Saturday, December 25, 2010

1998 Christmas Poem

The Word
Was not enough
That it should
Be with God
And be God
Was not enough
That it should
Shine in
Dark places
Was not enough
That it should
Not be
Overpowered
Was not enough
That it should
Be flesh
And be known
Was not enough
That it should
Die
And rise
Was enough

- 12 July 1998

I hope these have been a blessing to you. These are all the poems sent out up to the time we came to Illinois.

Friday, December 24, 2010

1997 Christmas Poem

Like children
Searching for a gift
Their hearts desired
And not finding it
Where they wanted it to be
But in its place
Something unimagined
And perplexing
Almost overlooking it
And passing it by
We found a child
And not the toy
We thought we wanted
And though in our own immaturity
We could not care for Him
He grew to care for us
And to become the Joy
We wanted all along

- 6 July 1997

Thursday, December 23, 2010

1996 Christmas Poem

The fist which lay
Within his mother’s fingers
Had not long before
Let go His Father’s hand
His name once shouted
Over heaven
Was now only whispered
Among the keepers of little lambs
Though glory was the
Very atmosphere above
He now shared the air
His enemies breathed
Once waited on
By unnumbered hosts
He would serve
Not the great but the least
Unattended at His coming
Deserted at His death
Only He could have more to give
When all was taken from Him

- 27 August 1996

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1995 Christmas Poem

Not a season
But eternity
Not lived
But lives
Not came
But coming
Not judged
But judging
Not crushed
But conquering
Not wrapped
But revealed
Not loved
But loving
Not fed up
But faithful
Not indifferent
But suffering
Not seen
But seeing
Not cautious
But reckless
Not sleeping
But awake
Not done
But doing

- 9 August 1995

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

1994 Christmas Poem

In the Highest
Glory breathed
And filled
The colonnades
Seeing It
Nothing else
Could
Be seen
Feeling it
Nothing else
Could
Be felt
Yet it was
Not content
To keep
Its place
And so
It hid itself
That It
Might be known
Covered once
In a manger
Revealed forever
In an empty shroud
And where
Should this Glory be
If not in the heavens
Then in our hearts

- 31 August 1994

Monday, December 20, 2010

1993 Christmas Poem

He
Who could not be humbled
Chose
The course
That only love
Would dare
To give up
Wisdom
For innocence
Power
For purpose
Authority
For service
Glory
For shame
And only love
Could win
That
Which could not be gained
And only He
Could choose to give
That which could not be taken
And what He could
He did
That what we could not
We could

- 27 July 1993

Sunday, December 19, 2010

1992 Christmas Poem

Wall too high
Not to be scaled
Or circumvented
You have been breached
Gap too wide
Not to be crossed
Or fathomed
You have been bridged
Distance too far
Not to be covered
Or approximated
You have been removed
Ages too long
Not to be endured
Or persuaded
You have been crushed
Glory, you are no longer a dream
Father, you are no longer unseen
Enemy, you are no longer a curse
For a single Word
Spoken by the Breath of God
Through flesh of man
Has reconciled all

- 14 September 1992

Saturday, December 18, 2010

1991 Christmas Poem

Before He lit the skies
The Light of the World
Burned brightly
In the Heavenly Temple
And there its light
Gave Testimony
That it should
Shine on those in dark places
Though sun filled the day
Though moon brought brightness
Though stars guided over the distance
They did not touch the Heart
It took the light
Hidden in a baby’s cheek
Brought forth in a young man’s wisdom
Harvested upon a cross
To reach and hold
The farthest corner
Of the darkest heart
To bring it to light

- 8 September 1991

Friday, December 17, 2010

1990 Christmas Poem

Summer has been eclipsed
Yet scarce have winter’s
Barren glories begun
When its power is broken

The seasons have been mastered
Their rages reduced
To soft impotent
Whispers

The maker has been made
Uncontained
Treading the cycle
Of times

It is not now
Seasons
Which change
But us

- 7 August 1990

Thursday, December 16, 2010

1989 Christmas Poem

Then
When there was no hope
It came
Long lay the ages
And the nations
Beneath tents
Of darkness
Beside the waters
Of bitterness
Afflicted will all
The scorn of evil
Shamed by every
Thorn of guilt
Bound were the hearts
And the eyes
Kept in the environs
Of despair
Lowered in the abysses
Of loss
Obliterated by each
Attempt to rise
Eclipsed with sums
Massing to nothing
Then
When there was no hope
He came

- 15 August 1989

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1988 Christmas Poem

Through eyes
Unimpeded
By the shade of darkness
Uncovered
In the full span of time
Unimpaired
By the spirit of the age
Undeceived
By the false lights all around
We see you

Through eyes
Opened
To your glory
Owned
By your will
Overcome
By eternal hope
Operating at your pleasure
We see you
In your son

This baby born
This man grown
This lamb slain
This Jesus
We see you in Him
At Last

- 7 August 1988

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1987 Christmas Poem

The taste of it was sweet
That first breath of air
Borne in upon His lungs
Sweet with the care and love
Of those who had awaited the arrival
So many months and days
The tone of it was pure
That song that lingered
In the air
Pure because it sang of Him
Innocent both now
And in the sacrifice to come
The sight of it was a delight
That smile from heaven
Given to the earth
Delighting those ready
To hear and come
And fall before Him
The fragrance of it was penetrating
That something which would not
Leave the one who had sensed it alone
Penetrating into the very heart
Seeking out all before it
Taking up residence
The feel of it was warmth
The breaking of
The cold bitter night
Warmth ending chill
Ushering a day
Without an end

- 11 October 1987

Monday, December 13, 2010

1986 Christmas Poem

The wooden box creaked
Not being designed
To carry such weight
It groaned
And then staunchly resisted
All attempts
Of gravity or movement
To precipitate its collapse
At times before it had
Borne the pressure
Of a muzzle or two
At the end of a weary day
But not like this
Then its burden
Had diminished
Now it remained the same
A little rolling
Bearing down here
And there
But no decrease
Until the hands
Lifted Him out
And after an admiring view
Once more
Placed back
Within its precinct
The glory
That it sheltered

- 3 September 1986

Sunday, December 12, 2010

1985 Christmas Poem

My child, My child
He said
Why did I send You?
Why did I let you go away
It's barely a second of eternity
And yet you are gone
With them, among them
Apart from Me.
You have gone
As I have sent You
Obedient,
Willing to do My will
Still You are mine
Yet I will forsake You
Before You return
To added glory
To them it will seem
A small beginning
Unlike any others
They have known
Yet the ending
Will be different
Reversing all
They have known and done
If only they could know
If only they would believe
The reason why
And enter into Our joy
It's not so long now
Nor so difficult
For I know why -
You went for love

- 3 June 1985

Saturday, December 11, 2010

1984 Christmas Poem

The love
That you sent
Must have been great
For it made you leave
Home and dignity
To come to us
The glory
You left behind
Must have been wonderful
For one sight of it
Blinded seeing eyes
And hurled men to your feet
The power
You brought along
Must have been awesome
For demons fled your presence
Cripples walked and
Sin and death no more remained
The joy
That followed you
Must have been boundless
For none could contain it
Once they had seen you
And worshipped at your feet
The peace that you promised
Must have been measureless
For you commanded it
To guard our hearts
And it is You

