“Come to Me”

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28)


Photo credit: September 2020

Spring Creek Ranch at Jackson Hole, Wyoming

“The Creation”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

(Genesis 1:1)


Photo credit in the public domain: “Blue Marble” (Earth)

Copyright @ 2020 The Word in Motion

“Deus Solus – God Alone: His Omnipotence – He is All-Powerful” – Psalm 139: 13 – 16

As I reflect on the opportunity given to me to have served a fellowship of believers in the study of God’s Word, I am amazed at the hand of God during that time. I witnessed our lives being changed for the better as well as how God molded me and grew my spirit in ways I could have never imagined. While teaching I had a deep sense of purpose that I was doing as God had ordained for me to do. Though there were many facets to my life I inherently knew that God was overseeing the entirety of my life, weaving and threading me through humanity by His sovereignty. Not only did I witness how God knew all things before, during, and after this experience, but that He was everywhere. As a result of His foreknowledge and everywhere-presence, He demonstrated to me that He is All-Powerful and sovereign over all.

What has been most inspiring to me is that He created me for His purpose. Not just one single purpose such as teaching or writing, but many purposes across the span of a lifetime. To say there is just but one sole purpose for each of us is quite frankly limiting the power of God and the need of humanity amidst the course of time. We are vessels of His creation and He leads us down many roads and paths under the auspices of a life. A precious life of a human being.

Throughout scripture, God clearly demonstrates His love for His created beings and thus human life.  Our lives are precious to God. His foreknowledge and everywhere-presence are part of His sovereign power over all creation. As such, God knew us before we were conceived and born into this world.

Do not let someone or some circumstance cause you to doubt the immensity of importance of your existence in this world, or the life you are caring for, or the life in your womb. It is not by coincidence, accident, or chance that you are here living today in this time in history. Over the course of years there have been moments when I questioned the sanctity of my own life due to painful circumstances, sorrowful memories, failures, and sufferings. Life itself seemed as if it were a prison I could not escape. Weary days upon days without end were enough to convince me all hope was gone and no purpose to live anymore. Many times I convinced myself the world with its vastness and innumerable inhabitants would be better without my presence occupying the air and the land and the sea. The emptiness of life was too daunting for me to hang in there and wait for better days. As God would have it though, a certain something would rescue the moment alleviating my destitute thoughts as a way of escape. Through it all, what is most evident to me is that God is all-powerful and sovereign over all things before life, during life, and after life.

As the psalmist David writes….

“For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

(Psalm 139: 13 – 16)

In verse 13, David marvels at God creating him in the womb of his mother, weaving as to knitting his form and his substance. This is a demonstration of God’s omnipotence that the life of David began in an embryonic state in his mother’s womb.

Next is verse 14 which is one of the most celebratory verses in all of Psalms, and those who believe in God that we (“I”) are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and our soul is thus acquainted by such works of Yahweh! Here David acknowledges Yahweh’s omnipotence so much that he praises and gives thanks to Him.

Verse 15 David says that his frame, or skeleton, was not hidden by God as God knows all. In the mystery of God, the secret depths of the womb, God has superintended fetal formation and development and only such sovereign power belongs to God alone.

Verse 16 the psalmist David declares that God sees everything before it comes into existence and therefore is pre-destined. Only an omnipotent, all-powerful God can do so as He is sovereign over all. In addition, David gives credit to God having accounted for David’s life before he was born, and that God ordained his days before there were no days.

This beautiful Psalm 139 is a testament of David’s life before God and before others. He lived his life both in solitude as a young boy and publicly as King of Israel. His testament of God’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence was clearly demonstrated in his life so much as he recorded it in Psalm 139 and is ever so important to us now. I am filled with awe and wonder how an old Hebrew Psalm from before the time of Christ can still be drawn upon for you and for me this time in history. The fact that God is all-powerful and sovereign gives me so much inner peace and joy to know He is all-knowing, ever present, and all-powerful in life’s daily occurrences. To this I am grateful that Deus Solus, God alone, is in the midst of our lives today and forevermore.

Photo credit: The author among students during an Internship at the Lay Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

Copyright 2020 The Word in Motion

“Deus Solus – God Alone: His Omnipresence – God is everywhere” Psalm 139: 7 – 12

During those many miles on the highway between Houston and Dallas I often thought of God and His presence. From dawn to dusk, and the deep darkness of midnight, I was always struck by the fact that though I could not see Him He could see me. His watchful eye and presence were with me everywhere each mile I drove.

When the days got lonely, and there were so many lonely days, He was with me in the midst. Watching me like a loving Father contemplating every move I would make, every thought in the deepest recesses of my mind, and the aches in the forgotten chambers of my heart. As much as I would have loved His virtual appearing before me, He was everywhere.

The two classes I taught were met with much anticipation for me. I saw how my students gave the utmost respect and grace to me each time we were together. They were filled with joy and with need. Joy to share God’s word with fellow believers and need for God’s insight as well. Each time class ended my heart sank as I left their presence only to drive 250 miles back to Houston, alone.

What I learned most of all was that God was everywhere. He was everywhere with me in the presence of my students, He was everywhere with me while I was teaching His word, and He was everywhere with me in the safe journey to and from home.

Today, our world has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. An invisible virus passing through humanity weaving a web displaying the interwoven world we live in. We have all been affected in some way or another and the longer it weaves we will all be affected even more so. 

As I look at the images and the onslaught of information and data presented I am reminded of all those who have suffered as a result. There has been much suffering, from the passing away of loved ones, sickness, loss of employment, postponements of events, restricted travel, the hindering of gatherings, and so much more. It is an isolation of desolation of sorts.

Still, God is everywhere.

As the Psalmist David writes…

“Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend, Thou art there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee.” (Psalm 139: 7-12)

So now, we come to the life of David, from shepherd boy to King of all Israel. No greater figure in the Old Testament was as acquainted with solitude and isolation than David.  From his tending sheep, fleeing Saul in the desert wilderness, to King of Israel, forbidden sin with Bathsheba, and the loss of a child, David for the most part experienced aloneness with God.

In verse 7,  David asks “where can I go and where can I flee?” He was acknowledging that God is everywhere. There was no place David could be where God was not there already. We are never lost or alone from the sight of God. Yahweh is there, always.

In verse 8, David says he can ascend to heaven or lay in bed in Sheol and God is yet still there. God is in the ascension and the depths of the earth. Here David acknowledges that God is above and below in all the created world.

In verse 9, David gives a beautiful motif “wings of the dawn” as the upward rising sun from the east down to the remotest depths of the sea at sunset. Yahweh is everywhere and he cannot escape His presence.

In verse 10, David acknowledges that God is there by leading him and guiding him. Absolutely, God can be relied upon at all times.

In verses 11 – 12, David says that though darkness can be overwhelming and light will be as night as well, God sees it all. There are no contrasts with God. Dark and light are the same to God as neither can blind His sight from us. Thus, God is everywhere, is aware of everything, and is present regardless of our circumstances.

How wondrous God’s ever-presence meant to David. There was no doubt despite his life’s triumphs and tragedies David knew God was with him everywhere he walked, slept, dwelled, and battled, from tending sheep in the fields to the warrior King of Israel.

Over the years, I have known of one or two people that say “God is with you!” It seems to come when those persons are seemingly doing well and not minded by reality. Of course, He is there everywhere, though we cannot see or even feel Him. When I am ill, God is not taking my temperature, or bringing me a glass of water in the middle of the night, or bathing me when I am unable to do so. As I look deeper, God is there everywhere in the time it takes to heal, through a caregiver that meets my daily needs, through my physician that tends to my wounds, in the breath that I breathe, and in my prayers.

So now in the year 2020, I have seen God in the midst. He is everywhere. He is everywhere with us as we stay at home in a more settled down environment for once listening to the tranquility of silence that has not been heard in a long time. He is everywhere with us as we remain with our families and loved ones enjoying home-cooked meals at the dinner tables. He is everywhere with us during long walks in our neighborhoods and parks. He is everywhere with us as we take care of our elderly relatives. He is everywhere with you and me, protecting us from yet worse, by the generosity of neighbors and communities, and mostly by the heroic medical and healthcare workers treating those most at risk of losing their lives.

There is no place where we cannot go where He is not there already. Humankind is linear in the timeframe of reality and the world as we know it. God is not. He owns the complete sphere of time. God is omnipresent in the sense that He transcends all limitations of time and is everywhere present all around the world.

God is everywhere.

Photo credit by the author: The River Oaks – Houston.

Copyright @ 2020 The Word in Motion

“Deus Solus- God Alone: His Omniscience” Psalm 139: 1 – 6

Had I known…

There have been moments in my life had I known in advance my decisions would have been otherwise. Had I known, I would not have taken that route, driven that road, chosen that path, opened that door, made that choice, walked that particular way.
Why was crucial insight left out, unspoken, unrevealed, and in essence, silent? So I continued only to later find that had I known I would have continued another way.

We know and yet we do not know. We know enough, yet not enough. The more we know the more we do not know. There is more to knowing than we know. We can know what we need to know, but we are unable to know in full. If we could know in full we may not wish to know at all. The knowing belongs to the All-knowing One who knows all, above and beyond, all there is to know.

I do not think there is anything more difficult than to not know. Most of us approach each day with a general knowledge of what may transpire between arising from bed in the morning to laying down in the evening. For some, there is no such knowledge. A day cannot be defined enough to know anything about it. There is a significant struggle to know if there will be another day. Each moment is qualified by the unknown. With every shifting moment in life it seems that we shift along with it. There is no stability with which we can hold to during the undercurrents of the circumstances that have seemingly chosen us because they know us more than we would want to know.

Each time I got into my car to make the long arduous round trip to Dallas I thought within myself, “What will this journey bring?” I knew enough to know that when you’re in service to the Lord with whatever capacity He places you in trouble will surely lurk around the corner. The enemy is waiting for every opportunity to spoil God’s plan. Though I remembered the Holy Spirit’s words “you will be well”, I often reflected on it in the midst of that lonely journey. I clung to the Spirit. My thoughts knew no end and the utterances of my lips knew no friend as I felt alone. When I arrived home safely past midnight each time I was relieved. Another trip down, another to go. In my mind each trip proved itself worthy of the words that led it. Yet I still wondered. It was unknown to me but I was known to Him. Deus Solus. God alone.

As the Psalmist David writes…
“O LORD, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all.
Thou has enclosed me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”

(Psalm 139: 1 – 6)

David faced many challenges in his life from the time he was a young shepherd boy to the era he reigned as King of Israel. As a shepherd boy and the youngest of his father’s sons, David did not possess the characteristics of a would-be King. The world views people through the lens of man rather than the lens of God. Even his own earthly father would not have chosen David to be King, but viewed his other sons as having the characteristics fitting for the royal role. When a son emulates his father it tends to garner favor more than the one that does not. David, in essence, was by-passed by his own father, overlooked, underestimated, and seemingly not possessing the potential gravitas his father saw in his other sons. In our society today, people choose their leaders in terms of charisma such as charm, smile, likability, oratory skill, or through certain relations, but when God is involved it is never the same as man.

In 1 Samuel 16: 7 God said to the prophet Samuel “…Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Seven of David’s brothers passed by the prophet Samuel in an effort to confirm God’s chosen future King. Obviously, in the eyes of David’s own father Jesse, David did not possess the necessary characteristics for the role of King as did all his older brothers. Samuel, who had orders from God, knew that none of Jesse’s sons were God’s chosen one, so he inquired of Jesse “Are these all the children?” (verse 11). Can you imagine what Samuel must have thought? “God, you ordered me to this task, all seven sons have passed in front of me, and yet not one of them is your chosen? Then who is?” Jesse responds to Samuel and says there is one more son but he is the youngest and is tending sheep. So there it is. Disqualified due to age and skill. Samuel replies “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here” (verse 11). Can you hear the exasperation in Samuel’s voice? He was determined to accomplish God’s request and to see with his very own eyes this young shepherd boy.

I imagine, as David heard his father’s voice in the distance to come over, he obeyed, carried his staff like the friend it had become, ran through the sheep-filled field toward the crowd of men that had gathered, slowed his pace to a steady walk, and made his entrance into the scene, and in verse 13 it says, “Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, Arise anoint him; for this is he.”

When I read the scripture I see that God made it a point to describe David’s outward appearance. I thought only man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart? God does look at the heart.

