Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fortune cookies

Joye and I went out for lunch after getting her car worked on today, and since we were close we ate at one of our favorite oriental restaurants. I always get a fortune cookie, because you never know.....they might tell you something you will need later. Today my fortune read, "Soon you will be sitting on top of the world." I thought about that for a moment and wondered, is that really a good thing? Is that something to get excited about? I've been to the top of many mountains, and was never much impressed.....never felt like something wonderful had just happened....never felt a sense of great reward from it, although the scenery is always beautiful. In fact, I have already been on top of the world...see photo. We rode our motorcycles to the top of one of the tallest mountains in Colorado a year ago and took some time to look around, but I wouldn't have thought it was fortune cookie material! I also thought about this globally. If this did come true I'd be stuck on some shrinking iceberg somewhere north of Alaska.....that doesn't sound like the kind of good news a fortune cookie should offer, so what do I do with this wonderful insight into my life ahead? Do I look for top of the world experiences or simply enjoy the day? Do I trek off in fulfillment of this sage advice or remain faithful in the flat lands of Texas? Since there were no further instructions in my fortune I think the wise thing for me to do is simply stay put and see if the mountain comes to me. And, then again...maybe this is a warning of bad things to avoid. I wish they had been more I'm confused. That's the problem with fortunes....they never tell you enough to help you, but simply offer hope for the discouraged. So far, the only one who can tell what's ahead is God himself. He's done that all through the Bible and we are seeing it come true in our lifetimes. It's not confusing either. It's extremely specific, and as we watch God wrap up the final acts of this play on planet earth it's good to know that the fortune he has for his children is life with him forever. I've staked my eternity on his faithfulness to keep those promises, because he always has.

Saturday's cartoon

Music recommendation

One of our seminary students told me about a group and album I had not heard of. I got home, downloaded the album, am listening to it now and I highly recommend you get this album. There are a few musicians who not only are amazing performers, but are also wonderful song writers. This will be one of your favorites for years to come. The artist- Shane & Shane. The album- Pages. Enjoy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

One last person to mention

I've mentioned a number of people I met and talked to on my recent trip to Ukraine, but the last one I want to mention is one who traveled with me and led me through each part of this amazing odyssey- the Holy Spirit. Now, please forgive me for the photo, but the only representation we have of the Holy Spirit is John's witness of the Spirit descending on Jesus "like a dove". There are no photos of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit, so this is a poor attempt to describe the person of the Trinity who lives in me and in every believer, and who leads, helps, teaches, prays and generally makes all of this work. You may have heard someone say, "I couldn't have done it without you." And that is a compliment and a thank you to the one who helped. In the case of God's Spirit- all that God does in and through me involves the work of His Spirit, so as I close out my thoughts on this amazing trip let me finish by saying thank you to the indwelling Spirit of God who gives me gifts, teaches me, helps me understand, speaks through me, leads me, talks to me and prays to the Father for me....and beyond that he does much more than I even know! I couldn't have done it without him! All I did was show up, and He did the rest. Thank you Lord, for giving me your Spirit to help me as I serve's very humbling to know that the biggest thing I bring to the table is simply my availability. I'm glad you are working through us to accomplish your work. Thanks for letting us be part of what you are doing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do not be afraid

As I read the news this morning I could sense the temptation, from all that is happening in our country and in our world, to be afraid. It would be easy to be afraid when you hear the word "depression." Questions flood into our minds when we think of disaster words like this- What if I lose my job? How will I pay my bills? What if everything falls apart? What will we do?
Fear will be a natural response to the feeling that disaster is only moments away, and yet there is another reality that we must not lose sight of- there is a God in heaven and he's seated on the throne fully in charge of everything. I know I have shared this verse before in these blogs, but it's one that needs to be repeated often-
Psa 29:10 The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
At a time when the world did seem to fall apart God was seated on his throne and Lord of heaven and earth. When it appears that a flood is coming in our world don't lose sight of the fact that there is a God in heaven, and he is Lord of all! Here's his instructions for us who are in the midst of our "floods"-
Php 4:6 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Php 4:7 Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
In times like these it's good to know that God is in charge, and he's waiting to give you HIS peace in the midst of YOUR storm.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What will he do?

Have you ever met someone and know in a few minutes that they have amazing potential? Alexei Chaplits is one of those guys. Alexei was our translator for our time in Crimea. He is Ukrainian and is part of Campus Crusade staff. He has recently returned home after finishing seminary at Trinity near Chicago. Alexei is a great guy, and you can tell he wants to do something with his life.
But I also noticed a bit of frustration in him as well. He's driven, and that also can be an enemy when we are (or feel we are) "trapped" in a position that might be limiting at the moment. The secret in times like this is to simply be faithful, and allow God to promote us. I thought, as he translated for me, "this guy could do this himself....they don't need me." But he served well, and helped me with translation, questions from the class and understanding cultural issues as they related to some of the questions. Alexei is a very promising minister of the gospel....if he doesn't get too frustrated, if he can serve with a contented heart where he is now, if he doesn't get impatient.....if.....
Aren't we all in that place at times? The place called "if". If only we can serve where we are for the moment God can promote us, move us, help us, but there is always an if.
Potential is a funny can allow God to open the doors for your life and enjoy the odyssey or you can try to push them open yourself. What is God's plan for me? When will I get to use what I have learned? Why don't I get to do that? Why did they put someone else in the position that I can do? What does God want to do with me? What will we do? Will we trust God and rest or try to chart our own course?
I want to keep in touch with Alexei, I will be praying for him, I hope he can rest in God's plans for will be very interesting to see what God does in his life, it will be very interesting to see what Alexei will do.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Christian life lived out

I finally got on the plane leaving Rome to go to had taken a while and I was tired. Luckily I got a seat near the front of the plane and in the three-seat row there were only two of us, me by the window and a nice looking middle aged woman on the isle with a seat between us. This would be a nice relaxing flight, but you know me by now...I had to ask, "So, where are you from and where are you going?" Now, remember, I'm in Europe. Most of the people around me do not speak English, and yet somehow I knew....She responded, "I'm from El Paso, Texas and I'm headed to an orphanage south of Kiev to get my daughter." Then she explained that she and her husband had been working for a long time to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine and all of the work and expense was finally over....she was going to the orphanage to get her daughter. Her husband had to fly back home, but she had stayed for the required month, and now was the day. In a few hours she would be a mom to a little girl. She told me they had three boys back home, and this little girl was an answer to their prayers. My ears perked up. Yes, she said, she is a Christian. This, for them, was the right thing to do, and so they have spent thousands of dollars and months of time to adopt this little 4 year old girl. I gave her my card, and asked that she send pictures when they got her. In response she pulled out her computer and said, "do you want to see pictures now?" What could I say? "Of course!" I responded, and looked at the hundreds of photos she had already taken.
Here are my thoughts as I reflect on this short encounter- This is normal for a Christian! This caring for others, helping those in crisis, reaching out to those who need....that's how we are designed...designed to imitate exactly what Christ out the Christian life in the real world. It's a family spending thousands of dollars to adopt an orphan, or another person volunteering in a soup kitchen, or helping someone in need, visiting a nursing home, giving to a special need because of a storm, loving others with the very love of Christ. The Christian life lived out looks like this woman on a plane half way around the world going to adopt an orphan and raise her as her own. It's the very life of Christ lived out in the real world, and it's what makes the Christian life so of ourselves to meet the needs of others. It's the life of God lived out through our lives. It's found on an airplane heading from Rome to Kiev. It's all around you if you will take a moment to notice.
"And this is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you." -Jesus

Book report

I mentioned, before my trip, that I was taking this book to read on the way over and back. I thought I should give you a report. Overall Dinesh did a great job with this book. I really enjoyed his approach and thoughts on the Christian-atheist debate. In much of the book he did a great job defending the Christian faith and pointing out the weaknesses of the anti-God arguments. The only part of his book where I strongly disagree is on his view of creation. In this one area I think he really missed it, but other than that I would recommend you read it. Your faith will be strengthened and you will have some new insights into how to defend what you believe.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quote of the day

"Even if they kill us, no problem. This will cause thousands to come to Christ."

Divine appointments?

A good friend of mine has been reading my posts about my recent trip to Ukraine and he asked, "How come you have so many unusual encounters with people?" I think he was saying, "I don't have these kind of meetings, how is it that you do?" It might seem unusual that I run into so many interesting people and relationships, but I will tell you the secret- I seek out the encounters. They don't just happen to me, I pursue them.....I pursue people..................
As we were walking into the McDonald's in Kiev for lunch three women walked by us speaking English. Now, you may not need this insight, but in the Ukraine this is unusual, so I said, "Where are you from?" Without stopping to talk one of the ladies responded, "Texas and Arkansas." And off they go.... I thought it strange, but we were in a hurry too. When we got to the airport and I got in line to check in there they were....those women I saw at McDonald's. I couldn't resist the second opportunity, so I said, "So, there are the Americans too busy to visit....." And with red faces they took some time to talk to me. They were a group of women from different states working with the Baptist church and were teaching women's seminars in 5 cities. We had a good visit, and talked about what God had been doing with each of us. Later, as we boarded the buses to go to the planes, the ladies were separated and I found myself with two of the ladies who weren't sure what to do. I helped them get to their plane and made sure they connected with their team leader. As I walked away I heard one of them say, "that nice pastor helped us get here." I smiled...............

Divine appointments and amazing encounters are everywhere.....waiting for you to discover them. Here's another example- On one of my flights I was standing in the tunnel to the plane as we waited for those ahead of us to board. People were visiting with their travel parties, but right behind me was a young lady standing alone. Now, mind you, we are in eastern Europe, but I looked back and asked, "so, where are you going?" She replied in English, "I'm going back to Budapest. I went to Prague for the weekend." I didn't know, but would have missed it if I hadn't asked, but she is an American from Houston, Texas working for the American embassy in Budapest. If I hadn't asked I would have missed this moment. There are a number of other moments like this I could share- a young lady wearing a sweater with "IOWA" on the front....a man waiting for a plane reading a book in English....and many others, but what I want you to know is this- these moments pass you dozens of times each day, and if you don't notice them, if you don't pursue them you will miss them.............
The author of Hebrews says, "you never know, you may encounter angels and not even be aware of it....unless you ask" (my paraphrase). Around us are people with amazing stories and most are available for interaction if you will only ask. You never know, you might find one day that one will respond to your question, "Where are you from?" you will hear the answer, "I'm just your angel sent to help you through your day. Thanks for asking."

Unusual people

Around us are unusual people who you would pass on the street without even knowing it, but who have amazing stories to tell. My trip to Europe to teach with one of our missionaries gave me the opportunity to get to know Danny and Becky Loe better. They have been missionaries for nearly 35 years. They have lived in the Philippines, Japan, Budapest and other place I have forgotten. They speak different languages and roam about foreign cultures with ease. They are most unusual people. And yet they are the warmest and most genuine people you will ever meet. I had a day to spend with them at their home after our work was done, and it was a great treat to see their family and spend time with them. It's funny how normal everything becomes when you are home with dinner to cook, school work to do and family stuff to talk about. Their home was much like any family but for the fact we were somewhere in Europe. Danny and Becky are most unusual people giving their lives to serve God in different parts of the world. I've always thought missionaries were a little strange, and they are, but it's because they have given up the "American dream" to pursue something even bigger. They are looking far past the dream of a home, a couple cars, a nice job and retirement. They are looking to that eternal dream of an inheritance and rewards that are beyond this life. Danny and Becky are two of those unusual people you would love, and if you get the chance stop by and see them. They will make you feel right at home.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Birthday


Today, our granddaughter, Lucy, is 8 years old! She is a most amazing girl, and we are so blessed to have such a wonderful granddaughter. Happy Birthday, Lucy!

Built on the lives of others

In the last few posts I've been documenting my trip to Crimea based on the people I met. Often we talk about our adventures based on the things we see- mountains, an ocean, a tower, a city, etc. What captured my thoughts from this trip was the reality that it's not the buildings and destinations that are's the people. In fact the bible says our lives are built on the lives of others, not simply on the destinations we have seen. Peter wrote these words in one of his letters,
1Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
My purpose in the recent posts is to highlight the truth that what I am and what I become is because of the lives of those I meet and live my life with. We are who we are because of our interactions with other lives. Each of us touches another life, and both lives are affected by the touch. Those who isolate themselves from others have been wounded by someone in the past, and now try to avoid further pain, but it's those encounters with other lives that make us who we are. We are the result of the lives we have touched and the lives that have touched us. Cherish the touch of others and be aware that these divine encounters are intended to build us into a "spiritual house", a building that is built on Christ himself....a family connected by Christ and built on his sacrifice, a family that is connected by our relationships and molded by our encounters.
Realize that there are no accidental encounters, no small relationships. Every life that touches us affects us, molds us and we them....into who we become. Make your encounters positive, encouraging, edifying, so that your construction in the lives of others will build them up into all that God wants them to be, so that they will become imitators of Christ in their lives.