- 23 October 1984

Friday, December 10, 2010

1983 Christmas Poem

The flicker
Of a single flame
Kindled in the night
A sputtering lamp
'Twould soon be dark
No more need for light
All lay down
Asleep in bed
Quiet reigned at last
Even children's
Cries were stilled
Daytime pains were past
From the town
To countryside
Not a vapor stirred
Only bleatings
From some sheep
Barely could be heard
Then at once
A light sprang forth
Brighter than ten stars
Angels came
Sang his praise
Then back to heaven far
Tidings soon
Spread everywhere
With the crest of dawn
He had come
The Son of God
Left His shining home
Soaring high
Over men
He His throne would mount
Darkness, shadows
All were done
His light put them out

- 14 September 1983

Thursday, December 9, 2010

1982 Chrismas Poem

Why is it
That we long for this season?
Our hearts and spirits
Leap forward
At the thought
Of its approach
All plans made for it
Are full of excitement
Not a thing about it
Fails to fill us with wonder
Is it that it is
The season of hope fulfilled
The time of longing satisfied
The period of wandering ceased?
I think it is.
Hope lies dormant in our souls
Waiting for certainty
For knowing and seeing
Face to face
In Him we realize
The beginning of all joys
Yet to come
We long for things, but more
For friends and love
And He is the friend
Closer than a brother
The one whose voice
Gives words our ears would hear
We wander through the year
So far from home
And as we remember
His departure from His home
It draws us to our own
And the one we seek yet above

- 6 September 1982

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

1981 Christmas Poem

Christmas
Is the music
That began
One winter night
It's the pageantry
Of angel wings
That filled
The air with light
It's the softness
Of a small small babe
That snuggled
In the hay
It's the wonder
On the faces
That saw
The night turn day
It's the worship
That the shepherds
And later
Magi gave
It's the knowledge
That the Son of God
Came to seek
And save
It's the presence
Of the Lord
Of all
Come down from His throne
It's the peace
And joy
That come to all
Who are his very own

- 27 September 1981

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1980 Christmas Poem

They decreed a count be taken
Heaven proclaimed a joy be given
Joy and cheer
Cheer to us
And to our homes
Two went to obey the call
All are called to share His life
Life and love
Love for us
That sent Him to
That rugged cross
None would take the couple in
He would have all up in heaven
Heaven our home
Home of glory
Where no sorry
Will reside
So His birth in lowly state
His returning full of power
Rising up
Up with us
There to live
In light and love

- 19 July 1980

Monday, December 6, 2010

1979 Christmas Poem

It might have been cold
They must have been tired
He from walking
And inquiring for a bed
She from the weight
Of the birth soon to come
It might have been late
But they found no sleep
She, though exhausted,
Filled with the wonder at her breast
He, with pride,
At the coming of the one he'd call son
It might have been lonely
But soon the place filled
With shepherds come looking
To see the one born
And then with the glory
Of the knowledge that He'd come
It might have seemed peaceful
They must have known joy
For the voices and echoes
That rang through the night
Went to proclaim aloud forever
What had been whispered to them
It may seem all over
But He'll come again
Not as a baby
Or packaged in gold
But as the King
Who'll claim the world as His own

- 20 October 1979

Sunday, December 5, 2010

1978 Christmas Poem

Christmas is
For families
For those alone
For the old and forgotten

The very first
To know His coming
Were the happy pair
Who cradled his form
It was He who made
The couple a family
And completed the promise
For their home and the world

The next to hear
That a savior was born
Were the lonely shepherds
At their post
Away from family and
Far from friends
The angel-light shone
And God's pleasure was made known

But God had promised
To another two
That they would see
His Glory's illumination
For Simeon and Anna
Went not to their rest
Until they had seen
God's work of that night

So you see there's no one
Whose life that God
Will refuse to touch
By the coming of His Son

- 7 November 1978

Saturday, December 4, 2010

1977 Christmas Poem

If only we had known
Your bed, of finest linens,
Would have been
Instead of leftover hay
From a poor beast's meal

If only we had known
Mayors and magistrates
Would have called that night
With gifts and proclamations
To commemorate your birth

If only we had known
We'd have looked to heaven
And seen the angel choir
And with the shepherds
Joined in at your side

If only we had known
We'd have scrutinized the stars
And found the one
That led to the house
Where you dwelt

If only we had known
We'd have protected you
In your flight
To Pharaoh's land
And hidden you away

If only we had known
We'd have given you our all
And built for you a tabernacle
Rather than a tomb
For your short stay

But we did not know
And we were not there
But perhaps it is not yet
Too late for us
To build you a home in our hearts

- 26 October 1977

Friday, December 3, 2010

1976 Christmas Poem

There have been songs
And lullabies
That were sung for Him
And paintings
Sculptures commemorating
That day
There have been poems
And novels
Praising His appearance
And even a day
Taken off
To remember
But that which
Would honor Him most
Would be our hearts
And if we would let Him
He would give peace
To all who come to Him
So let us come
And dwell
With the Son
And make our lives
A song, a picture, a word
For Him

- 16 November 1976

The Thin Man

This review has been a little longer coming than I had anticipated, but it is good that it’s coming out now for it is about a mystery which was enacted and solved during a Christmas season.

No one else put mystery and comedy together in such a delightful mix as William Powell and Myrna Loy when they played Nick and Nora Charles, husband and wife detectives. I can still remember seeing this movie for the first time on television one afternoon during summer vacation when I was a kid. I’ve loved this one ever since.

I’m not the only one to give this film a high rating. Leonard Maltin rates the entire series as the best. The repartee between Nick and Nora is unparalleled in recent times. No matter what amount of bantering went on, they were always united in the end. It only showed their comfortableness in their marriage and their trust of one another. Present day films espouse edginess more than harmony between film characters.

The two detectives threw themselves into the troubles around them. Instead of ducking out and looking for a way around, they always forged ahead and found a way through. They didn’t leave others to stew in the consequences of the evil devisings of others, but they set things to rights.

This may not have been the first example in film or literature of rounding up all the suspects to solve the crime, but it is certainly the most effective. People are often unwilling to come to a solution. They would often rather go along as they are than to take the energy required to make a difference.

Then, who can forget their dog, Asta. He had more personality than many of the human actors in the film. His point of view was often ours, that of the perplexed bystander who is allowed to have a crucial part in things. He is the one who discovered the body which led to the final solution of the mystery.

Somewhere along the way the significance of the title changed as it was used in the titles of the other five films in the series. Originally it referred to Clyde Wynant, eccentric inventor, who was assumed to be the murderer. Then from a pejorative it turned into an enduring term of identity for the detective himself. This has a parallel for the Christian. God can turn us from a suspect into a loved member of the family. We can be comfortable before God. He loves us as a person no matter how ill-manneredly we’ve put ourselves to Him. He has pushed through all things to bring us to His side.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1975 Poem

Come shepherds
To the crib of hope
And find the one
Who'll lead the sheep
When you've gone on
Come wise men
To the child of peace
And find the one
Who'll teach all men
More than you know
Come fearful
To the prince of faith
And find the one
Who'll quell all doubts
While still unknown
Come strong men
To the seat of power
And find the one
Who'll bend every bar
Between Him and you
Come every heart
To the King of Kings
And find the one
To give you songs
That will not cease

- 10 November 1975

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS THREAD

Christian is a season of joys and perfections. It is early in the season, but possibly some things have already begun to unravel. Complications can reshape many if not all of our plans and intentions, but there is a thread which will sew everything into place and hold it there. It is the personal presence of God in this world changing things.

Ultimate reality is personal. God created this world, and He has visited it. We do not live in an impersonal universe, surrounded by mechanical forces. We are not at the mercy of objects pretending to be definitive reality.

Jesus amply provided confirmation of this thread in His teachings and miracles. Others have taught, but never with authority such as He wielded. Others have done things which appeared miraculous, but never by their own power nor at their own discretion. God was really in our midst in the flesh in those years, and He is here now in His Spirit.

In Jesus, God came to us in a form we could understand. He showed that He is not a mere idea or influence, but a person who is interested in us. In a way this idea is dimly reflected in the stories of Santa Claus. His personal presence down the chimney is for the purpose of making a difference on Christmas morning. How much greater difference does Jesus make. He gives the gift of the Spirit and of eternal life and an access to the Creator of the cosmos.

The Christmas thread is not a last minute attempt of God to do something for man, but it is the final stitching up of our lives keeping them together and making them amount to something. Let this thread put together your life and your world.

1974 Poem

Many wonder if He cried
Or they guess at if He laughed
And they try to see Him
Only as He was
But today
Beyond the stable
He is seated
On a throne
And some day
More than shepherds
Will marvel at his sight
For He came not
To be a baby
But to live among us
And to grow and die
And as each winter
Slips upon us
We ought to remember
The angels' cry
That peace on earth
Would be through Him
As the one God had appointed
The way to heaven and life

- 26 November 1974

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1973 Christmas Poem

It was quiet
Or almost quiet
The angel choir had left the skies
And the shepherds were yet
Some distance from the town
The earth for one moment was still
It was as if
Even the trees in the orchard
Were straining to hear him
And even the rocks in the street
That should have screamed with pain
From the travelers of the day
Held back their rumblings
For one tiny cry
The world had been touched
And was yet waiting
Waiting to know
That the vigil
Which the entire universe had kept
Ever since Adam
Was finally to be broken
And that once more
Man and God could talk
And that their conversation
Would never cease
For the Son was born

- 30 November 1973

Monday, November 29, 2010

1972 Christmas Poem

There was no rosy sunshine
At his birth
Only the old hoot owl
Would have serenaded his first crying hours
There was so much
That wasn't there
So many luxuries
Things we would have wanted and needed
But he had the night
And all of its tears
That would eventually give birth
To morning's light
He had the touch
Of a mother's hands
And her strong arms
To hold him close and warm
He had the praise of men
The approval of new life
And once more they thought
To erase despair with hope
He had that gift
To give life where there was death
And out of death
To bring forth life
He took the sadness and erased it
Loneliness and made it full
Sickness and made it well
Grief and caused it to be glory
And at his side
All men became brothers
And peace could indeed
Begin to reign in their hearts

- 9 December 1972/31 August 2010
(This poem was changed in one line because of a theological point I wasn't aware of at the time I wrote it which needed correcting, thus the two dates.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1971 Christmas Poem

Many send cards
Some send presents
But I think I'll just
Send my love
It's Christmas
And all around
They're celebrating
The child's birth
So many adore
So few really know him
As presents they strew
In all the wrong places
So I'm going to try
To gain a perspective
On what the true gifts
Are that should be given
They should be gifts
Of faith in a higher way
Hope for a greater day
And love which never tarnishes
For the only good gift
Is the one of yourself
Which you bestow
On someone else
He did, you know
And that's why
We remember to pass on
His gift of love

- 9 December 1971

Saturday, November 27, 2010

1970 Christmas Poem

Yesterday I posted my 41st Christmas poem. I have done a completely new one each year. This year, so you can see the progression of the poetry and messages, I will be posting one a day beginning with the first one from 1970. The date at the bottom is the date of composition. The earlier ones were written right during the Christmas season, but as I got to sending more and more of these I had to begin earlier in the year.

To all my friends at Christmas
Whether close or far away
I send my warmest greetings
To help brighten up your day
The world is one
In need of joy
For sadness holds it
And seeks to destroy
This is the season
For laughter and cheer
The time for happiness
And for love unbounded
Let us make it mean something
Throughout the year
So as to affect our lives
And make our paths clear
For if Christmas means nothing
But food and some gifts
Then we're all sadly mistaken
And not really rich
For the gifts we should give
Should last all our lives
We should give one another
Our peace and our smiles
Our love and our blessings
Thoughtfully and truly
As God did
In short - we should give ourselves

- 13 December 1970

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Greetings 2010

Nothing
Is to be abandoned -

Creation
Made by God
Unmade
By sin
And ruled
By death
Will be given
It’s Maker

Nothing
Is to be left alone -

Man
Breathed with life
But lost
To it
And wandering
Far from it
Will be given
One hope

Nothing
Is to be beyond love -

God
Who is love
Who is light
Who is
Has life
Which
Will be given
On a cross

-Kevin

This is my 41st Christmas poem, all of which are different.
I will be running some of the past ones over the course of the season.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hickory Hog And The Christmas Rascal


Christmas catalogues are out and about. "Hickory Hog and the Christmas Rascal" is not going to be in a catalogue coming to you in the mail, but you can get it for $12.00 through Lulu. Enter in the title at www.lulu.com and you can get all the particulars about it.

This book contains two complete Christmas serials as well as the original stories I told to our daughter 30 years ago.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

STILL MORE ANSWERS

Question: I don’t know if I’m hearing God, just myself or the adversary.

Answer: One way you can know is by the message being given. There are some things God would never ask or tell you. You can also look at the logical consequences of the message. God told people to go places where their lives would be endangered (or they thought they would) such as when He sent Ananias to find Saul in Damascus and when Paul was sent to Jerusalem. Satan usually doesn’t ask us to obviously endanger ourselves. His voice is more like that of those who said, “Peace, Peace,” when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11).

There are some things which are neutral in and of themselves. In such cases it’s better to obey if you know you are not sinning. God knows the heart and will take it for an attempt to please Him.

Samuel’s experience is a good place to go. We can say as he did, “Speak, Lord, your servant hears you.” One of the best messages I ever heard was a couple of years ago by Mike Adkins (of “A Man Called Norman” fame) who talked about the best prayer we could have. It was simply this: “Lord, teach me your ways.”

Don’t try to figure it out on your own if you’re in the middle of things, but ask for an answer. I can’t promise an automatic response such as you might like, but there will be guidance and wisdom given either through your own spirit or through the word or through another Christian.


Question: It seems to me that Judas died two different ways.

Answer: The contrast here is between Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:8. Matthew records what Judas did to himself. Luke in Acts records the result. This was what would happen to a person, not to be too gross, who had hung up there too long and the rope had finally decayed and broken or if the rope was strong enough to strangle, but not strong enough to bear the weight for very long. Because this was a holy time it is presumable, though not known by scripture, that no one would have touched him despite the need not to have a curse result from a hanging body (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23), at least not a scrupulous Jew, until the end of the feast of unleavened bread which would have come 8 days later. (The Passover was one day, the unleavened bread the next 7. See Exodus 12:14-19.) It could also be that he did it so privately, that no one discovered the body until long after the event.


