Sunday August 2 2020

SUNDAY AUGUST 2 2020

CHALK LINES

Several decades ago I wrote a song, Chalk Lines, bases upon 1 Cor. 13:11.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child.

I understood as a child, I thought as a child:

But when I became a man,

I put away childish things.”

Cast your mind back to the times as a young boy or girl that you would gather with you playmates and, using chalk, draw those boxes on the sidewalk and play ‘hopscotch.’ Or the times during the last day of the school-year when the teacher would allow you to head up to the blackboard and sketch away. You would write expressions of thanks or draw funny pictures, perhaps a large heart with Sally + Jane, friends forever. Later, I remember commuting to work on the Toronto subway, and seeing morning graffiti adorning the tile walls only to be gone, washed away, upon returning in the evening. Do you remember such things? All the times we have scrawled or seen scrawled, our dreams, our anguish, our cries for help, upon a myriad of blank tableaus.

I hope you will find the following song illuminating.

 

 

Chalk Lines

Robert Muir

  1. Chalk lines on a New York sidewalk, do you remember when?

          Childhood memories etched in boxes, numbering one to ten;

          Pick up your stone and blindly throw it and hope for luck today;

          Jump to the fate of where it falls and pass your life away.

Chorus      When will we grow up and cast off the things of youth?

                    When will our eyes be opened to see the truth?

  1. Chalk lines on an empty blackboard, do you remember when?

          Childhood dreams sketched in blackness, crying for a friend;

          You turn around and look again and they’re faded and are gone;

          Surely there is more to life, where is it we’ve gone wrong?

Chorus      When will we grow up and cast off the things of youth?

                    When will our eyes be opened to see the truth?

  1. Chalk lines in a downtown subway, do you remember when?

          Childhood worries scrawled in anguish but still you pretend;

          Another night will echo silence and man’s wisdom will wash away;

          Is that all there is for us, is there nothing more to say?

Chorus      When will we grow up and cast off the things of youth?

                    When will our eyes be opened to see the truth?

  1. Chalk lines on a graven headstone, do you remember when?

          Childhood fears scratched in marble, is this where it all ends?

          Sprinkle the ashes to the wind and put it from your mind;

          No time to think of death, you say, you’re alive and all is fine.

Chorus      When will we grow up and cast off the things of youth?

                    When will our eyes be opened to see the truth?

  1. Chalk lines on a New York sidewalk whisper as you go;

          “Jesus loves you,” they say with a love you can really know;

          Just stop a moment and let the words filter through your heart;

          Chalk lines all will pass away, but Jesus will never depart.

Coda           Isn’t it time we put away our childish things?

                    Isn’t it time we gave thanks for all things?

                    Come and join hands all who are lost;

                    I found the Word of life carved upon a cross.

Paul had much to say about putting away childish things.  Besides the above mentioned scripture he made a startling statement in Phil. 3:8:

“. . . I count all things but loss for the excellency

of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:

for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things,

and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

All things that this world system offers are nothing more than chalk lines – here today, gone tomorrow. Listen to Isaiah 40:6-8:

“The voice said, ‘Cry.’ And I said, ‘What should I cry?’

‘All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof

is as the flower of the field:

The grass withers, the flower fades:

Because the Spirit of the LORD blows upon it:

Surely the people is grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades:

But the word of our God will stand forever.’”

All things in this present world system are transient – chalk lines. With what then should we be busying ourselves? How many hours do we spend in front of our mirrors primping and preening? Or, posing in front of floor-length mirrors inspecting our ‘six-pack?’ Selfies flood the airwaves.  All this focus and effort and time spent on “grass and flowers,” which are here today and gone tomorrow, while we ignore that which is truly lasting – the word of God. If we just made a slight adjustment to our priorities and turned a small slice of our attention to the word of God, the impact would be ‘earth-shattering.’ Shattering to the individual and to the prince of this world.  The above verse reminds us that all flesh is as the grass but that the word of God lasts FOREVER. What have you invested in the “forever?” Paul said that everything that had previously consumed him and his time he now counted as dung! The word ‘dung’ used here means animal excrement. We can either hang onto our ‘animal excrement’ or cling to the word of God. There’s a scripture found in Habakkuk 2:14:

