Daily Archive for November 13 2018
Only a few were skiing that day on Steven’s Pass in Washington State. It was a most calm and beautiful day to ski. I see, down the slope, a family who had stopped by a tree, so I glided right up next to them.
As I pulled up slowly I heard the dad say, “Now we came here to have a good @&#%* time, and we are going to have one!” The teenage daughter said, ” Well you can @&#*% that idea, I never wanted to come in the first place!” My first thought was what would have happened to me if I had said anything like that to an adult, when I was a kid, and secondly, what a sorry excuse for a parent.
Thirdly, and best I think, I considered what it would take to make these self-absorbed people happy? I wondered what set of external conditions would cause them to be context and thankful? I realized that their hearts could never be made happy by external conditions. Nothing God could do externally could make them be the persons they were meant to be.
You even hear Christians, when sharing their faith, say things like, “Don’t you want to go to heaven where you will see the Christian loved ones that have gone on before, where there are streets of gold!” I hear that and I wonder why is it not enough that God is there so we can have a loving relationship with Him forever? Why do we feel it necessary to sweeten -the-pot and mention what some would consider more interesting aspects of heaven , i.e., the external things, or people who have gone on before?
It is impossible for God to make a person happy, by external things, either here or there, if one’s heart is not at a place they know Christ. Ten minutes in heaven and these folks would be complaining about the long walk on the streets of gold! He does not have to give you and I a bunch of stuff for us to be happy! In fact, if it turned out, that I did not get to see anybody else in heaven but the Lord, I would not be disappointed. No sweetening- of- the- pot necessary. When I see those nailed -scarred hands, and realize my sin is over and my shame is gone, when I realize He wants to embrace me; that is heaven!
John 17: 3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
This verse would have been a great place to mention all the external things of heaven, but instead, this clearest verse on the core of eternal life says nothing of heaven. This does not mean there is not a physical heaven; there is; it is just not the main thing.
Steven’s Pass, or Crystal Mountain, or White Pass, ( all these in Washington State) used to make me tear up with joy every time I went, but that was caused by what I brought with me, in my heart, before I got there. I am thinking about the beauty of the one who created it, not the created thing itself. I did not come to this own my own; it is God’s free gift of grace given to me by Jesus Christ.
“We came here to have a good time!” With a new heart, and in His presence, time being of no concern, and things being meaningless there, the good is His love. My deepest longings fulfilled, forever. JWP
John 17:3/ I John 3:1-3/ Psalms 73: 25-28
Most of the time when someone talks about a Pharisee we think of legalism. We also think about hypocrisy. Rarely do we think of them as long-lost cousins. We rarely see ourselves in them, and see their narcissism as our own.
We are forgiven in Christ and are being transformed into His image. As that takes place we must beware of the negative influence of our spiritual cousins.
Matthew 23: 1-12 is not uncomfortable to read because we think it is far removed from anything in our life. I submit that our old cousin may still be affecting our lives.
“”They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”
My demand for perfection in others usually has something running in the background like this, “And when I see this, then I can do my part; but until then I will keep searching for a heart of gold in others.” Could you imagine trying to say that before the Lord at the judgement seat of Christ? Hey, you don’t have to imagine it, you may be doing it right now!
I remember watching Jonnie Cash always wearing black, and saying he would do so till he saw the world act differently. Unless I missed the facts of his autobiographic, he would have done better to work on his own darkness.
Matthew 23: 5, ” They do all their deeds to be noticed by men.”
I noticed a pattern in church work. A lot of the things we do in benevolence work is designed to make us feel good. Some get upset if you say the way we are giving to feed the hungry is inefficient. For instance, our local Christian food bank can do three times as much in buying power when buying food because we write them a check, than we can by collecting the food ourselves.
I heard someone say recently, ” But if we do it the other way, (even if ineffective), we will feel so good about ourselves.” What ever happened to not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing? Who are we really doing it for?
Matthew 23: 6 “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the market place,,,”
So we had an older couple come to our church in the NW to visit. They liked it and the wife said, ” We feel like with our wisdom and experience, and our means, that we could help this struggling church, ( had about 50 people at the time and was not struggling. Small does not mean struggling) to live up to the maturity we have gained if they will listen to us.”
The husband I really liked, he began laughing and gave me a hug, and whispered in my ear, “Welcome to my world buddy!” I mentioned that we would love to have them “in spite of” what she just said. That did not go over well for her. For him, he knew he had just found a great church home.
They came anyway, and after a few Sundays, she realizing she was not worthy to untie the shoes of most of the apparent misfits there at our church. She started to do what we all need to do; disown our long-lost cousins!
Are we all narcissists? Yes we are! It just a matter of degree. The sad part is not to know you have a long-lost cousin that is clearly affecting your everyday thoughts.
Matthew 23: 8-12, ” But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” JWP