Laughing With God
Do you laugh with God? I hope you do. It’s so important to laugh with our close friends, and God wants to be our closest. The other day, I had run upstairs to get something, and came all the way down with something completely different. Going back up laughing, I asked God not to tell my wife, Suzie. I sensed He smiled. So, what keeps us from laughing with God? Do we think He doesn’t have a great sense of humor? Do we really believe He’s not laughing at us and with us? Or do we think He’d rather be angry, disconnected or disappointed with who we are? Is that how our parents treated us? Perhaps? But it certainly isn’t the way He wants to relate to us. Laugh with God! It will make your relationship with Him so much more enjoyable.
Chip On Our Shoulder
Ever feel like you’re getting whiplash from all the twists and turns in your life. Transitions are in store for all of us. Don’t get too settled on what you think is or should be happening. If “…a day is like a thousand years to the Lord…” (2 Peter 3:8, NLT), then our lives take less than two hours of God-time. So, I’ve been pastoring this church for about 20 minutes, God-time, and I’ll be heading into eternity in a half hour, God-time. The point is: Life goes fast! The Bible says, “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. ” (James 4:14, NKJV) The changes and transitions we experience in life are all tests: proving our character and molding us to become like Jesus.
Kindness to an Old Man
I was on a crowded plane recently when an extraordinary drama occurred during the flight. An elderly man, who looked around 90, was flying alone on what you’d assume would be one of his last flights. An hour in, he needed to use the restroom. Having a window seat, it took exceptional effort for the couple next to him to assist him out and then back into his seat. Others jumped in and eagerly helped. I was a few rows back praying as the scene unfolded and was so touched by the kindness of this team of strangers, each rising to the occasion from the back of the plane to the front. It was breathtaking! With all of the negative news often depicting the worst in humanity, this selfless kindness from strangers was truly unforgettable.
Expectations are a slippery slope. We can go from hoping something happens, to being convinced it’s God’s will, without ever really confirming this with Him. The crowds were happy to applaud Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem a week before His crucifixion because they thought He was coming to be their liberator from the oppression of Rome. A week later, they were, likewise, happy to kill Him and exchange His life for a murderer named Barabbas because their expectations had been dashed. Many people are angry with God and others because they superimposed an expectation that someone could not fulfill. Let your expectations be in God alone. Allow Him to fulfill all He has promised and intended for your life, and you’ll never be disappointed.
Clinging to Our Past
If we hold on to the past too tightly, we become the greatest enemy of our own future. Being attached to anything but God, will lead us further away from His best for our lives. When Jesus healed Lazarus and raised him from the dead, the Jewish leaders were terrified the Romans would take away their position of power. They foolishly decided they needed to kill Jesus. The High Priest said, “…it’s better…that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” He didn’t know it, but he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation of Israel. (John 11:50-51) Our lives will always come to a crossroads: will we cling to our misguided attachment to the past or obey the Spirit’s urging to go forward into God’s fantastic unknown?
The Irony of Getting Healed
We all tend to think that when we are tired or sore from physical activity, the last thing we want to do is move or even work out. Yet, that’s often the very thing we should do: move the sore muscles in order to get blood and oxygen flowing to them. The medical term for this is active rest. I’m not saying you have to exert yourself by lifting heavy weights or running a long distance because that may be the very reason you’re sore in the first place. But I am saying, get up and move, go for a walk, exert those sore muscles in some way. I have also found a spiritual counterpart for this principle. Whenever I don’t feel like praying, worshipping, reading the Word, getting up early to seek God, or going to church, that’s actually the very thing I need to do.
When Giving is Contagious
An employee at a fast food burger restaurant told me about a day when she was really having a hard time at work. Near the end of her shift, someone wanted to pay the bill for the next person in line. This continued for nine people. One person even paid over $40, and when asked if they really wanted to pay that much, said without wavering, “Absolutely!” This blessed the employee so much, it changed her whole day and set off a chain reaction among other shocked employees. Sure, the world can be a pretty creepy place, but it can also be a marvelous place as well. What crazy act of obedience has God planned for you and me today? Can’t wait to see what it is!
Everyone Prays in Hospice
I have a friend who’s worked in Hospice for many years, caring for people at the end of their lives. I was stunned when she said in passing that as a person comes to terms with the fact that they are dying, they invariably pray. A further inquiry determined that though the statement was a bit overstated, it was true in essence. That really got to me. When eternity stares people in the face, at last they acknowledge the obvious: they need to get right with God. What a mixed blessing! Some have this most important of all conversations with their Creator for the first time. For others, it’s a continuation of a marvelous, everlasting romance with Him. Since we all have a choice as to which to choose, I choose conversations throughout the day with the One who loves me most.
Salvaging From a Forest Fire
While our daughter was staying with her husband and kids in the home of friends, with little notice, she was told to immediately evacuate because a forest fire was now within reach. Making a frantic call to the home owners, she asked what she should salvage. The final sentence from the homeowners broke her heart, “Whatever you grab will be all our family has!” Those final words sent our daughter and her husband running through the home, trying to rescue items they thought would be most precious to this family. It made me think about each of our lives and how fragile they are. How, at any moment, we may have to assess what is most important. Only then will we fully realize that in order to choose wisely, we will have had to live wisely.
Getting Caught or Turning Myself In
Perhaps, the most foolish decision I’ll ever make is choosing between turning myself in, if I’m living in sin, or waiting to get caught and exposed. The words of Jesus provide a chilling warning: “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” (Luke 12:2, NLT) Should we dismiss Christ’s words as hyperbole or overstatement or let the raw reality of their warning become the standard for how we should live? How would we live if we realized that every sin we tried to hide on Earth would be exposed during our lifetime? Run to the light, and live safe. “…if we confess our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9, NLT)
God’s on Our Side
Down through the ages, political and military leaders, in an effort to defeat an enemy, win a war, or rally a nation, have often proclaimed with unflinching absoluteness, “We have God on our side!” That’s quite a statement! Now, some were unquestionably heralding righteous causes, but as we often see today, when both sides claim the moral high ground, that God is on their side, we have to go to God’s Word to validate or incriminate whatever they are espousing. So, beware the counterfeit: the loud voices proclaiming without equivocation, not just that they are right, but that they are absolutely certain God is on their side. The irony is, I’ve heard people professing biblically incorrect moral or political positions followed by, “I know God’s on our side!” And I wonder what God thinks about it.
How to Be Perfect
Did you ever read the words of Jesus, “…be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect”? (Matthew 5:48, ESV) and think, “I’ve got no shot at that!” I know I have. Trying to achieve the unachievable would at best lead to a life of continual frustration, and at worst, transform us into self-righteous Pharisees. So what did Jesus have in mind when He heralded this highest of all bars? The word “perfect” here means to “be complete.” You could say, “Be complete as your Heavenly Father is complete.” Not that we have reached God-like perfection, but rather we are walking in a level of maturity, a completeness where we are representing Jesus well. Be as mature as you can be at this moment. Look for progress, not perfection. Keep going forward, even if you’ve just taken a few steps backward.