Question: How can the grace of Paul’s epistles be reconciled with the works of James.

Answer: Paul is speaking of the process of being saved by grace. James is speaking of the works that should result from being saved. If you read James very carefully you will note that there is no mention of salvation on the basis of works, only of works as being a natural part of the Christian life. James is speaking to those who have already received the grace of God, although he doesn’t put it in those terms. The perfect place to look for the reconciliation of the two is in Ephesians 2:8-10. We are saved by grace, not by works, but we were then created for good works in connection with both Christ and God.


Question: Did God make Adam and Eve first and then other people, too, right away? A subsequent question is then, why would Cain be afraid of being killed.

Answer: There is no record of any other human being created in the same way as Adam and Eve. That would open up too many doctrinal variants, so I reject it, not only because of logic, but because it doesn’t seem to fit the patter of the rest of the scripture. Jesus said later that God could raise up sons of Abraham from the stones, but He had earlier refused to make bread out of stones. He gave testimony to the divine capability, but did not show it to be a realized effect.

Keeping in mind the tremendous amount of years involved, Cain’s wife (another questioned event) was an unnamed daughter of Adam and Eve. (There was much intermarrying in those days. Abraham, centuries later, married a half-sister. Presumably the gene pool wasn’t corrupted. Also, there was no command prohibiting it as there was later on in the law.) Cain well knew that the earth was going to be populated. We assume that Adam and Eve had communicated the early command of God to be fruitful and multiply to their children. So, Cain would have known that eventually others were coming. Daughters may have already been born to them, but unnamed. Those named, such as Seth, are particularly named because they are a part of the lineage of Jesus. Others are not named, not because they were non-existent or unimportant, but because they weren’t in that line.


That’s all for now. If more question come in either here or at Jeanette’s blog I’ll do my best to give an answer to them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some More Answers

Here are some more answers to questions posed on my wife’s blog. By strictures of time and space these answers will not be exhaustive, but will hopefully give some thought and head the questioner in the right direction.

Question: God is all-knowing, so why did He put the tree in the garden?

Answer: This question presupposes that God not only wants us free from sin, but that He would make it impossible for us to sin. It’s the heart of the old free will controversy. We were the point of that exercise concerning the tree. It was a part of our moral development.

There’s no way to know what would have happened if Eve hadn’t taken the fruit. C. S. Lewis speculated a bit on that issue in his novel, Perelandra, but he made no pretense to knowledge on what would have actually occurred in the Garden Of Eden.

Even though God knew, we had to act. Foreknowledge does not equal foreordination as so many would have it. As an example, I could take a person to a movie which I had seen which they had not, and I could tell them everything that was going to happen, but my knowledge wouldn’t make it happen.

Further, every parent knows that a child is going to fall many times in learning to walk, but they have to let that be a possibility or the child will never learn to walk.


Question: Why do good people suffer?

Answer: It is true that some diseases, for example, are brought about by sin or unhealthy activities. This is because we live in a world of consequences, and I suppose in a sense that if “good” people do those things they cease to be in the category of good and are open to such consequences. The fact of the matter is that there is no one good but God. Our problem is mostly about those who suffer for no visible connection to a consequence producing act of their own?

Goodness is not a shield from the consequences of other’s evil actions or of the slings and arrows sent their way willy-nilly in our world. There is no way to be inoculated from these. The book of Job is very clear that in his case the suffering came about as a devil-provoked test. (This is not universally true of all suffering.) God allowed it, but the devil did all the work. God was not the source of it. His permission was not his ordination of the happening.

Ultimately, good people suffer, not because of some fault in them or because they are a special target of evil, but because such things come to all people in our universe. The only exemption comes at the judgment throne of God where no people who are in Jesus Christ will be made to suffer.

The real question is why do we have to wait to see the evil ones get their just deserts. The answer to that one is that God is not willing that anyone should perish, but gives as much time as possible for repentance.


Question: Where was Adam when Eve was talking with the serpent? What was he doing?

Answer: The simple answer is that no one knows. I would assume that each of them had separate duties in tending to the garden. We know that this was Adams purpose as stated in Genesis 2:15, although there is no similar work purpose statement connected with Eve prior to her temptation other than the fact that she was intended to be Adam’s helper as is implied from 2:20.

Several years ago someone wrote a whole book on the subject (I only heard a few passages read from it once at a preacher’s meeting and don’t know the title or author) in which the author’s premise was that Adam was right there when Eve was tempted, and he didn’t stop her and was thus culpable. There is no evidence of such a theory in the Genesis account, and that is the only one we have to go by. When in 3:6 she gives to her husband who is with her, that was at the time of the eating, not at the time of the tempting. The woman saw and took and ate. It was only later that Adam entered the story. In his blaming in verse 12 he makes no mention of the serpent, only of the woman. I conclude that he didn’t see the serpent or he would have blamed him. We don’t even know that she told him about the serpent. All we know is that she gave him the fruit.

I Timothy 2:14 tells us that Adam was not deceived. If he had been there with Eve, he would have been open to deception. He took the fruit knowing what it was. We can psychoanalyze his decision to eat, but all that is speculation. It is the deliberate, non-deceived nature of his act that makes the scriptures later say that through one man sin entered the world (Romans 5:12) and that in Adam all die (I Corinthians 15:22). There is no such mention made of Eve in the New Testament.


That’s all for now. I still have a few more for next time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS

On my wife’s blog, Audience Of One, she spoke of a “gimmick” I use from time to time in preaching. I call it “You Asked For It” after the old t.v. show. People put Bible questions or topics or passages on a slip. We draw one out each Sunday evening and then I preach on that the next week.

After she mentioned this to her readers she started getting a lot of questions from them. While time won’t permit individual responses, I thought I would post some of them here along with my answers, as they may be some of your questions, too.

Question: Why did one book say there was only one guy filled with the legion of demons and the other book says there were two? Why the discrepancy?

Answer: Matthew says two, Mark and Luke each say one. Matthew was probably there, the other two had the story by testimony. Two people describing the same event today might well differ in such details. The important fact is that none of the accounts differs on WHAT JESUS DID. There is no discrepancy there.

Question: Someone wanted to know more about the talking donkey.

Answer: So do we all. This was an historical event for it was so referred to in II Peter 2:15,16. It is an example of God using something normally inarticulate to articulate His will. If God could take an articulate being, such as a prophet, and reveal to him things totally undiscoverable by human reasoning or ingenuity, then He could certainly do so through a donkey and then give him the momentary power to express himself to the prophet who should have known in the first place. The fact that this is an unduplicated event in the scriptures or history does not make it untrue. Most historical facts are unrepeated.

Question: Did people really live 200 years in the early Bible days?

Answer: I would say yes, but there is no way of documenting this from independent sources. Some people have tried to explain around it by saying that they weren’t using the same years we are, but this is a case where we have to either accept or reject the testimony. I can well imagine in a world with fewer man produced carcinogens, for example, that people would live longer. Also the food base would have been more pure and free of the additives that are so damaging today. Whenever there are reports of people living long lives of 100+ years in our era it is always in a remote area where they are free of modern foods and drugs.

