Okay this is me being as transparent as I can be. I’m writing this message on Heaven. I love God, Jesus and truly desire to be in Heaven – ONE Day. I know it will be amazing. I know it will be forever better than anything here on earth. I know my citizenship is in heaven and not here on earth. Where I am torn is how much I love the things in my life…now…here on earth. My wife Stacey. How do I desire to go to heaven when I experience such joy in being with her, loving her and holding her near to me? My boys, Levi and Joel. How do I look forward to the day when I am in heaven and no longer with them? So where does that leave me? I believe it leaves me on a journey to understand more fully the hope of heaven and it’s promises. That is what I will be preaching about for the next three weeks at The River Community Church. How can Heaven surpass the allure of the Good things here on Earth?
The Preeminence of Christ
Colossians 1:15-23 ESV
 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,  he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Jesus – Highest! Greatest! Lord of All! He is the image of the invisible God – meaning when God said to man don’t create any graven images – He intended to show His true self through Jesus. Our idea or image would miss the mark. It would be terrible, but Jesus – ALL THINGS. Al things created through HIM and FOR HIM…in HIM ALL THINGS Hold Together! Wow. Paul is saying without question Jesus Christ is it. We (general public) spend so much time debating who Jesus is and if He raised from the dead, and if he was the Son of God and for Paul and the recipients of this letter IT’s NO QUESTION! Not just IT but in Charge of all of IT and Before IT and He HOLDS IT and IT is under HIS Authority. He made It and than reconciled IT through the blood on the Cross!
STABLE and STEADFAST – Not Shifting from the HOPE of the GOSPEL that you heard. That Gospel is the message for all the world to be able to face the world, face life and come away saying OH Christ fully you are everything! EVERYTHING! Thank you Jesus
May we not be teetered by the false gospels and hopes of this world.
I’m sure it has been something on the minds of most people over the last week. Devastation…how do you come back from what the people of Haiti have been through the past eight days? I see the pictures and part of me wonders what would I cling to? If it was part or all of my family in the rubble how would I cope? Much of me thinks, if i’m honest…”I don’t think I could make it.” I would cry out to God and weep and mourn and probably be frozen in my grief. I mean, I’m a thousand miles away right now and many times this week I have found myself wondering, “Why God?” I’m brokenhearted for the orphaned children. The widows. The parents who can’t find their own. I keep praying…’Oh God, what can I do?’ I can give money (not much, but some). I can pray. I have cried so much this week just hurting inside for the pain that radiates from this small, poor and now devastated country. Only God gets us through things this tragic. I’m convinced it will be the ministry of the Bride of Christ that will have the greatest influence on piecing back the lives of the Haitian people. I believe it will be the Church that will rise up and have the greatest impact for healing the hearts of the people in Haiti.
I’ve come across a organization that is raising money to rebuild the churches in Haiti as quickly as possible. http://www.churcheshelpingchurches.com. Their belief is – fix the churches (not just buildings, but pastors and resources) so they can begin to heal a nation. I think they are right. Healing will come through the Spirit of believers holding one another up and standing together. Pray for the effort to get churches doing what churches do in Haiti and helping this community get restored. It will take many years and many believe it will never happen, but I believe God will be glorified as God’s children pour life into the people and our church in Haiti.
This past Tuesday I was driving with my son Levi who was sitting in the back seat. He was doing the usual – playing with a toy car and kicking the seat in front of him, looking out the window and sighing with the boredom that comes with being three and riding in the car. Sometimes I would glance up just to see what he was doing and I could see he was thinking about something ‘very important’. Finally he said, “Daddy. I wish God would come out of my heart so I could play with Him.”
After I got the car back on the road and off of the grass, I asked Levi to repeat himself and he said it exactly the same, “I wish God would come out of my heart so I could play with Him.” It’s been two days since this happened and I’m still thinking about it this morning. Matthew 18: 1-4, Jesus pulls a child into the midst of the crowd and says unless we humble ourselves to be like this we will NEVER enter the kingdom of heaven. We should probably listen to the insights our children have about God more often.
Two things my son taught me that day…
First – he truly believes God is ‘in there.’ That God has taken up residence within him. He didn’t question it, there was no need for a study in apologetics or theology, Levi just knew, as most of our kids do. Jesus even tells us in the scriptures over and over He has set up a dwelling place in us. It is a reminder to us all that God is with us, intimately and powerfully with us.
The second and more powerful thing for me is how badly He wanted to play with God. To roll in the leaves or run cars up and down the back of the seat while making engine noises. Levi believes in a God who would want to spend casual time just playing with him. He believes that God not only loves him, but he likes him. I think he’s right. Maybe the next time you are raking the leaves, cutting the grass, shopping, shooting a round of golf, hunting or just sitting with a book, you invite God to come out and play.
(This post was written for Facebook in August 2010) Of all the mornings(Levi got up at 5 and I had a 7am meeting)… I read a post from John Piper on Twitter that says to control our anger begin by getting 8 hours of sleep 3 nights in a row(tell that to my boys)! I have noticed that self-control in all areas of our lives can spin out of control when we are tired and not properly sleeping. I find that to be true in so many instances of my life…devotion, prayer, eating habits, sin. God designed us to be able to withstand a lot, but He created us to fall asleep, heal and grow, repair and restore through the night so we can be a benefit to His Kingdom come morning. So trust God as you sleep…He is caring for His children even while they slumber. Check out this Psalm and GET SOME REST!
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
(We are being reassured that God, who made it all, is there for us and helping us…that can be a huge stress reducer when we read and believe it)
He will not let your foot be moved;
He who a keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will a keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Beware of serving Jesus. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Own your helplessness. – John Piper and Mark…
I read this on my twitter this afternoon and it really made me think about how we approach our service in the church and the Kingdom of God. I think for many we serve and underneath our motive is the idea that we are ‘paying’ back Jesus for what He did for us on the Cross. John Piper tweets (that was funny just typing it) that we need to own our helplessness. In other words, understand you are helpless in your efforts to become righteous through serving. Only Christ and His service has made us righteous. We serve in the Kingdom out of Love, not duty, not debt.
Fall may be my favorite season. I love the beauty that fall brings. Sunny blue skies without all the sweat and heat to endure. Leaves, thousands of leaves in so many colors, some of the colors I’m not even sure what to call them. It’s such a perfect time of year to sit quietly and ponder the beauty and creativity of an Awesome Creator, or to sit and share life with a friend, maybe just maybe spend the day with your family and simply hold them up in your arms and allow the beauty of all God has given you mesh into one perfect image! Just be sure not to drop them, unless it’s into a pile of leaves. I pray and hope you experience His handy work as Fall is upon us…oh, I forgot, I also LOVE Football!