As I have gotten older through the years I have gained experience in life. Time and life are a forcing function to grow in many ways, such as, experience, wisdom, intellect, and above all the spirit. It has led me to see this: young David was ruddy, meaning a healthy looking tanned face from all the hours and days spent outdoors tending sheep. The sheep business is messy with all the dirt, mud, grass stains and filth it provides. It is not a glorifying position. It invites all manners of physical and mental challenges such as strength, humbleness, and patience. The outdoor nature of being a sheep herder perhaps added to the rugged-handsomeness of young David. I do not think he was a pretty, soft type of a boy protected from the elements as maybe all his older brothers which made them more suitable for man’s anointing. The filth of the field hid David’s outward and physical appearance, but not to God.

Often times, the youngest of the siblings get the most attention, are the most protected, as well as the spoiled baby of the brood. Not so with David. David was rugged, strong, and acquainted with aloneness. There is no doubt in my mind shepherding sheep grew David’s physical stature, appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors, sensitivity and patience for the wandering sheep, and humility to be assigned such a menial task all alone. Aloneness can be a great teacher. God was building character unbeknownst to David and to others. Strong character and pureness of heart are what God looks for in His chosen leader.

Yes, David was handsome, but all the more for it because his heart was after God’s heart. God was pleased with His fine young boy. I find it interesting that the youngest of Jesse’s sons was assigned as shepherd of the sheep, so much so, as Jesse thought of his sons as worthy of anointing, he forgot entirely about his youngest son. However, David was known to God, and God alone.

In time, David became God’s chosen as the first King of Israel. As the years progressed he experienced many things in life. He encountered great heroic victories as the warrior King as well as great personal failure. However, through it all, David came to know God deeply, but that God knew him ever more deeply was beyond that which he could imagine or comprehend.

Verse 1 which says “O Lord, Thou has searched me and known me” means it is a testament of God’s knowledge of David as God knows his inner-self.

In verse 2 it says “Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.” God knows all of David’s moves, from his sitting to his rising and everything in between. God knows and understands David’s thoughts whether near or far away. There is no distance from God. He is ever present inside David’s thoughts.

Verse 3 states “Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Here, God knows all of David’s activities from lying down to his personal inclinations, leanings, preferences, motivations, and inwardness.

Verse 4 reads “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.” God not only has foreknowledge of David’s thoughts, He understands David’s thoughts from the standpoint He knows what drives his thoughts, such as reasons and formulations. Before a thought is complete He knows what will be said. No creature is hidden from God’s sight and as all things are open to Him all things are laid bare before Him, including the innermost thought. This proves that God is aware of all things and knows all things.

It says in verse 5 “Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, And laid Thy hand upon me.” Here, God has encased David as in a hedge of protection surrounding him entirely. Just as Jerusalem is surrounded by the mountains so does He surround and protect His people. Perhaps this reflection of David was based on his running away from Saul into the desert wilderness and that God’s hand was upon him offering protection every step of the way.

The passage ends with verse 6 saying “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” God’s knowledge of David, and all of humankind, is incomprehensible. The omniscience of God is beyond time and space. I wonder if David thought of the beautiful blue sky above and the expanse of it while tending sheep in the field as a young boy. Certainly, as much time David spent alone in the great outdoors he must have marveled at the creation all around him, such that one day he would reflect on his memories of it when writing this magnificent Psalm.

Over the course of the fall and winter I drove a 500 mile roundtrip from Houston to Dallas on a weekly basis and by the time the internship was completed I logged an estimated 10,000 miles. Each time, my mind was heavy in thought as I pondered the class I would teach, my students, my notes, as well as my life in general. I was so alone. Often I was driving at sunset and late into the evening. I remember the many times I drove with my sunroof open only to see the expanse of the great Texas sky and on the clearest of evenings the twinkling of the stars high above me. I loved it. Oh how vast God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. While I never knew what would await me on those journeys, I took solace knowing that God knew.

All I know is that You, my God, know. You’ve always known. You will always know and there has never been a time in which You have not known. Your omniscience is yours alone. You know the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning. Nothing in life, or in our mind and heart are hidden from You. You know all things before they come into being. You and You alone know all things and there is no other. Deus Solus. God alone.


Photocredit: The author in the classroom at Dallas Theological Seminary

Copyright 2019 The Word in Motion.


“Deus Solus – God Alone: “An Introduction” Psalm 139: 1 – 16

It was a summer years ago. I arrived home on a hot August afternoon and sitting inside the cool of my car in the parking lot. Feeling overwhelmed, my mind raced as through a maze as I looked through the front window of my car. The strangeness of it all. I reflected as to the heavy load I continually carried on a daily basis. A load with a road of its own. Leading me without a sense of direction. I am always, constantly, alone. No one else. All by myself. “When will it cease?” I asked God. Will the day ever come, or will I be overcome by it? My soul longed for a taste of rest but if for only a moment. Dear Lord God, “How long must I go on like this?” The pressure of the load of life deepened the path I walked. Where else must I step?

