Monday, I posted about how a young man used the retelling of the crucifixion of Jesus so that he could sin and take others with him in his sin.
Today, I want to share something beautiful from my experiences with the Easter Musical. In this church that annually would share the Easter story with its community, there was always a special private showing of the final dress rehearsal.
The final dress rehearsal was an invitation to individuals who were physically as well as mentally challenged. The church would clear out much of the seating so that people using wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes could easily navigate into the auditorium. This was a fun tradition in this community because these individuals got to see the musical before anybody else.
In this final dress rehearsal that I am remembering, Jesus was being taken down from the cross. This is a very solemn and quiet scene, taking a good ten minutes or so. Jesus is carefully removed from the cross, given to Mary, Joseph of Arimathea, John and Nicodemus. They lovingly prepare Jesus' body for burial, wrapping him in cloths.
Well, during this scene, one man in the audience who couldn't speak or walk due to his challenges, started weeping uncontrollably. It was quite a poignant scene that was enhanced by this man's sensitivity. I firmly believe that this man was so touched by this reenactment that he said "yes" to God's invitation to accept Jesus as his Savior. Needless to say, this man's behavior affected many others not only in the congregation but many of the actors and orchestra members as well. In my own heart, I felt a revival of my own commitment to serving Jesus. I'm sure that many had a similar experience. An unspoken revival of sorts happened right there because of this man's sensitivity to Jesus' gift of salvation.
I want to tell you that the man that was weeping was so much more of a man than many men I have ever met. Especially, more so than that young man from Monday who wanted to have sexual conquests to prove his manhood. That weeping man allowed God to transform him. Outside he was still the same but I believe that man left the church a new creation.
You may be wondering how the above picture of the mountain climber on the summit fits into this story. Well, I'm thinking that when this guy gets to heaven, he's gonna want to do the things he always wanted to do but couldn't because he was in an earthly body that didn't work as he wanted. I'm gonna find him and we're gonna do some mountain climbing. When we get to the summit, I'm gonna ask him, "remember when you were at that private showing of the Easter Musical? I want to know what you were thinking." I anticipate he will share with me his love for God and how the Holy Spirit worked in his life that night.
Together we will agree with the Roman Centurion, "Surely, this man was the Son of God!" and we will spend a couple hundred years on that summit praising our Savior and recalling all the wonderful things that God did.
Do you want to experience something beautiful?
You can right now as you ask Jesus to lead your life, turn from your sinfulness and allow God to transform you.
We want you to join us on that summit in eternity.
BE A MAN.
Yesterday, we considered the proposition that Jesus would go to a bar and drink beer.
Let me tell you about my experience with Jesus at a bar. Would Jesus really drink beer?
I had been going to a bar for about a year. I would go at the same time every week and in the early evening when there wasn't a lot of women there. This bar was one of the tougher ones in the community and was known for having rough characters. However, during the time that I went, it was retired guys and men just getting off the factory day shift.
My activity at this bar had nothing to do with drinking alcohol. I abstain from alcohol, always have and always will. I felt God telling me that He wanted me to go there. I didn't go alone and would always take another Christian friend with me. I knew that it wasn't good to go alone so that if any rumors started, they could be easily squelched.
My church friends and I had garnered a reputation in this bar as not drinking but rather hanging out and talking to the guys that went there. I've noticed that men in bars aren't known for their social skills. There is a lot of just sitting there looking at your drink and watching TV. However, there were times in the conversations where openings to speak about more pressing matters came about. I remember sitting there and one gentleman came over to me and said, "you're one of those preachers that comes in here every week aren't you? Why do you come in here?" I responded, "I'm not a preacher but I am a Christian. I come in here because I could use some friends. I heard that this was a great place to make friends." Our conversation wasn't outstanding but it was significant. He came to the realization that there were at least a few Christians who were willing to be with him in a "normal" (his term) environment.
I had a friendship with one man in particular. He wasn't necessarily well-liked in that bar but he was tolerated. I found out that his life was rather troubling and that he had significant physical and emotional challenges. It seemed, over time, that he enjoyed talking with me. He would, even at times, initiate the conversation. I tried talking to him about spiritual things but he typically shrugged them off.
