Friday, August 24, 2012

Promises - Received

“…I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14:3

Have you ever thought about the privilege of being received by God?  Thinking on this privilege prepares us to receive from God.  Christ’s promise to receive us is the promise upon which all other promises hinge.  Being received in heaven allows us to receive heaven while we live on earth--it is a beautiful cyclical relationship.  God gives Himself completely to those willing to receive Him…to those who rejoice in being received by Him.

God is still the same generous God who created the entire world for the benefit of mankind.  This world is a gift from Him for us to learn from and to enjoy.  All that is of God is intended to usher us into His presence. Often, we prefer the presents more than His presence, and find our lives are painfully lacking.  Our hearts cannot hold to fleshly desires and have room for the Lord as well.  Receiving the promises that will fulfill hinges on longing for His presence above all.

 Jesus is the only way into the presence of God.  We see the ‘way’ by looking at Christ’s response to our treatment of Him.  While we ignore and reject Christ, His perfect love waits and works on our behalf.  We rebellious, faithless, complaining people are a treasure to Him!  When we begin to see Jesus in that light, we begin to become like Him--and we begin to receive all that God longs to give.   Rejoicing at our welcome from Christ opens the door to the blessings of heaven--the door to God Himself! 

Jesus told us that everything we ask in His name---with His character, His motives--will be received.  Our requests to God are fulfilled when our character receives the ‘stuff of the world’ with the active, patient love of Jesus Christ.  His way is the way to receive all that God desires to give.   Requests presented in the nature of  Christ receive the unbounded nature of God in reply.  Blessings or curses, life or death, flow from heaven for a singular purpose:  that all may know He alone is God. 

Deadly Deception

The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, penned in 1797, eloquently speaks a tragic modern truth. 

“Water, water everywhere and nary a drop to drink.”  

While the Mariner spoke of an ocean-bound person, current estimates indicate that 1.2 billion land-dwelling people face a similar crisis.  In one of death’s most cruel masquerades, what appears as life-giving water in many regions of the world is actually disease ridden poison.  Dirty water negatively affects human lives to a greater degree than HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined.  Over 4000 children die each year from water-borne illnesses.  Nearly 200 years before the Mariner’s rhyme, Leonardo DaVinci envisioned a technology that offers an effective solution to today’s tragic situation.

PVC Access 1.2 (for the 1.2 billion who need water), a project of the Water4Foundation, incorporates the DaVinci design in a low-tech, hand-drilling technology that provides clean drinking water in remote areas.  The Rhyme of the Mariner recognized the death that is in 97.5% of earth’s water.  The salt-water oceans comprise most of the planet’s water; ocean voyagers lost at sea who give into the temptation of drinking salt water die an excruciating death.  The polar ice caps hold most of the remaining 2.5% of earth’s water captive.  The water that is left is drinkable.  Astoundingly, less than 1% of our planet’s water is accessible without drilling.  PVC Access 1.2 aims to bring pure, clean water to the lips of a million people in 2014.  Would you consider being a part of this life-saving mission?

Literally, the Water4Foundation is organizing a rescue mission.  In regions with dirty water, average life expectancies end in the mid-30s.  The goal of PVC Access 1.2 is reducing the death toll from water-borne disease by 2.2 million. A mission of such magnitude needs many partners.  The prohibitive costs of traditional drilling hold remote areas hostage to dirty water. Rescue is possible by applying the plunger technology designed by DaVinci with the miracle of PVC pipe.  With this pairing, Water4 creates life-giving wells at a fraction of the cost of a traditional rig-dug well.  Averaging 600 to 1000 dollars, low-tech, hand-drilling technology bring life--and hope for the future into dying communities.

In the construction of each Water4 well, community residents are involved in the process.  Members of the community are taught the technology so they can help other communities in the region...  Essentially, each well is a vocational employment program that creates local entrepreneurs!  Trainees obtain marketable skills for a sustainable business that offers health and hope to others.  Water4 wells bring refreshment and life to the present and the future!   Learn more about how you can be a part of creating this lasting legacy of life around the world. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

A piece on the Joe Paterno legacy

Hey, friends, rather than put an extra post in your inbox, I thought I would provide a link to an article on my other blog.

The piece uses the heart-breaks of the Paterno scandal to guide us toward truth that establishes legacies of blessing!  May it bless you.

Promises - Purpose

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  John 12:32

Both promise and mandate flow from our scripture today.  This powerful verse roots itself in the Old Testament and branches forth toward eternity.  ‘Lifted up from the earth,’ was a phrase used by the Hebrew people to speak of dying.  While Christ chose this particular phrase to foretell his own manner of death on the cross, it also served to remind the people of the serpent Moses lifted in the desert to deliver the people from death.  Scripture always beautifully weaves truths with both complexity and clarity.  The purposes of God are unchanging:  eternal life for all who will see and believe. 

