Lenten Perspectives Day 3 – Featuring Bob Hostetler

Where Jesus Died

 READ: I Corinthians 15:1-5

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3b, NIV)

In family devotions with our two young children, my wife and I often repeated the story of Calvary and Jesus’ death on a cross. We were not sure of the story’s impact on our son’s and daughter’s minds until one day when we were driving cross-country on a car trip.

As the miles rolled by under our car, we suddenly spied in the distance a hill with three crosses outlined clearly on the summit. My children watched silently until we began to pass the hilltop arrangement. Finally, in a voice of awe, my four-year-old son whispered, “Daddy, is that where Jesus died?”

I tried tenderly to explain that, no, the place where Jesus died was far from that hillside.

I’ve since come to regard my answer as a little hasty. Of course, Jesus did die at a specific spot on the surface of the earth. But in another sense, maybe He did die on that hillside, if that is where one of His children came to faith in Him. For me, He “died” at a scratched and pitted wooden campground altar. For one of my friends, it was literally a ditch beside a country road. For others, the place was a storefront church or a kitchen table. Perhaps that’s what hymnwriter (and Salvation Army general) Albert Orsborn meant when he wrote, “On every hill our Saviour dies, and not on Calvary’s height alone,” for wherever I accept His love and sacrifice, that place becomes a Calvary.


On every hill our Saviour dies,

And not on Calvary’s height alone;

His sorrows darken all our skies,

His griefs for all our wrongs atone.


Present he is in all our woes,

Upon a world-wide cross is hung;

And with exceeding bitter throes

His world-embracing heart is wrung.

Chorus

Go! Cry the news from every hill;

Go! Ring the earth with sacred flame;

To pardon is the Father’s will,

And Jesus is the Saviour’s name.

PRAYER: Jesus, keep me near the cross where, as a trembling soul, love and mercy found me.

 THOUGHT: The cross of Christ spans the ages and the miles to meet the needy soul. . . anywhere.

Bob Bob Hostetler is an award winning and best-selling author whose work is prolific.  He is also a gifted speaker and pastor.  

http://www.bobhostetler.com

 

Devotional: “The Lifter Of My Head”

I have been there.  yell
That moment of shame.  That place of embarrassment.  It’s not a fun place to be, in that moment of red-faced, head-hanging sadness.  Perhaps it happens when you let words fly that were sharp as razor blades and those blades struck deep into the heart of someone you love…and all you wished that you could do was reel them back or reverse time and stop yourself from such utterances.  Perhaps it happened in the way you shouted at someone in a fit of road rage while driving…and your kids were in the car, and they saw you in a moment of absurd immaturity and hot-headedness.

I have traveled to those destinations, and I would pay anything never to return.
Perhaps you have traveled to these shameful places too.  The real question is, do we admit them to others and ourselves, or do we play it off as if it never happened and hope that the people we care for will also forget?

Then there are other moments when other people have shamed us, other events where we were made to look like fools and our tormentors were spiteful and cruel…and their harsh words dug it’s sharp blades into our very hearts…and now we’re wounded.  We carry around this hurt wherever we go, and we hang our heads in shame because of it.

Dear fellow ponderers, let me encourage you today.
If we sincerely seek to be forgiven, then God will forgive.
If we sincerely seek to be released from our hurt, God will provide the salve and healing.

Psalm 3:3 says, “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

May God lift your heads today.
May we recognize that God wants for us to lift up our hearts and our heads to Him, and that we no longer have to live with the shame and guilt any longer.  He wants to come to us and to heal us.  He longs to make the wrongs – right and to fellowship with us, while replacing or shame and hurt with victory and joy.  The real question is – are we prepared to allow Him to lift our heads, or will we continue to go it alone all the while making our own feeble attempts at strength?

Prayer:  
Dear Lord, lift my head today.  Thank You for restoring me so that I can have that right relationship with You!  Forgive me for the shame I have caused in my life, and heal me of the hurts others have caused in my heart.  Remind me of Your purposes for my life.  Grant me Your eyes to see others around me, and also remind me of how You see me.  Thank You Lord for your presence with me today.   -Amen.

