Set Your Sails-Heave To

imagePsalms 107:21-30
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and declare his works with rejoicing.
They that go down to the sea in ships,
that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord,
and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind,
which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths:
their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
and are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble,
and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet;
so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

In the summer of 2012, shortly after I acquired my sail boat, I began reading about and researching sailing. As far back as I can remember, I have had a silent fascination with sailing vessels. In 2002 the tall ships came to Detroit and docked on the river. Tall ships enough that those most distant appeared microscopic. About twenty years ago, I told my wife that if I ever got a boat, it would be a sailboat. In sailing vessels, there is a unique romance which can not be experienced in other water borne modes of transport. For the enthusiast, there is great appeal even in the creaks and squeaks that are peculiar to sailing vessels; creaks and squeaks caused by the lilting movement of boats as they bob and sway in gentle waves.

There is also the fascination of learning and practicing the positions of sail as well as various other maneuvers and factors that are unique to sailing. There is launching with its many nuances, more varied than the 360 points on a compass multiplied by any number of weather conditions. There is the raising of the sails. There are the five points of sail and their countless conditions.

In the first days of my sailing experience, I was uneasy and concerned about the possibility of capsizing. Though concerned, my uneasiness was outweighed by my determination to learn to sail and experience the thrill of being moved by the wind; the thrill of controlling my vessel as she plowed the high seas (made ripples in small inland lakes). During one of these early excursions, I was beating with wind from port (moving toward starboard) in rather heavy winds. The vessel’s rigging was really tested as I had not previously seen. That day she was powered by two sails, the Genoa and the Main. The Genoa was attached to the forestay and overlapped the mast and the lower luff of the main. As I pulled the tiller to come about and tac to port, I was slow to release the Starboard Genoa Sheet from the fairlead and expected a lot of heeling and unsteadyness. To my surprise the choppiness of the water as well as the strength of the wind seemed to just settle down. The waves were still in fact there. The choppiness had not ceased. The winds were just as powerful as before I pulled the tiller. What was this sudden calming of the weather and seeming abatement of the stresses on the vessel’s rigging? I had unwittingly HOVE TO. HOVE TO is the past tense and past participial form of HEAVE TO.

When a sailboat captain performs the HEAVE TO maneuver, he sets his sails in opposition to each other, at perhaps a 90 degree angle so that the wind is split at the mast and spills around the sails in opposite directions at approximately 45 degrees. In this position, the sails cancel each other and produce opposing whirls on the leeward (downwind) side of the sails.

The Heave To maneuver is very useful when sailing in exceptionally adverse conditions because though the sailing captain has no ability to control the weather and wind, he may adjust the members of his craft so that the stresses on the rigging and on the passengers and crew are minimized. The winds and waves are just as powerful and boisterous during the Heave To as before this vessel calming maneuver was executed. What has changed is the attitude of the vessel and her members to the storm.

This maneuver can be a vessel and life saver when a vessel, captain, crew and passengers find themselves far from any harbor and in waters too deep and too rough to drop anchor. Continuing in stormy conditions is extremely taxing on the vessel, crew and passengers. It is vital for the vessel that her crew get sufficient rest and refreshment. If the captain, and crew are not properly rested, they may not make the best decisions or take proper actions for the journey. Improper decisions and actions could lead to the lost of the vessel and all those aboard.

During stormy conditions it is more difficult to get rest while under way. When a vessel is Hove To, the passengers and crew are able to rest and refresh themselves for a while even in the midst of a great storm. The storm still rages and the waves are just as violent as before, but when a vessel is Hove To, she rides the waves and winds in a much more tolerable manner for all those aboard. The Heave To maneuver is not one that makes progress in the way of distance traveled. Progress may actually be lost, but in the process of losing some progress, the crew, passengers and even the very vessel may be saved by the decision to Heave To.

Oh Lord God, Captain of our salvation and of the LORD’s host; we pray that you would speak to the storms in our lives. We trust that you have the power to speak and even the winds and waves will obey you. We ask that you would command the storms to be still. Never the less, if it is your will that we ride out the storms, we implore you to be with us. Be our Captain. We ask that you would cause our vessels to Heave To by your command and instruction. We ask for rest in your care until you have brought us to safe haven. In the name of JESUS CHRIST we pray, Amen.

Set Your Sails-Beam Reach

Reaching sails with wind from starboard beam.

Reaching sails with wind from starboard beam.