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge

of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Since the planet is soon to be covered with the knowledge of the LORD which is outlined between the covers of your Bible, should we not set as our priority the study of said word? Many, in our world are totally focused upon animal excrement. There was a prophetic word spoken to one such individual, who hated God, hated His people, and loved deceit, murder and a whole spectrum of fornication and immorality, who gave no time or thought to the things of God.  It was said that the dogs would eat her so thoroughly that there would be little left to bury, but that her carcase would be scattered upon the field of the wilderness.  Listen to the judgment of Jezebel given in 2 Kings 9:37.

“And the carcase of Jezebel will be as dung

upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel;

so that they will not say, ‘This is Jezebel.’”

There will be nothing to bury, no marker bearing her name only animal dung containing portions of her carcase scattered about the wilderness. When Paul talked about considering all of his past accomplishments, performed in his flesh before he came to know Christ, as so much dung, this is the picture he held in his mind. I would much prefer to spend my time, adjusting my priority to the investigation of His word, the knowledge of which will soon cover the planet, rather than spend time pursuing the scattered dung of this earth.

On the last video album of Johnny Cash, there is a song titled Hurt. It is worth viewing on Youtube. In the video Johnny Cash is seated at a large banquet table, filled with goodies that represent all the enticing things of this world. In the background are images of his life, his wife, his fame along with his boyhood home, later being washed away by a flood. Then, as a picture of his regret, images of Christ appear.  

He sprinkles wine over the table as he sings the chorus,

“What have I become

my sweetest friend?

Everyone I know, goes away in the end.

You can have it all, my empire of dirt.

I will let you down, I will make you hurt.”

With the images of Christ flashing in the background he looks upon all he has accomplished as dirt. Paul used the word dung, but the message is the same. Everyone and everything goes away in the end. His regret has been voiced by many others who offered their giftedness, their time, their energies upon the altar of Baal, rather than presenting their bodies as living sacrifices to God. (Romans 12:1)

The book of Ecclesiastes penned by the wisest and wealthiest man to live says much the same. All things of this world are vanities – worthless. Only the serving of God is worthy of our time here on earth. All things we pursue in the flesh are but chalk lines. We cry out for meaning; we cry out for friendship; we cry out for wisdom, for love, for fulfilment; all these things are found only in Jesus and in His word.

But still, we scramble after things, bigger homes, cottages, yachts, private jets, cars – my how many cars are enough?  There is a Hollywoodite, Jay Leno. I by no means want to speak ill of this man. I do not know his heart, nor what motivates him. I wish to judge no man. I am merely using him as an example of those who have pursued the accumulation of wealth. In fairness, Jay Leno does give to charity. In 2009 he donated one of his expensive motorcycles for auction to support an inner city arts program, and in 2012 he donated a 500 Fiat for auction to help with the housing of military members. I do not know of any other charity work or the nature of the charities he does support. What I wanted to mention was that he has a car collection of 136 automobiles plus an additional collection of 90 motorcycles. The value of his collection is estimated at $50 million, part of his net worth of $350 million. Now, perhaps he is a modern-day Solomon, blessed of God to be wealthy, I do not know, nor do I judge. The point is, there are so many poor in our world. The Bible does say in Luke 12:48, “. . . to whom much is given of him shall much be required . . .”

In fact, Jesus said in John 12:8, “You will always have the poor among you but you will not always have me [here among you].” The point is that we have been each blessed with certain gifting and with that comes responsibility. Our responsibility is to get into the word of God. Our responsibility is to seek after Him and not after things. And this is for our own good! We understand that things do not satisfy. Ps. 106:15 reminds us, “And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” So, as we pursue the things of this earth at the expense of time spent with Him, we often end up with what we wanted but this is accompanied with a leanness of soul. Only He can satisfy!

