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The King’s Meal

Today, the body of believers to whom we have committed ourselves, communed with each other and with our Lord Jesus over the elements of His Supper.  These days, I am trying to discipline myself to personal reflection as the elements are being passed around – to review that “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior” (Newton).

 

I want to be mindful of the great honor I have received – “once His enemy, now seated at the table” – wonder of all wonders!  Further, this memorial meal foreshadows the meal we will share with King Jesus in eternity at his wedding feast when the Lord himself will dress himself for service… and He will come and serve those who have watched for his return (Luke 12:35-38) – what?!? how can this be?

 

My time around the Lord’s Table has been enriched by a message given by Sinclair Ferguson at the 2017 Pastors’ Basics Conference sponsored by Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, OH, and their pastor, Alistair Begg.  Ferguson likens the Lord’s Supper to a dress rehearsal for that glorious day when we, Christ’s bride, set apart by Jesus himself, will be presented to our Bridegroom in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing – holy and without blemish, having been cleansed by Him by the washing with the Word (Ephesians 5:26-27).

 

These days it’s common for the wedding party to celebrate a joyous meal together after the rehearsal.  Ferguson points out that the rehearsal dinner or Groom’s Dinner, as we call it, is traditionally paid for by the groom’s father.  And so it is with the meal we celebrate in our churches around the Lord’s table – it is a meal paid for by our Groom’s Father…  and at the dearest of costs (John 3:16).

 

Similarly, the banquet we celebrate following a wedding is traditionally paid by the Bride’s Father… and so it will be on that resplendent Day. The bride’s Father, our Father, will have provided all for that Day – that day of rejoicing when we will glory in our beloved Groom and need never be parted from Him ever more.   No wonder we will sing and shout the victory – “Hallelujah!  All I have is Christ!”

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Yes, My Conscience

As if in response to my previous post, I was given this quote from Pastor John Piper:

 

Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped for.
Grieve the losses.  Feel the pain.

…Then wash your face.  Trust God.  And embrace the life you have.

 

The lapse between the first and last lines is individual, but our trust in our good Lord’s loving Providence must certainly lead us to the latter attitude.

 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

 

Yes, my conscience; He [does] us great good.

 

Belmont Acres, Farewell


My family home was torn down today… and I am broken-hearted.

 

For the last month, it’s been effectively gutted, leaving it a shell of the home I once knew.  It was necessarily stripped and sold of its old wooden trim and hardwood flooring, exterior doors and windows, cupboard doors, paving bricks, and even some items I was glad to harvest – flowers from the yard, a birdbath which we had even while living in town, and my mom’s china cabinet which housed her china with the silver wheat pattern.  Now seeing the pit in the ground and all semblance of home gone, it all seems so very final and I feel very lonely.

 

Dana has said that the sale of his family’s business has seemed like a death of sorts and I know what he means.

 

Remember the movie You’ve Got Mail where Kathleen Kelly has had to close the bookstore that’s been in her family for generations?  As she’s walking out for the last time, she says that she feels like her mom has died all over again and I know what she means.

– – – – – –

 

Although still thriving under new ownership and with a new name, selling the family business meant a passing of an era and wrapped up in that sale was a lifetime of events that are now memories of a business and a way of life that his dad and mom, Rol and Lois, began so many years ago in 1973.  They began with just their young family (four boys and a girl) manufacturing a humbly increasing demand for their drywall lifts and portable scaffolding.  Dana was in the 6th grade then. The designs were all his dad’s and his mom ran the office needs – as well as providing the coffee and cookies (and occasionally home-made donuts) for coffee breaks for the little growing crew.

 

 

In those days, no drywaller worth his salt used a machine to raise those heavy sheets of gypsum (usually using a mess of boards to prop up their work or lifting them on their heads).  This family set out to re-shape those attitudes and practices and by God’s grace for a season they became the world’s supplier of drywall lifts – The World’s Best Drywall Lifts™. Hardly any drywaller these days, concerned with time and costs, would be without a lift!

Rol - early Panellift - 1971                                                                          Panellift® prototype, c1970

 

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (2 Cor 10:17; Psalm 118:23).

 

With the selling of the business, it feels like something living has passed, and indeed, so much of life was wrapped up in that business – the family’s move to the country; living in the shop until their house was finished; car trips by Mom and Dad to tradeshows to get their products known; Mom answering calls and Dad always planning the next building addition or the next product design (he’s received over a dozen patents); Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver, and America played on various WalkMans around the shop with the overhead doors wide open in the summer or by the heat of a wood-fired stove in the winter.  This is the lovely, small, and home-fashioned shop I first toured when Dana and I started dating our senior year of high school.

