Friday, September 18, 2020

  

Aslan’s Tears

 

“Jesus sobbed.” —John 11:35

 

Digory, standing before the great lion, Aslan, remembered his terminally ill Mother. A lump came to his throat and tears to his eyes, and he blurted out, “But please, please—won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” 

 

Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. 'My son, my son,' said Asian. 'I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.'"[1]

 

I think of Jesus' tears at Lazarus' grave. John tells us that he “sobbed.” He sobbed for his own grief, for Mary and Martha’s grief and he sobs for you and me. Grief is great. Jesus knows. He will be good to you.

 

And, lest we forget, everyone we meet today has some measure of grief to bear. Grief is great. Let us be good to one another.

 

David Roper

9.17.20


[1] C. S. Lewis’ The Magician's Nephew

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Just for You: Morning Music (From Carolyn)


I have set the Lord continually before me.
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory rejoices. —Psalm 16:8

My friend Muriel Cook once told me that, when they were raising teenagers, they had a principle in their home: The morning music belongs to the Lord. I’ve never forgotten that. I find it good for any home, or any heart, teenagers present or not. 

Yesterday our friend Carris Smith sent me a song for encouragement. I hope it encourages you too. (Carris told me I did not have to listen to all of it, since it gets repetitive.) But I did listen all the way and was encouraged. I find that music is a good way to “set the Lord before me.” Especially when I don’t want to be shaken, which things like social media and the news and my own thoughts can so easily do. May you be encouraged.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f4MUUMWMV4&list=RDiIpb1igP0gU&index=14

Yesterday another friend sent more encouragement my way, saying the Lord told her to pray for us right then. Which she did in a short prayer to my email which encouraged my heart. She was following a nudge from God. 

In this time when many are not often seeing others due to the pandemic, there are still many ways for us to encourage one another. I would love to hear how you have been encouraged, or a song that is meaningful to you for encouragement. Or how you are intentionally setting the Lord continually before you. 

With love and prayers,

Carolyn
9.17.20

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Testing the Spirits


“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Long, long ago in my student days (shortly after the dinosaurs laid their last eggs), I wrote a paper on philosopher/educator John Dewey’s “Instrumentalism.” Dewey, as you may know, was the author of the aphorism, “Children learn to do by doing,” an idea that seems patently true.
 
A little-known fact, however, is that Dewey was a thorough-going relativist who believed that truth is subjective and becomes real only as we personally experience it. There are no absolute truths (and certainly no divine truths) to be discovered, only information to be gained through experimentation and experience. This was his world-view and the philosophy that, when followed in practice, contributed much to the progressive ideas that shaped modern education.
 
(I think similarly of Oprah and Dr. Phil, whose ethical mantras so quickly become ours. Where are these folks coming from? What are the premises that inform their thinking?)
 
My point is this: We must not, as gospel people, unthinkingly subscribe to the mottos and memes that are embraced by secular culture for they are often Trojan Horses for Satan’s most subtle lies.  
 
We must “test the spirits to see if they are of God.” We must research the origins and philosophies underlying the slogans promoted by the world and test them against scripture, for “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And as Paul would say, “we are not ignorant of Satan’s schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
 
David Roper
9.15.20

Sunday, September 13, 2020

On Being Kind


“His heart is kind and gentle and that is better than being wise… Let us forget everything but his good nature which puts new heart in us when we are sad.”— L. Frank Baum, Rinkitink in Oz

 

It’s been six months now since COVID-19 laid siege on our homes and for many, sequestering with fellow fallen human beings has been a monumental trial. As tensions mount, tempers flare and otherwise gentle souls become bad-tempered trolls.

 

Albert Barnes, an 18th century Presbyterian theologian wrote, “All usefulness and all comfort in our homes may be prevented by an unkind temper of mind,—a mind that can bear with no difference of opinion. A spirit of trivial fault-finding; and constant irritation with others; little inequalities in the look, the manner; a brow cloudy and dissatisfied—your husband or your wife cannot tell why—will more than neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a blessing.”

