|When the Messes are No More
|Wednesday, October 19, 2022
To children, they are treasures—their daily works of art. From crayons to markers to watercolors, kids love to create almost as fast as we can supply the paper.
So it was that five-year-old Ava presented me with a collection of her finest. She's embellished a rectangle of blue felt with a polka dot red crescent moon and an orange heart she’d cut out and glued. And on top of that heart was a smaller heart in the background blue shade.
This masterpiece arrived with other treasures. Among them was a flamboyant rendering of an ultra-green Christmas tree and another illustration (Ava informed me) I was holding upside down.
When you're in the middle of parenting, doling out the crayons (or, if you're courageous, the markers), it feels like you spend most of your life picking up scrap pieces and wiping splashes of color from the table that somehow escaped the protective newspaper. You’re convinced it’s never going to end. The markers, the murals, the messes.
And then, one day, it sneaks up on you.
No more ambitious paintings with "I love you" scrawled in giant letters—the letter "e” invariably spelled backward. No more glue all over everything it shouldn’t be all over. And—wonder of wonders—the table stays clean.
Every parent on the other side of the timeline knows what I’m talking about. But be warned. The loss of kitchen chaos comes at a price: the loss of little feet. Little hands. Little children. With little problems—and big fuzzy felt hearts that have a certain magic for fixing whatever’s wrong with us—and the world.
|Thursday, October 13, 2022
We have a thirst problem, you and me.
The problem is—we aren’t. Thirsty, I mean.
When it comes to the Word of God—being in the presence of God—many of us just aren’t that thirsty. We like a sip now and then (morning devotions or Sunday church). But few would mistake us for genuinely thirsty souls.
When you’re really dried out, you can taste the water before it touches your lips, let alone goes down your parched throat. You smile at the thought of it, anticipating its cool and quenching effect.
But for many of us, a swallow of the Almighty is good enough. And frankly, that’s all we want. Otherwise, we’d drink more. Which is a polite way of saying we are “unthirsty.”
But what are we to make of passages like Psalm 63: “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.” Some of us read those words and ask, What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I thirst for God like that?
You can’t help but wonder if the King of Kings doesn’t ask those same questions about us.
A popular beer ad campaign urges, “Stay thirsty, my friends.” But is it possible we get our thirst quenched by the world, something other than Jesus? Have we developed a taste for a poor substitute?
Yet, there stands Jesus offering us Himself, the water of life. He promises to any who lets Him satisfy their thirst, “the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
That's much more satisfying than a swig of anything this world offers.
|Deal With It!
|Thursday, October 06, 2022
A popular meme explains, “If a man says he’ll fix it, there’s no need to nag him every six months.”
Sadly, it took me just about that long to respond when our car’s automatic sensor suggested one of the tires was low. I got out and walked around, visually inspecting all four tires. They looked good—not a bit under-inflated.
Because everything looked fine, I concluded the car’s sensor had gone bad. In my experience, they often have. But the low-pressure message didn't go away. So, I put a gauge on all four tires, and sure enough, one of them—the rear passenger’s—was low. I pumped it up, the warning went away, and life was good.
About a week later…the same scenario. This time, I immediately put air in the rear passenger tire. All seemed well, but I was still suspicious of the car’s sensor. My wife? She was suspicious that our tire had a problem—like a nail.
Nevertheless, I faithfully pumped air into that tire again and again—for several months. Finally, I set up an appointment with the tire shop at Diana's request. You already know what happened—they found a nail.
So, it wasn’t the sensor’s fault. The sensor was speaking the truth. The problem was me and my disbelief--the quiet belief that "I knew better." Think of the hassle we could have saved, let alone the mileage we might have gained from a properly inflated tire.
Likewise, God regularly speaks a word of warning or correction into our lives. He uses a verse of Scripture or prompting from the Holy Spirit. But we often ignore the alert, making our own inspection of the issue, falsely concluding that everything is just fine--or "fine enough."
But God alone is the gauge. Not us. And when He points out a problem, there's no use ignoring, avoiding, or delaying (again, think of the hassle we create for ourselves!). The very moment the Holy Spirit puts His finger on an issue is the time to deal with it. Not six hours, six days, or six months from now.
|Thursday, September 29, 2022
You’ve had some weird dreams. Meeting a celebrity. Being a celebrity. On the run. Shot at. Whatever.
Recently, in the wee hours of the morning, I heard a tumultuous sound—like many voices shouting. At once, I realized it was the rapture, that “glorious appearing” of Jesus Himself. Short on breath, long on adrenalin, I jolted awake.
Jesus…here…now? Concerns about unsaved family members tempered my shock and awe. What about friends whose salvation I'd been praying for? Two emotions hijacked my soul—regret and sadness. Regret at not working harder to share Christ. Sadness at time wasted—things left undone.
Biblically speaking, the real rapture (not my early morning dream) will be instantaneous. Of course, it will be overwhelmingly awesome to be with our Savior, Jesus, at last, and forever. How could it be anything less?
Still, that dream left me with a strong impression of unfinished business—things I need to care for.
Jesus really is coming back. And someday, the last opportunity to share Christ really will be gone. But we have today. We have this moment.
People need Jesus.
We know Jesus.
Why should there be unfinished business when He returns?
|Your Mind on Parade`
|Thursday, September 22, 2022
It’s a small town with a big parade: Princeton, Illinois.
Every year, this city of 7,589 people hosts what they call the Homestead Festival. Under a big yellow tent, folks chow down pork butterfly sandwiches grilled in the town square by the Pork Producers Association. But the most prominent event is the parade—some two hours long!
When you think about it, parades are curious things. They offer a warm welcome to whimsy: people walking on stilts, or driving motorized flying carpets, or firing tee-shirt cannons.
Of course, the Homestead festival has taken all of this to new heights. Candy? You walk home with enough to feed the entire neighborhood at Halloween. But we’ve also seen folks hand out frisbees, ice cream tokens, full-sized water bottles, and even hotdogs. This year, one guy was handing out wristwatches—for real!
Parades are where politicians go to meet and greet, where banks and businesses try to win customers. Parades are curious things. But they are also a strangely fitting metaphor for the mind.
Consider. Every time you speak, your mind is on parade. You go public with what was previously private. High stepping down the public square are words for all to hear. Words that can hurt or heal. Words that can never be taken back. Words that can change the destiny of a life.
Little else is more public than a parade.
Little else is more sobering than knowing that your mind is on parade with every word you speak.
What is your parade saying about you?
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