A Much Needed Rest

I have a couple grandsons that love to pretend they are superheroes. They have an assortment of capes and masks that allow them to be Superman, Batman, Captain America, Flash, and more. Justus likes to put on a pair of large green hands and pretend he is the Hulk. They moved to a different house and the first time I went there I was driving down the street reading addresses but it was clearly the one with a little superhero riding a scooter in the driveway, wearing a mask with a cape flowing behind.

While writing this article Lisa came in the office to tell me that Justus was goofing around saying that he was Pop Pop (which is his great grandfather). Lisa asked him, “Are you Pop Pop?” He said, “No, I’m Justus”, after a small pause he added, “and Spiderman.”

One day Leah interrupted the boy’s game by calling them up for lunch. As Malachi climbed up onto the dining room chair he said, “I’m going to save the day after I eat my bread”. This little superhero recognized an important fact. Sometimes we need a break from saving the day in order to eat our bread. His mom sees even more clearly that sometimes he also needs a nap and a reasonable bedtime.

This need is woven right into our fabric as we see in the creation God created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. He would later command His chosen people, Israel, to keep a Sabbath by following the same pattern of rest every Saturday.

The concept of rest was also used as God promised His people a land in which they would have rest from their enemies. An entire generation of Israelites rebelled against God and missed out on entering the Promised Land. “Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest” (Hebrews 3:10,11).

This earthy Promised Land was meant to point to a greater rest that would be experienced in Heaven. “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it” (Hebrews 4:1). All of the dimensions of this idea of rest are meant to point us to Christ. Concerning the Sabbath Colossians 2:17 says, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ”.

It is not in our work that we are brought close to God but in our rest! We actually have to stop working for our salvation and trust Christ who accomplished it for us.

 

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Soaking in the Son

With the way the cold has held on this winter it has made me even more thankful for the sun. Even on a cold day, if you can feel the warmth of the sun shining on you it makes a big difference. Our house is situated so that the back faces southeast. We have a deck on that side of the house and when the sun radiates off the deck and the back wall of the house you can sit out there in shirt sleeves even if the temperature is only in the upper thirties or low forties; that is providing the wind isn’t blowing. Lisa and I really enjoy this early taste of spring on sunny days each year as we sit out there and soak in the warmth of the sun. We often remark that if you close your eyes all the snow that is in the yard disappears.

Earlier this winter I walked by the back door. Our back door has a window in the top half of it and the sun was shining in the window onto the rug on the entry floor. I paused as I walked by to feel the warmth of the sun on my feet. Then I stepped closer to the door and turned to feel the warmth on my back. When Lisa came into the room a little later, she found me sitting on the floor in the entryway reading a book and mentioned that if I brought the chair out of my office I would be more comfortable. She was right. I brought the chair out and read in the sunshine for a couple hours that morning. Even on a cold day that sun has a lot of power in it, and if you can position yourself to feel the heat radiating from it this is very enjoyable.

This reminds me of Jesus. The Bible says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). When I think about the sun I experience it through what radiates out from it. When I think about the Son of God, He is the radiance of the glory of God. I experience the glory of God through Him. This takes place primarily through the purification of our sins.   The experience of having your sins forgiven feels better than sitting in the sunshine on a warm spring day. Enjoy some time soaking in the Son.

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Resurrection Fraud?

I recently considered purchasing a trailer for my construction business. A friend of mine saw one on the internet for a really good price and I called on it. A couple weeks later I received a reply that said he had been helping a neighbor sell it and gave me her contact number in case I was still interested.

When I contacted her she said it was her husband’s trailer, which had only been used a couple times before he passed away three months ago. They had both been in the military and she was about to be deployed over seas. I told her I was sorry for her loss and thanked her for their military service. I asked where I could see the trailer. She told me that she had made arrangements with eBay to handle the transaction. That eBay would receive my payment and then deliver the trailer. I would have four days to inspect the trailer before they would release the money to her. EBay emailed me, telling me to use cash to purchase two thousand dollars worth of eBay gift cards, scratch off the code, take a picture of them and email it back to them. I called the number on the email. Everything looked official but didn’t seem quite right. Then I looked up the number for eBay and called again. It was a fraud! I was nearly duped out of two thousand dollars! Thankfully, with a little research I was able to discover the fraud and keep my money.

