Poetry Saturday—T.L.A.C.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Twisting trunks twirled together
Against all odds, one forever
Limitless love lacks lust
Daily patience is a must
Always affectionate after an accident
What’s the secret? I’ll give a hint
Conceptual curiosity, constant caring compassion
You strive for One, saving no rations
Giving it your all everyday
And to that “Bravo!” I say —Brandon Owens

My son both wrote this poem and painted this piece of artwork.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

My wife and I just celebrated our anniversary. We enjoyed the many words of congratulations we received, but that got me thinking about marriages where only one spouse is a Christian and I then recorded this thought—

I was so honored to receive another great endorsement for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

“It is not your business to succeed, but to do right; when you have done so, the rest lies with God.” —C.S. Lewis

“Homosexuality is not about some issue to debate; it’s about people to love.” —Dr. Preston Sprinkle, Living In A Gray World 

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” —Herman Melville 

More fascinating news for creationists. Plants know how to defend themselves. “There are two main types of threat-detection mechanisms in plant cells—the ability to recognize distinctive chemical patterns that signify an invader, such as components of a bacterial cell, and the ability to recognize a disruption caused by invading pathogen.” Check out the full article here.

I shared an important reminder with my fellow pastors—

“God, give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst.” —George Whitefield, prayer when sailing for Georgia, December 30, 1777

The Comfort And The Terror Of God’s Love

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Book of Hosea is a love story. It’s a real story telling a much grander story. 

The real story is between a man named Hosea and his wife Gomer. Sometime after their marriage, Gomer became unfaithful to Hosea and became entrapped to someone like a pimp, because it required a rather large payment from Hosea to redeem her. Gomer was restored to Hosea and they lived together faithfully from that point on. 

The grander story is the relationship between God and His people. God’s faithful love redeemed us, but our sin is like that of a cheating wife who has abandoned her husband for another lover. 

God’s love sounds like this:

  • “Let My tender words woo you back to Me” (2:14) 
  • “I will betroth you to Me forever” (2:19) 
  • “My compassion is aroused toward you” (11:8) 
  • “I will not carry out my fierce anger against your sin” (11:9) 
  • “I will care for you in the wilderness” (13:5) 
  • “I will feed you until you are satisfied” (13:6)

But God’s love also sounds like:

  • “I will block your path with thornbushes” (2:5) 
  • “I will ignore you” (4:6) 
  • “I will hide Myself from you” (5:6) 
  • “My sword will flash in your cities” (11:6) 
  • “I will terrify you like a roaring lion” (11:10) 
  • “I will attack you like a mother bear robbed of her cubs” (13:8)

(Check out all of the above references by clicking here.) 

We love the first list—and, indeed, that’s where God would desire us to stay—but the second list is just as loving. 

The opposite of love is not hate, but the opposite of love is apathy. 

God loves us too much—His Son paid too high of a price for us—for Him to let us head down a path that leads to eternal destruction. Listen to how the prophet Isaiah says this:

In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself fought against them. (Isaiah 63:9-10) 

We need both the comfort and the terror of God’s love. 

We need Him to roar His lion’s roar and flash His terrible sword when we are on the path of destruction so that we can return to the path of life and experience His tender voice and bountiful provision. 

When we pray for our wayward loved ones, pray for both God’s sword and His loving words. He knows best which to use. And for ourselves, when we are stricken with fear, use that as an opportunity to ask why we have heard God’s roar or seen His sword flash. Then, if needed, repent and return to His tender embrace. 

God’s love speaks tenderly and roars ferociously because He loves you so very much! 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Poetry Saturday—An Owens Haiku

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Craig loved Betsy first.
Then came three lovable kids.
All five love Jesus.

Then God sent us west.
To the town of Cedar Springs.
We all love our church.