I prayed that God would give me opportunities to make an impact on this man's life. One time, I was in earnest prayer about what God could do with me at the bar, praying in the parking lot before entering. After about 30 minutes of discussion, this one man whom I spoke about in the previous paragraph said that he was gonna call a taxi so that he could go home. I thought to myself, "I wonder if this is one of the opportunities that God is given me to help him?" So, I offered to take him to his home. He complied and as I was driving, I asked where he lived. He started to direct me one way and then said, "I need to go by the carryout to get some beer to take home with me."
I didn't know what to say. I said a quick prayer in my mind: "Help!!!" I felt a peace come over me and was impressed that God wanted me to go ahead and let this man buy beer.
I drove into the carry-out and had them throw the case in the bed of my truck and my friend paid for it and off we went. As I was pulling out of the carry-out, I was hoping that nobody saw me. After all, people may think that I buy and drink beer!
I tried to strike up a conversation with my friend and he said how much he appreciated it that I was giving him a ride home. Yet, he continued to be fairly closed to a spiritual discussion.
After I dropped him off, I went to my church and talked to the associate pastor, a good friend of mine, and told him what happened. He said something that was very comforting, "you prayed for God to give you an opening. God did but not in the way you were thinking. God knew that you were going to that carry-out. God wasn't surprised, just you were."
I don't know what happened to my friend after that. I never saw him again. I heard, a few months later, at the bar, that he had passed away shortly after my last contact with him. He died of liver failure. All of his years of drinking had finally caught up with him.
I'm hopeful that my contact with him was meaningful. I'm hopeful that he came to know Jesus as his Savior and that I was instrumental in helping him reach out to God. However, I won't know until I get to heaven.
I'm hoping that when we get to heaven, there will be a bar there and my friend and I will be at the bar with Jesus, and we will be drinking Dr Pepper. The real stuff with cane sugar, not the caffeine-free diet stuff that I drink now. The good stuff...with greasy cheesy fries.
Beer? Not needed, there are no sorrows to drown in heaven.BE HOLY.
BE A MAN.
I've been excited about heaven recently. It's kinda strange because I have been preoccupied with looking forward to going there.
This is different than what I have had in the past. I have written about a dream that I had about heaven.
I have speculated about my reaction to heaven possibly being similar to how our kittens experience transition from one home to another
. I have also considered how people with disabilities may experience heaven.
But this time, my thoughts about heaven seem different.
This is not about my frustrations of living in a sinful world. This is not about my frustrations of living in a body that is aging. This is not about my desire to finally be free of my sinful tendencies. This isn't a reaction to the bad news that I read about everyday and wanting Jesus to return to end suffering.
This time, for the past couple of weeks, I have been filled with excitement about the prospect of heaven. I don't know what started this emotion but I am enjoying it. Maybe I spend too much time in my head pontificating about what things could be like. Maybe I'm too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.
But, I'm just putting this out there. Heaven is something that gets me really excited.
I don't envision all the imagery found in Revelation.
I don't think about flying around playing harps and acting all righteous.
I see heaven as a place very similar to this world but being at total peace with myself and everyone else. God's Peace will rule heaven.
I imagine running and not getting tired.
I imagine climbing mountains
and not worrying about gravity.
I imagine traveling, visiting, remembering, spending an eternity with those whom I have only read about.
I imagine hearing story after story of God's faithfulness and grandeur.I imagine meeting people that the world threw away and trashed but are highly prized by God.
I imagine getting to REALLY KNOW people and not worrying about time, expense or image.
I imagine time spent with Jesus.
I imagine times of review of people's lives and seeing where God intervened and nobody knew about it. I imagine that I will be surprised at how involved God's Holy Spirit has been with us.
I imagine there will be no concept of time.I imagine...BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It was kind of a surreal experience.... We had just arrived at our mission in Quito and here I was less than 48 hours later standing at the graveside of a man I didn't know and hadn't even met.
