Friday, November 30, 2012

The Return of the King

The Return of the King

My wife, Sheila, was so excited when we woke up Saturday morning, while at the same time I was groaning.  What was behind those opposing emotions?  Not because it was Thanksgiving weekend. Not because the first day of deer season was Monday. Not because I was with her. 


Sheila gets delightedly excited when snow falls from the heavens while I dread the nasty wet stuff. The difference?  She looks forward the beauty of freshly fallen snow. She looks forward to the look of newness when it covers the earth.  She looks forward to days when shuts life down and when are forced to stay home.  She looks forward to the hush that falls when the snow hushes all noise.  She looks forward to walking in it and even shoveling it!  It’s about all the ways snow adds value to life.

I dread it the troublesome precipitation!! My thoughts go many directions, none of which have anything to do with beauty, newness, cozy days at home, romantic walks or hushing noises.  My thoughts are about trying to get off of the treacherous, icy, slick hill we live on, the dangers of driving in it, the aching muscles from shoveling it, paying for it to be removed, the wasted time I have to spend on it.  It’s about all the ways it sucks value from my life. 

Same snow.  Even the same home.  Sheila longs for it and I don’t have one cell in my body that wants it.

Very much like the two mindsets of humanity about Jesus coming back.

The Bible tells us we should be excited, longing, even praying for the Return of the King - Jesus.  Not just knowing it as a fact and promise of our Lord, but focused on it, LONGING for that day.  I’m ashamed to admit that I have not been LONGING for my Savior’s return.

“Both the Old and New testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ's second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ--an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ's first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second!”  (Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 27).

You get the idea that the return of the King is a big deal to God!  Something that we should be LONGING for.  But… most Christians I’ve met are not focused on Jesus’ return.  I’ve been asking myself, “Why?”  When the Bible gives it that much ink, why are we not doing the same? 

- Is it possible we’re too comfortable with earthly life to focus on the next?
- Is it possible we’re too caught up in the here to be longing for the hereafter?
- Is it possible we’re not convinced of the pleasure of Heaven?

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

I will not long for snow, but I’m working on longing for the return of the One Who loves me most.

How about you?

Boldly, Herb

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving: Thankful Compared to What?

Gratitude is all about comparisons.  Our level of thanksgiving is determined by that which we choose to compare our lives to.

I was so grateful, so perfectly content with my Blackberry for years.  In fact, MORE than content, I was happy, I was PROUD of my Blackberry.  Why?  Because I was comparing it with what I was not able to do with my old phone and handheld portable device.  My gratitude came from choosing to compare what I had with what I formerly did not have.  I was living a thankful phone life.

Until last May when my oldest son, Andrew, was in town shortly after exchanging his Blackberry for an iPhone and started this:
“Dad, let me show you how to get directions real quick… Oh, I forgot you have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone.  You really need to exchange that dinosaur.” 
“Dad, let me give you some pictures… Oh, I forgot you have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone.  You really need to exchange that dinosaur.”
“Dad, here’s a free app that will make your life so much easier… Oh, I forgot you have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone.  You really need to exchange that dinosaur.”

Then I visited my younger son in Seattle recently, who recently exchanged his phone for an iPhone.  We would both start to look something up and while my phone is still searching he is showing me the results.  He had an app for the bus routes of Seattle that got us around our sightseeing tour safely - you guessed it - that is not even AVAILABLE to my Blackberry.  Chadd is gentler than Andrew but still made it clear that I am still pre-historic, “Dad, you really need to exchange that thing for an iPhone.” (Children can be so, um, what would you say, sarcastic.)

All because of my sons, I’m no longer grateful for my Blackberry.  I am now comparing it with all the things I cannot do instead of all that I can do.  In a few short months I’ve gone from happiness to counting the days until my contract is up; from contentment to frustration; from pride to embarrassment.

Do you live a life of gratitude?  Depends on what you are comparing yourself to.  Phones are trivial but life is quite important.  Thanksgiving holiday invites us to give thanks; God ratchets it way up when He COMMANDS us to be thankful ALWAYS.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, regardless of what we have or don’t have.  For Christ followers, this is not an option.  So how?  By changing our point of comparison, moving it from what we don’t have to how much we have; from comparing it with what others have to how much we have compared to the rest of the world.  A family of 4 living at the poverty level in the US is in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.  If your income is $40,000 you are in the top 3% of the world.  And if you make $50,000 you are in the TOP ONE PERCENT.  Of all people, we in this country have so very much to be thankful for. (

Let’s go one step further.  The best point of comparison that leads to deep gratitude is this: What do we deserve?  When we believe we deserve more than we have; when we believe it is our right to have the newest, latest, best, biggest we will always be unhappy.  What does God say we deserve?  Nothing.  No, that’s not quite right.  God actually tells us all we deserve is death and Hell.  When I fully embrace that, EVERYTHING I have is a bonus - and I will be extremely grateful.

When you sit at your Thanksgiving dinner table, to what will you compare yourself?  Your level of thanksgiving will be determined by that choice.  When I take a good look at Hell, I am extremely grateful for my wimpy Blackberry.

Boldly, Herb

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