When Jesus Disappears
Did you ever notice that as soon as you see Jesus, He disappears? God reveals Himself to us in a supernatural way, and before we can wrap our arms around it and fully embrace the experience, He’s gone. In the Book of Luke, the resurrected Jesus appears to a few of His disciples and walks with them on the Road to Emmaus. Then, after a lengthy conversation, the Bible says, “Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!” (Luke 24:31, NLT) HA! I’m here! Then…I’m gone! By the end of the chapter, the Bible says, “…he left them and was taken up to heaven.” In each of our lives, this pattern is repeated. We get heavenly clarity, a revelation from God’s heart, but in order to walk in it, we must learn to access it by faith in God’s Word and promises.
Don’t Give Up On People
Did you ever wonder why some people who are far from God live to a ripe old age? While, as the expression goes, “sometimes the good die young.” A friend of mine asked his neighbor, who was over 100, why he had no interest in God. He responded that, in World War II, his buddies died in an explosion that also caused him to lose most of his hearing. He was angry that God would allow it. Now, 70 years later, he was still rejecting God. But, his Christian family members continue to pray for his salvation. As the Bible says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV) Don’t give up praying for people; God hasn’t.
Arriving On Time
Have you ever been frustrated because you thought you showed up too late for something important, only to happily realize you were right on time? A friend of mine was rushing to Mount Rushmore, and was frustrated because he thought he’d arrived too late to view it. Only to find out that he was exactly on time for the monthly closing ceremonies with extravagant fireworks and festivities. He was rushing to Mount Rushmore only to realize he didn’t need to rush more, but actually needed to rush less. HA! I’ve found this principle to be true in my own life. God knows the way that we take, and if we trust Him, He’ll get us to where we need to go at just the right moment. The God who is able to raise the dead, never shows up too late. If you don’t believe me, ask Lazarus.
Following the Crowd Can Be Painful
My wife and I were a part of this year’s Martin Luther King “March For the Dream” in our city, along with 30,000 other marchers. It was a wonderful day of meeting new people and fellowshipping with longtime friends. About halfway through the six-mile walk, my back began to hurt more than usual. I realized that it was because our pace was not consistent with my typical walking stride. So, during the next portion of the walk, we decided to march alongside the crowd at our normal pace. As we did, the pain went away. It made me think: perhaps some of the pain we go through in life is because we’re merely trying to follow others, and not walking the walk the way God intended for us. Only then will we experience less pain and a healthy walk.
We’re Rebelling and God’s Planning Our Rescue
Do you believe your future is bleak? It’s a lie! And if you can replace this lie with the truth, you’ll begin to see your life from God’s perspective. While Moses was up on Mount Sanai receiving the Ten Commandments, the children of Israel were rebelling in the valley below. This fascinating parallel becomes even more amazing when we compare it to each of our lives. God was contemplating our bright future, while we were simultaneously blowing up our present. We’re plotting “rebellion.” God’s planning “rescue.” It makes me cry with gratitude. God’s heart has always been about rescue, never retaliation; about hope and never despair. His bright future for me was always intended to eclipse my bleak past. The only question is, am I willing to believe it, receive it, and then live it?
Living an Impossible Life
I don’t know about you, but it seems most of the things God is setting before me and asking me to do are, well, impossible. It used to freak me out because I’d think, “There’s no way that can happen!” But, I believe it’s what God is asking me to do or believe for. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who wrote, “I have found that there are three stages in any great endeavor: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” Jesus confirmed this heavenly point of view when He said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26, NLT) Don’t be surprised when God asks you to believe Him for the impossible. Only then can we experience the miraculous life God intended for each of us.
Those Aren’t My Pants
A friend of mine is a police officer. He told me the funniest thing he ever heard a drug dealer say to him happened when he was frisking him and found a stash of drugs in his pockets. The busted man blurted out, “These aren’t my pants!” Ha! Ha! As if he had put on somebody else’s pants and hadn’t realized there were drugs in the pockets. But, like most of the time when I hear of someone else doing something wrong or foolish, God invariably shows me how I do the same thing. I’m busted by God’s Spirit, and I begin to come up with some lame excuse for why I did it, said it, or thought it. Those ARE my pants! Accept it, Francis! Believe it! Own it! Repent of it, and let Jesus forgive you and restore you.
Things Are Speeding Up
Do you ever feel like things are speeding up, not just in your life, but on the entire planet? Well, perhaps it’s because they actually are. Scientists tell us our ever-expanding Universe is actually accelerating, expanding faster, as if God were stepping on the accelerator. It reminds me of the quote by Eric Hoffer, “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Yesterday is gone. Today, God asks us to keep pace with Him. This miracle of partnering with God is only possible if we will humble ourselves and receive His strength in exchange for our weakness. Learn to flow with Jesus. Catch the breeze of God’s Spirit, and each day will be an adventure that will take your breath away.
God’s Happy Ending
Ever have someone tell you about a movie their excited about? They say, “Oh, you’re gonna love the end of the movie!” And you believe them, because they are a trustworthy person and not prone to exaggeration. Then as you’re watching the movie you can’t wait for the ending. No matter how difficult certain portions of the movie may be, you long to see what happens at the end. That’s the way God wants each of us to anticipate eternity. Fully awake, filled with hope, looking forward, not backward, absolutely persuaded that what’s coming, the grand finale, will blow our minds, and be exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond our wildest dreams. That’s right! Follow Jesus with all your heart and wake up every day with your heart fixed on eternity. It’s all going to be worth it.
Never Seeing Mount Rushmore
Before I became a Christ-follower, I travelled in a van across the U.S. On our journey, we drove to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, to see the granite mountain featuring four renowned U.S. presidents. While walking from the parking lot toward the sculpture, there was a table with Native American representatives who expressed a grievance that their ancestors had signed a treaty with the U.S. Government that guaranteed in perpetuity the area belonged to them. I was so taken by their heartfelt appeal I spent an hour talking with them and, frankly, never saw Mount Rushmore. To date, I have never seen it, and probably never will, but I’m encouraged that even as a young man I cared enough about people to miss out on a special memory. I pray I am willing to do just that all the days of my life.
The Dangers of “Downclimbing”
There is an old adage, “What goes up, must come down.” So, too, in life and rock climbing. It’s awesome to reach the top, but it can be equally difficult descending safely to the valley floor. It’s called “downclimbing,” and in rock climbing it has a greater degree of difficulty because of the added drag and friction of the connecting rope between climbers. The spiritual danger of “downclimbing” can be seen in the life of King David. “…at the time when kings go off to war…” (2 Samuel 11:1, NIV), David had retired from battle. It was there on his way down that he faced a greater danger than he had encountered on his way up. Whatever pinnacle we may have reached, if we live long enough, obscurity is ahead for all of us. Prepare to navigate your safe descent and finish well.
The “Victim” Mindset
One of the most deceptive perspectives in this hour is the “victim” mindset. It says because I have been cheated, I can’t get a fair shake unless I demand retribution from the one I believe mistreated me. The entire concept comes from the enemy. Lucifer, the fallen archangel, believed God had cheated him, and therefore demanded retribution. His “victim” mindset morphed into revenge and retaliation. Repentance from a “victim” perspective will bring about restoration, rejuvenation, and lasting reward. Faith is the only way to access what we are hoping for; not fear, fatalism or frustration. Being a “victim” will keep you bound to the past. Having a “victor” mindset reveals God’s vision for your future, allowing you to fulfill His will for your life: being more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ.