Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why Real Men (& Women) Cry

Resolve to Shed Tears
Crying is not wrong! Crying is good if our tears are shed over the right things. Joseph wept 8 times, David 7 times, Paul 4 times, the Prophet Jeremiah 3 times, and Moses shed tears. Tears have been called the flower of the heart.

Tears of Sorrow ~ In John we read of Mary shedding tears of sorrow because of the death of her brother Lazarus (11:31-33) and we find Mary Magdalene with tears of sorrow at the tomb of our Savior (20:11).

Tears of Loneliness ~ In addition to sorrow, death also creates great loneliness as in the case of the widow of Nain who had previously lost her husband and then suffered the loss of her only son (Luke 7:12-13).

Tears of Sympathy ~ Probably the best known Biblical example of tears is found in the shortest verse in the Bible where we read that “Jesus wept” with tears of sympathy (John 11:35). Our Savior was consoling Martha at the time of the death of her brother Lazarus.

Tears over Sin and its Consequences ~ Luke was sobered to the point of tears over his deep level of concern about the final destination of those around him (Acts 20:31). Christ, our example, expressed deep emotional concern over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39).

In addition to tears of sadness there are tears of gladness!

Tears of Affection ~ Timothy loved his spiritual father as a natural son loves his father. Paul remembers Timothy’s tears—perhaps they were shed when they last parted or maybe as he remembered their close friendship (2 Timothy 1:4). Perhaps the tears flowed in remembrance of some deep conversations which they had shared. We do not know for sure the exact reason for these tears.

Tears of Faith and Gratitude ~ Some individuals are overcome with emotion when they accept God’s offer of salvation. Their realization of what Christ did for them at Calvary and the freedom that comes with accepting His free gift of salvation cause great emotion. For example, we read of a concerned father who believed in Christ yet was honest enough to admit he still had much unbelief (Mark 9:24).

Tears of Gratitude and Devotion ~ When Christ accepted an invitation to eat at the home of a Pharisee, a sinful woman came and wept as she applied fragrant oil to the Savior’s feet (Luke 7:38).

Tears of Service ~ We find Paul exhorting the elders at Ephesus, and as he does, he mentions his own tears as he served God (Acts 20:19). Service in God’s army can be tough—while we may become tired in His service, we should never tire of His service.

CONTEMPLATE: When was the last time you shed tears of faith, gratitude, devotion, or because of your service for Him?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


As a child we all learned that each snowflake is different—just like each of us has a different fingerprint pattern. Last Christmas one of our daughters gave my wife and me a wonderful book full of colored pictures of snowflakes—what tremendous variety, complexity, and beauty!

Where does the snowflake come from? Who designed the snowflake? For Christians the answer is easy. “In the beginning” the triune God created this magnificent planet which we call home—as well as the rest of the vast solar system.

The opening of the Holy Bible says, “In the beginning God [the Father] created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God [the Holy Spirit] was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3).

The Gospel of John begins, “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5). All members of the Trinity were involved in creation.

The next time you see a snowflake, think of the vastness of God’s marvelous creation and of our Creator-God. It’s funny how mankind assumes a creator and manufacturer for all our gifts and possessions which are mass produced; but the delicate, intricate, and unique snowflakes are taken for granted, often not even giving their sophisticated designs credit for having a designer.

As you contemplate the all-powerful Creator, remember that the baby of Bethlehem was with God, His Father, from the very beginning. The Father sent His only Son into our world that He might live a sinless life and pay the penalty of our sin. Jesus Christ humbled Himself and came and lived on earth with us in human form. One day, maybe very soon, He will return to take us to be with Him forever more! Praise God!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

EXTRA: Feedback

Thank you to all readers!

In less than 60 days of weekly blogging God has been pleased to spread this blog across a wider base than expected.

Abundant Life Now has reached into 9 countries: the United States (the state of Virginia possessing the biggest following), Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and at least one unidentified country.

If you believe this blog is useful and God-honoring, please continue to recommend it to others.

Once again, thank you, and it is my prayer that God will richly bless you during this CHRISTmas season and that you and yours grow spiritually in 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where is your God? – 2 of 2

God Surrounds You by His Love

During this season it seems appropriate to consider how our God surrounds us by His eternal love. Consider Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:1-6 niv

The twenty-third Psalm is the best-loved of all the Psalms for many reasons. It has often been called The Shepherd Psalm. The word picture of a shepherd with His sheep which David chose is significant—he had direct experience as a shepherd caring for sheep (1 Samuel 16:19). David knew that only satisfied sheep who feel totally secure will “lie down in green pastures.”