I had just registered for my internship at Dallas Theological Seminary. It would require that I drive twenty roundtrips from Houston to Dallas in a one day period for twenty weeks over the upcoming academic year in order to teach classes to the public. I was overwhelmed by the pressure of an additional commitment to an already thin-stretched life. Most days I felt as a walking skeleton. My body hollowed out from the constant pressures that would eat away at my internality. I had no more of me to give. A heart merely for passing blood through my veins ensuring that I would yet live another day. No matter the weightiness of the load the bow never seemed to break, a welcoming sign for yet more. For several years my life was burdened with a full-time demanding career, taking two classes a week at the Houston campus, and being a care-giver to my widowed father. The thought of adding weekly travel to my schedule was more than time would allow, much less the physical demands it would place upon me.

Tactically, I measured out not only the financial cost and my responsibilities, but the time factor involved with taking these day-trips. It meant I would arrive home in Houston after midnight. Being safety conscious I recognized the susceptibility of the dangers on the road that could await me. As I inhaled and took in the breath of this burden something happened. I felt a strong presence of the Spirit of the Lord. And something like a wind rushed through me on the inside, followed by something of a shield that wrapped around me with the strength of peace. Tears filled my eyes and fell like rain drops down a flower’s petals. Then words came to me. The Spirit of the Lord saying, “you will be well.”

By the end of the spring semester, I completed all twenty trips, on-schedule, and arriving home safely each time. Despite experiencing fatigue, hunger, illness, unforeseen degradation of my car’s tires, near miss collisions, being run off my lane twice in two minutes, eighteen wheelers unexpectedly shredding steel-belted tires like bullets shooting my way, deer dodging vehicles as though as children on pogo-sticks at dusk, and harassment on the road by a convoy of cars, I was well.

But there is one God. Only God. There is no other and no one else. God alone.

You, God, only You.

“O LORD, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all.
Thou has enclosed me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead
me, And thy right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee. For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” 
(Psalm 139: 1-16)


Photo credit: The author driving to Dallas.

Copyright 2018 The Word in Motion

“Where there is faith: Always faithful” A Conclusion Hebrews 11: 1 – 40

There will come a time in life when we will go it alone. No one to stand for us, bear us up, rise us up or raise us up. Though we may lean the post will soon give way. Leaving us to once again, go it alone. Each one for himself. Each one with himself, only. Certainly, in the end.

We all have chosen how we live our lives. Many for self only, and a few for many others.
When the posts are finally removed, and they will eventually be removed one day, what else is there for us to lean upon? What do you lean upon now?

The culmination of life in the strength of its vortex catapults us to the next moment in our lives and meant to shift us beyond what could ever be imagined. I try to imagine the possibility of the impossible and yet the impossible is more than what I can imagine. Life goes on.

My father was orphaned as an eleven year old boy. Posts were temporary as they could hardly stand the pressure and tension of a young boy growing against the grain. Life was realized on June 15, 1942.

“The scene before my eyes was like a horrible nightmare. An eleven-year-old boy
at the time, I stood petrified and unable to comprehend the terrifying sight. It must
have been true, though, for the seven caskets arranged in a semicircle contained the remains of my father, Guillermo Rubio; my mother, Estefanita Lopez Garcia; three sisters, Sofia, Elena, and Teresita; and two of my brothers, Rosendo and two-year-old Ramon, whose little coffin lay between those of my father and mother.”
(quote from author Abel G. Rubio, Stolen Heritage, revised edition (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986), p.1.

The posts no longer remained. Gone instantly. The strength of the vortex shifted beyond what my father could imagine. Despite an insurmountable tragedy, my father had faith.
My father’s faith drove him in a direction that became something better than the former things in life. His service in the Marine Corps became the foundation which gave his family and him a life of blessing. He lived for others. He wasn’t a man for himself. He was a man for others. As the Marine Corps motto goes, “Semper Fidelis.” Through his faith I have faith. Not because his faith was mine, but because through his faith I was given life to come to faith on my own. He was faithful to his family and to His God. I never knew my father to be anything else but faithful. His faith in God. My faith in God. My father’s life embodied that of the most faithful. Together we share our faith in our God. The legacy of faith has been passed on to the coming generations.

