Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Let me introduce you to god..."

"Let me introduce you to god. (Note the lowercase 'g'.)

You might want to lower your voice a little before we go in. He might be sleeping now. He's old, you know, and doesn't much understand or like this 'newfangled' modern world. His golden days - the ones he talks about when you really get him going - were a long time ago, before most of us were even born. That was back when people cared what he thought about things, and considered him pretty important to their lives.

Of course all that's changed now, though, and god - poor fellow - just never adjusted very well. Life's moved on and passed him by. Now, he spends most of his time just hanging in the garden out back. I go there sometimes to see him, and there we tarry, walking and talking softly and tenderly among the roses...

Anyway, a lot of people still like him, it seems - or at least he manages to keep his poll numbers pretty high. And you'd be surprised how many people even drop by to visit and ask for things every once in a while. But of course that's alright with him. He's here to help.

Thank goodness, all the crankiness you read about sometimes in his old books - you know, having the earth swallow people up, raining fire down on cities, that sort of thing - all that seems to have faded in his old age. Now he's just a good natured, low-maintenance friend who's really easy to talk to - especially since he almost never talks back, and when he does, it's usually to tell me through some slightly wierd 'sign' that what I want to do regardless is alright by him. That really is the best kind of friend, isn't it?

You know the best thing about him, though? He doesn't judge me. Ever, for anything. Oh sure, I know that deep down he wishes I'd be better - more loving, less selfish, and all that - but he's realistic. He knows I'm human and nobody's perfect. And I'm totally sure he's fine with that. Besides, forgiving people is his job. It's what he does. After all, he's love, right? And I like to think of love as 'never judging, only forgiving.' That's the god I know. And I wouldn't have him any other way.

Alright, hold on a second...Okay, we can go in now. And don't worry, we don't have to stay long. Really. He's grateful for any time he can get." (From "What Is the Gospel?" by Greg Gilbert)

"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law NO human being will be justified in his sight...But now the righteousness of God has been manifested...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:19-23) (emphasis mine)

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) (emphasis mine)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Death, destruction - and devotion.

Almost sixteen years ago I stood over the open coffin of my father, holding my five-year-old granddaughter's hand, looking into the still, waxy face of the man we both loved dearly - and God dropped a thought into my mind that still resonates within me. I spoke it aloud. "He's more alive now than he ever was on this earth."

That truth has grown deep roots in my soul, and given another nuance of meaning to the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:20: "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...". I don't belong here; this isn't my true home. It's a mission field, a training ground, a battlefield - and yes, a temporary home where there is much joy, even in the midst of its pains and evils. But the reality for which I long is yet to come.

The reality of an afterlife came yesterday to literally hundreds of people - and most of them met it unexpectedly. One moment they were on this earth. In the blink of an eye they were in eternity - swept there by tornadic winds, or buried under tons of rubble, or crushed in an impact with an oncoming vehicle. To say that's a sobering thought is to speak almost inanely - how could it be anything but sobering, to think of instaneous death? No time to prepare, to say goodbye, to compose a prayer - one moment you're here, the next you're not. Where are you?

I don't personally know anyone who died yesterday. But I know I'll meet one of them someday - and when I do, I'm going to hug his neck and thank him for the impact he made on my life through his passionate, pleading words and his devotion to Jesus Christ.

David Wilkerson died unexpectedly and instantly yesterday when his car collided head-on with a tractor-trailer in East Texas. He didn't know he was going to die - but I can guarantee he was ready. He's been ready for decades. I'm not going to take time or space to introduce him to you - if you don't recognize the name, look him up. He wrote a book in 1985 (he wrote many) called "Set The Trumpet to Thy Mouth." I believe it was written in fire and in tears - which is how I read it - in tears. God used it to wake me up, to shake me up - and I literally have never been the same.

I didn't always agree with all his theology - but I didn't have to. He preached "Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and he contended for the faith - urging utter surrender and devotion to Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and pleading for repentance, holiness, and a life of love and service.

He's home now. And yes - he's more alive now than he ever was down here.

And all those others who perished yesterday? Some of them are with David and with their Lord. Many of them are not - and never will be. "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:27,28)

I hope to be eagerly waiting for Christ when He returns - because I believe that will be soon. But if not? If death claims me instantly, or after a long, debilitating illness - however it may come - rest assured: I'll be more alive then than I ever was on this earth. And that truth is to the praise of the glory of Jesus Christ my Lord. I pray it's your truth, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And so it begins...

So. After literally months of thinking about actually writing a blog...I mean, who would want to read it, that's the big question...and what would I talk about...and would it make a hill-of-beans difference to anyone, outside of myself, as to whether or not I say anything...and (most importantly) this something the Lord wants me to do and - if so - why??? After all that - and oh yeah, multitudes of prayers about guidance (and not receiving anything remotely resembling divine handwriting on the wall, giving specific instructions) I am. At this point, I might as well be looking in a mirror, talking to myself. Well, not actually looking in a mirror, that would be downright scary - but writing something that not a single soul in this world knows about - yet, anyway. So what on earth am I doing? Ever heard the saying, "you're so heavenly minded, you're no earthly good?" Sounds very practical, even as a Christian - sounds like something a mother would say. "Get your head out of the clouds, there's practical things to be done." Well, I disagree with that statement. Strongly disagree. I happen to believe that unless we are "heavenly minded," we don't have a prayer of being any "earthly good" - to anyone. It's Palm Sunday. I don't know about your church, but God showed up this morning at mine. And, I don't mean to sound flippant when I say that. His Word was declared, strongly, passionately, without hesitation or apology. Christ's atoning, sacrificial death was explained clearly, boldly, with gratitude and praise. I wept my way through the first service, and headed to my classroom (where I lead a Life Group for women) pretty much devoid of the make-up I had so carefully applied earlier - only to continue the struggle with tears during most of my teaching time. Why? Because we were studying through Ephesians 1 - that passionate outpouring of the Apostle Paul where he piles extravagant phrases on top of each other as he tries to explain who we are and what we have IN Christ Jesus. Key word, that - "in Him. In Christ. In the Beloved. In Him." Then we went to Paul's prayers in chapters 1 and 3. And as we did that, we looked at the prayer list for our church family that is included in each Sunday's bulletin. It gets longer every week - and more heartbreaking. Cancer - everywhere - much of it terminal. Children lost in tragic accidents. Marital problems. The elderly struggling with health issues - many of them alone. Unemployment. Loss of loved ones. Wayward children. Unsaved relatives. Brothers and sisters seeking answers, discernment, direction, help, support, God's will. And what does Paul pray for? "That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened...that we may know..." - what? How to get out of our problems? No. That we might know His steadfast love, the length and breadth and depth and height of it - that we might know Him. He is the Answer. He is everything. And so this afternoon and into the evening, I have been burdened (there really is no other word) with your pain - and with the absolute certainty that Jesus Christ is the Answer to it. Do you know that? Do you know Him? So it journey put into words, offered with the prayer that I may be of some support, some encouragement, some enlightenment, some comfort, some help, some teaching, perhaps even some direction. For my sake and self-satisfaction? No. For His glory, for the furtherance of His kingdom, that His will may be done, in my little corner of the world as it is in Heaven. You have to hit "save" at the end of these things, in order to post to your page. I do so as an action - and as a prayer. "Save...Lord,"