The Five Points of Sail

The Five Points of Sail

There are five points of sail. The points of sail are determined by the angle at which the wind hits the sails. If the wind is blowing strait from 12:00 to 6:00 on the clock then sailing closest to the wind toward 1:30 would be CLOSE HAULED. 2:00-2:30 would be a CLOSE REACH. 3:00 would be a BEAM REACH. Approximately 4:00-500 would be a BROAD REACH. Toward 6:00 would be RUNNING. The fastest and perhaps the most thrilling point of sail is the BEAM REACH. During a beam reach, the wind hits the sails from a 90 degree angle to the direction of travel. If you were sailing towards 3:00 or 9:00 and the wind is blowing from 12:00 to 6:00, then you’d be sailing on a BEAM REACH. See the illustration above. When we consider that modern sails act as vertically positioned wings using their airfoil shapes to produce low pressure areas to propel the vessel then it is easier to understand why the beam reach is the fastest way to sail. Note the word easier rather than easy in the last statement. I do not imply that the factors that make sailing possible are easy to understand, nor do I claim to thoroughly understand everything that happens when sailing.

Sailing is a function of multiple factors in fluid dynamics coming together. There is a saying among those who study fluid dynamics, “Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity, little whirls have lesser whirls and so on to viscosity.” This speaks to the impossibility of any system being 100% efficient. It seems that for any system that uses a source of energy to work, there must be dissipation of energy to cause imbalances in a physical system which seeks balance. So there goes our dreams of producing a 100% efficient system.

The combination of partly cloudy skies, temperatures between 55 degrees fahrenheit and 85 degrees fahrenheit, low humidity and rather strong but constant winds produces ideal conditions for sailing. Most sailors really enjoy sailing in such conditions. Rarely am I able to see a flag fully aloft in the wind on a beautiful day without considering how I might adjust my sails to capture the power of those winds.

Perfection comes in many forms, from cloudless skies to partly cloudy to overcast. I relish the many varieties of perfect sailing conditions. It’s very nice when my destination happens to coincide with winds that allow for a beam reach. Beam reaching is when the wind hits the vessel from 90 degrees to the direction of travel. Beam reaching is the fastest way to sail. Beam reaching directly toward one’s destination on a beautiful day. For what more could a sailer ask? Sometimes I will even go away from my destination just because the winds allow for a thrilling beam reach that does not happen to coincide with my goal. Sometimes my destination is actually determined by the thrill of the ride which is determined by how I might best catch the wind to obtain a beam reach.

Sometimes in life, we may find very exceedingly rare occurrences when our goals seem to be in perfect alignment with God’s will. To date, I do not feel that this has been my lot. When we are able to really know that we are moving and acting in God’s grace then we ought to thank Him and savor every moment of those most fortunate times.

In scripture we find the story of Joseph who endured years of affliction as a result of the bitterness and jealousy of his brothers as well as the false witness of Potiphar’s wife whom he had rightly rejected. It was only after patiently enduring these afflictions and maintaining his integrity and trusting in his God that Joseph was exalted to his high place in Egypt. Once exalted, Joseph continued to serve the God of Israel with all his heart. God’s grace was on Joseph and he was endowed with God’s wisdom. It appeared that everything was finally going in Joseph’s favor. Because of Joseph’s God-given wisdom, the people of Egypt were saved from starvation during years of famine and the government of Egypt amassed great wealth and lands. Through the actions and legacy of Joseph the nation of Israel was preserved and multiplied greatly.

I encourage you to read Genesis chapters 37-50 for the story of Joseph.

If you happen to find yourself in the place where it seems everything is going in your favor, continue to serve God with all your heart. Enjoy the season where and when you can sense God’s grace while there are no storms. Know also that conditions will change but God if faithful.

Lord Jesus we thank you for the extravagant grace that you show toward all humanity in that you have done everything necessary for the salvation of souls and abundant life. Your grace makes our circumstances favorable to our salvation and sanctification, even when we do not understand. We commit ourselves to your care and thank you for those times when we think things are going our way. We thank you for those times when things do not seem to go our way but actually help us to see our desperate need for you so that in reality we are blessed in difficulty. To the saving name of Lord Jesus Christ be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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Set Your Sails-Come About

Beating with wind from starboard.

Beating with wind from starboard.

A very fascinating part of sailing is the ability to beat. Beating is sailing against the wind at an angle. Beating is possible because modern sails act as vertically positioned wings. As the wind blows around the sails, the air currents on the leeward (downwind) side of the sails have to increase in velocity because of the curved shape of the sails. The increase in speed causes something called Ventouri Effect. This effect was named after the scientist who was given credit for explaining it.

When fluids flow around objects which have surface areas that are larger on one side than the other, the fluids must speed up around the larger side. This increase in speed causes a corresponding decrease in pressure. If the forces are great enough to overcome the inertia of the object then the object will be forced to move in the direction of less pressure. This is the lifting force which makes flight and sailing possible.

Although I do not believe they understand what they do, prairie dogs use the same pressure gradient producing principles to ventilate their burrows. They construct their burrows so that there are connecting tunnels which terminate at the tops of mounds as well as in lower areas where there are no mounds. The lower areas have higher fluid pressure than the mounds so air is forced into the lower areas and exhausts out of the mounds due to the curved shape. This is Ventouri Effect. There is a possibility that prairie dogs do understand these principles, but seeing I do not speak prairie dog, I have not been able to question one to ascertain their mastery of these things. I contribute this habit to the instinct which The Creator has given to them for their survival.

When the captain charts his course, he may beat in order to get closer to his destination, but if his destination is not directly in line with that heading then to continue on this heading will take him and his vessel away from his goal. If the destination is up wind then the captain must COME ABOUT. This is when the captain must change his course by turning his vessel directly through the wind, through the NO GO ZONE (approximately 90 degrees of 360 degrees where sailing can not happen). He must ensure that his vessel has enough momentum to carry through where the sails can not produce power. If the captain does not execute his maneuver properly and decisively then he and his vessel will get stuck IN IRONS. When a vessel is in irons, her sails blow in the wind as does a flag. This luffing of the sails produces much noise, places undue stress and wear on the sails and produces absolutely no power to propel the vessel in the desired direction. If the captain does not correct this, the vessel will lose some of its progress and will begin to move backwards.

Sometimes in life it seems that we may have found a good pattern and course. Sometimes not so much a good pattern as one that is just familiar. We can not forecast the many challenges we may face and we may find that our present course will cause us to collide with others as we go. We find also that there are obstacles which could not be perceived (subsurface), but must be avoided at all cost. If we continue on such courses the damage and harm inflicted upon ourselves and others can be great. At such times we must have the humility to correct our course or we must possess the discernment to help others who may need course correction.

2 Timothy 2:25-26
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Our ability to see our selves takes a great deal of honesty. Our ability to address the shortcomings of others is much easier. When the master spoke to His disciples, He did not deny the speck that individuals might have seem in others, but they were first to deal with their own hypocrisy by removing the beam from their own eyes so that they might see more clearly to remove the specks from the eyes of others.

Matthew 7:3-5
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Galatians 6:1
Chapter 6
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Rather than hardening our hearts, we ought to consider conviction to be a gift of God’s grace. Because of the hardness of our deceitful hearts, we find it difficult sometimes to see our sin for what it really is. God is so merciful that He may allow us to receive a message of course correction. Let us not despise God’s provision because we do not necessarily approve of the channel of communication. If we are warned of impending inconvenience, trouble, heartache or even danger then COME ABOUT. If we refuse to change our course it could lead to much misery. If we are too slow to COME ABOUT we may get stuck -IN IRONS- a place of much noise, losing of progress and unnecessary ware and stress on our lives. We must not stay in the NO GO ZONE.

When The Captain of our salvation, through his word, has given us the command to come about then we should thank Him for His mercy and grace toward us and execute the maneuver decisively.

Oh Lord, you are long-suffering toward us. Thank you for your patience and kindness in granting us conviction and repentance unto the acknowledging of the truth so that we might be made whole. We submit ourselves to your work and trust that you are able to bring us to safe harbor. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Set Your Sails

imageimageIn June of 2012, an old but sincere desire of mine was fulfilled. I became the owner and captain of a small sailing vessel. A 13.5′ Sloop to be more precise. This modest vessel is equipped with a 19.5′ mast which when stepped (raised) is secured to the deck with a forestay (a cable that goes from the top front of the mast to the bow plate) and shrouds (cables which go from the top sides of the mast to chainplates on both the starboard and port sides of the vessel). This modest vessel stands more than 20′ tall on the water. She is equipped with two sails, a main sail which provides control and a genoa which is the power house of the vessel. She is also equipped with a rudder and a daggerboard. Every part of the vessel is necessary for sailing so we must not neglect to mention the hull.

This sailing vessel is also equipped with a number of lines. There are no ropes on her. Every line has a name and a very specific purpose. At the front is the bow line which is used in conjunction with the stern line in the rear to secure the vessel when docking. The lines used to control the sails are called sheets. Extending from the clew (back-bottom) of the genoa (fore sail) is the genoa sheet. This sheet is a single line connected to the genoa in its middle. If this sheet were a total of 30′ then it would be connected to the fore sail at the 15′ mark. This allows the fore sail to be drawn to starboard (right) or port (left) whenever needed. This sheet is then secured to either the starboard or port side of the vessel in fairleads. My vessel has three sheets. The main sheet is used to control the main sail. The starboard genoa sheet is used to draw the genoa to the starboard side of the vessel when the wind is hitting the sails from port. The port genoa sheet is used to draw the genoa to the port side of the vessel when the wind is hitting the sails from starboard. The lines used to raise the sails are called halyards. My vessel has two halyards, the main halyard and the Genoa halyard.

