Wednesday, October 31, 2012
In honor of the upcoming presidential election, I am posting a link to a message I gave to our church four years ago before the last one, which I believe is just as applicable now...
Click on this link to hear the message, and here is the basic outline of what I shared:
Dave’s Dos and Dont’s:
DO pray about the election (and the government), in a "kingdom-oriented" way
DO consider the issues with an open mind
DO be discerning and even skeptical about both sides of issues
DON’T allow your political views to be expressed in sinful ways
DON’T allow your political views to create unnecessary barriers between you and unbelievers
DON’T allow your political views or activities to be a substitute for personal godliness
DON’T judge other believers for how they vote or what they think on issues that are not clear in Scripture
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Tell me true, tell my why, was Jesus crucified?
Was it for this that Daddy died?
Was it you? Was it me?
Did I watch too much TV?
Is that a hint of accusation in your eyes?
Those are the first words of my favorite Pink Floyd album, The Final Cut, which also happens to be the last one the band made with the legendary lyricist Roger Waters.
[If you’re not a Pink Floyd fan, you can skip this paragraph, but if you are… I know, I know, The Final Cut is supposed to be their worst album, because the band was all but split by then and David Gilmour only sang on one song, so it was really a Roger Waters solo album with a few Gilmour solos plugged in, etc. etc. But notice I didn’t say it was necessarily the best album (Dark Side maybe?) or their most artistically impressive (The Wall probably). I just said it’s my favorite, but I also could make a case for its objective quality: the great lyrics, of course, and the passion and pain that only Waters could bring to the vocals. I enjoy Gilmour’s voice much more, but I have to say it wouldn’t fit most or all of these songs. And those few guitar solos by him are not chopped liver!]
Waters is asking some very important questions in that verse, and I have the answers! Not because I’m so smart or great in any way—in fact, I think I’m incapable of determining such truth on my own, with my human limitations. So I have to rely on someone greater than myself to reveal it, and I believe God has revealed the answers in a book that claims to be His Word and backs up that claim in many ways. (For more information about why I say that about the Bible, listen to the audio file called “Messages from God” at www.faithchurchpca.org/multimedia.)
Tell me true, tell me why, was Jesus crucified?
Was it for this that Daddy died?
Roger Waters’ father died in the battle of Anzio in World War II, just before his baby son was born back in England. I’m not sure exactly what Waters meant by this question, but I do know there is a connection between his father’s death and the death of Christ, as there is a connection between all death and the death of Christ. Death came into the world because man sinned against God, and the natural consequence of sin is separation from the spiritual life that God imparts to His children (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12). This divine life is morally perfect and clean and cannot remain in those who are defiled by sin, so we suffer the physical pain and death by being part of a broken world. And in legal terms, humanity finds itself under the just condemnation of a God who warned us that if we sin, we will die. And we all do, so we die—not just here in this life but in the next as well, as our separation from the life of God continues in eternity.
The connection with Christ’s death is that in order for any of us to be reconciled to God, and be free from the power and penalty of sin, the divine Son of God had to become a man and die in our place, as our substitute. Because he was both God and man, He could bear the sins of everyone who believes in Him, and the divine life of God could freely flow to us and in us because the price has been paid and the condemnation removed. So “Why was Jesus crucified?” To provide a remedy for the sins of mankind, which have issued in cruel and painful deaths like Roger Waters’ father, and every other curse we labor under in this fallen world. “Was it for this that Daddy died?” It was because of our sins, yes, but the good news is that since Christ has borne the penalty for us, we can now look on physical death as a good thing in the long run, sorrowful as it might be at the time. It reminds us of what we deserve, so we will run to Christ and rely on Him to save us, and for those who do, death is only a “mere speed bump” on the way to eternal life with Him.
Was it you? Was it me?
Did I watch too much TV?
Yes, in a way it was you and me, and we definitely have watched too much TV. The fact that we often spend our time so unwisely, when it could be used for much more profitable purposes, shows how the priorities in our hearts are far from what they should be. And our love for pleasure more than God reveals how we have been corrupted by original sin, when He is the only source of permanent satisfaction. To get a small taste of why such idolatry is so offensive to God, imagine spending all your time, energy, and money raising a child who ends up utterly ungrateful, never thanking you or giving you the honor you deserve for all you’ve given him.
Is that a hint of accusation in your eyes?
Unfortunately, yes. There is a hint, or more than a hint of accusation that we see in the eyes of others, especially religious and moral people. But that is not a fruit of the true gospel, which teaches us that no one is better than anyone else and we all deserve to die for our sins, only to be delivered by the righteousness of Christ and none of our own. That hint or more of accusation is a fruit of self-righteousness and pride—the antitheses of the attitude that Christians should have toward those who have different beliefs and live a different lifestyle than we do. There should only be love, compassion, and understanding in our eyes toward them. But so often the religiosity and moralism that pretends to be Christianity dominates the spiritual landscape and effectively severs its adherents from the true grace of God (Galatians 5:1-4). And that false Christianity is the beginning of inevitable decline in the church and the culture. “Judgment begins with the house of God,” as the writer of Hebrews says, and that leads me to another question from a little later in the Pink Floyd song…
Should we cry? Should we scream?
What happened to the post-war dream?
