Feeds:
Posts

Archive for April, 2013

When golden sun first lights the day
and little songbirds wake and play,
perhaps you hear the Father say,
“I am with you, O My child.”
 
But even when the light is shorn
and gray and cold you find the morn
and trials come that can’t be borne,
He’s still near you, O dear child.
 
When your joy is overflowing
and you reap fruits of gladness’ sowing,
of fear and hate there seems no knowing,
bless His name, O happy child.
 
But when all life is filled with woe
and grief and loss are all you know,
and one more step’s too far to go,
let Him carry you, O weary child.

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.   And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

 

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Great and Good

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.” – Colossians 1:15-18 ESV

In an age when Biblical “literacy” is dramatically decreasing, it may be easy to shrug one’s shoulders and claim a lack of sufficient knowledge of “spiritual things” to be able to serve God.  I’ll grant you that one should never be content with what knowledge one thinks one has and that he should make it his ongoing pursuit to progress in knowledge of the things of God.  But if one has come to the place where he “knows” Jesus as his Lord and Savior because God “has been pleased to reveal His Son to” him (Galatians 1:16a), then he knows all he needs to know to begin living in both peace and joy.  Not only that, he knows all he needs to know to begin a lifetime of service to his God!

We rightly teach our children to pray, “God is great!  God is good!” in the first two lines of a prayer for blessing our meals.  I suppose that we also inadvertently teach our children that such prayers are merely words and do not hold within them anything consequential.

Yet, Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  And He is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:15-18 ESV).  He sounds pretty great to me!  Awesome!  Powerful!  Majestic!  Glorious!

But if we who teach those prayers really believed the words we teach our children, we surely would live lives that are dramatically different than the lives of many Christians today.  If God is great, for instance, is there anything that can be found in the life of a Believer that God cannot handle?  Financial problems?  Job loss?  Relational difficulties?  Divorce?  Illnesses like cancer or diabetes or chronic depression?

Since bad things do happen to even “good” people, we might feel confused about the character of God.  Honest people, even Christians, seem to suffer problems with finances.  Christians are sometimes laid off from their jobs.  People, who do not desire it, have found themselves abandoned by a spouse and some even their parents.  Cancer strikes some, diabetes afflicts others, and there are Christians who even suffer the dark ravages of depression.  One might then say, “If God is so great, then He isn’t good.  He must like tormenting us and watching us suffer!  Or maybe He just doesn’t care to help.”

But God is good.  He demonstrated perfect “goodness” in Jesus in Whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20 ESV).

Not only do we have assurance that He helps us in our time of need, this place of preparation that we call life on earth is the very place where we find that our afflictions and renegade passions are but for a moment.  What matters most is the place we go next, namely eternity.  It is for our long-term benefit that His love acts.  His goodness has moved Him to send His Son, Jesus, to take our place in judgment for your sin and mine.  Afflictions in the here-and-now are the tools in His hand to work the miracle of changing our hearts that we can be made ready for an everlasting hope with Him.

“I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us….  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:18, 35, 37-39 ESV).

Eternity itself will vindicate the faith of those who choose to believe God in this lifetime.  Are you carrying a heavy load of worry?  Are your heartaches and pains too much to bear?  Take heart… and take hold of the surety you have in Jesus Christ.  He Himself is the answer to your questions, the remedy of your heart’s afflictions, and the reward stored up for you in heaven.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Blessed is the moment when
            at last we learn to live
in the hope that Jesus
            alone in life can give.
 
His blood alone can cover
            every vile and wretched thought.
His supernatural sacrifice
            has cleansed our every spot.
 
Jesus’ resurrection power
            that freed Him from the grave
is sufficient in its working
            to unchain every slave.
 
The Spirit that He sent us
            works in us our Father’s will
and all He asks of us His own
            is that we trust Him and be still.
 
“Cease your striving!” the Master says.
            “You could not save your soul,
but turned from sin to trust My Son
            so I could make you whole!”
 
And as we learned we are not saved
            because we earned the right,
we also find that fruits that last
            come only through His might.
 
So it is, we must take up prayer
            and learn to read His Word. 
We learn “abiding” fills us with
            the very power of our Lord. 

