Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lawn

"For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables.  But the land you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the LORD your God cares for.  The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year." - Deuteronomy 11:10-12

This kid is emailing me again.  The kid with all the questions that I mentioned a few posts back.  He's emailing stuff like: "Will people really be punished for all eternity?"  "Is heaven a place where I can do whatever I want?"  "How much sin can you get away with and still get into heaven?"

I don't really have answers.  I'm no expert on heaven.  I'm not exactly sure what it's going to be like on account of not having gone there "YET" (all caps represents the boding voice of death).  But as I read the passage above some of the rusty old cogs in my brain began to creek and screech.  Something is happening in there after all!

Namely, scripture seems to be showing me that heaven is chiefly the place where God is, which, I know, is kind of a "no duh."  And the new heavens and new earth, and "everything being made new" that the NEW testament talks so much about is inextricably (love this word) tied to God's presence.  Heaven is a place of freedom, a place of utter dependence on God.

I see it in the passage above.  Egypt is a place where the Israelites had to irrigate the land to grow, gasp, vegatables!  Yuck.  I know my kids would heartily "Amen" the negative portrayal of such a place.  Egypt was a place where they had to marshal water, since it wasn't fed from the rain of heaven.

Melissa and I were "marshaling water" today.  I haven't mowed the lawn in ages, and I'd say its sort of gotten on her nerves.  Since she already had stuff on her nerves she graciously thought she would share.  All in all she stepped on a few of mine (she's very kind, so she did so gently), but I returned the favor by dancing a little jig on hers.

We began to marshal a lot of water.  We were surrounded by it, and what began as a few "innocent" splashes in each other's face ended with us grabbing each other by the back of the head and dunking each other.  It wasn't the fun, playful dunking of childhood, it was more like the sputtering, drowning dunking of the movies.  And it reminded me, as we both ended up crying, that we still live in a land of tears, a land full of vegetables, a land of un-mowed lawns.

So what is heaven?  What is this place where God dwells?  And why oh why do we still live either like we're in Egypt, or are we actually still in Egypt?  My theology sometimes tells me one thing.  Life sometimes tells me another.

I believe that God's kingdom, or heaven, arrived in the person of Jesus Christ.  He rules now, but we still suffer from ourselves.  We've still got tempers, ugliness, anger and dark, dark stuff lurking in our dungeons of our hearts.  And to be honest, we kind of like it that way, don't we.

In Jesus I believe we have God making his dwelling with us, and we can receive his rain and watering.  Yet we balk and scoff at this, angrily pointing to all that's still wrong with the land, impatient and frustrated at a God who just doesn't seem to be in any hurry to finish his job.

It's hard living between the lands.  Living in the desert of our own making.  (And I hope I do justice to this in my blogging.)  But without the hope of a land without vegetables, and without a chance to work towards that, I'm not sure with what we're left with.  For me it would probably be my stupid lawn growing really fast for all of eternity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bob Dylan as Moses

"Know therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people." - Deuteronomy 9:5

Moses doesn't mince words with the people of Israel.  Now it'd be cool to be Moses wouldn't it, all Charles Heston-like, with the grizzled bead, sun-charred face and flowing robes.  I'd have sweet dirty pit stains on my blood stained robes which would be a deep v-neck so I could show off my thick desert chest hair (it would have it's own ecosystem as well).  I'd be powerful with a deep booming voice and an ornately carved staff to wave over the crowds, and to point at people I didn't like.  I'd probably feel like a rock star/wizard, somewhere between Bono and Gandalf - hey I just described Bob Dylan!  I'd definitely feel cool.

But Moses' words had power, not because he was any of the things I just mentioned, but because he spoke directly with God.  I think that's why Moses went from a stuttering fraidy-cat to Charles Heston.  You talk long enough with God and surely you'll begin to fear people less.

As Moses points out, the people were stubborn.  He goes on in the passage to unpack their stubbornness, pointing out, ever so painfully, what a miserable job they had done of following the Lord.  The people of Israel were good one thing, namely failing, consistently, and in crux, key situations.  You could count on them for that.

