Friday, October 26, 2007

It's the journey that counts

So I just finished reading The Kid Who Climbed Everest" written by Bear Grylis (most known for his TV shot Man vs. Wild). It was a riveting read and I think I even surprised my wife at how fast I plowed through the book.

Bear remarked that after his climb when people found out he climbed Everest, the most common question that would follow was "did you summit?" Bear said that he hated that question because it implied that nothing mattered except making the summit. That all the training, the pain, the overcoming of extreme difficulties were all for 'not' unless he summited.

I was stopped by this comment and how it parallels the Christian life in some ways. So many of us, myself included, seem fixated on "arriving" - coming to that place in our lives where we have finally become all that God has for us. Here's the truth though - we will never arrive or "summit" as it were, until we are perfected in heaven. In truth, our lives on earth will more closely resemble Bear's battle to summit Everest. It's a constant striving, filled with successes and failures, times of unbelievable joy and times of failure. We will only grow as we are tested, tried and refined. This reminds me of another quote I just read uttered by golfer professional golfer Johnny Miller;

"It's not what you achieve in life that counts, but what you overcome."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Speechless

Consider:
- Every second the sun burns up 4 million tons of its own mass - releasing energy equivalent to 100 billion hydrogen bombs exploding...EVERY SECOND.
- Although the sun is losing 4 million tons of its own mass every second, scientists estimate it will las another 5 or 6 billion years.
- Our sun is actually just an average-sized star in our galaxy, one of at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.
- Of those 100 billion stars in our galaxy, only about 6000 are visible by the nake eye, and of these only 2000 can be seen from any one point. In a well-lit city, you can probably only see about 100 stars.
- There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone and again, scientists estimate that there are as many as 140 billion other galaxies, many of them bigger than ours.
- In our visible universe alone, there are 10x, that's TEN TIMES more stars than there are grains of sand on all the world's beaches and deserts combined.








Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created

Psalm 148:1-5

(information gathered from Facedown, by matt Redman, chapter 6)

Growing Up...

Maturity and Completeness; how many of you would like to become more "mature?" How about becoming more "complete?" How about developing "perseverance?" Or what about the ultimate, "not lacking anything?" I have found the secret to unlocking these character traits in your life; the problem? It requires sacrifice.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)

As I've been going through my "valley," these two words have helped me cope; "maturity" and "completeness." It would be extremely selfish and self-centered for me to think that God caused all these things in my life just so that I would benefit from them. Still, at the very least, He has allowed them to take place. From the reading above, it is clear to me that one of the reasons trials come our way is to grow us. When we face trials, it tests our faith and develops in us perseverance. As James says, that perseverance will lead us to become more mature and more complete. Those two words have helped me face the difficult times of life which I find myself in now.

I'm not at the point where I am rejoicing at these trials, but knowing that they are making me more mature and complete does help me to continue on in the journey.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lessons from the Valley

So, it seems like lately most of my posts have been about the hard side of life. Perhaps some of you can relate to it?

- We find out our house needs to be re-stained (the exterior)...expensive
- My Mother unexpectadly passes away (still dealing with this grief)
- My car's A/C goes out...need a new compressor but can't/won't pay for it now
- The following week, my car's rear brakes go out
- The week after that, in addition to an oil change, my car's master cyllinder goes out
- Then we discover a leak in our master bathroom: tear out the toilet, the vinyl, the sub-floor, cut a hole in the ceiling of the bathroom below us, etc...
- Then on Tuesday we find out our furnace is in such bad condition, that the guy who came out to service it can't even hook it back up...we need a new furnace.
So what started out as "one of those days" turned into "one of those weeks" which has now turned into "one of those seasons of life." During this time, many thoughts have struck me which I pass on to you.

1) The true measure of a person is found in how they face trials. Anyone can look good, be good, act good during good times...but how much faith and trust do you have in difficult times?
2) In the same sense, anyone can love their friends...but how many of us can love our enemies?
3) My relationship with Christ remains stronger then ever and my relationship with my wife is solid. If those two things are in order, then life is good.
4) When the stress level goes up, the prayer and physical exercise must also go up. As one person put it, "when you increase the 'drains' in your life, you must also increase the 'fills.' "
5) Keep life simple when things get rough; read the Bible, pray, go for a walk, eat well and get some exercise (which I haven't been doing), and try to keep things in perspective.
6) Remember that we worship a God who can literally "calm the storm." Also remember that for whatever reason, He allows times of testing and trials. Try and grow during these times.
7) Count your blessings. I have a great wife, a great marriage, a great house and a job, I have my health, I have family...the list goes on. Always, count your blessings.

How about you? What lessons have you learned from the valley? Share them!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Can't Wait for Tomorrow

I can't wait for worship tomorrow. Why? Tomorrow is communion Sunday, and I am always motivated to worship as we reflect on the immense sacrifice our Savior offered for our lives. You see, worship is first and foremost a response on our part; a response to who God is and what He has done. I don't think I will ever come close to understanding the full depth of Calvary.

It was a good week, but Thursday and Friday were tough for a number of reasons, but mainly because I miss my Mom. It is surreal, thinking that I no longer have a Mother alive on this planet. It brings a sense of loneliness that is something I haven't experienced before. I share this because this, too, is another reason I can't wait for tomorrow. You see, when I take time to remember and reflect on the cross of Christ; namely, the "blood," I am forced into a heart of total thankfulness.

I just read a story about a man who was walking by a swimming pool and noticed an infant in the bottom of the pool, lifeless. The man jumped the fence, dove into the pool, rescued the young boy and resuscitated him, and returned him to his Mother who was appropriately thankful. That's what Jesus did for each of us.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col 1:13-14)

"Without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness." (Heb 9:22)

Tomorrow we are showing a short video about the blood of Jesus the kind of helps to put things in perspective. We will then take some time for silent reflection on what Jesus has done for us, followed by us singing Matt Redman's "Nothing But the Blood." I need tomorrow...and I am convinced that as I again reflect on the Blood, the Sacrifice, I will be lifted out of the pit and will respond in worship. I miss my Mom, yes, but I am also "home-sick" - home-sick for heaven, and grateful for the promise that I will soon be there.

soli deo gloria
To God Alone be the Glory

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thank you Lord...

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (1 Corinthians 1:21-22).

"This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 3:6)


I was reading these words this week when it hit me all over again; God saves. As the popular song puts it, "I was lost in utter darkness 'til you came and rescued me."

Prior to Jesus, access to God was only allowed by going through a "High Priest." Inside the Holy Place was an inner room called the Holy of Holies. Separating this room from the Holy place was a veil. Not some veil that is "see-through, like we see at weddings, but a 4" thick veil. It was renewed every year and was so strong that you could have two horses on either side pulling at this veil and it could not be torn. The word "veil" in Hebrew means "divider" or "screen." What was it dividing? It was keeping sinful man away from a Holy God.

Then Jesus comes, dies, and that veil is literally torn in two. We now have direct access to the Holy of Holies, and Jesus, who lives in all believers, has become our High Priest. Check this out;

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body …let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

Do you know what this means? Take a moment to dwell on these truths...and say with me, "Thank you Lord!" For more on this, check out this site.

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