Tag Archives: while time remains

Going home

There was a time long ago, when we left our home in the USA, and set up our new home in Australia. I was offered a job to teach music grades 7-12 in a small town school located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. They didn’t tell me until I arrived that I was the 6th music teacher in 6 years at this school. But through much perseverance I made my mark, elevating compulsory music education from being hated to being tolerated. One learns to accept what progress one can make. When six brass instruments surprisingly arrived by train from headquarters I, a woodwind guy, started a brass band. However badly we performed we could count on getting a “standing ovation” when we played “God Save the Queen.” Decades later I learned that little school band had grown in proficiency and toured Europe!

We lived in “Sherwood Cottage” in Burradoo, 3 miles from town. During school vacations we packed our Holden station wagon and hammer to keep the gear shift lever in place and we set off on grand adventures. From the tropics of Queensland to the chilly and rugged island of Tasmania; from the beaches at Botany Bay to the outback town of Broken Hill where we nursed orphaned kangaroo joeys, we experienced the “dinkum di” Aussie life. We explored opal and gold mining towns and enjoyed the diverse landscape of “the bush.” Despite the challenging work situation, we made wonderful lifelong friends and came to call the wonderful land of Oz our “home away from home.”

But at the end of my teaching contract and with our own little Aussie “Joey” in tow, we returned to our home in America. We enjoyed vacations in the Badlands and the Rockies but as much fun as we had, there was always a point where it was “time to go home.” There’s no place like home, that place where your is where your heart longs to be. It’s a place filled with celebrated love and shared burdens. When we went on mission to Bolivia, we had this strange and pervasive feeling that we had come “home to the place we’d never been before.” It’s where we belonged and where we long to return because of the people we met and how God was moving among us.

As much as we all cling to our own home sweet home, there is another place, more wonderful and exciting beyond imagination, that’s called our true home. If we think climbing volcanoes and feeding baby kangaroos is exciting, we’ll be blown away at how marvelous is this home where we’d never been before.

It’s open to all who realize how desperately they personally need God’s gift of eternal salvation and the transformational power for living right now with peace and joy and real hope. Heaven is our true home, the place of great everlasting blessing. And there’s a piece of “Heaven on earth” when we come quietly and humbly before the Lord our God and receive his blessing of grace and power for living a victorious life that rises above our darkest circumstances.

None of us know the time we have left in this earthly home. May God guide the time that remains. . . until we finally go to our forever home.

Sharing your best joy – While you have time

 

I was visiting with one of my overnight aides at the hospital recently when she came to take my vitals. She always has such a cheerful disposition. So I asked her what makes her so happy. (Not an extremely complicated theological question, right?) She replied with a beaming smile and one word: “God!” When I asked her why does God make her so happy she told me the story of how God intervened in her tough family situation and how knowing Jesus completely transformed her life…and still does. It was as much a joy for me to hear her story as for her to tell the story of God’s great joy and power in her life.

 

The author of 3 John 1 concurs:

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (V 4)

 

He goes on to affirm them for prioritizing hospitality toward others, working together to seek the truth. He applauds them for dealing with conflict in a godly manner, constantly seeking to imitate God’s goodness in their life, rather than running after the things of this world that so easily distract us. It should be the mark of every Christian, or every decent human being for that matter. Put others first by honoring God in our relationships.

 

The final letter in this series follows so much of the practical instruction and encouragement found throughout the New Testament on how to build purposeful and mutually valued relationships that honor God. If you experience the pain of relationship conflict or sadness in the lack of deep and meaningful relationships, God’s Word is an instruction manual ready to guide you well.

 

So why aren’t we quick to seek God’s counsel instead of the advice magazines and the likes of Facebook? I suspect one of the reasons is time. Mutually valued relationships take time to build and nurture. Maybe we think we’re too busy or we just don’t think it’s worth the effort. Maybe we forget that Jesus gave us two commands: Love God and Love others. Maybe we know that we should be closer to God and feel embarrassed to ask him for help with our relationships with others. Oh, but he is always ready and willing to help us live the way that brings about his best plan for us!

 

There’s a true story of two good friends who were next door neighbors. They visited often over a cup of coffee in each other’s kitchens. They shared about nearly everything in their life: work, children, interests. There were no secrets between these best friends. This went on for years! One day, one woman came over to her friend’s house with a huge beaming smile. She could hardly contain herself. Her friend asked what had happened. Her neighbor friend said she had been visiting with another friend who told her about the love of Jesus that transformed her life from one of mundane routine to a life of power and victory. She said the reason she was so happy was because she had just asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior, to transform her life. And then her best friend said how wonderful that was and that she too was a Christian.

 

A profound silence filled the room.

 

Finally the neighbor asked, “You mean after all these years being best friends, you knew the joy of Jesus, but didn’t tell me?” Tears came to both of them. “I’m so sorry. I should have told you. I was afraid of offending you” was the response. “But what if I had died without knowing Jesus?” the neighbor asked. Another silence with more tears and apologies followed.

 

There will come a time when no time remains to build relationships that bear the truth and joy of sharing Jesus. Let’s ask God to open our eyes to the opportunities we have today to share the┬ábest joy in our lives with the people we most love. They might accept the invitation, but let it be their decision. ..while there is still time!

 

The evidence of faith

 

Climate change. Life rights. Racism. Conservation. Politics. Religion. Imagine knowing someone who fought ardently against something that you hold dear. Now, imagine them very suddenly coming over to your way of thinking. Would you instantly trust them and welcome them into your “inner circle?” Would you afford them the same rights and respect that you extend to others who share your beliefs? What would convince you that they had really changed?

 

That was Paul’s situation described in 1 Corinthians 9. Once an ardent persecutor of Christians, he was suddenly and dramatically fully persuaded to live and preach the gospel of Jesus, the very one he was persecuting. No wonder people were cautious of his transformation. But the evidence of faith is a radically changed life, one fully devoted to knowing Jesus and making him known to others. And for Paul, no other activity or pursuit compared to the passion he poured into this singular goal of impacting the lives of others for God.

 

He gave up his rights to be compensated for his preaching, his right to material prosperity. He gave up his rights to “be right” about philosophical issues because he knew they were distractions from the real issue of introducing people to Jesus. He was completely driven by his gift to preach – and live – the gospel wherever he went. His spiritual understanding seemed to grow exponentially as he devoted and disciplined himself to loving his life fully for God, what he calls “running the race.”

 

It gives me pause to ask myself some tough questions about my own life and the “race” I am running. Maybe you’d like to join me in a time of reflection:

In what ways does my live give evidence to a real living faith? If Christianity were a crime (as it is in some parts of the world) would there be enough evidence in my life to “convict” me?

To what degree am I willing to give up my rights to positively impact the lives of others, especially those Jesus calls “the least of these?” To live simply and humbly so that others might have opportunity to live? To be generous with my wealth, my time, and my gifts and talents?

How diligent am I at protecting my time so I can be still before God and let his Word impact my own life?

Am I as eager to look for opportunities for gospel conversations as I am to discuss weather, sports, politics, or other interests?

Am I interested in finding common ground where there is conflict so mutually valued relationships can be built and strengthened?

In what ways am I using the gifts God gave me to grow spiritually and encourage others in their spiritual growth?

How much of my focus is on honoring God in my relationships compared to the other competing interests in my life?

What do I need to get a better grip on living a life filled with purpose and meaning?
Paul encourages us to run the race of life by disciplining ourselves through focused daily effort and devotion to a singular life purpose. He urges us to not become “disqualified” by wasting our time, money, and energy on meaningless and aimless pursuits. We can aim higher today!

 

The real evidence of faith isn’t words or religious actions, It’s a changed life, one that is transformed by the power of God, sold out to a single and all important cause. Real faith seeks to grow spiritually, impact others, gives up personal rights in order to win others to Christ. Let your faith give evidence to a great God who loves us and wants to reach others with his love…while time still remains.