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1 Paul,a slave of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect  and the knowledge of the truth that leads  to godliness,  2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,  3 and has in His own time revealed His message  in the proclamation that I was entrusted with by the command  of God our Savior:

4 To Titus,  my true child  in our common faith.

Titus 1:1-4

THE RAGMAN

I saw a strange sight. I stumbled upon a story most strange, like nothing my life, my street sense, my sly tongue had ever prepared me for. Hush, child. Hush, now and I will tell it to you. Even before the dawn one Friday morning I noticed a young man, handsome and strong, walking the alleys of our City. He was pulling an old cart-filled with clothes both bright and new, and he was calling in a clear, tenor voice: “Rags” (Ah, the air was foul and the first light filthy to-be crossed by such sweet music.) “Rags! New rags for old! I take your tired rags! Rags! “Now, this is a wonder, “I thought to myself, for the man stood six-foot-four, and his arms were like tree limbs, hard and muscular, and his eyes flashed intelligence. Could he find no better job that this, to be a ragman in the inner city? I followed him. My curiosity drove me. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Soon the Ragman saw a woman sitting on her back porch. She was sobbing into a handkerchief, sighing, and shedding a thousand tears. Her knees and elbows made a sad x. Her shoulders shook. Her heart was breaking. The Ragman stopped his cart. quietly, he walked to the woman, stepping round tin cans, dead toys, and Pampers. “Give me your rag.”he said so gently, “and I’ll give you another.” He slipped the handkerchief from her eyes. She looked up, and he laid across her palm a linen cloth so clean and new that it shined. She blinked from the gift to the giver. Then, as he began to pull his cart again, the Ragman did a strange thing, he put her stained hankerchief to his own face, and then HE began to weep, to sob as grievously as she had done, his shoulders shaking. Yet she was left without a tear. “This IS a wonder, “I breathed to myself, and I followed the sobbing Ragman like a child who cannot turn away from mystery.

“Rags! Rags! New rags for old!” In a little while, when the sky showed grey behind the rooftops and I could see the shredded curtains hanging out black windows. The Ragman came upon a girl whose whose head was wrapped in a bandage, whose eyes were empty. Blood soaked her bandage. A single line of blood ran down her cheek. Now the tall Ragman looked upon this child with pity, and he drew a lovely yellow bonnet from his cart. “Give me your rag,” he said, tracing his own line on her cheek, “and I’ll give you mine.” The child could only gaze at him while he loosened the bandage, removed it, and tied it to his own head. The bonnet he set on hers. And I gasped at what I saw: for with the bandage went the wound! Against his brow it ran a darker, more substantial blood – his own!

“Rags! Rags! I take old rags!” cried the sobbing, bleeding, strong, intelligent Ragman. The sun hurt both the sky, now, and my eyes, the Ragman seemed more and more to hurry. “Are you going to work?” he asked a man who leaned against a telephone pole. The man shook his head, the Ragman pressed him, “Do you have a job?” “Are you crazy?” sneered the other. He pulled away from the pole, revealing the right sleeve of his jacket – flat, the cuff stuffed into the pocket. He had no arm. “So,” said the Ragman. “Give me your jacket, and I’ll give you mine.” Such quiet authority in his voice! The one-armed man took off his jacket. So did the Ragman and I trembled at what I saw: for the Ragman’s arm stayed in its sleeve, and when the other put it on he had two good arms, thick as tree limbs, but the Ragman had only one. “Go to work,” he said.

After that he found a drunk, lying unconscious beneath an army blanket, an old man, hunched, wizened and sick. He took that blanket and wrapped it round himsef, but for the drunk he left new clothes. And now I had to run to keep up with the Ragman. Though he was weeping uncontrollably, and bleeding freely at the forehead, pulling his cart with one arm, stumbling for drunkenness, falling again and again, exhausted, old, old, and sick, yet he went with terrible speed.

On spider’s legs he skittered through the alleys of the City, this mile and the next, until he came to its limits, and then he rushed beyond. I wept to see the change in this man, I hurt to see his sorrow. And yet I needed to see where he was going in such haste, perhaps to know what drove him so.

