Let God Speak to Your Inner Wilderness


I’ve written recently about John the Baptist[1], who announced the coming of Jesus, baptized Him, and led the way for His ministry to begin.  This John was identified with “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight’”[2] prophesied by Isaiah.  Today I want to describe a little more about the passage from Isaiah 40:3-5, which says:

A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
            make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
            and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
            and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
            and all flesh shall see it together,
            for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’”

Is Isaiah talking about a massive, miraculous geological event, creating an easier route for Jesus to take to His kingdom?  Perhaps in the future something like this will happen, but I think Isaiah is saying that God’s power over nature is a symbol of His power to reform and perfect us into the character of His Son Jesus.

Before Jesus comes into our lives, we are a spiritual “wilderness” full of “uneven ground” and “rough places.”  The path of our salvation begins in this wilderness, an unorganized chaos of thoughts and desires.  We are like “children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”  However, the power of the LORD enters our low valleys – our guilty secrets, shame and depression – which will be raised up.  It progresses through our mountains and hills – areas of pride, self-sufficiency, and our desire for power – which will be made low.  God, with the same power that created the universe, removes all obstacles to the coming of His kingdom to us, and to the world.  He has given us His word, His Spirit, and fellow believers to strengthen us, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”  (Ephesians 4:13-14)

John the Baptist called his followers to confession and repentance.  In announcing the coming of the kingdom of God, John anticipated a time when our internal and external wildernesses will become a paradise.  Until then, we each have different hills and valleys, different uneven and rough areas.  Until then, the world remains full of false doctrine, cunning, craftiness and deceit.

Today, pray that the powerful voice of our LORD will reach into your wilderness and remove obstacles on the path to His kingdom.  Pray that His word and His Spirit will reveal His glory.  Pray that all believers will answer the call of “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” to build up His church.

Amen.


[1] See recent post here.
[2] Isaiah 40:3, quoted in Matthew 4:3.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You


Have you ever watched a movie that was much worse than what the trailer for it led you to expect?  Were scenes taken out of context, giving you the wrong impression?  Was every good scene from the movie already in the trailer, leaving you disappointed?

Every now and then, God gives us a preview of heaven, reminders of His steadfast love for us in our present time that strengthen our hope and empower us to live for Him.  When we seek God, He gives a glimpse of the blessings in store for us.  He may answer with an encouraging word, a compassionate friend, a moment of mental clarity, or some surprise blessing.  David describes something like this in Psalm 36:7-9 –

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
            The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
            and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
            in your light do we see light.

David wrote these verses in the present tense, meaning we can take refuge with God right now, and experience the abundance of His love.  Commenting on the middle verse, James Montgomery Boice says the Hebrew word translated as delights “is the plural of the word Eden and undoubtedly looks backward to the joys of our first parents before the fall.”[1]  By referencing the past paradise of Eden, David also hints of future paradise where we will have eternal life.

Paradise was real and will be real again, and we know the movie will be far better than the trailer could possibly show us.  God does not give wrong impressions and He does not disappoint.

Take refuge in Him.


[1] From “March 28.” James Montgomery Boice and Marion Clark. Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment.  (2017).

A Quint of Quotes #2


Fellow travelers,

I started a new thing on the blog last week: “A Quint of Quotes” from my collection.  Five quotes somewhat related to each other, but not exactly in agreement.  These are also related to last weeks.  Enjoy!

“In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” – Yogi Berra

“Grace without truth would be deceitful, and truth without grace would be condemning.” – Warren Wiersbe

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted” – William Bruce Cameron

“It is better to will the good than to know the truth” – Petrarch

“My lord, I leave the infinite to Thee, and pray Thee to put far from me such a love for the tree of knowledge might keep me from the tree of life.” – Charles Spurgeon

More to come!

This Mother’s Day, Celebrate the Caregivers


I was recently invited to a workshop on “Caregiver Bias,” which was explained as a problem in our society that people who take care of children, older or sick relatives, or others in need don’t do as well in their careers.  In addition, they said, since Caregiving is more often done by women than by men, these social norms are discriminatory and need to be corrected.  The workshop was part of a broader Diversity and Inclusion initiative, which includes support for women’s reproductive choices.

But shouldn’t Caregiving for children, the elderly, the sick, and the needy be what we celebrate and admire most?  Shouldn’t we choose Caregiving?

In that spirit, for this Mother’s Day post, I choose to salute a diverse set of Mothers:

  • I salute those mothers who choose to serve their families and communities full-time.  Those who volunteer on the PTA, at the local church and food pantry, and who make the school plays and concerts run smoothly.
    I salute the working mothers who choose to make time for the PTA, their church or food pantry, and the school play.
  • I salute those full-time mothers who choose to keep their calm when asked “so, what exactly DO you do all day?”
  • I salute those mothers who choose to run their own business in a way that allows time for them to spend with their children.
  • I salute those mothers who didn’t plan on having children but choose to love and care for them always.
  • I salute those mothers who choose a partner who can focus on Caregiving where they can.
  • I salute those who choose to support those in need who are someone else’s children and relatives, as if they were their own.
  • I salute those who choose to support the choices of all mothers, even if their choices aren’t what they would choose themselves.

Mothers[1] very often sacrifice for the benefit of others, and this Mother’s Day let’s celebrate and admire them all, especially the ones who demonstrate that Caregiving might be the most important career of all.  Let’s be biased in their favor, not today but every day.

After all, aren’t our careers a way to provide what not only we need, but also what others need and can’t provide for themselves?  As suggested by the Apostle Paul a long time ago:
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” – Ephesians 4:28


[1] Fathers do too, but this is Mother’s Day.  Look for my Father’s Day post about a month from now.

Unlikely Heroes


Blogger Mitch Teemley posted this amazing compilation of human creativity and compassion at work! Check it out and it will make your day.  Click on the view original post link below.

Mitch Teemley

Not all heroes wear uniforms. Some simply wear their hearts on their sleeves. They may do nothing more than smile when they see someone in need of a smile. But make no mistake — in those moments, they are heroes. And as long as we have both kinds of heroes, likely and unlikely, there’ll be hope for the human race.

Click on any image to enlarge it, read caption, or begin slide show.

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