(2 Corinthians 4-6)

2Corinthians 5:8 NKJV We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

It has been a difficult start to the year. We’ve had several funerals for local folks that have been well known and loved. It’s almost like being at the ocean on a red flag day and wading out into the tide. You get knocked down, before you ever really get up, another wave comes and knocks you down again. It’s been frustrating, emotionally exhausting, and difficult to mourn one loss for the sake of another.

One of the comforts is that many of the folks I’ve had to say goodbye to in 2021 have had a strong testimony and legacy of trusting in the LORD. As I read these words today I couldn’t help but be comforted and encouraged. While we struggle here on earth, they have a much better body in a much better place.

I’ve shared before at funerals that those who have gone on wouldn’t want to come back (to this earth before Christ’s return). I’m reminded that this is doubly true in the sense that many have who have passed away have left frail bodies for us to bury here on earth. They are experiencing bodies with out the aches and pains that they had grown accustomed to in this life. No more bad knees, aching joints, coughing spells, no more fatigue. Then there is the better joy of being in the presence of the Lord!

Father, thank you that to be absent from the body is to be present with you! Though I mourn the loss of those who have passed away this year, I rejoice that they are enjoying new heavenly bodies. I rejoice that they are in your presence. I look forward to the day when we will all be together again without the limits of this earthly body and fully in your presence. Thank you for comforting and encouraging us through your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

James 5:1-6 (Devotional Thought)

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
(James 5:1-6 ESV)

I heard the story once of a weary traveler who came upon a fairy glen. The glen was filled with all sorts of gold and treasures. He was told by the fairy king that he could take all that would fit in his pocket and so throughout the night the man madly filled his pockets and attempted to find ways to fit more and more gold into them. Then at the moment of dawn all the gold the man had filled his pockets with turned to straw and all he could hear was the fairies laughing at him.

James writes a lot about rich and poor people. In his day most rich people became rich by taking advantage of poor people. James reminds us that there is a greater treasure than gold and while some people spend countless hours and effort to make lots of money that at the end of the day gold is worthless because it can’t save you and what’s even more tragic for the unrighteous rich is that we will all answer to God for how we have mistreated others. Like the man who filled his pockets with gold only to find out it was straw, those who value money over people will one day soon wake up to see all their efforts have been wasted.

10% Happier (A Review)

10%Just to be clear I don’t endorse this book. It’s a book about one man’s completely ironic journey to Buddhism. What’s most ironic is how the author rips on self-help guru’s and then ends up writing what amounts to a self-help book complete with a guide on how to meditate.

I get it. Dan Harris believes this stuff and thinks that he is offering us a public service. (He’s in deep enough that he had a vision that this stuff would catch on here in the West).  He almost actually shared some actual scientific data in the book… but no, not really. Most of that just ended up being promising leads, not actual scientific data. The book is primarily based on his experience. It’s a well written story book, “This is how meditation changed my life and it can change yours too.” 

 My curiosity was piqued and I picked up the book because I saw things like “disgraced pastor” (Spoiler: It’s Ted Haggard)  and “unchurched” in the initial rundown of the book. While this wasn’t false advertising, it was certainly misleading in that I fear others will also pick up this book thinking that Harris is driving the bus somewhere other than Buddhism.The problem though is that I don’t think Dan Harris or his publishers are familiar enough with the Evangelical movement to know that he’s off market with these misdirects (or worse they’ve intentionally targeted us).

As a Christian I believe in meditation, but it’s a completely different sort than what is dealt with here. This book deals with “mindfulness” (read clearing your mind) whereas Christian meditation “focuses” the mind on a promise of God, scripture passage, or truth about God. They are polar opposites.

I think Dan is a gifted writer. He’s gutsy and bold. I found it odd that for someone on TV his inner voice cusses a bit more than mine.  I hope he writes again about something else (he is a master story-teller). If he ever reads this blog and comes through Pensacola I’d love to buy him a coffee and talk more about the differences between Christian meditation and Eastern mediation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent.

One of the biggest concerns of parenting is keeping you children safe.  When you become a parent the world changes.  People you don’t know become STRANGERS (with a dark and sinister motives), electric sockets become LIVE WIRES (that threaten to electrocute your kid) and the stove becomes an INFERNO of DEATH (that threatens to burn or scald your child should they even look sideways at it). Ok… Ok… Maybe I have an overactive imagination, but you get the point.  Part of parenting is keeping kids safe.  It starts with the prenatal vitamins and goes from there.

This is all fresh for me because my wife and I just had the opportunity of welcoming our son (second child)  into the world a few short days ago.  It has been an emotional journey to say the least. Everything about the birth and delivery process was about as routine and casual as having a baby can get.  But as I read the Christmas story over the last few days a few things stuck out to me like never before.

1. Taking on the Risk of Giving (Luke 2:1-7)

For all practical purposes Jesus was born in a homeless shelter.  There was no room for them in the Inn at Bethlehem.  Mary and Joseph were travelers and though it was the place of Joseph’s lineage they were most likely strangers in town.

Mary and Joseph followed God even in the midst of what must have been a scary and troubling situation.  I am inspired by their courage to trust God through temporary circumstances in order to welcome Jesus into this world.  It was risky.  But I guess that is the point I am trying to make.  Jesus didn’t come to be safe, but to save.  Jesus wasn’t Mary and Josephs kid to hold on to, but to give away to the world.

It would be easy to look at my children born under different circumstances thousands of years and miles later and think it is all different for me.  Certainly my children won’t die on a cross for the sins of the world.  But maybe the were intended for more than me.  Psalm 127 compares children to arrows.  Arrows were not intended to remain in the quiver, but to be launched at the Enemy. Maybe children aren’t the kind of blessing you keep, but they are the kind of blessing you give and that involves risk.