In Excelsis Deo

Imagine eternity.

Imagine infinity—imagine absolute life and infinite power, with no beginning and no end. Imagine infinite size and mind, boundless knowledge, unapproachable holiness in both being and motive—perfection beyond anything anyone ever dreamt—ultimate power to create and destroy with utter absence of malice entwined with supreme, omniscient Justice. Such power—such absolute personhood—holy and just, vast and unstoppable—light so brilliant and holiness so blinding that only the holy can enter. Yet He is compassionate, tirelessly loving, overflowing with grace and mercy—all superlative qualities lavished on sullied beings—on the rebellious, rejecting, wicked little creatures that He, in the beginning, created to be the recipients of His giving nature—of all His love and grace. Suddenly the simple, often clichéd words Jesus told a desperate Pharisee take on new force, new weight, fresh worship:

 “For God so loved—He gave…”

And, as if that were not enough, He told us to approach this infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all knowing, all holy, all righteous, all discerning, supremely just, immeasurably vast God as “Our Father…”

That is miraculous. That is Christmas.

O come let us adore Him.

—j

Toast for Thanksgiving

I confess have a favorite movie—Babette’s Feast*. Babette, a spectacular chef who fled the French Revolution, made a feast for a village of Christian people who hated each other. The table was set with more than food—it was rich with joy, mercy and reconciliation. Just like Jesus when He ate with sinners. I hope you’ll watch it someday.

Near the end a surprising character, Old Lorens, offers a wonderful toast…

“Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness believes he must make choices in this life. He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance. There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us. And everything we rejected has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.” —Old Lorens Lowenhielm, Babette’s Feast

Hallelujah.

—j

*Rated ‘G’, French-Danish, with subtitles

His Unquenchable Fire

I sometimes think about the cross
And shut my eyes and try to see

The cruel nails, the crown of thorns
And Jesus crucified for me;

But even could I see Him die,
I would but see a little part

Of that great love, which like a fire,
Was always burning in His heart.

Bernard of Clairvaux

Well said, St. Bernard. Now it’s our turn to seek and see.

—j

Here is Your Epitaph

“He never went off subject.” —Journalist Tom Brokaw, of Billy Graham

No one had to ask what his subject was—when you heard the name Billy Graham you knew it was, without apology, Jesus.

Let me meddle a minute…

When others say your name, what do they think of? What do you aspire to be known for? Will it outlive you? Is it greater than you? More than that, what will you be remembered for? That’s the subject of your life.

Billy never went off subject—he knew that everything in life is less than Jesus except the people Jesus died to save. Do we? Like Billy, our subject is known by everyone around us, and it will be our epitaph.

—j

Preaching ’til Doomsday

“As the sun is not blown out by the tempest, nor the moon quenched by the dew of night, so is not the gospel destroyed by the sophistries of perverse minds. Wherefore let us comfort one another with these words: “The word of God is not bound.” It will be preached till doomsday.” —C.H. Spurgeon

There are plenty of subjects to preach to our world, but only one can save and will survive the test of eternity. All else is ashes.

Fear not, and preach.

—j

New Year, New Chance

And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write: for these words are true and faithful.” —God, Revelation 21:5

Imagine that. This is what He does. Here’s your chance.

“Here from this stable, here, from this Nazareth, this stony beach, this Jerusalem, this market place, this garden, this Praetorium, this Cross, this mountain, I announce it to you. I announce to you what is guessed at in all the phenomena of your world. You see the corn of wheat shrivel and break open and die, but you expect a crop. I tell you of the Springtime of which all springtimes speak. I tell you of the world for which this world groans and toward which it strains. I tell you that beyond the awful borders imposed by time and space and contingency, there lies what you seek. I announce to you life instead of mere existence, freedom instead of frustration, justice instead of compensation. For I announce to you redemption. Behold I make all things new. Behold I do what cannot be done. I restore the years that the locusts and worms have eaten. I restore the years [that] you have drooped away upon your crutches and in your wheelchair. I restore the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard, and the snowy massif your blind eyes have never seen, and the freedom lost to you through plunder and the identity lost to you because of calumny [slander] and the failure of justice; and I restore the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of. And I bring you to the Love of which all other loves speak, the Love which is joy and beauty, and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow.”—Thomas Howard, Christ the Tiger

Happy New Year.

—j

Toast for Thanksgiving

I confess have a favorite movie—Babette’s Feast*. Like Jesus, Babette made a feast for a village of Christian people who hated each other. The table was set with joy, mercy and reconciliation. I hope you’ll watch it someday. Near the end, Old Lorens, a surprising character in the story, offers a great toast…

“Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness believes he must make choices in this life. He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance. There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us. And everything we rejected has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.” —Old Lorens Lowenhielm, Babette’s Feast

“Hallelujah.”

—j

*Rated ‘G’, French-Danish, with subtitles