Friday, December 28, 2012

I Will Enjoy God!

Although I do not think New Year's resolutions are very helpful in some ways, I do think they can be marvelously helpful in other ways.  Some of the ways that New Year resolutions can be helpful is that they call us back to what we know, to what we believe, and to what we value, which we may have neglected or even forgotten. Making a New Year's resolution can be like cleaning the attic or the garage at the house, or it can be like finally getting to that very important project you know you need to do, but have somehow failed to do. Then suddenly in a whirlwind of energetic planning and intention, one says, "I will do such and such."  Then one puts it in a calendar, plans a budget, and makes lists that will enable him to accomplish this task. Resolutions are like that. They can also be like waking up from a dream or coming into clear awareness of an idea, waking and thinking with clarity of thought, insight, and purpose.

Resolutions are not guarantees of anything.  They certainly do not mean that we will never again forget or neglect what is important.  But they are like signposts that stay in our lives, constantly reminding us of things that we need to come back to over and over again.

Perhaps we should start this new year of 2013 with a heart prayer and resolution: "I want us to enjoy God! I will seek to enjoy God! I will pray about enjoying God! I will give of my energy and life this year to enjoy God!" 

Now to do that we must truly know about the true God as He has revealed Himself in special revelation. And we must know Him personally through faith in Christ. But we must come to see that everything, and I mean everything, that God has made us to be in our humanity, all that God made and is making us to be in our Christianity (regeneration, sanctification, and future glorification), and all that God would have us to be and do in the world as the church, all presupposes and reflects on the value and worthiness of God.  And nothing speaks more of how much we love, value, and want God than our enjoyment of Him.

Do you enjoy God? Would you pray about enjoying God? Would you make it a goal and a heart-felt request of God to make you someone who enjoys God?  Would you be willing to tell others how much you enjoy God? Would you enjoy God in pain, disappointment, hardship, struggle, and even tragedy? Would enjoy God in prosperity and good fortune? Jesus said in John 17:3 that to know God is eternal life, for to know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to enjoy Him, and to enjoy Him is to live with Him forever.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Home for Christmas"

I suppose there is no other word that brings more warmth and peace to the heart than the word "home", and if so, then there is no more heart-warming use of this word than when it is used at Christmas time.  "Home for Christmas" conjures up images of cozy houses nestled in snow scenes with a wisp of smoke slowly rising from the chimney.  Houses in which there are happy people, eating, laughing, talking, and sharing together the human bond of love.  Houses in which comforting aromas of food and beauty wafting through each room, bringing to the senses the awareness that THIS is a very special time.  Yes, "home for Christmas", is a vision that powerfully captures the imagination, evoking many happy thoughts and memories.

But, perhaps, the word "home", at least conceived in this way, is something of a metaphor of heaven.  The Christian's experience of going to heaven is like waking up on Christmas morning, bright with joy and promise, tingling with excitement and delight.  But unlike many Christmas mornings, there is no disappointment; rather, there is the greatest joy, beyond what could possibly be imagined, conceived, and pondered.  The experience is far greater than the promise received and conceived.  How glorious to think of that eternal Christmas morning when the greatest gift of all is eternally enjoyed in heaven with the highest human affection and delight!  Home in heaven for Christmas!  What a marvelous anticipation; what a scintillating thought!

As we gather with whomever, wherever, and whenever this Christmas time, as Christians, let us not forget about our true home.  Someday, some GLORIOUS day, we will truly be "home for Christmas."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Jesus Came

Jesus Explains Why He Came to Earth

John 10:10 "...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Here I am living through another Christmas season, enduring the "You MUST be happy at this time of the year; it is REQUIRED!"  But for those who are not truly and really happy, the "happiness" of Christmas is all so...artificial.

But somehow, knowing about Jesus Christ, His life, and ministry as taught in the Scripture, I feel more natural with quiet and peacefulness at Christmas, in contrast to hurry, buy, and noise.

The Christmas season gives all believers a reason to ponder anew the reason why Jesus came to earth.  He answers this question in John 10:10.

First, Jesus makes it clear that His birth was more than a birth; it was a coming!  Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, the God-man.  Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second person of the blessed Trinity, conceived and transformed into flesh, human flesh, humanity, for the eternal salvation of sinners.

