Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
As a theology student at Southwestern, I was required to take one class in the music school. It was titled, "Introduction to Church Music." Students registered for classes each semester according to how close they were to graduation. I waited until my last semester of my four years in seminary to take the music class because I finally had enough seniority to get into Dr. Reynolds' classroom.
Among Reynolds' hundreds of compositions and arrangements, most Southern Baptists would be familiar with "Share His Love" and "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." He wrote "Share His Love" with these simple, powerful words:
Share His love by telling what the Lord has done for you
Share His love by sharing of your faith
and show the world that Jesus Christ is real to you
every moment, every day!
We can try to live like we are going to live forever and this life is all there is OR we can live NOW like we are going to spend eternity somewhere. Solomon writes, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT). Did you get that? He planted eternity in the human heart.
In some of his writing, John Ortberg talks about nighttime prayers his grandmother would pray with him, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” That’s a cheery way to send kids off to bed, isn’t it? There actually was another verse to this prayer that children would recite. Picture the scene: (CHILD): “Our days begin with trouble here, Our life is but a span, And cruel death is always near, So frail a thing is man.” (PARENT): Good Night honey. Pleasant dreams.
Ortberg makes this observation. “There was a day, much different than ours, when children said this prayer by the millions. Somebody wanted children to know: Earth is fallen and broken and not home. Life is not permanent. Death is both twisted and inevitable, and human life hangs by a slender thread. We have a soul and not just a body. God is the kind of person who can be trusted with our eternal destiny. To be clear about who keeps our souls is infinitely important.”
Jerry Seinfeld has a great piece about all the stuff we accumulate and what it takes to keep up with it. He wrote, “To me, life boils down to one significant thing — movement. To live is to keep moving. Unfortunately, this means for the rest of our lives we’re going to be looking for boxes. When you’re moving, your whole world is boxes. That’s all you think about. Boxes, where are the boxes? You just wander down the streets, going in and out of stores, ‘Are there boxes here? Have you seen any boxes?’ It’s all you think about. You could be at a funeral. Everyone around you is mourning, crying. And you’re looking at the casket. ‘That's a nice box. Does anybody know where that guy got that box? When he’s done with it, do you think I could get it? It's got some nice handles on it. My stereo would fit right in there.’ I mean, that’s what death is, really, the last big move of your life. The hearse is like the van, the pallbearers are your close friends, the only ones that you could really ask to help you with a move that big, and that casket is that great, perfect box that you’ve been looking for your whole life.”
You spend all this time and energy stockpiling stuff. Then, you die and leave it all behind. Solomon says, “I hated all the things I had worked for here on earth, because I must leave them to someone who will live after me” (Ecclesiastes 2:18, NCV).
How about this…get a roll of red stickers and put one on everything that is temporary in your life…from all your stuff to the things that only bring temporary satisfaction, temporary fulfillment, temporary meaning. You’ll need a lot of red stickers and in the end you’ll find not much is left without a red sticker. It’s not going to last. And, you aren’t going to take it with you. Jesus says, “Real life is not measured by how much we own” (Matthew 6:19-21, NLT).
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2, NIV).
I recognize there are many views on heaven. I have chosen for these purposes to stick with a biblical view on the topic. The questions below are helpful to me in this part of my spiritual journey. I hope you find them so as well. How do you set your mind on heaven?
Do I daily reflect on my own mortality?
Do I daily realize there are only two destinations…heaven or hell…and that I and every person I know will go to one or the other?
Do I daily remind myself that this world is not my home and that everything in it will burn, leaving behind only what’s eternal?
Do I daily recognize that my choices and actions have a direct influence on the world to come?
Do I daily realize that my life is being examined by God, the Audience of One, and that the only appraisal of my life that will ultimately matter is His?
Do I daily reflect on my ultimate home and with anticipation look forward to being with God?
NOTE: for a detailed biblical study of heaven, consider Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven.
2. If we don’t live for heaven we must rely on ourselves, for God will not help us love this world. We are on our own. When we don’t live for heaven, God cannot help us live on earth.
3. If we don’t live for heaven we lose any sense of direction, purpose or values. If this world is all there is, who is to say what’s right and what’s wrong? Everything becomes relative. And so it has. In 1907 P. T. Forsyth made a prophetic statement: “If within us we find nothing over us we succumb to what is around us.”
4. If we don’t live for heaven we have no real hope when hard times come. When there is no heaven, we have an intense need for everything to be right on earth. We can have no suffering, no pain, no distress here--we have an “inalienable right to happiness,” we’re told. But not by the Bible. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV). So long as this life is only a trip to a destination, that’s okay. When it’s the destination, hope can disappear quickly.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
We live our lives and run our races. We experience all sorts of things…but if we don’t have the end in mind we may not end up where we intended to finish. One day I will come to the end of my life and there are going to be people I have led to Christ along the way and lives I’ve influenced and good things in my family…but it is not enough just to run legs of race well. I WANT TO FINISH WELL. What would that look like? I took time to write down some thoughts about what finishing well would look like for me and I challenge you to make your own list. Here’s part of mine:
That I would finish with my integrity intact.
That those who know me best would respect me most.
That I would still be surprised by God.
That my next step with God would be ever before me.
That my marriage vows would be all paid up.
That my kids would know that faith in Christ works for life.
That the Bible would still be jumping off the page at me.
That holy discontent would still be taking me new places with God.
That my relationship to my amazing wife would still be fresh and passionate…like it is after these 23 years.
That my children would be serving and loving the God of their father and passing it on.
That I would not be ashamed for what I do when no one else will know…to be shouted in the streets.
That I would still be amazed by the grace of God.
That I would still be believing the church is the hope of the world because of the lifechanging, eternity impacting message entrusted to her.
That I would still have a passion to see the lost found, the found formed, and the formed freed to serve God and make Him known.
That I would finish with an otherworldly optimism that in a broken, sinful world…filled with darkness and hurt…I would still know and still be making the truth known that the story doesn’t have to end like that…Jesus is my Savior and Lord!
Dolores Aguilar 1929 - Aug. 7, 2008
Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society andrarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will notbe missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing. Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too.