Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas: Abiding Where the Father Puts Us

When Baby Jesus grew into the Messiah Man He was destined to be, He said this: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

One of my strongest thoughts of Christmas this year is John 15:7! What comes to mind is the long-range Purpose and Promise of the manger! When the Father sent the Son to “abide with us” as a tiny baby, He was making it possible for us to fulfill the wonder of these words so that we can “abide in Him” in our daily, future lives! His Savior intent was that we learn how “to abide” in Him and receive and act on His desires. I’m a slow learner, but suddenly … after knowing the Lord over sixty years … the truth of this verse leapt out at me when I recently encountered it in a friend’s email message.

The power and level of answered prayer (when it is conditioned by our personal level of faith) is determined by the depth of our abiding (great word in Greek … “to stay under”) because our most powerful prayers are sourced in His desires and not our wants! When we live by His desires all our needs and wants that are necessary are fully met! True prayer is simply having conversations with the Lord about all the issues of life. We consistently grow to see where He is right about every issue, and we have been limited, blind or in error. Baby Jesus “listened” from the beginning to the Father! When we listen to Him we abide, and to abide is to listen. I offer you my humble little paraphrase: “Abide before you decide, and He will guide what you decide. This puts you at His side, and you ride His tide. All that remains is to bide His time, and to receive the pride of answers He no longer has to hide because you have learned to abide.”

If I had been planning the entrance of God’s Son to the world through first being a baby (another idea I would never have had) I wouldn’t have picked a poor, smelly, hay trough (manger) for Him to lie in! I’d have put on a show! But abiding in the Father’s truth, as I pray about it, has shown me that Baby Jesus was abiding where the Father planned to put him. The greatest lesson we can learn from Christmas is put aside our own plans and expectations until we agree to abide where the Father puts us! Accepting His plan will bring everything in life to you that is best for the Father, best for others and best for you!

The Lord Jesus started out abiding, and look at what happened to him. If we start abiding right now, can you imagine the glorious things that will happen to us?

A Christ Christmas to you all and a New Year of “abiding” in 2012

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

Monday, November 21, 2011

Veterans Day at Chrystal Bridges Museum


November 11, 2011, was a beautiful Friday in Bentonville, Arkansas. As I stood before a large crowd of dignitaries and citizens on the city square, I had the unparalleled pleasure of honoring our veterans at the grand opening ceremonies for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Alice Walton, of Wal-Mart fame and founder of the Museum, was on the front row. I could not help but think of November 11, 1918, when the “war to end all wars” ended in the armistice between the Allies (us) and Germany. We established Armistice Day in the USA to remember those who had fought to bring our victory to pass. After World War II the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all those who have served and defended our great nation in every war that has cost American blood.

During World War I the King of England, George V, was visiting some of his wounded soldiers in the hospital. He came to one young soldier who had lost his arm in the fighting. King George said to the young man, “Son, I am sad about your injury, but I appreciate you losing your arm for your country.” The soldier looked back at his king, “Your Majesty, I didn’t lose my arm for my country. I gave my arm for my country!” With that thought we gratefully recognize the spirit of patriotism and heroism in all the men and women who have served our nation in the armed forces. We pay our deepest tribute to those who have paid the most costly price … in life, limb, and mind … and their families who have sacrifice with them! We highly honor those who never had to see the battle field, yet trained arduously and stood “ready to go!”

11/11/11 was a wonderful day to open a magnificent, new cultural center for our state and the nation. Yet, I was particularly impressed and grateful that the organizers of the event included a tribute to our veterans and their families! Those who have protected our country have made it possible for Crystal Bridges to bring to us all a spectacular collection of American art. It is but one small reminder of what our nation stands for, and what we must always fight to preserve. We see in this museum the dream of our Declaration and the freedom of our Constitution. All of us should create in our hearts a museum of our country’s great heritage

To see my presentation of comments and prayer, follow this link.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Father, Forgive, Fools: The Redeemer's Three Foundational Concepts