I think what happened to the post-war dream was that the self-righteousness and pride I mentioned earlier seeped into the church and the “Christian culture” of the 40s and 50s, as a result of the wartime achievements of the western nations and the inevitable self-comparisons with the shocking evil of the Nazis. “I thank you Lord that I am not like them,” we all said, just like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, who was not justified before God because he trusted in who he was and what he did. And because we did not honor the Creator but worshipped the creature in this most fundamental way, God “gave us over” to destructive pagan behavior (Romans 1:18-32)…and that’s where are now. The solution would have been, and still is, to prostrate ourselves like the tax collector in that same story, who prayed “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.” That man recognized that we are not saved because of who we are and what we do—we are saved because of who Christ is and what He has done. He went to his home justified, and undoubtedly blessed it with a humble faith that issued in changed behavior. When those who profess the name of the Lord begin to approach Him on the basis of grace alone and faith alone, the homes and homeland where we live will be once again blessed through us.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
And two World Wars in between
I closed the book, wore a forlorn look
Amazed at what I’d seen
From Malcolm X and JFK
To Czars and walls of falling
It pays that if the world’s a stage
The curtains may be drawing
The lesser fiends, like Mussolini,
Tricky Dick and O.J.
Would breeze through any rivalry
With the greats of other days
And Lindbergh, Ruth, and Reagan fly
With the Fab Four and the King
To reach the heights of “the good guys”
But the camera gave them wings
Ironic how the clearest speech
Laconic as bullets are
Could sound from death camp, trench, and beach
The Right and Wrong of war.
Does in that lie the answer
Why combat seems so real
While lover, poet, dancer
Have such a shallow feel?
For death the breath can capture
And wrest a moment’s pause
We reflect the effect is after
When pressed to find the Cause.
(I wrote this poem after looking through a book about the 20th Century, published in 2000)
Saturday, May 26, 2012
where there could be no tracks.
A dread like no other, for the ones who could feel it.
But the sleeping child, blind and deaf to the cleft in the earth,
Rolling gently from the fallen crib, to the only place
where no leaden object lay.
Some protector had held them at bay.
Pedals spin around, and small wheels on the ground
of a summer street.
A pedal pressed down, big wheels bearing down
at high speed.
But the oblivious boy, blind and deaf to the deadly breath
of the metal dragon,
Turning randomly out of its path, making the only escape
from the grip of fate on that day.
A protector had turned him away.
A spark of fire, from a broken wire that rested against
a dry paper box in the closet.
A flame kindled, when no one was near to see it.
But the studying man, nor any of his own,
could never have known
That the heat could find no air, though just a moment before
it had been ripe for a blaze.
The protector had blown it away.
A black shadow, snaking through the insides of a
An unwelcomed invader, which could not be seen or killed.
And the dying old man, half praying for healing and half
ready to leave,
Had now met a danger from which he would not
finally be saved.
His protector would not interfere today.
“Your work was done,” said the soothing voice, “The choice
was one we knew was best.”
“We’ve known for so long, how you’ve longed for your rest.”
And the happy new man, who never again would know tears,
Had now met the one who had been with him
through the years,
and had never left him alone.
This protector now welcomed him home.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Horticulture, viticulture? Astronomy, barometry?
Physics, mystics? Chemistry, telemetry?
The mysteries of history—primeval and medieval?
The rhymes of time—paternity and modernity?
No, none of these; nor crime scenes or trees,
nor legalities or “legalese”
or homicide or suicide
or psych- or sociology.
What I know that I could write—
Could put it down and get it right—
Would be the world I find inside
But half of which I have to hide.
My humanity, my insanity? My philosophy, my sophistry?
My hate, my weight, my always being late?
My witicisms, my cynicism?
My wandering eyes, my layered lies?
If I would write of what I know
of friends betrayed and foes obeyed
of faith that’s old, a heart that’s cold
Let alone the roads my sleep-thoughts take
Not to mention when I’m awake!
It seems I would be awfully brave
To spend the secrets that I save…
What can I learn, that I could write about?
[NOTE: This poem is not autobiographical (of course). It is dedicated to all those other people who are too cowardly to write about themselves.]
Monday, May 7, 2012
A shot in the arm reveals a need in me
Not in a partner who loves like she
But that’s what I got
It was just like a shot
When we reached 20 years
I’ve been thankful for the first 19
Truly grateful that she’s on my team
But she took a leap
All-star to MVP
When the streak hit 20 years
The Artist has created a “helper suitable”
And her landscape has always been beautiful
But she took the Grand Prize
For the shine in her eyes
When I’d seen it for 20 years
We have made beautiful music together
And it will ring in my ears forever
But it became much more strong
And my favorite song
When I’d heard it for 20 years
I’ve been intoxicated with her time after time
And the cup of her love is like the best wine
It took the heart that I had
And made it even more glad
When it had aged for 20 years
I’m still inclined to stay Protestant
Nor take the Roman view of the sacraments
But each look at her face
Is a means of God’s grace
When we’ve worshipped Him together for 20 years
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
and never can return, though a world
of riches and time are yours.
Times you lose when you awake
and long for their return, though in time
they never were and are no more.
They never were and are no more.
Swimming through the air above
or falling down, though highs and lows
are only in the landscape of the mind.
The motion and sensations are real
to the soft machine, though it lies in tow
at the end of the borderland.
The guilt and grace are real as well,
but more the first, although the soul
perceives it will be rescued by the dawn.
It fears the consequences of its crimes
and stays its hand, though not as far as in the light,
far by this form of darkness drawn.
If I could choose to stay or go,
I might remain, though I suppose
before too long a longing for the real
would weave its way into my thoughts
and soil the cloth, though if it not,
the caress of the eternal dress I feel.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Fading voices calling
Flashing visions passing
A spiral of time, unhindered by
Long lost joys emerging
Conquered pains returning
A bittersweet thrill, forgetting but still
(this is the first of a series of posts containing poems I have written...it is the shortest by far, but also my favorite)