How do I know my faith is not a fraud? I give many times what I almost lost on that trailer to things of the Lord every year. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not true then I have committed a large part of my life to unwittingly promote the most enormous hoax in history. There is so much at stake that I have committed hours upon hours of research to discover the truth.

One reason I know it is not a fraud is because: if it is, they gained nothing from it. Some of the apostles left successful family fishing businesses. Matthew left a government job as a tax collector. Their lives would have continued peaceful and prosperous except for the fact that they claimed to have repeatedly seen Jesus risen from the dead. As they spread the message they became pursued, imprisoned, and tortured. Ten of the twelve would die a violent death. Would every one of them be willing to die for a story they made up? Frauds always have a risk to reward ratio where the reward outweighs the risk involved. But if there is no resurrection of the dead they were willing to loose everything to gain nothing. As the Apostle Paul said,  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

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Superman Bathroom

Consider

This….

By Pastor Greg McClellan

 

My grandson, Malachi, loves super heroes. He and his little brother, Justus, have several capes and masks of various super heroes, not like the old blanket we tied around our neck back in the day. They dress up like Superman, Batman, Flash, Spiderman, or Captain America and run, leap, and fly around the house solving emergencies. Malachi’s favorite, at least for now, is “SUPER MAN”.

One day, while they were playing at our house, it was time for them to eat lunch. It took a little persuading to get them to stop playing long enough to eat. As Malachi climbed up onto the chair he said, “I’m going to save the day after I eat my bread”. We were good with that.

Recently he was playing at our house again. He approached Lisa and said, “Damma, you have two bathrooms”; and then proceeded to show them to her. He led her to the one on the main floor and said, “you have this bathroom down stairs”, and then he took her upstairs and said, “this is your Superman bathroom!”

Superman Bathroom?

Lisa scanned the room to see what would cause him to think of Superman. It was the stand up shower. In our day of cell phones this is the only thing Malachi has seen that looks anything like a phone booth, so this must be the Superman bathroom. I wonder what he thinks Grandma’s super powers are? Maybe that eyes in the back of the head thing. I think Grandma appreciates the transformation Grandpa goes through in there after a hard and sweaty days work making him more pleasant to be around. When you think about it this is a pretty good super power. I admit it may not compare to flying but a little booth where you can go in all dirty, and smelly, and grimy; and come our all clean, and shiny, and smelling good seems like a handy thing to have.

This reminds me of what we have in Christ. The Bible tells us, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Prior to faith in Jesus Christ we have all this filth on us the Bible calls sin.   Then as we enter we are “washed”, “sanctified”, and “justified”. There is no super power better than this.

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Speeding Through Montana

Lisa and I recently took a trip out west to visit family. Most of our family is in Washington State so we put on about four thousand miles on this trip. We used to plan our trip so we would be traveling through Montana in the daylight. When you crossed the state line into Montana there was a billboard which read,

“Trucks: 65mph,

Nightti:me: 65 mph

Daytime Reasonable and Prudent”

Though I often wondered what the local sheriffs considered “reasonable and prudent”, we made pretty good time through Montana. Well, they have not had that billboard for quite a few years as they joined the rest of the states with a more specific maximum speed limit. However, this year they changed their maximum speed limit to 80 mph. I didn’t pay too close of attention to my speed as we flew through Montana. I figured, if they set their speed limit at eighty miles an hour do they really care how fast you are going?

I will assure you they do! As I was cruising along I saw a police officer coming from the other direction. Just after he got to us his flashing lights came on and he turned quickly into the grassy ditch dividing the two highways and was soon headed in our direction. I didn’t figure he was after me so I continued on until he pulled up behind me.

After I pulled over he came up to my window and asked for my license and insurance. While I retrieved them for him I asked why he pulled me over. He said I was going too fast. I asked, “Isn’t

the speed limit eighty miles an hour?” His response was that I was going eighty-four. He told me that he was originally from Minnesota and that he knows that we are not allowed to drive as fast there so keep it to the speed limit. He let me off with a verbal warning; and I did the speed limit.

Sometimes people do the same thing with God’s laws. Because He does not judge us instantly for everything we do wrong we sometimes get the misconception that He is not really concerned about that sin. In Psalm 50:21, The people had been breaking God’s laws and He said, “These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” Just as I interpreted the high speed limit as a lack of concern and proceeded to break the law, these people interpreted God’s patience with them as a lack of concern and persisted in their sin. Let us not make the same error for He will not keep silent forever.