God added spouses.
Lovable mates for our kids.
The blessings increase. —Craig T. Owens

Poetry Saturday—Want Of Understanding

The wretch in me is not a scheming or
mendacious, violent spirit; nor is he
the sort to kill, or other treachery
indulge to gain a another’s vineyard for
himself. He does not with his neighbor’s wife
conspire for fleeting pleasure, or to buy
prestige or safeguard pride, some little lie
compose. He does not plot against the life
of those who scorn, spite, torment, or betray
him; and he holds no grudges, has no need
of vain revenge, avoids self-serving greed,
and keeps content within his given way.
   No, he is worse than all of the above,
   who honors not the wife he’s sworn to love. —T. M. Moore (1 Peter 3:7)

A Bizarre Sermon Illustration

Hosea is the only prophet from Israel (he calls the Israelite king “our king” in 7:5), and along with Amos he is the only prophet to address the northern kingdom exclusively. Hosea addresses the northern tribes of Israel with brutal honesty—he calls them an adulteress wife! Hosea isn’t alone in saying this, as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all same the same thing too. 

But Hosea alone is called on to live out his message in a most unusual way: God instructs him to marry “an adulterous woman”! The question is: was she already a promiscuous woman before they married? Or did she become unfaithful after they were married? 

I believe that she became unfaithful after marriage. When Gomer gives birth to their first son, Hosea writes that “she bore him a son”—indicating he is the father. But with Gomer’s second and third pregnancies, Hosea simply writes, “she gave birth,” leading me to think that Hosea wasn’t the father of those children. 

The names of the children are also interesting: 

  • Jezreel—This boy’s name means “God sows.” It is a neutral word meaning either sowing good seed and reaping a healthy harvest, or sowing godlessness and reaping punishment. 
  • Lo-Ruhamah—Her name means “not pitied.” God indicates that He will bring a judgment on Israel that is deserved justice. He has been patiently calling them to repentance but they kept running farther away from Him. 
  • Lo-Ammi—This boy’s name is saddest of all. It means “not My people. 

How sad! Can you imagine Hosea’s heartache?! Can you imagine God’s heartache?! God tells Hosea the penalty for their adulterous life (Hosea 2:2-13), which the apostle Paul would later sum up in these straightforward words: the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). 

“YET” and “THEREFORE”…

In the middle of God expressing His heartache over His wayward wife He says two amazing words “Yet” and “Therefore” (1:10; 2:14). 

  • Yet I will bless you and reverse your misfortune” 
  • Therefore I will allure you and speak tenderly to you” 

This is UNBELIEVABLE!! Who would respond like this to such vile unfaithfulness?! 

God would.

God did! But God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ—the Messiah, the Anointed One—died for us (Romans 5:8). 

Hosea—whose name means salvation—is called on to do exactly what Jesus did for us. Hosea buys back his wife from her master. Hosea pays the price for Gomer’s sin, just as Jesus paid the price for our sin. 

What amazing love God has for us! 

You have never lived an unloved day in your life. Not a single one! God loves you more than the best husband could ever love his wife. He paid for your forgiveness and your freedom. Will you receive that forgiveness and restoration today?

Join me next Sunday as we learn more major lessons from the minor prophets. 

9 Quotes From Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography

Theodore Roosevelt never pulled his punches! And you could never misunderstand exactly what he was saying. Check out my review of his autobiography by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these straight-shooter quotes from TR. 

“With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.” 

“The necessity of character as the chief factor in any man’s success—a teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.” 

“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance.” 

“For I then held, and now hold, the belief that a man’s first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute or alternative.” 

“I did not then believe, and I do not now believe, that any man should ever attempt to make politics his only career. It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.” 

“No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. … He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” 

“I am glad to see wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a helping hand—surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so often aids in creating self-respect—the most invaluable of all possessions.” 

“My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand against him when he went wrong.” 

“We must ever judge each individual on his own conduct and merits, and not on his membership in any class, whether that class be based on theological, social, or industrial considerations.” 

More quotes coming soon! You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when more quotes are published, and you can also check out the quotes I publish daily on Tumblr. 

True Love Liberates

“Love is not our only emotional need. Psychologists have observed that among our basic needs are the need for security, self-worth, and significance. … 

“My sense of self-worth is fed by the fact that my spouse loves me. … We reason, If someone loves me, I must have significance. …

“I am significant. Life has meaning. There is a higher purpose. I want to believe it, but I may not feel significant until someone expresses love to me. When my spouse lovingly invests time, energy, and effort in me, I believe that I am significant. Without love, I may spend a lifetime in search of significance, self-worth, and security.

