Sunday, August 20, 2017

Vanity, vanity...

This morning I'm beginning Ecclesiastes once more.  I love it!  It's a wonderful reminder of the way the world really is.  I often get caught up in the activities of "being busy" and "making a difference" that I forget the basic truths of these words. 

Here are Solomon's words to start the day and a video to illustrate them,

Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]

    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.

What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
        planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
    then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
    Around and around and around it blows,
    blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
    but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
    and then start all over and do it again.
Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
    no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
    boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
    what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
    Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
    And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
    Don’t count on being remembered.

Sunday morning

It's Sunday morning.  My first Sunday in 27 years when my choice on where to go to church is uncertain.  For these last 27 years we have been part of a wonderful fellowship and family and have loved every moment, but today.....

Today I move on to the next part of God's plan for me, for us.  Today we are going to another church with friends as "secret shoppers" to see what the experience of going to this church is like. That very idea seems strange because church isn't supposed to be a shopping experience.

Anyway, off we go.  I have no idea what's next, but will share it all with you as we take this next step.

I'm confident of this one thing though,  the amazing God who got me into all of this will complete it all till the day Christ returns.  There's more to do so off we go.....

Friday, August 18, 2017

Faithless, heartless, ruthless...

These are difficult days. Days that weary the best of us and discourage the rest of us.  They are days when fears rumble in our bellies and tempers flare from every side.  They are uncertain days, days that make us wonder what is going to happen next. It's as if an earthquake is about to erupt and we all feel the tremors.

These days were talked about by Paul and others as they wrote of the heart of man given full liberty to do his worst.

Paul, the apostle, wrote these words in the beginning chapter of Romans as he talked about the heart of man, every man, given full liberty to rebel against God and the outcome for the world,

"They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless."

When we live out our rebellion against God its outcome is always felt by others.  When I do whatever I want the one hurt most is me, but also those around me.  In anger, pride and strife I wound, lash out and hurt those within my reach.

The outcome of a life lived in rebellion to God is that we ultimately steal from, kill and destroy others and in the process destroy ourselves.

I think that's why Paul wrote these profound words just before the passage I quoted, "thinking they were becoming wise they actually became fools."  

The rumblings have begun, the ground is beginning to shake and what can be the outcome but chaos among men and the coming return of the King who will make all things new.

It all makes me think of  friends who have died of cancer.  As the cancer grew worse their desire to hold on to this life diminished.  Their desire to stay fell away and their desire for the new life grew.  The cancer of our culture is growing, my desire to stay is waning.  

I look forward to the day when we will say, "Welcome Jesus!  You are the King we have longed to see!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Red and yellow, black and white...

In the beginning God made everything

....and it was good.

Nowhere in the Bible does the God who made us ever pick favorites based on the color of our skin.

 He made us the colors we are!  

When we claim our skin color gives us favor with God we are saying that what God made is evil.  

We are shaming God, not the person whose skin color is different than mine.

BUT GOD has chosen to create a wonderful and colorful planet, including our skin.  

You didn't choose your race, it's part of who GOD made you.  

It no more defines you as acceptable to God than your language or nation of origin does.

In fact, Christ came to save mankind regardless of our color, language or nation.

It's not my color that gives me value, it's God who made me and Christ who saved me....

and when the Bible declares,

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

He makes it clear that He loves all of us regardless of our skin.

Christ came to save all mankind! 

It’s not my skin that’s the problem.  It’s my heart.

When Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” he made no color distinction because it’s not about our skin,

It’s about our hearts.

Racism is sin and shames the God who made us, not the person whose skin offends me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Grand Quest

Four men met in a bar one late afternoon for drinks and time to reflect after a tough day at work.  They were each successful in their fields but none were happy, fulfilled or satisfied with where they were in life. After a couple drinks the discussion became a bit more serious and they talked of what is most important, what really matters.

Quickly they discovered each disagreed with his friends on what was the most important thing in life and so they decided on a quest.  Each would pursue the thing they thought most important, the thing they valued above all.

The first declared, "My quest is for wisdom.  There can't be anything higher!  If I can attain that I will have succeeded and found meaning for my life. If I have wisdom I can help change the world and make it a better place."

The second reflected for a moment and said, "I think, for me, the quest is for power.  If I can become someone in authority, someone who can change the course of world events I will have succeeded and found real meaning.  My quest is for power."

The third smiled and said, "Gentlemen, if I had money I could buy all of those things!  I'm after money.  If I had money I could change the course of history, help millions and really make a difference.  That's my quest."

The fourth was silent for a while and soon the other three looked to him for his reply, what was he going to pursue?  Slowly he began, "You know, all of those goals can make a difference and I wish you each success, but I think what I most want is to find God.  I know, it sounds so selfish that my quest is for me, but I really don't know why I'm here and yet I know I'm not here by accident.  My quest is to find and know God.  If I can do that I think I too can make a difference."

And so the four shook hands, downed their drinks and began the quest, the grand quest for the thing that would change everything. In the years that followed they would meet often to compare notes.  Their stories and successes would fill volumes for indeed they each achieved their quest, each reached the mountaintop they were climbing, but the final commentary comes from another source, another who watched the lives and quests they pursued.  Here is his commentary on the quest and perhaps it will help you as you decide what is most important in your life.

“Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9

Monday, August 14, 2017

A feast is coming!

"Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”
Revelation 19

I don't know about you, but I love food!
But more than that I love the promise this brief proclamation declares...a feast is coming!

Isaiah tells of it in chapter 25,

“The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;

A banquet of aged wine,  choice pieces with marrow,

And refined, aged wine.

And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

 He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;

For the Lord has spoken.
And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Can you imagine it?  A day when we will sit at a banquet with all the saints of the ages, great men and women of faith, with Jesus at the head of the table.

It will be a feast like no other!
It will be the victory feast of the Lamb of God
A victory finally fulfilled
A victory over
sin, death, pain, suffering, and all that man has done to man.

A feast is coming
Do you have your invitation yet?

Because there are two meals ahead, the feast of the Lamb
the banquet of the birds.

You do want to be at the first one
You don't want to be part of the second.

A feast is coming
Do you have your invitation?

Thursday, August 03, 2017

12 YEARS!!!!

As of August 1st I have been writing this blog for 12 years!  I am a bit surprised it's been so long.  My sweet wife had to talk me into doing it in the first place and it has developed me as well as refined my thinking.  I can see God using these words to help others and I am thankful.  So, if you are still visiting once in a while, after 12 years of my ramblings, thank you.  I think I'll try one more year.

It's dyin' time

"And He was saying to them all, 
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, 
he must deny himself, 
and take up his cross 
and follow Me."  

These are some of the most challenging words in the bible. They demand we consider what we are getting into as we follow Christ.  He didn't come to promise us prosperity, success and a good life.  He promised we would die!

This verse is so contrary to our way of viewing the gospel in America.  We look for what we can get out of it.  God is offering us a gospel that demands we give up everything!

We must die!  And we have to deal with that reality daily.
And then there is that nagging phrase at the end...'and follow me.'  What does that mean as I live out each day? How do I do that?  It demands I lay aside all I comfort, desires, ease and prosperity and literally die to it all and then follow him.

This passage is the one we most try to ignore because it demands we choose death over life...a death to me, to self, to what I want, to my comfort, to my plans, to my success and surrender to him and follow him even if it means I have nothing...but much more important...even if it means I keep all I have but live with a completely different attitude towards it all.

I have to be honest...I do not like this verse.  Its demands force me to die to all I want so I can actually live to all he wants.  And it demands I do that daily.  

So, it's dyin' time.  Lord, what must I die to today to follow you?