Question: I am curious about the fish that swallowed Jonah.

Answer: It was a fish, not a whale as in popular theology. The best guess of what fish this was, if it were a fish existing in the world today, would be a whale shark. Whale refers to size not mammalian status. There have been records of people being swallowed by such and surviving. It tells us that God appointed this fish. It could be either picking one out of the oceans or it could be creating a new one for this purpose alone. I have no problem with the latter, although I cannot prove it. We should never put the miraculous out of court. This is a miracle and it is an inept way of handling the scriptures to treat it as though it were some mere natural phenomenon which could be understood or duplicated if only we could plumb the depths of the “trick” of it.

That’s all for now. We’ll do some more later.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

POLITICAL CONTROVERSY

Last night we had a forum of candidates from both parties for local offices in our community. The opportunity to present questions to the candidates was given, but I didn’t turn one in. Why? Because they said they weren’t going to read any controversial questions.

What’s the matter with controversy? If there were no controversies, there would be no politics at all. Has political correctness gotten so out of hand that we can only bring certain things to the table in an election? There is no such hands-off attitude by politicians after they are elected. Once in government they legislate with regard to every area of our lives and finances, but we are not to probe into the thinking of our candidates before we give them a license to make or enforce laws?

Such meetings are something in the nature of a job interview. Since when was an employer kept back from asking the questions of an applicant pertinent to ascertaining whether the applicant is in synch with what his company was doing? We are electing people, not platforms. Our government officials are doing our business. It is only right that we see if they are qualified to do it the way we want it done. Not only that, but I think it would be a good idea if there would be an open mike at such a meeting where the citizens could express themselves on their thoughts and preferences to the candidates rather than just letting the candidates speak. Government has become too unilateral. It’s time to get it back to being a two way street.

Let us not shy from controversy. Euphemisms destroy perception and never touch reality. The issues don’t ever stop being controversial. We don’t really know what people think if we don’t force the controversy into the open. If a candidate is in the public arena, he or she has, in a sense, a responsibility, as if they had taken an oath, to tell the whole truth about not only their skills and experience, but also about their thinking.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Today marks the 37th anniversary of my ordination to the Christian ministry. One of the scriptures which was read as a part of the charge to me during my ordination service at Central Christian Church in Portland, Oregon was II Timothy 4:1,2 containing these words, “Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season…”

The preaching is the easy part. The hard part comes when that preaching isn’t always responded to. All preaching is about God’s word and the listener’s response to it. Unfortunately, although I have made the gospel message clear, I have been unable to baptize dozens, if not hundreds, of people over the years who knew the truth of the gospel and the extent of God’s love, but who never did anything about it. They all would have said they had faith in the things I have faith in, but without action.

It seems that people don’t really want to act on spiritual things, or at least they don’t see the urgency of doing them now. They are often flattered at being coaxed and cajoled as a sign of their importance. They want you put on full steam and do everything you can to make a thing appealing to them, but then they want to wait for another day when there has never been a guarantee that another day is coming.

Every preacher and Sunday School teacher will tell you that today is the day to make a decision for Jesus.

We have often joked about waiting for an engraved invitation to do something. When it comes to the gospel there is one. It was engraved in Jesus’ hands. Thomas demanded to see it, but we can believe though we have never seen. We do this on the basis of the testimony of God’s word. Don’t overlook this engraved invitation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

MUSTY CHRISTIANS

Have you ever run up against a lot of “musts” declared by fellow saints which you couldn’t find in the Bible? You “must” meet at this hour, in this way, use this curriculum, use this translation of the Bible, etc. Actually, this practice dates to ancient times. In Judges 8:27 it says: “Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.”

We don’t know how Gideon’s ephod (a priestly garment worn in worship) became a snare, but it affected all of Israel. So did the brass serpent of Numbers 21:8,9 which was later worshipped as an idol in II Kings 18:4. Then there were the seven sons of Sceva who tried to turn the miracles of Paul into a formula in Acts 19:13-16.

There is a common thread to these three accounts. Something which was ordained of God at one time in a single instance or by a single individual now becomes a standard for all saints of all times. We need to understand what God wants us to do now.

The means of victory are never given to us for our own use. When we start to use them in that way they can become a snare to ourselves and others. Only God can wield a means of victory as should be done. Which of us could bear the cross in such a way as to cover all the sins of the world? We might end up hitting the wrong target or being crushed under the weight of what we could not possibly handle in our own strength.

Musts are oppressive because we do not have the power to fulfill them. The Holy Spirit can give us power for anything God requires of us. If we must do something, let’s be like Jesus and walk the way He did.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Burning Issue

I don't want to be an incendiary by any means, but I would like to add my thoughts on what may or may not be taking place somewhere in America today.

There is a lot of unrest over a projected Koran-burning. I don’t think it will really do any good other than as a statement of protest. Unfortunately, we don't respond to protest in America anymore, even though our nation was founded on it as an institution such as was dramatized in the Boston Tea Party.

But we still have such a thing as free speech in our country, even if they don’t in the Islamic world. If a mosque is allowed to be built near Ground Zero, why should others not be allowed to make a statement in their own fashion. At the same time, I know that they wouldn’t let me build a church near where the Ayatollah Khomeini lived in Tehran. Let's be fair here, even if they aren't there. Once we start down the road of controlling free speech, we won't know what words out of our own mouth will destroy us.

What happened to the statement of Voltaire that used to appear on the editorial page of the my hometown paper in Portland, Oregon? Voltaire, the radical thinker, stated that he might not agree with what others had to say, but that he would defend to the death their right to say it.

Let our speech be seasoned as with salt as Paul told us to do. This means we should not make it our aim to offend, but at the same time let us not put off making a statement which we believe merely because others do not believe it. To do so is not good manners either religiously or politically, but it is a clear abdication of belief.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Labor day is on the sixth day of the month this year. Long before our time, the greatest labor of all occurred culminating on a sixth day.

Creation came together in proper order. Light is the source of all life, and God made that first. Next came the water which we need. Vegetation came as the next building block of animal and human life. The sun and moon made the principle of light become a regulated reality which could govern growth cycles. The fifth day saw the animals farthest removed from man come into being. They occupied the waters and the sky which had been prepared on the second day. On the sixth day God turned to filling the dry land with all the other living creatures.

The sixth day was not over, however, until God created one more being. This one not only had a physical life and a psychological life, but also a spiritual life such as had been placed in no other creature.

What people believe about man tells almost as much about their thinking as what they believe about God communicates. If man is simply a product of chance, then it doesn’t matter what happens to him. If man is an independent being, then he’s on his own and can’t expect help from anywhere in the universe. If man is an animal no better than any other animal, then he lacks priority in any form. But, if man is a special creation of God with a special relation to God then he has something else to consider about both himself and others.

There really isn’t an if. We are what God declares us to be: special creatures unlike any others with special privileges and duties and a special relation with Him alone. Recognizing that will help us to value both ourselves and others.

