Waiting for answers

My truck Rusty has recently received some attention. Our story of how we came together is unique.

I would like to stress 2 things that maybe faded to the the background in the retelling of the story.

The first is I prayed, I asked God for another 57 Chevy pickup and for the years and years when I didn’t get one and His answer seemed to be “NO”, I kept asking. “God I know this is stupid, and there are so many more important things, like salvation for my family and friends, keeping us safe, keeping us healthy, providing for us, but God, after you have taken care of all that, may I have another 57 Chevy pickup?”

Then I went on with life but God wasn’t saying “no”, he was saying “wait”. While I was waiting the answer seemed like “no”. In a world where everything is available and can be had through the wonder of the internet and credit cards, I waited. I wasn’t a faith filled man, I was a poor man. Financially there was no other option.

My truck Rusty is an answer to a prayer that I kept on praying. I don’t want to hi-light my persistence, I want to hi-light our God who hears silly prayers and answers in His perfect timing.

The second thing I wanted to emphasize is the seed. Just recently I read through 1 Corinthians and in chapter 15 Paul is talking about the resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection and our resurrection.

“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”

I had a horn button for a 57 Chevy truck. I called it my 57 Chevy truck seed. I gave it away. I buried it. From it grew my truck Rusty.

The analogy breaks down here because Rusty is not eternal but he has been “born again”, given a new life.

That can happen to each one of us too, except being mortals, we are given the opportunity to become immortal, to live forever.

“42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If we confess our need for a savior, admit we are broken, accept Jesus gift of forgiveness, he has paid for all of our sin, we can be forgiven, cleansed and made immortal. We will live forever with Jesus. Come and join our family who call God our father and live forever.

(Originally posted 1/06/17)

The privilege of being family

Hebrews 12

The hard stuff.

Discipline.

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

Being Gods child means we will be under his discipline. Just coming out of Christmas, which for me is a time of relaxed disciplines, I usually take the week after Christmas off, no alarm clocks, no schedules, rules remain the same, but less structure. Diet…diet? There is food everywhere, most of it completely full of carbs. As a guy this is great, as a diabetic this is a challenge. I have maintained some control but I’m pretty sure that if I did a blood test right now my blood would spill out in little white cubes.

I need discipline to keep myself healthy. Spiritually I need discipline to keep me healthy. Gods grace is awesome, but sometimes I use it like a spiritual vacation and let myself go to unhealthy extremes. I need help, I need direction, I need discipline. I don’t like it, but I need it.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Jesus There are people who need to hear about how much you love us. Please keep me healthy, physically, mentally, spiritually so that I can be useful to you.

(Originally posted 1/4/16)

A tool- not a trophy

A very long time ago a man who is gifted in the prophetic gifts gave a bible verse to Mary and me. He gave us more than one but as I was reading through 1 Corinthians 16 I saw it and remembered that day.

The verse is 9 but I will put it in context and add some at the beginning. This is Paul speaking to his congregation at Corinth.

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

This verse and this event take me back to a time when my belief was new and exciting and scary. God spoke to me then through this man, a prophet. He is speaking now through the Bible and through other believers but it isn’t as specific as that verse was to me that day.

I don’t know how that verse has been fulfilled in my life, at the time, it made me think of mass evangelism but that isn’t what I have done. I raised a family. I worked and lived and Mary and I stayed married. I haven’t started any churches like Paul did. I served in one, the same one for about 32 years.

This verse though makes me think of another verse that explains my life a little better.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

This verse makes me think that God isn’t a trophy maker, He is a tool maker. When we are saved he changes us into tools that he can then use to enlarge His kingdom.

As a electrician I know that every job requires specific tools to get the job done.

Father God, May I be one of those in Your hands today.

(Originally posted 1/04/17)

Broken vessels

We sang this today at church. It was very meaningful to me. As much as I tell other people how much Jesus loves them, sometimes I forget that he loves me too.

“Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)”

All these pieces

Broken and scattered

In mercy gathered

Mended and whole

Empty handed

But not forsaken

I’ve been set free

I’ve been set free

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind but now I see

Oh I can see it now

Oh I can see the love in Your eyes

Laying yourself down

Raising up the broken to life

You take our failure

You take our weakness

You set Your treasure

In jars of clay

So take this heart, Lord

I’ll be Your vessel

The world to see

Your love in me

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind but now I see

[As we sang this next part my mind replayed a video of Jesus’ crucifixion, the part where he was unceremoniously flopped onto the cross,his gaze met mine, his expression was not of anger or pain or disgust, but of pure love ]

Oh I can see it now

Oh I can see the love in Your eyes

Laying yourself down

Raising up the broken to life

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind but now I see

Oh I can see it now

Oh I can see the love in Your eyes

Laying yourself down

Raising up the broken to life

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind but now I see

Oh I can see it now

Oh I can see the love in Your eyes

Laying yourself down

Raising up the broken to life

[Jesus died to save us sinners. He did it, he died, because he loves us. He loves you and he loves me.]

