Monthly Archives: September 2019

Don’t think too highly of yourself.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. -Proverbs 11:2 (ESV)

It’s been a week since I last posted. I don’t want to get so busy that I neglect taking the time to reflect on lessons learned from God’s Word and convey them in the form of blog posts. Should I be the only one to read them, at least it shall benefit me as I take time away from the affairs of this world to focus on things of eternal significance (as they spring from the pages of His Word).

For the past few weeks my pastor has embarked on a study of the book of Daniel. The focus has been one of a prophetic nature, as it usually is with Daniel. But a couple of other things have sprung out of those pages to hit me between the eyes. I would like to take a few minutes to focus on one of them: the ego of one King Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar (for those who may not know) was a King of Babylon (605-562 BC). The Babylonian Empire extended through much of the known world at the time. Its sphere of influence was without parallel. Nebuchadnezzar is a story of a man who had ample opportunity to witness firsthand the awesome power of the one true God in his life and kingdom, yet he often forgot what God had both demonstrated and done for him and his kingdom personally. The recounting of his experiences leave for us an important lesson in how highly we ought to think of ourselves and the importance of crediting God with the glory that is properly due to Him and Him alone.

Nebuchadnezzar received more than just a glimpse of the awesome power of God and yet quickly forgot, reverting to crediting himself for all the good things. Finally, he was made to be like a wild beast for 7 years, acting more like an animal than a man, until he acknowledged the sovereign all-powerful nature of God and turned from his self-absorbed ways to worship the one true God. Rather than interpret the story’s ending remarks by Nebuchadnezzar when his sanity and kingdom were restored, I shall let Eugene Peterson tell it through his writing in The Message:

“At the same time that I was given back my mind, I was also given back my majesty and splendor, making my kingdom shine. All the leaders and important people came looking for me. I was reestablished as king in my kingdom and became greater than ever. And that’s why I’m singing—I, Nebuchadnezzar—singing and praising the King of Heaven:

“Everything he does is right,
    and he does it the right way.
He knows how to turn a proud person
    into a humble man or woman.”
-Daniel 4:36-37

How to pray…

When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. -Matthew 6:7-8 (NET2)

I spent many years in a twelve step program that would end most of its meetings with the Lord’s Prayer. That was an easy one for me, because I had been saturated with it growing up in an Evangelical Lutheran church. We were taught to recite it at an early age, as well as to learn several other liturgical things in keeping with tradition at that time. In both the church and meetings reciting things became habitual, requiring little or no thought. Of course, they were of ill effect –because they did not come from the heart (and, in most cases, not the brain either).

I will not sit here and write that repetition is of no avail, because that is not true. I will, however, plainly state that it is pointless — if no thought or conviction goes into it. Even music, in a worship setting, should be a form of prayer to God.

Sometimes, Christians get very “religious” when praying to God and somehow transport themselves back in time to when old King James English was being read and spoken. Apparently, they think that God will pay more attention if prayers are framed with “thees and thous.” Of course, most of us are fully aware that such things are not necessary. We have many examples of prayers that we can model our own on, if we need a starting point. Perhaps the best place to start is in Matthew with the LORD’s Prayer. Jesus has given us the model of a perfect prayer with which we can begin our prayer life with God.

So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins. -Mt. 6:9-15 (NET2)

Animals in Heaven?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? -Matthew 6:26

This is a subject that often comes up for Christians who also happen to be animal lovers (particularly dogs). Many people say that animals are to be used or enjoyed in this life only and do not have eternal souls or any promise of life after death. Most would agree that the Bible is not clear on this subject one way or another. For those of us who love our pets, it is perhaps a matter left to hope and trust that whatever God’s plan is for our animals is best.

We must always trust that God knows what He is doing, no matter how ‘unfair’ or ‘cruel’ we might think it is. It isn’t that way at all; it simply is the way that our sovereign Lord has decided it to be.

We do know from the Bible that God cares a great deal about animals: A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. -Prov. 12:10 (NASB) What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. -Matthew 10:29 (NLT) “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. “I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. -Psalm 50:10-11 (NASB)

Certainly there is plenty of proof that God cares about animals, but nothing is really said [apparently] about whether or not we will see them after this life. Sure, on the new Earth the Bible speaks of lions and lambs together, etc. But that does not necessarily mean they will be the loving dog or cat we knew while in this earthly life.

Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe produced a video detailing why they believe we will see our beloved pets again. One of the points he makes is that we should encourage each other in hope. I would encourage you to remember that, when we are spending eternity with God, the most important, all-consuming thing will be our worship and adoration of the Lord. On the other hand, there may well be time for other things such as loving our friends, animals and other beautiful things.

The reason I am spending so much time on this subject is that it is once again fresh on my mind. We lost a very dear pet two days ago, a sweet little character named Martha who was an apricot Toy Poodle. She was a couple months shy of fourteen and had been sick since before last January with kidney failure, a heart murmur and (we think) cancer. We did what we could to keep her as long as we could, while still maintaining some activity, appetite and a relatively pain-free life. Once that changed, we had the severely difficult task of taking her for her last vet ride. One could tell that she was ready. It was us that were not ready to let her go. Would it have been easier with some biblical certainty that we would see her again in the new Earth? I think that is safe to say. Did we have that? Sadly, no. What we do have is some biblical assurance that she mattered to God. That is something wonderful and will have to be enough as we move forward in our lives.

At least, when it comes to our own salvation and promise of eternity, we can be sure. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son. We know that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Do you have that blessed assurance? For your sake, I truly hope so.

61 Today

For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. -Prov. 9:11

I awoke this morning to best wishes from my wife for a happy 61st birthday. Where have the years gone? They have passed so quickly. Today is not a day to focus on things that were cherished in days gone by and are no more: love ones, my hair, etc. No, my friend, it is a day I am thankful for what I have. Today is a good day to reflect on the overwhelming love of God as evident in His grace.

They very fact that I made it to 61 years of age astounds me a bit. The life I lived in my younger years was one of excess: drugs, alcohol and other poor choices. The people I associated with were not people of “good character” as one might hope to have for companions. Many were the scrapes I found myself in — due to the abuse of alcohol and drugs. I think, when reflecting as a Christian who has some minimal knowledge of scripture, it is better said that it was through my sin nature that bad times abounded. Why God has chosen me to be in His family (and heir to all that is promised) is beyond me, but I count myself fortunate to have been called to be a part of the wonderful family of God in Christ.

Today I have great marriage to a wonderful wife, a fine career, decent home, lots of solid friends (brothers and sister in Christ). None of this would have happened, were it not for God delivering me from my own self-destructive sin-nature into the arms of our loving Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you say the same for you and your life? It is as simple as making a decision to invite Jesus into your life. He will never let you down. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. -James 1:17.