Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thinx 51: Vested Interests

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, 'What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.' But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.' He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
-- John 11:47-52
So really all they cared about was their holy place and their identity as Jews. Nothing which might threaten that was permitted. 'All mine, bunny.' I'm not sure I see a connection between the reformation of Judaism and the fall of Jerusalem. Indeed, it would appear from history that it was due to the fact that Judaism was not reformed that Jerusalem fell.
And when he approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, he things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
-- Luke 19: 41-44
The John passage gives the other side of the occasion. Jesus says, in Luke, that they do not recognise the time of their visitation. The Jews, in John, do not recognise the time of their visitation. If fact, they are threatened by it.

And am I like this? Does Jesus want to visit me and am I afraid of what is good for me? If I resist will judgement come upon me like a storm and raze everything to the ground?

[Memories of Pakistan -- Thursday, 16 January 2003 8:52:59 AM]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 50: Repentance

and [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
-- Luke 24:46,47 (NET)
I am still reeling, not from recent charges of selfishness, which are largely true, but from reading Luke 24:47. It is also part of the Great Commission and yet how often do we hear it read? "... that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

How often do we hear about repentance these days when we are talking about people becoming Christians? We hear more about 'asking Jesus into your heart.' But this is fatally flawed: We start with ourselves, acknowledging that something is missing and seeking something that will fill the hole. We find the Filler and that's it; after he has come it would seem that there is nothing further to be done. He's there. You're fine, the gap has been filled. You are now complete and can get on with life. Jesus has become merely a piece of spiritual polyfilla, shoring up a crack in one's psyche. After that, what is he?

But if we start from the need to repent, and with that the knowledge that repentance is not so much a once for all event but a continuing process, then Jesus' own line 'repent and believe' (Mark 1:15) puts the focus not on the hole that needs to be filled but rather the life that needs constantly to be refocussed on God, by a change of behaviour (the 'repentance' part) and a change of mind (the 'believe' part).

Luke talks frequently about repentance leading to a change in behaviour -- Zacchaeus' belief in Jesus was demonstrated by a change in attitude to his riches and by a change in attitude toward those whom he was hired to tax. He now saw the poor not as defenceless ones ripe for exploitation, but as ones valuable to God and in need of assistance. And he saw that his behaviour in the past had been unjust and that he needed to make amends. The Law stated that he had to give back double what he stole.
For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for ass, for sheep, for clothing, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, 'This is it,' the case of both parties shall come before God; he whom God shall condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.'
-- Exodus 22:9
Zacchaeus knew that he had been guilty of a breach of trust and so did as the Law required. Zacchaeus however gave not double but rather four times as much -- double double -- not because he was compelled to but because he wanted to. It was an expression of his repentance and belief.

[Memories of Pakistan -- 9 January 2003]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 49: Made Free

'Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."'
-- John 8:31-32
This feeds into the whole repentance/belief thing because abiding in the word is a constant purposive activity, a deliberate choice to orientate oneself around, by and through the word of Christ. Such is the mark of the true disciple. And knowing the truth experientially frees. As McDonald says in his 'Memo to the Disorganised #12':
If my private world is in order, it will be because I absorb the words of Christ into my attitudes and actions.

[Memories of Pakistan -- 13 January 2006]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 48: Even God Has His Limits

And when he approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
--Luke 19: 41-44 (NASB)
You can only push God so far. Eventually, having pushed him away and away and away, he will finally pronounce a verdict upon you and you will find that you have received in full all that you inevitably get by pushing him away. In Jerusalem's case God declared judgement on it: "if you do not want to see, okay, from now on you can not see." Jerusalem did not recognize Jesus as the Seeker and the Saver. All they wanted was another king to rule in place of Caesar and to let them blithely and blindly continue as 'God's chosen people', never fulfilling their role as a light to the Gentiles. They wanted, not a new system, but the existing system with different rulers. They got the existing system: AD70. Jesus arrived declaring a different system but Jerusalem didn't want to see. So God made them unable to see.

