The hymn for today is a call to remain in and depend on Christ.
Play it on MuseScore for a limited time.
Monday, February 29, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
On being genuinely faithful to the call of Christ.
Listen, download, and/or comment here.
Listen, download, and/or comment here.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Friday, February 26, 2016
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Monday, February 22, 2016
Sunday, February 21, 2016
|William F. Maddock|
St. Louis can be a hard, cold place. The people here (the rich, the elites) love to uphold and declare themselves to be the very picture of a paragon—while the poor die in the streets—and their towers of stone and glass and steel wage war against the consciences of men.
There is no reprieve—and, it seems, no reproach—for there seems to be nothing that will reach whatever is left of that stone cold thing they claim to be a heart. While men get shoved around like so much verminous cattle they hide in their stone cold towers from the consciences of men—and there is no love that I see within their souls.
Indeed, they remind me of the Pharisees of old, thinking themselves righteous because they hold the whip, thinking themselves pure because there are no scars of whips on them. They scorn, accuse, demean, belittle and beslander those whom they see as polluting their precious little view of life, while never seeing the poison that they themselves spew. They would cross oceans to convert another to their way—and then they make them twice the child of hell that they themselves are.1
There is, though, another power, one that they have no comprehension of which to wield. It is a power that they can never understand, a power that they will never accept for what it is, for they have rejected the Truth and cannot discern their lies.
Despite their best efforts, there is such a thing as the Law of Non-contradiction. You cannot be tolerant while at the same time being intolerant of that with which you disagree. You cannot be generous while at the same time working in such a way that the poor die in the streets where you live. You cannot be a man of Christian faith while at the same time refusing to do what Christ has commanded to be done.
“Away from me, you workers of iniquity! I never knew you! 2 For I was hungry and you gave me no food! I was thirsty and you gave me no drink! I was a stranger and you did not invite me in; naked and you threw no clothes around me; sick or in prison and you did not visit me!”3
I say, to my shame, that when a ministering friend of mine forcefully requested that I give to the poor I got angry with her—because I thought I had nothing to give.
God has otherwise educated me.
I, therefore, did not get livid when my corporate vice-president brother claimed financial inability as his reason for refusing to help me keep my home. Since becoming a homeless man, he is the only member of my immediate earthly family to even attempt to contact me, inquiring as to how I was. Two of my other siblings had birthdays coming up, so I waited until those were both well past before I replied, so that they could not claim my reply as their gift.
When I did reply I told my brother that the appropriate help he could give me was to help the poor where he lives.
I have not heard back from him in the years since.
Such is the heart of the elite and the rich. They think of themselves as such wonderfully good people—because they cannot discern their lies.
The rich man who refuses to help his own poor brother inquires as to the condition of that brother and gets told by that brother that his proper assistance would be to help the poor where he lives—and he never replies back again.
Such is the heart of those who think themselves good. So effectively blinded are they that they cannot see their own wickedness. They cannot discern their own lies.
I have, however, mentioned a power that is beyond them—a power that they cannot wield, for they have rejected it when they rejected the Truth.
What, therefore does the Scripture say?
“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Not even one even turns in the general direction of the Father if not in Me.”4
When they reject the Truth, living in their lies, they reject the One who is the Truth, and thereby cut themselves off from the very one who could rescue them from the lies that, now, they are blind to and cannot discern.
Beloved, be not like them.
Do not be sucked up, dismantled and devoured by the lies of this world, as they have so willingly and blithely been, but be transformed by the power of the Truth.5
The Truth comes down to us from days of old through the teachings and writings of those who have faithfully researched and examined the writings and the lives of the Apostles, Prophets and Scribes of our Lord and Savior and King, Jesus Christ. Having looked to Him in faith, they now point us to His Light.
Out of the darkness He beckons us to flee, to flee out of our night of sin and into His glorious Light. He has made a path for us through the wilderness; a straight path that leads to the cross of Christ. He is the door, He is the gate,6 He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and through Him we must go. There is no other way for us to go to heaven but through Him.4 As it is written in the gospel accounts, alluding to a dream of Jacob7 in the book of Genesis, Jesus Christ is the stairway to Heaven, and there is no other.8
How, though, does one demonstrate the presence of a genuine faith in Jesus Christ? That really is not something to be worrying about and strategizing over (for God, through you, will provide His own testimony about you—and you will not be able to thwart it), except, beloved, for this one thing: You are to be examining, or prosecuting, yourself to see that you are indeed saved.9 So, you are not demonstrating yourself (which the hypocrites do in seeking to be honored by men), but testing yourself, so that you may know of the reality of your salvation.
In our day and age the possibility of faking faith in Jesus Christ is being demonstrated quite well by those who want to appear oh so terribly egalitarian—while stomping all over the inherent rights of others who live according to their own beliefs rather than the beliefs that these wish to force upon them. Again, though, these have rejected the Truth, and, therefore, cannot discern their own lies.
As is abundantly clear from a simple, open minded perusal of the Constitution of these United States, everyone has the right, endowed by their Creator (in other words, not by other people, but by that higher, unassailable authority), to actually exercise the beliefs to which they hold. Those who seek to force their lifestyle on others frequently, and conveniently, forget that immediately following the Establishment Clause is the Prohibition Clause, which states with extraordinary and abundant clarity that the free exercise of religion shall not be prohibited. But they don’t see that because they reject the Truth.
Why go on this little side excursion? It is, part and parcel, the same thing. Those who shove people around as though they are nothing, who treat people like cattle, caring not whether they live or die, who scorn, accuse, demean, belittle and beslander, think themselves better.
They cannot discern their own lies.
Such people believe that they are worth more, that because of that their wishes (they might even mislabel them as “rights”) should quite naturally supersede those of others, and that those others should, therefore, be forced to follow the desires of those who think themselves better. After all, compared to them, you are worthless scum.
They think that they are here for a purpose and you are just window dressing. That is their view. And if you believe that they do not see you that way, then you are foolish and deluded. That is their view: that this is their world, it’s all about them, so you can either bow down and obey them or leave.
How high do you think Mount Everest looks from 30 billion light years away? That, metaphorically, is God’s view of us. So far is He above us all that our petty little differences pale into non-sequiturism. All are one10 in His sight, and even slaves have rights.11 Do you recall Jesus’ response when asked which is the greatest commandment? Do you recall the one He called second? “You shall love your fellowman as yourself.”12 And the word there translated as “love” is the Greek word αγαπησεις, which means that you sacrifice yourself for the sake of. You don’t treat them as rightless refuse; you don’t treat them as cattle to be herded about; you don’t treat them as vermin. No. You treat them as more important than yourself. You sacrifice yourself for their sake—even if they be a slave—because even slaves have rights.11
The irony here is that they want to portray an air of egalitarianism, but egalitarianism means that all are equal. As I have written above, they cannot discern their own lies.
God has a law, and those who refuse even the most basic implementation of it shall draw His ire, so do not stand with such people, lest that ire also consume you.
What is the foremost truth about the poor, the destitute, the vermin-plagued, indeed the homeless? They are people, and people have rights—rights that you violate at the peril of your own soul.
That simple assertion, “people have rights”, is a consequential one. You don’t get to choose whose rights you will honor and whose ignore. They are all people. They are all equal—and even the homeless have rights.
92 Timothy 2:15
“All Good is God!”, composed yesterday, is about the goodness of God, and how nothing, outside of Him is good. Play it on MuseScore for a limited time.
“Welcome in the Morning!”, composed today, is a shout of joy in salvation.
Play it, as well, on MuseScore for a limited time.
“Welcome in the Morning!”, composed today, is a shout of joy in salvation.
Play it, as well, on MuseScore for a limited time.
Friday, February 19, 2016
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Monday, February 15, 2016
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Saturday, February 13, 2016
As I begin to write this, another year has passed, and as I look back I see many things: things of good, things of ill, things of light, things of dark—things I greeted with dark and dour pain, but which were blessings instead.
