What are you hungering after?

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CS Lewis writes something to the effect that if you have a desire that nothing on this earth can satisfy, then that unfulfilled longing points to a future fulfillment in another dimension, that is later when we have new bodies on a new earth.

He bases that argument on the simple truth of:

  • hunger pointing to food for satisfaction and
  • fatigue being remedied by sleep and
  • work as the antidote to the desire to make a meaningful difference in life.

I recently was re-comforted with Lewis’ explanation when I gazed out at the beauty of our Smokey Mountains here in Western North Carolina.  Sometimes my heart is stunned and unable to drink in God’s splendor.  I want to absorb it, holding on to it forever,but can’t. And then I feel sorrow and regret at having fallen short.

138 - Misty view of Smokeys toward TN

Per Lewis’ logic, however, one day you and I will have the capacity to take in beauty, to digest it.  But in these limited bodies, we can only gaze and marvel and leave what God has created outside of us, underused.

Moving from external beauty to the beauty of God’s word, I recently came across a glimpse into how pastor John Piper views Scripture.  His words gripped my heart because they were echoes pointing to my longings, too!

Early one Sunday morning my discipline was taking me through Luke 18. It was one of those times when God came near with unusual force. Christ stood out from the pages as irresistibly compelling. Every paragraph made my soul yearn to be radically obedient to Jesus. I felt that no one ever spoke like this man. No one ever lived free like this man. No one ever demanded what he demanded and gave what he gave. So I wanted to take this chapter with me all day and feed on it and fight unbelief with it. I didn’t have time to memorize it. What could I do? I decided to tag each paragraph and remember a key statement from each paragraph under that tag. I noticed that I could think of tags that began with the same letter…..

This man wanted to ingest God’s words just like we do when our hearts are pierced by nature.  When we know we can’t quite take it all in.  We lack the dimensions, the faculties, the capacities to do justice to God’s creation to His Word.  But if we apply CS Lewis thinking, we can reassure ourselves with THE FACT that:

  • If we have a longing that can’t be satisfied on earth in these bodies, then we can be confident that somewhere and at a point in the future, God WILL satisfy, fulfill and meet those good desires with what He created them for.

Our hungers are ultimately longings for God.

Can you wait?

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Cor 2:9

 

Why do you trust Christianity? (aka: Why are you a Christian?)

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The only reason to be a Christian or to trust Christianity as a worldview is…

..if it’s TRUE!

Truth is a cross

The God of the universe is a ‘reasonable’ God.  That means He created EVERYTHING in a manner that can be attested to rationally (i.e. backed up with reasons or evidence), using His life-generating ‘logical’ Word.

In fact, God says in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lordthough your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 

So on this Easter Sunday, I want to pass on what I am learning to articulate, 4 simple facts that even agnostic New Testament scholars and quite a few atheists agree on.  Where disputes and disagreements lie are in the interpretations of the facts.

Being equipped with ‘just the facts, ma’am’, can give you confidence when you find yourself with someone who doesn’t know the truth about Jesus.

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Here is what is past dispute and agreed upon by most reputable scholars, no matter their faith positions:

 

 

 

 

  • Jesus of Nazareth was put to death by crucifixion and laid in a tomb 
  • The tomb was discovered empty 2 days later
  • His disciples believed they had seen the risen, physical Jesus after his death
  • These disciples dramatically changed from cowering, demoralized followers to energized, bold and confident men and women who started a world-wide Christian movement that continues to endure and to grow both stronger and more numerous 2000+ years later

The evidence that backs up these facts comes NOT just from the Gospel accounts and letters written by Jesus’ earliest followers, but also from a-sympathetic historians, (that is to say, from those who didn’t have a dog in the race!)

To give you further confidence when sharing these 4 simple and incontrovertible facts, you only need to know ONE thing more.  Claims are most solid when they can be falsified.

So what would quickly falsify Christianity?

Empty tomb

 

 

 

Produce the body!

That’s all it would take to disprove and shut down the claims of these followers.  And you had better believe it, that the Romans AND the Jewish leaders did all they could to find the dead Galilean.

So as you celebrate and think about the living Savior, be confident, that you can trust the claims of the Bible.  Jesus IS (present tense) the truth, the light and the life.

Jesus' tomb is empty, unlike others

 

The blessing of guilt

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I just heard, via my French news podcast, the sad tale of a mid-wife trainee who administered the medication for a D&C to the wrong patient.  A baby died because of this error.  The reporter talked about the mother’s shock and grief.  But my heart wrenched not only for her but also for the poor young mid-wife trainee whose mistake cost the baby’s life.  What does she do with her guilt?  How can she live with herself?

A day later, the political world was rocked with the public accusation of sexual assault.  The French head of the International Monetary Fund apparently forced himself on his hotel maid.  Barely 48 hours after this news we learned of a child, fathered (outside of his marriage) by movie icon and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What do these three people have in common?  They are burdened with guilt.  They, like us, have to face the question:  What do you do with your guilt? That is a question that has both eternal significance as well as a day-to-day impact on the quality of our life here on Earth.  In their circumstances as well as in ours Jesus is the only answer that can bring healing, justice and freedom for both victim and victimizer.

