A Cosmic Orphan, who Still Asks: “Who Am I?”

A human being without God the Father, writes Loren Eiseley, is the Cosmic Orphan. He is the only creature in the universe who asks, “Why?”  Other animals have instincts to guide them, but people learned to ask questions. “Who am I?” a person asks. “Why am I here? Where am I going?” 34530007 Since the Enlightenment, when our culture in the West threw off the shackles of Christianity, people have tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not joyful, but dark and terrifying. “You are the accidental by-product of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed. Propaedia, s.v. “The Cosmic Orphan,” by Loren Eiseley; cf. William Craig http://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil3600/Craig.pdf

I’ll never forget how God made use of a 1960s musical in my heart called Oliver, wherein the orphan sang: “Where is love?” It was my prayer for three years until I was made poor in spirit and entered into the home of my Father.

Solitude: Spring is Dawning

“All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays.”

IMG_2863It is almost springtime and summer is coming, when God faithfully brings renewed expressions of new life in every thing we see. Everything living thing receives from His gracious involvement exactly what was waited for, and then expresses praise to the Lord. The trees, corn, and beans of the field show colors. The birds, squirrels, and rabbits make their sounds. Everything is shot through with glory. Creation relinquishes control to the One whose presence is the bedrock of its being. How shall we join in the chorus of praise?

I met an unhappy man, who could not sit quietly in his living room—a room with a view. He could not sit in a park without being diverted by a gnawing sense that he was wasting his time, so he constantly turned to diversion to keep himself from solitude. Hence it was, for him, that the pleasure and joy of solitude was a thing incomprehensible. Every true Christian is strengthened, not weakened, by solitude with God.

For those who do not understand our evil age and desperate situation, the spiritual discipline of solitude may look strange or too simplistic. To those who discover rest for their souls by practicing of solitude with a Bible and journal, however, these true believers find it absolutely necessary.

Solitude, waiting and trusting for God’s grace to transform and shape us into those created for His praise, can produce the springtime of spiritual transformation. Solitude is the springtime of transformation in which our souls are watered with God’s Word and Spirit. It is where we feel safe to no longer form layers of bark around our souls for protection against the world’s elements and diversions. It is the place of great gospel encounter, where a new sense of the light and warmth of the Son rises upon us with healing power. There in the warm and safe presence of God, Jesus awakens new life to a dormant saint after a long, wintery season.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the Son of above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper

Key Question: What does it mean to steward and aim all my resources, gifts, and efforts with Gospel intentionality?

“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” —Genesis 19:26

“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and [is] gone.” — 2 Timothy 4:10

“As the time drew near for his return to heaven, he moved steadily onward toward Jerusalem with an iron will . . . But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’ ” — Luke 9:51, 62

“I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” — Acts 20:24

“The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.” Charles H. Spurgeon

To live with Gospel Intentionality for Christ in light of a final legacy from Christ, and an eternity with Christ

Spiritual Formation at Mid-life

Today we begin our third Gospel transformational, five-week course called Intentionality for Christ. It reviews our identity in Christ, reminds us of our callings to Christ, and addresses the middle-age struggles with regret, broken dreams, and busyness.

Intentionality, besides being a philosophical concept, is defined as a disposition of the will; as a noun, it is the state of being volitional in nature. The Latin etymology indicates the relevant idea of directedness or tension arising from aiming towards a particular target.
The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to destroy us in each season of our spiritual formation. In the Spring they mess with our identity, in the Summer our calling, in the
Autumn with our intentionality, and in the Winter with our preparation for heaven—our legacy. The world ushers Christians in this age-bracket near to yet another pit, the flesh persuades us to fall in, and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents an aimless waste-collection of unused gifts, time, and  resources that could have been invested more strategically for Christ’s honor and the Gospel’s advance.

Send questions, if you like. There will be further posts on this topic forthcoming. Bob

O What a Legacy My Husband, and Your Father, has Left Us!

Jonathan Edwards’s daughter, Esther, describes how her father’s counsels were beneficial to her as an adult. She made a trip to visit his home and wrote:

“Last eve I had some free discourse with My Father on the great things that concern my best Interest—I opened my difficulties to him very freely and he freely advised and directed. The conversation has removed some distressing doubts that discouraged me much in my Christian warfare—He gave me some excellent directions to be observed in secret that tend to keep my soul near to God, as well as others to be observed in a more public way—What a mercy that I have such a Father! Such a Guide!”[1]

When Edwards died in March 1758, his wife, Sarah, wrote to their daughter Lucy:

“My very dear Child,

What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a very dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.

Your ever affectionate mother,

Sarah Edwards”*

[1] Esther Edwards Burr, The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-57, ed. Carol F. Karlsen and Laurie Crumpacker (New Have, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 224.

*Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, vol. 32, Correspondence by, to, and about Edwards and His Family (Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University).

A Faithful Man, Who Can Find?

For one year I prayed for God to give me one faithful man I could invest my life into, one whom God would pour out His Spirit upon and use mightily for His glory. One year is all long time, especially since I intentionally moved my family next to a college campus of 20,000 students for this one purpose.

Zach didn’t particularly care for me, and his friends were coming to my home and bible discussions. Well, I was so pleasantly surprised to hear the next year that he was all in for discipleship – he was full on.

This picture 24ced7d8-40bc-4a73-b9cc-c0208eb4e226@2xreminds me of his story of us in Sensing Jesus, describing an early morning time of prayer on a Colorado mountain side some thirty years ago.

Zach invests in faithful men now, and two of my sons attend his church and meet man to man with him just like we did decades before. Zach is a popular author, husband, father, seminary teacher, and pastor in St. Louis, MO.

Here is a first step into his blog work and more: http://zackeswine.com/mentoring

A Woman in Your Own Right

A daughter must know the likeness she has to her mother in gender, even calling. A mother’s delight gives her daughter well-being and shalom so that she may rest secure in her gende12183830_10208056962161487_8442307244271546964_or and being. In the milieu of her warmth, she soon will be a woman in her own right – differentiated from Mom & Dad and set apart for her calling.

A father delights in his daughter, and separates her from mama bear. He throws her in the air, while her mother gasps. She intuitively begins to sense from the other masculine gender of papa bear that she has a voice. A father separates and points her to her Father in heaven. She is told by papa bear that this is her Father’s world, and that He has a safe place for her to fulfill her calling in life. As she hears: “You are my daughter in Christ in whom I am well-pleased,” she obeys that voice and call on her life.

In marriage sons leave, but daughters are given. A father pledges to walk her out of her mother’s home, into education and vocation, and down an aisle to a godly man.

We walked our daughters to two godly men, who are both in Gospel ministry training. This picture speaks a 1,000 words, which we cannot put into words (Mom is weeping with joy and the sorrow of separation because they are so very close).