Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TIME TAGS: "WAIT FOR THE DING!" -- Devotional for April 13, from Good Seeds"

Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her. (Genesis 29:20)

I am the father of three daughters. I remember telling them, when they got to their teen years – when they started noticing the boys who had started noticing them – something I heard from Christian psychologist, James Dobson: “What’s reserved for the future will not spoil with the keeping.” Young love is often called “puppy love,” a term far more innocent sounding than what it actually refers to: “animal instinct.” The kind of love that draws the sexes together (eros) is not the kind that keeps them together (agape). Though both of these Greek words are translated love in English, they are at two opposite ends of the spectrum: the one has absolutely no patience while the other will wait as long as it takes; the one can think of nothing but self while the other thinks only of the other; the one wants man’s best while the other wants God’s best. I remember when our oldest daughter, Holly (whose birthday we celebrate today), finally reached that wonderful age when she could be read to. I was a schoolteacher then, and read to my fourth graders every day, so I couldn’t wait till I could set my own child on my lap and lift the characters and stories off the page and deposit them, through the magic of books, into her eager mind. But of course these were picture books, and the thousand words spoken by each picture were deciphered by my daughter more quickly than I could read their captions, and so she was ready to turn the page before I could read all the words. So I would tell her – and this became the rule for two sisters that followed, and the eleven grandchildren they gave us – to not turn the page until they heard the “ding” (me, going: “ding!”) This is the Rule of Time Tags: learning to wait longer than we might think necessary, so that everything is ready for the right result. Just because a fourteen year old may have the coordination, strength and skill to drive a car doesn’t mean we would trust him behind the wheel. And just because young teens have all the right parts, in perfect working order, doesn’t mean they are ready to raise up the next generation. There’s a world of difference between “fathering” a child and being a good father to that child, between giving birth and giving worth to your own little one. When Jacob saw Rachel he immediately “fell in love” with her. Was it puppy love? The answer comes in how long he was able to wait – and how hard he was willing to work – for her. Seven years hard labor seemed just a moment to him. And I know from my own long and happy marriage, that waiting five years to love the girl that I loved at first sight was well worth the wait. And so, let us learn – and teach our children – to “wait for the ding.”

A "GENKI" CHURCH -- Devotional for February 29, from "Good Seeds"

NOTE TO READERS: Though I finished for the year, there are two more entries I am submitting now: 1) Feb 29: for "Leap Day" occurring once every four years, and 2)a changed one for April 13, spinning off of our eldest daughter's birthday, as I did with birthdays of my wife Karen on Aug 30 and our other daughters Heidi, Jan 19 and Heather June 26.

Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God. (Zechariah 6:15)

Today is “Leap Day,” a day we have added to the calendar to keep our human accounting of time in line with the heavenly. This added day synchronizes life on earth with the movements of bodies placed and set in motion by the Creator and Lord of the universe, which dictate the constancy of the seasons and of day and night. In all their detailed search and study astrophysicists have come up with no other place in the universe that could even remotely touch the minimum requirements for the sustenance of life that we enjoy on planet earth. The Bible says that not only was it by Christ that “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth,” but also that “in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). Just as the health of our planet is maintained by a certain divinely appointed equilibrium, so is the health of our lives, whether in the physical, mental, social or spiritual realm, all under the concern and care of a loving God. He expects us to do our part, of course, both as careful custodians of our physical environment, but also as good stewards of our own bodies and the family of man. Just as God sent His Son from far beyond the universe to come and dwell with man for the purpose of calling the wanderer back to his Creator, so God has ordained that we, too, in microcosmic imitation, come from afar to build up one another, bringing the loving grace of God to the suffering race of man. After a lifetime of ministry and while contemplating retirement, an American pastor and his wife sensed the call of God to move to Japan to help a missionary pastor with his struggling church. In the months of preparation (and silent grappling with indecision) the pastor received this message from the missionary: “My wife and I were reading in the minor prophets today when we came to Zechariah 6:15. It stopped us cold as it fairly shouted at us a great blast of encouragement – for it made us think of you two coming soon to help us! We have the physical buildings, but our spiritual body is not all that genki (“healthy”). Please pray for us, during this time of constant struggle, that our Lord’s work among the people will draw them first to Himself, and then together as a body, purifying us all to be clearer and better lights in this dark, idolatrous land, at this rather dark time.” Since February 29th only touches down once in four years, this devotional will no doubt be touched upon just as infrequently. But you’re reading it now, right! So as you do, let it remind you to uphold missionaries and pastors with your prayers, and with your help – all for the sake of a genki church!

Friday, January 1, 2010

TETELESTAI -- Devotional for December 31, from "Good Seeds"

NOTE TO MY READERS: Today ends this one year project. It has been a challenge and a joy for me. Karen has endured the role of a "writer's widow" as I have spent an average of two hours every day of the year, mostly in the evenings, sometimes late into the wee hours, on this project. I will now take the files to my publisher, Lady Bug Press and very soon, I trust, GOOD SEEDS will be available in hard copy form. For those interested in purchasing the book for yourself or as a gift, contact me at, or at Karen and I are leaving for Japan in February, to serve as a co-pastor of International Chapel in Kyoto. We will return in July to serve at Sugarloaf Camp, and then we'll see if God sends us back to Japan or not. Wherever I'm serving and living, I plan to be writing. My next project is to complete my Christian novel, SECOND WIND.

God bless you as you walk and talk with him, one day at a time, in 2010. Maybe you'd like to take GOOD SEEDS along with you on that journey. Steve Moore.

And He said to me, “It is done. I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”(Revelation 21:6-7)

It takes three English words to translate this one word from the Greek New Testament: “It is finished!” This was the last of the “Seven Last Words” of Christ, spoken just before “He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). Is this not also what He will say at the end of time, as prophesied in the last chapter of the Bible: “It is done”? When the apostle Paul came to the end of his life of witness to the world concerning the person and work of Christ, he said a similar thing: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7). There’s something to say about sticking to a job until it is done. Of course the world is full of hard-working people, who create and fabricate and dedicated their lives to competent production and service. But how much of mankind’s blood, sweat and tears are poured out on projects that serve no more than the present? Indeed, how many of the clever people invest their competence only in the service of evil? “He is a really good burglar,” someone says. What does this mean? Simply that this fellow’s skills at thievery are highly developed, and thus far he has gotten away with…a lot of merchandise that isn’t his. James writes, ”When lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (1:15). Paul warns, “Brethren, in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature” (I Corinthians 14:20). How many professing Christians are experts in the ways and the wonders of this fallen world, in its science and technology, in its music and movies, in its heroes of sports and screen, while remaining mere apprentices in the things of God? It is good to be “good at” something, to be sure, but it is crucial to choose carefully your specialty, that which will occupy your life and define your legacy. Is it something that honors God, serves others, and lasts past today, maybe even on into eternity? “Do not be weary in well doing,” wrote Paul in Galatians 6:9, but there’s no point in doing well what we should not be doing at all, right? If we continue in work that is God ordained and Spirit empowered, we can be confident that wherever we are in that process when God calls us home we will have finished our course. And now, Lord, as we round out the year, let our thoughts be drawn back to You – You who are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Author and Finisher of our faith – the Satisfier of our thirst. Tetelestai! Your work is finished! But we press on. Even so, Maranatha! – Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" -- Devotional for December 30, from "Good Seeds"

Do not judge one another (Romans 14:13). Do not speak against one another, brethren, for he who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law of God, to judge it. But if you judge the law you are not a doer of the law. There is only one Lawgiver, one Judge – the One who is able to both save and destroy. So who are you to judge your neighbor! (James 4:11-12)

This is one of the favorite phrases heard in childish sibling rivalry battles. Unfortunately we never seem to outgrow the tendency toward bossing other people around. Was it to children that James wrote this stern admonition, this negative member of the “One Another” family of biblical admonitions? No, it was to adults who in the midst of their God centered worship became distracted by their man centered irritations – and before they knew it, they set themselves up as judges of one another. We need to see that this is not only wrong, but foolish. Why? Because anything less than perfect judgment is failed judgment, and only God can judge perfectly. There are two pre-requisites for being a judge: 1) Perfect Knowledge and 2) Perfect Righteousness. As far as humans are concerned, none of us knows enough and none of us is good enough, to be a judge of others. Any judgment we make will of necessity be based on incomplete information. And, because we are sinners, it will be based on faulty motives and attitudes. Only God knows everything, and only God has a pure heart, untainted by sin. He “does all things well” (Mark 7:37). When we judge others we set ourselves over them as if we were God. But only God is GOD: “Let God be God, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). To “speak against” someone may not sound so bad, but the literal translation of this phrase in James 4:11 is “evil slander.” We can slander as effectively with our eyes as with our lips – when we look down upon someone. God is high enough to see men with no obstructions blocking His vision, seeing them as they really are, whereas when we “look down” on others we don't really see them, viewing them only through prideful, haughty eyes. We must realize that only God can look down upon a person with impunity, because He alone stands as the one perfectly wise and righteous Judge. We tend to make premature judgments. In I Corinthians 4:5 Paul says, “Judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time God will give to everyone what praise is due.” We must wait until Jesus comes to hear the final verdict. Until then, seek to see others through the goodness and wisdom of God. If you step down from being judge of your brother, only then can you step up to being his friend!