This page is mostly for personal and spiritual posts (a.k.a. non-fiction).
My fiction-only blog, about my novels and other similar examples of popular art, can be found here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Great because of grace

If I had a dime for every time someone told me, "You have a great family," I might actually be able to pay our bills for a change! As poor as we might be financially, we are unquestionably rich beyond belief spiritually and relationally, not to mention all the amazing gifts and giftedness God has bestowed upon our wonderful children. 

People sometimes follow up that observation about our family with a question like, "How did you do it?" The short answer is "by the grace of God"--anything great about us is only because of his grace and mercy. The obvious reason for this answer is that the head of the home has been such a miserable failure in so many ways. It obviously can't be because of me, and even my wife will take no credit for it (though she's definitely done much better than I). But beyond the obvious is another reason for the answer "only by the grace of God": anything that's good in our family has happened through God's "means of grace"--namely the biblical truths that we have learned and taught and practiced in the home (though very imperfectly).

In the almost two years since a time of hard discipline and deep repentance in my life, I've been blown away with how gracious God has been to our family despite my sins, and I've also experienced the joy of rediscovering and restoring the principles of his Word to our family. Now Jill and I have an opportunity to encourage a younger couple in our church who are committing themselves to Christ and seeking to build a home that will honor him. To share with them the principles that God has used for good in our home, I wanted to give them some teaching on the family I'd done years ago. Since the files for the series were too big to send by text or email, I uploaded them to YouTube so the couple and their children could be blessed by them, and I'm mentioning it here in case others of you might like to learn more about the truths that God can use to build a good family, and keep it together even through the kinds of terrible disasters that can strike anyone in this broken world.

Please pray for our continued faithfulness to God as a family, and for any others that we will have the privilege of serving in his name.

If my writing is a blessing to you, please consider supporting me:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Could someone like me be God's friend?

As I looked out the windows of my room the other day at the beautiful snow on the trees, I thought about how great it would be to have friendship and favor with the awesome Creator who designed such an amazing world. But some of my experiences make me question whether that could really be true of me, because as David said “my sin is ever before me” (Psa. 51:3), and the suffering that has resulted from it has “broken my heart” in so many ways (Psa. 68:11-12, 20, 2 Cor. 2:6-8). Such circumstances do not seem by any stretch to be those of a friend of God.

But thankfully experiences and circumstances are not the basis of truth. So I continued in my meditations…

Is there any way a loser like me could be God's friend? And then I thought, If undeserving people want to become the friend of a powerful VIP, they could do so by having a relationship with someone who is close to him.  If we know someone he loves, he will give us the time of day, and if that person loves us he will even gladly give us his love because of the one who is so close to him. And then I remembered the essence of the gospel, that in Christ we can be friends of God for precisely that reason. God the Father loves his Son so much that if we are placed in union with him by faith, we can be truly loved by this powerful Creator who is the author of so much amazing beauty…

Psalm 8
1O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!....
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars [and snow!], which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

That last verse is quoted in the New Testament as referring to Jesus, which confirms the idea that it is our union with Him that causes God to “take thought” and even “care” for us. Hebrews 9:9 says, “We do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”

And then verse 10 tells us that even our suffering (yes, even suffering for sin, because Jesus did) is an inevitable evidence of being “in Christ”… “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.”

So I do have hope after all, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, that I am a son of God the Father, a brother of Jesus Christ, and a beloved friend of all three Divine Persons who spoke this incredible universe into existence—the Holy Trinity who ordained the beautiful snow (and even the back pain we get from shoveling it)!

[Additional note: Something else that gives me hope is realizing I am much more like the tax collector than I am the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). But more on that some other time…]

If my writing is a blessing to you, please consider supporting me: