Saturday, March 25, 2006
1:12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Monday, March 13, 2006
My prayer today is that God would guide Mr. Ahmadinejad to the book of Esther. I confess that my initial thoughts on this issue involved a spirit of meanness. God, however, loves Iran's president as much as He loves me, and would much rather have him come to a saving knowledge of Christ than anything else. So, Mr. Ahmadinejad, on the off chance you're reading this, may I humbly tell you that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob loves you, and sent His son to atone for your sins as much as mine.
Here's a timely article on the significance of the book of Esther, and the celebration of Purim.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Sometimes I marvel at how God uses our earthly relationships to teach us more about our relationship to/with Him. Scripture makes this plain in such passages as the challenging Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Shortly after giving us the model of the Lord's prayer, Jesus encourages us to pray to the Father, using a Father/Son analogy to convince us how eager the Father is to hear and respond to His children's prayers: Luke 11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Though I know I am an inherited son of God through my kinship with His son Jesus Christ, my earthly life hardly seems indicative of this new spiritual nature. Sure, there are moments when I might see the shadow of the new man I've been promised I'll become, but most days involve deep sighs reflective of how far my flesh is from that spiritual destiny. Yet, despite this disconnect between the old/new me, God sometimes gives me a glimpse of what these earthly relationships might feel like in Heaven.
My 8-year-old daughter has recently begun piano lessons. This afternoon, I listened to her play a simple melody (Jingle Bells) using two hands. She is just starting out, so timing, concentration, and overall execution are consistent with that of a beginner. However, she did play well enough for me to be able to accompany her for a few bars on my nearby drumset. Lo and behold, while we didn't exactly bring down the house (we were alone in the basement), the duo offered hints of Bernhardt family jams that may come in future years.
As her Father, I simply delighted in being able to share this gift of music with my own daughter. Thoughts like: "Hey, this is my own flesh and blood that's making this music with me!" ran though my awareness. What a treat to know that something so dear to me (the beauty of music) is also appreciated by my kin. Even though her musical ability may not come from my genes (they could come from her Mother's side, and more to the point, this is a gift from God), the shared experience of using our shared gift left me with a deeper appreciation of the blood bond between my daughter and myself.
God, do you take delight like this when I take interest in something that you love? Does it fill you with visions of the two of us making beautiful music someday, even though my performance is clearly that of a beginner? Does is tickle you when we're playing the same passages of a simple little ditty, even though you could leave me in your dust? Do you have to restrain yourself from coaching me too quickly, lest I get lost in your mastery and become frustrated?
Thank you Father, for my daughter. Thank you for the lessons you teach us about your love through our imperfect performance in our family roles. Thank you for being the perfect Father to my daughter and to me. Thank you for giving us family ties so we can know something about love. I pray that you continue to use this family to demonstrate your glory.
This experience has helped me look at the Lord's prayer in a fresh way. I'll close by typing it here, highlighting in bold the words that can be better understood by relecting on our own family:
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen..