Monday, July 21, 2008


The Lovely Joanne has a cat that lives with us. As cats go, I suppose, Mimi is a wonderful beast, not too big, and only leaves hair lying around when she's shedding. And isn't quite as noisy as a dog. Except at 5 AM when she decides it's getting light outside (no, dear, that's only the street light) and that I should be awake too. And she misses her mother. Terribly. I know this because she tells me about it. Sometimes at 5 AM.

What's wrong, I ask myself at those times, with getting a little sleep? And why do I have to be dragged out of peaceful dreamland by such a racket?

We can get distracted just the same in other parts of life, when our old habits, sins and weaknesses come along and whack us on the back of the head again.

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12, encouraged his readers (that would be us, now) this way: "Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running -- and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in." (the Message).

To be fruitful in Christian life, in this endurance race I'm in, I have to push away the sins, doubts, fears, weaknesses and other problems, and follow Jesus as he focused on his Father's will. It's a choice I make -- to ignore distractions and keep my eyes on the goal. It's a choice to believe that life in God's path is better than all the distractions around me.

How are you dealing with the distractions in your life? Can you decide today, to push some aside?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Life Goes On -- Sometimes

My dear mother-in-law, Joyce, ("Mummy" to The Amazing Joanne) has been ill with heart problems for years, and it's finally catching up with her. Given the seriousness of her condition, I'm a little less cheerful than normal, and so can't write something fun and playful as I sometimes do. The best I can do today is reflect on life and the fact that we eventually transition from this life to the next.

Some Christians call this transition "going home" based on 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 -- "So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him." (New Living Translation)

We Christians know that this physical life, as much fun as it seems sometimes, is only the beginning. When that ends, we move to a totally different realm, one of peace and lack of pain or physical need (Revelation 21:4). And then, we will come face to face with our Creator and Savior (1 John 3:1-2). The 'walk' we get to have with the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, as good as that can be, is only a tiny, flimsy representation of the real thing we will experience one day. I wonder if we'll get to walk 'in the garden, in the cool of the day' (Gen. 3:9) again?

Whatever it is, it will be fabulous (1 Cor 2:9). Let's look forward to it together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The Amazing Joanne told me last night that I had been 'stressing' a lot lately. I didn't like to admit it but she's right. There's a lot to be concerned about! At least, so I think. Time pressure, health issues, and the ever-present "care of all the churches" as Paul said in 2 Cor. 11:28.

There's no end, it seems like. My mom used to say "if it's not one thing, it's two" and she was often right. And if worry or activity could have sent it all away by now, surely my level of both would have sent all my concerns to the other side of the moon, at least. But they never seem to leave.

Jesus promised us rest in Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all who are weary of carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest." And though he meant that first in the sense of finding rest from our works, he offers rest from all the 'stuff' we carry around. Peter expanded on the idea a little in I Peter 5:7 "God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him."

There's a modern Christian song written about this idea, in case we forget:
"I cast all my cares upon you,
I lay all of my burdens down at your feet.
And anytime that I don't know what to do,
I cast all my cares upon you." (C) Kelly Willard, Maranatha Praise

Of course, God doesn't stop me from worrying if I really want to. I can keep on carrying my backpack full of junk, all of which he's already planned for. Or I can choose to accept his invitation to take it off and drop it at his feet, knowing it's all in his hands anyway; and enjoy the simple pleasure of walking with him without burdens. That's how he wanted it in the first place, in the Garden.

Ready to give it a try? On three: One, two...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The lawn guys are here again this morning, like they are every week in the summer. All week long the stuff grows, and then they cut it off again.

Kind of like our lifelong struggle with the sin that seems to never leave us alone. We can either go into denial (what, me sin?) which would be like letting the grass grow without mowing it. Or we could go hide in a monastery, hoping that being away from cable TV and the other temptations of civilization will insulate us from sin; but monks in monasteries struggle just the same as you and I. We can beat ourselves up with remorse and promise God never to do it again (sort of like cutting the grass really, really short and hoping it won't grow back) and then of course get really depressed with the sin comes back to haunt us next week.

None of these works. We're still alive and sin still happens, in spite of our most earnest efforts. But we've also been forgiven by Jesus Christ, and brought into new life with him; so our sins no longer count against us. What freedom and relief!

Paul said this in Romans 7: "22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." Now, this chapter is a hard one to understand for a lot of reasons, but here's one quick analysis of this section: No matter how much I love God, and though I am reborn in Christ, I'm still human and can't get away from sin.

The grass still grows. We still have to cut it. Sin still happens. And because of the mind of God in us, because we are 'in Christ', we want to root out sin and be turned more fully to the mind of Christ (otherwise, using the metaphor, we'd let the grass grow, and maybe park old junk cars in the lawn too). That desire to turn from sin in disgust comes from the Holy Spirit in us, and when we obey his prompting and cry out to God again, our love-bond with God strengthens. Our sin is already covered by the blood of Christ -- we don't have to 'repent' of every new sin in the sense of hoping to be forgiven -- but that continual turning away from sin and toward God is what 'walking in the Spirit' is about.

Like any parent, God knows his children aren't going to be perfect. That's what the sacrifice of Christ was about. But he loves us, and he loves it when we keep coming back to him every day, even when we have to apologize for getting dirty and leaving grass clippings everywhere. His love covers it all, and like any parent, he'd rather have us in his house, all cleaned up now, than standing outside pretending the grass doesn't need cutting.

Have a great summer!