Monthly Archives: June 2022

My Happy Place

happy place

We all have our happy place, the location we go to in our minds when we are feeling tired or stressed. Mine is the Desert Pearl Hotel in Springdale, Utah, just outside of Zion National Park, where I stayed nearly 20 year ago. I remember relaxing there on the patio of my room looking out at the mountains I had been just hiking around and feeling absolutely satisfied with life. What is your happy place? If you don’t have one, think of one and use it often in your daily living. It can really help to keep you calm and grounded.

For us as Christians, our ultimate happy place is heaven, of course. Here is how it is described in Revelation 7:15-17:

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

What a wonderful picture to ponder. We don’t, in fact, think of heaven as often as we should. It should be something that is often on our minds. It should not be something we fear or are worried about. God has all the details taken care of. All we need to do is trust in him. We know that our future, even after death, is in his hands. And his only desire is that we have joy in him, through his Son, who saved us and is preparing a place for us, a happy place for us in heaven.

Air Conditioning

air conditioning

I recently had to replace my air conditioning and furnace, and during the days when I waited for the scheduled installation, I sweated away in my home. I came to realize how much I relied on and took for granted the cool breeze of the air-conditioned air swirling all around me. Once the new air conditioner was installed and the cool air was back on, I felt instantly comfortable and relaxed.

Since we had just recently celebrated Pentecost, it came to me that my experience with the air conditioner is like what happens when the wind of the Holy Spirit is around us and surrounds us. We feel comfort, peace and relaxation when the Holy Spirit blows upon us. We are given a sense of calm and that everything will be alright. Without it, we are unsettled and uncomfortable. Consider these verses:

Jesus said to them … , “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” —John 20:21-22

[Jesus said,] “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” —John 14:25-27

Notice how peace and the power of the Holy Spirit are connected. The Holy Spirit is not something to be feared or ignored. It is not something we can live without. It is something to be embraced and enjoyed. We have a God who is with us through the Holy Spirit and we can feel its presence every day. Think about that when you hear or feel an air conditioner kick on. The Holy Spirit is on the move.

Shopping for Candy

candy

When we were children, my siblings and I enjoyed riding our bikes to the corner drug store to shop for candy. We could spend hours deciding what kind of candy we wanted. We also wanted to get the most candy we could with the little amount of money we had. The smaller, chewy, hard, sucking and sour candies often won out over the larger, more expensive and quicker-to-eat chocolate candy bars. I find myself buying these little candies now and then as a treat to myself at the end of a day and a nostalgic reminder of the joy of candy shopping.

What brings you joy these days? Is it something that reminds you of childhood? Is it something that calms you? Is it something that simply tastes good? Whatever it is, take a moment to treat yourself to something special. God wants us to enjoy the life he has given us, while at the same time he wants us to realize that life is fleeting. Candies disintegrate in our mouths. Sugar highs don’t last. Chocolate melts away in our hands.

The joy of the world, while wonderful, will not last. That is why we need to “seek first the kingdom of God,” as Jesus tells us (Matthew 6:33). We need to savor the forgiveness we have in Jesus. We need to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). We need to seek out the love of God that brings us to new highs in him. Candy may be sweet but our life with God is sweeter, and it will last forever.

Team Jesus

Team Jesus

I recently went to a baseball game in St. Louis where the Cardinals were playing the Milwaukee Brewers. My sister and her family, who were visiting from Milwaukee, came along, decked out in their Brewers shirts and caps. I was amazed by how many Cardinals fans were wearing red to support their team. There was such a sea of red in the stands that those in Brewers garb stood out and even waved at one another.

There are not too many places where people can so clearly see where you stand. I wonder what it would be like if people could obviously see that we were with Team Jesus, if you will. Would we stand out in a crowd of those who were rooting only for themselves or for no god at all? Would we keep our eyes peeled for others who were wearing Christ on their sleeves and seek them out? Or would we hide in the masses, not wanting to be noticed?

We live in a world that wants to pigeon-hole people and urges people to stand with the majority. A recent Gallup poll revealed that for the first time in 80 years the percentage of those who said they belonged to a church dropped below 50% (to 47%). Religious people, including Christians, are becoming the minority. So it is becoming harder than ever to show your allegiance to Team Jesus.

But the Bible tells us plainly: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). We must always follow God and his will for us in Jesus. No other team matters except Team Jesus and we must do all we can to cheer for him in our lives, celebrating his victory over all sin, over death and the devil. The game is over. The battle is won. Jesus is the winner, and always will be.

Today Is the Day

today

But exhort one another daily, while it is still called “today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

So often we say, “Time flies,” without really considering the urgency in that statement. The writer of Hebrews recognizes the urgency and wants his readers to know in this verse above that time is extremely short and we have little time left to help and encourage one another in our Christian faith.

We so often put things off and say we will talk to this or that brother or sister in the faith tomorrow, next week or next month. No, the time is now. Do things to build people up in their beliefs today. Don’t wait around. Why? Because sin is working around the clock to make us jaded and skeptical and guarded when it comes to messages of faith.

We all need to remember that we are not in our faith journey alone. Our voices of hope and promise need to be heard often to drown out the voice of sin that seeks to entice us away from Christ and the Church.

While it is still called today, make a call to someone you haven’t heard from in a while. Send a text to a friend you see at church. Write an email to an old classmate. The simplest words can have the greatest impact on a person’s “today.” I know that I have been strengthened and enlivened in my faith on days when I get a “Way to go!” or “You are awesome!” or “Godspeed!” in my inbox or text thread.

In this time when we hear so many discouraging words, make it a goal to deliver at least one encouraging word each day this week, this month or this year. Don’t let today become yesterday without bringing some joy.

Why?

why

Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” Judges 6:13

I always marvel when a Bible verse jumps out at me and sounds so modern and indicative of our current state. How many of us have asked Gideon’s question (aloud or to ourselves) at one point or another in our lives? “Why has all this happened to us?” COVID, political unrest, mass shootings, high prices, job instability, supply chain delays, the war in Ukraine. The list could go on, not to mention any personal problems we may have within ourselves or with those in our families. “Why, God, why?”

The question of “Why?” when it comes to life’s troubles is nothing new, we realize, but that still does not take the initial uneasiness away when we, like Gideon, know in our heart of hearts that God is with us. God responded to Gideon’s question in a myriad of ways, revealing his power and strength over the things of this world. We need to open our eyes, as Gideon did, to the ultimate reign of God all around us, even if we cannot see it all the time. God is not out to get us. Sin and the devil are the ones still at work to cloud our vision and bring us to despair. But their hold on us and on all the world will come to an end when Christ returns to bring us home to heaven.

Christ himself asked “Why?” from the cross. “Why have you forsaken me?” he said to his Father (Mark 15:34). He experienced complete abandonment on Calvary that we might never have to face the hardships of life on our own ever again. There is an end in sight. Jesus assured us, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). No trouble can take away the triumph that Christ achieved when he rose from the grave. So take every trouble to Jesus and let him restore in you the sure and certain hope that there is nothing you and God cannot handle together.