Motorcycle Underwear

I’m eleven years old and I’m wearing underwear that’s covered with little pictures of a man on a motorcycle. Being homeschooled, I’m always a bit behind on the fashion curve and I don’t fully realize that it’s not cool anymore to wear underwear with artwork on it. So I wear motorcycle underwear…to a Little League game. But this doesn’t bother me because after all, who’s going to see my underwear? Or so I think. What I don’t realize is that my baseball pants are made of a partially see-through material that allows a careful observer to pick up on any underwear artwork. With normal drawers this wouldn’t be a problem, but with motorcycle underwear, well that’s another matter.

I don’t realize my fatal mistake until one of my older, cooler teammates says, “What’s on your underwear?” I play dumb, acting as if I don’t know what he’s talking about. Then he nails me. “There’s motorcycles on your underwear! Hey guys check this out, Stephen’s wearing motorcycle underwear.” I try to play it off as funny but it doesn’t work. I’m embarrassed and my face burns with shame. Needless to say, I never wear the motorcycle underwear again.

I wish I could say that the motorcycle underwear incident caused me the most shame of my life. But it didn’t. There are sins in my past that I am truly and deeply ashamed of. Just the thought of these sins make me feel ashamed of myself. These are the sins I don’t like talking about, sins I don’t want my friends to find out about. It’s these sins that prove that I’m not just a sinner, I’m a wicked sinner.

All of us have sins of this nature hiding in our pasts, like skeletons in a closet. All of us have committed wicked, ungodly, perverse sins that shame us before God and men. All of us are shameful sinners.

It’s my shameful sin that makes the sacrifice of Christ so glorious. Jesus Christ, the perfect, holy One, took my shameful acts upon Himself. Christ never had so much as a sinful thought, yet He willingly bore all of my wicked, disgusting, shameful sin. God punished Christ as if He had done my shameful deeds. God looked upon Christ as if He was the shameful sinner. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way: “ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Let your heart overflow with thankfulness to Jesus today. He bore your shame so that you can stand before God unashamed. How sweet is the sacrifice of Christ.

Memories of Wickedness

I’m not a handyman. When things break in my house I resort to one of two options: a) call somebody that knows how to fix it, or b) get out the duct tape. I recently repaired a kitchen drawer using approximately 812 feet of duct tape, but apparently I didn’t use enough because the drawer broke again within a few days. So I did what any smart husband would do: I got more duct tape. But this time I also included a piece of cardboard to help support the drawer. The drawer is still in place, and I’ve instructed Jen to open it as if it contained a live hand grenade. The point is I don’t do well with any sort of repair/construction work. But I do carry nails with me all the time. I carry them in my pocket. I carry the nails that pierced the hands of Christ.

I say the phrase “Jesus died for my sins,” all the time. This is true, Christ died for all my sins. But I often forget that Christ died for very specific sins. Christ died for the arrogance and disrespect I showed my parents while growing up. He died for the fear of man that kept me from sharing the gospel with a friend. He died for the pride that kept me from listening to the wisdom of the other men on staff at the church. Jesus was crushed for the ungodly things I watched on television during my teenage years. Each of these sins was a nail in the hand of Christ, pinning Him to the cross. I carry the very nails of Christ in my pocket.

Isaiah 53:5 puts it this way, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Aren’t you grateful that Christ was wounded for your transgressions? Aren’t you thankful that each one of your many sins has been forgiven? Ponder your past for a moment and remember some of the specific sins that you committed. Christ died for each one of those sins. Can you hear the nails rattling around in your pockets?

Today, take time to reflect on your sinful past, but don’t stay there. As you remember your many sins, remember the Savior who died for each one of those sins, and let your heart be filled with gratefulness for His glorious sacrifice.

