The adult Jesus

This time of year as we focus on the baby Jesus in the manger, Dale Vander Veen powerfully reminded me in one of his recent e-devotions of what Jesus did as an adult – why He came in the first place and what He is doing today and will still be doing in the new year. Dale did not write this himself but the original author is unknown.

Graphic found with Google

Jesus is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
He is the Keeper of creation and the Creator of all.
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was,
he always is,
and he always will be
unmoved,
unchanged,
undefeated,
and never undone.

He was bruised and brought healing.
He was pierced and eased pain.
He was persecuted and brought freedom.
He was dead and brought life.
He is risen and brings power.
He reigns and brings peace.

The world can’t understand him,
armies can’t defeat him,
schools can’t explain him,
leaders can’t ignore him.
Herod couldn’t kill him,
the Pharisees couldn’t confuse him,
and the people couldn’t hold him.
Nero couldn’t crush him,
Hitler couldn’t silence him,
the latest pop psychology can’t replace him.

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God.
He is holy, righteous, just, and pure.
His ways are right, his word is eternal,
his will is unchanging, and his mind is on me.
He is my Redeemer, my Savior, my guide, and my peace.
He is my joy, my comfort, my Lord, and my ruler.

I serve him because his bond is love,
his burden is light,
and his blessing is peace.
I follow him because
he is the wisdom of the wise,
the power of the powerful,
the ancient of days,
the ruler of rulers,
the leader of leaders,
the overseer of overcomers.
He is sovereign Lord of all that was
and is
and is to come.

He will never leave me, never forsake me,
never mislead me, never forget me, never overlook me.
When I fall, he lifts me up.
When I fail, he forgives.
When I am weak, he is strong.
When I am lost, he is the way.
When I am afraid, he is my courage.
When I stumble, he steadies me.
When I am hurt, he heals me.
When I am broken, he mends me.
When I am hungry, he feeds me.
When I face trials, he is with me.
When I am beside myself, he is beside me.
When I face loneliness, he accompanies me.
When I face loss, he provides for me.
When I face death, he carries me home!

He is God, he is faithful.
I am his, and he is mine!
He is in control,
he is for me, not against me,
and all is well with my soul.

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Sit, walk, stand

Years ago I memorized Psalm 1. It begins with three things people avoid if they love God. In his e-devotions the other day Dale Vander Veen offered three corresponding positives to put in place of the things Psalm 1 tells me to avoid. Dale graciously welcomed me to share them with you here.

::– –::– –::

Psalm 1:1 tells me that I must “not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” The “walk … stand … sit” reminded me of Chinese Christian Watchman Nee’s little book Sit, Walk, Stand.

Basing his thoughts on Ephesians, Nee turns the negatives of Psalm 1 into three positives, explaining that I sit with Christ in heavenly realms, that I am to walk with Christ in love, and that I can stand in Christ against evil. The psalmist and the apostle agree.

Blessing pours into my life and flows out of my life to others when I sit with majesty, not mockery; when I walk in love, not wickedness; and when I stand in holiness, not sinfulness.

Sit, walk, stand graphic found via Google

“The Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking by him and standing in him. We begin by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. That rest is the source of our strength for a consistent and unfaltering walk in the world. And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with him at last in triumphant possession of the field.”
– – – from Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee

Order or disorder

Anyone’s who’s been around me for more than 5 minutes knows I’m a very organized person. A couple years ago I posted a devotional written by retired CRC pastor Dale Vander Veen about the virtue and occasional vice of being organized. He accurately expressed how I feel in that piece and has now done so again in a recent devotional titled “Order or Disorder.” I reprint it here with Dale’s kind permission.

::– –::– –::

Two verses in the same chapter speak of order: “God is not a God of disorder, but of order… Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” I love order – in my flowerbeds, in my study, in my car, in my finances, in my sock drawer, in my closet, on my bookshelves, in my planning for the future.

Recently our son’s family was at our home and I wanted to check on someone from a church we served some years ago. I left the room and returned fifteen seconds later with that church’s pictorial directory. My daughter-in-law exclaimed, “Who but Dad would know that he had that directory – and exactly where it was?” Why wouldn’t I know? What are filing cabinets and folders for anyway?

Graphic found via Google

I think deep down inside that I’m not searching for order as much as for peace. Some people find that too much order robs them of peace, confining them in the anxiety of organization. And I must apologize to those upon whom I have foisted order beyond what they could bear. To such dear friends and family members I say, “Let there be disorder in your life if that brings you peace.” For myself I say, “Let there be order in my life so I may have peace.”

Peace is of greater value than order. I must admit I changed the last word of 1 Corinthians 14:33 above from peace to order. Paul actually wrote, “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” God’s ultimate desire for us is not order, but peace. How much better to do what God wants me to do, and let him bring order as he sees best. Even suffering (a disordering experience for most) advances God’s sense of order and peace, for suffering brings perseverance which brings character which brings hope. And it is the God of hope who fills us with all joy and peace.

Let there be order, but above all, let there be peace – the peace of God!

Solvent

As an English major, I love seeing words come alive in a new light, especially when it’s in the light of faith. Dale Vander Veen is a retired pastor who emails daily devotions and he graciously welcomed me to share his theological discoveries in the word solvent

I love to find ways to open the gospel in one word. And when that one word has more than one meaning, all the better.

Solvent: able to pay all legal debts (as defined by Merriam-Webster). Solvent definition from GoogleThe opposite of solvent is bankrupt: reduced to a state of financial ruin; utter impoverishment. Maybe you know where I’m going with this one. I am spiritually bankrupt. I am unable to pay my debts to God; I am ruined, utterly impoverished. My dictionary goes further in defining bankrupt: exhausted of valuable qualities.

God says, “Dale, your dictionary goes too far. You may feel that you are ‘exhausted of valuable qualities.’ I disagree. You are of great worth to me. I have claimed you as my own, redeemed you, given you a new start. I have solved your insolvency once and for all.” Wow! Paul puts it this way: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Wow again!!

Solvent: a liquid substance capable of dissolving or dispersing one or more other unwanted substances (as also defined by Merriam-Webster). My sin is an “unwanted substance.” It is a deep stain, a seemingly irremovable stain. Only one liquid substance can make me better than OxiClean. “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” One more Wow!!!

::– –::– –::

For nothing good have I whereby thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.
Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain; he washed it white as snow.
————————— – Elvina M. Hall, “Jesus Paid It All”


…Contact Dale directly if you’d like to receive his e-devotions, too:
dalevanderveen@sbcglobal.net
 

Confiding

From time to time I need someone to whom I can confide my deepest thoughts. It is a great blessing to have such a person (wife, family member, friend, co-worker) in my life. It is an equally great blessing when someone confides in me, sharing their secret joys, dreams, disappointments, hurts.

Confiding (com + fidere = with faith) at its heart is a matter of trust. Graphic from Google's definition of ConfideI open my heart only with those I trust. Misunderstanding, rejection, indiscretion are always the risks of confiding. David writes, “The Lord confides in those who fear him.” Solomon writes, “The Lord takes the upright into his confidence.”

Imagine that! When I fear the Lord and live uprightly, he is willing to tell me some (though certainly not all) of his secrets. He risks misunderstanding, rejection, indiscretion on my part.

What does the Lord want to confide to me? The parallel second half of the quote from David above is: “He makes his covenant known to them.” When God makes his covenant known to Abraham, he tells him two secrets: “I will … be your God” and “I will bless you … and you will be a blessing.” Two secrets that Abraham was not to keep to himself, but spread around to others!

Perhaps God’s greatest risk in confiding in me is not that I’ll spill the beans, but that I’ll hoard them!

I very much appreciated the devotional Dale Vander Veen wrote
last week from which this is an excerpt. You can subscribe
to his insightful daily e-devotions by contacting him directly:
dalevanderveen@sbcglobal.net.

Offering my body in worship

During the past few months of blogging, I’ve been looking at various elements of worship. Just as we don’t limit worship to a single day of the week but rather see it as a way of life, so we don’t limit worship to merely something that occupies our minds or our hearts. God invites us to offer every part of our bodies and every aspect of our beings in worship to Him.

I love how Dale Vander Veen expresses this in these reflections he recently wrote…

::– –::– –::

“I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies
as living sacrifices.”
 
– Romans 12:1

How blessed I am that God would invite me to offer myself to him. How blessed I would be even if God grabbed hold of me and dragged me to his altar! But the God of grace prefers to invite, call, court, woo, wait, allure, and at times nudge me.

How do I offer myself to God? In a very earthy way. “offer the parts of your body to him.” Wouldn’t this be an appropriate prayer?

Lord, take my feet that I may walk in your ways.
Take my legs that I may stand firm in you.
Take my knees that I may bow in worship before you.
Take my arms that I may embrace your children.
Take my hands that I may do your work.
Take my fingers that I may write your thoughts.
Take my heart that I may pulse with your love.
Take my lungs that I may breathe the freshness of your Spirit.
Take my lips that I may speak your words.
Take my eyes that I may see your world.
Take my ears that I may hear the cries of your people.
Take my mind that I may think your truth.
Take my will that I may be wholeheartedly yours.

I am blessed, blessed indeed, from head to toe, inside and out.

Graphic found via Google

…Dale offers these reflections with the prayer that today you and I see God’s altar as the place of your life, not your death.

Love above order

If I have a gift of organization that can move mountains of stuff,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
– 1 Corinthians 13:2 (paraphrased)

Pile of papers graphic found via Google

Most people would call me organized. 1 Corinthians 14:40 (KJV) could be my life verse: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” It’s not uncommon for me to hear, “Thanks for keeping things organized for us.” But some have also said, “You’re driving me crazy with your organization.” I hate to admit it, but I’ve even heard the phrase obsessive-compulsive, which, of course, is actually a disorder.

As the saying goes, “Every virtue has its vice.” I’ve discovered that most virtues (if organization can be called virtuous) also have their exceptions. I’m looking at a pile of stuff that’s been on my filing cabinet for weeks. I notice that the pile has birthed a child recently. In fact, the child pile is threatening to outgrow the parent.

Dare I put the child on top of the parent and get back to one teetering pile? Is there a shelf in the closet on which I can hide both the parent and the child and thus protect my reputation for organization?

Does it really matter? Ah, there is the important question. Does my reputation for organization matter? No. Does it matter if I have a pile of stuff setting around? Probably not. Does it matter if I have two piles of stuff setting around? Maybe not. But surely there must be some number of piles that violates decency and order!

If order doesn’t matter, what does matter? Paul says, “The only thing that matters is faith working through love.” Does my penchant for organization help me express my love for others or does it hinder showing that love? It all depends. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it hinders.

Father, giver of the gift of organization, give me also the gift of sensitivity, that I might use all your gifts for the good of others.

::– –::– –::

Believe it or not, I did not write this reflection! I post it here with the kind permission of its original author, Dale Vander Veen. Anyone who’s been around me for more than 5 minutes will recognize a lot of me in Dale’s description of his tendency to be very organized!