This month (targeted by this article) contains a day of celebration that has been twisted into one of romantic fervor, which true history would say was never the intention of the one being “honored”. That was an elderly man writing to a young friend and signing the letter, “Your Valentine”, because, you see, “Valentine” was the man’s name. It was the signing of a normal, pastoral letter from an old Christian to a young friend. It was not more.
As I look back I see souls that I would hold, but which I do not have. I look on a hope that others have dashed and bashed against the walls of their worldviews (and I am well aware that there are those who see me as no longer following God, but instead some deceitful demon that has me in its pocket—the Lord rebuke them). I look on those who undoubtedly think that they love me, but whom—I must entertain these doubts—have apparently not asked God what to do with, or about, me, having instead followed the typical societal norms, assuming that God will bless those choices. And I grieve—oh how I grieve—for I have come unto my own (for they were gifted to me by God) and they have received me not.
God, then, asked me, “How do you think I felt?” 1
The greatest blessing a person can receive from God is not physical, it is not monetary, it is not sexual, it is not power (though it is powerful), it is not mental (and therefore not philosophical), it is not spiritual, it is not even mere salvation (and I would argue that mere salvation is no salvation at all).
Millennia ago there was a group of people going about, teaching about God, and their greatest celebrations were reserved for when they went through suffering because of their adherence to the matters they taught. Were they celebrating their suffering? No! They were celebrating the fact that they were counted worthy to suffer for those teachings. And who was it that was counting them worthy?
Certainly not those who were executing that suffering upon them. They wanted them gone! They wanted them dead! They wanted them to shut up! They wanted those teachings gone! Forever!
Who was counting them worthy?
It was none other than the one who gave them those teachings in the first place! It was God who counted them worthy! It was God who counted them worthy to go through what He had already gone through in this earth—that is His! God counted them worthy!
He wasn’t counting them worthy to suffer. No! What an awful blessing that would be! No! He was counting them worthy to—as the Spanish might put it, via con Dios—to go with God, to walk the way that God has walked. You are, in essence, walking with Him. Going through the worst of times, He wants you there with Him, at His side.
When someone is facing the end, do they call their worst, most intransigent enemies to them? No. They call their best, most treasured friends to their side, because in their worst of times they do not want to be alone. They do not want to feel abandoned and unloved.
My young friend, whom I do still miss, and whom I do still love, might have abandoned me, but, then, they are not the one to whom God called for this time.
For better or for worse, the one to whom He called was me. He wanted me to understand how He felt when His own rejected Him.
I look back over the 14 years during which this was being shaped and transpired, from the very first inklings to its ultimate fulfillment, the disappointment, and, finally, the divine explanation and χάρισμα embrace.
God wanted me to know that time. I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around the consequences of that thought, indeed of that concept, that God wanted me (Of all possible people, why me? What possible explanation could account for such an endowment to me?) to know His heart through that awful time when He was rejected by His own.
I remember, all these years later, having been pondering on the times that I was allowed to see the impending marital unions of others, while I was being kept, and made to suffer, alone, and I could not see past my own pain and sufferings at the hands of those wicked, false Christians that still to this day pollute the Presbyterian Church in America to the most astonishingly ultimate gift that He would proffer upon me, that during His long walks of lonely disregard, of all people (and I still ask why) He wanted me at His side.
I remember (though I, of course, did not see it then) at the inception of those years, with me grousing about my own loneliness, that a particular, abundant, family visited the church at which I was attending, sitting on the right side of the sanctuary more toward the front, and that, in the immediately following days astonished rejoicing was born in my heart (and I even remember where I was standing in which aisle of the warehouse) when, in the spirit, suddenly, out of the blue, God spoke into my spirit the words, “She is in your life—right now” accompanied by the clear and unmistakable impression that she would not stay, but would return later.
I remember where my focus would go during those times, and how much more desperately and painfully alone I felt. Oh! How much repenting I must do! Not in a thousand lifetimes of a thousand lifetimes could I ever hope to list it all out! But by Christ my debt is paid!
I remember when He told me, “I have placed a mark on you that will cause women to [fear/lust after/hate/loathe/mock/ridicule] you, and great harm will come to you [because of the mark], but I will remove that mark from the heart of one special lady, who will return to you in [repentant] Love,” and I reacted by setting up a watch for one who had been of that PCA filth that had done so much grave, slanderous harm to me to return to me, so that I could have my heart prepared and rejoicing to grant total forgiveness to them—but they have never come.
I remember seeing again and coming to know that abundant family and the joyous times we would spend in each other’s company—and a few hard ones, like when I was angry and grieving over being told, by God, to leave the church where they still attend, because a young wife in marital trouble was beginning to look to me instead of to God, and how the patriarch of that abundant family was the only one who cared enough to come and find me, and lay his spiritual arms around me.
I remember how, as a result of my obedience to God’s call, we drifted apart, that family and I.
I remember, as well, how, in the last couple years, one member of that family came back into my life, striking up a friendship with me that, to this very day, I do completely and totally treasure, and how, much to my amazement, that friend confessed her sins to me and returned, washed clean, to Christ.
If my earthly companion is to come from the “theologians” of the PCA, then they must return in repentant Love to be washed clean, but I hold the prophecy fulfilled in the person of one humble, trusting youth.
It is only to such a one that I may sign,
1This, of course, is a reference to John 1:11, “To His own He came, and His own received Him not”
Friday, February 12, 2016
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Monday, February 8, 2016
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
In today’s Bible Study, the first song I was there to participate in (after having retrieved the song books from where the women horde them in the worship studio, for their study, without ever returning them for ours), was Farther Along: “Farther along we’ll know all about it, Farther along we’ll understand why…”.
We talked about wanting things now instead of patiently awaiting God’s timing for that something to come our way. Pushing for that something before its time can delay its time, and if you never stop, it might never come.
Oh, Beloved, please understand that.
And yet, just now, the words of the chorus of the first song I ever wrote come to mind: “Keep on pushin’ cause you’re getting through! Keep on pushin’ because I need you!” It was the words—the heart-wrenching words—of a lonely, lonely heart. I lost it many years ago, and I doubt I’ll ever find that song again.
In some ways I am still that lonely, lonely man—who never can seem to connect with that one who has his heart—and no matter how patient I try to be my heart pushes, and pushes, and I have never been able to stop it pushing—and what it wants never comes, never knocks upon the door of my heart, saying, “I’m here! Let me in! I’ve finally come!”
Even those who claim to love me
Only ever turn and flee
And never turn the key,
Opening their heart to me.
Even just writing this I run the risk of the well-meddlers trying to push their own ideas on me of what I should—in their blinded eyes—want, rather than staying out of the way to simply pray. Man’s efforts do not interest me—only God’s.
You should never, ever—even seek to—instruct someone else on what the desire of their heart really is.
And truly, does anyone ever just shut their mouths and simply ask God—and truly listen to Him—in prayer, about me? If they have, how is it that I have never experienced the fruits of those queries? Why is it that everyone always seems to think they know better than me what I want or need? Were they to do so, and actually just humbly act upon what God really tells them, then what they would bring would absolutely fit me to a “T”.
But no such blessing ever comes.
Why is that?
One way that I do lack, as I implied above, is in the patience to just sit back and watch, trusting God to fit my needs to me. My hopes, wishes and dreams only ever seem to keep their door bolted, barred, locked, and nailed shut in my face, rather than opening to me.
And no one ever listens.
And no one ever hears.
And no one even cares.
That is the assessment that I see.
There are things that God has promised me—there are people that God has promised me—and I must still learn the patience to accept that, until Heaven, they might never come to me.
Will they even be there with me? See, I have even come—in spite of their protestations to the contrary—to doubt that they will even be there to see me.
Right now—at this moment—it is my heart’s cry for them to hear the Lord, and—finally—to obey.
William F. Maddock
Groundhog’s Day, 2016