 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5 ESV

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

It is as urgent today for the light of faith in Jesus Christ to shine brightly as it has ever been. The people of this generation need His selfless love and holy character to impact their world through the lives and words of those who claim His name. But it seems that, culturally speaking, Christianity is losing more ground every year than it gains.

I recall reading in one national magazine of the rise of “cohabitation” for men and women as an acceptable lifestyle choice across America. “I love her too much to marry her,” said one man of his girlfriend with whom he lives and has multiple children by. Yeah, right. On May 2009, The New York Times printed a story citing the report released by the National Center for Health Statistics on the “Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States”. According to the report, the birthrate “among unmarried women in the 20s and 30s has soared – rising 34 percent since 2002” (its has likely exceeded that by now). Four out of every 10 babies born in the US were to unmarried mothers in 2007, many of which were teenagers (23%).  In the results of a study just released by the CDC (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it was revealed that of 365,000 births to teens (ages 15-19) in 2010, 66,800 were repeat births (of which 57,200 were 2nd births, 8,400 were 3rd births, and 1,200 were 4 or more).

Of course, such events should be met with the grace and love of Christ and not the harsh stigmatization that leaves the mother and/or child forgotten and forsaken (“hating the sin, but loving the sinner” as some like to quip). But while there have always been births outside of marriage, what is tragic today is the “normalcy” that unwed motherhood has achieved and the overall “ho-hum” attitude given it.

But not only on this matter is there something that should not be normal considered “normal”. Violence escalates, drug abuse and trafficking are skyrocketing, divorce rates continue to climb, popular cultural continues its descent into the exploration of brutality and evil through popular entertainment (movies, television, gaming, etc.), and human trafficking is rampant across the US in every social class. Morality, it seems, has no Biblical basis but follows the whim of baser inclinations rationalized by post-modern rhetoric and advocated by misfits whose credentials for speaking on social ills are based on their celebrity status.

Christians are often shamed into silence, accused of “narrow-mindedness” when rejecting immorality in our sexual behavior or are considered “marginalized” in discussions on homosexuality as a “lifestyle”.  In fact, flaming remarks in social media makes it clear that a Christian will be widely regarded as a hate monger if he or she upholds the Biblical model of family as the ideal to which we should aspire (e.g., with a married father and mother).

But is it really unreasonable for Christians to claim Biblical standards for lifestyles, family structure, ethics and social responsibility (from the peaceful support of the rights of the unborn child to the responsible stewardship of God’s creation)?  No, not at all.

Unfortunately, as many Christians are wooed away from the conviction that the Bible is as relevant for life today as in any other age, the values that the Scriptures uphold fade into the background of their minds and hearts. As we lose a commonly shared sense of values that stand on absolute truth, and their resulting convictions, we lose our voice as well and can only lament what appears to be the irreversible spiraling of our culture down the long tube of anarchy, purposelessness, and despair.

The fact remains, however, that God knows what He’s talking about in laying out for us His strategy for living life. Not only that, He has the moral authority to expect us to respond obediently, not in legalistic finger-pointing of which the Church is often accused, but in the first fruits of our choices. In other words, as Christians we should live the way the God tells us to and know that what He has to say about how we are to live life is best for our society, best for our children, and best for us.

So how should Christians respond to the darkness and evil of our world? Should we buy some guns and make some bombs to wage a literal war in our society and take out doctors, politicians, or TV and music stars? No. This is not how Jesus would have us respond. The battlefield begins in the thoughts of Christians and is waged in the declaration of truth. After all, Ephesians 6 tells us to gird ourselves with spiritual weapons, not physical ones.

Stand firm

Our children and their children need to see that what we say we value with our mouths is what we truly value in our choices and attitudes.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:12-18 ESV).

The “day of evil” of verse 13 has come. So put on your armor and stand firm. Take up your spiritual weapons and fight the fight of faith, speaking the truth of God in love (Ephesians 4:15), and “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). If we do not start standing firm in our everyday choices right now, then we have no hope to be able to stand firm when the cost of taking a stand becomes painful or frightening. Besides, our children and their children need to see that what we say we value with our mouths is what we truly value in our choices and attitudes.