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Spiritual Lawn Care

When I was young my parents insisted on a nice yard. Since we built our house in an hay field it took a lot of work to get one. We collected large rocks from the foothills of eastern Washington and built rock walls. We also split old power poles and made split rail fences and planted shrubs. I liked the yard but didn’t always appreciate being involved in the process. The special projects didn’t bother me as much as the ongoing maintenance. My Dad likes a short lawn so it was my job to mow it frequently. That was understandable though I couldn’t see why it was important enough to get a guy out of bed before noon on a Saturday (few things were that important). I suppose it all worked out in the end as I inflicted the same chores on my children.

Lisa and I also like to keep a descent looking yard. Of course when I say, “Lisa and I”, I mean mostly Lisa. Oh, I do a lot of mowing and usually remember to do at least one of the two times you are supposed to fertilize. However, she does all of the weeding, and pruning, and planting. She plants flowers in all the flowerbeds, in the window boxes on the garage, and a few pots on the deck. She has added a few lilacs and a couple apple trees and a new salsa garden in the side yard. Some of the plants return each year but it always takes several trips to the local greenhouses to fill in the gaps.

Last year I noticed that we had a weed growing around the bottom of one of our large evergreen trees. It is a clover looking plant with little blue flowers and looked kind of nice along the bottom of the tree so I left it alone. That was a mistake. The first time I mowed the yard this spring I could not believe how much of the yard that weed had spread to. There is even some of it growing on the far side of the house. The first weed and feed did not take care of the problem. Hopefully the second one will. If you don’t get rid of weeds quick they take over.

The same is true of sin. The Bible warns us: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Romans 6:12). Once these sins take hold in our lives they become very difficult to get rid of. Every alcoholic or drug addict had a first time and it would have been much easier to quit then. Pornographic web pages are much easier to stumble across than they are to stop looking at. I used to tell my kids that if they could find one smoker who had not tried to quit many times then I would entertain the idea that it might be a good thing for them to try. You need to pull those weeds in your life now. You may not be able to later.

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Grafted to God

We have some friends who own cows. It is calving time so they are getting several new arrivals. One of these new little ones must have been stepped on by another cow and ended up with a broken leg. Not sure if something could be done for the calf, they took it to a rancher they knew to get an opinion. Unfortunately, nothing could be done for the calf and it had to be put down. However. the lady at the ranch said, “I have your fix”. It turns out that they had a cow that had twins and with their size operation that was not really a favorable circumstance. They gave them one of the twins to take home to their momma who was now without a baby. The lady explained that there was one problem. The cow would not accept a calf that was not hers. In order to remedy this situation they would need to use a process called “grafting”. They skinned the dead calf and draped its hide on the new calf. This calf was then taken to the cow to feed. The momma leaned down to sniff the calf and smelling her calf accepted this new one.

This is such an awesome picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see the first hint of it in the very beginning of the Bible. When Adam and Eve sinned they did not die that day as God told them they would. Rather, God, in His mercy killed an animal and used the skin of the animal to clothe them as a covering for their guilt. Down through the ages those who worshipped God offered sacrifices to cover their sin and make themselves acceptable to God. All of these pointed to the sacrifice of Christ as He died for us on the cross. The fact is, on our own merit we are not acceptable to God. The Bible says, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2). But the Bible also says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Colossians 3:27). Just as that little calf, once unacceptable, is now accepted clothed in the hide of the offspring of the cow; now those clothed in God’s Son are accepted by God. Through the death of His Son we have been grafted to God.

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Arms Wide Open

Every Wednesday Lisa and I pick up our grandchildren, Annalee and Ryder from school. We have our AWANA children’s program at church that night so we bring them home, help them with their homework, teach them their AWANA Bible verses, play a game and eat dinner. When we go to pick them up from school Ryder and the other kindergarteners are waiting in the foyer. When he sees me coming he bursts through the door like a horse leaving the gate in the Kentucky Derby. He yells, “Grandpa”, at the top of his lungs as he runs toward me with arms wide open and a backpack bouncing behind. It kind of reminds me of one of those movies where they show two people running toward each other on the beach, in slow motion, with arms wide open; except Ryder is a quick little guy.

