I didn’t know!

Two months ago we moved into our house here in the mountains of SoCal. Beautiful house, wonderful view, great neighbors! What more could we want?

Being from Minnesota, one of the duties for fall preparation for winter (yes, we get snow here in SoCal!) is to have the furnace checked. So today we had the guy come out. Everything was okay with the furnace, and commented how well it has been maintained.

Then as we looked around the crawl space under the entire house (about three feet high), we began to see quite a few Black Widow spiders, with plenty of eggs. Yikes! Cindy and I knew there were these kinds of spiders in the mountains. But here? Under our house? We didn’t know — that is a problem! Of course, now we know… and we are calling the exterminators to take care of the problem.

I didn’t know

As I reflected on that, it occurred to me that that’s the way it is with sin. Sometimes, sin is hidden under the covers of every day life. Sometimes because we can’t see sin, we assume it isn’t there. But like the Black Widow spiders, sin is there., and in the long run, can be much more deadly than spiders.

How do we respond to sin, the hidden sins lurking in our lives? We might plead ignorance (“I didn’t know”). Or avoidance (“It’s not a real problem”). Or we might plead arrogance (“I can handle this!). Have you used one of these excuses? Sadly, I have.

The Bible presents many examples of such “problem-solving” with sin (just read Genesis or Judges to get a glimpse of that reality). But in our current sophisticated world, we become enamored with what looks like the latest fad to solve our problems. But each gimick always leave us facing even worse consequences. Sin is like that, a deadly web (more deadly than the Black Widow!) spun by the devil, the world, and our own flesh that pulls us in. In Hebrews we read “let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us” (12:1 HCSB).

The Real Solution: I do know!

So what do we do? The first step is realizing that ignorance, avoidance, and arrogance are not bliss but deadly when it comes to sin. Thus, God calls us to repentance, we agree with God that sin is sin, this sin, this very one I am struggling with. We recognize that even “little sins” can destroy. And we admit that we deserve God’s punishment.

Second, we believe that Jesus Christ came to pay the full price of our sins. “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 HCSB). Or “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the worl” ( John 2:2 NLTse).

Third, we confess that because of what Jesus has done, God forgives us. “ “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

And we then recognize that Jesus is the one who defeats the devil. “The reason the Son of God appeared was rto destroy the works of the devi” ( John 3:8 ESV).

The extermination is complete in Jesus Christ. We do not plead ignorance of our sin; we do not plead ignorance of our Savior. Thus, through Jesus Christ, we proclaim, “I do know.” And “thanks be to God that I do know.”

Prayer focus:

Dave at Cap’n Salty’s Long Voyage…

Heavenly Father, we give thanks to you that in your grace you have solved our problems with sin, death, and the devil. We give thanks for the faithful work that Dave has been providing through his teaching Greek and Latin, his pastoring of a congregation, and his seminary studies. May you bless him with wisdom, strength, endurance, and patience as he grow sin your grace. Bless his family throughout this process. And may your name be glorified in and through hi, Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen


Wounds … another expression

Ann Voskamp has written a reflective piece on wounds from a personal perspective. Worth the read.

Prayer Focus:

Lord, we give thanks for Ann and her ability to express the inner struggles, pain, and joy of life. Grant her wisdom and compassion as she does. Strengthen her in her ministry to her husband and six children. May she speak clearly the truths from your Word to all whom she touches. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen

How deep the wound — How much deeper the healing

Prayer focus: 

Sarah Markley

Lord God, we give thanks for all blessings in Jesus Christ. We who live wounded lives have an even greater One, the One who was wounded for us. Therefore, He is the perfect healer for all of us. We praise you for your work in Sarah’s life. As she experiences your love and healing in Jesus Christ, use her as a willing vessel for your ongoing work of reaching the wounded and hurting. Give her wisdom, patience, strength, and humility as she writes. Bring to mind appropriate Scripture passages to share. And especially reassure her of your unfailing love and mercy in Jesus Christ, Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen

Wounded People

“Wounded people wound people” — perhaps you have read the myriad of blogs, articles, and books focusing on this issue. Most often a true statement (thanks, Jeff). For this post, I want to move to the second part — the often unspoken, yet vital second part: How much deeper the healing.

When a person suffers loss, or abuse, or neglect, or abandonment, etc., the wound can be very deep. Many of us spend our entire lives either trying to deny the wound. Or we cover the wound. Or we withdraw from those who want to pick at the scabs of the wound. The wounds of sin run deep.

