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To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:31).”

I finally did it for good. I deactivated my Facebook account.

I had done it before. Once I unfriended everyone and THEN deactivated it.

One person thought they had offended me and wrote me. They hadn’t. I had just had it with Facebook.

However, not long after that “killing” of Facebook I activated it again and got new friends. Meet the new friends, same as the old friends.

This time I am serious though. Facebook just isn’t giving me any joy or fun. Indeed, it is doing the opposite.

I was reminded of this when I responded to a blog written by Tim Chailes, a pastor. He had written about what he calls “the lost sin of envy”. I wrote in his comments section:

Tim, this is great stuff. And as a blogger, I’m envious of you. (Just kidding–really.) U know where I got envious this week: looking at people I knew on Facebook from the old days, people whom I haven’t seen in 40 years. They looked happier than me, more prosperous, and so on. It did begin to rot my bones…. I think one of the faults of FB is its false sense of what’s true and real. Heck. I have no idea if those people are really happy or not.

Tim Chailes responded by giving me his link to his earlier blog post called Facebook Makes Us Miserable.  In this piece Chailes notes that instead of making us happy as we intend it to, Facebook conjures up bad feelings when we see other people portray their successes.

What drove me to drop Facebook for good was a photo which included several people I knew. They were posing, showing off a successful activity of theirs.

I knew most of the people in that photo. In fact, except for what I deem an injustice I could have been with them.

There’s nothing really wrong with the people in the picture. I just didn’t care for some of the rottenness beneath it.  I finally thought that then and there that it was time to say goodbye to Mark Zuckerberg’s fantasy land.

Facebook isn’t the only place filled with posers. Today I was on the bus and encountered two people that made my life tough this year.

One of those persons got on the bus and glanced at me and went on. The other never saw me, as they were riding by on a bicycle.

Both of these people had been dishonest in my dealings with them. When I exposed them, things got difficult for me.

In fact, the bus rider came out smelling like a rose in the community in which we participate. I, on the other hand, am on my way out of this group, having been forced out.

The alternative  to constant musing about all these Facebook friends and other less than forthcoming people  is to look to God. However, as Erwin Lutzer pointed out in a sermon to his church this year, this task can be daunting.

Pastor Lutzer decided to preach on this text:

One of the teachers of the lawcame and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

 Lutzer told his congregation that thinking about teaching on this Scripture sent him into what he called “emotional convulsions”.  He told them why:

“I thought to myself, ‘this is an awesome passage of Scripture. Who in the world could love the Lord his God with all of his might, with all of his strength, and with all of his heart?  That seems like an impossible dream.’  And I thought to myself,’I’d like to be able to love God like that’, but I looked within my heart and I saw coldness and indifference and thought “who could love God with such passion?’. It seemed impossible.”

I had those same feelings at the time I sought out Lutzer’s message. I had felt led to look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) because I knew my bad feelings about the photos and messages on Facebook violated the last one:

“You shall not covet  your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (v. 17)

However, as I looked them over I determined that I daily broke about half of them. Oh, I may not commit murder for example, and thus violate the sixth one seven days a week, but I sure get angry at people in my heart. Jesus equated the two (see Matthew 5:21-24).

Indeed, Jesus calls us to an even higher life than pure actions. He wants holy hearts as well.

Lutzer’s message added another disobeyed commandment to my already full portfolio. I learned from the pastor that I am committing idolatry when I value other people, things or circumstances above God. I sure do this a lot, too.

Thus, I have felt like the Chief of Posers this week and Facebook has contributed to that.  Chailes says it all when he comments about our reactions to the messages we get from Facebook. We believe we are the only ones that are miserable when we view Facebook, and drag ourselves down. He writes:

“What a ridiculous lot we are. What a sad, jealous, envious, idolatrous lot.”

We believe the lie. And the world system we live in is indeed a lie.

It tells us that while we are looking at the loving Facebook couples that our marriages aren’t good enough. It communicates that we don’t measure up while we notice the old friend on a world tour. Yet, if truth be told, what I see on Facebook of other people’s lives is just an illusion, only part of the whole picture.

This constant lying in our midst should not surprise. Lying is the native tongue of Satan, the ruler of this world (John 8:44).  We’re all just using our mother tongue.

I know I need to learn a new language: God’s truth.  It’s main textbook is the Bible.

The Bible tells me who God, who I am and who other people are. It tells me what I am supposed to believe and to do.

I’m better off spending my time in the Bible than on Facebook, which Chailes tells us “sucking 700 billion minutes between the lot of us every month.”  At least in the Scriptures I’ll learn the language of truth.

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“As a father has compassion  on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13,14).”

If there has been one mantra in the eight years Dr. Gregory House has been around to utter his philosophies it is,”People don’t change.”  This is why the conclusion of the TV drama”House” was so suprising.

In the final episode House apparently is on a typical path to self destruction, except this time he seems to definitely intend to do himself in for good. This is so he can avoid having to go back to prison for violating his parole.

His suicide is apparently prompted also by the fact that he can’t be there in the last months for his dying friend, Dr. James Wilson, because he has to go back to jail. Wilson has five months to live and House’s remaining sentence lasts six.

As he lies on the floor of a burning warehouse, injured and stoned on heroin, House is arguing with an hallucination. Dr. Cameron, a former subordinate and love interest, is telling him that he is cowardly.

The Cameron in House’s mind is telling him that he is just debating with her as the place burns down around them to let the time pass so he doesn’t have to decide whether to get out and live or just pass on in  the flames, as she is suggesting he does. (He’s earned the right to die and leave this world of pain, she has told him.)

“You’re afraid of this decision, and you are trying to argue until fate takes it out of your hands. You’re taking the cowardly way out. And worse… you’re too cowardly to even admit you’re taking the cowardly way out”, the imaginary Cameron tells House..

House replies,”You’re right. But I can change.” For someone like me who has watched the series for years, this statement comes as a shock. As noted above, this violates a major House life principle.

House stands up to go, yet apparently is too late. The flames seemingly engulf him.

However, as we viewers learn later, he has escaped out the back door. He has faked his death.

Wilson, giving a warped eulogy at House’s funeral, thinks at that point that House is dead by his own drugged out hand.  House’s friend tells the funeral patrons:

“House was an ass. He mocked anyone —patients, co-workers, his dwindling friends — anyone who didn’t measure up to his insane ideals of integrity. He claimed to be on some heroic quest for truth, but the truth is, he was a bitter jerk who liked making people miserable. And he proved that by dying selfishly, numbed by narcotics, without a thought of anyone. A betrayal of everyone who cared about him.  A million times he needed me, and the one time that I needed him…”

Those who have followed “House” over the years would wholeheartedly agree with Wilson’s summation of the curmudgeonly doctor’s character. However, even as he speaks he is getting a text from House that says,”Shut up you idiot.”

Wilson understands from the text that House is alive and well.  He leaves the funeral and meets up with him. When Wilson sees House, he tells him:

You’re destroying your entire life. You can’t go back from this. You’ll go to jail for years. You can never be a doctor again.

House replies,”I’m dead, Wilson. How do you want to spend your last five months?”

The reason House has decided to go on and has engineered this whole circumstance is so he can be there for Wilson. For once, House does something completely out of character, unselfishly giving up his future and right to die (if he wanted to) for his friend. Apparently, people can change, at least according to the writers of this series, who have spoken the opposite through Gregory House for the last several years.

At least they posed the question.  Their portrayal of Dr. House over the years does beg the question,”Can people really change?”

Pastor Bob Merritt was faced with this question when he was confronted by a leadership consultant hired by his church. Merritt had been ordered by his church board to undergo counseling by a man Merritt calls “Fred” as a condition of further employment.

Merritt had watched his church grow from 350 to several thousand in two decades. However, as he describes in his book “When Life’s Not Working”, his method of leadership was brusque and unrelational.

Merritt had to listen to Fred and his assistant read a two hundred page document bearing the results of interviews with friends, family and coworkers which revealed his faults. For two days.

Merritt told Fred, who worked around the country with numerous CEOS, “I don’t know if I can change”.  Fred told him that statistically only 40% of his clients did. The other 60% percent stumbled on to things like lost marriages and careers.

“When Life’s Not Working” reveals that Merritt is one who did change. The key to it, he says, is humility: take the negative feedback you get seriously.

Merritt says two things drive people to consider change: fear and pain. Apparently Dr. House was confronted by both in that warehouse and decided to finally change.

Last week I was also debating with myself if I would ever change. I am not much older than Merritt, who is 53. When you get to this age, change is difficult.

I was fed up with my lack of progress in my character. As a Christian, I was hoping for much more transformation by this time.

I have had the chance recently to do a little gospel sharing with friends, and it occurred to me that I ought to share the gospel with myself to see if I was truly in the faith, or at least to help me review the fundamentals of Christianity.

So as I fought with myself over whether or not I could change, I did that. I sat on my sofa and reviewed some key principles:

* All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory , including me (Romans 3:23);

* The payback for sin is death, both spiritually and eventually physically (Romans 6:23);

* It is appointed for men to face God’s judgment after they die (Hebrews 9:27)

* God sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins so we wouldn’t have to face this judgment, proving His love (Romans 5:8);

* Jesus not only died, but He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-5);

* His resurrection is for me, too, if I accept it through believing in Him (John 11:25,26).

* Believing in Jesus  means receiving Him and entering into his family (John 1:9,10);

* This salvation from my sins and death is not because of my performance, but is a gift that I need to accept by faith (Ephesians 2:8.9).

Jesus illustrated the nature of his salvation when some religious leaders brought him an adulterous woman. Here is the account from the Gospel of John:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-11)

When I get to heaven I want to ask Jesus what he was drawing in the dirt. Some people think he was listing the sins of the religious leaders who were ready to condemn the adulterous woman.

I don’t know, but I am wondering if he was reminding Himself that we humans are indeed dust. This realization of that Jesus understands my frailties as a human being relieves my soul.

Although I want to pursue his command to “sin no more” and change, I am grateful that He cuts me some slack. This makes me love Jesus even more and want to become the best person I can be for Him.

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“My heart has heard you say,’Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘LORD, I am coming’ (Psalm 27:8).”

Gregory House has had many relationships over the last eight years of the TV medical drama that bears his surname. He has had several girlfriends and even a trumped up marriage meant to get a woman her green card. Dr. House has also had complicated relationships with the members of his medical team.

However, the most important connection he has had is the one forged between him and his best friend, Dr. James Wilson. They have been so close that some critics of the show have termed their friendship a “bromance”.

The pair met at a medical convention in New Orleans. As both recounted to a police officer in another state who was holding them on old charges,  Wilson had been arrested for assault and vandalism. (He threw an object through an antique mirror in a bar argument.)

House thought Wilson had spunk and was interesting, so he bailed him out. Thus began an enduring friendship.

Their relationship has hit the skids at times, however. An almost fatal rupture occurred when House indirectly was involved in the death of Wilson’s girlfriend. House didn’t cause the death, but his dysfunctional behavior led to Wilson’s flame Amber being in the situation which led to her demise.

Healing occurs when Wilson becomese part of a plot to make sure House goes to his father’s funeral. The ole curmudgeon has no intention of going because he despises the man and he believes he isn’t  his biological father anyway.

House is drugged by his boss.  When House wakes up, Wilson is driving him along the highway to the funeral location.

They have not seen each other in two months, as Wilson  quit to get away from House’s damaging and self-seeking  influence. When he notices House reviving, Wilson looks at him and says,”This doesn’t mean I care.”

After House confronts Wilson about his dumping him because of Amber’s death, Wilson becomes angry and throws an object through a stained-glass window at the church where the funeral is held.

House’s response? “Still not boring.”  On the way home House provokes Wilson as they discuss a current case:

“This is fun, isn’t it?”, House says, smiling knowingly at Wilson.

Wilson decides to take his old job back. When he tells House in the office, the latter says wryly,”If you’re coming back just because you’re attracted to the shine of my neediness… I’d be okay with that.”

Wilson tells House why he is truly coming back:

“I’m coming back because you’re right. That strange, annoying trip we just took was the most fun I’ve had since Amber died.”

Fast forward a couple of years. House drives his car into the front window of his girlfriend’s house (his girlfriend is also his boss) after she finally has had enough and ends it. In the process Wilson, who is a bystander, is injured.

Eleven months later House is paroled from prison and returns to the hospital. Wilson never visited and is cold as ice to him.

House reaches out to Wilson, telling him that he likes him, has fun with him. “Do what you have to do to get over this”, House says, suggesting a couple of acts of physical violence Wilson could perpretate toward him.  Wilson replies,”The thing is House, I DON’T like you.”

After House solves the case of Wilson’s dying patient, pushing Wilson in the process and making him a better doctor, Wilson walks into House’s office and punches him in the face, flooring him. “Dinner later?”, asks Wilson.

Fast forward in time to what is now the end of the series. The writers of “House” have chosen to sum up eight seasons by focusing on the relationship between Gregory House and James Wilson.

House learns that Wilson has cancer and has five months to live. Wilson refuses any further treatment after a dangerous chemotherapy experiment he requests House to perform “under the table” doesn’t get results.

Wilson is an oncologist and does not want to go through the slow death that he has seen from his patients. House, on the other hand, does everything he can to get Wilson to change his mind. “I need you” he tells his friend.

House is so frantic to keep Wilson around that he conducts a series of hospital pranks aimed at getting Wilson to give in. One collapses a bathroom, injures some doctors and damages an expensive medical instrument.

Wilson in the meantime is upset again with House. Even his own fatal disease is all about House, it seems.

In the meantime, House finally accepts Wilson’s wishes and their relationship is “good”.  However, House is told the vandalism has violated his parole and he will have to go back to jail.

“How long?”, he asks. “Six months”, the hospital lawywer tells him. House will miss any remaining time his friend Wilson has on this earth because of his hijinks.

House apparently collapses from the strain. He goes off to a warhehouse, does heroin with a dying patient. 

Wilson tracks him down after two days. However, the warehouse is now burning and as Wilson stares at House through the window of a blazing room, his friend is buried under the collapsing buillding.

However, House in typical fashion has had it all planned. He has faked his death.

House sends Wilson a text message as the latter is blasting his friend in a eulogy. “Shut up you idiot” the text says.

Wilson now knows House is alive.  He meets up with House, telling him he has thrown his life away. House replies,”I’m dead. What do you want to do with your remaining five months.”

The series ends with House and Wilson sitting on motorcycles. Wilson tells House,”Uhh..when the cancer gets bad..”.

House interrupts, looks at Wilson and says,”Cancer is boring.” They drive off together, presumably doing what Steppenwolf sang about: “looking for adventure and whatever comes our way.”

What a friendship! Despite its ups and downs, the relationship between House and Wilson is an enduring one.

They both get fulfillment and complete satisfaction in it. This is despite the trials.

I was sitting at home a few days ago not feeling particularly close to God.  I believe this was because I hadn’t really met God’s expectations, just as House and Wilson did not fulfill each other’s wishes at times.

I understand, however, that  even though the closeness of these two men is admirable and even to be emulated, a relationship with the my Lord and Master Jesus is of a different kind on one important respect. Jesus told his disciples,”You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:14).”  If we want God to confide in us like a friend, we need to fear Him (Psalm 25:14).

As I sat there on my couch, trying to have a quiet time, I missed the fellowship with God. There is nothing on this earth like it. 

I asked Him to take me back into His confidence.  He did.

There is nothing so precious as friendship with God. No experience, work, hobby, or any other relationship can replace it.

I was pretty scared when I thought that I might have lost His friendship for good. It gave me a clear perspective on what is important in this life and how to live.

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“When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;  the light of my face was precious to them (Job 29:24).”

I think six months of winter is a little much, even for the Finns. Finally, today I have seen the possibility that it might be over.

As I walked by the largest lake in the country around noon, I could see pools of water developing. They were intermingled with the ever -weakening ice and the last vestiges of the white snow that has dominated the landscape here for months.

I groaned inwardly as I walked through the harbor in my town.  Having any winter the last week of April made me long for something different.

I also sighed inside because the icy lake, though beginning to turn liquid again, reminded me of my own soul. After a lifetime I have grown tired of the winter in my being and at last have begun to see my frozen spirit begin to melt.

These feelings come on a day that it seems major issues in my life all confronted me at once. This tends to happen when a computer is used. Too much communication, or perhaps not enough real life.

Recently a pastor told me that I was just “going through a season in my life”. When it was obvious to him that I was getting ready to object, that nothing was going to change, he added,”Oh, this doesn’t mean necesarrily that your circumstances will change, but…”.

I don’t remember the rest. I probably can’t recall because I was stuck on the unsettling truth of his first clause just sinking in.

Today I am fed up with myself. Not only that, I am disillusioned with the world I live in every day, including the features of modern-day Christianity.

I guess I’m not alone in that. Andrew Sullivan just wrote a piece in Newsweek advising Christians to follow Jesus and not the church.

No news there. The letters to the editor in the following edition both praised him and criticized him for his article.

I guess I am feeling a bit singled out today though, perhaps by Jesus Himself. I ask,”What I want to know, Lord, is why I have to keep paying the price for my sinfulness and other believers I know seem to be getting a pass?”

I know for a fact that they struggle with the same stuff I do: temper, sexual temptation, greed, envy, self indulgence…the list could go on and have made the same mistakes as a result of failing in these areas. Yet, these folks seem to be carrying on, their smiling Facebook images glaring out at me each day.

I, on the other hand, have to pay the piper for my lifetime of not really following Jesus all the way. Without going into detail in public print, let’s just say I have a bunch of messes, mostly originating from the biggest cesspool in my life: my heart.

I cry with the Psalmist,”My problems are going from bad to worse (Psalm 25:17a).”  (He adds pleadingly,”Save me from them all!”)

These same people who are getting a free ride on their sins, from my point of view anyway, are not shy about telling the rest of us what to do about ours. (I don’t know, even as I write that it seems a little unfair. I do the same thing-trying to play God in the lives of others.)

What I wonder is if my earthly life can still be redeemed. I am beginning to feel like one of my favorite fictional characters, Dr. Gregory House-the king of curmdgeons.

House consistently displays his flaws from week-to-week in the TV drama that bears his name. Into his eighth and final season, it doesn’t appear as if the not-so-good doctor will ever change.

He is left with only one loving aspect it seems. This was revealed recently as he dealt with one of his colleagues, Dr. Robert Chase.

Chase is about to tell a nun who had previously struggled with her beliefs that her renewed faith and desire to return to the convent has to do with a chemical reaction to her brain from a near-death experience, not a spiritual awakening. Chase has fallen in love with the nun and wants to keep her.

But he has his own issues, which House sees right through. It’s not that House is particularly religious -far from it.  He just realizes Chase would be making a big mistake, trying to bring the woman back to him for all the wrong reasons.

For one, Chase himself has just had a near death experience. A few weeks before a patient nearly stabbed him to death.

Chase defends his rationale and attacks House for his intent to bring him to his senses:

Chase (to House): She’s throwing away her life because of blind faith.

House: So are you! She’s found something she wants to build her life around. It’s a total illusion, but apparently she’ll take a little ignorance with her bliss. And you want to take that away?

Chase: How many times have you thrown the truth in people’s faces?

House: Because it’s the truth, not because we’re gonna live happily ever after.

House: Either your relationship just blows up like every other non-magical romance, or she stays with you but blames you for stripping all the meaning out of her life.

Chase: (angrily) This has nothing to do with the truth. You don’t like that I’m reassessing my life, that I want to change it, that I can.

House: Anyone can screw up a life. I never said that wasn’t possible.

Chase: You’re incapable of human connection, so you want everyone to be like you.

House: If I wanted you to be like me… I would be urging you to make a stupid, stubborn decision that blows up your life and leaves you lonely and miserable. You reassess your life when you’ve made mistakes. You didn’t. You just got stabbed. 

Thus, the only goodness that can come from House after a life of curmdugeonliness is to tell someone else,”Don’t be like me!”.

I am hoping my life isn’t so far gone that I end up being some old guy who tells young whippernsnappers,”Do as I say, not as I do (or did).”

What I discovered though as I walked through the harbor today is that what really matters is what Jesus Christ thinks of me, not what others, even those closest to me, think. More than that, what He thinks of me is more crucial than what I think of myself.

What I know is that Jesus died to give me grace. He paid the price for my sins, past, present and future.

Can this aging leopard change his spots at this date (Jeremiah 13:23). I don’t know, but if any transformation is going to come about, it is going to happen through completely turning my life over to the care of Jesus.

So instead of looking at my dirty smudges, and the frowns of those around me who don’t care much for them either, I think it’s best I just look into the face of Christ. There I’ll get a smile.

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 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you;  bind them around your neck,  write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man (Proverbs 3:3,4).”

This week I taught my English class for internationals how to write a haiku. I don’t really care for poetry that much, but I have always liked this form.
 
Perhaps it is because of its simplicity. As someone said to me recentlyt, anyone can write a haiku.
 
The original form of haiku is written as written in Japanese is very terse. Therefore, to communicate the idea of the style in English, the form,  i.e. the stanzas and syllables have to be even shorter than they are in Japanese.
 
After I read my students  a sample of my own work, I had them to do it. From what I could tell, they did a wonderful job. One Indonesian girl ran up to me and proudly showed me her work.
 
This must be my week for Japanese culture because I ran into a version of an old Frank Sinatra hit done recently by Japanese-American singer Hikaru Otada. She adds new life to a song I never have cared for in the past.
 
Utada seems to be an admirable young lady.  That great everyman source Wikipedia says of her breakthrough in the late 1990s:” Unlike other pop-stars at the time, she was more focused on becoming a singer and songwriter while other Japanese female singers were attempting to become idols.”
 
Ms. Utada apparently knows that to be a success she has to hone her craft and work hard. She doesn’t seek to just be “famous for being famous”.
 
It’s a real temptation for Christians today, including yours truly, to discard the work ethic  required to be exemplary believers and aim instead for becoming Christian pop culture “heros of the faith”,  without meeting up with the disciplines required. We want to be Christian divas, God knows why.
 
Hiraku’s opening to the classic song “Fly Me to the Moon” shows she knows what it takes to make life work:
 
“Poets often use many words
  to say a simple thing
  But it takes thought and time and rhyme
  to make a poet sing.”
 
To make a Christian life “sing” requires superior character (I Timothy 3:1-13). This is not obtained overnight, nor does it come easy.
So you want to be hot stuff in Christian circles?  Be careful what you ask for. It’s a worthy goal, but it may take a lifetime.
 
This is because we came into this world in plebeian fashion. We have a lot of sin and experiences from our youth to overcome.
 
Upon birth into this world, we were hit by a flying curse (Zechariah 5:1-4).  Thanks be to God, we have Him to heal the torment caused by it.
 
Hikaru Utada, introduces this healing from God:
 
“With music and words
  I’ll be playin’
  For you I have written a song

  To be sure that you’ll know what
  I’m sayin’ I’ll translate as I go along.”

 
God does the same for us. He wants our lives to be an expression of Him, if you will, a beautiful song.
 
When we come to Jesus Christ, He puts a desire in us. Jesus gives us the longing  to soar from the plight of the curse:
 
” Fly me to the moon
  and let me play among the stars
  Won’t you let me see what spring is like
  On Jupiter and Mars

   Fill my heart with song
  and let me sing forever more
  ’cause you are all I long for
  All I worship and adore.”

 We don’t even know what our hearts are singing, but God does. He translates for us as we go along:

 
  “…In other words
  hold my hand
In other words
  darling kiss me

 “… In other words
  please me true
  In other words
  I love you.”

  Our souls crave love which seems to be in this world at a considerable distance away . We want God to fly us to the moon and beyond, where His loving arms await . It seems so unattainable because of the curse.

 
We want a Lover of Our Souls who will be faithful. We love Him, although we don’t know why, and we want to hold His hand.
 
We know we won’t find this faithfulness in our fellow humans.  We aren’t as true as we should be.
 
Yet, I believe and hope against hope that life can be a poem, one we write together with Jesus, despite the curse.
 
Catholic priest Gregory Boyle writes,”What the American poet William Carlos Williams said of poetry could well be applied to the living of our lives: ‘If it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem’.”
 
Does life have to be all suffering all the time? I think not. I think perhaps this is not what God had in mind at the Creation.
 
Boyle’s colleague in a ministry to gang members says,”God created us because He thought we’d enjoy it.” Boyle himself adds,”God so loved the world that we’d find the poetry in it.”
 
However,  a life of  lovely lyrics requires our participation. We won’t get it by sitting on the sofa watching karaoke.
 
Hikaru Utada this year took a sabbatical from her music career. Why?  To focus on self improvement.
 
According to the Japan Today website, she wrote on her blog,“I want to study new things, and see and experience things in this big world that I don’t know about.” 
  
To me, this girl is “all that”. She knows it takes a heart to learn and a will to focus to get  to where she wants to be, not just as a musician, but as a person.
 
God wants to fly us to the moon. Indeed, He used Brian Littrell of the music group The Backstreet Boys to express what’s in His mind:”Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.
 
When thinking of this quote, which I saw on a plaque in a bookstore the other day, I consider the source. Littrell is a committed believer in Jesus Christ.
 
He was born with a heart defect which has threatened his life on several occasions, according to Wikipedia.  He finally had a hole in his heart repaired in the late 1990s.
 
