Peter Hollens and Home Free- Amazing Grace

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Borrowed Time

I'm sitting in my mom's recliner in her living room....having taken out a tea mug and wondered which one was her favorite.  Looking through her jewelry--stuff she loved and many of them gifts to her from my father, symbols of his love--treasured by mom.  Going through her clothes to see which ones I can use and which to donate.  Things she chose.  Clothes she wore.  Her scent on them.  All ironed nicely....no matter how sick she was she ironed all their clothes.  Up until the very end when she was too weak to iron.

Mom died quietly...slipping from my father's grip to the pavement...and just like that, she was gone.  Her heart stopped and she died.  No pain.  No noise.  Jesus beckoned and she left to be with Him.  One day she was here, comfortable in her home....surrounded by the things she loved...But she left them (and the people she loved as well) without hesitation when Jesus called her name.  Like Peter leaving his nets to follow Jesus...she left it all and went with Him.

Now we are here...sifting through her treasures for  a hint of something that will make her seem more present to us.  Loving the things she loved, because she loved them.  Sad to think she is gone...but she doesn't miss any of this.  None of it.  She has all she needs met where she is and this world here is not even on her mind. 

I look forward to the day when Jesus calls me too.  I don't know when it will be. Once (when I was in my 40's) my dad predicted that I would not make it to age 50.  But here I am four years beyond that....on borrowed time?  Aren't we all on borrowed time? 


Saturday, January 7, 2017

No Room for Liars

I confess it.  I’m not always honest.  That’s a euphemism.  Truth is? I’m a liar.  Not always.  Not in big ways…but frequently I’m less than accurate.  I will bend the truth a bit to make a story a bit funnier or more impressive.  I will hide the truth to keep people from being upset about something.  These I guess are “white lies” but in God’s eyes they are black lies…ranking right along with dishonest scales--robbing the poor.

I was shaken to my core recently.  I read in a list of evil doers those who would not be found in Heaven “All Liars.”  (Revelation 21:8) Not “only liars who deceive people for personal gain.” Not “liars who wrongly implicate innocent people in a crime they did not commit.”  Not “liars who defame their enemies and spread tales about them that are not true.”

For sure.  Those liars will “get theirs”…but ALL LIARS?? The ones who lie to keep people from being hurt?

Yup.

Liars like me.  Guess what? You cannot be a liar and also fear the Lord.  Liars do not fear the Lord.  In Psalm 34 it says “listen you children and I will teach you the fear of the Lord…Keep your tongues from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

In the list of 7 things that God hates, liars are mentioned twice!!

This year –it is a part of my New Year’s list of things I need to work on—I’m going to stop being a liar. I want to have a place in God’s Kingdom.  I don’t want to be someone who does what God hates.  This is serious stuff folks.

Already I have seen a difference. I have asked God to help me to purify my lips…to honor truth and to seek never to mislead.  And he has helped me.  When I type something – something that is not true, he whispers to me… “Hey is that accurate? What you just wrote…Is it true?”  And I have had to go back and change my story and make it truth.  He has stopped me…lies in my mouth ready to release into the ears of my listeners…and I have changed my tune…and made it harmonize with his tune.  Once I missed the warning and I stretched truth into a lie and I didn’t catch it in time.  In that case I needed mercy and grace…and Jesus’ blood to cover my sin.

In that group of liars forming outside the gates of the New Jerusalem, wanting to be let in and finding out that their lips and tongues had disqualified them…because lying tongues have no place in the mouths of God’s children…I will not be there in that crowd.  Thank you Lord for warning me in time.  And now my friends…the onus is on you. You have read my words and now know the truth.  Question is: are you going to remain a liar? Or will you come to love Truth the way your Lord does?


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Fight behind the Fight

OK.  so maybe --if you are like me -- you are sick of hearing about the New Year and making resolutions...And maybe like me, you made some undercover resolves or goals...and now, now, 4 days later the going gets down and dirty.  How many of your resolves have survived Over-the-Hump Day?  I confess there was one resolution I made which honestly, I never had any desire or inkling to do.  Exercise.  Yeah...dirty word to you too?  There was a time--In 2010 and 2011 when getting sweaty and breathless was such a turn on.  I got pumped doing that more than by any other thing.  But that elation only comes a week or two in opposition to the teeth gritting, feet dragging reluctance.  It definitely a case for Hebrews 12:1-3 (from the Message)
 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Is it a stretch to compare exercise with the cross?  Well certainly if taken literally it is.  But if you look at the fundamentals.  comfort/effort, complacency/drivenness, laziness/hard work and the pay offs: self discipline, satisfaction, self control, strength, pride in accomplishment, eternal rewards (for exercise? Yes...Paul said training physically is of some benefit and I think that benefit lies right where I'm going with this.)  Altogether it is a matter of slaying the flesh.  Not your body's flesh. No --fat must go, strength must come!  But we must slay the flesh that says "I'm too comfortable right here in this recliner.....my show is on the TV in a minute....I have to finish this bag of chips...."  And we press on for a higher, now hidden benefit.  And that friends....when you face your demons and work until your muscles quiver in fatigue...that is when the flesh dies and the spirit WINS.

And the same goes for your goal to read more in the Bible.  Maybe you have  a specific goal: like reading the Bible in a year; or reading the New Testament in a year; or maybe just a chapter in Proverbs each day for a month.  Here too...you must face all the screaming demons of distraction....the eyelids that close because they Just. Can't. Stay. Open. for. Another. Minute....you get the picture.  We've all been there.  But here too your spirit must fight your flesh and OVERCOME (1 John 4: 4-5   You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. )  And the "they" in this passage can refer to your laziness, your comfort, your bag o'chips...and yes, your exhaustion.)

Please note that I'm preaching to myself as well as to you. I'm not saying "look, follow my sterling example."  Nope.  I've not done a lick of exercise and yesterday was feeling overwhelmed by my memorization goals....and I confess, I took the day off to regroup.   As I went back to it today, I have to say, I feel better for having taken that breather.  And I think that is ok.  We are not pate' foi gras.  You cannot forcefeed yourself....only take bites that you can swallow.  Don't try to run a mile on Day one.  Don't try to read Romans in one sitting!!!

What you and I both need to do is to accurately assess where we are at right now.  Me? I haven't walked farther than my kitchen in a very long time.  I would not even make it down my driveway were I going to try to take a walk.  And then design and mastermind your plan.  Start with an achievable goal.  Like ten minutes of exercise per day for a week.  It sounds like nothing right? Just wait til you try it!!  You will awaken all the comfy demons in your muscles and incite every distraction in the book....it is JUST AS HARD to do ten minutes as it is to do a half hour.  You may find, (if you are in better shape than I) that once you get moving, you kind of like it and want to do more.  Go with that! Just don't over do it so much that you are too sore to do it again tomorrow!

And, in your pursuit of your goal, I encourage you: JOURNAL, keep a written record of your journey....even if it is just a log of the exercises and the numbers of sets, reps, and weights....Assess your new found strengths and take joy in putting them to good work.  And when your motivation flags...look over that record...see how far you've come and ask yourself if you really want to quit now? or are you up for another day.  Just one day.  Just today.  That's all you ever have to exercise, memorize, read, or diet.  JUST TODAY.

I encourage you too to keep tabs on your spiritual gains as well....for example: Do you find it easier to say no to distractions that would hold you back from your goals? Is your awareness more tuned in to the spiritual battle inside?  Are you better equipped when the enemy comes whispering in your ear?  Journal it. Pray it ....PRAISE God for it!  God go with you on your journey. Fight the good fight.