Life is Good

All my life I have been trying not to die.  That is the lie I told to begin a post a little while back.  Perhaps you remember; it is pinned to the top of my page right now.  The truth is, I spent a few years of my life trying to kill myself.

That’s right; I tried to throw myself in front of fast moving vehicles and farm machinery, tried to throw myself off cliff faces and tall buildings, ran full speed into a brick wall and even jumped into the deep end of the pool before I could swim.  But, no matter how hard I tried, my parents always thwarted my suicide attempts.

I jest, of course.  I was a clueless toddler who had no idea about death.  We were all that clueless toddler at one time, dependent on our parents to keep us from falling into the lion’s den.  Now, we are adults, right?  How much more do we know?  Sure, we look both ways when we cross the street, but do we have a clear understanding of the value of our lives?  Do we realize the immensity of the gift?  We were nothing.  Less than that–when you think about it.  You can’t even use the word “were” to describe our lack of being.  We weren’t.  Even that doesn’t work.

Out of that void God brought us into existence and gave us life with the ability to understand that we exist and to know Him who made that happen.  Most of us were gifted with fully functioning minds and bodies with the capability to experience the amazing world we live in.  Even better, we are gifted with the chance to love the people around us and be loved by them, most of us.  Best of all, we have been given the knowledge and opportunity to know that the one who created us loves us and we are allowed the choice to love him in return…or reject him.

To top it all off–the gift of this life and the gifts in this life are only the beginning! Because; “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

All those gifts and so much more bundled in the One Indescribable Gift Of Life.  How can we not want to know him, and love him?

A.J.

 

 

 

 

 

God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility…this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.      Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Toll Free

Christianity stands apart from all other “religions” in that God himself did the work that closed the gap between him and us. We couldn’t build the bridge so he did–and there is no toll.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”Eph 2:8-9

 

 

 

Don’t I at least have to clean up my act a little bit?  God can’t accept me as I am.

That is the thing, he doesn’t.  He loves us as we are, but we are accepted as Jesus.  “…by  his wounds we are healed.”  We are no longer looked upon as sinners; we have been made clean.  “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  from Psalm 103

Don’t I at least have to clean up my act a little bit? He can’t accept me like I am?

That’s the thing, he doesn’t. He loves us as we are but we are accepted as Jesus is. “By his wounds we are healed.” We are no longer looked upon as sinners. We have been made clean. Our sins have been taken away “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed out transgressions from us.”  Ps 103

Chosen

I never dance in the aisles at church.  I don’t raise my hands to the heavens when I sing of God.  I have never spoken in tongues.  Sometimes I sing in church but a lot of times I don’t.  Except for some occasional toe-tapping if the music is good, I am very physically reserved when I worship.  What does that say about me?

I know some people would say that I need to loosen up, that I can’t experience a full relationship with God unless I let go of my inhibitions.  Maybe they are right; I don’t know.

There are others who would say that if I don’t worship in certain ways that I might not be truly saved.  I have heard that suggested before, though not specifically about me.  Those people would be wrong, both in their judgement, and their idea that they are qualified to judge.

I realize that sitting in the pew at church every week doesn’t get me into heaven, nor does writing a biblically sound post now and then on some facebook page.  But, by the same concept, raising my hands when I sing or doing an interpretive dance during the pastor’s sermon does not prove anything either.

I know I can be too self-conscious and uptight sometimes and I realize it is not the best way to be.  But loosening up in a crowd is not who I am.  I am not saying that God may not want me to change, but doesn’t he love me as I am?  There is one denomination, I think it is Presbyterians, that are called the Frozen Chosen.  Not saying that being frozen is good at all, but I think the key word there is “chosen”.

I worship in my thoughts and prayers, wherever I happen to be when I think of God, along with my voice in song at church and elsewhere.  My actions can also be a form of worship when I am doing his will.  I won’t say never, but I don’t picture myself ever leaping and dancing down the aisles during a sermon.  How each one of us worships is between that individual and God.  The only one who knows my heart is God himself and I hope my worship is pleasing to him.

A.J.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Is your life swirling counter-clockwise around the toilet?  Have you burned the bridges between you and a meaningful life, between you and happiness?  Have you hurt the ones you love, hurt yourself?  Do you think you are unlovable?  Well–get in line, take a number, join the crowd.  You are most definitely not alone.

There are very few people whose lives haven’t been a wreck at one time or another.  Most of us look upright and respectable but we have just learned to hide what shames us the most.  I know I don’t want anyone peaking in my closets, or digging around in my backyard.

But, whether we have buried our sins away in the deepest caverns, or they are out in the open and obvious to all; whether we have America’s dream family with a house in the suburbs and a spot on the city counsel, or we have all our belongings in a tattered backback next to our cardboard sign — we are all in the same boat.  To paraphrase a metaphor from Max Lucado: We are all jumping for our salvation.  Some of us can jump four feet while others only one inch, but what difference does it make when we are jumping for the moon? We all missed by 280,000 miles… give or take a foot or two.

Without some serious help, all our lives are swirling down the toilet.  Whether it’s a toilet of gold in a perfect home or a puke-stained toilet behind the gas station in the projects makes no difference; we will all end up in the same sewer.

It doesn’t matter how badly we have screwed up, how low we have fallen, if the one who created us cares–there is hope.  Jesus told a parable about an unbelievably disrespectful, greedy, and selfish son going away and squandering much of his father’s wealth on “wild living”.  Yet, the father never stopped searching the horizon for a sign of his son’s return, and when he finally did, he staged a great celebration.  “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

The church down the street might not accept the heartless jerks, or the sexual deviants, or the selfish, or the drunks, or the thieves, but God’s church will.  If you are searching, you don’t have to enter a building with a cross on it to say; God, I need help.  Are you there?  Are you real?  Jesus said, “seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”. That means, if you are honestly searching, God will show you that He Is, and who he is.  Don’t expect a thunderbolt.  It might take seconds, or it might take months.  Just keep your eyes and heart open because he WILL show you.  Count on it.

A.J.

Who Goes First?

This guy I know has this insane idea that leaders should actually lead–they should go first.  How crazy is that?

I tried to tell him how crazy it was; “Leaders tell people where to go and what to do.” I said. “They don’t get their hands dirty.”

He gave me this patient look like I was the crazy one, but he was adamant. “Look,” he said, “What does a painter do? He paints. What does a writer do? He writes. Drivers drive, window washers wash windows, farmers farm–so leaders, by definition, should lead; they should go first.”

“Hmmm, that is a novel idea,” I admitted. “But, it will never catch on.”

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If we want our kids to be responsible adults, we must show them how, we must lead.  Why does it surprise us when our kids turn out to be heavy drinkers if all we have ever shown them is how to get over a hangover? How can we complain about their manners as we watch the old woman across the street wrestle a heavy trash can down to the curb? How can we wonder why they won’t follow Jesus, when we won’t?

We can talk a good game, though. We go to church and pray for people and say all the right things at the right time, but when we have a chance to make a difference, we let the opportunity pass so we can get home to watch the game.  I know I do.

I say ‘we’ because I am talking to me as much as anybody. Writing about God doesn’t make a man Godly. Some might think that because I write some inspiring or encouraging words now and then that I am a great follower of Jesus, but they are just words on a page if I don’t back them up by taking steps towards being who God wants me to be.

It doesn’t matter if we are the child or the parent, the employee or the employer, WE, whoever we are, needs to lead–by going first. If we start walking towards something, the people we care about will ask us where we are going?  If they see a difference in us, they may ask us what it’s all about, what He is all about.

How do we lead?  We lead by following.

A.J.