Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Longing That Won't Go Away

I thought it would go away if I could just find the secret. The longing, the deep yearning that says, “There must be more than this.” We all land there pretty early in life.

Sitting at the kitchen table with my mom in our little starter home shortly after John F. Kennedy was assassinated I said, “Mom, I don’t want to just die, be buried and be forgotten.” The longing was there.

In high school I thought if I could be accepted and applauded then it would satisfy the longing. I experienced it and it didn’t.

Well, maybe when I go to college, live on my own, make my own decisions and not be controlled by my parents that will satisfy the longing. I went and it didn’t.

Perhaps if I find a wonderful, beautiful, loving woman and marry her, that will satisfy the longing. I did and it didn’t.

Surely when I go into pastoral ministry, preach God’s Word, help other people, give my life to the service of the Lord and people, that will satisfy the longing. I did and it didn’t.

Possibly if I have children, that will satisfy the longing. To invest myself in other, to make a difference in young lives. I had four and it didn’t.

If I could gain some notoriety, some success in preaching and writing that might satiate the longing. I did and it didn’t.

Then I thought, maybe I just wasn’t close enough to God. If I pray harder, take more time in the Bible, worship more deeply, fast consistently -- that will satisfy the longing. But no matter how much I did the things preachers say will make me close to God, something still burned within me. The longing.

After all that, I read a book by Larry Crabb called “Finding God.” The lights came on as I read his explanation that there will always be a longing within us while we are alive on earth because the longing is a desire to be with God. What a relief! There’s nothing wrong with me, this longing is normal. Okay, so there may be some other things wrong, but not this.

C.S. Lewis said it this way, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (Mere Christianity).

God, speaking through the Apostle Paul, attempts to show us this truth. My comments are in parentheses.
"Now we know that if the earthly tent (our human bodies) we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven (a glorified body), not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed (be in Heaven with Jesus) with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked (in our earthly bodies). 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Cor 5:1-5, NIV

God, Himself created us with this longing. Because He is mean and doesn’t want us to be happy? No. He did so out of love, to lead us to Himself. He has placed a deep, intense, profound longing, a yearning, a soul-hunger, an ache, a desire for something beyond ourselves when He created the human race, even before sin landed us in such trouble. He does not want us to be satisfied with this world, but to live and long for that for which we were made.

The wisest man who ever lived put it thus, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

We naturally strive to satisfy this longing. As I did, we look to pleasure or possessions or position or pride in accomplishments to fill the vacuum. The human soul cannot sit idle while this longing boils inside. But nothing we seek ever satisfies.

Here’s the test: What do you do when you feel bad? What do you turn to when you are sad, angry, hurt, lonely, feeling bad about yourself? Pleasure (food, alcohol, things that make feel good), possessions (playing with toys, shopping, trading up), pride (doing things that accomplish, tinkering, hobbies). Whatever we turn to is THAT to which we look for satisfaction. It delivers momentarily, but the longing comes roaring back with ever increasing energy. Instead of trying to medicate the pain or cover up the fear, sometimes we need to hold on to it, take it to God to find out what He is trying to do in our lives. If we do so, we discover that God does offer to satisfy the longing.

He offers “samples” here on earth. You know the tastes they offer in the grocery stores on the high traffic days. Amber and Chadd loved to grocery shop with Sheila when they were pre-school. Sausage in one aisle, crackers in the next, cheese farther down, juice near the dairy. They could get a full toddler meal. But for adults those are only tastes, a concerted effort to whet your hunger and convince you to buy the product. They did not, could not satisfy the hunger because they were only tastes of what you could have for supper if you purchased the product. So with God, He has given His Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, but the deep longing cannot be satisfied on earth.

God offers complete satisfaction in Heaven. Not floating around playing a harp or singing songs we don’t even like, but the deepest satisfaction being in the place we were designed to occupy.

If we make Jesus Lord of our lives, Heaven will be home. Like that trip you took. You remember, the one where the wheels came off. You’re driving the 15 hours home with a carload of people who are tired, grumpy and smell like they’ve been in a hot car for 15 hours. They complain until they finally fall asleep, leaving you to drive alone in the dark. Then it starts to rain, hard. Your body aches, you can hardly stay awake, you desperately need a shower and you’re wondering why you brought all these people along on such a depressing adventure. Then your headlights hit it – home. You feel the relief the moment you step out of the car. Your heart leaps as you walk in the door. Home where you belong.

That is a very frail picture of Heaven. It will be complete satisfaction for those who live for the destination rather than the journey.

So what are you doing with that longing? Trying to satisfy it with the temporary? Deny that it is there? Keep busy enough to ignore it? Pursue a dream in hopes of satisfying it?

STOP IT! Enjoy the tastes God offers. In fact, grab as many samples as you can get. But focus on “Home.” Let the longing capture your mind and heart with an eternal perspective.

Boldly, Herb

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Strengthening the Resistance Muscle

I'm using muscles that have very happily remained latent for a long, long time. And don't seem any too thrilled to be disturbed. Oh I'm sure they were used when I was young, but they haven't been pulled out of storage in recent memory. The aching is a bit of a surprise since I've been going to the gym for five years and thought I was exercising everything in sight. Turns out I was wrong. There's a whole civilization of muscles that have been hiding.

It started in February when we finally received the building permit for the church property. We immediately dove in with everyone's feet to put insulation between the first floor joists. At first I was really sore, then sore, then a good tired, until finally the muscles were strong enough to do the job without screaming. At which time we finished the insulation job and moved to nailing 5/8" drywall on the ceiling of the lower level. Again - really sore, sore, good tired, strong. At which time we moved to nailing spacers to the ceiling. Then screwing another layer of drywall. (Did you know you use different muscles to nail drywall than to use a screw gun?) Then taping and mudding the drywall. Then ripping up the third level floor. Then digging footers. Well, you get the idea. I think it's a conspiracy by my church family to keep me so sore I can't preach very long. Sorry, doesn't work.

On Sundays you can spot the people who worked at the property the day before. They are the ones stretching their arms and shoulders to get kinks out, who stand slowly with a groan, who have blisters on their hands. And who have BIG smiles of satisfaction on their faces. They are experiencing this truth: we grow strong through consistent use of our muscles. Those who don't use their muscles do not get stronger, experience the soreness or enjoy the benefits.

Another interesting phenomenon - when I first started a task new to me, I struggled and fumbled and was really slow. As I did it over and over and over, it eventually became almost second nature. (Notice I said "almost." I'm talked about working with my hands here...) It's what sports trainers call "muscle memory." When we become familiar enough with a task, we don't have to think about it - our muscles automatically respond in a certain way. Remember the times you've driven home and don't remember doing so?

"Okay, Herb, are you going somewhere with this or just trying to impress us?" I hear from across the country. Hang with me.

Joseph, you know, the guy with the multi-hued "dad loves me best" coat. The one sold by his brothers, a slave to Potiphar, put in charge of the whole estate. That guy. Doing his job with distinction when his boss' wife tried to seduce him. Over and over, until she grabbed his clothes, an attempt to force him into her embrace. Do you remember his IMMEDIATE response? He RAN, leaving her holding his outer cloak. He didn't think about it, discuss it with her, gather research, take a public opinion poll or consider his options. He RAN because his spiritual muscle memory kicked in. The one he had exercised by resisting all kinds of lesser temptations over many years. The one that gave him the strength to resist when he needed it most.

Where are the Josephs today? Those who will blatantly resist no matter the cost, even if no one else will do so? We live in a world where the resistance muscle has gotten flabby. Frankly, it's easier to give in than to resist just as it is easier to stay in the recliner than go to the gym. But the result is deadly. God had plans to make Joseph co-ruler of the world, but he would have missed it if his resistance muscle had not been developed. Oh, it would have been pleasure for a short time, but he would have missed what really mattered.

Look at this scripture...
"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV)

It is by CONSTANT USE Christ followers get strong. THERE ARE NO SPIRITUAL STEROIDS. Sorry.

So what do we do? I have learned that only by using the soul muscle to resist temptation does it become strong, causing us to more automatically resist and immediately turn away. But the more we give into temptation, allowing that muscle to lie dormant at best, to deteriorate at worst, the weaker, more vulnerable and accepting of sin we become. And each time it is easier to give in and stuff the guilt. "Dangerous ground, that is," says Master Yoda.

Beyond resisting temptation, you can build the resistance muscle by deliberately denying yourself things that are okay. You know, give up TV, the newspaper, talk radio, or a computer game for a week. The best way of denial is fasting for a period of time, either all food or certain foods. It forces us to use the resistance muscle and turn to God.

You can spot the people who use their resistance muscle. They are the ones who experience the most robust joy and most durable freedom, who are often sore from the battles, who have the deepest wisdom. All that comes from the highs and lows of living for Christ by the power of Christ to resist temptation. Those are the people who are “real”, who admit their weaknesses, celebrate their strengths, who reach down to help the fallen rather than criticize and judge. And who never give up. Perfect? Not hardly. But focused and growing as they help others do the same.

"That's hard work," you say. Well... OF COURSE. But worth every effort.

So, ladies and gents, get your soul off the spiritual recliner and start resisting, exercising, strengthening and stretching. You have no idea how good it will feel.

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Cor 10:13 (NIV)

Boldly, Herb

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mud Pies or Beach Vacation

Looked into the mirror this morning to see a man glaring at me. He looked vaguely familiar. A lot older than I remember, bags under his eyes, needing a shave and a shower. I don’t think he was very nice at all – he mimicked everything I did. I reached out to smack him and jammed my finger. On his finger. “Who let the old man in our bathroom?” I yelled to Sheila. She ran in thinking I was in trouble. She looked in and realized I really was in trouble. Walking away, shaking her head, she was mumbling. I only caught a few words, something about “I must have a hole in my head” and “what was I thinking” and “the day she got married.” I think she was expressing her amazement at having the intelligence to marry such a wonderful man.

Turns out it was me! Well, it wasn’t really me but an image that looked just like me. The reflection was real, but the reflection wasn’t me. No matter how hard I tried to do something to the reflection, I couldn’t because it wasn’t the real me.

Everything in life is a reflection of God.

I dare you to name anything that is not. Oh, sure, many of them have been so distorted that they don’t look anything like God. That doesn’t negate the fact. This truth has rattled and thrown me against the wall once again.

Think about this for a moment: everything that we enjoy is a reflection of God or His creation. Every pleasure, every desire, every longing, every delight, every wish, every joy. Every experience that warms or breaks our hearts. Everything that makes us laugh or cry. Everything that pulls or drives us. EVERYTHING. Without exception.

How do I know that? Because God created everything, without exception. The enemy has created nothing. He cannot. Rather, he attempts to pervert all of God’s creation to pull us away from Him and into destruction. Satan wants to convince us that the reflection is all there is. Do you see it?

The enjoyment, pleasure, fulfillment …

  • of eating is perverted into over indulgence
  • of work is perverted into workaholism or valuing tasks over people
  • of play is perverted into a selfish pusuit
  • of wholesome laughter is perverted into empty comedy
  • of relationships are perverted into self-seeking expectations
  • of parenting is perverted into a desire for children to make us happy and live through them
  • of the greatest gift of intimacy of a husband and wife is perverted into a self-centered act of lust
  • of intimacy with God is perverted into empty, dry, ritualistic religion
  • on and on and on the list could go
Problem is that we don’t often glimpse the reality behind the reflection. It’s not that the reflection doesn’t exist, it is that it is incomplete. We inhabit the reflection, though it’s promises fall short and its pleasure is short-lived. However, we perceive the reflection to be reality. What else is there? So we settle for far less than God longs to give us here and hereafter.

God has created so much more. Earthly life is a pre-cursor to the forever life. Selfishness is culprit. When we follow our sinful, human desires without embracing the connection with the eternal behind them, we miss it. Oh, how we miss it!

C.S. Lewis understood this truth and expressed it well…
“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire, not too strong, but too weak.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The Weight of Glory and other addresses, by C.S. Lewis. (The Macmillian Company, New York 1949).

