Get me to the gate on time.

The door was closed.

She couldn’t get on her flight.

She missed and no one could or would help her.

I was at Seatac. I was at my gate early. Not bragging, just saying I was there early. Next to my gate was another gate flying somewhere far away, Texas maybe? I had seen this lady on the other side,the main terminal. She was being seated in a wheelchair by an airport worker. When she showed up at her gate she was walking. Earlier I had seen the airlines hostesses walking the length of the terminal calling out names of missing passengers and heard multiple announcements asking for passengers to go to the desk, announcing boarding and then final boarding. Then they closed up the desk, walked through the doors and boarded the plane. After all of that happened the lady showed up. She was at the right gate but she was late. She couldn’t find anyone to help her. She walked through the seats asking for help, loudly asking for someone, anyone from her airline to help but they were all in the plane already.

She tried crashing the door. She could see her plane still parked at the gate but she couldn’t get on.

When she crashed the door an alarm sounded and security personnel arrived rather quickly. But they couldn’t get her on the plane either. It didn’t seem to make any difference why she was late or how loud she got with her protests. She could not ride that plane. Even with a boarding pass she could not get aboard the plane.

It was a scene that played out in my life that I️ watched like it was a performance for me. It made me wonder and now over 2 weeks later I am still pondering it. As the character Scrooge says in the Christmas Carol, “why was I privy to this conversation?”.

At the same time I have Been reading 2 Peter. In chapter 2, Peter mentions some times when God’s timing and the peoples time ran out.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;”

2 Peter 2:4-10

So did God show me this so that I would present it as a cautionary tale? As a culture we are constantly exposed to and driven by schedules and time tables. Is it a surprise that God also has a schedule and a time table for his plan for us. Not one of us knows his time table and schedule. Not even Jesus knew when it would be. Can we say that God is a meany head for having a schedule? Or can we say thank you to him for his patience thus far?

Further into his letter Peter had this to say,

“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:3-9

My wife Mary calls me Debbie Downer because I see the dark side of things, I really don’t want this to be that.

God loves us. He sent Jesus to us not Just to say I love you, but to do I love you. Jesus came to die for sins we cannot pay for or erase. Then he rose from the dead to lead us into God’s heaven. He made a way for us.

We get today. We have today to choose.

I don’t know the outcome for the poor lady who missed her plane. I do know the outcome of everyone who missed Noah’s boat. I do know the outcome for everyone who misses God’s grace in Jesus but I would rather talk about the splendor waiting for those who receive God’s great gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

Today, all aboard.

A different Peter’s story

It must’ve been hard to do.

Make the change from being a follower of Jesus to a teller about Jesus. From having him there with them to having him pop in and out of life unexpectedly.

This next bit is a paraphrase told from the perspective of the once disciple, now apostle, Peter.

I remember that day…

What to do? Let’s go fishing. Fishing is what we do, Simon and Thomas and Nathaniel, James and John. Fishermen. It’s what we do, it’s what we know, it’s how we provide for our families. Fished all night and got nothing. Some guy on the beach shouting instructions on how to catch fish…we’ll try it.

Whoa! Wow! So many fish, almost too many fish. One fish, two fish red fish, 152 fish. (Plus one).

This all seems so familiar, I’ve had this happen before. It was Jesus on the shore.

A quick swim, some breakfast, fish hauling ashore and then the “chat”.

For 3 years we’ve hung out with Jesus. On meeting me he said he would change my name. Now, after the denial, ( three denials, if you’re counting) and the resurrection we are back to Simon son of John. Not Peter. Simon.

Then the questions, do I love him more than these? Do I️ love Jesus more than my fishing buddies do? At one time in the not so distant past I️ claimed that I️ did.

Then the questions come. Jesus could’ve used 4 different words for the word love in his questions. He went straight to the highest, the strongest, the purest, do I Simon, love, agape love, Jesus?