I watched as the gravedigger dug the grave by hand. He would occasionally stop and put his chin on top of the shovel and seem interested in what was going on as he rested. There was hardly anybody there. Just the man's wife, a couple of other people, the pastor, myself and the Ecuadorian gravedigger. Being one of the few English speaking churches in town, the widow called the pastor with whom I served on staff and asked that he do the funeral. I was there as support.
The story of this man's life ended sadly. He was a very successful American businessman who had visited Ecuador frequently and ended up buying some lucrative property in Quito so that he could retire. He had quite a nest egg. His goal in life was to retire with his wife at this property in Quito and live a life of ease and luxury.
What was interesting was that this man and his wife arrived in Quito about the same time my wife and I had arrived. We may have even been on the same airplane. What he hadn't considered, as he grew older, was that his health wasn't as good as it had been in the past. Quito has an elevation of over 9,000 feet (btw - Denver has an elevation of just over 5,000 feet) above sea level. People who visit Quito often come done with Soroche (altitude sickness). The symptoms are very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. The stress of the Soroche that he was experiencing taxed his body and his heart stopped working.
So, here we have a man who saved his whole life, gathered quite a bit of money and bought some nice property in Quito so that he could retire, and within 48 hours of achieving his goal, he died. From what his wife described, it also appeared that he died without knowing Jesus as his Savior.
Jesus talked about this. He said, "Now what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?"
Jesus, who taught a parable about a man who amassed fortune and trusted in himself, said, "You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?"
Having a goal is not bad in and of itself. However, if your goal excludes God and is just to please yourself, know that you may never reach it. If you do, it won't last forever. Everyone dies.
Then there is reward or payment.Yet, if you have a goal and it includes God and pleasing Him, you WILL reach it.
"Don't store up treasure on earth..."
Make heaven your goal.BE HOLY.BE A MAN
We were in London at the Tower of London site and went to see the Imperial Crown of India (left) among some of the other crowns that are housed among the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
It is such an impressive and grand display of beautiful and priceless artifacts. Something that I will never forget.
What I will also never forget was a sermon by a youth pastor. He was trying to encourage the youth of the church to do what is right. His title of the sermon was "I want a big crown!"
He went into a lot of description of the crown that he wanted to have in eternity and then also spoke of how every time we do a good deed, another jewel is added to the crown. He said he wanted to be in heaven walking around with a big crown with lots of jewels placed therein.
His biblical support was the "crown of life"
and the "crown of righteousness"
that is given to those who are steadfast in trial and remain faithful to Jesus.
I recall, thinking later, "where in the world did he get this idea of walking around with a crown and earning jewels?" His scriptural support was lacking but the idea was intriguing. I pondered if what he said was actually true. One of the things that's good about sermons, is that they encourage you to study God's Word to see if what the pastor is saying is truly from God or from his own fanciful ideas.
I was reading in the book of Revelation and came upon chapter four. This chapter talks a little bit about crowns. Specifically "24 elders" who had crowns.
I imagine if there were 24 individuals, who are called elders, who had crowns, they would probably have very big crowns with lots of jewels. I would imagine of everybody in heaven, they would probably have the biggest and best. After all, they are the top 24 in heaven. They have their own thrones, are dressed in white and rule with God.
But what I read in verse 10 openly contradicted what this pastor had to say. This verse states that the 24 elders lay their crowns at Jesus' feet.
So, if we do walk around with crowns, we have clear instructions of what we are to do with them. We are to follow the lead of the 24 elders and lay them at the throne.
So that means, what Isaiah (a man who had a vision of God) says, "our righteousness is as filthy rags."
All the things that we do to make everybody notice us, all the good things that we do, all the things that we do for our own righteousness will be laid at God's throne.So, where does that leave you and me?
We need to focus on pleasing God and not on pleasing ourselves.
We need not focus on things that make us look righteous.
We need not focus on our eternal reward.
