Monday, October 31, 2011

Soul Sucking or Soul Inflating

Are you a pleasant person to be around? After spending time with you do people leave refreshed or are they worn out? When someone reads your FB, Twitter or blog posts are they leaving with their spirits raised or drained? This is a hard question to have to think about, let alone have to answer. I have been thinking about it lately and maybe this is helpful.

I have a few friends on FB that I really don't like reading their posts; not because I don't like them or I would just un-friend them, but rather the posts are most often negative, life stinks, people are mean or this or that is stupid. I understand that there are many trials and hurts in this life, really I do. I understand that many times people don't do the right thing and if given the opportunity it often seems like they do the wrong thing more often than the right. But is it helpful for anyone to complain about the situation or the person?

I think this is a good start to living and talking differently.
Ps. 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

As a parent we give our kids many opportunities to do and say the right thing. We teach them to say "please" and "Thank-you", we try to encourage good manners, and in doing so we are hoping that they become thankful, positive people. I mean after all, they have been given so much compared to so many others it is obvious, to us at least, that they should be thankful and positive; right? We correct them when they are complaining because there is so much to be thankful for- you know the whole "Starving children in Africa" deal. Well it's true with us as well.

We do have much to be thankful for. If the line at the airport is long- well it's better than driving. If the car is breaking down- you have had the pleasure of driving instead of walking. If the kids are crying- you are blessed to have a generation to mold and shape. If you are having to work late or early- you have work and are getting paid. There is so much to be thankful for and so much to have joy over that we must guard our hearts to be ever praising and thankful to the Giver.

Sorry this might sound a little Pollyanna-ish but how are we different from anyone else if all the world sees is someone who complains about the circumstance we are currently in? We're not. If people leave from talking to us and have their souls sucked out of them, it won't be long and we won't have an audience or influence with them.

Try today to forget not all His benefits. Try today to have His praise continually in your mouth and then let it out. See if that makes a difference for your own soul as well as the souls around you. I'd like to hear if it makes a difference.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Expectant Father Awaits

Our daughter and 10 week old grandson were just here for a week and we put them on a plane yesterday headed back to NC, home and husband/daddy. I really hate "Goodbyes" about as much as anything in life. Especially considering the amount of those I have done in my life you would think I would be used to them by now, but-no.

One of the things that Kimmy said before she left was that it is easier to leave knowing she has Ian on the other side and they were looking forward to being together again. I am sure the reunion was sweet with those 2 as well as Ian with his little man. But is there a picture of the heart of God in prayer there for us in both of those relationships? I think so.

The Song of Songs gives us so many illustrations of the Beloved and Lover coming back together from the world and just enjoying the sweet fellowship that the world takes away. And the love of the Father is shown often throughout Scripture as His children come to Him. That picture is not left in the pages of Scripture though and is still available today through prayer.

Imagine, dream and realize that our Father awaits us coming to Him in prayer. Often the cares and lure of the world take us away from prayer and fellowship with Him. We are busy with life and doing so many "good" things, but He delights in the prayers of His children as much, even more, than we are excited to be reunited with the ones we love. His love for us is unconditional and perfect and He desires to have sweet fellowship with us through prayer.

Don't be drawn away too long. Don't let the enemy's lies of the picture of the impatient Father steal your time away. Don't be too busy with the work to go to the Source of strength. Don't be proud and pretend to not need Him. He is waiting and He loves you and is excited for you to come to Him.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Outcome is Secure

Sometimes it is difficult to know why we are in a certain set of circumstances; why someone has died, or is very sick, why our job situation is indefinite or non-existant, the reasons behind family disunity or friendships ending. We can't see the end and often we are left just seeing and feeling the pain of the right now, and it can be pervasive. At these times what should we do?

1. Remember that God is good and kind and that He has taken us, and literally thousands of generations through these kinds of times and He will not fail us now. The Israelites did this when they built an ebenezer along the paths they often walked. Can you hear them saying these kinds of things to their children? "This one here is for when God brought us over that huge sea, and can you imagine that we walked through the middle of that water and the ground was dry?", or "This is the place where God delivered us from..." They told their children's children these stories because they, both kids and parents alike, need to be reminded.

2. Speak to each other in song, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in your hearts towards God. This is all kinds of speech reminding us to be joyful in God. Reciting God's Word and promises to each other. We quickly forget what someone says and Satan is good at twisting the truth around and if we continue to rehearse Truth to each other we will be encouraged as will others.

