Are you one who looks back with affection,
Reminiscing about days of yore?
Waving flags and praying for protection,
For your nation from shore to shore.
There are songs and celebrations sweet
Speeches that rouse the emotion
Fierce loyalty for the land beneath your feet
That inspires a most patriotic notion
But what about the better land beyond,
The place you can truly call your own?
Is that yearning great, is that hope fond,
To live in the land of the Risen Son?
If so, are you packing and preparing
For the journey that will reach beyond time?
Down here do you feel alien and wayfaring?
Is citizenship there of importance most prime?
Join a people most ancient whose love was great
For a better, a heavenly country
Who felt like exiles here, were the object of hate
By earthly counterparts who put their scorn bluntly
Fix your eyes on a grand immigration
Made possible by the Great Emancipator
Make sure you’re a member of the holy nation
And your eternal home will be infinitely greater.
It is hard to describe the beauty of faith evidenced in Room 913 yesterday as all the elders and their wives, Wes and Teri Autrey, and Tiffanie and Bethany Vaught stood with Myrna and the rest of the Murphy family at University Hospital yesterday. We sang songs and Dave Chamberlin prayed a touching, loving prayer. Moments later, a godly, wonderful woman made her transition from this life to the better one. Despite the inevitable, natural flow of tears, the heartache of separation, and the final earthly stanza of a beautiful, 59-year-old love song played by Ray and Myrna. Myrna was an obvious success as a mother, wife, grandmother, and friend, but central to everything she did and who she was was Christ. She did not fear death nor the condition that brought it. She was ready because of Christ.
When I think of the red-letter days that have occurred in our nation and world during my lifetime, whether the bombing of the Murrah Building, the horrors of 9/11, the unbelievable natural disaster of the December 26, 2004, tsumami (“Boxer Day Tsumami”), the disappearance of the Malaysia Airliner, and the like, I am made to think how many stood in the wake of such tragedy without the hope and promise made possible through Christ. Yet, every ordinary day where death looms through the natural course of life, people come to those final moments either ignorant or bereft of the bright prospect of what happens beyond death. Certainly, some think they have hope, but it is not hope rested in what they can find in Scripture but rather what they think, feel, or have been told is real and true. In some ways, those situations are the most tragic of all. Others are convinced that we are the result of chance and will cease to be when we draw our last breath, yet they continue to try and live with purpose and even act in the interest of others without bothering to ask why they behave civilized with such an animalistic point of view.
But for the one whose hope is built on the truth of what God’s Word says, there is no tidal wave of heart or explosion of life powerful enough to wrench us free from that hope. Paul exalts that we are saved by unseen hope (Rom. 8:24-25). In the rest of the chapter, he proclaims the unfailing love and promise of God for the redeemed who place their trust in Him. Paul encourages the Thessalonians not to face death, sorrowing like a world without hope (1 Thess. 4:13). Without Christ’s resurrection, there is no hope (cf. 1 Cor. 15:19-20). However, because He lives, we can face tomorrow, all fear is gone, we know who holds the future, and life is worth living (Bill Gaither lyrics from “Because He Lives”).
The Murphys will have sorrow and grief to bear. This is a testimony to their humanity. But they look at tomorrow with an even brighter anticipation. This is a testimony to the Christ who lives in them. It is available for us all!
Articles across the scientific community of late have been postulating a similar idea. Astrophysicist Brian Koberlein suggests that there was no single point in space and time when matter was infinitely dense, saying, “The catch is that by eliminating the singularity, the model predicts that the universe had no beginning. It existed forever as a kind of quantum potential before ‘collapsing’ into the hot dense state we call the Big Bang. Unfortunately many articles confuse ‘no singularity’ with ‘no big bang’” (briankoberlein.com). One of the most recent darlings of this explanations are Ahmed Farag Alia and Saurya Das, whose paper “Cosmology from quantum potential” is being cited by quantum physicists and astrophysicists. As this gets traction, there should be a trickle down effect until the broader scientific community embraces this idea.
Let’s hope so!
It could be a pivotal moment in the creation versus evolution debate. Why? When you wade through the technical, obtuse jargon, this theory concludes that the universe is eternal. We all know that something has always had to exist. Our options are “intelligent, moral, animate mind” or “mindless, amoral, inanimate matter.” The faith factor has just multiplied by a centillion for those wanting a God-less explanation. The same argument they have tried to level against those believing in intelligent design and creation applies to them. How did that eternal matter get here?
Here’s the difference between the two arguments. Matter not only had to “create” itself, it also had to develop (evolve?) intelligence, morality, purpose, etc. The Bible reveals an intelligent designer (Creator) with inherent morality, purpose, and sufficient power and energy to make it all. “It’s too simplistic,” they say. “How quaint!” But to a person who is truly trying to approach these two explanations with open-minded fairness, which of these two ideas will seem more plausible? It won’t even be a fair contest!
Let’s hope this latest attempt to explain our origin finds favor among those who “say there is no God” (Ps. 14:1) and who “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18ff). Maybe it will help more honest searchers “find” God (Acts 17:27). I think it will!
“God is.” God is real. God is alive. God is watching. God is in control. All these ideas and an infinite number besides are implicit in the fact of God’s existence. That God is implies other things.
