Behold, I Make All Things New … (January 2023 Update) 

There is something satisfying about taking an old, worn-out piece of furniture and restoring it to its original condition. Furniture restoration brings new life to what previously appeared to be a lost cause. It’s exciting to see how beautiful a restored piece of furniture can be. 

But that is not the kind of “newness” that the Bible usually refers to when God says, “Behold, I make all things new.” It uses a word that indicates something that is wholly new, something that is newly created. When God takes our sinful lives and gives us new life, He does not refurbish or restore our old lives. He makes us new! That’s why many translations of 2 Corinthians 5:17 say, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation ….” God is doing something new – He is not simply restoring or patching up our old life. God is creating something new – both now and in eternity. 

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Ukraine has certainly experienced a lot of darkness this last month. Every week, Russia has unleashed a barrage of 80-100 missiles, drones and bombs targeting civilian targets and especially targeting essential infrastructure. The result has been no electricity, no water, no heat and no light. Most of Ukraine has been plunged into darkness. But the people of Ukraine have not been deterred. They are even using candles to warm up their food. They are heating, as much as possible, with wood. And the government has set up tents with heat and generators where people can come, get warm, have some hot tea and recharge their devices. They are finding ways to manage, even as Russia continues to try, in the words of one Kremlin official, to “send Ukraine back to the Middle Ages.”  

But “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (NLT).” Actually, that is also the message of Christmas! In John 1, John begins his gospel telling us WHO Jesus is – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” He makes it clear that this one who has come is the “light of all mankind.” And then in verse 5 he tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” 

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True Thanksgiving … (November 2022 Update) 

What do you think of when you think about Thanksgiving? Most people think about turkey, turkey and more turkey. And visions of pumpkin, apple and pecan pies fill our minds. And we usually think about the wonderful joy of sharing this wonderful meal with our families and friends. But very few would think about suffering when asked about Thanksgiving. But that’s what the Pilgrims would have thought about if you asked them about the first Thanksgiving. 

In fact, suffering was the reason for their Thanksgiving celebration! These early settlers had suffered tremendously in the previous year. The Mayflower had arrived in Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620, and the colonists began building their houses. Many fell ill, as many as two or three people died each day during their first two months on land. Out of the 102 colonists, only 52 people survived the first year in Plymouth!  

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“Break their teeth, O God….” (October 2022 Update) 

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Over the last 9 months, the world has seen the horror of this invasion and they have seen the resilience of the Ukrainian people. As Ukraine has liberated many territories since the invasion, we have witnessed atrocities that mirror the horror of the Nazi regime. We have also seen the Ukrainian army continue to recover lands taken by Russia and liberate people who were terrorized by the occupation. And we have seen Russia increasing threaten Ukraine and the world with nuclear weapons. Indeed, the situation is still one that demands we pray without ceasing! 

Everywhere I go, people ask me how they can pray for Ukraine and the war. In March, just days after the invasion, I wrote this article about praying imprecatory psalms. I think these reminders are still helpful today as we continue to pray for an end to this war and an end to the Russian occupation. So, I decided to reprint this to remind us to pray…. 

How did the people of Israel pray when they were unjustly oppressed by foreign enemies? They often turned to the imprecatory psalms to express their anger and to cry out to God to help.  The imprecatory psalms tend to be one of the most misunderstood writings in the Old Testament. An imprecatory psalm is one where God’s suffering people cry out to God to intervene and bring His justice to a situation. Some examples of these imprecations might include Psalms 5, 6, 35, 69, and 109, all of which are cited in the New Testament. Imprecatory psalms are those in which the author imprecates; that is, he calls down calamity, destruction, and God’s anger and judgment on his enemies.  

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“The Goodness of God” (September 2022 Update) 

There are many aspects to the character and attributes of God. All are essential to fully know God. While one of the most accepted attributes of God is goodness, few fully comprehend the magnitude of God’s goodness. God’s goodness includes His generosity and His love, but it is much, much more. 

God’s goodness comes out of His love. But God’s love emphasizes God’s heart. God’s goodness emphasizes God’s actions. William Tyndale said, “”God’s goodness is the root of all goodness and our goodness, if we have any, [and it] springs from His goodness.” And God’s goodness is the example and the motivation for our goodness. 

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