 

But much more has come and gone during those years.  All the kids grew up (working in the shop through their college years), moved from home, got married and had families.  Most found other jobs, but Dana and his brother, Larry, stayed with the business (Dana in marketing and later, the financials; Larry in manufacturing and later, engineering). Mom passed away in the summer of 1988 and the company began to change from a small cottage industry into an organized, strategic business.

 

In those years, a Kingdom vision for the company took root as Dana and Larry traveled to FCCI conferences (Fellowship of Companies for Christ International).  Dad, Larry, and Dana were awarded the Small Business Persons of the Year award for our state in 2000, which meant a trip to Washington, D.C. and getting to see President George W. Bush.   Many more employees came and went (once employing about 80).  Occasional employee lunches, Christmas parties, and fishing trips dotted the years.  As business grew, several additions were added to the original 42 x 70′ shop and eventually a new facility was built away from the family property.  Then the housing crisis of 2008 hit and was followed hard after by a presidential administrative policy which simply could not or would not produce an optimistic business climate – the nation slumped under it.  The lost decade followed – a decade of hardship and loss for us.

 

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

 

The Lord used those grievous days in our lives to grow us in ways we wouldn’t have sought but in ways we knew to be for our good.  The three (Dana, Larry, and Dad) trusted heavily day-by-day and often hour-by-hour for God’s provisions and guidance.  Throughout those years, Dana often preached truth to himself and to me.  It helped to physically recite again and again the truths of what we knew of our all-good God and His redeeming, purposeful ways with his children.  We didn’t always feel it, but we always believed it.

 

Where previously, the product line had been fairly focused (construction material handling), the Lord amazingly brought specialty tool work from wide ranging sectors during these years – University Berkley Ergonomics Program, a chemical weapons disposal plant, an underground potash mine in Canada, a facility which manages a particular nuclear chemical, and a wind energy plant right in our town.

 

In the end though, there was no silver bullet nor enough money from anywhere to keep throwing at the need; there was just a very tired building and three very worn out owners.  Different decisions might have been made over the years, but they would have cost the three their fraternity and when all is said and done, that cannot be regretted.  With all their frenetic efforts, doors still shut before them even while unexpected doors opened for a season around them — it was impossible to miss that the Lord was doing a working — and we trust Him in that.

 

The business sold to a worthy employee who has dreams of taking the company forward and with his fresh wind of capital, it looks promising. So that same business, begun so long ago, still goes forward (albeit with a new name), still making and selling those products (and more) whose humble beginnings were in a small family-owned shop on the outskirts of town.  But these days, when we walk through the old, disheveled shop on the family property it seems to be a parable for us of the brevity of life, the far-reaching effects of the fall, and the fragileness of what seems permanent.  The aging of the house that was new in Dana’s youth and his dad’s move to hospice are further reminders of the fleeting nature of our time here… and at times it feels to us like his Mom has left us all over again.

– – – – – –

Now today…  my family’s home has been demolished, its barn and outbuildings gone, so many of the trees my dad planted years ago have been chopped down to make room for city development.

 

We moved to the outskirts of town in the spring of 1975 (directions to it were always the last house on Belmont).  I was finishing up 7th grade (my sister Heide was finishing 4th and Holly was still a pre-schooler) when we moved.  It was a dream for my dad (who grew up farming) to own some acreage even while working by day for the city in civil engineering.  My personal dream of farm life was first awakened in 1st grade when sweet Mrs. Lore had reason to display a large poster of an idealized farm scene complete with animals, barn, and a boy and girl playing near the little brook that ran through it.  Later, when I was introduced to the Little House series, my pioneer spirit awoke and I longed to be a Laura on a farm.

 

These wishes were answered when we moved south of town to a ten-acre farmstead  which, get this, had originally been built and owned by Dana’s granddad’s brother (back in the day, Granddad McIntyre and his brother, Clifton, had run a dairy creamery from our place).  It was Clifton who likely planted all the graceful Cottonwoods which I love so much and which still stand sentry around the boundaries of the old property (I hope many survive the development).  Our soon-to-be hobby farm was christened Belmont Acres.

 

Over the years, the city limits (and its sure taxes) made its way to the very edge of our property.  With my mom’s passing in 2004 and my dad’s more recent failing memory, it was apparent that the land must be sold, and it was, to a local developer.  The property’s western two-thirds have already been developed.  Already gone to street and housing are the three plus acres of woods in which my dad spent hundreds of hours grooming his Christmas tree farm after his young family had grown.  What a very different view we have had from the house’s west windows these last few years.  But, the front third, with its old stucco house facing the sunrise, its grassy front mall and black-topped lane, has remained virtually unchanged save for white fencing put up here and there.

 

But after today, Belmont Acres will be no more.  And as that easterly front end begins to fill up with houses, who will remember that once a young man had a dream for himself and his family there?  He wanted something important for them, a bit of farm life like he had known growing up on his family’s working farm.  Who will know of the long, late hours my dad and mom (Ray and Myrna) worked to give the home a facelift before moving the family there or how they gave up their lake place to make this move possible?  And who could guess that this young town-dwelling wife would summon all of her will and her creativity to take on the role of a farm wife and all that that entailed – large-scaled gardening, preserving foods, butchering season (even making head cheese from our own pigs), and much more yardwork than she must have ever imagined, all while meticulously managing her home and working part-time in retail.

 

The house itself wasn’t exactly the home of her dreams.  All the rooms were small-ish and her kitchen badly needed and an update (and an expansion).  For most of her days there, there was only one bathroom (upstairs) and there was never enough outlets; their bedroom, directly off the living room, was way too small (with no closet but a stand alone piece that took up coveted space in the corner); her laundry room was an old concreted space downstairs and of course, there were the trying years (before being solved) when ground water would occasionally seep in and would flood portions of the basement.  But like so many from her generation – it was my life for yours and there it was!  To her credit, she took what she was given and employed her skills at painting, decorating, and gardening to make the most of that 50 year old home for the sake of her husband and family.

In those early years, there was much to do to make this man’s dream take shape.  So after finishing his day job, he would come home and work after supper until sunset and then up early on Saturdays to work all day long.  This was his pattern through the years.  He enclosed the ten acres in carefully surveyed tamarack fencing (did I mention he was also a land surveyor?), and he lined the property in three or four rows of tree seedlings which over the years the aforementioned daughters hoed (… and hoed… and hoed).

 

Belmont Acres Truck Farm was established when roughly a half an acre of the back third was planted, hoed, and harvested each year.  A variety of vegetables were grown (but heavy on the sweet corn).  Everyone worked the garden to some extent, but it was mostly the girls’ job to pick and sell it from the house, thereby earning their own money for back-to-school clothes.

And then, of course, there was every manner of farm animal (except goats) which my dad brought home over the years.  I mean dogs, cats, chickens, pig, cows, and ponies and occasionally geese and peacocks (not to mention the homing pigeon coop).

 

In the summer, there was our daily to-do list from my dad and, of course, the rule was work before pleasure. The fall brought not only harvest but butchering time and many a 4H project was birthed (sometimes literally) on the farm.  All was done with an eye to teaching those daughters responsibility and industry while allowing that whole farm idea to have its full effect on them.

Now in a couple years, no one who drives by will know that this was the favored gathering place almost every summer for the extended family in one capacity or another.  Who could even know how much work the sometimes-hesitant mother did to prepare for those huge events?  But how much laughter and good memories came with them!  With aunts and uncles and cousins all around, there was always good food and lots of laughing and banter as we reunited and the day almost always ended around a great bonfire.  These gatherings served to plant a sense of history and belonging as well as general well-being deep down inside me which I carry with me still today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And on holidays, a generous welcome was always offered to any and all as this hospitable couple threw out the welcome mat to any who needed a place to be on those days– family, friends, people from work, etc.  Many a bachelor uncle or co-worker whose family was too far away found a place at the table (the dining table early in the day and the pinochle table later on).

 

Time and memory would fail me to tell of the adventures my Dad and his good friend, Jim, had working side-by-side on all sorts of plots and projects as Jim willingly lived out his own farm-life memories on our farm; of this same Jim and his wife, Gerrie, who came oft on a Sunday to play cards (keeping a notebook for years filled with their men-against-the-women scores); of my dad’s childless co-worker, Charlie and his wife Bonnie (with nearest family in New York state and Texas), who joined us every year for Thanksgiving and always brought TX pecan pie.  Our hall-of-fame (or infamy as it were) wouldn’t be complete without mention of Heide’s friends, Charlotte (still a close friend today) and Lisa, and Holly’s friend, Mitch, who made Belmont Acres their home away from home many a day.

 

And who will remember but a handful of us that a young girl fell in love from that house and that the lane which used to be just there, brought her future husband to her door for their first date?  From her upstairs bedroom window, in which she used to watch for her school bus, she now watched for signs of his old white ’65 Ford station wagon.  And in the years to come, this was home to the great outdoors in which their young children would play without fear of traffic or stranger.

 

I know as a Christian that we are just sojourners in this world.  That all we see is temporary and we are making our sure way to our true home.  That one day all the deep-seated longings born in us in this life will be filled in Christ when we reach our heavenly home and all joy will be restored to us in the realm of our victorious King.  But I also know that our good God made us with the inclination to make associations and attachments which bind our memories to those we love.

 

It’s true that time will most likely allay my sadness, but today I feel lonely and heartsick and I miss my mom all over again (and my old dad before his memory issues).  However, I consider it all grace that I have been given the people and experiences I have had in my life even if some heartache must go with it.  And I am beyond grateful that I have a permanent home being prepared for me which neither moth nor rust (nor the backhoe) can destroy!

 

In her first book for childrena, the 65-year old author, Laura I. Wilder, paints a scene of her very young self lying awake in bed, listening to her mom and dad in the other room of their log cabin in the woods.  They are awash in firelight as Ma gently rocks and knits and Pa is softly playing Auld Lang Syne on his honey-brown fiddle.  When the fiddle quiets, Laura calls out softly, “What are the days of auld lang syne, Pa?”  Pa replies simply, “They are the days of a long time ago. Go to sleep now.”

 

But as children do, that simple answer yields a stream of thoughts.  As she looks at her Ma and Pa from the next room, sensing all is well with the world as children do, she can’t help think:  “This is now.  She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma, and the firelight and the music were now.  They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now.  It can never be a long time ago”

 

… and I know what she means.

 

 

 

 

a Wilder, L. I. (2007). Little house in the big woods. New York: Scholastic, p.238.

Tell me, where is the road I can call my own,
That I left, that I lost So long ago?
All these years I have wandered,
Oh when will I know
There’s a way, there’s a road
That will lead me home?

After wind, after rain, When the dark is done,
As I wake from a dream in the gold of day,
Through the air there’s a calling
From far away,
There’s a voice I can hear
That will lead me home.

Rise up, follow me, Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart as the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home.

 

Dana and I are so happy and blessed to add another member to our family tree – our lovely Caroline Maria Werner Young.  Can it be a week has passed since their happy wedding in the Cities?  We have so much to be thankful for in the wedding of these two who committed their lives before God – to each other and to His kingdom.

 

Indeed, on their wedding day, God extended His first of what we trust will be many graces in their lives.  The days around the wedding had been “African hot.”  The night before, just as the rehearsal came to an end and friends and family were driving across town to our dinner, a torrential rain came up to usher in the evening.  We were thankful to be in a room of candle and twinkle lights as the rain poured outside.

 

We had prayed and prayed for months about the weather for the wedding day since the couple had an outdoor ceremony planned at the place of their reception.  True, everything could be moved indoors if needed, but the hope was to be married outdoors in that beautiful setting.  According to pattern, the day of their wedding, Friday, May 25th, was a hot day too, but it was not as humid as it had previously been. It was sunny and bright (lovely for photos).

 

However, as we headed west toward the venue that afternoon, it was hard to not notice the dark clouds rolling in from that direction… and again the prayers began.  Through the next hour and a half as guests began to arrive, we watched the sky become darker and darker and the wind pick up dramatically.  Folks were checking local radar weather and reporting various things:  “Rain to pass through area quickly and then be gone”; “Hail in eight minutes”; and asking, “Can we delay the service maybe 15 minutes to let the storm pass?”  While others wondered openly what’s to happen, many of us kept praying.  At least once, our trusty crew of two went out to reset chairs upright which the wind had blown down and I wondered how we’d dry all those chairs well enough if the rain did come through.  At one point I was told plans were being made to move the chairs in from the amphitheater.  Not a tragedy, but not what our couple had hoped for.

 

Then, just 15-20 minutes before the wedding was to begin, the sky seemed to be brightening and the winds were becoming gentler.  And as we watched, our gracious God carefully moved that rain and wind to another location, giving us a most pleasantly calm, mildly warm, gentle evening (and dry chairs) for their lovely outdoor wedding.  The wedding went off at the appointed time and moved back inside for an altogether lovely reception and dance.  Just like the couple at the Canaan wedding, Bryce and Caroline received the first answered prayer of their wedded life!

