Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Is Coming

I think when I have kids I’m going to make them wait until they are at least 9 or 10-years-old until we celebrate Christmas with gifts and food. I’ll make them watch the neighbors put up lights, and go to school and hear about their friends’ gifts and what they got to play with. I’ll make them sing “Silent Night” when other kids are singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.” And on Christmas morning we will wake up early, run down the stairs, I’ll read them the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, then go outside and paint the house, mow the lawn, and do some cleaning. But all through the day and the holiday season I’ll simply say to my kids, “Your Christmas is coming!”

Some people will call me the meanest dad in the world (probably my kids will say that), others will call me Ebenezer Scrooge, some will try desperately to bring me Christmas cheer and sneak my kids candy and gifts, but with a big smile on my face I’ll say “Thank-you” and give it all back to the kind people while I tell them, “Their Christmas is coming!” Then, they will look at me like I’ve lost my mind, my children will cry, and Santa will send out assassin elves with my name and address. But if they would just stick around until my children’s 9th or 10th Christmas they would be amazed.

They will stand and watch in jealousy as a semi-truck filled with all sorts of presents and candy pulls up in my driveway and dumps it all on my front yard. And then some will cry in awe and amazement as Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves land on our yard in a private helicopter and take my children, my wife, and I to Disney World for the rest of December, with special tokens to ride first on every ride. And as I walk onto the helicopter, Mickey will hand me a microphone turned up loud enough for all who listen to hear me say, “I told you their Christmas was coming.” And off we will fly, and my children won’t be thinking about the past decade of present-less Christmas mornings or how they didn’t believe Daddy’s promise. They will only be thinking about how great things are and laugh in excitement about what else is in store for them and their long awaited celebration of our Savior’s birth.

So you’re asking yourself now, “Why are you going to do that?!” And my answer is basically, “I want my children to learn how to wait when they are young.”

Think about it. In the future, when they are grown, while others are freaking out over a couple of months or days and how they haven’t heard back from a job or college or some other situation, my kids will stand like statues in patience and say, “What? This? This is nothing! I once had to wait 10 years for Christmas! I can handle this short amount of time.” Then they will call me and say, “Ah Dad, you’re the smartest man alive! I’m so glad we learned how to wait.”

Man, think about if it actually happened like that. I’m kind of mad that my folks didn’t do that with me. Because here I am, 24-years-old and it’s the same thing over and over again with me. Ol’ Jonnyboy has to learn to wait. And he has to learn how to over and over again, possibly because it never can sink in or stick with him in his head, heart, and soul.

Maybe God is not so far off from this “No Christmas” method as we think. So many times I’m watching people achieve what I’m trying to achieve, get in a short amount of time what I’ve been waiting or saving for, or find so easily what I have been searching so desperately for. And when I look at Father, completely in shock or heartache as to why I don’t have it yet, He just smiles back at me and says, “Your Christmas is coming.”

Why aren’t the promises of God good enough for me? Why do I have to question every word or prompting of the Holy Spirit with responses like, “But how long…” or “I know, but…” or “Well how do I know that’s really even you saying these things?”

Why aren’t the promises of God good enough for us?

God does not speak random words or waste His breath. In Genesis 1, every word He spoke created something. And I think it’s still that same way with the words of the Lord today. Every word of God is a promise.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, THE WORD OF GOD, WHICH IS AT WORK IN YOU WHO BELIEVE.”

See, that’s the thing I’m coming to see about the word of God. It’s not always God tells you something or promises you something and then BANG! it happens. The word of God is something that “is at work in you who believe.”

Maybe one of the reasons we have so much trouble with waiting on the promises of God is because we don’t realize it is a process. It is “at work” in us, and we are not complete.

God speaks. He speaks life and good things. God desires to bless us. It’s not wishful thinking to believe in something better coming, it is faithful thinking. Yes, sometimes we suffer, sometimes God takes away, and sometimes we lose. But that is also because the word of God is at work in us.

We all know the expression “time flies…” And soon enough we’re looking back on our lives and wanting to go back to certain points, all the while wishing this future with a better life would hurry up and get here. We are never satisfied with now. I want to live a life where I am thankful for my past, excited about my future, and content with my present. That doesn’t mean that I don’t make strides towards bettering myself or wait for more to happen, but it’s very important to not get caught up in the “then” when God is using you in the “now.”