As a promise, this verse gives eternal purpose to our lives.  The will of the Father powered all of Christ’s actions; it is to be our driving force as well.  Christ came to earth with the purpose of providing abundant life to dying souls.  Accomplishing his purpose required Him to die upon the cross.  Our role is different—we are to live fully in the abundance provided by Christ’s obedience unto death.  God wills that those see and believe in the One lifted from the earth will die to the world so that other dying souls will see and believe.  It is a promise with a perpetuating purpose!

This is not a milquetoast promise either.  The word ‘draw’ actually means drag!  When we allow the life of Christ to rise up in our daily lives, Jesus promises to drag those around us toward Himself.  Our hearts thrill to that promise when we consider those we love--our children, our friends who do not know Christ as Lord.  Yet the Father feels that way about every soul.  ALL those who are lost and hurting need to see who Jesus is—and we are God’s chosen vessel for revealing His glory.  Therein is our mandate:  lift Jesus up above the earthly concerns you face.  Keep Him lifted above everything else in your life that His life will flow in you and through you!

The Romans used the horror of crucifixion to fix eyes on the results of resisting the laws of the land.  It was a tool of intimidation to keep people in line.  The love of the Father floods out the evil tactics of the Romans.  God desires for eyes to fix upon the power of sacrificial love and obedience to the Father revealed in Christ upon the cross.  Lifting up Christ in the details of our days means we allow the life of Christ to flow through us—the life that loved and obeyed the Father at all costs.  That life draws—drags—souls to the Giver of life!  There is promise with power to grab hold of!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Promises - Hope

The promise I most long to plant in hearts comes from Jeremiah.  You probably know it:

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord God: plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.

It is a truth God desires for us to convey.  In I Peter 3:15, the instruction is “…be ready to give an answer for the hope in your heart.”  Hope for the future is a challenging promise to cling to in this sin-ravaged world.  Heartache and despair blinds many.  To speak of hope to the grieving, to those with debilitating illness…to any of the despairing hearts we encounter every day requires the involvement of the Spirit. Before we speak to others, we must always remember to mourn with those who mourn; we cannot pretend that life is pain-free.  We acknowledge the present reality but refuse to allow it to have victory.  Our loving compassion allows the Spirit to minister hope!  Before we speak to others, though, we must have confident hope for the future in our own heart. 

So how can we make this truth our own?  God gave these words to a people in captivity.  We live in a world captive to many things:  poverty, comfort and ease, alcohol, pornography, greed.  Hopelessness abounds.  Suicide statistics indicate that in the U.S. despair takes a life every 14.2 minutes.  Human trafficking (the modern term for slavery) affects 27 million people in the world today.  Addiction devastates millions of lives on a daily basis.  Evil afflicts our world and obscures God’s promised future…evil does not decimate God’s promises.  In fact, the dark backdrop prepares hearts for a solid message of hope.

That first dark thread of sin separated humanity from God; it left us floundering to meet very real needs without divine wisdom.  The Hope we have is that our loving, powerful Creator continually reaches out to guide us through the darkness.  Evil cannot demolish God’s goodness; as Paul said, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.  God does not despair for He has made a way and His love continually keeps the door open.  His love never fails—it is never driven off-course.  Even though sin derails lives, the derailment cannot cut off the love of God.  Therein is the hope we must proclaim. The love of God is unbroken.   We will often be unable to answer the cries from broken hearts; we cannot always know “Why?”, but we know WHOM!  Lovingly walking alongside the hurting, with confidence in the One who loves, brings hope!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Promises - Foundations

Our family enjoys playing Jenga:  robbing the foundation to build to great heights is a source of great fun for us.  Testing the steadiness of the hand and willingness to risk toppling the structure, the inevitable crash always generates much laughter.  There is a heart-breaking reality that parallels the game:  lives built like Jenga towers.  Foundations decimated to build lives to inspiring heights produce deadly destruction.

Our promise today takes a look at the foundation God longs to build in every life.  It takes us back to the days of Isaiah and focuses on words given to the rebellious nation of Israel.  While prophesies to Israel have literal meaning to that people group, our attention will be directed to spiritual meaning for Christians.  With Jesus as the Cornerstone of our foundation, consider Isaiah’s words from God:

“...I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires.  I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels and all your walls of precious stones.”  Isaiah 54:11,12”

Oh, how I want a life like that!  There is nothing drab about a life built upon the LORD and by the LORD.  His purposes are perfect; His work is exquisite.

The verses just before and just following these are hope-filled as well.  The beginning of 11 tells us this is spoken to a people enduring a storm--and grieving.  Knowing Israel’s history, we understand they created the storm with rebellion.  Honest review of our own lives will show us we are just like them.  We go our own way and grieve the results.  It is at this point, the building plans of God are laid out.  It is then that creations of beauty are possible.

The verses following the building plans turn our eyes to the future.  Lives built from grief to glory, open toward a heritage of lasting beauty.  The building work of God in our lives instructs those who come after us.  The glorious buildings God creates are the key to a lasting legacy.  Foundations in God and of God do not crumble.  Enjoy a game of Jenga--and the glory of God!