Monthly Archives: April 2018

Much More Than This

The clouds of war gathered.

The king was ready for battle.

He had organized his troops, assembled his military staff, appointed generals and captains.

The army was well-trained – 300,000 soldiers who knew how to fight.

He also paid 100,000 more experienced troops from Israel.

King Amaziah (Ama-zi-ah) is not a well-known figure in the Bible. We read very little about him. What we do read is a decidedly mixed verdict on his character.

The chronicler of the Old Testament kings writes that Amaziah obeyed God, “but not with a perfect heart” (II Chronicles 25:2).

Amaziah wanted to do what was right. He wanted to honor God. He wanted to please him.

He wasn’t too principled about this however.

He had a serious blind spot.

Amaziah was an ethical corner-cutter. He was a rationalizer. He was a justifier of his moral accommodations.

This king found an excuse when he thought he needed one.

Victory over his enemies – the Edomites – was the paramount thing.

When he employed various questionable campaign tactics against his opponents, a young Richard Nixon told friends, “the important thing is to win.”

Amaziah figured the same.

When “a man of God” challenged his reasoning, Amaziah got defensive.

These nameless “men of God” show up at the most interesting times in the Old Testament. Because they’re prophets, they nearly always pose some uncomfortable yet unavoidable truth, as prophets invariably do.

Their righteousness could be annoying.

In this case, the man of God tells Amaziah he should not have paid soldiers from Israel to join him in battle.

This is wrong.


“The Lord is not with Israel” (II Chronicles 25:7).

Israel was a spiritually compromised nation at this time in its history. God would not bless it until it repented. Nor would God bless any nation that went into alliance with apostate Israel.

That included Judah.

Send them back, the man told the king. If Amaziah didn’t, he and his army would be defeated, no matter how well-organized and determined and hard-fighting they were. No matter how righteous their cause or how evil the enemy.

This was a bridge too far.


The king was a practical man.

“But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?” (verse 9).

Amaziah had made a strategic decision and it cost him to do it. He had invested his resources. He felt this was the right thing to do. He was convinced the paid alliance would bring him victory – and this, after all, is what mattered.

Why does God get in our way and frustrate our best-laid plans with all this confusing and inconvenient morality?

Wouldn’t it be better to keep it simple?

We’re right. They’re wrong.

We must defeat them for the sake of all that is good and noble and just.

Whatever this takes, let’s do it. The stakes are way too high not to. After all, if we don’t we’ll lose. And losing is the greatest sin.

The man of God answered King Amaziah.

Emphatic in his pronouncement, clear in his judgment, certain of this truth and profound in his meaning, the prophet told the king:

“The Lord is able to give thee much more than this” (verse 9).

More than this? More than victory? What could be more than winning?


A clear conscience.




An unblemished character, perseverance in what’s good and right, principles strong and intact – even if we lose in this world.

Pleasing God, not with half a heart but a whole one.

A Christian witness to the faith we claim to believe.

What is mere silver to God? What is mere military – or political – victory?

Compared to obeying God and doing the right thing?

Are not these divine compensations of far greater worth?

Sometimes we must compromise in order to achieve some greater good; sometimes we must give in and give up so as to attain a certain positive and worthwhile result – a transcending goal.

There are times when the choice before us is not what we’d ever want or expect. Still we must choose.

There are questions:

How much do we compromise? How much do we surrender? How much do we accommodate? How much do we excuse and ignore, or rationalize?

How far do we go before we’ve gone too far? Where do we draw the line before it’s rubbed out of recognition by our greed and ambition; made faint and finally indistinguishable by our pride and self-righteousness?

The ends – just, good and at any cost – render the means irrelevant.

We employ carnal, sub-Christian weapons and don’t even know it. Soon we’re accepting levels of immorality that violate nearly every divine commandment we claim to revere and embrace.

The irony is tragic.

Jesus poses his own rhetorical question: what have you and I truly won if we’ve gained the whole world but in the process lost our soul? (Mark 8:36).

What is the value of that? What is the exchange?

King Amaziah heeded the prophet’s warning. They were angry with his decision, but he sent the soldiers home.

He went on to win.

Amaziah was a very modern kind of guy – more practical than principled. We may profit from his cautionary example.

Let us resist the temptation to sell our spiritual birthright for a bowl of unsavory worldly stew.

It’s not worth it.

The Almighty God who reigns supreme over men and nations is able to give us much more than this.

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Just Passing Through

This is going to take some time.

Not all of it will be easy.

I’ll have to adjust, accommodate, understand, and be patient.

I made the choice. It was a big one.

This is going to change my life – for a season.

Beth and I have left our home. We’ve moved down the street to live with Beth’s parents. We’re having some work done on our house and can’t live in it until the work is completed.

We’re not sure exactly how long that’s going to be. We told the contractor to take whatever time he needed. He’s nice, seems highly skilled and we trust him.

Living with Beth’s folks is different. We’ve never done it before. At least I haven’t – and Beth hasn’t in quite a while. They are two of the sweetest, kindest, most loving people I know. They are excited and happy we’ve moved in.

We help them around the house. They are 86. They love Jesus.

They have a lovely home and we’re grateful for their kind generosity in sharing it with us.

Living with Dale and Gaye is an adventure. Something different. We like it. We love them.

They’ve taught me to play Hand and Foot – a very interesting and fun card game. I even won – once.

This is all nice.

It’s not home.

We will be back home – in time.

For now, we enjoy our life with the Kellys – and it’s good.

Today I live in hope of a better future. That’s not ingratitude for my present accommodations. It’s glad anticipation of moving back to my real home – when it’s finished and ready for me.

It would be silly for me to stay where I am after the work on my house is finished. I’ll always be grateful to my in-laws for the time I’ve spent living with them but I look forward to going home.

Home is a special place.

The truth is, of course, that no Christian in this world is home yet. The eternity God put in our hearts is the innate natural longing for a better place. Our real home.


No matter how great life is here – no matter how wonderful the people we share it with – we long for there. The older I get, the closer I get. The closer I get, the more my heart yearns.

I haven’t stopped caring about this world, its problems or its people. I care deeply.

I enjoy my life here. It’s just that sometimes I get homesick.

Think of it? Don’t you long for Heaven?

This isn’t pie in the sky.

It’s a practical longing. It’s a realistic hope.

When Jesus was preparing his disciples for the difficult days ahead – to strengthen them for the mighty work of launching and building his church, enlarging his kingdom and fulfilling his Great Commission throughout the whole earth.

When he was steadying their courage and giving them hope to face an uncertain future in this world and this life, what did Jesus talk about?


He told them that in his Father’s house there were “many mansions.”

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

“To prepare.”

It’s not finished yet. Jesus is working on it. He’s a trusted contractor. God created this world – with all its beauty and splendor – in six days. Jesus has been working on our home in Heaven for more than 2,000 years.

As lovely and nice as it is, why would you stay here when it’s time for you to go there? To your real home? To a home the Almighty God of the universe has prepared for you?

When Jesus has put the finishing touches on his masterpiece of construction; when every detail is completed according to his perfect and glorious specifications, you will go. So will I.

Eye has not seen – the mind cannot imagine – what glory awaits all those who have put their trust in him.

To a friend fearing death, CS Lewis wrote:

“Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote:

“For here” – in this present time, now, in this world, in this place; under these present circumstances, in this culture, in the current age –

“we do not have a city” – a lasting home, a dwelling place; a resting place, a place we can truly call home –

“but we are seeking” – we long for, we wait for, we pray for, and hope for; we are pursuing, confident of, and joyfully anticipate –

“the city which is to come” – Heaven, Beulah Land, the Celestial City, our eternal home (Hebrews 13:14).

Why stay when it comes our time to go? This isn’t home. That’s home. The “Land of Corn and Wine.”

An old rabbi lived a very spartan life, in a small hut with minimal furnishings. When an American tourist visited him, he remarked on his limited possessions.

“I see you don’t have much with you,” replied the rabbi.

“That’s because I’m just passing through,” answered the tourist.

“So am I,” smiled the rabbi.

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