Captain Serge

Last Sunday I got to preach at Volodia's church in Kiev. Many were not there, so it was a small gathering last week, and this photo is of the church family that did gather for the morning. The one I want to talk about this morning is the man at the bottom right, Serge. I mentioned him in an earlier entry, but I want to tell you more about him. You see, for me this trip was not about landmarks, countries and buildings, but it was about people. As I thought about the trip it was the people that were the best part of the adventure. I also realized another thing. The Bible talks of a day when all of the cities, buildings and countries will finally end, but the people we meet in our travels and adventures will last forever. They are, for me, the highlights of this adventure and Serge is one of the remarkable "landmarks" of my trip. Until this photo, in all the time I spent with Serge, I never saw him smile. He seemed a very serious, stoic fellow. He was our "driver." I discovered, after we arrived at the airport, that although Volodia had said he would pick us up, he didn't have a car. Volodia had called the only church member in their little church family who owned a car to help him, Serge. As we walked from the airport to the car waiting for us was this large Russian wearing a bright yellow baseball hat with the words across the front of the hat "Jesus Christ" (you can see his hat on the coat rack in the back of the photo, although I wish I had a photo of him wearing it.) He didn't understand English, so was very quiet, but he drove us wherever we needed to go. What I later found out is that this was Serge's brand new car. He had just recently purchased it to do his work, and we were his first "customers" but for us it was a gift he was glad to offer. The problem for me was knowing that gas in Kiev is over $8.00 a gallon, and here is a guy driving us all over town....without any complaint at all. It's always fun to see who God will bring across your path, and here to serve us was a big Russian teddy bear of a man with a Jesus baseball hat and his new car. Through our entire two days in Kiev Serge was there to meet our transportation needs. What I found out later is that he is also a great bible teacher and leads a home group in his part of town. He had been a captain in the Russian army and now was an active part of this church family and our "wheel man" for our time with Volodia. He had even taken our luggage to our final destination for the day and carried it all up four flights of stairs for us so we could go to another event and not worry about our stuff. He was an amazing servant to us. The thing that worried me was all the gas he was using, but he never complained, and took us wherever we needed to go. I am glad I got to see him smile....even if it was just in a picture....because I knew he was a nice guy, you just wouldn't know it by his serious Russian composure as he took care of us. As I left them to catch my plane I gave Serge some money for gas. He graciously took it, and I was relieved that I hadn't burdened this quiet servant who had served us so graciously. Servants are often overlooked, but I don't want you to forget about Captain Serge. He's the guy you want to take care of you if you ever find yourself in Kiev. You might not see him smile, but he's a great servant of Christ.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Strange bedfellows

After our wonderful evening and dinner with Volodia and his family (see yesterday's post), Volodia took Danny and I on a late night bus ride across town to the place where we would spend the night. Volodia had made all the arrangements. We rode the public transit bus for about 40 minutes across town and came to the edge of Kiev and another apartment complex that looked much like a thousand others I had seen.
We walked up four flights of stairs (why are all these apartments four flights up?) and knocked at the door of one of the apartments. The door opened and we were suddenly face to face with a friendly, smiling man named Victor, he is Volodia's pastor. Victor was our host for the night. He graciously invited these two strangers into his apartment and made us at home. (Yes, another two room apartment.)
Victor is an amazing man. He's from a town in Russia called Tula. I was shocked to hear that because our sister church is in Tula and we were just there about a year ago. Victor's parents still live there and are Christian believers as well. He is an articulate and well read man who was the perfect host and an instant friend. It's so easy to make friends when Christ is the center of each of our lives. Within a few minutes we were in deep and engaging conversation with our new friend and brother in Christ. Our visit lasted late into the night as we discussed a hundred different things that were worth missing sleep to discuss. Finally, when we couldn't fight it any longer, we went to bed....already made up for us by Victor.
One of the things I knew was that I would preach in Victor's church the next morning. I asked him, "So, what do you want me to do tomorrow? Am I sharing part of the service? What would you like me to do?" Victor responded, "You're doing it all! I'm not preaching are. You have 45 minutes. We are looking forward to hearing from you. Our church service lasts for 2 hours, then we will get you to the airport." (I had to leave at 1pm to get to the airport.)
Now here's the interesting thing to me. Victor had never heard me before, he didn't know me at all, and yet....because of Volodia's relationship with me he was giving me his pulpit. Another friend and brother in Christ was met and added to my family. I have a lot more to meet, but I'm working through the family of God as fast as I can......
Church the next morning was great. I felt right at home, and the service was great fun. I didn't understand the worship songs at all, but boy did they worship God! Victor invited me up to speak to the church, and Volodia translated for me. I took about 45 to 50 minutes to teach through two verses. I think they really enjoyed our time in the word, I know I did.
After church we loaded up in the only car in the church (Serge's car) and headed for the airport. I'll tell you about Serge later. On the way to the Kiev airport a quick stop at McDonald's got us all something to eat for lunch and off we rush to get me on my flight. (Yes, McDonald's is everywhere!) What an odd day....what an amazing God who is able to bring his family together to love and care for one another beyond any language barrier. Victor will be another man I want to keep in touch with....because you never know what God will do next....and don't you wonder why I found a man from Tula, Russia....a town where we have a ministry presence already? I can't wait to see what God does with this!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thoughts on the body of Christ

Let me start my thoughts on the last two weeks with a few comments on the body of Christ. What most strikes me, as I think about the trip to Ukraine, is how amazing the body of Christ...the church is. I mentioned a few posts back that a man named Volodia had contacted me more than 5 years ago simply asking to communicate by e-mail. We did, and become great friends, having never met, and then this trip came up and the one thing I had to do is contact my friend, Volodia. He insisted we have dinner at his house and spend an evening with his family. We did, and it was an amazing evening.

Like most in the old Russian republics they live in an apartment. It's a small, two room apartment in a 4th floor walk elevators. When I say two rooms that's exactly what it is. There is a small bath and small kitchenette, but other than that....two rooms. It's just like other apartments I had been in while in Russia....a very typical home in this part of the world. Volodia and his wife, Ruslana, are raising their 4 children in this 2 room apartment. (So, no more whining from those of you who just don't have enough room in your 3 bedroom-two car garage homes, ok?) We fellowshiped in their living room-dining room-bedroom (see photo) and had a great dinner together. The food was very Russian, but good.

We had a great visit. Their kids are all wonderful and sweet children. We were like long lost uncles to them and were the recipients of dozens of stuffed toys that we had to see and hold. Their daughter, who is 13, is making jewelery and wanted to show us what she made. Danny and I both asked why she was making it. She said she wanted to earn some money of her own, and thought this would be a way to do that, so we both bought more than our share of her work. She was overjoyed. It was a wonderful evening with a part of our family we had never met....the family of God. These sweet people invited us into their small home, fed us a lot of food that they couldn't afford and made us feel like part of their family....and we are. We took a number of photos of the evening because it was so important. I will send copies to Volodia when I get back to the church so he can have copies. I know he will have them in his scrapbook within a few days. And, yes, we got to see their photo scrapbook too, just like any visiting family member should do!

This is the church...the body of Christ...being family. This is what Jesus meant when he told the disciples, "anyone who leaves family to follow me will have hundreds to replace them" (my paraphrase). And it's amazingly true. Now I will tell you...if you ever go to Kiev I have a place for you to eat dinner. He's a good friend of mine, and his family will make you part of their's what the body of Christ does best.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If this is Wednesday I must be home

I think there was a movie with a title something like this. It's a title based on the woes of air travel. Yesterday morning at 5 am I left Budapest, but it was actually 10 pm the night before here, and so the odyssey to get back home began. After 22 hours of travel I am finally home but extremely tired. It's amazing how difficult it is to sit in an airplane for countless hours as it drones its way to your destination. I did get several books read, so I didn't waste the time, but air travel over numerous times zones is very difficult. The old term "jet lag" is now clearly understood to this tired traveler, but I knew enough of the rules to stay awake until I got home and then immediately fit into the time schedule here, so in a few days I should be back to normal, whatever that means. It's great to be back home, and I can't wait to tell you about the people I met and the adventures of the trip. Thank you all for your prayers. I am so grateful for friends like you. And, so, because of your prayers.....I'm back!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Almost home....