Sometimes the avoidance seems to work, for years, even decades. But a trigger event, sound, smell, touch will expose us to that wound. Sometimes we may not even connect the dots, relating to what is happening to what had happened. “I thought I had forgotten all that.”

The Wounded Healer

Jesus was wounded by others — in the ultimate way. He experienced loss, abuse, neglect, betrayal, and abandonment at the hands of…

  • Family (“For not even his brothers believed in him.” John 7:5).
  • Friends (“You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” Peter denied it and said, “I am not.” John 18:25).
  • Enemies (And from that moment Judas sought an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:16).
  • God the Father. The ultimate abandonment was on the cross when He cried out “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (GW) or more familiarly “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Yet, prophetically Isaiah prepared the way for even that wounding. Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he has borne our griefs [pains]
and carried our sorrows; [sicknesses]
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

When Jesus was healing many people Matthew refers to this passage (Matthew 8:17). Jesus did this to benefit those who have been scarred, abused, neglected, torn, broken, abandoned, discarded — namely, for us. Through his saving work, he took our sins upon himself — the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), including the sins of those who have sinned against us. Our wounds have become his wounds. He was broken for our brokenness.

Even more, by rising from the dead, he demonstrated that he conquered them all. Every sin, every taunt, every slap, every fist, every tongue-lashing, every belt-whipping, every rape, every scar, every wound. The wounded One conquered and becomes the one who binds up our wounds (“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3)

So, the statement, how deep the wound, shows the extent of sin infiltrating our lives. But the counter statement, how much deeper the healing, shows that whatever depths of pain we have experienced, Jesus offers us even greater depths of healing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It may take time to experience the fullness of each area (fully in all areas when we are in heaven, our inheritance Ephesians 1:13–14). But the starting point is now, and it is complete in Jesus Christ now— by faith in him, not in my incomplete understanding, only in Him, the Wounded Healer.

Prayer for 9/11 Remembrance

One of our pastors wrote this prayer this past week. He serves a congregation between Washington, DC and Baltimore.

Rebuilding World Trade Center


Prayer for September 11, 2011

Lord Jesus Christ, this is a day of remembrance marking a great tragedy in the life of our people. We are fallen people living in a broken world attended by much pain. But You warned us of this the day You told us we would die if we ate of the forbidden fruit. Yet, you are our Redeemer, and have never abandoned us. Continue to turn our hearts, and all hearts to You, the source of all grace.

We lift up to You today all those who lost loved ones on September 11th – husbands, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, dear friends. The pain of these losses never fully goes away in this life. Be their daily comfort, guide, and strength. Continue to heal those who have been hurt in body or mind, who continue to carry the scars of that day. You alone, Lord Jesus, are the One upon whom we can cast all burdens.

Lord, we pray for all emergency personnel, those who respond in minutes wherever there is a need. Our lives often depend upon these people. Grant them strength, courage, and wisdom for each situation they face. Thank You for their dedication. We especially remember those who responded at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Be there Lord, and provide for all their needs.

Good Lord, you have taught us to pray for our enemies. You know how hard this is for us to do when our feelings run so deep. But we do lift up to You all those who, misguided by their faith, do terrible acts of destruction, whether secular, Christian, or Islamist. They are consumed by hate, and that is not Your desire for any of us. Somehow, Lord, reach into their hearts by the presence of Your Spirit. Show them love and grace which alone changes hearts, and works for good.

We pray, Gracious God, for the Moslems in our country. Most of them do not hate us, and don’t approve of those who do. Protect them from false accusations, and suspicions of others. Help them to live and enjoy life in peace. But above all, Lord Jesus, reveal Yourself to them, not just as another prophet, but as Lord and Christ. Help them to come to You as the way, the truth and the life.

Lord, work in our own hearts, helping us to forgive. It is something we don’t want to do, and cannot do in our own strength. It is only You who said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, who can forgive through us. Heal our own hurts, cleanse our own memories, and replace any bitterness in us with Your love. One of your hardest commands is to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. Change our hearts O Lord, that we can love more with Your love, whether for a Moslem or for our neighbor next door. Only Your love has the power to heal.

And Lord Jesus, we pray for our nation. We live in troubled time. We have sinned greatly, rejecting you in many areas of life. Have mercy on us, O Lord. Let Your mercy be upon us. Turn the hearts of our leaders to You. Work in them with a wisdom that is beyond themselves. Help them to guide us in the way of peace. Help them to get beyond party wrangling, political ambitions, and selfish gains, to do what is right for all people. Only You have the wisdom for this task. Work in them, Good Lord.

