Monday, March 23, 2020

At last!

At Last!

by Mike Roane, May 2017

The first recorded words of the first man, Adam, were — "At last!" These two words (only six letters in total!) show the power of God's word. 

Can you take a mere two words from God and make it resonate throughout the entire culture and beyond? Why, yes, you can! Etta James took the lyrics, probably with much the same emotional expression as Adam, and made an international hit out two words. I doubt very many realized she was putting scripture to song. She thought she was in heaven but, it turns out it was actually Eden.

While the whole idea here plays out in the secular arena, it causes me to praise God for His amazing power and ability to have that kind of effect on our world, in a way that people may not even realize — unless they have ears to hear. After all, doesn't he say, "So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. — Matthew 5:45

Think about the power of God! Dunamis, the Greek word for "power," is the same word from which we derive the word dynamite! That He can take two words, send them through the airwaves and touch the hearts of people around the world with a universal message about the longing to be loved — Wow! That is powerful! That is dynamite! What can He not do?

In case you are not familiar with the song which came out in 1960 (Whew! where has the time gone!), here are the lyrics:

by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon

At last my love has come along
My lonely days are over and life is like a song,
oh yeah At last the skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up clover 
the night I looked at you

You smiled, you smiled oh and then the spell was cast
And here we are in Heaven f
or you are mine at last

I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill I've never known, oh yeah

And here is the link to the song if you have never heard it:

• This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man. — Genesis 2:23

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Sober Look at Television

Perhaps one of the most notable developments in the entertainment industry in the past decade is the emergence of the technology enabling a television to telecast or stream video content from the internet using devices such as Roku®, Chromecast®, and Firestick®. It has unlocked an entirely new and distinctive means of viewing programming content. Because of this technology, my wife and I have been able to avoid watching the increasingly depraved and toxic subject matter offered up by network and cable television.

By investing a little time researching content that appeals to our interests, the television has been transformed into more of an educational tool than an entertainment apparatus — although it is that too. With the convenience of a casting app (those accessories I mentioned earlier), any one of several devices here in the home (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone) can be used to send information to the tv for viewing while sitting in the comfort of your livingroom. Currently, it is largely ad-free, which is another time-saving bonus, but I would be surprised if that didn't change over time.

Casting literally opens up a world of information as the television becomes a means of acquiring knowledge with the same virtually unlimited parameters as the internet. Since the English language is the lingua franca of the planet, it makes the pursuit of exceptional content global in nature. We routinely go to the sources of international news, for example, to inform ourselves about what is going on in the world, rather than letting the content be filtered through a mediating party that decides what is or is not relevant to our lives.

The list of interests that can be found with a small investment in time researching them is almost endless. Here is a list that barely begins to touch on the possibilities:

• Lectures
• Hobbies
• Archaeology
• Sermons
• Music and music videos
• Seminars
• News and current events
• Video tours
• Teachings on subjects that strengthen our faith, such as evangelism
• Surveying on-line college lectures on topics of interest
• How-to videos on building items or recipes, etc.
• Christian Testimonies
• TED talks

From a Christian perspective, there are so many sound reasons why we should take television viewing as a serious responsibility rather than with a laissez-faire attitude. In fact, Paul. in writing to the Corinthians, gathered a number of quotes from the Old Testament scriptures into one grand citation in an uncanny "made for tv" quote:

“I will live in them and move among them,
and I will be their God,  
and they shall be my people.

Therefore come out from them,   
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch nothing unclean;   
then I will welcome you,

and I will be a father to you,  
and you shall be my sons and daughters,   
says the Lord Almighty.” 
                                                                    — 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

He made this statement right after asking two relevant questions. What partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14) Current toxic television programming often directly mocks the Christian faith or, at the very least, celebrates the very immorality Christians are implored to forsake. It is time for Christians to "come out from them." Casting offers a means of wresting the dominion of our faith in the area of entertainment back from the present darkness.

