Thursday, December 20, 2012

God Must Weep

Yesterday on my way to work I listened to a  story on the radio. An elderly lady received a floral bouquet from a good friend. Included in the arrangement was a willow branch. When the time came to discard the flowers, she discovered that the branch had sprouted leaves and roots, and could not bring herself to throw it away. Instead, she asked her caregiver to take the branch and nurture it along. Her feeling was that she had "given it life" and it "should not be thrown away" and that she now had a "responsibility" for it. The tree eventually was planted in a park, and is now a sort of shrine for people who leave rocks with little notes containing prayers underneath. You can find the entire story here in this newspaper article: .

Immediately as I heard how she felt responsibility for this new life, and that it should not be thrown away, I thought of the countless lives of unborn children that are discarded in this world. Abortion is an issue that disturbs me deeply. During the recent U.S. presidential campaign, I was horrified to read about Mr. Obama's stand on abortion, including his support of late term, partial birth "terminations" (a procedure you can see demonstrated here, but I warn you it is very disturbing)  It is hard to comprehend how such a heinous crime can be condoned in any country or culture, let alone in a "civilized" one.

In the U.S. there is strict legislation aimed at protecting the American Bald Eagle. Here is a brief excerpt from the "Legal Information Institute" website:
Whoever, within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, without being permitted to do so as provided in this subchapter, shall knowingly, or with wanton disregard for the consequences of his act take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or in any manner any bald eagle commonly known as the American eagle or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both: Provided, That in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for a violation of this section committed after October 23, 1972, such person shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof........ Boggles the mind, does it not? That more value is placed on a bird than on a human being created in God's image?

How about this news item from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website, March 9, 2012:

Three Toronto men have been fined a total of $10,500 for charges related to harvesting and possessing an endangered plant species on private land.
Jong Hak Lee, Joe Yeal Yu and Seong Gon Lee all pleaded guilty to possessing wild American Ginseng in contravention of the Endangered Species Act and were fined $2,000 each. All three men also pleaded guilty to entering on posted private land in contravention of the Trespass to Property Act and were fined $500 each. Jong Hak Lee pleaded guilty to the additional charge of taking wild American Ginseng in contravention of the Endangered Species Act and was fined $3,000.

They were find thousands of dollars for  harvesting and possessing an endangered plant species on private land. Again, I ask you, does this make any sense at all?

I love God. I love life. I love creation. I love people. But I hate the "world", the way it functions in rebellion to God. Its mindsets, its priorities, its ongoing slide into destruction and depravity. I hate abortion. I hate that it takes the life from innocent babies that God has given to them.I hate the lie that is fed to women in desperate situations; I hate that they are not instead told of the hope that is in Christ, and given loving support to enable them to bring their babies to term, and either keep them or give them to a family who is desperate to have a child to love. I hate the way babies are ripped from the safety of the womb to be tossed out as garbage. If my heart breaks for them, how much more does God's.

If you are reading this and you agree with me, please pray for women who may find themselves contemplating this desperate act. Pray for our governments that they will turn from this wicked legalization of murder. Pray that God would appoint brave leaders that will stand for the rights of those who cannot protect themselves.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bread of Life

God never does anything by accident. From the things that we "get" right away, to those that make us scratch our heads in wonder, to those things that escape our notice completely. Take for instance the setting for the birth of Christ. He came into this world in a lowly stable, and His bassinet was a rough feeding trough. As for His death, He left this world writhing in agony on a cruel wooden cross.  In between He was raised in a working class family, and spent His ministry years as an itinerant preacher, with no possessions save those He wore or carried with Him.Yet He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and Savior of the world. God's ways are indeed not ours.

Quite often, though, if we consider His ways, we will find the reason for them, and the message intended for us. I love to ponder these things, and if I am not too distracted, Holy Spirit will lead my thoughts, not on a rabbit trail, but along a path dotted with "oh, now I get it" moments. As He does with all whom He indwells.

This morning I watched a sermon on television. It focused on the birth of Christ, and of course mentioned the circumstances of His birth, including the feeding trough that was His crib. Got me to thinking how even at the very beginning God chose to put Him on display in a way that spoke of His being "food".  Not, obviously, as fodder for those animals that may have been present at His birth, but as spiritual food, healing sustenance, meant for mankind to partake of.

Scripture tells us that there is more than a physical life, and a physical food that we require to "live". We see it first in Deuteronomy Chapter 8, and Jesus repeats it again when He is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness:


In John 6:35 Jesus puts into a few words the truth that He alone can give eternal life. He states it again in John 6:51:

 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. 

Here His offer is twofold: first He offers that supernatural, eternal  life that God alone can give, that life that overcomes death and hell and the grave and brings us to an eternity spent with Him. Jesus goes on to say that this offer of Himself includes the giving up of His physical being, His very flesh. Nothing is spared here; the gift is infinitely sacrificial.

Jesus continues to offer food in other instances. In John Chapter 6 He feeds the crowd of more than 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish. Another time He does the same with seven loaves and "a few small fish" (Mathew 15:34).

Once more He uses bread, and this time wine also, to represent His body and blood at the last supper:

 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."

And again, after His death and resurrection, he offers bread and fish to His disciples at the beach where they encounter Him:

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise.  This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. (John 21:12-14)

The most dramatic instance of Jesus offering Himself up is His sacrificial death on the cross at Calvary. Here He becomes the ultimate and final  sacrifice for sin, far overshadowing and outweighing those countless animal offerings that led up to that one perfect and perfecting redemptive act. Here He fulfills His promise to give His life for the life of the world.

At this time of year, food is an important part of the way we celebrate the season. We bake, buy and bring scrumptious treats. Workplaces abound with goodies, families gather 'round sumptuous feasts, and we wrap up chocolates and homemade potions to be given as gifts. It is a time, more than any other in the year, when we share with others what we have been blessed with. It's easy to do, because most of us are blessed with much. But the greatest blessing we can have is to be in Christ, and He is the greatest gift we can offer to others. We have more than enough physical food, but many are starving for that Living Bread. He was meant to be shared. And He is more than enough to go around.