“When I experience love, it influences all of those needs positively. I am now freed to develop my potential. I am more secure in my self-worth and can now turn my efforts outward instead of being obsessed with my own needs. True love always liberates. …

“Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us.” —Dr. Gary Chapman

Alien Friendships

As Peter wraps up his letter, he reminds us of his purpose in writing to us aliens and strangers

  • encouraging you = speaking encouraging words to your heart.  
  • testifying that this is the truth = speaking thoughtful words to your head. 

But Peter also says that he wrote this letter “with the help of Silas”—some translations even say “by Silas”—indicating that Peter needed someone to come alongside him with words of encouragement and strength, as much as he needed to deliver those words to fellow Christians. 

Peter mentions three people that were alongside him. These folks are instructive for us too:

  1. Silas 

Peter called Silas a faithful brother. The Greek word he uses for brother is adelphos, a word which usually meant someone who shared the same parents. But Peter modifies this to mean a Christian brother whose heartbeat with the love of Jesus the way his did; someone who shared the same Heavenly Father.  

Silas was a recognized church leader and a companion of Paul (Act 15:22, 30-32, 40). He had quite an extensive and impressive resume, and he also had the full endorsement for such notable people as James, Paul, and Peter. 

  1. She who is in Babylon

Babylon is a code word almost universally agreed to be Rome, but there is some debate as to whom the “she” is. Some think this is the church-in-exile in Rome, and some think this is Peter’s wife (Matthew 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5). 

Whether the church or Peter’s wife, they/she are anonymous servants of God, but never for a moment forgotten by God, nor is their reward going to be lacking (Matthew 6:1, 4). 

  1. Mark

Peter calls Mark my son. Again, he takes a word that originally meant “my offspring” and changes it to mean Mark was his protegé. 

Mark had traveled with Paul, then left Paul mid-journey, and was eventually reconciled to Paul (Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11). 

Mark listened to and recorded Peter’s accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry and wrote the first Gospel that was produced. His Gospel became one of the main reference documents that Matthew and Luke referred to in writing their Gospels. 

Here’s the point—There are no dispensable people in the Church! 

You may be like Silas with many talents and an impressive resume and references. Or you may be like the “she” who is an anonymous helper to others. Or you may even by like Mark who made mistakes but was given a second chance to make good on your commitment. 

You need a Silas, a she, and a Mark in your life. And you just may need to be one of those to someone else. 

“You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother.” —Andrew Murray 

So let me ask you to consider something vital: Are you remaining faithful to your Christian family? 

If you’ve missed any messages in this series, you may find the complete list by clicking here.

The 5 Love Languages For Him/Her (YouVersion review)

Couples that can learn together can definitely grow together! 

A feature I thoroughly enjoy on YouVersion is shared reading plans. When a plan is shared, no one else sees what plan you are reading, and the comments you write at the end of each day’s readings are only visible to the other people in your group. My wife and I have taken advantage of this to use YouVersion reading plans as a springboard to discuss ways to make our relationship even stronger. 

If you have ever heard anyone talk about his/her “love language,” they are more than likely talking about Dr. Gary Chapman’s outstanding series of books on our five basic love languages—words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and physical touch. When we can discover and speak someone’s love language to them consistently, it fills that person’s “love tank” and strengthens the relationship. 

YouVersion offers two 5-day reading plans that leverage Dr. Chapman’s insights on our love languages, and support his insights with passages from the Bible. These plans are The 5 Love Languages For Him and The 5 Love Languages For Her. 

I would highly recommend married couples to read these plans together. It’s not necessary for you to have read The 5 Love Languages book in order to glean some very helpful insights that you can immediately apply to your marriage. These reading plans will help you and your spouse to be able to dialogue about both what’s struggling and needs to be fixed, and what’s going right and needs to be amplified. 

Your marriage will benefit from this 10-minute investment you make for just a couple of weeks. 

%d bloggers like this: