The Transfiguration: A Preview of Glory and Delight


Last week I posted about Psalm 36:8, where David thanks God that His people may “drink from the river of your delights.”   Since the word for “delights” is the plural of Eden, these occasional sips God provides us point to a past and future paradise.  These delights strengthen our hope of heaven and strengthen us to live in this world for Him.  Jesus provided such a moment for His disciples in the event known as the Transfiguration, when Jesus took His disciples Peter, James, and John up a mountain for a vision of His future glory.  Matthew records in his gospel that Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”[1]

Moses and Elijah also appeared and spoke with Jesus, perhaps representing the law and the prophets of the Old Testament and how it all pointed to Jesus.  Peter wanted to make this moment last, and offered to “make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.[2]  But it was not intended to last long, yet.

The Transfiguration was a preview of heaven, a sneak peek into what eternity will be like, a promise of future blessing under Jesus, the glorified King.  The fulfillment of everything the law and prophets hinted at will be realized.  However, Moses and Elijah soon disappeared, Jesus and His disciples descended from the mountain, and the disciples very soon struggled as we all do, but they persevered as we also must. Pray that God will make eternity real to His people today, even if for only a moment, giving a “drink from the river of your delights” and strengthen us to live for Him.


[1] Matthew 17:2
[2] Matthew 17:4

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).

God Rules in His Sleep – Psalms of Ascent #5 1/2


In Mark’s Gospel, he tells a story of Jesus taking a nap, causing His disciples to panic.  In last week’s Psalms of Ascent post, I asked whether God seems to be asleep sometimes, leaving us feeling adrift the world’s circumstances.  Today is a little detour from those Psalms to a time when God literally was asleep.

The story comes from Mark 4:35-41.

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

At the beginning of the story, Jesus told His disciples they were going to cross the Sea of Galilee, then knowing what was coming, “He who keeps Israel[1] took a nap.  Had the disciples understood Jesus, His napping should have reassured them that they were safe, since He was not concerned about the storm.  Instead, they thought He didn’t care, which showed that fear of the storm had overcome whatever faith they had.  Jesus said they were going across, but they doubted.

Which brings up a very important question.

When did the wind and the sea obey Jesus?  At the beginning of the story, at the end, or both?  Or at all times?  Before Jesus calmed the storm, was the sea being disobedient to God’s laws and will?

I believe Jesus calmed this storm so that next time He wouldn’t have to.  He was teaching them that He always cares, regardless of what the circumstances seem to say.  He was teaching them that even when it seems like He’s asleep, He is still in control of our circumstances no matter how chaotic they look and feel to us.  During the next storm, He wanted them not to panic, but to trust Him because He showed them no circumstance escapes His notice.  The storm does not control us; He controls the storm.

When Jesus calmed the storm, He did not create a hedge (See Job 1:10) around His disciples, He just demonstrated that it existed all along.  God was not going to let His Son drown before His mission was complete and neither will He let His other children drown before their work is done!

Sometimes when God seems distant and we feel we are sinking, in reality we are being given a divinely designed opportunity to learn to trust that:

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
            he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
            your going out and your coming in
            from this time forth and forevermore[2]

He knows sometimes we have to learn the hard way, and He knows best.  Even when He is sleeping.

“Let us go across to the other side.”


[1] Psalm 121:4
[2] Psalm 121:7-8

Why This is (Mostly) Not a Political Blog


Fellow travelers,

In a world of soundbites in the media and memes on the internet, quotes get passed around regularly – often out of context, attributed to the wrong sources, and re-purposed for whatever the writer wants to say.  I’m not immune.  In an earlier post I used this quote from C.S. Lewis, but had to look up its source for that post’s footnote:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

During the pandemic, I spent more time reading and decided to continue to read and write more even after the pandemic ended.  Even though “regular” activities would resume, it seemed odd to me to come out of a global calamity like a pandemic the same way I went in, as if the pandemic didn’t matter.  I’m finally reading The Weight of Glory, the source of the above quote, and now I know what comes before it:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare…It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.” [emphasis mine][1]

According to Vida Health, during the Covid-19 pandemic one in six Americans started therapy for the first time, and nearly 90% of people in the US are experiencing one or more depressive symptoms.  Part of this was directly caused by the pandemic – sickness and death, job loss, etc.  But in addition, the level of disdain people have for each other went hyperbolic.  Many across the political spectrum are treating each other as “existential threats” and mortal enemies.  In the metaphor of my earlier posts on “He Who Sits in the Heavens Laughs”, everybody was screaming Big Monster like the Hulk in the Thor:Ragnarok movie.   In fact, many were accusing each other of being the Big Monster!

There is no shortage of Big Monsters.  There never has been in all of history, and some of them have been real.  James Montgomery Boice said that many “end of the world” scenarios such as atomic holocaust, worldwide famine, rule by machines, or apocalyptic climate change, might actually come to pass.  But he adds: “this will not be the end.  The Bible teaches that there is a future beyond them when the Lord Jesus Christ…will reign in righteousness and will establish a social order in which love and justice prevail.”[2]

On this future hope, the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”.  Peter implies that a life truly lived based on eternal hope gets noticed.  People who don’t panic in the face of every Big Monster seem abnormal to this world and it opens the door to sharing Jesus as the Answer.  It was true then and its true now.

The people reading this blog may be reading it today or 20 years from now and may be in favor of any number of political or economic solutions.  I definitely have opinions on politics and economics and if I write honestly here, I can’t avoid them, but why is this blog (mostly) not a political one? 

Because I used to have a more political blog where I screamed “Big Monster!” on a near-daily basis.  It’s still out there, but when I re-read it, I see myself as the impulsive Peter drawing his sword to prevent Jesus from being arrested.[3]  Today, I’d rather write about the progress that turned Peter into the Apostle who wrote: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”[4]  In my earlier two-part post on “He Who Sits in the Heavens Laughs” I wrote about Peter’s progress, and I recommend re-reading those posts in light of this one.  Part 1 is at this link and Part 2 is here.

Economic and political systems do matter, and if we don’t care about them, we disregard our responsibilities as citizens of the places where we live, ignoring the words of Jeremiah 29:7 – “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  But eternity matters more, in all places and times.  If we disregard it, we ignore that in all times and all places we “live in a society of possible gods and goddesses” who our Father asks us to treat with the love His Son demonstrated on the cross.

So, back to the now-in-better-context C.S. Lewis quote:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

I pray that this blog is a reminder that eternity matters.  That the work of Christ changes everything – no matter your circumstances when you read this.  That the 24-hour news cycle is not unimportant but is less important.

Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marveled at him.” – Mark 12:17

Coming up: a History Bit for March 5th from early American history, a weekend thought on the “Psalms of Ascent”, and a return to “Blessed are the meek.”


[1] Lewis, C.S.  The Weight of Glory (1941).  P. 45-46.
[2] From “May 12.” James Montgomery Boice and Marion Clark. Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment.  (2017).
[3] John 18:1-11
[4] 1 Peter 2:1

Reblogging “What Christ’s Return Means to Me”


Today I’m sharing a piece written by Glenn Parkinson, the retired former pastor of my church. He writes: “Biblical hope expectantly waits for what we know we cannot find in this life, but are certain will be ours when Christ returns.” Hope like this can transform our every day lives!

Well worth a read (and a subscription)!

What Christ’s Return Means to Me

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