Attached to the shrouds are small strips of material called tell tales. These are viewed to determine the direction of the wind so that the sails might be adjusted most efficiently. At the clew of the main sail is a small line called the outhaul which secures the back bottom of the main sail to the boom. At the tack of the main sail is a line called the downhaul which secures the front bottom of the main sail to the bottom of the mast. The rudder is used for steering and the dagger board prevents side slide. Without the dagger board this vessel can go only in the direction of the wind. When the dagger board is in place, something very fascinating happens. This wind powered vessel is actually able to go against the wind at an angle of about 45 degrees. Not only can she go against the wind, but this wind powered vessel actually goes faster against the wind at 45 degrees than when sailing with the wind. This at first glance seems counter intuitive. But when the physics of sailing is examined, this has to be. A key factor in this fascinating reality is the wing like shape of the sails. Rather than being employed only for resistance (sailing with the wind), they work in conjunction with the dagger board and rudder below the surface and the wind blowing around the sails (which actually act as vertically positioned wings) above the surface to produce pressure gradients both under water and above the surface.

The sum of these fluid forces produces forward momentum when the various members are adjusted properly, regardless of the direction of the wind. It does not matter in which direction the wind is blowing. If the sails on the vessel are of the proper shape and the sails, dagger board and rudder are set properly in relation to each other, the vessel may find its way to the desired destination. Imagine a clock. If the wind is blowing from 12:00 to 6:00, the vessel may sail in any direction beginning at 2:00 and going clockwise all the way around to 10:00. The vessel may not be able to sail directly against the wind, from 6:00 to 12:00 or between 10:00 and 2:00 (in irons), but her captain may adjust her members so that she may beat against the wind at 45 degrees. If he wants to sail from the 6:00 position to the 12:00 position then he would have to tack (zigzag at 45 degrees to the wind) from 6:00 to 3:00 to 12:00.

The easiest and possibly most dangerous way to sail is with the wind. This is due to the possibility of a jibe (sudden swing of the boom from one side of the vessel to the other side due to a shift in the wind). People have been killed and severely injured by uncontrolled jibes. It is striking that the vessel travels markedly faster while tacking or beating against the wind at a 45 degree angle than while sailing with the wind.

The winds can not be seen, but when the captain looks at the tell tales, he then knows how to adjust the members of his vessel to embark on his journey, making necessary adjustments as the winds shift and change. A seasoned captain does everything in his ability to maintain control of his craft. With the skills gained through experience and various conditions, he charts his course with the determination to carry his goods and passengers to safe harbor.

Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Oh Lord, teach and help us to trust that you are the Perfect Captain of our salvation.  Help us to know that though we can not predict how the winds of life will blow, you our Captain are able to calm the storms and bring us to safe harbor.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

 

Crisis Part II

John 3 records the words of Jesus in response to Nicodemus. Many have second guessed the sincerity of Nicodemus because of his night visit with Jesus, but The Lord so committed himself to that conversation that in it He proclaimed the greatest truth contained in the Bible. The Lord’s response to Nicodemus’ inquiry has been the seed of countless songs, books, articles, sermons and conversions. Any time one goes to Jesus with an honest heart and pure motivation, He just might have something important, something pivotal to communicate. The best time for any individual, family, community or nation for that matter is when the decision has been made to come to Jesus. This decision is critical. Now consider the text.

John 3:14-18
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Verses 17,18 and 19 contain the words condemn, condemned and condemnation respectively. In verse 19 condemnation is preceded by the definite article. There it reads, “the condemnation”. In Greek it reads, “the crisis”. The crisis is that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Remember the definition: Crisis, noun: an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty; turning point; time of great stress or danger; a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something.

John 12:27-33
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

In John 12:31 Jesus referred to a very specific event as, “the judgement of this world”. Here THE JUDGEMENT of the world is once again THE CRISIS. The time in which Jesus Christ was lifted up was the time in which the prince of this world was decidedly defeated. This same time was called in the Greek, “the crisis of this world”.

At that time when the kindest soul to ever walk the earth submitted himself to the abuse of governmental authority, the abuse of religious authority and the abuse of the populace, it was the world that was in fact being judged. Jesus Christ consciously bore the accumulated guilt of every person who would ever trust in Him and there condemned sin in the flesh.

