Once Upon a Rooftop: Four Men and a Mat

Once upon a rooftop

Four men came with a mat

To lay a man at Jesus’ feet.

But what is up with that?

 

What do these rooftop men stand for,

Who lowered him on down?

Because God always has a plan,

But not for man’s renown.

 

Perhaps the first man’s like the Father,

God of light and love,

Who sent His only Son to earth

From heaven’s throne above.

 

Who knows the heartache He endured

To see Christ on the cross

Partaking of such guilt and shame?

Just think how much it cost!

 

Our burdens Jesus gladly bore,

Though He endured much pain.

For our own sins He suffered loss.

Through Him we’ve much to gain

 

Because the Father gave Him

As a sacrifice for sin.

He let His back be mocked and whipped,

Our victory to win.

 

Therefore His wounds bring us true peace.

Our burdens He did bear

Through the power of the Spirit

Who this truth does share.

 

The Father, Spirit, Son, you see,

That blessed Trinity,

Are like an awesome triangle

That brings us liberty.

 

But one more rooftop man gives you

A brand new faith dimension.

For God’s right arm did all the work,

But we are His extension,

 

The reason for the rectangle

We’re privileged to help carry,

A corner of the sinner’s mat

Which once appeared so scary.

 

But Jesus tore apart the roof

That wouldn’t let us near

To come into God’s presence,

And He says, “Be of good cheer!”

 

To Jesus’ left the Father stands.

They each hold up an end.

The Spirit, also, hovering near,

To God’s Word does attend.

 

Invisibly they wait for us

To take the final part,

Because He’s given us a choice:

“Ignore” or “take to heart.”

 

The Father, Spirit, and Son do long

To help us in our task.

They’re always there to meet our needs,

If only we will ask.

 

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A Book With Many a Parable: Check it Out

I. A Book With Many a Parable

Speed of Sight, a Superhero Adventure is a book that contains many parables related to the Christian faith: such as forgiveness. It’s about how God gives super powers to a boy from a broken home.

Super powers are like spiritual gifts. Packed into a fantasy, it tells the story of one boy’s faith journey and the lessons he learns by reading a special brand of comic book.

I. First Parable

To start with, the comic books stand for scripture taken in its purest form. As most well-read scholars know, the original languages tended to get lost in translation. To get the full picture, we must look deeper. This may involve digging into root words to discover the meaning behind the original Hebrew or Greek.

As all well-read Bible scholars know, the Holy Spirit guides us in to all truth regarding scripture (see John 14:26). This brings me to my second parable.

II. Second Parable

The dove in this book is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe any Christian who knows his/her Bible can miss this. Who hasn’t read the account of John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan? The Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. That’s why the dove is everywhere in this book, guiding the hero into all truth.  And though I don’t mention the word “Trinity,” I do describe it. One scene shows Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together to purify the sinners, though I use the term “dirt” instead of “sin.”

III. Third Parable

The comic book author endows His readers with superpowers. I ask you, what else could that mean but “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me. . . unto the uttermost part of the earth.”? (Acts 1:8) Powers in this case refers to the miracles or “greater works” Jesus said His followers would do (John 14:12). This includes casting out demons (see Mark 16:17), which the hero does using the Jesus figure’s name (see John 14:13).

Pardon my King James, but I don’t believe God ever meant for those miracles to stop. Yes, I am a practicing continuationist, not a cessationist.  So is the main character in my book, who struggles to embrace the comics his hometown government has banned.

Which brings me to. . .

IV. Fourth Set of Parables

Parable four is all about what Jesus does for us, based on Isaiah 61:1-3. He, the author and finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2) came to give his mourners three things:

beauty in place of ashes;

the oil of joy instead of mourning;

and

the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness.

You don’t always see the Jesus figure in this book doing all these things, but He’s the one who fills the sad boy with joy he can’t explain. It comes out as laughter, which is Biblical by the way. Psalm 2:4 speaks of God laughing at the wicked. Why does He laugh at them? Because they think that somehow they can outwit Him. As Pete joins in the laughter – to him it is pure joy – the spirit of heaviness lifts off him. It’s like the garment of praise.