It may be my failures and denials but all I can muster is “you know I love you like a brother, I️ phileo you Jesus”.

He gives me a job. “Feed my lambs”.

Then he asks me again, do I Simon, agape him, Jesus?

“Jesus, I love you, like a brother” is my answer.

“Take care of my sheep”.

He asks again, a third time. I didn’t get why he asked me twice but it becomes clear as he asks the third time, my mind went back to that horrible early morning, my third denial, “I tell you I do not know the man”….and then began swearing like a fisherman.

The third and last question Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me….like a brother?”

I’m hurt and frustrated, so my answer is terse, “ you know all things, you know I love you like a brother..”

Again, “Feed my sheep…”

And then I get the prophecy about my death.

“18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

John 21:18

There are 2 things that encourage me here. “When you are old,” it isn’t eminent, and “old” I will continue to follow Jesus for the rest of my life.

This is one of the memories I think about as I write to those followers of Jesus who will continue after I’m dead. They will continue to tell others about our Jesus.

Add to your faith…brotherly love, and add to that, Agape love, God kind of love, selfless, others first, die in your place, kind of love. Add that to your faith in Jesus. Then you will be able to be fruitful and productive in your faith.

Jesus welcomed me back, I fell, I fell further and harder but his love covered my failures. His love will always do that. It will always cover over our sin.

Invited into the family

Jesus has an exclusive. It is Jesus plus nothing, and Jesus or nothing.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

1 John 1:1-4

There is no one else who can truthfully claim to be the Word of life.

Jesus said in John’s Gospel “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Our culture wants to downgrade Jesus, to make him one of many ways to God, but that is not what he said. He said we can’t get to the Father without going through him. Can Jesus lie and still be perfect? Can he exaggerate and still be sinless? Can he be mistaken and still be trustworthy? It looks like I have a choice to make, he can’t be one of many if he said he is THE way, THE truth and THE life. I choose to believe what he said about himself.

John also said this about Jesus in his Gospel “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5

I can’t imagine how cool it would be to hang out with Jesus. John, the writer of this Book was a close friend, maybe the closest friend of Jesus. “We heard him, seen him, touched him…” He’ll say it again, “seen and heard”. John was an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. He was one of 3 who got to see him transfigured on the the mountain top.

“Make our joy complete. “ John’s joy was to see people believing in Jesus and being saved. Our family, my dads side, us four siblings, any cousins and aunts and uncles we can gather will be meeting again this year. Loeffelbein’s are descendants of German immigrants. Our family has a history of being hard working industrious people. We know how to work. We don’t know as well how to play, how to relax. We are learning. We do enjoy getting together. There is sweet fellowship. There is family love.

Fellowship with God will be like this except beyond it, way way beyond it. Love that knows no boundaries or limits. Love that knows us completely, faults and fears, failures and foibles and still loves us completely. Engulfed in love, like the security of a warm newborn swaddle and the freedom of a moonlight skinny dip, blended together in perfection. I believe that I cannot fully comprehend what fellowship with God will be but I think it will be like the garden of Eden, fully exposed and unashamed. We receive Jesus not only to escape hell and avoid its tortures but to gain fellowship, with each other, the family of God, and with God our Father.

Jesus knew that sweet fellowship before he left heaven. He left that to come here to earth, to to live and love and serve, and in completion of that service, to suffer and die for our sins, for my sins, then raise to life again and go to back to heaven to intercede for me and make ready a place for me to spend eternity.

Today the Word of life is reaching out to each one of us. What will we do with his offer of forgiveness of sin and eternal fellowship with a God who loves us more and better than we can know or deserve?

Lighter of my world

Was it my fear of the dark that eventually led me to become an electrician? It could just be a coincidence. It still thrills me to go through the process of wiring and conduit and termination of devices, to get to the reveal-drumroll- -click- then let there be light!

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7

Electricians participate in what God started at the beginning of creation. He said “let there be light” and there was light. Since God is light, does that mean he just entered the void where nothing was and just him being there brought light? Or did he create light that would be part of creation?

