The Field

Happy New Year! I wrote this poem a few weeks ago. I hope you find it encouraging.

I came upon a fallow field
And found a farmer standing there,
Considering how to make it yield
It’s share.

“O Sir!” I cried, “This land’s no good!
See how it barren, stony lies?
For all your sweat and all your blood
It dies.”

But the farmer took no heed
Of my rational demand,
Just hefted a small sack of seed
In hand.

“Old man, you do not understand
The price I paid for this poor plot;
To hear which I for it have planned
You ought.

I purchased this with my own life,
These blood-bought seeds. they fall as dew.
I plough in hope, and hoping wait
For you.

See now, you are the similitude,
You are the land clogged thick with clay.
And out of clay I’ll make a man

You must receive the worded seed,
Receive my blood which falls as rain–
The painful ploughing then won’t be
In vain.

You will have that for which  I died,
You’ll see my Passion’s just increase;
For righteousness will sprout inside,
And peace.

Then the Farmer turned away,
His furrows dug upon my soul,
His word within implanted made
Me whole.

I looked upon that fruitful field,
And saw a harvest of his tending,
A tree of life which bears its fruit
Ne’er ending.


Last Bit


Here’s the last segment from the letter I wrote to a friend about a year and some ago on sovereignty. This bit is on sovereignty and prayer.

How does my belief in God’s sovereignty aid me in prayer? Because the God who decrees ends uses means to accomplish those ends. When God decrees rain, he decrees weather systems. When he decrees growth, he decrees industry. When he decrees healing, he decrees prayer (James 5:16).

God hears prayer (Psalm 65:2). He responds to it. He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13). The prayer of a righteous man has great power (James 5:16), because there is none like God, “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). If God, who governs, ordains, and rules all things, has decided that to accomplish his purposes, he will use prayer, then those ends will not be accomplished without prayer. Our prayers matter because God wrote this play, and he waits for his cues like the rest of us.
You and I, then, having been commanded to always pray and never lose heart (Luke 18:1), can do so in faith and boldness, knowing that many will be blessed through our prayers (2 Corinthians 1:11). Prayer is working in the fields with the Father as a little child who says “look Dad, there’s a weed” to watch his Father rip the offending plant out of the ground with everlasting arms. We have been given “dignity of causality” and we have the unimaginable privilege of pointing and watching God work.
What’s more, God is able “to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Let’s put that glorious claim to the test. Start asking big. Start imagining big. And watch the power of the prayer-answering God dwarf the edifices of your imagination with a deliverance that calls to mind Egyptian armor in the middle of the Red Sea.

Sovereignty and Evangelism

I know that DA Carson wrote a book on this issue, but I haven’t read it. Here’s another segment from the letter I wrote to a friend a while back. If you wish to see the first two segments, scroll down the page.

How is my belief in God’s sovereignty an aid in witnessing? Because Jesus has other sheep that are not of this fold; he must bring them also, and they will listen to his voice (John 10:16). “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). When we speak, God raises the dead. His word will accomplish the purpose for which he sent it (Isaiah 55:11), and when that purpose is the regeneration of dead hearts, then let all the powers of hell and human rebellion assemble themselves; they will be before the Lord as dust before a hurricane.

God wants your friend saved? Then preach as well you can, but do not worry about your stammering tongue, your faulty memory, your inadequate display- God will move. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and “we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). When we preach the Word, it hardens some to death and wakens others to life, and it is not for us to decide which is which. He has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills (Romans 9:18). He has mercy. He has mercy.
And over all of history stands the promise, the certainty that someday there will be “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10). Think of it! Someday you will stand shoulder to shoulder with men and women from places where there is no gospel, from tribes right now in bondage to the spirit of the age- you will stand redeemed before the Desire of nations and you will worship him! The song of praise to the Lamb will resound through eternity is English and Korean and Farsi and Zulu and languages never before heard to Western ears!
This is not a vain hope, and it’s not a goal we would like to accomplish- he will do it! And he will use you. He will use you. You. You can say with Paul “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me… this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authority in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:7-11).


More Sovereignty

Good morning!

Another segment on sovereignty from a letter I wrote to a friend a while back:

How is my belief in God’s sovereignty a motivation for holiness? Because only in the Lord are righteousness and strength (Isaiah 45:24). Because he shall accomplish all his purposes (Isaiah 46:10-11), and one of those is that I should be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1:4). Because even though “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God,” and “I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever,” “I will thank you forever, because you have done it” (Psalm 52:8-9). Done what? Well, in New Testament language we might say “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

I can pursue holiness in the confidence that I toil with all his energy that he works within me (Colossians 1:29). I will strive and sweat and bleed and work, work harder than any, knowing that it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:10). I am motivated to holiness because I am confident that he will equip me with everything good that I may work his do his will as he works in me that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:21). In short, I can work out my own salvation with fear and with trembling, for it is God works in me, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). How can I not pursue holiness when my great God and Savior has ensured it?

The Thing About Sovereignty…

Is that it’s all sovereignty.

I wrote a letter to a friend of mine about the sovereignty of God a few years ago. It ended up on the old site, and I was found it yesterday whilst poking around. Here’s the segment on comfort.

How is my belief in God’s sovereignty a comfort to me? Because I know that “God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). When the crap hits the fan, who did that? Satan? Random, the god of Post-modernity? Me? None of the above- it was the One with holes in his hands and oceans in his eyes, the One through whom, by whom, and for whom all things were created (Colossians 1:15-20). He spoke, and I was created; he commanded, and I stood fast (Psalm 33:9).  All my days were written in his book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16), and now he reads my story, and I stand forth, created and upheld by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).

He works for his people (Isaiah 64:4); he carries them (Isaiah 46:4); he rides through the heavens to their help, and in his majesty across the skies (Deuteronomy 33:26)- in other words, all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Seeking God’s glory is for our good (John 5:44). So God, who seeks his own glory, calls the shots, which means he will work for my good, even when that good looks like getting slaughtered, because in and through the haze of blood my Redeemer loves me and makes me a conqueror- no, more than a conqueror (Romans 8:35-37).
Otherwise, when the tsunami hits Asia, what do you say to those believers? “I’m sorry you got screwed; God must have been away,” or “He could’ve stopped it, but he wanted to respect the free will of the tectonic plates,” or “God is the first one to cry, believe me.” NO! We mourn with those who mourn, and we tell them that not even now, not even when they despair of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8) are they outside the good, wise, loving providence of God. He who hangs the earth on nothing is hanging onto them, and no one can snatch them out of his hand. In fact, what is happening to them is happening to promote their eternal happiness and salvation (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). When it seems like the plug has been pulled in the bathtub of my life, I know that my Redeemer lives, and after I have been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:24-25).