Saturday, July 9, 2022

Going and Not Knowing

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

When Abraham was seventy–five years of age, God called him from his home in Ur of the Chaldees to move to Haran, and then to Shechem, to Bethel, to Egypt, to the Negev, to Hebron… Rootless, homeless, “going…and not knowing.” That was the story of Abraham’s life.  

Age brings change, uncertainty, adjustment, transition from a familiar past to an uncertain future. It is movement from a family home, to a small apartment, to a retirement community, to a nursing home—the “last resort,” as one wag put it. 

So we, like Abraham, pass through paths unknown, making our way from one place to another, always traveling: “going…and not knowing.” 

But we could not be more safe for we dwell in the shelter of the Most High; we rest in the shadow of His wings. The "God of old" is our dwelling place and underneath are His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 37:27).

Others may choose another habitation, but God is my dwelling place til traveling days are o'er and I reach my heart's true home. My days may be uncertain but my destination is secure: the place our Father prepared for His children long ago (John 14:1-4).

David Roper7.10.22

Please note: This will be my last post for awhile. I’m taking a break and “recalibrating” as my Google map app would say.

Monday, June 27, 2022


“Instead of…”

"Instead of the thorn, a cypress tree will spring out of the ground; instead of a thistle, the myrtle bush—a living and lasting monument to God” (Isaiah 55:13).  
It's one thing to eradicate thorns and thistles—barbed vines that encumber and impair those that pass by. It's another to see these plants turned into objects of towering strength and beauty.                   

Ask God to do this for you: Ask Him to search you and show you the thorns and thistles in your speech and manner, the prickly ways that cause pain in others (Psalm 139:23,24). Ask Him to turn them into thoughts, words and acts that bless and beautify.

God will do this in His own time and way, for Himself, for you and for others. It will be “a living and lasting monument” to God’s eternal goodness and grace.

Wait for this. Expect it. God is able to do immeasurably more than you can imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

David Roper

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Mountain of God


Let snow fall on Zalmon,
O mighty mountain, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
Why do you look with envy, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for his abode,
yes, where the LORD will dwell forever? 

—Psalm 68:14-16
Mount Zalmon is located in a chain of perennially snow-capped mountains between Lebanon and Syria with peaks that rise over 9,000 feet. In Canaanite mythology it was Baal's abode. 
Yet mighty Zalmon, a massive eminence, looks at little Mount Zion (2,300 feet) with "envy" for God has chosen it, as his dwelling place forever. And…
It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it… (Isaiah 2:2). 
I’m reminded here of Peter’s words: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that he may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:5). 
So then, I say: I don’t have to be an mighty, “many-peaked” mountain to matter. I can be a little hill. 
David Roper

Monday, May 30, 2022

Open Wide!

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. —Psalm 81:10 

This verse begins with a direct quotation from the preamble to the Ten Commandments: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Thou shalt not; thou shalt not; thou shalt..." (Exodus 20:2).

Here in this psalm, however, where you might expect another list of rules, God offers a lovely grace-note: “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it."

Israel's history, like mine, is a tale of underachievement, yet God does not call for greater effort. He rather asks us to lay our "doing" down and receive what He has to give.

Trying to keep rules and make myself  a better person is a losing cause. I know because I tried it for years. God alone is the source of goodness for He alone is good. We must ask for his righteousness and keep on asking.

Long, long ago, on the Cross, Jesus did away with our wrong-doing. Now He lives to make us good children. If we open our mouths wide He will, in his time, fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, and all the other traits we admire in Him and seek for ourselves. He will feed us with the "finest of the wheat," and satisfy us with "honey from the rock" (Psalm 81:16).

"Honey from the rock!" Sweetness flowing from an unexpected source. Who could imagine that someone so "wholly other" could be so near at hand?

Weary, working, burdened one,Wherefore toil you so?Cease your doing; all was doneLong, long ago. —James Proctor

David Roper

* Photograph taken by our neighbor, Duane Gray. Used by permission.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Think on These Things

“Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8 The Message).

It’s generally thought that Paul had abstract thought in mind (right thinking) and that may have been his intention. I wonder, however, given the context of the book, if Paul is not encouraging us to think about the “things” that we observe in others.

Rather than fixing our minds on the flaws we see in our brothers and sisters would it not be better to think about those attitudes and actions that are “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; the things to praise, not the things to curse?—the goodness that we see.