I don’t want to live a life where I’m always saying, “When ‘this’ happens, then I’ll…” or “When I get ‘that’, then I’ll…”

God is continually at work, even if we don’t see it. It may just be a feeling or unction, but He is at work.

2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

The word of God says it—the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise! I believe that He doesn’t want our souls to perish as well as our hope. God is not out to destroy our faith and our hopes, even though sometimes I’ve felt like He was. He’s a good Father, and a Good Shepherd. He knows what we need, as well as what we don’t need.

Let the word of God be at work in you. Your Christmas is coming.

Friday, November 20, 2009

He Knew...

The older and wiser I am getting, I am becoming wise enough to know that I know pretty much nothing about life. Some scholars would call it “diddly squat.” Although I learn from all of my experiences, one of the greatest things I’ve learned is that no two experiences are the same. Yes, it can be quite frustrating. And then throw women into all of this, and it’s enough to make your brain cry.

Now the funny thing about all of this is that my God is omniscient. All knowing. He knows all the details of the past, everything to come in the future, and the answers to the ever illusive question—“Why?” So my God knows all of this, and here I am, ever standing with my hands in my back pockets and my shoulders shrugged. If I am a child of the Living God, it seems we’re not really living up to the “like father, like son” phrase.

But the good news for us pea-brains is that if we lack wisdom, we can ask, and God will give it generously (James 1:5). And I’ve had a lot of moments where I have prayed for wisdom and seen things happen or said that I know for sure I did not have much to do with.

So case closed—you are smarter off with the wisdom of the Lord.

Ah yes, that’s a great thing, but what about those tunnels where the light has just turned off at the end of them? The future. What we can’t see.

I wish there was another verse in James that said, “If anyone of you are curious about the events of your future, he should ask God, who gives generous amounts of info and spills the beans like a little sister who just found out her brother has a girlfriend.”

But apparently that verse was removed by the scribes of old.

What is our obsession with the future? Is it our insecurities that want so desperately to know that we be alright and taken care of? Is it because we are scared of wasting our time on things that won’t last? Or is it just straight up curiosity? I don’t know; I for one don’t want to flip to the last page of my life-book. I’m pretty sure it ends with the main character dying… soooo predictable!

It’s funny how I can get jealous of Jesus and His all-knowing power. “Man, Jesus, you didn’t have to worry about the future, cause you knew it all…”

What a punk I am. Seriously.

Could you imagine knowing everything Jesus did? In Mark 8:31-32 and 10:32-34, He predicted His death. He knew it was coming. He knew, and still He died. He knew, and still He came to earth. That humbles me to no end. He knew…

He knew that I would sin and deny and reject Him, and still He died. He knew that the Gospel would be perverted and churches would divide over insignificant matters, and still He died. He knew that His words would be manipulated and misused to justify wars, slavery, and domestic abuse, and still He died. He knew the sin of the world would fall upon His body, and still He let it be broken.

What a Savior. What a glorious King. I could never have known that and went through with it, so Jesus took my place.

He knows the extent and the disgracefulness of our sins, and He washes them away so we don’t have to see ourselves for the wretched creatures we are. He sees us as forgiven, through the blood of Jesus and His propitiation.

Maybe God is smart enough to know that we shouldn’t be that smart. Think about Adam and Eve and when they “got smarter.” Or even Abraham when he knew he was going to get a son, he tried to take a short cut there with Hagar. That kind of wrecked a lot of stuff. I’m pretty much convinced that if I knew the end result of many things, I would find some way to screw it up by trying to speed up the process.

In M. Blaine Smith’s book, KNOWING GOD'S WILL, he says, “God leads us as much by information He withholds as by information He gives!”

We’ve got to trust that the Giver of all truth and wisdom is the smartest and wisest one when it comes to our lives.

Seek and fear the Lord and make decisions. And be wise enough to know that we don’t need to know everything. The moment you understand that you won’t understand everything, you might begin to understand some things.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’—but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.”