Monthly Archives: October 2012

Beyond the Next Rise

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had what I termed an explorers spirit.  I always want to know what’s around the next bend, or over the next hill, or beyond the horizon.  I was looking out at the mountains recently as the sun was setting.  It was one of those cooler evenings when the air is clear and it looks as though you could walk or ride right into them in just a couple of hours, even though in reality it would take nearly that long to drive there.  As I gazed across the long valley that old familiar longing welled up within me.  I could physically feel myself being drawn towards them.

It’s not just the mountains that have had that effect on me.  I’ve responded similarly while riding across the wide open prairie of South West Saskatchewan.  I‘ve experienced it standing on the edge of a cliff on the Eastern most point of Barbados, looking out across the expansive rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean while the waves crashed below me.  I even felt it once in an airplane, flying across the Pacific at night with the full moon above us reflected perfectly on the water below.

But I‘ve come to realize that cresting the next rise or rounding the bend, or even reaching a distant island doesn’t satisfy the longing, at least not for long.  I always want to go further.  The same is true for any longing or desire a person has.  Not everyone is drawn to follow a river snaking through a forested valley, but everyone has drives and longings in some aspect of their life.  God built us that way.  But we’re never completely satisfied by just pursuing the longing.

A few years ago I began to understand and recognize that those desires are ultimately a desire for God.  For example, I recognize the draw to reach the horizon as fundamentally a longing for heaven.  So now when that explorer’s spirit takes hold of me, my mind is drawn to God in anticipation and eagerness which leads me to worship.

That’s the whole point.  God created us with desires so that we would look to him and find fulfillment.  We are left empty and unsatisfied if we look for fulfillment apart from him.  When we acknowledge our deepest desire as a desire for God we will experience greater and lasting fulfillment of all other longings.  “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4


Sin and Sinning

I’m thinking about sinning today.  No wait, that didn’t sound right.  I’m thinking about the topic of sinning today.  There is a widely held misconception that a person is a sinner because he commits sins.  But Romans chapter 12 makes it very clear that we are born with a sinful nature, one that as part of the human race we inherited from Adam.  We all are sinners, right from birth.  The fact that we commit sins is only proof of that nature, not the cause of it.

 And we all have sinned.   1 John chapter 1 verses 8 and 10 show us that we deceive ourselves if we claim to be without a sin nature, and we call God a liar if we claim we do not or have not committed sins. But sandwiched between those two verses is verse 9 which says that if we confess our sins God is both faithful and just in forgiving our sin and purifying us from our sinfulness.  Confessing our sin simply means that we acknowledge our sin nature and own up to the acts, thoughts, and even motives that evidence that nature.

Then God guarantees our forgiveness.  We sometimes throw words like “forgive” around not realizing the weight of full meaning they carry.  When God says he forgives us, it’s not like a kindly grandpa who says “Oh, that’s alright.  Boys will be boys.”  God’s forgiveness is more like the forgiving of a debt.  The word literally means to send away.  Our debt, our sinful nature with all its sinful acts, is sent away and replaced with the holy, righteous nature of Jesus who, as 1 John 2:1 says, was the sacrifice that paid the price for our sin and the sin of the whole world.  By that sacrifice, God is both faithful (trustworthy) and just (fulfills all legal requirements) in forgiving us.

So, as I said, I’m thinking about sinning today, and that has led me to thank and praise my wonderful God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  How about you?  Are you thinking of sinning?

More Than Just Thank-You

I’ve had a set of “memory foam” insoles in my work boots for almost a year.  Not suprisingly they are worn out.  They have been very comfortable until now but the fabric on top is wore through and balls up under my foot and little bits of blue foam stick to my socks.  I’ve been too busy to get anywhere to replace them so as a stop-gap measure I took the regular insoles from another pair of shoes and put them in my work boots over top of the memory foam.

You may think this is going to sound weird and maybe not even believe me, but I swear I felt taller.  No really.  I know there was maybe not even an eighth of an inch added but when I put them on I could tell that I was standing just a little taller.  But as the day went on, and I got accustomed to the new heights I’d reached that awareness began to fade.  By the end of the day I didn’t notice it at all.  The next day I noticed the difference a little at first, but not nearly as profoundly as when I had first put them in.  By the third day I had almost forgotten they were there.

That’s human nature.  God brings into our lives some blessing, maybe it’s the job we have, or the relationships we’re in, it could be the church he’s provided us, or even the awareness of his presence with us, but some expression of his love for us.  At first we are profoundly aware of that blessing and being thankful is a natural response, but we become accustomed to the blessings presence in our live and begin to take it for granted.

Thankfulness is a choice, and if we choose it consistently enough it becomes a way of life.  But thankfulness isn’t just remembering to say thank you when good things happen.  Living in an attitude of thankfulness is saying “God I acknowledge that I have received my life from you through Jesus, and in response I submit my life to you in order that Jesus may live through me (see Galatians 2:20).  I accept as from your hand all that you allow into my life.  Even when life is hard, or others mistreat me I trust you to sustain me, knowing that nothing can remove me from your life and love.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Fruit and Effect of Righteousness

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.”  (Isa 32:17, NIV)  Does peace, quietness and confidence consistently define your state of mind and heart.  You might conclude, based on the above verse that it would be dependent on whether or not you have been a good boy or girl, but that’s a misunderstanding of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21 shows that righteousness is not dependant on what I do, but is given to me by God through Jesus; he became sin for me and in exchange I become the righteousness of God.  Therefore my peace, quietness and confidence are dependent upon whether I am submitting to God’s righteousness in me; am I letting God be God in this day or have I usurped control?

 Last week our youngest had an opportunity to attend a neighboring church’s youth group activity.  As he is the extent of our own church’s youth group, I thought this was an excellent idea and was pleased that he wanted to go.  The only issue was going to be the timing of getting him there.  They were to meet at 6:00 and he had football practice till 5:30, but that should be just enough time to get him there.

I had one large field I needed to cultivate that day, but figured I should finish in plenty of time to pick Riley up.   Unfortunately there was a heavy fog and since a tractor doesn’t exactly have a jackrabbit-like start,  I couldn’t safely cross the highway to get to the field until the fog lifted.  Instead I began a smaller field beside the farm yard till the fog finally burned off near 11:00.  It would be tight, but I should still be able to make it in time.

I got into the field and as the day progressed my anxiousness to finish in time began to grow.  Right then God spoke very clearly to my heart saying to relax, that whatever would be would be and it would be just fine.  “But no,” I said, “this is important and I can’t let Riley down.”  And my anxiety grew.

I was almost done when the cultivator plugged.  Aargh! I lifted out and circled but still had to stop and back up to unplug it, and  then circle a couple more times to spread out the lump.  I finally finished and quickly cleaned off all the weeds and dirt lumps from the cultivator, folded it up and headed back to the farm.  I arrived at the highway right at the peak of “rush-hour” and wasted more precious minutes waiting for a gap big enough to safely get through fretting all the more.

I got back to the yard, parked and jumped out of the tractor, raced to my truck, sent Riley a quick text that I was on my way, and was just about to drive away when he texted back that he had too much homework and couldn’t go.

Immediately I realized I had stopped letting God be God.  “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.”