We need to focus on what the 24 elders focus: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I was out riding my motorcycle after having just received terrific news. Karyn just told me that I was going to be a father for the first time. So, I was taking one last spin on my motorcycle around Lake Whatcom. The plan was to sell the motorcycle to help with the new baby expenses. Being so exuberant, I was probably traveling a bit faster than I should have been, so as I took this one curve the bike laid on its side. There was some gravel on the road that I hadn’t seen so the next thing I know, I am laying on the road with my bent up bike. As I lifted my bike and walked it to the edge of the road, I noticed that my one knee was bleeding badly and I thought I could see my patella thru my jeans.
This part of Lake Whatcom was not very populated. I started to walk to a busier road. On my way a man in a white
van pulled up and said, “Hey, do you need a ride to emergency?
I saw your bike back a ways.” I told him, “yes, I need to get some help.” I slowly got into the passenger seat and noticed that the man was dressed completely in white,
looking like something that a professional painter would wear. As we talked, I tried to look at his face as I leaned forward and he turned his face to the left. He said, “I have a hard time looking at blood.”
I don’t think that I was completely aware because I was in pain and in shock so I think I passed out because he shook me and woke me up once (I don’t remember him touching me).
We were approaching one hospital and he said, “Is this emergency room OK?” I said, “it’s OK but if you don’t mind, would you take me to the other hospital? This one does abortions and I don’t think that’s right.” He promptly said, “yeah, I agree. Let’s go to the other hospital.”
The other hospital was just another five minute drive. As we were going to the other hospital, I said, “do you have a business card so that I can write you a thank you?” He said, “nope. I don’t use business cards.” I said, “what’s your name then?” He said, “you don’t need to know my name.”
He stopped at the emergency room and I slowly got out of his van. I hobbled a few feet and turned to wave and the van was nowhere to be seen. Second story
We (Karyn & I and both of our sons) had been missionaries in Ecuador and returned back to our former church
and in less than a year moved to another community. We purchased a house that was near an elementary school and our boys liked to ride their bikes around the playground in the summer.
One son was not happy about the move and was feeling a bit down about life
and was riding his bike alone at the playground one afternoon.
Suddenly, he came running back to the house, cheerful,
and said, “hey Dad, I made a new friend!
There’s a boy up at the playground who said he was with me in Ecuador!”
I said, “that’s cool, someone we know from Ecuador!” We rushed back up to the playground to find this boy and he was gone.
My son described him as a boy his own age and size and was very friendly.
I said, “if you see him again, have him come over to our house so that we can meet him.” My son went up to the playground several times over the next few days and he never saw that boy again.We have talked about these encounters with family and friends and most come to the same conclusion that I have. Most believe that they were encounters with angels.Whaddyathink?BE HOLY.BE AMAN.
On an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,
one of the participants made an interesting comment. His home had been almost completely redesigned. When he walked into his new house, he said, "I am here and can't believe that this is really for me, then I realize, it really is for me."
His words rang in my ears as something I could see myself saying when I reach heaven. I imagine when I arrive at heaven I won't be able to believe it is my permanent home. However, C.S. Lewis states in his book The Problem of Pain, "Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it -- made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.”
Let me tell you about a dream I once had. In my dream, I was walking and came upon a big wooden gate. Just as I stopped to admire the gate, a man opened it from the inside and said, "Hi , Dale. Come in, let me show you around." He took me into this beautiful city and then up to two large doors. He opened the doors into his home that had a huge living room with large picture windows that overlooked a very calm sea of glass.
His furniture was very regal looking and quite lavish and opulent. I have no words to describe what I saw.
He said, "you don't remember me do you?" I said, "you do look familiar but no I'm not sure." He responded, "I'm Jimmy from ...." All of a sudden I recognized him and then I woke up.
When I woke up, I was unsure what this dream was about. I believe for the most part, that dreams are just random thoughts/experiences thrown together and your brain tries to make sense of it so it ties everything together in a dream.
However, I do believe that some dreams can be from God because He wants you to know something. I think this dream was from God and I am grateful. I am grateful that God gave me a chance to see heaven. It was wonderful and I was not there very long but I do want to go back.