To me one of the most interesting things about this Psalm is that every angle of need and protection is satisfied. Or looked at another way, we are surrounded by His love and care.

Beneath (under) - “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

Beside (sides) - “He leads me beside quiet waters.” Also, “He guides me in paths of righteousness,” suggesting boundaries on both sides.

Before (front) - “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Behind (back) - “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.”

Beyond (above) - “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Notice the Psalm begins with my possession, “The LORD is my shepherd,” it continues with my provision, and ends with my prospect, “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where is your God? – 1 of 2

Sometimes others criticize or even mock Christians regarding their commitment to the God of the universe. They say, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:10). Often underlying such comments is the idea that if God was so great, why don’t they see Him or His work on your behalf? This is an interesting question. Here are some of the answers the Word of God provides regarding where God is. These answers provide comfort for those who know God personally as Savior.

God is around you for your protection; the LORD surrounds you forever (Psalm 125:2).

God is above you since the LORD is both in heaven and on earth (Deuteronomy 4:39).

He keeps His watchful eye on you to protect you and all those who revere Him (Psalm 33:18).

God is under you to support you with His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).

God is in front of you, leading you; your LORD goes before you (Exodus 13:21; Deuteronomy 1:30).

God is on your side protecting you as He holds your right hand (Isaiah 41:13).

God is behind you providing protection from attacks from the rear (Isaiah 52:12).

God is always near you when you call upon Him (Psalm 145:18).

God is with you; therefore you should not fear (Isaiah 41:10).

God is for you. Because of that no one can effectively stand against you (Romans 8:31).

God dwells with you and with all those who have a humble spirit (Isaiah 57:15).

God is in you, which is your assurance of glory (Colossians 1:27).

In summary, He is everything you need! Christ is your “all and in all” (Colossians 3:11). How thankful we should be that God has made provision for our every need.

CONTEMPLATE: Based only on Psalm 23, where is your God?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Insight to Witnessing

Book Review: A Friendly Dialogue Between an Atheist and a Christian

Overview: This is an unusual book which relates a conversation between Zhao Qizheng, a renowned Chinese diplomat, and Luis Palau, an American evangelist. It is self-described as a dialogue between an atheist and a theist, between a scientist and a Christian evangelist, between one from the East and one from the West.

From the book: Dr. Palau said, “We came at it from the points of view of an atheist and a believer, but we soon realized that we have a lot in common as human beings, that we respect each other and we enjoy each other’s company.” … Mr. Zhao Qizheng said at the same press conference, “Dr. Palau and I are both rather pure species of our two different cultures. Because both of us were very straightforward during our discussions, we were able to breach the barriers posed by different ideologies and exchange views on a wide range of topics.”

Summary: I found this book to have significant value. It illustrates a very civil and respectful dialogue between individuals with drastically different views. It could be considered a textbook on how to be an effective witness to someone who has very different beliefs and views. The book provides real insight into the mind of a very accomplished self-described atheist. The following is an example of the interchanges:

[Zhao]: For China, Christianity is an imported item. It’s not a local product. Buddhism is also imported from abroad, but it has long been localized so as to make it more compatible with Chinese culture.

[Palau]: I’ve got to say something. Actually, Christianity was imported from heaven to every nation. When Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, Christ brought in Christianity and it’s an important religion for every culture, not just China.

[Zhao]: Most of the major religions claim that theirs is the only God. I cannot discriminate against anyone of them. So I am left with only two choices. The first: I believe all their claims are correct. In that case, there will be many gods. The second choice is: all the claims are unfounded; there’s no God at all. No religion would agree with me on that, either.

[Palau]: It’s too easy to answer that one. There’s no God? Forget it. You got to get serious and say, “I’m going to find God if it’s the last thing I do.” You’re a scientist, you have to dig, dig, dig,

Full Title: A Friendly Dialogue Between an Atheist and a Christian
Authors: Luis Palau & Zhao Qizheng
Publisher: Zondervan
Date Published: 2006
Number of pages: 140
ISBN: 978-0-310-28533-5