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. — James 4:4

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. — Ephesians 6:12

I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house; 
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is base. 
                          — Psalm 101:2b-3a

So teach us to number our days 
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
                           — Psalm 90:12

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Race to the Throne

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give you light.” — Ephesians 5:14

Seeing the Christian life as a foot race is a common Biblical illustration. Paul uses it a number of times to explain spiritual truths. One of my favorite uses of this analogy is in Hebrews 12:2 where the author states, "Who for the joy that was set before him..." The truth revealed here is that, as important as it was, the cross was not Jesus' goal. His goal was the joy found beyond the agony of the cross.

In like manner, our race does not end at the moment we leave this earth but, rather, concludes at the foot of the throne in heaven (Revelation 20:12). So, if the goal line is found in eternity, shouldn't our objectives also be focused there? Why, after all, would anyone want to create goals that fall short of the finish line? And, if the finish line is in eternity, it seems reasonable that our goals should have certain everlasting qualities and characteristics about them. Not everything we do and nothing we accumulate — save the souls of men — will make the transition from this world to the next (1 Corinthians 3:13). So it is incumbent upon us to carefully consider the quality of the goals we choose in this life.

The most valuable possession we have on this earth is immaterial. I am speaking of time. It seems odd that that would be true, but it is. We each receive the same amount of sand in our hourglass every day. Once spent, it can never be recovered. "Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives," was the tagline from a long-running soap opera. Watching it may have been a waste of a lot of good sand, but the saying did have the ring of truth to it. 
 Moses' wise prayer was that God would teach us to number our days (Psalm 90:12). What we trade for those seconds in a day, what we mix with the minutes, determines how much actual regard we have for our days.

The door which opens into eternity is not in the future, it is behind the believer (John 10:9). You and I enter into eternity the moment we are born from above. If we have been born again, we are already dwelling in eternity. We can choose to embue the day with eternal qualities or let it slip through our hands, squandered in activities that have no everlasting ingredients mixed with them. Let us ask God to give us a heart of wisdom regarding our todays in light of the eternal tomorrow.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil." — Ephesians 5:15,16

• 1 Thessalonians 5:5,6     • John 10:10

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Luthier

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars! — Psalms 148:3

Imagine, if you will, a craftsman, a violin maker, desiring to create an instrument whose sound could express all the inner mysteries of the heart. Having spent years apprenticed to a master craftsman, he now has the opportunity to build his own instruments and put into practice, not only all the skills he learned from his mentor, but also the ideas flowing from his own gifted genius.

While he conceives the finished instrument and can hear it's wonderful tone within his own imagination, he knows it will be long months before he will hold a finished labor of love that matches his vision. He must first prepare forms, select the perfect, properly aged hardwoods and pine, put sketches of his ideas to paper, and ready all his tools to facilitate the creation.

After long days and even longer months the instrument he so lovingly crafted is finally complete, and now has arrived the moment wherein the violin is strung for the first time and lifted to be tentatively tuned and sounded. While he is not a virtuoso violinist, he can play competently enough, and his excitement builds as he stresses the instrument, listening to the mellow timber of its low notes and the sweet, crystalline high notes imparting their own character to the piece his hand has chosen to play on its maiden voyage.

Pouring out from his heart, down through his arm, radiating out through the fingers of his one hand and bow in the other, onto the fingerboard of the instrument and out through its body flows the symphony of his soul. He can hardly contain his excitement as he visualizes his unique instrument in the hands of a true master, and imagines the sound he will be capable of coaxing the instrument to produce.

Read again the verse at the top of the page. Did you ever wonder, how in the world do the sun and moon and all the shining stars praise God? I considered that for some time and finally came to the realization that everything God created praises Him, in that each effortlessly fulfils the task for which it was designed. Every creation, that is, except man. Every one of us is, at best, a broken instrument, unable to glorify God as He intended.

