Sunday, April 19, 2015

WILL THERE REALLY BE A NEXT LIFE?

Will there really be a next life?  Is heaven for real?  Or, is this a concept developed by churches to keep the doors opened?

This is a fair question.  It would seem rational to accept the answer to be a yes.

Much goes on in front of us to give indicators that a next life exists.

  • Days end in darkness and yet a new day arises faithfully and consistently.
  • One's long days conclude with the need for sleep only to awaken to a new start daily.
  • Trees appear to have lost energy as Fall claims its leaves only to see Spring burst open.
  • Flower bulbs plummet into earths darkness only to resurrect into a great new display of incomparable color.
  • Educational systems succeed in offering information only to find one graduates to the next level.
While these are surely simplistic, I find that there are many who want to believe God; but feel the idea of heaven to be hokey.  I don't think it is.  I believe it to be authentic; exceptionally real.

What ideas would you add to my brief list?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

THE CALL OF GOD THAT MAY BE MISUNDERSTOOD

What is the deal with our deep desire that all would know God?  Do we who have such inclination  even know Him ourselves?  Or, are we found to be merely parroting what those before us have said we should say?

This is quite paradoxical to me.  On one hand we want the hope.  On the other, we don't want the frustration that goes with sorting through what is true and what isn't about faith in God.  Every street corner has an opposing view of sorts.  If not careful, our ridicule of such religious clamor will leave our neighbors quite indifferent toward us...and especially toward God.

While I smile a lot on the outside, my heart is grievous day in and day out for the very good people who haven't found their calling toward the heart of God.  Substitutes add to the distraction.  Good people find good works in which to engage.  If not intentional, at least subtly these efforts can become a course of doing good which is to relieve the conscience.

However, good works cannot and will not overcome a problem man has before his Creator.  We cannot do enough good deeds to cover our sins.  This is personal disaster of which we have no say in how forgiveness will be worked out.  The Son of God took care of that on the Cross.  God's question to us is, Do you believe Me?

Therefore, the call of God may be misunderstood.  We may have assumed we need to try harder to be better when our authentic call is to believe that Jesus paid our debts upon the Tree and we are to sink our hope into his work; not our own.

Why is this?  Jesus got more done at his weakest moment (dying on the excruciating Cross for us) than we can do in our best moments.  This call of God to be saved is not a message calling us to work off our offenses.  Rather it is that we are to live thankfully that Jesus has paid the bill.

When we reach this conclusion, discipleship, church, and the entire religious concept shifts from burden to thanksgiving.  The call of God is to please believe that Jesus became all of our wrongs on the Cross that we could become all of the right things about him....II Cor. 5:21.

One is never heaven bound because we finally got all things right.  No.  We are heaven bound because Jesus became all of our wrong things while he handed off to us all of his right things.

Friday, April 17, 2015

BY THIS TIME IN LIFE...

....I assumed that I would have answers for most of the questions.  But instead, I find that God and His world is so much bigger than my small mind.  I have more questions; not fewer.

....I assumed that I would have figured out the direction for my life.  Yet, God continues to open some doors and close others.  In my earlier years, I didn't see giving attention to God and ministry as a part of my trek.  His leadership keeps me on the look for today's course...Jn. 3:8.

....I assumed that I would have conquered the Bible with my expert understanding.  However as God says in the Bible, the Word is alive and I am found that when I learn one thing then three or twenty new things open for me to now learn about them.  This process keeps me forever behind.

....I assumed that I would have increased in righteousness.  The more I learn about Jesus it seems the more I learn about me.  I'm not as hot as I had hoped.  If I'm to get life right, I must decrease that He might increase within me.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

EVERY PERSON IS AMAZING

Have you ever noticed that not many people we know are perfect?

Even those who are closest to us have significant glitches, or did you not notice?

But what I like about people is that every person I know or will meet are brilliant; absolutely and undeniably so.

Every one of us has a gift from God which is so strong that others receive our blessings as we use them. No one has all of the gifts.  Few have very many of the gifts; but every person is amazing to some extent.

Be encouraged.  Yes, personal inventory would insist you and I lack many attributes which others seem to have.  But, many of them lack significant traits that come easy to us.  What we do is pool life together that all would be highly blessed.

We become family when we can assist one another, cover for one another, and cheer each other on.  Every person we know is amazing.  No one has nothing to offer.  No one.

So for today....for today....I encourage you to emphasize the beauty and value which is to be seen in those who surround you.  We live in a privileged time because we get to hob and nob with the elite of our circle...which is every person!

Do not shrink back from life due to what you feel is personal lack.  March right into the work place or the home front with assurance that you have something very valuable to offer. God doesn't make junk.  He creates wonder.  Do not be egocentric; but allow yourself the confidence in the Spirit of God that you are a delightful, important, necessary person who makes a great difference in the lives of others.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GOD. FAITH. HESITATION.

The subject of God is so big it can seem inauthentic.

Is He real?  Can we know Him?  Where would we find Him?  Is this topic merely man's distorted way of pretending there is a next life?  Is belief really more of a hope-so call from our own frailty which is presently wrapped in eventual death?