Second, the purpose of this coming is made absolutely clear by Jesus.  "I came that they might have life."  The achievement and giving of life is pointedly described, and the people to whom and for whom He came are concisely identified.  Jesus came as the Good Shepherd (the context of John 10) to bring to His sheep life, eternal life.  Jesus is the door for the sheep (10:7, 9), He lays down His life for His sheep (10:11), He knows His sheep (10:14, 27), He gives to His sheep eternal life (10:28-29).  All of this is gospel data; Jesus came, Jesus did the work of salvation, all for HIS sheep, His people, all believers for all time.

Third, this life is described as "abundant" life; i.e. life that is true life, life that is extraordinary, transcendent, and perfect in every way.  This life is true life, God's life.  This life is the life for which the human heart is yearning.  There is peace, joy, purity, goodness, and all that is desired and necessary for present, eternal, and glorious LIFE.

All of this is given by Jesus to His sheep, all because He came.  So, believers rejoice as they ponder the coming of Jesus Christ.  He came for us.  He came to give us life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worshiping in Grief

2 Samuel 12:20-23.

David has spent what seems to be an eternity praying to God for the life of his child. He fasted and prayed seeking God for the life of his sick child. But the day came when the child died. David's servants trembled in fear, because if David has shown such emotional trauma during the child's illness what will he do now that the child has died? But surprisingly when told of the child's death, David arises, washes himself, eats, and worships the Lord. When asked about this seemingly strange response to the child's death, David replies that he cannot now bring the child back, but David will one day go through death to be with the child.

It would appear that the Lord includes this story in the Bible to teach us concerning death and our response as God's children to the emotional trauma associated with death encounters. It appears that the following truths are being communicated through this story:

  1. We are permitted to beseech the Lord in prayer when scared and in a time of deep personal need. Never fail to take your burdens to the Lord when you are overwhelmed. There is freedom to pour out our hearts to the Lord in such moments of life.
  2. We are NOT permitted to question and blame the Lord when we are emotionally distraught. To do so is foolishness. We are not wise or good enough to question the God of heaven and earth. Emotional pain is not an excuse to do what is wrong.
  3. Emotional pain is not a reason to rebel against the Lord.
  4. When hurting we need to worship God. No matter what happens in life worship of the living and true God is the great healing agent.
  5. When grieving over death, do not refuse to live. Life is God's, and it is His gift to us. When life is hard, we must not refuse God's gift of life. Our lives are sacrifices unto God for His glory.
PERSONAL: I dread the day; that awful day looming before me. They say it will come; there is nothing more they can do. His life, which has seemed so insignificant and small to the world, is precious and a joy to me. When that day of his departure comes, I will no longer feel the gentle touch of his hand and uninhibited giggles and simple smile.

When he was born I wondered both at his handicap and how I would cope. The great question seemed to be - "What am I going to do with this little handicapped boy?" Now that the real risk is that he will not live with us many more years and every day brings the real possibility of his eminent departure, I now ask myself - "What will I do without him?"

And yet the mystery and majesty of life itself grips me with meaning and depth. God is the constant pillar upon Whom life is grounded and nourished. When the worst happens, the best remains. All is well!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eutychus and the Debilicrat

Eutychus, having grown up under Roman occupation, had two issues with modern day American politics. First, he was used to living under tyranny, so he knew quite a bit about it and seemed to have a "nose" for such things. Second, he had trouble understanding American politics and politicians. It seemed to him that American politicians campaigned one way, then they governed a different way when they got elected. Strange! Well, given the fact that it is harder to govern than to campaign, it seemed to Eutychus as he watched several election cycles that many times the politician acted differently when elected than when he was campaigning. It was as if the elected politician could say to the electorate, "You should have paid attention to what I am, not what I said during the campaign."

Well, one day, our 1st century hero transplanted to the modern time, met a Debilicrat, a long time member and faithful supporter of the Debilicratic Party, a political party of some note in the nation. Eutychus was glad to meet a Debilicrat, because he had some questions about how Debilicrats thought.

Eutychus: "Oh, hi, I'm Eutychus."

Debilicrat: "Hi, I'm Nostie Potossi."

Eutychus: "I understand you are a Debilicrat; is that true?"

Debilicrat: "Absolutely, one hundred percent; I am a Debilicrat through and through. I take my orders from the Debilicratic National Party. I change my views regularly to conform to what I am told by the Party."

Eutychus: "Wow, is that a lot?"

Debilicrat: "Every day, and sometimes several times a day. The wind changes a lot you know."

Eutychus: "I have a question: Doesn't a political party have values and truism that they embrace for political purposes? What are the values of the Debilicratic Party?"

