Friday, March 16, 2012

God will dissolve your ipad.


Behold 2 Peter 3:9-13...

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

I was so impacted by these verses this morning. These verses have all the aspects of God's redemptive plan wrapped up in a compact space.

1. God is a Lover. God wants all of His humans-made-in-His-likeness to come to Him and repent of their wicked and sinful lives.

2. God is Patient. God's patience suspends His judgment because His love propels His desire to keep on drawing those who will come to Him.

3. God is not Patient Forever. God will draw the curtain of history to a close someday and wrap up shop on everything He has made.

4. God is a Destroyer. God will dissolve or bring to nothing the entire universe and everything inside of it that is unrighteous. That includes stars, moons, ants and anything tainted by sin (everything).

5. God expects us to have an End-of History View. If everything will be dissolved this way how should we live? For the 'now' and physical or for the 'later' and eternal?

6. God is a giver of Righteousness. Through the repentance of humans and the accepting of Jesus' righteousness that we cannot generate for ourselves, God makes us righteous so we can live for eternity in a place that is totally regenerated and righteous--the new heaven and new earth...without ipads...

It is amazing to consider that we may get to see this event from heaven with God when He recreates everything just like the angels did when this universe was created. Maybe God will let you watch your ipad melt...nooooooooooooooooooooo!

Live for eternity today!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quote!

Fear the day when the Lord ceases to call you to repent because you have ceased to heed His warnings. The separation you seek from Him in this life will be yours throughout eternity.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May you bask in the provision, protection, and pleasure of God this year. Blessings to you friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Quote!

The raging river of death is so treacherous that no one dare cross it without the bridge of peace built by God.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quote!

Better to be young and have heeded biblical counsel than old and have regretted not listening to instruction...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Quote!

The reason many of us do not do much soul searching is because we are rightly afraid of what we will find.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote!



The graveyard of your faults is not bigger than the garden of grace that God is cultivating for you. Live in the beauty of God's grace toward you today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas in November? Stop. Just Stop.

As I write this blog I am sitting in California, in shorts, and looking out the window at sunny skies with 78 degrees of a perfect day. And then it happened...the first Christmas song came over the radio. It's November 14. Thanksgiving has not even happened yet. Something is terribly wrong. The song is about reindeer bells jingling on the rooftops, snow falling, and jolly old saint Nicholas. Or something like that.

Needless to say the song immediately put me in a confused state of mind. I didn't know whether to run outside to try and make a snow ball or drop on the ground to form a snow angel in the driveway, or to start baking some cookies...but I don't bake. Also, dropping to the ground and trying to make a snow angel in the driveway would cause me to get a concussion from the cement and tear my skin as it rubbed on the blacktop. No snow here.

The question remained, "Why would they do this to me over 40 days before Christmas?" And why would they let Frosty the snowman be played over and over getting me to think Christmas is here? Is nothing sacred? Nothing holy? Look at all the happy children!


It was so bothersome the channel had to be changed. I was not ready to process Christmas this early in the year. My head and heart revolted.

Yet as I typed this, I realized it was not the holiday I was not ready for, but the popular, commercial side of Christmas was what I didn't want to transition to. I came to recognize that I loved Jesus all the time and I didn't ever feel the need to get an emotional 'season' to fit him into.

After all, the first Christians didn't even celebrate his birth. Interesting.

Of course, most people hardly care about Jesus during Christmas because of the commercialism that has invaded our lives but I want to cherish him without all the trappings of 'holidays'. Nothing wrong with a little snow and hot chocolate and a song about a fat man in a red suit that never existed, but I aways want to honor Jesus above all.

Everything has it's place. And commercial Christmas? Let's at least wait until after Thanksgiving please!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How does your 'good' compare to mine? Take the quiz!



I love quizzes!

At the death of most important, world-changing people, I hear many people refer to the fact that the deceased person is 'in heaven' or 'looking down on us smiling' or 'is partying with their friends' or in a 'better place'. And the rational for this person being 'in heaven' or 'a better place' or whatever is usually all the good, joy, happiness or brilliance they have brought to the world or to the person speaking about them.

So, it got me thinking, "What good have I done that would qualify me, if that is the standard for 'heaven' or the 'better place'?" See how many of these 'goods' you can claim for yourself...get your calculator out. Ready? Go!

I have comforted many people who have lost a loved one after performing their loved one's funeral (+3)
I never slept around and married Julee as a virgin (+5)
I have never done illegal drugs (+2)
I pay my taxes and have never been delinquent (+2)
I have raised my son to be a strong, athletic, caring, straight A student (+3)
I have never hit my wife, nor hardly ever raised my voice or talked down to her (+3)
I have been married for 17 years and never cheated on my wife, even in my heart (+4)
I have rarely used profanity my whole life, even in anger (+2)
I have led mission trips around the world to help those less fortunate than myself (+5)
I chose a life of financial uncertainty and lower end pay to serve others when I graduated near the top of my police academy class and had multiple opportunities to do something more lucrative (+6)
I have never murdered anyone nor rarely ever even wished someone would die (+2)
I have never raped anyone (+2)
I was rarely disrespectful to my parents or adults in general (+3)
I have treated women with respect my whole life (+2)
I have served the poor and homeless food many times in poor neighborhoods and LA shelters--pictured above (+4)
I have given shelter to those who needed a place to stay in my own home for years at a time (+5)
I have given money to those who were in dire straights never expecting repayment (+4)
I have never abused my animals but have loved and provided for them (+2)
I have constantly sacrificed personal and family time to be there for others in their time of need (+3)
I have been a father to the fatherless, supporting those who were not my children out of my own pocket (+4)
I have clothed those who needed new clothes (+2)
I have supported the weary and those who were ready to give up by counseling them for hours at a time (+2)
I have risked my own life by breaking into houses that were on the verge of burning down while others stood outside to see if anyone was alive, rescuing pets and calling the fire department (+5)
I have rescued marriages and families on the verge of divorce (+3)
I have talked people out of suicide (+4)
I have coached my son's soccer, basketball, baseball and football teams (+2)
I have written songs that have brought joy and hope to people around the world (+2)
I have continually performed duties for others outside my job requirements that people fail to pay me for (+2)
I often suffer disrespect and gossip while pouring my life into others (+2)
I have made being at home for dinner and praying daily with my family a priority (+3)
I have tried to talk highly of others even if they have not done the same for me (+2)
I have visited strangers in prison to give them hope (+2)
I have rarely been in default on a debt my whole life (+1)
I have been a loyal friend and try to put others ahead of myself (+1)
I have visited the elderly and sick in their homes or in the hospital to encourage and bring them joy on my own time (+3)
I got the presidential award for physical fitness 4 times, was president of Students Against Drunk Driving, sat on the student council, was chosen for Boys State by the American Legion, and got more medals and awards then I could fit on a letter jacket in high school (+4)
I have written published articles and poetry to bring awareness and encouragement to others (+1)

Well, how did you do? Looks like my score is 107 for the things I could remember in 10 minutes sitting in front of the computer. How does my list make you feel? Bad, because you got a low score? Great, because you have done all these things and MORE? Jealous because scoring over 100 in anything is a great score?

Now, what if you and I were to list the 'bad' things we have done and that score was higher than our 'good' score and we died 30 seconds from reading this? Where will you end up? In 'heaven' or the 'better place' or 'hell' or the 'bad place'?

The reality is that everything I wrote above is true but the score or value I gave to those things is arbitrary and of my own making. What if all those things above is equal to....zero? In fact, those things above are things that I should do just because I am human, not because I am 'good'. But unfortunately many of those examples are 'above and beyond' what most would do. Which actually shows you less of how 'great' a person I am and more of how wicked and unable to do 'good' people are in general. And how much we need the grace of God to get through this life and be saved in the next life.

It is a popular idea to look at the external of someone's life and say 'that person deserves good in the next life because they did good in this life'. But the issue is never 'good'. You should be doing that anyway. The issue is 'perfection' which we will never be without the grace of God. I need God to make me pleasing to Him. He did this through sending Himself, Jesus--who was God in the flesh, to forgive my sin on the cross--which outweighs my 'good' even if that was the standard.

It reminds me of Jesus' words:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matt. 16:24-26

Today, purge from your mind the idea that God is 'impressed' with your good or someone else's. Do 'good' because you are human. 'Repent' because you are a sinner in need of grace. Once grace is found, then the 'good' actually means something--because you are emulating the God who loves you and loves others through you.

Be blessed today friend!

Jim

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

God's Spiritual Groundhog's Day



In the 1993 movie 'Groundhog's Day', Bill Murray's character is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness. This mind-numbing reality of going through the same motions and conversations and experiences day after day would drive any sane person to insanity. In fact, it is precisely this idea that drives Murray's character to change--because he couldn't stand doing the same things over and over infinitely never having a real 'life'.

As I have been teaching through the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and now having just finished the book of Joshua at Revive, I am struck with the nearly unbelievable idea that God, who is eternal, has to deal with the SAME issues with EACH person--ALL the time. Not only has God had to deal with sinful people who act the same, speak the same, and think the same since He created the first one (Adam) in the garden of Eden, but He has to reteach each new generation the same things over and over and over and over and over and...well, you get the idea.

Looking at the history of people in their interaction with God, the Bible records that God has to patiently work with each new generation almost from scratch. Imagine that. It is not just one person who God must connect with, convict, convert, counsel, comfort, correct, and care for, but billions of people. Each person, their whole lives. Everyday (which it's always continually 'day' somewhere where people are awake doing something, so there is no 'break' for God).

So, right now God must manage trillions of decisions for the 6 billion people on earth at this moment. This is not to mention the billions of people who have already existed since the beginning of time. Meaning God as been 'reliving' the same issues and problems (and also joys and happiness) over and over and over for thousands of years for billions of people that have made trillions of decisions. Wow. That kind of patience for humanity is unreal. Beyond comprehension. This is an aspect of God I have never really considered until I started to see the sinful patterns of humanity played out on the pages of the Bible in a continuous, irritating and embarassing storyline.

I am amazed by God for many things. However this new appreciation for Him and His love for humanity to save and love and shepherd us is mind-blowing. We get mad when our child or spouse or dog won't listen after the second or third time, imagine trillions of times...
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:4

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
Wow. True. Thank God!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hungry? Thanksgiving every Sunday.

Hunger does strange things to people. It can cause people to become irritable. It can make people lose focus. It is so important that the hungrier people become, the more desperate they usually become. Even the current marketing strategy for Snickers is 'You're not you when you're hungry'.



There have been times when I have been so hungry I have dreamt about food and almost tasted the food. In fact, we are so biologically designed to desire food that we start to automatically salivate when we smell or see food we enjoy. The Bible says the same is true of our souls.

Humans are designed with an insatiable appetite for God. This comes out in the form of worship or 'giving worth to something or someone'. Worship is a value system instituted by a person for the depth of control surrendered to another entity. The only problem is, instead of turning to God and giving Him the attention and devotion due Him, humans worship self and self interest. So they end up trying to fill their correct appetite for God with the superficial vanity of self. It is similar to trying to fill your starving stomach with the air of a balloon. Although you may become bloated, it does not produce health nor long term satisfaction.

This brings us to spiritual eating. Where do you get 'fed'? Although it is true we must feed on God's word individually, especially in our day and age when we have God's word in almost every format imaginable--written on paper, digital documents, video and audio, the Bible says God has chosen special men to speak His words to His people. This is known as the 'church' gathered together to learn together. I have had many great and rewarding times with God by myself studying and absorbing His word, but I have had the most consistently spiritually rewarding moments with others gathered together to learn and worship.

Every Sunday should be a thanksgiving holiday. Every sermon should be a thanksgiving dinner. Every believer should be a thanksgiving participant. Everyone should leave church well fed on the word of God. Shame on the spiritual shepherds that starve their flock with their own words or teach an unbalanced perspective on God to the harm of their sheep. Deception runs rampant in our world and unsuspecting, spiritually starving people wander around looking for food and they eat whatever is near them no matter how unhealthy. How damning that they cannot find a good meal in churches many of them attend!

What kind of climate are we in that much of the preaching that reaches peoples ears is neither healthy nor biblical. It might not tickle the ear all the time but if it is what is needed to bring wholeness then let it be brought forward. I fear for shepherds who keep throwing out sermons of 'peace and happiness' when it is like filling the stomachs of their flock with air rather than food they can use. Their souls may indeed want to passionately pursue God but they are so malnourished they cannot follow.

You are designed to worship God and burn with the energy given from God's word. May we find it this Sunday--this 'thanksgiving'!