It’s not that we want too much, but that we look for fulfillment in all the wrong places.

It’s not that we are never satisfied, but that we look for satisfaction in things that are incapable of delivering.

It’s not that God denies us what we seek because it is wrong, rather He denies us because He knows that what we seek is destructive.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is perched at the edge of our lives in the excitement of giving us what truly brings pleasure and fulfillment. He is longing, hoping, offering to give us far more than we can ask or imagine. It is not that He is willing, it is that He WANTS to.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." Ephesians 1:17-21 (NIV)

We can experience a slice of the true on earth and revel in it completely in eternity by surrendering the reflection and embracing the reality of Christ behind it.
  • eating as a reflection of the enjoyment of the future feast
  • work as a reflection of accomplishing the work we were created for
  • play as a reflection of the unquenchable joy of God
  • wholesome laughter as our God given inner delight escaping
  • relationships as enjoying the second greatest gift of God
  • parenting as participating in the creative and formative process of God
  • the intimacy of a husband and wife as experiencing the vulnerable connection and pleasure God gave and a prologue of the depth of relationship we will have with Christ
  • relationship with God as restoring our purpose stolen by sin, that connection that alone brings what we were created for. Not dry, but the most moving experience possible.
  • on and on and on the list could go

Mudpies or holiday. Putting it that way makes it a simple choice. The challenge
is to live it. Will you join me in doing so? Now, go put on your beach hat and
let’s go!

Boldly, Herb

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Over the Hill or On Top of the Ridge?

I was recently asked to write a few words for a friend who was turning 40. I thought, “Herb, why let this sit on only one person’s desk? Why not clutter up a whole bunch of desks?” So here it is. For those of you on my side of 40 years, I think you’ll especially appreciate this. For those young ‘uns, hold on to this. Someday you’ll need it.

John, they asked me to write a few words in honor of your 40th birthday. They did NOT ask me to attend because they know that I am so much older than you and too frail to travel. I’ve known you for over 20 years and, quite frankly, am amazed you’ve made it this far. But since your parents, your wife and your church have not yet put you away, you might be okay. Let me give you some words of wisdom that most people won’t tell you. As your mentor, I feel responsible to let you in on the truth.

Myths of Turning 40

  • Myth number 1, “Life Begins at 40.”

If someone has not already done so, they will soon tell you this. It is a lie. Mostly told by people who are trying to soothe the pain of aging and share their own misery. It is sometimes said by people who haven’t seen 40 yet and HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!!

Life does not begin at 40, it just keeps walking on. If it actually began at the big 4-0 it means you would not be married, have children or gained any wisdom at all. Pity your mom if you arrived like you are today!

  • Myth number 2, “Life Ends at 40.”

Usually mockingly said by the young whipper-snappers. They think death is on the door step when you hit 39 years and 365 days. It’s not so, it just freezes up a lot and you have to “reboot” more often.

  • Myth number 3, “You’re not getting older, you’re getter better.” (Usually followed by, “You’re like a fine wine that gets better with age”).

Again, not true. You ARE getting older. Time marches on, buckaroo. And a day older does not automatically mean you’ve gotten a day finer, better or smarter. Fine wine might get better with age. Cheese might get better by fermenting. But the same amount of time will turn bananas into a big mass of bruised goo and potatoes into a stinking mess. Your choice.

  • Myth number 4, “You’re only as old as you feel.”

Sorry, but you’ll never be 25 again, no matter how your sensory nerves communicate with your brain. You are the age you are… and you WILL feel it.

  • Myth number 5, “You can still do anything you put your mind to.”

Those 40 year old football and baseball players are one in a million. The rest of us mortals are limited by the damage age inflicts. My jump shot will never be the same because my knees won’t allow it. No matter how I put my mind to it, I will not hit another home run because my mind doesn’t swing the bat, my aching shoulder do. The rest of my body has a huge say in the matter.

Okay, those are some myths you need to be aware of. Now let me give you some truths of turning 40.

  • Truth number 1, “Old age and experience will beat youth and strength every time.”

This comes from a bumper sticker my dad had. I didn’t understand it when I was in my 30’s and didn’t believe it until after I turned 40. Good choices come from wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience. Experience comes from bad choices. Enough years of that and you ought to be wise enough to overcome the impulses of those young brutes. Or you’ll probably be dead from the effects of the bad choices.

  • Truth number 2, “If it hurts, be thankful you can still feel it.”

Something is going to hurt every morning for the rest of your life. That is not the problem. The problem is when you can no longer feel that it hurts. Be

  • Truth number 3, “Entertainment is redefined.”

Webster is not the only one who changes the meaning of words. When you were young a night on the town started early, involved a lot of activity and, sometimes, strenuous movement. It did not involve sitting still. Get ready, that is about to change. A night on the town will soon mean comparing the fiber content of cereal at Wal-Mart, driving through the automated car wash, going home to sit on the front porch to sip iced tea, and going to bed by 10:00. AND YOU WILL ENJOY IT!!

  • Truth number 4, “You will get excited about the simplest, oddest things.”

Laugh if you want, pal, but you will leap with joy (at least you’ll think it is leaping; others will think you are burping) at things you once took for granted.

You will get excited…

when you can remember why you entered a room. Mark it down, some day you will walk into the bedroom, get a puzzled look on your face, turn around to retrace your steps in the often vain attempt to recall your purpose for walking there. You’ll do circles like a dog getting its bed ready. And sometimes that is exactly what you came into the bedroom to do.

when you can sleep after eating anything spicier than toast. At 40 all the enzymes that digested pepperoni pizza at midnight retire and you are left with only
rebellious stomach gremlins that love to keep you up and turn your digestive
track into a roller coaster.

when you can carry on a complete conversation without saying, “huh?” The eyes, the ears, and then who knows what after that slowly fade into the sunset.

when you see a commercial that addresses one of the things that ail you. Who cares about the movie you were watching, what was that commercial?

when you can read a book without propping it up on the other side of the room. Your arms will not be long enough to read the fiber content on the cereal during your exciting night on the town.

Now, John, I don’t mean to sound negative. Frankly I wouldn’t go back to the days when the body worked much better because the downhill slope of the body is such a small part of life.

Here’s the best truth of all – “Your best days are ahead.” You’re not over the hill, you’re standing on a ridge that is half way up the mountain of life. God is doing good things in your life. I’ve watched you grow and succeed and stretch and surrender and strive to be all God intends. Your spirit is soaring. When we are young we don’t stop to consider what is of highest importance. Growing older causes us to reconsider as we realize we will not live forever. We can use the last half of life to more intentionally make a difference that will last.

Listen to what the Bible says,
"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)

"The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old." Proverbs 20:29 (NIV)

Here’s to living life boldly on the good side of 40!
Your old brother in Christ, Herb

P.S. I would have written more, but it’s almost 7:00 and Sheila and I are headed out on the town. They’re having a special on fiber at Wal-Mart!

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    Are You a Survivor or a Thriver?

    There aren’t many who are ambivalent about the “reality” TV show, Survivor. People either really, really like it or really, really don’t. Those in the first category arrange their schedules to watch. Or they will tape episodes if dire circumstances prevent them from viewing. “Honey, I think Junior chopped his leg off.” “Put a band-aid on it and we’ll take him to the hospital at ten,” a Survivor lover would respond. And don’t even think about telling them what happened if they haven’t yet viewed the tape.

    Those in the second category simply think it’s stupid. “Why would anyone want to watch all that malarkey when I have to deal with cut throats in real life?” these people say.

    “It’s a microcosm of human nature, an interesting study in human nature,” Survivor lovers insist. On and on it goes.

    Personally, I am in the second camp. Hey, I’m a pastor – I LIVE on Survivor Island! I had never even seen a full episode of Survivor until last fall when I was traveling with a good friend who shall remain nameless to protect him from assault by anti-Survivor terrorists. As Jim Callender and I were traveling, we ended up in a motel room on a Thursday night. He is in the first group. “Oh, Herb, it’s great!” he insisted. “It’s a microcosm of human nature.” Thus I was trapped with Jim, forced to view bickering, gossiping, fighting, immunity challenges, and voting to kick some of that human nature off the island. He also made me watch the TV show.

    The next day, as I was teaching, I used the Survivor episode as an illustration. As soon as I asked the question, “Has anyone seen Survivor?” the heretofore unified class was immediately split. “It’s a microcosm of human nature,” exclaimed one group. “It’s stupid,” responded the other.

    About the same time, during some prayer time with God, He pointed out some of the similarities between Survivor and life. Let me give them to you.
    • We’re dropped into a situation we didn’t choose. The participants are put on a boat or a plane, not knowing where they are going. We didn’t choose the situation in which we were born. We were simply dropped into it one day.
    • We have to put with people we didn’t choose, some of whom we don’t like. Survivor participants didn’t get to choose who they are dropped onto the island with. In fact, I’m convinced the producers intentionally choose people who they know will be in conflict. Nor did we choose the family we end up with. And sometimes it seems God intentionally stuck us with people He knew we would struggle with.
    • We compete in unfamiliar ways. Have you heard of some of the bizarre contests on Survivor? No way any of these folks have competed like that before. Unless they lived in a men’s dorm. That might be close. I’ve looked, trust me, and I have yet to find a manual that details the situations we live through. True, the Bible gives us principles and commandments, but so much of life is lived in unmarked territory.
    • There is always a chance we will be eliminated. Every week somebody goes. It could be anyone and sometimes it’s the nicest ones on the show. Every day thousands of people leave this life. Every day there is a chance it could be you or me.
    • It appears the ultimate point is to “survive” and win a temporary prize. Last person standing wins a million dollars or so. A lot of money, but it is only temporary. As we look around, it could be easy to believe that the point of life is to survive the ups and downs to gain money, position, or pleasure. All of that is fleeting. There is much more to life than surviving.
    • It is over quickly and we go home. I don’t know how long it takes to film a season. My impression is a couple weeks. Then the producers draw it out into months of TV episodes. Over quickly and everybody goes home, whether winners or losers. When we’re young it feels like life will last forever. Us old folks know that it is quick and then everybody goes “home” to heaven or hell.
    • There are many watching from far away, both cheering and booing. Millions of TV viewers each week, none seem to be emotionless. Around water coolers fights break out over who should win and who should be booted. All the while another groups stands at a distant mumbling, “That show is stupid.” To which one of the water cooler group responds, “No, it’s a microcosm of human nature.” As we live this life, the hosts of heaven cheer us on while the demons from hell boo us.
    • What we do reveals something to those watching. In this microcosm of human nature we see what people are at their most basic level. What the survivors say and do reveals who they really are. The difficulties peel back the facades. It’s the same with us – it’s not what we say, but what we do that reveals our true loyalties, desires and nature.
    • We must choose between “the end justifies the means” and what is right. This is the part that repels me. The vast majority on the island will do whatever necessary, including lewd and dishonest actions, to stay on the island for one more show. Folks have told me that a few participants show integrity and are sometimes rewarded. True of life as well. Daily, moment-by-moment, we choose between the two philosophies. The vast majority chooses selfishly. A relative few live with integrity and are sometimes rewarded. Other times they pay a dear price.

    Even if we survive to the end, we can still come up empty. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO ONLY SURVIVE. God has created us to thrive. I challenge you to “Thrive in ’05.” Listen to Jesus’ offer…

    "… Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37b-38

    God offers to place His Spirit within us so that what we long for, what we thirst for will not just fill us, but overflow, flood, overwhelm us and those around us.

    Paul says that we are not survivors, but “MORE THAN CONQUERORS.” THRIVERS, NOT SURVIVORS.

    "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 37 in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Rom 8:31,37 (NIV)

    “Okay, Herb,” I can hear you saying, “How?” Glad you asked. Simple and hard – give yourself completely to God by making Him Absolute Lord and Master through Absolute obedience. Every day. Moment-by-moment. Here’s a daily prayer to pray that will lead us that way…

    "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11

    Do you want to be a survivor or a thriver in 2005? Your choice.

    Boldness and Blessings, Herb