Tag Archives: angels

The Crowd

9 Aug

crowd crop

Driving by the corner store by the high school I felt free. The crowd around the store was made up of students, and I was now a college freshman. But being a graduate wasn’t why I felt free.

For the first time in my entire K-12 school career, peer pressure had no hold on me. It didn’t matter who my friends were or what group of kids invited me in to their closed circle. I laughed out loud when I realized that none of the important social complexities mattered to me anymore. Not one little bit!

I couldn’t believe how different it felt to be on the other side of graduation from the way I felt just a couple of months earlier. Regret followed that feeling almost immediately. Much of my time, energy, and emotions had been squandered on petty and trivial concerns that dissipated quicker than the cigarette smoke rings being blown out of the pursed lips of those in the cool crowd hanging out on the corner.

This memory revisited my heart earlier today as I read chapters 4-8 of Revelation. God gave John a glimpse through the doorway to the throne room in heaven. In response to being in the presence of the One seated on the throne…

The four living creaturesday and night… never cease to say,

‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!’”

The twenty-four elders bow before him and cast their crowns at His feet saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

They were joined by “many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!'”

After that, John heard “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!'”

Not a single one of these beings thought about any of the concerns that filled my day. Instead, they were filled with the presence of the Lamb, and they fell down and worshiped Him.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Very soon we will be on the other side of the ultimate graduation and will understand how little of what we are giving our hearts and minds, time and fortunes, devotion and experience to really matters.

One thing that will remain is the worship we give God now. Like an eternal echo that continues, never losing intensity or volume, the worship I will give God tomorrow will join the worship in heaven that will continue forever.

WAR!

21 Dec

Seeing pastoral nativity scenes every December fills me with a warm Christmas glow and almost lulls me into a sentimental stupor in which I conveniently forget what really happened the night Jesus was born.  What took place in the spiritual realm when God was born as a human baby reads more like the plot of a sci-fi fantasy-thriller than a nostalgic Christmas card:  A red dragon pursued a woman giving birth while his dragon-army fought Michael’s angels in heaven.  The dragon, not able to overpower Good, was hurled to the earth where he chased the woman and her Child.  Then, frustrated that the pair escaped, he turned on the rest of her offspring—“those who hold to the teachings of Jesus”.   His demise, foretold long ago, was accomplished by the Baby who crushed his head, but not before the serpent struck the baby’s heel.

So much for syrupy “Baby Jesus, meek and mild” Christmas stories—this is war!!

Easter is the ultimate triumph, but not the incredibly amazing part of the story.  At least, not to me.  If Jesus really is God, what is so surprising about Him rising from the dead??  I would expect God to be able to do that.  The part that devastates me is that He would set aside all his glory, privilege, and power to become a helpless, finite human baby; that He, the Creator of the world, would so completely reduce Himself to pursue me.

As He entered the world, the time-space continuum and all other realities couldn’t help it; they erupted in strange behaviors.  A supernaturally bright light burned in the sky; prophecies converged in fulfillment; heaven was ripped open; angels spoke to shepherds; and then all was quiet.  But everything was different.

The curse was broken; the dragon defeated.  Hope became tangible.  Our slavery-yoke of sin… shattered.  Light put out darkness.  God was approachable.  And people were drawn to Him.

He came to us so that we could come to Him.  And although He ascended to the Father, He still promises to draw near to us if we draw near to Him.  The book of Job contains a concept of what that looks like: Leviathan, the great creature of the deep, is covered with scales so near one another that no water or air can come between them.  They are so close that the two most pervasive materials on earth cannot sneak in.

The red dragon is still at war with us, but his Vanquisher is our Champion:
Immanuel.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

The above post is from my ordinarygirl blog. It continues to challenge me and is appropriate for us as worship leaders, especially at Christmastime. There is a place for quiet, Silent Night, moments during this time of year, yet they often come out of hard-fought war. War on cultural Christmas. War on my own expectations. War on busyness. And war on the enemy.

The hill we must take this Sunday is Awe and Wonder, the awe and wonder the enemy has stolen from us that keeps us doing and thinking anything else but worshiping God. Failure is not an option, for there are many who will be in our services this weekend who have stopped fighting and have no human ally who will fight for them.

———-

The snowflake kaleidoscope above is made from a paper cutting of a dragon crafted in Hong Kong. It represents both the red dragon and the scales of Leviathan—a reminder that with Jesus’ birth, the dragon is defeated, and that we can be so near to Him nothing can come between us. Luke 2:8-18; Matthew 2:9-11; Revelation 12; Genesis 3:15; James 4:8; Job 41:15-17; Isaiah 9:1-4

So you want to go to heaven?

2 Nov

IMG_1828

Almost everyone will say he hopes to go to heaven when he dies.

Many people think heaven will be a place of pleasure and peace– and where they can do what they want. In this thread people hope for everything from a Jesus hug to sex with angels to playing baseball. Even some believers feel this way: “i will have plenty of time to do what i want to do when i get to Heaven, but right now, i am His servant, i do as He wants me to do.” ChristianChat

Translation: In heaven God will fulfill your deepest desires.

But think about what we know about heaven:

  • No more tears, crying, or pain – Rev 21:4 (Yes!)
  • No more night; God lights the place up – Rev 22:5 (No schedule or deadlines? Count me in!)
  • Lots of angels and the heavenly host (army) are there – 2 Chron 18:18 (Looking forward to seeing this!)
  • All will bow before Jesus and say that he is Lord – Phil 2:10-11 (Well, OK.)
  • Giving away everything we worked for – casting our crowns at his feet – Rev 4:10-11 (What?!? That’s hardly fair!)
  • Serving God all the time, day and night – Rev 7:15 (Um… no time for me?)
  • Full of saints (Christians) – 1 Cor 1:2; Dan 7:27 (Only annoying people?)
  • God’s will is all that will be done – Matt 6:10 (Seriously?)

Why would anyone who doesn’t follow Jesus want to go to a place like that?

Maybe the expectation that God will fulfill our deepest desires is true. The questions is, what is your heart’s desire?

To please yourself? Then you will probably be happier someplace else.

To please God? Then heaven will be the time of your life – or at least the fulfillment of it! Eternally and perfectly praising and serving God.

Complete bliss!

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Every time we gather together to worship God we participate in a shadow of what is to come in heaven! I don’t know if we’re practicing or anticipating (or both), but this world has nothing better to offer those (everyone!) who were created in God’s image and likeness.

While I know what happens in the spiritual and heavenly kingdom is not dependent on what I do or don’t do, there is a responsibility to lead well– to be right with God, worship him only, and as much as possible, get out of the way so God can speak and people can worship him. This can’t happen if the other six days of my week have been self-seeking and pleasure-driven.

There are many things in life that we can’t control. How we get to praise God is one of those. I have a friend whose wife is on her deathbed today. They didn’t choose their circumstances, and yet, they continue to worship God, even in this. When it all comes down to this, we get to choose very few things in this life. Whether we will praise Him, and with what attitude are two such choices. Jesus died for me, bought me back, and owns me for eternity. I will praise him with my whole heart now, tomorrow morning, and in heaven forever.

———-

The idea that people who don’t follow Jesus aren’t going to like heaven is from Pastor Steven Post’s 10-13-13 sermon entitled “On Earth as it is in Heaven” preached at the Grand Marais Mennonite Church.

%d bloggers like this: