WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Rules for my children when I die…08/20/2019


The other night we had dinner with my aunt and uncle and we began talking about the Witch at Endor (1 Samuel 28)1.  I admitted that the bible speaks of a medium actually bringing back the soul of a dead person and it confounds me because I don’t really think about spirits and ghosts as a reality; but because of 1 Sam. 28 I really cannot deny such a thing.  As the conversation progressed we got talking about people who had been raised back to life from the dead or people who have been resuscitated back to life on the doctor’s gurney.  Of course it morphed into a conversation that we didn’t expect and I came up with three rules for my children for when I die.

1.      Do not Resuscitate

This may sound harsh, but seriously – LET ME GO!  I am fully convinced that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) so when you resuscitate me you are bringing me back from the Presence of the Lord – and that’s where I really want to be.  Please don’t let your selfish desire to have me alive make you feel like I need to be on this earth – if you love me you will let me go.

2.      Pull the Plug

I figure if you are given the uncertain choice to pull the plug on me thinking that I might die without the plug, pull it.  In fact, one better, don’t put me on the plug to begin with.  Just let me die.  I’m not suicidal here I’m just saying that I am absolutely OK with leaving this crummy world and being with Jesus.  When I became a Christian in 1994 I knew then that I will live as long as God has work for me to do for his kingdom here on this earth, so none of us has to fret it.  I won’t be jumping off a tall building anytime thus putting God to the test (Luke 4:9-11) but I have no problem letting God take me at His leisure.

3.      Don’t make Me Your Guardian Angel

When my grandpa died I was not a Christian and had no reference of how the afterlife worked, so I just assumed that after he died he was watching over me.  Once I became a Christian I realized my perception wasn’t all that correct.

When I die, I will not be your guardian angel and I will not be watching over you.  I fully expect to have much better things to do in eternity that watch you view and like yet another YouTube video, engage in some sort of Jerry Springer type drama with the people in your life, or watch you climb the corporate ladder of life. (Revelation 21:4Of course I will be proud of you if you seek to serve our Holy, Holy, Holy God, but I have no desire to experience anything more of earthly geopolitical news and events.  If you love me, please let me go to be with the Lord and not waste my eternity by believing that I remain here with you on earth as your guardian angel.

Finally, if you decide that you don’t believe that when I die I will actually be with Jesus for the rest of eternity, I am sorry; that is a faith issue that you will have to work out in yourself.  I tried to teach you about the resurrected Jesus and His Call for us to follow Him into a Holy life, if you reject that then there is nothing more I can do.  But please, honor me enough to allow me my faith in Jesus and I will allow you your faith in whatever makes you think that living in this world forever would be a pleasant thing.

I love you but seriously, let me go.

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+28&version=NIV

Monday, July 29, 2019

On Earth as… 07/29/2019


Matthew 6:10

“…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

“Is grandpa going to be in heaven someday?” a child asked his mother.

“Certainly,” the child’s mother replied, “why do you ask?”

“No reason, I was just thinking that I hoped he wouldn’t be.”

Shocked, the mother asked her son why he didn’t want his grandpa in heaven.
The boy replied, “If he sees us there, I am sure he will say, as he does now,—'What are these boys doing here? Let them get out of the way.' He doesn’t like to see us on earth, and I suppose he would not like to see us in heaven."[1]

This story got me to thinking about who do I know that acts like they would be inconvenienced if I were to be in their heaven when I get there.  I admit that I cannot think of any who would be inconvenienced because those people don’t really expect that I will be there to begin with.  Why?  I don’t know, I guess I don’t think like they think or act like they act.  Maybe I’m not using the correct version of the Bible or don’t consider sacred what they consider sacred.  No, I really can’t think of anyone who will be inconvenienced by my entrance into their heaven because their heaven is not what I’m shooting for anyway; rather I’m shooting for God’s heaven through Jesus Christ.

On the flip side, when I read this story it also gets me to thinking about whom I don’t want to see in my heaven.  As I consider this thought I realize there aren’t many people that I don’t want to see in heaven but I admit that there are plenty of people that I don’t really care if I see in heaven or not. 

As a minister I’m afraid that I have become a little calloused through the years, I’ve gotten tired of people arguing against faith in Jesus so I simply have stopped trying to convince them, in many ways I’ve plain stopped caring.  I suspect my ability to stop caring is a protection-mechanism which I developed in my youth in order to cope with things that cause me angst.  I have the ability to stop caring for situations and people which/who matter and I recognize that this ability has negatively impacted many of my key relationships in life as well as having stunted my effectiveness as a minister of the Gospel.

Because of this I’m convicted to ask God to change my attitude to one that honors Him in this. 

As it is now my actions seem to demonstrate that I do not love the people whom Jesus broke His body and shed His blood for on the Cross.  His “on earth as it is in heaven” was to demonstrate self-denial in order that mankind would have a restored relationship with the Father.  He wasn’t concerned with their eternal destiny (though it was certainly part of it) as much as He was concerned with their everyday faith and relationship with the Father which art in Heaven right now.

I’ve been doing a lot of studying about the Holiness of God as of late and one thing I have determined as absolutely true is that because God is Holy and my not caring about what He cares for is to dishonor His Holy Name.  If I am really going to honor God and bring Glory to Him I need to become zealous for what He is zealous for; and that’s the people who Jesus sweated bullets for. 
As a Christian, I need my “on earth as it is in heaven” to become the reality for my Christian life now so that I can pray as just Jesus taught me to pray.

[1] Adapted from J.C. Ryle’s Practical Religion, Chapter 7 – Charity, page 180.  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38162/38162-h/38162-h.htm#VII

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Forks in the Road… 7/25/2019


Leviticus 10:10

10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean,

Back in 1994 God taught me how to budget my money.  I was 24 years old and up until that time the only thing I understood about budgeting was not to overdraft my checkbook nor spend beyond the limit of my credit card.  So long as I had enough money each month to pay my bills, I was fine.  So when I started to learn to budget according to God’s economy it was a complete paradigm shift for me.  The very first lesson that I had to learn in order to manage my money according to God’s economy was that I had to learn the difference between a necessity and a want. 

I remember being in the grocery store where a child had wanted something from the checkout line’s “last-chance” impulsive buying opportunity.  He kept whining “Mom, I don’t want it, I “neeeed” it.”   
How many times have I whined such words to God?  But in God’s economy I had to learn that all those things I thought I needed were really just a want.  In that day the biggest things were cable TV, the vehicle I drove, and cigarettes, that I naturally thought were necessities for life, but I learned quickly that all of them in fact were not, and together they made up a huge portion of where my income frivolously went each month.

As I read Leviticus 10, this verse jumped out to me as to how to navigate our lives according to God’s economy: we need to learn to "determine between the holy and the common".  We are called to be holy as He is Holy and this is as straight forward as deciding every fork in the roads of our lives to honor Him.  For me, the idea to honor God is more a motivator for me than just doing what is right   (If honoring God is not a motivator for you, then I think there is something wrong with your faith but you most definitely need to find what a motivator is for you is and use it.)  But when we learn the lesson between what is holy and what is common in the economy of God, forks in the road become clear (or at least clearer).

And so this is the first lesson of being sanctified and of being “holy as He is Holy”, to learn the difference between what is holy and what is common.  When we learn this lesson (and we really care) the decisions that we make will naturally become less about what we want and more about what we need.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Holy Effort… 07/23/2019


Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Does this verse scare you? 

Even a little bit?

Without holiness no one will see the Lord

I consider myself holy in the sense that I am connected to God through the Blood of the Cross of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:22).  I was baptized when I was a baby, I said the “Sinner’s Prayer” when I was seven, I was baptized again when I was 10 or 11, and then again after I actually decided to follow Jesus when I was 24 years old.  Ever since then I’ve been a regular attender of church, I read my bible everyday (sometimes twice), I’ve been adopted as a son with the full rights of a son (Eph. 3:20) so that I may enter into the Throne Room of Grace (Heb. 4:16) and I have even been made a coheir with Christ (Rom. 8:17).  So yes, I do consider myself holy.

Still though, I worry a little.
 Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  

So yes, Hebrews 12:14 makes me take pause – as well it is meant to.  

I consider myself holy but am I “being” Holy?  I grew up with the belief of “Once saved always saved” but if I am going to be terribly honest, I have lived the whole of my Christian life more from that single theology than any real effort or striving to be a holy person as the Scriptures call me to.
Make every effort… to be Holy.

J.C. Ryle wrote in the introduction of his greatbook Holiness, “I have had a deep conviction for many years that my practical holiness and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently unattended to by the modern Christians in this country.”

A.W. Tozer also wrote in the first chapter of his greatbook The Knowledge of the Holy, “It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something of a moral calamity.”  Tozer also wrote that “Holiness is a fact commanded: God wills it, Christ requires it, and all the scriptures—the law, the Gospel, the prophets, the wisdom writings, the epistles, the history books that tell of judgments past, and the Book of Revelation that tells of the Judgments to come—call for it.”

If I am going to be transparent, I too-often feel morally corrupt.  Not because I don’t trust Jesus' work on the Cross for my sin but because I too-often take His blood for granted and expect His grace and forgiveness for my sins.  So often I commit the same sins time-and-time again without any thought.  So I do believe that I need to seriously consider making every effort to be Holy and pay attention to this warning in Hebrews 12:14.

So how about you?

Do you put forward every effort to be holy?  Maybe you do but I’m guessing that you would be in the minority of this modern Christian faith.  How do you even define Holiness anyway?  In my next post I’ll tell you my definition of what holiness means.