Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Face-to-face with God

Some day, believers will talk face-to-face with God.

What will that be like?

For some, that may be a frightening thought.  We may think we are unworthy and God will talk about our flaws.

But that’s not the picture I get from Revelation 21 and 22.

After the new Jerusalem descends from God, a voice from the throne of God tells the apostle John in Revelation 21:3 that “God’s home is now with his people! He will live with them and they will be his people.”

But, rather than describing an angry God, the voice declares: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever.”

Why is God so kind to us when we let him down so much?

Because we were never worthy of God in the first place.  That is the gospel.  Christ died for our sins so that we might have everlasting life.

It has taken me decades of living as a Christian to accept that Jesus died not only for my past sins, but also for my present and future sins.  God forgives me for all my sins because of what Jesus did.

I don’t have to spend all my time hanging my head because I am imperfect.  I will never be perfect.

The apostle Paul tells me in Galatians 2:20 that I must grasp the truth that I gave up my old life when I put my faith in Jesus.  Now, Jesus lives within me and I must simply let him live his life through me.

I am still trying to live that out in practical terms.  It’s so easy to fall back into old ways.

But, no matter how good I am or how imperfect, God will still love me because of Jesus.

So, now I look forward to seeing him face-to-face.

 

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Sounding the alarm

Our daughter, an Anglican minister, recently shared some sobering facts at a church conference on youth and family ministry.

As others have noted, many Christian youth are abandoning the church when they leave home.  In fact, it is worse in Canada where some stop attending when they are in high school.

Why?  Christian leaders have offered a variety of reasons ranging from the pressures of a busy life to the influence of an affluent and anti-Christian culture.

Another reason is that Christians in North America and Europe have largely stopped believing that God acts supernaturally today the way he did at the time of Jesus.  So, why would their children consider Christianity anything more than a moral code?

Still another reason is that many men no longer lead by faith example in the home.  It is important to have a father in the home who leads the family in reading the Bible and prayer.

Years ago, I was appalled by the results of a survey of adults in a previous church we attended which showed that few men read the Bible or prayed regularly.  This was a church with a good teaching ministry and active small groups.

Should we despair?  Is the church doomed in North America and Europe?

Only if there are no more men and women of faith on those continents.

There is hope as long as there are believers like Joshua who say: “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

The Bible is filled with stories of dry and desperate times in Israel followed by revival.  The early church began with a few believers who turned the Roman Empire upside down.  The Methodist revival in England in the 1700s came at a time of deep sin and corruption in the church and society.

If we look at the world through our own eyes, we will despair.  If we look at it through God’s eyes, we will see opportunity.

Sacrifice

In Canada, November 11 is the day we celebrate sacrifice – the sacrifice of soldiers who died for our country.

This has prompted me to think about how ready I am to sacrifice myself for my Lord.  In some countries, that is an everyday life-and-death question.

I have listened to radio interviews with soldiers who fought in the Second World War.  Almost always, they say they were ready to give their lives for their country because they felt it was the right thing to do.  They did not question it.

I hope I would respond in the same way if I were called upon to put my life on the line for the Lord.

In the book of Revelation, a loud voice in heaven says of Christians in the end times: “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)

The question for me – and for every believer – is: Do I value my earthly life so much that I cling to it at the expense of my Lord?

I heard a man say at a healing prayer seminar a few years ago that he had finally told God that he was no longer going to worry about how long he was going to live – he was giving that up to God.

For Western Christians, we live in a society where our lives are not in imminent danger.  But we face daily decisions where we must choose between God and the comforts and pleasures of our lives.

We are called upon to sacrifice our earthly desires for God.

Sometimes that thought repels us.  We feel that makes God seem like a spoil-sport, a meanie.  Surely, a loving God would not ask us to do hard things.

I believe God loves us and wants us to enjoy life and our relationship with him.  He knows that our ultimate joy is in Christ – not in video games or sex or making tons of money.  Many of these earthly pleasures are good – but only with our lives given over to God first.

I confess I struggle with this a lot.  I find it hard to say “No” to the little diversions which take me away from loving God and loving others.

Yet, I am reminded of the great passage in Hebrews 12:2:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

My true joy is in Jesus – now and forever.  He is worth any sacrifice.

Confessions of a political junkie

I confess: I’m a political junkie.

I eat up everything political – newspapers, magazines, blogs.

Sometimes, I recognize that I spend too much time on politics. As a Christian, I know that the destiny of the world does not hang on whether Stephen Harper remains Prime Minister of Canada or Mitt Romney becomes President of the United States.

It’s interesting that Jesus never talked about the political situation in Palestine.  He knew that all things were in God’s hands.  He also knew that each man’s destiny depends on what he does with God – not the current political leader.

It’s true that there is a lot of politics in the Old Testament.  The story of bad kings and good kings.  But the story of these kings is told in connection with God’s story and the story of the people of God.  Their story is really about their attitude to God.

As I have said before, I believe in Christians getting involved in politics, especially in democratic countries where everyone has the privilege of voting.

But I also know in my heart I should pray for whoever becomes leader of my country, even if he is of a different political persuasion.  That’s where I fall short.

The important thing for me is to put things into perspective, to pray for those with whom I disagree.  Especially, I must pray that God will work good out of the conflict-ridden politics in today’s world – his good, not mine.

I think the editor of a political blog – Red State – put it very well in the following post a couple of days ago: http://www.redstate.com/2012/11/02/50000-feet-looking-down/

His post prompted a variety of opinions by Christian believers – some of them disagreeing with him.

But I believe he is right.  God, my family and my neighbour come first.