Romans 8:3
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Humanity attempted to rid the earth of His presence. Pilate wanted to be free of the inconvenience of Him and committed the greatest travesty of justice the world has ever seen, even if it is blind to this fact. Blinded religion attempted to maintain its idea of righteousness by condemning and silencing Him and in the process greatly abused its own principles. The chaotic mob was swayed by its dark and blood thirsty collective psychosis and declared their willingness to bear the guilt of His shed blood. None of these actions accomplished what was desired by the actors. In the book of Job, God addressed the asininity of such ideas when He asked,

Job 40:8
Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?
wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

This hypothetical question from God may have been a reductio ad absurdum where a completely foolish idea is highlighted to illustrate the futility of a premise.

At the time of this crisis, humanity accomplished its absolute worst and there the glory of God’s love, mercy, truth, holiness, righteousness and grace beamed with a radiance that could not have been known prior to the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Colossians and Hebrews 2:14-15 respectively, speak of the defeat of the enemy at the time referred to as the judgement/crisis of this world.

Colossians 2:14-15
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Hebrews 2:14-15
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

In Hebrews 9:27 we find it again. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this, the judgement [the crisis].

There are common threads and terms woven throughout these passages. The words; condemn, condemned, condemnation and judgement are all etymologically linked. The Greek root [κρίσις [KRI/SIS] {krísis} \kree’-sis\] as found in John 12 and Hebrews 9 may be transliterated KRISIS. The word in English is CRISIS.

The greatest crisis the world has ever seen materialized when The Lord of Glory submitted himself to the scourge, smiting, spiting, lies, the crown of thorns, the nails and the cross so that by the manifested collective evil of humanity, He might offer himself without spot to God for the redemption of all who put their trust in Him.

Acts 2:23-24
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Hebrews 9:14
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The world has already seen its great crisis. The question is what is your position in relation to the crisis. If your trust is in Jesus the spotless, precious Lamb of God then He was condemned for you. If you do not trust Him then you must bear your own sins.

Oh Lord, grant us the grace to know that we are in desperate need of you so that we may seek you and be found of you. In the precious name of Jesus the Messiah we pray. Amen

Crisis Part I

Crisis, noun: an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty; turning point; time of great stress or danger; a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something

The most recent news is filled with stories of various crises. Local news tells us of the crimes plaguing our cities. Crimes that we hear of so often that we are no longer horrified nor shocked when we hear of them again. This mental callousness, our way of coping, is indicative of the state of crisis in which we live on a daily basis. We have grown so accustomed to this wrongness that we accept it and have learned to exist with it. Do we have a choice? Is there an alternative? We are in crisis.

Regional news tells us of disasters, both natural and man-made. We heard recently of a train derailment in Quebec, Ontario, Canada, where multiple crude oil tanker cars overturned and burst into flames, totally destroying a large portion of the small town. At least 50 people were feared dead in this tragic accident. This town was faced with the loss of family, friends and loved ones. Now it must cope with the clean-up, decontamination, and rebuilding of its community both physically and emotionally. This is a great crisis.

We heard of the poisoning of the school children in India. Twenty-three children died and many were sickened after partaking of the food provided by a free school lunch program. However this food was contaminated by the pesticides that killed and sickened these children and adults, this is a great tragedy. This is a great crisis of which the magnitude only increases if this poisoning were intentional. Anyone with a portion of humanity must hurt at the thought of the deaths of these little ones and the grief striking the hearts of their parents.

On a daily basis, we hear of great and mounting tensions between nations. The possibility of war seems imminent. Some strifes are relatively new while others have continued for centuries. Hatred between and for some people groups is so intense that genocide has been attempted and extinction seems to be a very real danger for some. Whether the crises are natural such as; hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, drought, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tornados and famine: or if they are man-made such as; war, crime, pollution, environmental abuse: the world is in crisis. We do not minimize any of these dangers, as apart from God’s protection, mercy and grace, any of us might find our end through any one of them.

History identifies pivotal events of cities, states, provinces, countries, nations, and continents. We can identify the inventions of certain things or processes as crises. Consider the wheel and the positive impact it has made in transportation by its employment in simple carts. Consider man’s control of fire and how it has expanded his habitation. Wheels have eased man’s burdens and controlled fire has illuminated, comforted and warmed him. The same wheels that have eased burdens for innocent activities have also eased the transport of evil intentions. The same controlled fire that has warmed man has burned villages and cities. The wheel and controlled fire have both been pivotal in advancement and have brought death and destruction. Consider the union of the wheel and controlled fire in the automobile and just about every land based powered form of transportation. Even the latest jet engines are based on rotation around an axis in compressor and by-pass turbine blades and controlled fire of burned jet fuel in the exhaust nozzle.

From a purely human perspective, it is debatable as to what events in history are most pivotal. From a New Testament perspective, the message is clear.