O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hear these our prayers, and the prayers of all those who cry out to You in their hearts. Above all shorten the time until you send the Lord Jesus to us. Only His presence among us again can heal all our needs, cleanse all unrighteousness, and bring true peace to this earth. May it be soon, dear Lord. We pray all this in the blessed name of Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Ephesians 1:13-14 — a look at some translations


As I have been preparing the sermon this week on this text, I noticed a couple of translation changes that are worth noting.

Ephesians 1:13–14 (first the Greek text)

13 Εν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ, 14 ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ.

Now to observe five translations and the choice of words/phrases.

NIV9184: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

NIV2011:  13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Comparing these, there are some interesting phrasings. Notice that NIV2011 changes the translation of λόγον from “word” (NIV1982) to “message.” Not sure of the reason since the translators do not seem to be consistent in this change; it just seems surprising. On the other hand, NIV2011 retains in vs. 14 “the redemption of those who are God’s possession.”

ESV: 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The ESV translation of τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ (“with the promised Holy Spirit”) rightly shows where the promise is, namely the Holy Spirit. Compare with the NAS and NKJV, which translate the phrase as “with the Holy Spirit of promise,” which suggests something else than the Holy Spirit himself.

At first galnce, it seems unusual that ESV has opted to translate εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως with these words: “until we acquire possession of it.” By doing so, it seems to lose the connection between this verse and the beginning of vs. 7. Even more, redemption (ἀπολύτρωσιν) is about something done in behalf of someone else. That is Paul’s point in vs. 7, our redemption is actually the result of what Christ has done. The ESV seems to suggest that we are the active agent in redemption. Confusing at best, and less than helpful in making the link to that which is indeed the redemption.

NAS95: 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Interestingly, NAS95 has “message of truth” in vs. 13. Further checking in the NT shows that in NAS95, “message” is most often reflecting (logos), but in Acts at least twice it translates ῥήματα (hremata), and in 1 John 3:11 is used for ἀγγελία(angelia). Of these, it seems for NAS, ῥήματα has the most variation in translation (word, thing, fact, charge, matter, statement, etc.).

GW: 13 You heard and believed the message of truth, the Good News that he has saved you. In him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit whom he promised. 14 This Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance. We have this guarantee until we are set free to belong to him. God receives praise and glory for this.

While translating differently, GW does get the promise attached to the Holy Spirit himself. In vs. 14 it seems to do a decent job of handling “redemption” (“until we are set free”). This also allows the connection to vs. 7.

Nothing super mysterious here, but in studying the text I found the translation differences interesting.

More on Matthew’s Genealogy

Prayer Focus:

Lord, God, we thank you for the special gifts you have granted Jenny at delesmuses. Bless her blogging and teaching ministry. Give her wisdom and insight into the Scriptures so that she may remain strong in the Lord and help people grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. Grant her patience and humility to see needs, and respond with grace and understanding. Thank you for using her in this special way. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen

Matthew 1:2–17

As we look at 1:2–17, we notice that there are three sections (14 name sin each). So the division is: Abraham to David / David to deportation /deportation to Jesus. Notice that the second separator refers to an event not a person. Hmmm. What might be the reason for such a difference?

Do you notice anything else about the transition from the second to the third list? What is unique about Jeconiah? How does he relate to the deportation?

Also, as one comment noted (thanks, Dean), why does Matthew include the reference to four women, but with the fourth, he only notes “David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” Matthew does not identify her by name, only by title. So why would Matthew do that?

Well, further thoughts for munching on.

Thanksgivings continue: #41-50

41 young people at SMLC
42 caring friends at SMLC
43 a great son, who we miss daily
44 a wonderful daughter-in-law
45 a new acquaintance through family connections
46 food on the table for each meal
47  good pastor friends
48 a computer that works (Mac of course!)
49 the wonder of starry skies here in the mountains
50 a good night’s rest

Prayer Focus:

Today we pray for Emily Cook who blogs at Weak and Loved. Gracious Lord, we give thanks for the blessings of life, life eternal, and family and friends to share. Grant your blessings to Emily as she grows in her faith, dedicates her self to you, her husband, and her children. Embrace her with your love, surround her with the right friends who will walk with her, challenge her, and grow with her. Thank you for working in her life. Bless her blog to the building up of your people. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen