Thursday, December 27, 2007

Having Nothing

He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God alone.” - C. S. Lewis

We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.” - Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

Karl Marx taught that in our world people exist because of what they have. Thus, if they have nothing, they do not exist.

Who are you if you lost all your “stuff”? For me this is hard to imagine and understand. Yet all this “stuff” seems permanent yet it is all passing away. What will last is spiritual; our spirit lives forever.

If we had nothing, we could be in serious bondage (having to get something) or in spirit lifting freedom (I don’t need anything, its just me and the Lord.)

If you had nothing, would you be in bondage or would you experience spirit lifting freedom? As a Christian, I would like to think I would be spiritually free but my “realistic” nature would take control. I would need to work towards getting shelter, clothes, and the other necessities in order to survive. How much do I trust the Lord? We trust who and what we know. How can we trust the Lord if we don’t know Him? Would we trust Him even if we had nothing? What would be important then?

I know my answer, like I said, I would take matters in my own hands, work to get the necessities (very practical) but I’d take my life into my own hands. I’d be as self-sufficient as possible. I would pursue what was needed (cheap) first and than pursue what was valuable.

Life is not easy. We exist in the practical world but we long to be spiritually free. To do this, I must trust God. That’s easier said than done.

Lord, deepen my trust of you. Get my priorities right. May I pursue what is right and pure. May I live in realistic dependence upon you every minute whether I have my stuff or I have nothing. Guide me sweet Jesus. Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Distracted Christmas

I drove home Friday night in the fog. I’ve driven Hwy. 7 over 100 times this year; I know it like a glove but in the fog, if I get distracted, I can forget where I’m at.

A young man once asked me, “What’s all this Christmas stuff really about?” A good question amidst the fog and distraction of the busyness of the season. I thought awhile and told him “Christmas is all about Jesus who came to earth to be among men and go to the cross.”

Even at Christmas, “the cross” should be at the center of all we do. The cross has seemed to lose its popularity over the years. Yes, it’s gory and bloody, but it is central to our faith; the idea of Jesus (God Incarnate) coming to earth. Remember the Christmas story, the angels, the virgin, the shepherds, and the manger? They all point to the cross. It was not a cosmic mistake that Jesus was sent to the cross. No, God the Father was not asleep when God, the Son, Jesus was handed over to the Roman authorities to be skewered to a tree for your sins and mine. It was the plan from the beginning.

Over 300 prophecies needed to be fulfilled for Jesus to be born that day in Bethlehem. It was God’s plan. But I wonder if we live in a fog, distracted from the full message of Christmas. God with us mere men, so God Himself, Jesus, could go to the cross for you and me.

Don’t get disheartened, sadly we are no different than generations before; yes, they were distracted also. After Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24) we find two of Jesus disciples leaving Jerusalem, heads down, sad and disheartened. The Romans had killed their Messiah. They wanted an earthly Messiah, a king, not a heavenly one.

They are walking along a road when the resurrected Jesus comes by their side but disguises Himself and asks “what were you talking about as you walked along? " (Luke 24:17 CEV). In short they replied, “have you not heard all that has happened in the last week concerning Jesus from Nazareth? We thought He was going to be our Messiah, but He was handed over to the Roman authorities and killed.” To help them understand, Jesus took scripture and showed them what He had to suffer before He entered His Glory. Yes, God’s plan was for Jesus to suffer and die for our sins and rise again from the dead victorious over sin and death.

What do we get? We are sons and daughters of the Most High. We will live and reign with God eternally. Jesus will come again some day. He will come as King and Judge. Remember this, brothers and sisters, the manger is empty, the cross is empty, the tomb is empty. I am waiting for the day when God the Father turns to the Son and says, “Go get my people.” Jesus will rise from His seat at the right hand of God and come and get us. The seat on the right hand of God the Father will be empty also. God will be with us and we will be His people.

Let not the fog distract us this Christmas. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, Come!

May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.

Friday, December 14, 2007

If we make it through December…

In the northern climes, December is the darkest month. The Prairie Hawk (the wind) creeps slowly, relentlessly, and coldly across the prairie, raising its head and velocity to remind us of how vulnerable we could be if it were not for modern technology.

It’s a time when people struggle with depression. The darkness, the cold, the pressure and busyness of the holidays add to the mix. Merle Haggard’s song “If We Make It Through December” in part says: “If we make it through December everything’s gonna be alright I know; It’s the coldest time of winter and I shiver when I see the falling snow;” (check out the following site & scroll down for the words.)

In Minnesota in December it’s dark, it’s cold, and we have January cold and March snow yet to look forward to… “In the midst of this darkness there is hope, a light that burns, the Little Child, the King of Kings some day will return” words of a song sung by Scott Wesley Brown entitled “This Little Child.” (Click Link above to hear this song) We can become pessimistic and depressed or we can choose to look for the good. Here are some good examples:

* Last Sunday morning Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel were on Fox and Friends. Tebow was named the Heisman Trophy winner and Danny Wuerffel, a former Heisman winner, was his mentor. Both men are devout Christians, both kept their heads, both gave glory to the Lord. They were powerful Christian witnesses. God will get His message out; in the midst of darkness, there is light that burns.

* On a recent Dr. Phil Show, he was dealing with what Dr. Phil deals with…broken relationships, sins of all sorts. T. D. Jakes, a Texas Pastor, was also a guest who, in the space of one hour, told people that their only hope and victory over sin is found only in Jesus Christ. God gets His message out; in the midst of darkness, there is a light that burns.

* The Three Amigos of Cokato, Jerry Terning, Rollie Severson and Russ Irving are three boyhood friends. Now retired Christian businessmen, they were just named Citizens of the Year in Cokato. A front page article in the paper told of their humble service to the community. They gave all the glory to the Lord. God gets His message out; in the midst of darkness, there is light.

* A Minneapolis police woman was fired for not being truthful; she went to Colorado, met Christ and her life was transformed. She is a member of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and since she is licensed to carry a weapon, has volunteered as a security person there. On Sunday morning, Matthew Murray, a Christian hater, came to the church with 1,000 rounds of ammunition to do much harm. He did as he killed two young sisters. Out of the hallway came Jeanne Assam; the former policewoman. She was the right person in the right place at the right time. God once again displayed His sovereign power. In her own words she was strengthened by God’s power. She shot the young shooter and lives were saved. God gets His message out; in the midst of darkness there is a light that shines.

Christian, it is not the time to be depressed; it is the time we go to our prayer closet, get on our knees, confess our sin, and thank God for His sovereign grace. We then need to get up, put on our God given armor (Ephesians 6) and step outside for the battle has come to us. Yes, it has come to us. God will accomplish His purposes whether we go with Him or not. He doesn’t need us but chooses to use us. Are we ready for the battle?

Remember this, yet in the midst of this darkness there is a hope, a light that burns, this Little Child, the King of Kings some day will return. Heads up people, the battle belongs to the Lord.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Never too old…

Joshua 13:1: When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him “You are very old and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.”

I’m 60 years old. Yes, I’m heading to geezer Ville; or in the opinion of some, I’ve been there for awhile. Getting old is something we try to delay. Getting old is inevitable; it will happen no matter what we do to delay it.

The question I have is “How do we grow old?” In America, we retire. I have no problems with that but what I see that concerns me is that we also retire from Christian service. “I’ve done my share;” “Let the young people do it” are some of the things said.

What I like about Joshua 13:1 is this—the Lord tells it like it is—Joshua you’re old, no getting around that but…you have not finished your work. Joshua, you have work to do; get with it.

We look forward to retirement. That’s ok but what has God called you to do? What is your Spiritual passion? What gifts has God given you? What talents has God blessed you with? Are you still doing it or have your spiritually retired? Have you given up and given in to a spirit of pessimism and sloth? We don’t have to “be old” to fall into this trap. Joshua had work to do; the Lord wanted him to do it, and he did. The Lord is faithful. Joshua 21:43-45 says: “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”

Joshua is nearing the end of his life. He says farewell to the leaders. In part he says, "Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14).

As I write, the early morning news is reporting on the shootings yesterday at the shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska. The young man who did the shooting was kicked out of his home a year ago. Another family took him in and was trying to help him.

Is there work for us to do? I think so. Brothers and sisters, lift up you head, you’re a child of the King. There is work to do. I don’t care if you’re young or old, people need to know Christ. The Lord is willing to use us all—young and old. “You are very old,” the Lord said to Joshua—no spin doctoring here. “Joshua, you’re old but get to work.”

And besides all of this, the Lord fulfills all His promises, not one has failed.

We should not be afraid of anything the Lord will prevail.

“Lift High the Cross, the Love of Christ Proclaim.”