But the best thing was meeting Jimmy. Jimmy was a young man from my professional history that I attempted to help. Jimmy had developmental disabilities and was a very confused, scared and angry person at times. He would assault people when he got scared and then would take off running. I remember one time chasing him and he was so fast, that he got away from me. (BTW - I don't know what I would have done if I caught him. Jimmy was definitely bigger and stronger and faster than me.)
What was the best thing was that Jimmy was no longer in a body with limitations.
He was in heaven! His body, mind and soul were in perfect condition. And... he had been looking for me. It makes me wonder what kind of relationship Jimmy and I will have in heaven.
I think I'm gonna challenge him to a foot race....BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
For three years, the disciples watched Jesus live His life, and never once did He crack or bend. He would break the rules of the religion when love or compassion demanded it. He frustrated His critics when He encountered misplaced spirituality. He was not intimidated by authority figures. He was not swayed by public opinion or pressure from authorities. He would not cave.
On the night before He died, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him when He was deeply distressed. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow and troubled,"
He told His friends.
Jesus knew what was coming. But instead of longing for a way out, He committed His heart to God's purposes. Just seconds before His arrest, Jesus exclaimed to His friends, "Get up! Let's go!"
He accepted and moved forward to embrace God's purposes.
On that dark evening, the most important thing Jesus might have shown us was how to completely let go of our our hearts to God. But He also stiffened His spine. Spine comes from undivided trust in the One who gives us the undivided heart. There is no sadder or more pathetic man than the one with heart but no spine. Be courageous.
This posts is taken from Every Man, God's ManBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This weekend, we moved to our new home. Karyn and I would tease our kittens by telling them "behold, we go to prepare a place for you so that where we are you can be also." Of course, Lucy and Ethel didn't recognize our spin on Jesus' promise.
As were moving belongings, we could see them sniffing at things and walking around trying to find their familiar surroundings which were gone. Finally, when the entire move was done, we picked them up and placed them in their carrier. They meowed and fussed the whole time until we got to our new house. It was very uncomfortable for them to make the transition.
I was thinking about how my kittens are teaching me about eternity. I am on the lookout for the familiar. I am comfortable with my earthly home. I have not the faintest clue what eternity with God will be like. I can't imagine it. At all. I really have nothing to compare eternity to. However, God has prepared a place
for me and everyone else who accepts Jesus into their life as Savior, letting God's Holy Spirit have complete and absolute leadership.
Now, that we are kinda settled in, Lucy has become quite upset and is hissing and being very unfriendly. However, Ethel has been quite positive and friendly, wanting extra time being petted and nuzzled.
I would hope that when I get to heaven, I will be more like Ethel and less like Lucy. But you never know, Lucy will probably come around.
Now you may not think that living with a couple of kittens is heavenly but living with kittens can teach you something about how God works.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I've always wondered what it would have been like to be present at Jesus' crucifixion. I wondered if I would have joined the disciples and disappeared. Or would I be like the only disciple, John, who stayed to witness Jesus death.
I was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to see Jesus being crucified. However, having been a participant in the Easter Musical, I became, at times, a little complacent about Jesus' crucifixion. It became a matter of rehearsal and the actor playing Jesus was a friend. However, one practice, I was struck with the reality of Jesus' compassion and love, how He died for me.
I walked onto stage and Jesus was on the cross. I looked up and just at that time, Jesus was looking down at me. I forgot that this man was an actor and my friend. I felt transported to the time that Jesus' was actually on the cross. I felt so overwhelmed. Jesus was looking at me and I was the only person there even though the stage and the audience was filled with people.
It was Jesus and me.
Nevertheless, I was overwhelmed by two competing emotions: 1) I felt ashamed at my sin, and 2) I felt pure love. I felt no condemnation.
A flood of tears came to my eyes and at that night's performance, I didn't have to pretend to cry. My complacency vanished.
My tears were real.
Jesus was real.
My sin was real.
The love I felt was real.
The forgiveness Jesus offered was real.Salvation is real.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.