My Poem: “Old Man In Morning Prayer”

Bended knee and furrowed brow
ancient man with tempestuous breath
whispers a home brewed appeal;
unmerited respite, peace
heavy burden be layed low

Frail figure eclipsed in morning shade
draped in cloth long worn and tattered
no lavish utterance or satin tongue be spoke
a simple fool before the throne
pleading new mercy, the daybreak comes

Cupped hands tremor in eager petition
loved ones, viewed now only in prayer
still in slumber unaware, they rest
shroud of peace besiege anxious soul
Amen, welcome the morning sun

“Old Man in Morning Prayer”  – by Hardin Crowder (8/10/16)

The Golden Buddha and You

buddha.jpg

“The Golden Buddha” currently resides in in Phra Maha Mondop

The Golden Buddha is an impressive statue with immense value. It is made of solid gold and stands at around 10-feet tall and 12-feet wide. The statue weighs about five and a half tons (11,000 lbs) and would be valued at over $200 million in today’s market for the materials alone!

When one considers the massive size and value of this treasure, it is hard to believe that for nearly 300 years it was lost. What is even crazier is that this massive treasure wasn’t buried under ground or tucked away in some unknown part of the jungle. It was hiding in plain sight! Hundreds of people walked past this treasure without ever even knowing what it was!

How is that possible? Well during an 18th century conflict between Burma and Thailand, the Thai king decide to hid some of the nations most precious objects from the invading Burmese Army. A statue of this size could not easily be hidden, so the king ordered that the statue be covered with plaster and relocated a short distance away in a random temple that no one would suspect of hiding treasure.

This proved to be a wise solution, because the Burmese invaders did eventually take over the area where the statue resided, and the invaders occupied it for about a year without ever suspecting the treasure of a lifetime was right in front of them. For reasons unknown, the Thai people who reclaimed the land at the end of the conflict did not restore the statue to its former glory. Instead they simply left it exactly where it was, covered in plaster and out of sight. As time passed the knowledge of the statue’s true value was seemingly lost forever.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the statue’s true nature was made known again. The Temple Monks of that time had decided to try to relocate the statue, and in the process of moving it they accidentally dropped the massive statue into a mud puddle. Rather than going through the sloppy process of lifting a five ton structure out of the mud, they decided to wait for the mud to dry so that they could dig it out at a later time. When one of the monks went to inspect the fallen statue a few days later, he noticed that some of the plaster had fallen off revealing the treasure that lied within.

Imagine the excitement the monk must have felt once he realized the treasure that was right in front of him this whole time!

The Bible says that human beings were created in the “Image of God.” How crazy of a thought is that! When human beings sinned in the Garden of Eden we broke our relationship with our creator. We became ashamed and tried to cover ourselves up. Like the plaster on the Golden Buddha, our sin separated us from God and hardened our hearts to Him. As time passed we became so acquainted to our spiritually dead existence that we began to assume our separation from the love of God was natural and normal.

Like the Golden Buddha face down in the mud, we have fallen far from our former glory. But while we may have forgotten our true value and worth, God our creator did not! God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this muddy sinful world to rescue us! Even though it cost him dearly, Jesus Christ lifted us out of the mud, chipped off the plaster of sin that bound us, and made us shine as new creations!

Did you know that you were made to glorify God your creator? You are a beautiful and unique work of art! You are a lost treasure waiting to be restored and reclaimed! The sooner we understand our value, and the sooner we recognize how far we have fallen, the sooner God can begin the process of restoring us to the way we were meant to be!

Soli Deo Gloria!

William Wilberforce on Joy

“My grand objection to the religious system still held by many who declare themselves orthodox Churchmen. . . is, that it tends to render Christianity so much a system of prohibitions rather than of privilege and hopes, and thus the injunction to rejoice, so strongly enforced in the New Testament, is practically neglected, and Religion is made to wear a forbidding and gloomy air and not one of peace and hope and joy.” 

– William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce

That Time Jesus Prayed For You

Statue_of_Jesus_Christ_in_Prayer

Artist Rendition of Christ in Prayer

If I were given the chance to sit down and chat with the President of the United States I would probably remember that moment forever. I would want to to have a picture taken of that moment and then have that picture framed and hanging on my wall. It would be something I would want to tell my kids and grand kids about!

Prayer is so much greater than speaking with the President of the Untied States, and yet we take it for granted. It is an amazing thing that we can speak directly to God Himself! We can communicate with the Almighty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with no monthly bill, annual contracts, or long distance fees to worry about.

An even crazier thought is that Jesus Christ himself would pray to God the Father on our behalf! It seems insane to think that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would be mindful of us. And yet towards the end of his earthly ministry, we see Christ praying this simple prayer for His followers:

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

– John 17:15-19

Jesus knew at this point that the cross was before him, and that he would soon die for the sins of the world, rise three days later, and leave his church in the care of the Holy Spirit with the great commission as their calling. Jesus also knew that the church would face trials and tribulations in his earthly absence. For this reason he prayed.