(Originally posted 12/3/16)

Living in beyond

I want to live beyond.

It’s a longing of my soul that nothing here can satisfy, no drink can slake my thirst.

Part of the call is a call to adventure. Mary and I took a trip to Italy, that’s how it looked on paper. What we really did was answer a call to an adventure.

I recently read this quote by Chesterton “an adventure by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing we choose”. Mary and I have had many late night talks about going back but if we do, it would be a trip we planned, not an adventure. I keep watching and waiting to hear adventure call again. Two years before that we went on the adventure of recording her album. An adventure has at its core, a greater purpose, a bigger story where even if our role is only as an extra, or a gaffer, (whatever that is, I’ve seen it in movie credits) we are part of a bigger story.

I said that I want to live beyond, not the great beyond necessarily, I would gladly go there, but while I’m still in this body on this planet with all of you, I want to live in the beyond. I want to live beyond hopeful, and be confident. (Right now if my wife is reading this she’s probably thinking “I’d settle for hopeful”, I tend to be doubtful). I think this is new thing.

I want to live beyond thankful and I’m not sure what that is, possibly generous? Generously.

I want to live beyond forgiven. What is that? Forgive-ing? There are more of these than i can think of now, living beyond, and I’m hoping that I live the rest of my days in the beyond.

It starts with feeling like this about God.

“Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.”

Psalm 66:5,8-9

Starting at grateful but living beyond it, worshipful? My acts of worship sometimes focus on the warm fuzzies I get when I touch the heart of God, those are so beautiful, I always cry…then the snot. Being so grateful that worship becomes my normal. But actually focusing on blessing God with my worship, without the hoping and planning for what it does for me.

Anyway, If were going to say how I want this next year to be different, that would be to start living in the beyond, and maybe my adventure will never take me outside the boundaries of my life now, but it will be moving into something new. I can feel spring breezes of change faintly blowing in my soul already, scented with petunias and pines and ocean sprays and I can faintly hear the babble of babies and rivers and i hear the unfamiliar languages of the angels.

Beyond is calling, no, Jesus is calling, he is calling me to begin to live beyond…

(Originally posted 1/3/18)

(and what if this present were the world’s last night?)

The second coming of Jesus. Boom. It’s all over. Everything stops where it is. Game play is over. No more scoring, no time outs. Banks closed. Accounts closed. all eyes closed. Last call. It’s over. The curtain is closed and the theater seats are all empty. All traffic stops. Waves stop. Wind stops. Water stops. It is over.

Naw, we don’t believe in that anymore. He said he was coming back, that was over 2 millennia ago, just in case I said that wrong, over 2000 years ago. It isn’t going to happen. Evolution will take its course, mankind will probably end itself, God won’t have anything to do with it.

Maybe.

This year in the last two weeks so many friends and family had people dying in their families that I almost resorted to copying and pasting my condolences. Most of them were older folks which somehow don’t shock or surprise me as much when they pass. Two of these people were my contemporaries, one, 5 years older, and another 5 years younger. These deaths chomped down on my life like cemetery gates, one behind me and one before me, making me feel very vulnerable and frail and sad.

Maybe the apocalypse Jesus spoke of won’t come. Or if it is coming, maybe it’s in another 2000 years. There is an end that is coming to each of us. We really don’t know when. I am writing this on new year’s day, many folks will be a little mentally foggy due to the celebration excellerent, fluid or otherwise, that was consumed last night so this may sound like doom and gloom, I don’t want it to. I do want it to sober me up.

In C.S. Lewis’ book “The World’s Last Night”, the title article is placed last in the book. Lewis discusses the subject of the apocalyptic teaching of Jesus.

On the last two pages of the last chapter, the last 4 paragraphs sobered me up and I wasn’t hung over.

Every man has an end. God’s word says at that end there is judgement.

“Our ancestors had a habit of using the “Judgement” in the this context as if it meant simply “punishment”: hence the popular expression, “It’s judgement on him.” I believe we can sometimes render the thing more vivid to ourselves by taking judgement in a stricter sense: not as the sentence or award but as the verdict. Some day (and “What if this present were the World’s last night?”) an absolutely correct verdict – if you like, a perfect critique – will be passed on what each of us is.

We have all encountered judgments or verdicts on ourselves in this life. Every now and then we discover what our fellow creatures really think of us. I don’t of course mean what they tell us to our faces: that we usually have to discount. I am thinking of what we sometimes overhear by accident or of the opinions about  us which our neighbors or employees or subordinates unknowingly reveal in their actions: and of the terrible, or lovely, judgements artlessly betrayed by children or or even animals. Such discoveries can be the bitterest or sweetest experiences we have. But of course both the bitter and the sweet are limited by our doubt as to the wisdom of those who judge. We always hope that those who so clearly think us cowards or bullies are ignorant and malicious; we always fear that those who trust us or admire us are misled by partiality. I suppose the experience of the Final Judgement (which may break in upon us at any moment) will be like these little experiences, but magnified to the Nth.

For it will be infallible judgement. If it is favorable we shall have no fear, if unfavorable, no hope, that it is wrong. We shall not only believe, we shall know, know beyond doubt in every fiber of our appalled or delighted being, that as the Judge has said, so we are: neither more nor less nor other. WE shall perhaps even realize that in some dim fashion we could have known it all along. We shall know and all creation will know too: our ancestors, our parents, our wives or husbands, our children. The unanswerable and (by then) self-evident truth about each will be known to all.

I do not find that pictures of physical catastrophe – that sign in the clouds, those heavens rolled up like a scroll – help one so much as the naked idea of Judgement. We cannot always be excited. We can, perhaps, train ourselves to ask more and more often how the thing which we are saying or doing (or failing to do) at each moment will look when the irresistible light streams in upon it; that light which is so different from the light of this – and yet, even now, we know just enough of it to take it into account. Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us: to dress our souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer.”

How much of what I do or not do, what I say,  will be suitable to the “light that will last longer”? My end may not come at the apocalyptic end of all things, it may be much sooner.

What Lewis says here of judgement, “a perfect critique – will be passed on what each of us is.”, it is not what we have done, but who we are, what we are.

I guess that is why I used the word sobered instead of scared when describing how it feels to look at death and dying. I am a child of God. He has adopted me into his family, not because I have done anything to earn it, but because Jesus his son purchased my adoption by dying on the cross. He then made a way for me to live forever by rising from the dead and proving his power over death. My judgement will be as one who is already part of the family. My victories and failures can’t alter my place in God’s family.

Jesus talks about this and it is recorded in Matthew chapter 25.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The very first thing the King will do is separate the sheep and the goats. I am sheepishly a follower of Jesus, and a child of the King. You can be too.

Doing the right thing doesn’t make a sheep a goat. A sheep will do sheep things, a goat will do goat things and not do sheep things. We as a race are all born goats. A sheep is born a sheep, not by natural birth but by a spiritual birth through belief in Jesus.

In Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome he said this: ” 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. 10 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.”

The end is coming, it may be a collective end, or it may be an individual end. I believe the end will also bring a day or judgement or as Lewis says, a verdict, not of what we have done but what we are, I am a sheep. What are you?

 

 

For the new year

From C.S. Lewis

I am reading a book by C.S.Lewis called “the world’s last night” in it is a short article called “religion and Rocketry”. The article discusses the possibility of life outside our planet and the implications of that possibility to Christianity. Many who don’t believe in God or in Christ use this possibility as an argument against both God as creator and his son Jesus as redeemer. I recommend reading the book and especially this short article.

Lewis asks 5 questions, I was most provoked to thought by question 3.

“If there are any rational species other than man, are any or all of them, like us, fallen? This is the point that non-christians always seem to forget. They seem to think that the incarnation implies some particular merit or excellence in humanity. But of course it implies the reverse: a particular demerit or depravity. No creature that deserved redemption would need to be redeemed. They that are whole need not the physician. Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it. Notice what waves of utterly unwarranted hypothesis these critics of Christianity want us to swim through. We are now supposing the fall of hypothetically rational creatures whose mere existence is hypothetical!”

Paul in his letter to the believers in Rome said this: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:6-8 NIV

We don’t have to be good for God to love us. He just does. He came to earth not that he needed us but that we need him.

It is a new year today, 2020. I am struggling for new ways to say the same old thing. Right now I’m gazing at our beautiful Christmas tree completely covered in sparkles and shiny and color. Light is refracted and reflecting every which way. I’m thinking that If I could turn a phrase like a twisting ornament and flash truth just right so it can sparkle into a heart and mind so that someone understands in a new way, the love that God has shown us in sending us Jesus, that would be a fantastic gift to end this Christmas season and start a new year.

Is it you today?