Friday, September 30, 2011

Heaven

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this..." "Aim at heaven, and you'll get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you'll get neither." (C.S. Lewis)

How much time do you spend thinking about heaven? How much time do you spend dreaming about heaven? I mean really thinking about what heaven will be like. Do you know what it will be like? When I even ask those questions, what comes to your mind? A surge of adrenalin, of anticipation, or a "yawn"? Do you "hope" that heaven is going to be exciting, or do you "know" that it is?

If you're like many Christians you've been duped, tricked, fooled. I believe that one of satan's greatest weapons to cripple Christians, making us so ineffective, is somehow getting us to buy into the lie that heaven will be boring. I mean after all, what in the world will be do for an eternity? We'll have fun for awhile, but then we'll get bored. Or worse yet, all we're going to do is sing all day long. Isn't that what worship is, after all? Singing?

I'm doing something I rarely do in this blog...I'm recommending a book. The book is titled "Heaven,"  written by Randy Alcorn. I believe that every Christian should read this book. It's not a perfect book, and he gets a little repetitive, and I wish it was shorter; but still, it will get you excited about heaven all over again.

Heaven, will be awesome. Imagine the best vacation you've ever had and multiply it times a thousand. Heaven will be full of fulfillment, security, love. Heaven will have adventure, rest, discovery, and wandering. In heaven we'll see loved ones, family, friends, and those whose lives we impacted without ever knowing. Heaven will be more beautiful then the most glorious sunset you've ever seen. In heaven we'll have time to be the person that God had designed us to be. The part of you that you've been hiding.

Heaven is not some abstract place up in the clouds. Heaven is not boring. Heaven is not repetitive.

Heaven is a reunion with your Creator. Heaven is face to face with Jesus. Heaven is Eden. Heaven is renewal. Heaven is earth as it was meant to be; more colorful, more vivid, more beautiful. No death or decay, but life. Heaven is man with no sin. God will one day soon come and set things right. He will renew the earth (not destroy it). Think of the happiest moment of your life, and that is a taste of heaven.

Heaven is Home. The Home you were always meant to have. Heaven should grip your heart and occupy your mind. And once you get a glimpse, you'll do everything you can to help everyone you know get into heaven with you.

Is heaven in you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Risk

"He was stepping into a moment where God would have to come through if it was going to achieve its ultimate end."
(Erwin McManus, Chasing Daylight)

"Most of us never experience the power of God in our lives because we never attempt anything that would require it."
(Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind Fresh Fire)

Risk. When is the last time you attempted something so bold that if God didn't show up, it would utterly fail? I'm reading the book by McManus and this morning, I picked up where I had left off and made it through exactly one paragraph until I came upon that quote up above. It stopped me. McManus is referring to Jonathan and his armor bearer who single-handedly killed 20 fully armed men. This wasn't a sneak attack, they didn't have sniper guns, they had swords. And they whole approach was in full view of the enemy who in fact knew they were coming up. And still, in an area of about 1/2 an acre the two of them killed 20 men. Not scared 20 men, not wounded 20 men, but killed them. The story is amazing (read it here).

God used Jonathan (and his armor bearer) as a catalyst to inspire the rest of the army who went on to rout the Philistines on this day. Saul, the king and leader of the army, was doing nothing...hanging out under a pomegranate tree.

So here's the question(s) that haunt me;
- Am I more like Saul (hanging out under the tree waiting for something to happen), or Jonathan (leading with boldness, risking all and trusting God to win the victory for me)?
- When's the last time I attempted something so bold that its success depended on God intervening?

McManus makes a great point for those of us who, like me, long to have boldness but seem stuck in lives of safety and risk management. His point? Faith to do the big things starts with obedience in the little things. So if you long to have bigger faith, then I'd encourage you to do two things;

  1. Do the little things God asks of you this day. Listen for His voice, and act...with boldness. It might be as simple as having a conversation with someone not like you, or giving a cup of water in His name. Obedience in the little things will be rewarded by God asking you to take increasingly bigger risks for Him.
  2. Pray for boldness, and pray for opportunities to strengthen and increase your faith.
Can you imagine what God could do with a world full of "Jonathan's"? Men and women willing to risk it all, totally dependent on God?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What is Worship?

Worship is all that we are, responding to all that God has revealed Himself to be, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Or, to put it even more simply,
"Worship is responding to God's revelation."

Worship was initiated by God. He gives us breath and life so that we might glorify Him. He gives us a share in His glory, so that we can return it and make much of Him. He gives us songs to sing so that we can sing them back to Him.

He reveals Himself to us through creation, through His Son, through His Spirit, through His grace, through His actions, through His Word, through His voice and whispers, through the cross, through His covenant, through each other (who are made in His image), through music and song, through laughter and tears, through the stars and the moon, through a sunset or sunrise, through a hurricane or earthquake, through miracles, through those who persevere under intense trials, through simple faith. God reveals Himself to us. We respond and that is worship.

Worship is singing, but not only
Worship is praying, but not only
Worship is serving in His name, but not only
Worship is lifting hands or dancing, but not only
Worship is drawing and painting, but not only

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30).

The greatest commandment, the one greater than all others, is to worship God.

How? In all ways. When? At all times.

Heart - worship Him with passion and emotion
Mind - worship Him with knowledge and understanding
Soul - worship Him with conviction
Strength - worship Him with actions and service

So then, the great question should never be "how was worship?" The question should be "are you worshipping?" Or better yet, "is my worship an appropriate response to all that God has revealed?" Or are you holding back? God has held nothing back from us...let us worship Him, holding nothing back from Him.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

9/11 - Two words that will forever hold significance for those who lived through the events of Sept 11, 2001. On that date the world changed forever. All of us have memories from that morning; where we were, what we were doing, how we got the news. Many of us seem to know someone who was there, or close by. As the images of that morning flashed across newsrooms we all sat horrified, seeing the death of so many.

My thoughts at this time turn to so many things...here are three.

1) Life is fragile.  Life is much more fragile than any of us ever want to think. For everyone who woke up that morning and went to work in the two towers, they never could have imagined what would await them...for many, the last hours of their life on earth. Or consider those who were on the airplanes; maybe on a business trip or vacation, or on their way to see family. They never imagined their planes would be hijacked and rammed into buildings. Life is fragile and apart from God granting us every breath we take, we would cease to exist. As James says, "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

The point? Make today count...this moment, sieze it for God's purposes and His glory. Whether in little things like loving your wife and children, or big things such as sharing your faith, feeding the poor, caring for the needy; in all things, make today count.

"Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose today, and is coming back tomorrow." (Theodore Epp)

2) Broaden your perspective. The events of 9/11 were tragic and historic as thousands of people lost their lives. The best estimate is 2977 people lost their lives, plus another 19 dead hijackers. This is tragic. However, let us remember that 25,000 people die every day due to hunger. Every 3 seconds, someone dies because of hunger related causes. I have often asked myself why my heart doesn't break for that as much as it does for the deaths of 9/11? Probably because it's just too big; it's a statistic that doesn't touch my life. And yet it breaks God's heart. And that's only hunger related deaths. We are insulated in the United States, and blessed...many fear for their lives daily.

The point? As the song says, "[God], Break my heart for what breaks yours." And do something. All of us, especially in America, have resources at our disposal to do something to alleviate suffering, hunger, and injustice. Let's get in the game. Let it never be said of me, "he thought it was just too overwhelming so he didn't do anything." Much better to be said "even though it is overwhelming, he made a difference for a few."

3) Pray. The day Sept. 11, 2001 should have been a wake up call for many of us. It should cause us to pray for at least three things;
- Pray for Revival: As much as many people turned to God during this crisis, how many more turned back to themselves once the tragedy had passed. We need to pray for God to awaken the church...as it is the church that is God's strategy to save the world. 
- Pray for our Leaders: "As the leaders go, so goes the people." We need to continually hold our leaders before the Almighty God.
- Pray for our enemies. Yes, as much as we might not want to do this, it is God's heart for us that we pray for our enemies. 

And yes, let us take time today to remember. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"I'm standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts fot eh blue ocean. She's an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. And then I hear someone at my side saying, 'There, she's gone.'

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There, she's gone,' there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, 'Here she comes!'

And that is dying."

(Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, p. 462)

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