The Garbage Man


Every Tuesday evening, we go around the house and collect our garbage, place it in our garbage container, and set the container by the street. Every Wednesday morning, the garbage man drives down the street in his truck and empties our garbage container. He takes our garbage to the landfill where it is never seen again.

In many ways God is like the garbage man. He removes the garbage of our sin to a place that will never be seen again.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

“You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

“You have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17).

Note that our garbage man never enters into our house to empty our wastebaskets for us. He requires that we place our garbage at the curb. In the same way, we must confess our sins to place them on the curb.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

But note the extent of our forgiveness in the above passage. When we confess our sins, God cleanses us “from all unrighteousness” through Jesus Christ. He enters our hearts and empties every wastebasket of sin in our souls.

The First Snow

First Snow

One of the few advantages to living in the Midwest is what happens every November or December: the first snow. Beyond the beautiful appearance is another aspect of the first snow that must be experienced, not merely seen in a photograph. It’s the deafening silence. For some reason, the first snow seems to blanket everything, not only the ugly sights of the browning lawns, but also the sounds. It’s as if you enter into nature’s soundbooth. All is quiet; all is well.

Isaiah the prophet spoke about the snow. He says, …

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18).

The color of the snow teaches us of the purity of God’s work in our forgiveness. It makes us clean. It makes us pure.

But, I can’t help to think that the silence of the first snow also teaches us of the silence of God as well. When forgiveness comes, He no longer accuses of sin (1 John 2:1). He no longer condemns (Romans 8:1). The law no longer has a hold on us (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). All is quiet; all is well.

Now, there are some conditions to knowing His forgiveness, namely, repentance. Isaiah continues, …

If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken (Isaiah 1:19-20).

A Shelter in the Storm

CaveLast week, I asked my wife what she would like to do for Mother’s Day. She recommended that we spend our day at a park and go hiking. She chose Starved Rock State Park, a great place for a family walk. Before going, we looked at the weather forecast. It was quite severe where we lived, but south of us (where we were headed), all was sunny and clear. So, off we went.

We arrived and began our walk on the lovely trails. We first climbed the stairs to enjoy the majestic scenic view of the Illinois River from the top of Starved Rock. We then followed the trail into the narrow corridor of the French Canyon, where we were met with a pleasant waterfall and were surrounded by beautiful sandstone walls, which the kids enjoyed scaling. As we continued on our way down the trail toward the Wildcat Canyon, the skies began to darken. Apparently, the weather south of our home was not as clear as we thought.

It began to sprinkle. Soon it was pouring rain. What to do?

In God’s providence we were near a walking bridge, so we climbed underneath it to find protection from the rain. Once underneath the bridge, we noticed a little cave, where we were protected from the rain. It was our shelter in the storm.  Our adventure became a great illustration to us all of Isaiah 25:4, “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

We waited out the storm for about an hour before returning to our car, full of family memories of this memorable Mother’s Day!


Gird yourself like a man

I recently ran across the above picture on the internet. It shows a young boy flexing his muscles during a bodybuilding competition in Afghanistan, where bodybuilding is a huge sport. The skinny boy is a good representation of all of us.

We can often be deluded into thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). Perhaps this little boy is able to beat up all of the other little boys in his neighborhood. Yet, when it comes down to it, he is no match for the bigger boys.

Regarding our lives, we may be able to overcome many other people physically or intellectually. But, when we attempt to overcome God, we will be undone (Isaiah 6:5).

When Job attempted to stand in opposition to God, the LORD answered Job, “Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me” (Job 38:3). He follows with four chapters of questions like the following:

– Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (38:4).
– Have you ever in your life commanded the morning? (38:12).
– Can you send forth lightnings that they may go? (38:35).
– Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? (39:1).
– Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars? (39:26).

To all this, Job responds, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. … I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Let us know our place before the Lord. We are weak and He is mighty.


We are anticipating another snow storm tomorrow.  It’s a good time to meditate upon the promise of God.

“Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. …. Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:16, 18).

The Promise Nobody Wants

People often look to the Scriptures for God’s promises to them. Often they are great and glorious, …

The LORD gives strength to his people (Psalm 29:1).
The righteous will flourish. … They will still bear fruit in old age (Psalm 92:12, 14).
The LORD is our king; it is he who will save us (Isaiah 33:22).

These promises are printed out and posted for constant encouragement. But, there is one promise that nobody really wants. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Let’s embrace all of God’s promises.

Feeling Small

God has done several things to make us feel small. First off, He has placed us on an enormous planet, in which billions of people may live together. But the planet Earth is dwarfed by the Sun. You could fit a million Earths inside the Sun. But wait, there’s more. The Earth and the Sun are only a small portion of our solar system, which measures several trillion miles across. Can you even conceive of that size? But the diameter of our solar system is several thousand times smaller than the distance to the closest star, which is a bit more than 4 light-years away. There are hundreds of billions stars in our galaxy, some of which would take you 100,000 years to visit, if you were traveling at the speed of light to get there. In other words, our galaxy is 600,000,000,000,000,000 miles across. But, our galaxy is only one of billions of other galaxies, with even further distances between them. Even with our most powerful telescopes, many of these galaxies appear to be faint stars in the sky.

Isaiah 40:12 says that God has measured the entire universe with the span of His hand.

Are you feeling small? Is God feeling big? Then why do we think so highly of ourselves? “Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think” (Romans 12:3).

Old Methodist Church Buildings

Dotted throughout the Midwest are old Methodist Church buildings. Should you travel through the many small country villages, more often than not, you will see a simple white building close to the main intersection of the town. The presence of these buildings is a testimony to the work of the Methodist itinerant preachers during the early days of our country.

Because there were so few people in the country, it was difficult for the people to support a pastor. So, itinerant preachers would ride their circuits on horseback. They would stay a few days and preach the gospel in one town. Then, they would continue on to the next village, preaching the same messages. Eventually, they would make their way back again.

Over the years, the few pockets of believers in these villages would often come together, pool their resources, and build their own buildings as resources would allow (often taking years). So, when you see these buildings, think of the men on horseback, who endured great hardship to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those in the country.

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

Every Water Molecule

While on vacation this summer, we saw some incredible waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park.  As I watched the water rush down the rocks and heard the thunder of the rapids, I was thinking about the path of each individual water molecule.  Each molecule found its way down the waterfall, adding it’s own little part to the whole.

Then, I thought of how God’s word is like a waterfall.  The LORD says, …

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Every portion of God’s word is like a water molecule.  As it goes out (in print, in conversation, on the internet, etc., …) it will accomplish exactly what God intends for it to accomplish, adding it’s little part to the whole of human history.

Are You With Me?

In the years prior to their marriage, Francis and Edith Schaeffer lived apart from each other, but wrote to each other daily.  In these letters they wrote about everything:  the details of life, their thoughts on current events, and their vision for a future together.  What a great way to force a couple to communicate their thoughts in preparation for marriage!

Anyway, during these days, news of the beheading of John and Betty Stam rippled across the American church (see yesterday’s blog entry). Francis wrote to Edith, “Edith, a point blank question:  You and I and our children may face what the Stams faced. … are you with me even to that?”  He was ready to do anything and go anywhere for the Lord (Isaiah 6:8).  He was merely checking to make sure that Edith was along for the ride. She was. (Edith Schaeffer, The Tapestry [Waco: Word Books], p. 159, 178).