Sunday, December 31, 2006

A view to the future

I guess its only fitting to be looking to the future a few minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve. I was doing some research a little earlier, and ran across this passage of scripture.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. (Heb. 9:27-28)

This is reality. This is life in the big picture. Eternity. The life we live in this age is so short. You know how they make fun of small towns sometimes? "Yep... this town is so small, if you blink your eyes you might just miss it." Our life on earth is like that. If you blink your eyes... you just might miss it. Or, if you get caught up in the pursuit of the concerns and pleasures of this present dark world, you might not be alert to the gifts and callings of God in you for His kingdom. You just might miss out on the eternal rewards that were in God's heart for you.

"Christ... will appear a second time... to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him."

Living with eternity in mind. Living with our hearts set on seeing Him some day. "Eagerly waiting." Are we eagerly waiting for Him? Do we long for His return? Do we recognize that we live on a battlefield, that the majority of those around us are oblivious to Him, under the authority of the kingdom of darkness, and destined to be separated from God forever? Do we live each day as "steward of the mysteries of God"? Or are we simply consumed in the perpetual pursuit of more, bigger, and better? God has more, bigger, and better for us, but its not necessarily cars, and houses, and toys. He wants to put His love in our hearts in a way that causes us to value the things that He values. Jesus suffered "for the joy set before Him". He wants to reveal that joy to us, and allow us to share it in our heart. He wants to give us the grace to give of ourselves in the same way that He did. He wants to live His life in us and through us, but He did a really crazy thing. He left the final decision to us. Oh... He is drawing us to Himself every day. His Spirit is constantly working to persuade us to see things His way. But in the end, He wants us to freely choose to lock arms with Him in His loving purposes.

Its up to you and me. We can't do it in our own strength, but when we say "Yes" in our hearts, He will give us the grace to go forward. He is faithful.

Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and the heart to follow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I read an old story this morning. We usually call it "the prodigal son". Its pretty simple, and yet loaded with meaning. The son asks for his inheritance early, the father gives it to him, the son blows it all living the party life, and finally finds himself flat broke, and living like a bum. Pretty sad story so far. Of course, some people wouldn't call it sad. They would use words like pathetic. They would say the son was a loser, and only reaping what he had sown. He had gotten what he deserved. That would be sort of the "conservative" point of view you might hear if you listen much to talk radio. There is some truth in that perspective. Not much mercy, though. The boy got what he deserved. Most of us don't usually want to get what we deserve. We do, however, like to point it out when others do. Annnnnnyway... the son really had made a mess of his life. And then the story starts to take an amazing turn.

"Then he came to his senses and ... got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him affectionately."

While he was still far away, his father saw him... Its as though the Father was always watching the horizon, hoping to see His son's form off in the distance. When we are struggling with sin, He is always watching. But He is not looking for the perfect opportunity to swing the hammer of heaven and wipe us out. He is watching to see when our heart will turn back to Him.

The Father was "filled with compassion". He could easily have judged his son, and would have been right in his judgment...but He didn't. He doesn't. No matter how foolishly we have wasted our inheritance, His heart is always ready to show compassion if we return to Him.

He ran to his son... He didn't just wait for the son to finally make his way to Him. When he saw His son returning, He ran to him.

He embraced him and "kissed him affectionately". The son's foolishness had done nothing to diminish the passions of his Father's heart. That is amazing. Its not the way our human relationships typically work. Our love is usually much more conditional. "Do unto others as they have done unto you" is usually the way things happen. God's love for us is entirely different. It is the kind of love that sent Jesus to earth, to die on a cross. Its the kind of love that is always ready to take us back when we blow it. All we have to do is "come to our senses" and return to our Father. When we come to Him with a repentant heart, He is always ready to embrace us, and welcome us back to the safety and comfort of His house.

Amazing love.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

He is good

I had breakfast with a bunch of guys this morning. Actually, we do it almost every Saturday. I look forward to this every week. It not an official "meeting". We just enjoy being together. It strengthens me. Being together with other guys who are trying to follow Jesus, and facing the same battles I face every day myself... it just strengthens my heart. We need each other. The life of a follower of Jesus was never meant to be solitary. The kingdom of God, by its very nature, is meant to be experienced by individuals sharing their lives together. We need to be able to stand alone with Him, but that is not supposed to be the norm. We can love God alone on a mountaintop, but we cant really love our neighbor that way. Oh, we can pray for them, but that is just the beginning. A central part of His purpose in creation was that we would share in His goodness and love together. "Where two or three are gathered... He is there." I am so thankful for that reality.

He is good...