Friday, October 21, 2016

Gospel Eyes

One of my frequent prayers is that God would give me Gospel eyes. When I have shared this prayer with others they sometimes ask what I mean by “Gospel eyes.” I never know quite how to answer them. Part of me doesn’t want to be too precise in definition. On the one hand, I want to see and understand the Gospel as it comes to me in the word, prayer and experience. But on the other hand, I also want to see the glories of Gospel “restoration” at work in the social structures of our world and in people’s personal lives. After all, God has promised us that in Christ he is redeeming all things to himself (cf. II Cor. 5). Still further I want to interact with those in my sphere of life with actions enabled by Gospel eyes. Could I be a conduit of and for the Gospel?

I share this with you because as I reflect on this last week, I realize that God has helped me see the Gospel in a variety of disparate experiences. For starters, many of us celebrated the home-going of Wes Pontier, even as we said our goodbyes to his earthly body. Through the Gospel the words of Jude sounded the clarion call that believers would be “presented blameless before the presence of His glory with great JOY!” The celestial joy was palpable. The Gospel is true! I saw the Gospel at work through the motivated hearts of the Christ Church many who went out to serve this week, picking up trash, vacuuming cars, singing in the assisted living center, preparing crafts, etc… Of course, these are simply the organized acts of service, I know many of you serve in many unseen ways. It is the Gospel at work through his people. And then more painfully, yet also more joyously, I saw the Gospel at work in my own heart and home as together we wrestled through what it means to love one another as broken people. Broken people who hurt one another; repent; give and receive forgiveness; and rejoice together that we are not our own but belong, body and soul to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ!

The Gospel is indeed always at work. Lord give me the eyes to see it, to see you!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Reflection on Adoption

“The court deems it is in the best interest for Corvat and Corvast Stroud to be placed in the care of the VanderMaas family. This is a permanent action and entitles them to all care and comfort as if they were biological children. Furthermore the court declares that their names shall be Malachi and Isaiah VanderMaas from this time forward.”

As the gavel fell it was done. Final. Irreversible. The boys were ours. They were given new birth certificates. From the perspective of the court, there is no record of their former life.
It is an amazing feeling to go through this process. It is remarkable to be given custody of two beautiful, gifted boys, made in the image of God. It is incredibly humbling. From a human perspective there is some level of weightiness as they really became our responsibility. But that day, adoption day, there was only joy.

Joy, not only because in the courtroom were these two wonderful boys made my own, but joy also because my story is played out; a story of adoption, a story of being given a new identity, a story of being made an heir. 

It is a story told in Romans 8. Here are vv 14 -17a: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. (NIV)

And the best news of all, is that just like with our boys, it is final. There is no going back. These realities have been declared, sealed by the action of the court. So too has the Heavenly Court sealed these actions on my behalf, always and forever, a child of God. Final!

Friday, October 7, 2016


For the earth will be filled 
with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD 
as the waters cover the sea. 
(Habakkuk 2:14 ESV)

Have you had your fill? It may depend on the content we are being filled with. Political banter? Yep, had our fill. Lovely fall pumpkin recipes? Could handle a few more. Baseball? Sadly for the Tigers and Cardinal fans among us we came up a bit empty.

What about the knowledge of the glory of the Lord? This glory: a wonderful experience of the special presence of the Lord in all his holy otherness existing on the mercy seat, both unapproachable yet graciously in our our midst. Here Habakkuk, by the inspiration of the Spirit, sees a day when this knowledge, this experience will FILL the earth! It is just the type of confident proclamation that beleaguered Christians need to cling to wherever they are!

From the Christian refugee displaced from their home, running for their life to the stay at home mom worried about her children growing up in a world seemingly filled with predators. Filled, God is on the move. From the Japanese Christian who feels hopeless with greater than 99% of their country alienated from God to the American retiree despairing over the decline of Christian values in their once proud “city on a hill.” Filled, as the waters cover the sea.

Did you think about that last line? As the waters cover the sea. Of course they cover the sea, that is the definition of sea, filled with water. But that is the point, so certain and so complete is our hope that the knowledge of the glory of God will cover the earth, that we do not need to fret and we can live with complete confidence.

One last application. Let’s lean into this great vision. As those with the certain confidence that our God wins, let’s spread this good news “promiscuously and without distinction.” Or in the framework of Colossians, as we have received the knowledge of the glory of God, let us walk in it, letting His glory exude from our very pores!