Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Less and More of Life Abundant

In his sermon, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis says this: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” In other words, God intends to amplify the lives of His people, not diminish them.

We see people who desire too little out of life every day. People ignore the high art of Shakespeare and Joplin in order to listen to Justin Beiber and Kesha. People neglect conversation with loved ones so they can scroll through their Facebook feed. In our spiritual lives, we forsake conversation with God so that we can watch hours of CSI – Tupelo. We are satisfied with too little. Jesus calls us to desire more out of life with Him.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes Himself as a Good Shepherd. In doing so, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (10:10). So it seems that C.S. Lewis’ point has a biblical foundation. Jesus calls His people to have more life in Him – not less.

As you go through the coming week, ask how the Lord might be calling you to more. Ask Jesus to help you desire more of the life He gives rather than less. As you do, you will find richness and steadfastness beyond the limits natural human wants. You’ll also step away from the mud pies of the slum, toward an eternal holiday at the sea.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dads and the Blessings of God

A few years ago, Penn State University published a study celebrating the benefits of spending time with Dad. The study tracked 200 families, studying one-on-one time between parents and their kids. The research found that the more time kids spent one-on-one with their fathers, the better their self esteem and social skills. Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State, says this: "Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents' psychological and social adjustment."

For Christians, that makes sense. The scriptures teach us that Dads are good for kids too. Ephesians 6 tells Christians to honor their fathers (quoting the Ten Commandments), justifying the instruction by saying, “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Dads are good for kids.

This Father’s day, honor the Dads of your church family.  They may be biological dads, adoptive dads or a mentors in the faith. Either way, biological and spiritual Dads are good for their kids. Praise the Lord for them this Sunday. Enjoy time with them. Thank them. As you do, you will reap the benefits of time well spent (according to the research). You will also be following one of God’s instructions intended for your greatest good.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Books & the Unchanging Christ

With the rise of the internet, people predicted that local book stores would become a thing of the past. The logic was simple: electronic books are cheaper to publish and less expensive for consumers.  Multiple books can be stored and read on one electronic device and more convenient for consumers.  Therefore, hard copies are no longer needed and neither are the retailers who sale them.  With time, book stores would become obsolete.  That was the logic.

Evidently, the logic was wrong. A recent news report claims a 25% rise in local, independently owned bookstores. As the number of book retailers has increased, so have sales. Though technology has changed, the desire for a time-tested, trusted resource is on the rise.

Hearing that story, I am reminded about predictions about the demise of Christianity. People say that the world is changing. Those changes will make faith in Jesus obsolete. Much like books, Christianity will be obsolete because of the rise of newer and better things.

Yet, the scriptures talk about Jesus as if His time-tested, unchanging, trusted qualities are strengths that last forever. Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. That unchanging, time-tested quality about Jesus assures Christians that faith in him isn’t going anywhere. Like books, the time tested qualities lead to growth, even when fads claim to be replacing them.

As you go through the coming week, seek the unchanging God, Jesus Christ. Participate in the time-tested practices of the faith. Pray to Jesus. Read the scriptures about Jesus. Turn off the computer, set down the phone and listen to Jesus. As you do, you will find riches in the time tested blessings of relationship with Jesus. You’ll also find that relationship with Jesus gets better the more He stays the same.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Above Financial Ups and Downs

I follow the stock market from time to time. I read news stories about financial markets around the world and corporate earnings reports. If you follow financial news over time, you’ll notice that the values of stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities are always changing. They are never constant. Assets are either becoming more valuable or less valuable. The name of the game is betting on whether things are rising or falling.

A frustrating part of following the ever-changing market is the way in which it is reported. If stocks plummet and the NYSE has a bad day, the story is a front-page headline hi-lighted in red. If the Dow posts strong gains, the story gets mentioned in passing with little fan fare, somewhere in the margins. People love to hear bad news about money.

The world’s financial markets are a constant reminder of my need for Christ. I would go nuts if my family’s welfare ultimately depended on the roller coaster world of money. Every up and down of the ever changing, preferably bad financial markets would make me a nervous wreck.

Good thing Jesus offers an alternative. Jesus meets the ever-changing bad news of money with the unchanging good news of the Gospel. He is in control, He is good, and He will take care of His people. Financial markets may crash and global economies crumble, but Jesus will still be in control and care for you. Count on it. Take it to the bank. Cash it in.

As you worship today, take comfort in God’s unchanging promise to His people. It is old (goes all the way back to Moses), but it does not change. He will see His promise through. The money of this world will never compare with the surest investment in human history: faith in Christ.