Rather than see, think and speak evil of others, would it not be better to fill our minds with these “things.”

David Roper 

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Life of Riley

 "I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking." —Carl Sagan

There's a little stream over in Eastern Oregon near the Idaho border called Riley Creek. It was named for "Judge" Riley, a prospector who grubbed for gold there in the 1870s, largely unrewarded.

Early one morning his partner left camp and discovered a rich deposit of gold near their campsite. He raced back shouting, "Wake up, Riley. We're rich!" "Wake up, Riley. We're rich!" Riley, however, was unmoved. He had died during the night in his sleep.

We live the life of Riley. We, "grunt and sweat under weary life," as Shakespeare said, and then we die. Why go on, we ask ourselves, when every beat of our heart, like a muffled drum, is marching us closer to the grave? Why work and toil and face an endless sequence of frustrations in a world where everyone sooner or later ends up under the ground?

Yet there is an odd hope that springs eternal, a "thing of feathers that perches in the soul," a wistful, flighty thought that perhaps some "thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue."

Mary Trumbull Slosson, a last century author whose quaint and profound folktales give a "glimpse of Joy beyond the walls of the world," writes of that hope in a story about a little boy that was "scaret of dying."

Once there was a boy that was dreadful scaret o' dyin'. Some folks is that way, you know; they ain't never done it to know how it feels, and they're scaret. And this boy was that way. He wa'n't very rugged, his health was sort o' slim, and mebbe that made him think about sech things more. `Tany rate, he was terr'ble scaret o' dyin'. `Twas a long time ago this was,—the times when posies and creaturs could talk so's folks could know what they was sayin'.

And one day, as this boy, his name was Reuben,—I forget his other name, —as Reuben was settin' under a tree, an ellum tree, cryin', he heerd a little, little bit of a voice,—not squeaky, you know, but small and thin and soft like, —and he see `t was a posy talkin'. `T was one o' them posies they call Benjamins, with three-cornered whitey blowths with a mite o' pink on `em, and it talked in a kind o' pinky-white voice, and it says, "What you cryin' for, Reuben? "And he says, "`Cause I'm scaret o' dyin'," says he; "I`m dreadful scaret o' dyin'." Well, what do you think? That posy jest laughed, the most cur'us little pinky-white laugh `t was,—and it says, the Benjamin says: "Dyin'! Scaret o' dyin'? Why, I die myself every single year o' my life." "Die yourself ! "says Reuben "You `re foolin'; you`re alive this minute." "`Course I be," says the Benjamin; "but that `s neither here nor there,—I've died every year sence I can remember." "Don't it hurt? "says the boy. "No, it don't," says the posy; "it `s real nice. You see, you get kind o' tired a-holdin' up your head straight and lookin' peart and wide awake, and tired o' the sun shinin' so hot, and the winds blowin' you to pieces, and the bees a-takin' your honey. So it's nice to feel sleepy and kind o' hang your head down, and get sleepier and sleepier, and then find you `re droppin' off. Then you wake up jest `t the nicest time o' year, and come up and look `round, and—why, I like to die, I do." But someways that didn't help Reuben much as you `d think. "I ain't a posy," he think to himself, "and mebbe I wouldn't come up."

Well, another time he was settin' on a stone in the lower pastur', cryin' again, and he heerd another cur'us little voice. ` T wa' n't like the posy's voice, but `t was a little, wooly, soft, fuzzy voice, and he see `twas a caterpillar atalkin' to him. And the caterpillar says, in his fuzzy little voice, he says, "What you cryin' for, Reuben? "And the boy, he says, "I `m powerful scaret o' dyin', that's why," he says. And that fuzzy caterpillar he laughed. "Dyin' ! "he says. "I `m lottin' on dyin' myself. All my fam'ly," he says, "die every once in a while, and when they wake up they `re jest splendid,—got wings, and fly about, and live on honey and things. Why, I would n't miss it for anything ! "he says. "I `m lottin' on it." But somehow that didn't chirk up Reuben much. "I ain't a caterpillar," he says, "and mebbe I would n't wake up at all."

Well, there was lots o' other things talked to that boy, and tried to help him,—trees and posies and grass and crawlin' things, that was allers a-dyin' and livin'. Reuben thought it didn't help him any, but I guess it did a little mite, for he could n't help thinkin' o' what they every one on `em said. But he was scaret all the same.