Learning To Trust Again…

Perhaps you’ve been betrayed by those you trusted or called ‘friend’ or ‘family’.
Maybe you entrusted someone with personal information only a few would know, thinking that they would always keep it private…and they turned around and spoke ill of you while spilling your secrets to the world.  trust

They say that trust is earned, and that having true allies is often harder to maintain.
Friends, do you struggle with trust issues?
Do you have close confidants who not only listen to you, but tell it like it is?

blueprintMany times we take this imperfect blueprint of friendship, with all of its flaws, lies, broken trusts, and betrayals and we transpose it onto what we think we know about God.  We think that either God doesn’t listen to us, or perhaps He just doesn’t care that much for us.   We make assumptions that aren’t based upon God at all, but rather on the experiences of our world and those in it.  The truth is that God isn’t from this world, He is out of it, and as a matter of fact, He created this world.  Going even further, God ACTUALLY walked with Adam and Eve at the beginning of all things just to fellowship with them.  He truly cared about them.

Along the way, as you might already know the story, Adam and Eve disobeyed God…and broke His heart.   They were kicked out the garden, and you’d think that He would start to have trust issues with His creation, but instead He made covenant after covenant with the Adam and Eve’s ancestors.  He never stopped trusting and loving them.  As a matter of fact, His trust and love for us went so far as to send His One and Only Son – Jesus into the world to make things right for us…to set the story straight.  He never gave up on us…so much so that Jesus died in our place on the cross.
hold
I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I do know that God wants to tear down the imperfect blueprint that you might have about Him.  He won’t let go of you, and He has never stopped loving you.  The very, very big God of the Universe, comes down to your level and says “Here I am…and I’m not going anywhere because I love you!”  Perhaps you are very burdened today by the weight of so many hurts and problems.  Maybe it’s time to trust again…no, I don’t mean trusting others just yet, I mean start by trusting God to be there for you.  From this place of trust, healing can begin and He will restore your life and heal your broken heart.  (Psalm 147:3)

Prayer: 
Lord, I don’t know how to trust anymore.
I have been hurt by so many things in life and I feel helpless in this mess.
Thank you for loving me, even when I don’t love myself.  Help me to trust You.  I give you my hurts and my burdens…Lord, just be there for me…I want to trust again.  In Your name -Amen.

Something more for you to ponder today.
God Bless you!

What Are YOU Waiting For?

Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” Acts 9:8-9

We probably know the story.
Saul was a Pharisee, who lived out his religious convictions by punishing members of “The Way”.  He was a devout Jew, and was very popular amongst his peers.  He did what he thought was right…he did what he perceived to be God’s will.  But he was wrong.  On his to Damascus, God intervened.  His truth was the light that blinded Saul but it also seared his heart.  A divine course correction took place, and the person known as Saul died on that road.  No, he didn’t die physically, but the road marked out the conclusion of that identity, that mission, that chapter.  To many of his devout followers, he would be dead in their eyes for he was set on a new path by God, that of which they could neither follow or believe in.

Those with whom Saul traveled with led this now blind man into the city of Damascus where we waited, and waited, and waited some more.  Whole sermons and sermon series’ have been preached on with this story – mostly focused on that road and God’s intervention and even Ananias when he arrives…but what about the waiting period between the two chapters?  What happened within the span of those three days?  I believe the soul searching that took place with this blind man once named Saul is just as important and has a lot to teach us.  This is not necessarily reading between the lines of the text, this is merely speculating, extrapolating and mulling over this human metamorphosis.  A blind man named Saul – Christian persecutor and sometimes executor went into Damascus, a transformed man on a mission named Paul exited that city with divine purpose, intent and a new found passion in life.

BUT…
What happened in those 3 days between blindness and commission?
What changes transpired there?
Is there something teachable in this narrative for you and for me?
I believe there is, so please allow me to share this with you now.
waiting3
“METAMORPHOSIS” 
3 Lessons from 3 Days of Blindness

1st Lesson:  Sometimes Spiritual Correction Hurts and We Must Do Some Deep Soul Searching
Saul thought he was doing what God wanted him to do.
He was fighting for and defending his faith…but he was, in fact, persecuting Christ.  He had passionately taken up his cause with vim and vigor and knew he was in the right…then God turned his whole world upside down.  He was confronted with his own failures…he was confronted with his own mistakes, and it must have hurt.  Saul spends three days of blindness not eating and drinking.  It is a sobering response to the Theophany he had just experienced.  Within the words of Jesus, there was a course correction and for three days Saul had to have replayed that scene over and over in his head.  He must have prayed and fasted.  He must have explored every action that had led him to this place, like a movie playing in his head for three long days.

