You Are

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

You are Light in the darkest places.

You are Hope among the hopeless.

You are Love when all others are filled with hate.

I am so small, but You, O Lord are so Great.

You are Truth when I’m surrounded by lies;

You are Real, seeing through my every disguise.

You are Strong, when I am weak;

When I am proud, Lord, You are Meek.

You are Good, but I am evil;

You are a Strong Foundation, in a world full of upheaval.

You are Whole, when all else is broken;

You are Sincere, with every word that You have spoken.

You are Peace, when my heart is at war;

When I am less, Lord You are More.

You are Mercy, when I stand condemned;

You are Grace, when I am staring judgment in the face.

When I am empty, You fill me up;

When my cross I could not bear,

It was You, Lord, who gladly took my cup.

You are Rich, Lord, when I am poor;

You are Generous, though I always want more.

Your grace is sufficient for me,

My Lord, My God;

You are Enough.

–Tyler J. Brooks

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The Easy Life

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:13 & 14 ESV)

It’s so easy to strive after personal comfort and security. Our culture bombards us with messages, ideas, and products that promise to make our lives easier and more convenient. The obsession with getting rich feeds off the lie that more money and more stuff will make you happy—that having many nice things and being comfortable is directly correlated with living a good life. However, it is not difficult to see the evidence of the deception we have been fed. Broken marriages and families, addictions, affairs, and insecurity afflict many of the people who have the most stuff. If the “gate is wide and the way is easy,” that is, if most people are living a certain way and it seems easy, then that should be our first sign that they are headed for destruction. Often times, going with the flow of our culture also means compromising truth and character, getting washed over the waterfall with the rest of the unsuspecting swimmers. To swim upstream, against the current, is obviously the more difficult option, but also the only way to survive and find true life. I believe our modern American church is plagued with Christians who have bought our culture’s lies about the easy life and have simply mixed in some Jesus to make themselves feel better. They see Jesus as a means to an end—a way to make their lives easier by giving them a sense of spiritual security (think fire insurance) and occasional reassurance when they are faced with the realities of suffering and death. They seek what they consider blessings over and against spiritual growth and the well-being of others. They expect a supernatural ROI (return-on-investment) from their “modest” giving. When things in their life get difficult or undesirable, they not only expect, but demand that God simply fix their problems and make their life easy again.

Are you one of these people? I used to be one. In some ways I still am. It is so easy for me to get caught up in my culture’s expectations of success, wealth, and personal and family comfort. I don’t want to be uncomfortable; who does? I don’t want to be poor, or hungry, or inconvenienced. That’s normal, I know. But when I read the Bible and look at Jesus’ life and teachings, I don’t see normal. I don’t see someone who is calling people to take up their beach umbrellas and sunscreen and just relax; He calls His people to take up a cross, which is definitely not relaxing. It is a calling to be servants to others, to be humble, to love and forgive and do what God says is right even when it hurts or doesn’t make sense. Jesus calls us to lay down our pride and self-focus and take up a desire to elevate His will above our own; to work to build up His kingdom and His people over and sometimes against our own.

What are some practical ways you can elevate God’s will and desires above your own? How have you seen others do this?

Please share your response via Facebook or in the Comments below.

Dead Man Walking

Have you ever watched someone die? Have you ever seen or touched a cold, lifeless corpse? It’s not fun or comfortable to talk about death; morbid is the term people use to describe this kind of talk. But many people have witnessed death firsthand and some have handled bodies after their life has left them. Some do this professionally, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree to recognize when a person is dead. There is no breathing, no movement, no beating heart; there is simply no life. The single most notable and terrifying attribute of death is its finality. Everybody knows that death is final and irreversible. There are no second chances, no do-overs, and no going back. When a person is pronounced dead, they are dead and are no longer living life as we know it. (By the way, zombies aren’t real in case you were wondering).

When Jesus was crucified on a cross, some of His disciples watched Him die. At least one saw a soldier drive a spear into Jesus’ side as a proof of his death. Two men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, took Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial according to customs, and placed it in a tomb. The tomb was then closed and sealed shut. Jesus was dead and everyone knew it, especially His followers and closest friends.

Therefore, as you could imagine, when His disciples saw Jesus alive again—walking, talking, even eating and drinking—they were completely astonished. Some didn’t recognize Him at first, while others doubted and needed to see physical proof (holes in His hands and side) to believe He was really Jesus. (see John 20). Can you even begin to fathom the joy they must have felt when they saw Him? The raw emotion that flowed from their hearts and their eyes must surely have been spectacular. To lose someone so dearly loved and so innocent in such a violent manner was absolutely devastating. The voices of fear and doubt and hopelessness likely rang loudly in their ears. But then to suddenly have this loved one restored to life and returned to His friends and family—that had to instantly shatter those voices! The tears of joy surely overflowed and overshadowed their former tears of grief.

Do you think Jesus’ disciples treated Him differently and even lived differently after His resurrection? I’ll bet they did. I’m sure they had a tremendous increase in faith and hope for the future. Their fear and doubts melted away as they looked forward to the promise of God’s kingdom. They probably appreciated every minute they had with Jesus all the more because they actually knew what it was like to lose Him. I can also guarantee they listened more attentively than ever before when Jesus talked. I’m sure they obeyed His teaching and commands far more passionately after seeing Him literally raised from the dead. But what about the rest of us? As Jesus said to Thomas, “have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 ESV).

Jesus didn’t just raise Himself from the dead to prove something; He overcame the power of sin and death in this world and thereby gave us the opportunity to be given life—real life with Him—that will never end. Jesus has often been referred to as the new Adam, meaning that He is the first of a new generation or a new kind of human. As sin and death entered the world through one man (Adam), so salvation and new life entered the world through Jesus. His resurrected body gives us a glimpse of what our resurrected bodies will be like. Notice that He didn’t burst out of the grave with a pair of newly grown wings and a halo over his head, flying off into the sunset like a corny John Travolta movie.

He walked. He talked. He ate and drank. He taught and had conversations. He did many of the same things He did before His death, yet He also seemed to circumvent some physical barriers like showing up in a house with locked doors and ascending into Heaven.

For those who put their faith in Jesus, we have real, improved, resurrected bodies to look forward to after we die. We don’t become angels and surely we won’t morph into some kind of half-bird, half-human creature with ridiculously large, feathered wings. (I also hope I don’t have to learn to play the harp). We will have bodies that resemble our present bodies, but without all the blemishes and flaws. We will walk but without limps, sore feet, or other impediments. We will eat food, but not too much and we won’t have to worry about carbs and sugars and calories. We will live without the fear of bacteria, disease, injury and death.

You see, Heaven is like the very best things of this world without the corruption of sin and evil. After all, every good thing comes from God who created it. Imagine spending your entire life in the presence of God, living in harmony with Him and everyone and everything else in a redeemed body. For the redeemed sinner, death has lost its sting. It is no longer a tragic end of existence to be feared and avoided, but a welcome gateway into the beginning of a new life in a new world spent with the Creator of the universe. This life will be familiar, yet so different from our current lives in this corrupt and sinful world.

Question: What do you think we will look like in Heaven? What will we do when we get there?

Please share your comments below or on Facebook

For more on this topic, see Heaven by Randy Alcorn.

What will Jesus’ feet taste like?

Have you ever thought about what Jesus feet will taste like when you get to Heaven? I know, that’s a really weird thing to ask and I’m sure most people have not spent much time pondering this question. However, the other day while I was driving, this odd question popped into my mind. For some reason, thinking about this question brought up strong emotions in me and brought tears to my eyes. Here’s why.

I imagine passing from this life into the next and suddenly being in the presence of Jesus. Standing face-to-face with my Savior, I can feel my knees weaken as I am overwhelmed by His glory, bowing down to worship Him. I can see my hands grasping His ankles as my head lowers to kiss my Lord’s feet. I’m sure I will taste mostly my tears as they stream down my face. They will be tears of overwhelming joy.

