Categories
Life

“Hands”

I have a goal to write and post something for 90 straight days. I’m on day 4 and today was a packed day. My wife and I also recorded a new podcast episode tonight that just released a few minutes ago.

Whew.

So here I am at 10pm to write something.

But I’m cheating. I’m not writing something new or original.

I’m reposing a Christmas poem I wrote a few years back. It takes the perspective of Joseph, Mary’s husband and Jesus’ adoptive father.

I hope you enjoy it.


“Hands”

Open on your mother’s chest
or after a bellowing belch.
Taut when you’re tired.
Slurp slurp, tick tick,
your tongue tackles
each knuckle and cuticle.
Somehow that helps you fade
away to never-never-land.
Mine are calloused, crusty, tired.
Splinters are their wages.
Blue veins bursting.
Palm lines peeling.
Bleeding.
Grab the balm and bandage.
I’ll too visit never-never-land soon,
only after watching you there now.
For a moment I remember
the memories we will make.
Brush and comb. Throw and catch.
Shave and wash. Swing and saw.
Eat and write. Push and pull.
Mine will train yours?
That baffles me.
Yours built clouds and stars,
birds and seas.
Mine build yokes and stools,
locks and keys.
Yours rest so peaceful,
so perfect, so calm in your crib.
I reach in. A twitch.
Yours clutch mine
with a tiny might.
I worry one day you’ll be
ashamed to do the same.
Frail, weak, scarred mine are.
Made from and destined for dust.
Yet yours now
fit in mine.


This poem was originally posted on December 24, 2015 at https://jamespruch.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/a-christmas-poem-hands/

Categories
Theology

This I Believe: The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit

God the Father
I believe in God the Father, an infinite, personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love. I believe he infallibly foreknows all that shall come to pass, that he concerns himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that he hears and answers prayer, and that he saves from sin and death all who come to him through Jesus Christ.

Matt. 23:9; Luke 10:21, 22; John 3:16; 6:27; Rom. 1:7; 1 Tim. 1:1,2; 2:5,6; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 1:6

Jesus Christ
I believe in Jesus Christ, God the Father’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. I believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, and teachings. I believe in His substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to earth.

Matt. 1:18-25; 20:28; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1; 20:28, 30; Acts 1:11; Rom. 5:6-8; 6:9-10; 8:46; 9:5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 7:25; 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:21-23

The Holy Spirit
I believe in the Holy Spirit who comes forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify, and empower all who believe in Jesus Christ. In all that the Spirit does, he glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ, and that He is an abiding helper, teacher and guide.

John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:9-14; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 5:22-26

Categories
Theology

Morning Prayer

Here is a prayer I wrote that I will start to pray each morning to remind myself of the gospel.  It is a prayer that I’m sure will change slightly over time and it is not meant as a “be all, end all” prayer. It is also not meant to produce “religious gibberish” that is merely repeated with the mouth and not meant in the heart.  It is meant as a template, if you will, so that my mind and heart get into the daily (hourly?) rhythm of confessing Christ as my sole righteousness.

Please feel free to pass this along or re-post or even continue to add paragraphs in the comment section below.

Father in Heaven,

This new day I come not to ask that my slate would be “wiped clean,” for it was wiped clean when your Son cried, “It is finished.”  Today, I acknowledge and rejoice in the fact that my righteousness is solely based on the perfect person and work of Jesus Christ. I am accepted by you because of him. By grace through faith I look outside of myself to Jesus and wholly lay claim of the alien righteousness that he gives as the only ground for my acceptance.  Only this active faith in Christ will increase my sanctification today.  No amount of good works, kept disciplines, hallelujahs, prayers, sighs, or tears will improve my heart or get you on my side. For in Christ, you are already 100% for me.

I am perfectly loved in the gospel. Your grace has broken into my life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Only through the Spirit’s application of his redemptive work am I able to experience relationship with you and so become your child, your servant, and your friend, and am no longer a son of disobedience, a slave of sin, and your enemy.

You welcome me this morning not because I rise early to read your word and pray. You welcome me not because I try to love you, my family, and those around me. You welcome me not because I try to live purely and righteously in a broken world. You welcome me because you welcome your Son, with whom you are well pleased. Because your Son, who knew no sin, became sin on my behalf I have become your righteousness. This righteousness is not my own, but it is a righteousness from you that depends on faith. Now when you see me, an unworthy sinner, you see Jesus, for my life is hidden in him.