Moses says that it's not because of their righteousness (and here he probably mumbles something under his breath about his tent neighbor who always lets his camels poop on Moses' special patch of dirt - which is according to Leviticus, a perfect square, 10 hand-breadths and 10 spans by 10 hand-breadths by 10 spans, and is to be swept 7 times before the 4th hour of the 5th day on the 3rd month of the harvest year.) that they are inheriting the land, but because the inhabitants of the land have become so ridiculously wicked.

The people of Canaan must have been bad.  Very naughty.  Sort of like sacrificing their kids and stuff.  Bad stuff.  Unless their kids were like some of the kids I've seen at the grocery store, then their actions would totally understandable.

But Moses nails what I just don't get a lot of the time.  It's not because I'm a good guy that God loves me.  It's not that most people are worse off than me and I'm pretty decent.

No God's grace is evident to me when I'm at my worst.  When I hear the deep voice of Moses echoing through the centuries, "Philip, it's not because you're a righteous person that you are God's (I've seen where you let your camels wander), it's that you are his heritage, his loved one."

I, and I'm guessing most of us, get this wrong all the time.  But time and again, God removes the us vs. them scale and replaces it with the sin vs. Jesus scale.  Christ's obedience outweighs our sin.

The deeper this goes into my psyche, the deeper I drink from these sorts of fountains, the more I ponder this sort of love, the more wordy I am, the more I become a human who cares about humans and well basically is less of a jerk.  (Also, as a note on my being a jerk, if you know me you probably think I'm not a jerk, but that's just a rouse.  I'm certifiable.  I took the Myers Briggs and the Strength-Finder tests, and while they don't have an official category for "jerk," they sent me a very official looking document, asking me never to take their tests again.  I think they were disturbed and are now working on a new category called "the criminally inclined jerk who seems nice".)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Attention! Love.

"But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name's sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!  For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me." - Psalm 109: 21,22

I love the Psalms.  Just when I think the bible is some old dusty book that doesn't apply to my life, I flip it open to the middle and I find stuff like this.

The more I read my bible, the more this whole theme of God's steadfast love, his "hesed" (to use the Hebrew) love, rises.  I think it might just be the core theme of the entire book.

As Sally Loyd Jones puts the bible is about God's "never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love."  I couldn't have said it better myself, so I won't.

The bible is a big book so it's so easy to lose sight of the nature of God's love.  Just last night, as I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep, I was asking for God's will, not my own.  As I lay there, I thought about Jesus in the garden, saying "Not my will, but your's be done."

I've often thought of this scene as a Jesus who is scared resolving himself to do God's will which is hard and difficult - sort of a gentle and meek Jesus meeting a hard and cross God.

But as I realized it last night, I've got to throw away that picture of God and Jesus (I have a whole dumpster full of these pictures by now).  Jesus is God incarnate and he's fully human.  Jesus in the garden is in an absolutely profound struggle, but as the verse "for the joy set before him, he endured the cross" echoes, it's a struggle he wants.

Can you imagine?  The one relationship you've known from eternity back, is now to be ripped ussunder.  To say the void that Jesus was stepping into when he said these words in the Garden was "huge" is an understatement.  The only measurable category for that void is the size of God's steadfast love.

Jesus is God's steadfast love.  As I posted a few posts back, this is love that we should attend to.  And love that we should stand at attention for.  Love that simply arrests thought.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Again

"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and hone, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.  And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you." - Deuteronomy 8:7-10

I live in a bad land.  Or at least a broken one.  It's not a land like the one described above.  I'm a believer and follower of the LORD, and I know that I'm still live on the wrong side of the Jordan.

My location tempts me towards questions:  Is the bible a book full of empty promises?  Does God hold out "comprehensive human flourishing" (as a friend of mine has put it) as a sort of spiritual carrot to keep our allegiance.  How long must we wait?

I received this text Sunday morning: "Good bye everyone.  I'm dying tonight. I'm going to kill myself."

I ignored it.  Cold I know.  It's from a friend who just on Saturday informed me (somewhat patronizingly) that he would never kill himself, he's not that kind of a personality type, I can find that in any Psychology 101 book...

I was mad.  And I was headed for worship.

Worship was ok, the sermon was good but I was distracted.  I was in another place.  And I think I've been in another place for a while now.

I'm in a place where I simply long for what, even as I type, I hear echoed in the fountain beside me.  Water springing up and trickling over the fountain is for me a tune of tangible worship.  A tune of restorations and abundance.  A tune of comprehensive human flourishing.

