Dear Graduate

Dear Graduate

This is the season of life where you will be asked over and over, so what are you going to do? Where will you go? What will you study? What is the new purpose of your life? May I encourage you by contrasting the visits I recently had with two men who were trained as chiropractors and were both skilled and disciplined enough to become very wealthy? One did indeed become very wealthy. The other recognized a futility in this pursuit and turned his efforts to pursue a different kind of wealth. As you take your next step, will you consider these brief contrasting views from the “back porches” of these two men? 

Woman, Behold Your Son!

John 19:26-27 "Woman, behold your son!...behold your mother!

By nature all men, especially in time of pain, sorrow, and injustice are completely self absorbed. To see the needs of another and focus our attention on another person does not come by nature and all the more so is that the case in a time of suffering.

The disciple to whom Jesus spake these words from the cross later wrote in I John 4:12 "if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us"

In the suffering of our Savior we see this perfect love. His love is completely centered on the Father as will be seen in his other cries from the cross. Here His love for the father is demonstrated in his love for others. 

It is impossible to fully imagine the depth of the suffering as Christ was experiencing not only extreme physical pain, not only the rejection of men, but the anger of the Father at sin being poured out upon Him.

Yet the first words of Christ from the cross that John records for us are these words demonstrating and demanding selfless love for the brethren.

As we think on Mary for a moment...surely there can be no human hurt of the heart as deep and crushing as the loss of a child. Not only was Mary watching her son be cruelly tortured, unjustly treated, and put to death; but this Son was perfect. He had never disobeyed her, he had never dishonored her, he had never failed to perfectly love her. Surely her mind traveled back to Gabriel's words only a short time ago..."And behold,, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

She had kept these things in her heart...John nor the other gospel writers record his mother as one of the visitors at his tomb. Perhaps she was one of those about whom Jesus spoke when he said to Thomas "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Not long after Gabriel's announcement, Mary had said to Elizabeth: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is might has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

No unbelieving mother could have stood at the foot of such a cruel cross with peace. The crushing pain in Mary's heart was surely assuaged by the same faith that Abraham had obediently demonstrated as he raised a knife to slay his only son - believing that God was able to raise him from the dead.

Jesus would soon be ascending to heaven as Mary's Savior and no longer as her son. John and Mary like you and I now would have a new family during our short pilgrimage - the family of God - those bought by the precious blood of Christ. And together we walk as strangers believing "the disciple" John as he reminds us: "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." 

George Whitfield Exhortation Regarding the Fall and Christian Reproof

Often times as a parent I immediately deal, even harshly, with the sin of my children and even chastise them if they don't immediately respond with humility to my pointing out of their failure.

Not only is this graceless parenting but perhaps it is not following an example our Lord set for us and as is pointed out in a sermon by George Whitefield entitled "The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent". The advise he gives could teach us in regard to parenting and in any Christian relationships as we seek to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. Here is what Whitefield says:

They heard  him walking in the trees of the garden, in the cool of the day. A season perhaps, when Adam and Eve used to go, in a special manner, and offer up an evening sacrifice of praise and Thanksgiving in the cool of the day. Perhaps the sin was committed early in the morning, or at noon; but God would not come upon them immediately, he staid till the cool of the day. And if we would effectually reprove others, we should not do it when they are warmed with passion, but wait til the cool of the day.

A book of selected George Whitfield sermons can be downloaded here for free here:

Imagine you are Adam

Imagine that you are Adam, God's first creation in His image, created to be a reflection of God's glory, His greatness and his holiness. Only a short while ago you walked in perfect harmony with Him, living and laboring every moment with God and for God. Each day was filled with peace, in fact each day was only peace. Each day you and the flesh of your flesh, your wife, lived hand in hand without even the knowledge of pride, of anger, of selfishness, or fear. Instead, together you worshipped God, adored Him, and tended His creation so that He would be constantly worshipped and adored by that creation. There was no death.

Then just a few dark days ago, the enemy of God, sly as a serpent, bright and shining, spoke so convincingly to your wife that she believed him and so did you - that to disobey your loving Creator would bring even greater pleasure than the life of obedience to Him. You would be the great knower or decider of what is good and what is evil. And so you took a bite...

In an instant, you recognized your nakedness, you were angry at your wife, you thought things that were never possible before. Somehow you knew from your own body would come sons and daughters that would kill each other, hate, divide, lust, lie, and create God's after their own imagination rather than worship the only wise, holy, loving, and good God with whom you had sweet fellowship only moments ago.

You could not be seen by His holy face so you hid. If He were to find you, your shameful nakedness would give away your disobedience so you made a covering for yourself from leaves of the garden which you had cultivated with your own hands. 

Then He called... your creator, the very one who had given you life and with whom you had walked and talked. But you had rebelled against Him; you feared the death He had promised and you thought to preserve your life by blaming your disobedience on your own sweet helper, your own flesh, your wife. Ashamed, she could do nothing but blame the shining one - the enemy of God, who had appeared so lovely yet had deceived her. 

To hear God's voice was terrifying. Before that day, you would run to hear his voice. But today, what terror, a feeling you had never had before, the sentence of death was being passed down. As you listened and expected his crushing blow, you can hardly believe your ears... final and crushing condemnation was promised to the shining one and not only that but this crushing would come from... a child of your own wife. Can this be you had thought? There will be a child? There will be a child of my wife who though wounded by Satan will ultimately destroy this enemy of my creator?

Then God, the one from whom you were now estranged spoke to Eve and promised pain even in the midst of the most wonderful parts of living, that she would seek to rule over you but that you would rule over her. What painful words those were to hear. Never had there been conflict between you and your wife but now... what painful consequence for turning from your creator.

Shocked that your heart was still beating in your chest, you could not lift your eyes as you heard him tell of your life that would now be full of difficulty. Your skill would be constantly hindered and in the end of it all, you and your wife would be turned back into the dust from which you had been created.

Yet there was hope promised... hope enough that you could turn and call your wife Eve, "the mother of all living". Your loving Creator at promise life that would come from her own body. But how?

A hint of the answer came quickly and almost took your breath away. You turned and saw one of your precious lambs for what you had tenderly cared lying with blood all around its body. The crushing blow which you had expected on your own head had come. The life-giving blood of all the living had never been spilt before this moment; you almost fainted to see this innocent lamb who had done no wrong lying there in a pool of blood.

You could not bear to look as the white robe of that innocent lamb was torn from its body, divided and then your own shameful covering was discarded as your creator lovingly clothed you. 

As you were driven by your own Creator from the paradise of perfect fellowship with him to walk in a fallen world with death, toil, and pain, you hoped yet in that child of promise - the one who would crush the life from the shining enemy of the creator

The scene of the innocent lamb lying in blood, it's spotless robe torn from its body to clothe you reminded you constantly of the Creator's mercy by the slaying of the innocent to cover the shame of the guilty. 

You could never have imagined the heartbreak to come as God would show mercy through the same bloody sacrifice to your son Abel but your son Cain would seek to worship God in his own way just as you had done. He would murder your own beloved son Abel after his self-righteous sacrifice was rejected by the Creator. What heartache sin has brought! What salvation God has provided through the shedding of innocent blood!

Do we need revival?

This was how Samuel Davies described the people of Hanover, VA in 1751 and applied it to himself and they didn't even have Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or March Madness... Surely then we must ask ourselves the same questions that Mr. Davies exhorted regarding our true condition.  May the Lord send revival... that is my prayer...begin it in me...