Archives for January 2014

Traveling to South Africa: Two Very Different Worldviews

My overnight flight (Jan. 3–4) to South Africa went smoothly. I was able to edit the final typeset version of our forthcoming Reformation Heritage King James Bible Study notes on Ecclesiastes, Daniel, and most of the Minor Prophets.

I also had a long talk with a very intelligent 75-year-old Jewish woman on the 15.5 hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg. We talked for a while about her job and her family and about interesting things to see in Israel. She has made over fifty trips to Israel, and seemed quite pleased that I was taking notes of a number of her suggestions.

Before long we got to religion. She is a Reformed Jew, is big on women’s rights, and doesn’t believe in the after-life. Her “church” has 1400 members and is led by three Jewish rabbis. They are not looking for a messiah to come, but view the caring community of Jews as “the messianic fulfilment.” Her rabbis preach almost exclusively about horizontal issues, such as women’s rights, how to help the poor, etc., and seldom touch on our vertical relationship with God. They use the Torah as a background reference tool, but don’t really preach from it.

I got close enough to her that I dared to ask her about Jesus Christ. She said that has never read the New Testament, thinks that Jesus was just another rabbi, and sees no need to be born again.

I then explained how we as Christians view the gospel, and why we think it is so important that Jesus is also God. I talked to her about our sin, and about our need for the active and passive obedience of Christ as our substitute and savior. She listened carefully, was not offended in the least, but didn’t buy into it. I asked her, “So then you feel that when you die, life is over, and that this life is the be-all and the end-all?”

“That’s right,” she said.

“Pardon me for saying this,” I responded, getting bolder now, “but from the perspective of being a Christian, that seems like such a narrow and small purpose for life. For us as Christians, we believe that this life is like a one-page preface to a massive book—it is only just the beginning. We strive to live all of life in the light of eternity, and anticipate being with Christ forever. ”

“Well,” she said, “I’m not saying for sure that there is no eternity, and no pie-in-the-sky for after this life, but I’m not betting on it. If I can just pass on my moral values to my two children, and they pass it on to their grandchildren, that, to me, is about the best I can hope for in this life.”

That was about as far as I could get with this friend. I silently thanked God for His Son and for the biblical and Christian worldview, for its much larger vision of what life is all about.

Praying for Grace to Run the Race Better in 2014, Looking to Jesus

As we look back over the omega of a year completed
we feel ashamed, disappointed to have crossed the finish line.
For we ought to have run a better race.
Both Thy record-book of memory and ours of conscience
find us sorely wanting in Scripture’s balances.
We wish we had worried about ourselves less and waited on Thee more,
reasoned to ourselves less and prayed to Thee more.
We wish we had feared others less and feared Thee more,
distrusted others less and trusted Thee more.
We wish we had justified ourselves less and repented more,
assumed less and experienced more.
We wish we had wasted less and worshipped more;
backslidden less and communed more.
We wish we had demanded less and assisted more,
intruded less and guided more.
We wish we had admonished less and served more,
talked less and said more.
We wish we had begrudged less and forgiven more,
offended less and inspired more.
We wish we had competed less and completed more,
repeated less and listened more.
We wish we had pretended less and embodied more,
imaged ourselves less and imaged Thee more.
We wish we had been faithless less and believing more,
sinful less and holy more.
We wish we had followed self-rule less and Thy golden rule more,
our words less and Thy word more.
But as we find ourselves  
halting with the weight of our shortcomings
in the first lap of another annual marathon,
we find Thy providence
humbling for the weight of Thy goodness.
We can’t understand why
Thou hast condemned us so little and blessed us so much,
despised us so little and graced us so much.
Why, dear Lord, why
hast Thou borne griefs, carried sorrows, interceded continually, loved fully, tendered with chastening hand, tailored afflictions, 
Why so much better to us than we to Thee?
Dear God, forgive our rewarding of evil for all Thy good.
Grant us in 2014’s 8760 hours,
to make more of the time we have so little of,
And less of the trivia we have so much of.
Grant us repentance in Christ,
in whom alone Thy goodness is housed,
and through Him tabernacle in us.
Divine Savior and Lord, Thou art the Way, Truth, and Life,
the exclusive Answer, embedded in eternal grace,
for unexplainable goodness.
Divine Forerunner, in the coming time Thou dost yet allow us,
we pray for grace
            to exercise uprightness through Thy righteousness.
            to persevere through Thy perseverance,
            to pray through Thy intercession,
            to thank through Thy thanksgiving,
            to live through Thy death,
            to die through Thy aliveness.
We pray for grace
to run the race set before us better, but only in Thy strength
making mention of Thy righteousness, even Thine only,
expecting nothing of ourselves, but everything of Thee.
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever:
To whom else shall we go?
Enfold us in Thy shepherding arms,
let us hear Thy high priestly beating heart,
pencil upon us the image of Thyself,
and ripen us for eternal communion.

Two Deaths

Shortly after I read the tragic blog of a man who committed suicide recently, one of my parishioners told me how her mother died at the age of fifty-one. On the last day of her life, with the family gathered around her bed, she closed her eyes for what they thought would be the last time, but before she passed on, she suddenly opened her eyes, lifted up one hand, and spoke with conviction, “Last evening the Lord reassured me, ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me’” (Isa. 49:16).

She then paused and said, “I long to go now to be with my Savior.”

One of the relatives responded, “But you are so young yet—only fifty-one. Wouldn’t you want to be restored to stay with your children? They are so young yet.”

“I have committed my young children into the Lord’s hand,” she said. “He will take of them.”

After that, she slipped away into the presence of her King.

The contrast between these deaths could hardly be more stark. Charles Spurgeon was certainly right when he said that the best way to live is to be always ready to die so that when the day of our death comes we have nothing left to do but die.

I wish you and your loved one in this new year this kind of dying life in Christ, so that we may find our daily life in Christ for our justification and our daily dying in Him for our sanctification. Have a blessed New Year—in Christ Jesus, by God’s stupendous grace!

Update on Trichelle

Here is another update on my niece, Trichelle, as she goes through chemotherapy.


Tuesday (Dec. 31) we received the second treatment of Herceptin and the fourth treatment of Paclitaxel. We have eight more weeks of Paclitaxel and eleven months of Herceptin planned.

It was the best chemo treatment yet as it was the first time we didn’t need a doctor’s visit for an unusual reaction while receiving chemo. We’re thankful for the prayers of many about this.

The side effects of this chemo are not as bothersome as they were with the first four rounds of chemo. So that has been a big blessing as well.

Also, Trichelle’s blood work was the highest it was yet—1.7. So that was another answer to prayer.

We are thankful for all the support and the days when we get meals.

That night we enjoyed a good dinner prepared by Dave’s former Gr. 1 teacher who just so happens to be our son Breyden’s current Gr. 1 teacher! The meal was delicious!

Thanks for the cards. Many of you have pointed us to the text Isaiah 41:10. Just today we received another card in the mail with, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you” (Isa. 41:10).

Love Dave & Trichelle

Feeling Older Today

Lydia's 18th Birthday Cropped

I’m just back from taking my youngest daughter, sweet and beautiful Lydia, out to breakfast on her eighteenth birthday. It was a great time, but I feel a lot older today—can scarcely believe that my youngest is now an adult! Where has all the time gone? How critical it is to redeem the time, to live every minute to the full, to live wholly for Christ each hour of each day! Help me to do that, dear Lord, looking to Jesus.