I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter. What matters is that God is light, his character is light. That’s one of the scary things about him. We can’t hide in the shadows, we can’t cover or shade ourselves AND be in his presence. He is light, exposing us his exposure is not intended to shame us, (shame not being the impetus for repentance) but to make us aware of our own condition, our own direction, so we can repent and get set right and get cleaned up.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7

I get dressed in our basement in the morning. I dress in one room then turn off the light as I leave and head for the stairs up and out. Many times the darkness disorients me, I can’t find the stairs or the switch for the lights and I have walked into the walls and or tripped. What if once I found the switch and could see the way up and out, I refused the updated information and continued on my misguided path? that would be silly. So it is when we meet with God and refuse the information that his light of revelation brings us.

Jesus, being God also has character of light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

This quote comes directly after Jesus defended a woman caught in adultery. His light exposed her sin but did not condemn her for it, instead he forgave her.

Someday this light will light the earth , until that day…? What will we do with the light we have experienced that did not condemn but forgave, forgives us? Will we share it? Will we use it? Will we spread it as we share the good news of what Jesus has done in us and can do for anyone else who will confess and believe?

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

Revelation 21:22-24

Buckle up

We love our stuff. Americans, we love our teams, our beers our coffee, our political parties, our birthday parties, our jeans, our sneakers, our car brands (or truck brands). We love our stuff. I love my stuff.

I love watermelon and I love pepperoni pizza and i love sitcoms and crime dramas and tools and toys. I love cars and trucks, some more than others (wink-wink Rusty!) I love my wife and kids and my grandkids. (This is not a prioritized list).

To not love stuff, well it’s downright unamerican. Who doesn’t love stuff? Who shouldn’t love stuff?

As it turns out… me. I shouldn’t love stuff.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:15-17

Everything in the world is good, God declared it so at the end of creation but it has in it an enticement that can lead me away from my love of God. My little human heart has only a certain amount of love. How will that be divided?

If I love God first and foremost it opens the chambers of my life to more love. Like when I see my wife from across the room my pupils dilate. They open up as if to get more of her visage and likeness into my head and heart. When I love God first, my heart is opened up to allow more love for people. When I understand that God is creator of all things then things take on a different level of respect and admiration. I see things as part of a creators creation and I start to see people differently. I start to see Each one as a person created to spend eternity in fellowship with God but just now separated from him by sin.

Unless.

Unless we meet Jesus and accept his gift of reconciliation.

This is how that reconciliation happens: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13

Say out loud “Jesus you are now my Lord, (master-boss-king-ruler-leader) and I believe that you rose from the dead. “

Can it really be that simple?

Yes, but try it and see.

What changes? Down here? Not much. In heaven? There’s a party, in your heart? Sin is forgiven. And the driver seat of your heart is now occupied by the Holy Spirit.

Buckle up. You are beginning a new adventure.

When faith feels like a desert

We live in a desert. Eastern Washington state is a desert. It lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. Our annual rainfall is around 10″. There is very little water here naturally. My Grandpa Loeffelbein’s property in Cashmere, out on Pioneer Ave had a Tiny little stream. It was so small that I could jump across it. The odd thing about it that it was always flowing, and it flowed fast. It was not a lazy little trickle. Put your foot in and it would try and knock you over. It took strength to stand in the flow. The water was cold, and the force was steady and strong and constant.

Sometimes my life feels like a desert, arid and dry. I need a source of refreshing.

Gods love is like that little stream in some aspects. It’s steady, strong, constant, refreshing, water in a desert. It just isn’t little. Nathan Dowd quoted someone recently who said “Gods love is an ocean without shores and without bottom.”

“17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Lord I need to know your love today, not just know it but feel it. I need your wisdom and understanding, I’ve got things to do today that go beyond me. Help me Jesus. Fill me up.