Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Because He First Loved Me

I can’t answer all the deep questions of life. I’m not deep enough or smart enough to sort through the creases of my own heart, the hidden motives, the strangling fears, the righteous indignation and the sin that hounds me each day. There is nothing that I have to offer that explains the questions that we wrestle with in regard to God and life. But the one thing that I have come to believe in the last five years is that nothing is sure except the love of God. Everything we know of him screams that he loves people, not just saved people, but lost people too, (Romans 5:8).

I don’t think we should ever count on our "understanding" of scripture over the undeniable truth that God loves us and has made every effort to express that love to us. Love's ultimate expression is Jesus Christ. When the hard times come, when the questions come, and the crushing disappointments of life come, the only thing that we can absolutely count on is the Love of God. God’s love doesn’t mean that all things will go our way; it means that we trust God even when things don’t go our way. Jim McGuiggan wrote: “The biblical Story urges us to believe the best and to trust until the drama has run to its final conclusion. It entreats us to trust that the one who created us in love is working for our everlasting blessing.”1

The Psalmist wrote:
“To the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.
and who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:23-26

I know that I don’t love God and my Savior Jesus as I should. The failures of my life are not failures of faith, they are failures of love. I tell God on a regular basis that I’m sorry my love is so weak. I trust that he understands and loves me in my weakness. As Rich Mullins said in one of the last songs that he wrote: “I cannot explain the way You came to love me... Except to say that nothing is beyond You.”2

telemicus out

1 Jim McGuiggan – The God of the Towel pg.17
2 Rich Mullins – The Jesus Record - Nothing is Beyond You

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

This past weekend we went to see “Cars.” I think it was a good movie. It teaches, among other things, care for others, sacrifice of self, the cost of selfishness, the danger of neglect and it demonstrates a noble heart. Lightening McQueen is a fast young racecar. He is arrogant and proud. When he spins his tires and prepares to peel out with lightening speed his catch phrase is, “Ka-chow!” But life slows him down, humbles him, teaches him, and changes him.

On a trip to California for a race, he gets lost and ends up stuck in Radiator Springs, a small town on old Route 66. Radiator Springs is a town that the interstate passed and the world forgot. In this little town there happens to be a girl named Sally, (there’s always a girl). Sally is a hot, light blue Porche 911. Sally loves Radiator Springs.

The movie has a sub-theme that is about the “good ole days” when people took drives “low and slow” simply for the joy of the drive. It places value on the restoration of things that have been neglected. It reminded me of the small town in Missouri where I spent my teen years. I walked all over that town in the course of five years. I miss those times. Life was simpler, slower, and more lived in the present.

David had an experience of nostalgia one day. Tired and weary from fighting the Philistines, the old book says, “David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”
(2 Sam 23:15). Three of his great warriors heard him says this and so they fought through the enemies lines got him a drink and brought it back. David couldn’t drink it. The water was too valuable to drink because of the effort it took to get it. So he “poured it out before the Lord.”

Lightening finally made it to California for the race, but Radiator Springs still owned part of his heart. He had changed and in that change he didn’t simply make himself better, he made those around him better. His heart changed in the course of time and that little town had a lot to do with it. Kirksville, Missouri will always be special to me - just as David loved water from the well in Bethlehem. Towns have a way holding on to us. Jon Bon Jovi says, “Who says you can't go back, been all around the world and as a matter of fact There's only one place left I want to go, who says you can't go home.”


telemicus out

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Living Water

One night, many years ago, I had a dream that I will never forget. I was running at White Rock Lake. It was a warm day. The sun was bright and the colors on everything were like that scene from "What Dreams May Come". As I jogged, I was looking forward to reaching the spot by the spill-way where there is an old water fountain. I couldn’t wait to reach the fountain because I had been running so long and I was so thirsty. I approached the hill leading to the top of the spill-way, I could see the water fountain up ahead. But when I reached the fountain and walked over, it was “guarded” by three brightly colored snakes. One on the front and one on each side. Each time I moved to get around them, they moved to prevent me from reaching the water I desired so much.

The water represents my relationship with God. Not simply the time I spend in reading, reflecting, and learning His word, not just spending time in worship and adoring Him and his Power, not reveling in the depth of his love, but all those things that represent my personal relationship with the Father. The snakes are the activities of the enemy, and myself, that distract me, keep me too busy, drag me into fleshly pursuits and prevent me from engaging in the relationship I have with God.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13). I realized sometime this week that, while I’ve been reading a lot and studying “about” God things, I’ve not spent much time with him. I’ve not purposely abandoned him, but I’ve allowed other things to keep me from him. So I committed myself to get back to spending time in worship, adoration and growing in God's word. If you find yourself thirsty today, slay the serpents and enjoy a retreat at the fountain of living water.

telemicus out

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In the Land of Usable

On most Monday afternoons around 5:30 you’ll find my Dad and me at Starbucks sharing a Venti Mocha and an hour or so of talking about life and God’s role in it and our role in Him. It’s really about growing and learning who we are in our relationship. It’s sweet.

This week the subject came up of being used by God in the Kingdom and why some who seem useless are used while some that seem very useful are not used at all. I think that each of us is in one of three places in terms of service to God and his Kingdom. We are in Useless, Usable or Useful.

If we are in Useless, we are not listening, not growing and not productive. This place is often busy and engaged in religion. In Useless, ministry crowds out God and his desire to refine, develop and mature us. Useless is like an old western movie set. Everything looks real and productive and even happy. But the reality is, it’s all a facade. This is where Saul was prior to the Damascus Road.

If we are in Usable, this means we are “in training”. God has our attention and we are actively involved in the process of hearing him and growing through his work in us, but we are not ready for the work he has in mind. Usable is a lonely place. Friends often resent those who go there. There is a temptation in Useable to think we are ready for the work God has in mind. This is where Paul was during his trip to Arabia.

If we are in Useful, we have learned from God. We’ve spent the time to hear the instruction of the Sprit and to grow in our love for Christ. We are ready for the work God has prepared for us. Useful is a peaceful place.* In it, we are content. We are not concerned about pleasing people or fighting battles.

Paul understood this when he wrote to Philemon about Onesimus, “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me” (Philemon 1:11). Onesimus was useless as a slave, he became a Christian and son to Paul and became usable. Paul sent him back to Philemon as useful. If you find yourself in Useless, stop resisting God and leave that place now. If you are in Usable, thank God that he considers you worthy and be diligent to learn from him until you're ready. If you’re in Useful, then you’re doing well. Press On.

telemicus out

* It was pointed out by my brother in law that being useful for God can get you killed, like the prophets and the Lord. While this is true what I am wanting to speak to is peace with God. Knowing we are in his will, and productive in his Kingdom is a place of great peace. There will be battles, but they will be his and not our own.