What’s the result? Super powers that help him overcome the “power of gravity”  (the law)  as represented by his restrictive orthopedic shoes. But he has much to learn when it comes to throwing off dead weights (evil spirits) that hinder (see Hebrews 12:1-2). The trials he endures while learning to walk (and run) in grace help him to mature. His adventure has begun, but it isn’t over yet. That’s why I’ve planned a sequel.

V. Meanwhile

So, now that I’ve explained the basic elements in this book (hope it’s not too much of a spoiler alert), I hope you have a better understanding of this book and what it means. If it interests you, feel free to check it out and let me know what you think. If you like it, feel free to post a review online.

In my opinion, it’s better for older children, as some elements may be too scary for younger ones. I have yet to receive needed feedback from the age group for which this book is intended, which leaves me at a bit of a disadvantage here. But I trust the Lord to work it out for good.

 

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The Bushel Basket of Human Reason

I. The Bushel Basket of Human Reason

 

Has God poured out a revelation?

Yet you’re gripped with hesitation,

One foot in and one foot out,

Beset by darkness, gloom and doubt

 

Beneath a dome of intellect

That won’t permit you to detect

The light of God you hold inside.

It almost feels as if you’ve died.

 

The bushel basket “Human Reason”

Is like salt that cannot season,

Hidden from the light of day

And stranger to the childlike play

 

That shines so brightly on God’s Word

To make sense of the things you’ve heard.

But when it’s veiled by intellect,

It’s so much harder to detect.

 

II. The Bushel Basket of Intellect Hides Truth

 

For, how can anyone suspect

Your faith is real if you reject

Whatever you don’t understand,

As if it’s YOUR truth to command?

 

The word from which you seek to glean,

If it cannot be fully seen,

Is robbed of power to feed your soul.

So then, how can it make you whole?

 

For though the light is shining in,

You feel as if you’ll never win

Because this bushel shrouds your head

With arguments that reek of dread

 

And reasons that explain away

The truths you know are real today.

By asking, “Did God really say?”

Behold, these truths ARE child’s play.

 

Yet bushel baskets have suppressed

And made them feel like nothingness.

 

A friend of mine once connected the idea of placing a light under a bushel to modern worship practices which deliver the light of God’s presence in measured doses (e.g. two worship songs, announcements, more worship songs, then the pastor gives the word). The bushel stops the light before it penetrates too far, thus depriving the listeners of a complete worship experience.

Just as a bushel basket hides light, so does human reasoning limit the light of God’s truth. If we think we know exactly how God wants to work (within a service, for example), then we’ll only allow the Holy Spirit so much room to move. “This far and no farther.” But is that God’s will for His church?

 

“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick, and it gives light to all that are in the house.” Matthew 5:15, KJV

 

 

 

 

 

A Lump For a Bump: Hezekiah’s Pain

Hezekiah had an oily bump, the kind they call a boil,

But he wouldn’t let the boil throw him in turmoil.

He heard the mean Assyrian king who kept on threatening

To take his people from the land, a woeful song to sing.

 

Sennacherib was the king’s name and he played a cruel game.

He said, “I’ll cart you to my country where the fruit’s the same

As what you eat in your land.” But Judah’s king did not a agree.

He knew that God was greater and refused to bow the knee.

 

The evil message that he heard was obviously a trick,

Though knowing that did not keep Hezekiah from getting sick.

The king, he had a boil you see, and it was quite a bump.

To nuke that horrible mean bump He had to have a lump

 

Of something greater than the poison ringing in his ear,

For the enemy’s toxic words were more than he could stand to hear.

They threw doubt on him. Then Isaiah told him he would die.

The prophet’s ominous prediction caused the king to cry.

 

He didn’t cry for medicine, but God sent it to him.

To get that medicine did not require a holy hymn.

To nuke the bump, he didn’t have to have some special oil,

Nor did he have to sweat like Adam, toiling in the soil.

 

He simply looked to God to meet his need and fry the bump,

After which came the prophetic word, the sign and then the lump

Of figs that came straight from a tree God never had to curse

But which contained a medicine whose power could reverse

 

The bitter sickness that had caused the man such loathsome pain.

Reminds me of the fruit of righteousness, which brings great gain.

Such righteousness is something we do not sweat to obtain,

 

“But freely come and buy! Without money you may eat

From the tree of life that makes the foulest water sweet.

