Archives for the month of: October, 2014

coming going

The older I get, the faster the years seem to go. There never seems to be enough time in the day because time goes so quickly. It seems like yesterday that my children were precious toddlers. Now they are grown men. How quickly the decades of my life have passed.

But occasionally, we mark our lives not by what we’re losing, but by what we’re gaining. When we plan a wedding, we don’t anticipate the “end” of being single; we anticipate the beginning of a marriage. When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she doesn’t count down the days until she’s not pregnant anymore; she anticipates the birth of that baby. We don’t see that we’re “losing” time for being single or pregnant; we look forward to a time that is coming.

That is how God sees time.

Jer 31:31  “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

Gal 4:4  But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.

John 5:25  I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

Perspective matters. When our focus is on this life, we can become burdened by all that isn’t done and isn’t right. But this life is not the whole story.

The time is coming when this life is understood as it really is…preparation for what is to come. The time is coming when you will you will see the face of Jesus and enter heaven. The time is coming when there will be no more sorrow, when God will wipe away your tears. There will be no more evil, no more suffering, no more fear. You are not losing your life on earth; you are closer to eternity. Spend the time you have preparing for the time that is to come. Eagerly anticipate all that Jesus has prepared for you.

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summit 2
“The degree of satisfaction is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty. The harder the climb, the sweeter the summit.” – Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker

I love watching people who are really good at what they do – do it. Olympians inspire me; those who win the World Series or the Superbowl or the World Cup or the Masters are often overcome when they finally see that they have won. Believing in and working for a goal are a lot harder than having the medal hung around your neck. We celebrate the win, but we almost never see the years of tedium and sacrifice that precede these victories.

I would love to hear your answers:
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Why was it hard? Why did you do it?

Most of us will never hold a national title or wear an Olympic medal. But our summits may be even more consequential. Choosing to love people who are difficult, ignoring what is easy and fighting for what is right, refusing to give up our faith when life is hard or unfair or painful are the price we may have to pay for victory over our circumstances. Holding fast to what you know is good and right is so much harder than giving in to mediocrity and convenience. But for some it may look more like keeping a job, staying away from alcohol or drugs, or finally getting a diploma. The sweetest victories are those that required the very best in us, and bring us to a new beginning.

Those who attempt only what is easy never achieve much of any significance. The view and the celebration are at the top, but you can’t get to the top without the climb. Too often we choose to take the easy way out and rob ourselves of the view at the end of a struggle. May you never miss a celebration or an incredible view because you were unwilling to make the journey.

unity
I recently heard that by your mid 20’s you’ve made up your mind what you believe, and you spend the rest of your life looking for proof that you’re right. We oppose those who oppose what we support, and we value the opinions of those who agree with us. Our ignorance can get us in trouble; our arrogance can separate us from God and from each other.

Muslims and Jews, Christians and Atheists, Democrats and Republicans, haves and have nots, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, Main Street and Wall Street… In order to win we usually insist that someone has to lose.

As Jesus spent his last few private moments on earth, he prayed that those who love him would be unified. I can’t imagine that he’s anything other than disappointed with how we’re doing on that one.

John 17:20-23 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus’ prayer is not about unbelievers; it concerns all those who will believe in him. God will not tolerate sin. His children cannot pick and choose which of his laws they like or which ones they’ll ignore. And God is very clear; those who love him must love each other. How Christians treat unbelievers absolutely matters to God…how Christians treat each other may matter even more.

How can we love others with different priorities and perspectives without forsaking our core beliefs? How can we be tolerant of those with whom we disagree without condoning their choices? Why do we consistently choose to focus on what separates us, rather than finding a common purpose? What if we were more interested in progress or unity than we are in personal victory?

I have a big problem with anyone who treats either of my boys unfairly, even when it’s the other one. The topic of their squabble matters far less to me than that they find common ground and find a way to move past the problem and love each other as brothers. The unity of our family depends on it. When they fight with each other, it brings me pain. How much more it must grieve God to watch his children fight with each other.

Unity is not about everyone always agreeing with each other; it is about working together toward a common purpose. God intentionally gives each of us different passions and different gifts so that we can combine them into the perfect whole that becomes the family of God. May we honor him with how we use our gifts to serve all those he loves, even, and especially, the ones with whom we disagree.

God Is Not A Genie
There is no end to the trouble we can create for ourselves when we forget that we are not God or we try to use him to advance our personal agenda. He is God; we are not. He knows the future and has all wisdom and power; we don’t. And yet, we become frustrated when we treat him as who we want him to be, and he just keeps being who he’s always been.

We can be so sure of ourselves that we just want him to be a genie who will give us all that we want and then leave us alone to enjoy it. We can recognize our need for relationship and insist that God become our buddy who will always support us and agree with us. We can recognize our limitations and require that he become our warrior who will fight our enemies for us. We can recognize our limited perspective and consult him as a sculptor who will make us into more than we can envision for ourselves. We can recognize our mistakes and hope he will become our savior who can save us from ourselves. But only when we recognize that God is not bound by our commands or imagination are we able to begin to see just a glimpse of who he is and who we can be if we will trust him with the truth about ourselves. Only then do we start to see our lives and future from his perspective. Only then do we begin to see glimpses of the God who is so much more than we can ask or imagine.

God’s purpose for your life is not to grant your wishes; it is to make you holy. He interrupted heaven and history so that you could know him as he is, so that he can redeem your past and present into a future that is greater than you can ask or imagine. He came, and still comes, to all who want to know him. God will not conform to your expectations, but he will reveal himself to those who seek to know him.

Ps 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.