In Hebrews 11: 1 – 40 we are given a summarization of the Old Testament and New Testament saints whose faith girded their lives to live according to what they believed about God and to achieve the very thing they knew was God’s intended purpose for them and for others. Crossing deserts, childbirth beyond the age of conception, an unconditional promise to be realized beyond life ever after, building an ark for the salvation remnant, leading stubborn thousands across the sea as though dry land, quenching the power of fire, escaping the edge of the sword, imprisonment, stonings, mockings, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, wandering in mountains, caves, and holes in the ground. So many more beyond what was written. In each mention these saints experienced the strength of the vortex that shifted their lives in ways beyond what could be imagined. The posts they had known that once securely held their lives to the ground had been shaken and removed. The time in life came to go it alone. There was no one to stand up for them, rise them up or raise them up…but God.

God brought them through their insurmountable circumstances for His glory and beyond what they could have imagined. Their journey, though for God, was for all of us. We bear the reward for their faithfulness in God. The legacy of their faith was passed down to all believers. The reward is the something better that we can look to as having happened, that is, the words and works of our Lord Jesus Christ. We live in the era of the fulfillment of Christ. We have that something better in Him.

Our faithfulness are personal demonstrations of our belief in the faithfulness of our Lord God. For what reason would we give our lives over but for God in Christ? What else could explain the martyr-ship of the faithful but the One who is faithful? Why else be faithful to the end yet not having received the promises of God except to follow Him? Faith. It is a gift from God. Through it all, faith is about God. It says most of Him than it can mean about us. We can be faithful and faithless. Yet God is the one who overcomes our faith no matter where the strength of the vortex takes our lives. He perfects our faith. Where there is faith, there is something better, “semper fidelis,” always faithful, Christ our Lord and Savior forever and ever.

Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copypright 2013 The Word in Motion

“Where there is faith: Something better” Hebrews 11: 39 – 40

Oh, how I long for something better. Something better than my circumstance, my day, my life, this world. I have one good day and I’m unsatisfied. Each day takes from the other. That time would stand still. My thirst has yet to be fully quenched. I’m almost there, and yet, not yet. I want more. Another try. Another place. Another time. Born not of this world yet coming through it and longing out of it. Born for more yet born with so little, of so little, to not much at all.

I desire greater, higher, and deeper. I crave fulfillment beyond my heart’s own bounds. I don’t know what it will be, except that when it be. That which will subdue and settle my uneasiness and restlessness. I have no words for it. But I can feel it. I will know it when it finally comes.

The fire within resounds and soars beyond the shell that encapsulates my being. My soul can hardly stand it. This place that imprisons me, barricades me, holds me back from that something better.

When I am disappointed time and again I long for something better.
When my flesh burns of being human I long for something better.
When my heart stings of broken heartedness how I long for something better.
When I am reminded of memories past I long for something better.
When I am in the present tense I long for something better.

I can’t see it but I know that when I do, whether shunned vision or wetted eye, I will see that which beholds my being and it will be something better.

That I would be at rest, when finally at rest. Something better than this. For I know, I just know, there is something better.

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11: 39 – 40)

When one has that something better it is beyond imagination. It is fully intoxicating. Other worldly. Another emotion. So irreplaceable it cannot be found anywhere else. If you have had the privilege to have someone in your life that is something better you know without that person life will never be the same. Without it you are lost, empty, always looking to find anything to be that something better. You will fail each time. You will be void. You will be hurriedly behind. Your future longing for that something better will be reflected in the past as having lost it. That something better has affected you so deeply you are not the same. You see life differently, you feel differently, you think differently and admittedly, you are different because of it.