3. Remind ourselves that we don't have to know the outcome, all we have to know is that the outcome is secure. If you know the outcome of a game before you watch it, doesn't it take away all the anxiety? I mean, if you know your team wins, it doesn't matter how far down they are at the start of the game, you can sit back and say "This is really gonna be fun to watch how they come back". Our "win" is secured if we are in Christ. He supplies the strength and there is nothing that can separate us from His love, which is the "win". So it doesn't matter if "friends may fail me, foes assail me- He my Stength my victory wins". It doesn't matter, eternally speaking, if we lose a job, friend, family member or are faced with any other trial in our lives, what matters is that He is in control and we can rest in Him.

Rest in His care today. Encourage someone in His faithful care. Recite His Word to yourself and others. Conform the god in your head to the God of the Bible. He is for us so no one can be against us.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wheel of Time

Yesterday morning a young and ambitious 33 year old Dan Wheldon got up, full of life, full of adrenaline and full of hope. He had the opportunity to win a $5 million dollar prize if he went fast enough. His wife and small children may have said "goodbye" to him as he went off to drive a million plus dollar car around a circle at up to 225 mph. This is what was on his mind "This is going to be an amazing show. The two championship contenders, Dario Franchitti and Will Power, are starting right next to each other in the middle of the grid. Honestly, if I can be fast enough early in the race to be able to get up there and latch onto those two, it will be pure entertainment. It's going to be a pack race, and you never know how that's going to turn out." He didn't know if his car was fast enough having said it was about 3 mph slower than the leaders.

Like everyone on this planet, we all have a "time wheel" that we get on and get off. The "wheel" of time spins constantly and we get on when we are born and we get off when it's our time. Some have a much longer time on the wheel than others, but we all get on and we all get off. Tragically, yesterday was Dan Wheldon's time to get off.

A much loved member of the racing community, Wheldon, who is said to "Always speaks positively of others and was a friend to many", is now off the "Wheel of Time" but what is he off to? Many think that once life is over it's just over. Over to what? We each have a soul and we all live forever, but to what end do we live? That is a choice that we make while we are on "the wheel".

There is no career that can keep us either living well for eternity or dying hard for the same. There is no amount of niceties that we can give others, not compliments, no friendship or even money given away that set our course for eternity; just our love. Not are WE lovely, but Whom we love.

If things like cars, people, houses, airplanes and the like, crowd out the most important person from our lives then for eternity we will be dying hard. But if in the time we have on "the wheel" we love One Who first loved us and love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, above all others and above all things, then we will live the most thrilling eternity we can't even image, at least not until we get off "The Wheel".

This is 2 posts in a row surrounded by death. 2 important people from the world's eyes, from a wife's eyes and especially a kids eyes. We live, life is hard, and then we die. There are no exceptions. Some do have an easier life, but all die sooner or later and then comes eternity and judgment. What/Who we love while on "the wheel" will decide our eternity.

I didn't personally know either Steve Jobs or Dan Wheldon but I am sure they will be missed sorely by their family and close friends, but for us, we must examine our own lives and ask if we have lived as if today might be the day we get off "the wheel". Are you ready? Not many get up in the morning and think that today might be their day. It might be for me and it might be for you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gaining Wisdom from Steve Jobs

This week an American and world icon has passed from this life to the next. Some may argue that Steve Jobs was not so great, others have set him up to be god-like. Wherever you fall in this spectrum, or anywhere in between, there is good wisdom gained in numbering our days to gain a heart of wisdom.

There are those who believe deeply about whether or not there is a life after this one; some say that when you're gone- you just go into the ground and you're done, "When you're done, you're done". Others say you go to Heaven or Hell. Some say if you're heroic in your dying you get "extra credit" or pleasure when you get to wherever they think they are going.

Again, all told, whatever you believe or don't believe it is prudent to think through what you are believing and make adjustments to your life accordingly.

Steve Jobs was worth something like $6 Billion dollars. A reminder; that is 6 thousand million dollars. Ok, so the value of the dollar is not what it used to be- that's still probably more value than some countries. The company he was in charge of had more cash this summer than the Federal Reserve and was more valuable than Exxon Mobile- the most valuable brand in the world, for a time this year. He was not thinking about if he could afford to fill up his tank, or budgeting for a weekend get away. He was rich- at least as far as this world is concerned.

So, he passed on Wednesday and I believe that he has some answering to do; we all need to do a little soul searching. Here is a man who, from a worldly perspective, "gained the whole world". There are not many who gained more than he; but what did he really gain? On Thursday "morning" for him, what had he gained? If a man gains the entire world- everything on earth was his- when he leaves this life what does he leave? Everything. Are his wife and kids financially set? Sure, but what good does it do them to gain the entire world when one day they too will leave all?

