

“Save me from trendy religion that makes
Cheap cliches out of timeless truths!
Lord save me!  Please, save me!”

May we be saved from trendy religion.  May we read the Holy Writ with a childlike wonder.  May we gaze upon the face of God clearly, without the vail of self-righteous piety that keeps us from recognizing just how small we are, and just how much we need every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Have you been born again?

The rulers knew (John 3)

I’m finding that doing these blogs is bringing out things in the Scriptures that I never gave much thought to.  This post is about a thing that I’ve given thought to, but not in relation to this passage.

John 3 begins with the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night.  There is much discussion even today over the things which Jesus taught the man.  But I’ve never heard discussion on, nor thought about a word in verse 2… “we”

It has always been apparent to me that Nicodemus had some faith in Christ.  And other passages of Scripture have made it clear that the religious leaders of the Jews also knew the truth of Christ, though I wouldn’t use the word faith when describing their attitude towards Christ. 

This passage, it turns out, supports the fact that the leaders knew, and from early on.  Nicodemus told Jesus “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.”  Nicodemus wasn’t alone, at least not in his knowledge.  It’s funny to me to speak of Nicodemus’ knowledge, because the passage goes right into the lack of his knowledge.  But that’s addressing a different matter, one I hope to speak on tomorrow.  For now, we are concerned with the rebellious leaders.

It sickens me to think that the leaders knew who Jesus was, yet they acted against Him anyway.  What a vile and disgusting thing.  What a treacherous thing.  But then as I consider it more, my thoughts drift closer to home.  I remember that I too have done this to Christ in my own life.  I made myself into a wretch.

But thank God that nothing is beyond His reach.  Psalm 139 so perfectly speaks to this, to God’s reach in our lives.  Read it if you get a chance.

Today’s leaders are not much different in their ways, and I’m not only speaking of those in politics.  I’m speaking in general terms… leaders in sciences, media, culture, business, literature… and the list goes on.  Some of these leaders know who Christ is.  They know, though they may be too afraid to honestly consider Him in the still, quiet moments of their lives.  Instead they delude their own minds, thinking that they can somehow steal from God and get away from it.  They think nobody knows.

But by their own actions their hearts are revealed. 

And they will give an account for what they do with the knowledge of Christ.  Let us all pray that before their day comes they all accept His salvation, that they will follow the trail that Nicodemus left for them… the quiet one that leads to Christ when all that surrounds them is darkness. 

And Let us continue to speak the truth to them in love.  Let us continually make sure that we ourselves are not guilty of the same treason… knowing who Christ is, yet trying to take what is His for our own pleasures.

Hebrews 1:2 “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”