This Labor Day don’t be concerned only with your job or your picnic, but remember the one who made you and gave you both your life and your livelihood.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

THE BIGGEST LIE TOLD IN CHURCH

You have asked and answered these questions a thousand times. “How are you?” “How’s your week been?” “How are Bill and the boys?” “How is Jane?”

All questions of this kind get a single answer. You could have it made up into a necklace or pin and just point to it.

The biggest lie told in church is “Fine!”

Now, people can be fine, but we take the easy route in interpersonal relationships by using the word as a cover-up. After all, most often the question itself is really a pleasantry and not a solicitation for revelations of a deeper nature. The end result: we are not genuine, and love atrophies.

God is never fooled. He knows all, but how can He help us if we don’t come before Him in full truth?

Our fellow saints know a lot less than God does, but they’re not fooled, either. How can we pray for one another if we won’t tell one another our needs? The scripture urges us to do that. Intercession does do good.

Jesus was genuine. Many accusations were made against Him, but He was never accused insincerity. Jesus never said He was fine when He was in the garden or on the cross. He admitted the agony and the wish to have the cup pass.

The other extreme of this, of course, is to let everything hang out. Soon people will start to write you off if they always hear about how you’re at your wit’s end. In fact some may begin to help you get there. We need to develop a way of letting other saints know our true condition without going overboard in any direction. There is one way to do that.

Be under the guidance of the Spirit. Let Him translate your needs to the Father and direct you in your conversations with others. And when others come to you with a need knit your heart to theirs and pray for them.

Then we can be fine.

Friday, July 16, 2010

STAGECOACH

This is the movie that made Westerns A-fare and broke John Wayne out of the B-picture ranks. It also contains just about the best ensemble cast ever formed, not only for a Western, but for any movie.

Thomas Mitchell crowned a fantastic year which saw roles in “Gone With The Wind”, “Only Angels Have Wings”, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame”. Any one of those, especially in the first two mentioned films, could have taken the Oscar, but Doc Boone got it. In many ways he exemplifies the message of the entire film which is the lifting up of the fallen.

Doc Boone, run out of town for drunkenness, delivered a baby on the trail and became an inspiration for others. He stood up to the villains in Lordsburg no one else was willing to stand up to.

John Carradine portrayed the fallen southern gentleman who came back for one last moment of gallantry.

Dallas (played by Clair Trevor) moves our heartstrings through her desire to rise above the life she has fallen in to, but which she feels unable to get above. Somehow her simplicity shines brighter than the virtue of the self-righteous. She reminds us that before God all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, but also that God is able to use anyone.

The Ringo Kid (Wayne) is out for revenge and gets it, but somehow it moves from being the central issue in his life to a side one. In a sense his fight is a just one which society will not fight for him. Many of us feel that way at times when we know we have the right on our side, but no authority will back us up. He gets a final reprieve when he is sent on his way with Dallas to a new life of redemption elsewhere.

We also see the mighty fall to their own sins as in the case of the absconding banker or become humbled as the proud army wife is in having to accept help from the woman of fallen virtue.

Then there is Donald Meek, a favorite of mine. He is an actor who almost always lived up to his name. There is something totally endearing about the little whisky drummer who can’t resist the advances of the drunken doctor on his samples, but who is willing to brave dangers for the sake of the ladies and the new baby.

God has similarly put us in a world with many kinds of characters in it. What matters at the end is our own character. Will it be that of Jesus or will it be our own?

(Sorry it's taken me so long to finish this series of my top 10 favorite films, this being #4. The blog has kind of gone on the back burner, but I'll finish it soon and get on to other things)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CASABLANCA

And now for the most iconic film on my list. It took me some time to come up with these thoughts. Casablanca has become almost everyone’s favorite film. Still, I’m going to make some comments on it, as it’s my fifth favorite film.

When it was made, Casablanca was just another one of the films put out that year, but now everyone knows the snappy lines: “Everybody comes to Rick’s”, “Play it, Sam” (there was no again about it ever) and “Round up the usual suspects”. They’ve become a part of popular culture, but my interest came when Casablanca was still being shown as an afternoon matinee movie on television back in the 60s along with a lot of forgettable stuff on the same line-up. I don’t think I had ever heard about it; I just happened to see it in the guide and watched it with no expectations.

I was initially attracted to the character of Rick rather than the romance element. That’s how I saw myself in those days, the misunderstood loner who always lost out, but who kept on true to his code despite obstacles. In a way this is not a “love” story, but a story of right triumphing over “romance”.

There is a right above and beyond our emotions. That is a powerful message. It’s one that might not even have been put in the film were it made for the first time today. I wonder just who would have gotten on the Lisbon plane at the end? To do it any other way than what they did do it would have been to cheapen it into nothing.

Circumstances don’t change cases. The young Bulgarian girl who wanted to become a situational ethicist doing something bad so that it could ensure something good for someone she loved was shown to be wrong. All of her finer feeling of being so much older than her young husband would never have made her act good.

Sometimes, though, we innocently do wrong as Ilsa did in Paris with Rick when she thought her husband was dead. She wasn’t to blame for that, but she could not in the present time take it as an excuse for abdicating the right. Our past cannot force us to any wrong. Nothing gives such a license. In the end Rick decided for everyone and decided right. There were consequences to that choice, but he walked off the screen in peace and with a new mission in life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

REGRET

God calls people to repent, but He never called anyone to regret.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CROSS CARRYING

Recently for a message I wanted to demonstrate what it meant to carry the cross. We have one just a little taller than me that we’ve used in programs. It’s not as large as what Jesus would have been on, but I wanted to find out what it meant to carry it, so I brought it up from the church basement one day and carried it around the auditorium for a practice session. In that session I found out several things.

Once you get a hold of the cross you can no longer control what happens.

It’s unwieldy; you bang into things (which is why I didn’t carry it around the room when I actually preached the message).

It’s hard to get a grip on.

You can’t just carry it as a “regular” thing in your pockets or on your person. It’s infinitely more weighty than a small necklace.

It requires concentration to carry.

You can’t be doing a lot of other things when you’re carrying it; it requires all your attention.

The one thing you know, though, when you carry the cross, is exactly what you are doing. There’s no haziness about bearing a cross. It gives purpose, control, direction unlike any other element in your life.

We should carry our crosses in this manner, not as a sacrifice, but as those who are following in the steps of Jesus, experiencing what He experienced and ministering as He ministers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1700

I have reached a milestone. I wrote song #1700. The words for song #1 were written in the spring of 1972, but the melody was not finalized until the next fall. (Took a long time to get one down in those days.)

Many times when I’ve been doing these sort of milestone efforts I’ve hoped for something that would be well above the average. This time it was.

I’ve been preaching on the heart, so it’s not surprising that the song would be about the presence of the Holy Spirit inside us. Everything went just sort of average until I got to the last line. Then I wrote down something that even surprised me, and I was the one who wrote it. At first I thought, “That can’t be right”, then I remembered scriptures like Galatians 2:20 and Romans 8:10 which say exactly what the song says. It’s called “His Address”.

