Friday, March 16, 2018

Young at Heart
“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day...” (2 Corinthians 4:16). 

The last vehicle I owned was a 1995 GMC truck. It was dented, battered and scratched and had more miles on it than its odometer has numbers. Some parts of it didn’t work well; some parts didn’t work at all, but I was fond of it. I owned it for 17 years or more. It was mine

It was only mine, however. It wasn’t me. I never confused myself with my truck.  

So it is with my body. It’s dented, battered and scratched. Some parts of it don’t work well and some parts don’t work at all. I’m rather fond of it, however. I’ve owned it for 85 years or more. It’s mine. (Saint Francis had it exactly right when he referred to his body as “brother ass"—stubborn, sturdy and useful.)

But my body isn’t me. I have a body and, thank God, I shall
have one better, but I am not now my body, nor shall I ever be; I am my soul—the immaterial, inextinguishable, thinking, reasoning, remembering, adventure–seeking, fun–loving “me,” that I call “myself” and “I.” I have been joined to God’s family forever, begotten through Jesus Christ my Lord. I am an immortal child of God; I will never grow old and I will never die.  

That’s why, when I look in the mirror and gape at this bundle of dry, withered sticks, I can rightly say, "That’s not me!” My true self is hale and hearty and will never grow old.  

If anyone insists otherwise—for I do look old and decrepit—I shall answer, “Stuff and nonsense!” for, as George MacDonald argues, “Of all children, how can the children of God be old?" 

David Roper 

Sunday, March 11, 2018


God is my help; the Lord will lift me up" (Psalm 54:4).

According to the superscription, this poem was written "when the Ziphites went and told Saul, 'Is not David hiding among us?'"

Here’s the backstory: David and his mighty men were in the wilderness of Ziph, on the run, trying to evade Saul and his henchmen, when he received word that the Philistines were pillaging the farms and fields of Keilah. Keilah was a small village that belonged to Judah, David's tribe. These were his kinsmen, family and friends.

So, "David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines...and struck them with a great blow. In this way, David saved the inhabitants of Keilah" (1 Samuel 23:1ff.) So far so good.

But the Ziphites (the inhabitants of Keilah, in the Wilderness of Ziph) went and told Saul, "Is not David hiding among us," whereupon Saul mustered his army and marched to the city of Keilah, thinking that he would trap David within its walls.

The Ziphites, his own kinsmen, the folks he delivered from the Philistines, ratted him out, proving once again the truth of the old  adage: No good deed goes unpunished.

God warned David of Saul's advance and David and his men were able to escape into the Wilderness of Ziph, where, though, "Saul sought him every day, God did not give him into his hand" (1Samuel 23:14)—a happy ending that takes us back to the theme of this poem, "God is my help: the LORD will lift me up."

It's hard when we're betrayed by friends and neighbors, harder still when our families let us down. But “even if father and mother forsake (you), the Lord will lift (you) up!" (Psalm 27:10). Men will always disappoint you. Trust Jesus.

David Roper


Friday, March 9, 2018

The Willingness is All

"And he came and found (James, Peter and John) sleeping, and he said to Peter, 'Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'” (Mark 14:37–39).

It's not easy for me to open up to others, and experience has taught me it's not always wise to do so. I have been "betrayed in the house of a friend."

But even true friends can disappoint and disconcert us. On occasion, I've shared a painful ordeal with a man and asked him to prayer for me and he never followed up or mentioned the incident again. I wondered if he cared.

Jesus' example in the Garden of Gethsemane is instructive: "Greatly distressed and troubled" by the horror of impending death on a Roman cross, he turned to his friends, Peter, James and John, and asked them to pray with him, but they, over-adrenalized and exhausted by the events of the previous day, fell asleep.

His response suggests he was deeply hurt by their apparent indifference and was disappointed (remember that Jesus was "made like us in all ways apart from sin."): "Peter, my old friend, couldn't you stay awake for one hour and pray with me"?

Two more times he awakened his friends and asked them to pray; two more times they slumbered and he prayed alone.

But there is this unexpected grace note: “I know you wanted to pray with me." ("The spirit indeed is willing...)

Would that we all were so gracious...

David Roper

Young at Heart    “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day...” (2 Corinthians 4:16).  The...