When our kids were growing up, Brenda loved getting ready for vacation. She liked to dream about the weather, where we would stop, what we would do, how much things cost, what meals we would make. She was so excited about preparing that actually going was a bit of a letdown. Both Jesus and Paul encourage us to be prepared for His coming. Paul says, look up, set your heart on things above. Jesus says look to the clouds. Keep your lanterns filled with oil.
I often wonder if I am ready, prepared sufficiently to know, to be acceptable. Will He know my voice? Should I be doing more? Of course the answer is, “ yes, I should be doing more.” If I think I am doing enough, then I probably am lacking. Doing more….more what? Doing more is the constant for all of us, what we do is the variable. We all reach different milestones in life and right now live at different markers. For some, their children are still at home and their life is consumed with doing more for them. Just be wary about doing more of the wrong thing and less of the right. Children need relationship, so more material stuff really will not help them in their relationship with God and probably stalls their spiritual growth. More of you, Decide to create memories with them. Whenever Brenda and I had decisions to make regarding our future, we always chose memories over things and do not regret it at all. Now we get to watch our children make the same choices for their children. Vacations were a huge part of our memory making as a family.
Now Brenda and I are at a different milestone. We spend Friday preparing meals and the house for the week and then just hang around together doing something fun. Is that enough getting ready to be prepared for Jesus? I always think there is more. One thing that has never really changed in my life is my heart for the broken and hungry, and I must say I always feel there is more to do. I like to think that doing for one another is our preparation for Christ’s return.
So are you getting ready? I pray I never get to the point where I feel like I have done enough already. There is always more.
When I was growing up we had a Ford LTD station wagon with a bench in the front, a bench in the middle and a seat facing backwards in the back. Five kids and my mom and dad travelled all over the country and all over Europe in that car. We were camping in Florida when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and in southern Spain when the Olympic athletes were taken hostage in Munich. I can pretty much measure my early childhood by the odometer reading on that car.
No matter where we were going, how old we were, or how many of us were in the car, there was one very frequent question my parents always had to ask, “What are you arguing about?” We could argue about ANYTHING. Who sat in what seat? How far over the imaginary boundary line was your elbow? Who got the last cookie? Whose turn was it to sit by the window? Who won the alphabet game? You cheated. Stop touching me! ANYTHING!
As I read the gospels again, it dawned on me. Jesus had the exact same problem with the disciples on their road trips. He finally asks them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” Mark 8:33 Of course the disciples do not answer him because they are afraid he would not think their argument was as important as they were making it. And they were right. And I would guess that not one of those road trip arguments we had growing up was really necessary. Then why have the argument?
We most likely argued because we were no different from the disciples. Without them even giving him an answer, Jesus responds to the argument. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35. Many, many times my dad would pull the car over and say, “It does not matter who started it or whose fault it is, it ends now.” Most arguments were about being right, about being dominant over someone or something else. Now that I have a few years of reflection I can say the argument, whatever it was about, was likely not worth it.
So how do you end an argument? You make the other person important, more important than yourself. Of course there are exceptions to this, like ungodly behavior, but Jesus’ response would help us out of most arguments.
If you are a parent, you almost certainly remember the first time your child(ren) said something. In less than a year you were wondering who taught them to talk so much. By the time they were four you wish they would just be quiet, especially when they go through the why stage. Why was the question for everything we talked about. Why is it green? Why is it round? Why did God make it? Why is God in heaven? Why…why…why…I am sure you remember. Questions reveal an inquisitive mind; this is a good thing. As adults though, incessant questions can become an excuse for not making a
Sometime people are afraid to decide. What will others think? Will it work out? What if I fail? Why should I bother? So what is the most important decision you ever made? To get married, have children, take a job, go to college, move? For that matter, what was the most important question you were ever asked?
In Mark 8, Jesus asks Peter, “What about you? Who do you say I am?” No more important question was ever asked of anyone. It is personal and has consequences. Our answer either opens or closes the door between us and God. If we confess Jesus as Lord, we gain the benefits of being a citizen of the heavenly kingdom. If we deny his Lordship, heavenly blessings are shut out.
A genuine spiritual life requires a decision about Jesus. To be a spiritual man or woman demands a relationship with Jesus who in turn leads and guides through life. I rarely meet a parent who does not want their child(ren) to grow up knowing right and wrong or want them to become valuable to others and both loving and lovable. But to be these things requires a decision about Jesus. We would be naïve to think that anyone can teach our children the truth, or that it will just seep into them by osmosis, or that society itself will progress toward a greater good. We have a responsibility to teach what is true north. The very question that needs to be answered is this, “Who do you say Jesus is?” Make a decision.
Jesus says he is Lord and savior. His purpose was to come to earth to die on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and I should honor him with praise and worship. So we need to make up our minds. Who do you think Jesus is?
Ipods, Ipads, and video games
One of my favorite things to do with my grandson Ezekiel is to curl up with him on the couch with my Ipad and watch youtube videos about 1966 batman. My daughter Ashley says I am the only one he will do that with, and he can sit with me for hours talking about the shows. It may be the longest he ever sits. He loves it and I love it. I think he knows that. It is good for both of us. Jesus tells us to be a man or a woman of peace. He says, when you enter a home, “If the home is deserving, let your peace rest upon it.” Matthew 10:13.
So how do I become a person of peace? I really cannot give it away or allow it to rest on another unless I have it first. Being satisfied…is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is being satisfied the first step to being lazy? Real satisfaction comes from knowing you are living on purpose and achieving exactly what God made you to achieve. It means waking up each morning and being certain, “this is exactly what I should be doing right now.” I feel that way when I sit down with Ezekiel and watch batman or go to the park and play tag with the three boys.
And when I am not with the three of them, I feel that way when I read the Bible and realize a truth, or when someone shares with me after a message how meaningful it was to them. Jesus says, “if the home is deserving,” I should let my peace rest. I guess some homes just do not deserve peace. Or better said, no matter how much peace I would leave it would not stick.
“My peace I leave with you, peace not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14 I have probably shared these words more than 100 times publically with thousands of people. I have poured passion and heart and soul into these words trying to help people gain this peace for their lives. I have at a parent’s request spoken these words to his children at his funeral in hopes that the children would find this peace Christ offers. But alas, as long as people are caught up in the trivial acts of personal achievement and self-satisfaction the words fall on deaf ears. Even Jesus did not force people to have peace. So I have concluded, I am to be a man of peace at every turn, I am to appreciate all blessings life offers and not bemoan the circumstances that tire me out. I am to lead a gentle and quiet life and offer peace wherever I go to whomever I can. I am to emulate the man of peace, Christ Jesus himself.