It is His Spirit that lives in me
The foretaste of all things
The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ
Now inside my heart resides
This means that God is not
So far away as it seems
It means that Jesus knows where to find me
For His address is me
© 2010 Kevin Don Levellie

Friday, February 19, 2010

Layering in the novel The Go-Between

Recently Jeanette picked up the book I was reading, The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley. She read the backliner note about this novel being “richly layered” and asked me what that meant. At the time I didn’t come up with a ready answer, but after some thought from the next day on until I finished the book I have come up with the following notes. I had seen the film based on the book and then read the book back in the early 1970s when I was in college, but with a larger frame of reference from the passing decades I now see more of what Hartley was really saying, probably because I’m close point of view in the book which is that of a man in his early sixties.

The book is ostensibly the recounting of a painful incident in the story of a boy growing up which is the basis of his being shut off from the experience of life on an emotional level.

Overlaid on or interwoven into that story frame are the following elements:

A young woman trying to break away from social constraints.

Family structure and organization tested.

An exploration of what true gentlemanliness is.

The effects of sin.

Nostalgia for a past that didn’t fully realize its promise.

Understanding the realm of the senses.

Searching the occult realm and finding it uncontrollable and disastrous.

Learning the rules of society.

Being defined by the words of others.

False responsibility bearing and responsibility abdication.

Maturation and growing a conscience.

The communication process.

Also, there is some overall social criticism against the old caste system and the lack of social mobility in the late Victorian era.

These are not just topics dealt with in these book or themes explored, but definite layers which could be followed out on their own through the length of the book. Others may define “layering” in a different way, but this is how I happened to see it in the book which I just finished reading this morning.

The Go-Between is a painful book. We read it like we do the horrendous Greek tragedies of old because it strikes a chord by telling us unpleasant truths in an insightful way. Pain, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, is a message that something is wrong. In the end of the book the woman who manipulated the storyteller’s childhood world so horrifically is still denying her complicity in the consequences of what she did and redefining the past to keep from taking the blame. Thus, she’s trapped in the past, but Hartley’s now grown character can change, if he will.

When others won’t accept responsibility for the past, it’s up to you to make sense of it. The Christian has the extra resource Jesus. Those who will not learn from pain will never get to all the joys they could.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

35 years


Today marks 35 years since Jeanette and I were married.

When I was much younger I always used to have this idea that you should have or would find a sweetheart on Valentines Day. Twenty-three of them went by with no Valentine. But, no more.

I am so thankful for Jeanette.

She is the one who brought me out of my shyer self of younger years. (I was too embarrassed to ask a waitress for a glass of water.)

She has been a constant source of encouragement and prayer.

She has been my best friend for all of these years.

She has lifted me up more times than I can remember.

I love her.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS

Of the films examined in this series, this is the second which is centered on the life of a real person. In both cases we are looking at persons of extreme character who met and grappled with the issues of their day. Though Thomas More was beheaded in “A Man For All Seasons” we never sense that he is vanquished or overcome. So it is with Gladys Aylward. Her story is one of the most inspiring and moving you will ever see, a rare Hollywood depiction of Christian strength.

Everyone discouraged Gladys from going to China as a missionary. She had no credentials, either theological or sociological, but she would not be stopped. Her commitment to the ministry Jesus had called her to overcame the objections of others. She was right in following the call. She began with the inn in the title of the film and ended up leading dozens of orphans through the Japanese lines to safety to the tune of “This Old Man” at the beginning of World War II.

Beside the story of her endeavors we see many other wonderful characters. The woman who portrayed the missionary Gladys had gone to help was the kind of woman we wish we had running the women’s and benevolence ministries at our church. I laugh out loud every time I hear her Chinese servant tell the “story of Jesus” when he takes over one night in teaching the gospel lesson. There is a romance in the film which seems to divert the flow of the story, but it is also a mechanism for explaining the times and showing how opposition to her in China itself is overcome by her commitment.

Robert Donat’s last film portrayal was of the mandarin in charge of the village. At first seemingly unfeeling in his tradition, he shows his true colors at the end of his part in the film when he officially declares that he wishes to share the faith of Gladys. I can never see that scene unmoved.

Probably the greatest testimony to her faith was given by a prison guard on
the occasion of a prison riot. He was unwilling to go in and settle things down. He turned to Gladys and said pointedly that he did not have a God who would protect him as she did. It was a challenge to her. While the riot depicted was much less violent than would have been portrayed today she demonstrated her trust in God and was kept through the trial.

At the end of the film, for once, we see a vindication of her character. The man who received her and the children at the place of safety was overwhelmed when he saw that the one who brought them through was “Gladys Aylward, who had been unqualified to go to China.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Past Sins

It is the joy of heaven to be able to cover sins. God is done with our past, and He wants us to be done with it, too.

The Book Of Opinions, 25:86, 87

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Building The Christian Life: LOVE

This is the agape love you’ve heard so much about. You cannot start here. You have to work up to it through all the points we’ve covered.

Love is not just a fun euphoric emotion. It’s something you do. It has to have a strong foundation if you can even do it at all. In this case it requires seven other items to precede its practice.

FAITH: the objective basis; if we don’t believe we don’t need to love.

MORAL EXCELLENCE: the high standard.

KNOWLEDGE: who, what, when, where, how, why – this is informed love.

SELF CONTROL: this is not lust or advantage love

PERSEVERANCE: bears with others

GODLINESS: keeps it in a God level

BROTHERLY KINDNESS: baby steps leading to mature love


Why do we end with love?

There’s nothing beyond it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Building The Christian Life: Brotherly-Kindness

Godliness cannot just stop at talk. It has to be expressed.

Only one other place this word is used besides here: Romans 12:10.

The Greek word used by Peter is the one from which we get the name for Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

We can only befriend anyone after we have resources to do so. Those don’t come by a zap, but through practice.

Many want to start here because it seems more fun than godliness. Many want to stop here because it doesn’t make the requirements of us that love does.

How do brothers love?

Sometimes rough and tumble.

On a family feeling level.

You can always count on a brother when you can’t always on a friend, acquaintance or co-worker.

You never quit being a brother as long as you are alive. People can disinherit you, but they cannot wipe out the blood connection.

This is a blood line. (Does that strike a chord?)

We start with a friendly love, but it can’t be just you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. It has to expand.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Building The Christian Life: Godliness

There is an interesting fact connected with this word: in the concordance, right before godliness is godlessness. You need to get the one out of the way in order to get the other.

Stick-to-it-ive-ness is not a value of itself. It has to have something to stick to.

There is no instant godliness. By way of contrast, in salvation, justification is instantaneous. This in turn produces sanctification, a process. It’s the process of God rubbing off on us through:

*Prayer time

*The word

*Fellowship with other Christians

*The example of others both in our own lives and in history

At the end of this we have acquired in practical terms something of the character of God.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Favorite Quartet cd of the year.

Daywind Records has done the fans a great service by releasing Skylite albums from the 1950s and 1960s on cd. They did six double album releases last year and I got all of them. My favorite quartet album of the year was on one of those. I had heard just about all the songs on the Statesmen “Encores”, but had never heard that album until I got this disk. There’s just not much to beat the Statesmen unless it be the Blackwoods (I’ve always given them the edge between the two groups which traveled together for years because of my esteem for James). This recording is right on target. It is better than any quartet album released in the last twenty years. Keep it up Daywind. I want to buy more of these sets this year.

