Where Does the Time Go?

 

Looking out the office window today (April 30) spring seems to finally be here! I’m fairly sure of this because the outside Christmas decorations just came down a couple weeks ago. Last year I threatened to just change the colors for the Fourth of July. The point, if any, of this ramble is, ‘time flies!’

Now, while this is certainly not a new revelation to anyone past birthday #30 or so, though it still seems to catch us by surprise every time a deadline sneaks up behind our busy selves.

Deadlines sneak up, but life just hurries by. After Dad suffered his first heart attack, he never allowed us to leave his house without giving us a hug. He had become keenly aware of the limits set on our times and did not want to allow opportunities to love his family slip away any more. Dad was a great guy, a good husband and father, a dedicated worker who gave his all to the task at hand; but time went by so fast!

We have no guarantees on tomorrow; we cannot retrieve even the past minute. We are certain only of the fleeting moment we are in.

If you are a believer in Christ, you should choose to make a difference for good in the moment you are in. If you do not follow Christ, you might make that choice in the moment you are in.

If you have friends or family, you have this moment to love them.

No one knows if the next moment will arrive for us, we only have now.

Colossians 4:5-6 (New Living Translation)
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.
 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.  

No Bottle Holds Time

Psalm 90 is attributed to Moses, possibly a prayer offered during one of many times when Israel rebelled during the 40 years wandering in the wilderness. It is a prayer which places sin in opposition to God’s judgment and seeks for understanding of God and life on Israel’s [and our] part.

A key verse is 12, quoted here in the NLT;
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:12 (NLT))

This is a lesson which seems to need God’s instruction if we are to understand it before we qualify for a Golden Buckeye card, if by then (55 is the magic number)!

We’ve been married 35 years; our youngest child is turning 20 this month (July). We have two wonderful grandchildren, and I have no idea where the time went!

There is a current contemporary Christian song that has a lyric seeking to use God’s gift of life well; “I want to… Love like I’m on borrowed time.” [Jason Gray: Good to Be Alive]

This song carries the beginning of wisdom to a great degree. We all tend to live like we have countless tomorrows. We plan to do things for God; ‘after I retire; when the kids are in college; after my career is on track; or my favorite, “Hey, I’m already a pastor, what more could I do?”

Yesterday I met the most beautiful girl I have ever known; today we have grandchildren; tomorrow they will graduate…

All we know of time for sure is this moment we are passing through.

All we need ask to begin to be wise is, “Am I honoring God in this moment?”

Treasure in Heaven

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It is December 14th. I just finished preparing the Worship attendance chart for 2012 for our ushers, and the above text came to mind. What probably prompted the thought was the ‘visual effect’ of marking next year Sunday by Sunday, then thinking about the swift passage of time. How much of our lives do we spend storing up that which will vanish into dust and how much storing up that treasure which is eternal?

Note the extremely important sequence of the last sentence in the passage; our hearts follow our treasure. What we value seems to determine the value and location of our heart.

Merry Christmas and Holy New Year!

God is doing perfect things

Psalms 118:14-29 (NIV)
[Ps 14] The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
[15] Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
[16] The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
[17] I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
[18] The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
[19] Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
[20] This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.
[21] I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
[22] The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
[23] the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
[24] This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
[25] O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.
[26] Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
[27] The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
[28] You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
[29] Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Above is a portion of Psalm 118, the ‘anchor’ psalm of the Passover Hallel. This psalm, sung during Passover, speaks eloquently of the work of God among and sometimes in spite of, His people. This psalm resounds as a declaration of what God is doing today in His Church around the world.

Easter Sunday morning we gathered for worship. The ‘usual’ events had taken place, a Sunrise Service, followed by a breakfast in the church basement, then Sunday School. What took place early during the worship service could not have been imagined last Easter Sunday. The events of the last three years could not have been orchestrated four or five years ago. God is moving among and through us, and we stand amazed in His presence! The Church of Christ Jesus is on the advance by the power of His Holy Spirit even in our own little corner of the world, to the glory of God and the good of His people.

Ok, as to what took place Easter Sunday; in an historic moment thirty-nine people stood and affirmed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior as they joined the Chatfield Evangelical Pietist Church. In all honesty it was the most humbling moment I’ve yet experienced in a worship service. We are not a perfect church or a perfect people, but God is doing perfect things among us!

To God be the glory, great things He does! Amen.

A Bad Day…

Exodus 5:22-6:1a, 2

Moses has this experience with God in the wilderness and reluctantly accepts the mission given to him. Moses speaks to Pharaoh on behalf of Israel and things are suddenly worse than they were before Moses was sent to Egypt. Have you ever gone to a conference or renewal service and taken a new hold on God’s calling for you? Have you ever then experienced unexpected problems as you ‘get busy’ for God? Consider God’s servant Moses. He was rejected by Pharaoh. His own people, so enthusiastic when he first came back (see Ex. 4:31), now turned on him with a vengeance (see Ex. 5:21). Now Moses turns to God, nobody else will listen! Listen to his heart’s cry. Why are You doing this? Why did You send me? Why are You not keeping Your promise..?

Ever been there? Is that your address lately? God does not remain silent, and what He says to Moses is as true today as at that moment. At the bottom of Moses’ confidence, at the height of his despair, God speaks: 6:1a, “Now you shall see what I will do…” It isn’t Moses’ plan, or Larry’s plan, or your plan; it is God’s plan. In our weakness, even in our failures, His strength is made known and that to His glory, not ours. In 6:2 Moses is reminded, as are we, God is the Lord, the purpose is His. If you continue to read beyond the text cited above, you will learn that Moses does not become an overnight sensation, he still harbors self doubt, but he goes forward as instructed by the only One who can say “I am the Lord”, and prove it.