The foulest hurts you’ve suffered it has power to defeat.

 

Scripture references: Isaiah chapters 37, 38, and 55; Exodus 15:23-26; Galatians 3:13

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Much Knowledge Kills; Try the Tree of Life

They didn’t have to starve themselves. The tree of life was there,

Staring them right in the face, to eat from and to share.

They didn’t have to sweat for food to give their stomachs rest.

Perfection stood before them, yet it put them to the test.

 

Would knowledge not be better, to be clothed with intellect’s crown,

Two gods extraordinary set apart to fame, renown?

The serpent tempted them to trust in their own righteousness.

“A pedestal to pride is what you need to have success.”

 

“A taste of good and evil? You can handle it for sure!

Self-denial can kill, but man-made knowledge rings secure.”

And so, instead of eating from the precious tree of life,

They chose the pretty looking fruit which led to blame and strife.

 

But it made them self-conscious. Body shaming had begun.

They felt the need to cover up, their nakedness to shun.

For suddenly they saw themselves as open to attack,

With skin that lacked protection both in front and in the back.

 

The possibility of getting hurt became quite real,

For knowing evil showed them what their flesh so soft might feel

If hit by birds or bugs or germs they couldn’t even see.

To think they could have eaten of the tree of life for free!

 

For evil happens when somebody says “I’m in control!”

And tries to take upon himself the Holy Spirit’s role,

Attempting to bring good from evil which he claims to know.

But mankind simply wasn’t meant to probe such depths of woe.

 

In pride rejecting grace, man claims to know so very much

But in his wisdom acts the fool, rejecting Jesus’ touch,

Declaring in his willful ignorance that he’s the boss.

Oh Lord, please help him see the tree of life that bore the cross!

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Deep Sea Diagnostics: Holy Spirit Led Laser Surgery

I. Deep Sea Diagnostics

The diagnostics started when the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters. Then the Father spoke the Word – Jesus the Son (John 1:1), who created all things (Hebrews 1:1). Through the Holy Spirit, God performed laser surgery on a mixed up world – dividing light from darkness, waters from waters, sea from dry land.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life. . . And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves which the waters brought forth abundantly. . .  God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:20-22)

Who can fathom the detailed wisdom required to perform such marvelous works?

How the Father, Son and Spirit worked together to create the world remains a mystery. What we do know, however, is that the Holy Spirit searches out the deep things of God (I Corinthians 2:10). His “deep sea diagnostics” can reveal God’s plans to us as well as where we have erred from those plans. What is His heart? What are his thoughts? The Holy Spirit knows. He zeroes in on our needs and the Father’s will for us.

 

II. Empowered to Do Laser Surgery Like Jesus Did

It is the Holy Spirit who brought Jesus the Great Physician to us (Luke 1:35). God (the Father) anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of doing good and healing all those whom the devil had oppressed (see Acts 10:38).

Led by the Spirit, Jesus knew what people were thinking – like when the scribes and pharisees wondered how he could forgive a person’s sins (Luke 5:21-22). He also knew what the paralyzed man really needed (forgiveness) and what he needed to say to get him on his feet again.

Amazingly, Jesus said that those who believe in Him would do the same things He did, as well as greater things (John 14:12).

“And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)

How would it be possible for them to do the same works Jesus did? Through laser surgery performed through the power of the Holy Spirit. He diagnoses deep needs and supplies wisdom for the cure.

 

III. The Holy Spirit as Teacher

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter “whom the Father will send in my name.”  He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:4-5)

He continues in verse 12, “Now we (referring to believers in Christ) have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God” – meaning the Holy Spirit – “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) teaches. . .

IV. Holy Spirit Diagnostics and the Cross of Christ

When it comes to healing, human wisdom only goes so far. The finest surgeon in the world can only touch the surface of the need. But to the believer in Christ, God can give a word of wisdom or of knowledge, faith, or gifts of healing, just to name a few (see I Corinthians 12:8-10) The Holy Spirit can perform the diagnosis and provide the cure.

No CAT scan can compare to the “deep sea diagnostics” He performs. He is like a deep sea probe, exploring every aspect of the divine, as well as  He knows how we are made – each and every part – and understands us, body, spirit, soul.