The solution is not a matter of restringing our violin; we need an entirely new instrument; one which God creates when we are born anew. Realizing we are not our own, but have been bought with a priceless price, He remakes us as instruments of His choosing. 

As of this writing, the most expensive Stradivarius at auction sold for a bid of $16 million, but that is nothing when compared to the cost of our redemption. The Father asked me recently, "How much gold would you have Me make so you might pay for Christ's redemption?" There is nothing we can give in exchange for our lives, since all that we have comes from His hand. For thus says the Lord: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money" (Isaiah 52:3).

Yet, if we will surrender what we do have, He will craft from our lives such an instrument as the world has never heard, one so winsome it will be as though heaven itself opened up and poured out the music of the universe. But, it will be His Spirit poured out through your yielded heart strings into a dying world, finding its seat in the great symphony of life in Christ Jesus.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

                                                        ― Francis of Assisi

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Present Yourself

Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai,
and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. — Exodus 34:2

True friendship is a rare and wonderful thing. It derives from the recognition in the soul of another, a like-heartedness as well as a like-mindedness. Acts 13:22, speaking of the removal of Saul as king, states, "And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'"

The first friendship we encounter in the Bible is when God walked into the garden in Eden during the cool of the day to meet with his friends Adam and Eve. Notice, it is God who initiated the encounter." It is always God Who initiates the relationship with His creatures. What a tremendous thought! God desires to meet with His creation — us!

Moses was another fellow believer who was considered a friend of God. "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." Exodus 33:11

And here is a proof text which speaks of the friendship relationship God desires to have with each of us: “Since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life.” (Romans 5:10 New Living Translation)

The main point I want to make in these thoughts about being friends with God is that we should never treat that relationship with a familiarity that tries to reduce God to "best buds" status. God is always the One who takes the initiative in the friendship relationship; not man. 

Moses may have been friends with God, but he was still told to "present" himself on the top of the mountain. There is a formality in that description, the same air of formality one might have when meeting with a king. And, is He not, after all, the King of Creation? The instruction to present himself was not a suggestion; it was a command!

Does one command a friend? Yes, one does if He is God. God is the infinite Being. As finite creatures, we can never know Him fully. We should certainly approach friendship with him having an attitude of profound deference and respect.

The age we live in is marked by a high degree of informality, sloppiness and undisciplined living in almost every facet of the culture. The root of that is found in unbelief. Do not expect that God will endorse the informality prevalent in our time. He is the everlasting, unchanging God and it behooves us to conform to His character, not the other way around.

When Moses presented himself to God on the top of Mount Sinai, what did the Lord do? To begin with, God doesn't wait on man, so Moses had to be there first. After descending on a cloud, He stood with Moses and proclaimed His name. "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." (Exodus 34: 6)

Is God asking you to be ready in the morning to go to the top of your personal mountain to meet with Him so He can reveal to you His mercy and grace, His patience, faithfulness and unfailing love? "See that you do not refuse him who is speaking!" (Hebrews 12:25)

• As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. — Daniel 7:9

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea monsters and all the deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
                             — Psalm 148:7,8

I was reading Psalm 148 the other day and it struck me as being so odd, the way the things God created were enjoined to praise Him — even though most have no capability of producing a sound. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: everything God has created is fulfilling His command to be what He created them to be.

Every created thing, that is, except for man. Isn't that amazing? All creation obeys the command of the LORD to be a star or a tree or a wave or a mountain or whatever He has called them to be. Except man!

Isaiah had his own description of the sinful rebellion of man when he wrote:

Shall the potter be regarded as the clay;
that the thing made should say of its maker,
'He did not make me;'                     
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
'He has no understanding?'      
                             — Isaiah 20:16

The word "hallelujah" is a word drawn from two elements in the Hebrew language. The first is the word hallel, which means to boast or rave or shine. The second element is the word for God, Yah or YHWH. It can be both an expression of praise or an exhortation to praise God.

