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Thursday, September 23, 2010

God chasers

Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like?

I think about it all the time. I wonder if we'll know each other, be able to have conversations. I imagine angels and thrones and lights that blind us and millions and millions of worshippers. I imagine BEING WITH GOD.

It'll be new. Perfection. Peace. Beauty. Serenity. Worship. Glory. Divine Contentment.

God's Word says this:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:1-4)

Doesn't that sound like the most amazing place you've ever heard of?

I'm tired of this Earth. I'm tired of this sin. I'm tired of these distractions. I'm so tired. I just want to worship the One who became my sin, who showed me grace, who saved me, who made me an example of transformation, but so many things get in the way. I get in the way. Does that ever get easier? Do the distractions ever go away?

In heaven, there won't be any distractions. There won't be any more sin. No more pain. Or divorce. Misunderstandings and miscommunication will be gone. No more insecurities, uncertainty, division, pride, jealousy, greed, anxiety, temptation. No more lying, no more thoughts to control. There won't be any more desire to fit in, to be popular, to be cool, to have the latest trends. Sex won't be an object of fulfillment. No more disease, murder, suicide, rape, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, molestation, pornography. The need to speak truth will be gone because we'll be surrounded by Truth.

We'll be completely satisfied.

Doesn't that all sound... heavenly?

Satan does his best to distract us from bringing heaven to Earth. He discourages us, frustrates us, fills our heads with lies. It's so hard to focus on heaven when this Earth is filled with such hell. It's so hard to think about this place where God will dwell with us, where the greatest blessing will be unhindered fellowship with our Creator.

But my good friend Mark tells me there's hope. There's hope for that Kingdom and I know he's right. Yes there's hell on Earth, we help bring it too, but we as Christians have an understanding and a hope in this Divine Other World.
2 Peter 3:13 says this:
"But according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."

Our hope ultimately depends not on our works, but on God's promise. On new life. So when I feel impatient and sad and sick and tired, I remember that hope. Amen.

My Werewolf Jesus friend blogs this about heaven:

and we'll all be up there together, God chasers, awake and giddy with that specific combination of excitement and relief that comes from waking up from a dream - no matter how good or bad. and like all dreams do, maybe our times on this version of earth will fade from memory and all that will be left is the lessons we took away. the lessons in love and mercy, kindness and joy. forgiveness and patience. the kind of lessons that cs lewis says will make us "more solid, more suitable for heaven".

(God chasers: I love that. Be a God chaser with me).

All of this is making us more suitable for heaven.
I just can't wait to get there.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Cross

Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true.

Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins.

Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Isaiah 53

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Living Disciplined for Christ (without Taco Bell)

I recently spent a few days fasting, which, to me, is an intense form of discipline. Discipline is not my strong suit, whereas food is, so to say I was nervous would be putting it lightly. I was prepped and warned that every time I got hungry or my stomach growled, to pray or read the Bible. Easy enough.

I was hungry EVERY SECOND. It sounds obvious now that the hunger would be constant, but I had never experienced that before. I stay pretty consistently satisfied on my diet of Taco Bell and pita chips and hummus.

The hunger dominates you.

But that’s when the most is revealed. When I was the hungriest and the most uncomfortable and without what I needed, I saw how spiritually undisciplined I am, how little consistent time I make for God, how often I go to my friends for my spiritual needs before I go to my knees, how little I serve. I found myself with plenty of time to clearly answer the questions of what being spiritually disciplined looks like to me and how to apply these things once I brought food back into my life.

The only thing that took my mind off the hunger was thinking about God. Praying. Knowing other people were praying. Reading His Word. Reading other people’s words. When something essential was taken away from me, the only way to survive was on a higher dependency.

There’s something about the dependency during a fast that we don’t get everyday. It’s incredible. We go through life comfortable and satisfied, getting what we want and calling on God when we need it. When we’re consumed with worldly things, we push God a little further away.. whether we mean to or not. Being uncomfortable is when I think we learn the most. Becoming desperate to live by God’s Word is when we grow the most.

I'll be honest: fasting was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was so challenging. The days felt like 80 hours instead of 24 and Big Macs looked like heaven on a plate (yes frenchpressedfridays). I was close to passing out during a mandatory intern luncheon: Jersey Mike's never looked so good.

But what's growth without a challenge?

And the coolest part of my fast? The things that were revealed to me were not the reasons I began my fast in the first place. They were just an added bonus! The fear over my future that I was letting consume my life was replaced with peace AND I was given the opportunity to see and pray over these new realizations that were revealed. I love the way God works.

I was watching the movie "The Book of Eli" last night and I couldn't help but think about my fast. I’m still wading through my thoughts from this movie and the verdict is still out on whether I liked it or not, but this part I love:

Denzel is in possession and is the protector of the last remaining Bible on Earth. He reads it every day and won’t let anyone else touch it. He’s got the whole thing memorized. People thirst for it and hunt him down just to get their hands on it. Food and water are precious commodities. Lives are dismal and dark and evil and there's a desperation for truth. There are people who would do anything to get their hands on that Bible. They’re desperate.

That kind of desperation reminded me of my fast. Knowing that drawing close to Christ was my only option made me practically not do anything else but read the Bible. I wasn't content doing anything else. I couldn't wait. That kind of desperation didn't exist when I was full and satisfied. That kind of desperation made me disciplined.

I pray to always be that desperate for the Bible, for truth to be revealed, even when my stomach is filled with chalupas. I pray to be disciplined for dependency.. because what’s the point of living for Christ if we’re not going to recognize our need for that higher dependency? I pray to not sink back into my undisciplined, do-it-myself ways. I pray that comfort will no longer satisfy me. I pray to want more than my complacency and to never come to a conclusion on seeking and desiring Christ.

I'm back cruising the T.B. drive thru, but I feel a little more disciplined this time. To leave my fears behind, to seek Christ first before I seek my corner, to selflessly serve, and to realize that a #6 is not the real food of life.

What wonderful disciplines.