By October, 1905 the Wright brothers had flown 160 times. The longest flight was twenty-four miles and lasted thirty-eight minutes. They could control their plane, fly in circles, bank and lightly land. The Dayton press was reporting eye-witness accounts. The Wright brothers wrote to then Secretary of War William Howard Taft in a desire to involve the government with what they were doing. The Wrights received a form letter from the government basically rejecting their offer and did not even bother to send a representative to Ohio to see. Meanwhile the English and French governments were courting Orville and Wilber.
Two days after John baptized Jesus, Andrew and another disciple were following Jesus and asked where Jesus was staying. Jesus response was a classic. He said, “Come and see.” They did and how their lives did change. “Seeing is believing” is a fairly reliable way of verifying something. However, even then our eyes can deceive us. Magicians are able to do things faster than our eyes can record. But for most things seeing is good.
When Thomas said he had to see to believe, Jesus was very understanding and came especially for Thomas, who loved Jesus dearly. It was Thomas who earlier said when Jesus was returning to Judea, “Let us go and die with Him.” In John 20 Jesus says about us not having a chance to see, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” While it is true in the beginning of our walk with God it is a faith experience but after a while when we have tasted and seen it is as real as anything can be.
In Massachusetts we have to have an annual inspection for our cars. They check the lights, the horn, the front wheel bearings, the wipers, etc. Today I took in my car and noted my anxiety. What if they found something wrong that I was not aware of? If they did and it was not a quick fix they put a “fix it” sticker on the car instead of the normal sticker. It would be like Hester wearing her scarlet letter “A”. Even worse it would be like arriving at the gate of heaven and being rejected because of something we did decades ago and could not remember.
I am so thankful that cannot happen because we are not saved nor lost because of a single act. Instead, and how wonderful it is, we are saved by the grace of our Jesus, who could produce not just one wrong act but a whole list of wrong acts we did not remember. Instead Jesus covers us. Not because we are worthy but because He is worthy and can grant us unlimited grace. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25. Please notice the word “completely.” In the King James Version the word that is used is “uttermost.” He lives to intercede for us. This is wonderful beyond words.
So if you are afraid of something horrible in your past, accept His grace and then forget it. Because after we are forgiven “all” our sins are blotted out. If God doesn’t remember, (see Isaiah 43:25) why should we? Oh, I needed a rear light bulb in my car. There was no grace. I had to fix it.
My younger son bought me a new pair of dress shoes. My old pair is twenty years old and my family told me they looked it. Since it was evident I was not going to trade them in, (one becomes attached to old friends) he went on line and found the exact same shoes and got them for me. They look stiff and I am thinking it will take a few wearings to get them to feel like the old pair.
I like old things. Old cars, 57 Chevys, 64 Mustangs are treasures. Old friends are the best. New friends have to be broken in like new shoes. It takes a while to be comfortable enough not to feel like you have to talk. You can tell when someone is really your friend. You can just be together with no need for anything verbal.
It’s like that with Jesus. Jesus told us He is our friend. That means praying isn’t talking but being. You don’t have to be saying something or trying to express your feelings. It’s comfortable just being. Conversation isn’t stiff like new shoes or new friends. Uh huhs, hems, yeps, yeahs, nahs all work just fine with no added explanations. I have a few friends with whom I can spend lots of very quiet time. They are the best. Jesus is the best. He doesn’t need our yakking.
Have you ever met someone who is instantly comfortable? You have known them ten minutes and it feels like ten years. When we are with Jesus face to face will we feel the need to be verbally praising and thanking Him or will He understand profound silence? After all He is an old friend who has known us since before we were born.
Someday the game show Jeopardy will post the following answer, “Clyde Tombaugh.” And they will accept the following question, “Who is the first human being to fly beyond our solar system?” Today, after a nine and a half year journey of flying over 51,000 miles an hour, the New Horizons space craft will fly by Pluto. Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, is aboard. At least his ashes are aboard.
The question Jeopardy will accept will be wrong. Mr. Tombaugh’s ashes will not have gone where no man has gone before. According to the Old Testament Enoch, Moses and Elijah have already made the trek and they did it while being alive. Then there is the New Testament. We have Revelation 5:9 speaking of twenty-four elders around God’s throne who sing, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; . . .” Many scholars believe they are those resurrected with Jesus. See Matthew 27, “The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
There is no doubt that NASA’s flying Mr. Tombaugh’s ashes past Pluto is a significant event in human history but it does not come close to God’s resurrection and according to Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” That’s us. You and me. How grand.
Perhaps in an attempt to make the world a better place, if only in our fantasies, we have filled our culture with a host of fictional super heroes. Summer movies, comic books, novels, television series entertain us with good guys, often existentially conflicted, fighting evil. It is not just little boys who long for super powers to right wrong. As fictional as it all is there was a super hero who walked among us. He could have jumped off a tall building, He chose not to. He never punched anyone though He was struck over and over. His only episodes of rage occurred when He saw political and religious powers abusing the poor and even then He never struck anyone. He used extraordinary power to restore sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and life to the dead. He maintained remarkable self-composure by not calling angels to come to His rescue. He did psychological battle with His arch foe. He allowed that foe the privilege of literally grinding Him into dirt in a battle over His and our futures.