Sinful Math

I’m twenty five years old. If I’ve only sinned once a day since I was three years old that means I’ve sinned 8,030 times. If I’ve sinned twice a day, I’ve sinned 16,060 times. That’s a frightening thought. Assume for just a moment that these numbers are accurate. Over the last twenty two years, I’ve broken God’s law over 16,000 times. I’ve rejected God’s ways, spit in God’s face, and rebelled against the King of the Universe more than 16,000 times. I’ve told God to go His own way, to stay out of my life more than 16,000 times. I, a puny, insignificant creature have shaken my fist at my Maker over 16,000 times. And here’s the scary part: I sin far more than twice a day.

How many times a day do I sin? I sin in my thoughts, my words, and my deeds. I sin with a lustful look, a hurtful word, an angry response. I sin when I worry over finances, or become angry with a friend, or am impatient with my spouse. I sin when I doubt the goodness of God, and when I crave the approval of others. My sin isn’t infinite, but it sure seems that way. It’s a vast, black, vile mountain. Piled upon this mountain is year after year of wicked sin. Sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of license and sins of legalism. Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” I think Paul had it wrong. I’m the foremost of sinners.

But O how sweet are the words of Isaiah 1:18, which says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” My sins are uncountable, more numerous than the stars of heaven, and every one accuses me, rightly condemning me to hell. But the sacrifice of Christ is greater still. When God Himself died upon the cross, every single one of my 16,000+ sins was paid for in full. The cross is the mighty hammer that destroys my mountain of sin. The blood of Jesus is a mighty river that carries away every single one of my sins, removing them as far as the east is from the west. I am a great sinner, but I have a greater Savior.

So today I will rejoice in the glorious sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I will rejoice that though my sins are many, He has washed me white as snow. Will you rejoice with me?

An Opal Ring and a Piping Bullfinch

Charles Spurgeon’s wife was an invalid for many years and usually unable to accompany her husband on his travels. She writes: “One ever-recurring question when he had to leave me was, ‘What can I bring you, wifey?’ I seldom answered him by a request, for I had all things richly to enjoy, except health. But, one day, when he put the usual query, I said, playfully, ‘I should like an opal ring, and a piping bullfinch!’ He looked surprised, and rather amused; but simply replied, ‘Ah, you know I cannot get those for you!’

Mrs. Spurgeon recalls how they “made merry” over her request for two or three days. Then one Thursday evening Charles returned from the church “with such a beaming face, and such love-lighted eyes, that I knew something had delighted him very much.” He held in his hand a tiny box, from which he took a ring and placed it on her finger. “There is your opal ring, my darling,” he said, and told her how he’d received it. An old lady whom Spurgeon had visited once when she was ill had sent a note to the church requesting that someone come and pick up a small gift for Mrs. Spurgeon. His secretary picked up the parcel and brought it to Charles, who unwrapped it to find the ring.

Mrs. Spurgeon writes, “How we talked of the Lord’s tender love for His stricken child, and of His condescension in thus stooping to supply an unnecessary gratification to His dear servant’s sick one…I can remember feeling that the Lord was very near to us.”

Not long after that God surprised Mrs. Spurgeon again. She writes, “One evening, when my dear husband came from London, he brought a large package with him, and, uncovering it, disclosed a cage containing a lovely piping bullfinch!…He had been to see a dear friend of ours, whose husband was sick unto death; and, after commending the sufferer to God in prayer, Mrs. T– said to him, ‘I want you to take my pet bird to Mrs. Spurgeon, I would give him to none but her; his songs are too much for my poor husband in his weak state, and I know that ‘Bully’ will interest and amuse Mrs. Spurgeon in her loneliness while you are so much away from her.’

She writes, “When ‘Bully’ piped his pretty song, and took a hemp seed as a reward from the lips of his new mistress, there were eyes with joyful tears in them, and hearts overflowing with praise to God, in the little room by the sea that night; and the dear Pastor’s comment was, ‘I think you are one of your Heavenly Father’s spoiled children, and He just gives you whatever you ask for.”

