Mar 28, 2013

Waiting For The Lamb…

March came in this year like a LION… and then STAYED…like a lion…and would not leave. I don’t mind winter here in Minnesota, but Punxsutawney Phil promised that spring would arrive early. And yet, winter stayed like a lion.

Each Sunday and Monday we were greeted with more snow and more snow. Now, I don’t mind shoveling except for the fact that I separated my right shoulder in a hockey game in January and it made shoveling painful and prolonged healing in my shoulder and ended my hockey for the past two months. And, without playing hockey, it has been hard to see any reason for living in the cold climate.
We had so much snow that it eventually got to the point where there was nowhere to throw the snow. The last storm brought so much snow that even my snow blower couldn’t launch the snow over the banks that lined our sidewalks, driveway, and alley. Twice I climbed up a forty foot ladder to remove three to four feet of snow off the roofs of my house.

The calendar exclaimed that spring had arrived, and yet snow and more snow was our reality. Hey, where is the lamb; I thought that was supposed to come? Why was he delayed?

And then, even though it was still very cold outside, the sun’s rays started to break through and caused the snow to start melting. Day after day the sun broke through and caused the scenery to change. Spring did come! The lamb had finally made his appearance!

As I looked out on my yard today and saw the grass and plantings appearing, I thought of what the disciples of Jesus must have been going through right after His death and burial. All hell appeared to have broken out as the One they had put their hope in had been put to death. And death, like the cold of winter, stayed… and wouldn’t leave.

Perhaps they thought; "Hey, where is the lamb; I thought that was supposed to come? Why was He delayed?"
“And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.” (Luke 24:20-21)

Many today wonder, as evil seems to be running rampant over this earth; "When will the Lamb come? Hey, where is the lamb; I thought that He was supposed to come? Why was He delayed?"

My friend; He hasn’t delayed for no reason; He is preparing a place for us to be with Him! And, by the way, no matter how bad it looks to you, He is still in control of everything in this world.
 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

He is coming back as He said He would.
“Now when He (Jesus) had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Let this time of year when the church celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus become a time of hope for you. Although it seems that the “cold dead winter” has come to stay, “spring” will arrive soon. Don’t be discouraged by the bleakness in your life, He is coming!

Keep waiting for the Lamb, He will come!

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."



Mar 21, 2013

A New Habit in a Cedar Chest

We had some guests staying at our house over the course of three weeks; two different groups of people. To accommodate their privacy, we switched a dresser from one room with a cedar chest that was in another guest room.

Our goal was to provide a large dresser for each of the guests to place their clothing in while they stayed with us. We also wanted the cedar chest where Cathy and I stored our sweaters to be in the un-used guest room so we could access them more easily.

After all of the guests went to their own places of residency, I moved the dresser and cedar chest back into the rooms where they were originally.

For the next two weeks, Cathy and I found ourselves going into the un-used guest room where the cedar chest had been for a few weeks, instead of the room where it had been for a few years. For some reason we had been reprogrammed into going in to a different room. We had formed over a very short period of time a new habit; one that seemed hard to break.  

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t change some pattern, habit, or behavior in your life? Have you tried and tried only to end up failing? Try this experiment: For the next two to three weeks, work on what habit you would like to change. Set your course and work on whatever it is that you want to change; it really is that simple.

If it is getting up earlier to exercise, then just do it (sorry Nike). If it is to change your diet by eliminating _____ from your diet, then eliminate it. Eventually your body will get in line with what you are trying to do.

If it is looking for opportunities to do good, then step out and go towards the first person you see. So what if you “fail”; are you really failing or just starting a new habit? Just don’t quit; keep going, you will eventually get there.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul put it this way;

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:7-9 NKJV)

Paul is trying to encourage us that the same principle that got us into bad habits can get us into good habits. We just need to keep sowing into them and not faint (give up) knowing that in a short time we can change a life time habit.

I’m pulling for you!


Mar 14, 2013

But I Don’t Like Them (you)

There, I said it. I used my rights to say whatever I want to; after all I am an American. And as an American, I can pretty much do what I want. I don’t have to help everyone; I can go my own way and do my own thing.

I can drive past the homeless, and those people who stand holding signs begging ME for MY money. After all, as I stated before, I am an American and I have rights. The Constitution says I do; or at least I think it does because I (like so many Americans) have never really sat down and read it word for word to understand what it really says.

Or do I really have the right to not like everybody?  Who says that I can simply ignore those who are not like me?

Even the Statue of Liberty has words that contradict an attitude of “they are not my problem!” On the statue is a plaque that goes something like; Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”

As long as they are not immigrants, right?

What if we have got it wrong and we ARE supposed to care for each other? I’m not saying that all of us will know how to do everything or are even supposed to do everything. BUT, we are ALL called to care.

A verse in the Bible that has been cutting me to the core as of late are the words that the lawyer who stood up and tested Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” In the passage, Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ And Jesus said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28).

The verse that cuts me to the core when I ponder it was what the lawyer said next;  But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29  NKJV).

I like how Eugene Peterson puts it; “Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” (Luke 10:29  MSG)

Jesus responded to his ridiculous answer by telling the infamous story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35).

At the end of the story, Jesus drives home His point by asking; “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And the lawyer answered Jesus and said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Still think that we have a right as Americans not to care? As Christians, we definitely do not have that right.

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Mar 7, 2013

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I had been playing in a hockey game recently when I was hit with something during the game which seemed to take the “wind out of my sails” and left me feeling deflated. No, it wasn’t a puck, stick, or another player; just a feeling of emptiness in what I was doing; no satisfaction.

I finished the game, left the ice rink, took off my equipment, loaded my hockey bag, loaded all my stuff into my truck, and made the drive back to my home looking forward to taking a long shower to shake off this dissatisfaction.

All the way home, all I wanted to do when I got home was to throw my hockey gear in the washer, hang up my equipment to dry, and take a shower. It was my plan, when all was cleaned and dry, to pack all the equipment away back in my hockey bag and “hang my skates up for good”.

But, I argued with myself, this was not the way that I wanted to hang up my skates for good. Surely, I thought to myself, there must be one more game left in me; I was only in my fifty-fifth year of life!

Usually, I am excited (amped!) before and after I play hockey because I have a love and a passion for the sport that I enjoy no matter whether I am playing or watching; Yet, deep inside me, was such a feeling of dissatisfaction. And Cathy saw it on my face when I came home as I pulled deeper inside as I wondered to myself what was going on.

Simply put, I found no life in something that I thought would bring it. As Mick would say; “I can't get no, I can't get no, I can't get no satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction.” (…Did I really just quote Mick?)

Have you found this to be true for your life? Of course you have, and so have I!  And yet, we will still try to get life out of things that really have no life. We search for satisfaction in our jobs, hobbies, vacations, food, sex, porn, sports, etc. and we still come up feeling not satisfied.

Why? I believe it is because we have tried to dig our own wells instead of going to God. The prophet Jeremiah wrote it this way:

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

But, instead of paying attention to the dissatisfaction, we press on believing that our performance, victories, accomplishments, and steps up the ladder of success will bring us satisfaction as we still try to dig our own wells.

We are driven, pulled by inner urges; yet never satisfied. We get the ‘prize’ yet we are no happier than we were before. This is true for those who know Christ as well as those who don’t.

And while we are chasing satisfaction; a still small voice is crying out for us to come to Him to find our satisfaction. Jesus said:

“Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

“… If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)

“…I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. (John 10:10b)

My advice to you who are reading this and find yourself so dissatisfied with all you are doing is: STOP! Leave left the ice rink, take off your equipment, load up your bags, go home, take a long shower as you call out to the only One who can bring you life and satisfaction.

Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live;” (Isaiah 55:1-3a)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."