I think it's Monday, but I'm not sure anymore. I've lost track of where and when I am. But today I do know where, just not when. It's cold and rainy and I'm in Budapest with one of our missionaries and family, Danny & Becky Loe. I am looking forward to a day with Danny & Becky and will fly home tomorrow, whatever day that will be. The trip has been amazing and I will have stories and photos to share with you when I return. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Other than normal traveling health issues it's been a great trip. I can't wait to tell you about it. See you in a few days.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm off...............

Well, I'm on my way. I'm heading for Kiev in the Ukraine and then to Crimea. I'll be back in about 10 days. I will post with photos if I can. The one thing I would ask for is your prayers. This will be a fast paced trip with a lot of teaching, and I don't want to do it without the Lord's hand in the whole thing. I'll check in when I can.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Strange coincidence

I'm thinking.....that God does funny things that sometimes don't make sense for years. About 5 years ago I got an e-mail from a guy in the Ukraine, Volodia, who asked simply, "I found you on the Internet. I was wondering, could we correspond and can I ask you some questions?" It was a strange e-mail, but I always respond to strange requests like this in the never know what God's up to....but now I know. Earlier this year, after 5 years of corresponding and developing a friendship, Volodia came to Dallas to work with another church. I got the opportunity to spend the day with him. What a blessing. We had a great time together. Then I was invited by our mission committee to go to the Ukraine to co-teach with one of our missionaries. I gladly responded that I would love it and immediately sent a note to Volodia. He quickly moved into action. When we get to Kiev he will meet us at the airport and we will be spending the evening with Volodia and his family. He's arranged a place for us to stay for the night, and he also plans a trip around Kiev. The next day I will be preaching at his church.

Where will it go from here? I don't have to know that yet....that's up to God. What I've discovered, after having things like this happen over and over, is that God has a wonderful plan that may take years to unfold.

So, I'm thinking.....I wonder what God has in store for me next? I can't wait to find out.

Looking forward to a long flight

I'm heading for the Ukraine on Sunday, and wanted to find a good book for the 23 hour trip. I was excited to find a copy of D'Souza's book, What's so great about Christianity. I'll give you a report when I get back. I do love a good book on apologetics and I've heard that D'Souza has done a great job with this book. It's big enough to take my mind off of the cramped seats and boring hours.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Is anyone running this place?

As always, it's a crazy time as we near the date we elect a new president. There is always a lot of passion on both sides as we near election day. It is a time of uncertainty with terrorists trying to destroy us, radical countries trying to build atomic bombs, chaos in different places, difficult times at home, high prices and uncertainty about the's a time when you may be wondering "is anyone running this place?"
This morning, in my reading, I'm in Revelation. I love this book (do I say that about every book of the bible I read?) because it puts a finish to time and history. As Genesis opens the story with creation Revelation closes the story with the end of all things. Some look to this book for a guide to what will happen in the last days. There is some of that, but that's not the theme of the book. In fact, although John records end time events, he doesn't record them in a sequential order in a way you can track events as the end comes. It's not set up that way.
The key theme of the book is this one idea- there is a throne in heaven and God is sitting on it. In other words, there is a God in charge of everything. That's the message of the book. That's the great hope of the Christian. More than 30 times in Revelation the throne is mentioned and often, as John writes, there is an interlude in which we get a glimpse of the throne as if to ask, "is He still in charge?" and yes, the picture shows that God is still seated on the throne fully in charge. Here's one of the praises that I love from this book, it's such a reassuring song,
Rev 5:13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
In fact, because God is in charge, there is another subtle part of Revelation shown in this phrase, "it was given". What the author is communicating is not that the enemy is in rebellion and on the attach against heaven itself, but in fact the message is this- God is orchestrating all that we see in the book with the goal that mankind would once more have a chance to turn to him and be saved. The gradual "turning up of the heat" is intended to move mankind to trust in God before all of this is finished. None of the book hints at a universe out of control, but what we see is a sovereign God fully in charge of everything, and he is.
One of the verses in Psalms that I love is a small verse, subtle, but powerful. The author writes,
Psalm 29:10 The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
Is anyone running this place? Clearly, yes. The God of creation is seated on the throne and directing the courses of men with the end result that he will be glorified. I'm glad that there is a God in heaven, and that he's the sovereign of the universe. When all around you it seems that things are falling apart remember.....God is still seated on the throne, Lord of heaven and earth. Then get a cup of coffee and relax. You don't have to worry, God's got it all under control.
Oh, in case you were wondering, God's also in charge of the elections, "...For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." Romans 13:1

