Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Hunger of the Wilderness

It's hungry, and it never stops.

I couldn't think of a better title for this post, so I stole it from AW Tozer. I suggest reading his work. It is extremely good.

Man was meant to be with God. God created humans for that purpose. They were to be in harmony with Him, walk with Him, and be His. God created the earth perfect so that we would not have to struggle for food and survival. He created a paradise where we could literally walk with Him and be in His presence, never suffering fear, death, or pain.

Then we went and messed it all up.

Now, since nature was struck with a curse, we have weeds, and thorns, and pain, and death, and everything else that was hit by the blast of sin when it entered into the world. In order to keep our order and make a place for ourselves, we have to fight nature at every turn, lest we lose everything we worked so hard to build. Unpainted metal rusts, unkempt streets crack and break, and buildings need repair and refinishing so they don't crumble.

All this and more is a result of sin entering the world.

What's worse is that the human personality (body, mind, spirit, soul), are no different. It is natural that without taking care of ourselves that we also whither and crumble and die. It is true for our physical body as well as our spiritual self. Let's look at it this way.

1. Physical body: will whither & die no matter what, but with good upkeep will last a lot longer and better.

2. Mind: will whither and die no matter what, but with good upkeep can last longer and better even than the body in most cases.

3. Spirit & Soul: is immortal, but is killed by sin. Can be raised back through the blood of Christ, but will whither and die again if it is has no upkeep.

I believe the first two are things that most people know. We can see and feel when we have not been taking care of our physical bodies and minds. It is the third one however, that I feel needs more explanation.

The reason is this: what we see in the tenacity of nature taking over that which is not protected mirrors what happens in our spiritual lives if left unprotected. If we ignore the things God calls us to do and go our own way, before long weeds will pop up and kill off the beauty God has planted inside of us. The roads that lead to our hearts will crack and break and crumble, and we will find it harder for truth to reach us. The temple that has been built in our hearts to worship God will crumble and fall, leaving us with none of what we started with.

After that happens, it becomes harder to start and come back to the One who saved us in the first place.

It is always harder to fix a yard than maintain it, to keep up than refinish, and to restore than to build again. I encourage you (and myself as well) to take a look at your life, and see where things need to change in order to be fixed. We ignore the spiritual life at our own peril. We cannot afford to let it waste away and crumble or else we will find ourselves with precious little to give to God or anyone else.

Let us be people that can richly give to a world that is in so desperate need of saving.

Let us fight back again sin and nature.

Let us start now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Earning Potential (and why you have none)

You have no earning potential. None.

Then again neither do I. Nor did Mother Teresa nor does Michael Bloomberg.

How's that for an Upworthy post title?

This guy has no earning potential. Surprised?

In a recent interview Michael Bloomberg, said the following: 
“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

In that statement he was referring to his work on unhealthy foods, smoking and gun violence. Over his life time he has probably given well over a billion (billion with a b) dollars to various organizations for various purposes. Regardless of whether one agrees with him or not, it's pretty hard to say that he is a stingy person.

Oh, and did I mention he has a net worth of ~33 billion dollars?

$33,000,000,000 and yet he has no earning potential.

Zero, zip, nada.

But that's OK, because neither do you. Or me. Or anyone else for that matter.

Let's switch gears for a minute. Mother Teresa spent 47 years of her life offering help to the helpless and hope for the dying. She took a group of 13 people and grew it into a group of over 4,000 helping a hopeless people in 123 countries. By all accounts she was the personification of someone who lived as well as she knew how for Jesus.

She also had no earning potential. None whatsoever.

You see, you cannot earn your way to Heaven. You cannot earn forgiveness. You cannot earn your spot for when that Great Day comes. No matter how rich you are or how much you give or how much you do there is nothing within yourself that can make you worthy of salvation and light and Life.


The problem, you see, is sin. And there is nothing we can do about sin. Once it has taken hold, we are ruined. Discredited. Destroyed.

Romans 6:23 says: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

A gift.

Something given. Freely.

We just have to be willing to take it and be His. Because when we do we are told "sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Rom. 8:14). We no longer have to be under that old slave driver who hates us. Instead we can become participants in the family of God by becoming His children. We can have something good, something whole, something good again.

Unfortunately we often seem to forget that with all the stuff going on in our lives. School & sports place their chains on our time, work places its chains on our energy, entertainment places its chains on our free time and thoughts, and before long we find ourselves bound, heading back to the slavery we thought we'd escaped, trying to earn our way out of it by praying a little here and going to church a little there.

Its time to break free.

To break the chains of your oppression, to free yourself from the burdens of the world, to give yourself totally over to the only One who can keep you free. So break free. As my Dad always said, "Remember who you are and whose you are." Be strengthened. Be love. Be free.

Be His.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


We, as humans, admire strength. We admire conviction. We admire a will that does not bend, does not break, does not give up.

Or at least we say we do.

The above picture is most commonly known as the "Tank Man" picture. For those of you (probably younger) who have not seen it, notice the man in the bottom left corner. He stood alone in front of the People's Liberation Army, which had just killed thousands of protesters. People often look to this picture as one of courage on display. One man against an army.

We watch movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and Star Wars. Indiana Jones and Rocky and even The Goonies are cultural icons for my generation. We play video games like Skyrim and Warcraft and even Mario Brothers and why?


We like, no, we crave, courage. We want stories about it, we want our lives to be filled with it and we want to be known for it. Whenever we hear stories about courageous people saving someone or keeping it together under pressure or putting themselves at risk for something or someone we eat it up like so many children gulping candy and sweets.

So why is it so hard to have something we so desperately crave?

Because of this: Courage. Is. Difficult.

Courage difficult because it is the formation point of what we do. Before we go out of our way to help someone we must have the courage to go. If you are at a gas station and a crazy looking guy comes up and asks you for some gas, it takes courage to have the virtue of generosity. If you see someone being bullied, it takes courage to have the virtue of justice to stand up and stop it. It takes courage to look at your coach and say that no, you will not be at a sporting event that conflicts with serving God. I could keep going on, but I think the point has been made. As the picture above states, courage is the form that other virtues take when tested. It is essential.

But it is so much easier to be distracted. To pretend we didn't see that homeless man with the sign. To turn on the TV and ignore the lost souls outside looking for The Answer. To do the easy thing and give in to the demands of the person standing in front of you than to God's desire for your life. To save for or spend on ourselves instead of being generous with the enormous blessings God has given us.

We have to decide what we are going to be. Who we are going to be. Whose we are going to be.

You have the potential to do enormous, great things. To stand at the precipice of your life and say you have no regrets. To change the world around you and make big things different in order to be more like what God wants.

You also have the potential to do small, important things that nobody notices. To stand at the edge or your lifetime and say you have no regrets. To keep things running so that those around can see Christ in the simple life you live and come to Him.

Both take courage. To stand up and be different from the world, it takes courage. It requires strength and an unbending will to follow God. It requires you to step out and leap off the ledge that has been put in front of you. It requires you to deny the distractions and be merciless to the things which pull you back.

But you can do it. I know you can. God knows you can.

In fact, He says He'll help you do it.

So do it.

No excuses, no rationalizing out of it.

Whether big or small, fast or slow, breathtaking or simple.

Have Courage.