And, as we cling with an eternal hope to the One Who called us out of our bondage to sin, living our lives as He has called us to, His power and love can flow freely through us. Such power and love can bring life and hope even into the flotsam and jetsam of ruination that our culture is inevitably creating for the countless victims of its lies with whom we live and work everyday.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Nobody’s Fool

Hidden deep inside my precious wife there is a merciless prankster just waiting to emerge and unexpectedly assail me. Of course, April 1st (a.k.a. “April Fool’s Day”) is especially rough. Computer keyboards wrapped in Saran Wrap, Crisco covered car door handles, and green food coloring added to my cereal milk are all standard procedure at our house. Our children love these dubious enterprises so I can also expect whoopee cushions to be strategically placed throughout our home.

I enjoy our game of “Get Dad” as I gingerly tiptoe throughout the place, hoping to avoid each little trap but I know that sooner or later I’ll fall prey to one of their playful little landmines. I, in turn, pretend to be surprised (sometimes I’m not pretending) and put on my best longsuffering expression. Then, when they least expect it, I begin my campaign of retaliation: rubber chickens in the freezer, fake flies in ice cubes, etc. (always harmless, mind you, and calculated to not hurt people’s feelings).

 

Young and naïve fish are easily caught!

Young and naïve fish are easily caught!

Historically, April Fool’s Day originated in Europe largely as a result of some people’s reluctance to change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar at the end of the sixteenth century and the ignorance of many people in remote areas to the fact there was even a change being made. Instead of celebrating on January 1st, they celebrated the first of April. These “April Fools” became the targets of derision and prank-pulling. Some clueless souls even had paper fish attached to their backs suggesting that they were “April Fish” (young and naïve fish are easily caught). I wonder if every generation has its own variation of the “kick me” note slapped on the backs of the unsuspecting.

Meanwhile, the world goes on playing its own game of “April Fools” with a much more serious and darker set of repercussions than simply feeling silly or embarrassed. Whereas the drum-beaters for “modernism” still tout a mandate on believing only what may be seen and concretely documented, post-modernism panders to people today its wares of experiential relativism.

Before anyone says, “Huh? What does that mean?”, let me explain that there are two great errors into which we tend to fall. The first is that “seeing is believing”… “If I can’t observe it, it must not be.” Ironically, in its presumption, it turned from the obvious portents of a Divine Creator and turned to non-theistic theories.

But “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20-21).

The ultimate end of Naturalism (the idea that there is no God Who is Creator and Sustainer of all that is) is pride in our own intellect as we choose to be dissatisfied with the proofs that surround us in Creation and a hardening of our hearts against the truth of God. “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Ephesians 4:18).

Over the past few years, Naturalism has been unmasked as a failure in bringing the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment it once boasted it could supply. Instead, when it became clear that it could do nothing for the soul of the individual (and consequently society overall), it proved bankrupt and our culture went looking elsewhere for meaning.

But instead of returning to God, we’ve gone the wrong way again. Not looking to our Creator Who makes Himself known to us through His Holy Law and the person of Jesus Christ, we look into another finite world, the inward world of our own human hearts. Why do we look inward? Because we’ve been told that true happiness lies within. Because we’ve been told that the solutions to all our problems can be found inside ourselves. A sugary-coated promise. Very appealing, isn’t it?

But the fact of the matter is that if we look inward for all the answers to life’s questions, we’ll end up as empty as those who trust in only those things that they can prove empirically. Why do I say that? Mainly because there is something terribly wrong with the human heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

“Inner wisdom” that does not find its source in God’s Word is deadly. When trying to make it through life on our own, apart from God’s leadership, wisdom and provision, we’ll always wander into self-destruction.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives” (Jeremiah 17:5-6).

But if we turn to God for leadership, meaning, fulfillment, wisdom, love and salvation, we’ll find that it is indeed true where it is written, “blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Psalm 17:7-8).

God’s Truth stands solid in the shifting currents of the ages, it transcends the fickle wisdom of passing generations, and it towers above the temporary theories that man can concoct as he tries to explain God away. Are you looking for some direction in life and joy for the journey? Just remember that He who trusts in the Lord is nobody’s fool.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »