Sunday, March 20, 2011

A pale blue dot

Just the other day, I added a framed image to my office wall. And every time I look up at it, I'm awestruck. Really. Every time my eyes glance in its direction, I stop whatever I was doing and I stare in wonder.

The print I bought and framed is an image of what has come to be known as The Pale Blue Dot. I've written about it before. Here's some background information on my picture from that previous blog post...

It's a wonderful image taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 while it was on its way out of our solar system, more than 4 billion miles away from earth, and gives a very real sense of our smallness. As Voyager 1 grew increasingly distant, Ground Control on Earth commanded it to turn around and take some pictures of our solar system. From that vast distance, in one of the pictures, Earth can be seen as an infinitesimal point of light visible in a ray of sunlight (enlarged in the image to the right, or click on the image to the left to enlarge it).

As the famous astronomist Carl Sagan later said, "That's here. That's home. That's us." That little dot is where "everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives... every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam."

So now, as I sit at my desk, sometimes stressing over a phone call I need to make or worrying about something I just said in a call I just completed, or sometimes struggling with a project I need to complete or wondering how on earth I'll meet a deadline, I just look up and I get a dose of perspective. Because whatever I'm stressing over or struggling with, it's probably not as earth-shattering as I may think it to be. And whether I succeed or fail at some tiny task at some tiny point in the history of this tiny dot in the universe is probably not as important as I may be tempted to think.

But in addition to realizing that, I find that the pale blue dot in that image leaves me utterly amazed at how God took notice of each person on this "mote of dust," and despite how infinitesimally small we are, God sent His Son Jesus to this precious jewel in this vast universe to rescue us from our sins and to offer us a new and infinite life with Him! That kind of love leaves me in awe every time I look up from my modest pursuits and stare at a simple dot. And it leaves me lost in wonder as I think that God cares enough to draw near to us here and to wrap us in His loving arms!

© 2011 by Ken Peters

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Every Command is a Promise (church bulletin cover)

There’s great hope when God tells us to do what’s impossible to do. He knows we can’t do it, and He really doesn’t want us trying to do it as if we thought we could do it ourselves.

For example, we know that God strictly commanded Israel to “drive out all the inhabitants of the land” (Numbers 33:52), and we know that it was actually God who was “driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:38). In fact, God promised that it would be “the Lord your God who fights for you” as the children of Israel took the land (Deut. 3:22). So in light of all that, it makes sense for Moses to say, “...that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised” (Deut. 6:18-19).

Notice it doesn’t say, “ the Lord has commanded.” This is because God promised to do the very same thing that He had commanded His people to do. And this is why we never need to fret when God asks us to do what seems impossible. Because as we take a step of obedience to do what God has commanded, God steps in to help us accomplish what’s in His heart for us to do. We have a part – He has a part. We can’t do our part without Him, and He doesn’t want to do his part without us. So we do our part in faith-filled dependence on Him, and He does His part out of grace-filled love for us. What a wonderful arrangement!

It seems to me that this means that when God’s grace is involved, every command God gives us contains a promise that it’s by His strength that it’ll happen. That’s why I don’t want to get stressed out when God tells me to do what seems impossible — because as a child of God, we can be sure that whatever God commands is also a promise!

© 2011 by Ken Peters

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Act the Miracle

I found a very helpful devotional on John Piper's blog today. It's something I very much needed to hear, as it seemed to relate very well to what I'd just recently posted to my own blog, and I plan to listen to the longer version for which a link is provided below. Check it out, and perhaps you'll also find it a helpful insight!...

When it comes to killing my sin I don’t wait for the miracle, I Act the Miracle.

Acting a miracle is different from working a miracle. If Jesus tells a paralyzed man to get up, and he gets up, Jesus works a miracle. But if I am the paralyzed man and Jesus tells me to get up, and I obey and get up, I act the miracle. If I am dead Lazarus and Jesus commands me to get up, and I obey, Jesus works the miracle, I act the miracle.

So when it comes to killing my sin, I don’t wait passively for the miracle of sin-killing to be worked on me, I act the miracle.

For example, Paul says, “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

So he tells me to put my sin to death. I should not wait for God to kill it while I remain passive. But he tells me to kill it “by the Spirit." Sin-killing is a miracle of the Spirit. But I do not wait passively, I act the miracle.

Again Paul says, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

So Paul works hard to kill the sins of lethargy and distraction in his ministry. “I worked harder than any of them.” But the decisive animation of that work is the grace of God. It is a miracle. But Paul does not wait passively, he acts the miracle.

Or consider Philippians 2:12-13. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Paul commands me to work out my salvation, because God is the one who works this in me. My willing and working is God’s willing and working. It is a miracle. But I do not wait passively, I act the miracle.

I spoke to the Bethlehem College and Seminary Chapel about this crucial act of miraculous sin-killing in my own life. These are lessons I learned afresh on my leave of absence. They feel very fresh, very important and very powerful in my life right now. It is a very personal message.

I invite you to listen or watch “I Act the Miracle.”

© 2011 by Ken Peters