Saturday, July 15, 2017


“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied…Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5: 6 & 8

These two beatitudes build on each other, as well as on the other beatitudes, especially the first two. The poor in spirit who understands how desperately he needs God, and the one who mourns over his own sinful heart hunger and thirst for the righteousness that can only be found in God. As Paul tells us in Romans 3:10, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless, no one does good, not even one.” 

It is a miracle of God’s grace that any of us are saved. In our natural, fallen state we do not seek God, we give no thought to our deplorable condition, lost in sin, wandering far from Him. I still vividly remember the moment that I first realized that I was lost. It was as though a curtain was pulled open and in a moment I saw it all – a holy God, my Creator, Jesus, my Savior crucified and risen, heaven and hell. What had been just religious jargon, I heard all my childhood became more real than the chair I was sitting on. I desperately needed the righteousness that comes by faith, and in finding it I was satisfied, and at peace.

From that time I have been secure as God’s child, confident in the gift of righteousness that is mine in Christ. However, even after decades of walking with God, purity of heart eludes me. As Paul confessed in Romans 7:17, sin dwells within me. Just when I think I’m doing well, ugly thoughts pop up to ruin my day. Shall I ever know true purity of heart and the blessing of seeing God? There are glimpses, as though through a glass darkly, but I the blessing of seeing God face to face will only come to us in the resurrection. (I Corinthians 13:12) It is a hope that will be fulfilled. I shall, in that day, look upon the face of the One who loves me and who died for me. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017


“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

Again Jesus’ words fly in the face of conventional worldly wisdom: “Nice guys (the meek or gentle) finish last. “ In this dog eat dog world, it is the top dog who gets the bone.

To be truly meek is to be like Jesus, who called Himself gentle and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:29). Godly gentleness does not arise out to weakness. Jesus was not a doormat. He was secure in who He was as the Son of God, and He was strong. This strength and security, blended with infinite love, made Him truly gentle. Oh to be more like Jesus, settled and secure as a child of God, loved by God, loving Him in return, and free to love all those around me.

The blessed Inheritance of the meek is the earth. Note that Jesus does not say, “the meek shall inherit heaven”. He was talking about planet Earth. But I also don’t think Jesus was saying that the gentle would inherit the earth now, as it is, amassing wealth and possessions. The truly meek care little for these things. No, I think Jesus was looking forward to the Earth as it was meant to be and will be when “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.” (Revelation 11:15)

I love the beauty I see in all that God has made. Yes, it is marred by sin and it is subject to futility, but that makes me anticipate all the more what it shall be when,
“creation itself will be set free from its bondage of corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.”  (Romans 8:21)

This is the inheritance of the meek, a world set free from sin and corruption, a world as it was meant to be: a world of peace and harmony under the reign of King Jesus.


“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

I like funerals. No, I don’t enjoy seeing people suffer grief at the loss of a loved one. God created us to live and death is our enemy. But loss and grief can be our friends if they bring us to face the reality of our own mortality. Those who morn are uniquely positioned to be comforted if they let grief turn their hearts to God. I love seeing this happen.

The world, in general, does everything possible to avoid the whole subject of mourning. Most people live as if death were not the fate of us all. Death is ignored. We fill our lives so full of activity that we have no time to think about eternity. We run here and there after the latest thing, we party and pretend to be happy – anything but allowing ourselves to think about our true condition.

But I think Jesus was also speaking of mourning in the broader sense of mourning over mankind’s condition. God created this world a place of beauty and peace, and he declared it to be good, very good. Sin entered the world through man’s disobedience and the world, all life, was marred. Strife, abuse, war, death, sickness, hunger, and injustice replaced the harmony and fullness of Eden. So much that was beautiful was lost. Do I care? Do I see it? Do I mourn mankind’s loss?

Regularly I find that I am closing my eyes to the destruction caused by sin all around me. I let my heart become hardened to the plight of others. But blessing comes in being touched by the pain that others endure, and reaching out to them in love. When we comfort others, when we reach out to a neighbor, a friend, a stranger who is hurting, we ourselves are comforted. We find a blessing.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 4:3

Poverty, true poverty, is something that most of us in America have never experienced. Many that Jesus spoke to, however, knew the desperation of poverty, the helplessness, the gnawing hunger, and the total lack of resources. So maybe the multitude that heard Jesus pronounce that the pour in spirit are blessed, picked up on what may elude us. Those who are desperate for God, those who know that they are helpless without Him, those who cry out for true spiritual food, those who look to God for all that they need are the blessed ones. Why? Because theirs is the kingdom of God. Their spiritual poverty drives them to find God, to believe in Him, to trust in Him, and to fully yield to His Lordship. They are willing subjects to the King, and the King cares for His own. They find true riches in His Kingdom.

So, in what way is this idea upside down? It clearly stands in contrast with the world’s values. In Jesus’ day, as in ours, it is the wealthy, the powerful, the gifted, and the famous who are considered blessed. They don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. They have everything that they could possibly need or want and then some. People respect them. They have influence. They don’t think that they need God – He is irrelevant to them.

