2.19.2012

Keith Sweat and Corruptible Crowns


Keith Sweat and Corruptible Crowns
One of the memorable R&B hits of the late 1980’s was the song “Make it Last Forever” by Keith Sweat (and guest singer Jacci McGhee).  Although I was too young to process the dynamics of being “in love,” I could sense that this was a special song (if for nothing else, the numerous times DJ’s replayed the song on radio and the skating rink).  In reflection, it creates a clear picture of one of the many things we indeed desire to never end.

Anyone who has been in love knows the power of those moments.  Exact mutuality (a deep of sense of reciprocated passion for the other), freedom to be vulnerable (sharing what has been reserved for thought and fantasy), longing for the next moment of engagement, incomparable affirmation, exaggerated reality (this will last forever) are the types of feelings or experiences that are associated with the “in love” phenomena.  Hopefully I haven’t taken you back to 1950, 1975, 1984, 1999, or even last week.  Hopefully my carrying on hasn’t made you smile too much, or possibly angry or even momentarily depressed in a through of reflection.  But there is a human longing to “Make it Last Forever.”
What is that “IT;” it is glory, bliss, victory, special, liberation, happiness, pleasure, ecstasy, and the other synonyms or words that could be added to this list.   Yet as great as these experiences are, the sad truth is they are corruptible.  They are great moments, but the systems of this world have corrupted any chance of “IT” lasting forever.    In this world, life can go from love to brokenness, from champion to chump, from stardom to has-been, from marriage to divorce, from promotion to misery, from friends to enemies, from health to limitations, from excitement to boredom, from freshness to apathy.

CHEATED, is the cry of many who no longer have the “mountain top” experience.   SIGH, is the emotional expression of those who long for the experience “IT.”  Hard work, perseverance and commitment are the investments made by those who have experienced or desire to experience continued flashes of the “IT.”

Some may borrow Frank Sinatra’s phrase “That’s Life”, others may say “you only get one life, so make the most of it.”  Yet in Christ Jesus, there is a life an “IT” that lasts forever.  The life that Christ gives (even for Christians) is hard to wrap one’s mind around because of the experience of corruption.  A broken heart can be broken so bad that it resists the very possibility of love, but I borrow the song of Paramore (Jesus) “You are the only Exception”. 
What do I mean by the only exception, I mean Jesus has an “IT,” that robbers can’t steal, that time can’t deteriorate, that moth’s cannot eat, that death cannot cheat, that night cannot cut short.  The “IT” is eternal life, not just any kind of life but an “IT” that lasts forever.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16. ) The Bible says He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4).


2.10.2012

Super Bowl XLVI and Corruptible Crowns


It would be hard to deny that the Super Bowl is a special event. For one thing it’s proof that America does indeed have culture. This annual game does so many things right, it brings people together, in some cities it even reduces crime due to television viewership. In fact Super Bowl XLVI (46 for those of us who have forgotten our Roman numeral education) established a new record as the most watched program in U.S. history with 111.3 Million observers.

 The list could go on about the significance of this event. Its primary purpose is to crown the champion of the National Football League (NFL). This year’s champions are the New York Giants. In American sports culture, fans and cities share in the glory of their sports teams. Today many people around the country are happy, bragging, and "rubbing it in" to doubters and naysayers.

 However, what is often kept out of view of this yearly drama is the truth that it is a yearly drama. In fact today the new news is the NFL combine & Draft (events that evaluate potential NFL players). Meaning the achievement of the New York Giants is quickly becoming old news. All of the injuries, all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work will quickly be forgotten.

 This experience is not only relevant to football teams and fans, but a general experience for humanity. Our socially constructed, human made highs seem to last for a moment, and in less than a generation it is often forgotten.  You don’t believe me, who won the Grammy award for album of the year in 2002 or 1992 (I’m sure there’s a fan or knowledge buff proving me wrong).  Nevertheless, I hope I have painted the picture. 

This different system is to live for a crown that is not corruptible, that cannot be taken away.  The sacred writings of Christians teach:

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away (1 Corinthians 9:24,25).


 There is an old saying “All good things must come to an end.”  That statement sounds very pessimistic, but I find a lot of truth in it.  Either someone or the forces of culture will force us "to turn the page."  However, an invitation is given to humanity to receive a crown (victory) that is not tainted by something new, because it is eternal, incorruptible, and doesn’t fades away.  Now that is “out of this world” and difficult to wrap our mind around, but it is this crown that is offered in Christ Jesus.

9.09.2011

A Day We Will NEVER Forget

Dear Lord,

We're still hoping we'll wake up. We're still hoping we'll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.

But we won't, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn't.

And so we come to you. We don't ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don't request it; we
implore it. We know what you can do. We've read the accounts. We've pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king's counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and
made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies.
Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven's sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Disaster has done what discussion could
not. Doctrinal fences have fallen.Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded.

He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you
can do.

Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families. Grant to those who
lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you've used her to heal a hurting
world.

Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ,

Amen.

As written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 14, 2001.
Permission to copy not only granted but encouraged.
Also available on MaxLucado.com.

8.31.2011

Hide And Seek

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

There’s a reason God’s will in specific situations is so difficult to know sometimes. Why it can be so hard to know what God wants you to do.

Who to date.
Where to go to college.
Who to marry.
Where to move.
What job to take.

It’s not because you’re not praying. You’re probably praying a lot. It’s not because you don’t want to know His will. Many of you really do.

According to this verse, it’s because God conceals.

But why? After all, that seems counterintuitive to God’s purposes and using you in them.
The reason isn’t because God doesn’t want you to know His will. He wants you to know it more than you want to know it. It’s because God wants something more for you than that.

Him.

God’s not up in heaven hiding His will hoping you’ll never be able to find it. But he does play hide and seek. Not because He doesn’t want us to find His will but because He wants us to find Him. If He put it out in plain view, we would seek His will instead of seeking Him.

That’s why he conceals it. That’s why it’s so hard.

God’s not trying to make His will plain. His will isn’t the main objective. He is the main objective. He wants you to discover Him most of all.

God isn’t the shortcut to your best life. He is your best life.

God doesn’t want to give you the guide for your life. He wants to be your Guide.

The scariest possibility for your life isn’t getting God’s will wrong. It’s getting God’s will right but barely coming to know God in the process.
 
You could love the right woman but lose your first love.
You could find the right career but then make it your god.

That’s why He doesn’t just write His will for you in the clouds. At the end of the process He wants you to know something far greater than what you should do with your life or what you should do next.

He wants you to know who He is.

-Pastor Steven Furtick