Wednesday, March 26, 2008

golden diligence

"The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want."

Proverbs 21:5

We live in a culture that hurries everything. Pre-preschool hurries our alphabet; cars and airplanes hurry our travels; microwaves hurry our dinners. But Solomon warned against living a "hasty" life, saying that hastiness would lead only to want--that is, lack and great need.

The opposite of hastiness is diligence. Diligence means taking things steadily, sometimes slowly. It means getting up every single morning and laying the bricks that will shelter you tomorrow. It means spending more time reading the Bible than chasing spiritual highs. It means forming good habits, doing the best things, keeping at it.

Diligence is not natural to our culture, and apparently it wasn't natural in Solomon's time either. But it is godly. Jesus' life was a diligent one. He got up every morning and did what God called Him to do. He didn't try to rush the program or skip the hard parts. And because He was diligent, we are saved.

An attitude of diligence can make an immeasurable difference, not only to your own life, but to the lives of those you influence in family, friendships, work, and ministry. Diligence is golden. What are you doing to develop it?


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them."

Proverbs 20:9

I wrote the fantasy novel Worlds Unseen six years ago. At the time, I had some loose ideas about what it could say--besides telling a good story, which was my first priority! It touched on some of my beliefs about life: the spiritual realities behind the physical world, nature's allegiance to its Creator, and the way most of us live our lives ignorant of the world's true history and what it means to us today.

Worlds is primarily about Maggie Sheffield, a very normal young woman who stumbles into the spiritual realities of her world by accident and must learn to deal with them. However, equally important to the story are the two Gifted: a wanderer named Nicolas Fisher, who hears things no one else can, and Virginia Ramsey, a blind girl who sees visions.

Proverbs 20:9 made me think of these two immediately: "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them." In Worlds Unseen, Virginia and Nicolas are not only Gifted, they are gifts--gifts to the world. Those who believe what the Gifted tell them will arrive at the truth about life, and with it, real freedom.

In the story, though, Nicolas and Virginia are both outcasts. One wrestles to accept his own gift and thus refuses to live among people; the other is feared and ultimately betrayed because of the truth she sees. It's not easy to be the only people in all the world who understand what life really is--especially when the truth shatters everything we have believed.

Nicolas and Virginia aren't without parallel in our own world. They are my fantasy version of the Old Testament prophets, of the New Testament apostles and saints, of everyone to whom God has given clarity of vision and ears that understand. Often, these real-world Gifted were despised and rejected, driven out and even crucified. Isaiah was one such Gifted man. David, king and psalmist, was another. Mary; Anna; the Apostle Paul. John the Beloved, witnessing the Revelation while in exile on the Isle of Patmos, was one. And ever since their days, God has not ceased to send to us people who see and hear, and who will open our own understanding if we let them.

Perhaps you can think of someone who has filled this role in your life. A parent; a sister; a friend; a teacher. A singer or poet. Such people do not create or renew truth. They simply show us, through scripture and by the Spirit of God, what has always been there.

Perhaps, in the darkness of the world around, the one who sees and hears is you.

Like my fictional Seventh World, the people around us live in darkness and deception. We who have the Word of God at our fingertips and the Spirit of God in our hearts are in this world, not just as passers-by, but as gifts. In prayer, Jesus said of His disciples, "As thou [Father] hath sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

You, believer in Jesus, are in this world not as an accident and not as a judge. You are here as a gift, bearing the gifts of sight, hearing, and true reality.

May we use these gifts well: to bring into the darkness a burning, holy light.

* * *

Worlds Unseen is available for purchase or as a free ebook from It's sequel, Burning Light, is due out December 2008.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


"There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."

Proverbs 19:21

So many plans; so many dreams. I scheme, plot, plan, lay out goals and steps. I spread out financial sheets and try to fit every penny in the right slot. I fall asleep guessing at the future, trying to figure out how it'll all go.

There are many devices in my heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the LORD shall stand.

Charging ahead, I halt behind a man-made blockade. Suddenly people who never had much to do with my life are acting as my adversaries. I do all I can to counter them, even as they do all they can to prevent me.

There are many devices in their hearts; nevertheless, the counsel of the LORD shall stand.

I watch as the world around me spirals deeper in rebellion; thumb their noses at their Creator and try to ignore Him. They write books to prove He does not exist. They assert their independence by destroying themselves. They set up scientific paradigms that exclude Him completely and invent religions that misrepresent Him.

And yet, He is still there, looking at them every time they look in the mirror. Image-bearers of God, doing their best to deface Him.

Yet, though there are many devices in their hearts, the counsel of the LORD shall stand. In the end we shall see Him as He is.

Sometimes I worry. About little things; about big things. About who I'll be in twenty years; about what the world will be. So many people are trying to do so many things, and I am only one of them. Our plots and plans clash now and then, and threaten to bring the world down around us.

And yet, in the end, the counsel of the LORD shall stand.

In that I take comfort and rest.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

upside down

"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility."

Proverbs 18:12

Have you ever compared yourself to someone else?

I certainly have. It's a bad habit, but a very natural one. I measure myself against family, friends, and complete strangers. Morally, physically, intellectually: my comparisons build me up or tear me down. They lead, often, to haughtiness. (Just as often, they lead to something that is not humility but pretends to be: a negative fixation on self that we sometimes call "poor self image.")

Jesus' disciples, we read, often indulged in comparisons. But shortly before He went to His crucifixion, Jesus did something that changed their view of themselves and of others forever. He dressed Himself as a slave, knelt down, and washed their filthy feet.

John writes,

"So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?"

In that moment, Jesus turned His disciples' world upside down. He laid a responsibility on them that they probably never expected to carry. That responsibility brought with it a whole new view of the world. Remember, the disciples believed Jesus would usher in a kingdom, with them as princes in it. They expected to rule--not to wash the feet of others who were, perhaps, beneath them.

But Jesus did not allow them to think of themselves this way. After washing their feet, He said,

"Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet."

John 13:12-14

God fully intended to honour Jesus' disciples. He honoured them in their lifetimes, and He has continued to honour their memory and work. But before God would bestow glory on His servants, He first taught them humility. Haughtiness, a view of life which is based on comparing ourselves with others, leads to destruction. Humility leads us to God, to love, and to honour.

The striking fact is that Jesus was superior to His disciples in every way. There was nothing in them that was greater, purer, or more righteous than He. He deserved their service; they did not deserve His. Yet He gave it.

Real humility is not about measuring ourselves against others at all, whether we see ourselves as better or worse than those around us. It doesn't matter who's "better," whose choices are more godly, whose life is more fruitful. What matters is that Jesus has loved us and washed our feet. In every relationship in life, no matter how deep or how cursory, God matters first. My relationships with my family and friends are not just about me and them: they're about God and me, and then about those He asks me to love.

Jesus, who died for us, reconciled us to God, and still serves us in a thousand little ways every day, looks at us and asks, "Know ye what I have done to you?"

I know a little: He has changed everything. My world is officially upside down.