Friday, April 29, 2011

The Wedding...

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you are certainly aware that story #1 in the world today is the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. I admit, while I'm not very interested in the wedding, I did watch a 1 hour show dealing with some of the preparations for the wedding and the dinner that will follow later. In so doing, I found myself thinking of another wedding and feast that is in the future for some of us;


6 "Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
   'Hallelujah!
   For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
   and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
   and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
   was given her to wear.'
   (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)"
 (Revelation 19:1-8)

As I was watching the preparation for the Royal wedding in London, I was taken aback by all the planning, the pageantry, the outlandish cost, the dresses, the silver, flowers, food, wine, etc. all the way down to the seating chart. It is amazing the amount of money and thought going into this wedding. Every bottle of wine being served will be decanted by a sommelier; tasted, tested and expertly poured, prior to serving. Do you know how many sommelier's there must be to serve wine for 300 people? Every glass and piece of silver must be polished, every chair set just like "so," every flower planned to open at just the right time, all the food timed to be served at the perfect temperature...

And all the time I'm wondering, "will there be an actual wedding 'ceremony' in heaven? And if so, wow, what in the world will that be like?" I mean, we are the bride, and He is the bridegroom...and the feast which we will share in is with Jesus Himself! I can't even begin to imagine what that feast will be like...

Why do I write this blog? Because I want to inspire you...because you and I do not look forward enough to what awaits us. If we did, our lives on earth would look radically different. How so? Well for those of you who are married, what was it like from the day you got engaged until the day you married? For me it was a time of anticipation, a time of preparation, a time of arrangements being made, colors, flowers picked, suits ordered, capped off by the week of rehearsal dinners, bachelor party, tea for the ladies, evenings with friends and family, all of it pointed toward and culminating in an unforgettable wedding ceremony.

Do you realize that if you are a believer, you are engaged? And every thing you do on earth is in preparation for a wedding? We are the bride of Christ. Like I said, let that sink in, and it will change you.


9 "Then the angel said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"  And he added, "These are the true words of God." ' " (Revelation 19:9).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shhhhh

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him..." (Psalm 37:7)

This post will be simple, short, and yet perhaps contains the hardest challenge of all to live out...

I am a "doer." I am one who is always on the go, and grow restless with ideleness. I have a short attention span and have been dubbed "intenso man" by some. I'm good at "getting things done" but have a hard time slowing down. Now add a 1 year old boy to the mix and it has become a major challenge to find time to stop.

This morning, my wife is out and Brennan is napping...so I opened my Bible and read this verse, and stopped...literally, stopped. I heard God's voice saying to me, "Mike, shhhhhhhh. Be still. Quiet. Listen. I have much to say to you but first you need to stop..."

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Take a breath. Listen. Wait. God is at work. His word is living and active...and yet to hear it, we must learn to stop and listen. Maybe you already have this mastered? Maybe you have Sabbath rest incorporated into your life regularly...this challenge isn't for you.

For the rest of us, though, "Be still..."

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Are you Hangin' out on the Step?

Brennan, my son, just turned 1. He is a joy, and his smile and giggles will light up a room. Still, like any human, he was born into sin. He longs for independence and even at his young age, is constantly testing his boundaries. One boundary we have for Brennan is he's not allowed to climb up the stairs without me or his Mom watching him. It's a rule we have for his protection (he already took one tumble down the stairs). Brennan knows the rule, and yet probably 15-20 times a day he'll crawl over to the bottom step and look over at me or Julie. We'll say "Brennan, you need to stay downstairs" and he knows exactly what we mean...and yet, he lingers, hanging out on that bottom step, trying to resist the irresistible urge to climb.

6 "Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.' " (Genesis 4:6-7)

Like Brennan, all of us have areas in our life that we struggle to master. We are tempted in these areas constantly; fighting ourselves to overcome our human nature to sin. Temptation...it is always there. Here's the secret; if you hang out on the bottom step, your ability to resist sin is already lost. The key is not going anywhere near the steps!

14
 "...but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." (James 1:14-15)


Going back to Brennan, we do all we can to help him avoid this temptation. Before he gets disciplined, we'll usually pick him up and move him back to the living room where all his toys are. We'll even fire up one of those "noise-making" toys, or grab a couple of his favorite books, trying to divert his attention from the stairs. Sometimes it works, but more often than not, he's right back there, hanging out on the step.

It makes me wonder, how many times has God done the same for me? He gives me all these blessings, all these incredible gifts for me to enjoy, showing me the good-life and yet, I go crawling right back over to the step...hanging out on the edge of sin. You know what happens when you hang out on the edge of sin? It's like putting a man who struggles with lust in a room filled with pornography and telling him "don't look." It's an impossible battle to win.

The key is not to say "don't look" but to fill your life with good things that God has provided. Instead of thinking about avoiding temptation, fill your life with Worship, God's Word, Prayer, Family, Relationships, Community, Good Food. Get outside in Nature, Serve...get busy doing the good works that God prepared for you to do. As your life fills with these good things, you will have much less time for temptation and sin.

Are you hanging out on the step?

Remember;
Sin will take you further than you want to go. 
It will keep you longer than you want to stay,
and it will cost you more than you want to pay.

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