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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Cobra



"Some trust in chariots...but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7).

One of the tellers at my bank has a photograph of a Shelby Cobra roadster on his window. (The Cobra is a high–performance automobile built by the Ford Motor Company.) One day, while making a deposit, I asked him if that was his car. “No,” he replied, “that's my passion, my reason to get up every morning and go to work. I’m going to own one someday.”

I understand this young man’s passion. A friend of mine owned a Cobra and I drove it on one occasion. Believe me, it’s a mean machine! 

But a Cobra, like everything else in this world, is a wasting asset: It's value depreciates over time. It cannot, of itself, complete our happiness.

That's because we were made for God and nothing else will do. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in," C. S. Lewis said. "Aim at earth and you will get neither." Earth thrown in? Perhaps a Cobra to drive? Who knows. But it is demonstrably true, a truth we validate in our experience every day: Nothing on this earth, of itself, completes the joy that we seek. 

"God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself," Lewis concludes. "There is no such thing."

David Roper
1.24,17

Monday, January 23, 2017

Groans

“Poor little things! You can’t fly,” said the Lark.
“No, but we can look up,” said Tricksey.

—George MacDonald

" Listen to my words,” David prays, “Understand my groans” (Psalm 5:1,2).

God’s eyes are always upon us, and His ears are open to our cries. One upward glance is all it takes.

Prayer can be a groan, a wish, a ragged cry. “Groans are quick, and full of wings, And all their motions upward be; And ever as they mount, like larks they sing, The note is sad, yet music for a king” (George Herbert).

God knows more of all our needs than all our words can tell. He knows what we need before we ask Him. He reads our anxious, unscripted thoughts and turns them into prayer.

Paul put it this way: "If we don't know how or what to pray for it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans” (Romans 8:26,27, The Message).

David Roper

1.5.17

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Money Grubbing Man

J. Paul Getty was asked how to make money. “Some people find oil. Others don’t,” he replied. 

Case in point: Some years ago my father bought a few hundred acres of scrub brush in North Texas. Two years later the Corps of Engineers raised  the level of a nearby lake and turned his little piece of dirt into valuable lakefront property. Shrewd planning? No, dumb luck. 

On second thought, not really. Money–making isn’t happenstance, but Providence, according to Moses: “God gives the power to make wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17,18). That’s true across the board. But, I hasten to add, God doesn’t give the power to make wealth to everyone. It can be the worst thing that ever happened to us: Money–grubbing can ruin our souls.

If God gives us money we should be thankful and use our wealth wisely, but “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 

Lust for wealth can corrode and corrupt our hearts and turn them away from God. “The heart is ravaged by the same moth and rust that devour the treasure!” George McDonald said. How can we who follow Jesus possibly believe that the chief end of our lives is to make money? Who of us could stand before our Lord, “who for our sakes became poor,” look Him in the face and say, “I want to be rich and buy stuff?”

In the opening scene of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” poverty–stricken Tevya prays, “Oh, dear Lord, it’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor, either. So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?" Then he goes on to sing, “If I Were A Rich Man,” the last four lines of which are these:

God who made the heavens higher than the land,
You decreed me surely what I am,
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, 
If I were a wealthy man?

Jesus would say, “Maybe.” 

David Roper
1.21.17

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Deflated

Our neighbors installed an inflatable Santa Claus in their front yard last Christmas, but when the season had run its course, the Santa deflated, a condition that epitomizes our over-blown Christmas dreams. 

There’s no time of the year like Christmas to develop unrealistic expectations. We enter the season with bright hope, but something always goes wrong. Even when things go right, our wished-for happiness never arrives. We close the season empty and yearning for that elusive “something more.”

Carolyn and I had an experience some years ago that underscores our disenchantment with Christmas. It took place at Boise’s Festival of Trees, an event we attended with our grandchildren. 

As we moved from one brightly lit Christmas tree to the next, pointing and exclaiming, our littlest granddaughter, surfeited by splendor, lost interest—until she came to a tiny manger scene. She paused transfixed. 

We tried to move on, but she lingered, pressing closer to the child. Finally, reluctantly, she agreed to leave, looking back over her shoulder to get one more glimpse of the crèche through the trees. 

As we left the building Melissa took my hand: “Papa,” she whispered. “Can we go see the baby again?” So we returned to the manger and I waited while she gazed adoringly at the Child. I thought to myself, ”How easy it is to overlook Jesus amidst the trees.”

Christmas comes and goes and we ask, ”Is this all there is?” For, you see, our deepest longings are for something more than Hallmark moments and memories. We long for God and His love. The child in the manger is that for which we’ve been looking all our lives. 

It’s been said over and over, but it needs to be said again: Jesus is the reason for the season. Nothing else will do. Christmas, as our culture defines it, will always disappoint us, but Jesus never will. 

David Roper
12/28/16