There is no other

Consult together, argue your case, and state your proofs that idol worship pays. Who made these things known long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD? For there is no other God but me – a just God and a Savior – no, not one!

– Isaiah 45:21 (NLT)

I stumbled upon this passage in Isaiah tonight. I find the passages in Scripture such as this one where God engages His people in debate intriguing and powerful.

Here God seems to be nearly smacking us over the head, as if to say “are you guys nuts?!”. Frankly, in my observation, fallen humanity is nuts. I’ve marvelled at the crazy behavior of even the relatively sane people around me, and I don’t fare well either in this analysis. We humans have this mad tendency to set up our own gods. This isn’t a post where I plan on listing the evils of modern idol worship – the worship of money or pleasure or sports teams or fill-in-the-blank. I only make the observation that not much has changed in the last 2700 years since Isaiah penned these words. The human race still runs after idols at the drop of a hat – and usually we are the ones dropping the hat. Will we ever learn?

We can learn if we will just listen to the Lord. He continues, inviting, ever inviting us back to reason and to Him.

Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.”

I find in that last declaration several pivotal truths. First, God is not kidding – we can chase after idols as much as we want, we can be angry with God, we can shake our fist at Him or bargain with Him like He was some petty diety. We can pay Him lipservice one hour a week and live like hades the other 167. We can ignore Him in times of plenty, taking the credit for our own good fortune, and then complain to Him when times are tough. We can do all these things, but it won’t change the central Truth of the universe: there will come a day when every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess. This will happen – He has sworn it by His own name and has made very clear that He will not go back on His word.

And, not only will we bow and confess, some of us will also finally get our theology right:

The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.”

Yes He is. He is the Source of anything good or strong residing in me or you, much like an artist is the source of the beauty on a canvas. Paul takes up this theme in the second chapter of Ephesians, reminding us that we are God’s workmanship, created for the good works in Christ that God had in mind before He created the world. Today I was thinking about the artistry of God and His workmanship in our lives – what can we do but praise Him when we think of his patience and care in molding us, often painfully, into creatures that will truly reflect His glory?

Paul takes up the soaring refrain of Isaiah 45 in the second chapter of Philippians. Written anno dominie, Paul has the blessed advantage of knowing the One whom Isaiah could only glimpse dimly from his vantage point pre-Christ.

God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

“. . . to the glory of God the Father.”

Amen – may it be so.

Bloo v 0.13 released

Bloo v 0.13 has been released. Below is a summary of the new features:

  • I’ve implemented an RSS 2.0 feed (see the right sidebar). The feed has validated, but please let me know if it ever goes invalid in your reader. I basically wrote it from scratch.
  • Now the posts have a day header on them
  • I am now pinging to, rather than to Hopefully this will provide for a more reliable ping when this blog updates
  • Now when creating a post I can create a “Draft” that only I can see. This will come in handy for me as I’m a major re-writer/editor of my posts. They usually change about 7 times after I publish them to the blog – now you won’t have to “watch me for the changes” as my posts morph before your eyes.
  • There is now a Search “snapon” – see the right sidebar. It will search the posts for words or phrases, and will highlight the words or phrases in the posts that match
  • Beefed up my headers (stuff you can’t see that’s sent with the http request)
  • Small formatting changes

Deploying this took me longer than I had hoped it would tonight. Boy am I punchy, as you can see by this poorly worded and ungrammatical release notes screed . . . zzzzzzzz

Version 0.14 should be coming out in about a week, I suppose. More on that later.

Watch me for the changes . . .

The clothing of humility

. . . All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud

but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5b

And what, then, is humility? Surely Peter is not referring to the image that many of us conjure in our minds when we hear that word – false modesty, the refusal to accept a compliment, the constant putting down of oneself. We’ve all been there before. For instance, have you ever had this experience? In church someone has sung a song beautifully that has inspired you to worship God. Seeking to bless and encourage them, and, frankly, to thank them for using their talents in this way, you offer a compliment:

You: “Thank you so much for that song! You sang beautifully and it really touched me and led me into worship.”

Them: “Oh, please, don’t praise me. Praise God.”

When what would have been far more edifying (and, frankly, a whole lot simpler) would have been the following exchange:

You: “Thank you so much for that song! You sang beautifully and it really touched me and led me into worship.”

Them: “Thanks.”

