Tuesday, October 28, 2008


This weekend, in Colorado, we're going to set our clocks back an hour. It's supposed to be better for us, and save energy or something, but I can't remember anymore whether winter or summer is the Daylight Savings part!

The Bible says a lot about time. The ancient Hebraic notions of time had to do primarily with when something should occur, or with someone's life ('the days of Abraham', Genesis 26:1), not with time as a way of measuring something -- so our idea of turning clocks back and forth would seem foolish to them. The Greek language had some concepts of measurement of time (the word 'hour' is used about 50 times in the New Testament) but the word 'kairos' is often used to designate something like 'the right time' as in Acts 24:25 or 1 Peter 5:6; and the word 'aon' was used for long, indefinite periods of time, like sermons.

So what time is it today? Well, Paul said that 'at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly' in Romans 5:6, which means from that time on, it's always time to turn to God and receive the amazing grace he has created for us in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 6:2). And at some indefinite time in the future, we don't know when, our Lord will return and restore everything to the way he planned it in the first place.

We'll just have to wait for that, but when he arrives, I believe that 'when' will be the last of our thoughts, and 'Hallelujah!' the only thing that still matters.

In the mean-time, he's given us a lot to keep us busy. It's always time to take our calling seriously (Romans 13:11 and Ephesians 5:16). Part of our calling is to 'take every opportunity' to live and speak in a godly way around others, (Col. 4:5-6) so the Good News can spread more effectively.

So whatever time it is, whatever time we have on earth, let's use that time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Change Is Coming (not just political)

The leaves on the trees are turning color, and some have dropped off; and the weather is a lot cooler than a month ago. The seasons are definitely changing. So is a lot of other stuff--mortgage rates, economic factors, gas prices. Pretty soon, the chairs in our governmental offices will have a different set of people sitting in them.

We like change. Change is the main theme of the US elections this fall. At the same time, we tend to resist it. But without change, we stop growing and die.

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, had an open friendship with God -- complete access to all the power and the wisdom in the universe. When they decided they could handle things on their own, and turned away from him, everything changed for the worse. It wasn't until a long time later that God sent his Son into the world to change everything back.

A lot of people of his day didn't like the changes Jesus, the Son of God, brought. They had everything worked out in their minds about the methods a person had to use to approach God, and didn't like the idea that he was bringing in a new system of trust. They did everything they could to convince him he should follow them instead, but in the end, they couldn't handle the idea that they might be wrong and need to change, so they killed him.

That didn't work out the way they wanted, either. He didn't stay dead. And his disciples changed from a bunch of uncertain, arguing trainees to powerful speakers who helped convince even more people that they needed to change too.

That was 2,000 years ago. Change is still important to our spiritual maturity. When we're faced with some way we don't measure up to the life of Jesus, we have something he wants us to change. That's okay; we get help with it (John 16:12-15, etc). And we get to look forward to one final change that will let us see God together: "But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown." (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

I'm really looking forward to that one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This latest economic crisis has a lot of people concerned that we're facing a long season of tight finances, higher unemployment, and economic pain not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Theories of the causes and the cures are everywhere, leading in all directions, and they hang over us like a dark cloud on a summer afternoon.

Meanwhile, we're winding up toward October 31. Traditionally on this evening, children dressed up as scary characters like economists and bankers come to our homes and attempt to coerce us into giving them candy and other nutrition-free junk. Some use the ancient epithet "trick or treat!" which sounds a little like investing in the stock market.

Hmmm...so there are threats on every side, it seems. What's a Christian to do? Spend all our time and energies in an attempt to keep all these threats from hurting us? Opt for self-protection at all costs? And for that matter, shut off all the lights and pretend not to be home when the little costumed threat-bringers show up?

Time to stop and ask "What would Jesus do?" And we have an answer. He himself was born into uncertain economic and political times--we'll talk more about that during Advent season--and faced threats similar to ours, although I don't think he worried about his 401(k). But he taught his disciples something very interesting in the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapters 5 through 7. (Click here to read what he said about possessions, prayer, fasting and faith in Chapter 6.)