When Paul says that he “counts them loss,” he uses the word “hegeomai,”  for count. This Greek word means “to lead,” or “to have authority over.” This means that it is okay to have a nice home, a useable automobile, a good paying job, but, we are to have control over these things, They are not to control us. If Jesus asked us to give up any of these things, there would be no hesitation on our part.

It is the ‘love of money,” that is the problem. We should have only one love! Ps. 49:10 instructs us, “the fool and the brutish person perish and leave their wealth to others.” And there is no telling who that will be. All of a person’s struggle to accumulate wealth and possessions that soon pass on to others who are more than likely to squander all of the hard-earned estate, an estate that was bought at the forfeit of the true riches in life. However, Proverbs 13:22 gives the alternate truth. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”

There is an accounting house in heaven. Jesus said as much when He encouraged us to “lay up treasure in heaven were neither moth nor rust corrupts and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

You see, the things of this earth are prone to moth, and rust and thievery. Not so the things that matter. His word has been established to stand forever. We need to take seriously the words spoken to us through the Bible. These are words etched for eternity.

As Matthew 5:18 reminds us, “For truly I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled.”

We are to give undivided attention to His word. We are to secret it away in our hearts, as Proverbs 3:3 reminds us,  “Let not mercy and truth [the word], forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them upon the tablet of your heart.” Inscribing upon a tablet is permanent. We have a promise in this word that Jesus has written our names, with indelible ink, into the Lamb’s book of life! We can follow after chalk lines if we choose but much better to read the words penned by the Holy Spirit and established forever by the Word of Life carved upon the cross. Amen.

PASTORAL PRAYER

Father God we thank you and praise You for who You are and for Your undying love toward us. Thank you that each one of us can draw nigh unto You. We thank you for the beauty that is this new day, for the flowers and the grasses that even though they are here today and gone tomorrow, we are witness to Your great care and artistry in forming each petal and leaf. We stand amazed that all creatures, large or small, faithfully do Your bidding. You open Your hand and all are fed and watered and clothed in such awesome variety of hair and feather and scale! Thank you that we too can flourish under Your care and grace; that we need not concern ourselves with our daily food or drink or raiment for You know our needs and are faithful and true to provide all our need in Christ Jesus. Father, keep our eyes ever focused upon You and our ears attuned to your voice, even as the night owl peers through the darkness of the evening sky and tilts its head to pick up the slightest whisper, so let us be toward You. Help us consider Your Word, for it is life and strength and breath to our souls. Let us feed upon Your word and let it water our spirit. Grant us the courage to set aside time for You who inhabits eternity. Let us hunger and thirst after righteousness for His Name’s sake; may we seek hard after You as does a deer in a hot and thirsty land. Lead us beside the still waters and restore our souls, and may goodness and mercy pursue us all the days of our life. Keep us from running after the gods of this world, but give us a backbone to stand for justice and honour and integrity in all that we do or think. Keep our minds ever set upon You and Your word. Allow Your law to be imbedded and nourished within our hearts that we sin not against You.  Create in each of us a clean heart dear Lord, and renew a right Spirit within us. Through the name of Jesus be our Great Provider in all areas of our lives. Bless this people Oh Lord and grant the humble petitions of their hearts. Open the doors for the provision of jobs and careers for those in our community seeking. Grant them favour, Oh Lord, through the process of job interview. Allow them to be diligent in their callings of life. Provide for those among us in need of Your healing touch. Walk among us that we may reach out and know You are as near as our very breath. Imbue us with healing and health, as a cloak, covering each of us in Your protection. Dispel the darkness of loneliness and depression. May we have renewed hope that You are our light and our companionship; that Your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. And though we be apart at this time encourage us to remember that we are one in the Spirit. Let us pray and comfort each other and rejoice that we are part of the Beloved. We pray especially for the family of Rev. Tom Morikawa, who has recently passed away. We lift up to Your throne of grace his wife Audrey, and sons Bob and David along with his family. Let us remember these dear souls with prayer and visitation as possible. Until we are together again, may the grace and mercy of our Lord God chase you down the street and overwhelm you with His Goodness. Amen.   1 Johnny Cash, Hurt

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