God can work through every event of life among men to accomplish His sovereign purpose (Rom. 8:28). God, in an amazingly intricate way, weaves together the innumerable actions and occurrences that transpire in daily life on every continent according to His will. He does not make or force anyone to do anything, but He can work through even tragedies caused by men to effect good. The problem comes when one tries to define goodness on his or her terms rather than the transcendent good that is larger than the single person. Strength in trial, character in tragedy, example in spite of great loss or pain are all transcendent good that can occur even in the reverses we face in our individual lives.
God has not left us alone (Rom. 8:35-39). Deism suggests that God created it all, then took a Divinely giant step backward forever out of our affairs. Yet, God isn’t aloof and indifferent to man. This was best proven at the cross of Calvary. It is proven in the perfect Word He has left to guide us. It is proven through the strength derived from prayer. It is proven by the fellowship and companionship provided through the church He eternally purposed (cf. Eph. 3:9-11).
God holds us accountable (Rom. 14:12). What a privilege to be counted as part of the human race, made in the likeness of God (Jas. 3:9), and to be recipients of countless blessings! So “…from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48). Especially is this true in relationship to God. He has given us life, an everlasting spirit, material and spiritual blessings in abundance, talent, time, and opportunity. For all of these resources, we shall give an account for our stewardship of them.
Only a fool would deny what is so clearly seen (Ps. 14:1; 53:1; Heb. 11:3). Since God is, we must respond appropriately. We should do so both from gratitude and a sober realization that His existence requires our proper response.
Somehow, it has come down through the ages that Alexander the Great made this dying request, that he should be buried with his hands outside his coffin so that all his subjects could see that despite all the riches he had accumulated in life that he left the world empty-handed. Artists through time have famously depicted this posture. It has been retold repeatedly. Whether or not Alexander requested it, the sentiment reflects divine truth. Paul told Timothy, “For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Tim. 6:7). Similarly, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (Job 1:21). Solomon similarly states of the wealthy, “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand” (Ecc. 5:15).
While even world conquerors cannot transport their treasures from time to eternity as they make the transition, everyone will exit the world having left so many things behind us. We leave behind so much more than our financial assets. We leave behind memories of ourselves, encouragements either given or withheld, speech either edifying or destructive, deeds which brought others closer to or further from Christ, family members influenced either to follow Christ or abandon Him, and similarly impactful matters. When we leave earth, our hands are empty. We have bequeathed all that we are and have for those whose lives we touched and influenced. They pick up our habits, worldview, pleasures, interests, and priorities. Some day, they will die and leave empty-handed, too, passing along what in some way we gave them to give.
You may never be a world conqueror, but here is how you conquer the world. It takes faith and spiritual rebirth (1 Jn. 5:4). But do not simply possess it. Be sure to pass it along.
I heard about the guy last week who tried to choke his neighbor’s lawn service worker for failing to weed the neighbor’s flower bed. The worker explained he had been hired to cut and trim the grass, but not the beds. This apparently unsatisfactory answer led to the “choker” leaving visible marks on his victim and ultimately being charged with a count of felony battery. The irate neighbor was convinced that the lack of weeding was causing him to now be fighting weeds in his own lawn. The attacking neighbor tried to pull the victim off his riding mower and grabbed him by the neck.
If these are all the facts, what an extreme case of mixed up priorities. Hurting another person over how unkempt or manicured his or their lawn is? It seems unthinkable. But many of us know “that” neighbor. Some of us may wrestle with being “that” neighbor. If we could step back, we might see how silly excessive obsession with such things is.
In speaking about worry, Jesus reminds us that the grass of the field is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace (Mat. 6:30). Peter adds that the grass withers (1 Pe. 1:24). James similarly speaks of withering, fading, and expiring grass (1:10ff). These men said this to make a spiritual point about worrying, the Word, and wisdom, but the fact remains that grass is numbered among those things that will be burned up at the end of the world (2 Pe. 3:10). Yet, the souls of men will continue somewhere everlastingly (cf. Mat. 25:46).
Are we spending too much time grappling over grass, fretting over finances, or wrapped up in the world? Are we giving the best part of ourselves for that which in the end matters least? Jesus said, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…” (John 6:27). Maybe it’s not food or grass for you. Whatever earthly thing it may be, put it in its proper place. And put Him in His proper place (cf. Mat. 6:33).
Some names ring not just with familiarity, but downright notoriety. Walenda is a name synonymous with daring, high wire acts. Falcone is associated with mobsters and organized crime. The Hearst family has long been connected with newspaper publication, Forbes with finance and fortune, Morgan with banking, and Bronte with literature. Hilton and Kardashian? Well… Certainly, we could make a long list of surnames synonymous with particular endeavors bringing either fame or infamy. In the Lord’s church, the name Nichols, Jenkins, Winkler, and others evoke an even more positive image of souls reached through a shared legacy of full-time service to the Lord.
Each of us has been endowed with a precious commodity, the name bequeathed to us by our forbearers. Often, they have worked hard to polish and protect that name, to honor it and leave it as a legacy of character rather than shame. It does not take much for us to tarnish that name and leave behind a name our descendants must live down. All it takes is one person to leave a notability which embarrasses. Just ask the Hitlers, O’Hares, Ingersolls, Bordens, Stalins, and Kevorkians.
Of course, the most important thing about our name is spiritual. Do I wear the name of Christ? If I claim to wear His name, what do I do to honor, glorify, and spread the good influence of His name? When people see my name, do they associate it with Christ and all good attributes that should go along with that? We want to live so that when we stand before Christ, we will hear our names called with those who spend eternity with Him in heaven! How you are doing with your name? How are you doing with His name?