Archive for May, 2009

What really matters?

I visited today with a friend and brother who suffered a mental breakdown recently. For almost a month he wasn’t answering the phone or the door; and when he did answer the phone he just sounded like a stranger.

Talking to him today about our friendship and how I and others at church love him, I felt very led to help him see that what is important in our lives are never, ever, the tangible things. Sure we like hugs, we love to have our wives, husbands, daughters and sons around to touch and kiss and so on. But, none of these things can exist or happen without the existence of the intangibles: love, peace, hope, joy, sympathy, time, kindness, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness, and an almost endless list of things.

None of these things can be bought, sold or hoarded. Neither can they be recovered when lost between two people. No, all these things are gifts from God that we must SHARE with one another.

Pity the man or woman who has no friends, no hope, no joy. No matter how rich or successful or famous a person is, they need these intangible things. You won’t live very long without them because they are the elements of life itself. A hateful, angry and selfish person isn’t really living anyway.

These gifts are best appreciated, when they are given and not deserved, given by someone who suffers in order to share them, and when they are returned in mercy.

Seems we all have a measure of God’s grace given to us to treasure by sharing, or lose by not caring.

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”
(Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV)

“Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. ”
(Proverbs 15:16-17 ESV)

Naked Truth – with Tact

Everyone knows that we, as believers in Christ, are to be honest and forthright in all things. In fact, I believe the Bible to be self validating for that very reason. God shows His vulnerability to rejection, His disappointment with mankind, and His deep and unfathomable love for His fallen creatures.

Peter endears himself to many, I believe, because he never holds himself up as anything but a bumbling servant of the Lord. None of the Gospels portrays him as anything but a brash, cocky and believably human anti-hero. Yet, God incarnate trusted him with the gospel, the very Plan of God to rescue mankind from the kingdom of darkness.

These goofballs that Christ chose to be with Him (Mark 3:13) proved over and over again to be forgetful, dense and even selfishly childish.  But, if nothing else, it shows that Jesus really did win at Calvary. His victory over Sin and Death did not depend on these men. Rather these men became the forerunners of the news that God had won!

How anyone can see the Bible as a made-up tale shows their own dishonesty, I believe. God’s heroes are often shown to be weak and fallible men, just like us. From Noah and Job, and to Gideon and David we see men greatly used by God in spite of their failures. Yet God shows that even they had to pay for their sins. Sin is a law that is as sure as gravity and death. And God pulls no punches. He lays the history of Israel’s constant disobedience bare. And yet His patience is so great. Yes, He punishes wayward Israel and Judah. But, He always longs for them to simply acknowledge Him and repent of their own misguided ways.

All that to say this.

While God and others show us that honesty is the best policy, we are advised to be wise and harmless also. If a person selling their house offers, on their own initiative, that they have had problems with water in the basement and bats in the attic, does that make you feel this person is someone you can trust? Or do you  immediately wonder if the person has any common sense?

A person selling a car won’t convince you to buy it if they honestly tell you about the myriad issues they’ve had with it. But, it would certainly impress you to see someone being so selfless in being that honest. When people see that we are who we say we are, it disarms them and causes them to be more comfortable around us. If we are up front about our weaknesses and confess that we share someones problems ourselves, it creates a sense of sharing. But, if we share with someone that we hear God speaking to us (even if it’s true), that will certainly cause the force-fields to come up.

God, in His wisdom, shows us all the warts and bruises of His ongoing work to redeem makind. Yet He never becomes less than an omnipotent, ever present and all-knowing God. He shows us His soft side, His angry side and His frustrated side. But, if you really read the Bible for what it is, God’s love letter and escape plan, you see that He never, ever does or says anything that doesn’t first prove His merciful patience and forbearing nature.

Are we really thankful?

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I am more and more convinced that we, as American believers, have yet to really understand what it means to be thankful. It is easy to be thankful when things are comfortable and maybe just a bit inconvenient.

I wrote this quickly this morning because it encapsulates what I woke up thinking. Please, forgive the crude poetry:

Thankful?

When morning comes and calls “Wake up!”

Do we rejoice in God’s great love?

Do we appreciate our nice soft beds,

And the shelter over our sleepy heads?

What if, by God’s own will and plan,

our jobs and homes were lost to man?

If we awoke beside a street,

Where people walk with hurried feet,

Would we still feel thankful?

If we had no idea what we’d have for breakfast,

lunch, or supper…

Would we still praise God and happily suffer?