|Thursday, July 14, 2022|
Been out shopping lately for a new phone plan. Call me a dinosaur, but I don’t have unlimited data. Like most everyone else, though, I want the ability to stream without worry.
Interesting. The cry of our day is unlimited connectivity and constant access. We want a wireless world without hassles or hurdles of any kind. And don’t even think about throttling us back!
The analogy might sound worn, but our heavenly Father has already given us much more than that in Christ:
But many of us are more enamored of our screens than our Savior. We’re not just glued to them—we’re welded to them! All the while, we take shockingly little advantage of what we’ve been offered through Christ.
How easily the minutes click by on Instagram or Messenger. How slowly when in the presence of the King of Kings.
I’m as guilty as anyone. Still, don’t you wonder how could we be so far out of whack that we would spend more time with a hand-held device than our hand-holding Savior?
I want to love Jesus more than anyone or anything (including my phone). And the amount of time I spend with Christ will prove—or disprove—that claim. Same for you.
Who or what is going to have first place in your life? A hand-held device—or a hand-holding Savior?
|Heaven is Better
|Thursday, July 07, 2022|
Did you watch any fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday?
According to Wallethub, America spent about 2.4 billion dollars on fireworks in some 16,000 civic displays. These civic displays cost anywhere between $5,000 and $200,000. All told, we import about $301,000,000 worth of fireworks—97% of those from China.
About 37% of Americans attend fireworks displays of some kind. My wife and I are among them.
While waiting to view the show in front of us, some neighboring towns behind us were blasting away with theirs. We were only a couple of miles away from the distant blasts, but I was struck by how wimpy the sound of those vast explosions was.
Though impressive in person, the audio quickly loses its bombast with just a bit of distance.
Something else I’ve noticed over the years. At the beginning of a fireworks show, every eye is fully engaged as the first few rockets blast into the sky. But before too long, some younger kids lose just a bit of interest. And some moms and dads are fiddling with their phones—and no, they aren't all posting photos. They are—unthinkably—bored. Or at least distracted. Think of that.
Call me crazy, but whenever we get to the “Grand Finale," the image of heaven comes to mind. I think of the twelve gates, each made of a single pearl. I think about the streets of gold and the River of Life, and the living creatures. And, of course, I think about King Jesus.
But of this, you can be assured. When we finally reach heaven, we will never have occasion for boredom or distraction. Our enjoyment of God and our amazement at being in His presence will never fade, never grow old, and never lose the slightest bit of enchantment. It will be forever new, forever amazing, forever a sanctified sensory overload.
So, forget the tired image of wimpy Christians clustered on clouds plucking harps half-heartedly. Heaven is better. WAY better than that.
|Thursday, June 30, 2022|
It happened the other day—again. I'd spent a meaningful season in prayer, enjoyed time in the Word, launched into the day, and before long, I'd lost my sense of joy. In its place: a rumbly grumbly cauldron of discontent.
There was no single moment I could point to where the joy got sucked out of things—but gone it was. Like others who’ve experienced this, I asked, who robbed my joy? After some uncomfortable introspection, I now know that for me, it can be any one of a thousand things:
Truthfully, it doesn’t take much to rob me of my joy. And that’s a problem. It speaks of a trust issue.
You say, What?
Look at it this way. Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” We get the hope and joy as we trust in Him, not when our circumstances are perfect.
The smaller the thing that can rob our joy, the smaller our trust in the Living God. It turns out that our capacity for joy is linked to our capacity for trust.
The irony is, when trials and troubles come, those of us who profess to have received Christ as Savior are often the guiltiest, trying to be our own Savior.
And that’s the moment that joy disappears. The old hymn calls us to a better way:
|Thursday, June 23, 2022|
A wooden deck is a thing of beauty. But neither wood nor beauty last. Hence, I found myself in the 100-degree heat, replacing a number of cracked deck boards.
In some cases, the warp and wear were apparent. Yet as I fastened new boards next to old, I was caught off guard. Several pieces that looked perfectly good on the surface turned out to have significant problems: rot.
Previously, I had slathered on the best stain/sealer the hardware store sells. And they looked perfectly healthy. But just beneath the surface, I found tunnels of hollowness. Worse, I could crush this wood with my bare fingers, disintegrating it into shards of would-be lumber. (Impossible to miss the left side of the photo).
Again, I thought I had solid wood. I thought I had worked hard to preserve the health of that pricey lumber. And from all appearances, everything was fine. Dripping sweat in the summer sun, I stared at all that rot, pondering the additional work it represented.
How very like the human heart. So many of us look good on the outside: strong, spiritually healthy, "reasonably" godly. But inside, we have rotted away.
Maybe we’ve shortchanged our daily time in the Word. Maybe we've cooled off our church attendance or our time in prayer. Maybe we've dabbled with an addiction. Or danced at the outer edges of pornography.
All of this leads to one thing—and that one thing ain't good: spiritual rot. Which is absolutely guaranteed apart from a vigilant commitment to maintenance. It’s not that it could happen or might happen. It WILL happen.
So, where’s our protection? How do we guard against spiritual rot? From personal experience, David shared his secret in a prayer recorded in Psalm 25:21, “May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”
Apparently, David placed extraordinary value on integrity and uprightness. So much so that his prayer for these twin virtues rarely ceased from his lips.
A vigilant commitment to integrity and uprightness in your soul. Neither of these is flashy or fun. But, as Jesus famously asked, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?”
|Thursday, June 16, 2022|
It’s become a morning ritual. Yawning in the kitchen, my wife and I ask each other, How did you sleep? Often, the answer is, “Not so good.” For many of us, there’s a story that usually tumbles out—accompanied by a complaint:
Now, I like (and need) sleep as much as the next person. A European study of almost 25,000 people demonstrated that sleeping six hours or less was associated with a 40 percent increased risk of developing cancer compared to folks getting seven hours of sleep or more. But where do any of us get the notion that we somehow deserve good sleep?
Ecclesiastes 5:12 comments, “Sweet is the sleep of a laborer.” That generalization is true, but there’s no promise implied. Psalm 4:8 remarks, "In peace, I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Lovely testimony—but again, no bulletproof guarantees.
Here’s what I think. Sleep is a gift. It’s always been a gift. And because we’ve enjoyed so much of it for so many years, we’ve come to view sleep as an entitlement: We should experience sleep whenever we want, as much as we want, as often as we want. But maybe we need to learn to see sleep as the gracious gift of a merciful Creator rather than an inherent right.
The truth is, you and I live in a fallen world. Sin has impacted everything—including our quality of sleep. How could that not be so? Why, then, should we complain when we don’t get as much as we think we need?
What if we turned our daily whining into daily gratitude toward God? Example: Thanks for the sleep I DID enjoy. I had no right to a single snore—but thank you for your kindness, Lord.
We are forgiven sinners, you and I, indebted forever to a merciful God. Which means sleep is not a right—it’s a gift.
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