When David brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem from the household of Obededom, Samuel says, "David danced before the LORD with all his might," (2 Samuel 6:14) and "Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD." (2 Samuel 6:16) This is a good picture of what praise truly is. David was raving about God.

There are several different words in Hebrew used for praise, each drawing out a particular aspect of what it means to boast about God. The word used in Psalm 149:1 contains the idea of a hymn. In Psalm 118:21 the word 'praise' in the KJV is the idea of worshiping with ones hands extended. Leviticus 19:24 says, "And in the fourth year all their fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD," and here the thought is one of rejoicing. In the song of Deborah recorded in Judges 5, the injunction to "Bless the LORD!" in verse 2 is the idea of kneeling before the LORD. It may be a play on words since the name of the warrior Barak in verse one means to kneel. Giving praise in Psalm 108:1 incorporates the idea of making music, singing forth, or celebrating.

In one respect, the salvation of man can be thought of as a return to creation before the fall when everything — including man — fulfilled His command to praise their Creator. And isn't that what the catechism states in the very beginning? Question 1. What is the chief end of man? Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

• For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): "I am the LORD and there is no other." — Isaiah 45:18

• The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. — Psalm 19:1

Your Most Valuable Possession

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
                                    — Psalm 90:12

Psalm 90 was written by Moses. I don't know that he wrote any others, but I find it, personally, to be one of the most beautiful of Psalms. I return to it often because the lesson it teaches is so important: the years of our life "are soon gone, and we fly away." (verse 10)

You have, right now, in your possession, the most valuable commodity on earth — and that commodity is time! Every person on earth, at this very same moment, is spending their allotment of time either wisely or unwisely. Every person who is sleeping, every person who is working, every person who is laying in a hospital bed suffering, or every person who is simply watching television are all quite literally "spending" their time.

The elderly businessman who may be richer than most of the kings of earth, sees his impending death and realizes that all his wealth will not buy him a single second more than his apportionment of time. He also realizes that he cannot take any of his wealth with him. In that regard, he enters eternity on equal standing with the poorest soul that has ever lived, being no more or no less deserving of consideration.

There is an amazing statement at the beginning of Deuteronomy. Maybe you never caught it, but it says in Deuteronomy 1:2-3, "It is eleven days journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. And in the fortieth year..."! Isn't that incredible? An eleven day journey took forty years! Any cursory reading of the last four books of Moses reveals what the problem was — unbelief!

Let me ask you, Do you really — I mean really! — want Jesus to transform you into that person you know He wants you to be? 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "And we all , with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

The veil of which this verse is speaking is those things that Jesus has put his finger on and said, "You must lay this aside so that I can create My likeness in you." Please. Take it from me. There was something in my life on which God put His finger forty years ago that I refused to give to Him. I refused to remove the veil. And for all that time, He could do little with me. Quite literally, forty years! I could have been enjoying the land of milk and honey eleven days into my journey, if I had simply removed the veil. But I refused. "They are soon gone, and we fly away."

Don't waste a moment. Whatever it is that He has put His finger upon in your life — even if it seems good — is not as good as what He desires to give you. We are talking about the God of ALL creation! Can he not give you the richest gifts you can imagine to enjoy for all time? And though that may not seem possible as your consider it, step out in faith and believe that He will replace whatever it is with something that will produce pure joy in your life. Because that is what He really desires for your life.

• Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. — 1 Corinthians 10:6

• But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.' — Luke 10:41,42

• Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. — Job 1:21

• Then one day I went into God's sanctuary to meditate, and thought about the future of these evil men. What a slippery path they are on — suddenly God will send them sliding over the edge of the cliff and down to their destruction: an instant end to all their happiness, an eternity of terror. Their present life is only a dream! They will awaken to the truth as one awakens from a dream of things that never really were. — Psalm 73:18-20, Living Bible