Debilicrat: "It is simple - our beliefs are whatever gets us elected and keeps us in power."

Eutychus: "You mean you cannot state what you absolutely and unchangeably believe?"

Debilicrat: "Listen, it is a good gig. All you have do is tell the people you will give them paradise, and they will elect you. They never ask questions. For example, if we tell them we will give them money and jobs and houses and cars, they never ask, 'Who is going to pay for it?' It is amazing how gullible people are. If you tell them what they want to hear, they will vote you right in."

Eutychus: "But what if someone does ask the hard questions, like, 'Who will pay for all these amenities? How will the economic factors be affected? What about the value of hard work?"

Debilicrat: "You're Eutychus, the guy from the first century, right? You are new, so I will explain to you the infallible, never-failing, three-fold strategy of the Debilicratic Party. First, you tell the people the biggest goof-ball promise ever. Second, you use the media as outlets to distribute the promises (we have the media in our DNP pocket; they never criticize us or even ask hard questions. Ha! This is so easy!). And third, if someone asks, 'Who will pay for all these things?' you simply say 'The rich.' No one likes the 'rich', so it works every time. It is an infallible gig."

Eutychus: "But what do the rich think about it?"

Debilicrat: "Oh, we cut a deal with them behind closed doors. It's all done with 'smoke and mirrors'. And no one is the wiser."

Eutychus: "What if you spend more money as a government, than you have coming in? Then what?"

Debilicrat: "Just borrow, borrow, borrow, and let the generations to come pay for it. Ha! What a deal!"

Eutychus thought and thought. And he wondered how long this would last. Although he did not know much about politics and economics, he did use his brain (which is more than many do). And he didn't think this system would last long; perhaps soon the 21st century would go back to being like the 1st century.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eutychus Signs Up for Class

Today we find our friend, Eutychus, signing up for his college classes this semester. He has been assigned to a counselor whose job it is to help Eutychus get set for school.

Counselor: "I have very pleased to tell you, Eutychus, that every student here at PCU (Politically Correct University) is given a computer when they matriculate."

Eutychus: "A computer! Really!" (Eutychus had wanted a computer since he arrived in the 21st century)

Counselor: "Well, yes, it is a computer. But candidly, it isn't a very good computer, but before long the internet virus' will eat the hardrive, so who cares?" (The counselor said this with a laugh)

Counselor: "Now, it is important to remember, Eutychus, that what matters here at PCU is that you do all your work on the computer. In fact, we want you to live on the computer, spend as much time as you can on the computer. Get information on the computer, make friends through the computer, be entertained on the computer, why if we could figure it out we would feed you through the computer. And concerning class - we don't care if you go to class or not. The professors put their lectures on our new academic software 'BlueBoard.' You can read the professor's lectures, take the tests, email and dialogue with other students, and even post your class attendance, all on the computer."

Eutychus: "But why should a student go to class? Why do you have classrooms or a campus at all? Why not just make the university an online school?"

Counselor: "What! We are not 'one of those schools'. Besides, online school would get most of the college administration fired. We can't have that."

Eutychus: "But you don't encourage class attendance and personal contact?"

Counselor: "Well...I'm not suppose to say this, but we here at PCU are trying to impress the accreditation group. And of course, with the use of computers we can lower our cost, and that makes more money for the university. And that is what it is all about."

Eutychus: "What is it all about?"

Counselor: "Making money!"

Eutychus: "I thought education was the issue?"

Counselor (laughing very loudly): "I can see you have a lot to learn in the 21st century academic environment.

A Gentle, Loving, and Wise Guide

Psalm 48:14, "For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death."

Life is such a maze! The twists, turns and complicated paths quickly confuse and overwhelm us. But there is One who stands with the Christian always - the Lord God Himself! The precious Lord walks with us in the trails of trials. But He does more than this - He guides us also. He guides us with great wisdom and power; He leads us with a tender concern born of His sovereign grace and mercy. He can never abandon us, for we are His own. His heart is touched with our griefs and our despair; He feels the pain of our struggle. Yea, it is even by His own hand that we are led to and brought through the valleys of our deepest troubles. But all is done with wisdom and love. God never acts arbitrarily; He always leads with purpose and glory in mind. If not in time, surely in eternity, the wisdom and goodness of God's leadership will be validated.

Today, no matter what we face or endure, let us as God's people trust fully and confidently in the knowledge that our Lord will be our God forever, and He will guide us until death.