Guilt is part of the human condition ever since we turned our backs on God in the Garden.  There are two aspects to guilt and I think we fixate on one more than the other.  There is objective guilt – we fail to meet a standard, we are judged lacking.  (That is actually easier to address).  But there is the affective side of guilt, the feelings that plague us even after our objective guilt has been handled.

If I were the midwife, my instincts would kick in and I would be saying to myself, “What can I EVER due to make up for the life I took?”  Without the knowledge that Jesus paid for her culpability in that baby’s death, no matter what or how much she does , she will be haunted until she dies.  The French justice system will evaluate how much she should ‘pay’ given the circumstances and motives.   But unless she has a way to handle her feelings of guilt, she will be miserable.  The fact that Jesus took on all our punishment & guilt, the fact that he died means that we don’t have to be punished more than the State deems.  A forgiven, redeemed Christian lives in the land of “No Condemnation!” Sweet words!

And Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Frenchman?  And Arnold?  I pray that God uses the publicity of these egregious & wicked actions to bring them face to face with their need for a Savior.  Pride goes before a fall.  It is a temptation to be rich, famous and powerful.  Those people need our prayers.  But God is sovereign.  As they say, if we don’t humble ourselves, God will.  The two women who are victims (and everyone else caught in the webs of pain these men have generated) need Jesus.   They need to know that perfect justice will be had: both Arnold and Dominique will pay for their crimes when they face God as their judge, OR, the punishment has already been borne by Jesus on the cross (if they accept the gift of Jesus as a stand-in for them by repenting and putting their trust in Christ).  In this latter case Jesus has been declared ‘guilty’ and has suffered for the crime.  Either way, perfect justice is guaranteed.  The crimes do not go unpunished in the cosmic court.  God knows and sees everything.

Two ‘take-aways’:

(1)  – instead of gloating when the haughty proud fall, instead of hopelessly lamenting the loss of a baby, we need to pray that this severe mercy bear fruit and all involved come to a saving faith in Jesus.

(2)  – remember that we have an opening with which we can share the Gospel.  A question that pertains to everyone we meet, “What do YOU do with your guilt?” might just be the words to cause your neighbor to think about God and to ‘fear’ Him properly.

Implication?  Let us always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have!  (1 Peter 3:15b)

Openers – how to fish

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« ……Always be prepared….. »   a fragment of 1 Pet 3 :15

My fear is that I miss opportunities to witness.

“How are you?” comes the greeting from a colleague at school, or the butcher at Kroger, or the owner of two dogs I pass every morning at 5:45.  And nothing God-exalting leaves my mouth.

“Let all who love His salvation ALWAYS say, ‘the Lord be exalted!  Great is the Lord’”   Psalm 40 is convicting.  I do love his salvation…but my mouth freezes when I ponder what to say.  There’s never enough time. (Hint – that’s why Peter counsels us to be like a boy scout)

Don’t think that I don’t TRY to have something at hand.  Often I make an attempt to concoct catchy openings.  Sunday morning I was out walking, rehearsing my memory verses (Psalm 40). Steve and beagle approached.  Banally I intoned, “Cold this morning, isn’t it” – not really a question, just a passing comment.  Blew it again!  How lame can one get!  My continued promenade out I struggled to come up with something that would test the waters – in 3 seconds.  I wanted something that I could say to Steve when our paths crossed on our respective return trips. “So, where do you & your wife worship Jesus on Sundays?”  (too long and pointed).  Nothing seemed natural.  Another complication was that it was Super Bowl Sunday.  (“Say, Steve, who do you think God is rooting for in today’s big game?” )    Fortunately Steve had already turned into his neighborhood and wasn’t subjected to my bungling attempts.  But there is next time.

This morning I was drawn back to one of my favorite OT words “esher/asher”.  Yes, it’s the name of one of Jacob’s sons.  It means blessed, happy, literally –  blissful.  As you can imagine, it is used OFTEN in the OT and also in the NT.

What a great adjective!  I could substitute THAT for ‘fine’ when someone inquires about my well-being.  “Hi Maria, how are you?  – my short response – “Blissful, and you?” With one word, I could ‘fish’.  If this particular fish were enticed by that kind of bait, then a God-exalting conversation might ensue.  If the fish was not into godly bliss, than nothing lost.  He/she would just think I’m a bit weird in my choice of words.

I should not FEEL anxious about fishing.  After all, catching fish for Christ is not our task.  We are called to be ‘fishers of men’.  Offer the Gospel (in parts or whole) and then trust God for the results, the ‘catch’.  But we do have to do our part.  Fish don’t just jump into the boat.

This theme of winsome, strategic conversation is a Biblical theme.    In another passage Paul counsels the Colossians and us to “be wise in the way (we) act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity….(our) conversation (should) be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that (we) may know how to answer everyone.”  Col 4:5-7

Please pray that I may REMEMBER and OBEY God in this first step of fulfilling the Great Commission day by day.

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