What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Miss You - A Coffee Shop Interlude

Written and Published by Jean-Louis Mondon in 2014 
French original text " Tu me manques" 2007. Composed for my sweet wife and inspiration as my faithful traveling companion along life´s journey.


I miss you
As the poet without his muse
As a capuccino without a croissant
On a sunny happy morning
As Tutti without Frutti
Woudn´t that be something?

I miss you
As a forest without trees
As an orchard without bees
 As lips without kisses
As alas, my arms weary
of not embracing you

I miss you
As a station without a train
As a goodbye, see you again
Without tears, nor handkerchief
 To dry them out

I miss you
As in nostalgia
With no object nor subject
Without a sunset 
As a backdrop
For your gracious silhouette
Fading away stolen innocently
From the empty hope chest
In the attic of my head

I miss you
As a gentle zephyr
In the midst of a raging tempest
As a mute on a trumpet
Announcing a welcome lull

I miss you
As a snow storm without
Oat flakes on a flowered table cloth
Instead of a white grave sheet
For a lonely breakfast
Spent in chatting alone
with a bouquet of bright pansies
In a long monologue
Without a friendly echo sharing
The memories of yesteryear

I miss you
Without fear of being wrong
Without worry of emotions
Nor the need to learn
To understand each other
Without reason, nor questions
At the dawn of our home coming
Dreamed of in the eternal kingdom
Of never again. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What is so wise about a serpent?

Snakes lay low and blend into their environment.  They get the lay of the land, and figure out where their safety is.  They are extremely precise when they strike.  They wait until the optimum conditions are lined up, and time it just so. Serpents are wise enough to flee from danger.  Jesus said we are to be wise as serpents.

To be harmless as doves.  Harmless means honest, sincere, without guile.  Stick with truth, and don’t get drawn into debate.  Soar above the fray.

Be Sober: Serious, sedate, temperate and subdued, not excessively emotional, not extreme, or fanciful nor fearful.  Keep your “spiritual wits” about you.

Be vigilant: keep careful watch for potential danger and difficulty, watchful, awake, alert.
Walk circumspect: circum (around you) spect (mindful, thoughtful, attentive).  Don’t get so deep into anything to the exclusion of attentiveness to the bigger picture and what is going on around you.  Don’t let down your guard.

Those perilous times are upon us.  It is not just what we see happening on our streets, and in the news.  There is an intentional stirring up of  conflict and “precision strikes” being made upon our specific individual vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

It doesn’t get easier from here.  Hold on for dear life, trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in everything.  If you are a stay-at-home Mom, acknowledge Him in your mothering, your “mundane” tasks of laundry, dishes, refereeing, shuttling.  If you are a businessman, acknowledge Him in your business.  If you are disabled, acknowledge Him in what He has allowed because He is wise and has a purpose in it.  If you are struggling and feel powerless, know that He allows it for the purpose of helping you rely on Him.  We don’t do it on our own, we pretty much have to be forced a lot of the time.

If you are prone to depression, be proactive in counter-acting negative thoughts and replacing them with scripture and thankfulness.  If you are sick and the medical bills are piling up, you can still be thankful if you have insurance that pays some of it, or for friends who care, or for the fact you are not as sick as you could have been.

If you are a pastor discouraged in your ministry, you can still rejoice in your own salvation and the knowledge that our redemption is near.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness  ( both refer to sexual promiscuity) not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

This weekend in our family, there was a lot of strife, contention, emotion, a lot of misunderstanding.  Satan is really good at that, but we have to be mindful of the fact he is always right there ready to exploit every emotion and sore spot and weakness.  We are feeling the evil move in, making it personal.  We are seeing the evil day come to hand.  It is going to be important to call on the Lord at all times and in all things, and when we let our flesh get the better of us, to repent right away, and not let anything fester.  If we hurt or offend, we need to own up and apologize, make restitution where possible.

I imagine you have noticed the same thing in your own household, or work environment, or church, even.  We should not be surprised and we can’t afford to fall for it.  Our battle is not with flesh and blood.  Yet we very often take it out on flesh and blood, causing injury and offense.