The arrival of Jesus Christ into the world was and is the pivotal event of human history. The present date was arrived at by His epochal birth and life. Even when B.C.E. [Before Common Era] is employed instead of B.C. [Before Christ] so that Christ is not acknowledged in the marking historical events in relation to other events, the date is still arrived at by His birth.

Luke 2:9-11
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not:for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

His greatness is unchangeable, unavoidable and inescapable. History has been affected indelibly by the arrival of the man, Jesus Christ. I do not imply that He was merely a man, but in fact the archetypal man and much, much more.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

In Behold The Man, James S. Stewart said,

“If you go climbing among the mountains, you may come occasionally to a lofty pass where the water-courses change their direction. Here a tiny rivulet makes its inconspicuous way to join the rivers flowing eastward: yonder, a few yards off, another begins its long winding journey towards the sunset and the western lands. The raindrops falling on one side of the summit may be carried down to the North Sea, while those on the other merge at last in the Atlantic. You are standing at the watershed, where all the streams divide.

Incomparably the most important watershed in the long history of humanity has been the Incarnation of Christ. At this point, the streams divide. After this, the human course and direction are changed.”

John 3:14-18
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 12:27-33
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

In the next discussion we will take a closer look at these verses from John’s gospel.

Farewell To A Great Leader

The Eternal God is faithful to provide leaders for His people from generation to generation. God’s plan is much larger than any individual or generation. By faith we believe God will finally gather His people from every generation into an innumerable company that will no longer be separated by languages, mountains, seas or even millennia.

Joshua 1:1-2
1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

To appreciate the ministry and context of Joshua’s leadership, consider the common history and former leadership.

In Deuteronomy 34 we read of the passing of Moses, the greatest leader in the Old Testament. The man, Moses, was the great law giver. Through Moses the children of Israel were delivered after 430 years of bondage in Egypt. Through Moses, Egypt was greatly humbled by the ten plagues. Through Moses, the children of Israel traversed the Red Sea as the Egyptian Army assaying to do, were drowned. Through Moses, the children of Israel received the laws that have become the basis for laws in many societies even today. Through the ministry of Moses, the children of Israel were fed in the wilderness with the mysterious food which is call in Hebrew; what, from the Hebrew interrogative מה (mh) meaning, “what?”. Through Moses, the thirsty masses were filled with water from a smitten rock which prefigured The Christ (I Cor. 10:4). Through Moses, Israel received the Ministry of The Sanctuary, and the various feast days. By the mighty hand of God and by His stretched out arm, all these things were accomplished through the ministry of the man, Moses.

Moses was one of the greatest individuals to ever walk the planet. He is held in high regard by adherents of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Note that these religious systems were listed chronologically. Moses was honored to have communed more closely with God than anyone in the Old Testament. We believe that as a consequence, we read of him being described as the meekest of all men on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3). In Holy Scripture, none who ever communed with God or were granted visions of His greatness retained the sicknesses of pride, arrogance or self-absorption. We may safely assume that those who maintain such afflictions do not commune with God on a regular basis and or have not been enthralled with His greatness.

We maintain the traditional view, that Moses was the writer of the first five books [The Torah] of the Old Testament. He is credited also with the book of Job as well as contributions to the Psalms. Moses was a great intercessor. We believe he interceded as he did because of the great understanding he had of God’s character as revealed in Exodus 34:6-8. Note in verse 9 how Moses appealed to God for grace and the pardoning of iniquity immediately after God revealed that He is gracious etc. and forgives iniquity etc. Even prior to this revelation, Moses prayed that he would be erased from God’s book instead of Israel, if God would not forgive their sin. See Exodus 32:32. Through the rest of his ministry, Moses would be a great intercessor for his people.

Moses had this testimony that he was faithful in God’s house (Num. 12:7). Yet in a moment of anger and indiscretion, Moses failed to sanctify God’s name and was thus excluded from not only leading his people into the land of promise, but of even entering the land (at that time) himself. See Numbers 20:7-12. After Moses was told that he would not lead the people into the land, he besought The LORD that he might enter into the land. It seems that if any man would be granted a request from God, it would be Moses. Moses stated that God would not hear him concerning this. See Deuteronomy 3:23-28. God allowed Moses to see the land of promise. Shortly there after he died and was buried. God alone tended to the burial of Moses.

In the New Testament [Luke 9:28-36] we read of the Lord Jesus being transfigured before His disciples as He prayed. In His holiness, He was able to pass immediately into the presence of just men who had departed this life for approximately 800-1400 years, Elijah was caught up in a whirlwind and Moses died. In life, Moses and Elijah were separated from each other by more than 500 years, but in the resurrection of the just all of the righteous departed will become eternal contemporaries. Thus Moses and Elijah were able to appear together with the Master in glory and in the land of promise. God did allow Moses to finally stand in the land of promise, though 1500 years after his death. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. See Luke 20:34-38.