Other winners for the past five years:
2008: Brian Free and Assurance “Real Faith”
2007: Cathedrals “Greatest Gospel Hits”
2006: Blackwood Brothers “Beautiful Isle Of Somewhere”
2005: Imperials “Fireside Hymns”
2004: Dove Brothers “Born Again”

Note: three out of the five choices are all lps I acquired in those years of albums that were over 40 years old. The old wine (figuratively speaking since I don’t drink wine) IS the best.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2009 Favorite Non-Quaret Southern Gospel cd of the year

“Jubilee!” This is actually an album of three groups: The Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Legacy Five. While Legacy Five is a quartet, the trios dominate and the album is not just a quartet album.

There have been other albums like this in the past where they kind of mix up the personnel to do different songs. That’s not what made it the favorite for the year, but the fact that it is really Southern to the core in the material it uses and it the way it presents it.

This is the kind of thing I always look for, but don’t see very often now. Guess I’m ready for the nostalgia circuit. I don’t think there was anything on here I hadn’t heard before. There’s something to be said for giving us what we know only giving it differently and better than it’s been given before.

Other winners for the past five years:

2008: The Hoppers “The Ride”
2007: Lesters “We Will Stand”
2006: Greater Vision “My Favorite Place”
2005: Karen Peck and New River “Good To Be Free”
2004: Greater Vision “Faces”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Lady Or The Tiger

I always found the open-endedness of “The Lady Or The Tiger” to be disquieting, but on 12 January 2010 I finally got it. (I’ve only known the story for close to 50 years.) The point of the story is not what came out of the door, but that we live in a world where we have to choose, even if we can’t control the consequences. Too many people aren’t aware of that fact.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Building The Christian Life: Perseverance

THIS IS THE STICK-TO-IT-IVENESS YOUR FOLKS ALWAYS TOLD YOU ABOUT!

Why is it here in the list of II Peter 1:5-7?

Faith can be held for a moment and then let go.
Moral excellence can be a single high point.
Knowledge can go so far or one can only go a short way in it, not all the way.
Self-control can be tired of.
Perseverance will keep on to the end!

It travels with the following other qualities:
Encouragement
Love
Gentleness
Purpose
Deeds
Toil
Service

It opens the way to what comes after it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Building The Christian Life: SELF-CONTROL

This word comes from two Greek words. The first is “Power”, and the second is “out of”. We are the ones this is out of, so we could say that self-control is power out of us.

The anchor man of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 is self-control. Here it is in the middle of it all. This can only come after knowledge. We have to know the truth. This is not mere intuition or caprice.

Self-control was one of the things Paul discussed with Felix in Acts 24:25. The Greek philosophers taught and promoted this. It was even mourned that, for all his power and accomplishments, Alexander didn’t have it. We do not do this on our own, but Jesus produces it in us.
Just think about the consequences of no self-control? They include sin, health problems, financial problems, inter-personal turmoils.

Then think about the benefits of self-control. It gives the ability to do something. It can provide money and time. It helps you do everything else you want to do. This is true, not only of physical accomplishments, but of living the life of Jesus Christ.

Self-control is absolutely necessary to what is next on the list: perseverance.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2009 Favorite Non-Southern Christian cd of the year

In 1982 I began keeping track of what was my favorite Quartet album of the year. In 1985 I expanded to three categories: Southern Gospel Quartet, Southern (non-Quartet) and Other Christian album.

Every year I keep a record of possible candidates and then listen to them side by side after the year is over to determine which is really my favorite. I begin with the Other category and work my way up. These are not albums which were necessarily released in this year, but which I acquired in this year.

This year I have chosen Peter B. Allen’s “Onward”. This is the first time an instrumental album has ever been so chosen. This is an album of adaptations of hymn tunes for piano and orchestra. I heard one of the selections, “In Heavenly Love Abiding” at the Contemporary Music Festival in Terre Haute, Indiana and was enthralled and amazed by it. This, does happen to be the best one out of the seven on the cd, but it is worth the entire cd. I felt both heaven and the love when I heard it in concert by the Indianapolis Chamber Symphony.

Other winners for the past five years:

2008: Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir “I’ll Say Yes”
2007: Mighty Clouds of Joy “Movin’”
2006: The Imperials “The Lost Album”
2005: Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir “I’m Amazed”
2004: Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir “This Is Your House”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Song lyrics for 2010

This year for our Sunday evening services I’m going to attempt to premier a new song I’ve written each week. This is a way of getting me to write new material (I’ve gotten kind of lazy about it).

Jeanette said that I should post the lyrics for the song I did this past Sunday night (3 January 2010). So here they are. The idea behind the first verse is that when we have tests Jesus is willing to take them on for us instead of leaving us to flounder around on our own.

FAITHFUL, HOLY, BOLD AND BLESSED

Jesus is faithful to pass your test
He will not leave you
‘Till you have rest
Then He will make you
Strong for what’s next
Faithful, holy, bold and blessed

Jesus is holy to bear your sin
He will erase what
Kept you from Him
Then He will clothe you
With His own best
Faithful, holy, bold and blessed

Jesus is bold to speak out for you
He tells the devil
That he is through
Then He will see to
All your requests
Faithful, holy, bold and blessed

© 2010 Kevin Don Levellie

If you’d like to hear some of these in person, come visit us on Sunday evenings at Nevins Christian Church, 17475 E 390th Road, Paris Il 61944. 217-463-8770

Monday, January 4, 2010

Building The Christian Life: Knowledge

Knowledge doesn’t come until AFTER we get the first two things on our list: faith and character. We have to decide that we are going to know the things of God before we can know them. Our status is, thus, not dependent on our knowledge, but our knowledge comes from the character Jesus develops in us and it will tell us where to go from this point.

There are several knowledge types:

*Recognition
*Information
*Personal knowledge of an event (witness)
*Personal knowledge of another person

We need to move to the level of personal knowledge. Knowing Jesus, and Jesus alone was Paul’s aspiration set forth in Philippians 3:10.

When we know Jesus, then we also get to know God’s word and will and the things we should do. It is not the quantity of knowledge the is important, but the preciseness of it. This kind of knowledge can never be taken from us, and we can always benefit from it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Building The Christian Life: Moral Excellence

MORAL EXCELLENCE is next to be added in II Peter 1:5. This is a strong quality. It is some places called “Virtue”. It is a word which comes from the name of Ares, the Greek god of war.

The only other New Testament point of reference to this word is II Peter 1:3.

We all know what worldly excellences are. Guiness records them in their record books. We watch the shows on television that give awards in sports and the arts. Names in the news testify to success in making money. What we are striving for are not worldly, but moral.

The word moral means being able to make a distinction between right and wrong in actions. This distinction is not rooted in our world. It is not even a matter of majority rules in regard to what’s acceptable or not. It is something rooted in God.

What are spiritual excellences?

Prayer.

A grasp of the word.

Freedom from sin.

Being identified as one of God’s people.

The biggest of all is this: we are like Jesus in character. There is nothing to top it.

How can that be? Only through the Holy Spirit.

This is a war like quality in that it is meant to conquer all sin and vice. It matches the character of God, the Father, also, for he is called a Man of War in Exodus 14:3.

He never loses a war!