THAT INFERNAL JERSEY CITY FACTORY!…Jeremiah 11: 1-5

I bugged and badgered my father to visit the factory where my grandmother’s husband worked.  My grandfather Gibson died years before I was born, having collapsed from a heart attack at age 46.  A few years later, my grandmother married her second husband, Howard Harrison.  Howard was nice man.  Thin as a rail, though a heavy beer drinker.  He worked in a glass factory in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Even as a young boy, I was interested in finding out about my family.  Who they were.  What they did.  Including Howard.  I was made fun of by some for being inquisitive.  Didn’t deter me except for some lingering doubts within.  You know the feeling.  Suspecting you might have been adopted but never told!

So, I learned to assert myself.  Even to going to that infernal factory in Jersey City!  What an experience.  Poor Howard.  Working day-in-and-day-out for decades in that infernal inferno.  Blazing heat.  Sweat cascading down.  Blaring noise forcing us to cover our ears–didn’t help much.  Scary machines.  Claustrophobic spaces.  Molten glass poured into steaming molds.

Poor Howard.  Making a living in a living hell.  I don’t remember him ever retiring.  Only dying… after being told to stop drinking beer.  Poor Howard.  I wished a better workplace for that nice man.

God also wishes better for His chosen people.  However, they turn their backs on Him.  He calls them to turn around and come home to Him.  Jeremiah 11–‘…that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace…’ (v.4).  Slavery is an iron furnace.  Shackles in a blistering desert.

But deliverance comes by God’s own hand.  From His loving heart.  In Jesus, we are freed from the ‘iron furnace’.  From hell itself.  Yes, hellish whispers can be heard in this life, but the ultimate fiery blast will never consume us.  Not because of how good we are.  No.  Get that straight.  Only because of what God’s Son did for us on the cross.  Jesus’ blood alone delivers from the terrors of hell.  His blood alone.  Got it?

So, thank God.  We can never thank Him enough.  Let’s give it a good try, anyway!

Prayer:  Thank you for delivering us from final judgement.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

NEW DEVOTIONAL SITE!

I’m delighted to announce that periodically ‘Reflections Out Of Time’ weekly blogs can also be read on YOURDAILYBREAD.ORG  web site along with many other good devotional reads.  Enjoy and pass along the word!  Sue and I love to read ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotional every day.  To get your free copy just check out their web site and sign up.  Monthly issues will be mailed to you.  Or give as a gift to someone who needs good Christian devotionals.  It’s free.  But be sure to check out that first ‘Reflections’ submission in this new setting.  Pray that it and future ones will bless those who read them.  Thanks for being a faithful reader of ‘Reflections Out of Time’…John

YOU’VE GOT TO BE OUT OF YOUR MIND!…1 Corinthians 2:6–2:16

In 1972 I was accepted into an internship program at the Medical Center at Princeton, New Jersey.  A chaplaincy position for certification in Clinical Pastoral Education.  My concentration for the Master’s Degree at Princeton Seminary was pastoral counseling.  This internship would add hands-on experience to academic course work.  Putting what I’ve learned into practice.

This was the same hospital where Albert Einstein died.  No, not after one of my visits, but thanks for asking!  The famed Herr Doctor had lived only a few doors down from the Seminary.  He had said that we humans only use a small portion of our brain power.  Maybe 10-15%.  A smidgeon of all that potential.

My Grandfather Fischer used to say to his sons:  ‘you’re smart like your father, you dope you!’ (all said with his thick German accent).  Funny… really?  Maybe.  Maybe not!

Not so humorous when you read what Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians.  He says something mind-boggling–‘But we have the mind of Christ…’ (1 Corinthians 2:16).  Think about that.  We have the mind of the Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of All!  Truly?

How much do we use of it?  How much time do we spend with Him absorbing His mind, His will, His Word, His ways and His take on the world?  The mind of Christ!  How about putting it to work.  Thinking His thoughts.  Doing what He would do.

Work the mind of Christ you’ve been given.  Exercise it.  Act accordingly.  Stop making excuses.  As Paul later says, ‘…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Every thought?  To be obedient?   You’ve got to be out of your mind!  No, in your right mind with the mind of Christ!  Smart like your Savior, you saint, you!

