Waiting Isn’t for Sissies

waitingHope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

What do you do when you’re wounded and pinned down by enemy fire? You radio for help and you wait. What do you when you can’t find a way around, under, or over the obstacle in front of you? You pray and you wait. What do you do when your loved one is hospitalized and the medical team has done everything possible to help her? You pray and you wait.

Have you noticed that, when you’re running late, that every traffic signal in the city conspires against you?  Red light after red light slows you down. You can feel the irritation rising. Perhaps you’ve even muttered a few choice words, or pounded the steering wheel, in frustration.

Waiting patiently isn’t for sissies. It’s one of the hardest things for us to do. We’re inherently impatient. We’re programmed to save time and to get ‘er done. “Just do it.”, “Get it now.”, and “Hurry in; don’t wait.” are messages we hear every day. Waiting is an unwelcome intrusion. Waiting means we aren’t in control. We hate feeling out of control.

When you have to wait, would you rather wait with a quiet mind? Or would you rather wait with tension winding up inside you like a coiled spring? Patience is not only a virtue, it’s a choice. It doesn’t come naturally, so we need something to remind us to return to calmness when we start losing our cool.

There’s a promise for those who choose to wait for the Lord:

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. – Lamentations 3:25-26

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

When you have to wait, and feel impatience taking over, speak an affirmation to yourself. Say something like this, “Lord, I trust You. I wait for You to open the way for me, to give me an answer to this situation. I rest in You, the One who sees all and knows all. I receive Your peace as I wait.”

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The Destroyer’s Destruction

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He’s known by various names – Beelzebub, Diablo, Satan, Lucifer, the devil, prince of darkness, the god of this world, the tempter, the serpent, the dragon, the thief, the father of lies and the adversary. He delights in destruction. You can observe his work all around us.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8*

Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time. – Revelation 12:12

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44

[T]hen the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. – Luke 8:12

A greater one – Jesus – has intervened to destroy the works of the destroyer.

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:8

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:10

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. – Acts 10:30

The destruction of the Destroyer is coming.

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:10

Until then, we’re instructed to resist the devil through faith in Christ.

 Do not give the devil an opportunity. – Ephesians 4:27

 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition [d]pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.  – Ephesians 6:10-18

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

* All Bible scriptures are from the New American Standard translation

Alternative Endings

In a former job, I had the opportunity to introduce speakers to audiences. To prepare for the introduction, I’d interview the speaker. One of the questions I’d ask was “What movie could you watch over and over?” What’s your answer to that question? My answer is The Bourne Identity. What’s interesting about most favorite movies is that the story always ends the same way. The Bourne Identity is different; there’s an alternative ending.

Have you ever thought about the fact that everyone’s story on Earth ends the same way? Solomon did. He wrote about it in Ecclesiastes. He complained that life under the sun is meaningless because we all die and it’s just a matter of time until we’re forgotten.

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 3:19, The Bible

Fortunately, life under the sun (life on Earth) isn’t the end of the story. God offers us an alternative ending – the gift of eternal life through placing our faith in His Son Jesus.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16, The Bible

Eternity is Bound in our Hearts

 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Have you noticed the number of television programs with a supernatural element? A few that come to mind include The Good Place, Lucifer, Manifest, Supernatural and Midnight Texas. Humans have been fascinated with the supernatural for millennia. Our literature, legends and media are replete with superheroes, super villains, fantasy beings and mystical places.

Have you also noticed how frequently we find the words forever, eternal and everlasting in the Bible?  Whenever I find one of these words, I underline it! God has put eternity in our hearts. It’s a longing for eternal life. It’s a longing to transcend the sin, sickness, injustice and limitations of this world. It’s a longing for relationship with Him in a forever family.