 

Now as they go through life together, we pray that this young couple will always be mindful of the goodness of their God – our “abounding in loving-kindness” God!  We pray they will grow in strength together as they seek to bring Him glory in their newly created family and that God will lead and guard them always.  Amen.

   

A very honoring funeral was given Uncle Warren on Thursday, May 31, 2018.  The pastor gave a straight gospel message and my cousin, Wade Shafer, Warren’s godson, ended the service with a very personal and heartfelt address with memories shared of Buddy Holly and beers being slipped to a certain nephew.   The demands of Uncle Warren’s enlisted service as a Green Beret in Cambodia during the Vietnam War were recognized; certainly that time would be defining for the rest of his life.  Thanks were given to those who cared so well for Uncle Warren in his later years and a special charge was given to Warren’s only daughter, Kelsie.

As I readied myself for the funeral, memories of better days than the latter were brought to mind: Uncle Warren’s crazy hula dance at our family reunion (grass skirt and coconut shells and all); handing over a large jar of his pocket change to my sister and me; helping my dad dig the hole for our outhouse at the lake; his amazing pasta meals and rice pudding; his business ventures – The Pantry restaurant and the camp grounds; how he most seriously reprimanded me to the point of reformation when as an upper elementary student I used a newly picked up phrase around him (“Oh my God”); his help to Dana and me during the ’97 flood; dancing at his first wedding with all the cousins; going to the first Star Wars movie in the late ’70s with him; etc.

In light of later years, Warren seemed to be the star of a tragedy, but it was good to recall better, lighter days – I will greatly miss that Warren.

– – – – – –

Warren LeClerc, 70, of Grand Forks, ND was called home by his Heavenly Father on May 24, 2018 at Dunseith Community Nursing Home, Dunseith, ND. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 11:00 A.M. in the Amundson Funeral Home in Grand Forks. Visitation will be one hour before service time. Burial will be Friday June 1, 2018 at 3:00 P.M. in Drayton, ND.

Warren Lyle LeClerc was born November 14, 1947 in Devils Lake, ND, the youngest of eight children blessed to Alex and Mae (Schumacher) Leclerc. He was tender-hearted and from a young age showed a special empathy for those less fortunate or treated disrespectfully.  Intuitively, throughout his life Warren could see when someone’s light was being diminished by the words and actions of others and felt called to intervene.

Warren attended school in Devils Lake, spending summers on the family farm near Drayton, ND. During the Vietnam War, he served with the 46th Airborne Green Beret, stationed in Thailand, an experience that would profoundly influence his life. He went on to attend Hartnell College in Salinas, CA where he also operated a hotel. In 1980 Warren was united in Marriage to Colette (Hefter) LeClerc. The couple made their home in Grand Forks where daughter Kelsie was born in 1986.

Warren had an entrepreneurial spirit, which combined with talent and passion for cooking led him to open The Pantry Restaurant in Grand Forks, where he served as co-owner and operator for many years. He later turned his rural Grand Forks property into an RV Park, welcoming travelers from several states and countries. Many returned annually and became dear friends. In 2000 Warren was hired as a security officer at Red River High School, retiring in 2014. He loved and cared about young people. His humor and willingness to truly listen and empathize with their personal struggles, big and small, endeared him to many students over the years.

A private person, who valued humility and championed anyone blazing their own unique path in life, Warren was also deeply spiritual. While peace often alluded him in his earthly life, He believed in his Lord and Savior and now knows the peace and joy that passes all understanding.

Warren is survived by his daughter Kelsie LeClerc, Grand Forks, ND, sisters Lillian (Gordon) Shafer, Detroit Lakes, MN and Rosalie (James) Ringstrom, Encinitas, CA; brothers Dale (Betsy) LeClerc, Monterey, CA, Ray (Judy) LeClerc, Grand Forks, ND, Ron LeClerc, Bismarck, ND; ex-spouse and friend Colette LeClerc, and many nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Sister Beverly Schmidt, brother-in-law Leo Schmidt; sisters-in-law Myrna LeClerc and Luella LeClerc; and many dear relatives and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Beverly (LeClerc) Schmidt, and brother Gerald LeClerc.

 

~ Official obituary

Many of us are mourning the loss of an American era with the passing of a man, I think we won’t soon see the likes of again.  The beloved preacher and evangelist, the Reverend Billy Graham, passed away on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, and was laid to rest in Charlotte, North Carolina, after his March 2nd funeral.  He was 99 years old.  Among other endearing terms, Rev. Graham is being remembered as God’s Ambassador and America’s Pastor, having provided spiritual counsel for every United States president since Harry S. Truman (our 33rd) right on to Barack Obama (our 44th president).