It occurred to me that this time as we are at the final moments, is a lot like when a woman goes through pregnancy, which for many of us, is pretty miserable for nine months, and yet when the term is up, you then have to “walk through fire” of labor and delivery to be done with it. There is no other exit. Can’t turn around, can’t take a detour or easier option.  Many women have been known to say “I can’t do it” when the absolute fact is that she will, she must and therefore, she can, she just doesn’t “feel” like she can.  It can be grueling and we have to accept that and prepare as best we can, and place our trust in what we have learned and done, and in the people alongside us who are there to help us get through it.  Don’t trust your feelings.  Don’t trust your doubts.  Don’t trust even necessarily your own eyes.  This is peak deception time.

I personally have many moments when I feel like I can’t face or endure something to get to the other side of this, to redemption, to release.  But now is not a time for giving up. See it through, faithful to the end, not perfect, not sinless, but repentant, humble, determined, leaning on the Lord, pressing into Him, knowing He is the stronger one in the yoke, and will not let us stumble and fall, but will enable us to go on as long as we are willing and as long as we desire to be obedient and to serve Him in whatever our situation or circumstances are.

It is like that time on the airplane when there is an emergency situation, and we are supposed to help the children and elderly and otherwise helpless, but we only can do that if we put on our own oxygen mask first. There comes a time when it is the real deal, that the flight attendants must necessarily cease to assist others and strap themselves in.
It is not selfishness, it is a matter of navigating the turbulence we are now firmly in the midst of. It is a time to keep short accounts and encourage others. It’s the last hour of the night shift when many are just waking up, while some of us have “labored through the night”.  
Those are our reinforcements, no our replacements.  All leave cancelled for the foreseeable future!

Remain vigilant with intense, unfaltering, wary watchfulness with an attitude of submission to the Holy Spirit to avoid unnecessary frictions, distractions, and sins.

Pray, pray pray.  If you don’t have a huge repertoire of scripture memorized, write them on cards and plaster them all through your house or work station, or carry in your pocket and refer to them often.

That old serpent, Satan, is a clever one.  He outsmarts us a lot of the time.  But when he comes around accusing, harassing, stirring up trouble, we can remind him of Revelation 20, verses 2-3 and 10.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.“And  the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
This is the hard part. But it will all be over soon.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ironside: What Does it Mean to Repent and Be Saved?


By Dr. Harry Ironside (From his book, Except Ye Repent)
More and more it becomes evident that ours is, as once expressed, an “age of sham.” Unreality and specious pretense abound in all departments of life. In the domestic, commercial, social, and ecclesiastical spheres hypocrisy is not only openly condoned, but recognized as almost a necessity for advancement and success in attaining recognition among one’s fellows.

Nor is this true only where heterodox religious views are held. Orthodoxy has its shallow dogmatists who are ready to battle savagely for sound doctrine, but who manage to ignore sound living with little or no apparent compunction of conscience.

God desires truth in the inward parts. The blessed man is still the one “in whose spirit there is no guile.” It is forever true that “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It can never be out of place to proclaim salvation by free, unmerited favor to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it needs ever to be insisted on that the faith that justifies is not a mere intellectual process — not simply crediting certain historical facts or doctrinal statements; but it is a faith that springs from a divinely wrought conviction of sin which produces a repentance that is sincere and genuine. Our Lord’s solemn words, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” are as important today as when first uttered.

No sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came not,” said our blessed Lord, “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

One great trouble in this shallow age is that we have lost the meaning of words. We bandy them about until one can seldom be certain just how terms are being used. Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading, “Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen.” The second sign read, “Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen.” While a third read, “Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen.” One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, “What does that grocer understand ‘fresh’ to mean?” It is thus with many Scriptural terms that
to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace. Yet there are not wanting professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old, decry the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace. As well might one object to a man’s acknowledgment of illness when seeking help and healing from a physician, on the ground that all he needed was a doctor’s prescription.

Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on “all men everywhere to repent,” results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that “faith without works is dead”; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God.

We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: “I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then.”

Undoubtedly one great reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms “repent” and “repentance” in their evangelizing is that they fear lest their hearers misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner.

But nothing could be wider of the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing. But in order to clarify the subject, it may be well to observe carefully what repentance is not and then to notice briefly what it is.