Advent Thoughts

Once again we begin the ‘holiday’ season. Below is a fairly succinct definition of the noun “holiday”.

holy day

  1. a day of freedom from labor; day set aside for leisure and recreation
  2. Chiefly Brit. a period of leisure or recreation; vacation
  3. a day set aside by law or custom for the suspension of business, usually in commemoration of some event (from Your Dictionary .com)

Now, this is fairly similar to many other dictionaries definition, though the order and specific wording will vary. What is interesting with this entry is the devolution from ‘holy day’ to ‘A day set aside by law or custom’.

Just remember the source when we grit our Christian teeth over the current “PC” effort to avoid anything remotely Christian about the season we call Advent. The world is lost, often with great intentionality. The fact that our consumer driven economy must have Christmas to survive simply does not equate with understanding why there is a Christmas. We as believers are supposed to reflect on the need of Jesus’ first Advent during this season, namely our sinful nature which needs redemption and conversion. We should turn our eyes upon Jesus, rather than spending time and energy scolding unbelievers because they don’t get it. Remember, this is also a time of great depression for many who have despaired of meaning in this life. It would be a shame to focus on winning the culture war and forget about the lost in the culture.

Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Day season!

New Territory

Just outside the office window a new drive is being made. It is noisy; a hint of asphalt is in the air. The drive is ‘new territory’ for the new building we will move into, some day, God willing, after the blizzard of paperwork has finally blown itself out and reconstruction of the library into the sanctuary is completed. The drive goes past the main door of the building, the idea is ease of access, a drop off place in bad weather, and handicapped parking will line one side. In short, the effort is to make the place more inviting to come to. Our hope and prayer is to live out the Gospel of Jesus in this community in what we say and do, to be an inviting people; a part of the Body of Christ in the new territory God sends us to.

I hope we get this, that the new drive will invite someone into the building, but only our being a new people in Christ will bring them back.

The bedrock of the drive is limestone. Our bedrock is now, and always must be, Christ. The drive will last as long as the bedrock is solid…

The Bible and Golf

(read James 1:19-27 note: there is no mention of golf!)

Ok, ever heard this one? How are the Bible and golf alike?

  • Well, they both seem boring from the outside looking in.
  • The rules for both seem mystifying and unknowably complicated (to be fair, the rules of golf are harder to understand!).
  • They both seem to take too long to get through (again, from the outside).
  • They both are decidedly different (as in much better) than those first impressions once you experience them.
  • Both take a level of dedication that is more than passing if you are going to get anything out of them.

From here on the two diverge, as paths in a forest.

Golf is a game one can enjoy for most of a lifetime, no more or less.

The Bible is God’s Word given to guide us to redemption and service to Him in this life, and joy everlasting eternally, both now and in the risen life to come.

Again, to be fair, understanding the Bible is easier than mastering golf! When we approach God’s Word with a prayerful heart and mind, He speaks to us by the agency of the Holy Spirit, not because of our mastery of divine insight.

In the game of golf, I get out what I put in; in the Bible I get out what God puts in, now that’s a good handicap!

The Work Goes On

Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)

3 I thank my God every time I remember you.
4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul is writing to the Church in Philippi, a congregation near to his heart and involved in his mission. The greeting is a joyful one of partnership in the Gospel; whatever warts and spots the Church there had, they were positively engaged in what really matters, spreading the Good News of Jesus. At the core of Paul’s joy in this bunch of folks is faith in the Lord of the Church, the One who began the good work in them, and who will carry it forward in until the finish line is crossed.

Are spiritual descendants of this Church still engaged in ministry? No doubt they are, we may be confident of this, even as Paul, and for the same good reason; the work belongs to the One who begins it! No Church is without flaws and disagreements. We are all susceptible to being side-tracked by passing things. Our challenge is to remain focused on the work begun so long ago in Christ Jesus, being heralds of the invitation He proclaims as clearly today through the obedient Church as He did on the byways and in the towns and villages of Palestine;

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:14-15 (NIV)

37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. Acts 10:37-38 (NIV)

Will we proclaim, in deed and word, any less?

“I Read it My Way!”

OK, so some guys decide to get together in like a Bible study group. They get really interested in ‘the neat stuff’ in The Revelation and start to drift towards adding a lot of ‘what if’s’ to what they are reading. One day one of them says, “Hey, there’s this really neat verse where Jesus tells his disciples to buy swords!” “Oh, wow! How cool is that!” is the general response. Next thing you know, guys are out in the woods training with assault rifles and planning to instigate the Second Coming all by themselves. Where to begin; how about this, ‘Christian militia’ is an oxymoron, at least in terms of how we understand militia in the United States today; trust me, as an evangelical Christian, that’s not who we are or who we should be. Here’s another thought; reading the Bible to justify my pet peeves, defend my favorite ‘ism’ or simply to prove I’m right and everyone else is wrong is dangerous, self deceiving, and, dare we say, sinful.

When we read the Bible, we begin with prayer, and how we pray is critical. We should not pray, “Lord help me use your Word to make my point.” Rather, we should pray, “Lord open Your Word to me and show me Your way, truth, and life.” To put this as concisely as I am able, pulling a verse from its larger context is simply a pretext to justify my predetermined intent. The Bible is not a designer book, to be packaged to appeal to my whims; it is the Word of the Living God, given to us for His purposes, not ours.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)