We can only push God so far. Then we may find that what we thought we wanted is actually not what we want at all. But by then it may be too late to turn back. Constant rejection of God cements into one's character the habit of rejection. Eventually, the heart hardens -- impervious to all influences, internal and external.

Jesus goes on to clear out the temple. The religious rulers try to kill him. The common people hang upon his every word.

[Memories of Pakistan -- 3 Jan 2003]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 47: Deity

So much about Jesus deity in John: he has the power to lay down his life and the power and authority to take it up again. We may be able to lay down our lives for our friends but no one can take his life back up again once he has laid it down. But Jesus can.

Then he says, "I and the Father are one" (10:30) "... the Father is in me, and I am in the Father." (v38). It's as if v38 is to clarify the reality of the oneness of v30. Not just a composite oneness, not just a "Royal 'We'", but oneness of essence, each being in the other.

John 12:10 and the Jews were also considering killing Lazarus. Too many were leaving the fold. The instant legend of the resurrection of Lazarus needed to be turned into a myth, so that the Jews could say, "Yes, we heard it too, but see, he is dead. They only 'thought' he was raised. It was all a trick; smoke and mirrors stuff."

Here Jesus offers so much, and we, being more like the Pharisees than we are prepared to admit, cling tightly to what we have rather than give it up for something way better. It's just that in the giving up, we may have to give up power, prestige, position and so on, which isn't easy the older you get.

[Memories of Pakistan -- Friday, 17 January 2003 9:59:16 AM]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thinx 46: Deity of Christ

'"The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."'
-- John 5: 22-23
These words of Jesus are as clear a declaration of his deity as any other. They belong on the short list which included such pearls as John 8:58 [Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."]

That all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father? So then all worship, honour, praise, thanksgiving, service, sacrifice, prayer etcetera goes as much to the Son as to the Father. As much as we honour the Father by our declarations of worth and the actions which reflect our belief in him and his worth; all this goes equally to the Son.

How can anyone say that the deity of Christ is a recent thing and not to be believed?

[Memories of Pakistan -- 11 January 2003]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Thinx 45: Comfort and Growth

"... we exult in hope [expectation] of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope [expectation]; and hope [expectation] does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."
-- Romans 5:2b-6
As a colleague was saying last night on the way home from the office, God seems more interested in our welfare than in our comfort; that sometimes there is no comfort, or indeed anti-comfort (tribulation) and yet God is there ensuring our longterm welfare by bringing out of that absence of comfort the more useful attributes of perseverance, proven character and hope.

[Memories of Pakistan -- Tuesday, 6 May 2003]

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Thinx 44: The Coalface

Where is the coal-face? When I'm praying, interceding for others, that's the coal-face. Whatever battles are fought in the world, they are fought first in prayer. Wherever I am praying, that is the coal-face.

I could be back serving as a missionary in PNG or Pakistan and yet be far from the place there God wants me to be; though it may appear to be for service, sometimes a change of location may be for the purpose of escape.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 43: On Dying For One's Faith

"Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.
"Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would keep me secret, until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, until my release should come. You would call, and I would answer you. You would have a desire to the work of your hands. --Job 14:1, 13-15 (WEB)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. --Phi 1:21 (WEB)
Dying for one's faith is easier than living for it.

In dying, someone comes and takes away your life -- makes your body incapable of holding life.

In living, no one comes to take away your death -- your body remains able to hold life, much as you may, from time to time, wish otherwise.

In death, you have your one moment to glorify God, before being released into his presence.

In life, you have the opportunity to glorify God day after day. He is still present but there is no release.

In death, you can set your burden down, your work on earth is done.

In life, your burden remains and your work continues.

Living for one's faith is harder than dying for it.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 42: For the Children of Wrath

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
--Rom 11:29
If the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable, 'without repentance' as other translations put it, does this mean that the call to mission and service that God placed on my life in the mid 80s still applies?

