Series 10

The End, End

“It’s all going to be over pretty soon,” Mark said.

He sat on his four-wheeler. The house he was building towered above him and the hard frozen lake loomed before him.

Mark is one of the hardest workers I know. Yet he complained about the futility of his labors, “I have lots of jobs. There’s always somebody to pay . . . I’ll never get rich.” Then his conversation slipped to “the end.” The end, end—the return of Jesus. Not a prophet, or a preacher, but a tired carpenter reflecting on a workingman’s hunch.

Is it all going to be over soon? Is he right?

When asked, Jesus listed many end-time signs in Matthew 24: wars, rumors of wars, people falsely claiming to be the Messiah, increased lawlessness, love growing cold, etc.

Yet Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only God.”

Instead of when is the end, shouldn’t we preferably ask: are you ready?

Mark rambled on as the cold wind off the lake chilled me. And my mind went back to a lunchtime conversation we had a few years prior. I asked him, “Where do you think you would end up if you died right now-- heaven or hell?”

With only a slight hesitation he said, “Hell.” He’s realistic enough to admit that he’s headed to the place of “outer darkness . . . weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

As my mind returned to the present, Mark revved the four wheeler a couple more times. “I’m going ice fishing.”

Jesus said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man (Jesus) will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Maybe even when you’re ice fishing. So be ready.


Big Changes

“Graham has had big changes in his life this year,” the letter said.

I enjoy getting these occasional updates from my Aunt Cathy. You know, the brag-on-the-kids-and-grandkids letters. She wrote, “He is no longer an only child and he has started school.” Even at five years old Graham is starting to encounter some challenging changes.

We all know that changes, small to huge, can cause strain. Do you sometimes yearn for a simple unchanging existence? Many people do.

Aunt Cathy’s letter continued about Graham’s changes. “He is full of questions about God and heaven right now. One afternoon Angie (his mom) found him prone on the floor with his face down and arms at his side. When asked what he was doing, he replied: ‘I’m bowing down before God.’ Another time she heard him talking in his room and asked him what he said. ‘Oh, I was just talking to God,’ was his reply.”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter in.” I believe that; it’s in the Bible. But why is it so hard to, with childlike faith, engage in Godlike ways?

I have no doubt that God smiled when He observed Graham’s behavior. I did when I read the letter.

Graham’s approach to God has reminded me of three things I need to do when big change strikes, actually even small change.

I need to maintain an active curiosity about God and heaven. This is especially true as the swirl of distractions absorb too much of my life. I need to bow down; humble myself before God. God I need to rely on You more. Me less. And I need to talk to God; He has the big-change answers.

Thanks Graham.


Bad Luck

He was serious as . . . as sin.

“Let me tell you something; this is something you need to know,” Ty said.  He knows his stuff. He’s been working at my favorite lumberyard for years.

“It’s bad luck to start a job on Friday.”  Hmm.

The ten plus inches of fresh snow, which was already delaying delivery of the first truck load of lumber to my job site, made me think.

But bad luck? Should trust in luck determine the direction for a Friday?

The Bible says: “Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the LORD our God.” Maybe in carpenter’s language it might mean we trust in our huge four-wheel drive trucks and our competent workers. Plus more; say—luck.

“Ty you need to write this down,” I said. “I don’t believe in luck; I trust in God.” He laughed. I told him to deliver the lumber.

The truck backed into the driveway. Adam, the driver, slowly tilted the bed of the truck forming a ramp to slide the steel-banded load from truck to the snow covered concrete. Suddenly, as the wood started to slide off the truck, the steel bands broke. The bundle exploded, missiling lumber towards the house.

Adam bolted from the truck with an I’m-getting-fired look on his face. It quickly turned to a grin; I started laughing. Heavy timbers rested, actually touching the house, but no damage.

Lumberyard chatter would surely conclude that the dreaded Friday bad luck had capriciously turned good.

Bible truth declares: “I will say of the LORD: He is my refuge, my fortress. In God I will trust . . . blessed is the man who trusts in God.”

Now that’s how I determine the direction for a Friday.


Do You Think You're a Good Person?

I asked the lady on the phone, “Do you think you’re a good person?” Instant reply: “Of course.”

I also asked a few other people. The lady at the gas station said, “What do you think?” Well . . . I don’t know her. So I asked some people I do know. My teenage friend Jeff said, “Yes” as did my work associate Clayton.

My next question to Jeff and Clayton was: “Why do you think you’re a good person?” Clayton responded immediately, “I love my family.” Jeff thought a little longer and then told me how he thought he achieved good-person status because he quit doing drugs.

So, how about you?

Do you think you’re a good person? Why?

Let’s compare our goodness to God’s standard-- His Ten Commandments. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Have you ever not honored your parents? Have you always kept the Sabbath holy? Have you ever coveted, jealously desired something not yours? Have you ever made an idol, a god to please yourself? Have you always put God first in your life?

Adultery? The Jesus said that whoever looks at woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart? How about murder? The Bible says if you even hate someone, you’ve committed murder in God’s eyes.

The Bible says, “All have sinned . . .” We know everyone has failed to keep God’s Law.

If God judges you by the Ten Commandments on the Day of Judgment, will you be innocent or guilty?

Be honest; we’re all guilty.

The Bible states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Why don’t you receive God’s gift today?


The Dreaded

There it was. The dreaded message on the computer screen: “You have just destroyed this computer; prepare to spend $1000 for a new computer.”

Well not exactly.

But you know how the something-dreaded-happened part of our brain can work. A little problem can twinge anxiety as the situation mind-wise explodes into a catastrophe.

Ann was working on a friend’s laptop computer; actually trying to help out with software installation. The process was near completion. All that was left to do was to turn off the computer and then restart it.

Then the dreaded happened. The message came on the screen: “Non-system disk or disk error. Replace and press key when ready.” Ann pressed key after key. “Error!” She tried some more of her computer tricks. “Error!”

“I was really, really worried,” Ann said. “I actually prayed.”

The Bible says, “But do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”

Now, Ann knows how to pray. Yet even for her, like most of us, when “the dreaded” hits; our brain can read: “error.” Instead of prayer we think of how we can solve the problem.

Ann said, “I knew God knew how to fix the computer.”

With hands touching the edges of the laptop computer, Ann bowed her head. “Oh God, please let this work.” Unfamiliar with her friend’s laptop computer, her left hand hit a rectangle button on the side of the computer as she prayed. This caused a floppy disk to immediately eject from the computer.

Instantly the problem was solved.

Need some dreaded problems ejected from your life?

Pray. “God in heaven, you’ve asked us to pray about everything. God I desperately need Your help . . .  Oh God please let this work.”