Mrs. Spurgeon reminds us, “He who cares for all the works of His hand, cares with infinite tenderness for the children of His love, and thinks nothing which concerns them too small or too trivial to notice.” She concluded this story saying, “‘Bully’s’ sweet little life and ministry ended at Brighton; but the memory of the Lord’s tenderness in giving him to me is a life-long treasure; and the opal ring glistens on my finger as I write this paragraph.” (from The Full Harvest, The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon)

Let us thank our Heavenly Father for his intimate care. Jesus reminds us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Mt. 7:11) What a loving Father we have! Bring all your needs and requests to him. Nothing’s too small or too great to ask – he even gives his children opal rings and piping bullfinches.

Waiting in Pain

It was 1 a.m. when the neck spasm began.

Intense pain, slowly pulling my neck forward. I hauled myself out of bed, took some ibuprofen, and lay on the couch in the living room. The pain kept intensifying, my head drawing further toward my chest. By 2 a.m. I couldn’t endure the pain any longer, so I grabbed the car keys and eased out my driveway toward the hospital.

If you’ve been to the emergency room lately you know it usually involves lots of waiting. It’s my least favorite place to wait. You wait while they take your symptoms and insurance information. Then you wait in the examination room. Wait while they ask more questions about pain levels and insurance and medical history, your grades in elementary school, political affiliation, favorite bowler and patron saint.

By 4 a.m. I still hadn’t received so much as an aspirin. My chin is practically touching my chest. I know that no human being has ever tasted such excruciating pain. What is taking so long? They must be flying the medicine here from New Zealand. Have they no mercy on the suffering? Am I in some kind of Edgar Allen Poe story? I’ll tell you anything you want. Just let me have some medicine.

And then, outside my room, I hear someone say, “Hey guys, I’m gonna make a run for some burgers. Anybody want anything?” I’m incensed. You’re going out for burgers while I’m writhing in agony in here? And then I hear laughter. They’re laughing out there. Laughing. While I’m in here with an ice pick in my neck.

Finally, my painkiller came, about 30 minutes after the burgers.

Waiting in pain is no fun. Bob waited in pain for 16 years.

16 years ago, I got a call that Bob, a friend from church, had been life-flighted to Pittsburgh. He’d flipped a tractor, and fallen beneath it, sustaining many injuries, particularly to his back and head. God spared his life and eventually he came home to his family. But Bob never quite got back to normal. For 16 years Bob suffered constant excruciating headaches, neck and back pain.

Last May he’d sunk to the lowest point in his life. He was on the verge of despair when his wife Denise heard about a new treatment – injections into the back muscles that cause them to tighten, aligning the spine and relieving headaches. Bob was skeptical but began the treatment to please Denise. But now, after a few months of injections, Bob has been experiencing lasting relief from headaches for the first time since his accident. How thankful Bob and Denise are to God. What joy they are experiencing.

Lamentations 3:24-26 says, ?The Lord is my portion,? says my soul,?therefore I will hope in him.? The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Why was it good for Bob and Denise to wait? As they’ve waited, they’ve developed a deep trust and reliance on God. They’ve experienced the Lord’s help and strength. For all these years, in addition to other ways he serves, whenever church families have moved, Bob’s been on the point, leading the crews loading the moving vans. You never would have known his head was throbbing. I’ve never heard the slightest complaint escape his lips. Bob’s one of the funniest guys in our church, with a great sense of humor and cheerful demeanor.

Bob and Denise have experienced Christ’s grace in weakness, and found God to be a refuge and strength. God has built patience and perseverance into them. And now, because they have patiently waited, they’ve seen God’s providence in providing healing through an unexpected avenue. Also, their patient waiting has made the answer to their prayers all the more sweet.

Is it good to wait quietly for the Lord? Ask Bob and Denise.

I Have it Worse than Anybody

Last night I called an old friend. When he asked me how I was doing, I jokingly said Eyore-like, “I have it worse than anybody.” This triggered about 15 minutes of sparring as to whose life is more miserable. He recently bought a house and lamented having so much “stuff” he just doesn’t know where to put it. He can’t figure out where to store his boat and his Corvette. His family and friends compounded his misery by giving him a ton of housewarming gifts.

