Cain Killed.

4-1113tm-vector2-3712True story: Cain killed Abel.  According to the Bible, it’s the first crime in the history of the world occurring in only the second generation of human life. A God-believing man killed another God-believing man. But Cain’s heart was not filled with love for God, instead it was filled with jealousy and greed (love for himself). As Cain saw the righteousness of Abel and the favor of God upon him, his jealousy overtook him. Although God told Cain how he can be righteous and receive the same favor, Cain decided on another way. He decided to play the part of God. He lifted the axe to his brother’s neck and watched in both delight and horror as Abel’s blood spilled over the land. He made that decision, not God. It was a hate crime, indeed. But it wasn’t hate against Abel, it was hate against God. It demonstrates the evil which reside in the hearts of men when they hate God.

It also demonstrates the fact that some (not all) humans can both believe in God and hate him. Why is it that humans kill other humans because they hate God? Albert Mohler’s commentary from Monday, June 13 explains that because man was created in the image of God, then man is the target when hate for God resides in the heart of a perpetrator. They cannot kill God so they attack His image, His creation. Of course, it’s not a conscious reasoning in the mind of the perpetrator. They can even murder as a twisted devotion to God.

Just as many are the reasons for murder is the survivor’s blame for a murderous heart. We can point fingers and blame ideologies, culture, law or bad parenting, just to name a few. And there may be room for blame, but the extremes are growing. The tweets run rampant as a blogger finds his notoriety in the blame game. But would we dare blame ourselves? Perhaps Abel was completely innocent, but could he have been culpable? Could he have been more compassionate with Cain and shown him stronger devotion to God? Could he have prayed with him and taught him deeper truths about God’s love? Or perhaps he was a most devoted brother yet still the object of murderous passion. Of course, we don’t know; the Bible never says what kind of relationship they had but I think it’s something worth considering, don’t you? Would we be so bold to reason that it’s not too much religious ideology that causes a murderous heart but instead, not enough belief in the one true God?

There is evil in this world, and the ultimate blame goes to satan himself. But be assured of this: One day there will be a world without evil. One day the murders will stop. And one day, mankind will be free from hate crimes against God’s creation. But until then, there is a call upon the Believer to demonstrate God’s supernatural love in ways that surpass hate, fear and blame.  True Believers of God love Him and His creation by sharing His unending truth and mercy with others at any cost. Evil is not an equal opposite to God’s goodness. His love abounds and exceeds all evil. Believers must start living according to that truth. It is our ultimate calling.


Laser Lights of Hong Kong

I was in Hong Kong recently on my way back from work in Thailand, and my travel companion took me to Victoria Harbor to view the Symphony of Lights, a multimedia laser light show, which involves more than 40 buildings on both sides of the harbor. It occurs every night in Hong Kong and it’s dazzling. The daytime cityscape from the harbor is quite impressive with its massive buildings and upscale infrastructures, but to see it at night is an entirely different view. Hong Kong attracts people from all over the world to view this 13-minute light show. I looked around and saw hundreds of people from all walks of life—young and old, and heard countless different languages. It seemed as if the whole world was there on this random night in June.

When the light show commenced, I looked hard at the night sky and noticed that it was covered in clouds. The city prefers the cloud cover because the laser lights are deeper and brighter under the cloudy sky. As the crowd excitedly reflected on the last 13 minutes and exchanged pictures from their cell phones, I tried searching the sky for the stars, but I knew that even if the clouds weren’t there, neither would the stars. With city lights reflecting from enormous buildings and hundreds of shops and cars, even a clear sky would give a non-impressive view of the stars. We could probably even count them.

This reminded me of a beautiful conversation between a doubting Abraham and a faithful God:

And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:5-6 NASB)

Abraham’s doubt evolved after living several years without seeing the fruit of God’s promise to give him an heir. He was aging, Sarah was aging, and no son of their own was given. So Abraham inquired of God, and God showed him the night sky filled with thousands upon thousands of stars. God challenged Abraham to count them, knowing full well he couldn’t. It wasn’t an opportunity to belittle Abraham, but a demonstration of God’s greatness. It’s as if He was saying, “Abraham, only I can create this wonder. If I can create this and put it in order and give it to you for your viewing pleasure, don’t you think I can fulfill my promise to you?”