I don't think the bible is full of empty promises, though I think it may be right and good to suspect it sometimes.  The brokenness of our world can get so loud, and we can get so damned busy pursuing money, pleasure, power and escape, that we hear the gospel and we think "What in the world, or rather where in the world, would these promises be met?  And furthermore, when?  And don't give me some pat answer."

I got to work today and a colleague in youth ministry was beaming and brimming over with stories about our ministry through the summer.  Thousands of people brought into the kingdom!  Thousands!  Joy and pleasure was written all over this good man's face.

Yet my heart is cold.  Sure, I find it encouraging I guess.  But I don't know these people, I don't know their stories, I don't know how God is meeting their needs, only that they've met God somehow.  Or at least filled out a card saying so.

I believe in a God who keeps his promises, even in blind times like what I'm writing from right now (the weird thing is I'm not feeling particularly depressed).  But I have to.  Like Peter, I know as sure as I know brokenness that there's no where else to go.

I am privileged to.  I haven't forgotten my rights as a child of the king and a brother to royalty.  I haven't forgotten.  These are no empty promises.

One day, much like and unlike today, I will sit by a REAL fountain and know, know fully, what was going on in this aching heart of mine.  Because on that day the ache will only remain as a memory, it will be an ache met, an ache being resolved, a promise fulfilled.  That will be the day I will worship.  It's what I hope and strive for, even in the times I'm running after all the wrong things.

Lord hasten the day.  Especially as it's a Monday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Read for Your Life!

"Behold the days are coming," declares the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land - not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD." - Amos 8:11

I have the words of the LORD on my Kindle now.  Sounds kind of funny doesn't it?

I just bought the Kindle version of ESV Study Bible for eight bucks, and I couldn't be more pleased.  If I spent the next year or so reading through all the tools and gadgets it offers, I would be well served as a minister to youth.  But alas, I've read it all before right?

This is the pitiable attitude of my heart at times.  I have gone into a self-inflicted famine of God's word, and I wonder why my life seems to have lost it's luster.

My guess is that many Christians don't really like being Christians, and one of the primary reasons is that they  have either forgotten, or simply grown tired of reading the words of God.  In scripture we encounter God.  Boom!  Through scripture we meet our maker.  Boom!  But we've turned scripture into chincy placards, pithy advice,  pokey art and references for birthday cards.

However, it is through God's word that God takes us by the hand, leads us up as onto a mountain top, and helps us see  our hope and wildest longings met in his coming kingdom, his promised land (I've been reading a lot of NT Wright).  We look out and behold our hope through these simple words.

Yet, like the people of Israel, I grumble.  I don't want the words of life for food, I want God to fill my belly.  I want God to make me feel good.  I want God to be like my favorite McDonald's joint, quick and easy service, everything I need for a balanced meal, with a quick slide of plastic.  Don't even give me the receipt, I won't read it.

So what an absolute privilege it is to read these words of life on my Kindle, and to be reminded that there's a lot more going on than I'm aware of, but I am invited to come check it out.

What is God up to?  Read on...  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dropping Coins

"Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let him consider the steadfast love of the LORD." - Psalm 107:43

I've had a kid emailing me and asking me a billion and one questions.  I'm signed up to answer questions from one of "Cru"'s evangelistic websites and boy if this kid doesn't just love asking questions.  Ultimately I believe it's a good thing that he asks them, sort of, even if it gets a little annoying to see another message in my inbox every 30 seconds or so.

This morning he was asking me just exactly how much sin someone good get away with and still get into heaven.  I was tempted to reply with "None" and leave it at that.

It can be a little frustrating when you've talked about the cross from a million different angles and someone still doesn't get it.  But none of us get it do we?  Or even if we're hearing the music, we're quick to forget the lyrics, begin to sing off key until someone wiser than us asks us if we know what we were singing in the first place.

That's why I like Psalm 107.  It vividly paints a God who rescues wicked, foolish and evil people.  And then it asks those who are wise to consider this kind of steadfast love.

As soon as I get uppity about answering this kids "stupid" questions, I'm beginning to not reflect my creator.  I'm out of sink with the music of the kingdom.