For the things which are seen are temporary, the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Be encouraged. God is preparing a forever home for all those who love Him. And you don’t have to wait for eternal life. You can have it right now through faith in Jesus. Your body may die, but the spirit that has been born again in Christ will never die. And one day, He’ll resurrect our bodies to demonstrate that all things, including death, are subject to Him.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Earth Isn’t Inhabitable Without These

The earth is teeming with life.  Because it’s all around us, displayed in a variety of plants, insects and animals, we may take the existence of life for granted. But have you stopped to consider what it really takes to support life on Earth? Two scientists did. Peter Ward, a geologist and paleontologist, and Donald E. Brownlee, an astronomer and astrobiologist, wrote Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. They explain why the factors required to support life on Earth are such a rare combination. Here are the factors that must exist simultaneously:

  • A star within the right range of size and luminosity.
  • A terrestrial (not gaseous) planet rich in atomic elements essential to life.
  • A solar system with planets having circular (not elliptical) orbits.
  • Large oceans with salinity and pH in the right ranges to support subsurface life, and to moderate temperature fluctuations.
  • A large planet (Jupiter) to protect Earth from bombardment by comets and asteroids.
  • An oxygen-enriched atmosphere.
  • A distance from the sun that’s within the inhabitable zone where the planet doesn’t receive too much or too little radiation.
  • Tectonic plates that form continents so that shallow areas of the oceans exist which absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it to limestone.
  • A planet that rotates on its axis so all surfaces have access to sunlight.
  • A large moon to stabilize the Earth’s tilt and rotational speed, and to provide lunar tides in the oceans.
  • Tucked away from astronomical threats such as gamma ray bombardment

Is it only chance that all these factors simultaneously exist and have been stable for a long time? You decide. As I contemplate this, I’m reminded of David’s thoughts captured in Psalm 8:1, 3-4:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Don’t Miss Your Magical Moments

5:32 AM. I swing the door partially open. She emerges, her tail drumming on the door. I sit on the top step; she lies down next to me. In the quietness, I stroke the fur on her head and neck, and scratch her ears. Magical moment. She stretches and rolls onto her back to have her belly rubbed.

7:33 PM. I hold her hand. We pray for our children. We pray for their health and safety, that they’ll walk close to God, that God will surround them with godly people, for their education and careers, and for their future spouses. After praying, I hold her hand a little longer. Magical moment.

Summer 2004. I stand beside the roiling Yellowstone River near the Lower Falls. The roar is intense; I can feel the vibration in my chest. The experience is so profound, so spiritual, that I feel overwhelmed with awe. My eyes fill with tears. Magical moment. In my heart, I worship the Creator who made such splendor.

Magical moments often come unexpectedly. But there’s a pattern. Magical moments don’t happen when we’re in a hurry. They happen when we slow down and are fully present and aware of what’s happening. Magical moments also involve connection – connection with people, with creation, with God.

We’re designed for connection, but the modern age is characterized by isolation and alienation. Suicide and school shootings are stark reminders of their destructive power.  The more “connected” we become online, the less we seem to actually connect on a human level.  Enjoy the instant access, but don’t allow your devices to substitute for real connection. Don’t miss your magical moments.

It Takes a Lot of Faith to be an Atheist

Most people regard atheism as the opposite of faith. But it’s not; it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist. Atheists claim to trust scientific observation and natural processes. They deny there’s a God who created life because the supernatural is outside the realm of natural processes and scientific observation.

Based on observation, scientists believe there was a beginning to the universe called the Big Bang. If the universe had a beginning, how did life begin within the universe? Atheists have a dilemma answering the question, “How did life begin?”.  There are two prominent theories:

Theory #1: Life on Earth sprang suddenly from a mixture of just the right chemical ingredients and an initiating source of energy such as lightning.

Amino acids, the basic building blocks of DNA, have been produced in a laboratory from naturally-occurring chemicals and an electrical spark. However, they weren’t alive. Scientific observation tells us that life comes from life, through reproduction. To believe that life sprang suddenly from a chemical mixture and lightning requires a leap of faith.

Theory #2: Life on Earth originated elsewhere in the universe and was transplanted here.

This belief is popular among some scientists, including Carl Sagan. However, it doesn’t address the fundamental question: “How did life begin?”. It only transfers the question to another place in the universe. Furthermore, since no one was around to observe whether life on Earth was transplanted from elsewhere, this belief also requires a leap of faith.

Any response to the question, “How did life begin?” is not based on scientific observation; it’s based on faith. As you can see, it takes faith to be an atheist.