And one summer he begun to fail up faster and faster, and he got so tired he couldn't hardly hold his head up, but he was scaret all the same. And one day he was layin' on the bed, and lookin' out o' the east winder, and the sun kep' a-shinin' in his eyes till he shet `em up, and he fell asleep. He had a real good nap, and when he woke up he went out to take a walk.

And he begun to think o' what the posies and trees and creaturs had said about dyin', and how they laughed at his bein' scaret at it, and he says to himself, "Why, someways I don't feel so scaret to-day, but I s'pose I be." And jest then what do you think he done? Why, he met a Angel. He'd never seed one afore, but he knowed it right off. And the Angel says, "Ain't you happy, little boy?" And Reuben says, "Well, I would be, only I `m so dreadful scaret o' dyin'. It must be terr'ble cur'us," he says, "to be dead." And the Angel says, "Why, you be dead." And he was!

Spring posies, trees and creaturs are hints that there is hope for God has planned it that way. But spring alone may leave us with Reuben's worry: "I ain't a posy and mebbe I wouldn't come up."

Spring's hope may be only an illusion, a thought poet Richard Le Galliene picks up in a poem entitled "When I am Very Old." He writes of April baring her flowering breast "In secret woodlands, and, with eyes of dew/Lies to the others as once to me and you." That's why T. S. Eliot, in his pre-Christian days, thought April was, "the cruelest month."

There is a truer word: Jesus' said: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26).

Who said this? One who rose from the grave. Talk is cheap, they say. It's one thing to make a bold assertion; it's another to back it up. But back it up Jesus did by rising from the dead, "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20). His resurrection is the guarantee that God can bring us up and out of the ground. If we believe Jesus he assures us that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of us will continue after we die.

Living again means living out the thought of eternity that God has placed in our hearts; meeting loved ones lost through separating death; living in a world without blood, sweat and tears; seeing our Lord who loves us so much he gave up everything to unite us to him forever.

But there's another meaning I see: since we go around twice we don't have to go for all the gusto now. We may live in broken and ruined bodies for awhile; we may endure poverty and hardship for a time; we may face loneliness, heartache and pain for a season—but no matter. We don't have to have it all this time around. There is a second birth.

From my series: “For Heaven’s Sake"

David Roper

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Like a Weaned Child

From Carolyn…

Good Morning, Friends,

So much of the world is in turmoil these days. As I look around so many of our friends have a measure of turmoil, pain and grief in their homes and in their hearts. Perhaps you can relate. Whether it's that one child who is always on your mind, or the next doctor's appointment for a health issue that does not go away, or too much month at the end of the paycheck. Or perhaps it is decisions that keep stacking up and you just don't know what change will bring.

As I was thinking of the muddles of life and the turmoil they can stir up in a heart,  it reminded me of something that happened years ago in Palo Alto. 

David and Ron Ritchie were asked to officiate at a funeral for the son of a missionary couple they knew. The young man rode with the Hell's Angels and died of a knife attack in San Francisco. The funeral was held in the woods in a basin in the Santa Cruz mountains. A large number of the Hells Angels all rode up together on their bikes. After the service where Jesus and the gospel were presented, the leader of the Angels came up to David and said,

 "I've got a putt and a pad and my 'ole lady, but I ain't got no peace." 

Sometimes in the turmoil we all realize we "ain't got no peace." Well, how do we get the peace God has promised, even after we have peace with Him?

Psalm 131 has been on my mind recently.

Psalm 131

A song of ascents. Of David

My heart is not proud, Lo, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself. I am like a weaned child with its mother; Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

I love that picture of a toddler resting on his mother, no fuss, no demands, no trauma. Just peace. And I have come to see it is possible to rest childlike on God and be at peace if we have done the two things above this picture. First, the psalmist had humbled himself before the Lord, not demanding or a proud look at the situation. Next, David realized and agreed that some things he will not understand. But God does. So David could rest peacefully and be content.

It wasn't that David just said, "Whatever." or "Oh well." But he was learning to trust God for the future. As he put his hope in the Lord he could wait in peace. Even when he did not understand. He knew the Lord as the child knew his mother.

This is not a one time thing, of course. But it is a posture we can take over and over.

Today I am praying for you to keep the picture of the peaceful child in your heart as I am praying to keep it in mine. I am praying you will find the  "peace that passes understanding" as you learn that the Lord is worthy of ruthless trust,  It's a process. The Holy Spirit is our Helper.

With Love from Above,


Going and Not Knowing

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing...