In the Image of the Father

When my father and I attended the same church convention, it was impossible to hide the fact that we are father and son.  People repeatedly commented on the obvious physical similarities between us.  Those who had known only one of us before the convention were able to quickly note that we are related.  In fact, for most of my life I have heard people I just met make comments such as, “I know who your father is.”

I wonder if people can just as easily observe my connection with my Heavenly Father.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, ESV)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1, ESV)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” (1 Peter 1:14–16, ESV)

 

Joyful Tidings

“We teach with Christ and say, “Believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This Gospel is the joyful tidings of God’s favor and grace toward us, and of the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. This message faith accepts through the Holy Ghost; the believer does not behold his former righteousness or unrighteousness, but, like Abraham, “against hope believes in hope” (Rom. 4:18) with the whole heart depends entirely upon the grace, word and promise of the Lord, since he well knows that God is true and His promises can not fail.

Thereby the heart is renewed, converted, made spiritually minded, peaceful and joyous, a child of God is born. The believer approaches with full confidence the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) and becomes a joint heir with Christ and of eternal life.”

(Menno Simons)

Tug of War

(This article was written by Frank Reed and was originally posted here)

“Tug of War” – again – when will we learn?

One of my favorite pictures is a picture of two tractors. One tractor is a John Deere G and the other is a Farmall Super M. They are chained drawbar-to-drawbar and trying to out-pull each other. Beneath the chain is a line someone has scratched in the dirt. Hanging directly above the scratched line is a white handkerchief tied to the chain.

Both tractors are obviously straining at their limits. The smoke is pouring from their stacks. Their rear tires are digging into the earth. Their drivers are leaning into their loads. Much energy is being expended. Neither tractor is going anywhere (except deeper).

Each machine has a cheering section. This contest of mettle has brought them together (and is keeping them apart). Each group seems to know which tractor should win (and which should lose). These groups are obviously losing no love on one another.

While much energy is being expended – no plowing is being done. No discing. No planting. No cultivating. No harvesting. Valuable fuel is being exhausted. Expensive tires are losing tread. Powerful engines are being stressed. Delicate gears overloaded. Useful life shortened.

Intriguing but convicting. Does it matter which tractor wins? Imagine how much work could be done if these powerful machines would return to their respective fields of labor. The operators, with a vision of a goal accomplished, could wave to one another across the fence row as they passed. If one had more power than the other, what would it matter? They could work together (albeit in different fields) to feed a hungry world.

Our churches have so much to offer the community and the world. It has become apparent that tensions have weakened our ministry and limited us to a debilitating degree. There is too much at stake to continue the struggle. Both “tractors” are being damaged while their mettle yet unproven.

Why can there not be an amiable agreement so that we can work together or so that we can work in separate fields? There appears to be huge open fields where all can find places to work. Certainly some of the persons involved in the present struggle would feel quite comfortable in some other, related fields of labor. Is it not possible that we could “unhook the chain” and employ energies in gainful, meaningful, productive accomplishment? In this way, we could finish the work without the damage and disruption which will be hurtful to us all.

Can we not “rather suffer wrong” if we feel that we or someone we are supporting has been wronged? Will not the polarization and escalation of present attitudes existing at all levels prove destructive to all? What about the people we are here to serve? They are the ones to whom we owe an apology. What are we teaching them? What are we demonstrating to them? Are we not hypocritical to teach the Bible while “biting and devouring” each other as our physical and emotional energies and our very spiritual lives are being consumed? Can we show the people that we are disciples by the way we love one another?

A peaceful resolution will certainly not be nearly as exciting as all the smoke, noise, and clamor of the “tug of war.” But it strikes me that a peaceful solution would be closer to what the LORD intended when He gave talents to each of us and told us to “occupy until He comes.” Then each of us will need to give account of how we used His talents. Are we working the fields or playing “tug of war?”

Frank Reed – Written in 1997. Published in 2013. Published in 2016.

Come, Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, come,
Let thy bright beams arise,
Dispel the darkness from our minds,
And open all our eyes.

Convince of our sins,
Then lead to Jesus’ blood
And to our wondering view reveal
The secret love of God.

Show us that loving Man
That rules the courts of bliss,
The Lord of Hosts, the Mighty God,
The eternal Prince of Peace.

’Tis thine to cleanse the heart,
To sanctify the soul,
To pour fresh life in every part
And new create the whole.

Dwell, therefore, in our hearts,
Our minds from bondage free;
Then we shall know, and praise and love,
The Father, Son and thee.

(Charles Haddon Spurgeon)