Jesus explained that the Father knew exactly what is going on with each person, and is able, as well as ready, to provide all their needs. So the big idea, he says in verses 31 and 32, is that we should have faith in our Father's ability to provide for us: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." He de-emphasizes our own abilities, and asks us to focus on God's provision instead.

And the Father has provided all our needs -- starting with sending his Son to live and die for us so we could live forever with him, and then for every other need
, as Jesus said he would if we focus on him first. Personally, I've seen a lot of uncertainty in my life, but God has always provided for me, one way or the other. He still will -- no matter which way the economy of this city, the US, or the world goes. It's my job to be a good steward of what he has given me, but I need to keep remembering, he's the one who gave it in the first place.

And what about all those little costumed characters who may come around in a couple of weeks? Just like with the economy and an uncertain future, I can't control them. But I have the choice to hide, run away, or face them calmly. So here's what The Lovely Joanne and I have been doing the last few years: knowing we'll get visitors asking for something, we decided to give them something much more valuable than candy. Instead of carving up pumpkins into scary faces, we carve pumpkins with the word "Jesus" and maybe a Christian fish symbol, or a heart and a cross. Then when the little guys come around to "scare" us, we give them the most reassuring message there is: "Jesus loves you." I'm always delighted at how the atmosphere turns around when we say those words. And then we give them some kind of treat, and a little card telling them there's a God who loves them. The evening ends up being a lot more fun for us all that way.

Jesus' words of reassurance that the Father is watching over us mean as much to me now as they did to the disciples 20 centuries ago. My Father has pulled me through a lot of pain and loss in my life, and I'm convinced he will keep doing it. That helps me not worry so much about the sky falling. Or the doorbell ringing. I pray it will do the same for you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The Amazing Joanne and I have been in Denver for going on a year now, living in a lovely apartment God found for us, but we're beginning to believe that it's time to take the next step to settle in -- finding a house to purchase and move into, and start putting down roots.

I have mixed feelings about it. Our apartment has been a place to meet a bunch of new people, and we've enjoyed having people over here. We've made friends with the management and staff, and taken time to welcome new tenants to our building and some of the others too. Whenever we leave, I'll miss this place that welcomed us to Colorado. But then again, we could do the same things in a new neighborhood -- inviting people in for coffee or lunch, and welcoming new arrivals, maybe hosting a Bible study and introducing people to this amazing God who loves us so much.

The Bible talks about home too, of course. Many of God's servants were wanderers, not having a place to call their own. Take Abraham, for example, along with Isaac and Jacob, as told in Hebrews 11:8-9; or Moses, who left his home in Egypt and moved to the desert, then came back and wandered with the Israelites in tents for another 40 years. All of these, the writer tells us, were looking for something beyond just this life: "Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God." (Hebrews 11:10) And all the other people of faith were hanging on for something none of them ever completely received: "All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised." (Hebrews 11:39) Even Jesus had to do without a home sometimes, he said (Matthew 8:20).

And Paul wrote that this physical life is, after all, only temporary and he was looking forward to a different 'home' after death, in 2 Corinthians 5: "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands...We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." The here-and-now looks so solid and real, but the true reality and permanence is in the final home we get to have with God.

I don't know if we'll find the perfect house or not, or if God will call us to stay in the apartments awhile longer, or whether if we move, we'll stay there until the end of our days. But I do know that God has a home for me that won't need paint, a new roof, or even heating in the winter -- and that's the one I'm really looking forward to.

And the best news of all, God has reserved a 'new house' for all humanity, not just the nice kids -- Jesus died and was resurrected on behalf of every single person. We've all got that permanent home waiting for us. Isn't that great news?

Do you believe that? Or is something holding you back from being sure what God has waiting for you? If so let's talk.

My place or yours?