I find it interesting that 3 days pass.
3 Days that seem like a real death and a real resurrection.
3 days of emotional and philosophical death until God’s messenger arrives to offer new life again.  In a very real sense, Saul is in his chrysalis transforming and arriving at a new physical place.

Do we have chapters like this in our lives?
Has there ever been spiritual correction in your life that has hurt?
God doesn’t enjoy hurting us, it is more for our benefit and growth that these corrections take place.  There’s an old phrase – “no pain, no gain” and I think it applies here.  If we don’t experience some discomfort in life from time to time we might remain stagnant and planted in incorrect spiritual patterns.  God doesn’t want us to remain there, He sees in us the potential for something better, greater and far more substantive that what we have settled for now.  He wishes to adjust our paths, and help us grow into maturity within our faith.  But we have to be willing to accept these corrections which, hurt, but are meant to help us grow…and sometimes set us on a new, more holy path than what we have settled on.

2nd Lesson:  There is Growth that Takes Place that Only Happens in Our Waiting on The Lord
waiting4Abraham was an old man before God’s promise of being the father to many nations was actually fulfilled, and certainly Abraham tried to speed up the process with his wife’s handmaiden Hagar.  But the waiting was necessary.

David was anointed as king and successor to king Saul, but he did not become king right away, he had to endure hurts, the loss of his best friend when he had ran for his life.  But he did not stop being faithful to God – he persisted and eventually the waiting produced the crown in God’s appointed time.

Waiting on the Lord can be tiring and frustrating, and we may sometimes question if God will really show up in our lives and our situations, but in those moments of waiting we grow.  These times of waiting produces in us perseverance, endurance and fortitude.  You might not believe that you can wait on the Lord.  You may question your own strength, but rest assured you are not alone – the Holy Spirit is with you giving you the strength that you need.  When we wait, we must recognize our finite while we wait for the Infinite to enter our stories.  Saul waited for the appointed time.  He wasn’t told how long it would be.  He wasn’t told who would show up as God’s ambassador…he just simply waited.

Are you waiting right now for God to show up?
Are you growing frustrated with the “waiting game”?
Maybe we will someday declare as David did in Psalm 40:
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him…”

Maybe we can declare this today!

3rd LessonThere is a New Chapter in the Future to Embrace, but First We must Embrace the Present. waitinghospital
Have you ever visited a doctor’s office?
I am sure that you have.
Most of the time there are two places that you find yourself waiting.  First, you have to wait to be seen by the nurse on duty at the front desk as they take your insurance card and all of your vital information.  Sometimes they even take your blood pressure.  Then they call your name and the nurse takes you through the waiting room door into a hallway which leads to another, more intimate waiting room.  Sometimes the nurse asks you to take off your clothes and put on a gown…and then wait.  This is sometimes the longest wait that you may have at the doctor’s office.  That uncomfortable time dressed only in a thin paper gown, sitting on an examination table while some elevator music is droning on and on in the background.  But we cannot speed up that time.  We have to simply wait, even when it’s not comfortable or the most desirable thing to do – we still wait.  Finally the doctor in a white coat comes in and then we get down to business and the present can then be moved into the future.

If we believe that God sent Jesus to die for us, that Jesus resurrected and went to prepare a place for us, then we already understand what it means to wait.  We aren’t in some doctor’s waiting room or anything but we must acknowledge that Jesus promised to return one day – and so His people anxiously wait for his return
waiting5
But what about the little things of life?
What about the prayers we utter in the hope that God will answer them?
What happens in the in between time of God encounter and fulfillment?
We wait.
Sometimes we wait and wait.
Saul didn’t eat or drink for 3 days.
This parched, blind man waited for God’s fulfillment.
He didn’t know when it would happen, but it WAS going to happen.
He didn’t know WHO God was sending, but in the present moment he waited.

Many times we might feel stuck in the present while we wait for God.
We might grow frustrated and even weary in our waiting, but let me encourage you today:  The present waiting room of your life IS where God meets us.
We might not yet know it yet, but He is already present and with you right here and now.  We do not need to pine for the future in a “some day” mindset when we understand that God is sitting with us in our present waiting rooms.

Saul met God, then we he had to wait, then when God’s appointed ambassador arrived the commission was given and a much transformed Paul emerged to do the will of God.

Are you waiting right now for God?
Remember this while you wait:
-Sometimes Spiritual Correction Hurts and We Must Do Some Deep Soul Searching.
-There is Growth that Takes Place that Only Happens in Our Waiting on The Lord.
-There is a New Chapter in the Future to Embrace, but First We must Embrace the Present.
waiting6
Something more to ponder today.
God Bless you!  

Walking at Midnight on the path of restlessness.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I have another confession to make – I am restless…like pit of my stomach-aching restlessness.  Some days I can put my finger on it, while other days it is as elusive as an honest thief.  I am usually successful at pushing it back down, repacking that box that it lives in and stowing it away in that shadowy corner that I seldom travel to.  Still, I know it’s there…and it weighs on me as if an elephant had decided to perch its rotund bottom on my chest.

I wonder if you feel this way sometimes?
Do you have to push it back down as well?
Do you have to re-tape that worn-out box and pretend that dark corner doesn’t even exist?  Does it keep you up at night – blinking at the ceiling fan, counting the rotation of its blades as shadows dance off reflections of streetlights lit only for 3rd shift workers and insomniacs out for a stroll?  I repress the urge to join them, to open the front door and walk barefooted down the now cooled, uneven sidewalks as I imagine myself trying to avoid the spiny round pods that fall haphazardly from the large gum tree in our front yard.   I have stepped on these awful spiky seeds a time or two while walking barefoot down our path and even in the cool darkness of the night thoughts of the surprise pain causes me to recoil my feet from the lower spaces of my bed.

I wonder if David ever felt this way?  The pre-murder and adulterous David…the one that tended sheep and slew predators to the flock.  I wonder if he ever felt restless in his heart?  I am sure he did when, later he was being pursued by jealous King Saul and his men.  As David hid from cave to cave and village to village, I imagine him laying down on an uncomfortable uneven floor hoping to rest his weary head.  I can picture his deep sadness as he yearned for his best friend Jonathan.  Yet David trusted in God…but I would venture a guess that there were moments in which he was restless and he too had to push it back down and re-tape his box.

It is said that there is a season for everything…and yet Jesus told the people of his day not to worry about anything, yet I can’t help but find myself in the season of worry from time to time.  Doe that mean that I am not heeding His words?  That, despite my best efforts, I am not trusting in Him?  Perhaps you have thought this also> I worry, but Jesus said not to, and here I am still worrying.<  What do we do with these seasons?  How do we find the glimmers and glints of hope in the mess of our minds?  Sometimes we do believe the lie.  What lie you ask?  The lie that Jesus wasn’t really talking to us when He said those things, that it was just for the disciples and people around Him right then and there… The lie that we are broken people beyond fixing, and that the restlessness that we feel in the pits of our stomachs and the weight of our hearts is what we deserve for being fallen, sinful people.

Don’t live there.
Don’t wallow in that muck and believe that damning lie.
The son who turned his back on his father and spent his entire inheritance on partying, prostitutes and comfort found himself feeding muddy, fetid pigs.  Day in and day out he was covered in mud and pig excrement.  He definitely smelled as bad as they did.  He had lost everything – squandered a small fortune on foolish, regrettable things, and the stink of his life went much deeper than clothes and skin.  He lived there.  He wallowed there.  That pen of stench became his home for a period of time, until he came to senses.  As Jesus told this story of prodigal son, I imagine some who were listening felt that he was telling their story.  The prodigal son came to his senses, got up and devised a plan to return to his father.  He formulated a plan in his mind, he believed he would be unwelcome to return as a son, but maybe, just maybe his father would let him return as a servant.  Can you imagine that restless journey home; The endless loop of things he would finally say to his father in order to stave off the reprisals and chastisements?  As each dusty step led him closer and closer to the home he once knew, thoughts of doubt and fear must have crept in.  “Master, just let me work for you.” (For surely he would never be worthy to call him father after what he did).

And when this beaten-by-life man, who had squandered everything and had hit absolute rock-bottom crested that last hill, and his home was in view…he saw someone running towards him.  Perhaps it was a servant instructed to chase him off.  Perhaps it was a warning not to come any closer…he would have deserved such a welcome.  Instead, it wasn’t any of those things…it was his father that he had wished were dead, running to embrace the son he thought he had lost.

Don’t live in the home of restlessness.
Don’t believe the lie of shame and guilt.
Be forgiven, let your Father embrace you and welcome you home…and when you are finally hope, re-tape that box and then throw it away.

The prodigal son is me.
The prodigal son is you.
But once we have been embraced,
once we have witness our Father running to us,
Once we have been forgiven and returned to our home (where we belong)
don’t even entertain the lie or the box any longer.

But sometimes…we still walk at midnight, say hello, I’ll be waving.

Something more to ponder today.

Eclipsed by the Son

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

This coming Monday there will be a much anticipated global event – the solar eclipse of 2017.  The last time a solar eclipse of this magnitude occurred was 1918…we’re talking a coast to coast (United States that is) total eclipse of the sun.  (cue the song – total eclipse of the heart…)  Many cities, like mine, have sold out of glasses.  My son stood in line for three hours today in order to buy a couple of pairs, there were people in lawn chairs.  It’s simply astounding.

IMG_0815
Isaiah, standing in line for solar eclipse glasses

People are excited.
Schools are giving parents the option to keep their children home this Monday so families can watch the eclipse together.
There are of course the doomsdayers out there who are calling for the end of the world, or an alien invasion…there’s always a few crackpots out there.

I don’t know about you, but I am in awe of God’s creation.
He spoke our world into existence.
He formed us out of clay and dirt.
God breathed life into our lungs…and here we are attempting to take in the majesty of God’s amazing artistry.  The Universe is vast, and yet in the tremendously immense expanse, God comes down to our level and wishes to fellowship with us.  He loves His creation, despite our fallen nature and sin that permeates us on a molecular level.  His love extends to us all the way to a cross with shineHis only Son dying in our place.
This.
Is.
What.
Love.
Looks.
Like!

Jesus, God’s Son – faced death on a cross so that we could be made worthy of standing in the very presence of God once more; for the purpose of fellowship and restoration!   Salvation is found in Christ alone!

Then this Jewish zealot, by the name of Saul perceived the Christ-followers to be blasphemous and heretical, so he sought to cleanse the Hebrew world of them.  He began to seek them out and bring them to his perceived understanding of godly justice.  He looked on with approval when Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death.  He pressed onward, in the hopes of exposing them all in his righteous religious cleansing campaign… but God had other plans for Saul.

On his way to Damascus, Christ showed up in all of His glory – pouring so much light intosaul.jpg the eyes of this zealot that it seared him blind. Saul was then confronted by Christ himself.  He was forced to answer the question of why he had been persecuting God’s Son – the Messiah.   Only later, when the scales had fallen from his eyes and he began a new mission – to preach Christ to the world, did he truly begin to live.  He had been eclipsed you see (pun intended).  Paul – had been eclipsed by the Son and he would never be the same again.  From that point on he had one purpose, one mission, one life and that life was Christ’s alone!  He would pour out himself upon others as a fragrant offering to God.  He would invest himself in the lives of new believers…even from a prison cell hundreds of miles away.

He declare in Galatians 2:20 “For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Paul was eclipsed by the Son of God, and his life became a vessel that enabled the world to be changed!!

How about us?
shine2Has the Son Eclipsed our lives?  This is what Holiness looks like – us dying to our old sinful selves and living for Christ alone – through the amazing power of the Holy Spirit!!

Let me ask you, have YOU allowed Him access to the very fiber of your existence, or are you holding back a portion just for yourself?  Can you make this bold claim as Paul once did, “I have been crucified WITH Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.

A total solar eclipse may only arrive once every 90 years or so, but on a daily basis – Christ comes to us and longs to shine His mercy and love in and through us.  How is your relationship with Him today?  Has your light gone out?  Are you in need of more of His grace?  Call out to Him, He is never far from you.  Begin to live for Him again and be willing to be eclipsed by the Son so that others might find Him!

Something more to ponder today!

The Art of Letting Go…

I must confess that I am not very good at this yet.
I still clutch with white knuckles and cling with all my might as if this is what God has called me to do.  Embarrassingly,  I sometimes internally kick and scream when I don’t get my way like a rageful, tantrum seeking kindergartner.  I am no good at letting go.

I have become a professional “holder-on”.
A legacy protector…I have become too good at preserving that which is dead instead of believing in resurrection, a new way and innovation.  (it takes pain and awareness to realize that, like the disciples staring up into the clouds at an ascended Jesus, I too must get on with life and mission)

Words echo in my brain like “Be still and know that I am God…” when all along I am anything but still.  I am a turbulent storm, a freakishly fast flowing river.  I am a cacophony of thought and ceaseless effort.  Could it be that in my many ventures and efforts I have become effortless? (and not the good kind of ‘effortless’)  Ineffective?  Static?  Something about beating a dead horse or the definition of insanity…could this sum up my effortless-efforts?  Is this just evidence of works without faith?  Is this what preserving legacies instead blazing trails looks like?  After all, the disciples didn’t build a monument marking the exact location of Christ’s ascension into heaven; They didn’t remain in that place for the rest of their lives; They didn’t build this ‘holy shrine of ascension’  and preserved His memory… No!  They had to let go of that place.  They were reminded by two white robed figures, who suddenly appeared before them:  As they were straining their eyes for another glimpse, suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!” Acts 1:10-11

This reminder sparked action in the disciples – forward movement while at the same time they had to let go of the Jesus they had walked with and studied under.  They had to let go of the laughter and the tears of their past journey, because the present road was waiting for them.  It was their time to move forward, but they had to first let go – of their former identities, of their former disciple status.  They had to let go.

let go andThe old phrase, which I have made fun of, it is posterized, monetized, and placed on car bumper stickers…yet in my present context the truth is no less poignant.  What phrase you ask?  “Let go and let God”…before you toss that phrase away and chalk it up to one more Christianese marketing ploy, let me expound:
In order for us to exercise faith with our actions…we have to let go.
-We have to let go of our own academic efforts.
-We have to let go of our own ingrained realizations and understandings.
-We have to let go of our presuppositions and some of our Sunday school lessons.
-We have to let go of our “I’ll go in my own strength” – I got this, and I don’t need anyone else’s help.
-We have to let go of our own understanding…and in all our ways acknowledge Him. (Proverbs 3:6)

We have to…I have to let go…and yet sometimes I imagine myself being that lowly disciples still staring at the clouds despite the words of the alien-angelic figures who visited us.  I am still plodding on into life with the old ways when God has given me a new means of life, a new mission, a new purpose…and I’m still trying to do it in my own strength.  I still need to let go, and yes, let God lead instead of me…how about you?
Do you still have a dead-grip on the reins of your life?  Do you have trouble putting feet to your faith? It’s time stop staring up at an ascended Christ and time to live for Him.

So…I’m letting go.

 

A Fallen Tree…is it me?

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving…” Colossians 2:6-7

tree1Last month a giant tree, strong-stout and regal, fell behind our backyard.  We were very fortunate that it fell away from our property, the garage and family investment known as our ugly rolling turd (the RV).  It appears that the cause of death of this might oak was soil erosion.  Weeks leading up to its demise, we had a seven day span of unending rain.  As it continued to rain, flooding occurred which led to the weakening of this mighty tree’s root system…there was simply nothing to hold onto anymore.  With a sudden thud, the tree fell and that wonderful shady spot where Moms and Dads came to watch their children play soccer, became the grave of something that had once been so mighty and tall.

I am sure we will miss that tree this summer, when the sweltering heat cascades in waves around that High School Soccer field.  We will miss the chirping birds who nested there and have now been displaced.  The tree removal service has since come and gone, chopping that once majestic oak into fire wood and mulch, all because its roots couldn’t find anything to hold onto any longer.

tree
My boys hanging out on that fallen tree before it was removed.  

This real-life tale reminded me of how easy it is for mighty oak trees to fall…and for the holiest of believers as well.  We are all susceptible to the trappings of sin, and many a tear has been shed for a saint who has fallen from grace.  The names, at times seem to be many…and it causes a wave of exhaled breath when each one falls.  Like a punch to the gut, we feel our hearts sink as the shock of it all can be felt like the sudden thud of a felled two ton oak.

It can be very tempting to think of this “root” problem as someone else’s burden to carry, but the very real threat is all around us.  We cannot pity the fallen saint while we look from afar thinking that this could never happen to me.  Beware of this trap dear friends!
Pay attention to the soil in which you sink your roots.  Make sure they go down deep into the dark, rich soil of Christ himself.  Because there will be rainy days again…there could also be floods that come and attempt to uproot you.  Be mindful that what is done in secret is known to God, and that He longs for your integrity and honesty just as much as the world around you is clambering for truth.

I will miss that great oak, but I also am more sober; I am more consciously aware of the soil that my roots are currently in…and I long for them to become more profoundly rooted in the Holiness of Christ.  How are your roots today?

-Just a thought.

The Kitten, The Lion and Me…

Recently my family adopted a small kitten.
We thought it would be good for our eight year old twins.
By that I mean we made the mistake of driving past a pet store, and then walking by the little kitty jails they have at those establishments…and the rest as they say, is history.

So we now have this newly adopted kitten in our home.  cat
He is a wild and crazy kitten, I suspect like most kittens his age.
Recently he has taken to attacking our legs as we walk by, and in the morning it is now routine for him to perch in an opened, yet screened in, window and maliciously listen to the birds chirping in the nearby trees.  This kitten is domesticated, yet there is still a wildness about him.  He would most likely attack, kill and consume a bird if opportunity were to strike in his favor.  It is in his nature to be this way – with claws flared and crouched in a stance ready to pounce.

I recently read a news story (it literally happened today) about a mountain lion that had gotten into a family home through an open patio door.  When the mother and daughter awoke in their bed at 3am to the loud barking of their small dog, they saw the shadow of an unknown animal lurking in their home.  In a matter of moments, the mountain lion had left the foot of the bed with the family dog in its jaws.   Isn’t nature truly wild?   It is in the nature of wild things like that.  Call it instinct or something in their DNA, but it is how these creatures innately are – predators by nature.

It made me wonder about our humanity as people.
More importantly, how we are made up.
seekingIt is in our DNA.
We have a nature too.
In Genesis it says that we were created in God’s image…though it is marred because of sin, that image is still there, within us.  More importantly, our spirits are naturally drawn to our Creator…many don’t know it, but this is why we question, why we seek, why we search our world for answers to all of life’s questions.  We were made this way.  Just as that kitten is instinctually drawn to pouncing on its prey, we are instinctively drawn to truth…and the Chief truth is found in the author of truth – God himself.

I am drawn to the children’s story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and when one of the children asks if Aslan is safe they get this reply –  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  God isn’t safe and sin cannot stand in the presence of God without being vanquished.  Without getting too theological, His goodness quickly overpowers and kills sin and darkness.  Hence this search for truth in our lives – we long to be reunited with the Author of Truth and Goodness.  It is in our DNA to seek Him out.  Some will blatantly reject Him for various reasons in life, but in general, we all long to rid ourselves of guilt, shame, sin, sickness and death – Christ is the answer, and He is the One we have been searching for in this life.  Is following Him safe in this life?  No, many perils and dangers will come because of this choice to follow Him.  The path may, in fact, become harder for us, but the journey will provide hope, joy and peace despite the circumstances or bumps along the way.

Sure, that kitten maybe a handful, he may even wreck havoc on the bird population in our neighborhood, but this is in his DNA, this is what he was born to do…and purring as goes…what is in your DNA?  Let me reassure you that how you were made is no accident.  We the created intrinsically long for our Creator…and we have been created for so much more than this.
-Just a thought.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