Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Engagement!

Our daughter, Michelle, has accepted a ring from a fine Christian gentleman, Aaron Steele, who has been wooing her for the past eight months. They are working on a wedding date in August, but still have a few kinks to work out. They are at that stage in their lives where long engagements are not necessary. Actually when you think about it, unless someone is still in school, like my other two daughters were when they got engaged, there is no reason for a long engagement. After all, at this point you should be past the point of wondering if this is the right one or not. I can say that, because it worked for Kathy and me. We were married five months after we met. But then we were 25 years old and thought we were mature and had our heads screwed on straight. Boy, do you grow up that first year of marriage, and with me, those first two years. But it has been a good experience, and I have enjoyed the last 32 years of my life. It’s not like I have all the answers, but I do speak from experience.

The important thing to remember is to keep God’s commandments of love (the 10 Commandments). ‘Thou shall not commit adultery’ is good one to remember to keep. And ‘thou shall not bear false witness;’ after all you need to trust one another. How about the last one, ‘thou shall not covet?’ This basically covers selfishness, and if you don’t put your spouse’s interests and happiness above your own, you are headed for a rocky landing. Of course a marriage is going to have a good start if a couple puts God first in their marriage.

From a parental point of view, we prayed for our children’s mates from the time they were small. And, although it wasn’t formally done, we taught them what they were to look for and expect in a husband or wife. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but I think our three daughters have done well. There were a few rocky times, but they have chosen well.

On another note, and I understand that there are not that many readers of this blog, but I would really appreciate any comments. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with my point of view. I will be the first to concede that I have not all wisdom. I think comments would help people to think about the topic, or if you have another topic which you would like to have discussed, please comment on that as well. A couple topics that I have on the backburner are ‘Worship’ and ‘God’s authority’ especially as it relates to the book, The Shack, which seems to have cultivated a number of followers. Let me know what you would like discussed as well.

Although I haven’t mentioned this before, I am thrilled to be able to send out these messages and trust they are well-received. Your encouragement means more than you will know. Thank you for spending the time reading these few ‘peanuts’ that I have picked up over the past 56 years.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Passover

In our Children’s Church, which I ‘pastor,’ we are going through Exodus, and this past Sunday was the ‘story’ of the last plague and the first Passover. (I don’t like the word story because the connotation is that it is make-believe, and nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the Bible.) It is a powerful O.T. portrayal of the sacrifice Jesus made for humanity. In so many ways God revealed Himself and the atonement that He would provide, starting with the promise He made to our first father, Adam. The sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham is a clear picture of what God would do. And then 3,500 years ago, Moses gave to the Israelites both a beautiful promise of God’s deliverance from the bondage of sin, and the awful consequences to those who will not repent and accept the free gift of salvation.

First, because Pharaoh was a stubborn unbeliever, God sent nine terrible plagues upon Egypt. At one point his advisors pleaded with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go because Egypt was ‘destroyed.’ I sincerely hope that if there are unbelievers reading this, that you are true seekers of the truth. If so, God will certainly reveal himself to you. What you are about to read is the light that God gave the Israelites 3,500 years ago, enough light for them to find salvation in the coming Lamb. God, in His love for sinners, not only provided an escape from the impending judgment, but also gives light to those responding to the Spirit’s work in their lives.

And so because Pharaoh still hardened his heart and would not let the Israelites go, The Lord sends one last plague upon the Egyptians:

The lamb had to be both a male and free of blemishes. Is that not a picture of Jesus? He obviously was a male and he lived a sinless life. Then there was the leaven. It represents sin in the Bible and there in the Jewish households there could be no leaven. I believe this represents what God does in our lives when we are forgiven of our sins. Our sins are removed from us ‘as far as the east is from the west.’ The blood had to be placed in a special way on the crossbeam and the side posts. As the blood drips from the crossbeam the image of a cross appears. Then of course, there was the Death Angel who swept through the land of Egypt that terrible night. He passed over all those houses that were covered by the blood, but judgment was inflicted on those who ignored the warning. The firstborn in those houses was slain by the Death Angel. What a picture and warning to those who have failed to receive the covering of the blood of God’s sacrificial Lamb.

P.S. I don’t know how accurate the dates in the margins of the Bible are (they are not part of the inspired Word of God), but if they are accurate, you will notice that this happened in 1491 BC. Add 2009 to that and you come up with exactly 3,500 years. Passover this year is April 9.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Amazing Grace

Although I did not post a blog last week, it is not because I didn’t try. What I had written was not worthy of your time, and that is unacceptable to me. If something appears on Peanuts, I hope there are those who will find that it edifies, convicts, or comforts. My purpose in this blog is to assist in building the body of believers – my brothers and sisters in Jesus, and to invite those who have yet to join the family of God.

This post is about grace. It is not because the name of my company is Grace Plastics. It is actually God’s company, but I think you understand what I mean. The concept of grace is so incredible, it is worth visiting.

Think about it, there is nothing you can do to get you on the good side of Jesus. Now, you may go to church, pray, read your Bible, witness, and even tithe. Wow, God is really going think I am something! Sorry, even though these things are very good, there is nothing we can do, good or bad, that will change our acceptance with God. Remember, Jesus loved you so much that before you did all these great things, He died for you. If you are like me, there is something down deep that screams, ‘If I do all these things, I will get an inside track with God. He is going to appreciate me for what I do.’ I need the reminder that there is nothing I can do to change my standing with the Lord. And there is nothing I can do in my own strength that will please God. (Read Heb. 11:6)

So where do we go from here? Well, first of all, we thank God for His grace, freely given to us. When we understand that there is nothing we can do to win God’s favor, we are on the road to liberty in Jesus. There is no more doing good things because of fear of God, or because of duty. We allow God to work His perfect work in us. It’s like my daughter’s pastor said recently, ‘Jesus plus anything equals nothing. Jesus plus nothing equals everything.’ If you don’t understand that, I want to hear from you. I would love more than anything else, to show you what God’s amazing grace really is.

Finally, so I don’t leave anyone with the wrong impression, we don’t give up on the good works mentioned above or any other good works. But we don’t do these things because of fear or duty. We do what God wants us to do out of love for Him. A good illustration is the young violinist who played for the crowd, but never left his eyes off his teacher. When he was done, he sought the smile of approval of his master. Only then did he accept the applause of the people. May we seek the smile of approval of our Master.