One might think not. I have spent about 8 of my 45 years as a cross-cultural missionary. Some might say that I have done my dash, that now is the time to rejoin the rat-race.
Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in its peace you shall have peace.
--Jer 29:7 (WEB)
Vast numbers of Australians are surging over the cliff into the abyss. Can I stand by, or go along with the flow, and do nothing about the lives about to be destroyed before my eyes? At the edge of the precipice, I will fly. But others will plummet.

Can I, can we Christians, avoid being damaged by a society in decline? Australia continues to erase the name and the memory of God out of all traditions and institutions. History repeats itself, for other cultures have done this too, and have suffered accordingly.
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves.
--Rom 1:18 (NLT)
If the stealing of children on their way to and from school increases, how long before it's one of our kids? If road-rage increases, how long before someone we know and love is damaged by another's anger? If corporate corruption continues, how long before we suffer the loss of savings and investments?

Are we somehow immune from societal collapse? No! We are not. If we do not actively seek the peace of the city and the soclety in which we live, we will suffer, and so will our children.
If I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I can't [contain].
--Jer 20:9 (WEB)
If I believe then I must speak, and I must act. I cannot simply care for the church and leave the outside world to take care of itself. We need pastors, preachers, and Sunday School teachers. But we also need evangelists, chaplains and SRE teachers. We're well set up for those who frequent our houses of worship. But what of those who never darken the door of a church; whose parents and grandparents are un-churched? Is there nothing to be done for the children of wrath?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 41: Chocolate and Easter

Sometimes we're so far in, we can't see. Sometimes those on the edge have better vision.

The punch line is quite late in the "Sports Journo Day" article, some distance past the discussion about a spurious ancestor of mine.

And yes, Laurie Axtens is related to me; he's one of my younger brothers.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Thinx 40: Where are the witches when you need them?

'Granny Aching would have done something about monsters in our river,' said Tiffany ... And she'd have done something about what happened to old Mrs Snapperly, she added to herself. She'd have spoken up, and people would have listened . . . They always listened when Granny spoke up. Speak up for those who don't have voices, she always said.

'Good,' said Miss Tick. 'So she should. Witches deal with things.
--Terry Pratchett, "The Wee Free Men", p. 43.
Is it only for witches to speak up for those who don't have voices? Is it only for witches to deal with things? If so, where are the witches who are speaking up for the foetuses of the world? Where are the witches who are dealing with the daily annihilation of the weak and helpless?

There are rights for everyone, even for the down-treading minority, but there are no rights for the unborn. They are alone, silently bearing, in their own tiny bodies, the cost of their parents' irresponsibility. They twist, they turn, they writhe in their agony, but no one hears, and presumably, no one cares, not even the witches.

It is a terrible thing to drown at sea, but okay to die from saline injection. It is a fearsome thing to be approached by a grim-faced soldier bearing a sword. Why is it different when the soldier is a surgeon and the sword a curette? People are appalled and think it an affront to humanity, a war-crime, when Kurds are murdered in their thousands by chemical weapons. But no one bats an eyelid when millions die from RU486.

Where are the witches when you need them? And if they are silent, who will speak up for those who don't have voices?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

Thinx 39: At my funeral

At my funeral I want a few songs played. Admittedly, I won't be around to see that it happens. I may well die anonymously, remembered only by God. Nevertheless, these are the songs I would like people to hear:

  • '2 Corinthians 5:17', from "G.T. and the Halo Express #5 -- Made to be a V.I.P.", © 1990 King Communications.
  • 'Passing Through', from "Jesus Rocks the World" by Colin Buchanan, © 2004 Wanaaring Road Music Pty Ltd
  • 'Jesus draw me ever nearer (may this journey)', from "New Irish Hymns" by Margaret Becker, Maire Brennan and Joanne Hogg, © 2001 Kingsway Music.

  • If the original can't be found for the '2 Corinthians 5:17', at least have a really good pianist play the bridge, and let the supporting band forget that they're at a funeral; in other words, belt it out!

