Somewhere Fast

414XCttR2iL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Somewhere Fast, by Bob Beltz, is a fictional story written in the order of Pilgrim’s Progress. The main character, John Calvin, is a broken man in need of some answers.  An extramarital affair has cost him everything; his job as a pastor, his children, marriage and friends.  He has reached a point where he doesn’t know what he believes.  John decides to embark on a solo motorcycle trip along Route 66 to clear his head and gain a new sense of direction.

Along the way, he plans encounters with a few sages whose opinion he respects.  In addition to the planned interactions, he has several unexpected encounters with complete strangers.  Part way through his journey, one of the encounters leaves him overwhelmed by grace.  The book conveys a gradual revelation of knowledge relevant not only to John Calvin but to readers as well.  Somewhere Fast is good read, especially for those of the male gender.

 

Send Down the Rain

81J45LFSn-L._AC_UY218_When someone first recommended this author, I was reluctant to spend money on a writer I’d never heard of.  Months later, Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin, is the second book of his I have read.  He’s  become one of my favorite authors.  I find myself asking, “why is that?”  Maybe it’s because Charles Martin novels make you feel part of the story; what happens to the characters matter.  In this latest read I became so immersed in the story I found myself assessing the outcome of the book for days afterwards.

Send Down the Rain is a great read!  It’s a classic struggle of good verses evil. The main character, Jo Jo Brooks, claims, “evil can’t kill evil.”  He believes love is the only thing that can challenge hate and overcome it. Send Down the Rain is filled with secrets and plot twists.  The reader is fed a steady diet of them both.  It is a tale of how far is a man is willing to go to make a stand against evil.

When you are finished reading this book you will want to keep it handy for a second read.

Brody loves spring!

mini dachy

All winter long Brody proved to be the most loving and cozy lap dog.  Then spring came and awakened the wild beast in him.  Our once manageable walks together became adventures in mayhem.  There are robins to chase and lots of people and dogs to bark at.  Did I mention squirrels, geese and deer?  He’s now entering his third year and I had to remind myself that this behavior is not new. See post: Brody takes a walk

I’ve discovered a countermeasure, however, that has proven to be very effective.  When he sees something causing him to enter a bark frenzy, I pick him up and hold him in my arms and immediately he stops barking.  I can now carry on a conversation with a neighbor without trying to talk over Brody’s obnoxious barking.  

 

Joshua 20-21: Our refuge

allos-lake-261414_960_720

In biblical times, the Israelites were instructed by God to set up cities of refuge for a specific purpose.  They offered protection to anyone who accidentally committed a crime, which normally carried the sentence of death.  Intentionally committed crimes were settled using  “an eye for an eye” principle. The sentence was carried out by the avenger of blood (nearest living relative). 

Accidental killings were to be handled differently. The person responsible for the killing was to immediately flee to a city of refuge where he could present his case to the elders of the city. If his explanation was judged satisfactory, he would be admitted to the city and given provisions and a place to stay. He (or she) would be protected in the city from the avenger of blood. If he left the safety of the city for any reason, he was fair game to the avenger of blood. Under the instructions provided in the Torah (Numbers 35), the person had to remain in the city until the high priest died. The guilty person could then return home relieved of his guilt and be safe from any reprisals.

If we fast forward to the time of Jesus Christ, we can see how this ancient practice was instituted by God as a way of modeling the concept of salvation, which He would offer to the whole human race.  Salvation from what?  Romans 3:23 and 6::23 offer a sobering statements: everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection and the wages for this sin is death.  Romans 6:23 goes on to say, God offers a gift (a place of refuge) in the person of his son Jesus Christ.  Anyone who accepts this gift will experience forgiveness and have eternal life.

Jesus Christ is a sinner’s city of refuge.

  • Jesus was divinely appointed as were the cities of refuge
  • Jesus, from the cross proclaimed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” ( Luke 23:34). This statement validates humanity’s guilt as accidental or involuntary manslaughter granting us access to a place of refuge.
  • In Christ the guilty can find safe haven
  • The way to Christ must be clearly revealed just as the roads were leading to the cities of refuge back in the time of Joshua.
  • Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 7, 8, 9). His death and resurrection have set us free from the penalty of our sin
  • Since Jesus is God’s Son, then God will be the avenger of blood to all who have not found refuge in Jesus

There are two more points to be made found in Joshua chapter 21.  After the cities of refuge were established by the Levites (Israel’s priests), God gave the Israelites rest on every side (v44).  The second point: None of the Lord’s promises to Israel failed, every one was fulfilled (v45).

We can find refuge in the person of Jesus.  When we enter his refuge we can experience rest on every side and begin to enjoy the promises of God; not one of them will ever fail.

god-2012104_960_720

 

 

New life from lifelessness

For over the past half a century, I have witnessed the coming of spring.  Each and every year it comes according to its preordained time.  In the midst of intermittent snows and the cold temperatures the grass greens, flowers arise, and trees bud.  Mankind has nothing to do nothing with its arrival.  That which is ordained remains unaffected by any chaos overshadowing it.

Each year we witness new life springing forth from lifelessness, as if creation has suddenly been given a signal to awaken from its slumber.  For people of faith, spring is a time of renewal.  It reminds us of a day long ago when the Savior of the world was crucified, entombed and rose to new life.  Easter is the season of resurrection, when new life is possible from lifelessness.  

fog-3050078_960_720

I am reminded of a scripture passage found in Luke 5:35-43, in which Jesus of Nazareth gives new life to a twelve year old girl.  Everyone surrounding the little girl’s family knew she was dead, including the town’s people, the professional mourners, and her family.  Yet Jesus’ response was, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”  What was it Jairus, the little girl’s father, was supposed to believe?  When Jesus arrived at the residence of the dead child he said, “why all this commotion and wailing?  The child is not dead but asleep.”  Is this what the father was supposed to believe, that the child was not dead only sleeping?  He certainly knew the child was dead.  It is more likely Jairus needed faith to believe new life could come from lifelessness.  Luke, the author of this book of the Bible, intended this story to be a foreshadowing of the miracle which occurred on Easter morning; when new life came from lifelessness, when hope sprang forth from hopelessness.

A chaotic pandemic will overshadow this Easter season.  Remember Jesus’ words to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”   Hold fast to the certainty that the resurrected Jesus, the author of spring, is still in control.  Hope can spring forth from hopelessness!