If you are a Christian this prayer is for you, and from this prayer we can find some comforting truths. The first truth being that…

I. This World is Not Our Home

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

-John 17:16

This does not mean that Christians are some sort of extra-terrestrials. It does mean that we who are saved have a different nature than the rest of the world. We have different heart desires, different goals, different morals, and ultimately we have a different God.

I think it is odd that Christians are surprised to find that the world might mistreat them. We are told over and over in the scriptures that this is not our home. As Christians we are strangers in a strange land and we should experience a spiritual “culture shock.” We were rescued from darkness, and we are new creations, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the world or those who are still living in it.

“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” 

-John 17:18

If anyone had the right to ignore the world it was Jesus Christ the Son of God, but for our sake he humbled himself, took on the form of a man, lived a perfect sinless life, died on a cross for our sins, and rose three days later. His ministry now continues through you and me.

Which brings us to a second truth…. Continue reading

John Newton Comments On His Own Death

“It is a great thing to die; and, when flesh and heart fail, to have God for the strength of our heart, and our portion forever. I know whom I have believed, and he is able to keep that which I have committed against that great day. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me that day.”

– John Newton (spoken one month prior to his death)

 

NEWTON2_360.jpg

John Newton died on December 21, 1807. 

 

The Five Books I Find Myself Recommending Most Often

Today is National Book Lovers Day and I wanted to contribute something to the discussion. The problem is I didn’t want to just do another list of “my favorite books.” I already did that a while ago, and the list honestly has not changed much since then. So to mix things up I made a list of the five books I find myself recommending the most. These books are not necessarily my favorites (although many of them are), but rather they are the books that I tend to steer people towards the most often. All of them have impacted my worldview in some way, shape, or form and  I hope you get as much enjoyment out of them as I have:

“Yawning at Tigers” by Drew Dyck5141FjB3A-L

“Yawning at Tigers” is a book that touches on a topic that is surprisingly absent in a lot of contemporary christian literature, the Holiness of God. Most Christian books try to paint God as a relatable figure that we can feel safe and secure around. Very few seek to capture the dangerously holy nature of God! “Yawning at Tigers” seeks to recapture that lost sense of awe, majesty, and reverence that we so often see lost in modern culture.

“Humility” by Andrew Murray41eOJGHGaYL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

In true Andrew Murray fashion, “Humility” is short, sweet, and to the point. Yet another great book on a topic rarely discussed, “Humility” is a collection of short devotions that encourages the reader to contemplate and meditate on the nature of God, humanity, and our place in the universe with a sense of blessed humility. I can include this book on the short list of books that literally changed my life.

41MVNKZ1JRL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I am not someone who reads a ton of fiction, and yet “The Brothers Karamazov” managed to quickly become my favorite book of all time. The novel can be intimidating to readers with its over 1,000 page count and difficult Russian names like Smerdyakov, but the amazing way it deals with topics such as religion, ethics, morality, family, and the role of a man in society makes it worth the effort. I do not know how one could read this book and not come out of the experience a better person.

 “The Walking Man” by Jiro Taniguchi51f4N-E87AL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_

As I was writing this I came upon a disturbing fact that almost made me feel guilty recommending this one so often. For some reason the price of this book has gone up A LOT since I got my copy. To be clear, I would NOT recommend spending $800 for a new copy! I would recommend picking up a used paperback if you can find one for a decent price. This book is not a traditional novel. It is actually a series of beautifully drawn comics that come together to make a loosely interwoven story. There are few words spoke throughout the entire book, and the plot is virtually non-existent. It is a book that is literally just about a man walking around his home town and noticing things. It sounds like a boring concept, but somehow Jiro Taniguchi makes it into an amazing reading experience. It is relaxing, entertaining, and surprisingly inspiring. It is a book that teaches you to appreciate life’s small moments, which is a message I think everyone can benefit from.

“What are People For” by Wendell Berry51lGW6lntWL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_

I will admit that I do not know how to properly describe this book. It is a collection of essays from one of my favorite authors/poets Wendell Berry. It is not my favorite Wendell Berry book, but it is a great introduction to the man and his thoughts. The essays are seemingly random to a casual reader, dealing with every topic from racism, to Kentucky mining practices, and even an short argument about why the author refuses to buy a computer. It is all fascinating and thought provoking. A worthwhile read just for the sake of getting to walk around in the mind of the contrarian farmer for a few minutes.

John Piper’s Desire For Pastors

“One of my great desires is to see Christian pastors be as strong and durable as redwood trees, and as tender and fragrant as a field of clover, unshakably rugged in the defense and confirmation of the truth, and relentlessly humble and patient and merciful in dealing with people.”

– John Piper (2001 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors)

img_0031

John Piper