Reflect on What Matters Most

When we find our task lists growing and we struggle with the need to endlessly prioritize the work on our plate, it is exactly then that we must stop, breathe, and remember that what really matters in this life is not how much work we were able to accomplish, or how organized we were, or even a measure of the energy we expelled to go from A to B. It is then that we must take our eyes off the mirror, look around us and reflect on what really matters most: the people in this world that we have had an effective influence on, the lives we have positively changed.

Think about it this way: when our short lives are over, we won’t be remembered for that report we wrote, or the work project we completed, or how maticulously organized we kept our lives. The burning memories that will result in our legacy will be all the times we helped tutor the homework subject of the day, and the big bear hugs we gave freely, the words of encouragement, and the deep, meaningful conversations we engaged in, the passionate kisses we gave, and the moments we cared enough to share about the greater Love we have found.

Don’t stop short here: It isn’t enough to just reflect on this and agree, for we will never be remembered for our intentions.

WHJD?: Asking a Better Question

WWJD bracelet

Back in the 90’s a Christian movement appeared in youth groups across America that defined a moral imperative. Colorful bracelets and t-shirts reminded us that in all things in life we should be asking ourselves the question W.W.J.D – What Would Jesus Do? It reminded us that Jesus’ perfect life should be a moral, ethical, and social model to follow; a picture of who we should strive to become more like.

I remember wearing one of those bracelets and being challenged by the question on my wrist when faced with a desire to be selfish or the temptation of sin. More often than not, that question led me repeatedly back to the fact staring me in the face: simply put, I am flawed; incapable at times to make the right choices. It led to the comparison of my heart to His and the conclusion that frankly there was no real comparison.

This morning our devotions led us to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 which states,

For the love of Christ controls us (another translation uses the words “compels us”), because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

That word “compels” is intentionally a strong one used by Paul. He is saying that Christ’ love for us, so deep and wide that He died in our place, should drive us, oblige us, force us to live for Him rather than for ourselves. In other words, we can’t help but to love God with all our hearts and to love others when we experience the love of Christ.

This stark truth led me to the conclusion that perhaps there’s a better question to ask than “What Would Jesus Do?”. Perhaps instead of W.W.J.D. we should be asking W.H.J.D. – What has Jesus done? – to remind ourselves daily of His immeasurable, perfect love for us.

W.W.J.D. often led us to focusing on God’s laws, and ultimately to failed attempts to somehow measure up. W.H.J.D. should remind us of Romans 5:8, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Firsts

I love firsts.

I didn’t always. I can remember a day when firsts were a source of anxiety and apprehension. Like the first day at a new school. Or the first time swimming.

But now I love firsts. Especially those that I get to experience with my family.

Today Jacob, age 7, had his first baseball game. He “suited up” for the Boston Red Sox in the South Williamson County League. It was a beautiful, yet cold (36 degrees), morning. But it was exciting and fun and brought smiles to our faces.

I am thankful for firsts… because it is through firsts that God grows us and refines us. And we all need a little refining.

Double Bubble Trouble

double bubble chewing gum

You know what ruins a large ziplock bag of chocolate candy? Yep… just one lousy piece of Double Bubble gum!

Despite all our efforts, one of our kids managed to leave a single piece of double bubble gum in their halloween candy bag. Today when we decided to have a few pieces from it, I was sickened when I bit into a Reese’s buttercup that tasted peculiarly like it had been infused (and tainted) with double bubble gum.

Why must DB chewing gum be the “banana” of the candy family?! Why must it share its obnoxiously artificial bubble gum smell with all of its candy neighbors?? Apparently I am the only one who has ever experienced this, because I googled this and could not find *ANY* evidence that others have been equally appalled at its rudeness. Instead I just found evidence that it has absolutely no nutritional value <shocker> and apparently “double bubble” is a strain of cannabis that smells like gum <who knew>.

I think next halloween our kids will bring two bags: one for the “good” candy, and another for the “rejects” including Double Bubble gum.

 

Adeste Fideles (be present or near, ye faithful)

Listen and Rejoice

History

In 1744, English layman John Francis Wade wrote and set to music the hymn, Adeste Fideles, celebrating the birth of Christ with worship and adoration. The title is taken from the first words of the original Latin text, and translated literally means “be present or near, ye faithful.”

Over one hundred years later, the carol was translated into its present English form, O Come All Ye Faithful by an Anglican minister, Frederick Oakeley, who desired to use it for his congregation. To date, the “International Carol” has been translated into over 100 languages and is used to celebrate Christmas throughout the world.

Meaning

This is my favorite Christmas hymn, and the video above, featuring LifeChurch.tv‘s worship team, is my favorite arrangement of it. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to put some good headphones on, hit play, and close your eyes and listen to the piano and organ accompany the choir singing with joy and adoration to our King. It will give you goosebumps!

For those who might be wondering, “why in November”… well… all I can say is I’m learning as I get older to wake up each morning and find joy in the coming of our King. Without Him, hope would be lost. We would not know grace nor love. Without Christ, we would only know darkness and death, a deep chasm between us and our God.

But thankfully He did come, giving up His throne and worshippers for the pain and brokenness of this world –not with splendor or pompous majesty, but with the humility and utter vulnerability of a newborn baby– so He could one day trade our sins for His righteousness, and bridge that gap on our behalf. Oh Immanuel –God is with us– what a sacrifice You made! With each coming daybreak, with each breath, You deserve our praise and our glory! Let each sunrise remind us that through the Father’s gift of His son, Jesus brings light into darkness and true life into death.

“Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”

Goosebumps

crowd

Heart racing… Goosebumps… Smile on my face. What an amazing experience! They had done it! Our team had defeated our opponents and now it was time to celebrate together. I will never forget the adrenaline rush I felt as the crescendo of the crowd’s cheers peaked. Wow! So loud I couldn’t distinguish my own enthusiastic scream from my neighbors’! Each person fully committed to this amazing celebration!

What an awesome party! The cheers and clapping became deafening, and suddenly I was aware that the excitement was so loud that it was vibrating the foundation of the stadium in which we stood. Incredible! I had never experienced anything like this before!

As I looked over the sea of people I was struck with the unity *and* diversity of this multitude. People from all walks of life, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races and creeds, with virtually nothing in common, had come together to celebrate this moment. All their differences had melted away under the lights of this incredible event. Despite their pasts, they each wore smiles, faces of joy, as they celebrated together… THEY WERE ONE. One in spirit and one in purpose.

Where was I?

Busch Stadium, October 18, 2013, Game 6 of the NLCS when the St. Louis Cardinals won the NL Pennant? No. As proud as I am of the Cards, this was a much bigger event, a significantly larger crowd, a far more important celebration.

I was imagining what heaven will be like, celebrating Christ… not for one night, not even for a season, but for an ETERNITY… and it made my heart race, and it gave me goosebumps.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Have you ever stopped for a moment, closed your eyes, and imagined heaven?

Tattooed Jesus Illustration – Clever or Offensive?

photo used in controversial billboard ad for jesustattoo.org

This controversial-by-design image is generating quite a bit of news stir this morning. (see ABC News story) Apparently a new organization called jesustattoo.org used this picture (copyright jesustattoo.org) on a new billboard along a West Lubbock, Texas highway and many do not like it or understand it.

Of course I did what the maker of this ad hoped I would do: upon seeing it and reading about it, I visited their website to see what they were all about. I mean, after all, that is a representation of God’s Son, my savior, in that contentious photo.

What I found at jesustattoo.org was a video which I encourage you to watch: http://youtu.be/rZvR3o99yL0.

Questions: What do you think of this ad? Is it an over-the-top, offensive use of imagery meant to cause controversy and draw attention? or a clever, modern illustration of the story of the Gospel? or is it both? Leave me a comment to tell me what you think.