After the death of Moses, Joshua, his chief minister assumed the position of leader of the children of Israel. Joshua would be responsible to lead the people into the land of promise. Joshua did not appear to have any negative complexes as a consequence of assuming the leader’s position after Moses, a figure larger than life.

Joshua was a man called and prepared to assume the role of leading Israel into the land of promise. Exodus 33:8-11 recounts how Moses went into the tabernacle and the cloudy pillar descended and there The LORD talked with Moses, face to face as a man speaks with his friend. When Moses returned into the camp his young servant Joshua, the son of Nun, departed not from the tabernacle. This man Joshua was acquainted with God. Joshua knew God for himself. He knew the power and the presence of God. Joshua’s concern was to please his maker and not to live up to the stature of his predecessor. We assert that the individual who lives to fill the shoes of a predecessor will fail at that objective and will fail to please God also. Conversely, if one is able to please The Lord and hear The Master say, “Well done…” what more can anyone else say?

Lord Jesus, let us honor the legacy of your servants who have gone before us. Forgive us for our many shortcomings and sins. Give us the grace to serve our generation well by walking uprightly before you and by speaking your truth boldly, but in love. We pray that you will keep us in your care so that we may, by your grace, be numbered among the just in that day. We seek your holy will and approval. Amen.

Recommended reading: The Crises of The Christ by G. Campbell Morgan

Yet Lackest Thou One Thing-Continued

In our last discussion we observed The Master’s summation of The Ten Commandments into two commandments: Love The Lord your God with all the heart, soul and strength etc.; Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Remember, the first four commandments gave three prohibitions and one imperative; all having to do with Israel’s relation to God. The remaining six commandments gave one imperative and five prohibitions; all having to do with Israel’s relation to Israel or how people relate to each other.

Simply love the one God who created everything with all your heart and love you neighbor as you love yourself.

When the rich young ruler addressed The Lord, he called Him Good Master, to which The Lord replied,

Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: [Mat.19:17].

Some have supposed that here The Lord denied having inherent goodness. We assert confidently that here The Lord was calling the rich young ruler to a higher understanding of who Jesus was. Please see previous post entitled, And The Word Was Made Flesh. See also footnotes on post entitled, All The Wisdom-Part II.
In the next clause The Lord said,

but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [Matt.19:17].

To this statement the rich young ruler replied,

Which?

The Lord Jesus then enumerated the latter six commandments, all having to do with Israel’s relations to Israel or how one should relate to his neighbor. The rich young ruler asserted that he had kept these things from his youth up to the time of his address to the Master.

Mark 10:20-21
And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest:go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

This brings us to the title and topic of our present discussion. Earlier we mentioned the four seasons of the temperate zone and the four points on the compass. Initially we named all but one of the seasons. There we lacked one thing. When naming the four points on the compass, we missed one. There also we lacked one thing. That would be a C average in both instances; a passing grade by most standards. In the case of the rich young ruler, The Lord Jesus stated that he lacked one thing. What was it that he lacked?

The rich young ruler lacked only one thing, but the one thing that he lacked was everything. He had great possessions. There is nothing inherently wrong with great possessions, but humanity has a natural proclivity to place trust in possessions instead of God who gives all things.

1 Timothy 6:17
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

If we trust anything apart from God, then that thing receives the devotion that ought to be given to God alone. The rich young ruler claimed to have kept the commandments from his youth up, but his wealth was his god.

Exodus 20:2-3
I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

This young man would not depart from his riches. That he would not distribute to the poor also seems to indicate that he did not love his neighbor as he loved himself. He claimed to have kept the commandments. The Lord Jesus peered straight through his empty claim and looked at him and loved him and called him to forsake his idol of riches.

When the LORD said,”thou shalt have no other gods before me.” His statement was not a reference to precedence as the word, before is commonly understood . The primary meaning of the Hebrew in this case refers to having another god in the ubiquitous presence of the one true God.

Exodus 20:3 לא יהיה לכ אלהימ אחרימ על פני

There shall not exist to you gods-others-in my presence.

Psalms 139:7
אנה אלכ מרוחכ ואנה מפניכ אברח
Psalms 139:7
Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

Jesus is not impressed with our claims or offerings of human righteousness, but He offers us life and the one true worthy object of worship, trust and devotion. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God offers himself as an unmerited gift to humanity. The God who created everything, wants to fellowship and dwell with you. Through the perfect life, expiatory death, and triumphant resurrection of Jesus, we may have The Creator as our savior.