The little old Ragman – he came to a landfill. He came to the garbage pits. And then I wanted to help him in what he did, but I hung back, hiding. He climbed a hill with tormented labor he cleared a little space on that hill. Then he sighed. He lay down. He pillowed his head on a handkerchief and a jacket. He covered his bones with an army blanket. And he died. Oh, how I cried to witness that death! I slumped in a junked car and wailed and mourned as one who-has-no-hope- because I had come to love the Ragman. Every other face had faded in the wonder of this man, but he died. I sobbed myself to sleep. I did not know – how could I know? that I slept through Friday night and Saturday and its night, too. But then, on Sunday morning, I was wakened by a violence.

Light – pure, hard, demanding light – slammed against my sour face, and I blinked, and I looked, and I saw the last and the first wonder of all. There was the Ragman, folding the blanket most carefully, a scar on his forehead, but alive! And, besides that, healthy! There was no sign of sorrow nor of age, and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness. Well, then I lowered my head and trembling for all that I had seen, I myself walked up to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a sorry figure next to him.

Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with dear yearning in my voice: “Dress me, LORD”. HE dressed me. My LORD, HE put new rags on me, and now I to, follow HIM.

The Ragman, the Ragman,

THE CHRIST AMEN

by Walter Wangerin,Jr.

My son, Ben, stutters. Not all the time but enough to where it is noticeable and affects his speech when he is trying to get something out. He stutters mainly over the letter ” I “. I can not think of a greater grace than this.

It is funny how God can disguise blessings in things that bring us pain and hurt feelings. I have seen others make fun of him when he stutters and had him stare at me embarrassed because of it. Being his Dad, I suffer in his stuttering as much as he does. I have often wished I could stutter just a little to make him feel better.

As bad as the stuttering may be at times, I am amazed that God did not cause his stuttering to affect all his speech just mainly the letter “I”. It is as though God has caused Ben to stutter over himself. He has made Ben have to slow down and think about himself whenever he gets the chance to talk to others about who he is.

I think that would not be such a bad thing for all of us to stutter over. Maybe God should afflict all people, especially His children, with a stutter when it comes to themselves. Maybe the stutter would make us more aware of our incessant need to talk about ourselves. Maybe we would begin to see how many times we make the conversation about us, instead of others. Maybe we would see how much we relate everything back to our own lives, when those around us are suffering so loudly. But most of us don’t stutter. We have no problem talking about ourselves, boasting over who we are, talking about what we have done. All the while lips and mouth that are to drip God’s message like honey (Ps 51:15), end up spewing it out so that we can speak more about ourselves.

I pray God will be gracious and make me stutter over myself and trip me up everytime I place my life over His or others. I pray that my life will be marked uncommon, because I chose to live for someone other than myself. I pray that God will be gracious enough to make me stutter.

It is not my task or yours to guess who are among God’s elect. This is a secret hidden in the heart of God from before the foundation of the world. Yet by the preaching of the Word of God there will be unmistakable marks revealed in the lives of a great multitude which give evidence that they belong to God’s chosen people. We preach the Gospel to every creature under heaven and say, “Look unto Jesus and be saved.” That gospel is like a fan that drives away the chaff and leaves the wheat. It removes the worthless and reveals the precious. We discover before long the elect of God by their conduct and their conversation, which have been transformed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

Alan Redpath

The Making of a Man of God: Lessons from the Life of David

I am reading through Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It is slow and systematic (no pun intended). I have found the key is not to ingest huge amounts at a time, otherwise spiritual indigestion sets in. Instead, reading slowly and deliberately have been crucial and the results have been mind blowing.

The existence of God seems to be something that has always been real to me. I can’t remember ever questioning whether God existed. The question was not whether I knew of God, but rather whether I knew God. And to be even more specific what was my concept of God. And even that sounds bad and horrendous, because it makes God out to be like some sort of car model or computer accessory. I knew of God but never thought and looked upon Him in a personal relational sense.

When I think about this, it really shouldn’t shock me. It shouldn’t shock anyone to say that God is made clear to anyone and everyone and yet at the same time is hidden from eyes that seem so wide open. Here is why I say this:

1. Because the Bible teaches God has made Himself clearly revealed through nature, the self and Scripture. Romans 1:18-20 states:

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

As much as we would like to say that God has stepped back, exited stage left and set the clock on the eternal countdown, He has not. Since the beginning, God has made Himself clear by our own consciences, inner selfs, whatever you want to call them, testifying about Him. What was the problem or what is the problem? S-I-N or as the above verse states wickedness. Grudem states that sin causes people to think irrationally about God and leads to them falling back on their own human wisdom which is naturally antagonistic of anything or anyone that contradicts it. Since we are born inherently evil, we are pitted against God in rebellion from day one. The thoughts of unbelievers are only toward sin and as John Piper says, “Sin is all unbelievers do”. This sin is the key force is suppressing what we know about God, whether revealed via inner self or through nature and Scripture.

Grudem also states that God is clearly revealed through nature and Scripture. Not partially or 9/10ths revealed, but clearly. This is not a dirty glass view but a crystal clear view. From the beginning verses of Genesis, we can see nature and Scripture testify of God’s existence. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, this one statement is two fold in bringing the reader to see that God is creator of nature and the natural realm and that His word, Scripture, testifies to that.

2. We should not be shocked by unbelief in God. 2 Cor 4:4 states:

4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Satan, the great deceiver, the Father of lies, blinds humankind from the revelation of God. But, if you notice this verse says unbelievers. Believers have had the spiritual scales taken from their eyes are now are able to see God’s glory and the light of the Gospel in every facet and dance of life. The glory of Christ shines forth in physical creation and spiritual creation when the regenerate soul can’t help but cry out in joy and praise and worship of the almighty God. The glory of Christ is the light of the Gospel. What flavor and aroma the Scriptures take on when one is born again. To who else can believers turn to and find such wonder and nourishment than from the very body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? There is none but Him, yet the very thing we find life in is the very stench of death and foolishness to the unbeliever. And as Grudem says, “We must remeber that in this sinful world God must enable us to be persuaded or we would never believe in Him.”

As I read this section, “Chapter 9 – The Existence of God”, I had one thought pass through my mind…I’ve missed so much. My eyes have been opened to God’s glory but how often have I left them looking down in despair rather than falling down in praise and worship of God? How often have I complained about God’s creations and passed by the majesty of His handiwork simply because I had errands to run? I have missed so much…

I have underlined and highlighted one passage from my reading that caught my soul and mind and slammed on the brakes. I read and reread this section and felt a new longing to know my Creator more intimately. Grudem states:

This wide variety of testimonies to God’s existence from various parts of the created world suggests to us that is one sense everything that exists gives evidence of God’s existence. For those who have eyes to see and evaluate the evidence correctly, every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass, every star in the sky, and every other part of creation all cry out continuosly, ” God made me! God made me! God made me!” If our hearts and minds were not so blinded by sin, it would be impossible for us to look closely at a leaf from any tree and say ‘No one created this: It just happened.’ The beauty of a snowflake, the majestic power of a thunderstorm, the skill of a honeybee, the refreshing taste of cold water, the incredibel abilities of the human hand – all these and thousands of other aspects of creation simply could not have come into existence apart from the activity of an all-powerful and all wise creator.

For Jesus name and sake,

KTG

Norman Geisler has commented that to understand the Bible, we need to look for Jesus in each book. While this can be obvious to us in the New Testament, when we begin looking at maybe Esther or Leviticus the search becomes a lot harder.

I found this website that gives the book and shows how Jesus is seen within it. It is very helpful. I haven’t had a chance to review the whole website, but this chart has definitely been helpful to me. I will probably shrink it down, cut it out and put it in my Bible.

Jesus in each book of the Bible

IHS,

Keith

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What I’m Reading

The Jesus Way: Conversations on the way that Jesus is the Way ~~Eugene Peterson _________________________________________ Let the Nations be Glad ~~John Piper _________________________________________

In the “Q”

Francis Schaeffer - True Spiritually ______________________________________

Bible Study / Devotional

Romans 1 ___________________________________________