So I was tempted to tell the kid that with his kind of attitude, he probably isn't going to get into heaven anyway.  Which reminds me of how people often state "If I were God I'd let everyone into heaven."  Come on really!?  Most people would have other people going through the emotional and physical torture tantamount to American Idol contests for the ones they'd want in.  Why do people ever go on American Idol?

The fact is people don't like people much.  It's why we're to consider the wondrous nature of God's steadfast love.  And as the verse above says, we should "attend" to it.

I was also tempted to send the kid the link to our four spiritual laws and be done with his queries once and for all!  Not very incarnational I know, but neither is emailing.  But alas, the better nature that dwells within me wooed me to yet more patience, patience that I don't have, and I sent him yet another angle of my take on the gospel.  We'll see, maybe the coin will drop this time for him, and subsequently as I bear with these sinful youngsters with all their problems, the coin will drop with me - so to am I.

And to keep things interesting I did begin my response with "you can't sin at all and get into heaven".

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

There Be Dragons

So I finished out Job today.  It's kind of nice to be done with a book that gives me headaches.  It's pretty deep.

One of my favorite parts of Job is when God answers him at the end.  At the end (spoiler alert!) God does an amazing job of illustrating his power and care for nature.  His basic point seems to be, "Hey, you're dealing with God, the creator of everything Job.  My ways may be just a tiny, intsy-wincy bit more mysterious than yours...  Just a little."  It makes for really cool reading.

When God finishes his beautiful description of his ways in nature (I now think Leviathon has to be a dragon, forget all the commentators who think its a crocodile.  I've never seen a croc breath fire or fly.  I did say it was amazing), Job has an understandably short reply.  I like it.

He mumbles a few quotes from God, and then says "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

When I first read this I felt sorry for Job.  Of course the poor guy has been afflicted with every affliction thingy the world has to offer, Satan's buying popsicles and doing cart-wheels over the fun he's having and now God has gone off on a diatribe of who Job is dealing with.  I'd despise not only myself but God if I was Job.  Great!

But that's not at all the way the trajectory of the book of Job takes us.  Job is on a relentless search for God and his justice.  Job wants to be comforted by his God.  And finally, not only does God answer Job, but Job claims with joy, "my eye sees you".  Job's true torture is over and his argument is finally resolved (albeit tempered) by God.  It's a beautiful thing.

My magical ESV study notes helped me out with all this.  They explained that the word for "despise" denotes recognizing one's place and the word for "repent" could also be replaced with the word "comfort".

Job's search for an answer is satisfied by a window into God's world and by supreme comfort in person-hood of God.  I may be over-stating this.  But it seems to fit with the book to think that Job is extremely satisfied at this point.

So where am I going with all of this?  I'm not exactly sure.  I originally wanted to reflect on the inter-changeable nature of the words repent and comfort, but I've sort of just given you a spoiler for the ending of the book of Job.

I guess I, like Job, am comforted today just to know that this God of all creation, even dragons, actually responds to us.  Not only is he aware of everything we struggle with, but he is the God of all our struggles (even the ones Satan does cart-wheels over) and, because of his own righteousness in Jesus, he continues to direct us, vindicate us, validate us, lift us up and ultimately, may I never forget this as the biggest blessing of all, give us himself.  It satisfied Job, so it's good enough for me.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


"This world is full of compound words, speak slower bro or you won't be heard.  If you talk quick you might sound slick, but I might just think you asked me to make you a real jellyfish sandwich, AND YOU'LL DIE!!!" - Julian Smith on the subtleties of the English language and the dangers of eating a jellyfish (check it out at

There is a very tenuous thread of thought that I am trying to find between my morning devotions, which were only about 5 minutes ago, and the quote above.  Hmm...

Oh yeah, I was reading in Proverbs when I noticed that "the teacher" doesn't mince words in the battle of righteousness vs. wickedness.  He contrast's the two like Julian Smith contrasts two words and a compound word.  Julian Smith proposes (in the Youtube music video cited above) that you might want a "jelly fish" sandwich (hey we all have our tastes), but if you make the mistake of asking for a "jellyfish" sandwich, "YOU WILL DIE!"  

Let's look at vs 19 of Proverbs 12:  "Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die."   Come on, that's sort of like Julian Smith's analogy isn't it?  At least give me my thread of thought back.

I am thankful that the teacher of Proverbs paints the ends of righteousness and wickedness in black the black and white terms of life or death.   He's aware of greys (in fact that's what the whole book is about in seeking wisdom) for he warns of all types of wickedness and lifts up and encourages all sorts of righteousness, but he always seems to keep eye on where they lead - life or death.

I typically stroll through my day not thinking in such stark terms.  If I waste a little time here or there at work, do I realize I am meandering down a path that leads to death?  Not really.  And is this even true for the Christian?  Don't we live in the dispensation of grace, and aren't we not supposed to get all caught up in dos and don'ts.  Yes and no.

While I do think we are under grace, phew, I think it is really important that we think about the small steps we make in life.  I would call them "steps of grace" or steps of death.  Could 3 cups of coffee have me falling asleep when I get home from work, meaning less time with the kids, developing a habit of non-engagement and ultimately leading to experiencing a little death in my family?  Yes.

It's sobering, good habits and right living are often a accumulation of small consistent Spirit-led decisions and bad habits and wickedness are just the same, just insert Self for Spirit.  I think that the roads to righteousness and wickedness are not always worlds apart like we think of them, but simply small steps in the right or the wrong direction.

May God help us in the small steps, and keep us aware of the dangers of compound words.   There's my thread for the day.  And remember, don't ask for a "jellyfish" sandwich, it's a "jelly fish" sandwich.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dinner Time "Whinies"

"And there was a great famine in Samaria.  And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver."   - 2 Kings 6

While I'm glad my children have never had to face famine of any kind, I have to admit there are some dinners where I wish they had.  I don't know, I haven't had to face famine, but when I see David's brow furrow in stubbornness, Teya's nose wrinkle up and hear them both cry out in unison, "Gross, this looks disgusting" something in me goes pop.  I want to show them what the rest of the world deals with.  It also doesn't help that Melissa has typically slaved away at making something not only healthy - why it looks gross btw - but also yummy, which is something they won't know until they shut their little ungrateful traps and taste it, dang it.

There are times where I've thought about getting behind David using my super-speed, slamming his whining jaw shut like a pro gator-wrestler, and tilting his head back so he has to swallow.   Then I could even hold is jaw shut under my chin and pose for pictures.  But alas, I don't have the wrestling skills.

But their incessant complaining, grumbling and complaining in the presence of any sort of dinner other than burgers, fries or pizza, reminds me of my own limited ability to keep my trap shut in times of any sort of dissatisfaction.  Really, missing my morning coffee seems to be enough to set my whole day off on another track.  Those close to me may call it the "track to hell for everyone else".

This whole grumbling thing has got to be one of the major problems with the human race.  I say this so I can tie in some sort of meaningful thought, but also so I can implicate everyone and feel a bit better about myself.  We are an ungrateful people.  We want so much and we want it our way, in our way, done our way, for our way's sake already!  We're pretty weird like that.

So weird in fact that when it comes to faith, we Christians, or at least me, have a hard time remaining grateful when I've been given everything and more than I could possibly want or ever even dream of having.  Eternal life for crying out loud!  A kingdom come!  New life now and real purpose!  God with me!  Jesus pleading my case!  The Holy Spirit praying for me!  Perfection before God!  Belonging!  Radical love and acceptance!

And...  I look at my plate full of these spiritual realities, tilt my head back, roll my eyes into the back of my head and moan like a zombie, "Gross!  God I wanted McDonald's!"

So I trade my spiritual food for worldly trifles, or at least food that makes the FDA squirm - that's really bad food. (How in the world do they approve of McDonalds?)

But here's the good thing about all this.  For every moan there's a father smiling and patiently saying, "Eat your vegetables Son."  He's not thinking about gator-wrestling, or ringing our ungrateful little throats, or pushing us out of our high-chairs, or taking the back of our head and shoving our face into our plate of peas.  He's patient from the get-go, and then he's even more patient with us as we are ungrateful and we grumble.

So imagine what life would look like if we began to practice gratitude (once again, for gratitude I highly recommend Anne Voskamp's book 1000 Gifts).  Imagine if we feebly prodded at the promises and disciplines on our plate.  If we, rather than complained, looked our father in the face and attempted to smile as we ate our asparagus of Bible reading and meditation.  Imagine the pleasure we could bring him.

After all, life is not about our pleasure, but God's.  The more I can wrap my whiny little head around that one, the better I'll be, and happier I bet.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Good Misgivings

There are others who are vexed with themselves when they observe their own imperfectness, and display impatience that is not humility; so impatient are they about this that they would fain be saints in a day.  Many of these persons purpose to accomplish a great deal and make grand resolutions; yet, as they are not humble and have no misgivings about themselves, the more resolutions they make, the greater is they fall and the greater their annoyance, since they have not the patience to wait for that which God will give them when it pleases Him; this likewise is contrary to the spiritual meekness aforementioned, which cannot be wholly remedied save by the purgation of the dark night.  Some souls on the other hand are so patient as regards the progress which they desire that God would gladly see them less so.  - St. John of the Cross

I've just gotten back from a very full vacation with my family in the Pacific Northwest.  It was good to fill my lungs with the red-wood-scented, cool, fresh air that is simply more humane that what we breathe in Orlando.  Also it was a great chance to drink as much good tasting water as possible before coming back to the "flat with a hint of sulfur" stuff we have here.

It was also really fun to be around my family.  They are such a joyous crowd, bringing out the best in everyone, although my sisters-in-law think otherwise about us boys.  But laughing about flatulence important stuff for guys right?

Here's my issue with vacations: they end.  And all the worries I thought I was leaving are here were still waiting for me when I get back.  And why do they have with devilish smirks on their nasty little faces?  Melissa thinks vacations can serve as a sort of reset button for life.  But in my case, I'm still here with all of my problems when I get back, so it's difficult for me to see it the same way.

So the quote above has me thinking that perhaps I fall into the category of one who would "feign be a saint in a day".  I would love to come back and approach life perfectly, without ever a misstep.  But life is not like that.  Life will have you sinning in no time, frustrated by your own frustrations and pleading uncle to God over and over.  At least that seems to be my experience.

God seems to allow life to do this.  He seems to want us to be challenged.  He wants us to be humble.  He wants us, as St. John says, to have misgivings.

I don't think its that God is mean.  That's not it at all.  So delete the "pleading uncle" image.  I think we find our own problems and consequences.  But I believe that God wants us to grow not only in our new righteousness and identity as his children, but in our misgivings about ourselves and where we'll go without him.

I find this notion of having misgivings strangely comforting.  For it allows me to not freak out so much when I sin.  It allows me not to be so surprised.  It allows me to hope not in myself and my methods and strategies, but in the active and real work of Christ.

It allows me to kind of smile and wag my head at myself, seeing me the way God must see me, all the while knowing that he'll give me just what I need when I need it.  And at the same time he'll keep me thirsty for more goodness and more rightness.  And I guess it'll help keep me real.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012



One day we'll all be there.  For some of it will be gurneys, for others it'll be beds at home, but someday we will be horizontal, flattened by a life lived and expiring.  And when we look back on our life what will we think?  "I wish I'd watched more TV, I wish I'd eaten more ice cream, I wish I'd pursued more hobbies, I wish I'd bought more stuff, earned more money and I wish I'd had more 'me time'."

No my guess is we'll think about people.  We'll wish we'd spent more time with our kids, more time loving our wives, more time welcoming strangers - that sort of stuff.  Kingdom stuff.

My brother's been challenging me recently to think about my death bed and to live accordingly.  It's really helpful, though most everything in me wants to pursue me these days.  But when I'm actually on THE BED, I'm not going to be thinking of me, I know it.  And I don't want my BED to be one of sweaty regret.

Even dwelling on my BED to try and live better can be a little ego-driven.  I need some other source to live well.  Some other source to do what I don't naturally want or can even do.

I NEED God.  I need God just as much now as I'll need him on my bed.  So how many breaths do I have?  I don't know, but every breath is a gift breathed into us by God, every moment a treasure, and every millisecond an opportunity arises: Will we live for God's Kingdom and truly live, or will we live for our own kingdom and die?  Thrive or shrivel, the choice is ours.

We'll all die physically, but wouldn't it be great if our deaths were restful (even though possibly painful), but restful with God's rest, his great Sabbath, because with as much as we will have stumbled and tripped through life, we will have sought to live our life in God, for him and for others.

I write what I wish for.  For on THE BED the walls between our reality and God's are paper thin and I'd love to break through with joy.  And the good news is I will, we will, so be encouraged.