TUNING TO THE STANDARD

PIANOS COLLAGE

A.W. Tozer said this about unity: “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers together, each one looking away <from each other> to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become unity conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

Psalm 37:23-25 says, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fail, for the Lord upholds him with His hand. I was young and now I am old…”

And piano lessons were part of my life for many years, on both ends, as a student and a teacher. Tuning perfection has always been a mystery to me. The standard that all instruments try to live up to. One voice. Tones matched. Harmony. Unity. Perfection. Concert. But, even without musical training, it is easy to hear dissonance and discord when it occurs. For some reason, this skill does not require rocket science. Our ears let us know something isn’t right. They just do.

I grieve for the Body of Christ when it fails to live up to the scripture’s picture of unity. The kind of unity expressed by the Trinity. The kind of unity that is characterized by joy. The kind of harmonious fellowship that feels loving and safe and kind. I find myself asking a lot, “Why can’t we all get along? Why can’t we mature together? Why can’t we build stability by becoming mature in Christ? We know when something isn’t right. Discord. We just do. Even if we are not well-acquainted with the Standard Himself.

Like Psalm 37 claims, I have seen wicked schemes, plots against the righteous, the sword drawn, the bow bent, borrowing without paying, lives sought. And much too often. You name it. But, I always wonder what would happen if an army of godly corporate unity came answering back. Unified Christlikeness. What would that look like?

Definitely a force to be contended with. Ephesians 4:13-14 says, “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

I think unity in Christ would put an end to schemes once and for all. Believers would be tuned to the greatest standard Himself – Jesus. Like 100 pianos. No more tossing. No more blowing winds. No more crazy teachings. No more infancy. No more discord. No more sour notes.

Only firm steps. Only the fullness of Christ. Unity in Him. Tune in.

Pre-November

November

Psalm 37:30 “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.”

At a local restaurant called “Food For Thought,” I was recently reminded that I have two great friends who have always provided me the Psalm 37-like kind of fret-not food for my thought. These two have uttered wisdom and spoken what is just on more occasions than I can count. They have been the voice of conscience. They have been counselors in challenging ministries. They have been godly in perspective and sober in speaking truth, even when I wasn’t listening.

About wisdom worth waiting for, the Passion Translation of Proverbs 8:32-36 says, “So listen, my sons and daughters to everything I tell you, so nothing will bring you more joy than following My ways. Listen to My counsel, for My instruction will enlighten you. You’ll be wise not to ignore it. If you wait at wisdom’s doorway, longing to hear a word for every day, joy will break forth within you as you listen for what I’ll say. For the fountain of life pours into you every time that you find Me, and this is the secret of growing in the delight and the favor of the Lord. But those who stumble and miss Me will be sorry they did! For ignoring what I have to say will bring harm to your own soul. Those who hate Me are simply flirting with death!”

While meandering through conversation over lunch, the three of us briefly discussed the eschatological viewpoints of the endtimes and the return of Christ. These viewpoints for interpreting the Millennium include postmillennialism, premillennialism, amillennialism, all the “isms” – no, we didn’t figure it out. But, I treasure the many conversations we have had over the years about anything from raising children to raising the bar to raising conscience to raising money to raising the Name of Jesus Christ.

Wisdom is a true gift. Usually it is backed up by increasing years of age. The three of us are all getting “up there” so to speak, so thankfully, wisdom is increasing among us. We agreed that stating positions unapologetically is a good thing. Courageously discussing viewpoints is part of the path of wisdom. Seeking to study and gain understanding, rather than bury it. One wise friend said – take a position, yes. Be bold, yes. Care deeply about it, yes. Discuss it openly and gently, yes. Care deeply.

Now, as one of these dear friends will soon face nine weeks of cancer treatments, a wonderful interpretation of the Millennium for him and the rest of us would be Pre-November. Jesus is needed now, in a big way, we all agree. The Lord’s appearance Pre-November would be excellent. Before cancer treatments start would be great. But, kidding aside, we agree that hope is only found in the Lord, no matter when He has planned to return. Together, we know this and speak this often. The three of us simply wish Jesus would hurry up and return now. Pre-November!

Waiting for our Savior has never been easy, not even for the disciples. The cumulative effects of sin are simply devastating. The brokenness that infiltrates the Church and Christian ministries is heartbreaking. The patterns of disease and disaster continually cry out for a Divine Fixer. The tattering of partnerships and the hurts of wrongful paths have taken their toll on us. But thankfully, wisdom is setting in.

Jesus is not willing that any should perish. Surely this is why the Lord tarries. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 says, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” This is wisdom. It just needs to be applied.

We also share a Pre-November prayer for our country. We pray that voters will become prayer warriors. We pray that America will discontinue its spiral toward being an unparalleled unchurched nation. We pray that believing friends will increase in their utterance of wisdom and their speaking of what is just. For Christ’s sake. For God’s glory.

I am grateful for righteous friends that utter wisdom and speak what is just. And I pray that God will preserve my two “Food For Thought” friends until Jesus returns to make all things right and new, and to eradicate cancer, for one thing. If it will be Pre-November, we are ready.

 

 

When All Means All

SPRINKLER

Psalm 103 is rich in meaning! It is a cure for joylessness and has nine encouraging “alls:” All that is within me, all His benefits, all your iniquity, all your diseases, all who are oppressed, His kingdom rules over all, all His hosts, all His works, all places of His dominion. Read it “all” when you get a chance and deeply absorb the “all” encouragements offered.

In my lifetime love of mathematics, and especially symmetry, I love the thought of “all or nothing,” “black or white,” “right or wrong.” Gray areas are just hard. They upset the symmetry. They mess with the balance. They create tension. They demand patience. So, you can imagine, I love it when “all” means “all.”

Psalm 37:28 (NIV) says, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off.” “Forever” is an “all” word! In my role as a grandparent of (so far), three beautiful granddaughters, I am sobered by the scriptural indication that patterns of faith or wickedness are passed on through the generations. The “either/or” of it fits my mathematical sensibilities. “Forever” is a serious reality when I consider my grand girls. What “all”-pattern have I laid before them? Psalm 103 gives a great blueprint.

Psalm 103:17-18 (ESV) says, “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments.” As I think deeply about the gifts of God through Jesus Christ and the gifts of grandchildren, the “all” words here are “from everlasting to everlasting.” No fog there. Only what I desire for them. Only the comfort of a God Who keeps His great promises over generations, from everlasting to everlasting. Only the requirement of faith, and the obedience that springs from faith. That is all.

Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” “No other” is the definitive “all”-phrase. Acts 4:10 says, “…It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified but Whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” This is imperative. Passing along faith in Jesus to the next generation. That is all.

In Psalm 103, it is in the Lord alone, and in no other, who:

  • Forgives iniquity, removes transgressions
  • Heals diseases
  • Redeems your life
  • Crowns you with love and mercy
  • Satisfies you with good
  • Works righteousness and justice
  • Shows compassion

That is all. Those three little girls running through the sprinkler – all my grandchildren at this moment in time. This is my hope for you. All His benefits. All places of His dominion. All your diseases healed.