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The logic of God

My friend, Vincent, posted an interesting article entitled, "Can Mere Numbers Prove The Existence Of God?" It's very good. I would encourage you to take a few minutes to read his thoughts.

Go, Sarah, go!

Sorry I didn't tell you yesterday....

"End of the world due in nine days!"
-The Sun (online)

"SCIENTISTS are trying to stop the most powerful experiment ever – saying the black holes it will create could destroy the world.
Dubbed by some the Doomsday test, it will be carried out next week in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located 300ft underground near the French-Swiss border.
The machine is 17 miles long and cost £4.4billion to create.
When its switch is pulled on September 10, this atom-smasher will become a virtual time machine, revealing what happened when the universe came into existence 14 billion years ago.
New particles of matter are expected to be discovered, new dimensions found beyond the four known, as scientists re-create conditions in the first BILLIONTHS of a second after the Big Bang."
Ooopps....I forgot to tell you, sorry. Now there's only 8 days left! Time to get your will in order....wait, never mind....there won't be anyone here to inherit your stuff. Wow, the end of the world. Imagine that....what a fanciful idea that men think they can bring this all to an end. It's funny, and most unlikely. God has reserved that job for himself and clearly tells us that it is indeed coming, but he will do it. No one will know the day when it comes. Here are the apostle Peter's words on the topic,
2Pe 3:9 God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change.
2Pe 3:10 But when the Day of God's Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.
2Pe 3:11 Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?
2Pe 3:12 Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day--
2Pe 3:13 but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
2Pe 3:14 So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.
2Pe 3:15 Interpret our Master's patient restraint for what it is: salvation.
Our job, until that day arrives, is to live for God and know that his patience is intended to give more time for others to trust him. The end of the world seems like a terrible thing to us, but it's the beginning of eternity....the beginning of a universe devoid of sin. A new creation where God is fully in charge. It will be wonderful and amazing. I can't wait, but God is waiting...waiting for others to trust him, for that one more. Who will be the last one? When will be the last day? Only God knows.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The beginning of a bad day....

Some photos don't need any comments....except this- sometimes a bad day isn't your fault.
(Thanks, Mike McM. for the great photo!)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Strange responses to "pain"

High gas prices have created a whole new line of small cars to meet the need for high mpg vehicles. We are amazing creatures. We will spend $15,000.00 for a car to get 50 miles per gallon rather than the 20 miles per gallon we get now. That's a wonderful savings by all appearances, but do these buyers realize that if they are driving 20,000 miles a year it will take them 8 years just to break even? By that time the little car is worn out, and you still haven't realized any real savings.....just a perceived relief for the moment.
I've noticed we do that in nearly every area of our lives. We will do whatever is needed to keep from feeling pain in the moment. It doesn't really matter to us whether the solution has actually changed anything, but in the moment we "feel" better. Our whole culture has done that in our response to God. (You're amazed how I could transition from small cars to theology, aren't you?) But we do....we will do whatever it takes to "be happy" and avoid pain in the moment. We divorce our mates to "be happy." We hurt others so we can "be happy." We make a big change to get a little result in the moment so we feel like we have solved our problem without really changing anything at all. We have yet to resolve the problem, but we feel better.
God's interested in our long term happiness, and much less interested in relieving the "pain" of the moment. He's working on who I will be in eternity and the pain of the moment may actually be used by God to mold me into what he has in mind, the person he wants me to be. My goal is to avoid pain not realizing that my solution really changes nothing long term, but simply postpones the changes God wants to make in me. We avoid pain, while God may use it as a tool in our lives. God and I often have different agendas, and to avoid what God is doing I will pursue my own solution and miss God's work. Pain is a good thing when you understand its purpose. Don't get in a hurry to avoid it, but ask God what he's working on. You might find that the pain of the moment is worth it for the goal God has in mind.

Monday's cartoon