He knows what’s in our minds as well as what lies in our hearts. When it comes to healing, man-made medicine has its limits, but the Holy Spirit sees what needs fixing. He can perform laser surgery on any area that causes pain.  Where detailed needs meet divine sovereignty, He applies the cross.

 

The Holy Spirit Meets Deep Healing Needs

I. The Holy Spirit Does Deep Healing, Bringing Order out of Chaos

Sometimes those who struggle with a chronic illness or disease need deep healing because the pain of mental anguish has turned their world “upside-down.” The first chapter of Genesis seems to speak of such a world.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (verse 1)

“And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” (verse 2)

Though Biblical scholars disagree as to the meaning of this verse – did God create the world that way or did it become that way (after the fall of Lucifer)? – one thing seems clear: the world was dark. Little meaning could be seen amid the disarray. But then we read:

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (verse 3)

Then God spoke, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (verse 4)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God brought order out of chaos. He performed a “deep healing” on a world whose “body parts” were in disarray. The earth was like a lifeless corpse, but He brought order to it, separating light from darkness, waters from waters, and water from dry land.

“and God saw that it was good” (verse 10)

He spoke to the waters and they brought forth living creatures “abundantly” (verse 21). He brought forth many creatures from the earth as well.

“And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (verse 31).

II. Deep Healing For Deep Needs

God did not create the world to break down or become diseased. Everyone and everything was happy and healthy. But then, like the “pestilence that stalks in darkness” (Psalm 91:6), confusion snuck in, taking the form of a serpent. They didn’t see it coming but they felt the plague.

“Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat . . .’ ?”  (Genesis 3:1)

Man ate forbidden fruit. The result: heavy toil, hard labor, and death (Genesis 2:17; 3:16-19; and 3:22-24)

Adam and Eve didn’t die that same day in a physical sense, but death soon took its toll on their family. Their first son Cain acted insane by murdering his brother Abel, thus turning his parents’ world upside-down. No plant-based medicine could heal their aching hearts.

But the Holy Spirit hovered over their darkness, waiting one day to fulfill the promise spoken  in Genesis 3:15 :

“And I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

One day Jesus, the “seed of the woman” (not Eve but her natural descendant Mary) would fulfill this promise by bruising the head of the serpent’s seed (meaning Satan, who used the serpent to trick Eve into eating the forbidden fruit – see Revelation 12:9).

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  (Luke 1:35)

The Holy Spirit is the one who shows us Jesus Christ our healer, the one whose blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24).

 

 

 

Blazing Trails Through Jungles of Writing Rejection

Blazing trails through hot rejection while feeling all alone,

Each query one step forward, each “NO” a stepping stone

Until I reach that desperate place where fingers start to bleed.

What stumbling blocks stand in the way, my progress to impede?

 

Shades of Jumanji in this snare-filled writing jungle…

 

Through vines of unjust criticism, ponds of selfish greed,

And clumps of cynicism I will find the path I need,

Because new dangers lie in wait at every twist and turn.

I’ve dodged twelve fiery darts so far and still have much to learn.

 

They say the odds of winning big aren’t in my favor with this game.

 

The upward trek proves treacherous, I almost lose my grip

As false hopes of desired reviews provoke my hands to slip.

Such shaky rocks, I fear, are slicker than a pirate’s chest.

To rest upon man’s promises is ludicrous at best.

 

Roll the dice, hope for two sixes, get double ones. ARGH!

 

But trials force me to look up for wisdom from God’s throne,

For blazing trails through man’s rejection can’t be done alone.

Though in the market place abundant sales pitches resound,

Few sellers stay true to their claims while broken vows abound.

 

Shades of Jumanji. Watch the numbers. Can I prove them wrong?

 

It takes a mustard seed of faith with bold determination

To stay true to one’s purpose and not cave to resignation.

Each query one step forward and each “no” a stepping stone,

Blazing trails through man’s rejection, I expand my comfort zone.

 

It’s not dice rolls but “ask, seek, knock” that finds a way on out

 

Sometimes I need to rest and let the Holy Spirit breathe

Fresh air into my lungs; exhale old lies, new life receive.

I know eventually I’ll reach my chosen destination,

So I press forward without any fear or hesitation.

 

“And who is he that will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good?”

(I Peter 3:13)

 

From Shards of Shattered Homes New Heroes Arise

I. Shattered Homes: Signs of a Villain at Work

His home life: shattered. His peace: stolen. The world as he knows it: blown to bits.

Jesus said, “The thief (meaning Satan the accuser, also known as the devil) comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10). The major villain of the story, Satan works behind the scenes, taking every chance he finds to ruin people’s lives. Unfortunately, he often succeeds.

Yet from shards of shattered homes, new heroes arise. This is a common superhero theme. Take the comic book figure Superman, for example, the hero from the exploded planet. He gets torn from his parents and his home gets shattered – literally. But after he lands on earth, he discovers he has superpowers which he uses for the good of all mankind.

Moses is another example. The “thief” in his day, Pharaoh, stole the Hebrews’ joy, killed their male babies, and destroyed their happiness. To save his life, his mother sent him sailing away from home. After he grew up, he led his people – his “shattered home,” if you will – out of bondage. With power from above, he freed them from the evil Pharaoh’s grip. Moses was like the superhero of the story, while Pharaoh played the villain role.

From a Christian viewpoint, the devil was and is the real villain, however. His influence results in many a shattered family. He enjoys ripping homes to shreds, leaving children with no sure place on which to stand. After all, how can they build their lives on sinking sand? Such “houses” always crumble. When storms beat on them, they sink. “And great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:27)

II.  Brokenness May Help Provide a Cure

The resulting brokenness,  however, may serve as a vessel to release the new hero into his destiny. That’s because, as he bursts forth from the eggshell that once shielded him, he discovers a new level of freedom. People who “walk on eggshells” no longer step on him. The Spirit of resurrection life he’s found in Christ gives him breath (see John 10:10 and Romans 8:2). He doesn’t have to feed off bland egg white anymore, but feasts freely off kernels of truth he finds inside God’s Word (see Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4).

Moreover, as he grows, he sees he can’t fix windows shattered by idolatrous points of view. But as he gazes at the only Rock worth serving, he gains a new perspective: who he is  and what he’s called to do. As he sees God work bad situations in his life for good,  he learns to trust Him more.

Laughter: Best Tool for Digging Writing Wells

God gave Abraham, the faith man, and Sarah, the free woman, power to conceive a son named Isaac, whose name means laughter (see Galatians 4:21-31). This was an amazing miracle because Sarah was ninety at the time and way past child-bearing age. Abraham was one hundred. But all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). After Isaac was born, Sarah said “God has made me laugh, so that all who hear will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6).

To “laugh” in this case clearly doesn’t mean to mock. It is not a wicked sort of laughter. It is completely joyful. Joy that comes from God makes miracles happen. Keep in mind, it was God who told the faith man to call Isaac “laughter.” It is the sort of laughter that sets you free to be everything that you were meant to be.

The day Isaac was weaned, Abraham gave a great feast. Again there was laughter, but this laughter wasn’t good. Abraham’s son Ishmael, son of his slave woman Hagar, was mocking Isaac.

As a result, Abraham had to send them away. “For the son of this bondwoman (slave woman) shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac,” said the free woman (Genesis 21:10).

Now, here’s something worth noting when it comes to Isaac being heir to Abraham: Abraham (faith) gave Hagar and Ishmael (who represents bondage to law – see the passage in Galatians) water for their journey. But Isaac (laughter) inherited his wells. The Philistines stopped up those wells, but Isaac reopened them. (see Genesis 26:15).

Laughter – joyful laughter – born of faith digs wells like no one can. Isaac was really into digging wells. The Lord’s unspeakable joy must have been his strength (see Nehemiah 8:10).

Now, there are different kinds of wells: natural and spiritual. Writers create wells of “water” that can either sicken or refresh the ones who drink it. I personally happen to like pure water. I want my stories to refresh readers, not leave them languishing in the desert. But as I struggle to express deep truths I find inside God’s Word, my writings can get way too serious and bogged down (like the law that condemns me because I didn’t “word it perfectly”).

That’s when I need to close my eyes, praise God, and tap into the well of joy and laughter Jesus has placed in me. For those who drink this glorious water will never thirst again (John 4:14).