“That’s nothing,” I said, “I have to live with myself in all my complexity and complicatedness.” He had to concede – I have it worse than anybody.

The truth is, I have it better than most people. But in my sinfulness, I still often battle discontentment. God has many weapons in his arsenal to search and destroy this sin, but one of his best is making us wait.

Lamentations 3:24-26 says, ?The Lord is my portion,? says my soul,?therefore I will hope in him.? The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Why is it good to wait for the Lord? Because waiting is the soil where patience and contentment grow. And they are sweet when they bloom in our soul. How can we be content while waiting? By making Jesus Christ our portion, the one who satisfies us with his love as we wait for him and seek him. He gives us himself, the best thing he could possibly give us.

My mom first taught me a wonderful way to cultivate contentment while waiting. I was 23, jobless, broke and had just moved back home from an aborted attempt at making it as an artist in Philadelphia. She told me the Bible says to give thanks for everything. “For everything?” I blurted, “Even a flat tire? I’m supposed to thank God for a flat tire?” Mom said, “Yes, because up the road there’s an accident that God spared you from by flattening your tire.” So I tried it. I was building a patio for my parents. As I lugged flagstones in the summer heat, I said, “Lord, thank you for these stones. Thank you for this miserable heat. Thank you that I don’t have any money. Thank you that I don’t have a job. Thank you that I am stuck living here at home with my parents.” Do you know what happened? I gradually began to experience joy and contentment in Christ. Though Jesus didn’t immediately change my circumstances he began to change my heart.

Why not take a minute right now to give Jesus thanks for your life exactly as it is? Thank him for the stones and the heat and for having to wait for him. And ask him to be your portion.

Endless, bottomless, boundless grace

?The Lord is my portion,? says my soul,?therefore I will hope in him.? The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:24-26

The secret to waiting is to delight in the Lord Jesus Christ as our portion, our joy, our satisfaction.

John Owen says, “Consider the endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion that is in Christ, the God of Zion…we are too needy to be satisfied by a mere creature…in Christ there is a fulness like that of light in the sun, or of water in the sea…when the well of his humanity is inseparably united to the infinite, inexhaustible reservoir of his diety, who can possibly drain him dry?” (Communion with God, p.61)

The sun drenches the earth every day with heat and light, and is never exhausted. Jesus Christ is to believers a sun and a shield. We receive grace upon grace from him, and his reservoir remains filled to the brim. His mercies are infinite and overflowing. Though we have committed millions of sins against him, he washes all them away, and the ocean of his mercy is not drained in the least. He has inexhaustible supplies of love and grace and strength and joy for his beloved.

Jesus loves for those he has redeemed to come to him for grace. He delights in us, for he’s become our husband and we are his bride. He never tires of hearing us, loving us, blessing us, filling us. He says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Ps 81:10). He loves to hear us say Jesus, you are my portion. You’re my joy, my satisfaction. All my delight is in you.

Come to the Fountain today. Come to Christ who is full of endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion. Come and drink and be satisfied as you wait upon him.

I Want my Burger Now

I hate to wait.

I’m such an American. I want my burger now. I don’t even want to get out of my car for it. I want my kids to be godly this very second. After all, I’ve got things to do….

And yet I’m constantly being forced to wait. My doctor has a waiting room, which is always filled when I arrive, even if I schedule the first appointment of the day. As I write this, my van is at the repair shop, where for over a week it’s been awaiting a new transmission. In the last year, I think I’ve spent more time waiting for my van to be repaired than actually driving it. Recently I had to make a number of calls to my insurance company and every time I had to wait for minutes on end before speaking to a real human person. And the day before yesterday my laptop kept crashing and I spent all morning booting and rebooting it up……..gosh! I hate waiting!

Lamentations 3:24-26 says, ?The Lord is my portion,? says my soul,?therefore I will hope in him.? The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Why is it good for believers to wait on the Lord?

One reason is because it humbles us. Waiting reminds us that the Lord is the center of the universe, not us. Waiting reminds us that we are dependent upon God and we must abide by his gracious will and timing. Waiting underscores our need for God. He controls all and we don’t have control over anything.

Once when traveling to a nearby town, I hit every red light in a stretch of road. As I got impatient, God popped the thought into my head: What is it you’re craving right now that is causing your grumbling? What is it you want that you aren’t getting? I thought, “I want every light to turn green before I get to it. I want all creation to serve me and my plans. I want to be God.” Pretty frightening, huh? I’m glad God is so patient with me. In his goodness to me, he regularly reminds me that I am but a tiny speck of dust who owes his complete existence to his Creator. Waiting can humble us, reminding us that we are creatures, dependent on God.

The servant waits for the master, not vice-versa. Servants wait for the master to tell them what to do; they don’t give the orders. Waiting reminds us that we’re servants.

Waiting for God is an act of humility, telling God that he’s the only one who can help, provide, heal, strengthen and guide us.

If you’re waiting on God for something, that ‘s good, because waiting can humble, and God gives grace to the humble. Why not thank him right now for your circumstances, and praise him that he is your sovereign King.

I Thought My Bladder Might Explode

It began with a cup of coffee for the road, as I headed out a few minutes late for the Pittsburgh airport. But daydreaming, I drove the wrong direction. I was probably wondering why cows always seem to face the same direction. Ten minutes into my drive I suddenly jolted into reality and realized I was heading east away from Pittsburgh. I found a turnaround and began hurtling west, but I’d lost at least 20 minutes, and I was going to be cutting it close.

About 45 minutes into the 2 hour trip to the airport, my bladder kicked in from the coffee. Normally, I’d stop somewhere, but since I was running late, I decided I’d push on to Pittsburgh. That’s when I saw the sign: “Congestion next 5 miles”. Waiting in the slow moving lanes I felt a twinge of anxiety along with increasing pressure from the coffee. Emerging from the congestion, I gunned it toward the airport, praying I’d make my plane.

I finally arrive. Now I’m dying from bladder pain. At the shuttle bus shelter I frantically press the button, smiling weakly at another traveler. Where’s the bus? No bus in sight. I consider running to the terminal, but it’s too far away. I’ll never make it. I just have to wait. Finally, an eternity later, the bus appears.

Now waiting takes on epic dimensions. I’m almost hallucinating as the bus stops at every shelter in the parking lot. People board the shuttle in slow motion. I’m biting the inside of my cheeks to distract myself. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Arghhhh. Eons later, the bus pulls into the terminal, and dreamlike, I run inside to find the men’s room. Mercifully, I made it.

Waiting is part of our lives, especially as believers.

Lamentations 3:24-26 says, ?The Lord is my portion,? says my soul,?therefore I will hope in him.? The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Why does the Lord tell us it is good for us to wait for him? Sometimes waiting seems hard and painful. Why can’t I have whatever I want right now?

Scripture tells us that waiting helps us realize that “The Lord is my portion”, that which most satisfies, that which gives true life and joy and fulfillment. The things we so crave in this life, even good things, are not a believer’s portion. Only the Lord is. Since “the Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in him.” Not in the things I am waiting for.

It is good to wait, for as we do, we become increasingly aware that the Lord is the portion we most deeply long for. If we could get all we want, yet without God, we’d be truly bankrupt, miserable and hopeless. If God always responded the minute we asked, we’d greedily grab his gifts, run off to enjoy them, and forget the one who gave them. Waiting focuses our hearts on the Giver of the gifts we seek.

How about you? Are you waiting for God to heal you, or give you a job or a wife or some other answer to prayer?

As you are waiting, say to your loving Father, “Lord, you are my portion. I will hope in you. Thank you for making me wait. Teach me to be satisfied in you and you alone.”

By the way, I made my plane.