Prayer:  Lord, help us to use all that you’ve given us.  For you…for others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

SOME NEEDED LIGHT…Psalm 132: 13-18

Recently my wife and I rented a house on the beach along the Oregon Coast.  A cozy cottage with large windows, giving us expansive views of the Pacific Ocean.  Each day it poured.  Buckets really and then clear skies with stars, planets, the Milky Way in plain sight from the hot tub we often soaked in.  We had weather in most of its Pacific Northwest winter varieties!

We slept in separate bedrooms as each had a too small bed for both of us to comfortably sleep in.  Mine had an archway that you had to be careful of when getting in or out of bed.  My head a ready target.  Have a few bruises to prove it!

Our rental home was in a remote cove that had no street lights and few neighbors.  Night comes early in winter.  When the interior lights go out, darkness becomes an eerie companion.  Unwelcome to the likes of me.  Invariably, I’ll wake up at an unknown hour to a start and startle that ushers fear and panic within.  I have to get up to shake off that old suspicion of being abandoned all-over-again.

That feeling I first experienced when I was two years old, as polio forced me to be placed in isolation in a hospital ward far from home.  That was many decades ago.  More than six.  Yet those scary, inhospitable hospital nights linger somewhere within, to frighten me in strange places.

So, what to do?  You no doubt have shadows lurking within that have been dragged along from your past.  Memories that haunt more than comfort.  That rear their ugly heads with almost no provocation.  Know what I mean?

Psalm 132: 17 says–‘…I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.’  When we become born again through faith in Jesus, we become one of God’s anointed.  Blessed and forgiven.  God’s child.  His own.  Secure.  What does He give us?  ‘A lamp…’!  Exactly what’s needed!  He sheds needed light.

Does that mean I’m all better?  Not quite.  But more like a hand has been extended to me to hold onto.  A strength beyond myself.  Light.  Don’t need much for a little goes a long way.

I know myself a tad better these days.  I’m not so ashamed to admit who I am.  Most of all, I know I can count on the Lord when I feel so ‘childish’ with fears from long ago.  He’ll be there for me.  He will.  We can always count on Jesus.  Always!  For He said, ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12).  Even my little world!  And yours, too!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for being light in the dark.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

DOUBTS AND MORE DOUBTS…John 8: 42-47

When I was a new Christian, I was dogged by doubts.  Doubts about whether I was a true believer.  Couldn’t shake those horrible feelings.  How could I go forward with Jesus when I wasn’t sure I was His?  And I was in Bible College for summer classes!  Yet miserable with doubts.  When attending evangelistic church services, I went forward three times.  Baptized and then re-baptized.  Anxious and insecure.

I wanted closeness with the Lord.  More than anything, to be His child.  But instead–churning, tossing, heaving feelings of uncertainty.  Doubts and more doubts.  Until I grabbed hold of Bible verses like those found in John chapter 8–‘He who belongs to God hears what God says…’ (v. 47).  Longing to belong.  God’s child hears Him.  Listening–the answer to my doubts?

Slowly but surely, I began to realize that the time to worry about whether I’m saved or not was when I could care less about it…or Him.  When I tell God to go His way and I’ll go mine.

But that wasn’t me.  Not at all.  Quite the contrary.  I genuinely wanted to know the Lord, but wasn’t aware that He even gave a ‘hoot’ about me.  So, the more I read God’s Word, the more time I spent with Him, the less space there was for those infernal doubts.  I say, ‘good riddance’!

If you hear Him, listen to Him and follow Him as best you can.  Warts and all.  Skinning your spiritual knees more often than not.  Nevertheless, we’re His.  He so wants us to know that.  For sure.  No doubt about it!

He’ll give you His assurance.  Knowing we’re His, strengthens us to keep living for Him.  When we doubt someone’s love, it limits our closeness to them.  Same with the Lord.  Settle right now that you believe in Jesus and want Him as Lord of your life, every moment of every day.  Settled.  Then, the Bible will be your tuning fork, registering the right note and the right pitch as you harmonize with Jesus!

Aren’t you glad you’re a child of God?  The more time we spend with Him, the less we’ll have for doubts and confusion.  His child.  Now… and forever!

Prayer:  Lord, you are so good to us, making us your children by faith alone in Jesus your Son.  Amen.