Saturday, April 25, 2015

I prayed my heart out last night. Typically I fall asleep fairly quickly, but last night I earnestly asked God for seasons of refreshing for Anna, Ben, Renée and me. 

Don’t get me wrong. Yesterday was a positive, enjoyable and peaceful day, but the four of us have been through so many hard and heart-wrenching life chapters. 

“Please God, oh God please, give us seasons of refreshing.” I prayed so hard I ached. Once I felt God heard me, I felt peaceful and drifted away into a good sleep. 

This morning when I woke up Anna was still asleep and both Ben and Renée were meeting with friends. So, I started my chores for the morning. I often find them relaxing. 

In the midst of unloading the dishwasher, I felt God impress on me that the “seasons” in seasons of refreshing aren’t always long stretches of time. They often come in a series of short seasons. Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe an hour.

When Renée got home, I stopped for a late breakfast and told her about praying my heart out and what I felt God impress on me. 

“Yes,” Renée said, “don’t you remember?” She paused. “Remember when Jesus told the disciples to come away and rest awhile? He told them to get into the boat and cross over to the other side. As soon as they arrived on the distant shore, the crowds gathered and they went straight back to work. The ‘rest awhile’ happened while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee.” 

She smiled. “I think I need a relaxing boat ride one of these days!” We laughed. Often just talking with Renée is a season of refreshing for me. Now you know why…

Saturday, April 11, 2015

I Didn't Win the Lottery

Like most posts, this is something I wrote in the past. In this case, I've thought about this post often lately. So, here it is again...

I often struggle with the way traditional Christianity has claimed that “salvation and going to heaven is the greatest deal on earth.”

According to this line of thinking, only the lucky, the blessed, the preordained who agree with me (whoever “me” happens to be) get a country club estate along one of heaven’s finest avenues.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t win the lottery when God gave me the gift of faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead, God “won” me by paying the steepest price possible. And He paid that price for everyone (1 John 2:2), not just me.

Please hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that in the end everyone will be saved. I’m also not saying that I don’t rejoice that God has promised heaven when Jesus returns (for me when I die or for all of us in one fell swoop, if He so chooses during my lifetime). 

Scripture is clear that Jesus commanded 72 of His disciples to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Believe me, on my good days I find that one of the easiest commands to obey.

But I don’t rejoice in my salvation and future in heaven in a worldly, juvenile sort of way as if I have won the lottery — and as if “you and you and you” haven’t (insert plenty of attitude here).

The same Jesus who said “rejoice” also wept over those who rejected God’s gracious gift of faith, mercy, grace, and salvation from the coming judgment here on earth (at the hands of the Roman Empire) and even greater judgment beyond this life (at the hands of the Almighty Creator and Governor of the universe).

No, I didn’t win the lottery. Instead, I received something infinitely better when God gave me the gift of faith and brought me to my knees. And the same God who saved me doesn’t want anyone else to perish. Instead, He wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

I know many will reject Jesus Christ to their dying day. But I have seen too many saved in their dying days to believe God somehow stops caring about the unrepentant after age 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 or 90 or 100.

Never give into the fear that one of your loved ones or friends hasn’t won the heavenly lottery yet. No one ever has — or ever will.