As believers in Jesus, we all require heart surgery.  God has performed that through Jesus Christ.
 
Apparently we’re now capable of shooting for the moon and the stars. We are able to be noble in this life.
 
“Noble is
what I want to be
 
It doesn’t
fall from trees, my friend
 
Nobility
takes a choice to aim
for glory”.
 
While we shoot for the stars in this life, we know one day we’ll get there:
 
“Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away). 

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away). 

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away) 

In the meantime, well,…you know.

 

 
  
 
 
 

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” I know that my Redeemer  lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me (Job 19:25-27!”

As I sat in the office of a rental agent yesterday, I looked to my left and saw raging flood waters.  The reporters and banners on the screen were discussing a devasting flood that took the lives of numerous people in a campground in a remote area of Arkansas.

A downpour created a wall of water in the area within an hour, in the middle of the night, and created havoc..  This morning some of the stories have come out.  A man described how his truck was picked up by the force of the water “like a piece of paper”.

 One couple saved themselves by standing in the bed of their pickup while the water came up to their waists.  A woman saw her 16-year old son floating down the river screaming for help, and she was filled with relief  when he lodged against a tree.

Others were not so fortunate. The same woman heard people in the water screaming”Help me! Help me!”. However, there was nothing she could do.

Currently, authorities say that 16 people have died, but they are saying there  is no telling how many people they will find in the camping site.  The families of up to 70 people have contacted them for help in searching for missing loved ones.  The missing are someone’s father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter.

When I hear a story like this, it makes me think of what is really valuable, and it comes down to those I love: my wife. my children, other family and friends.  Their lives are precious, to me and to God.

There is nothing worth more than someone’s life.  In fact, the Bible says that a life is beyond cost.  No payment is ever enough (Psalm 49:8). 

Maybe that is why there is such pain when we lose a loved one, or our own lives end up in disarray.  We grieve over the loss of something of which the cost is incalculable. 

When disaster strikes, people die, and those left behind sometimes become dead men walking.  Jacob could not be comforted when he thought his beloved son Joseph had been devoured by a wild beast (Genesis 37:34). 

Job also was a man in despair over his own lost life and that of his dear ones. He grieved over the ending of the days when he was “in his prime”.  Job mourned his dead children, his lost wealth and the end of respect from others (Job 29:1-10). 

 There is something else which is unimaginably priceless: God’s wisdom. Job said that man will dig deep in the earth for precious metals and stone, but he can’t mine for wisdom in the ground.  He has to look up to God for it. 

God is the Almighty One whose power is demonstrated in His creation.  He created the forces that brought destruction to the campers in Arkansas.  He knows what wisdom is all about, and He has told us that fearing Him is the way to get hold of it (Job 29:18-28).

I was in the office a rental agent yesterday because I was looking for a place to live.  My family and I are searching for the best place we can find within our limited budget. The place we looked at yesterday seems to fit the bill.

There is one drawback, however; we have to move away from our new church, new friends and other things that have meant much to our spiritual and emotional well being.

When I think about the idea that God’s  people and His wisdom are the things of most worth, temporary housing seems to pale.   Leaving behind the things that matter most for eternity for shelter that will last for a limited time seems foolish.

People are priceless. God’s wisdom is beyond valuable.  However, God Himself is of more worth than these. Whatever makes for knowing Him is where we should be parking ourselves.

” There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more (John Lennon).”

Joshua made his choice.  He told wavering Israel that if they wanted to go after other things besides God, they could do so.  Joshua said to his fellows,” But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).”

Whatever and wherever refreshes our love for God is worth pursuing over any other people, places or things.  This life is short, but eternity with Him will last forever.  Therefore, despite the obstacles, we will live in the place where we can love and serve our God, Jesus Christ,  while we still have breath, because one day we see Him and adore Him face to face.

“besame, besame mucho,
each time i cling to your kiss, i hear music divine
oh besame, besame mucho, hold me my darling
and say that you’ll always be mine

this joy is something new
my arms enfolding you
never knew this thrill before
who ever thought i’d be holding you close to me
whispering it’s you i adore

dearest one, if you should leave me
each little dream would take wing and my life would be through
besame, besame mucho
love me forever and make all my dreams come true.
oh love me forever and make all my dreams come true”

To think Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  Hopefully, I can make up for it when I see Him.

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