Tag Archives: Security


My dad’s ears were enormous – big, rubbery flaps on each side of his head, secure handholds when I rode on his shoulders.  Dad didn’t simply walk around when he gave horsey rides; he galloped and bounded.  Let me tell you: those ears were the difference between a hilarious, exhilarating ride and certain death.  That’s why they were there.  He also used them to listen to us.  His hands, likewise, were shaped exactly to fit the needs of a son who needed a bicycle seat adjusted, a scraped knee bandaged or a comforting, encouraging hand on the shoulder.  His lap was adjustable and could easily accommodate two or three kids at story time.  His deep bass voice carried the tune for many funny songs during long drives and could just as easily restore order to a couple of rowdy boys mixing up mayhem in the back seat.  My dad could wrap his arms around you from behind and show you how to use a drill or a spokeshave.  He could fix a twisted slinky.  Dad would have been 100 years old this week, had it not been for a nasty dustup with cancer.  But I can still feel his ears pressed against my own as I hugged him for the final time.

If we could choose our parents, I’d have chosen Dad.  No dads are perfect – some far from it – but my dad came pretty close.  That’s why it means so much to me that Jesus told us to think of God in Heaven as our Father.  I think He wanted us to feel as comfortable, secure and loved as I did growing up.  For example, He said,

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  –  (Matthew 6:31-32)

When asked how we should pray, how we should speak when we dare to address the Almighty, majestic, sovereign, Ruler of the universe, Jesus instructed us to start like this:  “Our Father…”  He told us to speak with God as a loving father, humbly and confidently asking for what we need – even when what we need is forgiveness!  He said for us not to try to connect with God with fancy words or repetitive phrases but to understand that God truly hears us as we come to Him with sincere hearts.

I guess God has big ears too.

God’s Laundry

Dirty socks may not understand this, as they are sloshing around in the washer, but they have nothing to fear, not even from the repeated rinse and spin cycles.  People who are gathered to God in Jesus have nothing to fear either, from the growing bloodthirstiness of ISIS, the new alliances between the evil dictators of Russia, Syria and Iran, or the hostility toward Israel that simmers in Egypt and Iraq.  God told us to expect all that, all that and more.  There’s no way for us dirty socks to know if this will be the final rinse and spin, but we can take heart in knowing that things turn out well for God’s Laundry:

This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares:   “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.  On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the LORD. “I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.   Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.’  –  (Zechariah 12:1-5)

When the If Isn’t Iffy

When you fly standby, they tell you, “If we can find you a seat, we will call your name.”  When they call your name, you ask, “Did I get on?”  And they tell you, “If we called your name, you have a seat on this flight.”  Those two “if’s” mean different things.  The first “if” is iffy.  The second one is not.  The first “if” means “maybe, maybe not.” The second “if” means “since.”   Like when someone says, “If the sun comes up tomorrow… ”  It means, “of course this is certain to happen.”

Why the grammar lesson?  Because maybe you get freaked out when you see the word, “if,” in the Bible.  We’ve been talking about how wonderful it is to be reconciled and be transformed from an enemy of God into someone who is considered by God to be absolutely innocent (See: No Halfway Measure).  But the next line says “if,” and it sounds like there’s a catch.  It says, these wonderful things are yours:

“…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:23a)

Sounds like those you don’t get to keep the the wonderful things “if” you screw up and wander away from the faith.  But that’s not the right “if.” This “if” means “since you will certainly” continue in your faith.  This “if” isn’t “iffy.”

How do we know?  Well, the folks that read this in Greek could tell just by looking at it, because “if” is spelled differently if it’s iffy.  But without knowing Greek, we know because the next word is established.”  Established means permanently anchored on a strong foundation.  It’s not something you have to do for yourself everyday.  It is something that has been done for you, once, in the past and is your secure condition forever.

If you get accepted for standby and board, you don’t have to worry about doing anything else to make it to your destination.  (That is, assuming the plane makes it, for the purpose of this illustration…)  People on airliners don’t have to be careful so they won’t fall out.  “If” they are on, they are going to get there.  Same thing for the reconciled.  Once you trust Jesus and are reconciled, you are established, firm and will not be moved from your confidence in the promises of eternity.  You may wonder from time to time, when (if I can club the airliner illustration to death) you encounter some nasty turbulence in life.  But you will discover, in the process, that what Jesus has done for you, He did permanently in you.

That’s why they call it “Good News.”  Because the “if” isn’t “iffy.”

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Dealing with Fear

Be afraid; be very afraid!  That’s the message of the news shows on TV.  The more you worry, the better they like it, because worry drives their profit.  What do you worry about?  What keeps you awake at night?  Do you have an answer, something specific?  Me too.  If you would like to worry less, here’s a good word:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Whoever wrote those words was living at a time when it was frequently necessary to grab a sword and run out to chop and slash murderous attackers,  It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like.  I’d have been pretty jumpy.  Maybe we have it comparatively easy, but worry can still harass us.   Whatever it is that worries you, let those truths soak in and do their work.

And this:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Held by Faith

When Jesus said to Peter,

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

He was warning Peter about the trial to come.  But more than that, He was encouraging him, informing Peter that He would keep him safe.   Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail!

So, here’s the question: When we suffer, when we are discouraged and confused, who is responsible for making sure our faith doesn’t fail?   After all, faith is our lifeline, our means of connecting to God.  Who protects it?  Whose job is it to keep our faith strong?  Our natural inclination is to believe that we must work harder to keep our faith strong.  We have to tell ourselves to believe.  But is that true?

In Peter’s situation, Jesus prayed that his faith would not fail.   Maybe you think that Peter was more important to Jesus than you are.  Is that true?  (Hint:  What did Jesus teach about “the least of these, my brothers”? – Matthew 25:40ff)  Do you think that Jesus, the One Who promised,

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)

… would somehow fail to pray for your faith?

And how did you get your faith?  Did you work it up?  Did you “squinch” up your face and ball your fists and hold your breath?  Or was your faith given to you by God?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

By the way, when God gives out gifts, batteries – rechargables – are included.

The toddler is going with his grandfather, down to the soda shop to get a cone of mint-chip.  As they get ready to cross Main, Grampa holds out his hand and says, “Hold onto my hand and don’t let go.”   Hand in hand, off they go, picking their way through a break in traffic.  Whose job is it to make sure the child is still holding on?

In my Father's Hand

Psalm for Wandering

When we are wandering (literally – that’s how we like to travel, with no advance plans, reservations or schedule…) I return frequently to the lines of a favorite psalm. We have an illusion of control when daily life is “same old, same old.” But out exploring, almost everything is unexpected. On the road, you are not in control and you know it. In that condition, these words are especially meaningful:

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places