Friday, June 17, 2016

FACING YOUR GRIEF


"David sang this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, and gave orders that everyone in Judah learn it by heart." (II Samuel 1:17-18 MSG)

David called the nation to mourning. He rendered weeping a public policy. He refused to gloss over or soft-pedal death. He faced it, fought it, challenged it. But he didn't deny it. As his son Solomon explained, "There is…a time to mourn" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV).

Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and -- one more -- face your grief with truth. Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didn't want the Christians to "carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word." (I Thessalonians 4:13 MSG).

God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, He will tell you the truth about your loved ones. They've been dismissed from the hospital called Earth. You and I still roam the halls, smell the medicines, and eat green beans and Jell-O off plastic trays. They, meanwhile, enjoy picnics, inhale springtime, and run through knee-high flowers. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth? They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in heaven.

And won't you see them soon? Life blisters by at mach speed. "You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man's life is but a breath" (Psalm 39:5 NIV).

When you drop your kids off at school, do you weep as though you'll never see them again? When you drop your spouse at the store and park the car, do you bid a final forever farewell? No. When you say, "I'll see you soon," you mean it. When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, "I'll see you soon," you speak the truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.

So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands. He knows the sorrow of a grave. He buried His Son. But He also knows the joy of resurrection. And, by His power, you will too.

-- Max Lucado in Facing Your Giants


#3899

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I SURRENDER ALL


“All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give

I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.”  (Judson W. Van DeVenter)

I meet people every week who are slaves to something, but they found freedom when they became a slave to Jesus Christ. They were slaves to possessions or slaves to their own pleasures; they were slaves to people, what other people thought of them. But they discovered that true freedom is only found when they live as a slave to Jesus Christ. Instead of shame and bondage and death, we find joy and grace and eternal life. You will never know true freedom until you have completely surrendered and become a slave to Jesus Christ.

--  Kyle Idleman in Not a Fan: Follower’s Journal


#3898

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

PRAYER AND ACTION


Prayer and action… can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive.  Prayer without action grows in powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.  If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service.  And if concrete acts of service do indeed lead us to a deeper solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the oppressed, they will always give rise to prayer.  In prayer we meet Christ, and in Him all human suffering. In service we meet people, and in them the suffering Christ.

-- Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996) in Compassion


#3897

Monday, June 13, 2016

CAREER VERSES CALLING


American society does not talk much about calling anymore. It is more likely to think in terms of career.  Yet, for many people a career becomes the altar on which they sacrifice their lives.  Benjamin Hunnicutt is a historian who specializes in the history of work at the University of Iowa. He notes that work has become our new religion, where we worship and give our time.  As people's commitment to family, community, and faith are shrinking, they begin to look to their careers to provide them with meaning, connectedness, identity, and esteem.

A calling, which is something I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god.  A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive.  A career is something I do for myself; a calling something I do for God.  A career promises status, money, or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering -- and the opportunity to be used by God.

-- John Ortberg in If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat


#3896

Friday, June 10, 2016

TO FOLLOW JESUS IS TO BE DIFFERENT


Christians are different. Or at least they should be.

After all, as the Apostle Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)  What a revolutionary idea: As Christians, you have been crucified with Christ. He now lives in you. That means you no longer live by the world's standards; instead, you live by faith in the Son of God. Your values will differ from the world's values. When the world says, "If it feels good, do it," Jesus says, "Deny yourself and follow Me." When the world says, "I gotta be me," Jesus says, "You are My sheep, My flock." When the world says, "Do unto others, and then split," Jesus says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." To follow Jesus is to be different.

In other words, Jesus wants your heart and your soul. He yearns to free you from the awful bondage of serving only yourself and seeking only your advantage. He envisions yours as a heart that desire God and His pleasure most of all.

That's what Paul means in Galatians 5:16 when he says, "Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh." The-best-version-of-yourself will live by faith in God rather that faith in yourself or in the powers of this world. As a result, your behaviors, values, and priorities will change.

-- Allen R. Hunt in Nine Words


#3895