Sunday, January 25, 2015


Thunder rolls and crashes across the Sawtooths, echoing through the peaks and canyons around us, shaking the ground—a celestial sonic boom! My old dog cuts and runs. I stand amazed and delighted.

Scientists tell us that thunder is a natural phenomenon, nothing more than the sudden expansion of super-heated air around a lightning bolt's path..The biblical poets inform us that thunder is more than natural, naked force; It is the voice of God:

The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
—Psalm 29:3-5

And again:

”The skies give forth thunder;
    your arrows flash on every side.
The crash of your thunder is in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings light up the world;
    the earth trembles and shakes” 

—Psalms 77:7, 8

Several of the psalms refer to a thunderstorm that overshadowed Israel as she made her way through the Red Sea—thunder that spelled doom for the Egyptians, but deliverance to God's people. Each resounding clap was a comforting voice assuring those  He loved and had come to save.

It thundered again when Jesus asked his Father to glorify His name. A voice answered from heaven with this assurance: "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd said it thundered; Jesus, with better hearing, heard the voice of God (John 12:28,29).

Are you troubled today? Call out to God. He will answer you from "the place of thunder" (Psalm 81:7). You may not hear the thunder roll, but it will rumble and reverberate throughout the heavens. God may not deliver you from your circumstances, but He will speak peace to your heart of hearts and deliver you from all your fears. He "will give strength to his people! He will bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29:11).

There's no need to be afraid of thunder. Children should know this, young and old. It is one of ways God reminds us of his mighty power to save.

David Roper

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Set Aside

There comes a time when we must ante up for the things we did to our bodies when they were young. After numerous surgeries on back, knees, shoulders and other parts of my anatomy I'm now facing radical back surgery, a procedure that will take four or five months out of my life. Benched, I said to myself. Set aside.

Then, this morning I opened a copy of Mrs. Cowman's devotional, Streams in the Desert, and read the entry for the day: January 22. (Actually, this is January 20, but I’m a bit addled these days.)

The devotional for the day contained John Ruskin's poem, "Called Aside."

Called aside—
From the glad working of your busy life,
From the worlds ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by your Heavenly Guide
For a brief time you have been called aside. ​

Called aside—
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not alone, when you have been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say:
“Child, will you not with Me this still hour stay?”

Called aside—
In hidden paths with Christ your Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perhaps, to feel your Heavenly Home.

Called aside—
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learned in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.

Called aside—
We thank You for the stillness and the shade;
We thank You for the hidden paths Your love has made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank You for our dark Gethsemane.

Called aside—
O restful thought—He doeth all things well;
O blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Your cross to hide,
We thank You, Lord, to have been called aside.

~ John Ruskin

Joy can come from the simplest and most attainable things, not the least of which is a new way of thinking: Not set aside. Called aside. ​


Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Carve a Duck

Carolyn and I met Phipps Festus Bourne in 1995 in his shop in Mabry Hill, Virginia. Bourne, who died in 2002, was a master wood carver whose carvings are almost exact replicas of real objects.

When asked how he managed to carve such lifelike ducks, Bourne replied,  “Carving a duck is simple. You just look at a piece of wood, get it in your head what a duck looks like and then cut off everything that doesn’t look like it.”

So it is with God. He looks at you and me, envisions what a gracious, God-like woman or man looks like and then begins to painstakingly carve away everything that does not conform to that image.  If we could but see ourselves when God is finished with his artistry, it would take our breath away.

But first we must put ourselves in his hands. We must give ourselves to Him fully without reservation, nothing withheld, our wills conformed to his own. In practice that means we must be willing to do the very next thing he asks us to do. If we accept the task he will give us the grace to comply. “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (2 Thessalonians 5:).

Then he will give us another task and then another. I don’t know what he will ask you to do, but it will be the very best thing you could do and in due time you will begin to think and act as he does.

Do you long for that likeness? Put yourself in the Master Carver’s hands.


Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—
All his wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Til the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

                                —Tom Jones

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Living Up To The Name

“Be a man; be made strong”[1] (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Some years ago I found myself in a hospital elevator with a couple of other men. It was late at night and we all looked exhausted.

The elevator came to a stop and an outsized Owyhee County buckaroo ambled in, wearing a battered Stetson, boot jeans, an old, stained sheepskin coat and run–down logger boots. He looked around the elevator, met our eyes and growled, “Good evening, men.” All of us straightened up. We were trying to live up to the name.

“Living up to the name” is what men are mostly about. We want to be strong, tough, and independent. As Shakespeare put it, we aim “to pass for a man.”

But the truth is, God fears our strength. Men who are strong in their own strength are bothersome—rushing about on their own, overly optimist about their abilities, fearless, invincible, all-knowing, blatantly self-generating, and generally getting in God’s way. They never amount to much in God’s scheme of things.

Real men realize that it takes God to make a man. Apart from him human strength is useless. Paul’s philosophy of life, “We are weak,” is not pious palaver. It’s a humbling fact.

So put yourself into God’s hands to be made into a real man. Give him your heart’s affection. Ask him to shape you to be like Jesus, the manliest man that ever lived. He’s faithful and he’ll do it!

David Roper

[1] The verb is passive!

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