I suppose I am as grateful for the words of the Lord Jesus as He hung on the cross as any other words He spoke … if that is possible. Review them again. He made seven magnificent statements about reality while He was “hanging there”! Ponder them well and deep. In the Savior’s first statement, while enduring the abject, excruciating horror of initial crucifixion, He summarizes in three thoughts the never-ending drama of mankind’s earth journey. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34) Here, on that agonizing cross, in inexpressible pain, enduring a terrible glory, our Lord declares His threefold witness to both the hope and despair of the human condition! To comprehend truth about all that matters on this fallen planet centers in these three concepts … the Father … the Forgiveness … and the Fools! In understanding these three supreme revelations, our answer to the confusion, suffering and sadness of humanity will become clear and clearer! This first cross statement frames His next six declarations as they summarize the heart of the Godhead toward our hopeless condition apart from His initiatives of grace! (1)

Think of it! Study it! Meditate on it! Ponder it! Comprehend it! At the moment of the most surpassing, drastic, unmatchable and nauseous evil act to ever take place on earth … the insane murder of the innocent Lord Who created them and loved them … His first words were those of a prayer. “Father, please forgive, these poor misguided fools!” What would you have said?

The Savior’s first words fully summarize His mission of Messiah Love to a desperate, blind and terminal humanity. These words are foundational to the ultimate authenticity of our theology. They proclaim the character of the Godhead, our Triune God, Who reveals Himself through Jesus as Creator-Redeemer-Perfecter to His sin-flawed, rebellious creation. If you truly learn the Father’s inexhaustible compassion, experience the forgiveness made possible through the Son and embrace the fact that all people are fools apart from loving and yielding to His Spirit … then you are on your way to being liberated from the sin bondage of your crippled and corrupted self. As the Lord Jesus put it, “My truth is the kind of truth that will make you free … fully free to become what I created you to be!” (John 8:31-32, 34-36, HDM) To comprehend the truth behind these three ideas … Father … Forgiveness … Fools … is to begin your recovery from the tragic and continuing deceptions of the Garden of Eden. It is to plug yourself in to the “life support system of truth.” It is to begin your healing from your many explosions, wrecks and breakdowns of traveling life’s rough roads, detours and minefields without God!

I have finally arrived at that glorious period of my life when the synergic energies of Messiah Love are erupting in my heart beyond anything I ever imagined. The Lord Himself created our necessary progression of being a baby, a child, a youth, then a lengthy adult era and, finally, old age. More focused, general terms would be infanthood (two years), childhood (fourteen years), adulthood (fifty years) and elderhood (twenty years). My testimony is that this last period is truly the richest and more thrilling than the ones preceding. The reason is that I am the most experienced and enlightened about “putting” what I am “in Christ.” This means a continuous and higher renewing of purpose and priorities as I exchange my thinking for His Thinking! (Rom. 12:2; Phil. 2:5)

In spite of seeing evil’s enormity and tragic consequences as never before, my confidence is soaring as I see even more brilliantly the Father’s sovereign intentions, meanings and compassions with IMAX clarity! I am praising, adoring and embracing my Lord Christ more than I ever imagined possible! (Psalm 71:14-21) Let me quote my eldest granddaughter as she commented on her first year as the mother of my great-granddaughter! “Until I had Evy Kate I never dreamed so much love could exist on earth!” The true Cross Disciple will experience the same “love reality” when we give Jesus “all of us” and discover increasingly what it means to have “all of Him”!

One of my favorite lines from the great poet Robert Browning summarizes the quest and goal of my fast closing life, “I clasp the lamp of God close to my breast; Its splendor, soon or late, will pierce the gloom.” (2) Oh the thrill of experiencing daily that “His Word … Himself, His Scripture and my cross as His child … really is a lamp unto my feet” as I walk this gap filled earth! (Psalm 119:105, HDM) Yes, Father! Truly “The unfolding of Your words of truth do give light!” (Psalm 119:130) With increasing earnestness I ask that all my thoughts, motives and words be Yours. May I share your healing secrets with others as succinctly as possible so that I can lift up Your significance and splendor! “My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long.” (Psalm 71:8) From the Hebrew and Greek I translate glory as “significance and splendor.”

