Archive for December, 2010
How many times did he sit after a grueling day and wonder how he got into this mess?
His instructions were clear—lead this group to a specific place. While he delegated tasks to different teams, the responsibility was always his. He set security, dealt with health issues, even made sure there was enough to eat and drink.
And always he took the instructions he was given and led the way.
Many times his teams thought they knew better, presented different plans of action, wanted to change directions, even wanted to reinterpret the instructions he’d been given. And how many times did they ask “are we there yet?”
Things got so bad that more than once the power that be wanted to terminate the whole organization and create a new group. Even his own brother, chosen for a unique function, had failed miserably. And so he would beg and plead that one be eliminated.
And every day, he was responsible, he was the one who had to get them there.
It takes the whole books of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to tell of his getting there. Moses leading his rag tag motley group of humanity as they purpose to enter the promised land.
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, begin your journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. And now, Israel, what does the lord your God require of you, but to fear the lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?’”
Those ancient words are the same that we ask our people to embrace as we move to our own promised land—Heaven. All who claim Jesus as our Savior must accept the responsibility of helping get our people to Heaven. It cannot be abdicated. The instructions we’ve been given, the God breathed scripture we believe, cannot be reinterpreted to match the demands of our culture.
We, too, must impress the words of God upon the hearts of our rag-tag, motley, sinful portion of humanity.
So the questions remain: Have you abdicated your responsibility to help get people to Heaven? Have the demands of our culture redirected your attention and interests? Should you care?
What do you think?
That’s what PNC Wealth Management found in their 27th annual analysis of the cost of the gifts from the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. In fact, the cost of regaling one’s true love from Christmas to Epiphany rose 9.2% in 2010, mainly due to the rise in the price of gold and the increase in labor costs.
Even if they aren’t looking for partridges in pear trees, people turn out in droves this time of year, seeking to find the perfect present for friends and family. Merchants are eager to help them, offering specials and giveaways designed to tempt even Ebenezer Scrooge into spending more than he should.
The truth is, we like giving gifts. As the Bible says, it’s more blessed to give than to receive. We like being able to give people something that will make them happy.
I think we are that way because our God is that way. When we do things that are like our God, we feel better about ourselves. God is the original giver. As our Creator, God has given us every good thing.
Yet His greatest gift goes unappreciated far too often. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God so loved that He gave. His love motivated Him to give a gift. Not just any gift, but the gift of His Son. His only Son. God sent His only Son to die so that the whole world would have a chance at living. God gave His Son so that others would receive the most precious gift of all: eternal life. As the apostle Paul said, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
In this season of giving and receiving, let’s stop and give thanks for the greatest gift of all. Let’s stop and give thanks to the greatest Giver of all.
Of course there are lies that I like! One of my favorites these days is that I do not need to up to the gym because I am tired and need my sleep. So I will be healthier if I get my rest. Of course, the truth is that I am tired because I do not exercise enough. If I am not healthy, it has more to do with being out of shape and not exercising than it does with not getting enough rest. And I do not want anyone pointing out that I could go to bed earlier and be rested enough to get up and work out. No, I would rather believe the lie that getting up early to go to the gym is bad for me. Or here is another one of my favorites: I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings about their cooking so I should have at least one of every desert. Do not point out that most people’s feelings will in fact not be hurt. Do not mention the phrase “smaller portions” or “bite sized samples”. I want to eat desert and I like the lies that let me do what I want.
So I favor lies that enable me to do the things that are not good for me. I like lies that convince me that right is wrong … and wrong is right. Because then I can do whatever I want. And that is where the danger is. If not careful, I could even find lies that would enable me to follow Satan while claiming to follow God. In fact, if I was Satan and I really wanted people to not follow God, I would tell lies that accomplish that. And Satan has. He is the father of lies. He is the best liar I have ever heard. Here are some of his lies that I have heard about in the last few weeks.
He has convinced someone it is acceptable to divorce their mate because they are not happy, and God wants them to be with someone who does make them happy. Another person is visiting internet porn sites so they will not fight with their mate over sex because fighting hurts their relationship. Another wants to spend money they do not have because their children deserve nice things. Yet another will not go to church because of the hypocrites. And still another justifies treating people badly because they deserve it.
Someone is lying to these people, and they believe the lie. So be careful who you listen to. Satan is a liar, and his biggest lies are that Jesus is not real, God does not love you, and that this world is all there is. I don’t believe him, and I don’t want you to fall for his lies either.
God is truth. Listen to Him. Really listen.
I remember watching Monday Night Football on December 8, 1980. It was a relatively exciting game. The Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots in overtime. The games in those days were still being announced by the classic team of Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Don Meredith.
I don’t remember that game because of the action on the field nor because of the announcers. I remember it for another reason.
I remember that game because of what Howard Cosell announced during the game:
“An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival.”
Those were the words that shocked millions across the country. One of the most famous men in the world had been shot and killed. That’s the announcement that stands out in my mind.
Yet as we mark the 30th anniversary of that tragedy, I think something else Cosell said that night should be what we remember: “Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses.”
There are so many things in life that need those words attached to them. Remember this is just ____. So many things which seem important to us in the moment lose their importance when we confront issues of life and death.
Football games will be won and lost. Politicians will be elected, wars will be fought, businesses will rise and fall. Many things that will be the concern of the moment will be distant memories within a short amount of time.
What will really matter in the long run? What will be of lasting importance? Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) What will matter throughout eternity is whether or not we know Jesus Christ and know the only true God.
There will be tragedies in this world. Unspeakable tragedies, as Cosell said. But there will be no greater tragedy than failing to establish a relationship with Jesus.