Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

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“When I wish I’d never been born…” – Feb 6

February 6, 2015

“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,…” Job 3:11-13

English: It was a 'dark and stormy night' ... ...

A sleepless mind fills with thoughts from visions of the night. The assault of daily troubles awaits the cover of darkness when conscious defenses teeter upon dreams. Thoughts are brought in stealth. Ears receive the whisper of a powerlessness to remedy what tomorrow holds. Trouble weighs the sleepless mind to suffocating depth in the same feathery pillow meant to comfort.

…man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.  (Job 5:7)

Trapped by troubles, exhaustion breeds dread into a desperate groan for release. Thoughts are conjured in this state of malaise that no stalwart practitioner of manliness will ever confess.

“If only I had never been born…”
“If only I would never awake…”
“If only my heart would fail…”
“If only a vein in my head might burst…”
“If only for a quick act of random violence…”

“If only…then I would be free from all that troubles my soul.”
“If only…then I would have rest.”

fall treeI have never had the troubles of Job. I have never endured the trials that he bore. Yet, I heard the same whispers as he under the cover of darkness within the privacy of my own skull. Maybe, Job and I are alone in our confused search for rest but I doubt that.  I have never admitted to these thoughts because I did not want my loved ones to think that I was suicidal and in need of counseling.

I am not suicidal and neither was Job.

The desire of Job’s lament was not for death. I believe that his thoughts meandered to the loss of existence as the release from the burden of his trial. It is a path that my own mind has meandered.  Thoughts of death are a confused route to achieve an intrinsic desire that few ever identify accurately.

Our souls long for rest.

Rest is what every soul desires when the yoke of a fallen world weighs heavily upon us.  Consider what we truly want when we bear the laden burden of troubles:

When we are in pain … we want rest from hurt.
When loves are gone…we want rest from heart break.
When abandoned …we want rest from loneliness.
When confronted with failure … we want rest from expectations.
When penniless…we want rest from need.
When addicted…we want rest from desire.

In times of great trials, our flesh cries out for this intrinsic desire – rest. We all come to the same desire as Job, whether it is due to great trials or insignificant annoyances. We all want rest. We want enduring, everlasting, rest.

This type of rest comes only to those who are in Christ. Death is only a source of rest to those who will enter into the loving arms of their heavenly Father when their time in this fallen world is over.

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

All of creation groans for the rest that Christ promises to those who come to him. As Children of God, we can know this rest in part, as we continue to walk in the Spirit along our individual paths of sanctification Christ has pioneered for us. We will not experience this perfect rest until we come to our eternal home.

It is in those dark nights, when my soul is laboring and heavily laden that the Spirit himself bears witness with my spirit. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God and if a child then an heir – an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) The Spirit reminds me that I am His despite my confused thoughts for rest. I don’t want this life to end for a mere escape from trouble; a jump into the abyss.

I just want to go home.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21)

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  (Philippians 1:23b)

Like Paul, I just want to be with Christ, which will be far better than anything this world has to offer. My hope is what comes through in those dark nights of indecipherable groaning. It is the inward groaning of a Child of God eagerly awaiting his adoption as son and the redemption of his body. (Romans 8:23)

For in this hope we were saved.  (Romans 8:24)

I believe that it is in those nights when my mind swirls with dark  “If only…” thoughts that the Spirit, who is always with me, steps in and helps me in my weakness.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Romans 8:26-27)

It is the Spirit who takes up my improper, inarticulate, longings to pray and intercedes on my behalf. Most of the time, I don’t know what I really need but on some occasions I am sure the Spirit’s intercession has included, “your beloved needs rest.” I imagine that in some cases  my Father’s response to the Spirit was:

Refresh his hope.

Remind him that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to My purpose.

Remind him that no one can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Open his mind to the reality that if God is for him, who can be against him.

Show him that he is a conqueror through Christ who loves him.

Ask him, who can bring a charge against him, God’s elect.

These thoughts and so many more have come to my mind in response to groaning, “if only…” thoughts. We truly have a great and awesome Helper, who knows what we need and when we need it. He has always been faithful to me and I know that He always will be, even when I get confused and don’t know what I really want – to rest in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending your Spirit.  Thank you for giving me a hope beyond this world and all its troubles.  Help me to keep my eyes on the Spirit and to walk faithful with you.  Spirit, thank you for interceding for me.  Thank you for giving meaning to my confused groanings.  Thank you for sustaining my soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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I STILL HAVE A DREAM – Dec 27

December 27, 2014

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior gave, in my estimation, one of the great political speeches of American history. On that day, he encapsulated the purpose and vision of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in a mere 17 minutes.

He encouraged the nation to hope.

He showed the nation that there was something worth dreaming for.

He reminded the nation of the injustice that the black community was suffering.

He elicited our founding principles “that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights of  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ and asserted that America had defaulted on its promise of  “the riches of freedom and the security of justice”.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior had a dream. It is a dream that I share with him.

“…that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“… that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

“… that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

“… that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“… that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

“… that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” I share his dream!

~ Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.; I have a Dream

I was not alive when Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to cast this dream to America. Yet, his vision has been my adult hope for the race relations of United States.

Therefore, I have deeply despaired over the images that have appeared on my television screen during 2014. I have witnessed the violence of demonstrations in Ferguson, New York and across the country. I have been repulsed by the injustice of rampaging demonstrators assaulting and destroying property in the justification of injustice.

I read this morning of the wakes for the New York police officers killed in retribution for the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

What have we come to?

Dr. King appealed to the civil rights movement:

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

I feel my hope for freedom and the security of justice from 1963 being lost in the wrongful deeds, bitterness and hatred of 2014. What has happened to the high plane of dignity and discipline? Where are the majestic heights of Dr. King’s “soul force”?

Has the reality of life killed the dream we’ve dreamed?

I have been reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. So, my thoughts have returned to the injustice of his creation in order to make sense of our current reality. I wonder if Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of a dream lost to a horrible and unjust world fits the hopelessness of many engaged in the protests.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

It seems to me that the interior despair of Jean Valjean described by Hugo so many years ago is the source of the hatred and bitterness behind what we have seen this last year.

He (Valjean) asked himself whether human society could have the right to force its members to suffer equally in one case for its own unreasonable lack of foresight, and in the other case for its pitiless foresight; and to seize a poor man forever between a defect and an excess, a default of work and an excess of punishment.

Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus precisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in the division of goods made by chance, and consequently the most deserving of consideration.

These questions put and answered, he judged society and condemned it.

He condemned it to his hatred.

He made it responsible for the fate which he was suffering, and he said to himself that it might be that one day he should not hesitate to call it to account….

Anger may be both foolish and absurd; one can be irritated wrongfully; one is exasperated only when there is some show of right on one’s side at bottom. Jean Valjean felt himself exasperated…

From suffering to suffering, he had gradually arrived at the conviction that life is a war; and that in this war he was the conquered. He had no other weapon than his hate. He resolved to whet it in the galleys and to bear it away with him when he departed.

Les-Mis-ValjeanI have seen much exasperation this last year. It appears to be an exasperation cloaked in hate, manifested in hopelessness, waging a losing societal war by burning down its own communities. It is an exasperation that appears to condemn the American dream in hatred for being a dream that cannot be.

This is my conclusion because I do not believe that violence springs forth from the high plane of dignity and discipline or the majestic height of Dr. King’s “soul force”.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

Should we weep the loss of Dr. King’s dream
to the realities of a cruel, inequitable and unjust world?

I do believe that those in the poverty of black communities do not have the same trust in their security of justice that I know. I do believe that I have been endowed with a freedom of opportunity by the “chance” of my birth that most in poverty will never know.

I also believe that most of those subjected to this justice system are there, just as Jean Valjean, as a result of wrongful acts of their own making. I believe that the ladder rungs of the American dream reach down to all levels of poverty, allowing anyone with the will to climb the freedom to rise above their condition and escape from a culture of despair.

I do not have the answer to our racial problems of 2014. I do not believe that the answer is in more legislation and laws.

I believe that the answer is in redemption.

Les Miserable is a story of redemption.

Dr. King’s dream is a vision of redemption.

Redeeming our society into something better than it has ever been; a society where blacks and whites really will join hands as brothers and sisters. We need each other. Our freedom, blacks and whites, are inextricably linked.

True redemption is what our country needs.

A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.  (Isaiah 40:3-5)

I still have a dream but my hope is personal redemption of those who are suffering. My hope is that they will be freed from their despair, bitterness, and hatred by the only source that I know is capable of the monumental task – Jesus Christ. Through Christ, all things are possible.

What we need are voices crying into the wilderness of the black communities saying “prepare the way of the Lord”.

We need voices condemning the injustices against blacks.

Equally, we need voices condemning wrongful deeds and physical violence; condemning those who seek to satisfy their thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We need voices calling the struggle against injustice to the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We need voices to call us to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

That is when our society will begin to take its next redemptive steps on the road toward racial harmony.

Therefore, in the words of Dr. King:

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair,
I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

PRAYER: Father, heal our land.  Cure us from our violence and hatred.  Remove our bitterness and despair.  Give us hope.  A hope that will not disappoint.  A hope set upon you, the living God, who is the Savior of all people.  Lord, send us leaders who will lead us in righteousness and unity.   Give them voices to call us from the wilderness of  enmity.  Father, bring forgiveness and understanding to our country.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HEADWINDS TURNED TO TAILWINDS – Mar. 5

March 5, 2014

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

honeycut07 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I really wanted to go for a bike ride over the weekend.

I stepped outside and walked to the edge of the porch only to have a cold westerly wind change my mind.  A few moments of gazing at the trees bending under an unseen load convinced me that I did not want to venture out into that kind of wind. So, I returned back to the serenity of indoors.  I did this analysis three times before I rationalized my cycling kit on and grabbed my bike. I know that riding in the wind is not much fun, but I just wanted to get out of the house and get a work-out in.

The soundness of that logic was questioned throughout the first few miles of my ride as tree limbs bent into the roadway delivering a moaning question as to why I had ventured from my protective walls. I fought that wind for miles upon miles, grinding away in my smallest chainring, hoping to at least match my forward speed to that of the wind in my face. There was no escaping the relentless resistance of that wind since the route I had decided upon took me directly into it. I tried to stay low and ground away with each pedal stroke in anticipation of the turn.

The turn is when you pass the half-way mark and start to head home. Better yet, the turn would put my back to the wind on this day. I made my way with eagerness onto a road that would connect me to the turn. It also had the benefit of taking me out of the frontal assault of the wind. It was on this road that I felt the first few drops.  In my battle with the wind, I had not noticed the dark clouds that now barred my return.

ryanmatthew21 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I summited the last climb before the turn with the full knowledge that I was going to get wet and this ride was going to get really miserable. The skies opened up on me as I descended to the turn. Water rolled off of my chin and down my back as my wheels spun a whisper of spray that appeared to double their size.  I quickly lost all concern for wind as I made the turn, for my mind had shifted to the concerns of slick pavement and the hope of home. I dipped my head to keep the rain off of my glasses and grabbed a harder gear – I needed to get home.  I focused on my cadence as I continued to work through my gear cassette until I could not shift anymore.

I was in my hardest gear and pedaling freely. I don’t know how fast I was going since my speedometer had quit, but I must have been tickling 30 mph. I rode like this for several miles, maintaining a speed on the flats that I could never hold by myself. The only reason I was being hurried home was because of the wind. That very same wind that I had fought all the way out, was now lifting me to a speed I could never do unaided.

afphotography / Foter / CC BY-NC

That ride home was fun. The very same wind that had caused me such misery going out, provided great joy on the way home. In fact, wind transformed what normally is more miserable than a head wind, a cold ride in drenching rain, into an exhilarating experience that I will remember.

This love / hate experience with wind spurred my meditation of the workings of the Spirit of God in those who are His.  I believe that there are times in our spiritual lives when we are walking directly into the resisting force of the Spirit that is intent upon changing our direction.

 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:6-7)

I don’t know how the Spirit resisted Paul but it seems like Paul’s path became too difficult so he changed it. I believe that the Spirit still works that way. We just have to discern when to follow the guiding blow of the Spirit and turn out of the wind to the path of less resistance. That is not always easy to discern because the Spirit might have other purposes.

I believe that there are times when the Spirit blows in our face not to get us to change to direction but in order to strengthen us. The trials and temptations of our lives could simply be removed by the Lord, but often He does not. Frequently, He allows them because we need the work-out.

 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

The Holy Spirit guiding us through suffering is evidence of God’s love for us.  God loves us too much to leave us as spiritual couch potatoes. There are times when we feel resistance in our lives because the Spirit is blowing into our face in order to build endurance, which will produce character, and from that character will emerge God glorifying hope, and everyone needs hope to persevere to the end.  In these instances, we should not turn from the path that we are on. We need to grind on. We need to get low and endure. We need to accept the love of God through our suffering.

We can accept our suffering as the love of God because we, by faith, know that the power of the Spirit is actually what is carrying us home. While the Spirit is allowing and guiding us through difficult times, it is also the Spirit who is powering us through those very same difficulties.  It is because of the tail-wind of the Holy Spirit that we can endure longer than we could ever do unaided. It is because of the power of the Spirit that we can perform beyond our abilities.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Therefore, we are driven to hope when we grind into the Spirit’s head-wind and when we experience the powerful effects of the Spirit pushing us home.

I often don’t know where or how the Spirit is blowing in my life.

I find it difficult to know when the Spirit is guiding me to turn in a new direction or to grind on.

I regularly fail to realize the power that is pushing me forward as I labor to follow Christ.

I am quick to grumble about trials rather relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

However, the mysterious winds of the Spirit, in all their forms, are a blessing for those who are in Christ. The Spirit is our gift to help us through this fallen world.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:5)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

We never have to be discouraged or afraid. We have been given the Holy Spirit – our Helper.  He is the One who will do all that is necessary to get us home – guide us in the right direction, build hope in our hearts, and carry us when needed.  Praise God that we have not been abandoned. We are loved and cared for by our Helper who will be with us forever.  Now, let’s go live our lives relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending us our Helper. Thank you for the work of the Spirit in my life – guiding, correcting, stengthening, and sustaining me.  Lord, teach me to rely upon your Spirit in all conditions.  Teach me to live in your joy and peace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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“IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT VETERANS” – Nov 11

November 11, 2013

“He said, ‘Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end…And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise.  His power shall be great – but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.”  Daniel 8:19, 23-24

My kids helped serve the local veterans at the annual VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Veterans Day dinner.  They told me that the dinner was very well received and attended.  I am glad that those veterans felt honored.  I initially was happy that the hall had been packed.  However, I found that fact a little depressing upon retrospection.

Imagine a world without war veterans.

I have nothing against veterans.  I have deep respect and appreciation for the service that they have shown to my country.  I am grateful for their sacrifice.  However, veterans come from only one activity – war.  If there were no wars, then there would be no veterans.

A world without veterans would be a world without wars.

VFW

I remember the small town parades of my youth.  The local VFW veterans always marched in the parade.  They were an assortment of older men primarily from World War II and the Korean War.  At the time, I could envision a day when they were gone and war veterans scarce.  Unfortunately, the VFW halls are now filling with veterans from Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and an assortment of smaller foreign engagements.  These veterans are now much younger than I am.  The parades of the future have a supply of veterans that will last beyond my life time.

English: Drawed by unknown Austrian newspaper ...A world without war veterans raises only feelings of skepticism. 

I recently listened to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast titled, “Blueprint for Armageddon I”.  Dan did a wonderful job in presenting the failure in leadership that allowed the intricate web of diplomatic stability to collapse after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

Just as during World War I, the world still has an endless supply of leaders with depraved souls that fight to pull the levers of power.  I believe that it always will.  I have never known a period in my life when there was not a war or “police action” occurring somewhere in the world.  All I have ever known is a world of wars and rumors of wars.

I can only imagine this fallen world with war veterans.

VFW Parade

I am aware of the bleakness of my world view.  However, my world view is the consistent theme throughout the Bible.  The hope of world peace resides in the return of the King of kings, Jesus Christ.  Lasting peace comes only through the new heaven and new earth of the Kingdom of God.  Until that time, we live under the reality of a world with the same character as shown to Daniel.  The character of this world is disturbing.  Daniel was disturbed by what he was shown.

And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days.  Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.  (Daniel 8:7)

I don’t understand all the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelations.  I am uncertain of the exact meanings and timing of these visions of the future.    However, I am confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture and know where to put my hope.  I have no hope in the kingdoms of men.  My hope is in Christ alone and His return.

I am certain enough of the future to be as appalled by the evil of men as Daniel.

Daniel responded to the future that the Lord showed him by falling on his knees in prayer.

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for you own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.  O God, incline your ear and hear, Open your eyes and see our desolation, and the city that is called by your name.  For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive.  O Lord, pay attention and act.  Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.  (Daniel 9:17-19)

I join my voice in appreciation of those who have served my country in the horrible duty of war on this Veterans Day.  I am sorry that my country needed to ask them to do what they  were willing to do.  I lament the necessity of their service.  I am appalled by the depravity revealed by war.  I am appalled by the fact that men continue to hurt and oppress other men.

Therefore, I follow Daniel’s example in prayer for this broken world.

PRAYER: O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for you own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your children in this desolate world.  To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our President, our legislators, our leaders in all forms, to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.  To the Lord our God belongs mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in His ways, which he set before us by His Son.  O God, incline your ear and hear, open your eyes and see the desperate condition of this world, my country, and those who are called by your name.  For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive.  O Lord, pay attention and act.  Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your Church and your people are called by your name.  Build your kingdom, O Lord.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“ENTICED BY TOMORROW” – Nov 4

November 5, 2013

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2

Tomorrow plays an enticing melody.  It is a melody that every person cannot help but hum during the day.  We plan in a chant of tomorrow.  We daydream in the croon of the future.  We fix goals in a serenade to what might become.  The necessity of tomorrow brings us all into the choir.  However, the allure of what is just around the corner can grasp our attention like acrophobia can steal a view.  Tomorrow has a perpetual rhythm whose powerful grasp is difficult to escape.

mendhak / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

My plans, goals, hopes and dreams, all inhabit tomorrow.  A goal intersects with the presence for a preciously short instant where it is either accomplished or not.  A plan evaporates upon implementation.  Hopes and dreams are recast once they are realized.  Tomorrow provides an escape from the physical bounds of the presence to the ethereal possibility of what may come.

It is easy for the promise of tomorrow to eclipse the duty of today.

Waiting for tomorrow is how I have spent the majority of my life.  I have lived preoccupied by planning to make tomorrow better.  I daily make investments of time, money, and energy into tomorrow.  The majority of our lives are spent striving for tomorrow:

Secondary education were years spent in preparing for college or work.
College was spent in preparation for graduate school or a career.
A career was spent in preparation for advancement.
Advancement was spent in preparation of retirement.

Tomorrow provides a consistent rhythm for most of our lives.  We live for the weekend.  We live for the next holiday.  We live for the next vacation.  If we are not careful, we can end up living for tomorrow and miss duties of today.

Garry – www.visionandimagination.com / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

An unhealthy focus on tomorrow can steal our confidence and contentment in the presence.  As we study and learn all that we don’t know, our lack of qualifications can keep us sidelined.  Past failures can cause us to doubt our capabilities in the present.  Our esteem for the mature can lend to prolonged deferment.  Our investments in tomorrow can deprive the profits of today.

Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

For a follower of Christ, there is an aspect of tomorrow that will never be improved from today’s reality.  For all who are in Christ, we are children of God, today.  A decade, century, millennium will not improve upon the title that we have, today.  We are children of the most High God.  We are fellow heirs with Christ, today.  The reality that we experience today allows us to cry, “ABBA! FATHER!”, through the Spirit of adoption that we have received.

Beloved, we are God’s children, now. 

The reality of who we are today should change how we view the present.  Who we are today, frees us from the enticing song of tomorrow with all of its promises for a better future that keeps us from being active in the present.

Beloved, we are God’s children.

What we will be tomorrow has not yet appeared but we know that someday we will be like Christ and we shall see Him as He is.  That will be an incredible tomorrow.  The reality of this incredible tomorrow should provide perspective to all of our planning, goals, hopes and dreams for our personal tomorrows.

Beloved, we are going to be like Christ and we shall see Him as He is.

We all have a duty to plan for tomorrow. We all are filled with hopes and dreams for the future.  Who we are should inform all of those plans.  It should shape every hope and dream.

Beloved, we are God’s children.

We are free to accomplish our Father’s business in all its varied forms, today.  No child of God has to wait for tomorrow to do our Father’s will today.

We don’t need a position or permission, degrees or pedigrees, time or dimes, acceptability or civility to:

…love the Lord your God with all of your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind.

We do not need to wait for tomorrow to love the Lord today.  We can love God regardless of the condition of our today.

…love your neighbor as yourself.

Our neighbor’s heart can be encased with our love today.  Love does not need to wait until tomorrow.

Beloved, love does not need to wait for tomorrow
because we are God’s children today.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for allowing me to be your child now.  Thank you for allowing me into your family today.  Father, I look forward to the day when I will be like Christ.  I look forward to the day when I will see Christ as He is.  I long for that day.  Lord, you know that I get distracted by all the cares of this word.  You know that I can make an excuse not to be loving out of my addiction to my dreams of tomorrow.  Change my mind to the reality that I do not need anything from tomorrow to do your will today.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“AN IRRATIONAL LIFE” – Oct 13

October 13, 2013

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

My comprehension has very distinct limitations.  It has to stretch when I contemplate that which is beyond my experience.  Thoughts of eternity prove to be especially challenging.

My life’s experiences have all included beginnings and endings.

I do not know how a complete story can be told without a beginning.

Without an ending, stories are forced to conclude with an unsatisfying  “to be continued”.

I do not know if a finite mind, born and raised in a terminable land, can truly grasp the infinite.

Inherit in the explanation that Jesus is the same, yesterday and today and forever, is the premise that He is infinite.  He is the same throughout all of time.  He does not change and is without beginning or ending.

Jesus Christ is infinite. 

tj.blackwell / Foter / CC BY-NC

My limited familiarity with the infinite probably resides in the number Pi.  Pi is an infinite, non-repeating number whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter.  It is an irrational number, which means that its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction.  Consequently, Pi never ends or repeats. It is also a transcendental number, which implies, among other things, that no finite sequence of algebraic operations on integers (powers, roots, sums, etc.) can be equal to its value.(Urban Dictionary: Pi)  Pi is infinity unique.

.sarahwynne. / Foter / CC BY-NC

What if our lives could be expressed as the result a mathematical equation such as Pi?  Consider if every moment of our existence were represented by a Pi like digit.  If our individual existences could be expressed as a mathematical equation, would it be considered rational or irrational?

As a rational number, there will be a final digit.  The long series of digits will come to a calculated end; one last digit and then no more.  There are many people who believe their life is rational.  It has a beginning and it has an ending.  They believe that their experience on this world is all that there is.  They believe that the digits of their life are merely a sequence of statistically random events.  If you were to convert those digits in into ASCII text, there would be no names of loved ones, no dates of significance, and no purpose in death.  They hold that there is no purpose to be found within the finite string of the digits of our lives; life is random and rational.

Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

However, what if there is more to our existence than our experience?  What if there is an infinite existence beyond our experience of beginnings and endings?  We know that the infinite exists.  We have the irrational number Pi.

The infinite is irrational.  Rational sense cannot be made of the irrational.  However, just because something is irrational does not mean that it does not exist.

We are told that Jesus Christ is infinite.  That statement is beyond my rational understanding.  So often, we hold the irrational at arm’s length because it troubles our rational sensibilities.  We like to be able to explain things.  We stretch our comprehension and try to grasp an understanding that is beyond all that we have known.  I accept reality that there is infinite existence by faith but that does not mean that be I grasp the full range of mysteries within the statement or that I can relate.  I cannot relate to the infinite.

By faith, I believe what the scriptures tell us.  We are irrational numbers.  The digits of our lives will continue without end, just like Pi.  All of mankind was created as unique irrational numbers.  Just because our bodies may die does not mean that our unique calculation does not continue to generate another digit.  Man was created for eternity with a brief period spent on earth with purpose in every digit.

Consider when Christ  took on flesh.  His life on this earth had a singular purpose – to be the lamb.

He came to fulfill the law.
He came to call sinners to repentance.
He came to be the light in a dark world.
He came to do the will of Him who sent Him.

Every digit of Christ’s life had purpose.  The ASCII text of the digits of Christ’s life would reveal the names of all He touched, all He showed love, all He condemned, the date of the cross, His resurrection and His ascension.  Christ’s digit would show a string of purpose and intent that is without end.  The prophesies fulfilled throughout Jesus’ life demonstrate that His existence was not the result of chance and happenstance.  There was purpose and intention in every digit of Christ’s life.

If God created the equation of Christ’s life on earth with precise meaning and intent in every digit, then why would we think that our lives are random and purposeless?  We were created to be uniquely irrational.  We were created with purpose; a string of digits full of meaning and intention.

We are the product of the great Mathematician.  He created the uniquely irrational equation that describes you and me.  He prescribed in us every digit, in the precise order that He intended.  We were created for the infinite.

I often forget that reality. 

~jjjohn~ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I often don’t live for the infinite.

Everyone who is in Christ has to come to that point in time when they relinquish themselves to the irrational.  We call it faith.  Our hope resides in the irrational mysteries of Christ.  Our hope is in infinity; that there is more to the life than what we experience.

We need to let our hope be a reality in our daily lives.  Our hope should lead our lives.  We were created for a purpose-filled infinity.  Christ came to do the will of Him who sent Him.  As irrational creations, we were created for the same purpose; to do the will of Him who has called us.

Let’s start living the irrational lives that we were created to live!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for creating a world that is beyond my comprehension.  Thank you for giving me purpose in world that appears chaotic.  Father, keep infinity in my mind.  Help me to accept the glorious irrationality of faith.  Help me to live in the hope of eternal life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“BROKENESS WITHIN GLORY” – July 8

July 8, 2013

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”  Isaiah 6:3

I survey the activities of this earth with a flick of the remote or a click of the mouse.  What I see draws me to the conclusion that I live within a broken world.

I see a burned wreckage of a plane; glory does not come to mind.
I read of the violence in Egypt and Syria; descriptions do not sound glorious.
I observe the continual subterfuge of politics; I see no intentions set on glorifying.
I know many are dying from disease; glorious does not enter the terminology.

Many view the world with eyes from the same perspective as my own.  The most common accusation against God emerges from the observations of a broken world.

If God is a loving god, then why would he allow so much pain and suffering?

Isaiah could have questioned the bleakness of his world.  King Uzziah had died.  The nation was surrounded by enemies and its destruction was not far off.  Faithlessness, oppression, and arrogance were the fruit of the land.

Yet, there was a song being sung at that very moment in Isaiah’s life.  While Isaiah was physically in a bleak world, God’s holiness was being proclaimed in the heavens.  While Israel was on the threshold of being crushed, the world was proclaimed as being full of God’s glory.  God was on the throne in all His holiness, reigning as the Sovereign ruler of the whole bleak universe.

The song of the earth is quite different than the song in heaven.  The bleakness of this world causes many to curse rather than praise.

Curses come from a perspective that is plagued by our inability to see God’s manifested holiness.  I look and see glimpses of holiness but the unholiness seems overwhelming.  The limitations of my flesh blinds me to His glory.  When I look upon this world, all I tend to see is brokenness.  That brokenness does exist.

There is evil in the world.
There is rebellion in this world.
There is hate, pain and suffering all around us.

However, all of that unpleasantness does not cancel out God’s glory.  Far from canceling God’s glory, all of this brokenness exists within His glory.  It all resides within God’s plan of redemption.  The redeeming of an unholy and rebellious people by the holy and sovereign Lord of hosts can only be described as glorious.

The whole earth is filled with brokenness.  The whole earth is full of His glory. 

These contrasting perspectives are so difficult for me to comprehend.  I do not claim to have understanding or insight of how this can be true.  I accept it by faith.  I accept that there is a glory around me that I cannot see.  I praise God when I get glimpses and I long for the day when the redeemed are called and the fullness of His glory is revealed.

They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Isaiah 11:9

Until that day I will live by faith; I will have a conviction of things that I cannot see.(Heb. 11:1)  I believe that the glory of God is all around me.  I do not need to see it.  The Spirit confirms within my spirit that it is truth.

Until that day I will live by faith; I will place my assurance in the hope of the day without hurt and destruction. (Heb. 11:1)   I hope in the days when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.  I look forward to the day when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb; the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the cow and the bear shall graze together; the day when violence, pain and suffering are covered with comfort and peace.

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.  Isaiah 11:10

Until that day, those who follow Christ live in a broken world while walking by faith in the glory of God.  I don’t know how that works.  I just know that it does and for that I praise the Lord.

PRAYER: Holy, holy, holy are you my Lord and Savior.  The whole world is full of your glory.  Forgive me for all the times that I have lost sight of that.  Forgive me for not being in continual praise as those who are in your presence.  You are great and highly to be praised.  Father, help me to keep my eyes on you.  Help me to keep my mind-set upon you and your glory.  Keep my faith secure in all that I cannot see and my hope in you and you alone.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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