From the monthly archives:

December 2009

The Fullness of Time

December 20, 2009

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“In the fullness of time…”  Galatians 4:4

Our friend, Jenny, is pregnant.  Very pregnant.  She is due in a matter of weeks but when you ask the exact date she draws a breath and says, “I am ready now.”  She is walking the path of “the fullness of time” and time is not yet complete.

I’ve never met a pregnant woman that wanted to remain pregnant.  No woman ever says, “Why would I want to deliver this baby when I can remain pregnant for a while longer?”  The fullness of time cannot come soon enough for the birth that brings deliverance.

Fullness means that there is nothing left to do but go to the next step.  It is the end of a process, the final step, the completion of a thoughtful and deliberate march that is “made full” by careful achievement.  But there is another characteristic that shapes the fullness of time and it is this,

No one knows all that will take place,
Including the person who patiently waits.

The mysteries that are worked in the fullness of time are knit in secret and shared with no one.  David said, “I was made in secret,” and no matter how much we think we know, certain matters are held tight between the pages of His Book.  And so it is with the child of God.  Knit in secret and skillfully wrought is the “how” of God.  The womb of waiting is the workshop of real life.

Into that secret place God poured the seed of deliverance for his lost children.  Forced from His presence, the banished citizens of Eden had no hope left in the life they had known.  The last words were curses, the final memory a blazing sword that swept the landscape of the Garden with fiery  separation. Yet from this scene of disaster the children took in their heart of hearts a trust that the very One who banished them was also the One who sought them.

Secretly hidden from all was the tiny Hope that would be “made full” after man had exhausted himself of deliverance on his own terms.  For 4,500 years the children of Adam and Eve waited… for what they did not know.

But then…

  • An angel and a maid.
  • A young man and a commissioning.
  • An eighty mile trek on the back of a donkey.
  • A wicked king who sought to kill.
  • Shepherds, an innkeeper, a dark night of the soul when all seemed lost.

And the Fullness of Time came.  He who had walked creation’s path and scattered the stars in the sky was reduced to a quiet miracle that caused the angels to sing.

Jesus was born in the night far from the gaze of the crowd that would seek Him and kill Him.  He was born into a culture already despised, born into the humblest of circumstances.  No room in the inn, no bed to lay his head,  all of this so those who sought him could find him.

Paul wrote,

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;and if a son, then a heir through God.

The ancients named this season Advent to point people to the birth of the Messiah, yet  His birth, though a worthy celebration, is in the past.  The true Advent of the church is to prepare for His return.  So remember, won’t you?  Remember that when the fullness of time comes again, He will come as a reigning King, not a Babe in a manger.  Remember that He did not leave us with a curse but a promise; not with a fiery sword but an empty tomb.  And though we celebrate His birth, the real celebration is that it is one day less until His return.

God never forgets.  He always keeps His promises.  And when the fullness of time comes again, it will dawn an eternally new day.



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Fisher of Men

December 9, 2009

What a night. It was wet, windy, and just plain miserable.

Peter, Andrew, and the boat crew were the worse for it. Foul tempers, matched only by their foul smell, were the only signs they had worked all night. They had no fish to show for their toil.

“That’s why they call it ‘fishing,’ Peter,” said Andrew. “You see, if we always caught fish it would be called ‘catching’ because…”

“Oh,just shut up! It’s bad enough that we couldn’t even catch our breakfast. We don’t need you going on and on, Andrew! Go over there and get to work!” Peter was in no mood for philosophical discussions. He was in no mood for discussions about any subject for that matter. With a family to feed and bills to pay, Peter didn’t have time to sit and chat about life.

Work was what Peter knew. And work was what he really believed in. No one else was going to provide for him or his family. It was all up to him and, to tell the truth, Peter liked it that way. He made his own decisions and stuck by them. No one was man enough to tell Peter what to do.

Peter was lost in thought about bills and food and the new sandals that his little boy needed. He didn’t notice the crowd of people walking across his nets that were spread out to dry on the beach. Now looking up, he exploded in a fit of angry words. “Hey, all of you get off my nets or you’ll answer to my fist! What’s the matter with you! Get out of here!” Peter held up his clenched rock of a fist and grabbed the shoulder of the closest intruder. Peter spun the man around in order to confront him face-to-face.

“Peter! It is so nice to see you! It’s been a while since you and I have talked!”  Peter just stood there. The person who he had threatened was the new rabbi in town. It was Jesus! How could the day get any worse?

“It’s OK, Peter. We should have been more careful not to step on your nets,” said Jesus. “But since I’ve got you here, would you mind if I used one of your boats for a pulpit? There are so many people coming that they are liable to drive us into the sea. Your fishing boat would be the perfect place for Me to speak from. Everyone will be able to hear, and I won’t get wet!” Jesus laughed at His own joke, but Peter just politely smiled and nodded his head. He really liked this new Teacher because He was so different from all the others. But Peter was still unsure of anyone who “talked” instead of “worked” for a living.

Dutifully, Peter anchored the boat a few feet from shore and went back to work. The crowd was gathering quickly now. The crew of fishermen moved down the beach to scrub the nets and hang then to dry. As they worked, Jesus talked about God’s love.

How could anyone care so much/or people? Peter thought to himself. This Jesus has a way about Him like no other man I have ever met.

Jesus talked on and on throughout the morning hours. Now the sun was high and burned on the backs of the fishermen who neatly stacked their nets and prepared for the night’s work. Ready to go home, they patiently waited for Jesus to finish speaking so that they could pull the boat up onto the beach. Finally, Peter and Andrew waded out to the boat where Jesus was resting after the long morning of teaching.

“I’ve always been fascinated by fishing,” said Jesus. “Why don’t you give Me a quick lesson? Throw your nets out one more time.” The brothers just looked at one another and tried hard not to laugh! “Well, Jesus. This is not exactly the best time to fish. You see, the sun is hot and the nets are already dry and…”

“Go out into deep water and let your nets out one more time.” The request of the simple Teacher suddenly changed to a command of Someone in high authority. Andrew looked at his brother. Peter did not take instruction well. In fact, he didn’t take instruction at all! It seemed like an eternity as Jesus and Peter just stared at one another. But the power that seemed to be wrapped with great love overwhelmed the silence. Peter knew that Jesus was a man that he couldn’t say no to.

“Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught a thing,” Peter said as he lifted himself into the boat. “But if You say so, I’ll let out the nets.” Andrew scrambled onto the boat and stared with amazement at his brother. Never before had he seen him bend to another man’s order!

The short trip out to the deep water was spent in silence. The brothers lifted the net over the side and watched it slip beneath the dark water. And in the time it took for the net to sink, the little boat began to pull over on its side. Peter feared that the net had hung on a rock, but as he began to pull the net back up to the boat the water suddenly began to chum with fish! In all their years of fishing, Peter and Andrew had never seen anything like this. It couldn’t be ‘” but what else? It was a miracle! Pulling in the great haul of fish took two boats and a great deal of time. By now the beach was full of people. Jesus stood and watched with a big smile on His face.

But Peter was not smiling. The whole time he worked to get the fish into the boat, he thought of all the judgmental and angry words that he’d said throughout his life. His lack of trust in God’s provision churned up in his heart like the fish caught in the net. He was caught and felt as if there was no escape from the guilt.  He didn’t deserve this miracle. And he certainly didn’t deserve the special friendship with Jesus.

Now on the shore with the other fishermen, Peter fell on his knees before Jesus. The poor man couldn’t even look Jesus in the eye, so great was his shame. “Master, please leave. I’m a no-good sinner and can’t handle Your goodness. Please leave me here alone.” Peter knew that Jesus was holier than anyone he had ever met. He knew that he didn’t deserve God’s help at all. He knew that his sin was so great and Jesus was so holy. Jesus had left His world of teaching and talking and entered into Peter’s world of fishing. He entered Peter’s world in order to meet Peter’s need! No one had ever done that for Peter before. Jesus lifted Peter up from his knees. Looking straight into his tear-filled eyes, the Master said, “Don’t be afraid, Peter. From now on I’ll teach you how to fish for men and women.” Peter and the others knew that their days of fishing for trout and bass were over. From now on they would learn a new trade from a new teacher. They would become “fishers of souls.”

Pulling their boats up on the beach, the crew took one last look at the nets that had been their livelihood. They had all decided to follow Jesus. And even though none of them knew what lay ahead, one thing was for sure. If the great haul of fish was the result of following the Master’s orders, the days ahead were sure to be full of excitement.



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Wait Patiently

December 6, 2009

“Wait patiently…”   Psalm 36:7 I was a college student vexed with anxiety.  New to the bible, I discovered between the pages a great treasure trove of untapped wisdom that declared a successful way to a guilt free life.  One day, I read and re-read the first verses of the book of James… Count it all […]

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Reaching Rome

December 6, 2009

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! I’ve waited to write this report until we had a firm plan in place for Jan’s stem cell transplant.  In case you did not receive the good news, Judge McDougal ruled overwhelmingly in Jan’s favor this past week and we have sufficiently tested the decision and are convinced […]

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