More than anything I could obtain on earth (wealth, fame, prestige), I would wish foremost that every person would believe that God is real and that He is crazy about us!

Why is this so challenging?  I speak with extreme sympathy to any who question His existence.  I have gone through my fair share of skepticism.  Faith is not a Sunday morning breeze for the weak.  No, it takes inner strength to seek the truth of the Divine.

Laziness and indifference are the mouse traps of man's spirit.

Why the hesitation to examining the reality of God through research?  Possibly this might contain a twinge of embarrassment.  We may not want others to know that we are beginning to think about God. Too, our past may haunt us as well as raise eyebrows of our colleagues.  Or, we may simply not know how to approach this concept as we have no clue as to church protocol if we were to gain interest.

Another reason that the idea of a true God is easily dismissed is because those who are not a part of the spirit system find inclination to excuse themselves due to the faulty behavior of those in the churches.  Granted, we in the church have displayed a barrage of attitudes foreign to the Son of God.

However, it is for this reason that we are a part of a church.  We cannot obtain eternal life through our self-righteousness.  Either Jesus makes us right--by his dying on the cross for our sins--or we won't ever be right with God.

Every person has both opportunity and responsibility to decide for himself/herself whether to yield one's life to the Son of God.  Personally, I had no idea it could be so adventurous and exciting!  Following God is not for sissies.  I never knew that, either.

I want to be a voice in your world that says that regardless of obstacles in your path which might block you from learning about God...seriously...you can overcome every one of them.  For now?  Just pray that God would help you with this....and He will.




Tuesday, April 14, 2015

THE DANGER OF UNCONSCIOUS LIVING

A phrase I like to repeat is, Don't you love right now?  

The reason I developed it is twofold: (1) I often failed to notice the delight of any given moment, and (2) I did so because I was so easily distracted by the negatives.  And, yes, negative matters are always hovering; but so are the positives...always.

We must be alert to our own lives.  Are we living or are we merely existing?

If only getting by, we will become subject to dull routine that will eventually wash away beauty and wonder and hope.  Should the latter happen, it is then that we will have entered into an unconscious sort of living.  Cataractive formation of the heart will deter our excitement and engagement for robust living.

We want to change this...right?

It is more than a bit ironic that in this age of electrifying media blitzing there is such an abundant boredom which can become so seemingly dominant.  In touch with the whole world as never to this extent before,  subconscious unconsciousness is a strong trend.

Charles Colson references George Orwell's novel 1984 where he states, It struck him (Orwell) that the truly characteristic thing about modern life was not its cruelty and insecurity but simply its barrenness, its dinginess, its listlessness.  And it continues, Orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think; orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Unconscious living numbs us to the world around.  We can go through the in-and-outs of repetitive eating, working, enjoying, sleeping without interaction with the disturbed, the lonely, even the homeless.  A steady diet of safety and comfort will essentially deaden our spirits which were created by the Spirit for incredible, satisfying adventure.

Finally, the great danger to unconscious living is that we will go through life without thinking, without imagining, without risking.  If we do not correct this trend, dullness will set in to the extent that the heart will eventually atrophy.

The good news is that the Jesus of the Resurrection provides incredible emphasis for new life, new direction, and new hope; not within our control, but within his. Regardless of how low one has seen life become, there is great and strong reason to possess a new kind of hope.  Hope is where we gain the courage to change the things that need to be changed.

I say....go for it!!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

ONE OF MY BIGGEST SURPRISES ABOUT CHURCH

There's been an impacting statement that has been around for quite sometime.  It goes something like, Too many Christians go through life looking like they have been weened on dill pickles.  While that's pretty funny, it also could be in several cases fairly true.

My take on church is different in many ways from my earlier days of observation and participation.  I guess one of my biggest surprises about church is to find that it isn't boring, isn't supposed to be boring, and is anything but boring.

There is a distinguishable difference between attending versus being actively engaged in the work.  The former is basically from a spectator position with great need to keep it interesting; a bit of entertainment might help.  The latter, however, strikes when one realizes there is a calling of God to give assistance to others who are down and out.

There is such a difference in being weary of watching the clock as to when the morning service will finally be over compared to a daily life of praising God and helping others. One has little purpose while the other has deep heart-meaning.

Praising God?  Ah, there's a turn-off phrase for some; even many churchies.  Yet, being grateful to God for even the routines of life (like seeing, breathing, walking, talking) is life changing when one shifts to giving Him credit for our living experiences.  We are called to give God enormous praise and when we do, we begin to view our personal walks differently.  They seem to...come alive!

For any who can't stand the thought of church, I get it.  Most likely yours is a misunderstanding as was mine.  I had no idea that God interacted with His followers.  I thought rote attendance was the name of the game.  Not.

The name of the game is loving God...really intentionally loving Him...and loving our neighbors to the extent we will sacrifice for them to see that they have a good day.  The element of the Spirit of God actually participating in our days is not a Sunday-Morning-For-An-Hour system.  It is a wondrous daily walk full of God's provisions....and great surprises!