In the letter to the Hebrews the author culminates the hall of faith passage by a spiritual testament to these heroes of the faith, the followers of Yahweh, and who they meant to the New Testament believers then and now. Moreover, it is a profound eschatological view from a lens of the Old Testament prophets regarding the sovereign plan of God. The men of old had a parcel of the revelation of God in the sense they only had the promise of the Messiah to come through the words of the prophets. The New Testament believers, however, have received Him through the testimony of His words and works thus receiving the promise of Himself, thereby being in a position more privileged than the Old Testament saints. Our faith can look back at the accomplished work of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament believers, those who believed in Christ at the time of His ministry on earth through those who believe after His death and resurrection have the full revelation of Him and thus the era of fulfillment of Christ. Though the men of old received divine approval for their faith they did not obtain that which would result in the ultimate promise, Christ the Messiah. Absolutely they died in faith and entered heaven before the presence of the Lord. However, they died before seeing Christ’s appearance on earth.

Through the atoning work of Christ we are able to share in His perfection. We cannot become perfect on our own. Christ alone does so. He perfect’s our faith. Thus, we share in the same faith in God. The Old Testament saints and the New Testament believers unite in faith through Christ. Together we have received that something better. Our something better in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I have found my something better. In Him. Not because He wasn’t there but because I had not shown. He was always there. I accepted His invitation. He gave. I received. He has set me free. There is no wall, prison, barricade, or chains that hold me back from that something better. In Him I am free. I know no bounds. My soul is safe with the soul-maker.

I close my eyes and know You my God are there. I never have to doubt, I never have to wonder about it. You are so assuredly mine and I am forever yours. You, my Lord and my God are unmistakably who You say You are. I don’t have to see to believe. I am there and getting close each surpassing day with each honored breath You bestow. I am close because You are closer, my something better.

I no longer long for what I have been longing for. But for more of You on that one treasured day I be enraptured out of this world and before your resplendent holy presence. Oh heavenly! My something better.

When I am disappointed You are something better.
When my flesh burns of being human You are something better.
When my heart stings of broken heartedness You are something better.
When I am reminded of memories past You are that something better.
When I am in the present tense You are that something better.

I don’t have to see it because I know I have from within me. You behold my being and it is good, my something better.

He is something better. In Him is life and faith. There could never be something better than He. Today, yesterday, eternally. In Him is to be known. Satisfied. Together. Finally. At rest.

In Him are all things and that ever was and will to come. Something better than all of this. For He is something better.

Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copyright 2013 The Word in Motion

“Where there is faith: The men of old” Hebrews 11: 1 – 37

Faith is forward. It always projects itself beyond the point at which we are this present moment in time. Faith is actively seeking, pursuing, driving, pushing, and progressing. Yet faith has a time-traveled aspect as well, in the sense that the faith we have now is confidence in a hoped-for outcome in the future.

I am having faith. My faith swells at times and pulls back many others. It rides high and it rides low. Faith seems to follow. It follows my thoughts, my dreams, my joy, and my pain. My faith leads my internality, too. It nevertheless is there. Wherever there is, there is faith.

Where there is faith I have seen immeasurable joy and suffering. Not everything my faith hoped for resulted in what I had hoped for. In my faith, I have experienced disappointment and have yet to see what I am hoping to see. Whether my faith rises or falls my faith is subsequent to what I believe. I believe in the One True God and in Him my faith rests, comfortably, contentedly, and completely.

So we come to the Epistle of Hebrews chapter 11 which is commonly referred to as the “hall of faith” in all of scripture. It is a beautiful recapitulation of Old Testament believers (“the men of old”) most notably recognized for their faith in Yahweh.

Verse 1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”1 In the New Testament the word “faith” has several aspects to it such as, it can refer to belief in Jesus Christ, it can be confessional where it refers to the Christianly beliefs we hold to, it can refer to Jesus Christ as the object of one’s faith, and it is also salvific in the sense that faith in Christ leads to salvation. However, within the context of chapter 11 the word “faith” takes on another meaning. Here, faith means the utmost confidence in Yahweh.

Faith is assurance. In the Greek, assurance is hypostasis, meaning “substance, essence, actual being, reality.”2  It has the sense of a title-deed which is a legal document to affect a transfer of property to show the legal right to possess it.3  Therefore, it can be said that faith is the certainty or title-deed of things hoped-for, such as being sure. Faith is conviction. In the Greek, conviction is elenchos (try pronouncing as “el-in-koss”), meaning “proof”.4  In the sense of convicting evidence.5  So it can be said that faith is also the evidence of things not seen, or being convinced. On the basis of the above, faith is being certain/sure of things hoped for, and being convinced or having evidence of things not seen. The faith of the Old Testament believers was such that they had absolute certainty in their hope and though the evidence was lacking they were convinced the hoped-for things would come to pass.

