Have you ever picked up an entertainment magazine in the checkout line or watched an interview with someone who is rich and famous? Broken marriages, repeated rehab, estranged children, living without reference to God. No desire for him. No delight in him. Sin and self reign. With all the designer clothes, magnificent homes and extravagant vacations, there is still no lasting joy. It seems that the more of the world a person has, the more miserable he or she seems to be. One famous actor said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Continue reading “Fruit”
My dear friend Naomi Njoroge, from Kenya, wrote this on her 50th birthday:
Continue reading “Fit for Heaven”
More than half of these 50 years were spent on a slippery road, on a hell-bound race which came naturally to me, just like the rest of mankind. For we are all by nature destined as fuel for hellfire (Eph. 2).
But God being rich in mercy halted this race. He yanked me from this slippery road and put my feet upon a rock. Yes, He did!
And if this is all the Father did, that would have been good—undeserved and glorious. But our Father does things very well. He not only stripped me of my hellish nature, which the Bible calls flesh, and in so doing made me unfit for hell. He also clothed me with his righteousness, making me fit for heaven. Yes, He did!
I am now on a heaven bound race. Yes, I am! And I know heaven will receive me, and hell will not—and it cannot. And this is not of my own doing. The blood of Jesus pleads for me.
If I see my 51st, I know my righteousness will not exceed that of the thief on the cross, but my labors may. That is my prayer.
Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist orator, spoke from experience. He had been born a slave. His first taste of freedom was after he refused to be beaten by an ultra-cruel “slave-breaker.” He writes of this incident in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave:
Continue reading “Freedom”
“The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full compensation for whatever else might follow, even death itself… It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom. My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place…” (p. 69).
While being shut inside during this pandemic, I’m reading a few classics. I started with The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. The story paints an arresting picture of sin’s corruption of the soul. It opens with an artist painting a portrait of Dorian Gray, a “beautiful” young man of “innocence.” The artist heaps flattery on Dorian while another acquaintance mockingly warns the young man that he will age and won’t always be worthy of such praise. When finished, the painting so magnificently portrays Dorian’s youth and beauty that the young man jealously utters the wish that the picture could change, “and I could always be what I am now!” Dorian’s horrible desire comes true: the portrait becomes a picture of his corrupted soul as he lives a hidden life of licentiousness driven in an attempt to satisfy every illicit desire, while he keeps his outward beauty and youthful vigor. Dorian’s portrait vividly displays the ugliness and horror of sin.
Continue reading “Portraits”
Seeing sin in our lives is discouraging, especially when it’s a pattern—it can seem like a broken record that repeats over and over. We berate ourselves, “I can’t believe I did it again!” But Romans 5 tells us of an abundance of overflowing grace. We were born corrupted in Adam, and death reigns over us because we all sin. But while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died to save us from the wrath of God. Christ’s righteousness is the free gift of grace for all who repent and believe. In Adam we are bound to our sin, headed for death. But in Christ we receive Jesus’ righteousness, “leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).
Continue reading “Dead to Sin”
Have you been irritable stuck in your home during this pandemic? Are you fearful about the future? Have you been reaching for food or drink to calm your anxiety? Fantasy or pornography to alleviate your loneliness?
Have you been making the most of your time at home, or are you drifting from God in complacency? Things are starting to open up. How is your heart?
Continue reading “Pandemic Sin”
A dear friend, Mary Katherine, recited this anonymous poem to me by heart. Initially it appeared as a Scottish poem, and then began in 1578 to be included in the preliminary material of most Geneva Bibles.
Here is the spring where waters flow,
Continue reading “‘Of the Incomparable Treasure of the Holy Scriptures’”
To quench our heart of sin;
Here is the tree where truth doth grow
To lead our lives therein;