My family and I vacationed once in McCall, Idaho, and we were invited to a friend’s cabin in the high woods of the Payette National Forest. We enjoyed a day of water skiing, hiking and an outdoor cookout. Evening drew near and we put our children to bed and then went outside to visit with our friends. Everyone took a seat in the lawn chairs, but the moment I looked to the sky I immediately jumped to my feet. I saw something I’d never seen before: layer upon layer of stars! They deeply filled the entire night sky from end to end. It was mesmerizing and enchanting, brilliant and intimidating. I could scarcely breathe, let alone speak. It’s truly the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen and is forever etched in my mind. This is a picture of what I see when I read the passage in Genesis.

Most of us who are city dwellers can’t relate to a vast night sky filled with countless stars, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We take our children out to the front yard and point to constellations as if that’s all there is. We forget that the layer we see is only a fraction of what lies further still, of what is hidden because of our man-made structures of convenience living.

In an article published June 2011, The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy reports that the world’s urban population will double from 3 billion in 2000 to 6 billion in 2050, with nearly all such growth occurring in developing countries. Our children will grow up in these cities, unable to comprehend Abraham’s view of God’s promise. It will have to be discovered and rediscovered through intentional research, or by chance on a trip to the wilderness.

Fortunately, however, belief in God doesn’t happen by looking at the stars. When Abraham looked at the night sky unfolded before him, he didn’t believe because of the vast number of stars (and the promise of countless descendants), he believed because he looked further still into the very heart of God, the Creator of the created thing. What he finally understood was God’s promise unfolding through the gentle sweep of time.

Metaphorically and tangibly, we’re still building our Towers of Babel when God simply wants us to look up and see Him. When we truly see Him, we believe, and our faith is established. And like Abraham, doubt diminishes and we are counted as righteous. Nothing else we do on this side of heaven will make that kind of righteousness possible. We can even try to remanufacture God’s work, but like laser lights on the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, it’s our work, not His. And it’s never better than His own design.

Abraham didn’t have to see the stars to believe, and his belief didn’t bring him righteousness. God did. God’s eternal truth is handed down through time, from Abraham to all his descendants, making a gospel of faith enduring and unchanging. And even when we lack a clear view of His promise, or when we try to make it something it isn’t, it doesn’t change.

When I walked away from the harbor that evening, the excitement of the laser light show quickly diminished. And although I felt a little sad that this vast city with all its inhabitants might never see God’s light show as He revealed to Abraham, it doesn’t mean they’ve lost the chance to see God or know Him. God is bigger than our greatest innovations and He certainly doesn’t need the night sky to prove Himself. While innovation may challenge how we share the gospel of Christ to our future urban generations, the gospel itself is never changed, and neither are God’s promises. We must live for that truth.


Tomorrow begins 40 days until Easter. What a wonderful time to consider how we can strengthen our relationship with Christ who laid down His life for all mankind. As the message of Easter is made new again, pray that unbelievers would be touched by the Spirit of Christ and begin a new walk with Him. Pray for the weak to be strong, and the weary to be refreshed. Pray that new insights from the Word would invigorate our walk and give us light to shine for His Glory. Pray against temptation and for a new joy and purpose in our obedience. Pray for the sick and lowly ones, that their lives would not be marked with disease or illness but joy and peace. And pray with a grateful heart for all that He’s given us so that we can know Him. It is truly His breath we breathe.

Use any Bible reading plan or devotional you like, but if you don’t have anything readily available, I’ve compiled a 40 day self-guided study that will take you right up to Palm Sunday.  Let’s journey these next 40 days with steadfast purpose and expect the best of God’s grace and mercy.

Don’t Turn the Page

I have friends in other nations.
I have friends in Israel who are constantly re-adjusting every moment of their lives because they have to stop and run to a bomb shelter.
I have friends in Ukraine who live right along the Crimea border, friends who are frustrated and frightened about the slow absorption of their nation into the hands of another.
I have friends in Russia who are having difficulty sorting out the news they hear in Russia and the news which comes from other parts of the world. They just want to trust truth, but it’s increasingly more difficult to see.
I have friends in Gaza who love the Lord and wish for peace. Everyone wants peace.
I have friends in Pakistan who are fearful of a military coup (or worse) brought on by yet another failed leader.

I have friends around the world who are, each day, finding themselves entrenched in battles ranging from war to disease that they do not understand and never induced. And I lay my head on my pillow each night, and worry if I’m going to wake in time to get my daily tasks complete. I get angry at things which don’t even matter and concern myself with vain pursuits. It’s all so benign in light of these worldly events. By contrast to most nations of the world, life in the U.S. is protected and sterile. While I appreciate all it takes to keep us protected, I also know that those attributes threaten to foster a sense of apathy to the world’s condition. But somehow, it hits home when we have friends in other nations who suffer. It’s one thing to hear the news, but an entirely different thing to consider how friends and people are coping.

I remember when we had a huge ice storm a few years back. It was around 4am when I woke to the power outage. Everything was eerily dark, and all you could hear was the sound of ice falling on ice. It finally became so intense that enormous tree limbs began falling on the large hillside and rolling down to the street, echoing like gunshots through our little valley. I laid there in bed and began to realize the severity of our condition. “Oh God,” I prayed. “Does anyone know?” I began to feel very small and very vulnerable. I began to realize how large and big this storm could be and how we could easily be a victim of its icy grip, not even a name in a paper but a number counted among the fellow victims. And numbers don’t reveal anything about the people who suffer. That is how people in other nations feel when they are in the middle of battles not their own. This was the resounding, final sentence in my morning prayer:

“And if they know, God, are they praying?”

You read the news, hear the news, consider the news. You know what goes on. It’s not given to us for the purpose of sensationalism or judgment, it’s not even given to us to ignore. We have a responsibility in this: We have the news so that we can pray. Yes, we can put our heads in the sand and pretend these things do not exist, but that doesn’t make them any less real to the people who battle or to those who lose their lives or loved ones in the battle.

Pray. Pray for those who feel lonely, vulnerable, weak and exposed. Pray that they might have strength of faith and steadfast trust. Pray that they have assurance of Christ. And if they don’t, pray that they might consider their eternal home and receive Christ so that there is peace in all circumstances. Truly, that is the only kind of peace we can hope to attain on this side of Heaven. Pray that they would not react in anger toward their enemies or to God. Pray that they would seek to understand and exercise penetrating forgiveness. Pray for the world through the headlines. Prayers are a way of dealing with the supernatural evil that encourages these worldly battles; they are your contribution to a situation you cannot control. Most of all, they matter. So when you read those difficult headlines, don’t turn the page. Instead, bow your head and pray.

Please reply with the name of the country or people you’ve been praying for. What battles are they fighting? What personal difficulties are people enduring? Do they know Christ? Because the work of prayer is important to prepare the way for the gospel, how can we pray along with you?

Do It Again!

Perhaps Gonature-summer-background-wallpaper-1080x1920d is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that He makes all daisies alike, it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.  -GK Chesterton (England)

I love this quote, especially on the heels of Spring. Chesterton points out that what seems monotonous to us is a theatrical encore to God. And when we peer our eyes closer and consider the sameness in nature, we in fact see something quite surprising: a subtle, yet striking difference on every petal, every feather, every water drop, and every blade of grass. And I suppose if you were to put two tiny grains of sand under a microscope you would note the uniqueness of each one.  Genesis tells us that God looked upon His creation and “saw that it was good.” He regarded the beauty.  He noted its goodness and recorded it five times in the words of scripture. And when He was finished he again “saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was VERY good” (emphasis mine). 

Has it occurred to you that God does this every day (and probably every moment)?  He creates new things every day and looks upon them and sees that they are good.  Each day is dazzling and it shines His creativity with such brilliant splendor. Amos testifies to this when he writes, “For behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!”  It is indescribable.  God’s creation has a language of its own, which is why we fail to articulate it with words.  Words mean so little in light of this triumph. We cannot consider these things without attributing a greatness to them and identify a Great Creator of them.

If He is so incredibly creative with nature, consider how vastly creative He is with each of us. In fact, the Psalmist says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” No one can look at any facet of the human body and not marvel at the way it works and the marvelous way it was created.  But the Psalmist also points out that the soul knows the depths of this wonder and attributes it to God alone.  Each and every one of us was created to glorify God in His creation, and if we don’t see it in nature, certainly we know it by the way we are made … fearfully and wonderfully. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  We were created to marvel Him.  We were created to walk in His way.  If we do not do these things, then we deny His creation.  In Timothy we are told not to neglect the gift we have.

The tender care he takes each day in creating new things demonstrates His vast love for us. Lamentations records it well: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  And the Psalmist reminds us to sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!

May we be reminded of God’s glory with the dawning of each day and give Him the praise He deserves, walk in His way, and sing to Him a new song of joy and thanksgiving; of humble gladness and delight.  Indulge today Him with your praise!

The Many-Sidedness of Christ

This morning I was reading in The Way, a devotional book by E. Stanley Jones.  Jones is so incredibly insightful and intuitive that it doesn’t take me long to get into deep thought about one of his topics.  Today this one caught my attention:  

“The straightforward, open proclamation is the best method. Jesus appeals to the soul as light appeals to the eye, as truth fits the conscience, as beauty speaks to the aesthetic nature. For Christ and the soul are made for one another.” – E. Stanley Jones

I began thinking about how Christ appeals to us in our differences, our gifts, and the purposes He has called us to, and the questions began to fill my mind.  So how does the landscaper consider Christ?  How about the cook, the writer or the educator? If God is the Creator of all things and has a plan and purpose for us, then how does He expect us to see and understand Christ through the lens of our gifts and interests?

Not more than two hours later, my daughter and I were cleaning out some storage bins and I happened across an old news clipping from the Gospel Advocate dated January 22, 1925.  I found the clipping years ago in an old book and tucked it away in a file.  I’m not sure what attracted me to the clipping then, but this day it spoke right to the very questions which lingered in my mind earlier this morning.  As you read, consider who Christ is to you in your gifts and occupation.

Jesus challenges the attention of the world by his many-sidedness.  He meets the needs of all classes and conditions of men.  As deep answereth unto deep, so does He respond to the movings of each soul of man.

Call the roll of the world’s workers and ask, “What do you think of Christ?” Their answers amaze us by their revelation of the universal appeal of Christ.  Someone (whose name has been lost) has collected the following examples of this universality.

  • To the artist He is the One Altogether Lovely.
  • To the architect He is the Chief Corner Stone.
  • To the astronomer He is the Sun of Righteousness.
  • To the baker He is the Living Bread.
  • To the banker He is the Hidden Treasure.
  • To the biologist He is the Life.
  • To the builder He is the Sure Foundation.
  • To the carpenter He is the Door.
  • To the educator He is the Great Teacher.
  • To the farmer he is the Sower and Lord of the Harvest.
  • To the florist He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.
  • To the geologist He is the Rock of Ages.
  • To the horticulturist He is the True Vine.
  • To the judge He is the Righteous Judge, the Judge of all men.
  • To the jeweler He is the Pearl of Great Price.
  • To the lawyer He is the Counselor, the Lawgiver, the Advocate.
  • To the newspaper man He is the Good Tidings of Great Joy.
  • To the philanthropist He is the Unspeakable Gift.
  • To the philosopher He is the Wisdom of God.
  • To the railroad man He is the New and Living Way.
  • To the preacher He is the Word of God.
  • To the sculptor He is the Living Stone.
  • To the servant He is the Good Master.
  • To the statesman He is the Desire of All Nations.
  • To the student He is the Incarnate Truth.
  • To the theologian He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
  • To the toiler He is the Giver of Rest.
  • To the sinner He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
  • To the Christian He is the Son of the Living God, Savior, Redeemer and Lord.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and was taken from what appears to be an interview of many people over a course of time in the mid-1920s.  How did this information strike you?  Who is Christ to you?

Purpose of Testimony

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.  – John 21:24-25 (NASB)

This verse gently reminds me that I can tell story after story, but still not know the effect, whether great or small.  And I’m also reminded that the focus of our work is not in numbers, not in stories, and not in the adventure.  It’s in relating the glory of God for the purpose of reconciliation.  As you read the next few stories from this blog, consider God’s hand at work and the way in which He is elevated to a high place of honor and glory.  For when we go as we are called and share as we are commissioned, He works. Through sinful man, He works. Whether five people on the train hear the gospel and are saved or the young lady in the park said “no” to Him, He works.  We cannot know and we cannot measure.

John also reminds us here that knowledge of Christ, no matter the testimony, is still partial, and everything Jesus did during his three and a half years on earth is unreported and unknown.  Christ can never be known exhaustively, and therefore, His work through us can never be known exhaustively.  Each person will come away from a mission trip with a different story, a different testimony and a different perspective.

I was in Russia for a total of 15 days, and in that time I saw and heard many great and wonderful testimonies of transformation.  But I will only share a few so that you can know the amazing ways in which God works in Russia.  And even if I were to share all that I heard and saw, it still would be a partial report.  Much happens in the spiritual realm that is left hidden from us, and whether we work abroad temporarily, permanently or stay home, we must be acutely aware of that truth.

In a short commentary found in WORLD magazine, HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson writes, “Proclaiming the Gospel is not just for the salvation of individual souls—though it is just that—but also for the reconciliation of the world.  Scripture clearly states that Christ came to reconcile all creation to himself which makes our message more, not less, compelling.” 

May God have the GLORY.  Amen.


Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NASB)