    So am I expecting to die in the near future? No. From time to time, when the black dog's around, I get to asking God to kill me. But generally, life is good. Okay, there are some issues which remain unresolved, and these are like large stones in the stream bed. Thus life is a complicated swirl of current and counter-current, abrasion and turbidity, air-pocket and whirlpool.

    So far God has ignored my occasional pleas for death. I expect he will continue to ignore them until his purpose for me has been fulfilled. By then I will likely have given up asking and will more likely beg not to have to die. Given what awaits me in eternity, I expect God will ignore that plea also.

    © Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Thinx 38: Rightly handling the word of truth?

    we refuse to ... tamper with God's word
    -- 2 Corinthians 4:2b RSV
    But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully;
    -- 2 Corinthians 4:2b WEB
    Everytime we attempt to harmonise Science with the Bible, it is always the Bible that ends up getting tampered with and adulterated, not that of the naturalist / materialist / humanist. It's the Word of God that gets the scissors and glue treatment, not the textbooks on anthropology, geology, biology and astronomy. Stop talking about harmonising Science with the Bible when you actually mean the opposite: harmonising the Bible with Science!

    As the years roll on, Science 'discovers' what God has been telling us since the beginning. For instance the Bible tells us that every colour of skin is descended from Eve. And now the Human Genome Project agrees. Is this a once in a million? You wish!

    What is Science anyway, and what does it mean to be 'scientific'?

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Thinx 37: Something to say when leading communion

    In the first communion, Jesus took food and drink and gave them spiritual significance. These are not 'elements', this bread and this wine / juice. They are food.

    Why do we eat and drink? To stay alive. We eat and we drink and our bodies digest the solids and the fluids and use the proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to, as they say, 'keep body and soul together.'

    In the communion we are reminded that Jesus is for us true food and true drink. We are encouraged to remember that when we eat and drink physical foodstuffs, we also need to eat and drink of Jesus; taking into our hearts and minds those things that will keep our spiritual life strong and lead us into greater spiritual maturity.

    If we fail to do that, we become weak. It is said that '7 days without prayer makes one weak.' I'd add '... and meditation', for prayer is out-going -- we talk to God, asking for things (for the meaning of the word 'pray' is 'ask'). Meditation is in-coming -- we listen to God, reading, and if reading aloud, hearing his words, mulling over them and seeking to understand their every nuance. This is listening to God through his word. This is the eating and drinking of the real food and real drink.

    If you have no desire for intimacy with God through Jesus Christ, or having the desire, do not wish to act upon it now, let the food pass you by. But be warned: every refusal cements into your character the habit of refusal. However, life here on earth is short and full of trouble. Who knows when you will pass this way again? Perhaps you will not be given another opportunity to choose. Where you spend eternity rests on the choices made here and now.
    the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.

    -- 1 Corinthians 11:23b-27

    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    Thinx 36: Weeds and Wheat -- an appeal to the Weeds

    Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' ..."
    -- Matthew 13:24-28a RSV
    Sadly, many of you are weeds ("tares" in older translations.) The devil has planted you here. Your purpose is to impact Christians individually and corporately so as to render them ineffective, by whatever means are at your disposal.

    Fear not, weeds, for we do not know who you are. And you are safe, for now, because God has told us not to try to pull you out. God has said he will send his angels out to do that on the Day of Judgement.
    " ... the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels."
    -- Matthew 13:39
    But we will know you by your fruit, by what you produce during the course of your life. Good consistently comes out of good hearts, and evil out of evil hearts.

