A Poem (and a Prayer) for the Young

Raising kids is hard.
Raising them in the ways of the Lord is not easy, either; but do it we must.
And while setting the table of the gospel before them, we too often forget that the Holy Spirit initially, finally, and fully brings about their rebirth (Philippians 1:6).
Here’s an encouraging poem (and prayer) for us by none other than John Newton:

A PRAYER FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Bestow, dear Lord, upon our youth,
The gift of saving grace;
And let the seed of sacred truth
Fall in a fruitful place.

Grace is a plant, where'er it grows,
Of pure and heavenly root;
But fairest in the youngest shows,
And yields the sweetest fruit.

Ye careless ones, oh hear betimes
The voice of sovereign love;
Your youth is sustained with many crimes,
But mercy reigns above.

True, you are young, but there's a stone
Within the youngest breast,
Or half the crimes which you have done,
Would rob you of your rest.

For you the public prayer is made,
Oh, join the public prayer!
For you the sacred tear is shed,
Oh, shed yourselves a tear!

We pray that you may early prove
The Spirit's power to teach;
You cannot be too young to love
That Jesus whom we preach.


-- John Newton

Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh - Given Back

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“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2


“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11


Foreign wise men, magi, came all that way to worship a baby king; but how did they know to do that? Possibly from teachings and prophecies handed down since the Jewish captivity; and most probably from the Jewish captive, Daniel (himself a wise man, and their predecessor). I don’t think they were there to just give homage to a king (they didn’t appear to give homage to King Herod); they were there to worship a God Man.

And what did they bring in their worship? The best of their nation: Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold - Timeless, priceless, incorruptible, unchangeable in nature...of great value.

Frankinsense - An incense meant to be burnt, offering up the most unique and wonderful aroma. The Jewish priests would never offer up frankincense in any sacrifice connected with a sin offering; it represented a perfect sacrifice, unblemished...and acceptable to God.

Myrrh - A concoction to dress a body in death; for preparing a corpse for interment. This was a baby born to die.

Were these wise men intentional in the symbolic nature of these gifts? Were these wise men truly wise enough to know that these gifts would be given back again?

This baby, timeless, priceless, incorruptible, unchangeable in nature, ultimately offering Himself to the Father, uniquely wonderful, a perfect sacrifice, unblemished, acceptable to God...

...but prepared and dressed for death.

When your faith is put solely into the risen Christ and Him alone for the forgiveness of your sin, you can know that the gold of His eternal value, and the frankincense of His acceptability to God, has covered your deadness and sin in the “myrrh-ed” body of His death. It is a masterful gospel of substitution.

Dearest friends, family, acquaintances, and readers: Are you righteous and secure, by grace alone, through faith alone, in the gifts of the God Man given back to you?

Merry Christmas,
Pa Mac

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9




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A Good Conversation

“...let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ...” Philippians 1:27


A small portion of Paul’s words, written to beloved believers that he may never see again.

How does a conversation be as it “becometh” the gospel?

I’ve dug some postholes in my life; putting up fence with cedar and locust posts cut and split from trees. Occasionally one would have the odd knot or two at the most inconvenient place: The end that goes into the hole. The odd shaped post may enter the large opening at ground level, but doesn’t seat proper at the bottom where it’s to rest immovable for many seasons to come. But how keen it is when well-fitting posts thud soundly to the bottom of a well-dug hole.

I think of my daily conversation with each person met within every 24 hour period. I don’t spend each conversation speaking the gospel entirely and distinctly (neither are we commanded to, but how nice it is when it is so), but does my communication have any rough or pointed edges that do not fit the gospel of Christ and His grace? Whether inquiring as to what we’ll have for supper, or commenting on the mildness of the temperature outside, or the roughness of the day’s work at hand...do my words themselves, the thoughts they contain, the temperament with which they’re spoken, and the expectation of how they’ll be received...can they be said to lay peacefully alongside the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection on my behalf? Or at the least of cross angles to it?

And what of the words of my mind? The conversation in thought I have with myself, never uttered with lips or heard by a different set of ears; are my innermost thoughts friends of the gospel? Or only acquaintances when convenient?

Sincerely,
Pa Mac

A Strait Betwixt the Two

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. Philipians 1:21-26


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Paul was conflicted over two possible forks in the road at this point in his ministry: Meeting the termination of his life as a martyr, or continuing his life as a ministering apostle and evangelist.

Seems as though I, on the other hand, usually find myself between a rock and a hard place (as my Mama always used to put it).

But such was not the case for Paul. In fact, he was not even between a rock and a soft place. He labeled his two options as being between good or incomprehensibly better. We could have much to say about the”incomprehensibly better”, and would still not do it justice in its description or analysis because of the incomprehensible part; but what of the “good”?

Paul said that for him to abide in the flesh would be “more needful” to the recipients of his ministry...which would be anyone and everyone that crossed his path. Here’s the question for me to ask me often: Every day that I don’t die, are the fellow believers I’m left with benefitting from my presence as I “abide and continue” with them for their “furtherance and joy of faith”?



Sincerely,
Pa Mac



Security & Laughter Under the Hen

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There’s a lot that has people uptight in our country these days.

Things are quite serious everywhere. In fact they’re so serious, I sense in others something akin to guilt in regards to bringing any humor to life. But I won’t feel guilty about laughter and humor in its proper place and time; I will let it remind me of my confidence in Another.

We do need to be serious...but we also need to laugh.There’s a proper time for both. Opposite emotions can exist simultaneously without canceling the other out.

In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah was in perhaps the hottest, most serious battle of his life during and after the time he challenged the gods of Baal. But he drew attention to the humor of their silence...indeed, to their non-existence. It seemed as though Elijah (as well as many other of God’s prophets) walked through life with a field of God’s sovereign protection encompassing each step he took. Was this inner confidence? I’d prefer to call it an inner confidence in an outer confidence (an external strength from Someone else).

Thinking of our own security in this present age, I’m reminded of the mother hen and her chicks. She’s ready to protect her young (or die trying) from the most vicious predator. She wouldn’t back down from a panther if put in that situation. The chicks seem to know this intuitively. God allowing me, it will be my endeavor to live under His wing. With confidence in my Creator, I will be serious when called for, and find humor as well.

As the world caves in on us politically, socially, spiritually; we must not panic, be depressed, turn inward in apathy, or be faint of heart. God is confident in Himself, His plans, and His ability to execute His eternal decrees. Nothing goes unnoticed or slips through unaware of His watchful eye...or ultimately His allowing hand. I can think, I can speak out, I can plan, I can take serious action when necessary...and I can laugh.

In days ahead there will be many times when we must live in the bubble of our own contentment. I’ll not beat around the bush; true, lasting, ultimate contentment for any individual is derived from none other than God’s forgiveness of sin (atoned or paid for for by Jesus Christ, repented of by the sinner, and applied by faith; Ephesians 2). To let outward circumstances of the world dictate the existence of our happiness, joy or laughter would be unfaithfulness to our Lord.

Back to Elijah.

He had a quivering moment after God’s great victory over the priests of Baal. Coming out from under the mother hen, he centered in on the negatives around him. But once refreshed (and that from outside himself), his perspective changed.

We will find our safety, our contentment, and our laughter...under the strong wings of our mighty God.

Sincerely,
Pa Mac