“…To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen….”Revelation 1:6

Oh Lord Jesus, You see us as we are even when we do not. You know us through and through even as we deceive and commend ourselves to you. Grant that our eyes may be opened so that we may see you as our only source of life and joy. Grant us the wisdom to exult in you and what you have done. Amen.

Recommended reading: God Is The Gospel by John Piper

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Yet Lackest Thou One Thing

Our family has seen many beautiful places in the United States. From the snow covered harshness of an Alaskan winter landscape to the striking tropical beauty of the West Maui Mountains decked in emerald and kissing the aqua of the Pacific while draped in rainbows. The fertile valleys of Napa and the mystical forest of giant redwoods in central California. The snowcapped majesty of Mount Rainier as it looms over Seattle. The striking and deadly beauty of the Sonoran Desert with its deceptively distant mountains on the horizon. Virgin grasslands of rolling sand hills of the Great Plains in Nebraska. Though we have seen this place before, when we return we realize that we had forgotten about the breathtaking beauty of the sunset with its ascendant glory that changes almost by the second. We have seen the humid beauty of Florida’s swamps as well as the tropical variety of the Keys. We can not forget driving through clouds in the Great Smoky Mountains. Nor can we forget the Atlantic Ocean as it laps over the coast from Florida all the way up to Maine. “America the beautiful!”

When we consider the United States and all FOUR points of the compass; North, South and East, we must not forget the Great Lakes State and its varied beauty. The state of Michigan, our home state, is a peninsula surrounded by 20% of the Earth’s surface fresh water supply. These inland saltless seas vary in depth, but the deepest [Lake Superior] is more than 1300 ft. deep. These large bodies of water temper the climate of Michigan and surrounding regions and give Michigan more coastline than every other state except Alaska. This pleasant peninsula also happens to be in the temperate zone. This geography gives Michigan FOUR distinct seasons; Autumn, Winter and Spring. Each season proudly displays its own beauty in its time. In the cold part of the year, Michigan becomes a striking Winter Wonderland. In the warm part of the year, it is a Water Wonderland. In the Autumn, the woodlands are bedazzled by the changing colors of deciduous trees. In the Spring, meadows are decked with the splendor of native wild flowers.

We realize that in speaking of the FOUR points on the compass and the FOUR seasons of the temperate zone, we left out West and Summer. We were 75% correct in naming three of the four seasons of the temperate zone and 75% correct in naming three of the four points on the compass. In each grouping just one out of four was missed. That’s a score of 75%. We could say we passed if we were being examined. Did you notice the neglect in mentioning 1/4 of the seasons and 1/4 of the points on the compass? We believe you did notice our neglect. If you did not, please read it again more carefully.

These things were so described in an attempt to illustrate a method of teaching that we believe our kind Savior sometimes employed as He taught those under His hearing. We assert that in a society where certain things are generally known and grouped together e.g. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn; North, South, East, West; that if a part is excluded, attention is drawn to the excluded more so than to the named. As we go into our discussion, let us remember that Jesus, a greater than Solomon, is more kind and loving than we understand and is more wise than the greatest of the sages. Bless His holy name!

The title of this discussion is taken from Luke 18:18. Our discussion concerns the conversation between The Lord Jesus and the individual known as the rich young ruler. The account is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels; Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-27 respectively. We believe a composite of the three narratives will give us the most complete understanding of what occurred. Please take the time to read all three accounts.

Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-34 record one of the Lord’s discourses on the commandments. In these passages, the question of the greatest or first commandment arose. For the commandments we go to Exodus 20:3-17
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Verse 3
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, Verse 4
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; Verse 7
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Verse 8
5. Honour thy father and thy mother: Verse 12
6. Thou shalt not kill. Verse 13
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Verse 14
8. Thou shalt not steal. Verse 15
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Verse 16
10. Thou shalt not covet… Verse 17

Notice how the first four commandments have to do with Israel’s relationship to God. The remaining six commandments have to do with Israel’s relationship to Israel. Eight of the Ten Commandments are expressed as actions that should never be taken. In Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-34, our Lord summarized the Ten Commandments in just two. His summary was a positive expression of the negative commandments.

Mark 12:29-31
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:32-34
And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth:for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God….

So the Ten Commandments may be summed in two commandments.
1. Love the one God with all the heart and strength. (The first four)
2. Love one’s neighbor as one loves self. (The remaining six)

This discussion is the foundation for the next in which we will consider the conversation between The Lord Jesus and the rich young ruler.

Photo information from top to bottom: West Maui Mountains; Sonoran Desert in Southern AZ at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on 21 mile Scenic Loop; View of Lake Superior at Miner’s Castle in Munising, MI; Sunset by the St. Joseph Lighthouse in St. Joseph, MI; Munising Falls in Munising, MI.

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