You see, I can’t imagine myself coming into the presence of my God and Savior and simply giving Jesus a high-five, fist-bump, or even a “bro-hug” (whatever that means anyway). I consider Jesus my friend, but He is so much more. When I see him I cannot think of a more humble and appropriate response than bowing down before Him in worship and kissing His feet. I know this is all very spiritual talk, but I really do wonder what His feet will taste like. I believe I will actually taste, smell, see, and hear Jesus, along with so many other heavenly, yet tangible things.

When you think about Heaven, do you think mostly about highly spiritual, intangible ideas? Do you think of yourself as weightless in the clouds, playing a harp and singing praise songs constantly? Or maybe you use words and phrases like worship, praise, the presence of the Lord, the throne room of God, a place of no more tears or suffering, pearly gates, etc. to describe the heavenly realm. Personally, I have often imagined myself bowing before Jesus on His throne in a great white room, with a white floor, and walls and a ceiling that seem to have no end. The details are rather vague and I can only recall a few people in the periphery standing by to make sure my name is on the list. But in reality, I think that picture is much closer to a low-budget TV commercial set than it is to Heaven. How is this possible? I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was a child, I grew up going to church and to Bible school and to Bible study and youth group and I even studied religion and the Bible at a college level. So how could I possibly have a narrow and inaccurate view of Heaven? The answer is painfully simple: I have allowed the popular culture around me to influence my ideas of Heaven more than the Bible itself. Maybe you have too. Here’s a quick test:

Think of 3 movies, tv shows, or songs that have something to say about Heaven or the afterlife…

Now think of 3 verses or passages from the Bible that have something to say about Heaven…

If you thought of something for each question, which one was easier?

Unfortunately, I am not alone in my vague, unclear vision of Heaven that makes it out to be a mysterious, dull, and even unattractive place we only talk about when someone we love is dying. Inaccurate and unsettling conclusions about Heaven plague modern Christians, including pastors and other church leaders. Throughout my life, I’ve spent so much time thinking, talking, and worrying about this temporary life that I’ve been missing out on something far greater. It’s so much easier to think about my job, my house, my family, my stuff, my money than it is to focus my mind on heavenly things. After all, I live in this world, not in Heaven. I’ve been in this world my whole life, but I’ve never been to Heaven. It’s also very easy to make excuses as to why I have not had a more complete and accurate understanding of Heaven. The Bible actually has a lot to say about Heaven; we just have to intentionally look for it. It tells us that Heaven is a real place with real tangible, physical attributes. There are multitudes of people there now who have a conscious awareness of what is going on in this world; there will be a great city with streets, buildings, people, and culture. We will eat and drink and work and love as we do now without being subject to the curse of sin and death. The barrier between sinful people and a Holy God will be forever shattered and we will live in the glory of His presence.

Over the next several weeks, I would like to share some thoughts and ideas on Heaven you may not have heard before. I will be drawing from credible sources and will make sure to share them with you. My goal is to get others thinking more deeply about Heaven as I have been lately, as this subtle shift in focus can actually change your life. When Heaven is on my mind, it keeps daily problems in the right perspective; I think more about people and relationships than getting ahead or keeping more for myself. You see, thinking about the afterlife informs our present lives in the here and now. Thinking about what happens when we die does not have to be a dreadful, uncomfortable topic that needs to be avoided. As a matter of fact, many people live their lives more fully after getting a terminal diagnosis because they actually believe they are going to die, so they better get ready. I hope that sharing my thoughts and the ideas of others smarter than me from a Biblically-sound framework will challenge, educate, and encourage you with the hope of Heaven.

QUESTION:

What ideas have you heard or believed about Heaven that came from pop culture (movies, tv shows, music, etc.)? 

Please share your response on Facebook or in the Comments.