Thank you for the gospel, O glorious Father.  Thank you for Christ, my substitute Savior.  Thank you for the Spirit who gave life to my dead heart and is active in me as the guarantee of my inheritance. Thank you for your gracious love for and acceptance of me. Because of your love and acceptance, cause me to walk in a manner worthy of this calling that I might be fully pleasing to you and put Christ on display to show the world how marvelous he is.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Categories
Theology

Psalm 146 and Jesus

Notes from my morning worship in the Word

The Bible calls us to sing praises to “the LORD,” Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and nothing else. The Bible calls us to worship and trust him, and him alone. To trust in princes (v. 3) is wrong. “Princes” here literally means “nobles.” That is, do not trust in those with a lot of money, status, fame, etc. Do not trust them because they cannot give you salvation. Do not trust a noble because his breath (Hb. ruach: “spirit”) will leave his body, just like yours, and everything he planned up to that day dies with him.

Therefore, Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God (v. 5). Not help for material gain, but help in daily living–for every circumstance imaginable. It is better to trust in Yahweh than a noble man because God made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever (i.e. “stays faithful forever”).

Verses 8-9 catalogue the great things God does, giving him the glory and honor due his name, not a noble man or anyone else for that matter. With God there is complete justice, righteousness, love, compassion, and redemption. He cares for those who are weak and would not normally be cared for by a noble–the blind, bowed down, sojourners, widow, and orphan. Yet at the same time, he equally loves the righteous (his own people). And he brings the wicked to ruin.

Because of who God is and what he does, he will reign forever and therefore all generations should Praise the LORD (v. 10).

The ESVSB comments that the Lord’s reign makes him a sure hope for God’s suffering people. We know that God is with his suffering people because Jesus is not only Immanuel, he is also the Suffering Servant who not only suffered for us on the cross, but also suffered with us. He did this so that he might be able to say that he has gone before us and knows what we go through, because what he endured was infinitely worse than our trial or tribulation (Heb. 4:15-16; 12:3-4). When we find ourselves in the thick of a trial, we will be able to say Hallelu-yah! Praise the LORD! because we know that God is present with us, and that he has not left us. When this happens our perspective changes. Because the Father sent his curse on his Son on the cross, and turned his back on him, we are assured that God will never turn his back on us.

Thankfully, Christ did not stay separated from the Father. He rose from the dead, and was thus vindicated by God and is not seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 12:2). All those who believe in Christ are perfectly accepted by God on the basis of who Christ is and what he has done, and they will reign with Christ forever. That is a better position to have and a better promise to hold on to than to trust in a so-called “noble” for help in time of trouble.

Categories
Ministry Theology

Foster Kids, Joseph, and Jesus

Before I was a pastoral intern at my church, I worked for the Department of Health and Human Services in Omaha. Though the work was not always a delight, God grew my heart for abused and neglected children. He grew my heart to help these kids–not to help them overcome past hurts with therapy or rehab–but to help them overcome through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is a huge mission field, even in Nebraska. To give you an idea, there are usually well over 6,000 calls a month to the abuse and neglect hotline…in Omaha. Not all of those are “substantiated” abuse/neglect cases, mind you, but it is alarming nonetheless. A foster child battles emotional, psychological, physical, and, above all, spiritual issues (and I would add those spiritual issues are often magnified by demonic influence). A foster child’s road is arduous, burdensome, and confusing.

But there is hope for the foster child (or “orphan” or “fatherless” as the Bible calls them).  The Jesus we see in Scriptures who reveals the perfect heavenly Father  is the only solution for these kids. Despite all the obstacles for one of these precious ones coming to Jesus, God overcomes. I know a foster boy at my church who was baptized this year.  He declared that he has a new life in Jesus: he’s been forgiven of the sin he’s committed against God and that he’s been cleansed of all the sin committed against him. He still has fits of rage and sadness. But God is in the process of changing this boy.

I believe Jesus wants to do this very thing in the lives of thousands of other foster kids in Nebraska, and around the country.

One small way for me to be a part of God’s work with foster kids is that this summer I will be the camp speaker at Teen Reach Adventure Camp for the boys camp.  This camp provides an alternative, Christ-centered setting for foster kids who might not thrive at other summer camps.

I will be speaking on the life of Joseph. What a privilege to preach the gospel through this story! Joseph was a man who was abused and abandoned by his brothers, was falsely convicted and sent to prison, practically saved the region when famine came, and eventually had mercy on his abusive brothers.

Ultimately, this story finds fulfillment in Jesus, the true and better Joseph. Jesus was abused and abandoned by a nation, his family, and closest friends; he was falsely accused, unjustly condemned, and crucified despite being sinless; he saved the world through his death on the cross; and he had mercy and grace on his worst enemies when he made them friends by purchasing their lives with his blood. He came on the ultimate rescue mission, sent by the Father, to bring unworthy orphans into his family by grace through faith. This is the good news, and oh what news it is for foster children who are in desperate need of a true family.

Would you begin to pray with me that God would soften hearts, break down barriers to resistance, and anoint me to preach the gospel so it is truly embraced. O Lord, would you change these young lives by your resurrecting power? Bring into existence the things that do not exist and raise dead hearts up to life. Preach your gospel, make Jesus plain, and draw these boys to yourself.