There is an old saying, "Only one life, will soon be passed. Only what's done for Christ shall last". We might have the privilege and responsibility to have gained the "entire" world, but our soul will still be required of us. "What shall it profit a man--if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26

Suppose a man does gain the whole world--
Does it keep him from trouble?
Does it give his conscience peace?
Does it comfort him in sorrow?
Does it "cushion his falling" for him when he is dying?
Does it purchase Heaven for him when he is gone?

If we went to a party that had Monopoly money and we were given $1000 when we walked through the door and were told, "Get everything you can" and so we did; how foolish would we look if we were strutting around at the end of the night thinking we were big shot, high-rollers knowing we had to give it all back when we left the party door? This illustration is intended to make us think about the futility of getting "everything" here on earth. If we could gain even all the world--at the price of our own soul, would that really be a great trade?

How many people actually go through this life and trade their soul for so much less than "the entire world"?
Some sell their soul for a few hours of guilty pleasure!
Some sell their soul for political power!
Some sell their soul for ill gotten gain!
Some sell their soul for their 15 minutes of fame.
They are selling their souls in many other ways--all for "monopoly money".

What does a man give in exchange for his soul?

There in lies the trouble. When the soul is lost--there is no way of recovering it. When we have made our choice, and lived our life, whether right or wrong--there is no possibility of changing the results! There are no "do over's" and there are no "re-set" buttons. We only go around once; if we live wrongly, there is no chance to live it over again.

There is truth in the saying, "Once your done, you're done" but not the way most people who use that saying mean it. Once we're done in this life- our souls WILL be required of us and if we choose to trade it for earthly pleasure then it is irretrievably lost.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

He does not come in the sunshine only!

I read this and I thought this might be of encouragement to some who are living in the midst of some hard trials right now.

"When they saw Him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking He was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw Him!" Mark 6:49-50

"It seems strange to us, that the disciples would ever have been afraid of their own Master. They had been in great distress all through the night--just because He was not with them. There was nothing they had desired so much all through those long dark hours--as that Jesus would come to them. Yet now, when He did come--they were in terror at the sight of Him. It was because they did not know that it was Jesus--as His very unusual presence so affrighted them.

It is ofttimes just so with us. We are in some need or danger, and Jesus does not come to us. We call upon Him, and most earnestly desire His coming; yet He does not come. At length He comes, but often it is not as we had expected--in lovely visage and gentle deportment--but in the form of terror! It is in some great trial--that He comes. Death enters our door and carries away a loved one. Or we experience some loss or some misfortune--at least it seems to us, loss or misfortune. We cry out in terror! We do not know that it is Jesus, veiled in the dark robe, who has come! We do not know that this is the answer to our prayer for His presence and His help. We are affrighted at the unusual form that moves over the waters in the dark night. We think it is new danger--when really it is the very divine love and divine help--for which we have been longing and pleading!

We ought to learn that Jesus is in every providence that comes to us. He does not come in the sunshine only; quite as frequently--it is in the dark night that He draws near. It is our duty as Christians to train ourselves to see Christ in every event. Then, whether it is sorrow or joy which knocks at our door--we shall give it loving welcome, knowing that Jesus Himself is veiled in whatever form it is, that He enters. Then we shall find, that when we welcome Him in the somber garments of affliction--He will always have a rich blessing for our lives!"

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sometimes He calms the Storm- Other times He calms His Child

"Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat!" Matthew 8:23-24

Notice the Jesus got into the boat and the disciples followed Him. Does this not teach us that as we follow Christ there may be times when we are right where God wants us, following Him, and storms will be all around us? I have thought many times over the years that the storms should be on those who are not following Him but He is the One Who directs the trials of our lives and He knows best.

Often when people get saved the believe the are entering a "club" of rest and ease and nothing could be further from the truth in this life. "All those who are godly will suffer", "When you fall into various trials..." comes to mind. Jesus never promised a bed of roses with smiley faces all around, He promised to be there and never forsake us and to never leave us more than we could handle. There are no high walls around the Christian to keep trials and hardship out, just a Comforter within to get us through.

It may be just like it often is on Lake Chelan; there can be calm water one minute and literally 20 minutes later the waves can be crashing over the bow. But Jesus is with us as we follow Him and "sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child". That is the name of a song.

Believer, trust Him as you walk and rest in His care, but know that storms will arise and you have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure as the billows roll, it's fastened to the rock that cannot move, grounded safe and sure in the Savior's love. Get in the boat, but be looking to Him for your safety, not for the water to be flat.