All this praise is possible because I am seeing and grasping for myself and for the world the Savior’s magnificent philosophy and passion that drove His mind and heart! May His three ultimate deliverance comprehensions be mine – and yours – as well! All of what we are and hope to be is found in those three words as we live out our “earth life”: Father … Forgiveness … Foolishness!

Perhaps you will identify with my prayer: Let me see Your “glory purpose” my Father! Let me drink deep from the “reality well” of Your unsurpassed and unbelievable forgiveness! Let me escape as totally as possible from the “fellowship of fools” who ignore and reject Your majesty. Save me from the foolishness of discounting and neglecting Your Presence while I worship and chase my idols! Let me fervently refuse such waste, trivia and tragedy! Let me always be seeking Your highest purposes my Father! Let me always be forgiving of every other human being. Let me always be grateful that You are redeeming me … a fool You love!

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 53:1-3)

“… But God demonstrates strikingly His Own love toward us in this: while we were yet “sinner fools” Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8, HDM)

1st Word – Father, Forgive these fools We love.

2nd Word – Today you will be with Me in paradise.

3rd Word – Woman, this is your son. Man this is your mother.

4th Word – My God … why have You forsaken Me.

5th Word – I Thirst.

6th Word – It is Finished.

7th Word – Father, into Thy Hands I commit My Spirit.


1. I used to dismiss the foolishness of others by quoting the Lord with a rather subtle but superior attitude, “They just don’t know what they are doing!” One day the Lord turned on the “truth light” in my own little brain with a fresher and deeper insight into these words. I “heard” Him as follows: “True, H., they don’t know. But remember this … you don’t know what you are doing either when it comes to totally yielding your life to Me and bringing My name maximum glory!” Case closed!

2. From Paracelsus, 1835.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Welcome to 2011

Dear Reader, the following was brought to my attention when a former member of my congregation sent me an e-mail back in December. He has really grown in Christ, and I am grateful for my little touch on his life. He is now a very successful top administrator with a prominent Florida university. These words by Ben Stein (quoted here from the original transcript) are so outstanding I wanted to share them with you.

May 2011 be a most significant year of increasing your skill in your following of the Master. HDM

Stein: Confessions for the Holidays
CBS News Transcripts, 18 December 2005

CHARLES OSGOOD, host: We all have our own thoughts about the holidays. Here's Ben Stein with his.

BEN STEIN: Here at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart. I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are.

(Footage of People magazine; Us magazine)

STEIN: I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I'm buying my dog biscuits. I still don't know. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores who they are. They don't know who Nick and Jessica are, either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they've broken up? Why are they so darned important?

(Footage of People magazine)

STEIN: I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I don't care at all about Tom Cruise's baby.

(Vintage footage of congressional hearing)

STEIN: Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I'm a subversive? Maybe. But I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young? Hm, not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautifully lit-up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees.

(Footage of Christmas trees)

STEIN: I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are — Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they're slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. I shows that we're all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

It doesn't bother me one bit that there's a manger scene on display at a key intersection at my beach house in Malibu.

(Footage of manger scene; menorah)

STEIN: If people want a creche, fine. The menorah a few hundred yards away is fine, too. I do not like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way. Where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and aren't allowed to worship God as we understand him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we used to know went to.

A Summary Note from HDM:

For me, Ben Stein is easy to love! He’s certainly my kind of American. So long as my fellow citizens are not abusive to other or try to take away our heritage or become “expression police” to be sure my beliefs don’t offend the smallest minority, etc., let people believe and do what they want. It’s the crazies who have an illusional view of reality who try to make everything perfect and right “as they see it.” They seem to be offended by anything Christian or religious but have a wide open door to everything else, no matter how offensive it is to us, regardless of how dirty, suggestive, immoral or of unredeemable quality it might be.

Those who are wise with Judeo-Christian wisdom live by another standard, and it works for everyone who will listen and heed. “Great peace have they who love Thy law; nothing shall offend them and make them stumble.” (Psalms 119:165)