 

Hanna Moore suggests similarly, 

 

Since trifles make the sum of human things,

And half our misery from our foibles springs;

Since life’s best joys consist in peace and ease,

And though but few can serve, yet all can please;

Oh, let the ungentle spirit learn from hence,

A small unkindness is a great offense. —Hanna Moore

 

Paul, on the other hand, insists that, “love is kind,” using a word that occurs only once in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 13:4), and is difficult to translate into English. One source suggests “sweet reasonableness.” The adjectival form is used by Jesus in Matthew 11:30 with reference to his cross and is translated “easy to bear.” Perhaps the best rendering is “pleasant.”

 

It’s an exotic that comes from the Holy Spirit alone as we ask for it, 

a blessing that "puts new heart in us when we’re  sad." 

 

David Roper

9.13.20

Monday, September 7, 2020

Let Go Of The Rope


The Stoics had an answer to personal conflict: “Let go of the rope,” They were thinking of the ancient game we call “Tug of War,” a test of strength in which we try to pull people over to our side. 
 
Some conversations are like that—tests of the strength of our wills. But the moment one player relinquishes power—lets go of the rope—it’s game over!
 
Paul writes, "When insulted, we return a blessing; when persecuted, we endure it patiently, when insulted, we answer softly" (1Corinthians 4:12,13).  
 
So… the next time you find yourself in a verbal tug of war, and tempers start to flare, stop tugging and let the rope slip through your fingers: Lapse into silence. Agree with your brother, if you can. Reply to an insult with a kind word. Return a soft answer. Give good for evil. (Or, like Dostoyevsky’s Alyosha, lean forward and surprise your brother with a kiss!)
 
Funny how quickly things change when you just let go of the rope!
 
David Roper

9.5.20

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Good Spiel

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” —Joe Aldrich

 

My goodness, we seem to have forgotten what we’re here for...

 

There is a great deal of emphasis in the Church these days on social justice, and certainly as followers of Jesus we must take the side of the downtrodden and disadvantaged, seeking freedom and justice for all that fall within our sphere of influence. 

 

But we must know that injustice resides deep in the human heart, far beyond the reach of human effort. Systems are corrupt because the human beings that institute and inhabit them are corrupt and no amount of systemic deconstruction will ever change that dynamic. Tear down one evil system and evil will simply inhabit another. Nothing can truly change until the human heart is changed through the good news of Jesus’ love. This is our evangel.

 

Jesus’ last words ring in our ears:” Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

 

“Having gone out,” or “wherever you go,” (the verb is a participle) make disciples, like Johnny Appleseed, who traveled hither and yon, scattering good seed wherever he went, for he never knew when and where he would encounter good soil. This is the mission of those who are truly woke:  Paul writes, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.” Paul adds, “I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34). 

 

Indeed, to my shame, for what is left for those who gain the world through my efforts, but lose the Savior: A lonely, loveless, meaningless existence forever. 

 

So what can I, a mostly irrelevant old timer, do in the face of calls for radical social action? I can prayerfully stand against injustice in my own heart and wherever I find it nearby, but I must also share the story of Jesus’ love. He came into the world in order to save sinners (1Timothy 1:15). This must be “the main thing” for me. 

 

And so I pray, as Dallas Willard prayed: “May I be a simple, humble, and thoughtful witness, as I listen to others and help them come to faith in the One who has given us life forever.” Amen. 

 

David Roper

9.3.20

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Goodness Personified


"May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all...so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father…” (1Thessalonians 3:12,13).

 

Grow in love so that you may become holy. How can that be? Well, it's because love “is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1Corinthians 13:4-7). This is holiness personified. 

 

Aim at holiness and you'll become a fusty, finger-wagging prude, holy in the worst sort of way. Aim at love and by God’s grace and in due time you will know the beauty of authentic holiness. 

 

David Roper

8.2.20

    Aslan’s Tears   “Jesus sobbed.” —John 11:35   Digory, standing before the great lion, Aslan, remembered his terminally ill Mother. A lum...