Well Done.

It is hard to express in words alone the torrent of emotions that accompany laying a loved one to rest.

Even for those who were not particularly close to the person being grieved for, the whole experience can still be incredibly emotional.

Thankfully, joy can be found in the midst of the mourning if the loved one knew Jesus as savior.

As Billy Graham said when speaking of his own passing, “I will be more alive on that day than ever before.” And he was right. For believers, when we pass from this temporary life into the eternal we will, in fact, be more alive than ever before because we will be with our Lord, the giver of life itself.

But the process is still, understandably, painful. I think that one of many reasons why funerals are so difficult for us humans is because death causes us to reflect. Death causes us to think about life. How did they live their life? How has my own life been lived thus far? How will I now choose to live?

Recently, I attended a funeral service of a faithful and incredible man of God. And it may sound weird to say, but I was truly and deeply blessed. (You know that someone lived their life well when their funeral service is a blessing to people, and a true celebration of life.) I was encouraged to hear about his love and devotion to his God and to his family. I was awed by his steadfast and upstanding character. And I was grateful for the legacy that he left behind.

There is no doubt in my mind that the moment when this man stepped into eternity he heard the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Those words actually come from a parable that Jesus told in Matthew 25. You should read the passage for yourself, I promise it will be worth it. But one of the main takeaways is that what you do today matters for tomorrow.

Jesus tells of a master who entrusts a few of his servants with various amounts of money and then he leaves to go on a journey. He returns and discovers what each of his servants has done with the money. The master is very pleased with the servants who have done something with what was entrusted to them and have doubled it.

He tells them “well done.”

But one of the servants was lazy and did nothing with what was entrusted to him, and the master was very displeased with him.

I want to live my life in such a way that at the end of the road I will hear “well done.”

But “well done” starts today. The choices that we make today are literally forming our character. Each and every day needs to be a “well done” kind of day.

There are no shortcuts in a life well done. We cannot just simply hide what has been entrusted to us away and wait till the end and expect a pat on the back.

The only way to hear “well done, good and faithful one” at the end of your life is to do well during your life.

I am thankful for godly men and women who set examples for us to follow and be encouraged by. I am thankful for a God who doesn’t just leave us in the dark, but actually gives us answers to our problems and frustrations in the Bible. I am thankful for Jesus and the promise of eternal life.

And I am motivated to live my life in a way that will please my Lord

My Lighthouse

The ocean is incredible.

Out of all of God’s amazing creation (human beings aside), I would argue that the ocean is my favorite. Mountains are spectacular, forests are beautiful, prairies are elegant, deserts and canyons are really neat, but none of those environments fill me a sense of overwhelmed joy that the ocean does. I am captivated by the sound and spray of waves, and I could contently sit and stare for hours.

I am a Midwesterner born and bred. So, admittedly, my experience with the ocean is far less than my experience with flat land, corn fields, and rivers. Nevertheless, I think it is safe to say that I have fallen in love with the sea.

But as beautiful as the ocean is, it is just as dangerous. In fact, its beauty oftentimes hides its true peril.

For centuries sailors have fearlessly sailed the oceans, navigated through storms, and charted coastlines. Through it all their greatest ally was always the lighthouse.

Shining in the dark, a lighthouse was a fierce and yet, welcomed reminder of the imminent danger that the sailors knew was there, but could not see for themselves.

Lighthouses keep people alive.

I have a lighthouse, so to speak. My lighthouse actually calls Himself the light of the world and promises that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but instead, will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

Jesus shines brightly in the darkness that surrounds me. He keeps me away from the danger that I can see, as well as the danger that I cannot see. And He guides me safely so that I can have rest.

Lighthouses keep people alive. Jesus makes people alive.

Friends, I don’t mean to sound preachy here by any means. But life, just like the ocean can be incredibly and wonderfully beautiful. But it is also just as dangerous. In fact, life is more dangerous than we may even comprehend, and I am not just talking about physical danger. There are emotional and spiritual dangers that are always lurking before us and we will crash into them if we do not look to the lighthouse to guide our way.

We need Jesus to guard and guide our hearts, minds, words, and steps if we are ever going to thrive in this life.

We need to look to Jesus because He will not and cannot lead us astray. And His light cannot be dimmed.

After all, as one of my favorite verses tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Jesus is trustworthy and true. He is the light.

What or who are you looking to?

Believing The Bible

The Bible is full of incredible events, people, and transcendent truths. It tells of God’s unfailing and unchanging love for people, and of His incredible freely-given grace.