Verse 2 says, “For by it the men of old gained approval.” This verse is speaking of the Old Testament believers and in the Greek it means presbyteroi, which is the plural of elder, meaning “elders.”6  These elders, or men of old, mentioned in chapter 11 have won the approval or favor of God because of their faith in Him. In addition, they were also recognized by God’s people, throughout history and today as well.

Verse 3 continues with a recitation of the creation account and how we, in whole, relate to it and not just for the men of old. It is a faith-truth.7  Here the author of Hebrews makes inclusive all believers (including himself), from the Old Testament saints to believers today by stating, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”8 No one has witnessed the things out of which God created the worlds or universe. Not one. Unlike unbelievers, believers accept by faith that God prepared the universe by His word, His command. Yet, the world holds all, and all benefit from the hand of God.

1 New American Standard Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977).                                                                                              2 Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 1041.
3 Randall Tan, The English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament New American Standard Bible (NASB95 NT RI).
4 William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 315.
5 Randall Tan, The English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament New American Standard Bible (NASB95 NT RI).
6 Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 862.
7 Apollolina, author. Personal Definition of “faith-truth”: faith in the Triune God (God the Father, the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) means His having created the heavens and the earth is truth foundational in one’s faith in Him, thus, a “faith-truth.”
8 New American Standard Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977).                                               ______________________________________________________

The author of Hebrews continues throughout chapter 11 with a recapitulation of “the men of old” and the hoped-for thing associated with each.

A summary is as follows:
Verse 4, by faith, Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain,…
Verse 5, by faith, Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death;…
Verse 7, by faith, Noah,… in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household,…Verse 8, by faith, Abraham obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; Verse 9, by faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;…Verse 11, by faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive even beyond the proper time of life,…Verse 13 states, “All these died in faith without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance…”

These recipients were namely Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, who God had spoken of His promise of the land and innumerous offspring. They witnessed God’s leading hand in their lives. They died with their faith in God but did not receive the promises of Him. Such promises would be fulfilled in the distant future.

The summary continues as follows:
Verse 17, by faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac;…
Verse 20, by faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
Verse 21, by faith, Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph,…
Verse 22, by faith Joseph, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones. Verse 23, by faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; Verse 24, by faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter;   Verse 27, by faith he left Egypt; Verse 28, by faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood; Verse 29, by faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; Verse 30, by faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. Verse 31, by faith, Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

The author of Hebrews writes in verses 32 – 34 Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets….who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight. It doesn’t end there! Verses 35 – 38 continue and states that women received back their dead from the resurrection, others tortured, experienced mockings and scouragings, chains and imprisonment, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death by the sword, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, men of whom the world was not worthy. The above faithful believers were not the only ones ever to persevere in their faith in God, no. The author of Hebrews makes this known in verse 36 by saying “and others” because they cannot be entirely enumerated.

The men of old were profound in their faith in God. They had a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges to overcome. None of which were short-term, but long-term journeys, heavy, frustrating, and full of immense periods of waiting. They were in God for the long-haul. Though many did not see the end result of the promises of God, the promises would come much later, from afar. They were the catalysts, hand-picked if you will, chosen by Yahweh to accomplish His ultimate plan for Israel then and the future time they would receive Messiah and make Him possible for the Gentile nations, past, present, and future. Without God the journey would not have been possible. Without their being faithful to God we would not have the legacy of their faith that has culminated in the common faith in the One whom we believe that has given us the ultimate promise, His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

In my words, faith is “confident-hope.” Do you have confident-hope in the journey you are on with God, difficulty and all? When life gets tough do you return to the comfortable and familiar place you had before you were called by God? Is your faith future-past or future-forward? You may be facing due north but your mind and heart are due south. You really haven’t given yourself to God if your life still reflects the former things. Rather, are you facing due north, heart and mind as well? We live in a culture where impatience and human rationalization leads to unnecessary change, burden, and regretful decisions for us and others as well. Sometimes what we consider faith is nothing more than calculated risks, or back-fitting outcomes as having come from the Lord God.

We believers who persevere in God pass the baton of faith to one another so that we each hold it on our own. When we live out our faith we magnify God, we bring glory to Him as the object of our faith and as a witness of Him to the world.


Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copyright 2013 The Word in Motion