Many of us have actually been on both sides of that exchange. I’m particularly bad about accepting compliments myself. And that isn’t humility. Neither pride nor false modesty equate to humility, because they both are attitudes of the heart that have self as their first concern. And true humility is not self-focused. True humility is rare – in fact some of the humblest people you’ll ever meet may not at first seem to be particularly humble. Because they don’t act humble, they are humble, and that is a subtle yet crucial distinction. True humility is the joyful forgetfulness of self that points one’s heart and attentions toward God and toward others. Being around someone who is truly humble is, frankly, a respite from the modesty and pride games that we so often engage in. It’s a treat!

Peter tells us to “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another”. I’m intrigued by Peter’s use of the word “clothe” here (not being a Greek scholar I can’t move any further beyond “I’m intrigued” . . .). It’s an interesting concept. Throughout history, clothing has been an indicator of humility, of modesty. Here we are being asked to “clothe ourselves” with humility. Almost as if humility is something we “put on”, like clothing.

I’m treading on shaky ground here, perhaps, because I don’t want to misrepresent the command. But have you noticed how many times in the New Testament we are asked to “put on” something? We are told to “put on the full armor of God”, to “put on the new self”, to “put on love”. I believe that just as clothing is not part of our fleshly bodies, humility is foreign to the Flesh. It’s not a natural thing for us. It’s something that we have to “put on”.

There have been times when I have believed I was “clothing myself with humility” when actually I was, metaphorically, wearing an outfit that would make Liberace blush. And that’s the key – anytime in your heart of hearts you are saying “look at me!” you are a far country away from humility. Have you ever had this thought in that secret place your heart: “I hope people notice how humble I am”? I admit, I have.

No, true humility is the modest clothing of self-forgetfulness. True humility doesn’t get embarassed, and doesn’t guard its pride, because it’s not thinking about itself at all. I’m reminded of that famous and most ancient exchange:

[Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked?” – Genesis 3:10-11a [emphasis mine]

How on earth had Adam and Eve not realized that they were naked? I believe it’s because, before the fall, they had never really thought of themselves at all, at least not in the way we think of ourselves. We can’t fathom how an unfallen mind considers itself. It’s not that they were dumb or blind. I can guarantee you, for instance, that Adam knew Eve was naked. “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

We won’t know what that was like until we stand redeemed in the presence of our Savior. So, in the meantime, we are to clothe ourselves.

With humility.

Waiting on God

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

Thus Luke starts the second chapter of his Gospel, linking the earth-shaking advent of Christ with a historical marker – the decree of a pagan ruler seated on his throne many, many miles away from this small, Judean backwater trouble-spot of his empire.

How long had the Jewish people waited for their Messiah? How many of the children of Abraham had been born, lived and died hungry for deliverance? In Romans Paul describes all of creation “groaning” for liberation from its bondage to decay. In the same way many of us groan under the burdens that life has placed on us and we long for deliverance.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:22-24 (NIV)

I can’t really imagine what was going through the minds of Joseph and Mary. They appeared to be like any other normal, young, devout Jewish couple bringing the offering designated for the less well-to-do (a pair of doves or young pigeons) in observance of the law of Moses – a law that called for sacrifice forty days after the birth of a firstborn son. But the events of their engagement, pregnancy, and, of course, the miraculous and no doubt nerve-wracking birth of the One the angel instructed them to name “Jesus” were anything but “normal”.

And, in wider context, it was just a hard time to be a Jew. Their country was under occupation by the ruthless Romans. The glorious days of Israel’s past were gone, and the people were anguished and troubled. Many awaited a deliverer to bring them out of this mess.

Among them was Simeon. I am humbled by the patience and perseverance of many of the people described in scripture, and Simeon is a prime example:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Luke 2:25-32 (NIV)

The old prophet took Jesus in his arms and praised God for this one simple look at his Deliverer. “You may now dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation”.

One look at Jesus was all this man had been waiting for his entire life. Think about that for a second. He had been promised by God that he would see the Messiah, and upon holding Jesus he knew that God had been faithful to keep that promise. Simeon got one look at the One who would not only redeem Israel but would also be a light of revelation to the Gentiles. He got one look at the One who would reveal God to those who were far away from God, mired in paganism and the vanity of earth. God would be revealed to them in Jesus because Jesus is God. Simeon was holding the King of kings in his arms. He looked in Jesus’ face and saw the salvation of God.