The Bible, as God’s own Word, is inerrant (contains no errors) and infallible (incapable of containing errors of being wrong) in its original manuscripts, and it is authoritative in our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” One of the keywords in that verse is the word “all.” There have been some who have come to think that the Bible is a mere collection of helpful stories or ideas some of which may be true, others, however, not so much.

The idea is that there are some stories which are just too hard to believe because they are too fantastical or too imaginative. “Surely a sea could not be split in two. Surely a donkey is incapable of speaking. Surely a man cannot rise from the dead…wait, no we like that last one.”

Nope. It’s all of it or none of it.

You see, we cannot just pick and choose parts of the Bible that are easy to digest and only believe them. We must be consistent. If we believe part of it, we must believe the whole.

For example, some have begun to believe that Adam was not a true historical figure, instead, the thought is that he was some sort of allegory. The idea behind this thinking is that it is easier to believe that the human race came from a group of people rather than from just one man. Now, it is not my intention here to fully debunk the allegory theory, but rather to remind us of the interconnectedness of the Bible.

With that said, one problem with thinking that Adam was not a real historical person is that in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 we find these words, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

It becomes quite clear that the first man talked about in verse 21 is Adam. His real-life choice to sin against God brought about sin, death, and destruction for all of mankind. And that rebellious choice thrust us all into sinful separation from God.

But then, the second man, Jesus Christ, came and His life, death, and resurrection undid all the harm that was done by Adam. (*Insert Amen-Halleluja here*) Because of Christ, there can now be life and eternal relationship with God. If Adam did not exist as a real historical person then it becomes unnecessary for Christ to come in order to undo what was done, since Adam would not have sinned if he was simply an allegory.

Scripture is interconnected.

The parts that we may think are not as easily verified need to be trusted and paid attention to just as much as the parts that are “easily” historically verified. All Scripture is equal in its authenticity and authority.

If we want to believe the words, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only son,” then we also must believe the words, “then the Lord God formed the man from the dust.”

Tim Keller has a wonderful quote about the believability of the incredible miracles that we read about in the Bible. He says, “We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it… Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.”

What an amazing thought. I pray that God would reorient our hearts and mind to see things the way He intends us to see them. And that He would give us greater faith to take Him at His word.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26

Continuity Errors

Have you ever been enjoying a movie or T.V. show, perfectly enthralled in the moment? Your mind has been transported to a distant fantasy land, or perhaps you are helping the detectives to solve some sort of incredible mystery. Then an image dances across your screen, even for just a brief moment, and suddenly you are woken from your daze. Something is just kind of, off. You may have just witnessed a continuity error.

These lapses in consistency occur often. In one shot an actor is eating blueberry pie, then in the very next shot, the pie is now apple. Or perhaps you see your favorite actors driving in a white car, but in the next wide frame shot the car has changed not only colors but also brands.

Most normal people do not get overly frustrated with continuity errors, but I tend to be highly observant, and I certainly am not normal.

It is hard to believe that any continuity errors would slip past editors in post-production given how many people there are closely examining the film. But there are always a few that inevitably slip past. Perhaps the editors allow them through just to annoy folks like myself?

Anyway, back on topic.

I have come to think that the main reason why continuity errors frustrate me so much is that consistency is so vitally important. Not only do we expect consistency, in many cases we actually desperately need it.

Now, if consistency is important in films, it is infinitely more important in our real daily lives.

I am sure that I am not the only one who has ever acted inconsistently with who I hope to really be. Even Paul, the Apostle, struggled with staying consistent. In Romans 7:15 Paul says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” If there were continuity errors in Paul’s life that he wrestled with, there certainly are some in our lives as well.

But, thankfully, the story does not end there. Later, in the next chapter Paul explain that we who believe in Jesus have been given the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. God not only puts up with our continuity errors, but He also, more importantly, changes us from the inside so that there will be fewer and fewer errors, and instead, more consistency.

In another New Testament book that Paul wrote, he says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God makes us better than we once were.

The incredible work of the Holy Spirit, sanctification, is the awesome process of making us more and more like Jesus each and every day. (Romans 8:29, Hebrews 10:10, 2 Peter 3:18, Philippians 1:6) As we grow more and more like Jesus the continuity errors in us start to fade away. God does amazing work in us.

But that does not absolve us of any responsibility in the process. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us, “do not quench the Holy Spirit.” Instead, we ought to be actively allowing God to work in and through us on a daily basis.

Each day when we wake up we need to actively choose to follow Jesus, and we need to do this on a consistent basis.

I dislike continuity errors in movies. I hate continuity errors in my life, and I hope you hate them in your life too.

God, make us more consistent in our love, obedience, and commitment to you.