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Archive for September, 2013

Welcome Home

I’ll probably never know the kind of parade that a returning victorious athletic team gets or the key-to-the-city feeling that some hero receives or the banner-crazed airport reception that a politician enjoys.

But more and more, I am thinking about a welcome-home party in heaven. There are probably many reasons for this.

First, I’m getting older which means that I’m getting closer to that appointment. I’m not rushing it nor am I a morose person by nature. But when medical visits start crowding your calendar, the concept of mortality starts crowding your mind. I have a date with that destiny and I fully embrace the idea that it’s in the capable hands of the One who has ordained every day that I’m allowed to stay in this body.

Secondly, life has a way of reminding us that this world is not our home. There are all sorts of emotional, mental, physical, individual and corporate pain that accompany walking around this earth. It’s kind of like the boxer who prepares and can take virtually every hit. But, every once in a while, there’s pain that refuses to be ignored and it does get a bit wearisome.

But pain and death are not the only indicators that the paving contractors forgot to throw the gold in their mix when they did our streets.

There are those consistent and daily disappointments that play a big factor in this wake-up call. Sometimes, the biggest bummers come from ourself. Others let us down. Relationships splinter. Deals fall through or never materialize. Phone calls and emails, if returned, range from, “He stepped away from his desk” to “He’s out to lunch” or the tactful “Try later in the year.” Circumstances seem to have mastered quite an effective knuckleball. With every breadth, someone is asking for your money or trying to steal it. (It makes you want to fire the mailman and shut down your email account.) Hoping for change, in general, often seems like waiting for the scenes to progress in “Groundhog Day.” And putting our trust in a manmade government is as unreliable as a bad relief pitcher.

Yet, every once in a while, we get a glimpse of something that is far superior to this life we know.

It happened to me recently. I was returning from an extended road trip and I was aching to see my wife and grandchildren. The plane touched down and I was actually wondering if the little ones had grown taller or if they would be as thrilled to see me as I would be to see them or if they would have started to let their affections drift because they hadn’t seen me in so long. I guess it was a bit of the “tie-a-yellow-ribbon” syndrome.

At the risk of being a bit over-analogous, I would still submit that my bride and kids’ simple “Welcome Home” sign – complete with purple butterflies – brought me to a place that made the road trip worthwhile despite all of the ups and downs. An analogy can only be an analogy, but just sayin’…

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The following photos are sequential sunrise pics from today.

When temps hit as low as 36 degrees and the daytime is near 70, you’re going to get heavy fog over the river.

Between the pre-dawn darkness and the heavy mist, it can look a little eery. But then…the sun comes up behind the fog as if for a backlit photo shoot and you get the sense it is both behind and before the mist.

Before long, the fog is burned off and there is nothing left but the sun against a blue sky with some clouds thrown in for dramatic effect.

Sunrises are mini sermons. I like to call them God’s business card. “Hi,” He says as He hands you the sunrise, “My name is Jehovah Jirah. I’m in the biz of provision.”

Sometimes, life can seem a little dark. But just like the sun, He always comes through.

Take His card. It’s such a deal.

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The Invisible Enemy

The imagery of our new wallpaper being torn off our recently remodeled living room due to water damage and the accompanying mold and overpowering musty odor that slowly escaped from behind the plaster together with an all-together-too-wet summer all coalesced in a vision of how my sin could get dangerously hidden behind the walls of my heart.

(Now, I know that it is in the sin-nature of every human to ask, “Details, please…EXACTLY what sin are you referring to?” So, I won’t lead you into sin by not talking about mine.)

Back to the analogy…

Mold is an invisible enemy and it took months to figure out that something meant for good (an air conditioner) could leak down our walls and cause asthma and/or pneumonitis. Serious stuff. 

So is sin.

What struck me about this in-my-face (and throat) parable was the discretion of the crisis. It was a wet summer and the basement was a bit musty and I thought it could be in the minds of allergy-sensitive residents who repeatedly brought it up to me. Ignorance, busyness, denial, procrastination and dollar signs on my part all led to coughing and wheezing on my wife’s part.

And so it is with sin. It affects. Period. Unfortunately, it sometimes affects others more than ourselves. When we allow sin to get a bit rank, the cause-and-effect meter can go through the roof. It happened to me this past summer. God was dealing with some unforgiveness that was bordering on the stinky: bitterness. That’s a bad, bad word and an even worse condition.

“Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:15b 

If God hadn’t had the audacity to let it smell so badly in my conscience, I could have walked around like black mold, infecting the breathing of everyone near me. In fact, I probably had been doing just that. Letting God rip off the plaster of the walls of my soul was not easy and it’s turned into a bigger job, like my living room, than I expected. In our metaphor, the walls have to remain open until the wood dries, the dehumidifier and fans run constantly and the dust from the plaster looks and feels a bit like The Sahara. Nothing pleasant about either these natural or spiritual situations.

Contractors spray the mold so it cannot live. God’s version of this seems to be much harder. We have to face the sin, let Jesus spray on the forgiveness and then walk it out after He puts everything back together; and there is redemption in both stories which we will save for Part II of this story.

Suffice to say, if something is choking you or some of those near you, beware of the invisible enemy. Like me, it might need a nose different from your own to sniff it out.

BELOW:

CHAIN OF MISERY: GUILTY AIR CONDITIONER, NEW WALLPAPER GOES BYE-BYE, PLASTIC PROTECTION, FANS, FANS AND DEHUMIDIFIERS.

 

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Forgiveness…what if?

What if…every time we are offended, there is a greater lesson?

What if…every person who rubs us the wrong way unintentionally or intentionally could be a surprise package from God?

What if…hurts caused by other people really did open up a new intercessory perspective on the healing they need so they won’t deliver the same blow to another…and another…and another… and possibly another generation?

What if…forgiveness became a workout gym plopped in the middle of our living room?

What if…every time we pumped the irons of forgiveness, we’d recognize our own need for forgiveness from God and others?

What if…every time we forgave, the weight of those same irons actually got lighter or we became stronger as a result of the revelation of how much we’ve been forgiven?

What if…when our arms finally did get strained from others adding more weight to our bars, we’d see the veins of the One who kept allowing more irons on His?

What if…when we finally got to this point, the drops we felt no longer felt like sweat but the very tears of Christ, the spotter who understands how much weight we can bear?

BELOW: KEVIN MOFFATT’S BRILLIANT TEAR FROM “PASSION OF CHRIST” (CRUCIFIXION SCENE) 

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