He had waited a long, long time for this moment. Yet he did not criticize God for being late – For Simeon, the whole of his life culminated here in this one look. And, satisfied, he was now ready to go home.

But not before gently revealing to the young, wondering couple that stood before him some hard truths:

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

A sword will pierce your own soul too.

How true that was, although Mary could probably not see it fully then. This little baby was indeed the Redeemer of the whole earth, and a redemption of such magnitude would not be won bloodlessly. Simeon had waited his whole life for this moment. And Jesus would wait about thirty years for His moment, for the beginning of the “falling and rising” of so many in Israel, and for His own falling under the crushing weight of a crossbar laid on his shredded back and the rising up of his torn body on a cross – the lifting up of the Christ that would draw all men to Him. No – our redemption was not won bloodlessly. It would take the last full measure of devotion from the One that Simeon held in his arms.

The world had waited on God for a long time. You may be waiting on God too – for redemption, rescue, deliverance. Perhaps for the revelation of God to one you love, or for the resurrection of your joy, or for salvation. I pray that your eyes (and mine) will see God’s salvation. God’s sense of time is not ours, and the wait can seem long. But He is faithful (though in my weakness I don’t live that fact out all the time). I know that it is always worth waiting when the One you are waiting on is God.

I hope to thank Simeon one day for his example of what it means to wait on God, as we both drink in one eternal look at our beautiful Savior.

Please Pray

If you get a moment, please pray for Thinkling Jared’s mom. She is in ICU today suffering complications from what was supposed to have been a routine gall-bladder removal but which has turned into two more surgeries and a lot of pain for her.

Jared’s dad needs prayer too – this is hard on him. Everyone’s very concerned – please pray.



2 Samuel 22 is an amazing chapter. In it we read the song of David which the Old Testament warrior penned in exultation because God had delivered him from all his enemies.

I am struck by the power of these images.

In my distress I called to the LORD ;

I called out to my God.

From his temple he heard my voice;

my cry came to his ears.

“The earth trembled and quaked,

the foundations of the heavens shook;

they trembled because he was angry.

Smoke rose from his nostrils;

consuming fire came from his mouth,

burning coals blazed out of it.

He parted the heavens and came down;

dark clouds were under his feet.

He mounted the cherubim and flew;

he soared on the wings of the wind.

2 Samuel 22:7-11 (NIV)

The thought of the Lord mounting his cherubim and soaring on the wings of the wind . . . it sends chills down my spine. The dictionary defines the Cherubim as, basically, composite beings; the winged footstool and chariot of the Almighty. I can’t even picture that. Selah, indeed . . .

God heard David’s cry and He, basically, opened up a can on David’s enemies. The “entrance” God makes in the poetry of David as He comes to his rescue, well, is it not awesome? It takes seven verses just to describe it (2 Sam 22:8-14), and that’s just the entrance! Darkness envelops Him, bright light streams forth, bolts of lightening, His thunderous voice! We serve a mighty God!

And it fills me with awe that these apocalyptic images describe God’s rescue of David. For most of my Christian life the word “rescue” has held special significance. As one of my favorite worship songs puts it:

I need You Jesus

To come to my rescue

Where else can I go?

Just as David needed to be delivered from his earthly enemies, so we need to be delivered from our spiritual enemy, the accuser of our souls and the father of the iniquity we are born into. And the work of Christ to save us from our sin is the rescue and His fame and the wonder of His heroism echo resoundingly in eternity. The older I get the more I understand – there is no where else I can go, and no other place I want to be other than in God’s hands.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

from my foes, who were too strong for me.

They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

but the LORD was my support.

He brought me out into a spacious place;

he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Amazing. Our Father stands ever ready to come to our defense, to rescue us from our powerful enemy. Because He delights in His children.

I need You, Jesus, to come to my rescue.

Bloo v 0.12 released

Did a bit more work today. Bloo version 0.12 is now up – here are the main changes that you’ll see in this release:

  • Fixed a problem with the comment author URL display
  • Small formatting changes
  • Now you can select a category from the category drop-down in the right sidebar. In addition, the category tag at the end of each post is now a hyperlink for that category

More goodies coming out later this week (hopefully a better pinger and an RSS feed, among other things.)

Good night all.


Fear of the Lord

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge . . .

– Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

Fearing God is not in vogue these days, at least not in the culture in which we live. It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around verses like Proverbs 1:7. The verse continues: “but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” This is scary in itself (speaking of fear) when I think about how much I despise discipline.

So I’m pondering this passage: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”.

Knowledge of what?

A possible answer comes to me. Fear of the Lord is – in part – the knowledge of how completely helpless I am without Him. Do I understand that? I’m an American, with a checking account and a college degree and a 401k and a house and three (three?) cars. It’s easy for the well-integrated unbelievers among us to not “feel” helpless. Our physical circumstances are not desperate.

Yet, without Christ we are helpless. There is no “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” in the Kingdom of God. We have so little power on our own. Christ died for us while we were dead in our trespasses and sins. You can’t get much more helpless than “dead”.

But if we’re in the Kingdom, adopted children and beloved by our Father, why the fear aspect? Why does fear need to intrude into my relationship with God? Wouldn’t fearing God interfere with my love for Him?

Oh, if I could only begin to comprehend His holiness, His power, His splendor and His glory, I might know real fear for the first time. Fear expressing itself in dumbfounded awe, trembling love, and prostrate devotion. Fear that only leads me to love Him more.

I leave you with a favorite passage from Job:

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

“Who is this that darkens counsel

By words without knowledge?

“Now gird up your loins like a man,

And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Job 38:1-4a (NASB)

And on and on for 60+ more awe-inspiring verses.

And Job gets it. He knows where he was when God laid the foundations of the earth.

He was nowhere.

Nowhere, that is, except within the loving and holy thoughts of his Creator.

Then Job answered the LORD and said,

“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?

I lay my hand on my mouth.

Job understood the fear of the Lord. And it made him wise.

I lay my hand on my mouth.

Bloo v 0.11 released!

Out of the Bloo has just been upgraded to Bloo v 0.11. The following new features are included in this release:

  • Weblogs Pinging (I think – guess I’ll know for sure if posting this post pings Weblogs 🙂 Update: Doesn’t look like the ping took. Does anyone besides me find Weblogs ping service irritating? I’m going to start pinging a few more sites (technorati, blogrolling) to see if I have better luck there). Update II: Actually, the ping does “take” – it “takes” forever (ha ha) for weblogs to recognize it 🙂 – but it is happening. I’m going to switch over to at Andy’s advice – should be ready in version 0.13
  • A “View Recent Commentary” link
  • Monthly Archives (in the right sidebar)
  • Display of the comment author URL when displaying comments
  • Improvements internally in the object structure
  • Comments flooding protection
  • Tag balancing
  • Some security improvements
  • Some formatting improvements

The development on Bloo still continues to “flow” quite nicely. I always know when I’ve hit the groove – attained “Nerdvana” you might say – when anything new I want to do to my basic software framework flows with that framework and is implemented as unobtrusively as possible. The monthly archives “SnapOn” for instance (in the right sidebar) – took me about 20 minutes. Very simple (and it works).

Bloo is not yet ready for public domain, but hopefully in a few more releases it will be.

Watch me for the changes . . .

Congratulations Dawn Eden!

The invaluable, most excellent Dawn Eden has some wonderful news!

I have two pieces of incredibly, unbelievably wonderful news to share.

This is not an April Fool.

The first is that today I received official notice that I will begin a new, permanent full-time job on April 11. It promises to be the best job I have ever had in my life.

I am sorry that I cannot give full details of the position here, because after my experience at my last job, I recognize the necessity of keeping my blog and job completely separate, both for my own sake and out of courtesy to my employer. However, I can tell you that it is a higher-level position than my last job, with greater opportunity for advancement (that is to say, there is opportunity for advancement); it pays better; the benefits are better; I like the organization and the people I’ve met there; and – most importantly – I’ll be doing the kind of work that I’ve been longing to do.

In other words, this is a complete answer to prayer – a greater answer than I had hoped for.

The other news is that today I accepted an offer to write a book for one of the largest Christian publishers.

Details of my book will be available here, but I’m waiting until the ink is dry on the contract and until my publisher lets me know it’s OK to get the word out. For now, I can tell you that it’ll be based on themes I’ve developed on this blog (not relating to Planned Parenthood – perhaps that’ll be another book).

As one who has followed with interest the travails and triumphs of this brave and increasingly influential Christian blogger, I’d like to congratulate Dawn. This is awesome news!