When I think of Dr. Graham, I can’t help think of my Dad who always encouraged us girls to sit and listen whenever a crusade was being televised (on network T.V. no less). I never told dad or mom, but I responded to one of those crusades, back when we lived in town (so prior to 8th grade). I sent for the follow-up material too, writing to “Billy Graham, Minneapolis, MN – that’s all the address you need” as Billy directed us from every crusade.  What came was a summary of his Steps to Peace with God and a study of the book of John.

I attribute that experience to a sensitive period in my life when God was softening my heart and mind to his, eventually leading me to receive the gospel truth.  I would not fully put it all together until my college years when God through his Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 caused me to once and for all lay down my works which I had been trying to offer all my life as an acceptable arrangement; one which I hoped would make God pleased with me and lead me to eternal life.  My plan had been Jesus + me = salvation, never realizing that the only thing I could contribute to Christ’s offering, was the sin that made it necessary.  Using the small faith God gave me for just that moment, I gave all that I knew of myself (my whole sin-saturated self and my inadequate works) to all I knew of Christ (my only rescue).

During college, Dana and I would counsel for a Billy Graham movie or two (World Wide Pictures) at the Cinema Theater in town (now the WDAZ studios).  After one particular movie, The Prodigal, Dana was completely broken and rededicated his life to the Lord.

A highlight for us was counseling for the Billy Graham live crusade in Fargo the summer of 1987 when we were expecting Ashley. We brought my cousin Paul with us one of the days (who was living in Grand Forks at the time, in the restaurant business with my Uncle Warren).  I’m sad to say, though, that I seem to recall my dad was unable to go to Fargo with us to see Billy in person, amounting to a double loss since the entertainment was another of Dad’s favorites, Johnny Cash (and his wife, Rosalind).

Rev. Graham’s gravestone briefly summarizes his life – Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – and then makes reference to John 14:6, “Jesus said to [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'” One of my favorite Billy Graham quotes was printed on his funeral brochure:  “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now.”  I pray God will enable me to be faithful and about the King’s work to the end – in whatever capacity I am able – just as the world has observed in the life of God’s good and faithful servant, Billy Graham.

Ah… This is Love!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God,
because God is love. 


In this the love of God was made manifest among us,

that God sent his only Son into the world,
so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God

but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 


Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God;

if we love one another, God abides in us
and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:7-12

– – – – –

 

 

In this well-known passage on God’s love, we see in the ESV that John uses love (or the beloved) no less than 15 times in six verses.  It is love, love, love all over this passage – “love one another”; “love is from God”; “God is love”; “if we love one another… his love is perfected in us”; etc.

 

But in the midst of this treatise on the love of God, we find in v10 the reason God can love us – “In this is love… [He] sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.”  Propitiation – “a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God and thereby makes God propitious (or favorable) toward us” (Grudem, p.575)a.

 

Those who have placed their sins under the blood of Jesus find God propitious toward them.  His just wrath on their sin has been fully satisfied by the sacrifice of his pure Son.  The modern hymn Before the Throne of God Above gets it right, “God, the Just, was satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.”

 

There is absolutely no trace of wrath left in the Father toward those who approach his throne, clothed now in Christ’s righteousness, not their impotent own.  Every last drop of wrath toward the believer was spent entirely on the Son.  What remains is only love, love, love toward his people.  Even when we don’t walk in our new natures, but instead give into the influence of our old man – when we sin against God – we can turn to Him in repentance and be assured of his Fatherly love toward us.  He may chasten us, true, but it is always done redemptively as we might with our own children – with our greater good in mind, coming from his all-knowing wisdom.

 

In this truth, the child of God can find assurance that what the sovereign God allows in his or her life is born solely from God’s unfailing love for them.  Our circumstances may prove hard to bear, but that is not the same thing as loss; God wastes nothing.  Under his watchful care, it can only work us good in our earthly lives or in eternity to come.

 

Of course, it must be mentioned that those whose lives are not hidden in Christ – who have not, by repentance and faith, applied Christ’s blood to the doorpost of their sinful hearts (cf. Exodus 12:13) – must bear the wrath of God in their own bodies.

 

Oh, but for the child of God – what a sweet and cherished doctrine is that of Christ’s propitiation which won the Father’s favor for us.

 

Ah… this is love.

 

 

a “Systematic Theology.” Systematic Theology, by Wayne A. Grudem and K. Erik. Thoennes, Zondervan, 2008, p. 575.