It also reminds me of a story Jesus told about the “Prodigal Son”.   In this story a man had two sons and the younger of the two asked for his inheritance early. Upon receiving it he left home and spent all his money in reckless living. Out of money, out of friends, and away from home he finds himself envious of the pigs he was hired to feed. He finally comes to his senses and decides to return home, apologize, and ask to be a servant. “ But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.   And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.  And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20-24).

I love the arms wide-open receptions I get from my Grandson partly because he is so darn cute, partly because I love him and I know he loves his Grandpa, and partly because it reminds me of the reception I got from God on a June day back in 1984 when this prodigal son came home.

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How Original?

During the confirmation hearings of judge Neil Gorsuch he was repeatedly questioned regarding his “originalist” approach to the interpretation of the Constitution. Some senators commend him for it while others are critical. The idea behind originalism is that you have to interpret the constitution in light of the authors’ original intent. In other words the goal is to find out what they meant when they wrote it and apply the laws accordingly. As a pastor I deal with this issue every week as I interpret the Bible. There are three steps to Bible study: observation, interpretation, application. So before you can apply the meaning to your life you have some work to do. One principle I have often told my congregation is that “you do not know what it means to you until you know what it meant to them”, speaking of the original audience.

The key to this is context. There is the grammatical context where you examine word usage and definitions as well as sentence structure. The Biblical context, where you recognize how the passage you are studying fits in with the rest of the book or Bible. An understanding of the cultural context in which it was written will help you see the meaning more clearly. The passage was also written within a historical context. The events that occurred around that time also lend clues to an accurate understanding. The more we know of these the more accurate is our understanding of what they meant when they wrote it. This is what we call “Exegesis”, it means to draw the meaning out of the text; as opposed to “Eisegesis” which inserts meaning into the text, which was not originally there.

It seems to me that it is the job of the court to find the original intent. Some, however, argue that the constitution was written to be adaptable. This is true but it was to be adapted, not through the opinion of a judge with a lifetime appointment, but through the amendment process, which is directed by officials we elect. In fact the constitution has been amended twenty seven times. Our constitution was written to hold our government accountable. This does not occur if the judicial branch reads meaning into the constitution rather than drawing it out.

We also must be careful with our understanding of the Bible. Otherwise we will be like the religious leaders of Jesus’s day about whom He said, “This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”
(Matthew 15:8,9).

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Patient Titus

My grandson, Titus, began speaking at a very early age. At first he just repeated words we said or asked him to say. We would say something like, “Say banana, Titus” (he loves bananas) and he would say “banana”. Then it grew into phrases. If we would say something like, “Say banana Titus” he would say, “Say banana Titus”. But if we would ask him, “Do you want a banana Titus?” he would respond, “Do you want a banana Titus?” But then he did expect to get one. It wasn’t long before he was initiating the conversation but the form of his sentences often stayed the same. One day I sat down on the chair in the living room with a piece of cake on a plate. I might have taken a bite or two when Titus made his way over to me. He stepped up to the chair, put his hand on my knee and said, “Want some cake, Titus?”

Recently, we went down to see Titus, and of course his Mom and Dad. We all went out shopping but couldn’t fit in one vehicle so Lisa and I took Titus with us in order to get more time with him. A little later we decided to meet at a coffee shop. We pulled into the parking spot and were gathering our things before getting out when I heard Titus saying, “Grandma will get you out Titus”. He repeated it three or four times while he waited. I am not sure if he was thinking we were a little slow, reassuring himself that we would not forget him, or just excited about getting our of the car seat and going to somewhere new.

What ever his motivation it reminded me of our relationship with God at times. As we walk with God we are often waiting on one of God’s promises, or for an answer to a prayer. We are also often excited, anxious, or a little impatient while we wait. In Hebrews chapter 11 in the Bible we read about many faithful people: Abraham, Moses, Gideon, etc… It then points out that, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” Hebrews 11:13, 16. Some of the promises and prayers were answered in this lifetime, some would be answered a little later, and some are fulfilled in our eternal life. We only see our past and present. God sees our future, even into eternity. In the mean time we would do well to take a tip from Titus. Keep reminding yourself, God will get you through this. He is trustworthy.

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