Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Someone recently posted an awkward article from The Daily Mail on Facebook, [Tuesday, February 10th, 2015]. The headline was, “The Archbishop of Canterbury's wife, her dozens of female lovers and a very surprising peek behind the prim facade of Victorian Britain.”

Do you ever wonder about your own ancestors? Some of mine were a dicey lot. I come, in part, from a long line of Scottish Border Reivers who made their living stealing cattle from the English and providing mercenary cavalry for European wars. Some of my more immediate ancestors were alcoholics who ended their lives in suicide.

But frankly, what of it? Did you ever consider what the ancestors of Jesus were like? How about the disgusting story of Judah and his sons Er and Onan, and their poor wife Tamar? Or, how about the story of King Manasseh, one of the most corrupt kings of Israel?

No matter where you dig in our ancestral backgrounds you find dirt. But consider this. Christ Jesus, the Son of the Living God became incarnate in a very human family with a very human lineage. That is what it means to be human. He became one of us to carry us all back to our true Father in Heaven. 

Only one thing is required of us, and that is to accept Him and His labour of love on our behalf, and follow Him!

Monday, February 9, 2015

All Our Desires Are Known

It is with some embarrassment and alarm that the Psalmist prays, “O Lord, you know all my desires, and my sighing is not hidden from you” [Psalm 38:9 BCP]. The words are strong words. The Septuagint Greek translates the word for desires as “lusts”, and the word for sighing as “groaning”. At our very worst he sees us.

No wonder the Psalmist in the very next Psalm prays, “Deliver me from my transgressions and do not make me the taunt of the fool” [Psalm 39:9]. It is not just that all our desires, bad and good, are seen by him. Our foolishness is seen not only by Him but also by the fool who may well taunt us for our foolishness. Finger pointing is a worldly sport.

Again the Psalmist prays, “I waited patiently upon the Lord; he stooped to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure” [Psalm 40:1,2 BCP]. The Lord God not only stooped to hear  our cry; He becomes Incarnate, born in human flesh, that through His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension he might lift us out of the miry pit and carry us aloft to God the Father. “Not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the Manhood into God” [Athanasian Creed].

How far down is it from Heaven to earth? Down thousands of tumbled miles, immeasurable distances from heaven’s highest realm to the lowest earth. A Late-Medieval English poem rightly identifies this Middle Earth of ours as the focal point of the world’s greatest mystery: “The turning circle of the years had spun/ Through the world’s winters in the way men count,/  Two hundred and three times, and then/ Still thirty more, since Almighty God,/ The King of Glory, had been born on this middle-Earth of ours, light for the faithful/ In human form” (Burton Raffel, “Elene,” Poems and Prose from the Old English).

He works this miracle by the sacrificial offering of His own Blood. This gift is offered free to us, but very expensive for Him. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” [Hebrews 10:19-22].   

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rising Very Early

Rising very early in the morning
while it was still dark, he departed
and went out to a desolate place
and there he prayed.
~ Mark 1:35

O to be with You in the midnight hours
when all is dark within, without.
To be with You in perfect peace
my resting place, my heaven, my all right place,
my shelter in the midst of storm.
Life in the daylight hours spins around
with dizzying pace, sun rise, sun set,
and you are here with me within, without.
How small, how petty all the daily trials
when at night I rest myself in Thee,
my heaven on earth,
my heaven in the midst of life,
my heavenly Lover and my King,
my resting place in the midst of storm.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Rape of Dinah

Christ Jesus, who is the Word of God, tells us the stories of the Torah; but why, I ask myself, would he tell us stories like the story of the rape of Dinah in Genesis 34? Jacob and his sons have camped near the city of Shechem. Shechem, the foremost son of Hamor, sees Dinah the daughter of Jacob, seizes her and rapes her. His soul is knit to her, and he desires her as a wife; but he is holding her captive in his house. Jacob tells his sons and they make the circumcision of Shechem and the men of his city the bride price. On the third day when the men of the city are sore Simeon and Levi slay Shechem and all the men of the city and plunder them, including all their wives and little ones.

At best it’s a nasty story. Eventually Jacob and his sons settle in Egypt. On his death bed Jacob prophesies, “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel” [Genesis 49:5-7]

First, both the rape of Dinah and the slaughter of Shechem are reprehensible. 

Second, we see similar dynamics at work in the world today. 

Third, and most important, Christ Jesus is not afraid to speak about such things; he does not shirk when it comes to talking about reality. 

Fourth, in Psalm 105 the Psalmist lays down an important principle, “When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, "Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” [Psalm 105:12-15]. There are some complex moral issues in the story that should keep us entertained, nevertheless, the principle holds  true. God’s protection is on his people, “Touch not my anointed ones.”