    Gossips give themselves away. So do those who do the things God hates:
    There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.
    -- Proverbs 6:16-19 RSV
    Weeds, you have nothing to fear from us. We will not hunt you down to destroy you. We will not try to pull you out of the congregations you inhabit, for to do so would endanger the wheat.
    The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather [the weeds]?' But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest ...'
    -- Matthew 13:28b-30a RSV
    Do not fear us, weeds. Instead, fear God. When Jesus returns he will cause the weeds to be gathered and the wheat to be harvested. The wheat he will keep. The weeds he will burn.
    Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
    -- Matthew 13:40-43a RSV
    Weeds, it is not too late for you. Miracles happen: you can become wheat, and thus avoid destruction. Repent, that is, change your way of thinking. Acknowledge before God the reality of your situation. Stop taking your guidance from the devil, the world and the flesh. Start listening to, and obeying, God. Align yourself with his purposes. Believe in him. Seek his kingdom and his righteousness. There is still time.
    Jesus came ... saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
    -- Mark 1:14b-15 RSV
    Every time you knock back the hand that offers you life, you cement into your character the habit of rejection. Before it is too late, before rejection of God becomes a way of life leading to death, repent and believe!

    As for you who are wheat, pray for the weeds. Confirm your status as wheat through daily repentance and belief: Daily realign yourself with God; Daily act in obedience to his word; Daily conform your thoughts, words and actions to those of God through prayer, meditating on his word, and obeying his commands.

    © Bruce M. Axtens, 2006.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Thinx 35: Van Nguyen

    So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
    -- 2 Corinthians 5:20 RSV
    Van Nguyen's plight is our plight. His brother wilfully pushed God away, so God let him go. The splash and ripples following his plunge affected everyone around him.

    We also have relatives, friends and neighbours who wilfully push God aside. Can we avoid being impacted by their plunge into darkness when God lets them go?

    We must pray, and we must speak, and we must act. All or nothing. Discuss the issues with God in prayer and get yourself realigned to his plans and purposes. Take the issues up with the world around you through your words, spoken and written. Act out the reality -- be a living example of the plans and purposes of God.

    Can we stop the rot? Is that the most important question? Is faithfulness to God, no matter what the cost, important? Can we love a world that pushes God away? God loved us. Can we love others? Or are we so complacent, so apathetic, that we're happy to let the world go to hell, and to live as if we will be unaffected by its plunge?

    Thanks to Shaphan Cox, who, a week or so before the execution, stood up in church and challenged us to think: to examine the issues, and dig beyond the the facile sensationalism and sentimentality of the media reports.

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    Thinx 34: Prayer

    [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name. ...'"
    --Luke 11:1-2a RSV (altd.)
    Didn't the Pharisees and the Sadducees know how to pray? Or was Jesus' kind of prayer too much a statement of dependency for the Jewish leaders to handle? If the Pharisee / Tax Collector (Luke 18:10-14) story shows the depth or prayer among the religious elite, then likely Jesus's disciples would have been pleasantly surprised by what they had seen and were about to hear.

    'Father' -- at once a declaration of dependence; of family ties between God and man; of the immanence of God immediately kept from Sugar Daddy sentimentality by 'in heaven, hallowed be your name' celebrating God's transcendence and holiness. The almighty, omni-everything God, is approachable. Humble fellowship with him is possible and actively encouraged!

    © Bruce M. Axtens, 2006

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Thinx 33: Life: Too Short Or Not Short Enough?

    You are mortal: live today as if it is your last.
    ... you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
    -- James 4:14 RSV
    Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
    -- Ephesians 5:15,16 RSV
    Here's the tension, then. On the one hand, knowing that life is short, and that I need to make good use of limited time. And on the other hand, aching for this life to be shortened.
    and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
    -- Revelation 21:3,4 RSV
    Don't get me wrong: I like being alive, my wife loves me and our children are a delight. And yet, I can't remember having faced so much change ... and so much pain. Of all the years of my life thus far, this has been the toughest.

    My body is fit and mostly healthy, and yet I often find myself, with tear-filled eyes, crying out for Jesus' return.

    I relate well to Psalm 88. It's one of, if not the, darkest of the Psalms. The writer, Heman the Ezrahite, has it bad: troubles, pain and tears. Everyone shuns him. Even God appears not to be taking any notice.
    O LORD, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me?
    -- Psalm 88:14 RSV (altd.)
    Yet Heman still clings to God, still calls out to him. God is testing Heman. I think Heman is passing the test. Am I?