Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Heirs of God

Jean Paul Sarte once wrote, "Man can count on no one but himself. He is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth."

That's one view of life…a rather dismal view. If this is the backdrop against which life is painted then there is no purpose, no reason beyond just the few years that we spend here. This is all we have and all there is. This view casts us as orphans into a strange and foreign place.

But there is another view…a contrasting view. We're not orphans on our own, but we can be adopted into the family of God. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 8, "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (vs. 14-17).

The fact that Christians are adopted into the spiritual family of God provides a sense of security, and acceptance, and well-being.

Spiritually speaking, there is only one of two families to which we belong – the family of God or the family of Satan. Jesus declared, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). He put it another way in this statement, "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Matt. 12:30). True discipleship is not a "both-and" proposition; it is an "either-or" one. Either one is a servant of the Lord or he is not. There is no in-between. Have you obeyed the gospel of Christ in being baptized and, thus, been adopted into the family of God? If not, why not?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shooting Arrows

The poet has written,

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where.
But long years after in the heart of an oak,
I found my arrow still unbroke.

Once you shoot that arrow, you might lose track of where it is, but that doesn't mean that it ceases to be. And years later you might find it "in the heart of an oak."

There's another mystery. When I share my hopes, my dreams, my thoughts with another person and the years pass, I might forget or lose track, but that doesn't mean those thoughts no longer exist.

When you share life with a friend, it lasts and endures and might even show up again, like that arrow.

Solomon said, "Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Eccl. 11:1). A person never knows the ultimate impact of a thought or deed. At first it might not even by noticed, but later it has a tremendous effect. No wonder the apostle Paul urges us to "be careful how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise" (Eph. 5:15).

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth I knew not where.
But long years after in the heart of a friend,
I found my song from beginning to end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I don’t want to live in the future, but I do want to be optimistic and hopeful. I want to believe in tomorrow, and to see the potential that it holds, and to face it with joy and confidence.

James gives us a word of caution about tomorrow. "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ' If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that'" (James 4:13-15, NASV).

Tomorrow doesn't have to be viewed with arrogance and confidence that it will occur. Neither does it have to be viewed with fear, and dread, and anxiety. That’s not much of a way to face tomorrow…or to live today.

I can anticipate tomorrow with a sense of eagerness – not living in the future, or even trusting the future – but allowing a sense of "what’s coming" to give a special flavor and meaning to the now of "today."

A little red-headed orphan in the musical Annie offers this optimistic view. "The sun'll come out tomorrow, So ya gotta hang on 'til tomorrow, Come what may! Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow! You're always a day away!"

Remember that counting time is not nearly as important as making time count.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


If you are like me, one of the first sections of the newspaper I read is the comic strip section. I enjoy reading the comics because you will find in many of them a humorous, yet penetrating, perception on life. Some are just plain funny.

You take Snoopy, the lovable and affable dog. He is a brave soul. He has a good heart and goes after what he wants with "gusto.” Sometimes his quests backfire on him and he gets into more trouble than he bargained for.

But Snoopy is always trying to be something that he is not – and it creates problems. Sometimes he tries to be a ferocious lion in the jungle. His attempts to do so are not really that convincing. At other times he pretends to be a WWI pilot soaring in the heavens and conquering every foe as he sits atop of his doghouse with his pilot’s hat on. There are times when he portrays himself to be a tennis ace capable of defeating any opponent.

It’s fun to read about his fantasies, but it isn’t real. Aside from the fun of playing, Snoopy needs to be Snoopy…a lovable dog. He’ll be accepted and loved just as he is by those around him.

When I start playing games with my life and try to pretend to be something or someone whom I am not, I need to look at Snoopy and see how he looks in his fantasy world. The possibility of change resides in every person. The apostle Paul recognized that by God’s grace he was what he was (1 Cor. 15:10). That’s one thing, but to pretend to be something we are not is another thing altogether. That’s just plain hypocrisy.

It’s good to have dreams and hopes, but Snoopy needs to be Snoopy (not a lion, or a flying ace, or a tennis pro). And I need to be me and you need to be you.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

In the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a little boy, Alexander, has one of those days when nothing goes right.

He wakes up in the morning and the gum in his mouth has dropped out and is in his hair and on his bed.

He gets out of bed and trips over his skateboard. While dressing, his sweater falls into a sink full of water.

After a terrible day at school, he has a horrible visit with the dentist, and a no good stop at the shoe store.

At supper, his mom served lima beans and spinach. Yuk! There was kissing on TV and Alexander hates kissing. His bath water was too hot and he got soap in his eyes. He had to wear his railroad-train pajamas to bed – he hates them!

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Alexander. Do you ever feel like Alexander? And, what do you do? Perhaps it’s time to laugh.

Sometimes it helps to maintain a sense of humor in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. Solomon said, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). It is said that humor strengthens your immune system, boosts your energy, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When it is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Have you had a good laugh today?