First, then, repentance is not to be confounded with penitence, though penitence will invariably enter into it. But penitence is simply sorrow for sin. No amount of penitence can fit a man for salvation. On the other hand, the impenitent will never come to God seeking His grace. But godly sorrow, we are told, worketh repentance not to be repented of. There is a sorrow for sin that has no element of piety in it— “the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In Peter’s penitence, we see the former; in the remorse of Judas, the latter. Nowhere is man exhorted to feel a certain amount of sorrow for his sins in order to come to Christ. When the Spirit of God applies the truth, penitence is the immediate result and this leads on to repentance, but should not be confounded with it. This is a divine work in the soul.

Second, penance is not repentance. Penance is the effort in some way to atone for wrong done. This, man can never do. Nor does God in His Word lay it down as a condition of salvation that one first seek to make up to either God or his fellows for evil committed. Here the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible perpetrates a glaring deception upon those who accept it as almost an inspired version because bearing the imprimatur of the great Catholic dignitaries. Wherever the [King James version] has “repent,” the Douay-Rheims translation reads, “Do penance.” There is no excuse for such a paraphrase. It is not a translation. It is the substituting of a Romish dogma for the plain command of God. John the Baptist did not cry, “Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Our Lord Jesus did not say, “Do penance and believe the gospel,” and, “Except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.” 

The apostle Peter did not tell the anxious multitude at Pentecost to “Do penance and be converted.” Paul did not announce to the men at Athens that “God commandeth all men everywhere to do penance” in view of a coming judgment day. No respectable Greek scholar would ever think of so translating the original in these and many other instances.
On the contrary, the call was to repent; and between repenting and doing penance, there is a vast difference. But even so, we would not forget that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows he never can make up for the wrong done to God. But this is where Christ’s expiatory work comes in. As the great Trespass Offering, He could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalm 69). Think not to add penance to this—as though His work were incomplete and something else were needed to satisfy God’s infinite justice.

In the third place, let us remember that reformation is not repentance, however closely allied to, or springing out of it. To turn over a new leaf, to attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones, to try to live well instead of evilly, may not be the outcome of repentance at all and should never be confounded with it. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.

Recently, it was the writer’s privilege to broadcast a Gospel message from a large Cleveland station. While he was waiting in the studio for the time appointed, an advertiser’s voice was heard through the loud speaker announcing: “If you need anything in watch repairing go to” such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, “I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch.” It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch.

Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one’s religious duties, as people say. It is not doing anything.
What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, “God must have thought a lot of the common people, for He made so many of them.” Therefore, I wish, so far as possible, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word metanoia, which is translated “repentance” in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude.

How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, “Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand.” To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command, “Change your attitude,” and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Savior cried, “Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish.”

And everywhere the apostles went they called upon men thus to face their sins—to face the question of their helplessness, yet their responsibility to God—to face Christ as the one, all-sufficient Savior, and thus by trusting Him to obtain remission of sins and justification from all things.

So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation.

Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture, we read, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Yet, we find true believers exhorted to “repent, and do the first works.” So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before
God. And this is repentance.

Perhaps it will help us if we see that it is one thing to believe God as to my sinfulness and need of a Savior, and it is another thing to trust that Savior implicitly for my own salvation.
Apart from the first aspect of faith, there can be no true repentance. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” And apart from such repentance there can be no saving faith. Yet the deeper my realization of the grace of God manifested toward me in Christ, the more intense will my repentance become.
It was when Mephibosheth realized the kindness of God as shown by David that he cried out, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8). And it is the soul’s apprehension of grace which leads to ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ; and so the work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer’s heart.
“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

The very first evidence of awakening grace is dissatisfaction with one’s self and self-effort and a longing for deliverance from chains of sin that have bound the soul. To own frankly that I am lost and guilty is the prelude to life and peace. It is not a question of a certain depth of grief and sorrow, but simply the recognition and acknowledgment of need that leads one to turn to Christ for refuge. None can perish who put their trust in Him. His grace superabounds above all our sin, and His expiatory work on the cross is so infinitely precious to God that it fully meets all our uncleanness and guilt.”

(Dr. Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain. You may read more articles by him at: www.harryironside.com).
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