Monday, June 29, 2009

Foundational Truths

I wanted to share my thoughts on my question "what is the most foundational truth for the Christian to know and believe after he/she believes the Gospel?" I am torn between two answers. My first thought is the fact that God loves us more than we can imagine and that all He does flows out of His deep, abiding love for us. We can deal with a lot of pain, a lot of injustice, a lot of suffering if we know that we are lovingly held in the palm of His hand.

But I've also been considering another truth - that God is fitting us for eternal life with Him. Nothing happens to us without that plan in mind. Nothing that happens is accidental. Nothing is inconsequential - all is happening with the goal to make us ready for Heaven. Can you imagine a better future? We can endure all things now because this life will soon be over, and we will forever be with our God.

I think the primary thing in our walk of faith is to keep our eyes on Jesus. If our eyes are on Him, then we will see His immense love as demonstrated on the cross of Calvary. If our eyes are on Him, then we will not be consumed by our circumstances, whether good or bad. If our eyes are on Him, then whether we are here on this earth, or in Heaven, we are with the Lord and can enjoy Him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Foundation Blocks

I have been mulling over the essential truths of Christianity. I am interested to know what you think.

What is the most foundational truth for the Christian to know and believe after he/she believes the Gospel? What one thing do we need to understand as we walk by faith, waiting for the Lord's return?

I shall post my own thoughts in a few weeks. I welcome your thoughts.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

He Is Risen Indeed!

I am still reflecting on Easter. The words of a hymn that we sang Sunday morning keep running through my mind:

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
sin's curse has lost its grip on me.
For I am His and He is mine,
bought with the precious blood of Christ.
from In Christ Alone

I find it interesting that the glorious moment when Christ was raised from the dead was not witnessed by any man. God was quite content for the resurrection to take place quietly as the sun also rose. Man, who is redeemed by this great event, lies sleeping - unaware of the cosmic victory that was won. God promised a redeemer when man fell in the Garden, and now, that redemption is made sure and certain.

Hallelujah, the victory is won. Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

We call it Good Friday. And since it is when Jesus died for our sins, it is a very Good Friday.

But it wasn't good for those who actually lived through the events. Can you imagine what this day was like for them?

As Jesus suffered, His mother Mary stood faithfully beside Him watching these events unfold. She witnessed the treatment He received from the Roman soldiers; she saw them nail the spikes into His hands and feet; she saw them raise the cross and slam it into its hole in the ground. She saw her son take His last earthly breath. On that Friday she experienced what Simeon the prophet had foretold many years before: "a sword will pierce your own soul." [Luke 2:35] That Good Friday her soul was pierced.

This day was not a Good Friday for the disciples either. One of their trusted friends, a comrade they had shared life with, turned into a betrayer. Consequently, Jesus was ripped from them. Fear gripped their hearts. Peter pledged to stand with Jesus no matter what happened. But within a few hours, he denied that he even knew the Lord. And the rest of the disciples? Most of them had already fled the scene by the time Peter denied Jesus.

And on that Good Friday, Jesus suffered. He suffered at the hands of the Jews; He suffered in the hands of the Romans. He prayed that if it be the will of the Father that this cup would pass from Him. But it was the will of the Father for Him to bear the shame, the mocking, the beatings, the desertions. And beyond all understanding it was the will of the Father to turn His back on His holy, beloved Son as the sin of the world was cast upon Him.

Therefore Jesus cried,
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

I can still hear that cry echoing through the pages of time. The holy, beloved Son was alone, separated from His Abba, Father as He bore my sin.

..."why have you forsaken me?”

How can it be that you and I are the answer to that question?

"The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen." [Galatians 1:4] Amen and amen!

It is Good Friday.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

When (Since) Life is Hard

Reflections for my friend:

“Thou hast taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Thy bottle;
Are they not in Thy book?
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.” Psalm 56:8-11

He, the Creator of all worlds,
He, the Alpha and the Omega,
He, the Master of the universe…

…takes into account my wanderings?
…captures my tears and puts them in His bottle?
…He – is for me?

I am overwhelmed by these thoughts. God sees my wanderings through this life. I do not wander alone; nor do I wander out of His sight. Not only does He see my journeys, He takes them into account – He notes them, recognizes them, understands them. He remembers them as He interacts with me.

God also sees the pain that I struggle with. He doesn’t just observe my tears, He collects them. My tears do not flow unheeded or without response. God gathers them and stores them in His own bottle; they are valued by Him.

Why does God care about my wanderings and tears? Why does He take the time to relate to me on this level? It is hard to comprehend.

But David goes even further in this Psalm. David boldly declares, “God is for me.”

God is for me.

O, God, grant that I may know – deep within my soul – that You are for me!

In another passage, David is reflecting on similar truths: God knows when he sits down, when he rises up, what he is thinking, what he speaking. God knows it all.

The truth is that God knows all about me. God knows all of me, yet He still loves me. And He still is for me. I exclaim, as David did, when reflecting on these thoughts, “Such knowledge is to wonderful for me: It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” Psalm 139:6


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Musings on Heaven

I am still thinking about how meditating on Heaven enables us to live well now.

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis says,
If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. [p. 118]

A contemporary person who lived with Heaven in view was Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries who sought to befriend and evangelize a savage Ecuadorian tribe. The movie The End of the Spear (2006) tells the story of these missionaries and their families who reach out to this tribe.

There is a particularly poignant scene between Nate and his son Steve right before they go to meet the Waodanis. Steve is anxious about his father going to met them. Fearing that the Indians might try to kill the missionaries, he asks his dad, "Will you defend yourself? Will you use your guns?

Nate replied, "No. We can't shoot the Waodanis. They are not ready for Heaven. We are."

Nate and the other four missionaries meet their Lord that day. But through their efforts and the efforts of their families, the Waodanis did hear and respond to the gospel. Now, they, too, are ready for Heaven.

I regret that my internal dialogue when I was hearing the movie for the first time was, “of course, we will defend ourselves.” I was more concerned about my personal safety than the eternal souls of the Waodanis. It is good that it was Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and Pete Fleming who went out to meet the Waodanis that day. May my own faith grow until my thoughts of Heaven make me of the same earthly good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eyes on Heaven

As I have been looking at verses on Heaven, I see that it is our orientation toward Heaven that enables us to live well now. When our eyes are fixed on earthly things, we become consumed by what we have, what we need, what we think will bring us pleasure.

Paul contrasts living with our eyes set upon earthly things with living with our eyes set upon Heaven:

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us [living for the Kingdom].

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

[But] our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. [Phil. 3:17-20]

The writer of Hebrews lists for us the deeds of believing men and women that do not make sense if those deeds are measured against earthly wisdom.

But these men and women chose to live by faith – by the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [Heb. 11:1] They confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth and that they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one. [Heb 11:13, 16]

Living with Heaven in view, they were able to live fearlessly upon earth. They could set aside the distractions of the world. They no longer lived for themselves or sought after their own personal interests. They could empty themselves and be poured out for the faith and welfare of others.

When we live with Heaven in view, the problems we have today are brought into focus.
- We can endure hardships - for with Heaven in view, we see they only last a short while.
- We can take courage in difficult situations - for with Heaven in view, we know they will eventually be resolved.
- We can set aside our own desires - for with Heaven in view, we find the grace needed to live for others rather than for ourselves.

May I keep my eyes on Heaven so that I may live well while on earth.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Made for Eternity

"To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge proportions. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory and a prophecy, a glory yet to be realized and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled." - A. W. Tozer

I was glad to find this quote. It reassured me that maybe I am not crazy. Sometimes I feel at odds with this world and all the busy activity going on around me. There are times I get this deep, unexplained, unbidden longing coming from some hidden place within me that cries for real life, true life. I grow weary of carrying the shackles of sin, of time, of place. I want to roam free. My spirit seems to know that I was created for something more. As Tozer says, we are created for eternity. And in that eternity dwells our God and Savior. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that we might finally be all we were created to be and that we might see Him Who has always been and always will be. Maranatha.