This is Not Our Home

Three of my friends lost their mother this past weekend. Three times in two days, I received a message saying John or Pat or Sonia’s mother died.

These three losses remind me that death cuts through all the things we think are important, and bares what is truly important. It also causes us to examine what we claim to believe.

This is not our home.

And yet…it’s the only home we know.

I Corinthians 15:55 (NIV) tells us, Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

And yet…it does sting when we lose someone we love, doesn’t it?

The Puritan, Thomas Watson, once said, “What a wicked man fears, a godly man hopes for.”

And yet…if we admit it, few of us actually hope for death.

 So where does this leave us?

The Bible tells us there are two ways to grieve: with hope or without hope. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13).

This world is nothing more than a glorified bus station on our way to our true destination. But that destination depends on whether we have the assurance of a relationship with God in Christ. For those who die without a restored relationship with God, we grieve without hope that we will see them again.

That’s not politically correct according to a culture that says there are many paths to God. Yet, Christ said, “I am the way…,” not, “I am a way…” (John 14:6). Either He was a liar or He is, indeed the only way.

But if our loved one had a restored relationship with God in Christ, then we grieve with hope. We have the assurance that nothing – not even death – can come between us and the One who loves us – and them. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25). This is more than just a statement. It’s a promise.

Our grief is natural, but not without hope. We may grieve, but we grieve our loss, not theirs. We grieve our pain, not theirs. We grieve our loneliness, not theirs.

Thomas Watson also said, “The world is but a great inn, where we are to stay a night or two, and be gone; what madness is it to set our heart upon our inn, as to forget our home.” Today we might say, “what madness is it to set our heart upon our motel, as to forget our home.”

May we enjoy the motel, but remember our destination. Through our tears, let’s take comfort in knowing that loved ones who died in Christ have already safely arrived.

How have you experienced God’s comfort in the loss of a loved one?


Seasons

Lately, I’ve been thinking about seasons. It might have something to do with the calendar announcing today is the first day of summer. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Summer season in south Florida means oppressive heat and afternoon thunderstorms. It means mosquitoes and hurricanes. It also means less crowded roads and a slower pace of life, now that our most of our winter residents have flown back to their northern homes.

But seasons are not limited to weather or the calendar. We have seasons of life, too. Remember the ancient riddle of the Sphinx, recounted in Greek mythology? It hints at these seasons. The Sphinx was said to have asked: “Which creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” The answer is man – who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two feet as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age.

Reflect on a young mom, caught in a seemingly never-ending parade of dirty diapers. Or a young man who doesn’t bother investing in an IRA because retirement seems so far away. Consider a single mom, wondering how she will care for her three children as her car pulls away from the cemetery. Think of an elderly woman sitting in a nursing home, listening to a song on the radio that triggers memories of her husband’s marriage proposal sixty years earlier.

Often seasons bring experiences we could never have anticipated. Suffering we would never have contemplated or joys we could never have imagined. But seasons change…and we have a choice.

We can be “all there” in our present season, or we can waste the gift we’ve been given by wishing it away while we dream of the past or the future. We can grumble about dirty diapers now, and an empty nest later. We can resent the injustices done to us by people in our past, and carry those broken relationships into the future. We can complain about lost career opportunities years ago, and use them as an excuse to avoid creating new opportunities for ourselves today. Or…

Or we can enjoy the gift of the present. The moments we have today. The relationships we have that can be strengthened. The words we can speak to encourage someone else. The skills we can learn with the opportunities we have. Most importantly, we can use the opportunities of our present season to grow into the men and women that God intended for us to be.

Ephesians 5:16 tells us how to handle the present. I love how the different translations approach this verse. The NASB tells us to “make the most of the time,” while the KJV exhorts us to “redeem the time.” The NIV encourages us to “make the most of every opportunity,” while the ESV tells us to “make the best use of the time.”

Whatever the translation, the meaning is clear. The present is a present. Don’t waste it, whatever season you’re in.


Father or Daddy?

Is there a difference between a father and a daddy?

Almost any man can be a father. It’s a biological process requiring the fertilization of an ovum. But a daddy? That can be another matter.

Father is a title. The role of a father demands honor and respect. They can be loving but distant. A father can also be an absentee father. An abusive father. A neglectful father.

There’s another layer to fatherhood. There are fathers…and there are daddies.

Daddies are accessible. Caring. They want the best for you…always. Daddies aren’t perfect, but they are motivated by sacrificial love. They make mistakes, but they aren’t afraid to ask for forgiveness.

Their hearts are invested in their children. Daddies listen to what their children say and don’t say. They are their kids’ biggest cheerleaders. Daddies give their children loving discipline to prepare them to spread their wings and fly to new heights.

Even if a man’s father failed to show him how to be a daddy, every man has the perfect Father as a role model. You know what’s coming, don’t you?

God is both our Father and our Daddy.

Jesus called God Father. But He also called God Abba – the Aramaic word for Daddy.

Three times in the New Testament, Jesus called God Abba, Father.

“‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”

This combination of the two names reflected God’s role as both sovereign Father and intimate Daddy of Jesus…and of us.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) is a wonderful illustration of this dual perspective on the fatherhood of God.

In New Testament times, it was considered humiliating for a father to be seen running in public. Especially so for him to be seen running to a rebellious son. Yet in this parable, Jesus used the image of a father running to welcome his son (Luke 15:20) as a picture of how our Abba Father welcomes us into intimate relationship with him despite our own rebellion.

Honor your father this Father’s Day. Enjoy your daddy this Father’s Day. Most of all, regardless of how wonderful or disappointing your earthly father is or was, remember that, by faith in Christ, your heavenly Father is also your Abba and you are His precious child.

As you celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, what are you most thankful for in your earthly father? What are you most thankful for in your heavenly Father?


Meet the Tates

Have you heard of the Tate family? They can be found in almost every organization…

Dic Tate wants to run everything.
Ro Tate tries to change everything.
Agi Tate stirs up trouble whenever possible.
Irri Tate always lends him a hand.

Hesi Tate and Vegi Tate pour cold water on every new idea.
Imi Tate wants to copy every idea she sees.
Devas Tate loves to prophecy the failure of every new plan.
Poten Tate wants to be a big shot.

Miss Tate speaks without knowing the complete facts.
Debili Tate tries to cripple all of the leader’s plans.
Decapi Tate tries to remove the leader completely.
Regurgi Tate keeps trying to bring up old issues again and again.

Gravi Tate changes her position at every meeting.
Ampu Tate has cut himself off from the group over a minor disagreement.

But Facili Tate is always helpful.
Cogi Tate and Medi Tate see problems as opportunities and suggest solutions.
Resusci Tate breathes new life into existing ideas.
Rehabili Tate corrects errors in implementation.
(Author Unknown)

The Tate family often shows up at church, too. But the apostle Paul reminds us:

“God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it”
(I Corinthians 12:24-27).

Instead of working at cross-purposes, let’s start working together!

Which member of the Tate family do you resemble?

 



 
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