The heart seeks life.

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2“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

3“You must not have any other god but me.

4“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind…

Exodus 20:2-4

The heart of humanity is on a search for life. When the affections of our heart are not shaped by the Presence and worth of God, they will latch onto something else as a source of life, meaning, hope, and happiness. Our heart has been called an idol factory. So true!

The testimony of Scripture shows humanity over and over intensely preoccupied with constructing idols out of people, ourselves, and the stuff of earth. The Scripture show us that even in the pursuit of “god” we are capable of constructing whole systems of belief that obscure the Truth and abandon grace.

God reveals Himself. God rescues. God liberates. He is the Lord our God. In these Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) God casts a vision of what knowing Him creates in the heart of those who cherish Him. Knowing Him creates a will to pursue Him and to forsake idols. I rejoice in Jesus Christ. For He has come from the Father full of grace and truth. He says,

24“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

25“And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son.  John 5:24-26

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Swallowed Up By Life!

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“For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”  2 Corinthians 5:4-5

When we begin the journey with Jesus and receive His grace, the hope is that we are “all better” now. It doesn’t take long though, to realize we are not. The new reality of our forgiveness and new identity in Jesus Christ as His deeply loved child, is not completely apparent to others or ourselves.

For a new believer the disappointment can be devastating. The longing for growth into the character of Christ can be mistaken as despair under the barrage of Satan’s accusations.  The longing can be mistaken as a problem with God.

God is not done with us. The Holy Spirit Himself creates the longing to be like to Jesus. Now the Spirit is in conflict with the infectious decay of death. But we have this promise in Christ: our mortal lives will be swallowed up by life. Powerful language! We are looking forward to being  completely enveloped and engaged, as participants in the glorious life of Jesus Christ!

Real

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1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  1 John 1:1-3

Christianity is concerned with what is real. Among the realists and materialists of my community there is a steady fear of religiosity composed of spiritual mumbo jumbo or far out stories or a cult of secret knowledge. I share that fear. However, I also believe our danger is to construct meaning from our achievements with a short-sighted view of life that excludes eternity.

John, the author of this letter, believes reality has a facet that must be  revealed. He treats the life, message and identity of Jesus of Nazareth as an undeniable reality. He writes to the churches of Asia Minor in the last decade of the first century affirming the message of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Life. Jesus is the reality. For John, the Word of Life proclaimed to the churches was a matter of historical reality. The apostles where declaring Jesus, whom they had

heard,

saw,

observed with interest, and

touched.

John says, Jesus was real. Having been with Him, John believes Jesus Christ came from the communion of the Father and Spirit to make the life of God knowable and accessible to us.

What if we were not afraid?

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25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  John 11:25-27

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” …53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.  John 11:45-50, 53

Identity Issues

After Jesus made this extraordinary admission of his identity he proceeded to the tomb of Lazarus and called him out. Jesus radiates His glory in word and deed:

The Resurrection: Whoever believes in me, though he dies, shall live.

The Life: Whoever believes in me shall never die.

The body will fail us. Jesus will not.

The spirit of a person made alive in Christ will live though the body dies.

 A Threat to the Status Quo

The healing of Lazarus solidified the opinion of some people that Jesus was a threat. Can you imagine? What if the followers of Jesus were not afraid of death? For those authorities who rely on violence to retain their honour, their position and their influence a people who do not fear death is intolerable. So these authorities take a posture against Jesus and His people.

So, what if we were not afraid?

“You can kill the body, but the Lord will raise me up.” “To be absent from the body is to be with the Lord.” “You decide, is it better for us to obey people, or the Lord?” “Jesus is Lord.”

Where would we go? Who would we love? What convictions would remain? What trivial pursuits would we abandon?

So, what if you were not afraid?

What if heaven, our Lord, and His call loomed larger than death itself?

.3 seconds on the clock and the puck in the back of the net

Ok, it was breathtaking!  When Detroit’s Zetterberg shouldered his way from the boards to the front of the net to zip one in past Luongo with .3 seconds on the clock in overtime, it was beautiful.  Yes I’m a Canucks fan, but this time we didn’t pull off the come-from-behind-win.  It was the second time in days that I found myself painfully admiring a winning goal in the closing seconds.  Norway defeated Canada in sledge hockey with an arcing shot from Eskel Hagan with just 3.6 seconds on the clock.  With our thoughts headed towards overtime and the possibilities for the next period, it was a shocker!

And therein is the leadership lesson for me.  While there is still time on the clock, there is still “a game” to be won or lost.  The minutes of our lives count and while we still have time, living for the glory of God still matters.  When we are tied or behind by one, urgency, passion, pursuit of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom must be nurtured.  When there is time on the clock there is still time to shape the story.  No one else will do this for me.

No one else will seek strength of character formed through a persistent gaze at Jesus and His Gospel for me.  No one else will prioritize my life, days, and hours with Christ for me.  No one else will put in the behind the scenes effort and learning for me.  No one else will say “no” or “yes” for me.  No one else will push through the inertia to engage in the most rewarding but hard ways of Kingdom living for me.  I regularly pray with the Psalmist, “Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12)

These guys on the ice push through difficulty and pain to the last second for a number of reasons.  But what vision is compelling, shaping, and energizing me?  You?