If Charles Dickens had written of the cross surely he would have used his famous passage from “The Tale of Two Cities” for Jesus instead of Sydney Carton. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” And where is Jesus now? According to Hebrews 1, He is sitting on the throne of glory. And what is He doing? He is trying His best to woo us into His love. Jesus is the ultimate super hero. There is none even closely like Him.
This afternoon I stood in front of a glass box containing a manikin fortune teller. For a dollar I could put my hand on the glass and the seer would read my palm by comparing my life line, etc. to a preprogrammed template. Obviously I kept my dollar safely tucked in my wallet. I need it for the children’s offering in church this coming weekend. Anyway, I already know my future. I am going to live a long, long, long time. Actually I am going to live forever. I am going to be extremely wealthy. Jesus promises in John 14 that He has a place prepared for me. I am going on a long journey to the center of the universe. I am going to be extremely healthy with a new body. See I Corinthians 15. My future is already planned out so I don’t need the swami in the glass box nor any other pretender.
If you would like I can read your future. If you make Jesus the Lord of your life you will have already crossed over from death to life. See John 5. “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” And if you have not made Jesus the Lord of your life I am sorry to say I also know your future and it isn’t very bright.
If you would also like to join me in being a fortune teller feel free to do so. It is not a private club. It is just a matter of reading and accepting the promises from a loving Father who always keeps His promises.
Having gone for a walk in the forest this afternoon we all had to detick when we got home. It’s very difficult to walk in the forest without harvesting a crop that is ready to eat you. The coyotes and bears move away from you but the ticks just love a warm meal. You are that meal. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the bite but some of them, the really tiny ones, can leave you with a variety of nasty diseases.
This is like spending a day in the workplace. It’s tough doing so without picking up some pretty nasty sins. Jesus is the only person I know of that could mingle with such as us and not come away contaminated. Yet even He felt the need for prayerful reinforcement and thus would spend nights in prayer. I wish I understood what that meant. So often we think of prayer as talking to God but I don’t know how to do that without being repetitious. Just listen to the prayers in church. Each week they are basically the same. The clichés and metaphors are the same no matter who is praying. They are just rearranged and put in a different order. Often times when someone prays for a long time they are usually saying the same thing over and over just using different words. So I am intrigued when I read Luke 6:12, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
One thing He did not have to do is “detick.” But He did need those hours in prayer so He did not need to “detick.” Meaningful prayer is a fascinating topic most of us need to spend more time pondering.
Two of my granddaughters are sitting close by me watching a Netflix program on a laptop. Each of them is also playing a game on their cell-phones. At first the seeming duality of their interest span intrigued me but then I realized this is not new. It is only different. How many times have I been in church, totally bored, and thus read my Bible? Somehow that seemed kosher. But I have also sent text messages back and forth to someone on the other side of the congregation. Often we excuse ourselves by tricking ourselves into thinking we are good multi-taskers. I am not sure there is such a thing as a multi-tasker. Instead I think we get good at tasking in rapid sequence, quickly turning our attention back and forth. The result being that we don’t do either task very well.
Then again multi-tasking is recommended in Scripture. Paul wrote I Thessalonians 5, “Pray without ceasing.” He knew we had lives to live and work to do. And yes, I understand, he was talking about a life-style of being in company with God. The wonder of the human mind is that we can drive and listen to the radio. We are marvelous beings made in the image of a God who can monitor every being in His vast universe. God is the ultimate multi-tasker able to attend to our every need. Never fear that He is too busy to hear you. Not only can He hear, He is anxious to hear you. You can turn off the car radio and talk with Him as you drive. You can make Him happy and in turn He will make you happy. It is a win-win.
Our house is full of grandchildren for the week. I think my wife’s face is going to crack from smiling so much. Five of six are here. The sixth, the oldest, has joined the world of work. Alas, the end of her childhood has come. I can imagine God’s house filled with us, His children. There will be so much noise and chatter as we share with each other the joys of eternal life. I do so hope God’s face doesn’t crack from smiling so much. He will most likely be in danger of such for His happiness at the end of sin and our final redemption will be over the top. It is something He has waited for since that sad day described in Revelation 12. “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
We will not fill the empty places left behind. As anyone who has ever lost a child knows, nothing fills the void. However, another child fills a new room in our hearts. We will fill new places that Jesus has prepared for us. John 14. And once again the universe will be “at one ment,” a great break down of the word “atonement.”
Heaven isn’t about streets of gold. It is about love and family and knowing those we love are safe. I do hope my wife’s face doesn’t break this week.
Laura Bassett and her English soccer team were on their way to the final game of the 2015 World Cup when the ultimate nightmare became a reality. In an attempt to clear the ball from the area near her net she inadvertently kicked the ball into her own net giving the Japanese team their ticket to the final game in Vancouver against the United States. It is difficult to imagine her self-loathing and remorse. She has become the poster child for all of us who have time and again not only failed at something important but actually destroyed our own dreams.
Often I have heard people speak about Satan tempting them. I would like to take the stance that all Satan has to do to defeat us is to be patient. It is merely a matter of time until we score one for the enemy. We don’t need anything other than our own human nature.
Paul, who was so ardent to be Christ-like, wrote in Romans 7, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”
Dear Laura, welcome to the human race. The only difference between you and the rest of us is the world was watching when you became one of us. We know you will mentally play and replay that fateful moment over and over for years to come. But please forgive yourself; one of the hardest things to do. If anyone doesn’t understand that only means they are afraid of the truth about themselves.