Archive for October, 2009


Last night we had the opportunity to hear Steve Green in concert. It was a great event filled with powerful music. Not only does he possess an incredibly strong and disciplined voice, but the message of each song was so clear and compelling. (By the way, his a capella presentation of “A Mighty Fortress” was worth the price of a ticket.)

Throughout the evening, he spoke about the blessings of our salvation, the fullness of God’s grace, and the hope of the resurrection. Each topic was an encouragement and a challenge for daily living. Several times when speaking about salvation, he used a significant term – rescued. Saved, redeemed, reborn, delivered…all are descriptive of the work that God has done in the lives of those who are His own. Yet, there is something very striking about the concept of our rescue.

I quickly thought of Air Station Clearwater just down the road. Almost every day I look up to see a thundering C-130 or a HH-60 helicopter heading west from the largest and busiest Air Station in the US Coast Guard. Frequently, we watch the evening news with a report of boaters rescued from the waters of the Gulf.

Can you imagine the experience of being capsized and lost at sea? The waters increasingly chill your body’s temperature. The waves seem to grow taller with each passing minute. Your muscles fatigue, begin to ache, and soon cease to function. You realize there is nothing you can do to keep your head above water. The end is near and certain.

Suddenly in the distance you hear the chopping sound from the blades of a Jayhawk helicopter. From it you can see a cable with a rescue swimmer descending to your position. He speaks words of assurance as he secures a lifeline around you. Steadily you are lifted up out of the stormy waters into the security of the waiting helicopter. As the craft lands and you step out onto solid ground you take in the magnitude of what has just happened. Your life has been wonderfully saved. You have been rescued.

The psalmist never envisioned a helicopter, but described our spiritual rescue with compelling terms.

“He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. [17] He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.”
Psalm 18:16-17

More than from just earthly enemies, the Lord has rescued us from our spiritual adversary. When Christ died, He broke the bonds of sin and freed us from the clutches of Satan himself. He lifted us up from our miserable condition and placed us in a sure place.

Often the one rescued returns to the Air Station to meet the crew that carried out the rescue. With a heart overflowing with gratitude, he realizes all he can do is say “thank you.” No repayment is possible, because none could ever measure up to the gift of a lived saved from sure destruction.

How can we ever cease to praise the One who has truly rescued us? What a powerful message God’s children have to share with those around us!

Still small voice

Thursday’s newspaper headline declared, “Three natural disasters rattle a hemisphere.” While a powerful typhoon was bearing down on Southeast Asia this week, two underwater earthquakes struck thousands of miles away. One quake spawned colossal waves that rushed toward the Samoas, leaving massive flooding in their wake. The other flattened buildings in Indonesia leaving more than 1,000 dead, thousands more missing, and countless families without a home.

As the death toll continues to rise in the wake of such tragedy, the public discussion generates some inevitable questions and responses. Even secular pundits weigh in when tragedy strikes on such a grand scale. “Could this be divine justice? Should we consider it a wakeup call?” Soon a religious leader will likely seize the public platform to make a definitive interpretation as if he serves as God’s sole spokesman.

During Elijah’s self-imposed exile (1 Kings 19) he witnessed some incredible events: a strong wind crumbled the mountains and crushed the great rocks. An earthquake and fire soon followed. “But the Lord was not in the fire” (vs. 12). Remember that God spoke to Elijah with that “still small voice.”

We often look for meaning in events such as those that struck this week (especially when they are closer to our own home). In frustration we lament, “If only we knew what God was trying to tell us.” While I would not discourage someone from examining life’s occurrences through the lens of providence, I believe we have a greater responsibility.

Certainly, God is powerful enough to shake the earth or control the winds and waves. Likewise, He is still active in the course of human history. However, should we be looking for a message in these natural events when we so often overlook the clear one on our own bookshelf? Bound between leather covers we possess the complete divine revelation – the very Word of God in our own language. What a blessing and privilege – one which we easily take for granted.

The will of God is not inscrutable on its pages. Otherwise, we could not be expected to do it, as the New Testament authors instruct us (Eph. 6:6). Certain aspects of the Lord’s will are clearly expressed in the Bible. His will is that sinful men will repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9). He expects believers to obey the civil authorities and the laws of the land (1 Peter 2:15). He desires His children to be thankful (1 Thess. 5:18). His will is that Christians will maintain personal purity, living holy lives that are examples to the world (1 Thess. 4:3). If only we inspected the message of God’s written Word with the same diligence that some do the tempests and tremors.

Our responsibility? Handle the Word of God properly. Value it – evidenced by the time we spend with it. Respect it – manifested by the authority we give it. Honor it – demonstrated by our obedient response to it.

We will once again gather on Sunday and look into the sacred book that we hold in our hands. On its pages we find the message of God preserved for us. May we be faithful children of our heavenly Father, remembering the great worth of His Word that reveals His will for us.