But on a deeper level I think Jesus was contrasting the poor in spirit with the rich in religion – those who think that they have all their spiritual ducks in a row. Like the Scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, those who believe right doctrine, who go to church, read their Bibles, pray, tithe, fast, and don’t commit the big sins. Have you been there? I have. At times I’ve lost that spiritual desperation, that deep hunger for God. Recognizing that we have strayed from being poor in spirit is half the battle. God so graciously, so mercifully draws us back to Himself: renewing our hearts, bringing us again to the place where we can say with the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and what is there on earth that I desire besides thee.” – Psalm 73:25

Thursday, June 15, 2017


“The Heavens above declare the Glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. “ – Psalms 19:1

Once upon a time a family of mice made their home in a piano. From time to time, beautiful music would fill the piano. The mice came to believe that some benevolent unknown being produced the music.  They were content to enjoy its beauty.

One day a curious member of the mouse family ventured forth to explore the inner workings of the piano. He discovered that vibrating strings were the source of the music. He also noted that the hammers activated by keys struck the strings. The mice then decided that the beautiful music was produced by a machine, and they ceased to think it necessary to believe in the unknown being as the source of the music.

I love science. I enjoyed being a research chemist for over three decades. Science is a God given tool, which mankind is using to discover the mysteries of our universe, the atom, and even life itself. We have learned much, and there is much more to learn about how God has structured creation. As we do so, however, we run the risk of repeating the mistake made by the mouse family. We can become so impressed by what we’ve learned about the machine of creation that we lose sight of the Creator.

The mice enjoyed beautiful music, not because the piano existed, but because a musician owned and played the piano. The beauty, variety, and wonder in this creation exists because it was brought into being by a God of beauty, variety, and wonder. All of nature is playing a song. God is singing to us in and through all He has made. Enjoy the song. The heavens, and all of creation, are declaring the glory of God.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


 “On turning I saw…one like a son of man… his eyes were like a flame of fire,… his voice was like the roar of many waters… and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” -  Revelation 1:12-16

This is John’s description of Jesus when he encountered Him during his exile on the Isle of Patmos. John then received from Jesus the amazing vision we call the book of Revelation. Fascinating as the vision is in its entirety, it is this passage that grabs my attention.  This is hardly the Jesus pictured in most Sunday School material. There is nothing wrong with the gentle Jesus in a white robe carrying a lamb on His shoulders. Jesus is humble and kind. This is the Jesus that draws little children to Himself. I’m grateful for the gentle Jesus that I learned of in my childhood.

Today, however, it is the Jesus whose eyes are like a flame of fire that I need to see, or rather that I need to see looking at me. It is the voice like the roar of many waters that I need to hear. It is the face that shines like the sun in its full strength that I need to see.

Why? I too often lapse into a comfortable, easy Christianity that is self-serving, long on grace, and short on holiness and godly fear. He searches mind and heart (Revelation 2:23), uncovering compromise, unforgiveness, hardness of heart, impatience, unbelief… not to shame, nor to wound, but to cleanse, to heal, to restore, and to fill afresh with His love and peace. Don’t be afraid. He can be trusted. Our hearts are safe in the hands of the one whose eyes are like a flame of fire. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017


“Whoever loves his brother abides in light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling… Little children let us love not in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.”  - I John 2:10, 3:18

I have to admit that for much of my Christian life I’ve struggled with John’s writings. His letters especially just seem to monotonously hold to one theme – love. Okay, love one another. I get it! Or do I?

As a young man, John must have been a real character. Jesus called him and his brother James “sons of thunder”. (Mark 3:17) They wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village that failed to receive Christ. (Luke 9:51-55)

John wrote his three letters (First, Second, and Third John) late in life when he was likely in his 70’s or 80’s. What changed him from a “son of thunder” to the apostle of love? I think it was decades of life in Christ- all of church life – the good, the bad and the ugly. Early on, he was in Jerusalem at Pentecost and experienced the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, conversion of 100’s, miracles of healing, and even the dead being raised back to life.

As the years passed, he witnessed the enemy’s attacks on the church.
From the outside came persecutions, torture, and martyrdom. From within the church came false doctrine – leaders drawing Christians after themselves with twisted versions of the gospel.

How could the church keep on track? How could tiny gatherings, scattered across the Roman Empire, resist the enemy’s attack? Much of the New Testament was written, but it was not compiled into the Bibles we hold in our hands today. So John in his short letters gave the believers a simple test. How can we tell who is of Christ and who isn’t? Love. Genuine love, the kind that led Jesus to the cross, is the test of a true believer. Don’t be led astray by Charisma. Don’t trust someone’s new and better gospel. Don’t trust those who appeal to the flesh. Trust those who love – not in word, but in deed and in truth. This love kind of comes only from Jesus. Those who love like Jesus loved us are the true followers of Christ.

Keep it simple – thrust love.