Living in the Moment

I received an alert of a new post today from a blog that I read regularly.  The link for the blog is on my sidebar.  The title of the entry was "I Don’t Even Know What to Say About This".  The entry was a YouTube post of singer Steven Curtis Chapman washing dishes with his youngest, adopted daughter, who he just tragically lost in an accident at home when his son accidentally ran over her with an SUV.  It shows them washing dishes, him singing a silly song about dish washing, and her swimming…in other words, making every day memories and living in the moment.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain their family is feeling at this moment, and it touched my heart deeply to remind me that in light of the fragility of life, it is so important to be living in the moment, enjoying each day we have with the people that mean the most to us.  We’ve been confronted in the news by earthquakes and typhoons overseas, tornados and train wrecks here at home, and we are reminded that no one really wakes up expecting to lose a family member or friend by the end of the day.  It sadly is too often the case that they are there one moment and then gone the next.  Many Scriptures come to mind…the admonition of the apostle Paul to redeem the time (Eph 5:16), the reminder of Peter that all flesh is like grass (1 Peter 1:24), the two dozen or so references in Scripture to "one another" and their reminder to us how important connection and relationship are to our lives.

So, some of my thoughts are:

  • keep your accounts short with others.  Make sure you forgive easily and love liberally.
  • make sure you make each day special.  "This is the day the Lord has made, We will rejoice and be glad in it (Ps 118.24)".  You only get each day one, don’t squander it.

Intimacy With God

I struggle with my intimacy with the Almighty.  I know Scripture tells me that "…the nearness of God is my good" Ps. 73:28, NASB), but I find at the end of the day, the end of the week, that I have not spent nearly as much time with God as I desire to.  Life competes for my attention…family, ministry, work…it’s all good, but it still leaves me feeling fragmented and missing time with my Lord.

As I pondered the issue of intimacy and what it means, the Lord gave me some insights that I am seeking to use to draw me closer to Him.

  • Intimacy doesn’t happen in bits but in chunks – much in the same way that we can’t hope to get close to our spouse or our children or our friends if we only spend a couple minutes with them here and there, we won’t ever hope to grow close to God if all we give Him is a quick read of a daily devotional book and a couple quick prayers for those in need.  Growing close and intimate with God requires that we be willing to break out the Word of God and read it for extended periods of time and set apart time for significant prayer that God would work deeply in our lives to bring about a closeness and would wash away all that keeps us from drawing close to Him.
  • Intimacy happens in the present – Intimacy is not a bankable commodity.  Yes, we can draw on our experience of what God has done in the past to give us strength for whatever is happening now, but His past acts on our behalf were not meant to replace being intimate with Him now.  He wants to work in our lives now and to speak with us now and relate to us now, and not have us live on "good old days" Christianity.  In Psalm 103:7, it’s written that "He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel" (Ps. 103:7, NKJV).  We can joyfully and longingly look back on His acts from the past, but we’ll never know His ways if we aren’t with Him in the present.  We need to ask if we want to be content with merely experiencing God’s activity, or do we want to experience God Himself?
  • Intimacy must be intentional – We plan a weekend away with our spouse.  We take our child out for lunch or to a special event they want to see.  We meet a close friend for coffee.  These events don’t happen without some prior planning.  We look at our calendars, we make phone calls, we make reservations or purchase tickets, all so we can spend special time with that person.  Sadly, we don’t and won’t do the same thing with God.  Too often, we wear our "round-toit" buttons with God and tell Him we’ll spend some time with Him when we get "round to-it".  We have no reason to really question why we aren’t as close to God as we’d like to be when we don’t schedule time with Him.  Does it make sense to schedule a morning, a day, a weekend to retreat and be with our Lord?  If we’ll do it to be with our family and friends, we should also be doing to be with Him as well.

Are We Willing?

I was touched this week as I read of the passing of Irena Sendler, a Polish Holocoust hero that smuggled more than 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto during WW2.  Polish Holocaust hero dies at age 98.

In the article, it describes the great lengths that she went through, at risk to her own life, having been tortured in a prison camp, all to save precious lives of children she didn’t know so they would have a chance to live eternally.

At its heart, it sounds like the task we are called to as Christians, exerting our time, effort, and energy to give the chance for God to work to save the lives of precious people we may not know so they might have a chance to live.  We spend our energy and time on everything else, ANYTHING else, other than that.

How have we lost sight of the fact that this is THE TASK to which we are called to by Jesus?  We are called to know Him, love Him with all our heart, love our neighbors as ourselves,  and make disciples of all nations.

We never will make disciples of all nations by sitting in our houses and our churches waiting for the lost to come to us and ask about Jesus.  We are called to go.  Everything that troubles us, frustrates us, discourages us, becomes secondary when we realize we are saved by the blood of Jesus and we have the best news in the world to tell others.  We simply just don’t do it.  We may feel like we don’t know how, may feel like we can’t, but if we’ll just trust the Holy Spirit a little, He will guide our words, our thoughts, our actions.  He will give us the boldness to overcome our apprehensions and tell someone that Jesus saves. 

We needn’t wonder why our churches don’t grow, and more importantly why the Kingdom of God doesn’t grow.  It doesn’t grow because we don’t go.  As I have heard others say, we have become the sittin’ saints and the frozen chosen.

My denomination, Southern Baptists, have seen a steady decrease in baptisms for decades.  We have lost our fire, lost our zeal, lost our determination to see lost people go to heaven.  Are we, individually, doing everything we can, to share with others?  Can we find an hour or two in our week that we are currently waisting watching some stupid TV show, to get out and share some good news with a lost and hurting soul? 

Does Anything Really Move Us These Days?

It will soon be another story of a disaster come and gone, lost amidst the coverage of the election, stories on soaring gas prices and reports on the housing crisis.  Over the weekend, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was hit by a cyclone that has, as of this time,  killed 4000 people and left almost as many missing.  The latest reports estimate that as many as 10,000 may have died.

The pictures are eerily similar to so many other natural disasters, some which occurred in our country no less than a week ago.  They show homes destroyed, trees uprooted, lives overturned.

Lost in all of the suffering in Myanmar is a sobering truth…souls died without Christ.  Myanmar is primarily Buddhist (nearly 90%) and at best has only 2% of the population that are Christian.  If we do the math, it means that only 200 of the estimated 10,000 people who died were likely to have died with Jesus as their Lord and Savior, leaving 9800 people that died now spending eternity apart from God forever.  Does this reality move us?  Does it lead us to shed a tear?  Do we even give it a second thought?  God loves the people who died in Myanmar every bit as much as He loves us and He is grieving that they are separated from Him for eternity.

Perhaps it is the constant birage of news that overwhelms us. or the exposure to tragedy and death on TV shows that numbs us, but it seems that more people are upset, saddened and outraged that a race horse died at the Kentucky Derby than 10,000 people who were created in the image of the living God.

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;  And they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever, Amen." (Revelation 7:9-12, NASB)

It is God’s desire that people from every nation, including the precious people of Myanmar, worship around His throne for eternity.  Yet so many around the world are lost in darkness without Christ.  Lord, make our prayer:

"Set my soul afire Lord, for Thy Holy Word, Burn it deep within me, let Thy voice be heard
Millions grope in darkness in this day and hour, I will be a witness, 
fill me with Thy pow’r

Set my soul afire Lord, set my soul afire.
Make my life a witness of Thy saving pow’r. Millions grope in darkness, waiting for Thy Word.

Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire!"

Does anything really move us these days?